This is a brilliant and in depth 25 minute read, exploring and celebrating India’s Independence, through an esoteric lens, but there’s more. The author, a regular here at Fort Russ News, delivers a tour de force in history, structures of thought, mythology, and draws significant linguistic, theological, and etymological parallels between Hinduism and other Indo-European religions. It’s written in an approachable style that doesn’t stagnate or drag on. Each line is packed with content and each draws an important point, that is, no filler. This is the type of material we generally publish at our parent org’s website, the Center for Syncretic Studies. And in order to bring reader awareness to that project and its relation to FRN, we are please to introduce the piece here. – ed.
By Curwen Ares Rolinson – August 15th was India’s National Day – the hallowed anniversary of Independence. And for that, we have prepared something a little bit different for publication here.
Now, you may be wondering why we are posting to mark a civic, political observance rather than something which is prima facie a religious one of ancient or common Indo-European heritage. Yet as we are about to see, what is celebrated and commemorated on the 15th of this month is actually very much bound up with both traditionally relevant conceptions of identity and polity, as well as a pattern of Divine manifestation for these which was once common to many of the Indo-European peoples. Perhaps more remarkably, even despite the Christianization – and yes, secularization – of most of these toward the European end of the spectrum, it is something which has *persisted* here in the West, as well.
Turn your gaze to the photograph of the Murti of Bharat Mata shown here. Now, perhaps you are aware that “Bharat” is another (more ancient, self-derived) name for India; and it should come as absolutely no surprise even for those without any background in academic comparative linguistics to find that “Mata” is “Mother”.
But you might, perhaps, be forgiven for presuming that “Murti” refers to a “Map”.
And, in a sense, with that old (French?) philosophic maxim about “the map is not the territory” (or c’nest pas une pipe) , it kinda does. A better translation would be an “image”, or a “representation”.
Yet this is not simply a ‘map’ of India, a representation of the ‘Motherland’, so to speak.
Instead, for us, a Murti of a Deity is a ‘living representation’; and in this instance, the Murti in question is of Aspect of Devi, Bharat Mata – Mother India.
And as applies the first and most prominent connexion between the ‘civic’ and the ‘sacral’ for the purposes of this post – we could very well think of August 15th as being something of a (re-)birth day for the august Aspect in question.
Now this is not necessarily to suggest that Bharat Mata was not ‘in-being’ prior to that particular midnight in mid-1947. Far from it. Apart from the concept’s ‘modern’ history being easily traceable back to the late 1800s (most notably identified as Banga Mata – ‘Mother Bengal’ – in political literature of the period opposing the British division of Bengal into East (today known as Bangladesh) and West components; and as an aside, it should be entirely unsurprising for Bengal to be home to this formulation, given the seriously strong Durga worship which has and continues to characterize the area); in both a ‘supernal’ and a mere ‘academic’ sense, we do not have to get into notions of ‘Mythic Time’ or non-linearity therein as compared to the conventional march of days to plainly see that this is not a ‘new’ deity, so much as a concept finally immanentized – which very much develops from very ancient precedences that have gone before.
Confused? Right. we shall start at the beginning. Or at least, as near to it as we are yet able to trace back through the fields of comparative mythography, ethnography, and linguistics, etc.
Parallels in other ‘Mythologies’
At the fundament, foundational core of the Indo-European pantheon – figures common in the ‘bedrock’ if you like to pretty much every ‘archaic’ Indo-European mythology and religion I can think of offhand (although subject to some seriously weird revisions with subsequent developments, occasionally – e.g. the Zoroastrians .. who appear to fall some-ways between our ‘Cultural Protestants’ and our straight-out Mormons) – there stand two beings:
Dyaus Pitar, we have already briefly touched upon in previous commentaries – the [literally translated] “Sky Father”; and His Wife, a figure we might feasibly identify via the archetypal shorthand, “Earth Mother”.
