Old Saxon texts

In Utrecht, the Netherlands, a text was found from the time of the Christianisation of these parts, the end of the 8th century. It has the famous opening line: “Forsachistu diobolae”, ‘do you forsake the devil?’ and the names of three Gods “thunaer ende uoden ende saxnote”, Donar/Thor, Wodan/Odin and Saxnot.

The second thing the heathen had to forsake was “end allum diobolgeldae”. This is usually translated as ‘and all offerings to the devil?’, but the word “geldae” is a reference to offering meals of the guilds (gildi).

Another text was found in the Netherlands from the same period, the Indiculus superstitionum et paganiarum or ‘Small index of superstitions and paganism’. The list contains 30 entries, a few of which are interesting here as well.

  1. De sacrilegio ad sepulchra mortuorum. – “On desecration of the graves of the dead”
  2. De sacrilegio super defunctos id est dadsisas. – “On desecration above the dead, the dead’s banquet”
  3. De spurcalibus in Februario. – “On banquets in Februari”

These are manners of the guilds that the heathen had to forsake in the Baptismal Vow. Several of the other points seem to be connected to these guilds as well.

A bit of an odd one is:

29. De ligneis pedibus vel manibus pagano ritu. – “On wooden feet and hands after heathen rite”

Something like a bare ankle…?

Obviously the guilds were prechristian and it is because of these prohibition that the heathen guilds has to change form so many took on a Christian varnish. The patron was replaced by a comparable Christian saint, such as St. Michael for Odin, St. George for Thor or St. Anthony for Freyr. Thor was apparently fairly popular, because there are still numerous St. George shooting guilds and the like.

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