Saturday, 9 September 2017

Boaz and Jachin

According to the Bible, Boaz and Jachin were two copper, brass or bronze pillars which stood in the porch of Solomon's Temple, the first Temple in Jerusalem.

This 3rd-century (AD) glass bowl depicts Solomon's Temple. Boaz and Jachin are the detached black pillars shown on either side of the entrance steps.


The function and the meaning of these two pillars remains a mystery, a mystery that I will try to solve in this post :)

This is an artist interpretation of the first temple based on the available descriptions. Boaz and Jachin are two dark free standing pillars located on the porch on both sides of the entrance.


The entrance and the porch was located on the eastern side of the temple. This means that the temple entrance and Boaz and Jachin faced the rising sun.




Why is this important for understanding of the meaning of Boaz and Jachin?

In the 2 Chronicles 3:1 we are told that "Solomon built the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David..."

So the first temple was built on a threshing floor. A threshing floor probably like this one from Croatia. Threshing floors are platforms where grain seeds were separated from chaff by trampling.


They were normally located on the higher slopes of the hills, or mountains, which were windy, as it was wind that blew away the chaff and helped the extraction of seeds.


Once the threshing floor is constructed it can be used for both threshing and as a solar observatory. What you are actually observing is the shadow made by the central stake or a standing stone. At the sunrise and sunset the shadow will be long enough to cut the circle at the oposite end. This is extremely precise way of marking the sunrise point. 

In 1950, Serbian ethnographer Nenad Janković published a book on folk astronomy called "Astronomija u predanjima, obicajima i umotvorinama Srba" (Astronomy in legends, customs and oral and written tradition of the Serbs). In it he expressed his great surprise at the ability of ordinary illiterate peasants to tell exact date and time without calendars and clocks. Professor Jankovic states that one of the main instruments used for these calendar and time calculations was the threshing floor. By looking at the shadow cast by the stožer, the central pole at sunrise, they were able to tell the date. And by looking at the shadow cast by the stožer, the central pole during the day they were able to tell the time. Threshing floor is a universal solar observatory, which at the same time can tell the date and the time. The main parts of this solar observatory were solar circle and its center, solar pole, stožer. Or if viewed from above, from heaven, the way Sun God would see it, a circle and a dot representing its center, solar pole, stožer. This is the symbol found all over the world and in Egypt it was the symbol of the sun, Ra. The below symbol is usually interpreted to mean sun disc, but I believe that it actually means sun circle, threshing floor and sun cycle observed from the threshing floor.


Greeks called the central solar pole, stožer of the sundial "gnomon" meaning the one which knows. This was because the central stake "new" the time and date. 

According to ethnographic research from the Balkan mountains conducted in the 19th century, threshing floor was the place where all the village meetings, celebrations and ceremonies took place.The ethnographers say that this is because threshing floors were the only flat smooth surfaces big enough to accommodate many people. But was this the only reason? Were threshing floors places where village meetings, celebrations and ceremonies took place because they were considered to be the sacred ground, the place where god lived on earth? I believe so. 

Were threshing floors the mysterious "sacred high places"? I believe so too. 

You can read more about threshing floors and their role in the solar worship rights in my post "Bogovo gumno - god's threshing floor".

In my post "Calendar" I explained why the ancient solar observatories were built and how they were used. The ancient solar observatories were built in order to determine the exact moment of the winter and (or) summer solstice. If you know one or both of these two points on the yearly solar circle, you can create fixed and repeatable lunisolar calendar which is necessary for in order to determine the exact timing of vegetative events during the solar year. 

So how do you determine the exact moment of the winter and (or) summer solstice?

You find a clear flat piece of high ground from which you can observe sunrises and sunsets. The observatory. You stick a pole into the ground to mark the observation spot. Then as the year passes, every morning and every evening you stand next to the observation pole and observe sunrise and sunset. As you are observing the sunrises and sunsets, you notice that the point where sun rises is not the same as the point where sun sets. The sun rises on the left side of the horizon, travels across the sky from left to right and sets at the opposite right side of the horizon. As days pass you realize that the point where the sun rises moves along the horizon. So does the point where the sun sets. You notice that the sunrise point moves during the spring further and further to the left and the sunset point further and further to the right. So the sun needs to travel longer across the sky and the day is longer and longer and hotter and hotter. Then at some point during the summer the sunrise and sunset points start moving in the opposite direction. The sunrise point starts moving to the right and sunset point starts moving to the left. They get closer and closer to each other, so the sun has to travel shorter distance between the sunrise and sunset and the day is shorter and shorter and colder and colder. 


