Category Archives: Religion

Ziza or Zizilia

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Always thought it was curious when German (as opposed to Nordic) Gods sounded Slavic.  One such case – of Lollus – already discussed here.  Others such as Jecha or Biel might want to get to later.  But then there is the curious case that actually is attested as early as 1135 in a story – Ex Gallica Historia –  that is very unlikely to be true but whose value is threefold.

First, the story of how the Swabians defeated the Romans (attributed to Velleius Paterculus but not likely written by him) tells of the founding of the Augsburg.  It is in some ways similar to the stories written by Wincenty Kadlubek about how the Poles (or Lechites as he would have it) defeated the Romans (and others).  The fact that Augsburg sits in the old Vinde-Licia seem very suggestive.  At the very least here may be an inspiration for Kadlubek who was a travelled man.

Second, there is a name here that is clear Slavic and that appears nowhere else.  The author has Roman soldier be called Bogudis.  He seems to be an Avar.

Third, there is a report of who the Swabians relied on for their Divine Protection.  Here we have a name that is at least somewhat similar to a Goddess said to have been worshipped by the pagan Poles.  We know that Marcin Kromer’s list of Gods includes Zizililia.  This is repeated by Maciej Stryjkowski who says:

Venera they called the goddess of love Zizilia, to whom they prayed for fertility and all sorts of bodily pleasures they demanded from her.  

(Another “Z” Divinity is Zievana sive Zevonia (Kromer) about whom Stryjkowski says: “Diana the goddess of the hunt in they tongue they called Ziewonia or Dziewanna.”)

For more of these see here.

In any event, the Swabian Goddess’ name is supposedly Cisa or Zisa.  This, when one thinks of the tree cis, would already be enough to perk up Slavic ears. But in the story the name comes up slightly differently:

  • Zizarim (or Zizarana?)
  • Ziza
  • Ziznberc (mountain)
  • Zicę

Of course, already Grimm noticed the similarity of the name to that mentioned by Tacitus:

Para Suevorum et Isidi sacrificat.

In any event, the Goddess Ziza has been repeatedly cited by the learned men and women of Augsburg throughout the Middle Ages and many places are said to have been named after Her.

There is another potential connection here but about that later.

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September 21, 2017

Caesar on Germanic Religion

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What do we know of the religion of the Germans?  Well, you have Tacitus but… you also have an earlier account by no less an authority than Julius Caesar in Book VI of his Gallic Wars:

“The Germans differ much from these usages, for they have neither Druids to preside over sacred offices, nor do they pay great regard to sacrifices. They rank in the number of the gods those alone whom they behold, and by whose instrumentality they are obviously benefited, namely, the sun, fire, and the moon; they have not heard of the other deities even by report.”

Germani multum ab hac consuetudine differunt. Nam neque druides habent, qui rebus divinis praesint, neque sacrificiis student. Deorum numero eos solos ducunt, quos cernunt et quorum aperte opibus iuvantur, Solem et Vulcanum et Lunam, reliquos ne fama quidem acceperunt.

Of course, the worship of the sun and fire was not something that we normally think of Nordic religion.  Instead, we think of “eastern” religions like in this account of the Persians.

Of course, the same could be said of the Slavs who worship:

  • Jasion, Jutrebog, Jarowit/Gerovit or, if you want to go further east, apparently, Svarog as the “Sun”  and
  • Svarozic as the “fire”

What about the moon?  Well, that’s tougher but there is the ksiezyc which is a diminutive of ksiadz.  Ksiadz used to mean prince or ruler.  Ksiezyc would thus mean “little ruler” so that much like:

  • Svarog > Svarozyc (big fire = the Sun > little fire = actual fire) 

we have:

  • Ksiadz > ksiezyc (big prince = the Sun > little prince = the moon)

Now, many folklorists have done all kinds of gymnastics to try to claim that Caesar’s Germanic Gods were somehow just different versions of Wotan, Thor or Tyr.

And yet that is not what the above says.

And those Germanic names!  Where are these Germanic Arios- after all?

Well, we have:

  • Ariovistus, as well as,
  • Ariamir (Suevi) , but to find another Ario- you have to look East,
  • Ariobarzanes and that one is, again, in the East (Persia).

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September 7, 2017

Matrem Deum Venerantur – Signs of Lada

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Tacitus’ Germania has an interesting passage in Chapter 45 regarding the so-called Aestii who are sometimes viewed as the ancestors of the Balts.

“…At this point the Suevic sea, on its eastern shore, washes the tribes of the Æstii, whose rites and fashions and style of dress are those of the Suevi, while their language is more. like the British. They worship the mother of the gods, and wear as a religious symbol the device of a wild boar. This serves as armour, and as a universal defence, rendering the votary of the goddess safe even amidst enemies. They often use clubs, iron weapons but seldom. They are more patient in cultivating corn and other produce than might be expected from the general indolence of the Germans. But they also search the deep, and are the only people who gather amber (which they call “glesum”), in the shallows, and also on the shore itself…” 

Or in Latin:

“…Trans Suionas aliud mare, pigrum ac prope inmotum, quo cingi cludique terrarum orbem hinc fides, quod extremus cadentis iam solis fulgor in ortus edurat adeo clarus, ut sidera hebetet; sonum insuper emergentis audiri formasque equorum et radios capitis adspici persuasio adicit. Illuc usque (et fama vera) tantum natura. Ergo iam dextro Suevici maris litore Aestiorum gentes adluuntur, quibus ritus habitusque Suevorum, lingua Britannicae propior. Matrem deum venerantur. Insigne superstitionis formas aprorum gestant: id pro armis omniumque tutela securum deae cultorem etiam inter hostis praestat. Rarus ferri, frequens fustium usus. Frumenta ceterosque fructus patientius quam pro solita Germanorum inertia laborant. Sed et mare scrutantur, ac soli omnium sucinum, quod ipsi glesum vocant, inter vada atque in ipso litore legunt...”

So who was this “mother of the Gods”? Rheia (Rhaetia?)? Cybele? Gaia?

Of course, no one knows the name of this Goddess but… there is a hint in Germania.

