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the tumult, he says, “There goes the old one again, driving along up there, and banging the wheels with his axe." The fiery red beardfou the god "streams like a meteor to the troubled air;" and in his right hand he grasps a stone club, or a mighty hammer. In like manner do the Vedic hymns describe Indra of the golden beard, as armed with a brazen, or golden, battle-hammer, forged for him by Tvashtar and the Rhibus; and with which he goes forth to combat the demons of darkness, who have stolen the precious freight of the clouds and the golden treasure of the sun. As often as Indra hurls his weapon at the foe, it returns of itself to his hand; an admirable property, which is also possessed by Thor's hammer, Mjoelnir (the grinder to powder), the work of the Dwarfs. When he seizes it and goes forth in his chariot to battle, the fields of heaven burn, rocks split and crash, chasms howl, and the old earth groans and trembles to her centre. Inflamed with divine rage at the sight of his foe, the god blows in his red beard and awakens the“ beardspeech” —the thunder. The huge short-hafted hammer flies from his hand, and never misses its mark; no object, however hard, can withstand its force, or damage it; and when the blow is struck, it returns to its master's hand, and even becomes at his pleasure so small that he can carry it with ease in his bosom. In many places in Bavaria, in stormy weather, the windows are thrown open as wide as possible; so that if the thunderhammer should chance to enter, it may have free passage to return to the hand that hurled it. They do the same thing in Hertfordshire; though the name of the thunder-hammer is forgotten there, and people speak only of leaving a clear passage for the thunderbolt.
In Lower Germany, the devil, who in Christian times has taken the place of the heathen Thunar, is called sometimes Hammer simply, sometimes Master Hämmerlein. In the beginning of the twelfth century Prince Magnus Nielsson of Denmark destroyed a temple in a Swedish island, containing brazen hammers of enormous size. They were sacred to Thor, and were used in his worship to imitate thunder.
Besides his hammer, his strength-giving girdle, and his iron gauntlets, Thor was furnished, according to Scandinavian tradition, with a flint and steel, which were also the work of the Dwarfs. The fint had three sides, one white, one yellow, and one red. When he strikes on the red side, it gives out thunder and lightning and flying sparks. From the white side issue hailstorms of such force that no man can stand before them. With the yellow side Thor kindles sunshine so bright and warm that the snow instantly melts before it.
In Germany, certain sharp-pointed stones, among others the fossils called belemnites, are known as thunderstones, because they are reputed to have been shot down from the clouds with the lightning; and whatever they strike, they infallibly smash to atoms. Some of these thunderstones are said to be in the form of an acute-angled triangle, of a gray colour, and extraordinary hardness. Probably they are fint arrow-heads; for these are called in some parts of England elfin arrows, and are believed,
if I mistake not, to be allied to lightning. Whoever carries one of these thunderstones about him is safe from lightning; they are a sure preservative against its stroke. If a little bit be chipped off from the stone, and
' inserted under the skin of the hand, let garrotters beware of the man who is so armed; one blow of his fist will lay the strongest of them dead at his feet. “May a thunderstone smite me!" is an imprecation used even by the courtly poets of Germany in the thirteenth century; and Wolfram von Eschenbach speaks of a hard heart as being formed out of flintstone in thunder. It may reasonably be conjectured that repeated observation of the fall of aerolites did much to confirm the popular belief that the thundercloud always shot stony projectiles from its bosom. These were not all of a pointed form; on the contrary, there seems to have been a time when those of a bullet-shape were of most frequent occurrence; for there are numerous traditions showing that peas were invested with mystic properties, as types of these thunderballs. In Berlin, for instance, peas with sourkrout is a standing Thursday dish to this day.
“May the red-haired thunder take it !" is a curse still common in the mouths of the people of North Friesland; and there is a German proverb, “ Rother Bart, Teufelsart,”—meaning,
" Beard of red,
or the devil bred," — which denotes the abhorrence conceived by the Christian converts of the North for their once-beloved red-haired god. It was they, and not an eastern or a southern people, who did him the indignity of identifying him in complexion with the most execrated of mortals, the arch-traitor Judas Iscariot. “His very hair,” says Rosalind, pouting because Orlando had not kept his appointment with her,
“His very hair is of the disscmbling colour.
Celia. Something browner than Judas's. Marry, his kisses are Judas's owo children.
