In many ways, the enigmatic figure of Svarog is emblematic of both the difficulties that we face when reconstructing Indo-European mythology … and also the marvelous enduring features that make it so easy – if you know where and how to look.
I say “difficulties”, because Svarog is a seriously under-directly-attested figure, even by the already rather fragmentary standards of the Slavic mythology. There is basically a single direct reference to Him – and it is contained in a compilation of earlier material which has gone through several layers of ‘indirect’ transmission from its original, primary culture perspective. More specifically, it is a fragment of the work of a 6th century Byzantine Greek that has been translated into Slavic terms, that is speaking about a mythic history of Egypt under the rule of Greek Gods. And which may be fairly scrutinized further for Christian influence, as well as the possibility for some sort of general syncretic mish-mash or erratic mythunderstanding occurring at various points between the Byzantine-Greek original text and the far later Slavic presentation thereof.
It would be easy to take one look at this, and conclude that the entire thing should just be ignored as profoundly ‘unsafe’. Yet that would – to my mind at any rate – be both unwise and patently unnecessary. For it is not like this figure of “Svarog” is some sort of invention of whole cloth by an anonymous Slavic interpolator. We have various toponyms and other such residual materials to suggest rather strongly that this was a figure of some prominence and prevalency. We also have the demonstrable fact that this deity was considered both relevant and familiar enough that when he was seeking to explain or make more immediately ‘relevant’ the mythological faces of some far-flung foreign land of Classical antiquity – our Slavic correspondent felt that his audience would understand and grasp Whom he was talking about. And not feel that the representation of this deity in the terms presented in the Hypatian Codex was incongruent with their own understandings of Him.
It is, after a sort, an Interpretatio Romana situation – but in reverse. A Classical figure being rendered for a non-Classical audience, rather than the other way around. And, as I have long maintained, even despite the obvious shortcomings of the Interpretatio Romano in some areas, there is often essential truth to be found therein, as well.
In short, it is unlikely that the way Svarog is spoken about in the Hypatian Codex is prima facie ‘inauthentic’ – although it is demonstrable that what is said of Hephaestus, to whom Svarog is compared in the course of that work – is not in strong accordance with the high-Classical Greek conception of the figure.
Now the reason we can determine that there is serious probative value to the presentation of Svarog in this context is thanks to the Indo-European comparative mythology. We can see how the features of the Deity align with what we should be expecting for a God in that role. And therefore, how what would otherwise be disregardable as ‘confusion’ or ‘contamination’ via that aforementioned chain of transmission … are instead signs of the fundamental integrity of that which we have been presented with here.
The representation of Svarog in this manner is also useful going the other way – as it enables us to see, in concentrated and clear format, certain features of the relevant Sky Father deific that have become ‘dispersed’ or even rendered outright ‘residual’ in certain other more prominent Indo-European mythological canons.
But what actually are these features? What is it that is said of Svarog ?
Well, here is what the version of the Primary Chronicle as presented in the Hypatian Codex says (I’ve somewhat abridged this for length):
“At the beginning Mestrom of the family of Ham began to rule, then Jeremiah and after him Feosta [Hephaestus], who was also called Svarog by the Egyptians. At the time of this Feosta’s rule in Egypt, there fell tongs from heaven and he began to forge weapons for before that time people fought with rods and stones. This same Feosta proclaimed a law that women could marry only one man and should fast and order that those who commit adultery should be executed. For this reason he was called God Svarog. […] and whoever should break this law, he had to be thrown into the fiery oven. For this reason he became called Svarog and was honored by the Egyptians. And thereafter there reigned his Son, who was called the “Sun” [Helios]; he was also called Dadzbog… The ruler Sun, who was the son of Svarog and was also called Dadzbog, was a strong man […]”
Now, as you can see, there are quite clearly Biblical elements, syncretic pseudo-history elements, and an array of other materials all jumbled together here. And it is important to note that the specifically Slavic elements – which help to show what the Slavs actually felt relevant to them – are the latter incorporations. There are no mentions of the Indo-European elements to that above passage in other, ,more ‘conservative’ iterations of the Primary Chronicle. The ‘pagan’ characteristics, therefore, may perhaps be considered as the ‘bridging’ brought in to make this portion of the text meaningful for the Slavic audience. It is, you might say, something of a ‘self-insert’ – in somewhat the same manner as Snorri Sturluson’s projection of Nordic mythology into the Trojan War. And, in just the same manner as Sturluson’s effort, we have great and transcendental matters reduced down, euhemerized also, to more ‘mundane’ and ‘human’ level terms.
