Updated: May 22
"Kindred" and "King." Both are related words believe it or not, though only one word is historical. "Kindred" is a modern word, (not attested in the Sagas/Eddas), coming from the Germanic word "kin" meaning "family." A "kind" was the offspring of the "kin." The Old Saxon word for “family” was “kuni” (modern English “kin”) and the Old Saxon word for “leader of a family/clan” was “kunning”. “King” was a “family leader” in the early-Heathen mindset, not a leader of a nation or tribe (which Germanic tribes did, over time, have those kind of kings, i.e. Roman Kaiser/dictator kings.)
Bede, an Anglish Monk stated clearly in his most famous work Ecclesiastical History of the English People in 731 AD: "For these Old Saxons have no king, but several lords who are set over the nation. Whenever war is imminent, these cast lots impartially, and the one on whom the lot falls is followed and obeyed by all for the duration of the war; but as soon as the war ends, the lords revert to equality of status."
When Bede uses the term "Old Saxons" he means the Saxons who stayed in Saxony and did not go to Britannia (England) with the Anglish. When Bede says "king" he means the later Christian/Roman understanding of the word, like Jesus being king of the Jews (all Israel), and not the leader of a Jewish clan. The Hebrew word for "king" is "melech" and it is more along the lines of a dictator like a Kaiser (the word "kaiser" means 'Caesar'). In the Christian mind, a king is a ruler over an entire tribe or nation, ordained by God through a kingly line (of divine) birth ordained by the will of the Christian God. In a heathen mind, a "kunning" is much smaller than that, a family head, i.e. the head of his kuni or "kin". Yes, I understand that the Heathens started to think more “nation state” or “reich” over time, due to their observances of Christian Kings and Christian “nations.”
Basically, Bede is saying that in Old Saxony there were many clan/family leaders among the nobles, and in times of war they would by lot (through the Gods) determine who would be the "theoden" (leader) of the entire Saxon tribe temporarily, until the war ended, and then that leader would fall back to equality status. Saxon society was set up to avoid "kings" in the "Kaiser" (Caesar) and dictatorial sense, that kings certainly became all over Europe, including England. To be super blunt, due to many bad Kings in England and Germany, so many people emigrated to the new world "America.” Bede stated clearly that the Saxons in Saxony had no kings, and Bede was well aware that there were “Saxon kings” in Sussex, Essex, and Wessex. Bede wrote about those kings too in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People. The Saxons in Saxony and the Saxons in England may have been two different peoples, as there were certainly differences between the Anglo-Saxons (Anglish/English) and the Saxons in Saxony.
In Norse society, there were several Kings in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. These three countries were not unified as early as the Christian countries. The first mention of the word "Denmark" in Denmark itself is the 10th century Jelling Stone. Even the (very inaccurate) Vikings TV show portrays the first King of ALL Norway, Harold Finehair. Harold was a Heathen and he actually was the first “historical super-king of all Norway.” But later Norwegian history proved that a “super-king” in Norway was disastrous, Harold's son, Hakon the Good, would be the first in a long line of "bigger than just a clan leader kings" to ram Christianity down the throats of Heathens. This is why a “super bigger than clan leader king” is a bad idea… and I am proud to say that my Saxon Ancestors got it right.
Arminius, the most famous "pre-Saxon" or "proto-Saxon" descended from a tribe that would eventually merge into the tribal confederation known as the "Saxons." Arminius gave Rome its greatest defeat, in the Battle of the Teutoberg Forest in 9AD. While Arminius gave the Germanic tribes several centuries of freedom from Roman domination, his life came to an end because his own family poisoned him. The Germanic tribes that became the Saxons, while grateful to Arminius for freeing them from Rome, were quite unhappy. These proto-Saxon tribes did not have kings. Arminius wanted to rule them as Caesar type Roman King, and that went against who the Germanic tribes were (and later Saxon tribal thau), so Arminius was poisoned by his own family just to end his Kaiser/Caesar like (super-king) ambitions.
Did not arch Heathen thought believe all "men" (men and women) were of divine birth?
(Tacitus, Germania chapter 2, circa 95 AD). Tacitus states specifically: “In traditional songs which form their only record of the past, the Germanic tribes celebrate an earth-born God called Tuisto. His son Mannus is supposed to be the fountain-head of their race and himself to have begotten three sons who gave their names to three groups of tribes: the Ingaevones, nearest the sea, the Herminones, in the interior; and the Istaevones, who comprise all the rest."
Please note, Tacitus specifically states "His son Mannus is supposed to be the fountain-head of their race..." Precisely. Tacitus makes clear that the entire Germanic Tribal "race" is descended from Mannus.
Tuisto, gives birth to Mannus (German word for "man(kind)"), who gives birth to three sons: Irmin, Ing, and Istvae. The sequence in which one God has a son, who has three famous sons, has a resemblance to the Norse creation story of how Búri has a son Borr who has three sons: Odin, Vili and Vé.