Ros. I' faith, his hair is of a good colour.
No race of men feels an instinctive aversion for hues and forms of feature characteristic of itself. A Chinaman does not loathe pig-eyes, eyelids slit at an angle to the horizon, and a nose like a dab of hairy butter stuck on a board by the dairymaid's thumb; or if he do, you may be sure that the feeling is an acquired one, and due to influences from without. The repugnance so ostentatiously professed by people of German or Norse blood for blonde hair of any tinge, be it even the warmest, could, in the first instance at least, have had no foundation in nature. It must have begun as an artificial feeling. How far it may subsequently have become hereditary and inveterate is quite another question. The dislike for cooked horse-flesh is a case in point. Our pagan forefathers were extremely partial to that kind of food, and consumed it largely and frequently in their sacrificial repasts; but their stomacus turned against it
after their Christian teachers had strictly prohibited its use, and denounced every indulgence in it as an overt act of backsliding into heathenism. A revival of the old national taste has begun in Denmark, and butchers are openly doing a good trade there in horse-meat, purposely fattened for slaughter.
If Thor's red beard has fallen into disgrace in some quarters, it is honourably commemorated in others. The houseleek and the stonecrop, the former of which bears a blue flower, and the latter a yellow (colours appropriate to Thunar, or Thor), are both known all over Germany by the name of Donnerbart, i.e. Thunderbeard ; and in that country, as well as in England, they are planted on walls and roofs of houses to protect them from lightning. In the old Frankish districts of France, the stonecrop is used for the same purpose, and is called Joubarbe, i. e. Jovis barba, Beard of Jupiter or Thunar; and the French peasant invokes it with an odd jumble of paganism and Christianity, in the following rhyme:
“ Sainte barbe, sainte fleur,
Jamais le tonnerre ne tombera." Thunar's range of attributes is very extensive; for he is lord both of the earthly and the heavenly fire. He fills, in the northern mythology, the places assigned to both Indra and Agni in that of India. As god of the hearth-fire, his care extended over all the concerns of domestic and social life. He was the protector of marriage, the bestower of children, the conservator of boundaries. The first time the new-married bride entered her husband's house, she walked three times round the fire, which in ancient times burned in the middle of the floor. New members of the household, and newly-acquired domestic animals, were formally admitted with the same ceremony.
Thursday is regarded in Sweden as a particularly lucky day for being married or betrothed; but in Germany every where, and partially in England, it is held to be quite the reverse. This again is an example of the reaction of Christian sentiments against heathen tradition. Possession was taken of landed property by casting out a hammer whilst driving over it in a wagon or cart; and on boundary-lines stood Thor's sacred oak, now represented by the Gospel oak on the confines of many an English parish.
Thor was the strongest of all the gods, and strength was one of the gifts which the children of men received at his hand. Ifit thunder during a wedding-procession, the bride ought not to miss the opportunity for securing health and strength, by lifting some heavy thing. Thor was the god of healing both for men and cattle. The need-fires were kindled under his immediate auspices. Sick cattle, and other domesticated animals, were given healing drenches on Thursday; or a paper inscribed with the sign of the thunder-hammer (T) was hung round their necks. During the first thunderstorm of the year, the Bavarian peasant throws himself down on the grass, rubs his back three times against the ground, and thinks himself insured against lumbago. He does the same thing at the first call of the cuckoo in the spring; for the cuckoo is one of Thunar's birds, and therefore people call on him to foretell how many years they have to live, how soon they will be married, how many children they will have, and so forth. Baths at medicinal springs have most virtue on Thursdays,-a fact which Dr. Granville will doubtless take care to mention in his next edition. Sore eyes are cured by bathing them with water into which a groat has been dropped in silence on Thursday evening, after sunset. The people of Switzerland wrap fever-patients in red petticoats, and swathe sick women with red worsted. The country-folk in Germany make long journeys on horseback and on wheels to certain oaks, the trunks of which divide half-way up into branches and then unite again; and they take with them children afflicted with hernia, and make them creep through the opening, that they may become whole again like the reunited oak-trunk. The hawthorn, another of the trees sacred to Thor, is resorted to for the same purpose, and with equally good effect.
