Friday, 15 December 2017

Bowls from Los Millares

Los Millares is a Chalcolithic occupation site 17 km north of Almería, in the municipality of Santa Fe de Mondújar, Andalucía, Spain. The complex was in use from the end of the fourth millennium to the end of the second millennium BC and probably supported somewhere around 1000 people.

The site covers 2 hectares (4.9 acres) and comprises three concentric lines of stone walls, the outer ring the largest, running more than 650 feet with nineteen 'bastions' and a gate guarded by foreworks. A cluster of simple dwellings lay inside the wall. The road to the site is guarded by four smaller outlying stone forts. There is an extensive cemetery of eighty passage grave tombs. The site was occupied between around 3200 BC and 1800 BC, when the Los Millares culture was replaced by El Argar civilisation.


Although primarily farmers, the inhabitants of Los Millares had crucially also learned metal working, especially the smelting and forming of copper. A large building containing evidence of copper smelting. Because of this, the site is considered highly important in understanding the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age. The Los Millares culture eventually came to dominate the Iberian peninsula.

Pottery excavated from the site included plain and decorated wares including engraved bowls bearing oculus (a round or eye-like opening or design) motifs. Similar designs appear on various carved stone idols found at the site.

This is these ceramic bowls decorated with the "ocular" motif. It was dated to the period 3200–2300 BC. The bowl is currently displayed in Ashmolean museum.


Here is another example from the Museum of Almeria.


So what about the meaning of this "occular" decoration. The Ashmolean has this to say about it: "The meaning of the eye motif is unknown, but it must have had significance for Los Millares people. Some researchers believe that it may be related to the sun. Another interpretation is that it may represent an owl..."

That this motif indeed represents eyes can be seen from the fact that it is framed with what looks very much like eyebrows. Also the same motif is found on idols exactly where eyes are supposed to be.



But the motif also represents the sun, which can be seen from the fact that it is found on plates where it is not framed by eyebrows and where it is found in different numbers (1,2,3..)




So how can the same symbol represent the eyes and the sun? Well eyes are the organs of sight. But the sight is only possible if there is light. And the light is given by the sun. So without the sun there would be no light and no sight...

This link between the light and the sight is beautifuly depicted on Los Millares artefacts where the eyes are depicted using sun symbols.

The same symbolic link between the light and the sight is also preserved in Slavic language and tradition.

Svetovid is the Slavic sun god whose name comes from Svet + Vid = Light + Sight. Interestingly the word "svet" also means world, which does't exist until it is lit up by the light (svet) of the sun. At the same time the sun sees (vid) all the world (svet) from the sky. So Svetovid can mean both "the one who sees the world" and "the one who allows us to see the world".

You can read more about Svetovid symbolism in my post "Svetovid".

This makes the "occular motifs" from the Los Millares bowls really cool, right? 

But they are not half as cool as the motifs found on the other sides of the same bowls. Here is the back of the bowl from the Ashmolean museum:




And here is the back of another bowl, for which I am not sure where it is kept.



Here is the enlarged scene from the first bowl:



The scene on both bowls depicts a single male deer with large antlers and several animals which look like female deers, does (hinds). And this strange thing:


So what is the meaning of this scene? Well the Ashmolean says that the meaning of this scene is unknown. So let me see if I can offer a plausible interpretation.

This is Orion, a prominent constellation located on the celestial equator and visible throughout the world. It is one of the most conspicuous and recognizable constellations in the night sky.


The distinctive pattern of Orion, which looks like an X or like an hourglass, has been recognized in numerous cultures around the world, and many myths have been associated with it.



Now have a look again at the strange object that you can see on the above scene with deer. 


It looks exactly like the shape of the Orion constellation. And what is interesting, while the deer are engraved using straight lines, this strange object is gouged using poke marks. Why? Is it because the artists wanted to indicate that these are stars and the the object is a collection of stars forming a constellation, the Orion constellation?

But why would anyone put Orion constellation in the same scene with a single male deer and several female deers?

Autumn is the time when one of nature's great spectacles, deer rutting (mating), takes place. The deer will mate from September to November, with the main breeding time occurring in October. 



The timing of the rut is controlled by the length of the day and it never changes. So it is an event which is fixed on the solar circle. By mid September, aggression is more marked. Mature stags are increasingly intolerant of each other, and there are short chases as they attain peak condition. These animals are first to rut. Traditionally, the first roars (loud deep low-pitched call) are heard in the last week of September, signalling the commencement of the rut. Each stag is seeking to gather hinds to herd together for his harem (on average 5 hinds), he will then endeavour to possess exclusively, by marking and defending the territory over which the hinds roam. 


He will mate with the fittest hinds, which normally come on heat by the second and third week in October. During the rut, while the stag waits for each hind in his harem to come in season, he will wallow in peat, thresh the vegetation with his antlers, as well as roar and clash in contest with competing males. As October draws to a close, the, majority of stags have finished the rut. 

