The driving-force behind this post is the work The One-Eyed God: Odin and the (Indo) Germanic Mannerbunde by Kris Kershaw. The post has been lifted from my book Wulf: The Collected Writings of an English Wodenist. It was first published in one of magazines some years ago. I have posted it here because of its importance today, the importance being that some form of revival of the ancient Germanic Mannerbunde is vital for our Folk-survival.
The word bund means ‘to bind together’, but in a far deeper way than the mundane meaning of the word. Indeed, the German word bund has the same roots as our English words bind, band and bundle. The last term bundle stems from the Old English bund, again having the meaning of “to bind together”. All of these words can be traced back to an IE Root *bhendh or an Aryan Root * bhandh, meaning “to bind”. (*)
So the term Männerbund refers to a binding together of a group of men, and by extension, a group of youths of an age-set. The German word bund has retained its true meaning, but if we were to substitute this with our own English term band this meaning would be completely lost due to the word having lost its true and original meaning. This is why we have retained this Germanic term rather than trying to substitute one that would not have its true meaning.
The Männerbund was a group of men, bound together by oath, and rather than a secular group, was a cultic-warrior group. We have stated before that this warrior-band was called the here or heri, a term that means “to raid, to ravage, to pillage”. It was, therefore, not an army as such, but a raiding-party. This was the form of such groups as the Viking raiders, and the later sea-raiders – the pirates. Whereas the English Fyrd was set up as a form of defense militia, the heri had a far different role – that of raiding-bands.
These raiding-bands were formed of mainly young warriors who were landless and had no actual wealth, save what they gained by raiding and taking by force. In our modern age this would be greatly frowned upon, and the Judaeo-Christian commandment “Thou shalt not steal” would certainly have made this a no-no. But in eld-times this was sanctioned by cultic right, by the ancient Sacraler Stehlrecht or “Sacred Right to Steal”.
In the Feoh-Rune we find the secret of the wealth of the Germanic Folk. This rune is usually seen as being related to the moveable wealth of the tribe, and thus the wealth of the tribe. But it also relates to the cattle-raid undertaken by these Cultic Brotherhoods, where the landless gained their wealth, and also their status through the acquisition of that wealth. Tacitus in Germania describes the wealth of the Germanic Tribes as being based upon cattle. By the later Anglo-Saxon and Viking times this wealth had become associated with gold. We can see this in some of the Old English kennings –
Hringsele – ring-hall
Gold-sele – gold hall
Goldwine – gold friend
Goldgiefa – gold-giver
We must not think that the idea of cattle as wealth, and of cattle-raiding as wealth, disappeared at this time. When the European peoples started to make new lands for themselves on the American continent, cattle-rustling was a feature of their pioneer days. This was, of course, in much later times.
Indeed, this is one of the secrets of the heri, for these bands of cultic-warriors formed the basis of predatory raids that would later found new nations and empires. It is not always stated that the founders of the Roman Empire – Romulus and Remus – led war-bands of young warriors and outlaws. It is perhaps significant that the prime symbol of Romulus and Remus is the Wolf.
We cannot tell for sure whether the founders of the Englisc Nation – Hengest and Horsa – were also associated with the Wolf. Ryan West, in his fictional work The Rise of the Saxons – And the Legend of Hengest and Horsa – we find Hengest wearing a wolf-skin. By legend Hengest and Horsa were of the Oiscingas, a name that may derive from Oski which was a name of Woden. Oski is a variation of Wunsc-Frea which means “Wish-Lord”, one of the by-names of Woden. (I believe that Bede states that Hengest and Horsa descend from Æsc which would seem to be a misunderstanding on his part.)
In the Wolsunga Saga we have a clear account of a Cultic-Warrior Initiation where Sigmund is the older initiator, and Sinfjotle is the younger initiate. They don wolf-skins in order to go through this initiation. From Norse Mythology we find that such Initiation Rites were very strict and designed to test the courage of the Warrior-Initiate. Such Cultic-Warriors were called the Ulfhednar, a term meaning “Wolf-Hides” i.e. one who wears a wolf-skin. Woden, in his role as God of the Dead, is named Ulfhedin.
These Cultic Warrior Bands or Oath-Brotherhoods came under the tutelage of the Wolf-God whom we English call Woden. In regard to this aspect of the All-Father we can safely say that he has certain fixed traits –
- He is associated with the wolf or the dog (the dog usually as psychopomp, and Guardian of the Land of the Dead. The Black Dog is usually associated with the Spirits of the Dead.
- He is a one-eyed god, seen as blind in one eye. It is interesting to note that the Germanic HariR (”one-eyed hero”) derives from a root *haiha from which we get the Gothic haihs which means “one-eyed”.
- He is the Hunter-Warrior God and the Wild Huntsman. In this role he leads the mythical Einheriar, the Fallen Heroes who he collects as his own to fight for him in the Final Battle at Ragnarok. It is also interesting to note that the goddess Freya collects half of the Fallen Heroes to take to Folkvang. This may be the basis of the female leader of the Wild Hunt – Frau Wode, Perchta, Berchta, or Frau Holle.
- He is the Woden Hergian who leads the Wild Army – the Army of the Dead. This, again, is associated with the Einheriar, and to the Ride of the Wild Hunt.
- In this role he is associated with the winter period of the year (usually), and mainly around the Twelve Nights of Yule and Halloween. This period of the year was, in Vedic India, known as the Way of the Ancestors. This was the period from Midsummer to Midwinter, whilst the rest of the year was known as the Way of the Gods. The winter period was thus dedicated to the Ancestral God – Woden.