In Chapter 43 we have the following:

…It will be enough to mention the most powerful, which are the Harii, the Helvecones, the Manimi, the Helisii and the Nahanarvali. Among these last is shown a grove of immemorial sanctity. A priest in female attire has the charge of it. But the deities are described in Roman language as Castor and Pollux. Such, indeed, are the attributes of the divinity, the name being Alcis. They have no images, or, indeed, any vestige of foreign superstition, but it is as brothers and as youths that the deities are worshipped…”   

or in Latin:

“…valentissimas nominassesufficiet, Harios, Helveconas, Manimos, Helisios, Naharvalos. apud Naharvalos  antiquae religionis lucus ostenditurpraesidet sacerdos muliebri ornatuseddeos interpretatione Romana Castorem Pollucemque memorantea vis numininomen Alcisnullasimulacranullum peregrinae superstitionis vestigium; ut fratres tamen, ut iuvenes venerantur…” 

We know that one of the main Polish Gods was Lada.  Lada was also worshipped in Lithuania as we know from Stryjkowski:
And also they did not cut grain [with a sickle] by the boundary [between different fields]
Leaving that [grain] for the Earth gods to eat.
Lelus and Polelus and Ladon they had as gods
And too they had those to saw fear when defending themselves at war.
And ‘Lelu, Lelu, my Lado, Lelu, Lado!
Sang a maidens’ flock [stado] while clapping their hands,
This dance we see even today they preserve,
From May all the way to July they dance with this ‘Lado’,
Lado, Lado‘ singing, on holy evenings
It has been suggested that she was the mother of the Polish Gods Lel and Polel who were also referred to as lalki meaning puppets/dolls, perhaps referring to the fact that dolls resembled little idols.  Here is the interesting thing.  Castor’s and Pollux’s (Κάστωρ καὶ Πολυδεύκης,that is, Kastor and Polydeuces) mother was Leda.
So that’s the question:
  • Leda > Castor & Pollux


  • Lada > Lel & Polel (Lalki, that is, Alcis)

(as for Alcis > Lalki compare Ardagast > Radagast)

Thus, the “mother of the Gods” would not be the mother of all Gods but “only” of Castor and Pollux, the Dioscuri or Gemini.  Now, Pollux was Zeus’ son whereas Castor was not.  But Pollux shared his immortality with his brother.  Thus, you could stretch to view them as divine.  The other part that is interesting is that in Polish mythology Lada is mentioned as gardzyna (guardian) of Jesse or Yassa (Alado gardzyna yesse).  As we discussed, Jasion had many characteristics of Zeus (see here).  In Greek myths Iasion slept with Demeter (mother of the Gods?  Dea meter? He “fertilized” her) and was struck down (in some versions of the story for it by Zeus).  Now Zeus slept with Leda who out of that relationship bore Pollux.  The only thing remaining is to make a connection between Pollux (Pollucemque above) and Poles (or Polachs).

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August 5, 2017


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Once more on the topic of Ostara.  This time from Grimm:

In this list of related concepts, Grimm could have added next to Vesta and Estia also the Slavic Vesna/Wiosna (spring).

For more see here.

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July 28, 2017

Ausserordentlich Viele Koinkidinks

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Speaking of Grimm, it is unfortunate that his Deutsche Mythologie has not been translated into a Slavic language (as far as we know).  There are lots of interesting tidbits throughout that book…

For example:

Most adults are aware that light travels faster than sound.  The difference is actually quite significant.  The speed of light is about 186,000 miles per second whereas sound will travel only 1,125 feet in that same second.  It is for this reason that when you see lightning, you then expect to hear thunder.  In fact, you can calculate how far lightning struck from you merely by counting the number of seconds that pass when you hear the thunder sound that follows it.

What does that have to do with Grimm and Slavs?

Well, there is an interesting passage in Procopius that says something like:

“For they believe that one God, the maker of lightning, is alone lord of all things, and they sacrifice to him cattle and all other victims…”

For years, it was assumed that this was a reference to the Russian Perun.*  And yet, as we know the Polish Piorun, the East Slav Perun or Lithuanian Perkunas refer to thunder not lightning.  Is the same God the maker of lightning?

* note: the cattle reference suggested Veles to some but, to the extent that there even was any Veles, it seems odd to sacrifice “cattle” to the alleged “cattle god”. Veles can, on the other hand, be another name for Piorun.

We might say yes if we look at expressions such as “Jasny piorun”, “jasny grom” and others…  And yet these expressions seem like conflations of two independent atmospheric phenomena.

The distinction of these two phenomena is hinted at in the 8th century work of Cosmography of Aethicus Ister where we learn that:

“Naxos and Melos and these islands are islands of the Cyclades, and the very round Isle of Melon as well, which is ver fertile; Jason, Pluto or Paron, and Pharius were born there.”

Naxon et Melos et ipsae insolae Cicladum insolaque Melon rotundissima adeo et fertilis, ubi Iason et Plutonem uel Paronem et Pharium editos.  

Here Paron is equated with Pluto but “Iason” remains separate.

So what does this have to do with Grimm, again?

Well, we’ve previously noted the strange fact that Odin simply means “one” in Russian/Ukrainian (Polish jeden – eden?).

Did Grimm know that?  He was a competent anthropologist, well-learned in Teutonic, Gallic and Slavic beliefs.

And so right at the beginning of the very first edition of his book, he mentions some Slavic Gods.

Among those, looking for similarities and differences between Slavic and Germanic Gods, he notices a God from the Slavic region of Krain (Italian Carniola) in today’s Slovenia (mentioned in a local dictionary).  That God’s name is Torik or Tork.  Grimm looks at the name and expresses his belief that this (war!) God has nothing to do with either the Germanic Tyr nor Thor.

So far so good…

But Grimm then provides an explanation of the Slavic God’s name, the implication of which he does not appear to grasp.

“There is an extraordinary great overlap in Germanic and Slavic superstitions”

He says that the Slavic God’s name simply comes from vtorik, that is the “other” or “second”.  He says this is because the Slavic Torik was a war God and the name was a simple translation of the  name Mars.  Mars or Martis was and is Tuesday (incidentally, Tyr’s day) which was the second day of the Slavic week.  So the Slavs started to call their Mars by using their translated name of the “second” day of the week which day was dedicated to the god Mars.

This may or may not be true, of course.

A much more interesting question, however, is why is Thor called Thor or Tyr called Tyr?

And here is the real brain twister.  How is it that two Germanic Gods’ names Odin and his “son” Thor correspond to Slavic numerals of one and two.  Note also that vtori can mean the returning, repeated.

And why is Odin called Odin, again?  What is the Germanic etymology here?

Moreover, is not the God of Lightning, the “first” God?  You see lightening first before you hear the corresponding thunder.  Lighting is, well, bright.  Brightness corresponds to the name of the God Jasion (the Polish Jaś), the God of the “year” or Jahr or spring (Slavic v-esna or v-iosna) also the God of agriculture rebirth (notice the adventure with Demeter – Dea – meter – the Mother Goddess but also the Earth Goddess).

First, comes Jasion (“lightning”) and then comes Peron (“thunder”).

“Father” and “Son”.

Odin and Vtor

Odin and Thor.

Was then Zeus Thor who struck his father Jasion in an act of not simply “divine punishment” but usurpation?

Incidentally, Jasion is also mentioned in Sacra Moraviae Historia  where He is referred to as “Chasson/sive Jassen”.

It is also noteworthy that “Chasson” was the name of one of the Slavic leaders in Book 2 of the Miracles of Saint Demetrius.

