by Ingemar Nordgren
Normally everybody connect the Goths with the Eastgermanic Gothic language which is considered to be an expression of their ethnicity. This is of course true for the Vistula Goths in the time of Tacitus and later. It is however not the total truth neither for the Vistula Goths nor for other Gothic peoples. The most important marker of their ethnicity, disregarding what language they spoke, is, according to my estimation, instead their religious ancestry from the creator god Gaut. This is the factor that glues the Goths all the way to the crossing of the limes in 376. Germanic languages up to the early Migration Period were close enough for mutual understanding. Later on instead Arianismus serves as the ethnic glue until the gradual dissolution of the ethnicity after the conversion of Reccared to Catholicismus.
Hence we have, besides the Vistula Goths, also the Gutar, the Gautar and the Eutoz/Ýtas/Jutar and not to forget the controversial Geatas who all, like the Gudones, have teophoric names after their creator god Gaut/Geat. Interestingly enough all peoples worshipping Gaut/Geat either provenly are connected with Scandinavia or claim to come from Scandinavia. This also includes some of the Saxons but regarding the probable origin of Saxons we must presume a mix with Angles and Jutes. Concerning Snorri Sturluson he among else refers in his Heimskringla to Glum Geirasson, the courtscald of Harald Gråfäll (Heimskringla I 1991: 134), who in the ode to Erik Bloodax says:
…sendi seggja kindar sverðbautinn her Gauti, which might be translated as sent the kinsmen, sword bitten army, to Gaut – i.e. to death. Gaut is here, like Óðinn, the god of death.
Both Sedilius, Nennius and Asser also refer to Geat as a pagan ancestor god.
Sedilius: Cum sua gentiles studeant figmenta poatae Grandisonis pompare modis, tragicoque boatu Ridiculoue Geta seu qualibet arte canendi.
Patrick Mc Brine, bok 1:
Since pagan poets are eager to parade their fictions in lofty-sounding modes and with their tragic wailing,
laughable Geta or whatever other kind of singing.
Nennius-Historia Brittonum: “in quibus erant hors et hengist, qui et ipsi fratres erant, filii guictgils, filii guicta, filii guecta, filii uuoden, filii frealaf,
filii fredulf, filii finn, filii foleguald, filii geta, qui fuit, ut
aiunt, filius dei. non ipse est deus deorum, amen, deus exercituum, sed unus est ab idolis eorum, quod ipsi colebant…”
(In the meantime, three vessels, exiled from Germany, arrived in Britain.) They were commanded by Horsa and Hengist, brothers, and sons of Wihtgils. Wihtgils was the son of Witta; Witta of Wecta; Wecta of Woden; Woden of Frithowald; Frithowald of Frithuwulf; Frithuwulf of Finn; Finn of Godwulf; Godwulf of Geat, who, as they say, was the son of a god, not of the omnipotent God and our Lord Jesus Christ (who before the beginning of the world, was with the Father and the Holy Spirit, co-eternal and of the same substance, and who, in compassion to human nature, disdained not to assume the form of a servant), but the offspring of one of their idols, and whom, blinded by some demon, they worshipped…
Asser: The Life of King Alfred (The Online Classical and Medieval Library):
…which Geat the pagans long worshipped as a god. Sedulius makes mention of him in his metrical Paschal poem, as follows: —
When gentile poets with their fictions vain, In tragic language and bombastic strain, To their god Geat, comic deity, Loud praises sing, &c.
“Qui Geata fuit Taetuua; qui fuit Beauu; qui fuit Sceldwea; qui fuit Heremod; qui fuit Itermod; qui fuit Hathra; qui fuit Huala; qui fuit Beduuig; qui fuit Seth; qui fuit Noe; qui fuit Lamech; qui fuit Mathusalem; qui fuit Enoch; qui fuit Malaleel; qui fuit Cainan; qui fuit Enos; qui fuit Seth; qui fuit Adam.”