- Woden is the god who “fetters” his chosen; he can fill them with god-power and raise them to super-human heights. Thus, his initiates belong to him, and that is why he has the right to claim them in death! This is where later scholars misinterpreted his role of giving his weapon to the slayer of his chosen (such as giving his Spear to Dag to slay Helgi), claiming that Woden was a malicious and untrustworthy god. He is no such thing, for he works through his chosen, and thus has the right to claim them as his own.
- He is the Totenführer im Totenheer– the Death-Leader of the Army of the Dead. This is precisely what these cultic warrior bands were – an Army of the Dead. Through cultic initiation rites they were possessed by the Spirits of the Dead Heroes.
- His association with the Army of the Dead, and the Underworld, links him to the horse, the Steed of the Underworld. This is why many Horse Cults were associated with Woden (and we must remember that Hengest and Horsa were also associated with horses). In fact, some relate the term Volsi ( a ritual symbol of a horse’s phallus) to the Volsungas (Wolsungas).
The Ansuz Rune has one meaning Prince of Asgard and this refers to Woden. But the rune is associated with the Ahnen – the Ancestors. It is the Ancestral Rune and can also be linked to the mythical heroes – the Einheriar.
The Ancestors, and the Cultic-Warriors who are in union with them, are the constant defenders against the forces of disorder and destruction, whether these are dæmonic forces or physical enemies. In other words, these cultic warriors were the preservers of order, and the enemies of the chaotic forces. The Saxons had a god named Irmin, whose symbols we have seen were the scales – symbolic of justice and order. Taking the IE Root *ermana (“rushing furiously”) as the basis of his name leads us to Woden as the Fury-God and the wielder of the Teuton Fury. One of the by-names of Odin was JǿrmunR which is the Norse equivalent to Irmin. (The Ior-Rune and the Ear-Rune may thus be associated with Irmin.)
In the role of leader of the Wild Hunt, Woden has associations with The Fool. In many of the midwinter plays (as well as at other times) The Fool is slain and then resurrected. It seems clear that in this role he is the Initiate who undergoes a cultic-rebirth.
The Wild Hunt has associations with justice and the fight against oppression. In earlier times a revolt was started by the Raising of the Stang which was a pitchfork. Originally, this would have been the three-pronged Trident which was a weapon of Woden (and of Rudra-Shiva). This, of course, became the weapon of “The Devil” when our Woden was turned into this demonic figure by the Judaeo-Christians – who feared him most (for good reason!). In the illustration shown in Hamasson’s article on the Bundish Movement, we see the “three-pronged” symbol used as a hand-sign (mudra). This was obviously a symbol used by the ancient Cultic Brotherhoods, since it was used for oath-swearing and also as symbolic of the stang, and of revolt. The “stang” would thus be symbolic of the Thunderbolt, a weapon of Woden shown thus by Snorri Sturlasson. This was also a weapon of Rudra.
When we have used the term Ulfhedin for “wolf-hide” or “wolf-skin” we should perhaps look at this in the sense of Woden wearing the heðinn – a short hooded cloak made of wolf-fur. This is where the name The Hooded One stems.
Woden is also the Masked One (Grim), for he wore a cultic mask, as did his followers in their cultic rites.
As we can see from various different symbols of Woden, such as the Dancing Warriors on the Sutton Hoo Helmet, and the Long Man of Wilmington, Woden led the ancient Warrior-Dances where the Cultic Warrior Brotherhoods took part. (We shall take a closer look at this later.)
We must now move on to the symbols used by the Woden Männerbund all of which derive from very ancient symbols used by such cultic-warrior brotherhoods –
- The Death’s Head which is symbolic of the Totenkult – the Cult of the Dead. This was also used on the “pirate” flag which was used by sea-vikings or sea-raiders. (It should be noted that this figure bears an eye-patch over the right eye, a clear association with the One-Eyed God, Woden.)
- Black & Red, or sometimes Black, White and Red. These were the colours of the ancient Cultic Warrior Brotherhoods. Red is the colour of vigorous youth, virility, and thus Life-Force. This is why we redden the runes, which gives them Life-Force. Red is also the colour of war, and has associations with the dead.
- The wearing of totem animal skins symbolizing their bond to the Ancestral Totem, and with the wolf to the Wolf-God, Woden. This is part of the Ahnenkult – Cult of the Ancestors.
- The weapons used by the Cultic-Warrior. In the case of the Cultic-Weapon of the Männerbund this was the Club, as seen on the Herne Giant (Cerne Abbas Giant).
- The Cultic Belt worn around the waist, and shown clearly on the Dancing Warriors. The buckle of the belt stands over the Hara – the Japanese term for the area about two fingers below the navel, the seat of the Warrior-Fire. This is the area associated with OðroeriR – The Wod-Roarer. This is why the belt-buckle is so important as a symbol, and this should be carefully meditated upon.
- The Dragon-Slayer. This is a symbol associated with such cultic-warrior brotherhoods, for the Dragon-Slayer appears to have been patron of such bands. When we think of the Dragon-Slayer, we English think immediately of “St. George” – the Christian Saint. This is the patron of the English. Some English Nationalists have suggested dropping this figure in favour of King Edmund, but since we have no record of Edmund ever having been a Dragon-Slayer, this could be a gross error. If we drop the figure of the Dragon-Slayer, we drop the symbolism behind it. “Saint George” does have many different versions, and one refers to a tyrant-figure from Capadocia. But there is also one that traces his origins to a people known as the Ossettes, a people with Scythian origins. These people knew of a figure called Wastyrgi or Wasgergi, from which we get “George”. If certain of these Scythian Tribes, known as the Saka, were kin to the later Saxons, then “George” may not be so alien. Indeed, as I mentioned in an article some years ago, “George” could be seen as Ge-Urge – “Earth-Power”.