This is extremely important observation if you depend on solar vegetative cycle for your survival. If the length and heat of the day depends on the position of the sunrise and sunset points, then determining how they move becomes imperative. You know that the days when the sunrise and sunset points change the direction of their movements, fall in the middle of the coldest and hottest part of the year. You are of course more interested in the turning point which falls in the middle of the cold dark part of the year. You want to know if, and this was for our ancestors very real IF, and when the sunrise and sunset points will start moving further and further away from each other, because that will mean that the days will start getting longer and hotter again. So you start observing the the horizon and you try to remember where the sun rose yesterday in order to compare it with the sunrise position today. But that is difficult and imprecise. It would be much better if you could mark the points of sunrise every day in some way and then observe the relative position of the sunrise points to the marks. So you decide to use stake, pole as marker. But it is difficult to mark the exact point of sunrise if the horizon is uneven. It would be much easier if the horizon is horizontal, smooth and elevated all around you so that the observation and marking of the sunrise points becomes more precise. So you decide to create an artificial horizontal smooth horizon which will mask the real horizon. You take a long enough rope, tie it to the observation pole and then walk around the observation pole. As you walk you mark a circle with the center in the observation pole.


You then dig a circular trench along the circle and pile up the the dug out earth on the edge of the circle to form the bank. You build a henge like this original earthen henge in Stonehenge. You can read my article about henges here.


Now when the sun rises it will be easy to mark the exact spot of the sunrise with a stake stuck into the elevated earthen bank. Every morning and evening you observe the new position of the sunrise point. If the sun does not rise at the point marked with the yesterday's stake, you move the stake to mark the new position of the sunrise. Then one day in the middle of the winter, the movement of the sunrise point will stop. The sun will rise at the same position behind the yesterday's sunrise stake. That day is the winter turning point, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. You mark this point with the permanent taller stake. So when the sun again rises behind this tall sunrise stake you will know that the winter turning point, the winter solstice, the shortest day has arrived again. You do the same for the day when the sun rises twice behind the same stake in the summer. That day is the summer turning point, the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. You mark this point with the permanent taller stake too. So when the sun again rises behind this tall sunrise stake you will know that the summer turning point, the summer solstice, the longest day has arrived again. 


Do you see how much the above henge looks like a threshing floor? If you were using threshing floor as a solar observatory, and if you marked the solstice points with two sticks your threshing floor would look like this:


Now if you know the position of the winter and summer solstice, the three stakes, the central stake, and the two solstice stakes can be used to determine the position of the true east. 



Which could be very useful if, for instance, you were building a temple that you wanted to orient towards the east. By the way do you know that to orient literally means to turn east?

So we have two sticks, stuck at the edge of the threshing floor, the ancient solar observatory, on top of which the first temple was built. Marking the sun's turning points on the horizon, one for winter solstice, the other for summer solstice. Between is east, the area of the horizon where sun rises. Two sticks mark the entrance into the house of Sun, the house of God. The sun gate...Right in the middle of this due east, the direction towards which the ancient Hebrew temple door was oriented, to welcome God (sun) in... Hence two pillars, Boaz and Joktan...

Knowing this, I don't think that the decision to build the first temple on a threshing floor was accidental. Threshing floors and other solar observatories were holy places for sun worshipers. And if the sun worshipers wanted to build a temple dedicated to the sun god, then building it on top of a threshing floor and orienting it towards the east and marking the points of the two solstices with two prominent free standing columns would be very logical thing to do indeed. 

But wait, am I saying that the first temple was dedicated to the sun god? Is there any indication that that this could have been the case? Actually yes...But more about this in my next post. 

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Koliba

This is a shepherd's shack from Montenegrin highlands.  


This is a type of semi temporary shelter which consists of wooden stakes frame, which is then covered by crisscrossed branches (sticks) and a thick layer of debris (or hay) and reinforced by additional interlocked wooden beams.

I believe that this is probably one of the earliest types of shelters made by man, because it is so easy to make even without any cutting tools.

Here you can see how such a shelter can made in the wilderness by simply collecting and piling up deadwood logs, stakes and sticks and then covering the whole structure with branches and dead leaves from the forest floor:




 This is a good video showing how to make these shelters.

Of course cutting tools like axes would help speed up this building process and make it easier to get hold of young long strong saplings that are perfect for making stakes which can be used for shelter's frame.


