Saturday, November 24, 2007

Myth, Reality, And Learning

There is a body of historical thought that goes something like this: Now pay attention, because I’m going somewhere with this.

Home of the Assyrians - in grey
Home of the Assyrians in the Ancient World - just south of the Caucasus Mountains

When the Assyrians defeated the Kingdom of Israel - the northern Kingdom established after Solomon with the break-up of Israel - they moved the surviving populace far away. That was their tradition of dealing with defeated peoples. This remnant of the Israelites were moved far to the north-east into the area around the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains. Generations passed and the Southern Kingdom of Judah was defeated and enslaved by the Babylonians. The surviving populace was taken into Babylon.

Once the Persians defeated the Babylonians the Jews - which is what the people of the Kingdom of Judah were called - petitioned the Persian King, Darius, to be allowed to return to the land of Israel and rebuild their nation (and eventually the Temple in Jerusalem), and Darius agreed. These Jews, or Judahites, so it is said, sent emissaries to the Israelites in the area of the Caucasus Mountains, entreating them to join in the rebuilding of the nation, the Kingdom, of Israel. The Israelites declined, and deciding to leave their homes, passed into the Caucasus Mountains and were lost forever to history. The Jews went home and rebuilt the nation, and the Temple.

Hosea 1:9 & 10: "for ye [are] not my people, and I will not be your [God]. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, [that] in the place where it was said unto them, Ye [are] not my people, [there] it shall be said unto them, [Ye are] the sons of the living God."

Assyrian Empire
Assyrian Empire

Note: The Biblical Mount Ararat where Noah's Ark is said to have landed is sometimes regarded as the landmark of the ancient Armenian realm in the Caucasus. The peak of Ararat is seasonally capped with snow. In Greek mythology, the Caucasus or Kaukasos was one of the pillars supporting the world. Prometheus was chained there by Zeus . The Roman poet Ovid placed the Caucasus in Scythia.

Most of the preceding is accepted Biblical history and most is accepted as actual history. And here arises the legend of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. For the majority of the people of the Kingdom of Israel were of ten tribes, while the southern Kingdom of Judah were mostly of the other two (three, counting Levi) tribes. Now we enter into speculation, legend, myth, and some interesting stuff.

Modern Caucasus Area
Modern Caucasus Region

Not long after these occurences a vast migration began from the areas north of the Caucasus Mountains. The peoples and tribes were know as Scythians, Keltoi, Cimmerians. They were a hardy people, skilled at war, and seeking land of their own. Their Mythical Father was called Salmocses, which some linguists consider a form of ‘Moses’. Eventually some of them would become known as the Sacasunni - Saxons - which is considered a form of ‘Sons of Isaac’. From these warlike people came the Celts, out of which came the Teutons, the Germans, the Irish, Welsh, Scots. They were the forebears of the Angles and Jutes. (Please forgive my spelling - it's been many years since I read of these ancient things and my memory is not what it was.)

You may recognize these peoples as the forebears of the English people and their close relatives and neighbors. Indeed, the Welsh call themselves the Cimri. You can easily see the descent from Cimmerians.

Now, we know that the Keltoi - Celts - were among the most feared of tribes in the ancient world. They sacked Rome and scared the Romans and most of their opponents with their battle tactics. Celts fought naked, dying their bodies blue, and using Lime to stiffen their hair into upright spikes. They did not fear death, believing in an afterlife. And they loved to fight even among themselves, as their Irish descendants have carried on to their sorrow. They were a very quarrelsome people.

But one strain of these people - the Teutons - headed into the far north of Europe, becoming the founders of Norway and Denmark. Denmark, by the way, means the “Borders of Dan” mark being a form of March, which means border. Denmark is 'Borders of Dan'. They took their myths and legends with them and they eventually took the name of one of their early tribal chieftains as their principle God. Wotan became Wodin, became Odin. No longer knowing their own ancient history or religion, they had nothing but the myths of old to base their theology upon. And they remained in the north and grew powerful and restive.

We know the descendants of these people as the Russians - from the Rus, or red, of their hair - and the Teutonic Germans, we remember their expansionist period as the Wikings - which we call Vikings from the Germanic pronunciation - and we marvel at their Mythology - which is a snarky way of describing a theology that we did not quite grasp.

All this is a way of coming at one of the legends of the Norse, the Teutons, the Germans. The legends, by the way, are eerily reminiscent of Christian End-Time theology, though not analogous. There is a reason for this, though you may not suspect.