So what are the salient characteristics of which we can find in that above passage? Well, first and foremost, we have this Svarog as a ruler. We also have the linkage to ‘Feosta’ – Hephaestus. And the bestowing of both Law, and the ‘actionable’ cultural elements that make a form of civilization possible (the Smith’s Tongs), the latter of which is directly Heaven-sent. Further, we have this Svarog depicted as the Father of the (subsequent?) Sun-Tsar – Dazhbog.
So what does all of this align with? Well, for a start, not really Hephaestus – at least as the Classical perspective had come to regard Him in the popular perception. The Smith element is consistent, as is the association with Fire, and given the situation of Hephaestus with regard to Aphrodite and Ares – I suppose one could say that there is also the opposition to adultery [indeed, in one version of the Primary Chronicle, Dazhbog’s prosecution of a woman caught violating His Father’s edict against adultery is explicitly linked to Helios informing Hephaestus of Aphrodite’s illicit liason with Ares in Homer]. Yet Hephaestus is not really a ruler, nor does Hephaestus father Helios, nor is He a prominent Lawgiver. An argument could also, perhaps, be mounted for Hephaestus as begetting a royal line in the form of the Athenian Erechtheus, although there is no trace of that myth to be found here.
However, there are relevant elements to be found in the Orphic Hymn to Hephaestus – including a Solar linkage, a reference to the ‘rage’ of Flame (perhaps important given an occasional etymology of Svarog we shall discuss later) and fire’s consuming nature (which may link back to the oven of Svarog in the Hypatian Codex account), and a seeming progenitorial role for man along with the perhaps surprising “The dwellings of all belong to you, all cities, all peoples”. It could also be fairly argued, I think, that the role of Hephaestus in that hymnal in relation to the ‘Cosmos’ – a term which simultaneously means both ‘Order’ and ‘World’ in Ancient Greek – may be reflective of a ‘Lawbringing’ (that is to say, Cosmos-forging via the application of Law and Its production) role.
This does need to be contextualized, however. The Orphic canon is a broad beast – with some parts that are demonstrably carrying forward quite ancient concepts, and others that are seemingly the result of more recent Near Eastern syncretic contact. My personal suspicion is that the Hephaestus hymnal, despite appearances, is more toward the former end of the spectrum – and is speaking to a deity that accords quite significantly with certain Vedic elements which record the archaic Indo-European tradition of the Sky Father as Solar Shaper, Master(Craftsman) of the Universe. But more upon that below.
In terms of the Greek Indo-European mythology, there is one further point which must be made – and that concerns the parentage of Helios. This is a term explicitly utilized to identify Dazhbog, and helps to inform the strongly, indeed quite literally ‘Solar’ characterization of this far-better attested Slavic deity. As aforementioned, Hephaestus is not the Father of the Sun in the main Greek mythology – although He does provide important support and direction for the Sun in the latter’s role, by forging a marvellous golden ship upon which the Sun sails the solar sky. This therefore has Hephaestus helping to affix the rather foundational Order of the Sun’s procession through the heavens, the one that in a very real sense makes many other laws, let alone life itself and civilization, possible here on earth. It also accords with the role played by Lord Varuna, another such stern imposer of Law and moral propriety, wherein Varuna (hailed as the Sovereign of the Sea – the Sea and Sky being somewhat coterminous in Indo-European cosmology, hence the aforementioned Solar Ship) carves the channel for Surya (the Sun) to follow – a channel that also appears to flow with the heavenly water per RV VII 87 1.
The proper parentage of Helios within the Greek mythology, meanwhile, is as Son (Sun?) of Hyperion (‘The High One’) and Theia Euryphaessa (‘The Wide-Shining Goddess’) – which, in the course of the Radiant Queen of the Heavens series, I have demonstrated to be the Sky Father and His Wife. An interpretation reinforced by the Vedic view of Surya as the Son of Dyaus Pitar – the Sky Father [c.f RV X 37 1 – also the occasional references for the Sun as the Eye of the Sky Father (something occurrent across many Indo-European cultures – viz. Helios as the Eye of Zeus, Surya as Eye of Varuna, etc.), and this Eye as the Son of same, as in the Vishvakarman hymnal, RV X 82 1].