Now this is where things may potentially get a little bit complex.
From this singular feminine archetype, we have traced ’emanation’ if you like, or ‘refraction’, potentially, out in a number of key directions – many of which are common to a multiplicity of ancient Indo-European pantheons.
One path of derivation is, of course, the reasonably direct ‘carrying forward’ of the “Earth Mother” concept. And certainly, we can see this with the Vedic attestations for Ma Prithvi, as well as the Greek notations for Rhea, the Jord/Fjorgyn of the Nordic peoples, and so on and so forth.
But another path of derivation, which is perhaps a little more ‘innovative’, and arguably more important for the purposes of this post and resultant analysis of Bharat Mata , is that which leads to an archetypal figure I have taken to terming “Mountain Queen”.
It is not necessarily hard to see how we might have gotten from “Earth” to “Mountain” – after all, what is a ‘mountain’ , other than an agglomeration of rock and soil rising above yet more earth? [the answer, of course, is : “a defensible position”, but more on that in a moment]
Yet as applies the figurative ‘transition’ from “Mother” to “Queen”, what is key difference THERE is the element, the affixion of Sovereignty. And, alongside this, the way in which, I suppose you might say, we go from a more ‘universalized’ Mother figure [Mother, arguably, of All, dependent upon how broad you wish to run your cosmology – certainly, the Shakta schools of Hinduism effectively run something not entirely dissimilar to this … ], through to the rather more tightly defined “Mother of the Nation”, or maternal forebear of a *particular* people.
Now, the ‘standard’ academic path for talking about development of figures like Bharat Mata, is that it is logical development of talking about “Earth Mother”, and then making the next leap to “*this* earth, this expanse of area which *we* control*”, and taking it onwards from there. Thus arriving at a ‘metaphysical’ and somewhat anthropomorphized ’embodiment’ of a polity, a people, a tribe, a nation.
But I do not necessarily think that’s right. Or, at least, it is almost definitely nowhere near the ‘full’ story.
Instead, turn back a moment to that connexion between “Earth” and “Mountain” – and, more especially, what I said about “Mountain”, and “Defensive Position” [as an perhaps interesting aside, “Durga”, has one translation of “the inaccessible”, which prima facie may refer to a well-situated and (nigh-) indomitable fortress!], followed up by how “Defensive Position” works out very handily for “place we should be settling in”.
I hardly need to run the comparative etymology on this, but anybody who has considered the similarities between “Berg” and “Burg”, or noticed the part of “Nagara” which contains “Giri”, will have realized, for a warlike people or a people otherwise under constant threat, a raised area of earth – a hill, or better yet, a mountain bounded by escarpments, represents a pretty decent place upon which to build an enduring settlement with accompanying fortification.
Of Mountains and Motherlands
It should therefore come as absolutely no surprise whatsoever, then, that the ‘Mother of the Nation’ figure would be commensurate with the ‘Seat of Power’ of a fledgling state. A site, a repository of sovereignty, (a capitol?) which would *itself* most likely be situated in such a ‘rocky’ defensive position, of and from ‘earth’; and from whence, the people of that nation, ‘array out’, and ‘descend’ (in, come to think of it, both a physical – and a metaphorical or outright genealogical – sense).
The frequency of Mountains as, if not “Axis Mundi” in the direct sense, at the very least the ‘corridors of power’ and ‘Mansion of the Gods’ [i.e. the ‘political’ “centre of the Divine Realm”] represented by Olympus or Kailash thus makes an inordinate amount of sense. As it is a Supernal rendering by the Gods of an arrangement which is also very common here on Earth amongst those who worship them.
The attestations for Divine Queens in rather direct connexion with these ‘mountain fastness’ locales is not hard to find in the mythography. I am not simply speaking of the idea of an Olympus having a Hera; but rather, the far more forthright elements wherein the Queen in question is (almost) identified *as* the Mountain.
