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2011 06 07

              The original hide parchment manuscript is a collection of various texts that appear to have been gathered from different sources but have related subject matter. The second major text, Runesong, especially noteworthy for variant mythological tales and copious references to ancient books, is the polemic of a scholarly initiate in a preholocaust era. As I painstakingly worked for a literal translation (what remained of the poetry due only to the eloquence of the composition), I became convinced that it was the work of Radendr, and I was seized by a growing conviction that through it Radendr and the ErilaR of old were speaking to me.
              Though we may be doomed to repeat cycles of destruction and regeneration (or should that be degeneration?), this morbid prophecy of which was told they turned to a cause of proud intensity to act justly and true to their world view that was rooted in the northern lands. Each of us, they said, stands alone before the mirror of the universe that as a consequence of its nature can reflect only what we hold up to it. Nothing matters but what we do, they said. Admit no rule but thy own ethic, they said. Their fierce independence stirred in me longing for a freedom lost and buried in past ages.
              This is my confession. That I know myself to be Berserker. But also that as berserker I am specially bound like a shaman to ecstacy.
              The number nine has great significance to the ErilaR and I noted that each book was divided into nine parts. But Runesong's ninth was a poem styled after the old lays composed and added over four-hundred years after Radendr's time by Vargarm, and I fell to thinking on why this text had but eight chapters or had Vargarm replaced an original chapter with one of his own. Then, in a flash of insight, I saw that Radendr's Great Book was designed to have a ninth chapter added by the transcriber or translator of each age, as if to indicate that the great myth, the old ethic, must always remain current. I realized then that my task was to allow the great work to permeate my own being to bring to fruition a statement of the ancient myth in the context of my time, and that this was Radendr's deep intent: to show the timeless current of one nation's understanding in the psychic universe ~ an unbroken stream of thought whose tenuous tendrils could be grasped regardless whether thrall, churl, or berserker.


"That which is now termed the superstitious verbiage and gibberish of
mere heathens and savages, composed many thousands of years ago,
may be found to contain the masterkey to all religious systems."
H.P. Blavatsky
Isis Unveiled

In the Beginning


             Among the Teutons exists a tradition that reaches to its tribal ancestors, the people of antiquity that called itself Ri-ar: those-who-till (the ancient Aryans whose Sanskrit name means: those whose life is based on spiritual values). Teutonic lore is transmitted by means of Skaldic poetry, Sagas, Runes, Thulur, and the Edda; the keepers of the ancient words to recite and of the primordial shapes to know are the ErilaR, a name that is widely understood as Runemaster. They preserved the core of Teutonic belief, having transmitted it from mother to daughter, father to son, since the beginning.
             They told that once there was no Heaven above nor Earth beneath but only the bottomless deep ~ Ginungagap, and a world of mist ~ Niflheim, in which sprang the rivers of the icy waves ~ Elivagar. When these had flowed far from their source they froze to ice; one layer of ice froze onto the last until the great deep was filled. Southward from the world of mist was the world of light ~ Muspelheim. Warm winds blew from there that melted the ice. Vapors rose from the great deep, billowed in the air, and formed great clouds. From the clouds sprang Ymir, the rime-cold giant who was evil and all his kind which emerged like maggots from his armpits and crotch and from every opening of his body. From the clouds also came the cow Audhumbla whose milk the giant drank for nourishment. The cow every day licked the hoarfrost and the salt from the ice for food. While she was one day licking the salt stones, there appeared the head of a being. On the second day his head showed. On the third day, his entire body was free of ice showing its beauty and power. This new being was Buri. From him came Bor, who on his wife (a daughter of the giant race) fathered Woden, Vili and Ve. These are the first of the aesir race, that some call gods; they are of asu: Life. Woden, Vili, and Ve, slew the giant Ymir and out of his body formed the Earth. Of his blood the seas, of his bones the mountains, of his hair the trees, of his skull the heavens, and of his brain clouds charged with hail and snow. Of Ymir's eyebrows they built a fence around Midgard ~ the midmost place, middle-earth ~ home to the People. Woden set the Sun and the Moon and the stars in their places in the heavens. As the Sun began to shed its rays, the Earth started to bud and sprout and blossom. Though the aesir made the visible world, they did not create it nor the people but only their form. They took an ashen spar and made a man of it. Woman they made of an elm branch. The Teutons call the man Ask, the woman Embla. Woden gave them breath, Vili motion and the senses, and Ve gave them life and blood. Midgard was given them as their residence, and there they begat children, and the children's children ~ who only knew their mothers ~ ranged the world to find their homelands.
             The children of Ask and Embla found Ri-arana, the first of the good lands, where they lived in peace and harmony. This was told in the Avesta, the book of knowledge and wisdom given in the hands of the prophet Zarathustr, the complete text of which covered twelve-thousand cow hides. It had twenty-one books, only one of which remains: the Vendidad. Thereupon, says this account, "came he who is all death, and created by witchcraft the serpent in the river and winter. Ten months of winter were there, two months of summer, and those were cold for the waters, cold for the Earth, cold for the trees. Winter fell there, with the worst of its plagues." It forced the people to leave their homesteads and settlements. Some of the nations traveled south and east, to Persia and India, others went west into Europe: Balt, Hellene, Ital, Kelt, Slav, Teuton. They had barley, wheat, oats and rye; flax, hemp, peas, beans, turnips, beets, onions; cattle, sheep, hogs, goats, horses, oxen, chickens, geese, ducks, dogs. They carried with them the knowledge of their household society (at once hunter-fisher, herder, gatherer and tiller), and the ideology that permeates the religious texts of the ancient Indians, emerges in the epic poetry and drama of the Hellenes, hides behind the facade of history among the Itals, and expresses itself in the tales of medieval Keltic and Teutonic peoples.