All of which brings us to the Vedic typology to which we might sensibly compare Svarog – not only mythically, but linguistically, potentially, as well.
In terms of the linguistics, the parallels are so obvious as to hardly even require translation. “Svarog” can be read as the Slavic equivalent term to “Svaraj”, “Svarga”, or “Swaraj”. To break these down into their constituent components and thereby explicate their meaning – ‘Svar’ (स्वर्) is for us an explicitly ‘Solar’ term. It is derived from the same ultimate root as modern English ‘Sun’, ‘Solar’ (or, for that matter, Sanskrit ‘Surya’ and even Ancient Greek ‘Helios’ via the S=>H soundshift), and in much the same manner as the ‘double-duty’ performed by ‘Dyu’ style terms, can refer not only to the Sun itself, but also to the more generalized Shining Celestial Sphere. Intriguingly, for our purposes, it is also a Shaivite theonym. Meanwhile, and rather uncoincidentally, the nearly identical (indeed, in some cases, actually identical) formulation ‘Svara’ (स्वर) refers to ‘Music’, ‘Voice’, the active expression of a sound via singing – and we shall see why that is directly relevant in due course.
Now, it might seem rather curious given that Svarog is the Father of Dazhbog – the Father of the Sun – to suggest that a term for the Sun or the Solar Radiance may have some bearing upon Him. And yet, it is quite directly relevant. For you see, even leaving aside the understanding of ‘Svar’ as referring to the Solar Energy in a symbolic sense (which is, of course, also in part what is meant by the ‘Dyaus’ of ‘Dyaus Pitar’ – the Father of the Bright/Daylight Sky), the curious fact of Indo-European cosmology and theology as illustrated in the Vedas … is that we do not simply have one Sun. Instead, the Sun is regarded as symbolic for a number of deities (several of Whom are literally called ‘Sun’ – e.g. Surya, the female Surya, and Dyaus Pitar referred to as Surya), contingent upon what is relevant at the time. It might perhaps be more apt to think of the Solar Energy as seen (or, more directly, ‘reflected’ – viz. Nordic ‘Sol’, as I considered in the ‘Radiant Queen of the Heavens’ series) in the Solar Disc as being ‘under the command’ of various Deities at the relevant and appointed times, but chiefly associated with the Sun God. Something which we also see, after a sort, in that aformentioned Orphic hymnal to Hephaestus – wherein Hephaestus’ radiance is regarded as having expression through the Sun, despite the Greeks also having a well-attested Helios as the Sun God.
So therefore, per the relevant Vedic theology upon the subject, just as we have the Sky Father hailed as both Solar and occasionally as the Sun [‘Surya’] nevertheless also fathering Surya [RV X 37 1, etc.] – it is no contradiction for Svarog as ‘Sun’ to father Dazhbog the Sun-Tsar. ‘Sun-Tsar’, as it happens, being an interesting potential manner to translate the aformentioned ‘Svaraj’ – ‘Svar Raj’. Which, perhaps, makes sense – as Dazhbog is depicted in the obviously euhemerized Hypatian Codex account as being a Prince of the Royal Line reigning after Svarog. So the Kingly Title should, of course, be passed on hereditarily in this schema. Even if, in the Divine Realm, such succession rarely seems necessary (with the exception of Greek mythology for obvious patricidal reasons) and instead we find a Heaven which bears many Rajas simultaneously under the great Samraj – ‘Samraj’ meaning ‘Emperor’ or ‘Over-King’, and being an epithet and customary title of Varuna (once again, the Sky Father and a Solar aspected Deity, sacrally powerful – and a Shaper of the Cosmos).
However, other derivations or cognate/parallel Vedic understandings for ‘Svarog’ are possible. ‘Svarga’ refers directly to the (high) Heavenly Realm (interestingly, etymologically it would be the ‘Place of the Sun’), and it is certainly possible that in much the same manner as ‘Dyu’ does the aforementioned ‘double duty’ for both Heavenly Realm and the Ruler therein, thereof, therefrom – that the term for Heaven might also refer to the Heavenly Father. This was a not infrequent custom in feudal systems, as it happens – of referring to the rulers of particular domains simply by their domain-name.