Geat was the son of Taetwa, who was the son of Beaw, who was the son of Sceldi, who was the son of Heremod, who was the son of Itermon, who was the son of Hathra, who was the son of Guala, who was the son of Bedwig, who was the son of Shem, who was the son of Noah, who was the son of Lamech, who was the son of Methusalem, who was the son of Enoch, who was the son of Malaleci, who was the son of Cainian, who was the son of Enos, who was the son of Seth, who was the son of Adam.
Some may object that Tacitus calls the Scandinavian peoples for Ingaevones and Nerthus worshippers. I have in my dissertation clearly shown that the general population adored the fertility gods and that the cults of Gaut and Óðinn were cults for chieftains who also used the fertility cult as a medium (Nordgren 2004:39 ff.). I will develope this matter further down. Please, however, do remember that what I say about the cult of Gaut with necessity is a hypothesis based merely on indications.
Herwig Wolfram writes among else:
Older than Ostrogotha,the king of the Black Sea Goths, is Amal with whom the history of the Amali starts. But older than Amal and the Amali is Gaut and the Scandinavian Gautar(Gauts).This scheme is supported by the mentioning of Humli, the son of Gaut and father of the Danes, which again shows towards Scandinavian ancestry. Besides they come of the Aesir-Ansis. Óðinn has been added but still they considered Gapt/Gaut the original ancestor.(Wolfram 1989, p.37; 1992) This was the very best the Amali could achieve since their family was so young. They had in spite of all a divine ancestry. The Tervingi hailed before the battle Getic gods and ancestral spirits. (Wolfram 1989:112)
Josef Svennung declares:
Eine ähnliche Entwicklung wie betreffs der Gotar und Gautar kann vielleicht bei der Name Ýtar vorliegen, über welche es in Widsith 26 heißt: Óswine wéold Éowum & Ýtum Gewulf ’Óswine herrschte über die Inselbewohner’ (die Öländer[S. 203] oder die
Aviones [S. 105]?), ’und Gewulf über die Jüten’. Hierzu Much (bei Hoops II 623a): ”anord. ýtar m. pl. , einem poetischen Wort für ’Männer, Menschen’ das mit dem Volksnamen zusammengehört. ” Im Awno. ist ýtar nur im Sinne von ’Männer’(seit ca. 950) belegt (Hásteinn Hrómundarson 8 usw. ), nicht in den þulur. Vgl. 239 Chambers, Beowulf S. 286 f. . . . wenn Männer gotnar, ýtar genannt werden, hat man hier ein Indiz gesehen, daß die Dichtung zuerst in einem Milieu geformt wurde, wo Gote oder Jüte mit ’Mann’ synonym war, weil alle es waren. (Svennung 1966:237-43)
Th. Andersson states in an article in Namn och Bygd:
The both tribes Götar(i.e.Gauts, Gautar) and Goths are early mentioned by the classical authors. The Gautar are also well confirmed in the Nordic literature: OSw. Gøtar, OWN. Gautar;the singularform, OSw. Gøter, OWN. Gautr, is confirmed as by- name. In domestic Gothic overhanding there is however not much to get. The form gutani in the inscription of the Pietroassa-ring, supposed to originate from the later half
of the 4th c.AD, is now generally understood as genitiv pl.of the tribal name, i.e. in classical Gothic gutane. As Gothic form in nominative pl.accordingly might be written gutans. The tribal name OSw gutar, with the singular form Guti confirmed as byname answers formally to Got. gutans. Consequently we have side by side PGm. *gautoz (a- stem), ’Götar’ and *gutaniz (an-stem) ‘Goths; Gutar(Gotlanders)’.