Consider, as the foremost example, Lady Parvati – Wife of Shiva [Mahadev fairly clearly fulfilling the role of Sky-Father within the relevant theological complex]. Her Name quite literally means ‘of the Mountain’ [Parvat, in Sanskrit] , in partial reference to Her prominent identification with the mountain kingdom of Himavat [situated, as one would presume, in the Himalayas] (although as a point of interest, She is also customarily identified, through Durga, with the Vindhya range to the southern border of ‘traditional’ Aryavarta).
Or, for that matter, the tantalizing hints around Hittite deity “Pirwa” / “Peruwa” – referred to as “Queen”, and with a name *very* close to the “Peruna” of the relevant linguistic corpus, which means “Cliff” or escarpment. (There is a separate article to be written up at some point about the potential nexion between “Stone” and “Storm Lord” as traced through both Slavic – Perun and such – as well as the myths around Brhaspati’s utilization of what appears to have been a meteorite – a stone-from-the-sky – to slay a demon-serpent-dragon).
There is also the material around the Phrygian deity Cybele – known in their own tongue as “Matar Kubeleya”, or “Mother Mountain”; a ‘patron’ and ’empowering’ figure : identified in various sources as Mother of the Gods, Daughter of the Mountain, linked to both rulership, and a warrior’s ferocity, as well as being accompanied by the lion – often in plural and pulling a chariot. Now, these are materials from the first millennium BC, yet they ought be instantly familiar to any modern Hindu. For these are all names and characteristics of Mother Durga, Parvati ! Albeit with the notion of a chariot pulled by great feline(s) having rather more direct resonance with the Nordic Freyja, Whose Chariot is pulled by the great cats of the Nordic wilderness; as instead Durga *rides* the Tiger/Lion as a cavalryman rides a horse.
Yet while it might be tempting to suggest that the Nordic Freyja does not necessarily fit with the above rubric, recent linguistic and (mytho)poetic analysis which I have been made aware of (and for which I thank Mr W. P. Reaves for his stirling work in this area !) instead shows very much the pattern ‘continuing’ among the Nordic folk.
To be clear about this, there are a number of (not necessarily exclusionary) pathways of derivation for theonym “Freyja” (alongside, of course, the standard ‘feminine form of Freyr – Lord’). One of which, arguably the most common, traces back a series of terms for ‘woman’ and perhaps ‘attachment/love’ in a manner that posits it as the Nordic cognate to Sanskrit term “Priya”. Although even here, there is very much ‘political’ subtext – “Freyja” and “Frigg” having connection to notion of “Free” , and very potentially, in both the ‘affectionate’ and ‘demarcative’ senses, to a term [‘Frijaz’ in reconstructed Proto-Germanic] referring to a member of one’s own clan, tribe, folk … hence why, of course, they were “free” (rather than subjugated) in the first place.
This is a pretty good place to start with sketching out Freyja’s place within the constellation of the Indo-European Mountain Queen as a figure of Sovereignty (of Freedom, one might potentially note – for such is at least one dimension of the notion of Sovereignty in the first place; and yes, there are, now that I think about it, an array of Devi epithets in Sanskrit which would similarly support this notion of ‘Unfettered’ – which would also connect in, potentially, to the ‘Wild” element common to so many Indo-European Goddesses, not least of which in relation to the occasional demands of Their Menfolk; and, further, a line from the Lokasenna delivered by Tyr affixing this female ‘unfettering’ characteristic to Freyr and therefore Freyja via the equivalency of the divine twins); and, from there, as an effective ’embodiment’ of the Ethnos – the tribe, the people, the Nation.