Once you have strong long stakes, if you use a hide or canvas cover instead of a debris cover you get a classic tipi:



And if you stick the support stakes into the ground, and interweave the branches around them, you get wattle. If you then mix a debris (hay, dried grass) with mud and smear this mixture over the wattled walls, you get a wattle and daub house. You then use more debris (dry grass, reeds, hay) to cover the structure and you get a thatched wattle and daub house... 

 

This great video entitled "Primitive Technology: Wattle and Daub Hut" shows complete procedure of building one of these wattle and daub huts.


Now this type of shelter is in Serbian called "koliba" or "koleba". The word means "hut, cottage, cabin". The word is also found in all Slavic languages with the same meaning "hut, shack, hovel". It is also found in Greek as "καλύβα" (kalýva), in Romanian as "colibă", Albanian as "kolube, kalive, kolibe", Persian as "kulbe" and Turkish as "kulübe" with the same meaning "hut, shack, hovel".

This word is also found in Ancient Greek as "καλύβα" (kalýva) meaning "hut, shack, hovel, cover". This word has no known etymology in Greek. And so because of the word space time distribution, it is accepted that this word comes from the Balkans and that it has pre Greek (Pelasgian) origin. The Greeks then adopted it and passed it on to Slavs, Albanians, Turks...

However there is a problem with this theory. The word "koliba" actually has full root etymology in Slavic languages. When I say full root etymology, I mean that the word "koliba" can be broken into parts whose combined meaning gives us the full meaning of the word "koliba". 

The full meaning of the word "koliba" is "a shelter made from stakes (and covered by debris or hides or canvas or...)" 

In my post "Kolac - Golac" I talked about the Serbian word for stake, stick "kol, kolj" and the fact that its root is probably the word "gol" meaning "naked, bare, stripped of (leaves and branches)", which is the way you make stakes, sticks from saplings. This word has cognates in all Slavic languages. But also in Gaelic where we find:

cuaille, g. id., pl. -acha (cuailne), f., a stake, a pole, a club, a baton; do bhuail sé an ch. comhraic, he brandished the battle-staff; cuaille fir, a tall, slender man;

In Serbian we also find the word "izba" meaning "room". This word has cognates in all Slavic languages: Polish "izba" (Old Polish izdba, istba, izba) meaning "room, hut", Slovak "izba" meaning "room", Russian изба (izba) meaning "peasant house", Bulgarian изба (izba) meaning "cellar", Sorbian "jstwa, stwa" meaning "house", Polabian "jázba" meaning "house, room"...

Official etymology says that this word comes from either Old High German "stuba" meaning "heated room, oven" or a Romance word "étuve" meaning sauna, hot room, oven...

The problem with this etymology is that in Serbian we also have these two words:

"jazbina" meaning "lair, den"

"jȁzva" meaning "hole, pit, wound". Borrowed into old Prussian as "eyswo" meaning wound.

All these Serbian words point at the common root meaning "hole, pit, lair, den, shelter, place where you can hide and sleep".  

Have a look again at a primitive debris shelter. Do you see how it looks like a "hole, pit, lair, den, shelter, place where you can hide and sleep"?


And have a look at the traditional Slavic semi sunken house known as "zemunica". This one is a reconstruction of a house found in a Slavic settlement Březno, which was discovered in Bohemia , north-west of Prague and was dated to Prague archaeological culture (VI-VII centuries).


This is a cross section of one of these houses


Do you see the similarity of these primitive houses with the primitive debris huts and with animal lairs, dens? They all look like holes you crawl into to take shelter and sleep...

Now in Slavic languages "I sleep" is "Ja spa". Is it possible then that "izba (jazba, jstwa)" meaning "room", "jazbina" meaning "lair, den" and "jazva" meaning "hole, pit, wound" all come from "ja spa" meaning "I sleep, where I sleep"?

Now we have two Slavic words:

1. "kol, kolje" meaning "stake, stick, stakes, sticks"
2. "izba" meaning "hole, pit, lair, den, shelter, place where you can hide and sleep"

And we have the word "koliba" which means "a shelter made from stakes (and covered by debris or hides or canvas or...)"

koliba = koljistba = kolje + istba = stakes + room = hut, shelter

The word koliba is what you get when you pronounce kolje istba fast...

Do you think this holds water?

O yeah and have a look at this. In Polish, the word "koliba" also has a form "chalupa". Now compare this with the word chalet, from Swiss-French chalet "herdsman's hut, Alpine cottage" Unknown etymology, possibly from a pre-Latin language [Barnhart]...

Now remember how this word comes from the Balkan pre Greek (Pelasgian) population? Who were they and which language did they speak then?

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Slogan

slogan, is a short and striking or memorable phrase used to quickly and effectively capture the attention of the audience.

