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Monday, December 25, 2017

The Irminsul

Throughout the millennia, next to the Mjölnir and possibly even the Valknut, the Irminsul has taken a primary position among the most significant Germanic Heathen symbols. Though it is not a Rune, many Runers are aware of it, and even a bit of its mysterious history - a largely Continental/German one which sometimes sees it connected with the Sonnenrad. And in a few spots – particularly in Germany and Austria - it has generally supplanted the Mjölnir as a native pagan symbol, at least since the time of Guido von List.


Mjölnir, the Hammer of Thor

This advancement is more than a stylish decision: as it were, we can say that the symbol of life and strength, the Irminsul, is starting to supplant the symbol of battle, the war hammer. Does that imply that the Northern Tradition has moved to a phase of transcendent consciousness and that Heidevolk don’t need to battle as much as before? Perhaps, and perhaps not. What is more likely, is that we are now in a process of re-discovering a symbol that was largely obscured for many years, and that the various spiritual paths known as Asatru, Odinism, Forn sed and so on, actually had many more major symbols than just the Mjölnir - only in recent times has the Mjölnir become so over-emphasized in the popular imagination (and it is far from the only "warrior symbol" in Germanic Heathenry). The renewed interest in the Irminsul is really a renewed interest in the mysteries of the Odinic path, as it is generally seen as an Odinic, rather than Thoric, symbol, and thus has more esoteric and initiatic meanings – something that is not as easy to proscribe as a militaristic cultural resurgence against the modern morass of atomized consumerism.

In this season of Yul-Tag, which has been co-opted by a herder Church and more recently by consumerism, we may well ask for guidance and a return of the Irminsul to center-stage in the festivals of mid-winter as it was in the times of Old. Far better for Irminsul to be the center focus, than piles of plastic debt. Gifts to family in the times of Irmin's Rites, were simple and thoughtful. How low our world has been brought, that now this season has become for so many wayward children, a time of arrogance, petty materialistic squabbles, baseless character assassination, social media attacks, and pointless memetic feuding. How we need the simplicity of the “barbarian” past more than ever, in this backbiting era of the indolent and over-coddled “civilized”.

But what, truly, is the Irminsul? How much do we know about it for certain? And what did it mean to ancient Runers and Heathens?

By all surviving accounts, this “Irmin Pillar” was a very holy site to many Germanic tribes. It is likely that there was more than one sacred Irminsul in the vast range of lands that the Germanic presence covered.

The Irminsul was a Germanic pagan pillar-like structure that towered over the landscape. The structure played an important role in the spiritual ceremonies of the Saxons, and probably other tribes as well. The oldest chronicle describing an Irminsul refers to it as a tree trunk erected in the open air. The purpose of this tree trunk and its metaphysical meanings have been the subject of considerable scholarly disagreement and well-meaning speculation for decades.

The Irminsul is perhaps one the least understood, though most significant, holy images to the Germanic Heathen - serving throughout the ages as the primary, central figure in Germanic votive celebrations - this is especially well-documented among the Saxons, though certainly not limited to them. Representations of a forked pillar or tree survive from as early as the Northern or Germanic Bronze Age which clearly predates that of the Saxons, and similarities or parallels in cultic symbols or glyphs from other, non-Germanic Indo-European cultures. This lends credence to the expression of the Irminsul or “Arman-Zal” far beyond that of the early Saxons alone, though it certainly may be argued that the representation or image of Irminsul most commonly seen today is that which was best preserved or remembered (in its distinguished form) among the Saxons.  

The 'Irmin Pillar' was the symbol of the Saxon people before Christianization. As a result, it was one of the first targets of Charlemagne's forced conversion campaigns, along with a living tree known as Thor's Oak – the Frankish emperor knew that by destroying their most sacred monuments and shrine-trees, he could symbolize the humiliation and crushing of the soul of the Saxons, and strike terror into the hearts of even Saxon children who may never have had the chance to participate in any of the ceremonies at these sites, but only heard of them.


The Franks:

One of the original contemporary sources on the Saxon Irminsul was that of Charlemagne's own propagandists. The “Royal Frankish Annals” record that in 772 CE, the emperor ordered his army to destroy a gigantic pillar called 'Irminsul', which was described as being located near the town of Heresburg, a town now known as Obermarsberg, in North Rhine-Westphalia. Jakob Grimm mentioned in 1882 that the Irminsul was likely in the nearby Teutoberg forest, some 24km distant from Heresburg1. This forest, as it turns out, was itself sacred to the Saxons, and other Germanic tribes as well. It was the region where centuries earlier, Quintilius Varus and his doomed legions had been destroyed by Hermann the Cherusker (Arminius), legendary hero of Germanic freedom. It was also here that the blessings of Tyr were said to be on the head of any man killed in battle or duel, as Teutoberg, like the term Teuton itself (and subsequently Teutsch, or Deutsch) was derived from Tuis-To or Tiwaz-Tyr, the god of battle. Centuries later it was a sacred area for a multitude of reasons.

This Irminsul is described as a pillar, though it is sometimes illustrated as a tree. Either way, it is generally acknowledged that such holy pillars did represent trees in ancient Germanic Heathenry.

A decade later, in 782 CE, Charlemagne returned. Hearing rumors of unrest in the region due to the destruction of their sacred site, he resolved to crush the Saxons once and for all. Some 4,500 Saxon leaders are said to have been beheaded under his orders for practicing their indigenous Germanic paganism, having officially, albeit under duress, converted to Christianity and undergone baptism. The river Aller was said to have been flowing red with their blood. Charlemagne's motives were to demonstrate his absolute rule over men's souls as well as their bodies, and the severity of punishment for any rebellion, even a spiritual one. The massacre happened in the Teutoberg forest, near the town of Verden. It was known as the Bloody Verdict of Verden.

The effect was that the Saxons lost virtually their entire tribal leadership and were henceforth largely governed by Frankish counts installed by Charlemagne. The Saxon leader, Jarl Widukind, had escaped to his in-laws in Denmark, but soon returned to lead his people, as real military rebellions rose up in revenge for the sacrilege and the murders. In 785, Widukind, along with his remaining people, was forced to convert to Christianity by Charlemagne, and allegedly did so, outwardly at least, to prevent any more bloodbaths. At this point, the Franks are believed to have largely stopped their destruction of sacred trees, as the Saxons outwardly abandoned their group veneration of them, which may have served to protect such trees. They likely continued to secretly visit such trees in smaller numbers.

In the 20th century, commemorative stones were set up around the fork in the old forest road where the massacre is said to have taken place. Each stone is said to represent one of the the Saxon chiefs who were murdered. The installation took place in 1935 under the supervision of architect Wilhelm Hübotter and was sponsored by the local authorities, though it was met with some controversy on the national level. The Third Reich, at least in later years, officially praised Charlemagne in state-sponsored history books as a great unifier of Europe's "First Reich", and even named a French-volunteer Waffen-SS division after him - for the official state organs, the Massacre of Verden was an inconvenient bygone of the primitive past, to be forgotten rather than memorialized. In the early 1930s, some NSDAP leaders had criticized Charlemagne and labeled him "the butcher of Verden", insisting that history books be revised to honor the slain of Saxony, not the Frankish crusader-emperor. However, later that decade the national mood began to change. As the stance of socialist and Versailles-Treaty-created states became more hostile to fair trade with Germany, inching towards war at the behest of their international bondholders, Hitler was looking for outside support, not just from Italy, but from anti-Bolshevik parties and factions across Europe. Most of these, such as the Rexists and the Iron Guard, were conservative Christian organizations, for whom Charlemagne was a legend, and the Medieval Saxon wars seemed little more than a provincial conflict. Christianity had won, therefore the majority European view of the emperor's role in history was to be the one adopted.

