Each generation in a tribe confronted numerous challenges it had to successfully meet, if the nation was to survive. These included clan obligations, religious relationships, camp work, acquiring stories, and so on. To acquire the vital necessary learning, the cultures put sophisticated systems in place for the tribe to utilize. These duties were rooted in their special perspective on the nature of humans and of the environment.
The ancients considered themselves part of the natural world. They believed everything came from the same source thus a bear, wolf or fish was our brother or sister and part of the evolutionary tree for a purpose. A bear being a relative is far more likely to be treated with kindness then an object, most urbanized people have become – disconnected from their brother A Tribe members life was shared with all creation in a common world.
As they examined the natural world, they discovered in nature its marvellous detail of how it functioned. Each tribe reproduced habits of the species they observed so they to lived with the flow. In other words each ‘fine’ of the tribe replicated an animal’s teachings into tribal life & some began to see the written history of these animal gods in the stars as well. All ancient mythology is but symbolism for a sort of Genealogy of the Tree of Life.
The Magnificent Celtic World Tree bridged with the Milky Way as its massive roots that extended down to the Earth., is also what was considered to be the origin of all peoples, each symbolized by an animal sitting in the tree. Each tribe was a descendant from these animals brothers or gods or a particular tree, river and so on. And just as the animals were sacrificed in the circle of life, so were they.
But all came from the World tree, even the winds and other trees. So many tribes chose the tree, animal, constellation, or mountain that they would most see, as being their Mother or Father God. Whether the tribe was Japanese, Indian, 1st nations and so on, we are all from the one tree.
Some tribes had a turtle instead of tree, but all mean the same thing. This is what comprises the ancients universe and understanding of its powers. We can see with this tree, in the Welsh Celts of the Arthurian cults who used his court warriors to help Culhwch (Kul oo k) finding the ancient animals to look for Mabon – blackbird, Stag, owl, eagle, and salmon.
Ysbaddaden (pronounced – (Is ba thad’n) – which means Chief Giant.) gives Culhwch several tasks in order to win his daughter Olwen (means “white footprint” because she left white flowers where she walked). It is my opinion, giving the knowledge that the Celts well into the Roman times had Tree Gods they were descended from, that Ysbaddaden might have been the world tree – “Chief Giant” tree, though I cannot prove this theory. The Blackbird replaces the Hawk in Norse myths.
In the Norse Tree
The Norse decided on the frost giants (being the giants (possibly huge planets) of fire and ice in the voice or sea space who break up and become earth and planets but they too came from the tree with the rainbow bridge (milky way), and in its branches were also the similar main ancient animals of creation which included an eagle and it’s knowledge, a hawk called Vedrfolnir, a squirrel called Ratatosk who runs up and down through the ash tree and carries malicious messages between the eagle and Nidhogg.
There are also Four Stags run in the branches of the ash which feed on the foliage and represent the four directions. Their names are: Dain, Dvalin, Dunyr, Durathror. Again all these constellations can be found in the sky. The hawk sits atop the eagles head in the sky.
Dain (dormant) – one of the 4 deer constellations in the branches of the World Tree, an elf name who most likely gave birth to the elves.
Dvalin (sleeper) – one of the 4 deer constellations, a dwarf name and the 2nd smallest deer is most possible the ancestor of the Dwarves.
Duneyr (drooping-ears) – the second largest of the deer – could be the ancestor to whomever mythical creature had drooping ears.
Durathror (sluggish beast) – the largest of the deer. Another constellation long forgotten.
Ratatosk (gnaw-tooth) – the squirrel constellation. Is the main stars in Cassiopeia, with his feet, body and two stars for its tail visible.
Geirrod- the eagle constellation, unnamed among the Norse but whose name we find as “Garuda” in Hindu mythology. Some called it the swan. (We call it Elyrch (which means swan in Pwkatta – pronounced Eleerpuh)
Vedrfolnir (wind-parched) – constellation for the hawk upon the eagle’s head.
Nidhogg (poison biter) – constellation of a serpent at the foot of Yggdrasill’s root. The constellation some say is the same as Scorpius, who resides just at the base of the tree’s root. But I read too many others that say the snake is like energy coiled & can move up and down the tree. It is the bridge to otherworld knowledge with sheds its skin and begins anew in each phase of learning.
In a poem called “Grimnismal”, there are four stags on the bottom roots, and four harts at the top boughs, making 8 turns of the wheel. An eagle at the top of branches and a snake at the bottom. (The eagle is now seen as Cygnus the swan in Summer).
One tells of the thunder god Thor helping out the hero Aurvandil by carrying him in a basket back from the frozen north. On the way his toe slipped out and became frost bitten, so Thor broke it off and threw it up into the sky to form a star.
An Anglo-Saxon (Celtic /Scandinavian tribe) version of Aurvandil is Earandel, meaning ‘morning star’.
A giant named Thiassi, carried off the goddess Idunn to attain youth from her eternal apples, was killed by the gods after they rescued her. To atone for this deed Odin took the old giant’s eyes and threw them up in the sky as his punishment. These stars could only be the twin stars Castor and Pollux.