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July 22, 2017

German Village Superstitions

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About artemisia, the Polish bielica or bylica as a “divine” herb we wrote here some time ago. But here is an interesting factoid: a similar practice of using the same (?) herb was found deep in Germany, as already pointed out by Grimm:

“et extra villam, ubi herbam iusquiamum inveniunt, quae Teutonice belisa vocatur…”

Grimm’s observation in his volume III of Deutsche Mythologie) comes from the Collection of Decrees by Buchard of Worms (died 1024 or 1025) (Decretorum libri viginti).

Now, according to Grimm, the German belisa is supposedly not artemisia but henbane which is in Slavic is bielum (Polish) or belena (Russian).

This is an interpretation of Grimm’s.  The addition of hyoscyamum is his own and does not appear in the original text.

This much we can see comparing to the Migne edition:

Henbane’s name supposedly comes from *bhelena – an “Indo-European” reconstructed word.  Henbane has a whitish look and biel means “white” in Slavic so there is a separate question about that IE word.

But…  bylica does not appear to be derived from any “whitish” word and artemisia is not itself white.  And Grimm is right that his belisa sounds more like that bylica than bielum or belena by reason of the final “ts” sound expressed with an “s” as in “-sa” in German and with a a “c” as in “-ca” in Polish.

Perhaps a reading of the rest of this would skew this one way or another? (Going with artemisia)

Otherwise, we have a problem with what Teutonice means in this case (whether Buchard knew it or not).

For another instance of strangely Slavic sounding names in German pagan rituals see here.

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July 19, 2017

Sermo Secundus

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Since we’ve previously discussed Magister Lucas’ Pentacostal sermon mentioning the Three Polish Gods (et andere?) on a number of occasions (here or here), we figured it made sense to put it up in toto.  Thankfulluy, after Maria Kowalczyk’s article discussing it, the whole sermon came to the attention of Richard Tatarzynski who edited and published it (the Biblical references/citations are his) (but seems to have missed the fact that there is no Quia there).  Unfortunately, no one seems to have bothered to translate the whole thing into any language spoken currently on this planet.  Since we’re far too lazy to tackle this whole sermon, if you’re interested in understanding it all, suggest you hit Google Translate or shell out some cash on a professional translator.

Kowalczyk was interested in Lukasz of Great Kozmin years before the publication of her more famous article

Qia, fratres carissimi, custodia mandatorum praeparat ad susceptionem Spiritus sancti, cuius hodie festivitas celebratur, ideo in lectione sancti Evangelii praesentis diel ponitur incitatio omnium nostrorum ad observationem mandatorum divinorum.  Habetur autem Ioan. 14[23] et eius/tenor sequintur in haec verba: ‘Si quis diligit me, sermonem meum sevabit’ etc.

Sed quia ut ait beatus Gregorius in homilia huius lectionis sanctae tractans illud [Ioan. 14.26]: ‘Paraclitus autem Spiritus sanctus, ille vos docebit omnia,’ ‘quod nisi idem Spiritus sanctus cordi adsit audientis, otiosus est sermo doctoris’; et post: ‘Nemo ergo docenti homini tribuat quod ex ore hominis intelligit, quia nisi intus sit qui doceat, doctoris lingua exterius in vacuum laborat’.  Et declarans hoc dicit sicut et ego vobis dicere possum.  ‘Ecce unam loquentis vocem omnes pariter audistis, nec tamen pariter sensum auditae vocis percipitis.  Cum ergo vox dispar non sit, cur in cordubus vestris dispar est vocis intelligentia, nisi quia per hoc quod vox loquentis communiter admonet, est magister interior qui de vocis intelligentia quosdam specialiter docet?’  Quare carissimi humili prece et devotione sincera hunc Spiritum sanctum Paraclitum totius veritatis magistrum invocemus dicentes: ‘Veni Creator Spiritus mentes tuorum visita, implre superna gratia quae tu creasti pectora.  Accende lumen sensibus, infuende amorem cordibus’ etc.  Quatenus ad gloriam tantae sollemnitatis et dici valeant et intelligi eo auctore quae suae sint grata maiestati et nostra saluti proficua.  Ad quod melius impetrandum matris misericordiae auxilium posulemus insuper dicentes: Ave Maria…

Dicit igitur: ‘Si quis diligit me, sermonem meum servabit’ [Ioan. 14. 23]. In quo notatur amoris communitas: omnibus enim se communicat, pusilis et magnis, informis et sanis, divitibus et egenis.  Non enim proprietas et personarum acceptio apud caritate, ‘non enim,’ ut dicitur 1 Cor. 13[5], ‘quaerit quae sua sunt.’  Notatur etiam amoris nobilitas in hoc quod dicitur: ‘Si ouis’.  Nobilitas autem eius attenditur in hoc, quia est illesibilis, secundum quod dicitur 1 Petri 3[13]: ‘Et quis est qui vobis noceat, si boni aemulatores fueritis’ quasi diceret: nullus, nam / et adversa et prospera cooperantur semper in bonum, talibus numquam in malum, iuxta illus Apostoli Rom, 8[28]: ‘Scimus quoniam diligentibus Deum omnia cooperantur in bonum’.

Sed diceres carissime, quomodo in bonum omnia eis cooperantur qui diligunt Deum?  Certe sic, ut ait Glossa ordinaria ibi super Apostolum, quod italis Deus consolatur prosperis et exercet adversis’.  Nam propria ipsorum infirmitate exercetur humilitas, afflictione patientia, contradictione sapientia, odio benivolentia et usque adeo talibus Deus omnia cooperatur in bonum, ut si qui horum deviant et exorbitant etiam hoc ipsum eis faciat proficere in bonum, quia  humiliores redeunt atque doctiores.  Discunt enim cum tremore se exultare debere, non quasi arrogandi sibi tamquam de sua virtute fiduciam permanendi.  Unde et ut dicit beatus Thomas in quaestionibus ‘De veritate’, in responsione ad quintum: ‘Contingit qoud potentiores freequenter succumbunt.  Ostenditur enim per hoc quod victor magis est ex divina providentia quam ex humana virtute’.  Et ergo dicitur in Psalmo [2,11]: Servite Domino in timore et exultate ei cum tremore’.

Unde et hodie cum Spiritus sanctus venit, dicitur Act. 2[2] et in Epistola hodierna, quod ‘factus est repente de caelo sonus tamquam advenientis spiritus vehementis’ vel in hoic quod dicitur” ‘Si quis diligit me’ [Ioan. 14, 23] notatur verorum amicorum raritas, ut sit sensus ‘si quis diligit’ quasi diceret: Rarus, est, quia ‘omnes, quae sua sunt, quarerunt fastigia, multi ambitionem, multi luxuriam, multi gulam et cetera vitia.  Unde rarus est in fastigiosis, in quibus regnat amor propriae excellentiae et tales sunt hodie plures.  Iam enim prophetia Apostoli 2 Tim. 3[2] verificatur dicens: ‘Erunt homines seipsos amantes.’  Rarus est etiam/ amor Dei in ambitiosis, qui amant pecuniam, Mat. 6[21]” ‘ubi thesaurus tuus, ibi est et cor tuum’.  Item rarus est in luxuriosis et voluptuosis.  Plures enim sunt, ut ait Apostolus 1 Tim. 3[4], ‘voluptatum amatores magis quam Dei’.  Haec sonsiderans beatus Chrysostomus dicebat: ‘Argento et voluptate inhonorabilior nobis Deus, etenim pro illis sustinemus pericula, insidias, vigilias, peregrinationes et infinita mala.  Nos autem propter Deum nec verbum asperum possumus sustinere.’