These Cultic Warrior Bands were always associated with the wilderness, with the Primal Forests. In our own Robin Hood we have a very early archetype of Woden, and one that does not feature in the other mythologies. Here we find Hooden or Woden as an Archer-God and as leader of an Outlaw Band. And here I am going to digress somewhat and speak of the Warrior-Dances led by the Cultic-God, Woden.
I have mentioned in an earlier edition that the name of Robin Hood in the Russell Crowe film is “Robin Longstrides”, and that this links to ancient names associated with Orion the Hunter (Herne the Hunter). Here I am going to look at this from a different angle. Now, there is an old magical stance called the Crane Stance, in which the participant stands upon one leg, and closes the right eye. Now, this may well be a dim remembrance of a magical stance that mimics the One-Eyed Hunter-God – Woden. This was called the Crane-Stance. When I was researching this article in our training program in karate we were taught an advanced kata, not well known today, one which originated in China and was taken to Okinawa, and this was based upon movements of the crane. It was immediately noticed that the arms were held in a position very much like the Long Man of Wilmington, the Dancing Warriors, and the one-eyed god leading the wolf-warrior in the Swedish cast shown below –
This cast shows a Horned God with his right eye missing, leading a Wolf-Warrior in a kind of Warrior Dance. This is very much like the “Crane Dance” where the leg is lifted slowly off the ground (like a crane) and the movements of this particular kata were very slow.
This type of movement is also found in the steps made by the heron when this bird hunts for fish in water. This stance is very, very slow, and the legs are raised high so as not to disturb the waters and frighten the fish. As it does so the heron stands on one leg. In both cases the crane and the heron could be termed a “long-strider” or “wide-strider”, names used of Orion the Hunter in ancient times. Since Orion the Hunter is our own Herne the Hunter, we would not go far wrong in deriving the name “Herne” not only from horn but also from heron. Of importance to the Cult of Woden, the name Wid-Ar could also derive from “Wide-Strider” as well as “Forest-Warrior”. (Note also the name of the hero of the Lord of the Rings – Strider! He is also shown wearing a hood.)
From this we may also find yet another symbol associated with the Männerbund – the Phoenix or Fire-Eagle. In ancient Egypt we find an image of the Bennu Bird which is a version of the phoenix, and which was originally seen as a grey heron which was the “herald of all things to come”. This was the bird which opens its beak and breaks the silence of the Primæval Night with the “call of life and destiny”, which “determines what is and what is not to be”. The Phoenix (Heron) is thus the original Logos (“In the beginning was the Word”) and thus was linked to the Os-Rune (“mouth” i.e. “The Utterer”). The Phoenix regulated Time, and this was also a role of the constellation of Orion the Hunter.
Now, we also know that the Phoenix or Fire-Eagle was symbolic of regeneration and of rebirth. The Phoenix arises from the ashes of its own destruction. This symbol is very important to our struggle, and is the symbol used by the English Movement. The Phoenix was associated with the Sun and thus with the ancient Solar-Cults. It is interesting to note that the name bennu used of the Phoenix is linked to the Semitic term ben which means “son”. Our version of this would be – Ing! The benben or conical stones associated with the bennu bird were associated with the Greek omphalos, a name obviously associated with “phallus” – bringing us back to the figure of Herne the Hunter (Cerne).
In Aryan India we find a group of Cultic Warriors who form an Oath Brotherhood, and who are known as the vrātyas,the name stemming from -
Vrāta – troop, brotherhood.
Vrata – oath.
Clearly the two concepts are here linked together in similar-sounding words – i.e. put together these mean – Oath Brotherhood. Together with these Cultic Brotherhoods lies the concept of the Teuton Fury.
In one of the Ulster Myths concerning their most famous hero, Cu Chulainn, he is seized with a battle-madness which is termed ferg. This term is based upon the same root as our English wearg or Norse warg which refers to a wolf. The Greeks called this state lyssa from their word lycos which means “wolf”. This state was attributed to Achilles before the gates of Troy, as it was to Hector, his adversary.
It would seem that in time the term warg or wearg came to mean an “outlaw”, and in particular one who was banished from a tribe. Since this was the ultimate dishonour it would seem that the term had been changed from its original meaning – the Wolf-Fury.
What we have to remember is that such wild warriors, dedicated to the Wolf-God, had to go through a period of marge in which they were outside the tribe in a certain sense of being schooled in the wild forests.
The Walknut is the symbol of the Warrior-Initiate bound to the Will of Woden, and that is why Woden Initiates wear this symbol. As I have shown before, if the symbol is laid out by a piece of string and tied in the “knot” it makes a slip-knot. This is the symbol of the God of the Hanged. (So is the Torc which was originally a twisted cord around the neck). The term Walknut can stem from –
Walk (Wolf) – Knut (Knot) = Wolf-Knot.
Wal (Slain) – Knut (Knot) = Knot of the Slain
The Wolf-Knot is thus the ultimate symbol of the binding of the Warrior-Initiate to the Wolf-God, Woden. The knot, of course, symbolizes a binding.
The “Battle-Madness” is here associated with the Wod and the Woda-Force. As Woden is the Master of Wod it is he who gives this power to his Warrior-Initiates. This is also connected to the Wod-Roarer (Odroerir), the Roaring Cauldron at the point two fingers below the navel – the Hara. The raising of the Fire-Serpent is also part of this Cult. The Wolf-Fury is also termed the Teuton Fury, or Furor Teutonicus (Latin). Woden is the personification of this battle-rage or battle-fury. He is the Wolf-God, and just like other wolf-gods like Mars and Apollo he becomes the High God the Centre.
“Like a half-dead man whose feet are warmed –
Shaken, alas! By unknown fevers,
Trembling with sharp icy frosty-arrows,
Pursued by you, my thought!
Unutterable, veiled, terrible one!
Huntsman behind the clouds!
