Gods of our Saxon Ancestors.details

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Gods of our Saxon Ancestors.

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In the engraving, Thor is seated at a throne; he wears a crown and voluminous regal robes, and has a halo or stars. Woden is also crowned, and wears medieval armour. In the back, in statue niches, the Sun-god, the Moon-god, Tiw and Soetere; Moon and Tiw are barefoot.

The image caption is keyed to numbers in the picture. Following the caption i have included an extract from the text; it goes on to give more details for the various suposed gods, but one should not look to such a book as this for accuracy. In particular, Saturday is usually considered to derive not from “Sœtere” but from Saturni, although Sœtersdäg is sometimes given as an intermediate German form on the way to Saturday.

1. Sun-god; 2. Moon-god; 3. God Tiw; 4. Woden: 4. Thor; 6. Goddess Freya; 7. Soetere.


The religion of our Saxon ancestors was the same as that of the whole German family. Christianity, which had by this time brought about the conversion of the Roman Empire, had not penetrated as yet among the forests of the North. The common god of the English people, as of the whole German race, was Woden, the war-god, the guardian of ways and boundaries, to whom his worshipers attributed the invention of letters, and whom every tribe held to be the first ancestor of its kings.

Our own names for the days of the week still recall to us the gods whom our English fathers worshiped in their Sleswick homeland. Wednesday is Woden’s day, as Thursday is the day of Thunder, or, as the Northmen called him, Thor, the god of air, and storm, and rain. Friday is Freya’s day, the goddess of peace, and joy, and fruitfulness, whose emblems, borne aloft by dancing maidens, brought increase to every field and stall they visited. Saturday commemorates an obscure god, Soetere; Tuesday, the Dark god, Tiw, to meet whom was death; Eostre, the goddess of the dawn, or the spring, lends her name to the Christian festival of the Resurrection. Behind these floated the dim shapes of an older mythology—“Wyrd,” the death-goddess, whose memory lingered long in the “weird” of northern superstition, or the Shield Maidens, the “mighty women,” who, an old rhyme tells us, "wrought on the battle-field their toil, and hurled the thrilling javelins.” Nearer to the popular fancy lay the deities of wood and fell, or the hero-gods of legend and song, “Nicor,” the water-sprite, who gave us our water nixies, and “Old Nick,” “Weland,” the forger of mighty shields and sharp-biting swords, at a later time, in his Berkshire, “Weyland’s Smithy,” [See Wayland’s Smith Cave engraving in Old England book], or Ægil, the hero archer, whose legend is that of Cloudesly or Tell. A nature-worship of this sort lent itself to the purposes of a priesthood, and, though a priestly class existed, it seems at no time to have had much weight in the English Society. As every freeman was his own judge and his own legislator, so he was his own house priest; and the common English worship lay in the sacrifice which he offered to the god of his hearth. The religion of Woden and Thor supplanted, for the time being, the religion of Christ, The new England was once more a heathen land under the gods of its conquerors.

p. 197



125 x 85mm (4.9 x 3.3 inches)

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