Amor etiam hic in gulosis locum non habet, quia de talibus dicitur Philip. 3[19], quod ‘eorum Deus est venter’, qui certe ventri oboedientes etiam secundum philosophos gentiles loco bestiarum irrationabilium et percorum computandi sunt.  Unde quia gula gignit tenuem sensum, immo premit ingenium, unde et ad primam viam virtutis, quae est doceri secundum Senecam et beatum Bernardum, assurgere non possunt et ita ad virtutem et sic ad caritatem, quae est forma virtutum.  Unde tales, si volunt corrigi et Deo servire, audiant consilium beati Augustini dicentis: ‘Ante omnia quia Dei servus vult esse omni hora legere debet’, in quo non notat continuationem sine interruptione, sed assiduitatem.

Et in lectione intellige etiam auditionem, quoniam lectio ipsa est quae facit servum Dei, ipsa est quae consolatur, ipsa est quae erigit animas ad caelum, ipsa est quae despici facit mundum et amare Deum.  Quare sequitur, cum dixit: ‘Si quis diligit me, sermonem meum servabit’ [Ioan. 14.23]. Qui sermo corrigit in detestationem peccatorum, dirigit in viam praeceptorum, errigit in ascensionem supernorum, colligit in societatme beatorum.  Dicitur autem sermo, quia serit mores in terra cordis, scilicet nostri, et hoc praecisa in contritione, comminuta in confessione, compluta in lacrimarum effusione, bene stercorisata, vulgariter ‘nagnoiona‘, in iugi peccatorum recordatione.

Servatur autem sermo Domini / in corde, ore, opere, iuxta illud Deut.  6[6]: ‘Erunt verba haec, quae praecipio tibi hodie in corde tuo’.  Ecce primum: ‘et narrabis ea filiis tuis’ [Deut. 6, 7]; ecce secundum: ‘et ligabis ea quasi signum in manu tua’ Deut. 6,8; ecce tertium, scilicet operatio.  In corpde autem servatur sermo Domini per amorem et iugem meditationem iuxta illud psalmistae: ‘In lege Domini fuit voluntas eius et in lege Domini meditabitur die ac nocte’ [Ps. 1,2].  Item: in intellectu autem per cognitionem sine errore, in affectu per amorem sine contradictione, in ore autem servatur sicut fons fluendo, nam vitium capiunt nisi moveantur aquae, ita corrumpitur scientia, si non aliis derivetur.  In opere autem servatur sicut vitis cultura arescit et deperit, Os. [10,1]: ‘Vitis frondosa Israel, ructus adaequatus est ei’, id est opera respondent sermonibus, alias enim non est sons 1 Cor 13[1]: ‘Factus sum velut aes sonans aut cymballum tinniens’.  Item servatur sermo Dei in opere sicut vita per cibum, opus enim est cibus spiritualis.  Unde Ioan. [4,34] dicitur per Christm: ‘Meus est cibus ut faciam voluntatem eius, qui misit me’; unde Gen 30[1[ dixit Rachel ad Iacob: ‘Da mihi liberos, alioquin moriar’.

Sed diceres: qua elitas observationis? certe dicitur, quia Pater caelestis diliget eum.  Signum autem dilectionis Patris non solum in Filii missione, de quo 1 Ioan. [4,9]: ‘In hoc apparuit caritas Dei in nobis, quoniam unigenitum Flium suum misit Deus in mundum, ut vivamus per eum’, sed etiam, quia inhabitat animam tota Tinitas iuxta illud 1 Cor. 3[17] et [2 Cor] 6[16]: ‘Templum Dei sanctum est, quod estis vos’.  Et de hoc subditur [Ioan. 14,23]: ‘et fortem faciendo, quia ei attribuitur potentia, Filius illuminando, quia ipse est Patris sapientia, Spiritus sanctus caritatem inflammando, quia ipse est caritas et benignitas.

‘Et mansionem apud eum faciemus’ [Ioan. 14,23] gratiam confirmando, roborando, augmentando, perseverantiam tribuendo, vel veniemus in praesenti inhabitando per gratiam ‘et mansionem apud eum faciemus’ in futuro.  Et haec mansio est visio Dei, quando manifestabit se ipsum diligentibus, sed non malis, de quibus subdit: ‘Qui non diligit me, sermones meos non servat’ [Ioan. 14,24].  Unde et si alias, maxime hodie deberemus insistere sermonibus divinis, non idolorum.  Tales etiam debent esse sermones nostri, ut possent referri ad Deum Patrem iuxta illud 1 Petri 4[11]”: ‘Si quis loquitur, immo non solum sermones, sed etiam meditationes: nam sermones summi Patris sunt meditatio iusti.

Hoc deberent advertere hodie in choreis vel in aliis spectaculis nefanda loquentes et in cordibus immunda meditantes, clamantes et nominantes idolorum nomina: ‘LadoYassa‘ et attendere an possit referro ad Deum Patrem? Certe non venit ad summum bonum nisi quod bonum. Non enim festa Liberi, id est Bachi, quales proh dolor celebrant ex remanentiis rituum exsecrabilium paganorum, quales fuerunt praedecessores nostri, pervenire possunt ad aures Dei nisi ad ulciscndum, sicut ascenderat clamor Sodomorm et Gomorrhorum.  Nam in hoc festo Liberi fiebant turpes / denudationes et alia turpia, quae deixit Apostolus etiam non nominari gratia Domini Dei, tamem talia iam auctis praedicatoribus cessant et in multis locis cessaverunt.

[Ioan. 14,25]: ‘Haec locutus sum vobis apud vos manens’ corporali praesentia, quae scilicet sunt salutis, quae vitae aeternae.  Unde et Petrus dicebat Ioan. 6[69]: ‘Ad quem ibimus? verba vitae aeternae habes’.  Locutus est nobis ea quae sunt caritatis, quae est via excellentior in vitam aeternam.  Nam et si alias Scriptura sacra, ut dicit Augustinus libro tertio ‘De doctrina christiana’, capitulo decimo: ‘nihil aliud docet nisi caritatem et nihil damnat nisi cupiditatem’, multo magis evangelica quae est Christi.