             It is written in the Vendidad (Fargard III):
"Who rejoices the Earth with greatest joy is who cultivates most grain, grass, and fruit, who waters ground that is too dry, or dries ground that is too wet.
             "Unhappy is the land that has long lain unsown with the seed of the sower and wants a good husbandman, like a well-shaped maiden who has long gone childless and wants a good husband.
             "Who would till the Earth, unto him will she bring forth plenty, like a loving bride on her bed, to her beloved; the bride will bring forth children, the Earth will bring forth plenty of fruit.
             "To who would till her, thus says the Earth: ‘O you! who tills me, here shall people ever come and beg for bread, here shall I ever go on bearing, bringing forth all manner of food, bringing forth profusion of crops.'
             "To who does not till her, thus says the Earth: ‘O you! who does not till me, ever shall you stand at the door of a stranger, among those who beg for bread; ever shall you wait there for the refuse that is brought out to you, brought by those who have a profusion of wealth.'
             "‘How is the law fulfilled?' asked Zarathustr, and was answered: It is sowing again and again! Who sows, sows holiness and makes the law grow higher and higher, makes the law fat as with a hundred acts of adoration, a thousand oblations, ten-thousand sacrifices."


             The people had no priests, temples, nor images, for (as Roman historian Tacitus noted in the first century of the current era) they did not consider it consistent with the grandeur of celestial beings to confine them within walls or to liken them to the form of any human countenance. "The Teutons" (commented Julius Caesar more than a hundred years before Tacitus) "the Teutons have no Druids to control religious observances, and are not much given to sacrifices. The only beings that they recognize as gods are things that they can see, and by which they are obviously assisted; the sun, the moon and fire; the others they have never even heard of." Trees, woods, and groves were consecrated, and the names of deities were applied to abstractions discovered in spiritual activities. There were places that custom consecrated seasonally to the assembly of the people where mounds, stones, trees or springs symbolizing communal liberty had long attracted devotion. Festivals grew ancient in these religious places, where goods were traded in gifting ceremonies and oaths were taken, and local traditions attest to the faithfulness of communal meetings to the original meeting place marked by megaliths ~ stones of justice (erected for all time to mark the peaceful millennia of the Old Stone People). These marked central places where the social cohesion of the group, the cult that sanctified the places, and the oaths made in them were all reinforced, but they were also places of encounter and passage where alliances between neighboring groups were forged. In historical times the Teutons were a medley of independent tribes occupying northwestern Europe. Tacitus wrote that they maintained their greatness by righteous dealings: "Without ambition, without lawless violence, they lived peaceful and secluded, never provoking war or injuring others by rapine or robbery. The crowning proof of their valor and strength was that they kept up their superiority without harm to others. Yet all had weapons in readiness, and an army if necessary, with a multitude of men and horses, and even while at peace they had the same renown of valor." Both Tacitus and Caesar remarked that the people lived parted by marshes, lakes, and forests, and that they were fond of such separations. The extended family members, or clan, owned the houses, outbuildings, gardens, and fields, that were used in the annual productive activities of the homestead, and was surrounded by a tribal commons through which a stranger might only travel with much noise so as not to be mistaken for a foe. Because of the cultural importance of gifting, there was little trade and consequently few villages or towns where markets might flourish. To free peoples trade is unworthy; traditional work was agriculture, husbandry, hunting and arms; the worst crime was falsehood; youth were trained to work, fight, and speak truth. The kindred or clan was responsible for the acts of all the living generation, shifting with deaths as to blood relationships. The feud righted murder, injury, and insult, by just revenge or by wergild: payment of compensation. The social order was based almost wholly on the family and the clan in a spirit balanced by hospitality and bravery, the hard life and climate lightened by music and song and loyal friendship. An individual's responsibility was to mother, father, spouse, family, kindred and clan, community, tribe, nation. "The country was common, the government peculiar; the territory the same, the nations different. The spirit of personal law prevailed among the people." So wrote Baron de Montesquieu about Teutonic society in The Spirit of Laws. Each tribe apart was free and independent, each individual to be tried by the established custom of his or her own nation. About minor matters their chiefs deliberated, about the more important the whole tribe. Their freedom had this disadvantage (wrote Tacitus) that they did not meet simultaneously or as they were bidden, but two or three days were required in the delay of assembling. Then the chief, according to age, birth, distinction, or eloquence, was heard more because of influence to persuade than because of power to command. If the sentiments displeased them, they rejected them with murmurs; if they were satisfied, they brandished their spears. This was the Weapon-Take, the Witan, the council by which alone a chief might be acclaimed. In these same councils they also elected the chief magistrates who administered law in the cantons. The common council was the supreme court interpreting the body of law according to the rules of custom as it was held in the minds of the living generation ~ for law is the dynamic rule of the tribe as arising from the people, not as enacted in single rules by authority of a few.