But many German nationalists disagreed, considering the Massacre of Verden to be a French humiliation, much like the Treaty of Versailles. The empire of Charlemagne, they contested, was not a native German Reich in any sense, but a foreign-imposed colonial regime ruled from France and bound by the fanatical (and anti-Germanic) dogma of the Roman church. Major figures in the Germanic cultural revival also unsuccessfully tried to get the official stance repealed. The surviving followers of Guido von List, such as S.A. Kummer, argued that Charlemagne should not be given any sort of official veneration, as he was, in List's words, the "murderer of Saxons". Though Kummer and other Armanists ended up being arrested or driven underground due to Karl Maria Wiligut's influence on Heinrich Himmler, it is worth mentioning that even some in Himmler's inner circle disapproved of the Reich's official praise of Charlemagne as literally "Karl the Great". Wilhelm Teudt referred to it as a "cultural genocide". Hermann Gauch, Himmler's adjutant for culture, proposed that Charlemagne should be renamed "Karl the slaughterer" instead of "Karl the Great". Beyond the SS, Reich historian Alfred Rosenberg stated that it was Widukind, not Karl, who should be called "The Great". This opinion was overruled by conservatives like Göring, Rust and Lammers, who preferred to leave the Christian consensus in place and Germany's religious past alone.

The Monk:

Another account is provided by Benedictine monk Rudolf of Fulda around 865 CE in his Latin hagiography, On the Miracles of St. Alexander. Rudolf confirms that the Irminsul was indeed a colossal wooden pillar carved from a tree trunk, though he claims it was erected not in a forest, but beneat the open sky, and revered as a sort of celestial tentpole. He translates Irminsul as “All-sustaining pillar”, which may be a bit distorted, though if it were Har-man-sul, it would be a moren accurate Runic translation.

The Saxon Chronicler:

After the Saxons had been largely converted to the Catholic Church, one of their own, Widukind of Corvey (not to be confused with the legendary Jarl Widukind who fought Charlemagne's armies) wrote a chronicle of his people known as Deeds of the Saxons, in which it is implied that multiple Irminsuls were erected in different locations, also mentioning that an “eagle” (probably a wooden statue of an eagle) was erected nearby. This may be related to the wing-like structures on the top of the Irminsul as depicted today – and perhaps even be a symbol of the unnamed “Eagle of Yggdrasil”, a manifestation of the Odinic consciousness across all worlds the bird views. Widukind recorded:

"When morning was come they set up an eagle at the eastern gate, and erecting an altar of victory they celebrated appropriate rites with all due solemnity, according to their ancestral superstition: to the one whom they venerate as their God of Victory they give the name of Mars, and the bodily characteristics of Hercules, imitating his physical proportion by means of wooden columns, and in the hierarchy of their gods he is the Sun, or as the Greeks call him, Apollo. From this fact the opinion of those men appears somewhat probable who hold that the Saxons were descended from the Greeks, because the Greeks call Mars Hirmin or Hermes, a word which we use even to this day, either for blame or praise, without knowing its meaning."

While this passage at first seems rather confused, as the names of Mars, Hercules, Apollo and Hermes were foreign to the Saxons, when you dig deeper and understand what the symbolism of these Greco-Roman Gods meant to medieval historians as highly simplified reductionist archetypes of classical Greco-Roman religion, the apparently contradictory passage makes more sense. A few points:

First of all, “God of Victory” in Germanic languages consistently is rendered as the Runic name Sig-Tyr, or Sieg-Tiwar in the continental forms. This title is consistently used only for Odin in the Eddas, so this is a strong indication that the Irminsul is Odinic in its symbolism.

Second, the claim that the ancient Saxons called him “Mars” is due to a confusion of Mars with his Greek equivalent, Ares, whose pronunciation in classical Greek was a high-A sound (as in Argon, not Ersatz), which brings “Ares” very close to “Hár” in sound – to earlier Christian historians, who were also trained in the Greek and Latin classics, Hár was likely confused with Ares, and thus sometimes written down as Mars in the predominantly Latin scholarship of the day. Hár, as we know, is among the most commonly used of Odin's names, meaning “the Highest”. Ares/Mars is of course the God of War in the Greco-Roman tradition, so finding some way to connect him with the Germanic God of Victory – even indirectly through conflating Ares with Hár, a name which does not relate to Odin's warrior aspect – was something that both Romans and later Christian authors would have found convenient, however inaccurate it may actually be.

Third, the mention of Saxons giving the God of Victory the “bodily characteristics of Hercules” may be an allusion to the root of the word Irminsul itself. Irmin-sul means “pillar of Irmin”, and Irmin himself, a name closely linked with the esoteric Arman, is also rendered as Jörmunr in Old Norse, which means “Mighty” or “Cosmically Vast”. This attribute of cosmic strength immediately brings to mind Hercules in the Greco-Roman classical tradition, who at the time of Widukind of Corvey, was more familiar to the Christianized and Latin-educated German scribes than their own ancestors' Gods. Thus it is not all that strange how Irmin or Jörmunr, as a signifying strength, could be translated into Latin as “Hercules” or understood as such – even though in terms of the cosmology and archetypal role, Odin is not all that similar to Hercules. Thor or Heimdall would be make a better comparison.

Fourth, Widukind of Corvey mentions that the Saxons represented the god's “physical proportion” by means of wooden columns – which should not be taken too literally as “proportions” in our modern sense, but perhaps their great height was a symbolic indicator of “Vastness” as the name Irmin or Jörmunr implies.

Fifth, Widukind mentions that the Saxons' God of Victory is held in their pantheon to be in the position of the Sun. Yet while he tacks on the Greek personification of the Sun as Apollo, it turns out that for early Teutons and Saxons, their understanding of the Sun was very different than the Greek one. For the Greeks of the Classical Period, Apollo was tertiary in importance to Zeus and the local city's patron God or Goddess (though for the Archaic Aryo-Greek period before the Pelasgian invasion, the titan Kronos had been dominant, not Zeus). For the later Norse eras (Vendel and Viking), the Sun seems to also have taken a subordinate backseat to most of the Gods in cosmology as the feminine Sunna, held as more or less equal with the masculine moon or Mani. But for the earlier Continental Germanic tradition, this does not seem to have been the case. The Sun was front and center in their rituals as their solar henges or “Halgadoms” indicate, and their early use of the Fylfot or Fire-whisk as a burning symbol of the Winter Solstice reflects the essentially Solar nature of old Germanic spirituality. The Sun was not a lesser deity for the Ur-Germans, or even their Saxon descendants – it was in Primal Position, an elemental principle perhaps even higher than the Gods, hence why it is embodied as a Rune – the mighty Sig or Sol rune – and for the early Rune-masters, the Runes were held to be higher powers than even the Aesir – they were, literally, the Gods of the Gods, energies which even made Odin greater than he had been without them.

Sometimes the Irminsul is reconstructed with a solar-cross,
representing the "fire-whisk" at top, instead of wing-like branches.

It is then no surprise that the popular notion of Odin being connected with the Sun, and more recently with the revived Sonnenrad symbol, was well-known folk knowledge, even among later generations of post-conversion Saxons who may not have been totally sure how Odin could be both a Sun-God and also a Germanic “Ares” at once.