‘Paraclitus autem Spiritus’ [Ioan. 14, 26], ubi advertatis, quod Spiritus sanctus quadrupliciter, ut hic sufficit, nominatur.  Dicitur enim Spiritus sanctus primo, secundo Spiritus veritatis, tertio Paraclitus, quarto amor sive caritas.  Dicitur Spiritus sanctus, id est purus, ut expellat immunditiam; Spiritus veritatis, quia expellit errorem vel ignorantiam; Paraclitus, quod sonat, consolator, quia expellit tristitiam; Amor vero dicitur quia sedat discordiam.  E contrario vero spiritus malus dicitur etiam spiritus immundus iuxta illud Luc. 11[24]: ‘Cum immundus spiritus exierit ab homine’ etc. spiritus erroris, spiritus vexationis et spiritus discordiae et dissensionis.

Spiritum sanctum autem Pater mittit in nomine Christi, unde dicitur” ‘Quem mittet Pater in nomine meo’ [Ioan. 14, 26].  Nicholas Gorran hic. id est in fide nominis mei, quia non nisi credentibus in Christum datus est.  Unde Ioan. 7[38] dicitur: ‘Qui credit in me, sicut dicit Sciptura, flumina de ventre eius fluent aquae vivae’ et Act. 4[12]: ‘Non est aliud nomen sub caelo, in quo oporteat nos salvos fieri’.

Non enim salvatur in hoc nomine Lado, Yassa, Nia, sed in nomine Iesus Christus.  Quid ergo vis habere Spiritum Dei, invoca in nomine Christi, quod est Iesus, id est salutaris; quaera ea quae sunt salutis, non quae damnationis.  Hoc nomen saepius digne nominatur, / quod iuxta Bernardum ‘est mel in ore, melos in aure, iubilus in corde’.  Non Lada, non Yassa, non Nia, quae sunt nomina alias idolorum in Polonia hic cultorum, ut quaedam cronicae testantur ipsorum Polonorum.  Unde plures interficiebantur tunc, utinam non nunc, eo quod non invocabant nomen illud, de quo dicit Ioel 2[32]: ‘Omnis, qui invocaverit nomen Domini, salvus erit’.  Istis namque invocantibus nomen Domini, qui sunt veri Israel, pax: unde subditur: ‘Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis’ [Ioan. 14,27].

Tria reliquat vel legavit Deus specialiter discipulis suis: humilitatem, de quo Ioan. [13,15]: ‘Exemplum dedi vobis, ut et vos similiter faciatis’; dilectionem, Ioan. ibidem 13[34]: ‘Mandatum novum do vobis’ [Ioan. 14,27].  Haec autem tria reliquit eis, ut nullo indigerent, sed in omnibus abundarent, ut humilitas, id est humilis opinio sui esset in rationabili apud eos, caritas seu dilectio in concupiscibili pax in irascibili.

‘Non, quomodo mundus dat, ego do vobis’ [Ioan. 14,27], ‘Dominus enim dat abundanter et non improperat’ Iac. 1[5].  Sed e contra de mundodicitur Eccli.  20[15]: ‘Pauca dabit et multa improperabit’; [Ioan. 14, 27]: ‘Non turbetur cor vestrum’ ad interiores dolores neque formidet ad exteriores afflictiones.  Unde in consolationem subdit: ‘Audistis, quia ego dixi vobis’ [Ioan. 14,28], qui ‘sum via, veritas et vita’ [Ioan. 14,6], et quid dixit ‘vado’? scilicet vobis parare locum, ‘et venio ad vos’ [Ioan. 14,28] et assumam vos ad me ipsum.  Supra eodem in principio capituli simile dicitur: ‘Non turbetur cor vestrum’ et subdit, quare non deberet turbari: quia ‘in domo Patris mei mansiones multae sunt’ [Ioan. 14,1-2].  Nam consideratio praemii minuit vim flageli, unde et hic dicitur [Ioan. 14,28]: Si diligeretis me, gauderetis utique quia vado ad Patrem, quia Pater maior me est’, homine scilicet.  Ita et nunc gaudendum est nobis dum homines / vadunt ad Deum, dolendum dum vadunt ad diabolum, sicut fecit David dicens: ‘Defectio tenuit me, pro peccatoribus derelinquentibus legem tuam’ [Ps. 118,53].

Multi et multae sunt quae tristantur hodie, quod eorum filii vel filiae Deo illuminati vel illuminatae sunt humiles, non verbosi, non mundum sequentes, cum tamen deberent gaudere, eo quod eos, quos spernit mundus, eligit Deus, quia iuxta Apostolum 1 Cor. 1[27]: ‘Infirma mundi elegit Deus’.  Et certe sunt plures, de quo dolendum, de quibus dicit Chrysostomus super Matthaeum: Alii filiis suis militiam praevident, alii honores, nemo filiis suis praevidet Deum, perditionem ollorum magno pretio comparant, salutem autem eorum nec accipere volunt.  Sed si viderint illos pauperes tristantur, si viderint peccatores et ita mundum sequentes non tristantur, ut ostendant, quod corporum amatores sunt non animarum.

‘Et nunc dixi vobis, it, cum factum ferit, credatis’ [Ioan. 14,29].  Glossa ordinaria: ‘Non quod factum videritis, quia non est laus vel meritum fidei, immo nec fides est de eo quod videtur, sed de eo quod non videtur.  Sed credatis me Filium Dei, non nova fide, quia et prius crediderunt’, apostoli scilicet, ‘sed aucta fide et refecta, quia et modo cum haec diceret parva fides erat et cm moreretur, nulla’.  Si igitur in apostolis fides aucta est per crementum et in nobis per gratiam, unde plura credenda discere possumus et possemus saltem secundum explicationem.

‘Iam non multa loquar vobiscum’, dixit Christus apostolis [Ioan. 14,30], ita ego etiam finiturus sermonem, quia adversarius noster diabolus 1 Petri [5,8] ‘circuit nos quserens quem devoret’ et maxime nunc, utinam igitur una vobiscum possem dicere: ‘Venit enim princeps huius mundi’, id est diabolus qui principatur non creaturis, sed peocatoribus et mundi amatoribus, ‘et in me non habet quidquam’ [Ioan. 14,30], scilicet mortalis / pecccati nec actus nec occasiones nec voluntatem, et sic non superbiam, non avaritiam, non luxuriam, non invidiam, non gulam, non iram, non acediam, non perccatum oris, non cordis, non operis, non ignorantiae, non impotentiae et infirmitatis; maxime non ex malitia: nam certe, si is spiritus malus quod absit, aliquid horum in nobis invenerit.

Spiritus sanctus, cuius festivitas hodie celebratur, ut dicitur Sap. 1[4-5]: ‘Fictum’, id est diabolum, ‘effugiet nec habitabit in corpore subdito peccatis’ et ita quod absit suavitate et donis eius maximis privaremur, et si non esset alia causa nobis movens nos ad peccatum vitandum, virtutes faciendum sufficere deberet, et maxime dilectione Dei uti Christus nobis ostendit dicens: ‘ut cognoscat mundus quia diligo Patrem et, sicut mandatum dedit mihi Pater, sic facio’ [Ioan. 14,31].