In Slavic calendar the month of September, when the rut starts, is known as "Rujan", which means "the month of deer mating" (from archaic verb for deer roar "rjuti").

Now here is something amazing:

Around 3000 BC, Orion was visible from August to October.
Around 1000 BC, Orion was visible from September to November.

So the beginning of the rut, the deer mating season falls right in the middle of the period when Orion was visible during the period when Los Millares people made their misterious bowls...

Now compare the above picture of a single male deer with his harem of does (hinds) with the scene from the Los Millares bowls:


Deer rut, single male deer surrounded with a harem of does (hinds) ,taking place during the period when Orion is visible in the sky...

What did I tell you, super cool. And it gets cooler :)

The Rigveda refers to the Orion Constellation as Mriga (The Deer). 

In Sanskrit mṛgaśiraṣa, the 5th nakṣatra or lunar mansion as used in Hindu astronomy and astrology is the constellation Orion. Symbol is Antelope or Deer.


The term Mṛgaśira (मृगशिर) a composite of two Sanskrit words, mṛga (मृग) meaning deer/animal/beast and śira (शिर) meaning head or precisely, the top of the head.


What is also interesting is that in Serbian the word "orijaš" means giant and the word "mrga" also means giant. Both of these are very close to Orion and Mrga (Mriga) probably coming from the same ancient root.

Is the reason why Rigveda use deer as symbol for Orion the same as the reason why we find Orion depicted on the deer rut scene on Los Millares bowls? If this is so, and I believe that it is, then this has significant implications on the origin of Rigveda.

Accepted opinion, based on philological and linguistic evidence, is the Rigveda was composed in the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent, most likely between c. 1500 and 1200 BC. 


But is it possible that the association between deer and Orion is older? Like 1500 years older?

So to conclude:

Is this what the meaning of this "mysterious" scene is? And if so, what implications does it have on the origin of Rigveda? Did the same people make Los Millares bowls and write Rigveda? Or did two different people, one in Europe and one in North India, who both lived at the time when Orion marked the period of the deer rut, independently marked this in their own way: the Los Millares people by drawing Orion constellation as part of the deer rutting scene, and the creators of Rigveda by naming Orion Mriga - Deer? 

What do you think?

Monday, 11 December 2017

Hunter


Sagittarius (♐) is the astrological sign which spans 240–270th degrees of the zodiac. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this sign between approximately November 23 and December 21. This Zodiac sign is associated with the constellation Sagittarius. 


The official explanation for why the Sagittarius zodiac sign is where it is on the zodiac circle is that the sun passes in front of this constellation during this period of the solar year.

But what is the real reason why we have the symbol meaning "hunter" marking the period between the end of November and the end of December? 

Considering that we know that Pisces (return of salmon into European rivers for spawning), Aries (lambing season of wild Eurasian sheep), Taurus (calving season of wild Eurasian cattle) and Capricorn (mating season of mountain ibex goats) all mark significant natural events on the yearly solar cycle, I wouldn't be surprised that Sagittarius (hunter) is also marking an important natural event. And indeed there is such an event. First snow.

There is a proverb in Serbia that goes like this: "Snow doesn't fall to cover the hill. It falls to show the tracks of all the beasts". 

The end of November is the time when the agricultural year is over. All agricultural work is done. All fruits are harvested and the new grain is sown. 

It is at this time of the year that the wild boar are as fat as they can be from eating all the acorn which fell off the oak trees between late September and early November. The same goes for deer, wild cattle, wild sheep and wild goat. They have been grazing all autumn, storing fat reserves for winter. 

It is also at this time of the year that all the fury animals have finished changing into their winter coats. Their fur is as thickest and as best as it can be. 

So if you are after meet and fur, there is no better time to go hunting than during the period of late November and early December. 

And right at that time is when the first snow falls. This snow is just thick enough to cover the ground and make all the animal tracks visible. 



This makes the period between the end of November and the end of December the best time for meat and fur hunting, and this is why this period is in the Zodiac marked with the symbol for hunter. 

Of course none of this makes sense in Mesopotamia, only in Temperate zones of Europe... 

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Gray Mare



"Mari Lwyd" meaning "Gray Mare" is an ancient Welsh tradition celebrating the end of the Christmas season (taking place from Christmas into January). A group of singers would go from house to house (including pubs) with the Mari Lywd and try to gain entry by a verbal contest with the inhabitants. The Mari Lwyd consists of a horse's skull with false eyes and and ears and a white sheet which was attached to the skull to make the body. Sometimes the horse head was actually made from wood. The jaws were wired so they could be snapped. Bells were attached to the reins and horse adorned with colorful ribbons. Either a person dressed up as the Mari Lwyd or it was carried on a pole.