Sixth, though Widukind is wrong about his people being descended from Greeks, the relation of the name Hermes with Irmin may actually have a viable esoteric (if not necessarily linguistic) basis. Hermes, though a relatively minor figure in the Greek pantheon, is nonetheless associated with wisdom, strategy and curiosity, which are major Odinic qualities. Indeed many Roman chroniclers like Tacitus contended that the Germanic tribes worshiped “Mercury” or Hermes foremost among all Gods, by which he probably meant that their chief God is a God of Wisdom and exploration. This almost certainly points to Odin/Wotan having already been the King of Asgard in the mythos of Migration-Age Germanic tribes, despite academic claims that he only became known as such later on and that Tyr held that position in those early times. However it must be pointed out that, as in all cases of Greco-Roman 'comparative religion', the conflation of Odin with Mercury or Hermes is extremely misleading. The two are nothing alike in most aspects, particularly with Hermes being more of a mischievous errand-boy and sometime-gadfly on Olympus, than a great leader like Odin is in Asgard; Hermes is also considered a patron of herdsmen and professional thieves, which are certainly not Odinic or even Aryan attributes. It is certainly possible, however, that Hermes or Hermenos was originally a much more Odin-like figure in Archaic (Aryan) Greece, when the Titans were said to have walked among men, and that it was only the pastoral Iron-Age Pelasgian invasion that retconned him into a lesser god of errands and trickery, from which Classical Greek cosmology followed.

Nonetheless it is no surprise that the popular notion of Odin being connected with curiosity, wisdom and exploration, and with winged helmets (which, though not directly attested in surviving Germanic Lore or artifacts, does have other Indo-European analogues) may have led to him being confused with Hermes by Romans, and even among post-conversion Saxons who may not have been totally sure how Odin could be a Sun-God, and a Germanic “Ares”, and also a Germanic “Hermes” all at once.

Of course the fact that Wotan in the Germanic worldview is a greater, more multi-faceted and more mysterious being than either Ares or Hermes, is something perhaps incomprehensible to the classical Greek or Roman, who tended to compartmentalize Gods by limited roles, as opposed to recognizing greater overarching energies and archetypes in their natures. Odin/Wotan is a master of all situations, though this happened through many incarnations and sacrifices; thus he has practical and noble (though not legalistic) responses to seemingly all challenges, though in some cases these may force the apprentice to completely rethink his own naive impression of what Nobility and God-Nature truly are.

The top of the Irminsul is often identified with an Eagle.
The Eddas also mention a great Eagle watching the Nine Worlds from the top of Yggdrasil.

The Local Bishops:

In the reign of Louis the Pious in the 9th century CE, a stone column was dug up at Obermarsberg in Westphalia – the same location mentioned by the Frankish Annals as being the site of the Saxon Irminsul. This column was relocated to the cathedral in Hildesheim, Lower Saxony, and was reportedly then used as an outdoor candelabrum for Candlemass until at least the late 19th century – which indicates that the pillar, like its modern depictions, must have had some sort of “arms” at the top which could mount multiple candles. Whether the Church authorities at Hildesheim cathedral were aware of this column's likely Heathen status as an Irminsul, is unknown. Candlemass falls on February 2, which was originally the date of the Dísablót or Disting in Germanic Heathenry, the rite of the Dísir (Goddesses and female ancestors and spirits). The Celts referred to this day as “Imbolc” and gave it many of the same connotations, though with differing rituals. Bears would emerge from hibernation at this time, and among both cultures the emerging mother bear, with her newborn cubs, was associated with the February festival. Names associated with both bears and new birth, such as the Norse Bjorn, Bjarnum, Bjork – which also is linked with the Birch tree as symbol of rebirth – as well as the Celtic Brigid, Birgitta, etc. were often given to children born at this time of year.

Dísablót on its surface does not appear to have any connection with Odin or the Irminsul – and yet, without Dísir of various sorts, many of Odin's initiatic journeys would not make sense. Odin alone among the Gods confronted and defied the Norns, who are sometimes considered as cosmic Dísir. Odin raises the Volva of the Dead, and also trades Runic knowledge in exchange for Seidhr-knowledge with Freyja, the great Vana-Dís herself. In addition, if Dísir are taken to mean specifically female ancestors, one also cannot ignore Odin's very intimate role in turning mere maidens into true Dísir, some of whose blood descendants, if the Sagas are to be taken to heart, are still alive today. Odin the Lover is a facet of Allfather too often ignored by both academics and many modern Heidevolk.

Hildesheim cathedral

Another Christian ritual involving the Irminsul took place at Hildesheim cathedral, though not involving the actual stone pillar from Obermarsberg. This ritual was one invented by local Churchmen purely to poison the minds of the Saxons against their own ancestors, by re-enacting the destruction of the Irminsul by Charlemagne as a festive celebration on the Saturday after Rose Sunday.

The “celebration” was reportedly done by planting two poles six feet high, each topped with a wooden pyramid or a cone – since by this late period any idea of the Irminsul's true crowning top was forgotten, and as dictated by Church tradition, it was assumed that all “pagan” sacred objects were in some way associated with Egypt, pyramids, obelisks, and so forth. Young boys then used sticks and stones to knock over the poles. This custom was also promoted by Church officials elsewhere in Germany, particularly in Halberstadt where it was enacted on the day of Rose Sunday by the Canons themselves.1

The Hohenstaufens:

Konrad III Hohenstaufen, a German king of Swabian ancestry who rose to rule the “Holy Roman” Empire, commissioned a vast “Kaiser-Chronicle” in 1146, to document Roman and German history from Julius Caesar up until the rise of the Hohenstaufen dynasty and his own reign. The unknown author compiled this book in Regensburg in the late 1140s, from a smattering of earlier sources, some of which evidently mentioned the Irminsul so casually that one may understand it to have persisted as a common symbol in the folk-consciousness of not merely Saxons, but all Germans, even up to the High Middle Ages.

Regarding the meaning of Wednesday, or Wotanstag:

"On an Irminsul - stands an enormous idol - which they call their merchant."2

This is an unusual reference considering that nowhere else is the Irminsul known to have an “idol” on top of it, and the label of “merchant” also seems odd – until you realize that the Irminsul's wing-like branches resemble the winged Caduceus, which, though sometimes associated with medicine (due to its confusion with the rod of Aesculapius), was originally a Hermes/Mercury-connected symbol of commerce and trade. Though the Germanic tribes honored Irmin/Wotan, not Hermes, nonetheless the resemblance of the Irminsul to the Cadeceus (as well as its serpentine/spinal connotations, which are to be discussed elsewhere) hints at a common Indo-European origin for both symbols, with trade and prosperity being one of the alternate meanings of the Irminsul. This wing-like structure at its top, and not a literal statue, was likely the “idol” mentioned.



The Kaiser-Chronicle also mentioned an Irminsul in connection with, oddly enough, Julius Caesar:

"The Romans slew him treacherously - and buried his bones in an Irminsul."3

While Caesar's ashes were indeed originally buried under a great stone pillar in Rome, an anti-Caesar faction soon toppled it, after which the faction of Octavian (Augustus) defeated them and built a gigantic funerary temple to house Caesar's remains. There is no reason to believe that the original pillar was in any sense an Irminsul; perhaps the chronicler is merely applying the Irminsul, as symbol of Irmin/Wotan's own self-sacrifice and return, to the Roman custom of deifying Caesar with a sacred pillar.

