The legend of the Sword thrust into the Stone appears first in Le Morte D'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory and is connected to the Graal Mythos. However, the same theme can be found in much earlier Germanic Legends in one form or another -
- The Sword thrust into the Barnstock Tree in the Wolsunga Saga.
- The Sword stuck into a Stone and pulled out by Bodvar, son of Bjorn in The Saga of Hrolf Kraki.
- The staff removed from a Stone in a legend surrounding Edward the Confessor.
It has been said that the Stone represents the 'land' which itself must choose the 'Rightful King'; i.e. the king who becomes wed to Sovereignty. This does not, however, seem to be the same as a sword thrust into a tree which seems to be the earliest account. But there are subtle links between the two.
Barnstock Tree -
The name means 'Child-Trunk' which may be related to the 'family-tree' in the sense of continuation and lineage. The tree planted outside a house related to the continuation of that house into the future. In the Volsunga Saga this tree is referred to as an Apple Tree, linking it to the apple given to Rerir's wife by Hliod, daughter of Hrimnir the Giant. As I have stated before, the apple seems to be sacred to Venus, and thus to the Waene-Gods. It is a symbol of Immortality through its association with Idunn who guards the Golden Apples of Immortality. The same tree is also called an 'Oak' which seems to contradict what was said of the Apple.
The Race of Heroes -
Hesiod's account of the Ages of Man gives an account of the Bronze Age Race who, through their own warlike outlook, destroyed themselves. But it is interesting to note that this race were said to have been formed from the Ash-Tree, as we find in the Norse Eddas. But this also gives a clue as to the meaning of the First Woman - Embla - the name I have said before may be derived from 'ember'. In Greek Mythology Zeus withholds from men the "fire stored in the Ash-Tree". The wood of this tree is a source of strength associated with the Gods, and with latent powers.
After the end of the Bronze Age, and the destruction of the Bronze Age Race, Zeus created a 'Race of Heroes' who were noble and respected the Gods. They were a Race of Demi-Gods or Divine Heroes. Most of this race, it is said, died in the Trojan War and the 'Seven Against Thebes". It is most interesting to note that this race, on death, went to the Elysian Fields or to the Islands of the Blessed, both of which are in the Underworld surrounded by Oceanus. It is said that eventually Zeus promoted his father, Cronus, to be ruler of the souls of this Race of Heroes.
This is in fact directly associated with the Wolsungas since this Royal House was descended from Woden, but was also created by Woden as a 'Race of Heroes'. This was a 'Divine Race' created especially by Woden and no doubt, like the Greek Heroes, their reward was to sit in Valhalla beside the Gods in death. There they lived a life as on Earth, being prepared for their next incarnation in which they continued the great struggle against the Forces of Darkness and Chaos.
As a point here there may be more to the idea that the descendants of Troy were scattered around Europe, and that these may well have been associated with the Race of Heroes. We have seen how the AEliad tells how AEneus escaped Troy and went to Alba where Rome was founded, and that Romulus and Remus were his descendants. There may even be some truth in that Trojans came to Britain in ancient times. Certainly, Snorri links the Trojans to Norse Mythology. Whatever the case we may see some hint of truth even in stories embellished to suit later times, and the Myth of Troy is certainly the Myth of Ragnarok as I have shown before. Maybe we can see here a very ancient Archetypal Myth of the end of the Bronze Age.
Where we see Zeus withholding the Sacred Flame from man, we find that it is Prometheus who steals the Fire of the Gods and gives it to mankind. In this he aids mankind whereas Zeus does not. We do find in the legends of Zeus a very tyrannous god who destroys his work, just as that of Yahweh who does the same in the Old Testament - maybe the Old Testament was an influence on Greek Mythology. We find nothing of this in Germanic Mythology. It is also a fact that the Gods themselves, in this case Scef-Ing, give fire to mankind, as well as the 'Light of the Gods'. Zeus punishes Prometheus (*) for helping mankind, a far different concept than Germanic Myth. In none of the Norse Myths does Woden or any other god keep fire (or anything else) from mankind, in fact the gods aid mankind in bettering themselves at all levels.
(*) The name 'Prometheus' is said to mean 'foresight', but it has also been derived from pramantha which was the Swastika-Wheel used for creating Fire-by-Friction.
The Stan-Rune is obviously associated with the 'stone', but the glyph itself can be seen as an 'anvil' and interestingly we find that in some accounts the Sword is thrust into the Anvil. Here we have the association between the Sword, the Sword-smith and the Sacred Fire.
In the "Stone of Ing" we find the Fire-God within the Stone; Ingwe is the God of Fire. He is associated with the 'Fire in the Wood' and with Friction-Fire. Since the symbol of the Sword in the Tree is that of the Nyd-Rune we have once more an association with Fire, and more precisely Friction-Fire, fire produced by the friction of wood against wood. Of course, the stone can also be seen as the 'whetstone' that can produce fire by friction with iron or steel - the 'Fire-Stone'. Both the tree and the stone are here linked to the making of 'Fire'. The Sword (steel) and the Stone produce sparks that gives fire.
Agni and Ingwe are associated through their links to Fire; the word 'fire' refers to the physical whereas the term 'ignite' (stemming from the same root as 'agni') refers to the kindling of fire by friction. This is still valid today in most ways of making fire - steel on steel, wood on wood, steel (iron) on stone, the steel-striker and ferrous-rod, steel on steel (lighter) or matches on sandpaper. Electricity can produce fire but not in the same way.
