I would like to announce the beginning of a new series of posts entitled Pagan Light. I will be providing excerpts from various Pagan and Indo-European Traditional literature, as well as other thought-provoking works. Personal notes will be in brackets.
I begin with the ethnographic Germania, but first some music to set the mood
The various peoples of Germany are separated from the Gauls by the Rhine, from the Raetians band tPannonians by the Danube, and from the Sarmatians and Dacians by mountains-, or, where there are no mountains, by mutual fear. The northern parts of the country are girdled by the sea, flowing round broad peninsulas and vast islands where a campaign of the present century has revealed to us the existence of some nations and kings hitherto unknown, The Rhine rises in a remote and precipitous height of the Raetian Alps and afterwards turns slightly westward flow into the North Sea. The Danube issues from a gentle slope of moderate height in the Black Forest, and after passing more peoples than the Rhine in its course discharges itself into the Black Sea through six channels–a seventh mouth being lost in the marshlands.
In the traditional songs which form their only record of the past the Germans celebrate an earth-born god called Tuisto. His son Mannus is supposed to be the fountain-head of their race and himself to have begotten three sons who gave their names to the three groups of tribes–the Ingaevones, nearest the sea; the Herminones, in the interior; and the Istaevones, who comprise all the rest. Some authorities, with the freedom of conjecture permitted by remote antiquity, assert that Tuisto had more numerous descendants and mention more tribal groups such as Marsi, Gambrivii, Suebi, and Vandilii–names which they affirm to be both genuine and ancient.
For myself, I accept the view that the peoples of Germany have never contaminated themselves by intermarriage with foreigners but remain of pure blood, distinct and unlike any other nation. One result of this is that their physical characteristics, in so far as one can generalize about such a large population, are always the same: fierce-looking blue eyes, reddish hair, and big frames–which, however, can exert their strength only by means of violent effort. They are less able to endure toil or fatiguing tasks and cannot bear thirst or heat, though their climate has inured them to cold spells and the poverty of their soil to hunger.
Above all other gods they worship Mercury (Wotan/Odinn/WodanaR), and count it no sin, on certain feast-days, to include human victims in the sacrifices offered to him. Hercules and Mars (Tiw and Thorr) they appease by offerings of animals, in accordance with ordinary civilized custom. Some of the Suebi sacrifice also to Isis. I do not know the origin or explanation of this foreign cult, but the goddess’s emblem, being made in the form of a light warship, itself proves that her worship came in from abroad. The Germans do not think it in keeping with the divine majesty to confine Gods within walls or to portray them in te likeness of any uman countenance. Their holy places are woods and groves, and they apply the names of deities to that hidden presence which is seen only by the eye of reverence
Source Material: The Agricola and The Germania translated by Harold Mattingly (revised by S.A. Hanford). Published by Penguin Classics