‘Swaraj’ or ‘Svaraj’, meanwhile, takes things in a somewhat different (although fundamentally correlate) direction – ‘Swa’ as in ‘Self’, ‘Raj’ as in ‘Rule’. ‘Swaraj’, therefore, is ‘Self-Rule’, ‘Sovereign(ty)’. And it is not at all hard to see how Svarog as Sky Father would be the Self-Ruling One – the One Above Whom There Is None, the Divine Sovereign. Although it is also perhaps pertinent to mention the other sense of Svaraj – Self-Rule as in Rulership of the Self. Being the complete master over one’s own power and potency, the more Fully Enlightened Being. And from whence, mastery over all else, all others, can most truly flow. If we were running some sort of ‘monist’ cosmology (which we are not – although it can be fairly argued that this turns up in various later Indo-European theologies), then the ‘Self-Rule’ in question would hold that as the Divine Being is the Universe, the Self-Rule is sovereignty over the Self … that is to say, the Universe. This does have some bearing upon how we might interpret some later Sanskrit texts, as well as some Classical Greek/Latin ones – but I am not prepared to speculate as to whether it has any meaningful bearing upon the Slavic situation. It is not impossible, given the references to the nominally pagan Slavs actually being ardent believers in a single God – although it is also potential to interpret those mentions as being misunderstandings, or insistent attempts to present the Slavs as ‘civilized’ in Christian terms (c.f how the Hindus of Indonesia are regarded as ‘Monotheists’ by that state’s government for various domestic politics reasons), or otherwise propagandize.
Interestingly, for our purposes, there is rather direct mention in the Yajurveda [YV TS V 5 4 ] of the concept of ‘Svaraj’ in relation to Varuna – Agni. This is phrased in terms of a cosmogony re-enactment – wherein the laying of bricks to form the Vedic Fire Altar is held to be symbolically resonant with the acts of Creating the Universe. One of the spheres created is Viraj – the ‘Radiance’, ‘Forth-Shining’ … a term of fantastic complexity in its Vedic applications which we shall not explicate in detail here. Suffice to say that the Viraj (also understood as the Celestial Goddess, dependent upon context – although this is not axiomatic given ‘Vir’, ‘Veer’ as ‘masculine’) is here meant as a ‘second phase of’, an ‘expression of’ a vital, central principle [hence ‘radiance’ – as the ‘active expression’ of the core element being radiated]. And connotes the Atmospheric layer … “beyond which lies the Svaraj”, to quote the hymnal in question. More intriguingly still, ‘Viraj’ is also a term for a Kshatriya ruler of radiant splendour. A ‘prince’ we might say, as it is a lesser (though still quite literally high and mighty) title than the Svaraj. And with the implicit sense of ‘Vir’ (‘heroic’, ‘mighty’, ‘man’) and ‘Raj’ (‘ruler’). What is Dazhbog described as, again? The Sun-Ruler, the “Strong Man”. A ‘radiance’ or a ‘descended/second expression’ of the same principle as Svarog, we might perhaps suggest – reigning ‘below’ Him rather than ‘after Him’. Dazhbog beneath Svarog – Viraj beneath Svaraj. The ‘Visible Sun’ beneath the Sun’s Higher Ultimate Source – depicted as the Sky Father in union with the Waters that are the liminal sphere upon the edge of reality itself.
Speaking of which, the relevant Yajurveda Hymnal directly regards the Sky Father deific in question as being Agni (in this case, the ‘Solar Agni’ – the Fire of the High Heaven(s). Descending also down here onto Earth to bring Law’s Holy Illumination to us). Hailed in both this and the surrounding direct-continuation Hymns as being Vishvakarman, Rudra, Varuna, etc. These assignations of theonyms are not random. They are all conceptually linked. As I have repeatedly demonstrated witin the course of my earlier work, these are all faces of the Vedic Sky Father. And, importantly for our purposes, this ‘Fire’ and ‘Forging’ (that is to say, Agni & Vishvakarman) facing is directly relevant for how Svarog is depicted within the relevant Hypatian Codex excerpt. It all lines up!
Of further interest for our purposes is what is contained in the preceding Yajurveda Hymnal (YV TS V 5 3) – wherein it is this set of actions which the hymns in question are there for, the construction of a Vedic fire-altar, that enable victory of Law over the forces of Chaos in a war against demons. The implicit message is quite clear – that the human havans we even today carry out are ‘eternal returns’ in the Eliadian sense, Mythic Recurrences, that help to re-immanentize that enduring victory of Law (Rta, Orlog, Dikaiosune) over Chaos via their ongoing conduct. Why do I mention this? In part it is because if we cast our mind back to the Hypatian Codex presentation of Svarog – we find Svarog as the Bringer of Law. And we also find this Law girded via a ‘fiery oven’, with a ‘consuming fire’ housed therein. It is not hard to see the plausible connexion between a Vedic Fire Altar made of bricks and housing the Consuming Flame that is Agni, that Upholds the Law via His Feeding … and Svarog’s Fiery Oven which Upholds the Law – admittedly via the feeding to it of those who would transgress against same.