Hesiod's Race of Heroes was 'given the possibility of attaining immortality and partaking, despite all, in a state similar to that of the Primordial Age." Whereas the destiny of the Bronze Age races was to 'descend ingloriously to Hades' the Race of Heroes as a higher lineage whose destiny was to become immortal and create a new 'Golden Age'. All of this fits the role of the 'Viras' (Heroes) spoken of by Miguel Serrano. What seems quite obvious from this is that the idea of Valhalla is associated with this Divine Race, as are the 'Golden Apples of Immortality' guarded by the Goddess Idunn.
Rather than use the word 'ignite' we may use that of 'kindle' and even these two different words are linked. 'Kindle' stems from the Ken-Rune which is itself the 'Fire of the Forge' (Blacksmith). The same rune is associated with -
- The Serpent-Dragon,
- The Fire-Serpent,
- Cosmic Fire,
- Knowledge and Wisdom,
- Female-Fire (Embla) - Elm's Fire.
'Fire-in-Water' is both associated with Hama and Agni, and Ingwe is often seen as the 'sap' which arises within the plant-tree and which is the 'Fire-Within', much the same as the Ingeous Blood of the God-Men. The Divine Hero does not go through the 'second death' but creates out of the 'Ka' (double or daemon) a 'new kind of incorruptible body (Sahu - 'Astral Body') that exists in the 'invisible' dimension'. Julius Evola associated this with Valhalla and the 'Triumphant Death', and this is the Solar Way. Interestingly the 'daemon' (**) was created by Zeus in the Golden Race but the Bronze Race did not have this.
(**) 'Daemon' was transfigured into the Christian 'demon' but the original meaning was far different and meant - 'god', 'godlike', 'power' or 'fate'. But there were 'good' daemons and 'evil' daemons.
The link between the Ash-Tree and Fire is not obvious; ash is a tree which burns even when wet but there has to be more to this than that. Another link may be the Latin name for 'ash' which is Fraxinus meaning 'firelight'; ash was also burned as the Yule-Log in places. One species found in Greece is the Fraxinus Ornus which gives off a honey-tasting sap they called meli and which was sold as manna for medicinal purposes until the start of the Twentieth Century. It would be interesting if the term 'melatonin' was related to this, since the honey-taste fits with the 'Nectar of the Gods' produced through Tantric Rites. Melatonin is produced by the Pineal Gland. However, the Greek melas from which this stems means 'black' or 'dark' and the word is a modern one used of this hormone. Synchronicity plays a part in these things too, so we cannot rule this out.
The English Rune-Row has the Os-Rune as the 'God-Rune' and the AEsc-Rune as the 'Ancestral Rune', the former being the Banner of Kingship. AEsc/Askr is the First Man. The Elder Futhark has Ansuz which derives from IE Root *ansu- meaning 'spirit'. There is a Sanskrit anshu which means 'beam of sunlight'.
There is an Aryan Root *war-/*wal- which has the following meanings -
- To cover, surround, protect, guard.
- To wind, turn, roll, hence 'well up as a spring'.
- To be warm, hot, to boil.
- To choose, to like, to will.
- To speak, to inform.
- To drag, tear, pluck, wound.
In these terms we can see the roots of the name Walkyrie, and also Wolsunga (Waels). There is also a link here between 'spirit' (wind, turn, spiral) and 'fire' (warm or hot).
It would seem that the 'Sword in the Stone' or 'Sword in the Tree' is symbolic of the 'Inner Fire' extracted through the removal of the weapon. The link between Sweorth and Cweorth through the Cweorth-Rune seems to be that of 'Sword' and 'Fire'. Since this is the 'Fire of Cremation' we may well associate this with the 'Divine Spark' within man, and the Spirit of Man released through the Funeral Pyre. This is another level of the meaning. That it is a particular 'chosen' one who can only pull the sword out also perhaps reflects that this has to be of this Divine Race of Heroes. The Waelsingas are the 'Divine Race of the Spirit'.
Throughout the Volsunga Saga we find the association between the Wolsungas and the Wolf; Richard Wagner incorporates this into his 'Ring Cycle' where Walse (Wolsung) is named 'Wolfe'. Helgi is the son of Sigmund and he is named of the 'Wulfinga' Tribe, an offshoot of the Wolsungas. We should recall the Alp Buri ('Sons of the Wolf') of Rumanian Myth who were the highest of the Seven Tribes of the Aryans. Two of the traits of the Wolsungas were 'Flashing Eyes' which shone like the Sun, and the 'Snake-in-the-Eye' of Sigurd, the most famous Wolsunga Hero. This last one was featured in a form of 'reincarnation' of this same Archetypal Hero in Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, the son of Ragnar Lothbrok and Aslaug, daughter of Sigurd and Brunhilde. The truth of this is less importance than the link between the Wolsungas and the most famous Viking Hero - Ragnar Lothbrok.
In old age Sigi (sire of the Wolsungas) was murdered by his brothers-in-law; his son Rerir avenged the murder. Of course, this once again is the Myth of Hamlet, though rather than a 'brother' we have 'brothers-in-law'. The Myth of the Sword in the Stone has been suggested as Danish in origin, and here we have the Myth of Hamlet which is also Danish. Having said that we cannot tell whether this was originally from the earlier 'Denmark' occupied by the English Tribes. The 'Rightful King of England' is he who draws the Sword from the Stone. Sigi himself is the core of an ancient Archetypal Myth where he slays his slave in anger and is outlawed for this, but holds favour with Woden who guides his actions as a Divine Hero.