Ita enim nos carissimi ad veritatis, quid dicit egregius doctor, beatus Augustinus, in libro tertio ‘Catechizzandis rudibus’, etiamsi impune peccare possent, Dei tamen dilectionem offendere verentur, qui etiam inferni poenas non timerent dummodo Deum diligerent.  Nam, ut tactum est, talibus ‘omnia in bonum cooperantur’ Rom 8[28], non solum in vita praesenti, sed etiam in aeterna, ad quam nos perducat Spiritus sanctus qui cum Patre et Filio regnat.

The castle at Kozmin – portions of it even predate the Magister

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July 3, 2017

Chapels in the West

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In his Westphalian annals (volume 3), the Catholic priest Hermann Stangefol makes the following curious statement regarding the so-called Drüggelter Kapelle (which just means chapel) just south of Soest.  The place was first mentioned during the Crusades as apud Druglete and the “Kapelle” as Capellam Druchlete.

“The Paradise Monastery is noteworthy for the fact that it was spared by the enemy in the siege of Soest in 1447.  At around the same time, by reason of a pious gift, the farms of the town Drüchgelte on the River Möhne were transferred to [the ownership of] this new monastery.  There in an ancient temple, that still exists, there stood there an statue of the Goddess Trigla, which had three heads, to which the pagans in times of greatest need typically ran, pleading for help. It may be thought that it is from this statue [Goddess] that the village derives its name.  This statue was destroyed in 1583 during the Cologne War [1583-1588].”

“Monasterio Paradiso in obsidione Susatensi a. 1447 hostes, quod notabile admodum est, pepercerunt.  Villae in Druechgelte ad Moenam fl. ex piorum oblationibus huic novello Monasterio simul obvenerunt.  Ubi in pervetusto templo, quod etiamnum supcrest, extitit olim simulachrum Triglae deae, tria habens capita, ad quam gentilitas in summis necessitatibus opem imploratura cofugere solebat.  Est credible, quod ab eadem imagine hunc pagaum nomen suum mutuasse.  Status haec anno 1583 in bello trucksessisno omnino periit.”

This from the Annales circuli Westphalici, hoc est Opus Chronologicum Et Historicum rerum omnium, maxime notabilium sub hoc circulo gestarum, a Christo nato ad annum MDCLVI deductum et in IV partes distinctum.  The Moenam/Moyne refers to the river Möhne.

It is curious that Stangefol mentions Trigla as having “three heads” but does not seem to be aware that the name is likely a direct translation of that same concept.  He also does not mention the Slavs or the Slavic God Triglav suggesting that he may not even have been aware that Triglav had been attested in the Life of Otto of Bamberg.  These facts would add credibility to his report.  And it is true that the columns of the Kapelle feature a number of “strange” symbols and carvings including a column with three heads (notice too the boar’s or ram’s head in the middle below):

 Then there is the column with multiple heads:

Whether the various carvings visible on other columns may be solar symbols or something else is up for debate.

Speaking of reports, as we observed previously, there certainly have been reports of Slavs in the neighboring Soest.  We’ve also mentioned that Soest itself sounds vaguely Slavic or at least features the “Venetic” prefix -est (as too does Tergeste/Triest).  Note too that Slavic idols may have been found in places such as Bamberg (Bababerg arguably referring to Slavic (?) sculptures).

It is also true that in some cases former pagan sculptures/images were incorporated in the structures of the new Christian churches as in Altenkirchen (incidentally, located between Arkona and Glowe with the latter meaning “head”).  Of course, one may legitimately guess that such “incorporation” was usually intended as either pragmatic (useful building materials) or humiliating (we put your “god” into our wall upside down) or both.  The notion that pagan sculptures should be incorporated as prominent features of a church may seem to stretch credulity.  And yet, if you wanted to have the local pagans attend mass, what better way to do that than pretend “nothing’s changed”.

Whether Druglete can in fact derive its name from Triglav is another question.  That seems unlikely.  If one were to seek a Slavic etymology, a druch or drug would seem to fit better – meaning a “friend” or “companion” (this presumably from the numeral drugi meaning “the second”).

As an aside, it is also remarkable that drugubica means a net/trap/snare and has a definite Slavic etymology.  Yet Druch apparently means the same in German – as in Schlinge, Fusschlinge or Latin pedica.

This was noted by Wilhelm Engelbert Giefers in his study of the Three Strange Chapels of Westphalia. Giefers presumably did not know that the same is true in Slavic.  He also noted that Trigla cannot be the name of a goddess since, among other reasons:

“neither in the Germanic, nor Roman nor Greek mythology is there anywhere a reference to a Goddess Trigla.”

This, however, is not exactly true.

The 12th century Eustathius of Thessalonica (Commentary on the Illiad, XVII, 73) observes otherwise regarding Diana saying that she used to be called Trigla (by reason of three heads or eyes?).  Note too that “eyes” would work – gała/gały/gałka/gałki – compare with Russian galaz (or głazy – meaning stones, pebbles – or to simplify, something round). (Note too glaesum for “amber”).  Yet tri by itself won’t do it to make this Slavic since that is an IE prefix (at least in Slavic and Celtic – compare Tarvos Trigaranos on the Pillar of the Boatmen).

And earlier we have in Atheneus (3rd century AD, Deipnosophistae, Book 7) the following quote regarding a “trigle” fish (taxonomy continued to today):

“The Red Mullet (triglê). — This word, like chichlê (thrush) is spelled with an ê. For all feminines ending in la require a second l: Scylla, Telesilla. But all words in which g is inserted end in ê, like troglê (hole), aiglê (brilliance), zeuglê (yoke-strap). “The red mullet,” Aristotle says in the fifth book of Parts of Animals, “spawns thrice a year.” He says that fishermen infer this from the roe, which is seen three times a year in certain localities. Perhaps, therefore, the name triglê is derived from this circumstance, just as the amias are so‑called because they do not go solitarily, but in schools, scarus (parrot-fish) and caris (shrimp) from scairo (leap), aphyae (anchovies) because they are aphyes, that is, of poor size; from thyo, dart, the darting thynnys (tunny), because at the time when the Dog-star rises it is driven forth by the bot-fly on its head.”