Struck down by your lightning-bolt,
You mocking eye that stares at me from the darkness – thus I lie,
Bend myself, twist myself, tortured
By every eternal torment,
Smitten by you, cruel huntsman,
You unknown – God!
Despite the fact that Nietzsche held to a more classical stance than a Germanic one, it would seem clear from his writings that he was more driven by the Spirit of Wotan than anything else. The quotation above is just one in which he uses the term “huntsman”, and “mocking eye”, both of which suggest the One-Eyed Hunter-God of Germanic Mythology. This quote, and the many others by Nietzsche that suggest that the Spirit of Woden was the driving-force behind his philosophizing “with a hammer” is ample proof that Woden was arising once more – at that time – within the German Nation. Today, the Spirit of Wotan has moved westwards into the Islands of the Mighty, and so it is time to re-evaluate this ancient god-force, and to bring to life the most ancient and original archetype of Woden.
I am here going to show that the original role of Woden was that of the God of the Cultic-Warrior, the God of the Germanic Männerbünde. By the time that the Viking Sagas were written down the figure of Odin (Woden) had changed somewhat, and the original role had been hidden from view, though we can still find it by looking more deeply into these sagas. From what little evidence we have, the Anglo-Saxons who invaded England still held to the ancient view of Woden, but the proof of this, again, needs a lot of delving into strange corners – but nonetheless, it is there.
Here we must start with the Sutton Hoo Helmet, which I am sure is not one that would have been used for battle, but is rather a Cultic Mask. This seems clear from the style of the helmet, and when we delve into the secrets held within the symbolism of this object, it will become clearer still.
The first thing to be noticed is that the nose-piece is formed in the shape of the Saxon Irminsul, with two wings as the “eyebrows” of the mask. These wings may be that of the Eagle, or that of the Swan; they end in boar-figures. The bottom of the Irminsul makes the “moustache” and the mouth. In Scandinavia these type of Irminsul-pillars were once called öndweg, a word that contains önd – Vital Breath. Since the nose is the part where the Vital Breath is drawn, then it would seem logical to assume that here we are dealing with what is called prana by the Hindus. When we consider that a Serpent is shown from the nape of the neck, over the skull to the point around the Third Eye, ending in the Eagle’s Wings, then here we could well be dealing with what is called the Kundalini-Force, which is often associated with controlled rhythmic breath.
So, in this helmet, we are seeing an object that was used as a Cultic Mask, and I see no reason to doubt that the Cult of Woden was involved here, since one of his by-names was Grim – The Masked One. The mask would here be used in the ancient Cult of Woden, and, as we shall see, it is Woden who leads the Cultic-Warrior bands – the Männerbünde. We turn now to one of the symbols used on this Cultic Mast.
There is a complex symbolism to be found in this section, based upon Twin Warriors holding spears and swords. The stances used suggest a Cultic Warrior Dance. The horned helmets are obviously ritual wear, since they would certainly be too heavy on the head in battle, and of not much practical use either. It is first necessary to note that the hand positions are in the shape of the Ear-Rune or Cweorth-Rune, and this stance will be seen to have vital importance to this argument. It should also be noted that each warrior wears a distinct belt around his waist. To understand the symbolism used here we must now delve into the background of the Sutton Hoo Helmet.
This helmet was found in the burial-mounds at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, and is thought to have belonged to King Rædwald, who ruled the Wuffingas of East Anglia. The name “Wuffinga” means “Sons of the Wolf”, which gives us a clue to the origins of this Anglian Tribe. This type of term, ending in “ing” or “inga” was originally used of an offshoot of a larger Germanic Tribe, usually one which embarked upon a tribal movement into a new area, raiding and taking over such an area for the living-space of the new “tribe”. Such a movement was undertaken by a section of the tribe made up of the youthful warriors, collectively known as the Here or Heri. The later Viking pillagers where called here by the English, because they were raiders and pillagers at the outset, before moving in to settle new lands. It would seem quite possible that the Wuffingas were a heri originally.
A die from around the 6th Century, found in Sweden, depicts a horned warrior bearing twin spears, and leading (in a warrior-dance?) a wolf-masked and wolf-skinned figure who also bears a spear. Note the same type of Solar Horns/Lunar Horns, and the belt around the waist. Although this does not show up clearly, when the whole thing is enlarged it is clear that the right eye of the leading figure is missing. Clearly we have here a representation of Woden as the One-Eyed God. Later Viking figures of the same area show Odin with the right eye missing. We have here the same pose as that of the Twin Warriors on the Sutton Hoo Mask.
The coat of arms of Bury St. Edmund in Suffolk, named after the last Wuffinga King, Edmund, shows a crown and crossed arrows, a symbol still used for Sweden. It would seem obvious that the Wuffingas were of Swedish origin, and were a heri that embarked upon the ver sacrum that founded new lands and a new nation here in England. They were a split-off from the Wulfingas also known as the Ylfings in Norse Mythology. Their founding-father was Wuffa, a name that seems to mean “Little Wolf”.
Woden was not just a “warrior-god” for he was the god of the warrior-bands known as the heri, warrior-bands that underwent a cultic training under the tutelage of the One-Eyed God – the Wolf-God and the Hunter-God. To understand this we must look more deeply into the Anglo-Saxon lore that has been left to us, but first it is necessary to look at the type of warrior-bands that were dedicated to Woden.
“But the Harii, savage as they are, enhance their inborn wildness, over and above the strength in which they surpass the peoples thus enumerated, by divice and moment: black are their shields, their bodies painted, for battles they pick the blackest nights, and by their very dreadfulness – and more: the semblance of an army of the dead – they produce terror. No foe can bear their strange and, so to speak, hellish aspect; for in every battle the eyes are defeated first…”
Tacitus – Germania 43.