The custom used to begin at dusk and often lasted late into the night. The Mari Lwyd party consisted of four to seven men, who often had coloured ribbons and rosettes attached to their clothes and sometimes wore a broad sash around the waist. There was usually a smartly dressed "Leader" who carried a staff, stick, or whip, and sometimes other stock characters, such as the "Merryman" who played music, and Punch and Judy (both played by men) with blackened faces; often brightly dressed, Punch carried a long metal fire iron and Judy had a besom.

The Mari Lwyd party would approach a house and sing a song in which they requested admittance. The inhabitants of the house would then offer excuses for why the team could not enter. The party would sing a second verse, and the debate between the two sides – known as the pwnco – would continue until the house's inhabitants ran out of ideas, at which time they were obliged to allow the party entry and to provide them with ale and food. An account from Nantgarw described such a performance, in which the Punch and Judy characters would cause a noise, with Punch tapping the ground to the rhythm of the music and rapping on the door with a poker, while Judy brushed the ground, house walls, and windows with a broom. The householders had to make Punch promise that he would not touch their fireplace before he entered the building, otherwise it was the local custom that before he left he would rake out the fire with his poker.

Once inside, the entertainment continued with the Mari Lwyd running around neighing and snapping its jaws, creating havoc, frightening children (and perhaps even adults) while the Leader pretended to try to restrain it. The Merryman played music and entertained the householders.

You can see how this ceremony was performed in this black and white film of men in the village of Llangynwyd carrying out the tradition of the Mari Lwyd, BBC Wales program, Lolfa, 1966



And this black and white film recorded in Tregaron(?) performing the Lari Lwyd ritual on Christmas Eve 1964, currently kept in National Library Of Wales.

The origin of the tradition is uncertain but it is believed that it is pre-Christian and possibly associated with Welsh mythological character Rhiannon from the Welsh folk epic Mabinogion. Rhiannon, who came from the otherworld, rode a shining white horse. 

But is it possible that this skeletal grey mare has a solar symbolism? 

In Slavic mythology, sun god Svetovid had a white stallion as his sacred animal. You can read more about the solar horse in my post about the Slavic sun god Svetovid.

Now it is very likely that this is the same white solar stallion we see depicted on many Celtic coins, like this one:



This white stallion was the symbol of the bright, warm, summer sun, which shines around the time of the summer solstice. The stallion is in this way linked with the Sky father who dominates this part of the year. 

The dead skeletal grey mare would then be a good symbol for dim, cold, winter sun, which shines around the time of the winter solstice? The mare is in this way linked with the Earth mother who dominates this part of the year.

That the whole ritual could have a solar symbolism can also be seen from the part which concerns the fire. The fact that Judy carries the fireplace poker and is made to promise not to touch the fire could be a remnant of the old winter solstice fire magic ritual which is still preserved in Serbia. In Serbia, every Christmas eve, a yule log was ceremonially placed in the fire place, and was supposed to burn through Christmas night and Christmas day. This symbolically insured that the fire of the sun would burn through the winter and that the summer would arrive again. On Christmas day, a special fire poking ritual was performed by the first man that crosses the house doorstep. As he poked the fire he tried to make as many sparks as possible, all the while reciting this spell: "As many sparks, as much luck, as many sparks as much happiness, as many sparks as much health, as many sparks as many cattle, as many sparks as much grain..." This Serbian ritual was intended to bring good bountiful year to the family in whose house it was performed. Maybe similar fire poking was once part of Mari Lwyd ritual???

What do you think?

Friday, 8 December 2017

Natufian house

According to a report in Seeker, published in August 2017, researchers led by Tobias Richter of the University of Copenhagen have excavated a Natufian culture site in Jordan known as Shubayqa 1, which was occupied between 12,600 and 10,000 BC. The early radiocarbon date for the site, obtained through accelerator mass spectrometry, suggests that Natufians lived across the region of the Levant earlier than had been previously thought, and adapted to a wide range of habitats. The site could also offer scientists information on the transition from hunting and gathering to farming. Richter said the people living at Shubayqa 1 domesticated dogs as early as 12,000 BC. They produced art in the form of carved bone and stone figures. They also buried their dead. “Some have argued that this is evidence for the presence of ritual specialists—shamans—or some kind of group leaders,” Richter said. “What seems clear is that the Natufians had developed a complex symbolic cosmology and treated their dead with respect.”

They also built one of the world’s earliest stone buildings, complete with a stone-paved floor. A stone-lined fire pit, and food remains from birds, gazelle, and tubers, vegetables, and wild cereals and legumes were also uncovered.

This is the building the article is talking about:



In the article "High Resolution AMS Dates from Shubayqa 1, northeast Jordan Reveal Complex Origins of Late Epipalaeolithic Natufian in the Levant" by Tobias Richter, Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, Lisa Yeomans & Elisabetta Boaretto, we can see the aerial view of Shubayqa 1 showing the main excavation area A/B and location of Shubayqa 1 (insert bottom left). And in the centre we can see the above house with the paved floor and the stone lined hearth, which is clearly trapezoid in its shape.