The last tribal name, *gautoz, is included in the name of the landscapes Västergötland and Östergötland and also the from the Middle Ages known OSw. Gøtland, OWN. Gautland, ’the land of the Götar’; at least primarily used about those two landscapes. The later tribe name, *gutaniz, referring to two different tribes, meet both in Got. Gutþiuda’the people of the Goths’, and in the name of the landscape and island of Gotland. In all three cases the first element has the form of stem (also for the an-stem in a-stem form).(Cf. Andersson 1996a p.33 ff , 38, 41)
The oldest home of the Goths surely is discussed, but since the first mentionings they should have lived South of the Baltic. The three peoples Götar, Goter and Gutar accordingly have been living around the southern part of the Baltic as far as we can follow them, and the sea must be presupposed to have played a uniting role. (Andersson 1996a. P.35 f with ref. )
Today there is general agreement that all three tribal names in one way or another are derived from the verb gjuta, OSw. giuta, OWN. gjota, and götar is formed to the ablaut-stadium extant in preteritum singularis, OWN. gaut, OSw. gøt, and goter and gutar to the ablaut-stadium extant in preteritum pluralis, OWN.and OSw. gutum (Andersson 1996a p.37, 45) (Th Andersson 1998:5 f.)
Through the above you can consider that the names Goter, Gutar, Gauter/Gautar and
Jutar/Ýtar steadily linked together and in practice tied to the god Gaut.
Gaut evidently is a high-god, a creator-god and heaven-god, and most evidently also a war- god. At the same time there are strong traits of a sacral kingdom with the Goths but of another character than the old Inglings.If you follow the name-giving principle of the Inglings/Ynglings their sacral king ought to specifically have been regarded as a fertility- god and sun-god. Also the Gothic sacral kings were of course connected with the sun and the fertility but in a different way. Note that the Gothic kings only claim ancestry from Gaut – they are heroes – (Getica XIV §79 ) and not reincarnated gods, and this is an important principal difference from the Ynglings, claiming to be the reborn sun and the
reborn Ingr/Frejr. The Gothic royal family, hence, follows exactly the same muster as those families claiming ancestry from Óðinn. Observe that every Gothic folk of course had their own sacral king like the Continental Goths as well had – he who was called Þiuðans by Jordanes. The first assumption about a creator-god and heaven-god accordingly could be supposed to be correct, but he still should have traits also of fertility aspects. This means he contributes in a way to the preservation of the crops, which with a god of Odinistic character primarily must mean shamanistic demon-hunting via initiated members of secret cultic leagues. That he besides also was a war-god the history of the Goths can be said to confirm.
Concerning the earlier sacral kings we might note that Tacitus, when he talks about the Suebian ocean, just mentions that the Suiones lives on islands in the ocean and he gives no exact locations. In my presuppositions for my dissertation I have calculated with the solar cult during the Bronze Age spread all over Scandinavia, meaning that since old the Suiones were a name of Scandinavians in general and the specific tribal names were not generally known (Nordgren 2004:3 ff.). This has given me reason to perform a deeper analysis of the meaning of Suiones and our own name sviar (Nordgren 2004:179 ff.).
The modern name form of the god Sviþdagr – Svipdag – is interesting in a purely linguistic way. Linguists seldom seem to agree or be able to decide themselves when þ should be transcribed with ’th’ or ’ð’, or in this case with ’p’. I have e.g. often seen the word hæraþ transcribed as either ’hærað’ or ’hærath’. I now intend to take a closer look on the word Svipdag, and I assume a ground-form *Svíþdagr pronounced as Svíðdagr. This might offer certain pronounciation-problems meaning the rationalization of ð/th (þ also can be written th) to p (which could be a latinization) (Cf. Höfler ”Semnonenhain“). What, then, does Sviþ/Svið mean? It means among else ‟burn, burn-beat, smart, sting, ache‟. Sve-
/Sví should derive from sui in Avest.xvaéna ‟glowing, smarting, shining‟. (Hellquist:1127
„svida‟) In this context it simply means ‟the sun shining/burning/lighting in daytime‟ – a name of the sun-god who, quite consequently, happens in some of the old myths to be married to the moon-goddess Freja. Sviþ- also occurs in other combinations.
