Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Saint George and Sigurd

On the 23rd April is the celebration of St George, the patron saint of England. There is very little known about the background of this meaning, not just about the saint but who Saint George represents, who he symbolically means and what figure of mythology that he replaced.

Details about Saint George:

He is regarded as a dragon slayer.
The historical Saint George was a Roman soldier.
He is one of the few warrior saints.
Many Christians and Muslims recognise Saint George as a dragon slayer.
Saint George is the patron saint of many places, including England, Georgia, Portugal, Lithuania, the Teutonic Knights in medieval Germany, the Crown of Aragon and the U.S. Cavalry and Armor Association.  

So the story is that Saint George was a religious icon, venerated by many countries and establishments. The feast day of celebrating him Is usually the 23rd April, although some celebrate in May.

Was there a dragon? Does there seem to be much more to this than mere history? I think so.

The patron saint of England, is no coincidece that there is a day honouring a much earlier dragon slayer, named Sigurd. Some pagan circles recognise the 23rd April as "Sigurd's Day".

Sigurd is the hero that killed Fafnir the dragon, then bathed in its blood to turn himself invinsible and stronger. In legend and stories, it's said that the dragon's blood didn't touch Sigurd everywhere and he was still vulnerable to attacks. He mastered the ability to understand birds and animals. His lover was the Valkyrie named Brynhildr who Sigurd woke from years of slumber. She was then sleeping and protected by perpetual flames. There are different variations to the myth. Now Sigurd was led astray by devious characters once he possessed the dragon's hoarde, treasures of the Nibelung. He became enchanted by a sorceress princess, Grimhild, after sipping her love potion. Then he forgot Brynhildr. He married Grimhild, while under her spell.     

Sigurd, also named Siegfried in modern German, is a very old story from Scandinavia. Brynhildr is Brunhilde in modern German. The dragon slayer is a very ancient symbol of war and conquest, voctory over a previous power.

In Greek myth, the story of Jason is very similar. Jason has to rid the dragon or seven headed serpent, Hydra, and obtain its treasure hoarde, the Golden Fleece, which has magical properties. Jason is seduced by a witch princess Medea (who was like Grimhild). The reference to a Brynhild type character here is a vague description of a woman named Atalanta, who accompanied Jason on his Argo (the ship) in some later versions. Yet these myths return to an original source from prehistory. The celebration of Saint George is a celebration of the victorious dragon slayers.

The above picture is "Siegfried and Brunhilde" by Howard David Johnson. Go to the artists site.

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