Further elements of relevancy here (and I shall consider these but briefly, as we must get back to the most important subject at hand! For it is Her – the Aspect in question – Whose Birthday we are supposed to be celebrating!) ; would include not only the aforementioned theonyms of Freyja/Frigg as “Jord” and “Fjorgyn” [both of which work out as “earth” ; ], but also an array of kenning material further seeking to compare this Goddess to a Mountain. One of these is the epithet “Haglfaldini” cited in the Sexstefja of Thjodolfr Arnorsson, meaning “hail-hooded” [comparable to the modern English idiom “snow-capped”], with the ‘hood’ in question, the Faldr, being a word for a woman’s head-covering. Another, “Hlin”, referring to “ground” – but also relating to ‘refuge’ and ‘protection’ particularly via the related form “Hleina”, and with the three sides of this ‘triangulation’ (also the shape of the archetypal ‘mountain’ ) being buttressed/completed with the addition of “Hlein” , which means a rock projection, and in particular one out into the sea in the manner of a pier (you know, the sort of structure one might use to disembark when coming home ).
But what *really* brings this ‘home’, (and helpfully, will lead us to the next section …), is the theonym of “Fjorgyn”; as rather than simply being plain unadorned “earth”, this in fact quite likely derives from the cluster of words in Germanic language which have given us “Furrow” or “Fell” in modern English – as well as, of course, Fjall in the Nordic tongues [‘Mountain’].
Etymologies and drawing connections
What are the Proto-Indo-European roots of these terms? Well, you see this is where it gets quite interesting – there are *two* speculated origin-points here, both of which are phonetically highly similar to the point of shared initial conception. “Pel”, relating to a ‘skin’ [seen even today in the modern-familiar word “Pelt”], and flowing from thence, the notions of both a ‘covering’, as well as, as a verb, to “fold” [this, itself, being ultimately derived from the same Proto-Indo-European root – and you can plainly observe the phonetic sound-shift between the P- and F- as well as the D- and T- here]. It should not be hard to see how the idea of “folding” relates rather well to emergent projections of earth – whether in the sense aforementioned of a furrow, or in the much more modern-ish connotation of the Fold Mountain formation found when we consider plate tectonics.
It may also relate back to our archaic fortress-builders due to the utilization of hides to manufacture walls [compare the modern ‘Palisade’; as well as the Latin ‘Palus’ (‘Stake’/[fence]post) – which may lie at the root of “Palace” via the “Palatinate” Hill] … and, as we shall see in a moment, to *shields* as well.
The second sense of “Pel” – which ultimately gives us the reconstructed Falisaz, meaning a ‘rock’, or ‘cliff’, is certainly within striking distance of the “Per” [‘perwr’] root [whence Sanskrit ‘Parvat’, the Hittite ‘Peru’, and that ‘Pirwa’ we have just met earlier; all of which mean likewise]; as well as the “Peh” stem referring to “protection”, (and which ultimately gives us “Pati” [lord] in Sanskrit – a clear element of Sovereignty); and even, indeed, the Pelh root which has given us ‘Pale’ in modern English, and refers to a greyish colour of the sort one would expect from the stereotypical mountain (or, for that matter, storm-sky).
Either and both presumably lie at the basis of “Plh” (“Stronghold”), which give us both the Greek “Polis” and the Sanskrit “Pura”.
But it is back to that former sense of “Pel” meaning a skin or a hide or other covering that we must go. For there is one most important Goddess, in the constellation of my argument, Who has not yet been given proper mention.
Who bears the Epithet “Pallas”, referring (amongst other things) to Her wearing of the flayed skin of a defeated foe as a cloak – and/or potentially utilized to form the covering of Her Shield [Despite the common pop-culture image of Classical Greeks and therefore Their Gods advancing (where thusly equipped) with bronze shields, the older archaic layer of Greek civilization very much made use of ox-hide shields; and even into later antiquity, lighter infantry employed in a more skirmisher/swifter role would make use of hide shields due to the necessities of their unencumbered function.
The notion of the ‘older’ layer of the relevant mythology, as having a skin-shield, therefore, ought be entirely unsurprising – even leaving aside the idea of the affixion of the Gorgon-head upon same. The Aegis, intriguingly, when invoked in the course of the Iliad, is depicted as causing clouds to cover a nearby mountain – make of that what you will.