This ‘Altar’ concept is also relevant for another reason, as discussed in my earlier article – “The Cyclopes And The Ribhus Elves – Solar Smiths of the Sky Father”. Namely, because there appears to be a standard ‘association’ of archaic Smith God figures with just such an Altar’s construction. It is something we see with the Hesiodic ‘Ouranian Cyclopes’ – and it is something we see more especially when we are speaking of the Vedic Ribhus trio. With the latter, in particular, being relevant here as They are depicted as carrying out Priestly roles in so doing. And how do we find Vishvakarman hailed in RV X 81 1? As the “Hotar-priest, the Rsi, our Father, offering up all things existing” – indeed, even further, some lines later as the “Lord of [Divine] Speech”, “Vac Pati”.
Why does this matter? Because what we are seeing is a figure that is ‘turned into’ a Smith by various Indo-European cultures, and understandably so – He, after all, does ‘forge’ Laws and the Realm of which we inhabit. Yet which in essence is something far grander. A figure Who does not require those symbolic forge-tongs or ringing hammer to beat the shape of the universe to His Will. For He merely has to Speak, to Sing, to turn His Thoughts into being. Remember that which I had said about Sanskrit ‘Svar’ having the meaning of a musical expression? That is how it is most directly relevant. A “Song-Smith”, a “Solar-Smith” – a “Shaper” via far more sublime and far more subtle or sonorous mechanisms than those regarded as commensurate with the role of a village blacksmith. Yet which is capable of reigning down in thunder and working with, indeed embodying outright the most mightily all-consuming and all-warming fires of creation – a process which can be carried out with all the tranquil fury of the storm.
The Slavic reconstructed etymology for Svarog of greatest interest to us – Svar , svarъ – is quite literally resounding in this sense. It turns into, to be sure, terms for ‘strife’ and quarreling – yet its original, archaic Proto-Indo-European sense, ‘Swer’, is quite different. There, it is more akin to our modern English “Swear” – and includes this notion, to ‘speak resoundingly’ [for example, by ‘swearing an oath’, making a forceful, vigorous declaration] within its ambit. In Sanskrit, this produces ‘Svarati’ ( स्वरति ) – which entirely unsurprisingly, incorporates this aforementioned sense of ‘Singing’, of ‘Prayer’. This utilization of a term to mean the emanating of forceful sound, sound with power to it, should be expected. Even beyond the ‘true’ sense of the Empowered Speech of the Sky Father, or the Sonorous Songs of the Imperial Priest, we have the more mundane echo of the ringing hammer-upon-anvil of the Smith. The fairly consistent arrival at a meaning of ‘Strife’ for ‘Svar’ in later Slavic languages is also rather consistent – with the character of Odin in the Nordic conception of things, Who most certainly does incite exactly this as part of forging furtherance to His Design.
Meanwhile, it has been suggested that this Slavic ‘Svar’ also incorporates terms of a Solar relevance – a Solar radiance, in fact. And while it would certainly make an eloquent figurative sense for the Sun’s heat and light to be referred to as ‘speaking forcefully’ – especially in terms of the sweat-inducing nature of toil under just such a ‘hot’ or an ‘angry’ (svarъ , again) Sun [c.f the double meaning for ‘Tapas’ in Sanskrit as heat/light but also hard-work conduct], I am not so sure how much credence I would place in this in a direct sense. The Solar Character of Svarog is quite clearly there, and I suspect that further inquiry into the field of archaic Slavic linguistics would adduce a linguistic linkage for this without having to run the parallel Sanskrit etc. upon it, but I am a theologian not a linguist – so I shall defer to those who are the latter upon the matter.
Certainly, there are an array of slightly differently formulated terms that may be relevant – Proto-Slavic ‘Variti’, for instance, which refers to the application of heat to something in the process of creating a finished product. In modern Czech it is “Svarit”, and refers to the act of Welding. In this, it would reflect Proto-Slavic sъvariti – a term directly for the the production of metalwork in a forge.