An important example is the name Svitiod for Sweden being a literary word (in historical and poetical style) accepted from the Icel. Sviþjoð= the native Sw. runeword Sveþiuþ. (Hellquist, Etymol. Ordb.)
The word Sveþiuþ is traditionally translated as Svethioð or Svíthioð. I presuppose instead the ground-form *Svíþþioþ, which through trouble of pronounciation has been simplified to Svíþioþ and originally has been pronounciated Svíðthioð or Sviththioð after which ð/th has fallen away.(Cf. also Svennung 1966:97 f)
This leads us to the meaning ‟the sun people‟, ‟the people of the sun‟, ‟the people that adore the sun‟. ”Svíakonungr” then becomes ’the Sun king’, which is indeed a fitting name of the highest religious leader in a sacral sun-kingdom, and this has, as can be seen in all standard works of history of religion, parallels among else in Egypt and in the South American Indian cultures. The Inka was regarded, like Pharao, to be the son of the sun. That this fits with the real circumstances I consider myself to have demonstrated in the part below treating the cult of Frejr and the sacral kingdom. It may be added that people speaking gautic dialects still simplifie the word ‟svida‟ to ‟svía‟.
Svíakonungr accordingly should be the title of the highest religious leader, the god who embodied the sacral kingdom in Bronze Age and EIA Scandinavia and everybody attending the cult or living within the dominance area of the cult therefore can be called Svíar. Originally there might have been several local kings filling this function, each one caring his own business, but it can be supposed to have existed a cultic commonship – a loose, informal cultic league. Simply because the ruler founded also his secular power on this position and hence they all had an interest to support each other. Svíar therefore is a sacral or teophoric name and not a specific people‟s name, but comparable with other teophoric names as Gautar, Gutar, Ýtar , Gudones, Goutai et c.
In due time this old league is beginning to dissolve as a consequence of deteriorating climate with less harwests, so the chieftains can no longer support so many on their settlements. When more single settlements with family farming instead spread the chieftains must find other means to keep control. Hence a new group emerges whose kings rest their secular power instead on secret schamanistic leagues helping the farmers to hunt away demons from the fields saving the crop, and swearing in warriors for protection where the king represents the god when going into battle. The old open sun symbol now turns into the hidden sun symbol in the shape of the ring Draupnir supposed to be magic. In short we get a number of Gothic peoples sharing the same religious ancestry and whose kings descend from the god Gaut. We are still not talking of an direct cultic league but of peoples having a common background and whose rulers have a shared interest to keep their power. In some areas the old sacral kings still remain for a while and the name Sueones/Suiones and sviar partly remain as an overall name for long until specific tribal names are known. Indeed it is still in use in Sweden. In the same way the background of the Suebes should be the same as Sueones. The old title Sviakonungr, however, continues to be used also later but with Odinistic rulers, i.e. the Scilfings, the Óðinn worshipers (Nordgren 2004:160 ff.).
I have in my dissertation shown an analysis of the cult of Frejr (Nordgren 2004:39 ff.) and how Óðinn interacted there, and in the same way, principally, the cult of Gaut ought to have worked. In short, according to Skírnismál, Frejr sends Skírnir with his horse, sword and the ring Draupnir to Gerðr to ask for a love meeting. This happens a half hýnott before the requested meeting in Barri lundr. A hýnott is, in my opinion, the period the moon is partly hidden from new moon to full moon and from full moon to new moon – in other words exactly like the English fortnight. Skírnir is a representation of Frejr himself in the shape of a sun ray. In the underworld he takes Gambanteinn, a branch from the tree of life growing in the womb of Gerðr, who in fact is his own sister Freja, and hence he has robbed her of her fertility- she is now barren. He knocks on her door and threats her that she will be barren all the time if she doesn’t agree to meet him in the Barri lundr – her own, now barren, womb. She accepts and a half hýnott, a week, later at fullmoon around 4th november, he starts fertilising her with his sword/Gambantein. Skírnir has already delivered Draupnir, the almost dead sun, in her care for the winter-we are dealing with the formal burial of the sun- and when they meet in love Frejr remains below earth all winter until he and Balðr-earlier ÚllR- are reborn at full moon around the 5th of may. During the winter Freja reigns. Remember that Óðinn always gets the ring Draupnir back in all different stories. We can see all this clearly described in the Faxe bracteate.
