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The Beast of Gotland
Here we start back in Gotland again.
If you do not understand what that means, please read the previous blogs.
Were the men of Gotland considered Beasts?
Oh hell yes! And they were very nice and very good at it!
We have learned, the unforgettable memory, of these giants of men, ravaging and pillaging all of Europe, and wearing kilts, possibly so they can easily take it off, and fight in the buff.
Did you remember that our ancestors were generally accepted to have originated the heiti for
“men (of the tribe)”, with the literal meaning “they who pour their seed”. This is one of the oldest mention of men from the same tribe or clan, or family who went off to battle together.
The Killing Beast
The short form of Gautigoths was the Old Norse Gautar, which originally referred to just the inhabitants of Västergötland, or the western parts of today’s Götaland, a meaning which is retained in some Icelandic and Norse sagas.
Beowulf is one of those Norse sagas, along with Gautar and Widsith. Beowulf and the Norse sagas describe several battles, such as a raid into Frisia, ca 516, which is described in Beowulf, along with the events related in this epic, some described the Geats as a nation which was “bold, and quick to engage in war”.
Not only in the Story of Beowulf were they giants in battle, but the Gotalanders, were making a lot of gold for killing Romans, and protecting Romans. They were developing a reputation for being quick to the fight!
There remain picture stones of Gotland. Hundreds of memorial stones were produced from the local limestone, in pre-viking and Viking times, which became richly informative. General themes are easily recognized: ships on a journey, men fighting in battle or defending a house, a warrior being welcomed home or into Valhalla, often by a woman who offers him a drinking horn, stories of gods and heroes.
These stones were the written stories of all the men that were lost, those that came home, and all that fought bravely.
One very interesting stone has been given the name Ardre VIII. It stands about 7 feet tall, and is round at the top and is broken into different sections that depict some of the stories of battles. There are two other stones to look into Larbro I, and the Klinte Hunninge.
They might have been Bold, and Quick to engage in war, but they were Ready and Faithful to the Heiti or tribe, they were the Beasts of Gotland.
Beauty and the Beast
The Grimm Brothers wrote many tales. Their tales were the first to be written of the beasts, but were stories orally told over and over again for centuries. Like playing telephone, and the stories change a bit here and there. The Grimm Fairy tales were a collection of tales and stories told of old. The old monsters and beasts who lived on the land.
These stories were of big monsters, and mean women who ate little children. Wicked people who were deep in the forest, and took children far away never to be seen from again. Most of these stories carried through for hundreds of years, all telling of the Beasts of Gotland.
Thankfully, along came Walt Disney and romanticized these stories. Cinderella, Snow White and Hansel and Gretel. Well, Walt Disney did tame the beast and made the stories easier to experience than the Grimms Tales, but there are scenes in each one that can have us sitting on the edge of the chair. All stories of the terrible beasts that were from Gotland. Finally, a good story about the beasts, Beauty and the Beast, and let us not forget Gulliver’s Travels.
The Beast become a Symbol
Our ancestors were experts in carving in wood and the beast is designed into many of their stylings.
They were the shipbuilders for most of Europe, but their own ships were decorated with beautiful hand carvings, most of which were that of beasts. Sometimes a different beast was used for a group of ships leaving for one war, or one battle. Similar to a team of players all wearing the same ship and design.
And of course, as early as 200 – 300 A.C.E. runic inscriptions are found on memorial stones and jewelry as well. These ancestors came through the stone age, the bronze age, the iron age and such, and their designs of the beasts come through their designs of jewelry. One of my favorite of these rune memorial stones is found at Lund, and shows Hyrokkin riding on her wolf, and includes the wonderful serpent reins that she used to control the great beast.
Viking Art has become very popular, and there are many different types of Viking Art, but the Urnes style has lasted through out the centuries. You can see the BEAST, a symbol actually representing all the generations of Gotlanders who fought bravely for home, and yes for gold, but most importantly for their family in many works today.
Every year in August, the people of Gotland dress in pre-viking and Viking garb, and you will see the flag of The Beast of Gotland, flying proudly throughout their villages.
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