Concerning Nero during his German campaign:

"He climbed upon an Irminsul - the peasants all bowed before him."4

It is not immediately clear how one can climb “upon” an Irminsul without the aid of stairs, ropes, or built-in handgrips, and not risk a deadly fall. It may be possible that Nero merely climbed onto a wider pedestal which had a stone Irminsul mounted on top of it, rather than the top of the Irminsul itself. The theory of extremely large Irminsuls with internal spiral staircases is unlikely.

The Connection with Thor's Oak:

Sacred trees were well-known in Germanic and many other Indo-European cultures. The first man and woman to be given true sense and consciousness, Aske and Embla, were made from trees by Vili-Ve-Wotan, much as in the Iranian legend of Mashya and Mashyana being given form by Vayu-Vata from trees. What is less well-known, is whether the Irminsul was also represented by living trees, rather than wood or stone pillars, in Germanic sacred sites. Though Wotan's Irminsuls seem to have all been either dead wood or carved stone, it is possible that live trees were also connected with him.

After all, not only is Odin/Wotan known as Jörmunr or Irmin, the Mighty – but also as Yggr, the Terrible One (Avestan cognate = Yangham, the Great Cataclysm), in recognition of his reputation as exacting terrible and unpredictable revenge on ignoble Jotuns. And thus, the World Tree itself is called Yggdrasil, a kenning which means Yggr's Steed. Thus, the inescapable conclusion that Irminsul, the winged Pillar of the Mighty, is itself a representation of that infinite central Pillar of the universe, Yggdrasil itself. Indeed, in the Armanen tradition, it is widely accepted that the Irminsul is, exoterically at least, a representational of YggdrasilYggdrasil itself is described in both the Poetic and Prose Eddas as an Ash tree, though this is likely metaphorical, as Yggdrasil is the branching superstructure of the universe itself; nonetheless the shape of an ash tree, though different from Irminsul, is an apt metaphor for the gnarled branches of the universe's vast filaments of galaxies, gas, and enrgy, and was probably associated with Odin/Wotan himself. Thus, it is likely that some living sacred trees also were connected with Wotan. 

But the famous “Donar's Oak” or Thor's Oak, was not one of them. Sacred trees and groves were extremely common in Indo-European cultures. Trees in general were never limited to association with any one particular God, though specific trees and species of trees could be. Thus there may have been multiple Thor's Oaks in different tribal regions, multiple Odin's Ash trees, Frigg's Elm trees, Freyr's Maple trees, Freyja's Yew trees, and so forth. In Germany, the name of the Goddess Berchta herself is derived from, among other meanings, the Birch tree – symbol of fertility and rebirth. But as with the Irminsul, direct Lore-context from actual ancient Heathen tribes is erased from history. These sacred trees were all destroyed as thoroughly as the rites of the Gothar and Vitkar that tended them, and the surviving Armanen who took much of this knowledge underground were not seen again until the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Thor's Oak was a tree sacred to the people of Hesse, near the Frankish borderlands. This was the ancestral homeland of the Brothers Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm themselves, to whom we owe not just the famous children's fairy-tales of essentially Medieval German origin, but also a series of core books on Germanic culture and the more adult Lore of pre-Christian times.

It may be tempting to assume from this appellation of the tree, that the Hessians were mostly Thorsmen rather than Odinsmen – though it could be that Thor's Oak was one of many sacred trees dedicated to multiple Gods in Hesse, and the fate of the others has not come down to us. Thor's Oak was not the Irminsul, nor is there any indication that the two were interchangeable. But as so few accounts of sacred trees, pillars, stelae and the like survive regarding the Germanic tribes, historians have understandably often compared the two.

Donar was the name of Thor in western German and Frisian dialects. The Saxons, who migrated across Germany several times, knew him as Thunor or Thunearr. The great Hessian Oak tree itself was apparently a site of offerings and sacrifices to Donar, who due to the association with thunder, was identified by the syncretistic Romans as Jupiter or Jove. This mistaken renaming carried forward into Christian accounts of the tree's destruction, where it was called “Jupiter's Oak”.

The most famous of these writings is Bishop Willibald's Life of St. Boniface, which describes, in rather fantastical terms, the violent attack of the fabled saint upon the ways of the Hessians and their sacred tree some time after 720 CE, roughly half a century before Charlemagne wrecked the Irminsul:

Now at that time many of the Hessians, brought under the Catholic faith and confirmed by the grace of the Sevenfold Sacraments, received the laying on of hands; others indeed, not yet strengthened in soul, refused to accept in their entirety the lessons of the inviolate faith. Moreover some were inclined secretly, some openly, to make sacrifices to trees and springs; some in secret, others openly practiced autopsies and divinations, legerdemain and incantations; some turned their attention to auguries and auspices and various sacrificial rites; while others, with sounder minds, abandoned all the profanations of heathenism, and committed none of these things.

With the advice and counsel of these last ones, the saint attempted, in the place called Gaesmere, while the servants of God stood by his side, to fell a certain oak of extraordinary size, which is called, by an old name of the pagans, the Oak of Jupiter. And when in the strength of his steadfast heart he had cut the lower notch, there was present a great multitude of pagans, who in their souls were earnestly cursing the enemy of their gods. But when the fore side of the tree was notched only a little, suddenly the oak's vast bulk, driven by a blast from above, crashed to the ground, splintering its crown of branches as it fell; and, as if by the gracious compensation of the Most High, it was also burst into four parts, and four trunks of huge size, equal in length, were seen... At this sight the pagans who before had cursed, now on the contrary believed, and blessed the Lord, and put away their former reviling. Then moreover the most holy bishop, after taking counsel with the brethren, built from the timber of the tree the town's wooden oratory, and dedicated it in honor of Saint Peter the apostle.

The location of this alleged event, and of the oak itself, has been debated. The town of Gaesmere, or Geismar, has never been pinned down as there are many small towns and villages in Hesse with this name. Nonetheless it can be understood that in Willibald's time its correct location was well-known. It is more likely that the tree was felled and quartered into four pieces by Boniface's soldiers – Boniface at the time was a missionary bishop with a small army of Church-sponsored Frankish mercenaries to “convince” Germanic tribes to accept the new religion.

Not coincidentally, both Boniface and Willibald were Anglo-Saxon men born in England, at a time when it had been fully Christianized, but Germany had still not been. Their Saxon language would have been similar to continental German dialects; at the time, the Church used these evangelizing Anglo-Saxon priests as convenient “native agents” who were judged more useful than Frankish priests when it came to dividing and conquering their German kin who were still Heathen. In this context, the attacks of the Vikings against Anglo-Saxon monasteries start to make some real political sense – the Norse and Danes were not unaware of the crimes of Christian missionaries in Germania, with the Danes bordering Saxon lands - and their well-developed trade networks also made them far more aware of information regarding both the Franks and the Anglo-Saxons than mainstream history often assumed. The Vikings would have known that the Monks of England were not as innocent as all that.

The Sacred Tree of Great Uppsala:

Much has been said about the Irminsul and Thor's Oak, and it is known that a gigantic sacred tree, usually rumored to be an Ash (though some recent interpreters claim it was probably a Yew), was also present near the great hall at Gamla Uppsala in its time as the center of Heathen Sweden. Whether it was dedicated to a particular deity is unknown. Indeed, almost nothing is known about it for certain other than it being a tree of near-legendary size, and possibly being involved in some of the Norse sacrifice rites mentioned by Adam of Bremen in his rather grisly fashion.