Fig.1 The Faxe Bracteate. (Kolstrup 1991).
You see three figures on the Faxe bracteate of which the middle one seems to hold a hammerlike tool Taking a second look, however, you get confused- what is it really that the middle figure has in his hand – is it a hammer indeed? If you scrutinize the picture still more you discover the feet of a bird above his head, or possibly above the person to the right. In the lowest part two birds are lying – one on each side – and the middle figures other hand is formed as a ring. He stands on a kind of podium and from his side extends what looks like a leafed branch. To the left a figure stands having a globe for feet and beside him seemingly another leafed branch. One hand is ringshaped. The figure to the right has beside himself a spear but outside this there is a human or animal bone. He holds in his other hand something looking like a pair of crossed bones.Also his hand is shaped as a ring.
Before we continue the interpretation it is advicable to share what Lotte Hedeager writes in her manuscript to her intended article Myths, magic and Material 1996:
The actua1 process of seidr was to pass into a state of ectasy, the body becoming lifeless, releasing the soul to travel freely in time and space. It then being possible for the free soul to become ‘wild’ and cause harm, and travel to the realm of the dead to obtain insight and knowledge about the past or the future. This state of transcendence (i.e. the shape-changing) was brought about through chanting and recitation carried out by a group of assistants gathered around the one enacting the seidr, above them on a kind of platform or podium (hjallr).
A little further down she writes:
The free soul was also zoomorphic. The three chief types are that of the bird, the reindeer (stag), and the bear – but especially the bird (Eliade 1989:156, cf. Hultkrantz 1987). In his journey to the other world the shaman is usually presented as riding on some bird or four-legged animal. (Hedeager 1996)
My interpretation of this bracteate is that the bird above indicates a shaman god and the object I interpret as a hjallr (the podium) tells that sejdr is going on. The figure in the middle is Balðr. We can spot two sun-gods since the ring, as shown before, is the sun. It all deals with the death of Balðr through the Mistilteinn and the left figure then is Ingr/Frejr who by means of the Skirnir-shape carries the sun-god – Draupnir – and himself to Freja and fertilizes her indicated by the leafed branch Gambanteinn to the left finally causing Ingr/Frejr and Balðr to be reborn. Observe he has a globe, i.e. a ring, for feet. The object Balðr holds could be a symbol of himself and the moon-goddess Ingun/Freja/Nanna guaranteeing his return. It accordingly should be a symbol for sun and moon. You may note that the figure with the spear, Óðinn with Gungner, at least with one foot stands on the hjallr and definitely on the same level, and it could be interpreted so, that he has established contact with the realm of the dead through sejdr. The bone symbols then should suggest his function as death-god and ruler of the primary forces. The two birds are Hugin and Munin The two pyramides of each three rings indicate in this interpretation the three ring-gods involved in the funeral and ressurection of the sun – Óðinn, Balðr and Frejr – and suggest the journey to the underworld via the downvards pointing tri-angle and the ressurection via the upvards directed one. This is an interesting interpretation indeed, since it confirms my earlier analysis indicating that Ingr/Frejr as Skírnir is indeed also the sun and hence possibly earlier ÚllR. We accordingly can see the cult of Frejr, as described in Skírnismal, as an iconographic picture. The crossing bones Óðinn holds in his hand could also be regarded as a combination of his own death-symbol with the scale of Týr. If so Týr is suggested as his real co-regent (like Varuna and Mithra) (Nordgren 2004).
