As Carl Jung observed (see Jung on Wodhanaz), the whole Nazi phenomenon can be seen as an eruption of the Wotanic archetype out of the collective unconscious of the German people - Wotan being the ancient Germanic god of war, magic and mystical illumination.

The word Wotan is a contraction and simplification of the name Wodhanaz, with 'Wodh-' being an ancient Germanic term for ecstatic, inspired mental activity. The next element,
'-an-', indicates the idea of someone who is a master of this mental state. Thus, the intrinsic meaning of Wodhanaz, and the many different names related to it - such as Wotan, Wodenaz, Odin and Odhinn - is 'Master of Inspiration'.

The mythology surrounding Wodhanaz leaves one in no doubt as to what brings about this inspiration, namely an intoxicating drink called poetic mead.


Fly agaric mushrooms.


Battle-axe and magic mushroom: the symbol of the labrys represents a fusion of the extremes of human existence - war and mystic illumination - embraced by Wodhanaz. The labrys also suggests the beak and claws of this god's falcon aspect.

Thus, in its endlessly resurrecting fungal form, the poetic mead is made permanently available to man, who henceforth use it to be possessed
and inspired by Wodhanaz. One of
the best ways of preserving the
active compounds in hallucinogenic mushrooms is by drying and crushing them, and then mixing them in honey - which is doubtlessly why mead (a drink made of honey) came to represent it.

Wodhanaz and his accompanying wolves.
(National Museum, Copenhagen)


Wodhanaz is said to have slid into the mountain cave of the Etins in the form of a snake. After charming the female guardian of the three vats in which the mead is stored, he morphs into a falcon (or eagle) and flies from the mountain cave back to his kingdom. On the way, some of the mead spills from his beak down to the earth, from where it is believed to manifest itself as hallucinogenic mushrooms. When he arrives home, he expels the mead into three drinking horns for future use by him and his companions.




A stylised mushroom issues forth from the falcon beak of Wodhanaz. These mushroom/hammer images were used as magical talismans by worshippers. In addition to its mushroom shape,
this particular talisman is covered with little mushroom cap motifs.
(Artefact from Viking period.)

The sacred drink mythology surrounding Wodhanaz is also echoed in the mythology about the drug Soma which was the central sacrament of the Aryans, the Indo-European founders of modern day Hinduism. As is the case with the poetic mead of Wodhanaz, Soma was said to have been brought down to man from heaven by a falcon.

In his book, 'Soma: Divine mushroom of immortality' the late Gordon Wasson has put forward the very convincing theory that Soma was made from Fly agaric mushrooms. Again, this drink is associated with honey, with the word 'mahdu' - the ancient Sanskrit precursor of the word mead - often being used by the Aryans to refer to Soma.

Wodhanaz was believed to appear to men in the form of a falcon. This bird of prey was a widespread symbol of war and spiritual illumination in the ancient world and was associated with mythological figures as diverse as Merlin and Horus.

Wodhanaz' primary symbol down through the ages has been three interlocking drinking horns (the mythology of Wodhanaz is permeated with the number three and multiples of it). This triple horn motif relates to Wodhanaz' theft of the mead from the three vats of the Etins, and its subsequent transfer to his three drinking horns.

The inward-pointing arrangement of Wodhanaz' drinking horn symbol.

An ancient gold-plated drinking horn.


Triskelion drinking horns.
The three interlocking drinking horns of Wodhanaz can be represented by the sharp ends pointing inwards or outwards. The outer arrangement - called the triskelion - is better as it provides a richer array of connections to the Wodhanaz mythos.

With the triskelion arrangment, the three horns can also be seen as three interlacing serpent tails, thereby symbolising the snake-form that Wodhanaz assumes to steal the poetic mead. These interlocking horns can also be seen as a triple representation of the head/beak of the falcon that Wodhanaz transforms himself into when he escapes with the mead.