This great tree may have been seen as a symbol of Yggdrasil in microcosm, but even this is not certain, though it may be a recurring motif with all such sacred trees. None of them were actually Yggdrasil, nor is it likely that any ancient Heathens literally believed they were - and yet they all still represented Yggdrasil in some tangible way, even those not connected with Odin.

At this point there is not much more that can be said about the Great Tree of Uppsala. There is no trace of it left in the ground, nor are there any true eyewitness accounts of its appearance.



According to some Esoteric Runers, including (allegedly) a fair number of Armanists, the original holy pillar known as Irminsul was not near Obermarsberg, as the Frankish Annals claim, but rather stood near the giant Odinic sanctuary of the Externsteine, a set of giant natural rock formations which stand near the city of Horn-Bad-Meinberg. It must be admitted that these two proposed locations, however, are not very far apart, as both are in Westphalia, which was only a small part of Saxon domains.

Originally Horn-Bad-Meinberg was two small towns – Horn, and Bad Meinberg, which later merged. The closer of these two to Externsteine is the town of Horn (whose name itself is said to be derived from the shape of the Irminsul – whose curving crown-branches appear like horns). The Christian invaders bemoaned this “horned pillar” as a devilish sign, and tried everything to undermine or besmirch it, yet the local tribes held fast to their holy symbol and refused to give it up. The story traditionally told is that in the nearby locale of Verden, Charlemagne promised the Saxon chiefs peace and an end to his incursions, only to smuggle weapons inside the Great Hall where the peace was to be negotiated, whereupon he slaughtered them unarmed in the hall. Later, Charlemagne destroyed the Oak of Thor, as well as the Irminsul at Externsteine (though some tales say he left this task to one of his bishops, who was given his own small army with which to torment the pagans).

Some generations later, the brutal forced conversions and massacres of Verden and the rest of Saxony were memorialized in a strange and somewhat macabre, almost Boschian relief carving in the side of the Externsteine stones. This relief depicts two Germanic deities being sidelined by a gigantic Christian cross, and both weeping tears of sorrow, as a dispassionate resurrected Jesus (oddly enough, holding a pagan Teutonic sun-cross standard) points down at the fate of the local people below. Some of them are missing arms and legs, and yet still shuffling along as if to some higher cause. The Irminsul itself, however, appears not to be broken or amputated, but actually bending down, bowing – to a figure holding a book, who is either a second, earthly depiction of Christ, or a bishop acting in his name. Some archaeologists identify this figure with Nicodemus, though this is conjecture.

Thus, this bizarre sculpture depicts the Paulian prophecy that “Every living thing will acknowledge Christ as Lord, and every knee shall bend” - with the Irminsul itself literally bending, and made very small (whereas by all accounts the real thing was unquestionably huge). And even though this carved relief appears to glorify Christianity, on the other hand it shows the human subjects of this submission to the new faith as being mangled and maimed beyond all hope of dignity and wholeness. True, the kingdom of the Church has won this battle – it mad the “prophecy” come true in Europe by force – but at what cost? The very soul of the Germanic folk, symbolized by the once-mighty amputees carrying each other's corpses beneath the shadow of that bloody cross, has been mutilated with wounds that may never heal, til the Sun claims us all once more. That, at least, is the hidden message of pagan protest that this ostensibly Christian carving is secretly trying to tell us. The makers of this image clearly had problems with the Church's Brave New World.

More recently, this carving has been used as the original source for modern esoteric depictions of the Irminsul (unbent, of course). This is how we know what it truly looked like for the Saxons. While there has been some condemnation of this esoteric view from the official academia, who tend to deny that this is indeed an Irminsul, in reality there are too many connections to allow us to simply dismiss this unusual “bent tree” as anything else. There is the Kaiser-Chronicle reference to a pillar commerce, the traditional Roman identification of Wotan with Hermes (and thus the Caduceus, staff of commerce), and the pillar-like trunk and caduceus-like “wings” of the Irminsul depicted at Externsteine. The serpent-symbolism of the Caduceus is also particularly telling, as it carries not one but two serpents twisted around its shaft. There are two great cosmic dragons or serpents connected with the World Tree in Germanic Lore – Nidhogg (the Devourer of the Cursed) and Jörmungandr (the staff or “wand” of Jörmunr – in other words, of Irmin, or Odin!)

Irminsul with the two serpents, by Voenix

On an esoteric level, the deeper symbolic meanings of the Caduceus and of Yggdrasil/Irminsul and its serpents, are one and the same! This is Wotan's pillar of Wisdom and Sacrifice, the Steed of Irmin, the repository of the timeless and eternal Runes, the wings/branches of prosperity, in whose boughs are nestled the ever-living realms of Asgard and Vanaheim, and the nest of the great Eagle. Thus the shape of these branches, or “horns” or “wings” resonates not only with the Caduceus, but also with the wings of that great Eagle, which was and is eternally an emblem of Allfather, even above the Ravens. The Eagle as emblem of Vayu-Vata, goes back to the very beginnings of Aryan blood-memory and consciousness, long before currently recorded history - and became the national herald and banner for a whole multitude of Aryan-descended Kings, from Cyrus the Great, to the 14th Jain Tirkanthar, Anatanatha, to Marbod the Brave, to Sigurd Hring, and even the pre-Republican monarchs of Rome.

Eagle flag of Cyrus the Great.
Notice the "Arising, Being, and Passing Away" Solar symbolism?

On a yet deeper esoteric level, the Irminsul represents the spine and soul-complex of the Runer as a model of Yggdrasil in microcosm, and its complete form would have also included two winding serpents similar to a Caduceus, but with one spiraling up around the trunk, and one spiraling down, both symbolizing the circulation of Od-force.

The upward-moving serpent, Nidhogg, represents the coiled Natterkraft, at the base of the spine, which the Indo-Aryans termed “Kundalini” - this energy seeks to move up and empower the body by devouring its ignoble impurities or regressive karma (known to Armanists as degenerate karma or enkarma) and manifesting noble, focused karma, known as Garma – a term signifying both Odin's Spear (Gar or Gungnir), and spiritual heat and vitality. It is this same Garma that ancient Aryans symbolically revived each Yul-Tag or Yalda with the jumping over fire, a symbol of Wotan's fire-whisk and the renewal of that Ur-fyr of noble excellence, health and exploration. Nearly all Indo-European cultures retain a winter fire festival to some extent as a result of this, and nearly all involve some form of invocation to the fire to “remove my sickly yellow (bile, phlegm), and give me your virile red hue!”

The downward-moving serpent is Jörmungandr - it is the downward flow of frustrated or wasted Od-force always seeking to sink its head down to the lowest depths of base instincts to be reborn upward, though Thor/Thunar/Vire-Thuragna – embodying the Will - is seeking to control and guide it to constructive ends even on its chaotic way down, by violence if need be. The Raden, or Chakras (in Armanenschaft, there are nine of them, not merely the seven retained by the Hindu traditions) are spiritual-somatic wheels or gatehouses in the Lich (earthly spirit-body) that must be opened to allow steady circulation of the two serpent energies.

Irminsul with the nine Raden or Chakras

Irminsul is thus both the symbol of Yggdrasil, and of the spine and Raden of the Lich. It is also both an eagle-symbol and a serpent-symbol, which in Aryan diffusion theory is a central part of understanding of the early influence on worldwide solar cultures far from Indo-European lands.