These lineages imply ALL are of divine birth, as all Germans (mankind) are descended from Mannus. The proof is also in the language. In Old Saxon, the word for “human” is “guman.” The “g” in the word “gumon” is pronounced more like a “y” or “hy” in sound. Many “g” letters in Old Saxon are pronounced like a “y”. The word “human” is related to the name “Mannus.” Mannus is obviously also related to the Germanic word for “man” (mann).
Ynglinga Saga portrays Odin as a Human who later became a God. Many say that is Snorri being a Christian and anti-Heathen. But is he? The Ynglings felt they were descended from Odin, who is portrayed as a human King (clan leader) in Ynglinga Saga. The Heathen word "god" (Old Saxon) comes into our modern English, but I don't think it meant some all-powerful monotheistic all-knowing God to the Germanic tribes. In Norse Heathenry, all the Gods die at Ragnarok. The Old Saxon Heliand implies that the Saxon Gods all die at Mutspelli (the Saxon "Ragnarok.") Gods in Germanic folklore do die, and are not all powerful, and are subject to the weavings of Uurd and her Shapers (In Old Norse: Urthr and the Nornir). Gods lose hands in our lore (they are not all powerful) and Odin pulled an eye out that did not grow back, and Snorri’s Baldr story has a God dying. Odin is not all knowing, he relies on two ravens to tell him what is going on... and this is clearly not due to him having only one eye…
Basically, what I am rambling about, is that many words change in meaning just due to christianization. Even things like the Jewish (biblical) Friday at Sundown until Saturday at Sundown (7th day Shabbat or Sabbath) has changed in meaning to the Roman first day of the week, i.e. Sunday. (The word "sabbath" has not changed in meaning for Jewish people, just for christianity.) In the end, in the debate over what day is the Biblical Sabbath, the Jewish Peoples defeat the "church" hands down...
I recently had an un-pleasant discussion with one of the most respected and knowledgeable Old Saxon and Old English people online. He has YouTubes teaching these Germanic languages. He argued with me that the Saxons did not have moons, that I was wrong to translate “blodmanuth” as “blood moon” as “Bosworth-Toller says Blodmanod is “November.”” My statement in reply that Anglish and Saxon peoples were Germanic and did not have twelve fixed solar moons totaling 365.22 days of the year fell on deaf ears. I even quoted Tacitus who clearly states the Germanic tribes started their days at Sundown and reckoned their days and years by the moon. This too was ignored. Why? Because the Old English words that people memorize, are memorized wrongly, with a modern understanding, and not a historical time period understanding.
Heathen understandings of words are understood by us too monotheistically, and unfortunately a good Heathen student or researcher must become fluent in at least one Germanic language and read Heathen literature in that language, to understand what these Heathen terms meant to arch-Heathens. When I say that the "Old Saxon language did not have a word for a seven-day week" people get mad, because "tiwsdaeg" (for Tuesday), and "Woden'sdaeg" for Wednesday, "Thunorsdaeg" for Thunor's Day, and "Frisdaeg" for Friday as Germanic names of the days of the week were born in Christianized (but formerly Heathen) England. People therefore just ASSume that Heathens believed in a seven-day week, despite the fact that Heathen literature proves they did not. Heathen literature has days of the moon waxing and waning, in both Saxon and Norse literature to boot. Heathenry did not have a "myth" of God creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh. The seven-day week is Semitic in origin (i.e. Sumeria, before Israel). To understand the Heathen world view, one must study, A LOT, and one must think differently than our modern world.
I believe too many Heathens are like Christians who never read their bible. I have received some flack for stating Odin is portrayed as a human in Ynglinga Saga, and it appears to me from my online discussions, most Heathens do not read the Sagas and Eddas. Therefore, I will quote the first two mentions of Odin (who is a human, not a god) in Ynglinga Saga. The entire saga portrays Odin as a human, and Ynglinga Saga is about the Yngling family tracing their descent from Halfdan the Black to Odin.
Here is Ynglinga Saga, the first part of Chapter 2: “The country east of the Tanaquisl in Asia was called Asaland, or Asaheim, and the chief city in that land was called Asgaard. In that city was a chief called Odin, and it was a great place for sacrifice. It was the custom there that twelve temple priests should both direct the sacrifices, and also judge the people. They were called Diar, or Drotner, and all the people served and obeyed them. Odin was a great and very far-travelled warrior, who conquered many kingdoms, and so successful was he that in every battle the victory was on his side.” If people were to read the entire Ynglinga Saga (it is not that long) they would see Odin Portrayed as a human... Odin was a God, but the question at hand is, even though he was a God, did not the arch-Heathens believe that the Germanic people descended from him? I think Tacitus, and the combined evidence, shows that the Germanic tribes were (in their mind) descended from the Gods. The Saxons felt they were descended from Sahsnoth, the Ynglings felt they descended from Yngvi-Freyr in the Ynglinga Saga. And Tacitus felt the Germanic peoples descended from Mannus' descendents of Ing, Irmin (Jormun, a kenning for Odin), and Istvae. Join us on Facebook, in the closed group called "Saxon Heathenry"