The local ruler, the Gothic sacral king, should in a similar way as proposed by Steinsland (Steinsland 1991) for the Inglings, have confirmed his demands of the land with a ritual copulation with a peasant girl symbolising the copulation between the sun and the earth, between Frejr and Gerðr/Freja, as long as the Goths were still remaining in their original habitations.
We have seen in e.g. the Helgikviðæ that there are consecrated groups of warriors, who in the myth fight for summer respectively winter to sustain the plant-cycle (Nordgren 2004:110 ff.). In shamanistic cults you can also use real, initiated humans to scare away demons from the fields et c. I have in my dissertation treated such leagues with consecrated humans, and I have tried to show that there are three possible types- actors in a cultic play, shamanistic demon hunters and warriors‟ leagues. If you adore a god whose name means
‟man‟,‟fertilizer‟‟out-pourer‟ the men naturally should have a more dominant and higher social position than if the leading deity were female. Why, then, the men instead have a disfavoured position concerning the funeral custom? Could this possibly be explained through the system of initiated warriors or is it more practical, material reasons? Why is this Gaut worshipped primarily by the leading levels – kings, chieftains and warriors? These are questions of vital significance to be able to find out more about the cult of Gaut.
.Before we reach that far, however, we should look closer on some suggestions about Óðinn that possibly could produce a better picture also of Gaut, since his name later is combined with that of Óðinn. Already Dumézil regards Óðinn as among else also a fertility-god. In e.g. Lokasenna is suggested that Loki and Óðinn have had unfitting sexual contacts with each other, and what Loki concerns we know he was twin-gendered and gave birth to the foal Sleipner of which the stallion Svadilfare was father. Óðinn also is a masterly hamr-changer. His pure male gender consequently might be doubted. It is already confirmed that the Vanir are twin-gendered, or with other words that Frejr and Freja just are aspects of the same deity. In the archaeological finds you can see that during the middle of the Bronze Age indications of the arrival of a cult of a goddess is possible to assume from the rock-carvings and other finds. Görman also claims the arrival of a male follower (Görman 1987:172 f.)
Fig. 2 Goddess from the Bronz Age with necklace-ring, S:t Olof, Skåne. (Oldtidens ansigt, J yAS 1990:78, Mats P. Malmer.)
The first reaction to this suggestion might be the idea of the Vanir but also the heaven- gods were part of the mix already then. Since Óðinn as well has a female part/wife –Frigga– of decided fertility character, it is not unreasonable to assume also Gaut might have had a consort. I will go deeper into this further down.
If you regard the word gaut out of an etymological point of wiew the ground-meaning is normally regarded as ‟pour‟. It can, however, be interpreted in several close-lying ways.
If you regard the normal Germanic and Nordic word gud (god) from ’guþ, goð’ and examine what Hellquist writes in his Etymological Wordbook you find references to i.e.
*ghu-tes with the supposed meaning‟the one creating reverence, fear‟ or ‟adored‟. (Hellquist:309) He also informs the word originally is neutrum.
About the word göda ‟fertilize‟(the fields) Hellquist says ” OSw. goþa, ‟make good or better, specially göda (fertilize)= Icl. gøða, Da. gøde (about soil), answers to. MHG. güeten, ‟make good, grant‟; of Gm. *goðian, of god(good). ”
About Gödecke Hellquist writes ”familyname from LGerm= Christian name and shortname with dimin.suff. –ke to Christian names on God-; Cf. Gottfrid.”
If you to the above mentioned add the descriptions of the North German carnival- traditions, where in connection with Óðinn is referred to ”Frau Gauden” and the so called cultic sleds (Höfler 1934:90), and you also recall cultic place-names type Gödåkra (fertilized field), the prepositions are at hand to paint an interesting hypotetical scenario.