The entire discipline of Stadhagaldr, or Rune-Yoga in the Armanen tradition, is ultimately based around using the resonant rune-forms as body postures to refine and control these serpentine flows of Od-force up and down the spine of the Lich. Where Indian Yoga schools use the basic “sitting yogi” diagram to map the chakras and the spinal energy flow, Rune-Yoga uses the Irminsul, for man is Yggdrasil in microcosm – this is the symbolic meaning of the Edda when it says Aske and Embla were created from trees. It is indeed the World Tree whose essence they were taken from, and it lives in us now. The Aesir descend from Buri who grew out of Ginnungagap, the Jotuns descend from Ymir who also grew out of Ginnungagap. Humans grew out of Yggdrasil which is a mix of Ymir's flesh and the Aesir's minds and will – thus there is both an Asa and a Jotun within us. The purpose of the Runic path is to refine the Asa-nature, and as the Jotun-nature will never be fully eliminated, to form it into a type that corresponds to Asa-nature, as one can say of some of the rare noble Jotnar like Aegir, Ran, Skadi, etc.

The aim of herder religions, is to wipe out or bury this consciousness by any means possible, so that no alternative is left to their pastoralist orthodoxy - an archetype in which the only types left open to us to inhabit would be the coercive Baugi and his desperate thralls, wastefully draining the life out of nature to hoard nourishment for a few, leaving a dead, barren, smoldering world like much of Jotunheim.

In Germany, the Franks not only attempted to stamp out Runes and even their orthographic use, but also were rumored (in esoteric circles anyway) to have burned any flammable artifacts relating to Runes, and killed anyone who practiced Runic ceremonies or exercises. About a century after Charlemagne's destruction, a uniquely anti-Aesir “Saxon baptismal vow” intended for the local populace, was written down in western Saxony, near Franconia. Later, the manuscript was kept in a library in the city of Mainz, and now resides in the Vatican as part of Codex Pal. 577. The vow reads as follows:

I renounce the devil. And I renounce all worship of the devil. And I renounce all the deeds and words of the devil, Thunear, Woden and Saxnot, and all those fiends that are their companions. I believe in God, the Almighty Father. I believe in Christ the Son of God. I believe in the Holy Ghost.

Here, Saxnot, also rendered Seaxneat, means “sword-companion” and is a clear reference to Tyr. The Tuitones, a tribe described by Tacitus and later called “Teutons”, claimed descent from Tyr. Now as the Saxons may have derived their name from Saxnot, it is possible they too claimed the God of War as their ancestor. Though it is called a Saxon baptismal vow, it might as well be called the “Anti-Saxon” baptismal vow, for it requires the Saxons to renounce and curse the Gods of their ancestors right next to “the devil”, including the deity for whose kenning their tribe was named, and from whom they likely claimed descent!

Strangely, the name Irmin is not mentioned in the vow, but Woden is. It is possible that Irmin or Jörmunr was (at least in some areas) a name for Odin/Wotan/Woden that was used mainly among the skalds and Gothar, not the common folk, though the Irminsul itself apparently remained well-known in other parts of Germany. As it was, all such prominently Heathen individuals in the local villages had long been driven underground, tortured or murdered.

At Externsteine, there are yet more clues to this dark and cloaked period.

Not only is Externsteine the probable site of a major Irminsul, but also as a natural megalith it has symbolic importance to Runers that even supersedes that of a man-made Henge or Halgadom. This is one that the Od-force itself made, a natural fruit of Yggdrasil. It makes perfect sense that ancient Saxons (or perhaps an even older Indo-European people) erected a great Irminsul near this place. It also makes sense that the survivors of Charlemagne's butchery would document here, in barely veiled mockery, their humiliation at the hands of the Church and its temporal lieutenants. The Irminsul carved into the rock wall may be bent – but not broken. You may bend us for now, the carvers say – but we will never break, and while your cross may be dead wood, our Yggdrasil is ever alive, and our very spines manifest its might beneath the sun; someday we shall see who is the one cut off.

Interestingly, the six giant stone pillars of Externsteine, were also depicted in miniature in a small carving on the stones of the site itself, with the 18 Armanen runes carved, with three runes for each of the six pillars, from Fa all the way to Gibor - along with a solar spiral symbol above. The age of these Armanen carvings is unknown; some claim them to be the work of ancient Rune-masters such as the ancestors of the Lauterer clan; others deny this and insist these carvings are a 20th-century phenomenon carved by the modern Armanists themselves. As recently as 1992, the carvings were still intact. In more recent years, some idiot has gone out to the Externsteine, probably in the dead of night, added a lunar crescent, and defaced the original runes by carving extra lines and symbols, obscuring the runes Fa, Ur, Ka, Is, Ar, Laf, Tyr, and Gibor

The Runes of Externsteine as they originally appeared.

The Runes of Externsteine now, after the attack.
Yet the Armanen runes are not forgotten, and the Externsteine have lost none of their potency as a mystical Od-nexus.

Thus, despite repeated attempts to Christianize or devalue the site, the Externsteine remains, in Mainland Europe anyway, as the beacon of the Heathen world - the most blessed stead, surely, of the Northern Tradition yesterday and today. Additionally, it serves as a standout among the most major religious and social foci in the landscape of the ancient Europe. Taller than Stonehenge, more vast than the Celtic chalk hill-carvings, and older than humanity itself. The stone itself dates back to the Early Cretaceous, the height of the Dinosaur Age, when must of Europe was underwater, yet Lower Saxony itself was a lone island inhabited by Europasaurus and other hardy land animals, while nessie-like plesiosaurs swam the surrounding northern seas. Thus the Externsteine even as geological formation, has great age and intense meaning of a sort of Hoch-Zeit of its own. As its grains were formed in the height of one primordial Great Age, it points symbolically to the crowning heights of subsequent Great Ages. As it was already dated by the time of the modern Armanists, it is doubtless they knew of its ancient age, the possibility of the very real “dragons” that once lived there, and all the cosmic symbolism this entailed. Central to this symbolism of the “High Golden Age” is Irminsul.

So in a more detailed sense, what does the Irminsul stand for?

  • The “Irmin” component of the name is an Old Saxon adjective that transliterates as “colossal strength” or “Great/strong ”. Irminsul in its literal interpretation potentially refers to the Germanic spiritual concept of spiritual pillars, Irminsuls which are pillars that were used as totems, or statues of worship in the classic shape. These pillars may be symbolic of the greatest Pillar of all, the World Tree Yggdrasil, which supports Asgard in the top of its very branches.
  • The name Irmin potentially refers to one of the alternate regional Old Saxon names for a major God. Sometimes Irmin is interpreted as being Tyr, or more accurately, as being Wotan or Odin. The Old Norse equivalent of the name Irmin is Jörmunr (the Mighty one), which is one of the names of Odin in the Eddas – so it is highly likely that Irmin, too, is Odin. As it turns out, the alternative association of Irmin with Tyr is probably incorrect, as Tyr was known by a far more common name among the Saxons, that of Saxnot or Seaxneat – literally, sword-companion – which fits Tyr's description in the Germanic lore far more precisely than Irmin does.
  • It should be noted that in Old Norse alone, over 200 names have been attributed to Odin or his various incarnations, such as Grimnir, Hár, Hangatyr, Hroptatyr, and Jörmunr. Factor in all the Old English, Old German and regional variations, not to mention all the countless names associated with his more distant Indo-European manifestations outside of Europe (i.e. Vayu-Vata, Har-Vaad), and you realize a staggering possibility: that the names of Odin must over the entirety of Indo-European history have numbered into the thousands. Some Indo-Iranian deities were depicted standing upright like a pillar, with two outstretched “horns” resembling Irminsul rising above their heads. The name Arman, cognate with Irmin, existed in both Germanic and Iranian languages, meaning 'Arising' in the former and 'Ideal' in the latter. As the supreme Arman, Vayu-Vata is the ideal of wisdom manifest.
  • Irminsul, alternatively, could be a symbol strictly of the tribal Gods unique to specific Germanic tribes (Saxons and similar) that share Irmin as perhaps a title in their name, though this could additionally simply be their local name for Wotan/Odin, who as mentioned before, has a vast pan-Aryan influence and many “avatars” in each culture that knows him.
  • Irminsul refers also to Yggdrasil through the connection to Irmin/Jörmunr which is one of the names of Odin – who is also consistently connected with the name Yggr, which forms an integral component of Yggdrasil, the name of the World Tree. Yggdrasil actually translates to “Yggr’s steed”, metaphorically the “horse” which Yggr (Odin) “rode” as he hung himself on it for nine nights to obtain the Runes - and then, after taking them up, he fell down from this "horse" into the deep, perhaps even to Helheim, transcending death and returning back up reborn, stronger and wiser than before.


