Georges Dumézil was born in 1898 and passed away in 1986.  He supposedly has been a Freemason between 1936 and 1939(1), but that is not what this article is about. As far as I know he never wrote about Freemasonry. Dumézil was a scholar in the field of comparitive mythology. As a matter of fact, he came up with a novel theory that stirred up his field of investigation and which still has many adherents today. It is this ‘basic’ theory of Dumézil that I want to say a few things about without going into much detail.

Dumézil sought a way to compare different mythologies and have some foundation for the comparisons. It is too easy to find a person with green hair in two mythologies and say that they are the same. Initially he recognised two “functions”, but after he while Dumézil came to the conclusion that there are actually three “functions”. This is the “tripartite theory” or “trifunctional hypothesis“. Simply said, the worlds of Gods and those of men (reflected in the former) can be divided in three different “functions”: a sovereign / religious function, a military function and a productive function. This is very obvious in the caste-system with Brahmas, Ksatriyas, Vaisyas (and the ‘out-cast’ Sudras). Dumézil ‘line’ would be priest/king (-1-), knights (-2-) and farmers (-3-). In the Edda in the Rigsþula we can read how Rig (Heimdallr), begets three children who obviously belong to three classes. The first child is called “Þræll” (‘slave’ -3-), the second “Karl” (‘freeman’ -2-) and the third “Jarl” (‘earl’ -1-).

When we have a look at the Gods, you will notice that the first and third “function” are often ‘double functions’. In Norse mythology we find Odin (religion/magic) together with Tyr (law) in the first “function”, Thor (strength/power) in the second and Freyr and Freyja (fertility/productivity) in the third. This comparison mostly comes because in Hindu mythology the devision is clearer: Mitra and Varuna (-1-), Indra (-2-) and the Nasatya twins (-3-). To name a few more examples: Jupiter (-1-), Mars (-2-), Quirinus (-3-), Lug (-1-), Dagda (-2-), Fal (-3-).

Of course this does not always fit perfectly. Odin has elements of both the first (magic) and second (war) “functions”, as does Tyr. The ‘trinity’ in Celtic mythology is quite forced. The bottom line is that there is a structure to compare myths with. There is no use to find arguments to equate Jupiter with the Ashvins (the Nasatya twins). They are not going to match.

Should you be interested in Dumézil and his theories. He wrote most books in French, but quite a few are available in English. Not all titles are well available, but with a little effort, most books can be bought second hand. He wrote books about specific mythologies, but he always compares them to other mythologies. Gods Of The Ancient Northmen and Archaic Romen Religion are obviously about Norse and Roman mythology respectively. He also wrote book about different functions. Mitra-Varuna, an essay on two Indo-European Representations of Sovereignty and The Destiny of a KingThe Destiny of the Warrior are examples. All books offer fascinating and very readable comparitive mythology.

I am sure you have already made the bridge to Freemasonry? Our ‘Lesser Lights’ are Wisdom (-1-), Strength (-2-) and Beauty (-3-). They fit perfectly. What does fit less perfectly is the placement of the corresponding candles and the officers these Lesser Lights are linked to. It does make a nice exercise figuring what would be the most logical correspondences and placements.

(1) “But the new regime removed him from his position at the École Pratique des Hautes Études because he had belonged to a Masonic lodge between 1936 and 1939” (source), also see the book Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science page 22, note 19.


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