There were among the Norse Gods, a class of semi-divine individuals whose duties included taking part of the dead from any battle, and carrying them to Valhalla. The other half were carried to Asgard, the home of Odin. These semi-divines were women, notable for their power and ferocity and unearthly beauty. They were called the Valkyries. Wiki says: The word "valkyrie" comes from the Old Norse valkyrja (plural "valkyrur"), from the words "val" (slain) and "kyrja" (choose). Literally the term means choosers of the slain.

They were sometimes believed to sway the tide of battle, but this is not certain. They rode wild Boars, or chariots pulled by huge cats. They did not ride horses. Some consider them to be a hazy approximation of the ancient, legendary Amazons. Among the Valkyries named in Norse Sagas is Svava. Sváva appears in Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar . Her name means "Suebian". Suebians were a Germanic tribe, the remnant of which remains in Swabia, an area in Southern Germany, and are known as Swabians.

Now, hold that thought, remember where we are, and follow me back to the Caucasus Mountains once again. Remember that the people pouring out and spreading over the earth was at times called the Scythians?

Scythia - now north of the Caucasus

The Scythians were a warrior people. The Greeks considered that the Amazons were Scythian, though some of the Greek legends are all over the place, showing a typical Greek lack of understanding when it came to people who were “barbarians”. They were placed in an area of Modern Turkey by the shores of the Black Sea, though Scythia was a large, amorphous area in ancient times. The Greeks, however, did depict the so-called Amazons on pottery from the Classical Period, and shows an intricate and interesting dress of a Warrior on horseback. Look at the image below. That is an “Amazon” rider. A Scythian. Remember that costume.

Amazon Warrior on Horseback - Grecian Urn
Amazonian Warrior on Horseback - Grecian Urn ca. 420 BC

The Scythians as a part of this huge migration headed in a fan shape, becoming known as other tribes, but renowned as warriors wherever they went. The legend of Warrior Women - or Amazons - went with them. One Russian archaeologist, Vera Kovalevskaya, points out that when Scythian men were away fighting or hunting, nomadic women would have to be able to defend themselves, their animals and pasture-grounds competently. During the time that the Scythians advanced into Asia and achieved near-hegemony in the Near-East, there was a period of twenty-eight years when the men would have been away on campaigns for long periods. During this time the women would have had to defend themselves, and the legend continued.
Modern archaeologists have unearthed some of the Scythian burials of warrior-maidens entombed under kurgans in the region of the Altay Mountains and Sarmatia. The costumes are similar to the designs on the Greek urns. The Altay Mountains are in Central Asia, where Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan come together. The legend of the Amazons is no longer purely legend but is at least partially a fact. And they were not Greek but Scythian.

Scythians were described as short, stout, and blond. Not black or brown-haired, but blond. Their warrior women were blond-haired as well. On a PBS documentary I watched not long ago, an archaeologist had traveled into the areas of Mongolia where she believed the Amazon women to have gone. She tested blood - trying to find DNA matches based on the burials unearthed much farther West. Scythian burials. Amazonian burials. One of the families she found had one daughter with the Mongolian eyes - almond-shaped - but who had not the rich brown eyes of the rest of her family, but the bright blue of an unknown ancestor. The other difference between this girl and her parents and siblings? Her hair was blond. Her DNA - the mitochondrial strain used for such research - showed her to be a descendant of the Scythian Warrior woman who had been buried milennia before.
This Mongolian girl was a descendant of the Amazons. Amazons were fact not Myth or legend. They were blond-haired and blue-eyed.

Still with me here? Let’s head back to cold, icy climes of the Teutonic North of Europe and take one more gander at the Valkyries. How did the Teutonic peoples describe the Valkyries? First they were beautiful, but they all had blond hair and blue eyes. They were Warrior Women, with blond hair and blue eyes. As were the Scythian warrior women, as were the Amazons who were Scythians.

What does this all mean? Just this: Our teachers tell us things in school. We carry them with us into our adulthood. And they’re not always correct. Amazons were a part of Myth and Legend, but they were also real. They existed in reality in Scythia and then in parts east. They were remembered and celebrated by their family as it headed west and no longer needed their women to be warriors. They passed into Teutonic legends as semi-goddesses, and into Classical history as mere Myth and Legend. And their descendants, real people, went east and planted themselves there to give us tantalizing views of themselves in nomadic people and their children. And on festive occasions the women put on their homemade finery which bears a striking resemblance to the costumes worn by a Warrior Woman on an urn painted in Ancient Greece 2,500 years ago.

You are responsible for the information you know. Not the Press, not the government, not your teachers. You, and you alone. Do your homework.