The Irminsul shape was also present in Scandinavia - it was copied in a central pillar in some designs of Viking longships, and sometimes duplicated near the front of the ship. This short fixed pillar does not have any apparent utilitarian purpose for steering the ship, tying ropes, or navigation. Yet it consistently appears in surviving examples of these ships. 

Gokstad Viking ship

Thus, even though Viking warriors traditionally wore a Mjölnir pendant (though there is nothing to indicate that all of them did) on their travels, the Irminsul of Odin is what they they built into the very body of the ship. Whereas Thor was often viewed as the protector of the common man, of the farmer-turned-raider in times of strife and famine, Odin was apparently guardian over the entire group of warriors on that ship – All-Father of folk and community. In this sense, his mnemonic connection with the Odal-rune makes more sense, though his nature as a wanderer in the Eddas may not at first strike one as particularly connected with homesteads. Odin is integral to the cohesion of folk and community, even if they are forced out of one homeland and into another.

Even Viking anchors seemed to resemble the Irminsul, with a very long shaft and double-curved arms.

Oseberg ship anchor

Irminsul is a noble icon integral to the core of Germanic spirituality, indeed, for all ancient Aryan spiritualities, for what it represents via the stories of the Gods and Goddesses, primarily through the Aesir, whose consciousness flows in the blood-memory of one's soil-tilling folk, whose sacrifice to defend the land whose fruits, not the migrating herds, sustained them, bound them to the land like the very heartstrings themselves of a Solar folk. People whose ancestors were never farmers, or never cultivated the soil, sadly will never understand the precious meaning of this truth – and may even try to degrade or destroy it.

Irminsul is also a sacred esoteric symbol to Runers and especially Armanen, as it represents the organic spiritual growth also present in the Man-rune, and indeed is the symbol of Yggdrasil, repository of all Runic knowledge. The long-concealed practice of Stadhagaldr would also not be complete without the occult energetic meanings of the Irminsul and its relation to the Raden. Some Germanic warrior helmets included an Irminsul-like shape on the "eyebrows" and nose guard, likely to honor Irmin/Odin himself. The resemblances to the actual Irminsul are uncanny.

Reconstructions of a Vendel helmet (left) and a Saxon "Sutton Hoo" helmet (right)

In this sense, the Irminsul is not merely a long-gone wooden pillar destroyed by Christians. It is a structure beyond the merely physical plane. It is Yggdrasil itself, of which the stylized pillar is a symbolic representation. For reasons that have been lost to all but the true Armanen, the ancient Germanic tribes saw Externsteine as a major nexus-point of Odic energy and the occlusion of Yggdrasil's greater consciousness into our world of Midgard.


Initially when I first came across the Irminsul, I saw a near-consensus among written sources, that despite so little being written and preserved about it, this was a symbol confined only to the Continental Germanic (and more specifically, Saxon) tradition. However, its presence in Viking ship-pillars confirms that it was known well outside of the Saxon cultural context. We know that it was, at the very least, common to Germanic cultures in general.

After a bit of exploration I realized that the symbolic history of the Irminsul is even older and deeper than even that. It appears to be a pan-Aryan symbol that left its imprint all over many seemingly unrelated cultures that came into contact with Aryan voyagers, who had already mastered metallurgy and the production of scale-armor, which led to their iconic portrayals as as "fish-folk" by stone-age cultures who saw them.


Sumerian culture, which was neither Semitic nor Aryan, records in its oldest myths, the legend that all the knowledge of Sumerian civilization actually came from a foreign race of tall and (mostly) golden-haired and blue-eyed people known as Abgallu, clad in “silver scales like a fish” (implying steel armor, at a time when most of the planet was still in the Stone Age). In any case, such myths are typically dismissed by mainstream academia as the deluded fantasies of “primitive ancient peoples”. But are they really?

These statues made by Sumerians are though to represent Abgallu.

Earlier I have mentioned the tale of the Abgallu, and how their purported homeland of “Dilmun” was most likely the north-Iranian Deylaman on the Caspian Sea, and not Bahrain, as mainstream scholarship fanatically insists. Bahrain, unlike Deylaman, has no history of metallurgy or Indo-European culture, much less any golden-haired giants with metal swords or fish-like armor.

Whereas Deylaman was always home to master-smiths and today still has a few populations that match the general description of the Abgallu. Of course, in all likelihood the Abgallu were not all blond or blue-eyed. These are just the traits that stood out most starkly to the Sumerians who witnessed them.

Though the name Deylaman was abandoned in Medieval times for “Gilan” and there are no full-blooded Abgallu in Iran anymore, just as there are no full-blooded Yamnaya or Corder-Ware people left in Europe. Their descendants are scattered in a myriad of ethnic groups, and even many northern Iranians who don't look much like the stereotypical Abgallu, still have some Dilmuni ancestry. Nonetheless, you would definitely notice a classic Dilmuni phenotype when you see one. They're rather hard to miss.

The people of Dilmun not only took Aryan technology and spirituality to Sumer, but also Aryan symbolism, including Har-visp-tokhm (the All-seed-tree, the Indo-Iranian term for Yggdrasil).

It is inevitable that this metaphysical tree would be depicted differently in different cultures. Yet in the version that survives in Mesopotamian sculptures, copied from Sumer by the Assyrians (who themselves were once governed by a small Aryan ruling class), elements of the Germanic-style Irminsul can be seen.


The Sumero-Assyrian “Tree of Life” has many repeating elements which look exactly like the Irminsul's top branches, from the base of the tree all the way up to the top. Many of these are long, unfurling structures which bear no resemblance to the date-palms of Sumer, but are a close match to the Germanic Irminsul. Nonetheless, the Assyrian version is a far more complex design than the Germanic Irminsul. It contains many “excess” structures which are not present on the Irminsul. And yet all of them can be seen as perhaps symbolic of the greater superstructure of the World Tree, not merely its trunk or central pillar. So there are two different ways of looking at this structure.

Note that the Assyrian "Irminsul" has a ring around the center, perhaps symbolizing Midgard. Aside from the root and crown structures there are also nine pairs of "Irminsul" branches. Though the Assyrians are usually classed as a Semitic ethnic group, a minority of them do have the occasional Indo-European phenotypic throwbacks from the genetic legacy of their ancient ruling-class. The emergence of Indo-European symbols like the Irminsul incorporated into their ancestors' sacred art is not a coincidence. There are many such cases of an Aryan ruling class leaving these cryptic gifts.