“The triglê (red mullet) is jagged-toothed, gregarious, spotted all over, and also carnivorous. The third spawning is infertile; for certain worms develop in the womb, which devour the roe that is to be spawned. From this circumstance Epicharmus calls them the “squirming” in these lines from The Marriage of Hebe: “So he brought some squirming mullets and disgusting baiones.” Sophron, again, mentions trigolae, whatever they may be, in Mimes of Men, thus: “With a trigolas that cuts the navel-cord;” and “the trigolas that brings fair weather.” On the other hand, in the mime entitled Puffing Passion, he has: “The jaw of a Triglê, but the hind parts of a trigolas.” And in Mimes of Women: ‘The barbelled Triglê.” Diocles,in his work addressed to Pleistarchus, mentions the Triglê among fish with hard flesh. Speusippus says that the piper, flying-fish, and Triglê are similar. Hence Tryphon declares in his work On Animals that some persons identify the trigolas with the piper because of the hardness of their hind parts, which Sophron has indicated when he says, “the jaw of a Triglê, but the hind parts of a tirgolas.” Plato says in Phaon: “But the red mullet will give no strength to the glands. For she is a daughter of the virgin Artemis and loathes the rising passion.” The Triglê, on account of the syllable in its name which is common to the epithets of Hecate, is dedicated to her. For she is the goddess of the three ways and looks three ways, and they offer her meals on the thirtieth days. By like analogies they associate the turbot (citharus) with Apollo, the boax with Hermes, the ivy with Dionysus, the coot (phalaris) with Aphrodite, by way of insinuating phallus, like Aristophanes’s pun in The Birds. (So some persons associate the duck, called netta, with Poseidon.) The sea product which we call aphyê, others aphritis, others still, aphros (foam) — this, I say, is most dear to Aphrodite, because she also sprang from foam. Apollodorus also, in his treatise On the Gods, says that the Triglê is sacrificed to Hecate because of the associations in the name; for the goddess is tri-form. But Melanthius, in his work On the Eleusinian Mysteries, includes the sprat with the Triglê because Hecate is a sea-goddess also. Hegesander of Delphi declares that a Triglê is carried in the procession at the festival of Artemis, because it is reputed to hunt sea-hares relentlessly and devour them; for they are deadly. Hence, inasmuch as the Triglê does this to benefit mankind, this huntress fish is dedicated to the huntress goddess. Further, Sophron called the Triglê barbelled, because those mullets which have barbels are better to eat than other kinds.”

At Athens there is also a place called Trigla, and there is a shrine there dedicated to Hecate Triglanthinê. Hence Charicleides says in The Chain: “Mistress Hecate of the three ways, with three forms and three faces, beguiled with triglas.” If a Triglê be smothered a live in wine and a man drinks this, he will not be able to have sexual intercourse, as terpsicles narrates in his book On Sexual Pleasure. If a woman, also, drink of the same wine, she cannot conceive. The same is true even of a bird. The encyclopaedic Archestratus, after praising the trials of Teichious, in the Milesian territory, goes on to say: “Also in Thasos buy a red mullet, and you will get one that is not bad. In Teos it is inferior, yet even it is good. In Erythrae, too, it is good, when caught by the shore.” And Cratinus says in Trophonius: “No longer may we eat a red mullet from Aexonê, nor taste sting-ray or black-tail of huge growth.” The comic poet Nausicrates commends the red mullets of Aexonê in these lines from The Skippers: “A. With them, excellent in quality, come the tawny-skins, which Aexonê’s wave fosters as its own children, the best of all. With these, sailorfolk pay honour to the goddess, light-bringing virgin, whenever they offer her gifts of dinners. B. You are talking about mullets.”

Whatever your judgment on Trigla, the Slavs are not mentioned by Eustathius or Atheneus.  Perhaps the mystery is deeper and its solution lies with the Laconians/Lacedaemonians or the Pelasgians (as per Pokorny, from pelag-skoi “flatland-inhabitants” – Polanie?) who were descended (perhaps) from the mythical Phoroneus Φορωνεύς (Piorun/Perun/Perkunas?).

For more see Ernst Maaß’ Hekate und ihre Hexen in the Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung auf dem Gebiete der Indogermanischen Sprachen.

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June 17, 2017

The Rain of Wodan

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We previously remarked on the similarities between Wodan and wodz – “leader”.  We speculated that a wodz did wodzil, meaning led around his people (ziehen) because fundamentally, people travelling in the old days needed water to survive.  So you went along the rivers.  Thus wodzic ought to mean just to walk along, to or around water.  The person who led that became a “wodz”.

That is probably also the origin of the word “wander” or the German wandern (notice, for example, the Old Prussian wenda for “water” – which also suggests that the Veneti were – in some “Baltic” language simply “those who dwell or travel on/by water”).  Thus:

  • woda (Sla) > wodzic > wodz
  • udens (Balt Lat)
  • wenda (Balt Pr)
    • also compare with wędka [vendka] or wędzić [vendit] or wędlina [vendlina]
  • vanduo (Balt Lith)
  • [wasser] (Germ) > wandern

Notice too that “to wander” is the roughly the same as “to meander” – both are done by rivers and both may be undertaken by people travelling along rivers or on rivers.  These names indeed suggest the very life style of certain tribes.  The fact that Slavs are recorded (Procopius) as worshipping water spirits kinda fits.

From this you could also construct wojewoda as in the one who leads “woje” or “warriors”. Incidentally, the word woje means the same as boie.  The Boii were supposedly a Celtic tribe but it is not known what language these “Celts” spoke.  (Incidentally, in this version, the Germanic Heerzieher becomes a translation of the Slavic wojewoda – not vice versa).

We’ve also mentioned the curious fact that “one” in Slavic languages is jeden/odin.

But Wodan’s name itself suggests a Slavic (or Baltic?) source word of woda (or udens in Latvian) meaning “water”.

Wodan was – perhaps (this is unproven) – the same as Mercury.  Mercury was not really a water god but a god of trade.  On the other hand, during the Mercuralia, apparently, merchants sprinkled water from Mercury’s sacred well at the Porta Capena in Rome…

All of this may suggest that Wodan (whoever he was initially) was or at some point became a “rain god.”  This raises the possibility that Wodan was the same as Piorun.  Both are, in effect, storm gods – one’s name may mean “water” – the other’s “thunder”.  The fact that wuetend then came to mean the same as “raging” naturally follows from that.

Also the ending of

  • syllable then -n,
  • as in -on, -an, -un

seems rather fashionable among Europeans:

  • Jasion
  • Piorun/Perkun (or Perkun-as)
  • Wodan, Woden

Numerous other examples abound (they are typically viewed as Greek if in the form of -on but this may just be because of the fact that Greeks could actually write – see also Simon, Jason and others such as Chasson – the Slavic protagonist of the Miracles of Saint Demetrius.  BTW Josippon is a Greek word).

As we already pointed out, piron in both Greek and Venetic (!) means “fork” which naturally suggests the physical image of electricity streaming through the sky.

For other interesting factoids you can see that Vaduz – the capital of Lichtenstein – was first recorded as de Faduzes and this too refers to water.  Although the etymology is supposed to be Rhaetian (Rhaeto-Romanic) from aqueductus, it might just as well be Germanic or even Slavic.  That wadi means “river” in Arabic should also suggest that IE languages (or something similar) were much more widely spread (in the Old World) than previously thought.