The triskelion also represents the traditional 'valknot' of Wodhanaz which binds men in his service, and which in turn binds men together in his name. The interlacing knotwork design embodied in the triskelion is found extensively in the artistic traditions of the Celts, Vikings, Saxons and Germans.
Dahmsdorf spear head.

The triskelion complements the image of the swastika which was widely used in ancient Europe to symbolise the feminine aspect of the divine (see The Swastika Goddess). The swastika can be seen as the feminine Freya, or Valkyrja, aspect of Wodhanaz. The swastika and triskelion images seen on the Dahmsdorf spear head, dating back almost 2,000 years, points to this Teutonic masculine/feminine polarity.

There is one final level of mythological symbolism in the triskelion - that of the triple fishing hook - which connects Wodhanaz to the story of the Holy Grail with its central figure, the Fisher King.

In the Grail story, this legendary vessel - which echoes the drinking horn of Wodhanaz - is located in the castle of the Fisher King. He has been wounded in his thigh by a spear and spends his days fishing - his kingdom having become a wasteland because of his incurable wound.



Wodhanaz hangs from Yggdrasil, the World Tree. He is surrounded by a wheel on which the rune symbols are carved, and a spear penetrates his side.


Ivory plaque of Christ being wounded by a spear. (Anglo Saxon 9th century AD.)

The wounding of the Fisher King.
(French illuminated manuscript 14th century AD.)

The symbolic parallels between Wodhanaz and the Fisher King are so plentiful that we must assume - as did Jung - that both represent one and the same archetypal god-form: Wodhanaz and the Fisher King are both wounded by spears (Wodhanaz impales himself while hanging on Yggdrasil, the world tree); both are associated with a sacred spring; both are associated with the presence of a severed head; and both are associated with sacred receptacles containing a drink with miraculous powers, ie the drinking horn of Wodhanaz and the Holy Grail of the Fisher King.

The spear is a symbol not only of Wodhanaz's nine-day ordeal on the World Tree, but also his warlike aspect. In Northern Europe the followers of Wodhanaz were known as 'beserkers' and were renowned for the frenzy that possessed them during battle. What this divine madness amounted to was a state of temporary possession by their god. Because of this formidable aspect to his nature, Wodhanaz was also known as the Storm God, which is where the Nazi term 'stormtrooper' derives.

In essence, Wodhanaz is a god who enters into and possesses his devotees, producing either a state of mystical exultation and mental inspiration on the one hand, or a state of pure, martial bloodlust on the other - a highly desirable state for a warrior on the battlefields of old. The men closest to the spirit of Wodhanaz were therefore shamans and warriors, with the area of activity of the shaman being the inner world of the spirit, and that of the warrior being the battlefields of the outside world.
Artist: Frank Frazetta
'Only the shamans and warriors went to heaven after their deaths because only those two kinds of men truly make themselves one with the spirit that animates
their lives.'

'The Way of the Sacred'
- Julian Huxley





Wodhanaz is known as the One-eyed God
as a result of him casting one of his eyes
into the Well of Mimir in return for wisdom.
Wodhanaz had many names but perhaps the most common one was 'Alfadhir', the All-Father. He was regarded as the pure embodiment of paternal authority and all its attendent masculine virtues of strength, loyalty and honour. For the Germanic tribes of Europe, Wodhanaz was the ancient father-figure who lay at the source of the ancestral line, and up which his influence flows through countless generations to the present.

What essentially connected men to Wodhanaz was the ancestral chain stretching back to him. It was by honouring and keeping alive the memory of their forefathers that men's connection to Wodhanaz was strengthened, thereby ensuring the spiritual health of the tribe, and helping to guarantee its survival into the future.


THE LURE CIPHER
'I am a hawk: above the cliff.
I am a salmon: in a pool.
I am a lure: from paradise.'

Song of the Celtic bard,
Amheirgin.


The sacrificial Eye of Wodhanaz,
the Falcon-Fisher-Father.