Assyrians are a rather diverse bunch, not just in color but also facial structure.

As to whether Germanic heathens in the early 20th century were aware of the Aryan ruling class of Assyria, and its spiritual impact on the largely Semitic Assyrian masses, I can emphatically say that they were; they wrote about it in a number of books; not only that, but they were enthusiastic hunters of all things esoteric from Assyria and Babylon, vigorously looking for all evidence of an Aryan influence, however faint - from the allegedly Aryan-inspired Sajaha prophecies, to the northern pine-cone symbolism, to the Assyrian Tree of Life itself, which appears in a simplified form in the cover of Peryt Shou's Armanist book “The Edda as Keys to the Coming Age”. Shou, as one can tell from the content of this book, was well aware that Assyrian elites were also aware, of the concept of Yggdrasil or Harvisptokm, and that this is what they were illustrating.

But notice that the symbol is far more complicated and really “overcrowded” in the Assyrian rendition. This is no accident, though it is not due to the intent of any one person. As we have seen elsewhere, the Aryan aesthetic of simplicity, in both esoteric symbolism like Runes, and general architecture and everyday objects, is contrasting with the excessive ornamentation and visual crowding of non-Aryan (hunter and herder) cultures. A general corollary follows: the further an Aryan symbol or archetype strays from its origins, and the more it is copied and re-copied by non-Aryan cultures, the more it begins to lose its simple elegance and starts to conform more to the non-Aryan aesthetics of hyper-ornamentation and ostentation. This is exactly what happened when Aryans transmitted an esoteric message into a mainly Semitic local culture whom they had tried to mold into something less reactive and impulsive – the symbol became gradually over-ornamented and its meanings lost in the hands of the ordinary folk of Assyria. Why then, did this not happen with Europe's indigenous non-Aryan populations, the brachycephalic Cro-Magnons? Why did their descendants not seem to even use the Irminsul after the Aryan contact?

Well, in some ways, they actually might have – and in some cases it seems to have changed more with them than with the Assyrians - at least in the core elements of the tree design.

Pictish World Tree. Note the Man-rune resemblance of the top.

The Celts are considered to have been among the first Indo-European cultures to leave a substantial legacy in Europe. Most archaeologists consider the “Corded Nordics” and “Halstatt Nordics” to actually be Celtic ancestors moreso than Nordic ones. As Celtic culture dispersed and moved west from “Galicia” in the Ukraine, to Gaul and Iberian Galicia, and eventually to the British Isles, they mixed more and more with various Cro-Magnon tribes, until by the time a Pictish cultural identity took form in what is now Scotland, the “Celts” had taken on most of the indigenous Cro-Magnon ethnic proportions, and were in some respects a very different people from the original Celts near the Bug-Dneister region in Ukraine. Anther thing that seems to have changed significantly is their conception of the World Tree.

Celtic World Tree - Yorkshire, England

If we accept that Irminsul is a primal Aryan symbol, or at least has remained close to its primal Aryan ancestor-symbol, then it is easy to see how largely Cro-Magnon cultures further from the eastern Urheimat altered it, no less than the Assyrians did. In Slavic lands, the design is rather simpler.


To some extent, Cro-Magnon elements in Nordic culture also embellished the Irminsul beyond its original form:



Sweden, 5th century CE
Germany, 8th Century CE - note the resemblance to the Assyrian tree symbol.

But it has appeared in alternate configurations in yet more lands influenced by an ancient Aryan migration. Or at the very least, some of these objects appear to be Irminsuls. Interestingly, in some southern regions the tree symbol is flanked by two goats, which the Norse associated with Thor. Precisely what these goats meant to the "Indo-Anatolian" (first-wave Aryan migration) cultures that carved these non-Nordic World Tree symbols, which resemble certain aspects of Irminsul, is still not known.



For the Germanic, and undoubtedly for other related cultures, the Irminsul as a symbol conveys a legacy of hope, improvement, wisdom, knowledge and memory. It is a deep Ancestral symbol. For my own Southern kin, the Arman-Zal crowning the head of Arman Vayu-Vata is a heavily guarded esoteric symbol of the same principle. For the Abgallu and their kin who once founded the elites of Mesopotamian civilization, it was all of these things, though the masses of Semites who gradually absorbed many of them ended up losing much of its meaning. It is, in all contexts, a Tree-symbol, manifesting organic growth and the gifts of the Sun. In Armanenschaft, it is represented as a leafy pillar superimposed in front of a Sonnenrad, symbolizing that Sun and Tree are inseparable, the Fire of Wisdom is inseparable from the pillar of Arising consciousness. Consciousness cannot arise blindly or in the dark.

Irminsul or Yggdrasil arises out of the Black Sun, symbolizing Ginnungagap,
and crowned by the white/yellow Sun, seen here as solar-cross.

Additionally, meditation on the Irminsul helps all Runers, and solar spiritualists of various Northern paths, to remember our condition Arising, Being, and Passing on towards New Arising. At the current point in the cycle, we seem to be on its reverse, underbelly of decline – a state often of siege against faceless adversaries, and our struggle to enhance our families and our individual selves in the face of deceptive forces focused on decimating, downsizing and defiling the sacred spirit of Aryan culture, and the fundamentally holy nature of the nobility-conscious Immanence. The Irminsul as a symbol lives on, like the Sonnenrad, revealing its secrets only to those prepared to cast aside fear and programmed reactiveness, cast aside the propaganda smears, and accept its true nature, as Odin's Steed, as the pillar of the universe, and the ultimate repository of the Runes, Mimir's Well, and all the collected knowledge of countless generations of Armanen, Vitkar, and Völvar. It is the record of all the noble truths of Asha and Arya, including those that will force you to confront unpleasant fact-states and lose convenient delusions.... forever.

This is the message we can draw from Irminsul. Its energy, when accepted, will make it impossible for a coercive herder creed to enslave a people to guilt, fear, and “obedience as debt” to their rule. This is why the Irminsul at Externsteine, and indeed all other Irminsuls, had to be destroyed – they were very real symbols of Heathen resistance to the Church, and of independence from the ever more commoditized and atomized world of Roman society – a society that nonetheless, for all its abuses, may seem like a golden age of culture and philosophy compared to our current entartete state of affairs. But even this cannot erase the impact of the cosmic Irminsul as a nexus point of our meditation on the application of Asha and Arya. Its legacy as a great symbol of Runic spirituality speaks about a brighter future and a darker past – a new Hoch-Zeit - just as its Germanic nexus-point, the Externsteine, stands as testament to many past and future Golden Ages. As a metaphysical consciousness, it has witnessed many rises and falls, many Kali-Yugas and Satya-Yugas, many Eisenzeits and Hoch-Zeits. It brings a message of spiritual sincerity and honor that is more important today than ever before. Just as much as the Mjölnir and the Sonnenrad, the Irminsul should bring an otherworldly warmth to the hearts of Runers, and indeed all those pursuing the mysteries of the Odinic way, in both good times and bad.

The Externsteine, aside from its Irminsul connection, is a place very near and dear to many hearts for many reasons. Perhaps I may be tempted to speak more about it in the future.


1d'Alviella, Eugène Goblet (1891). The Migration of Symbols. A. Constable and Co.
2 Die Kaiserchronik eines Regensburger Geistlichen, trans. Edward Schröder (1892): p.81, lines 129-131
3 Ibid., p.92, lines 601-602
4 Ibid., p.158, lines 4213-4214