Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Claiomh Solais, the Sword of Nuada and Tiw

From the city of the city of Findias the Tuatha De Danann brought the Claiomh Solais, the shining Sword of Nuada, the Irish equivalent of the Germanic Tiw/Tyr. To the Welsh He was known as Nudd and to the Gauls, Nodens. Like Tiw He was one-handed, having lost a hand in a battle with the Firbolg at the First Battle of Magh Tuireadh. He was given a substitute silver hand and thereafter became known as Nuada Argetlamhor or Nuada of the Silver Hand. Initially like Tiw He was regarded as the highest of the Gods but was later replaced by Bres just as Tiw was replaced by Woden. Both Tiw and Nuada were Gods of the sword. No doubt the disfigurement is the primary reason or excuse for His replacement.

Nuada may be derived from the Proto-Indo-European *neu-d, meaning `to go fishing`. If this is the case then there may be a further link between Nuada and the Fisher King of the Parsifal legend. Just as Parsifal may represent a disguised form of Woden, the God of the spear, the Fisher King represents Tiw.
Saxnot, the divine ancestor of the Saxons was also a sword God and may represent a specifically Saxon form of Tiw. The Anglo-Saxon form of the name is Seaxneat. The Seax of course was the Saxon war-knife, thus the Saxons were the `people of the sword`.  He is referred to in the 8th century CE Old Saxon Baptismal Vow alongside Woden and Thunaer:

"End ec forsacho allum dioboles uuercum and uuordum, Thunaer ende Uuôden ende Saxnôte ende allum thêm unholdum thê hira genôtas sin."

Translated:  "I renounce all the deeds and words of the devil, Thunear, Wōden and Saxnōt, and all those fiends that are their companions."

He was thus clearly an important God to our ancestors to be ranked alongside both Woden and Thunaer. This is not surprising as Tiw is the Germanic version of the Proto-Indo-European sky father  *deiwos. He was originally the God before all Gods.

The granting of a magical sword is a common theme in both Germanic and Celtic mythology. One only has to think of two of the most well-known examples, the drawing of Arthur`s sword from the stone and Siegmund drawing the stone from the tree. Here we have an association between the Stone of Destiny and the  Sword of Nuada. Ultimately metal is drawn from rock. The stone hammer or axe of Thunar gives way to the iron Mjolnir.

The Tiwaz/Tir/Tyr rune is of course the rune of Tiw. It resembles however a spear not a sword. This is an indication that when Woden eclipsed Tiw He gained also Tiw`s original weapon and symbol of regality. In Irish mythology Lugh is also a late-comer and He also brandishes a magical spear as a sign of office. Eventually the spear became a symbol of Germanic kings and chieftains and was regarded with greater importance than the crown itself.

"Tyr is a one-handed god;
often has the smith to blow".[Old Norwegian Rune Poem, translation by Bellows]

" Tyr = god with one hand
and leavings of the wolf
and prince of temples."[Old Icelandic Rune Poem, Bellows]

The Old English Rune Poem, heavily xtianised and sanitised of the old Gods paints a different picture for this rune:

"Tir  is a (guiding) star; well does it keep faith
with princes; it is ever on its course
over the mists of night and never fails."[Bellows]

Unlike the other two poems it does draw attention to the polar nature of Tiw and despite the xtian scribe`s best efforts indirectly points to the Indo-European *deiwos deity!  Like the spear the sword is a symbol of masculine polarity whilst the stone and cauldron have a feminine polarity. 

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