Because evidently the stem in both gaut, gaud, güet, goþ, *goðian, god is similar and the meanings overlap each other Gaut also could be interpreted as ‟god‟. As informed above the word gud ‟god‟ is originally neutrum or gender-neutral. This opens up for those dubious tendencies that has been pointed out above about male and female with Óðinn, meaning they could suggest a built in twin-genderness after Vanic model. The god has a male and a female aspect. When Gaut in time is tied up with the name of Óðinn, which according to all circumstancial evidence is remarkably later than the Pre Roman Iron Age up here, the suspicion is enforced that Gaut might have had a female aspect/mate – Gauden, who might be suggested as a parallel to Frigga. That she in the North German tradition travels in a sleigh drawn by dogs also gives an interesting connection to the antique goddess Hekate, well fitting together with a god having a considerable power as a death-god.(a.a.) If you write the name as Gaut or Gaud is mostly a question of how to interpret runic writing since þ might be translated in both ways. Seen in this way Gaut still more decidedly becomes a fertility-god of a clearly shamanistic character, very similar to Óðinn, leading shamanistic demonhunters fertilizing the fields with good divine power to promote the vegetation, and he also appears as a creator-god since he, through his two aspects, also has begotten the humankind. This also gives a possible plausible explanation to why the old sacrificial meton-cycle of 19 years changes to an eight-year cycle only with the arrival of the Continental cult of Óðinn. The goddesses with necklace-rings I still do not regard as an personification of Gauden but of a Vanic goddess with more direct connection to the year-cycle. Gaut and Gauden consequently could possibly originally have meant just ‟the god‟ and ‟the goddess‟ from which humankind was begotten, and when the Continental cult of Óðinn appears an explanation is attached to the name of Óðinn – he becomes Óðinn-the god, the outpourer and fertilizer, he who now is the highest god. In this is implicated that Gaut should have been an early Odinistic god who possibly might have arrived together with the goddess during the middle or late Bronze Age. For a connection to a female aspect talks also the even during the Óðinn-epoch remaining matrilinear structures by the Gothic peoples. The woman long had a distinctly high social rank with the Goths and also in Scandinavia her position was well kept and this also goes for the hereditary circumstances. Some people claim that Gaut during such circumstances not could function properly as a war-god but against this can be said that also Frejr and Freja seem to have had an army of fighters – the Hadjings. The from Óðinn known shamanistic men‟s leagues, who also ought to have been extant under Gaut, also explains why he primarily was a god for chieftains and warriors. The other functions of fertility evidently was cared mostly by the Vanir with Ingr/Ingun as the most important deities. Later they are instead called Frejr/Freja but still the same deities. The real true answer we most probably never will know, but I think in any case you could assume a very close connection between Gaut and Óðinn.
To conclude – all Gothic peoples have a tribal tradition that they are originally begotten by Gaut- he is their creator god. Hence Gudones, Goutai, Gutar, Gautar, Geatas,Jutar/Ýtas/Eutones are all teophoric names and do not depend on natural phenomenas like flowing rivers etc.
We as well have some recent archaeological indications suggesting strong connections with the Scandinavian peoples and the Continental Goths. This paper does primarily not deal with archaeology but since many 20th c. Swedish researchers have tended to deny connections with the Goths I shall name some recent results tending to confirm those connections. Already Rolf Hachmann admitted the Gautar were Goths (Hachmann 1970). Anders Kaliff has in his Gothic connections shown on close contacts with the Vistula area already during the late Bronze Age seemingly resulting in a kind of integrated culture including South Scandinavia. In connection with exploatation digs for a hughe gas pipe line in Poland there are recently made a lot of finds of Scandinavian origin. These finds are continously published in the series Archeologiczne badania wzdluz trasy gazociagu tranzytowego [Archaeological rescue investigations along the gas transit pipeline], ed. Marek Gierlach, Poznan and started with the excavation of the grave field at Kowalewko.( Cf. Tomasz Skorupka: Kowalewko 12, Poznan 2001.)
Anderzej Kokowski has made very interesting excavations and some of the objects he has found match very well with finds in a.e. Östergötland, made when the airport of Linköping was excavated (Ingesson 2010). Kokowski also has a very good map of the area he suggests is Gothiscandza.