Who am I speaking of? Athena. Patron deity of a city [hence, no doubt, the epithet “Polias” – closely related to the more familiar “Polis”, which does not simply mean “city” but something closer to “Nation”], built upon an outcropping of rock. The ‘acropolis’ – acros being the highest point, which to this day bears Her Name.
Now, I have chosen to ‘end’ the ‘pre-modern’ phase of this piece with ‘the Athenian Example’, as this handily brings together the various ‘strands’ of ‘origin’ for this concept in a manner that is also more than familiar to the average modern reader.
Here we have a Goddess, a patron of a people, Whose direct presence and sanctuary was to be found on a high crag – the same place, and highly defensible position, wherein the core and the ancient genesis of the city in question (and thus the folk who were of there, as a people) lay. It should come as no surprise, then, that they came to share a name – as well as a certain array of the qualities aspired to by its citizens and reputed to be found in its national character *also* being those of its Goddess … that is to say, its National Character.
Yet before turning back to Bharat Mata directly, there are two other elements I feel I need to cover.
More on the Nation, Goddess- Mother, and the Mountain
The first of these is a rather curious figure from post-Christianization Iceland, called Fjallkona – the Lady of the Mountain. Now, this personification does not appear well attested prior to roughly two and a half centuries ago; and can certainly be situated within the general (pre-) ‘Romantic’ trend toward majestic female figures acting as ’embodiments’, anthropomorphized ‘avatars’ if you like [now there’s a mixed metaphor!] of the Nation.
Yet while She may have arrived on the scene some decades after Mother Svea, and even further following Britannia (a figure whose customary iconography may be rather more than subconsciously imitating the earlier Athena for reasons which ought be patently obvious; yet, intriguingly enough, who appears to date from the Roman conquest of Britain rather than being a simple ‘creation’ of the 16th/17th century – still much less the British Empire’s thalassocratic pretensions of being a genuine successor-state of ancient Athens); what I find most intriguing about this ‘Fjallkona” is the ways in which this figure is, in some ways, much *closer*to the original Divine Archetype that these National Personifications are apparently running off – insofar, particularly, as the identification with the Mountain is made ‘front and center’ of the ‘character’ via direct incorporation into the frontspiece of the name.
And, more intriguingly still, the fact that this element is not easily found amidst the “stereotypical Viking” and “Nordic Warrior Maiden of Myth” trope-sets which may perhaps have informed some other contemporaneous and subsequent efforts at nationalist myth-making in this area. As it is quite plainly something which had fallen out of ‘prominence’ (while still being there, if you knew where to look – and could understand the poetry and symbolism involved – in the background) with Icelandic/Nordic ‘supernal’ [I hesitate to use the adjective ‘divine’ here – at least directly] female representations; and which, further, would have been rather unlikely (although admittedly, not *entirely* impossible – in some form of proto-pre-modern #NASlepathy/#NASlepati) to have been reintroduced from where this ‘Mountain’ element was still very much contemporary and alive, in the East.
Perhaps the Icelandic ‘myth-makers’ of the day were much more immersed in their own ancestral traditions than I am, perhaps, giving them credit for – it is certainly possible that we have lost a few things, and perhaps irrecoverably [at least in ‘verifiable’ terms] over the last quarter millennium which they might have had access to, and which would have made far more plain and explicit some of the connections we are only now able to rediscover with the aid of modern linguistics and other academic disciplines.
But there is another possibility; and one downright less Euhemeristic in ambit.