This is very very interesting. Because there is another site, in Serbia, full of trapezoid houses with paved floors and central lined hearth.

Lepenski Vir, located in Serbia, is an important archaeological site of the Mesolithic Iron Gates culture of the Balkans. The latest radiocarbon and AMS data suggests that the chronology of Lepenski Vir is compressed between 9500/7200-6000 BC. The late Lepenski Vir (6300-6000 BC) architectural development was the development of the Trapezoidal buildings and monumental sculpture...


The houses are completely standardized in design, and have a very distinct shape, built according to a complicated geometric pattern.  



They however greatly vary in size. The smallest of the houses have an area of 1.5 m2 (16 sq ft) while the largest one covers 30 m2 (320 sq ft). Here are these trapezoidal buildings in situ.


In Lepenski Vir, it appears that there was a process of gradual desacralization, which means that the shrines turned into the houses in time.

The basis of each of the houses is a circle segment of exactly 60 degrees, constructed in the manner of an equilateral triangle. The tip of the trapezoid base, a shape previously unknown in human settlements, is pointed into the direction of the prevailing wind (košava).  The material used for the floors is the local limestone clay, which, when mixed with the animal dung and ash, hardens like a concrete. Because of that, the floors are almost in perfect condition. On the edges of the floors there are remnants of the stone reinforcements which served as the carriers of the upper constructions, which means the houses were covered. The covering material was some easily degradable material or was similar to the surrounding loess, so it couldn't be distinguished from it during the excavations.

According to the archaeologists who worked on the site, the planned design of the settlement, its functionality and proportional forms, shows the almost modern sense of architecture. Despite a major age distance between then and now, the architectural plan of the settlement seems so contemporary and recognizable today.

The shape of the house base was, until I saw the above Natufian house, thought to be completely authentic and not recorded in any other locality.

Now what? Are these two cultures connected? 

Let's see what we have:

Natufian single trapezoid house (temple???) with stone paved floor and stone lined hearth. 

Lepenski vir trapezoid houses with stone paved floors and stone lined hearths, which Serbian archaeologists say developed from temples...

Natufians founded Jericho which may be the oldest city in the world. People of the PPNA culture which succeeds the Natufian culture in Jericho, buried their dead under the floors of their houses. There are 279 burials, below floors, under household foundations, and in between walls found in the PPNA period layer in Jericho. During PPNB period, Skulls were often dug up and reburied, or mottled with clay and (presumably) displayed. 



Lepenski vir people also buried their dead under the floors of their houses, sometimes with the head cut off. They also made many stone heads which were displayed in the settlements.


Is this all just a coincidence? The cultural traits I have just described are so unique, and dates of the late Natufian culture and the early Lepenski vir culture are so close, that I believe that there is a distinct possibility that there is a link between these two cultures.

What do you think?

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Winter spirit

Nestled in the Cotswold countryside, Chedworth Roman Villa has some of the most impressive in-situ Roman mosaics in Britain. One of these mosaics is this one known as "The spirit of winter". On it we can see a figure wearing a winter cloak. In one hand he is holding a dead leafless branch. In the other he is holding a hare. 



Gods never hold random objects in their hands. So, I believe that both of these two things that "The spirit of winter" is holding have a meaning related to winter. 

The dead leafless branch is an obvious symbol. Trees are leafless in winter. 

But there is another possibility, that this is not a dead leafless branch at all, but stag antlers. Considering that stags lose their antlers during the winter, this is another perfect symbol of winter...

But what about the hare? 



European hares have a prolonged breeding season which lasts from January to August. Peak reproductive activity occurs in March and April, when all females may be pregnant, the majority with three or more foetuses. The height of the breeding season, is known as "March madness", when the normally nocturnal bucks are forced to be active in the daytime. Female fertility continues through May, June and July, but testosterone production decreases in males and sexual behaviour becomes less overt. Litter sizes decrease as the breeding season draws to a close with no pregnancies occurring after August. The Male hares are infertile during September, October and November.

So:

The mating period starts end of January, beginning of February and ends end of July, beginning of August. 

The end of January, beginning of February is the beginning of Spring, which is in the Celtic calendar marked by Imbolc, which is celebrated on the 1st of February, but actually falls on the 4th of February, which is the exact mid point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. 

The end of July and the beginning of August is the beginning of Autumn, which is in the Celtic calendar marked by Lughnasadh, which is celebrated on the 1st of August, but actually falls on the 2nd of August, whcih is the exact mid point between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. 

The most intensive part of the hare breeding season is known as "The March Madness". This is where we also find spring equinox, which later became Easter...

No wonder hare was in the past seen as a symbol of fertility...

You can read more about the Celtic calendar in my post "Two crosses". 

Interesting right? But here is something even more interesting. Right at the beginning of the hare breeding season, in January, is the best time to see the constellation Lepus, hare. 