In addition to these aforementioned probative possibilities around ‘creation’, Vitaly Melnikov has alerted me to another one of a somewhat different kind: Svarog as ‘Sva+Rozh/Rod”. Sva, as in Sanskrit, meaning ‘Self’ , and ‘Rozh/Rod’ relating to Proto-Slavic ‘Rozhati/Roditi’ , which means ‘to give birth’. ‘Svarog’, therefore, would be the ‘Self-Created’, the ‘Self-Born’. Something that accords most strongly with the Vedic understanding of Vishvakarman, the ‘Heavenly Architect’. Particularly when hailed in relation to Hiranyagarbha – the Golden Egg [c.f RV X 121 1 etc. – although my own interpretation of Hiranyagarbha is somewhat different and based upon other Vedic sources; I have considered this in, for instance, the 2019 Ma as Kushmanda Navratri tribute article] . It is not at all coincidental that we so frequently hear mention of just such a ‘Golden Egg’ containing the Supreme Deity in Slavic creation myths. And I have often thought of this Hiranyagarbha as having some direct relevancy to the Sun – as this, after all, is a Solar Sphere that is the ultimate source of all of our life and existence here upon this Earth of ours.
So which of these linguistic possibilities is it, you might be tempted to ask? The answer is quite simple: “Yes”. As in – it is all of these. For all of them are relevant to our emergent picture of Svarog. They all have strong accordance and concordance with what we should expect of just such a Sky Father as Shaper of the Cosmos figure.
And this renders it all the more remarkable, considering that our only real attestation for the figure is a single text in various permutations, wherein the major details have been melded somewhat into a pseudo-Biblical, pseudo-Greek, pseudo-Egyptian, pseudo-history mish-mash. Some things, it would seem, still shine through resoundingly regardless of the inclement weather of their erstwhile obscuration.
However, one important question remains. If Svarog is so ‘self-evident’ in this regard, then where are the direct correspondences in the other Indo-European mythologies? Why is it that this notion of the Sky Father as ‘Smith’ or as ‘Shaper’ is so rarely encountered elsewhere?
Well, one possibility is that there is a grain of truth to the frequently encountered theorizing that the mentioning of Hephaestus has seriously ‘coloured’ if not outright ‘distorted’ the view of the ‘authentic’ Svarog in the minds of us later readers. This is not impossible, to be sure – but I believe that, as I had explained earlier, it is not the case of the mentioning of Svarog in the context of Hephaestus that has introduced the core concept nor characteristics of Svarog. Rather, it is that these are already intrinsic and immanent to Him, and have become ‘collapsed’ down to ‘just’ forging and fabrication via metalwork rather than fire-working in a pious, prayerful context (as with the Vedic Fire Altar) or Singing/Speaking the Universe into being and shape. You certainly can run this relevant Indo-European deific as a Smith – and we see some mention of that in the presentation of Tvastr (Vishvakarman) in Hindu mythology. It is just that this is but one portion of the spectrum of possible expression thereto. And all of these things are, ultimately, symbols for truths that are incredibly difficult for us to express in immediately human-relevant terms.
As applies Hephaestus in particular, I somewhat suspect that in just the same manner as the ‘Three-Three Split’ I have often written about previously (wherein the Greeks, potentially under Mess-O-Potamian influence, inter many alia, ‘split’ their Sky Father figure into three ‘generations’ (Ouranos, Kronos, Zeus), and also into three Brothers (Zeus, Hades, Poseidon)), it is possible that Hephaestus might represent another ‘split’ – parceling off a portion of these elements relevant to Him in a single deific. But this is not Hephaestus’ article, so we shall not get into depth nor detail around the potential mythological resonancy supports for such a notion.
Meanwhile, as I have said above, amidst the oldest Indo-European mythic and scriptural canon available to us – that of the Vedas – there is, indeed, just such a Sky Father as Shaper understanding. It is just that, as with many things in The Vedas, it is somewhat ‘diffuse’, ‘spread out’. Requiring of wandering through an array of hymnals and theonyms to really show how it all cohesively fits together. As is the nature of our canon. And even where the ‘Smith’ point is most directly relevant, it is nevertheless also couched amidst other understandings, as is completely appropriate. It does not “stand out” as bluntly or as blatantly-directly as does Svarog being written of possessing heavenly forge-tongs.
