It has been taken up as fact by the media, who routinely depict modern goddess-worshippers as "reviving" the ancient religions of our ancestors. Feminist scholars contend that, in the primordial religions, the Great Mother was honored as the primary, creative The belief that the earliest humans worshipped a sovereign, nurturing, maternal earth goddess is a popular one. Feminist scholars contend that, in the primordial religions, the Great Mother was honored as the primary, creative force, giving birth to the world, granting fertility to both crops and humans, and ruling supreme over her family pantheon. The peaceful, matriarchal farming societies that worshipped her were eventually wiped out or subjugated by nomadic, patriarchal warrior tribes such as the early Hebrews, who brought their male God to overthrow the Great Mother: the first step in the creation and perpetuation of a brutal, male-dominated society and its attendant oppression and degradation of women. In The Faces of the Goddess, Lotte Motz sets out to test this hypothesis by examining the real female deities of early human cultures. She finds no trace of the Great Mother in their myths or in their worship.
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Sometimes the weapons are equated. Others, however, have taken account of the discrepancy. Oscar Montelius believes that a hammer replaced the earlier tool when the original meaning of the word hamarr had been forgotten Montelius , 69; cf.
Simpson The image of an axe was prominent because of its high social and religious significance. Dennoch erlebt der Hammer, resp. Jahrhundert eine Art Renaissance. The head ends in one or two flat surfaces, set parallel to the direction of the shaft.
The iron part may also end in one sharpened edge set at right angles to this direction. The tool is employed for crushing or for driving. Hammers are not easily discovered in the finds of prehistoric times. It appears that in archaic times the act of hammering was performed with a stone, a club, or the blunt end of an axe.
The hammer of the Germanic blacksmith was made in various forms. A square head might have its shaft-hole placed in the centre or close to the butt. The head might end in a rounded surface and also possess a sharpened edge, set at right angles to the direction of the shaft fig. In the dawn of time the gods created hammer and tongs and anvil, and thereafter all other tools Gylfaginning ch.
The images of tongs and hammers are also carved on the burial stones of human artisans in Denmark. Neither archaeology nor texts point to the use of hammers in warfare or to any status in the ritual of religious or public life.
Hammers were not crafted for a symbolic purpose, nor employed in ceremonial, nor enriched with decorations or shaped into elaborate forms. Certain amulets will be discussed later. He is not a craftsman but a fighter. Indeed, the gods are pictured with various arms: bolts, axes, clubs, or arrows. There is no evidence, however, to show that hammers supplanted earlier aggressive arms.
Hammers have not been recovered from hoards of Viking treasure and thus could not have held much practical or symbolic significance. The most exalted place in weaponry was in medieval times accorded to the sword. If an older weapon of high religious status, a guarantor of life and its continuation, were to be replaced by a weapon of the Iron Age it would naturally have been supplanted by a sword. Let us see whether the older tool, the axe, was ever superseded by a hammer.
In contrast to hammers, axes appear frequently in archaeological finds in the Germanic area, onwards from the Neolithic Age. Crafted in flint and later in bronze and iron, they retained importance and significance and became the favourite weapon of the Viking raiders.
From the earliest times onwards axes were imbued with religious value; cultic axes are seen among the rock drawings of the Bronze Age and were graven on memorial stones. Miniature axes have been found that were intended to be worn as amulets or for adornment in a tradition which extended in certain areas from the Stone Age to the time of the Viking incursions Paulsen , —; de Vries —57, I Throughout the northern and north-western parts of Europe we come upon especially precious and richly decorated blades.
These must have served as a sign of rank for warriors of high station. From the thirteenth century onwards a crowned lion, clasping an axe, is depicted on the royal seal of Norway Paulsen , Thus we do not find that the hammer has replaced the axe in warfare or in heraldry.
When Christianity and Christian imagery came to the North of Europe the cross was shown on certain axes, as on the axe of Sibirsk Paulsen , , indicating their unbroken sanctity. Axes, furthermore, were not supplanted by hammers in folk traditions.
Axes still function in the marriage customs of modern times; they may be placed beneath the bridal bed or on the threshhold which the bride must cross.
It may also be laid on the table to keep lightning from the dwelling Schwantes , I We may conclude that hammers did not replace earlier implements in folk belief, heraldry, ceremonial, or human warfare. This finding is not surprising, for the blacksmith did not rise above other classes in the Germanic Middle Ages, and the highest office of the land was held by a warrior king.
It might be argued that in his form as a folktale hero the god might do battle with an ordinary household tool. But in Viking times hammers were not common household equipment.
They are not listed in the inventories of Viking artifacts among household tools, such as knives, scythes, sickles or axes, but only among the special equipment of skilled artisans. The very rarity of hammer finds also shows that they were not common in a household cf.
Moreover, the Norse farmers accomplished their bloody deeds with spears, axes, pikes or swords, and even a servant might wield a spear Ynglinga saga ch. The poem testifies, incidentally, to the low esteem accorded to the craftsman by the warrior.