Here’s Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”. Just remember that the Valkyries he was writing about did not ride horses.

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Hosea 2:23 And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to [them which were] not my people, Thou [art] my people; and they shall say, [Thou art] my God.

Naturally I have more to say. And here's where I get very theoretical, and steer you into the mysteries of Jewish and Christian history.

If all this is correct - the Israelites heading into the Caucasus and becoming what we know as the Scythians and Celts, the history of these people makes sense from a Christian theological standpoint. GOD promised Abraham that his seed would become as numerous as the sands on the shore or the stars in he sky - without number, beyond counting. And he was speaking of the sons of Isaac not Ishmael.

Yet we moderns count only the Jews as descendants of Israel, and they are easily counted, or numbered. But we do this without reckoning the “Ten Lost Tribes”. For they were children of Israel, too. And they were not lost, but hidden.

From their descendants would come the great European Civilizations which would conquer much of the world: the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne, the British Empire, and thus the United States of America. One of the descendants of this migration of warriors sits on the throne of England. One of her relatives sits in the White House.

If this is correct. And it means that GOD does mean what He says. And does what He says He will do. The greatest friend of the nation of Israel is the United States - which you would expect of family. Remember that the Gospel spread through the Gentiles, not the Jews - the Jewish Church disappeared with the Roman sack of Jerusalem - and the spread of Christianity, though not always peaceful or pleasant, came through the converted pagans of the Celtic peoples in Europe, and eventually the Protestant Church of England. After that it was the Americans who became the proselytizers of the world.

If all this is correct! And of course this is not original with me. In fact it became popular in the 19th century and became polluted with bigotry, fanaticism, and elitism. It was called British Israelism and sullied the research and facts unearthed. And it has disappeared under the weight of its own followers' zealotry and foolishness. But the theory and the facts remained, and directed research which continues to this day.

If all this is correct. Think about the Teutonic/Celtic peoples in all their different nationalities and ask yourself if they are nearly without number or beyond counting. Add in their religious cousins - the Jews - and you have an enormous number of people. And those people have been blessed wherever they have put down roots. The non-Christian world sees the Christian world as monolithic - it ain’t! - and it encompasses the mightiest nation on earth. Blessed, many Americans believe, by GOD.

If all this is correct. Common wisdom says no, the Ten Lost Tribes are mythical, nothing more, and disappeared entirely. That’s what we have been taught, and that’s what the experts want you to believe.

I know what I believe and what I think. And it makes me optimistic. Yet it’s all theory. It isn’t proven. But perhaps, seeing the troublesome nature of these unseemly people - the Israelites of the northern Kingdom - GOD saw fit to remove them from His protection, only to bless them later. HE does not forget, you know. And surely the people who sprang from these warlike nomads have been richly blessed.

What about you?

Note: Look into the Biblical prophecies regarding Manasseh and Ephraim. Very interesting, and pertinent to this discussion.


blogagog said...

You lost me at the point where you said the Celts sacked Rome. I haven't read past that yet, but, are you sure? That seems incorrect. I've been wrong before though!

blogagog said...

ps. thanks for your input on the lgf thing. It's really creeping me out, because I'm being attacked by his readers (on his site only, thankfully) like a liberal site would attack my views. It's starting to make me wonder if the idiotic liberal masses are that much different than the conservative ones. My conclusion leaves me... uncomfortable.

Ok, back to your thesis!

blogagog said...

Ok, listen. This is a novel waiting to happen. I'm not sure I buy all of your links to the tribes, but it would be SOOO cool if you wrote a book that used artistic license to show that ALL religions of that day (leave islam out of it if you want me to buy it :)) were created by the dispersion of the 12 tribes.

And then you could have some superman Heracles-type guy who roams from one group to the next, learning how each nation, each religion, came to be.

Not just a book, a trilogy! And 'trilogy' means more than 3 books these days for some reason...

Seriously, you've got something here.

benning said...

You may remember the legend of the geese of Rome?

387 BC: "[...] Rome was in a panic- the city was largely indefensible and lay open to the Celts: only the Capitoline Hill was barricaded and defended. Brennus and his army arrived at the gates of the city three days after the battle at the river, to find the gates open and the city apparently largely deserted. There he hesitated, fearing some kind of ambush or trick, but then the Celts began to advance through the city, burning and looting as they went. Livy now tells one of those anecdotal stories he littered his "History" with: when they reached the Forum there they found the aged senators of the city, who had elected to remain behind when everyone else fled to the Capitoline, clad in their official robes and waiting calmly and gravely for their certain deaths. "They might have been statues in some holy place, and for a while the Gallic warriors stood entranced; then on an impulse one of them touched the beard of a certain Marcus Papirus, and the Roman struck him on the head with his ivory staff." Naturally, the outraged Gaul promptly killed him, and all the senators were massacred before the barbarians recommenced their looting and burning, and laid siege to the Capitoline Hill."