It is used in advertising



And in politics


Slogan can be written but it can also be vocal. Please note that the people on the above picture are carrying a placard with a written slogan but they are also shouting slogans. And this is the original meaning of the word slogan: a short and striking or memorable phrase shouted by a group of people to describe their common cause. 


"Slogan first written down 1670s, earlier slogorne (1510s), "battle cry," from Gaelic sluagh-ghairm "battle cry used by Scottish Highland or Irish clans," from sluagh "army, host, slew" and gairm "a cry". Metaphoric sense of "distinctive word or phrase used by a political or other group" is first attested 1704"

This is following picture is a scene from the movie Braveheart. In it, just before the main battle with the English, Mel Gibson, who plays the Scottish leader William Wallace, yells a battle cry: "Alba gu bràth" which in Scots Gaelic means "Scotland until judgment" or roughly "Scotland Forever". And all the Scottish warriors repeat it, to show to the enemy, and to each other, that they stand united and that they will fight united. 


This unity, this readiness to fight together and for each other, is what transforms a group of people into a sluagh "army, host, slew". 

Now the Irish word "sluagh" comes from Old Irish "slúag, slóg" meaning "army, host, throng, crowd, company, assembly". This word is then said to come from hypothetical Proto-Celtic "*slougos" meaning "troop, army", which is then said to have come from hypothetical Proto-Indo-European root "*slowgʰo-", "*slowgo-"  meaning "entourage". Now what is interesting about this proposed PIE root is that the only other words that come from this PIE root, apart from the Celtic ones, are Proto-Slavic "*sluga" meaning "servant", whose descendants are found in all Slavic languages, and Lithuanian "slaugà" meaning "servitude". 

Again we see interesting connection between Celtic and Slavic languages....

But I believe that the connection is even more interesting. 

What is it that turns a group of people into a troop, an army? The common cause that unites them. Original troops, armies were groups of family, clan, tribe members united together in order to protect the family, clan, tribe and its property. Or take over another family, clan, tribe's property. It was their unity, the readiness to fight together and for each other, that gave them their power. The mobilization of the people to join the family, clan, tribe army was done through shouting slogans. Like "For McLeods" or "Death to McLeods" depending on the situation :) Once the army was mobilized, the morale and unity of the troops was reinforced by shouting the same slogans that made them join the army in the first place. And just before and during the battle, the same slogans were shouted in order to show to further reinforce the morale of each member of the troop and show him that he is not a lonely individual, but a member of a united army which is fighting together. And also to show the same thing to the enemy. You have to deal with all of us, a united army...

Nothing really changed here since the beginning of time. People still most commonly fight for their families, their clans, their tribes, their nations, their countries....And it is the common cause, declared and reinforced through slogans, that motivates them to do so. 

Unless they fight for money that is...But that is another sad story...

Now in Slavic languages the word for unity, the thing that turns a group of men into an army, and which is achieved through common motivation reinforced by the use of slogans, is "sloga"... :) 

Could this word be somehow related to the Old Irish "slúag, slóg" meaning "army, host, throng, crowd, company, assembly"?

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Alidjun

Muslims from Zenica region celebrating Aliđun 1936

Second of August lies midway between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox. It also lies bang in the middle of the zodiac sign of Leo (July 23 to August 22 each year) which is ruled by the sun. The sun god Svetovid ascends to it's throne on the summer solstice day (21. of Jun). But the power of the sun is not at it's maximum yet. The power of the sun is the greatest on the 2nd of August. This is the hottest part of the year, the time of droughts. I talked about this in my post "Two crosses". And right there, after the day of the maximum heat, the days start getting cooler. This is why the 2nd of August, marks the end of Summer and the beginning of Autumn. In Serbia it is actually believed that it is summer until the noon and autumn from the noon onward. 

This day, the 2nd of August, is in Serbia known as Ilindan (Day of Ilija the Thunderer). I wrote about this day in my post "The thundering sun god". Ilindan is one of the most important Slavas (Holy days) in Serbia. In Serbia there is a saying "Od Svetog Ilije sunce sve milije" meaning "From St Elijah the sun gets more pleasant (kinder, milder)". 

But what most people don't know is that Ilindan is also one of the most important Slavas (Holy days) among Northern Albanian and Bosnian Muslims, who are almost all converted Slavs (Serbs). The Balkan Muslims call this day "Aliđun" (pronounced "Aligjun") and meaning "The day of Ali or the day of Ilija". This is the day of fairs when people from all the surrounding villages gather to celebrate together, exchange goods, arrange marriages. 