Jung’s “Wotan” essay argued that – whether one wished to approach this as elements in the ‘collective unconscious’ of the relevant (Germanic) people, or rather as an actual instance of the Divine ‘reaching back’ to ‘walk’ among us here in the then-present day [although ‘walk’ is the wrong verb entirely .. not even “wander” will do – the actual German verb, Ergreifen, to “seize”, is *far* closer to the mark!] – there nevertheless remained the very real probability of *other* such figures Who may not yet lie dormant turning up within our contemporary political life. I read a rather excellent piece (of semi-serious nature) some years ago now arguing that Trump might be a similar manifestation of Loki, for instance.
With that in mind, this “Lady of the Mountain” ‘character’ could very well, then, represent a relatively recent Indo-European psyche *itself* ‘reaching back’ to something vaguely remembered from its own past – and going rather beyond the perhaps initially intended “Late Viking Age” garbing to a point some several centuries or even millennia before.
I have my own suspicions that on some level, a lot of what we see and feel ‘resonant’ towards here in our 21st century ‘pop-culture’ and which ‘fires our imagination’ as a result, is functioning on something very much like this. Hence, comic-book characters in particular (including those not named “Thor”), as well as certain wildly successful political personas (I shall not name names, but I can almost instantly think of one female political leader worthy of mention who came to embody, in her respective country, the ‘warrior queen national embodiment’ archetype – as well as one other, rather more familiar to the Anglosphere, whom I would *not* consider deserving of mention in this regard) – they endure not necessarily due to the ‘power’ of their own stories, ‘in and of themselves’ [as remarkable and morally worthwhile as they might perhaps be], but rather because we ‘recognize’ in them something far older, more ‘ancient’, and ‘True’ [in the sense, to borrow a metaphor without meaning it er .. literallly, that a Platonic Archetype is more “Real” even than the real reifications/refractions of its ‘Form’ out here on the Material Plane]; and which would have, very much, felt ‘familiar’ to our ancestral forebears of those millennia ago.
Modernity is an historical tangent
Anyway, the ‘Modern’ phase above is something of a side-journey, a tangent. They are perhaps regardable as somewhat ‘cargo-cult’-ish endeavours to not so much “recover” something long ago lost, as to desperately conjure up a simulacrum which may or may not run on some vaguely similar blue-prints … yet due to a combination of a lack of/lost knowledge, as well as the insistent abhorrence of the truly Divine here in our contemporary society, is nevertheless only “two dimensional” and almost invariably not actually/really *genuinely* believed in, itself.
Rather like, now that I come to think about it, so many “nationalisms” which have run their course and burned out their fire here in the Post-Modern, Post-Meaning, “post-politics”, indeed “post-Nation-State”, apparently, Neoliberal Age. [There’s a Sanskrit phrase for this, too – and as applies the Yuga in question, it is most apt to note which *particular* Divinity has the supreme honour of the lead role in fighting back against same and eventually re-establishing Truth]
But I digress.
Bharat Mata is the strongest opposite of this. Part of that is because She is a *literal Deity*, and worshipped as one (rather than being a vague political allegory ‘dressed up’ in hand-me-down plenipotentiary panoply ransacked and rifled through from some previous culture of the same general area and imagined temperament). And this is, in and of itself, an inestimably important difference!
But the other part, rather more germane for the purposes of this article, perhaps, is that in direct contrast to the European examples – wherein the ‘National Personifications’ have been hastily (re-)constructed following quite substantial periods of ‘nothing’ – ; Bharat Mata is very much a ‘continuation’ of a long tradition of Durga and Her Aspects being regarded in this role of national patrons and protectors.
A grand example of which, which also happens to be roughly contemporaneous with the (re-)popularization (in *decidedly* different orientation – from conquered to conqueror) of ‘Britannia’, being the relationship of the Bhavani Aspect of Mata JI with the Marathas. I intend to consider this mythography in greater detail elsewhere at a subsequent date (perhaps timed to coincide with ShivaJi Jayanti); but suffice to say that Bhavani is regarded as having provided ShivaJi, the builder of the Maratha Empire, with both his Sword, as well as the accompanying Divine Mission to (re-)build Hindu Rashtra on the Subcontinent, at some point in the early-mid 1600s AD. And, following on from that, as an active force impelling the Marathas to victory over the Mughals and their lackeys.
