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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in thunder god

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 PIE cattle raiding myth ...

 

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

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

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

And there was much rejoicing.

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

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

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

My next-door neighbor stands in his front yard, garden hose in hand.

Welcome to the Long, Hot Summer of '23. We haven't seen Drop One of rain in weeks.

“Fifty percent chance of rain tonight,” I say over the fence.

He casts his eyes up to the sky: Here's hoping.

“Maybe we need to start thinking about killing the black goat,” I say: my standard in-group joke during rainless times like this.

(Black for dark rain-clouds. Thunder likes goats, they say. A bull, of course, would be even better, but these days, who can afford one?)

“Any chance they'd take squirrel instead?” he asks. Drought notwithstanding, it's been a bumper year for mast; there are even more squirrels frisking around than usual, which in this neighborhood is saying something.

“Not a chance,” I say. “It has to be something you value.”

He shakes his head. Damn gods. “Well, here's hoping,” he says.

“Here's hoping,” I say, and move along.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

A Tale of Thor?

 

The roads were slick that night. When my friend's car spun out and landed in the ditch, he knew he was in trouble.

The blizzard was getting worse. He was miles from anywhere. (This was B.C.: Before Cell.) The temperature was dropping fast, and the snow was piling up.

Help! thought my friend.

 

He hears the sound of an engine. Out of the swirling snow, a big red truck drives up, spins around, and stops.

The door opens. A big, red guy with a big, red beard gets out of the big, red truck. He doesn't say anything.

My friend didn't recognize him. This was strange. When you live in the country, you mostly know people.

The big, red guy still doesn't say anything. He chains the vehicles together, and gets back in his truck. He pulls my friend's car out of the snow-filled ditch.

He gets back out, unhooks the chain, and throws it in the back of the truck. Then he drives off into the snow.

He hasn't said a word the entire time.

When my friend gets home, he pours out an entire bottle of liquor in libation.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

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

So I face West and pray.

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

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

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

 

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Some Showers Overnight

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Swim, Perun, swim!” they cried.

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

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

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

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

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

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

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

 

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

But what of Thunder, Earth's other husband?

 

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

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

For this I have two hands, she said.

 

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

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

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