What is very interesting is the Balkan Muslims have preserved the memory that this day used to be dedicated to Perun. 

And this is why:

Veles, the great horned serpent, the dragon, the symbol of the heat of the sun, stole "the waters of heaven", "the celestial cows (clouds)" from Perun at the beginning of the summer. Basically this is the description of what the excessive heat of the sun does during the summer. It causes drought. 

So on the 2nd of August, the day of the most intense drought, people would climb the mountain tops where they would light bonfires and pray to Perun for rain. Each family sacrificed a cockerel (which must be the same color, red is considered the most favorable). The reason why red cockerel is sacrificed to Perun is because fire cockerel was a sacred bird dedicated to Perun. I wrote about this in my post "Cockerel and lion". 

And if the drought was really bad, the whole village would sacrifice a bull. Bull was another animal sacred to Perun. The reason for this is that bull is the symbol of the summer which starts on the 6th of May, in the Taurus. The bull literally brings the summer heat between its horns. This is why killing of the bull on the 2nd of August symbolizes killing of the summer summer heat. It represents the end of the summer. 

The most interesting thing that shows the link between Perun and the bull is a special type of bull fights that are organized in Bosnia on the first Sunday in August. 



I wrote about these bull fights in my post "Bo - Vo". 

In these bull fights, bulls fight bulls and the idea is to find the alpha male bull which is then used for fertilizing the cows in order to improve the stock blood line. I believe that originally these bull fights were probably part of the Ilindan (Aliđun), Perundan celebrations organized on the 2nd of August. I wouldn't be surprised that during the times of extreme droughts the winner was sacrificed to Perun as a special offering. 

I believe that these bull fights come from the Serbian tradition, but they are today part of Orthodox, Muslims and Catholics tradition in Bosnia. 

So the bonfires are lit, the sacrifices are made. 

And every year, on the 2nd of August, Perun hears the prayers of the faithful, accepts the offerings and kills Veles. And releases the waters of heaven, the celestial cows. The clouds return to the sky and the rain starts falling...

The summer ends and the autumn begins. 

Until 100 years ago people in Bosnia, Orthodox, Muslims and Catholics celebrated Ilindan (Aliđun) together...






Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The thundering sun god

In North Germany, the peasants say, when they hear the low rumbling of distant thunder, "Use Herr Gott mangelt" meaning 'The Lord is mangling, or rolling the thunder.

When I was a kid, I spent my summers with my grandparents. One year, around the 2nd of August, the day of the St Ilija the Thunderer, a late summer storm was rumbling over the village. My grandmother turned to me and said: "It's St Ilia the Thunderer driving his chariot over the clouds. The rolling thunder and flashing in the clouds are made by the fiery wheels of St Ilia's chariots bouncing off the bumpy tops of the clouds".


So this would indicate St Ilija the Thunderer is probably the Christianized pagan god of thunder lightning and rain.

But Serbian folk tradition also says that St Ilija the Thunderer gets so angry  "burn the whole world". As I already explained in my post "Two crosses", the 21st of June, the mid summer, is the day of the maximum sun light. But it is the 2nd of August the day that marks the end of summer, that is the day of maximum sun heat. And this is the day when Serbs celebrate St Ilia the Thunderer. The period three days before and the three days after the 2nd of August, is in South Slavic tradition called Kresovi meaning Fires. These are the days of wild fires and droughts. These days are also known as the dog days, because these are the days when the dog star Sirius is in the sky with the sun.

But thankfully "Ilia the thunderer" does not burn the earth. Every year, on his day, the 2nd of August, the day of St Ilija the Thunderer, he gets persuaded by his wife, Ognjena Marija (Fiary Mary) to calm down. In Serbia there is a saying: "Od svetog Ilije sunce sve milije" which means "From St Ilija the sun starts getting kinder, milder, gentler". The first part of the 2nd of August is considered summer and the second is considered to be Autumn. And thus every year on the 2nd of August the summer ends and the autumn begins.

The fact that it is "Ilija the thunderer" who is accused of "wanting to burn the whole word", shows direct link between "Ilija the thunderer" and the burning late summer sun. Is it possible that Ilia the thunderer is also a Christianized sun god?

How is it possible that the same character could personify the burning sun and the storms?

Well do you remember my post "Sun, Thunder, Fire"? In it explained how modern science has proven the existence of the direct link between the solar winds and lightning. In short, without solar winds there would be no lightning.

When we compare our current knowledge of the development of thunder and lightning with the above description of the "Thundering sun god driving his chariots over the tops of the clouds with flashes of lightning sparking from the chariot wheels", we can see that this is pretty faithful description of what is actually happening during August thunderstorms. 

