Head cults and archetypes

by Jeanne Cordua

As you can see in my article about the round churches, we also have our fair share of strange, ancient and (very possibly) sacred heads. See some of them below:

 Head of man or lion, Å Church

Head, Nyker Church

Head, Poulsker Church, detail




What about those heads?

It is quite natural that they were the seats of wisdom, and it has also been claimed that the Knights Templar worshipped a head, called the Baphomet – others say that it was the head of Saint John the Baptist that was being worshipped. The head of John the Baptist also plays a part in some Grail legends as one of the mysterious objects connected to the Holy Grail: a plate (often containing a head swimming in its own blood), a lance, often said to have belonged to Longinus, who pierced the side of Christ with it (the tip of this lance often drips with blood – there is an abundance of blood in the Grail legends) and a spear with the same symbolism as the lance.

The blood was the magic substance – the forever feminine – it was believed in ancient times that children were created from the menstruation blood of women, and the Grail is first and foremost a symbol of the feminine. It stood for the female side of the Divine (Mother Earth), often symbolized in Celtic Grail legends by virgin guardians of wells.

But there are also other, older myths connected to the head. Thus it was among the Celts that the greatest worship of the head took place – and some of the Grail legends are indeed of Celtic origin. What on Earth has this got to do with Bornholm, one might ask? Some people claim that certain churches on this island show Celtic influence, e.g. the old church ruin of Østermarie.

In England and Scotland the churches are also filled with heads of the socalled “green men” – again a symbol ripe with fertility cult!

Norse mythology also has its own famous head, the severed head of Mimer. Odinn read runes over it to give it life again (Mimer was famous for his sharp tongue and his wits, thus he became a head shorter…). Mimer also had a well, the well of wisdom at the foot of the tree of life, Ask Yggdrasil.

For a closer study of Vikings and their mythology, here is a link: Vikings and Norse Mythogy

But when I read about Odinn, some other mysteriuos details came to my attention.

If one reads Hávamál (The Tale of the High One) is it said about Odinn that he in order to gain wisdom and the knowledge of runes, hung himself on a tree for 9 nights, he sacrificed himself to wisdom. Furthermore, he sacrificed one of his eyes in the well of Mimer to gain insight of the hidden worlds (not in the verses below).

Here is the text:

138. Wounded I hung on a wind-swept gallows For nine long nights, Pierced by a spear, pledged to Odhinn, Offered, myself to myself The wisest know not from whence spring The roots of that ancient rood

139. They gave me no bread, They gave me no mead, I looked down; with a loud cry I took up runes; from that tree I fell.

140. Nine lays of power I learned from the famous Bolthor, Bestla’ s father: He poured me a draught of precious mead, Mixed with magic Odrerir.

Does this remind you of anything? The sacrifice of a god? Perhaps some people may want to protest, but I find it quite thought-provoking, that Jesus hung on the cross until the “ninth hour”. Pleas read Mark 15,34,. Matthew 27,46 and Luke 23,44. When this is emphasized 3 places it must have a meaning.

The number 9 is a symbol of perfection, that i 3 x 3. Three is for manifestation, an idea, an action – and a result. Father, Son, Holy Ghost – or more common: father, mother and children.

The sacrifice of the eye also reminded me of the ancient Egyptian gods.

(A god in Egyptian was not a God, but a “force of nature” or an angel, if you want. The Egyptian word was “neter” – though we do not know the vowels. Hieroglyphs were only written with consonants and signs. Perhaps Neter later became Nature???)

Isis (the great mother) had her son Horus (the risen sun, the new king) with Osiris (the resurrected one).

Once upon a time, Osiris was a beloved king, son of the heavenly deities Geb (Earth) and Nut (the sky), married to his sister Isis. His brother Set was jealous of him and killed him. Isis mourned the death of her lover and husband and by a magic spell revived him, but before that he had been chopped into 14 pieces, and she had to reassemble his limbs. Unfortunately a very important part of Osiris was missing… So again Isis had to do magic in order to beget a son by him. This was Horus, seen in the top part of the picture. He fought agains his evil uncle Set.

Thus Osiris became the resurrected god in the kingdom of heaven (Duat).

Isis was the “virgin” mother of the Horus child, often seen on status as Isis-with-Horus like the Madonna and child. And in the Roman Empire the worship of Isis was very great at the beginning of the first century BC. Many scholars agree on this similarity.

The only difference is that the Ancient Egyptians called these myths myths, whereas many Christians claim these tales to be historical events!

Anubis weighs the heart of the deceased against the feather of Maat (truth and justice): If one’s heart (conscience) was heaveier than the feather, you were thrown to the monster Ammit to be devoured and reborn in the physical world. This was indeed the day of Judgment. If not, you were to be reunited with the gods in heaven to sail in Ra’s boat of “millions of years).

This was only a very brief and concentrated summary. If you want to read more about the fascinating culture and religion, here is a good and serious link: Ancient Egypt – Guardian’s Egypt – Main Gate

When Horus grew up he wanted to revenge the murder of his father, and he started a great battle agains Set (Set, who later became the Great Opponent = Satan with the Christians), the neter of storms and all opposition. During this battle that also can be seen as a battle of light x darkness, old age x new age etc… Set lost his testicles and Horus lost one of his eyes. This eye, also called the Eye of Ra or in funeral context an Udjat / Wadjet Eye, was sacred and the symbol is seen above. The eye was an important part of the wisdom teachings of Egypt, as Thoth (neter of wisdom, creator of hieroglyphs and the Word, setting the world in movement – thought-provoking… Read the beginning of the gospel of Saint John) gave the eye back to Horus after the battle.

A lot can be said about this eye, also in a mathematical context – the Egyptians loved astronomy / astrology, their whole world revolved around the understanding of the concept of TIME – both to predict the flooding of the Nile for farming – Ancient Egypt was first and foremost a farming country – but also to understand their own ancient culture.

What is the conclusion of all this? Myths and legends are not just a legacy for one religion in particular, the can cross time and space – they are of the utmost archetypical importance, and if we learn to understand them we have found a way to the understanding of ourselves.

Santillana & von Dechend: Hamlet’s Mill, Godine Publishers inc, 1969 (latest edition 1998). Read excerpts here.

In many ways you might say that our ancestors were much more in contact with nature, than we are. I believe it is necessary for us to gain a sense of time and cycles of nature again, if we are to have any hope of becoming mentally and spiritually sound again. Look at today’s societies – wars, famine and natural disasters have always been there – but the alienation, that modern man suffers from and the cynicism to follow in its wake, makes fertile ground for the many confrontations today between the strict materialism and the strict fundamentalism. Nobody seems to remember, that BALANCE may be the necessary key word, between all life, between above and below, as our forefathers told us (the ancient Egyptian goddess Maat was a symbol of balance, justice, truth and was the concept to pervade the total rule of the pharaoh, the great priest king). Balance is of utmost importance, not only for saving nature, but also between man and woman. If we love life and each other, we go forcefully against everything all the extremists want.