It is Wednesday – Woden’s Day. And so therefore, as has become our tradition, we present an illumination of Eight Forms or Facings of the God, as attested in archaic Vedic scripture.
Now I have chosen this particular set of eight, because they represent a most useful conceptual framework with which to link various Aspects and Qualities of the Indo-European Sky Father.
They also demonstrate the quite direct linkages of several of these forms to the relevant deific … and help to counter some of the misinformation that is out there upon this score.
This succession is drawn from the Shatapatha Brahmana, a ritual manual / commentary of considerable breadth and scope compiled around three millennia ago;
although as we have demonstrated elsewhere, most certainly containing as its essential ‘bones’, elements that are far older and which have come down directly from the Urheimat.
Interestingly, the context for these eight names (and forms) being bestowed is an evidently ancient understanding that the giving of a Name – especially multiple names, of somewhat cryptic expression is a protection against maleficarum. The Young Rudra – or, as He is at this stage, Kumara (‘Son’, ‘Prince’, ‘Boy’) – begins as Agni, and then takes on these subsequent Eight theonyms and visages as the ceremony progresses.
It is not hard to see various prominent qualities to Shiva, and associations for the Sky Father Deific, that are directly referenced via these.
At the end of the section in question , a further epithet is given – that of ‘Chitra’, a term there overtly intended in its sense of ‘Bright’ (as Agni, The Fire, is of course exactly that), however also harbouring within it its other senses more familiar to us from later eras (‘The Artist’, ‘The Creator’, ‘The Radiant Jewel’) – as the ‘Citra’ pointedly follows ‘Cita’ (‘To Build’); and provides handy ‘capstone’ to proceedings – as, of course, the progression through the Eight has ‘built’ up a ‘picture’ (‘Chitra’ again) – or, if you prefer, ‘painted a portrait’ – for the Remarkable, Radiant God in question.
That of the Sky Father deific as an essential supporter and source of various of the energies and elements necessary both for the universe’s existence and the sustaining of life within same.
I have deliberately left un-expanded upon various of the applications and resonancies for these understandings – for now, at any rate. How each of these fits in, and links with elements attested elsewhere in both the Vedic as well as broader Indo-European theological sphere, shall perhaps be something I return to remark upon in expanded depth and detail in the future. There are several interesting cognate expressions in both linguistic and conceptual senses, for a start.
But for now? Well, we’ll see if a picture can expound more succinctly with its thousand-words than I am usually able to manage.
ॐ नमः शिवाय