Incidentally, os means “mouth” or “estuary” and is obviously cognate to the Slavic usta.  Likewise, os, as are cognates with the idea of motion jazda and all, for obvious reasons relate to water – jezero meaning “lake” – or Tamissa meaning Thames River, Izera and many others.

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June 16, 2017

Marwazī’s Account

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Here is an 1130 (?) account of the Arab court physician Sharaf al-Zamān Ṭāhir Marwazī or Marvazī (circa 1056/57– circa 1130) on the Slavs based on the 1942 Vladimir Minorsky translation (adapted by Paul Lunde and Caroline Stone along with most of the below notes).   Marwazī was (as the short version of the name suggests) a native of Merw (Persian: Marv), Khorasan in Persia (in today’s Turkmenistan).  His known work is Nature of Animals (Kitāb Ṭabāʾiʿ al-Ḥayawān al-Baḥrī wa-al-Barrī) which, presciently, includes as its first section a chapter on humans.  There he discusses the [Volga] Bulgars and Slavs and the Rus (the first portion of that discussion is a copy of Ibn Rusta).  Here are those excerpts.

The Bulgars and the Far North

“In the northern direction lies the country of Bulghar; it lies between the west and the  north, inclining towards th ePole, and is three months distant from Khwarazm.  These [people] have two cities, one called Suvar and the other called Bulghar; between the two cities is a distance of two days’ journey, along the bank of a river and through very dense forests, in which they fortify themselves against their enemies.  The trees are mostly khadang [birch?], but there are also hazels.  They are Muslims, and make war on the infidel Turks, raiding them, because they are surrounded by infidels.  There are in their forests fur bearing animals, such as grey squirrels, sable and so on.  The latitude of their territory is very considerable, so much so that in summer their day is extremely long and their night extremely short, so shot tin fact that the interval between twilight and dawn is not sufficient for cooking a pot [of meat].”

“At a distance of twenty days from them, towards the Pole, is a land called Isu [Wisu], and beyond this a people called Yura; these are a savage people, living in forests and mixing with other men, for they fear that they may be harmed by them.  The people of Bulghar journey to them, taking wares, such as clothes, salt and other things, in contrivances drawn by dogs over the heaped snows, which [never] clear away.  It is impossible for a man to go vover these snows, unless he binds on to his feet the thigh bones of oxen, and takes in his hands a pair of javelins which he thrusts backwards into the snow, so that his feet slide forward over the surface of the ice; with a favorable wind [?] he will travel a great distance by the day.  The people of Yura trade by means of signs and dumb show, for they are wild and afraid of [other] men.  Form them are imported excellent sable and other fine furs; they hunt these animals, feeding on their flesh and wearing their skins.”

“Beyond these are a coast-dweling people who travel far over the sea, without any [definite] purposes and intention; they merely do this in order to boast of reaching [such and such a remote] locality.  They are a most ignorant and stupid tribe, and their ignorance is shown by the following.  They sail in ships, and whenever two [of their] boats meet, the sailors lash the two together, and then they draw their swords and fight.  This is their form of greeting.  They come from the same town, perhaps from the same quarter, and there is no kind of enmity or rivalry between them; it is merely that this is their custom.  When one of the parties is victorious, they [then] steer the two ships together.  In this sea is the fish whose tooth is used in hafting knives, swords and suchlike.*  Beyond them is a Black Land which cannot be crossed.  As for the sea route, the voyager sailing towards the Pole reaches a part where there is no night in the summer and no day in the winter; the sun rotates visibly over the land for six months, circling the horizon like the revolution of a millstone; the whole year consists of one day and one night.”

* note: “Narwhal and walrus horn, called khutu, was much prized for its durability and was the preferred material for knife handles.”

The Slavs

“The Slavs are a numerous people, and between their territories and the territories of the Pečenegs is a distance of ten days, along steppes and pathless country which thick trees and [abounding] in springs.  They inhabit these forests.  They have no vines, but possess much honey.  They tend swine, and burn their dead, for they worship fire.  They grow mostly millet, and have a drink prepared from honey.  They have different kinds of pipes, including one two cubits long.  Their lute is flat and has eight strings but no peg-bx, while its pegs are level.  They have no great wealth.  Their weapons are javelins and spears, and they have fine bucklers.  Their head chieftain is called suit, and he has a deputy called shrih.*  The king has [riding] beasts and on their milk he feeds.  The town in which he resides is called Khazrat, where they hold a market for three days in every month.  Among them the cold is so severe that they dig deep underground dwellings which they cover with wood, and heat with the steam [produced by the burning of] dung and firewood.  There they remain during their winter season.  In the winter the Majghari [Magyars] raid them, and as a result of their mutual railings they have many slaves.”

* note: “suwit… shrih: suwit: must represent the first element in the name Svetopolk; shrih (sh.rih in the manuscript) has not been satisfactorily explained.”

The Rus

“The Rus live in an island in the sea, its extent being a distance of three days in either direction.  It has words an forests, and is surrounded by a lake.  They are very numerous, and look to the sword to provide them with a livelihood and profession.  When one of their menfolk dies, leaving daughters and sons, they hand his property to the daughters, giving the sons only a sword for they say: ‘Your father won his property by the sword; do you[r best and] imitate him and follow him in this.'”

“And in this way their education was effected, until they became Christians during the year 912*  When they entered [the fold of] Christianity, the faith blunted their swords, the door of their livelihood was closed to them, they returned to hardship and poverty, and their livelihood shrank.  Tgeb tget desired to become Muslims, that it might be lawful for them to makre raids and holy war, and so make a living by retrying to some of their former practices.  They therefore sent messengers to the ruler of Khwarazm, four ins men of their king; for they had an independent king called Vlaidmir, just as the king of the Turks is called khagan and the king of the Bulghars yiltawar.**  Their messengers came to Khwarazm and delivered their message, The Khwarazmshah was delighted at their eagerness to become Muslims, and sent someone to them to teach them the religious laws of Islam.  So they were converted.”

“They are strong and powerful men, and go on foot into far regions in order to raid; they also sail boats on the Khazar Sea [Caspian], seizing ships and plundering goods.  They sail to Constantinople win the Sea of Pontus, in spite of the chains in the gulf.***  Once they sailed into the Sea of Khazar and became master of Bardha’a for a time.  Their valor and courage are well-known, so that any one of them is equal to a number of any other nation.  If they had horses and were riders, they would be a great scourge to mankind.”

* note: “Vladimir converted in 988; probably a copyist’s mistake.”
** note: “The text reads b.t.ltw, Ibn Falan’s yiltawar, the title of the Bulghar king.  It is clear from this passage that Marwazi thought ‘Vladimir’ was a title, not a personal name.”
*** note: chains laid by the Byzantines to prevent ships passing.

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June 11, 2017