The underlining is mine, and emphasises the true nature of the Harii, whose name stems from the same root as heri. For what Tacitus is here describing is not a tribe, but a warrior-band that leads into battle, a warrior-band made up of cultic-warriors dedicated to Woden. What we have is here an Army of the Dead – which is exactly what is described here. To understand this concept we need to look into the Einheriar described in Norse Mythology. The name Einheriar stems from ein (one) heri i.e. they are the Army of the Dead Warriors – at a mythical level, that is. It is the Einheriar who are chosen by Woden, and who are claimed as his own in death. Hence why Woden is often seen to provide the weapon that slays his chosen heroes. In life they are dedicated to him, and he has the right to choose them in death.
We must now look into these cultic warrior-bands which go back further than historical Germanic Tribes, and can be found in ancient Iran and India, lands inhabited by Aryan Tribes. Indeed, it is quite possible that the word Aryan, which came to mean “noble”, stemmed originally from a root-series thus –
Here, heri, herian, heru, hero, erila, harry, heriar, herjan, ari, arya, etc.
The term heri stems originally from the Proto-Germanic χarilas from which we get χaria (army) and χarilan (leader of the army). But the “army” seen here is not a regular army but the heri whose name derives from the root meaning “make a predatory raid, destroy, lay waste, plunder, despoil, commit ravages”. Such a group was made up of young cultic warriors who were landless and had no property of their own, who were “outside” the social group, the tribe, but who were of aristocratic blood and whose ritual role was to become tribal leaders, or to form new tribal groups. This is why most of the Anglo-Saxon kings claimed direct descent from Woden.
In the Wolsunga Saga we find an interesting account of how Sigurd and Sinfjotle retire to the forest, don wolf-skins, and survive by hunting and killing to gain food. This seems to be a typical Cultic-Warrior Initiation into which the young warrior is prepared by an older man, through a stay in the wilderness of the forests, where he is forced to hunt for food, to survive by killing his enemies, and thus to prepare himself for a place within the tribe – usually a leadership place, as we shall see.
I think that the most obvious example of this can be found in the film The 300 based upon the 300 Spartans that fought and died at Thermopolye. Now, the Spartans were perhaps the most famous warrior-state or military-state, and their Spartan Laws were created by the one-eyed Lycergus, whose name stems from the Greek lykos – “wolf”. In this film we find Leonidas going out into the wilderness, into the snows and cold weather, fighting and slaying a demon-wolf, and returning to his tribe as king. This should be understood as the young arictocratic male who undergoes a Cultic Warrior Initiation returning to his tribe to lead them. He does this under the tutelage of the One-Eyed God, who we English name Woden.
When the Vikings invaded England the Anglo-Saxons referred to them as here, which underlines their being regarded as raiders, pillagers, looters, and making predatory raids. This, of course, was also true of the later pirates who were sea-raiders of the same ilk. Indeed, the flag raised by these pirates was the Skull and Crossbones, the symbol that represents the Männerbünde, the Cultic-Warrior Bands. It is thus not strange to relate that the Skull & Crossbones bears an eye-patch over the right eye, thus hinting that the bands were also under the tutelage of the One-Eyed God – Woden!
In order to understand these cultic warrior-bands, whose role was to actually become the dead warriors of their people, we will now look at a modern (distorted) festival that bears a dim remembrance of the actual warrior-cults and their role. This is the festival now known to
us as Halloween – “All-Hallow’s Eve”. This occurs on October 31st, but the original dating may well have been November 11th which is now “Armistice Day” though it is an ancient heathen date for the Heroes Day. This is known in Odinist circles as Einheriar Day – and not for no reason! We must here look at the symbols of this ancient festival, symbols which are still used today –
- The cultic masks – skeletal masks which obviously represent the Spirits of the Dead. Clothing is also worn with a skeletal look.
- Some of the masks are of a dæmonic type, hideoes and gruesome, such as would bring fear into one’s enemies. These are usually associated with the spirit-world.
- The festival is associated with the spirits of the dead.
- The clothing worn is usually black and red, colours of the Germanic Männerbünde, and also that of the God of the Dead – Woden – whose role here is the Grim Reaper.
- The weapons used in these festivals – the sword, axe, and in particular the three-pronged fork, the weapon of Woden (see Norse Mythology) and that of Shiva (whose role was originally that of Rudra, who we shall be looking at later). The three-pronged fork is the thunderbolt, a weapon featured in the quote from Nietzsche at the beginning of this work.
- The “pumpkins” which are merely props for the lights used in this festival, these representing the Lights of the Dead.
- Fire – this is not actually used in this festival, but since we are talking of a festival whose date is between 31st October and 11th November, then this has to incorporate Bonfire Night (an obvious fire-festival) into its form.
- “Trick or Treat” – this may well be seen as a latecomer, but indeed it is not. It stems from the Sakraler stehlrecht – the sacred right to steal – in which the youthful warriors went around their village, demanding that they be fed and given drink (usually alcoholic), and when given such gifts would shower good wishes for good harvests, but when refused or insulted, would break down the door of the house, smash off the roof, or even put out the hearth-fire (the central point of the house) and pollute the well. This survives today in the “tricks” played upon people who do not give to the Trick or Treaters!
As we can see here, we have a very ancient Sacred Rite, enacted by the Cultic Warrior Bands, which has today been turned into a “witches” festival, or been condemned as “devil-worship”, but which was originally a Festival of the Dead Heroes, in which the dead heroes were actually brought to life; the young warriors were actually possessed by the Spirits of the Dead. These young warriors actually became the dead ancestors. This is why their symbol was the Totenkopf (Death’s Head), and their god was Woden – the Totenführer.
