Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rethinking the Spirituality of Pre-Christian Europe

Upon reading the most recent blog entry from the Asatru Folk Assembly "Asatru Update," I found myself in fundamental disagreement with one part of it. I hope this is taken as something of a constructive criticism, but I think it's important enough to make mention of, as it has to do with the larger paradigm.

A number of leaders in the Asatru (Odinist) community have made statements such as "Asatru was the ancestral faith of our Northern European ancestors for 40,000 years." So, is that statement valid? Well, yes and no. During the last ice age, approximately 25,000 years ago, Northern Europe (and the rest of the northern lands on Earth) were covered in massive sheets of ice. It's not likely many people, if any, even lived there. The people who we now call "Germanic," probably lived in approximately the region of what we now call Iran. This region probably resembled modern British Columbia more than what we think of Iran as looking like today.

Although some form of Germanic polytheism probably does date back 40,000 years or so, it just didn't reside in Europe for that long. Occupying Europe first was a proto-European race, which we might loosely call "the Alpines." It's very probable that many symbols and traditions within Odinism have their roots in the spiritual traditions of the Alpines. For example, "casting a circle," the wheel of the year, the solar wheel, and the lunar cycles (the Moon represents the Maternal). Doesn't the "triple horns" of Odinism look a whole lot like the "triple moon" of European witchcraft? Ironically, the symbol of the Asatru Folk Assembly is the triple horns.

The article, of which I am questioning one aspect of, is entitled 'Asatru is About Drinking From Our Own Well.' I think it's a good article with many valid and reasonable points. However, it clearly suggests that "Wicca" is not "drinking from our own well." Well, lets examine that. Today's German ethnic root stock, to use just one example, probably has as much "Alpine stock" (meant sub-racially, not regionally) as they do Germanic stock. Even in Scandinavia, the Alpines long pre-dated the advance of the Germanics. All I'm saying is that the spiritual traditions of the Alpine sub-race IS our well! All Europeans. They lived here first. Before the Germanic people migrated westward from ancient north-central Eurasia; and before the Mediterraneans migrated westward from the ancient Middle East.

Now when "Wicca" is mentioned in the article, the conclusion is partly correct. Wicca is universal and eclectic. However, the root behind it, was every bit as European as is Asatru. I understand, they want to keep it simple for people. Still, Odinists seem to have a great respect for Druidism, which is a different spiritual path. There's a lot of overlap. Slavic paganism has many similarities with Odinism. The spiritual traditions of pre-Christian Europe overlapped. "Norse witchcraft" is likely a leftover from the earlier Alpine subrace. It's also possible that it developed from contact with people from Gaul, where many Alpine tribes still existed separately from Gaulish tribes right up to the conquest by the Romans.

The evidence suggests that the Alpine subrace lived all over Europe, and beyond, after the last icecap melted. Then, Mediterraneans migrated in waves across Southern Europe and North Africa, up into France, and into the British Isles. Next, Germanic people migrated across Northern Europe in two distinct waves. First, they migrated clear across central and northern Europe, intermingled with the Alpines, which probably produced the Celtic peoples. This may explain the wide range of descriptions of the Celts by Roman and Greek historians. Second, another wave of Germanic peoples migrated across Northern Europe, into the now dry region of Scandinavia, and were checked at Gaul. They overran the Alpines and Celts within their new territories, at least to the degree of which the "Germanic identity and language" became the dominant one.

From all of this sprang a wonderful diversity of spiritual traditions. The Druids likely were an offshoot of the Germanic people, while magical traditions in Scandinavia and Germany were probably from the earlier Alpines or Celts, or perhaps from more westward contact with those two subraces. Stegheria is, at least in part, likely a remnant from pre-Mediterranean central and south Italy. The ancient Etruscans, Umbrians, and others, had their own polytheistic traditions, but they probably merged with the earlier magical and earth traditions as well. Roman and Greek polytheism sprang at a later time, from similar pantheons of gods and goddesses it appears. Slavic paganism, also, seems to stem from a variety of sources (Germanic, Celtic, Alpine).

It seems clear that the variety of cultures in Europe goes hand-in-hand with the variety of pre-Christian spiritual traditions. So to digress, it's very possible that the "triple horns" symbol of the AFA, ultimately can be traced back to the "triple moon" (triple goddess) from the root traditon of Wicca. From clear back into the very ancient world when Germanic tribes from north-central Eurasia migrated into northernmost and north-central Europe and co-opted some of the powerful spiritual elements of the original Alpine subrace. Long ago, we met the others who were like us... and they became us.


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