             Then came warlike times of the short iron sword that made people everywhere build hill forts great and small, when who tilled the soil was thought the lowest rank by those who prided themselves on idleness and lived by pillage and plunder, and aristocrats came to brood for a king as they sat drinking Hellene wine. The dynamic of Europe at that time came to be dominated by two radically differing philosophies: from the south had come the concept of concentrated power that sought to establish ever growing empires; to the north what John Stuart Mill termed an "excessive liberty" and a fierce independence resulted in anarchic forms of social organization. It rejected authoritarian government and maintained that voluntary institutions are best suited to express people's natural social tendencies. It is based on faith in natural law and justice, and aims at the utmost possible freedom compatible with social life, believing this to be the most harmonious and ordered in its effects. It is a benevolent doctrine held fast in the belief of the innate goodness of people. Vast areas became enslaved in a rigid hierarchy that ascended to the gods and the emperor could, with the aid of a powerful priesthood, claim to rule by divine right. But in the boreal north, individualistic to the point of chaos, an entire populace stood ready to bring down any who would seek to abrogate the power of the individual, for the people held that none could have power over another.
             For long centuries, the Roman Empire sent its legions in efforts to extend its frontiers by clashes with the northern ‘barbarians' (as the Romans styled the tribes). Time was when the emperor himself first brought Roman arms to the far reaches of his realm. In the course of nine years of campaigns, his well trained army of legionnaires nearly exterminated some tribes. In one obstinate conflict hardly five-hundred survived of sixty-thousand tribal fighters. At another, the total population of thirty-three-thousand was sold into slavery after succumbing to an arduous siege of their last refuge. These were the two greatest border tribes of the Gauls. Taking time to maraud Britain (and lay the groundwork for four centuries of Roman rule there), Caesar subdued the country of the Gauls, punishing and annihilating. Tribal lands were laid waste and the people were hunted like wild beasts. Large tribes were destroyed, whole regions depopulated and ravaged, respect bloodily impressed, and thus the empire grew. Two entire Teutonic tribes numbering four-hundred-thousand pushed into northern Gaul but were driven back across the Rhyn. Still the mighty river could not be forded. Teutonic warriors raised such stubborn resistance that the armed occupation of northern Gaul required fifteen Roman legions (perhaps seventy-five-thousand men), a thousand ships, fifty fortresses; and a bare strip of no-man's-land, with walls faced by deep ditches and dotted with watch towers on the south shore, established the Rhyn as the end of empire beyond which stretched the vast and unknown mirkwood forest homelands of the Teutons. Over centuries, revolts and uprisings of oppressed peoples stained with blood the imperial banners as all of the province of Germania was lost by the Romans and the rule of empire decayed and shrank, but it left behind the legacy of an alien civilization and religion.
             Then also was the time of the Folk-Wandering. The climate cooled, coastal areas flooded, and the women (as historians Durant put it) were more fertile than the fields. Cold and hunger became constant companions. The adventurous, determined, and the desperate were forced into a great centuries long migration. They rolled south in covered wagons and a million fighting men, women, children, and animals. They were so blond that terror-stricken Itals described the children as having the white hair of old men. Fierce blue eyes, huge frames, and red hair, were other distinguishing characteristics. From the south (leaving deserts in its wake), concentrated power ~ in the form of imperial economic manipulation, aided by priests bent on cultural genocide ~ compromised the lives of free Teutons. Life became increasingly dependent upon the rule (or misrule) of various royal estates as kings battled each other for thrones and territory, imposing on the people their wars and their crimes. A millennium of a thousand unjust imperial and religious wars wrought carnage and desolation. Armies fed by appropriating the grains and fruits and cattle of the fields, quartered in the homes of the people, and plundered, and raped, and killed. Fertile land was left untilled for lack of men, draft animals, or seed, or because peasants had no assurance that they would live to reap where they had sown. Those who survived were reduced to eating dogs, cats, rats, acorns, grass. Men and women competed with ravens and dogs for the flesh of dead horses. Offenders were taken from the gallows to be devoured. Exhumed bodies were sold for food.
             The decline and fall of the Roman Empire, the secular state, coincided with an increase and the supremacy of the Holy Roman Church, the new ecclesiastical state. In the course of hundreds of years, imperial language, gods and priests replaced the dangerous (because national) knowledge of Keltic Druid and Teutonic ErilaR who retreated to the forests and mountains seeking in secret to counsel the people as "they were robbed even of their legends, which were reworked by crafty clerics who forged out of them the mental foundations of a veritable ideology of power" (at least, so wrote Poly).
             Teutonic culture became poisoned with the greed of those who usurped the power of the people, ever aided by priests with a mission of cultural destruction. The last stand of Teutonic tradition in Europe ~ before its northward retreat, was in the war of thirty years against Frankish emperor Karl the (so-called) Great. By cruel efforts to spread the gospel of a messiah of Israel, he gave Saxons a choice between baptism and death and had forty-five- hundred beheaded in one day. Through the centuries hundreds and thousands died for persisting in the old traditions. They were dragged from their homes and hacked to death with seven blows of a rusty sword, put to torture, hands and feet burned to the bone, tongue cut out, and suspended over a fire and slowly roasted. In the north they struggled to remain free of royal prerogatives and of feudal subjection. The historical records show the destruction of Roman churches, the killing of church organizers and missionaries, and when the Vikings sailed in fleets of hundreds as the scourge of Europe it was in vengeance that monasteries and churches were burned and looted.