Other myths associations with Constellations
Grendel – In mythic terms, is a major character who disappears beneath a lake or sea implies that it is a constellation which sometimes slips beneath the celestial equator. From northern Saxon regions, like England, a good proportion of the constellation Scorpio is below the horizon, and one of the zodiacal constellations. Checking on position, I found that Scorpius’ position makes it seem that it drowns in the mythic waters. Scorpius is also a clawed creature who loses a claw and its shoulder in the sky, as the same in the story of Beowulf.
Grendel’s mother – There is a small constellation adjacent to Scorpius called Lupus, the wolf. It too ‘drowns’ in the mythic waters just before Scorpius. There is if we read closely, a reference to her being a “wolfish-swimmer”. Lupus has associations with Pan and fauns, and in the Roman culture, its festival survived way into the Christian times.
Vidofnir – cock/rooster that is perched upon the highest branch of the World Tree most likely would be Polaris, the North Star or magnetic north. It is golden and shines like a thunderstorm. An immortal guard watching over the world. A symbol of the heralded ‘sun fire’.
On earth his totem crows at dawn for the victory of light and life returning. Among Germanic tribes he is a spiritual guide. This same ‘son’ is also Arthur – the pole star who has a wagon or plow. If wer changed the V to W we get “Widofnir” which means (Weaver of the winds), the name of the skies of Vanir, regarded as the Norse deity of fertility.
Horses of Many Cultures
Sun /Star Horses – In the Prose Edda, most are described as the mounts of various gods. The horses seem to be involve either the sun and moon chasing or carrying the sun to next zodiacal sign or adventure. Sleipnir (son of Svadilfari) is the most famous of horses only because he was Odin’s mount. Goti is Gunnarr’s horse. Grani was Sigurdr’s horse.
Gulltopr (also called “Gold-Top”) was Heimdallr’s horse. Hoof-Tosser, Kertr, Slangvir were others. Vakr was Morn’s horse. All-Bright, Alsvidhr, Arvakr, Early-Wake, Gladr, Gullfaxi, Sheen-Mane, Shining-Mane and Skinfaxi. There are also night horses and some of those names mentioned are Fjarsvartnir – Frosty-Mane.
These can go in any sign as they are always pulling the sun God or Night Star God on its course. They might be legends of but one tribe. So you ca really put in any animal for each ‘fine’ (smaller groups part of a larger tribe but function as an independent unit as well).
Auriga, the Charioteer or Waggoner in early days the Wainman, is the French Cocher, the Italian Cocchiere, and the German Fuhrmann. Its key star was considered a she goat and sometimes a unicorn then the myths went to the major constellation of Capricorn, the Turks had is a a mule.
The Sacred Horse is a potent symbol of intelligence, speed, grace, strength, virility, & fertility. It was once seen in the constellation now called Pegasus. Called Epona to some Celtic tribes and so on. Its flowing mane representing the brilliant rays of the sun as the Horse is a beast which carries the Sun’s wagon, or the Moon’s, across the sky. According to Kristian Kristiansen, in an article called rock art and religion, Horses appear on many early Bronze Age rock carvings showing ancient scenes of fertility rites.
He/She believes that Horses were the symbolic twins who would be both ships & horses, night (ship) and day (horses). Horses were actually consulted by priests who would decipher their movements, and sounds. Horses were kept as sacred in many temples up to Christianity who then, as we see in mock humour in the movie “A Knights Tale,” would desecrate a church. The church tried to cover many things from pagan past.
Arthurian Horses – Spumador (“the foaming one”, sea foam and cloud); a horse of Arthur’s.
Bel Joeor – horse – Tristan / Passe-Brewel or Passebreul horse – Tristan.
Berring – horse – Lancelot. Chestnut Long-Neck (Lively Steed of Britain) horse – Kai (Kay).
Cloven-Hoof (Plundered Horse of Britain) horse – Owain (Yvain).
Drudwyn horse – Mabon / Gwynn Dun Mane – Mabon. Dun-Grey (Pack-Horse of Britain) – Rhydderch Hael.
Gringalet, Gringolets, Gringuljete horse with the Red Ears – Lahelin, Orilus, Urjan, Lischois, & Gawain.
Llamrei – Arthur.
Caw of Scotland – Pale Yellow of the Stud (Bestowed Horse of Britain) horse – Lleu.
Passelande – Arthur. Lluagor (the opener of the host) – Caradawg’s horse.
Arthurian. The word “Nightmares” is a name which was derived from the Celts who thought they were brought by a visiting horse Goddess such as Epona – Night, the moon, mystery, and magic.
Norse Horses – Gyllir, Blakkr, Hamskerpir, Silfrintoppr, Hrafn, Sinir, Amfaxi, Skeidbrimir, Hœnir, Gardrofa, Glaumr, Tjaldari, Glenr, Lungr, Valr, Marr, Vigg.
In most Celtic myths the horses are black or white, thereby providing more evidence of night and day or dark half and light half of the wheel of the year.
So in conclusion we see in many cultures that whether it be deer, birds or other animals – they represent the four directions. Even A first nations tribe showed this in an opening ceremony at the 2010 Winter Olympics in B.C. Canada – Each animal represented one of the constellations of the Four Directions, the White Buffalo (north), the Eagle (east), the Wolf (south) and the Bear (west).
By Brahva Cwmevos
Copyright April 2, 2012
This article was from my head but over the years I have been influenced by the Writings of Kristian Kristiansen, Eddas, and other Celtic scholars such as Mathew and Caitlin, Peter Ellis, JeanMarkale and so on.