Fig.3 Left: The Wielbark culture and its first phase of developement. (Kokowski 1995)(Ingesson 2010)
Fig.4 Right: Necklace pearls and fibula from the Wielbark culture (Kokowski 1995)(Ingesson 2010)
Fig.5 Pearls from Västra Bökestad, Linköping (Menander/Molin 2005) (Ingesson 2010)
Fig.6 Pearls from Masłomęcz,Woiv, the Wielbark Culture (Kokowski 1995)(Ingesson 2010)
Also Jerzy Ockulicz has found great similarities between Poland and Scandinavia concerning funeral habits (Ockulicz 1991, 1992)
That those Gothic contacts have continued during the whole Gothic era till the end of the Migration Period is indicated among else at the weapon sacrifice place in Finnestorp and Vennebo, Västergötland and the excavations by Charlotte Fabech in Sösdala and other places in Scania. Also the Vendel finds of course have a continental connection but later the finds grow more rare.
We know that many different groups who were originally not ethnic Goths are accepted among the Goths during their migrations. That‟s why the term ethogenesis has been minted to show a new organisation and a new social order within the Goths (Wolfram, H/ Pohl, W 1986; Pohl, W. 2002). Still these new groups are later treated as real Goths. The explanation is evidently that they are religiously included in the people and accepted in the ancestor cult in the respective Kunja.
You should note from the telling of the persecution by the kindins Athanareiks that only Goths were forced to worship the Gothic gods but the non Goths were allowed to be Christians if they choose so (Passio S. Saba). Wulfila, however, who succeeded to spread Christianity also to the Goths, was regarded as dangerous to the ethnicity and hence was forced to move with his Gothi minori. The kindins, namely, had replaced the former sacral king for the Vesi when the Goths were divided into Vesi and Ostro. The characteristics of a classical sacral king is that he supervises the religion of the people and leads a war of defense. He is, however, never allowed to leave the realm but has to stay within its boundaries. The kindins just heads the council of reiks. On top of that every kunja had its own tribal sacral items that were brought with in the crossing of the limes. The chieftains, reiks, also cared of the warriors cult directed to Gaut/Óðinn, meaning the kindins did not control that bit. Instead he was concentrated on the fertility cult of the common people as keeper of the ethnicity of the people. The vita of S:t Saba demonstrates clearly that the commoners were tolerant also tovards Christian Goths, but seen from the viewpoint of the kindins this was a threat to the unity of the Goths. Hence we can conclude that the cult was the most important ethnical glue of the Goths.
After the acceptance of the Arianism it became as important for the Gothic kings to entertain this faith even if it was forbidden for Roman citizens after Teodosius interdict in 382. It helped to isolate the Goths from direct Roman influence and get the people stick together. This worked well all the time until the Visigothic king Reccared took Catholizisme and declared himself responsible only to God. From then on the distinction between the Roman and Gothic landowners became more and more invisible and their sense of Gothic ethnicity faded out. Another consequense was that the tolerance tovards different beleivers, and specially Jews, grew lesser and lesser. A number of agressive counsils and Catholic kings in Toledo restricted the rights of the Jews gradually until 702 when it was decided that all Jews should be slaves and not allowed to exercise their religion (Claude 1966). In that way the commerce, which partly depended on a class of Jewish merchants, was destroyd and when the Arab invasion occured all slaves naturally joined the invaders or just fled, and the nobility defended their own personal interests in the first hand and put the nation in the second. Because of this the Visigothic realm was finished in 711.
We can accordingly conclude that religion constituted the ethnic glue of the Goths from the beginning to the end. The probably last ethnic Goths, the Arian Agotes/Cagots, were persecuted in Spain and Southern France till the middle of the 19th century. They had stayed Arian and remained in situ during the Saracen occupation and hence were regarded as traitors after the reconquista.
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