Yet the noun hamarr consistently designates the weapon in the texts. Let us now consider how the instrument was visualised in various sources. On a picture stone from Altuna, Uppland eleventh century the god holds a shafted instrument which might indeed be a hammer; it might also be a double axe, such as those of the rock drawings of the Bronze Age fig. On the Gosforth Stone tenth or eleventh century the shafted object holds a greater resemblance to an axe than to a hammer.
On a stone of Ardre ninth century a spear is wielded against a water monster. Saxo thus clearly distinguishes between the hammer, a cultic tool, and the clava, the mighty weapon. And the giant Geruthus is slain by a sword, chalybs Saxo Grammaticus —57, I A modern farmer of this area told that he had seen the god riding in his carriage; he has also been seen carrying a bolt of stone in his hand Montelius , It has been claimed that the hammer was engraved on memorial stones of medieval times.
What was engraved, however, is the image of certain amulets which may bear a resemblance to a hammer in some of their stylisations.
These will now be discussed. It is held in a way in which no hammer is ever held. When the picture of the statuette was shown by me to persons unacquainted with Norse scholarship, the object was never recognised as a hammer. If it was identified at all it was identified as a musical instrument cf. Motz The amulets Small artifacts that could be fastened to a chain or a ring, made of iron, but also of more precious metals, plain or elaborately decorated, have been discovered in areas of Scandinavia.
They are ascribed to the tenth century AD. They are said to indicate a rise of fervour of pagan faith in the face of triumphant Christianity. They are flat, sometimes elaborately decorated and fashioned of precious metals, of minute size, and they were worn as jewels or as amulets. Hammers were, however, never manufactured in stylised form; they were not produced in miniature or in precious metal; they were never decorated and were never worn as amulets.
Hammers, it was noted earlier, are not listed among the artifacts of Viking treasure. Some of the amulets resemble the blade of an axe. We may recall that axe blades are flat and may be fashioned in precious metal; they are seen in very stylised form and are often adorned with elaborate decorations sometimes the decoration of an amulet is the same as that incised on certain axes; Paulsen , The thickening of the horizontal section recalls the thickening of an axe-blade towards the shaft.
The pointed excrescence at the end recalls the curve of the edge. Axe blades were produced in miniature through the ages. It is true that some amulets resemble hammers and some even bear resemblance to the Christian cross. We know that the Christian cross exerted great influence on the pagan symbol; and some images show its transformation into a cross Paulsen , Paulsen also points out , that stylistically the forms of miniature axes, miniature hammers and miniature crosses flow into one another.
Amulets in the form of crosses are reproduced in Paulsen , , figs e, f. I suggest that it was the axe blade and not the hammer which symbolised loyalty to the pagan faith. The hammer, therefore, did not replace the ancient image of the axe blade in the jewellery. It has been claimed that the custom of wearing amulets was stimulated by the Christian custom of wearing the Christian cross.
The wearing of amulets, was, however, an established tradition among the Germanic peoples. Hundreds of golden bracteates, showing scenes of cultic significance, for instance, which testify to the popularity of the practice, have been discovered and ascribed to the Migratory period. This claim cannot be substantiated: what appears is the image of the amulet, as can clearly be noted in some instances by the presence of the loop.
On such a stone the amulet may turn into a cross Paulsen , Such signs are found on archaic artifacts, on boundary markers, on runic stones, and on the bracteates of the Middle Ages.
The sign occurs in many regions of the world, and does not seem to have originated in the North of Europe. We may assume that here an important sign became attached to an important god de Vries —57, II We may also search for the underlying reason.
This indication is verified by archaeology. Germanic speech thus retained the name of the simpler tool after it had been replaced by the shafted instrument of wood and iron. The thunderstone The belief that thunder and lightning are caused by a stone which falls to earth from heaven is apparent in a great number of traditions. The agent is identified with prehistoric artifacts of stone, stone chisels and stone axes, and also fossils which are encountered in the fields. The belief has kept its vitality in the Germanic area into modern times.
It is thought that in its fall the object becomes deeply embedded in the earth and that it will slowly rise to the surface. Wonderful qualities are attributed to such a stone. It is treasured, put in a special place within the house, hung up near the chimney or beneath the roof, or set on the shelf for storing milk.
Above all, it will protect the house against lightning, but it may also guard the health of cattle, or keep the trolls from harming men. We have noted that the concrete form of the talisman is identified with prehistoric artifacts of stone.
It is only natural that many names should be recorded for a significant element of folk belief, and some of these will be cited here.
Sometimes the weapons are equated. Others, however, have taken account of the discrepancy. Oscar Montelius believes that a hammer replaced the earlier tool when the original meaning of the word hamarr had been forgotten Montelius , 69; cf. Simpson
What Happened to Female Dwarfs? Studies in Memory of Lotte Motz
Meshicage He possesses the ancient thunderweapon, and, like that of Zeus, it has retained its mogz. She earned her B. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation. If we examine the figure of the god in the Germanic context we still find him as the champion of cosmic order, and he is depicted, above all, in his relentless fight against the giants. Female Figures of Germanic Faith and Myth.
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The Faces of the Goddess