There are two basic types of lightnings:

1. Vertical, cloud to earth (or earth to cloud)


2. Horizontal, cloud to cloud.



A vertical lightning strike from cloud to earth arrives at the ear as a bang. A cloud to cloud strike can sound like rolling thunder because the bang you hear comes along the length of the bolt.

Belgrade school of meteorology has been conducting 35 year long research in frequency and characteristics of lightning over Serbia. 

In Serbia the number of thunder and lightnings is the highest at the end of June and beginning of July, but during that time thundering is very strong and short due to the angle under which the solar wind enters the atmosphere. If there is rolling thunder it is always very short.

On the contrary, the first days of August have the largest number of rolling thunder and lightnings. This is the period of the year when solar wind arrives from the sun under the smaller angle which creates longest rolling time of the solar wind particles over the tops of the clouds. Heliocentric electromagnetic research have shown that due to high speed, particles of the solar wind bounce off the tops of the clouds in the same way a flat stone bounces of the surface of water. Every bounce causes a sound effect in the shape of thunder and a flash of lightning. During that period you can hear how the fireball consisting of the particles of the solar wind, approaches and then goes away. Based on the audio and visual data you can precisely calculate the line and direction of the rolling of the thunder wheel. 

Just as if "the thundering sun god was driving his chariots over the tops of the clouds with flashes of lightning sparking from the chariot wheels"...


We know that wheel is a symbol directly linked with sun. But it is also linked with thunder and fire. We can see this through the symbols of Svetovid and Perun: their wheels. The wheel of Perun is "like" the wheel of Svetovid. It is actually the fiery version of the wheel of Svetovid. Sun creating fire through lightning. 

So the fiery wheels of Perun, the Thunder god, are actually burning sun wheels of Svetovid, the Sun god.  This is symbolic representation of now scientifically proven link between the sun and lightning. 

And the same link between Thunder and Lightning (Perun) and Sun (Svetovid), is also represented by the character of Ilija the Thunderer, the Thundering Sun...The thundering sun god driving his chariots over the tops of the clouds with flashes of lightning sparking from the chariot wheels...

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Reek Sunday


This is Croagh Patrick, Ireland's holiest mountain. The mountain is known locally as "Reek". The word "reek" comes from  Proto-Germanic "*hraukaz" which means "sheaf, stack of corn, pile of grain, mountain". 

Today is Reek Sunday. Reek Sunday is the name for the last Sunday in July. The reason why the last Sunday in July is called "Reek Sunday" is because on this day, every year, pilgrims climb Reek (Croagh Patrick). 

Interestingly, around the Reek (Irish: Cruach which also means sheaf, stack of corn, pile of grain, mountain), people call Reek Sunday "Domhnach Crom Dubh" which means "Crom Dubh's Sunday". Crom Dubh was the old Irish Solar and Agricultural deity which was "defeated" by St Patrick. And even more interestingly, it is believed that Crom Dubh could have been another name for yet another old Irish deity: Crom Cruach...

I wrote about Crom Dubh in the article "How old is Crom Dubh" and in many other posts.

Now "Croagh Patrick" comes from the Irish "Cruach Phádraig" meaning "Patrick's stack (of corn), Patrick's mountain". 

I wander if Crom Cruach was not another name for Crom Dubh, but if instead it was the old Irish name for the holy mountain dedicated to Crom Dubh. In which case Crom Cruach would mean "Crom's stack (of corn), Crom's mountain", "Crom Dubh's stack (of corn), Crom Dubh's mountain". 

This would explain why, after Patrick defeated Crom Dubh, Crom's Stack, Crom's Mountain (Crom Cruach) was renamed into Cruach Phádraig...

Before you say that if Crom Cruach really meant Crom's Stack, Crom's Mountain, it would have had to be written Cruach Crom. This is because the Irish grammar says that when making compound words, you should always put adjectives after nouns. However there are lots of place names in Ireland that do not confirm to this rule. Place names such as Dubh Linn ("black pool" = Dublin) and Leixlip ("salmon leap") for instance. These place names were attributed to the Norse settlers who learned Irish had trouble with putting adjectives after nouns, so they often put them before the noun. This is exactly what happens when you force the new language on subjected population. They pick up the words but keep their own grammar. But this "incorrect" use of Irish grammar is present in all old Irish texts, which shows that it predates the Norse arrival to Ireland. For instance Táin Bó Cúailnge, is filled with epithets like finnbennach "white-horned", dóeltenga "beetle-tongued", echbél "horse-lipped", rúadruca "red-blushing", and the like. 