Considering that we know that Pisces (fishes), Aries (ram), Taurus (bull) and Capricorn (goat) all mark significant events in the reproductive cycle of these animals on the yearly solar cycle, I am convinced that Lepus (hare) is not where it is on the yearly solar cycle by chance...

And this is why the spirit of winter holds a hare in his hand :)

Friday, 24 November 2017

Thanksgiving


When people say "thanksgiving" today, the immediate association is "the day when Americans and Canadians eat roast turkey to celebrate....something".

Americans commonly trace the Thanksgiving holiday to a 1621 celebration at the Plymouth Plantation, where the settlers held a harvest feast for three days after a successful growing season. 

The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are traced to the French settlers who came to New France in the 17th century, who celebrated their successful harvests. 

The European settlers in America celebrated the end of harvest because thanksgiving festivals which mark the end of harvest have been celebrated all over Europe probably since the arrival of agriculture.

The word "harvest" comes from the Old English word "hærfest", meaning "autumn". It then came to refer to the season for reaping and gathering grain and other grown products.

The harvest season, autumn, begins on the 2nd of August when we find Lughnasadh which is in England known as Lammas, meaning "loaf Mass" and is celebrated on the 1st of August. And the autumn ends on the 5th of November when we find Samhain which is celebrated on the 31 of October and St Martin's day which is celebrated on the 11th of November.

The most well known end of harvest festival is St Martin's day or Martinmas, when people celebrate successful end of agricultural year. Martinmas is celebrated on November 11 each year. This is the time when autumn harvest was completed, autumn wheat seeding was completed, sheep were brought down from the mountain pastures and the annual slaughter of the pigs, which were fattened on acorns, was also done. (An old English saying is "His Martinmas will come as it does to every hog," meaning "he will get his comeuppance" or "everyone must die".)

Originally, thanksgiving was celebrated as a day of giving thanks to "Heavenly father" or the "Sky father" for basically not destroying the crops.

As I said already all agricultural societies in Europe had some form of end of harvest festival. Here I would like to talk a bit more about the end of the harvest festivals which used to be celebrated by the ancient Irish and ancient South Baltic Slavs. The links between these two festivals are so striking that they are pointing at a almost certain cultural link between these two people.

In Ireland the end of the harvest period, the end of autumn, was also the end of the year. The mass held to give thanks for the good harvest and the good year, was held on Samhain, Haloween, Irish New Year, which is today celebrated on the 31st of October. But the date of Samhain was originally probably 5th of November, the true mid point between autumn equinox and winter solstice.

Now the God to whom Ancient Irish gave thanks for their harvest was called Crom Cruach, which is another name of Crom Dubh, the old Irish god of agriculture.

The most famous worshiper of Crom Cruiach (Crom Dubh) was Tigernmas, sometimes called Tiernmas, an Irish high king who is said to have ruled Ireland during late Bronze Age.

According to "The Metrical Dindshenchas" Tigernmas and three quoters of his followers died while worshiping Crom Cruaich,  "a cruel deity propitiated with human sacrifice", on the Magh Slécht (Field of Prostration), on 31 October (Samhain, Halloween), 1413 B.C. His grave there is marked by a standing stone.

What is interesting is that this custom of human sacrifices during thanksgiving could have been brought to Ireland by the people known as Fomorians who according to the ancient Irish annals were the first people to settle Ireland. They came to Ireland at some stage during the 4th millennium bc and brought with them the knowledge of agriculture. They lived in Ireland alone for a while.  But then, after the flood, during the 3rd millennium bc came the people of Partholón who are credited with introducing cattle husbandry, ploughing, cooking, dwellings, trade, and dividing the island in four. But then Partholon and all his people later died of plague leaving Fomorians as the single inhabitants of Ireland again. Then The people of Nemed came, the descendants of the brother of Partholon, and they found Fomorians living in Ireland. They fought the Fomorians under Nemed and won. But after Nemed's death, Fomorians enslaved Nemed's people and demanded a heavy tribute: two thirds of their children, grain and cattle. The tribute that Nemedians had to give to Fomorians was exactly the same as the tribute Tigernmas had to give to Crom Dubh. Nemed's son gathered an army of sixty thousand, rose up against them. After a great slaughter on both sides, only thirty of Nemed's people escaped in a single ship, scattering to the other parts of the world, leaving again only Fomorians in Ireland. Well actually the Lebor Gabála Érenn says that when the next invaders, the Fir bolg, came then found Ireland empty. But Lebor Gabála Érenn also seems to suggest that Fir bolg and Fomorians were one and the same people. At least Macalister, the translator and editor of the Lebor Gabála Érenn thought that this could be so when he says that:

"The line between the Fir Bolg and the Fomorians is not clearly drawn…"

What is also very interesting is that Fir Bolg are also said to have been the descendants of Nemed who was the descendant of Partholon's brother. This makes Fomorians and the people of Partholon one and the same people. 

