It is Monday – Lord Rudra’s Day – And therefore … absolutely amazing illustration by HC to further accompany our RUDRAGANIKA work looking at His Female Retinue.
What we have hailed here as the Rudraganika we also find encounterable amidst the other and more westerly Indo-European spheres – as the Maenad (or the Meliae, etc.), and the Valkyrie.
And I do say ‘encounterable’ – for in addition to being present as Mythic figures above and beyond … They also are manifested as (and within) select human worshippers of the God in question.
The actual concept that this piece is illustrating goes some ways beyond what is often termed the ‘Eternal Return’ by Eliade … and more toward the ‘Ergriffen’ state described by Jung in his famed ‘Wotan’ essay.
How does this occur? Well, here’s one exquisite figurative explication – a depiction easily worth several times my multi-thousand words of excited commentary.
Effectively, the idea is that a certain ‘Divine Essence’ is ’emplaced’ within the being in question. This is a prevalent Indo-European understanding, and one of quite considerable diversity in its tangible application.
We encounter it in a few contexts – the worship of Rudra, particularly within the Tantrika sphere, entails one becoming as Rudra, for instance. Here – a rather highly adroit devotee is able to, as we have said, adopt a specific expression of the Divinity Himself. No ordinary thing, and per that maxim of the ShivaDharmaShatra – it is more the case that the devotee in question already always was a Rudra to begin with.
I believe that as applies the Rudraganika proper – something much of this sort is intended. The ‘essence’ was innate, hereditary, an irreducible part of them just awaiting such an ‘awakening’ experience. It is something also expressed via a different way when we find those Saga accounts of particular (otherwise-human) noblewomen being (re-)incarnations of specific Valkyries.
As applies the Maenads of Dionysus this understanding may be pertinent – however other approaches, wherein it is a case of less unique humans ‘rising to the occasion’ (viz. PIE *h₃er- – and its associated terms for both ‘rising / stirring up’ (of the spirit or otherwise), and aggressive action or sentiment) and ‘donning the masque’ should also seem in evidence.
But let us work through in some semblance of an order – from most ‘basic’ to much more advanced.
The most foundational occurrence for an ‘investiture’ of divine essence is quite literally that. ‘Foundational’ for us.
The major instance I am thinking of is, of course (and this is partially what’s informed HC’s work here) the situation found in the Voluspa wherein Askr & Embla are taken from a near-lifeless state that is described as, effectively, ‘wood’ … through to becoming animate, sentient and sapient through just such a Divine Investiture.
This is part of a general typology for ‘divine investiture of essence’ that is a sine qua non requirement for simply being alive and breathing – every human (and not only humans) has such, effectively almost as birthright.
The various ‘Breath of Life’ traditions found in other Indo-European anthropogenesis narratives are of a similar typology. Although I do rather like the Nordic one precisely because it directly observes humanity to be ‘Orloglauss’ prior to the investiture’s occurrence.
In another, not unrelated sense we have that famed Indo-European Empowering Elixir (Soma or Kvasir – the Mead of Poetry; Ambrosia (or Amrit) and Nectar, as we find brought to Achilles in the Iliad) acting in similar fashion.
Except there, the humans in question are already, well, human – and are rendered more than human through their imbibing of that which the avian form of the Sky Father brings. (And you can see a subtle allusion going on here – HC went off and researched how to designate that Mead-Horn as bearing ‘óðr’ essence-empowerment , hence the Runic inscription upon the horn. We should also think of the Óðrerir name for the major Vessel to the Mead of Poetry – one of Three).
We are also familiar, just briefly, with the closely related occurrence wherein a state of ‘Furor’ (c.f Ancient Greek ‘Menos’, Sanskrit ‘Manyu’, ‘Ugra’, etc.) is bestowed by Divine Hand. Going on the otherwise close comparison between, say, the situations of Diomedes and Achilles (both Chosen of Athena) when under the influence of the latter and the former styles of ‘investiture’ respectively, it should seem that there is ample scope for potential crossover here.
The circumstance we have been discussing viz. the general typology for the (on-earth / sidereal) female retinue for the Sky Father bears some overt resemblance to the above. Insofar as it definitely appears that human devotees may become ’empowered’ through the provision of Furor.
The First Homeric Hymnal has Dionysus as “Inspirer of frenzied women” [the word being ‘gynaimanes’ (γυναιμανής in the original text) – and it is rather telling that μαίνομαι (mainomai), the second portion of the word, is so close to Sanskrit मन्यते (‘Manyate’); recall the earlier Maenad / Manyu / PIE *Men typology].
Herodotus (IV 79 4), describing a Bacchic rite, presents this as being a state of θεοῦ μαίνεται (‘Theou Mainetai’ – ‘Divine Furor’ – and note the ‘Manyu’ etymological cognate there). He also speaks of a situation of θεὸς λαμβάνει (‘Theos Lamvanei’ – being ‘taken’, ‘seized’, ‘possessed’ by the God), in the context of a male Bacchic initiate in a ritual context potentially embodying Dionysus directly.