The idea of being possessed is rather hard to understand, but the Christian Church certainly believed in “possession”, and attributed it to dæmonic powers. In order to understand what possession is we must turn to the works of the Swiss psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung. Carl Jung considered that the Spirit of Wotan was awakening in Germany in the 1920s to 1930s. This is what he has to say -
“But what is more curious – indeed, salacious to a degree – is that an ancient god of storm and rage, the long latent Wotan, should awake, like an extinct volcano to new activity, in a civilised country that is supposed to have outgrown the Dark Ages for a long time.” (1)
Jung sees the youth-wanderings of the Wandervogel as being the resteless wandering associated with Wotan, this being taken over by “the thousands of unemployed people, who one could encounter everywhere on their aimless rambles”, and by 1933 “they were no longer wandering, but marching in their hundreds of thousands. The Hitler movement literally brought the whole of Germany to its feet, from five-year-olds to veterans, and produced the spectacle of a nation migrating from one place to another. Wotan the wanderer was on the move.” (1)
Here, Jung also sees the figure of Wotan behind the philosophising of Nietzsche, where he sees Zarathustra as a magician and personification of the storm-wind, just as Wotan is. He quotes Nietzsche on his Unknown One, the hunter behind the clouds, the mocking eye of the One-Eyed Wotan. Jung says that Nietzsche is “completely the victim of the hunter-god”. And he tells us that this was due to an experience that Nietzsche had at Pforta when he was fifteen years old, an experience desceribed in a book by his sister Elizabeth Foerster Nietzsche. As he wandered about in a wood at night he was frightened by a “blood-curdling scream from a nearby mental asylum”, after which he came face-to-face with a huntsman whose “features were wild and uncanny”. This huntsman blew a piercing blast on a whistle and Nietzsche lost consciousness, awakening in Pforta. The whole thing was a nightmare.
Jung, like Heinerich Heine, saw that when the Judaeo-Christian Church lost its grip on the people, Wotan would return with a vengeance! “When the Holy Father of Rome could only impotently lament before God the fate of the grex segregatus, the one-eyed old hunter, on the edge of the German forest, laughed and saddled Sleipnir.” Indeed, Jung saw the figure of Wotan behind the complex nature of National Socialism – “In fact I venture the heretical suggestion that the unfathomable depths of Wotan’s character explain more of National Socialism than all three reasonable factors put together.”
He goes on to state that possession is the key to understanding this concept, a phenomenon known as Ergriffenheit – a state of being seized or possessed. This concept postulates an Ergriffener (one who is seized or possessed) and an Ergreifer (one who seizes or possesses). Jung tells us that “Wotan is an Ergreifer of men, and unless one wishes to deify Hitler – which has indeed happened – he is really the only explanation….Wotan confined himself to the berserkers, who found their vocation as the Blackshirts of mythical kings.” (1) I have underlined the key words here, for Woden was a god of the Cultic-Warrior – the Berserker (Bear-Totem) or the Ulfhednar (Wolf-Totem).
He states – “For the sake of better understanding and to avoid prejudice, we could of course drop the name “Wotan” and speak of the furor teutonicus instead. But we should only be saying the same thing and not as well, for the furor in this case is a mere psychologising of Wotan, and tells us no more than that the Germans are in a state of “fury”…The impressive thing about the German phenomenon is that one man, who is obviosuly “possessed”, has infected a whole nation to such an extent that everything is set in motion and has started rolling on its course towards perdition.”
Woden is the Totenführer im Totenheer , the Leader of the Army of the Dead, and he leads as the Master of Wōd; the term wōd means “mad, possessed, raving”, but it is also related to the Old Irish fāith which means “seer” or “prophet”, going back to an Indo-European Root *vat/vāt, and also relating to the idea of a “poet” and to poetry, since Woden was a God of Poets too. The proto-Germanic Wōþanaz is the root of Woden, Wotan and through to the later Odin of the Norsemen. In this concept the idea of “madness” did not mean out of control, but controlled by someone else, i.e. inspired or possessed. There are certain words which are related to Wōd (The Force) and Wōden (Master of the Force) –
OE - wēdan
OHG - wuotan
OS - wōdian
All of which mean “rage, be raving mad, divine madness”.
OHG *wuot – violent emotion, rage.
MHG wuot – violent emotion, rage.
OE wōþ – song, sound, voice, poetry.
OE wōþbora – poet, orator, seer, prophet.
ON ōðr – inspired mental activity.
The heri were the “people possessed by fury”, i.e. the furor teutonicus (“Teuton Fury”); they were the people possessed by Woden, whose role in all this is that of the Leader of the Furious Host – the Wild Huntsman, the One-Eyed Hunter-God or the Wolf-God, a concept that goes way back into the mists of time, right back to the figure of Rudra of India, a god that developed into Shiva as he lost many of his darker aspects. Woden is the god that possesses the Wōda-Force has it for his use, and confers it upon his Warrior Initiates. Woden is the Primal Shaman and the Heri-Führer (a name that itself rings of the “Fury”). His is a darker aspect of Woden, and one overlooked (and far too often suppressed) by those who do not understand this role. But it is a side which we can still gleam in the folklore of England, and within the history of the Anglo-Saxons.
If we look at the ancient god known as Rudra we find a wild, untamed god of the wilderness, and one whose weapons were the club and the bow and arrows (amongst others). These do not seem to have been part of the Odin Cults, though, as we shall see now, they must have formed part of the more ancient Woden Cults. The figure who is best known for his expertise with the bow and arrow is our own English Folk-Hero – Robin Hood. The name means “Light-Darkness” for he holds the balance of Light and Darkness within him. But his name also derives from the word Hooden which is the name of Woden.