Still, it is interesting to consider the perhaps ‘broader’ [this is also a theonymic pun] connotations replete in Sri Aurobindo Ghose’s words:
“Do you see this map? It is not a map, but the portrait of Bharat-Mata: its cities and mountains, its rivers and jungles form her physical body. All her children are her nerves, large and small. … Concentrate on Bharat as a Living Mother, worship Her with nine-fold Bhakti.”
Now, Aurobindo was not referring, as a point of interest, to this most beautiful Murti with which I have chosen to illustrate this article. The eponymous Mandir in Varanasi which houses that depiction of Bharat Mata would not be built for another thirty one years at the time he said this; with the “map” in question simply being one hanging on a class-room wall where he happened to be at the time. [Interestingly, at this point Aurobindo was *also* pointedly referring to the deified national personification of India as “Bhavani” – a name, indeed a theonym, you may recall from a few lines earlier in Maratha company.
I suppose, in a certain sense, this conception advanced so eloquently by Aurobindo , may bear resemblance not just to the ‘organicist’ conceptions of state (and ‘corporatist’ ideals of Nation) which we find in a number of political philosophies – but also to the operational ambit of “Gaia” in some strands of ‘deep ecology’ and the like.
The Nation, being, and Identity
Which handily brings this article back almost ‘full circle’, as it were, to the initial Indo-European conception of ‘Earth Mother’ with which we began.
Although at that point, I feel almost compelled to quote another heroic figure of the Swaraj Struggle – Bipin Chandra Pal, who pointedly noted “this geographical habitat of ours is only the outer body of the Mother. The earth that we tread on is not a mere bit of geological structure. It is the physical embodiment of the Mother. Behind this physical and geographical body, there is a Being, a Personality.”
The imputation of actual conscious *agency*, in addition – obviously – to Divinity, is what sets these conceptions of National Identity [that is to say, an Identity, *the* Identity, Who is also the Nation] apart from the ‘mere abstractions’ we might see in political-editorial cartoons and militarist recruitment posters. Although I would be entirely unsurprised to find out that somebody, somewhere, in America had set up a Temple to Uncle Sam – after all, there is a shrine to deified George Washington in a Shinto temple in Hawaii, if I recall.
Yet there is one final element of incredible importance which separates Bharat Mata JI (and other, comparable, figures of authentic Indo-European mythology and religious belief) from those aforementioned ‘cargo-cult’-ish efforts at artificially post-facto ‘filling in’ a ‘National Character’ (that is, again, to say, a Character who is also supposed to be the Nation) .
Some ways earlier in this piece, or, if not here, then certainly in my work elsewhere – I have been up literally through the night writing, with Dawn about to break; excellent metaphor for Independence aside, it is not the easiest to keep track of such details; I may have pointed out that there are two (and a half) commonly promulgated ‘derivation chains’ for the linguistics and mythography associated with these ‘Mountain Queen’ deities.
The first (and a half) of which, of course, I have put quite some fulsome effort into elaborating upon – that of the “Mountain” component, the “Earth” from whence it (un)Folds … and as an effective contingent upon this (hence why it is, perhaps, a “half”) , the Protective, the Defensive elements derived from same.
I shall not re-run the linguistics here.
Yet there is *another* side – again, non-exclusive, by my estimation .. at least in ‘all’ instances – which instead hinges around not just the ‘Female’ nature of the Goddess, but also the “emotive” (and, truth be told, such a depth of feeling, of perception, of essence – hardly seems appropriately encapsulated by a word more commonly utilized to describe our more day-to-day “human” and mundane-situative emotions; a ‘physical force’ , as well as a ‘metaphysical’ one is almost certainly more apt) gravity which this brings. Particularly, it has to be said, as applies the relationship between a man and his mother (not for nothing are the safest neighbourhoods in various parts of Southern Italy those in which the Mafia bosses’ Mothers live.
