Our Original Religion

The Proto-Indo-European pantheon includes well-attested deities such as *Dy?us P?at?r, the god of the daylit skies, his daughter *Haéus?s, the goddess of the dawn, the Horse Twins, and the storm god *Perkwunos. Other probable deities include *Péh2us?n, a pastoral god, and *Seh2ul, a Sun goddess.

Well-attested myths of the Proto-Indo-Europeans include a myth involving a storm god who slays a multi-headed serpent that dwells in water, a myth about the Sun and Moon riding in chariots across the sky, and a creation story involving two brothers, one of whom is sacrificed by the other in order to create the world. The Proto-Indo-Europeans may have believed that the Otherworld was guarded by some kind of watchdog and could only be reached by crossing a river. They also may have believed in some kind of world tree, bearing fruit of immortality, either guarded by or gnawed on by a serpent or dragon of some kind and tended to by three goddesses, who were believed to spin the thread of life.

“Aesir-Asura correspondence” refers to the relation between æsir, an Old Norse word meaning “gods” (the plural of the singular word áss “god”) and ásura?, a Sanskrit word referring to certain warlike and aggressive demons. Also related is the Avestan word ahura, found as the title of the god Ahura Mazda.

The Proto-Germanic form of Old Norse áss, deduced by comparison to other Germanic languages, living and dead, is *ansuz. The plural of this Proto-Germanic word was *ansiwiz, which by regular sound changes into æsir.

The word ásura? can be postulated to come from Proto-Indo-Iranian *n?suras, where *n?su- is the zero-grade form equivalent to the Gemanic *ansu-, both from a Proto-Indo-European root *H2ensu-. In Sanskrit, ásu? (PIIr *n?sus) means “vital spirit” or “life”, and is presumably related, suggesting a common meaning “spirit”.

Both words describe a family of divine beings, the Æsir is the pantheon of the principal Norse gods, and Asuras are a group of Hindu deities. Each group is set up against another group of gods; the Æsir warred with the Vanir, whereas the Asuras oppose the Devas. In Norse mythology the Æsir are generally approved of (and worshipped) while the asuras have a more negative reputation in the Indian religions. However, the use of ahura to refer to the greatest god of Zoroastrianism implies that the word once had more favorable connotations. In the earlier Vedic literature also those we know of as Devas, like Indra, are called Asuras.

The relationship between the Æsir and Vanir parallel the Asuras and Devas in another way; like the Æsir, the Asuras were associated in Vedic myth with human phenomena (contracts, the arts, fate), while the Vanir, like the Devas, are associated with natural phenomena (such as Njord and Freyr, associated with fertility).

The Meteorological School holds that Proto-Indo-European religion was largely centered around deified natural phenomena such as the sky, the Sun, the Moon, and the dawn. This meteorological interpretation was popular among early scholars, but has lost a considerable degree of scholarly support in recent years. (I see this everywhere)

The Ritual School, on the other hand, holds that Proto-Indo-European myths are best understood as stories invented to explain various rituals and religious practices. Bruce Lincoln, a member of the Ritual School, argues that the Proto-Indo-Europeans believed that every sacrifice was a reenactment of the original sacrifice performed by the founder of the human race on his twin brother. (CD: I don’t see this, I see reference to some historic conflict. )

The Functionalist School holds that Proto-Indo-European society and, consequently, their religion, was largely centered around the trifunctional system proposed by Georges Dumézil, which holds that Proto-Indo-European society was divided into three distinct social classes: farmers, warriors, and priests. (I don’t see this.)

The Structuralist School, by contrast, argues that Proto-Indo-European religion was largely centered around the concept of dualistic opposition. (I see this as utter nonsense.)

CD: Mindfulness requires myth(rules), ritual(costs), and feast(rewards). All peoples have rituals. All rituals justify metaphysical value judgements. Myths and rituals develop together. The feast is a universal ritual. There is some ancient event that involved brother murder. (It is possible that this is the division between east and west.) The flood occurred and was in memory. There is no reason that brother murder did not remain in memory. There is the replacement event. But for indo europeans, they were the replacers. Just as their gods replaced older gods.

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