We have to ask ourselves why are the Fomori most directly linked to Fir Bolg. The Lebor Gabála Érenn states:

"Partholon took Ireland: he dwelt there five hundred and fifty years, till the  Cynocephali (dog headed, wolf headed) drave him out, and there escaped [survived] not one of his children alive."

Who were these wolf people?  Macalister suggests that “the Cynocephali introduced into the subsequent Partholon story have no place in the orthodox narrative, unless we are to equate them to the Fomoraig". But maybe they are to be equated with Fir Bolg. What is the old Irish word for wolf? It is "faolchú". Could it be that Fir Bolg are Fir faolchú, wolf people, wolf head people, Cynocephali? The Fir Bolg are first mentioned in the 9th century Historia Brittonum, where they are referred to as the Builc...

Then came the Tuatha Dé Danann, another group of descendants of Nemed who was descendant of Partholon's Brother. They defeated the Fir Bolg in the first Battle of Magh Tuiredh and took possession of Ireland. But then they had to defeat the Fir Bolg again, this time under the name of Fomorians at the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh. Interestingly the Annals of Loch Cé call Magh Tuiredh "Magh-Tuiredh-na-Fomorach" and explain that Magh-Tuiredh what the place "where the Fomorians were imposing their tributes on the men of Erinn..." So here Irish annals are equating Fir Bolg with Fomorians. The name Mag Tuired (modern spelling: Magh Tuireadh) means "plain of pillars" or "plain of towers". Crom Cruach, the god venerated by Tigernmas on Magh Slécht, was represented by a large idol, made completely of gold, which stood on the plain of Magh Slécht  Twelve smaller idols, these of stone, formed a ring around the Crom Cruach. Were pillars which were standing on Magh Tuireadh the same pillars which stood on Magh Slécht and which represented , Crom Cruach (Crom Dubh)??? And if so was Magh Slécht actually the same as Magh Tuireadh?

At the end of the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh, Bres, the leader of the Fomorians was found unprotected on the battlefield by Lugh, the leader of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Bres pleaded for his life with him. Lugh spared Bres because he promised to teach the Tuatha Dé Danann agriculture. Bres is said to have possessed the the secret knowledge of "How shall the men plough?  How shall they sow?  How shall they reap?". He gave that secret to Lugh, the leader of the Tuatha Dé Danann and his life was spared. From this we clearly see that it was Fomorians who brought the agriculture to Ireland. 

What is interesting about this story is that both Bres, the leader of the Fomorians and Lugh the leader of Tuatha Dé Danann at the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh were half Fomorian and half Tuatha Dé Danann.

Lugh's father was Cian of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and his mother was Ethniu, daughter of Balor, of the Fomorians. Bres's father was Elatha of the Fomorians and Eri, daughter of Delbaith of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

This means that the Tuatha Dé Danann, who are said to have replaced Fomorians as the rulers of Ireland actually claim descent from or at least close kinship with the Fomorians. Actually the line between the Fomorians and the Tuatha Dé Danann is so blurred, that in the "lebor gabála Érenn" we read:  

“At the end of three days and three nights thereafter the Sons of Míl broke the battle of Sliab Mis against demons and Fomoraig, that is, against the Túatha Dé Danann"...

This line literally equates the Fomorians and the Tuatha Dé Danann.

From the above we see that Fomorians brought the secret of the grain agriculture to Ireland and preserved it until the time of Tuatha Dé Danann. We also see that when the Milesians came to Irleand, the Fomorians were still there. Lebor Gabála Érenn tells us that the Irial Fáid father of Ethriel and grandfather of Tigernmas:

"...cleared twelve plains, dug seven royal forts, and fought four battles against the Fomorians..."

The Fomorians were apparently still in Ireland at the time of  Cú Chulainn. In the medieval Irish tale entitled "The Training of Cú Chulainn", preserved as a copy by Richard Tipper in British Library, we read:

"Cúchulainn came to the place and saluted them. 'What is this sorrow or the misery upon you?' says Cúchulainn. The damsel answered and this she said: ‘A royal tribute which the tribe of Fomorians carry out of this country every seventh year, namely, the first-born of the king's children. And at this time it has come to me to go as that tribute, for to the king I am the dearest of his children.’‘What number comes to lift that tribute?’ asks Cúchulainn. ‘Three sons of Alatrom of the Fomorians,’ she answers, ‘and Dub, Mell and Dubros are their names.’"

This means that we still find Fomorians in Ireland during Iron Age, 4000 thousand years after they arrived to Ireland.  

Finally we find Crom Dubh as the main agricultural deity of Ireland in the 5th century AD when St Patrick had to defeat him in order to Christianise the Irish. 

And even today, in some parts of Ireland, the last Sunday in July, which marks the beginning of the harvest season, is called "Domhnach Crom Dubh" which means "Crom Dubh's Sunday"...

