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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 PIE cattle raiding myth ...

 

Me, I'm a man of peace, but the more I think about it, the more it starts to look like prophecy.

Across the Indo-European-speaking world, and beyond, they tell the story of Thunder and the (variously-named) Three-Headed Monster.

In a nutshell: the three-headed monster arises and oppresses the people. Thunder arises, arms himself, and after a terrible battle, slays him, freeing all the people.

And there was much rejoicing.

It's an old story, with reflexes across Europe and Western Asia. We see it in the East (Indra v. Vritra), the uttermost West (Thor v. Midgard Serpent), and in between (Zeus v. Typhon). Italian anthropologist Augusto Cacopardo has even suggested that the story underlies the great Winter Solstice festival of the Kalasha of what is now Pakistan, the sole remaining Indo-European-speaking people who have continuously practiced their traditional religion since ancient times (Cacopardo 116-118).

At this point, the astute mythographer will be asking: Why three heads? That's where the prophecy comes in.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

The yard-work can't wait, but the weather-oracles say rain, and when I go out, the sky doesn't look promising.

So I face West and pray.

“Thunder, hold off long enough for me to get this done, and I promise you a pouring tonight.”

(A gift for a gift, the ancestors always said.)

Tradition holds that the Big Guy likes his libations, especially the strong stuff.

 

Now, do I actually believe that Thunder is a big, cute bearded guy up in the sky who hears what I say? Do I honestly think that the forces that drive this planet's weather give a flying f*ck about what I want? Do I truly believe that the Universe makes deals?

No, no, and no. Nonetheless, I make my prayer and, eventually, my offering, as promised.

Why?

  1. Because I'm human, and humans are social animals that have always treated with the non-human world as if it were human, too.

  2. Because it keeps me connected with the Great Out There, which, in these days of screen-induced h. sapiens narcissism, is a state devoutly to be wished.

  3. Because, in my experience, it actually works. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions about operative mechanism here.

Soon after, I feel the first drops. Then it begins to rain hard. Oh well, I think, it never hurts to ask.

A friend of mine who grew up Baptist always tells me: Prayer is always answered. It's just that sometimes, the answer is “No.”

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Those who have been following Russian strongman Putin's rape of Ukraine will be familiar with the sign of the tryzhub (“trident”), the national symbol of Ukraine.

It is the symbol of Perun, the Slavic Thunderer.

Around 820, the people of Kyiv (KEE-yiv; in Russian, Kiev) invited Rurik (Norse Roerekr), Varangian prince of Novogorod, to rule their city. He accepted their offer, and his descendants, called the Rurikids, ruled there for more than 400 years. The tryzhub was their family crest.

 

Though Rurik was himself a Christian, his Norse forebears had been worshipers of Thor, known to the Slavs among whom they settled as Perun.

Compare the tryzhub with the keraunos (“thunderbolt”) in the hand of Zeus on this Archaic vase:

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Seems like every ancient people had their own name for Thunder. I'll have to take a look at Qos' iconography.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I've seen depictions of the Edomite god Qos holding something that could be a thunderbolt or a grapevine. I've read that the Roma

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Some Showers Overnight

 

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Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Incredible as it may seem, there's a carving of Perun, the Slavic God of Thunder, in the Catholic cathedral in “St.” Paul.

I can't remember why a priestess friend and I had decided to go across the River to attend a service at the cathedral that night. (It must have seemed like a good idea at the time.) After the ritual—the church had otherwise emptied out quickly—the two of us wandered around playing tourist.

In the apse behind the altar are the so-called Chapels of Nations, each one dedicated to the patron saint of one of the constituent demographic groups that originally settled the city formerly known as Pig's Eye. (How the city got its first name is a funny, and very pagan, story. Remind me to tell you some time.) It's above the altar dedicated to the brothers Cyril and Methodius, missionaries to the Slavs, that you'll find the carving of Perun.

In 988, Prince Vladimir of Kiev decided to cement his political alliance with the Byzantine emperor by accepting baptism. In a move reminiscent of the mass Moonie weddings of the 80s, he had the entire population of Kiev herded down to the River Dnieper to undergo forcible assembly-line style mass baptism.

In an act of blatant hypocrisy, Vladimir also had his soldiers throw down the sacred god-poles of the city's main sanctuary, images which he himself had caused to be raised some years before.

Pro forma baptism notwithstanding, the people of Kiev were distraught to see the images of their old gods cast down. When Perun's image was pitched into the waters of the Dnieper—it had golden mustaches and a silver beard, a chronicler remembers—the people lined the riverbank.

“Swim, Perun, swim!” they cried.

And he did. The place downstream where He came to shore is still called Perun's Landing.

In the “St.” Paul carving, Perun lies on his side: cast down, but not yet drowned. It's a fine likeness, crisply rendered, based on the four-faced figure of the god Svantovit discovered at Zbruch in Poland in 1848. In His right hand—liquor-loving god that He is—He holds a drinking horn. It seems a telling touch, intimate.

Well, we're pagans, and pagans don't go to see a god empty-handed. Unfortunately, until that moment unaware of Perun's presence, neither of us had thought to bring a proper offering.

So I keep watch while my friend “liberates” some flowers from another altar, and Perun, giver of rain to pagan and non-pagan alike, receives His offering.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

What the names of the gods to themselves may be, we do not know.

We, their children, know them by their relational names.

 

Long ago, I learned from Tony Kelly of the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland the relational love-names of Earth and Sun: Mabh and Pahh, respectively. By these names I know them to this day.

But what of Thunder, Earth's other husband?

 

Two she loved in the days of her youth: Sun and Thunder, and how to choose between them?

In the end, she understood that the choice was in truth no choice at all, and she took them both to husband.

For this I have two hands, she said.

 

The old Pagan Movement did not number Thunder, Earth's left-hand husband, among those that they honored, so they knew no name for him; but as me, I do. How, then, to Name him?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Even Disney gets it right sometimes.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    On Disney's The Owl House there is a girl named Willow with two fathers. I think she calls them Poppy and Dada, but I'm not certa

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Some Showers Overnight

 

Rain on Down

A Prayer for Rain

 

Mighty Thunder, Lord of Lightning

Rain on down

Fecundator, Ejaculator

Rain on down

Sky Water, Sky Fire

Rain on down

Bull of Heaven

Rain on down

 

Meat smoke, incense smoke

Rain on down

Good, smoky whiskey

Rain on down

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