Suht (Sutr), Mudspelles, Ragnarok, and the "Sons of Muspell"
Updated: Apr 15, 2019
All Germanic tribes venerated Uuoden (Odin) and the Aesir, but not all Germanic tribes shared "all" the Gods. The Saxons had Sahsnoth mentioned in two Saxon sources, with zero mentions in two Eddas and over 700 Norse Sagas. Dr. Philip Shaw has used linguistics, and archaeological evidence to prove that Eostre was only known to the Anglish (mainly in Kent), the Frisians, and the extreme north of Frankia. Eostre (or Ostar) is not mentioned in any Norse source either.
Saxon Heathens (Aldsidu, Old Saxon Heathenry of the Saxons in Saxony) have only 21 Old Saxon poems that survived, and many references in monastic, Frankish, and (earlier) Roman writings. Old Saxon Poems, as well as the Old English Poems (over 300 of those survive), do not mention Ragnarok. The Old Saxon Poems call the end of Middilgard "Mudspelles" not Ragnarok. Old Frankish Poems also mention Muspilli instead of Ragnarok. There is an Old Frankish Poem called Muspilli. Valhalla came on the scene late, only in Scandinavian sources. The earlier continental sources only mention "the meadow" as the "paradise" for the "glorious dead." The word "meadow" in Old Saxon is uuanga. But the Prose and Poetic Eddas mention the Norse Vangr (meadow) with Freyja's Folkvangr, where half the dead (whom Odin did not chose) went to instead of Valhalla. (Please see my blog called "Old Saxon, Old English, Old Norse Afterlife" where I post the two Eddaic passages, one from Snorri and one from the Elder Edda.) Now, to the question at hand: While Old Saxon literature mentions Mudspelles, did the Saxons know Suht (Old Norse Sutr), and the "Sons of Muspell" which Snorri mentions in the Prose Edda? Since not all deities span all the Germanic tribes, who therefore were the "enemies" of the Gods/Aesir in Saxon Heathenry, which has zero "Edaic" poems that survived? (PS- this includes Loki, as Loki is only Scandinavian and unknown/mentioned outside of Scandinavia, please see my Loki blog.) I think we Saxon Heathens have three options: 1. Chose to accept that we may not know 100% for sure who the enemies of the Gods were. Pros: It is not an easily attacked position. It seems to be a "safe" conclusion. Cons: Old Saxon (and also Old English) poems do imply (or state) that the elves give elf-shot to humans, as there are charms that have survived as a "charm" against elf-shot. Also, in all stories, there is a protagonist(s) and an antagonist(s). You can't have a story without any "conflict" or "drama" or something that the protagonist strives for/against. 2. We can give an educated GUESS that the Old Saxons knew Suht whose Old Norse Equivalent is Sutr. (I will discuss the pros and cons of this view below.) 3. We can give an educated GUESS that the Old Saxons knew "the Sons of Mudspelles" (the place). (We can also interpret Mudspelles as more than a place name, but a diety's name, like Hel is the deity of Hel in later Norse sources. However, if you see my blog on Hel (the being) only known and mentioned in Norse Sources, and the fact that Old Saxon gives very strong evidence that there was not a deity of any sort in Hel, I am going to flat out come out and rule this one out now.) See my blog on Hel (the Being) only in Norse Belief. I will discuss the pros and cons of this view below...
Did the Saxons know Suht? (Old Norse Sutr)?
Sutr is mentioned twice in the poem Völuspá, where a völva divulges information to the god Odin. The völva says that, during Ragnarök, Sutr will come from the south with flames, carrying a very bright sword.
Sutr ferr sunnan með sviga lævi: skinn af sverði sól valtiva.
Surtr moves from the south with the scathe of branches: there shines from his sword the sun of Gods of the Slain.
The Full Passage: 52. Sutr fares from the south with the scourge of branches, The sun of the battle-gods shone from his sword; The crags are sundered, the giant-women sink, The dead throng Hel-way, and heaven is cloven. 53. Now comes to Hlin yet another hurt, When Odin fares to fight with the wolf, And Beli's fair slayer seeks out Sutr, For there must fall the joy of Frigg. Please note, I bold the words "Hel-way" because they are in the Old Saxon poem "Heliand." Now, lets look to the Old Saxon literature. Old Saxon has a word "Suht" meaning "disease." Its plural form is "suhtiun." This is the Old Saxon equivalent of the Old Norse word Sutr.
Heliand Fitt 15: Oft gededa he that an them lande scîn, than he thar torhtlîco sô manag têcan giuuarhte, thar he hêlde mid is handun halte endi blinde, lôsde af theru lêfhêdi liudi manage, af sulicun suhtiun, sô than allaro suâroston an firiho barn fîund biuurpun, tulgo langsam legar.