Codex Regius, the Icelandic Edda ~ Eddukvaedi
             The early records, the songs and the stories, were obliterated by foreign monks and priests who felt a bitter hatred for the paganism they had come to destroy. It is remarkable how clean a sweep these ecclesiastics were able to make. Scholars recognize that the greater part of the early tradition has perished, that practically none of it survives except in Icelandic manuscripts, and that it must have lived orally for many generations before it was written. Its corpus are the Thulur: "collections of mnemonic verses, lists of synonyms or names which served to pass on knowledge to the following generations orally, using mnemotechnical aids such as alliteration, rhythm and factual associations," according to Simek, while Cleasby defined thula as "a rote, or strings of rhymes running on without strophic division, also used of rhymed or alliterative formulas." It was originally of magical-religious content, and the thulr (a sayer of saws, a wise man, a sage, or bard), as Simek noted, "could, thus, be seen as the guardian of tradition, especially religious but perhaps also legal tradition, as the speaker of the tradition, as ‘cult speaker'. . . . As the Thulur in the more extended sense of the word . . . convey mythological knowledge, it would seem natural to see the origin of the Thulur as part of the education of the Thulr, the cult speaker." Such are the ErilaR who preserved the tradition by unique wordcraft in lays and drapas as they were performed by the bards of yore, recorded in innumerable ancient songs that were learned by heart. In the collection known as the Edda, the text of the verses was copied in Roman characters from an earlier version in a single, practiced, elegant hand on fifty-three leaves (eight leaves are missing) of a vellum manuscript. Believed penned perhaps a thousand years ago, there is no record of it before being rescued from an Icelandic farmhouse into the possession of a Scandinavian bishop in the seventeenth century. It was presented as a gift to the king of Danmark and remained for three centuries as the Codex Regius (King's Book) in the royal library at Kobenhavn until it was returned to Iceland. It contains forty-one strophic lays in a complex, artificial style, with much use of mythological imagery ~ turning songs in lyric stanzas meant to be recited. Not until the first decades of the nineteenth century were all the lays published.
             The ErilaR carried the mythological lore and the traditions ever northward, and Iceland became a final refuge of the profound liberty it demands. It led ~ by the creation of the allthing, the united parliament ~ to the establishment of the first free republic in the European world, where the homesteader also was poet, law-speakers were bards, and a small peasant population devoted a consuming literacy to the preservation of what then was an oral heritage. According to the Islendingabok, the settlers moved to the peace by the northern seas to keep "holy freedom's laws" and to be free of the authority of "kings and criminals".

[About Ragnarok] [In the Beginning] [Futhark] [Name Scroll] [Nine in the Tree] [Runes of Magic and Mystery] [Weird] [Wise Woman Speaks] [Words of Woden] [Works Cited]