The mountain ash or rowan tree is renowned among Celts as well as Teutons for its potency against witches and evil spirits. For this reason it is also called witchen or wiggen tree, the latter name being a corruption of the former; and it is still in request for its prophylactic virtues in the Highlands of Scotland, in Ireland, and in Wales, where it is often bung up over doorways, and in stables and cow-houses, to neutralise the wicked spells of witches and warlocks. The mountain ash appears to have been venerated by the Druids; for a stump of the tree, probably a relic of one planted by them, has frequently been found in their old burying-places and stone circles.
English grooms like, when they can, to have a buck goat ranging about the stables, but are loth to acknowledge, to sceptical inquirers, why they make choice of so unsavoury a pet. They pretend that the horses like the smell of the animal, and that it is wholesome for them; but the real motive is, that the presence of the buck goat–Thunar's steed-protects the horses from being bewitched. In Swabia, and in the Mark of Brandenburg, farmers with large stocks of cattle keep a buck goat in their stalls avowedly for that same purpose; for Thunar was the ceaseless foe and exterminator of evil spirits. On the other hand, since the devil bas, to a great extent, usurped the place of Thunar, it naturally follows that the favourite animal of the fallen god is often found reversing his former functions, and ministering to the powers of darkness. The devil sometimes appears in the form of a goat; and witches who are high in his favour take their airings on the back of such a courser instead of bestriding a broomstick.
The cat is one of the animals that are symbolical of the clouds. A cat of three colours, black, red, and white, is called a fire-cat; and in some villages of Bavaria
, when a house is on fire, happy is the owner if he can have a fire-cat thrown into the flames; it is not less effective for their
extinction than milk or cow-dung. The fire-cat is also called fever-cat; for its presence in a house is a safeguard against fever. The animal belongs of course to Thunar’s stock. Children in the measles must be washed with water in which peas have been boiled; and those persons who neglect to eat Thunar's sacred peas on stated occasions, are visited by him with the itch. Erysipelas, or the rose, “ that holy thing," is cured by stroking it with the thunderstone. Thus it appears that feverpatients and persons affected with eye and skin diseases are peculiarly under the protection of the thunder-god. Fever simulates the heat of fire; eruptions of the skin exbibit Thunar's sacred colour; and to cure disordered eyes is the proper office of him whom a primeval myth describes as having restored sight to the blinded sun-god, or, in other words, dispersed the obscurity that hung over him, and made him again visible.
It is an accredited maxim of English folk lore, that there is a certain natural proportion between the annual crop of hazel-nuts and that of babies. A good nut-year is a year abundant in births. The reason is, that the hazel is Thunar’s tree, and its nuts are symbols of fruitfulness. In Altmark, therefore, they were scattered in marriage-processions; in the Black Forest, the leader of such a procession carried a hazel-wand in his hand; and in Westphalia and other parts of Germany, a few nuts were mingled with the seed-corn to make it prolific. Peas were also used for the same purpose.
In India, there are sacred trees, much used in religious rites, and of which the Vedas give the following history. The first camí tree (acacio suma Roxb.) was produced from a vessel in which the heavenly fire of the lightning was brought down to earth; and the sparks of lightning themselves, which were contained in the vessel, turned into an acvattha tree (ficus religiosa). A portion also of the soma—the divine mead, or
nectar, which is stored in the cloud mountains-was brought down to mortals by a falcon, or, as some hymns relate, by Indra himself under the form of that bird. A feather dropped from it in its flight, and this became a palaça tree with red sap and scarlet blossoms, typical of lightning. When the calves are to be separated from their mothers, that the milk of the latter may be used for sacrifice, the operation is performed by a priest, with the help of a palaça or çami rod, which has grown in an easterly, northerly, or north-easterly direction. The priest cuts it from the stem, saying, “For strength cut I thee;" and strips off its leaves with the words, “ For sap cut I thee.” He then drives away the calves, striking each of them with the rod, and saying, “ Ye are winds.” Next be touches one of the cows with the same sacred instrument, and blesses them collectively, bidding them be fruitful in calves, abundant milkers, and safe from sickness, pestilence, and robbers. Lastly, he hangs up the çamî or palaça wand eastward, or in front of one of the two fireplaces, the altar, or the hearth, and says another prayer for the safety and welfare of the herd, and the prosperity of their master.
Strikingly analogous with all this are certain practices observed in the