He often made it shine in that land. There he brightly accomplished so many signs. There he held with his hands, halted the blindness, there he made many well from such diseases, and all darkness of the children of men which the enemy inflicted for a long time.
Heliand Fitt 36: Thar imu tegegnes quam ên idis fan âðrom thiodun; siu uuas iru aðaligeburdeo, cunnies fan Cananeo lande; siu bad thene craftagan drohtin, hêlagna, that he iru helpe gerêdi, quað that iru uuâri harm gistanden, soroga at iru selƀaru dohter, quað that siu uuâri mid suhtiun bifangen: "bedrogan habbiad sie dernea uuihti. Nu is iro dôd at hendi, thea uurêðon habbiad sie geuuitteu benumane. Nu biddiu ik thi, uualdand frô min, selƀo sunu Dauides, that sie af sulicum suhtiun atômies, that thu sie sô arma êgrohtfullo uuamscaðon biuueri."
There before him came one woman from a foreign tribe, she was of noble-birth, from a family of Canannites, she asked the mighty holy drohtin, that he would provide help. She said that harm was done to her, she was worrying about her daughter. She said that her daughter was seized by diseases. “Evil hidden wights had seized her with diseases. Now her death is at hand, the wrathful ones took away her mind. Now I ask you, my Ruling Fro (Lord), son of David, that you release her of such diseases, ward off the evil shadows upon the poor girl.”
Due to these two passages, I conclude that it seems unlikely that the Old Saxon Heathens knew "Suht" as the Norse Heathens knew "Sutr." The reason is, that "evil wights" not "Suht" is responsible for the daughter having "diseases." Therefore, it seems implausible that the Saxons knew Suht the being.
Did the Old Saxons know "The Sons of Mudspelles" or just "etins" (Giants of Fire) that came from Mudspelles?
Snorri, and only Snorri mentions the "Sons of Muspell." No Norse Sagas (that I am aware of, of the over 700 Sagas and poems) nor does the Poetic Edda mention the "Sons of Muspell." Snorri however (several times) mentions the Sons of Muspell. While I do feel that Snorri lies at times (he lied about the calendar, i.e. the Norse did not have 15 moons in the year), and he lies saying that the Norse Gods were just human Norse peoples who became deified. (Heathens accept our Gods as Deities and not past Ancestors deified.) But, while I am not a fan of Snorri most of the time, I think he is discussing an old belief here. Prose Edda:
Gylfaginning 4: Still there was before a world to the south which height Muspel. It is light and hot, and so bright and dazzling that no stranger, who is not a native there, can stand it. Surt is the name of him who stands on its border guarding it. He has a flaming sword in his hand, and at the end of the world he will come and harry, conquer all the gods, and burn up the whole world with fire. Thus it is said in the Vala's Prophecy: Surt from the south fares With blazing flames; From the sword shines The sun of the war-god. Rocks dash together And witches collapse, Men go the way to Hel And the heavens are cleft.
Gylfaginning 13: Then asked Ganglere: What is the path from earth to heaven? Har answered, laughing: Foolishly do you now ask. Have you not been told that the gods made a bridge from earth to heaven, which is called Bifrost? You must have seen it. It may be that you call it the rainbow. It has three colors, is very strong, and is made with more craft and skill than other structures. Still, however strong it is, it will break when the sons of Muspel come to ride over it, and then they will have to swim their horses over great rivers in order to get on. Then said Ganglere: The gods did not, it seems to me, build that bridge honestly, if it shall be able to break to pieces, since they could have done so, had they desired. Then made answer Har: The gods are worthy of no blame for this structure. Bifrost is indeed a good bridge, but there is nothing in the world that is able to stand when the sons of Muspel come to the fight.
Gylfaginning 55: The Midgard-serpent vomits forth venom, defiling all the air and the sea; he is very terrible, and places himself by the side of the wolf. In the midst of this clash and din the heavens are rent in twain, and the sons of Muspel come riding through the opening. Surt rides first, and before him and after him flames burning fire. He has a very good sword, which shines brighter than the sun. As they ride over Bifrost it breaks to pieces, as has before been stated. The sons of Muspel direct their course to the plain which is called Vigrid.
There are two Old Saxon Heliand passages on Mudspelles. However, there are two different spellings of Mudspelles in these passages. But it is clear that it is the same word, i.e. seems to be equal (or similar) to the Norse Muspell (often called Muspelheim.)
My educated GUESS is that Etins (giants) who were associated with Mudspelles brought about the start of Mudspelles (i.e. the Old Saxon version of Ragnarok.) Please visit our Facebook page "Germanic Heathenry" and our Facebook Group "Saxon Heathenry."