There is a midwinter festival known as the Hooden Horse which survives in parts of Kent – the Isle of Thanet, Walmer and Deal. Since the Horse Twins – Hengest and Horsa – were the leaders of the Jutish Tribes that conquered Kent, then these festivals may well descend from Woden Horse Cults in the area. Indeed, proof of this would seem to be in the sounding of the name “hooden”, for the “oo” was sounded in the Thanet dialect as the Germanic “u” (as in “umlaut”), the “h” was dropped, leaving the name – uden. This is the pronunciation of “Odin” in Scandinavia. In a similar midwinter festival in Yorkshire the Giant Dance is lead by a “Woden” and his wife “Frigg”; it is a sword-dance. As we have seen from the figures of dancing warriors, they were led by Woden in their war-dances or sword-dances.
The Mummers Plays which are a feature of Midwinter festivals around Sussex, Surrey and Kent, can be traced back to Anglo-Saxon times. These later featured “St. George” which was obviosuly a Christian intrusion on a heathen work, but the Dragon-Slayer is a prime feature of the ancient Männerbünde. Indeed, the Dragon-Slayer seems to be a patron of these men’s warrior societies. We have the god Thunor as a Serpent-Slayer, and Woden could also take this role if we consider Beowulf (“Barley-Wolf”) to have evolved from the figure of Woden. Beowulf is a Dragon-Slayer. In some of these dramas or plays we find the participants blackening their faces, which seems to reflect the blackened faces of the Harii. Today, these people face the charge of being “racist”, but this seems to go way back in time when these cultic warriors blackened their faces for battle, and for their cultic dances.
The figure of our own Robin Hood (The Hooded Man) has all the hallmarks of these ancient warrior brotherhoods. There are many points which indicate that we have here a very ancient concept of Woden and these Cultic Brotherhoods –
- Robin Hood dwells in the forests, the region where the Cultic Brotherhoods undertook their trials and initiations. These are Heathens for they dwell in the uncultivated areas. The forest is the “school” where the young warrior learns his warrior-skills, and the lore of his Folk.
- Robin Hood is a hunter who kills the deer for his food, and survives through his skills in the wilderness.
- Robin Hood is a skilled archer.
- Robin Hood has twelve Merry Men which certainly points to a link to the zodiac and its twelve constellations.
- Robin Hood is a Wolf’s Head – an outlaw working outside the boundaries of the established order.
The legend of Robin Hood has many similarities to that of Orion, the Greek Hunter-God. This will be looked at now.
Orion the Hunter was blinded, just as Woden is the Blind-God. We can see in the figure of the Cerne Abbas Giant that of Herne the Hunter – the name suggests this since Herne is the Anglo-Saxon form of Cerne (which is Latin in its roots). In the figure of the Cerne Abbas Giant we can find that of Herne or Woden as the God of the Männerbünde. He even carries the cultic weapon of these warrior brothehoods – the club! The name that has come down to us for this figure is Heil which is a Germanic name, and one which suggests the heilbringer – the cultic warriors who bring destruction in order to recreate the Primal Order which was first created by the Primal Ancestors.
In the constellation of Orion we see this Hunter-God wielding the club in his right hand, with a shield in the left, though the latter could be a bow. Whatever the case we here have a representation of Herne the Hunter, the mystic guide to Robin Hood, and the figure of Woden as the One-Eyed Hunter-God. Orion or Urion represents the Primal Æon or Primal Aion. If we look at the “nipples” of the Herne Giant we can see that they match the two stars at the top of the seven most prominent stars in this constellation. Germanic Lore states that when the stars of the Sword of Orion turn red the End Time will come about.
The Cerne Abbas Giant shows a solar-phallic god, a god also associated with fertility, of the land and of the tribe, as well as the virile male warrior. It should be noticed that he stands in the same pose as the Dancing Warriors, and of Woden leading his wolf-warrior. Again, the feet point to his role as leader of the warrior-dance. It is my contention that this figure represents Woden in his dark, winter, aspect – as Wuldor who is the ski-god of the north, whose weapon is the bow and arrow, as he is a hunter-god. His consort is Skadi the Huntress, her name being related to words meaning “shade” and thus representing the shadow-side.
There is a strange point to consider in regard to the idea that the Herne Giant represents the constellation of Orion the Hunter. This concerns the name given to Robin Hood in the latest film starring Russell Crowe. In the film he is “Robin Longstrides”, a name that does not seem to appear in any legend (as far as I know, though this may not be so). This is strange in that the ancient Egyptians called this constellation “The Far Strider”, and the Hindu god Vishnu (who has some affinites to Woden) was called “Wide-Strider”. We may also have a similar concept hidden in the name Widar who is Woden reborn after he is swallowed by the Wolf’s Jaws. It is also interesting to note that the name “Herne” – the Horned One – can also be perhaps related to the heron, which was a bird connected to the phoenix (bennu bird) in Egypt, a bird marking the birth of a new world-age. The heron is a “strider”, just as the crane is a “strider”, and there is a magical stance based upon the participant standing on one leg and closing the right eye – a hint of a connection to the One-Eyed Hunter-God, and to the Crane-Dance.
The hill-figure known as the Long Man of Wilmington has the same stance, but this time holding twin poles (which were originally spears). It seems that he once sported a horned helmet. This figure seems to be based upon the April Fool, another feature of the Wild Host and of the Midwinter Plays. The death and resurrection of The Fool would seem to be the cultic initiation of the warrior within the warrior brotherhoods. The Long Man may well be an earthly counterpart of the constellation of Cygnus the Swan (which is outside the scope of this work).
The original title given to the figure of the Long Man seems to have been Wændal and this could be connected to the Orwandil of Norse Mythology, a name that means “Arrow-Wandil” and thus connects us to Robin Hood again. Indeed, throughout all of this runs the theme of the Divine Fool whose father is slain by his brother, and whose role is to slay his uncle in revenge for this act. A theme found in Hamlet or Amlodhi – a Norse Myth. This does point to this hill-figure being the “April Fool”.