Go here for a nice recitation of the events.

benning said...

And the geese came into play here: "In the Capitoline, the Romans were in a good defensive situation, and despite the attempt of the Celts to sneak into the Capitoline by night, which was thwarted by the timely cackling of the sacred geese in the temple of Juno, they managed to hold out. The siege dragged on for six months."

benning said...

Dunno, Kevin, if I want to do the kind of research that would take. How do you explain the emergence of the Druids? And the almost quiet acceptance of those within the Druid world of Christianity where they resisted to the death the incursions of the religions of Rome? Could their Triune Gods and Triune Philosphies be a harbinger of the Trinity? Thus making it seem as though these Christian new-comers were brothers in the faith?

So much to think about with what you suggest.

By the way, I don't know why the LGF-ers think that support of traditional European religions and culture is akin to Nazism. I just don't know where they expect those standing against the Muzzie onslaught to be. Aligned with the Left they are bowing to the "inevitable". Aligned with the Right they are accused of being Nazi sympathizers.

We see it here. Celebrate your Italian or German heritage and you are a racist. Celebrate your African or Asian or Indian heritage and you are fine and dandy. *shrug*

My heritage is German/Irish/English. I'm a frickin' Celt! A Teuton! My heritage is rage in War, murder in Peace, beer all the time!

; )

blogagog said...

You're the writer, not me, bud. I can't explain the druids, but with a few beers, I'll bet you could :). I thought about this all night after reading your post. It's really exciting.

A few thoughts:

- You probably can't get away with making the Jews the creators of religion, or you would alienate a lot of your readers. But this is good because you could then make up how Judaism came into being.

- Your hero should be a follower of the one true belief (which you must NEVER define, or at most make it ridiculously simple like 'love good, hate evil') and he goes from religion to religion to learn where things went wrong. One book per religion. Dead religions first, moving on to actual religions when you've developed a following. Then, on to today's religions.

- Make your hero have a hand in destroying the dead religions, kind of Forrest Gump passive style. Or make him agressively crush them.

Benning, this is incredibly interesting to me. If I had a creative mind, I'd steal this idea from you. I hope you decide to write about this.

Gayle said...

This is indeed incredibly interesting, Benning. WOW! I'm going to print it out and read it again. It's long, and I know I didn't absorb all of it. I admit to being slightly confused, so I want to read it again, possibly more than once.

Gayle said...

In addition, as you said,
"If all this is correct", then - in spite of common wisdom - we had better stand beside Israel and quit fiddling-farting around!

Now... to look up the prophecies regarding Manasseh and Ephraim.

Thanks, Benning!

Joubert said...

Interesting, Benning, even if there are too many IFs.

Maybe I shouldn't comment since I'm not a Bible believer. By that I don't mean that I don't understand the historical accuracy of much of the Bible. I mean that I don't have an agenda or wish or hope to prove anything as your essay obviously is attempting to do.

Paleo-anthropological studies make a good case that all Europeans (including us) are descended from the people of the Near East and maybe you can call them the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. I won't argue with that. It makes sense.

But I get skeptical whenever Bible believers use too many IFs - especially if they are highly educated. It makes me wonder if they are trying to dispel their doubts by using rationalizations and justifications.

Forgive me if I say that everything that you wrote here has proven scientific merit but what are you trying to say underneath it all? There's nothing wrong with your science and knowledge of history but it still sounds like you're trying hard to prove something.

Faith in and awe of God doesn't need to be rationalized, justified or proven.

Anonymous said...

Fascinatin' stuff.

Oh, and: ELEVENTEEN!!!

benning said...

Camo: You are a Nut!

Patrick: All the "Ifs" were just my clumsy bit of literary flair. I stand by the presentation, but the conclusions are certainly debatable. As you pointed out, Faith needs no justification. However we are called on to be able to explain to the unbeliever the reason for our certainty, our Faith. For me it is the endless historic record that remains unassailable. When I find things that "seem" to point to "proof", even if it is outside Scripture, and even a bit iffy, I want to know more about it. And so I post, too.

All Europeans, if I base it on the Scripture, are descendants of Shem. But his descendants were a huge number of people. Only one of them spawned the race we now call Jews. And they had relatives that were "lost" to history. I think they were not so much lost as hidden.

