Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Introduction to the rachine

Who are the rachine and what does this term mean? Quite simply put they are what we have come to call the ‘gods’, however the meaning of the word is closer to ‘power’ or ‘ruling’ as is the case with the Germanic regin. Through the translations made by Hendrik Kern, we have received the definition of rachinburgi as ‘tax collector’ or ‘juror’, which falls within the same general description of the rachine, a reconstructed Old Low Franconian form of ‘ruling power’.

But who were the Frankish rachine? Who were the gods that this confederation honoured. To answer this is no easy task as all we have left is half comprehensible comparative linguistics, educated guesses and tidbits of possibly related modern folk beliefs. This at first doesn’t look promising, however the advancements which have been made are worthy of note and worthy of the attention of Aldsido.

In future posts I will go into further detail of the very nature of each of the rachine as well as can be presented. But now I wish to focus on naming a few of these ruling powers and go into small detail about each one. Think of it as a ‘wetting of the appetite’ until the more dedicated posts are made.

Firstly, we have to look at the days of the week as a way of unravelling the interpretato romana of earlier centuries. As in the case with the English days of the week, the Dutch days follow a similar pattern of naming with but slight differences. The days are known as Maandag, Dinsdag, Woensdag, Donderdag, Vrijdag, Zaterday, Zondag. These correspond to the English Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The only exception to the rule seems to be with the Dutch Tuesday, which is named after the ‘thing’ or ‘lawful assembly’. This might very well point to the nature of the rachin Tiu who was seen as an overseer of the thing and may well have decided the outcomes of such assemblies.

So very clearly we can tell that the ruling powers that were important to the Dutch and may well have been the same held special to the earlier Frankish tribes were the Moon, Tyr, Odin, Thor, Freya (Frigg), Saturn? and the Sun. To get their reconstructed Old Low Franconian forms we have too look to Köbler’s OLF reconstructions as well as using OHG as a reference to build off of. In doing so we get Māndag, T(h)in(g)sdag, Wuo(d)ansdag, Đonarsdag, Frīdag, Saterdag?, Sundag. This then gives us the names of the rachine as Māno, Tiu (unshifted form of Ziu), Wuodan, Đonar (though Donar would seem equally proper), Frīa, Saturn? (much remains to uncovering who this Saturn was though all signs point to a fertility god(dess) as Ingo or Nerthus (Njord)) and Sunna.

Why the Moon and Sun where counted in the mix could come from either a calque  of the Latin Luna and Sol or in my opinion as evinced by the Icelandic tales, the Moon and Sun were just as much rulers of men. This may be reflected in the nōdfūir ritual (need fire, feu de calamité) where in 18th century Haute-Bavière it was customary to light a needfire in thanks of the many benefits of the Sun and fire as bestowed upon man. They would offer roosters and cats into the blaze as offringas. As well in many Wallonian towns and other Germanic counties, it was tradition to light festive fires on Sundays. Conserning the Moon, we find much supporting evidence as well.

Other rachine that we find in the extent literature and archaeological sources concerning the descendants of the Franks are:

Berhta: (Bert(h)e among the French), meaning ‘bright’. She has long been associated with the household, women, children and spinning. Her name is well known throughout the modern locals of the old Frankish empire. In Burgundy, there is a saying ‘in the years that Bertha spun’, which alludes to her having a connection to time as well. This may put her in an equal position to the Icelandic Frigg (they may be descendant from the same source) as a goddess of the home or hīwiski. She looks over the running of the home and all the occupants within it, usually woman and their domestic work.

Heva: This relatively unknown Batavian and possibly Ubian goddess is known only by an inscription on an alter stone where she is depicted as the wife of Herculus Magusanus. This Hercules is suspected of being an interpretato romana of Đonar, however there is also good evidence that if this was the case, the Batavians modeled much of his cult upon Roman tales. Heva or Hæva means ‘to lift’ or ‘exhalted’. All we can assume is that she was a very local rachina who played but a supporting role to her husband.

Nehalennian: It is not known what her name means exactly though there is speculation that it means something related to ‘compassion’. There have been many alter stones discovered where the messages inscribed upon them are of thanks for safe voyages and protected cargo. She is also depicted on stone accompanied by a dog and a basket of fruit or wheat. This may point to a fertility role as associated with the waterways as many inscriptions mentioned seafaring. It was customary in old Belgium to process ships through towns, which may be linked to her cult. This could be the source of the word ‘carnival’ from ‘carrus navalis’ meaning ‘sea-chariot’. She was clearly honoured by the old Batavian people, which may very well have spilled into Frankish customs on a local scale.

More to come…


1 comment:

  1. I amended the case endings to reflect a nominative form, i.e o > e