Funnily enough most toponymes and hydronymes of Celtic origin in central Europe follow this "incorrect grammar" and have adjective before the noun.

Here is an example:

Gaelic word for “big” is Mór. (Pronounced as the English word more)
Gaelic word for “river” is Abhainn . (Pronounced “awon” similar to the English word award). Proto celtic word is awa. 

In central Europe there are numerous rivers called Morava.

Morava = mor + ava = Mór Abhainn = Mor Awa= big river 

Morava is the biggest river in Serbia and also in Czech republic, territories which were considered Celtic heartland. These rivers gave the name to the territory upper and lower Moravia. 

In Ireland there is a river named the Avonmore River (Irish: Abhainn Mhor, meaning "big river") which is the same as Mor Ava just using Gaelic grammar.

So it is quite possible that Crom Cruach really meant "Crom's Stack (of corn), Crom's Mountan".

What do you think? 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Àth Cliath

On the Wiki page "History of roads in Ireland" we can read that according to an entry in the Annals of the Four Masters for AD 123, there were five principal highways (Irish: slighe) leading to Tara (Irish: Teamhair) in Early Medieval Ireland. The entry in the Annals claims that these routes were 'discovered' at the birth of Conn of the Hundred Battles:

"The night of Conn's birth were discovered five principal roads leading to Teamhair, which were never observed till then. These are their names: Slighe Asail, Slighe Midhluachra, Slighe Cualann, Slighe Mhór, Slighe Dala. Slighe Mhór is that called Eiscir Riada, i.e. the division line of Ireland into two parts, between Conn and Eoghan Mór."

In reality, the ancient road system (such as it was - there cannot have been a developed national system) fanned out not from Tara but from Dublin.

The Slighe Assail went due west towards Lough Owel in Co. Westmeath, then to Cruachain. The Slighe Midluachra went towards Slane, through the Moyry Pass north of Dundalk, round the base of Slieve Fuaid, near Newtownhamilton in Co. Armagh, to Emain Macha, ending at Dunseverick on the north coast of Co. Antrim. The Slighe Cualann ran south-east through Dublin, crossing the River Liffey via a "hurdle-ford", then went south "through the old district of Cualann, which it first entered a little north of Dublin, and from which it took its name". The Slighe Dala ran towards and through Ossory in Co. Kilkenny. Finally, the Slighe Mhór ("Great Highway") joined the Esker Riada. It then, more-or-less, followed the Esker Riada to Co. Galway.

It is believed that this "hurdle bridge" was built across the river Liffey in 1014 AD.

In "A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland..." which was published by Joyce, P. W. (Patrick Weston) in 1906, we can read in the section entitled "Bridges" that the place chosen for the erection of a bridge was very usually where the river had already been crossed by a ford; for, besides the convenience of retaining the previously existing roads, the point most easily fordable was in general most suitable for a bridge. There is no evidence to show that the Irish built stone bridges before the Anglo-Norman invasion. Bridges were very often built of planks laid across the stream from bank to bank if it was narrow enough, or supported on rests of natural rock or on artificial piers if the river was wide: a kind of bridge occasionally used at the present day. Sometimes bridges were constructed of strong hurdles supported on piles; like that across the Liffey which gave Dublin its old name. These timber bridges of the several kinds were extremely common, and they are frequently mentioned in old authorities.

The fact that both articles talk about the "hurdle bridge" across river Liffey, which "gave Dublin its old Gaelic name" is actually very interesting.

This is because the old Gaelic name for Dublin is "Baile Atha Cliath" which translates literally as "town of the hurdle ford" and not as "town of the hurdle bridge".

Irish "baile" meaning "home, settlement". From Old Irish "baile", meaning "place; settlement; farm, farmstead; (fortified) village, town, city".

Irish "áth" meaning "ford, river crossing". From Old Irish "áth" meaning "ford, open space or hollow between two objects, a shallow area of the river that can be crossed on foot", from Proto-Celtic *yātus meaning "ford", from Proto-Indo-European *yeh₂- meaning "ride, go".


Irish "cliath" meaning wattled, latticed frame; hurdle. From Old Irish clíath, from Proto-Celtic *klētā. Cognate with French claie (From Gaulish *cleta attested in medieval Latin clida) and Welsh clwyd, both meaning hurdle, wattle (stick) fence.


There are other towns of the same name, such as Àth Cliath in East Ayrshire, Scotland, which is Anglicised as Hurlford.

So before any permanent bridge was built, river Liffey was crossed at the ford.