In the Nordic/Germanic, however, no such ‘Smith’ figure presents Himself. And there are a few reasons for that, as I considered in previous works such as “The Cyclopes And The Ribhus Elves – Solar Smiths of the Sky Father”. Instead, though, we DO have a Lord of the Divine Speech [Vac Pati – and note that ‘Pati’ can also mean ‘Husband’, viz Brihaspati, otherwise known as Galdrfodr] Who engages in rather vital acts of reshaping the Cosmos.
Per the Gylfaginning – “And Hárr answered: “The sons of Borr slew Ymir the giant […] They took Ymir and bore him into the middle of the Yawning Void, and made of him the earth: of his blood the sea and the waters; the land was made of his flesh, and the crags of his bones; gravel and stones they fashioned from his teeth and his grinders and from those bones that were broken.” And Jafnhárr said: “Of the blood, which ran and welled forth freely out of his wounds, they made the sea, when they had formed and made firm the earth together, and laid the sea in a ring round. about her; and it may well seem a hard thing to most men to cross over it.” Then said Thridi: “They took his skull also, and made of it the heaven, and set it up over the earth with four corners; and under each corner they set a dwarf: the names of these are East, West, North, and South. Then they took the glowing embers and sparks that burst forth and had been cast out of Múspellheim, and set them in the midst of the Yawning Void, in the heaven, both above and below, to illumine heaven and earth. They assigned places to all fires: to some in heaven, some wandered free under the heavens; nevertheless, to these also they gave a place, and shaped them courses. […] Then said Gangleri: These are great tidings which I now hear; that is a wondrous great piece of craftsmanship, and cunningly made. How was the earth contrived?” And Hárr answered: “She is ring-shaped without, and round about her without lieth the deep sea; and along the strand of that sea they gave lands to the races of giants for habitation. But on the inner earth they made a citadel round about the world against the hostility of the giants, and for their citadel they raised up the brows of Ymir the giant, and called that place Midgard. They took also his brain and cast it in the air, and made from it the clouds”.
As we can quite clearly see, Odin and company engage in a rather strife-involving ‘shaping of the Cosmos’.
And, for further interest, the next portion of the Gylfaginning deals with the Creation of Man. Something that, in other and rather earlier Germanic perspective, is instead regarded as the act of Tuisto as Divine Father to Mannus. As I have demonstrated in the course of the Sons of the Sun series, the underlying Indo-European typology of which this speaks has the Sky Father as the original progenitor of Man (a sense preserved in the Ask and Embla anthropogenesis myth amongst the Norse via the role of Odin in same). Tuisto, therefore, should be a Solar figure. A ‘Solar Smith’? Perhaps not so directly (woodcarving is not smithing, either, if we are being specific). Yet Tuisto quite plausibly links to Tvastr – and Tvastr, as we have seen elsewhere, has just such a role within the Vedic mythology, aligned with/as Vishvakarman. Perhaps the Luwian ‘Tiwaz’ (not to be confused with the Nordic/Germanic Tiwaz) Who is known to them as ‘Father Sun’ is also relevant here. But again – another matter for another time.
The point is – even though it seems quite clear that the Nordic/Germanic position on Smithing means that it had fallen from the conceptual lexicon to easily describe via shorthand the ‘Shaping’ activities of the Sky Father and associated Aesir … the underlying activities, the essences of these, are nevertheless still to be found within the Nordic canon and corpus. And, if I might say, arguably in more ‘pure’ expression in some particulars – arcening back towards the ‘Priestly’ understanding also found in the Vedas and somewhat residually in certain Greek texts. Wherein it is the Song, the Speech, and the Slaying that make the Universe – and Us within it – both what, and who, we are today.
So, in sum, Svarog is a fantastically intriguing figure. Not merely because it requires all of this comparative Indo-European mythology, theology, and linguistics in order to actually extract something ‘meaningful’, something ‘true’ from a seriously degraded single-mention of many centuries ago. But because what we can see, even in something that is otherwise regardable as ‘mangled’ nearly to the point of non-recognition … is something which at once conforms and confirms with our Indo-European understanding of the Mythic Divine.
Whether we mean ‘Svar’ as in ‘Resounding’, or we mean ‘Svar’ as in ‘Brightly Shining’ – in Svarog, it would appear, the Truth radiates out even from behind the euhemeric dark-age cloud.
Hail to the World-Maker.