So here is the question:

Did Fomorians, who brought agriculture to Ireland, also brought with them their god of agriculture, Crom Cruach (Crom Dubh) and is this why the both Crom Cruach, Crom Dubh and Fomorians demanded human sacrifices? And if Tigernmas was worshiping From Cruach (Crom Dubh), was he worshiping Fomorian god? And if so, was Tigernmas a Fomorian king? I believe so.

James Bonwick thought so too. In the book "Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions" he identified Tigernmas, the king who perished while worhiping Crom Cruach, Crom Dubh, the god of agriculture, with Balor, the King of Fomorians. This is based on the fact that the ancestry of the god Lugh is usually given as Lugh son of Eithliu daughter of Balor but in the text Baile in Scáil it is given as Lugh son of Eithliu son of Tigernmas, thus equating Tigernmas and Balor, the king of Fomorians.

So who were these Fomorians then and where did they come from? Irish historians agree that the name Fomorians means probably sea people, or people who came from across the sea, or sea pirates. Where could have been that land across the sea famous for its sea pirates whose name sounds like Fomori?

This is south Baltic part of Germany and Poland, called Pomerania or Pomorje. 
Pomerania, Pomorje is a Slavic word meaning the land by the sea. The word comes from po + more = by, along + sea. The people living by, along the sea are in Slavic languages called pomori, pomorci, pomorjani, meaning the sea people, coast people. 

This is the territory of Pomerania, Pomorje:




Pomerania (German: Pommern, Latin: Pomerania, Polish: Pomorze) is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. The name Pomerania comes from Slavic po more, which means Land at the Sea. The adjective for the region is Pomeranian (Polish: pomorski, German: pommersch), inhabitants are called Pomeranians (Polish: Pomorzanie, German: Pommern).
This land was famous for its sea pirates and traders. Pomerania is also the place where we find Baltic Slavs who made human sacrifices in medieval time to their gods at the end of harvest at the beginning of November, at Samhain. 

Now remember Tigernmas, the Irish king who died in Mag Slecht, with three fourths of the men of Ireland in his company, on Samhain night to be particular, while worshiping of Crom Cruaich; for he was the king-idol of Ireland? Tigernmas is said to have been the first king to give drinking-horns to his follower. The god to whom Pomeranian Slavs sacrificed people on Samhain was Svetovid. He is sometimes referred to as Beli (or Byali) Vid (Beli = white, bright, shining), and is often depicted with a sword or bow in one hand and a drinking horn in the other. Drinking horn was used for divination during the Slavic ceremonies. In Slavic mythology, the "horn of plenty" is the equivalent of Dagda's "cauldron of plenty". Dagda is then in turn believed to be another name of Crom Dubh, Crom Cruach

In "The Handbook of Religions in Ancient Europe" by Lisbeth Bredholt Christensen, Olav Hammer, David Warburton we read that written source about the Baltic Slavs stress the importance of a feast held in the autumn, in Arcona "after the harvest" and in Riedegost in November.

The harvest in the South Baltic ends at the same time as in Ireland, in October, when the last acorns are collected. So "after the harvest" is basically the same as "in November". And November is actually not "in the autumn" but at the beginning of the winter according to the old Serbian calendar which is the same as the old Irish calendar. I already talked about this calendar in my post about "Two crosses".

A pan Slavic term for sacrifice "treba" means "something that has to be done, something that should be done". Another general Slavic term for feast "zertwa" originally meant sacrifice, the meaning it still has in Serbian. It also meant "to praise god".

Obviously Slavs and particularly Serbs, equated praising god with sacrifice.

Ibn Rosteh noted in the sixt century that Slavs prayed to the god of heaven and fire for good crops. This god of heaven and fire was Dabog, who was also among Serbs known as Triglav. Triglav was, as the Book of Veles states, at the same time Svetovid (Sun god), Perun (Thunder god) and Svarog (Fire god). So when we read in the ancient histories that Slavs sacrificed people to Svetovid and Svarog, there is really no contradiction here.  And what is most interesting is that Dabog (Good, Giving god) was among Serbs also known as Hromi Daba. Which is very close to Chrom Dubh who Máire MacNeill in "The Festival of Lughnasa: A Study of the Survival of the Celtic Festival of the Beginning of Harvest" identifies as another name of Dagda (Good, Giving god). Dáithí Ó hÓgáin in "Myth, Legend & Romance: An encyclopaedia of the Irish folk tradition" identifies Crom Dubh as another name of Donn, god of death and ancestral deity. Which is interesting considering that among Serbs Dabog, Hromi Daba, is also considered to be god of death and ancestor of all Serbs...

Saxo Grammaticus describes the the appeal made by the priest and the people to the Sun god Svetovid (Sventovit), asking for abundant future harvests over a huge offering of bread during the autumnal (read November) feast held in Arcona. This was clearly a thanksgiving mass performed at the end of the harvest period, where thanks was given to the heavenly father for giving the good harvest.