However, this situation does not restrict itself to a single figure (or, even for that matter, many such men) becoming a bearer of that particular Divine Masque Himself. It also extends out to the broader Retinue of the God as well in train.
That is to say – we also find other people ‘playing the parts’ of such figures. Being possessed of that quality labelled with PIE *Men [‘Mind / Spirit / Mental Activity’] in furious abundance.
Which leads into some rather interesting questions. Namely, how much of what is going on is an ‘external introduction’ into the participants in question (i.e. are these the mythic figures Themselves (Spirits) investing into otherwise independent mortals) – versus how much is simply causing their own already-innate divinely-bestowed essences (spirits) to ‘stir up’ in response to an external causation.
And, flowing from that – whether all of the latter are bearers of … not simply the ‘ordinary’ sorts of divinely imparted essences necessary for life (that are then brought into ‘overdrive’ via this aforementioned external influence or contextual setting of the Thiasos, initiatory rite, etc.), but rather, whether some or all of these individuals are, in fact, more than what they seem.
That is to say – whether instead of ‘putting on a masque’ and playing a part as a temporary adornment (which may yet still ‘resonate’ within in some sense) … these particular personages are rather expressing their true selves through such endeavours.
On grounds that they are, in point of fact, themselves the actual ‘resonancies’ or ‘expressions’ (or, for that matter, descendants – and therefore direct inheritors of station) of the God’s Retinue found down here in human form.
Something that may sound a curious line of speculation – except for the fact that we seem to run into it directly attested in several Indo-European cultures’ scriptural canons as occurring with what appears to be some perhaps surprising frequency. [And for more on all of that, you are welcome to read my ‘RudraGanika – A Study In Eternal Return As Manifested Through The Sky Father’s Female Retinue Across The Indo-European World‘, up upon our site]
In any case, the thing I continually find excellent about HC’s efforts in illustrating my work is the manner in which he really ‘brings together’ an array of different strands into a unified, cohesive whole.
So here we have, as the effective focus to the image, a female figure that’s also a tree. In addition to the Askr & Embla situation aforementioned, this also expresses the significantly important ‘Meliae’ conceptry of the Greeks.
The Meliae, as we have detailed capaciously elsewhere, form a fascinating clade of ‘Ash-Nymphs’ (and, as it happens, should seem also to have as an archetypal apex-expression the Consort(s) to the Sky Father, Herself – viz. the Melia mentioned in relation to both Apollo and Poseidon).
The Meliae aren’t just ‘Ash-Nymphs’ – the Ash (Tree), for the Greeks as well as the Germanics, was almost a byword for Spear (μελίᾱ – ‘Melia’). And so ‘Spear-Nymphs’ They most assuredly also are, likewise occurrent within the female Retinue of the Sky Father (we note the Ansuz rune – and its Anglo-Saxon descendants; along with, of course, the Othala).
We also find inherent within Their name and nature the ‘Meli’ (μέλῐ) – ‘Honey’ / ‘Ash-Sap’ – that should seem to correlate with the mystical substance (itself resonant with the aforementioned Empowering Elixir of the Indo-Europeans) utilized in libations upon the Axis Mundi (viz. Yggdrasil directly) as well as the smaller ‘resonancies’ thereof in the form of those sacral Posts and Pillars via which the Sky Father Himself was worshipped (c.f. Irminsul, ShivLing, and so forth). Handy, therefore, to have just such a libation being deployed from above in the depiction, then.
Now, of course, as we have briefly alluded to above, we often find in amidst this female Retinue of the Sky Father – that there exists a ‘commandant’ or ‘apex expression’ that is almost archetypal for Them. This is the figure of the Sky Father’s Wife. Again, we have detailed at considerable length various tangible expressions of this typology in action in our main RUDRAGANIKA work, so shall not repeat this here.
Suffice to say that in addition to the obvious pertinance of the Melia mentioned above … we are also aware of the situation of the Wife of the Sky Father (whether, it should seem, as Tree or Mountain) resonating as the Axis Mundi Herself.
Hence that Noose which the Ash-Female also bears.
Which does not, of course, mean that this particular figure is that rather specific Divine Female. It is left as something of an intentional point of mythically resonant ambiguity – after all, everything is on a ‘spectrum’ in these intersectional points betwixt the Mythic or Supernal and the more-than-simply-just-Mundane or Sidereal.
There are, of course, quite a few other overt points of iconographic purport or theological resonancy that we could choose to elucidate further upon in HC’s fine artwork here (and I should probably include the standard disclaimer that yes, yes we’re aware the ‘Helm of Awe’ is a rather late development attested from the post-Christianization era) … but for now, I think that it is enough.
We Hail these High Companions of He !
ॐ नमः शिवाय