For me this post was about two things: The reality of supposed Myths, and the ways that GOD keeps his promises, no matter the length of time or the extra-Scriptural way he proceeds.

Joubert said...

Benning, I didn't think your "ifs" were clumsy. I do still think they are unnecessary because you can't turn unbelievers onto God by the mind but by the heart.

Yet I also understand the intellectual enjoyment that you get from explaining it. I've done the same but in the end the only one I've really convinced has been myself.

Still it's fun to find a "reasonable" excuse to sing God's praises. :)

Anonymous said...

Heh. Well, I've been called much, much worse...that "ELEVENTEEN!!!" thing is a li'l device I use (at the appropriate time) in some of my comments around "Da blogosphere".

Anonymous said...

Pretty good But there is alot more
who taught you

benning said...

Caradoc: There is SO much more, but I wanted to simply touch on a few things. I was first exposed to the idea by Dr. Eugene Scott, in California, and then did my own reading and research - such as it is - on my own. The theories of Immanuel Velikovsky were a part of it, too. And E. Raymond Capt's books, along with many others.

A Jacksonian said...

There are other traditions than that of Judea, and the Celtic tradition traces its lineage back not to Caucauses but to Wilusia or Ilios, today Hissarlick and the City known as Troy. There is actual evidence for this migration circa 1200 BC. The linguistic origins for the Celtic language point not to the Caucauses/Aryan groups but to that original population that had come across from Asia before then, closely related to the ancient Mycenaen Greeks (not the later Dorians from the Steppes). After Troy a number of groups shifted outwards, but the first was to take Troy/Wilusia to an island and call it Sicily. They did not stop there, however, and continued onwards to leave small populations in the Iberian peninsula, northern Africa and up to Ireland.

The Nordic peoples, while having lineage through the Caucauses and Aryan groups, also point to a much, much earlier lineage that traces back to central Asia. The one interesting reading of Norse mythology is that it is a direct retelling of the events of glacial retreat circa 10-12,000 years ago. To them the fallen body of Ymir was not a 'myth' but a mile high wall of ice that one could, slowly, get to the top of and see the vast expanse of ice that was retreating over generations. That makes them the second peoples to have direct experience of that era, along with the Australian Aborigenes' 'Dream Time'. And they would worry so much that Ymir would return, that they would have a very, very pessimistic religion as they remember exactly what a continental size mountain of ice looked like and felt.

That lifestyle of following the low tundra would shift them northward over time. The Lapp people have no clearly documented or remembered history and the Lapp language shows up in exactly two place on Earth: Arctic Nordic climes and the Basque region of Spain. They may have been true nomads without a strong oral tradition, but their mythology makes the Norse appear light and airy in comparison.

Now as stories can pass across peoples if they are interesting, there is one that christians should pay attention to: a being crucified to gain higher knowledge. That being was Odin and the timeline places his mythology far before that of Jews. A story of a God seeking to see the future and crucified to do so on the World Tree. A raven would come and pluck out his eye and as he slowly succumbed he gained that future vision and was taken from the tree no longer just Odin but All Father.

An interesting turn of events during the Byzantine era would see Vikings (Varangians) serving as the personal bodyguard to the Emperor and as crack troops. Strange to think that Vikings had fought Saracens and Muslims, but there you have it.

The interaction between the Norse and Celts would lead to the fusion of traditions in culture and law and create the common law and the understanding that Kings answered to the people and were not above the law. That would adapt to the post-Westphalian concept of the Law of Nations, wind up in America and be in Appalachia and the deep south, but not before appearing to change American history. The Founders all draw on this understanding via Blackstone, Vattel and the trade history of The Black Book of the Admiralty. Those Scots-Irish would turn out to be a doughty group that would infuse personal responsibilty, support of Nation and be willing to fight and hard when the Nation needed something done. They are best described by the early President who had been taken prisoner by the British during the Revolution and would then be victorious over them in 1812. That was President Jackson.

Those people are called: Jacksonians.

benning said...

Thanks, A Jacksonian, for the visit. I found it interesting that the Trojan War may have been the very basis of Plato's tale of Atlantis, the suggestion being that while writing abouyt Atlantis he realized he was describing Troy and ceased writing. The story was well-known and had been written about already.

One book I read found that many of Plato's geographic descriptions hel true for the area of Hissarlik, rather than some unknown place outside the Meditteranean Sea. She claims that the Pillars of Heracles were not at that time the Straits of Gibralter at all, but were the Dardanelles Strait. This would have given Troy power over access to the Black Sea and much that lay beyond.