Definitions

Celtic:

Druids. A sacerdotal caste which flourished in Britain and Gaul. They were Initiates who admitted females into their sacred order, and initiated them into the mysteries of their religion. They never entrusted their sacred verses and scriptures to writing, but, like the Brahmans of old, committed them to memory; a feat which, according to the statement of Cæsar took twenty years to accomplish. Like the Parsis they had no images or statues of their gods. The Celtic religion considered it blasphemy to represent any god, even of a minor character, under a human figure. It would have been well if the Greek and Roman Christians had learnt this lesson from the “pagan” Druids. The three chief commandments of their religion were:—“Obedience to divine laws; concern for the welfare of mankind; suffering with fortitude all the evils of life.”


Finish:

Kalevala. The Finnish Epic of Creation.


Norse / Scandinavian:

Edda (Iceland.) Lit., “great-grandmother” of the Scandinavian Lays. It was Bishop Brynjüld Sveinsson, who collected them and brought them to light in 1643. There are two collections of Sagas, translated by the Northern Skalds, and there are two Eddas. The earliest is of unknown authorship and date and its antiquity is very great. These Sagas were collected in the XIth century by an Icelandic priest; the second is a collection of the history (or myths) of the gods spoken of in the first, which became the Germanic deities, giants, dwarfs and heroes.

Voluspa (Scand.). A poem called “The Song of the Prophetess,” or “Song of Wala.”

Runes (Scand.) The Runic language and characters are the mystery or sacerdotal tongue and alphabet of the ancient Scandinavians. Runes are derived from the word rûna (secret). Therefore both language and character could neither be understood nor interpreted without having the key to it. Hence while the written runes consisting of sixteen letters are known, the ancient ones composed of marks and signs are indecipherable. They are called the magic characters. “It is clear,” says E. W. Anson, an authority on the folk-lore of the Norsemen, “that the runes were from various causes regarded even in Germany proper as full of mystery and endowed with supernatural power.” They are said to have been invented by Odin.

Asgard (Scand.) The kingdom and the habitat of the Norse gods, the Scandinavian Olympus ; situated “higher than the Home of the Light-Elves”, but on the same plane as Jotunheim, the home of the Jotuns, the wicked giants versed in magic, with whom the gods are at eternal war. It is evident that the gods of Asgard are the same as the Indian Suras (gods) and the Jotuns as the Asuras, both representing the conflicting powers of nature—beneficent and maleficent. They are the prototypes also of the Greek gods and the Titans.

Odin (Scand.) The god of battles, the old German Sabbaoth, the same as the Scandinavian Wodan. He is the great hero in the Edda and one of the creators of man. Roman antiquity regarded him as one with Hermes or Mercury (Budha), and modern Orientalism (Sir W. Jones) accordingly confused him with Buddha. In the Pantheon of the Norse men, he is the “father of the gods” and divine wisdom, and as such he is of course Hermes or the creative wisdom. Odin or Wodan in creating the first man from trees—the Ask (ash) and Embla (the alder) endowed them with life and soul, Honir with intellect, and Lodur with form and colour.

Thor (Scand.) From Thonar to “thunder.” The son of Odin and Freya, and the chief of all Elemental Spirits. The god of thunder, Jupiter Tonans. The word Thursday is named after Thor. Among the Romans Thursday was the day of Jupiter, Jovis dies, Jeudi in French— the fifth day of the week, sacred also to the planet Jupiter.

Yggdrasil (Scand.) The “World Tree of the Norse Cosmogony; the ash Yggdrasil ; the tree of the Universe, of time and of life”. It has three roots, which reach down to cold Hel, and spread thence to Jotun heim, the land of the Hrimthurses, or “ Frost Giants ”, and to Midgard, the earth and dwelling of the children of men. Its upper boughs stretch out into heaven, and its highest branch overshadows Waihalla, the Devachan of the fallen heroes. The Yggdrasil is ever fresh and green, as it is daily sprinkled by the Norns, the three fateful sisters, the Past, the Present, and the Future, with the waters of life from the fountain of Urd that flows on our earth. It will wither and disappear only on the day when the last battle between good and evil is fought ; when, the former prevailing, life, time and space pass out of life and space and time. Every ancient people had their world-tree. The Babylonians had their “tree of life”, which was the world-tree, whose roots penetrated into the great lower deep or Hades, whose trunk was on the earth, and whose upper boughs reached Zikum, the highest heaven above. Instead of in Walhalla, they placed its upper foliage in the holy house of Davkina, the “great mother” of Tammuz, the Saviour of the world—the Sun-god put to death by the enemies of light.

Theosophical Glossary, H. P. Blavatsky


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