The ford's exact location is a mystery today. It is proposed that it could have been somewhere near Usher's Island (when it still was an island), maybe a hundred yards west of what is now the Father Mathew Bridge, near St Paul's Church.



So ford is basically a river crossing. The place where you can "walk across the river".

I came across this artist's impression of the "hurdled ford":


I doubt that this is actually what the "hurdle ford" looked like. This half submerged structure would not provide any benefits to the people crossing the river. They would still get wet. But there is another type of wooden structure that would fit the description of a "Àth Cliath":


This is the type of a primitive wooden river crossing that can be seen in remove rural areas all over the world. The most primitive type consists of one or two long logs placed across the river. They are supported either by the banks alone or by the banks and wooden stakes stuck into the river bed.


The walking surface can be made wider and more stable by nailing or tying short cross logs on top of the original two logs spanning the river.


If you spread the logs spanning the river and make the cross logs wider, and add you get something like this, a narrow corduroy road bridge.


Now in my post "Togher wooden trackways" I talked about a millenniums long Irish tradition of building wooden walkways (toghers). They are basically corduroy roads and bridges built all over the country across marshes and bogs from Bronze age until Early medieval time.


Exactly the same construction can be used, supported on parallel logs lying on stakes stuck into the river bed, to build bridges. Like this one:


So if there ever was "Àth Cliath" across river Liffey, it probably went through these evolution steps, from a simple logs crossing to the logs bridge. 

But, I can hear people saying, cliath means hurdle. 

In my post "Kolac - Golac" I talked about the existence of a whole cluster of words based on the base word "cleath" meaning stick, pole. 

cleath, -eithe, -eatha, f., a goad, a wattle, pole, stake; a fishing-rod.
cleath thiomána, a goad.
cleath-ailpín, a short stick with a knob.
cleathach, -aighe, a., ribbed, composed of wattle-work (cage, basket, granary).
cleathar, -air, pl. id., m., a stake, a pole; a pile or post; fig., a prince, a chief.
cleatharáil, -ála, f., a severe beating, a dressing, a flogging.
cleath-chur, m., a planting of trees; hence the correlative or collateral branches of a pedigree 

I also talked about the fact that this cluster has its cognate, and possible root, in Slavic word "kol" meaning "stake, stick" and which comes from the word "gol" meaning "naked, bare, stripped" of leaves, branches, which is how you make sticks and stakes. I also talked about the Slavic word "klada" which means log (a tree trunk stripped of branches) and which probably comes from the same root "kol, gol". 

Now if we look at the above walkways we can see that they are made from stakes (Irish cleath, Slavic kol) and logs (Slavic klada). If a Slavic person wanted to describe the walkway construction he could describe it as "koljat, koljast" (made of kolje, stakes, sticks).

That takes care of "cliath". It actually doesn't have to mean hurdle. It can mean anything made from stripped off branches, trunks (sticks, stakes, logs). 

Now about the word "Àth". In Irish the word means ford, the place where you can walk across rivers. The official etymology states that this word comes from "Proto-Celtic *yātus meaning ford, from Proto-Indo-European *yeh₂- meaning ride, go". I would not agree with this. The proposed "Proto Celtic" root was never attested. The only descendant is Gaelic Àth (pronounced "oh" but which used to be pronounced "oth"). 

In my post "Odin the wandering deity" I talked about the Serbian word "od" meaning "walking". This Serbian word comes from Proto Slavic "xodъ" and has cognates in all Slavic languages. It also has a cognate in Ancient Greek "ὁδός" (odos), alternative "οὐδός" (oudós) – Homeric (used only once in Odyssey) meaning "way, road, path", basically something you "od", walk on. 

The official etymology says that these words come from Proto-Indo-European *sodos, from *sed- (“to sit”)!!! I don't have to say how ridiculous this sounds...The root has to be preserved in Slavic "od, hod" meaning "walk, walking"...Road, path, way is what you walk on and derives its meaning from the fact that you walk on it...

Now if the Irish "Àth" meaning "ford, walkway, place where you can walk across the river" has any cognates, they have to be Slavic "od (hod)" meaning "walk, walking" and Ancient and Modern Greek "ὁδός (odos)" meaning "way, road, path". 

Now knowing all this, let's have a look again at the phrase "Àth Cliath":


Irish: "Àth Cliath (Cleath)" = Ford, Walkway, the place where you walk across the river made of sticks, stakes
Serbian (Slavic): "Od koljat" = Walkway, the place where you walk across the river made of sticks, stakes

Interesting don't you think?