And not for nothing do the customary exchanges of insults based around the denigration of another man’s Mother provoke the most vicious responses from those whom they so righteously enrage) – but also, that existent between a Mother and Her Son … which can see otherwise ordinary women suddenly and spontaneously develop the strength which puts Olympic weightlifters to shame thanks to the adrenal-surge resultant from seeing Their progeny in danger.
The “protective” elements of these relationships, going both ways, are very much in evidence here (hence the *other* reason why it’s a “half” element – linguistics aside, it is near evenly split conceptually between both ‘standard’ chains of derivation); motivated, in each case, by a deep and primeval Love.
Now technically speaking, a number of the post-Proto-Indo-European words which spring instantly to mind here – ‘Priya’, and ‘Freyja’ being the foremost ones [no doubt due to #NAS] carry connotations of ‘love’ in a sense that is ‘romantic’ rather than ‘maternal’.
Yet however one chooses to look at it – whether emphasizing the Mother nature of the ‘Mountain Queen’ deities in question as context, and thus the mutually reinforcing bonds of familial, filial loyalty, nurturing, and protection existing therein; or, rather, take the different view which instead posits the ‘kernel’ as being more akin to a wife – a ‘beloved’ partner in an endeavour of life, with whom, and of whom, one is still fiercely protective of (and vice versa – seriously, it may not fit particularly well with some of the more chauvinistically inclined conceptions of such things, but the annals of Indo-European myth do not at all lack for ‘deadly’ wives fully capable of protecting their husbands and families) …
At the very core of our conception of Nation, and of National Deity, Goddess – is “love”.
“Patriotism”, some might call it – yet with the sure acknowledgement that the Nation, too, cares about us.
One final thought, though: for the devoted man in a relationship, and more especially for the ‘family man’ at all times, anyway – these female figures can very easily become the center of our lives. Indeed, it is not at all coincidental that we can find mythic ‘inferences’ for same – in cultures where the Axis Mundi of the universe (or of the Realm) is a Mountain (such as Olympus or Meru), we see these female deities identified with, and as, Mountains.
In Nordic culture, meanwhile, leaving aside the no doubt fascinating discursion I could write-up on the coterminous (arguable) origins of both Freyja/Frigg, various ‘mountainous’ terms, and also particularly *coniferous* trees [for the moment, the visual and slight phonetic similarity of the Fir Tree will have to do…], we should therefore find it absolutely unsurprising that the religion of the “World Tree” has numerous attestations for the Goddess in question *as* a “tree”.
In fact, I suppose you might say – with the often (deliberately) very hazy distinction between (the) ‘Earth’ and ‘Earth Mother’ (seriously – it’s literally the same word, Bhumi, in Sanskrit; a similar case can be made, if I recall, for “Jord” in Old Norse) , that these women can become “our whole world” (in a rather literal sense, come to think of it, as applies those aforementioned ‘Earth Mother’ archetypes).
And as relates to the Nation, a similar dynamic of course presents itself.
After all – what is more beloved or dear to a traditional man, other than his family (and wife), of course, than his Nation, his People, his Ethnos.(that which we have earlier correlated with his ‘settlement’, his ‘place to stand’)
So you see, these ‘two’ (and a half) dynamics – they are actually, really one …
Happy (Re-)Birth Day, Ma!
Curwen Ares Rolinson has endured almost a decade’s worth of experience at the highest levels of New Zealand Politics; serving as a prominent public face of left-nationalism in his home country before making the transition to political journalism and work in the PR field. His writing has been published in a wide array of outlets – ranging from his award-winning “Sex, Drugs & Electoral Rolls” magazine column, as well as the Official Gazette of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and of course the radically dangerous Fort Russ News.