Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tingvoll Church. Norway Standing Stones. Menhir. Why still standing, if Christianity really took over?

Standing stones, menhir, may well root from Indo-European, Middle Eastern,
including Hebrew-Canaanite origins,
with migrations of populations ages ago as shown by haplogroups, genetics.
Explore standing stones as evidence of earliest migrations: East, Indo-European, Middle east, to Europe North and West.  How does that fit with the general ideas of Northern Europe as "Aryan"? 

Tingvoll prefers not to look back, and ignores its standing stone in its literature.  Allow it back.

 Tingvoll Church, Standing Stone, Tingvoll, Norway

1. The origin of standing stones, or menhir, is usually dismissed as lost in the mists, or vaguely (or overtly) dismissed as fertility-related, or attached to a story of a god, or unexplained, or handily repurposed with a plaque memorializing an event millenia later as at Hoyjord stave church in Andebu (1940-45 memorial plaque).  They become mere archeological footnotes, as the western focus shifts conveniently to history after militant Papal Christianity was imposed on old religious customs including whatever these represented, in the 11th-12th Centuries or so.

This church ignores its fine standing stone, see the official site photograph of the graveyard, carefully excluding the standing stone, see http://www.tingvoll.org/tingvollkirka/del16b.htm

Go further. Follow other dots to origins and meaning of standing stones.

Follow DNA, haplogroups, and their roots, from the Middle East and Indo-European cultures, as they migrated to Europe and, of interest here, northern Europe: Scandinavia.

Haplogroup or cultural migrations from the middle east to Europe and particularly including northern Europe, stemmed from Indo-European and other cultures. 

These old, cold cultures include the Hebrew, where there were practices of memorializing places and events, and marking where petitions may bear fruit, with stones. See http://followtherabbi.com/world/encyclopedia/article/standing-stones1/  Learn that the Hebrew word is "massebah" for "to set up." See Pagan and Christian Creeds: Their Origin and Meaning, by Edward Carpenter back in 1921 (current scholarship agrees or disagrees? the genetic ties should lead to some updating).

Tie that idea to conventional Christianity-Jewish interpretations. Is it a stretch, then, to consider that the Biblical tradition of standing stones as religious constructs also went in the company of "lost" tribes of Israel who might have been among the haplogroups analysed in genetic migration history in DNA. Even popular culture refers to the concept of oldest roots, see a Jewish site, Yahweh's Sword at page, Yacob Puts Up a Stele Named Beth-El.

Origins of practices, then, can be broadly cultural even if specifically unattributable to specific groups now, see broadly http://www.eupedia.com/europe/origins_haplogroups_europe.shtml/  Scroll past the heavy data to migrations at http://www.jogg.info/42/files/logan.htm

2.  Solitary standing stones are common in Norway, as in much of Europe.

There are fewer full stone circles in Norway, however.  Some mystery ones do appear, however, near roadsides, near "groves" and watercourses, and without signs.  Stop anyway.  It is a well-tended, easily missed little spot, with a stream to the right, down a small slope.  What is this? New whimsy, or is this "old" or was there an old site here?

Standing stone circle, new or old? Route from Tingvoll, after Rykkjen on way to Rindal, Norway

The solitary menhir or standing stone is more usual. As an antidote to whatever power they might convey to a believer, Christian churches are often set up near or even close beside a standing stone, as here at Tingvoll. The testimony of the stone: Others were here before.

3.  Ongoing presence.  Why?  If Christianity really did take over hearts and minds.

Then ask, why did these menhir, these standing stones, remain in Norway in the churchyards after the forced Christianization of the 11th-12th Centuries?  Was resistance to the new Christianity, being imposed by the kings (after the 9th Century Charlemagne and subsequent Holy Roman Empire armies had slaughtered the northern tribes that refused to convert) so strong. There had been centuries of benign missionaries in Scandinavia, living among the people and in the settlements. But they were shoved out by the new militant Christian institution-bearers in the name of the Pope and Kings who conquered the old.  Did even they not dare to destroy the people's most dear connections to the other world.

Pagan? What to call the revered objects of groups overcome, forced to convert to other systems. If Hebrew, how pagan? Interesting. Back to tribe of Dan, and place called Dan. Standing stones in Israel were/are there, see IVP Bible Background Commentary,at p.409 (a 2000 publication) and elsewhere, as at 403.  Were these Canaanite and seen as a threat to Jahweh, or was the practice also one of the Israelites themselves. To your scriptoria. Were they Indo-originated before then?

Tingvoll Church, Standing Stone, Menhir, Norway; graveyard at medieval stone church

4.  Next trip. Catch them all.
  • My regret as a car-tripper is missing places not in guidebooks, that amateur advance planning did not unearth. I was not aware ahead of time of all the standing stones in Norway. Guidebooks do not focus on that, or offer much clue.
  • For example, we could have seen the menhir, standing stones, at Tjolling, Larvik; and near Frederikstad; and at Leikanger, Sognfjord, 10-11 tons, in sagas, but those were written long after the noted events, and by recorders of tales with their own agendas, see http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=27743/; and http://blog.hanshan.org/#category4/  We did see many others, by happenstance, and with awe.
Ask what did it mean to be "pagan" and how did the practices, goals, human needs, differ between systems.  Was institutional Christianity in any way more conducive to peace and the common good?  A timeline of the forced conversions of the Norse to Christianity, including in Iceland, is at http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/mythology/religion/text/practices.htm I see no reference to this kind of standing stone, clearly phallic in shape, and a shape that recurs in early cultures including our own Washington monument.

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