Sources discussing the pre-Christian Slavs briefly mention the sacrifice of animals (mostly Cattle). Cattle, especially bull sacrifice, was since antiquity considered to be a replacement for human sacrifice. In Ireland the main sacrificial animal offered to Crom Dubh was bull, which was sometimes sacrificed at the beginning of the harvest and the beginning of autumn, on Crom Dubh day, the 2nd of August, and sometimes at the end of the harvest, at the end of autumn, the 5th of November, on Samhain.

But in South Baltic Slavic lands, main sacrifice performed during the thanksgiving was clearly human sacrifice. Most of the documentary evidence comes from the West Slavic Polabian area and primarily concerns Lutitians. Brun of Querfurt mentions that the Lutitians carried out human sacrifices to Svarozic, or more precisely, that they offered human blood and human heads to the deity.

This sound strangely similar with the obsession of the ancient Irish with cutting off their enemies heads...Did Irish offer them to their god, Crom Dubh as a sacrifice?

Contemporary chronicles connect the Lutici to the Veleti (Wilti, Vilci). Adam von Bremen (Gesta II,22) refers to them as "Leuticios, qui alio nomine Wilzi dicuntur", and Helmold von Bosau (Chronica Slavorum I,2) says "Hii quatuor populi a fortidudine Wilzi sive Lutici appellantur." Modern scholarship sometimes refers to both entities by a double name, e.g. "Wilzen-Lutizen" in German or "Wieleci-Lucice" in Polish.

There is no certain etymology for the name Wiltzi (Vilci). But what is very interesting is that in Slavic languages Vuk, Volk, Vlk, Vilk means wolf. So the tribal name Wiltzi, Vilci could mean "wolf people". These wolf people, who were also known as Lutitzes, Lutitians are the biggest South Baltic Slavic tribe which is mentioned in relation to the Samhain human sacrifices. Now remember Fir Bolg, who seemed to have been the same as the Fomorians and who seem to have been the same as the Cynocephali, the Dog Headed or Wolf Headed people?? Were Fir Bolg, Fir Faolchú, Wolf People, Volci, Wiltzi from Pomorje, Pomerania? After all both the Irish Fomorians and the Pomeranian Wiltzi performed human sacrifices during Samhain thanksgiving feast...

In "The Handbook of Religions in Ancient Europe" we can further read that according to the earliest account, from approximately 990 written down by Tietmar, a commander of a Polish stronghold surrendered and was then beheaded on the battlefield as a sacrifice. Apparently some years later, the Luttitians similarly executed two missionary monks. This alleged practice of human sacrifice in Rethra is confirmed later by Adam of Bremen, who mentions the martyrdom of the two monks and the execution of Bishop John of Macklenburg on the 10th of November 1068, probably during the annual feast held at that time. The bishop had been captured during a revolt by the neighbouring Obodrites some months earlier, but was sacrificed in Lutitian Rethra at the beginning of November. He was executed on the main square of Reidegost-Rethra, the main sanctuary of the Luttitians. His corpse was dismembered and the head stuck on a spear and offered to the main god of Rethra. The importance of the head of the victim is emphasised by Adam of Bremen, describing how the Lutitians treated the bishop's head 'sacrificing it as a token of victory to their god', probably bringing it to the shrine, while the corpse of the dead bishop, with hands and legs cut off, was left in the consecrated field in front of the sanctuary. Many of our sources specify that human sacrifice took the form of beheading, which may suggest that the sacrificial blood was of some importance. The head as an object of Slavic human sacrifice to Svarozic is mentioned already in 1008 by Saint Brun of Querfurt in his letter to the German king Henry II....The victims of human sacrifice among the Slavs were mostly captured enemies...

The fact that the Bishop John of Macklenburg was kept alive until the beginning of November and only then executed, shows that he was kept as a sacrificial victim for the thanksgiving feast marking the end of the harvest and the end of autumn. This shows that Baltic Slavs might have always made human sacrifices in November, on Samhain, just like Tigernmas was accused of doing in Ireland millenniums earlier.

I believe that so many links between the descriptions of human sacrifices that Fomorians intoduced in Ireland and which were performed on Samhain (beginning of November) and the descriptions of human sacrifices performed by Pomeranians at the beginning of November (Samhain) is astonishing.

Are we here talking about one and the same people, worshiping one and the same Sky god, Good god, Giving god, Dabog (Triglav who is Svetovid, Perun, Svarog) (Dagda), Hromi Daba (Chrom Dubh)? Or is this just another amazing coincidence?

Whatever the answer, I bet you will never look at thanksgiving in the same way.

For the end I will leave you with this image of a Scythian feast taken from a golden plate found in Sachnovka kurgan. If you glance at the image you will see the scene of a joyous party with lots of eating, drinking (from drinking horns) and singing.




But if you look more carefully at the first two figures on the left, you will see this:



A bound man about to be slaughtered as a human sacrifice. Does this image depict what later Slavic chroniclers described as Slavic Samhain Thanksgiving feast?