I am here going to look briefly at the god Rudra who appears to have developed into the later Shiva, a god known for his “Eye” that opened to destroy the worlds, a god of destruction, yet also a god of recreation – just like the Wild Huntsman. The name Rudra could stem from any of the following, though all of these seem to convey aspects of his being –
Ródas, ródast – “earth”.
Rudis (Latin) – “wild, uncultivated”.
Rullus (Latin) – “rustic”.
Rudlo – savage, rude.
Rudere (Latin) – “roar”, “howl”.
The last one relates to Woden whose title is similar, and also to the howling of the wolf or the dog; the dog, as well as the tiger, had associations with Rudra-Shiva. Rudra was a god of the wilds and like Woden was the Great Initiator. He was leader of a “Furious Host”, just as Woden leads the Wild Heri. The figure of Shiva has the same pose as that of the Long Man and the Herne Giant (although he has two extra “arms”), and he holds the drum and the fire in his hands, performing the Dance of Destruction. Indeed, the feet of Shiva doing this dance suggest the Crane Dance, or similar kata found in Japan (of Okinawan origin, brought from China – and perhaps India prior to that).
Returning to the beginning of this work, which featured the Sutton Hoo Mask, in this we found a link with the Irminsul – the World Column. It is interesting to note that there is an Indo-European Root *ermana which means “rushing furiously”, and which may well be related to the name Irmin or Ermine. This is a Saxon God whose symbols are the scales (justice), the sword, spear, and the White Rose (White Rose of Albion). This connects the god Irmin to Woden, which is no surprise really. The symbols associated with Irmin – scales and sword/spear – suggest that he is a god associated with justice and order, something closely associated with the Cultic Warrior Brotherhoods.
The ancient Germanic Warrior Brotherhoods, as shown in their mythical counterpart, the Wild Host, were also responsible for bringing justice where this had become corrupt. Even today we can see vestiges of this ancient concept when a few years ago the “Countryside March” of nearly half a million “Anglo-Saxons” descended on London, carrying effiges of the corrupt politicians, and demanding justice from them. This reflects the Raising of the Stang which was a form of “peasant’s revolt” where a fork (three-pronged fork was weapon of Woden & Shiva), was raised to represent this revolt. In Germany the Wolf-Hook Rune (now used as symbolic of the English Resistance Movement) was used as symbolic of resistance to tyranny.
This aspect of Woden is one that has been sadly neglected within the rise of Odinism, Wodenism and Wotanism, but it is central to an understanding of the unity within the differing aspects of this god. The figure of Merlin the Magician and Gandalf the Wizard would seem to be Woden in disguise, but the darker aspect of his role as the One-Eyed Hunter-God and God of the Dead has been carefully brushed aside. And yet it is this aspect that explains most of the differing roles that he takes as the All-Father of our Folk. Like his counterparts in other Indo-European cultures (such as Rudra-Shiva) he is a god who evolves into the High God, indeed he is the only god who undergoes an evolution. If we look carefully into Norse Mythology we find that the other gods and goddesses retain their individual roles, yet Woden’s search for occult knowledge (at any cost) helps him evolve into the High God of the North.
To sum up, the cultic warrior would retire into the wilderness, the wild forests, to hunt, kill and defend himself in order to survive by his own means. This was a cultic initiation into manhood, after which he would enter the Teuta – the Tribe. This initiation process also involved the cattle-raid and pirate raids into other territory, in which an area was looted and pillaged by the right of rapine. These warrior-bands who undertook such raids were called the Here or Heri, and this was done under the leadership of Woden. Cultically they were an Army of the Dead, and they were always the first into battle, wearing nothing but their wolf-skins or bear-skins, and carrying a spear as their weapon. Some of these cultic warriors remained just as this throughout their lives, and we find the Berserkers in the role of the bodyguard of kings and emperors.
As the Heri-Führer Woden had the club as his weapon, an ancient symbol of the God of the Männerbünde. But he was also, in this role, the One-Eyed Hunter-Warrior whose weapon was the bow and arrow; this role remained as he developed into the figure of Robin Hood. He was also the Wolf-God, which takes us back into very ancient times. We find the figure of Woden in the God of the Wild Hunt, which is his role in the destruction-to-recreation process that occurs at the end of a world-age and a cosmic cycle. We have entered such a period in our times, and thus a better understanding of the role of Woden as God of the Cultic Warrior is needed.
The importance of this post cannot be underestimated; we are already Wolf's Heads in a society that shuns us, even hates what we stand for - the TRUTH! A society founded upon lies, deceit and criminality will ever hunt down those who tell the TRUTH and who threaten their oppressive regime. We have not been cast out of this society, since we choose to take this path - indeed, maybe we have been chosen to take this path. What is important is that the ancient Germanic Mannerbunde was the basis of the creation of a state or nation, the ordering of chaos; the process was achieved by a chaotic band of 'renegades' - Wolf's Heads. We can see this in Hengest and Horsa and Romulus and Remus - the Divine Aryan Twins. Not only that, these young warrior-bands were trained from a very early age in the Lore of the Tribe, in the Warrior Arts, in the Mystico-Magical Arts, trained so that they could - when necessary - recreate the Divine Order that their ancestors had set.
But the only way that this Divine Order can be re-instated due to the degeneration and decay of a nation-state is through the use of a chaotic war-band which emulates those who set this Divine Order in the first place. It would be impossible to 'play by the book', to work to the rules, since such a corrupt and degenerate nation-state will only play by their own 'dirty rules'. Our struggle has to be done through the recreation of a chaotic warrior-band (rather many warrior-bands) who are outside the boundaries of this society and work outside the boundaries of laws and rules - this is the role of Woden