The Pagans and the Christians are Friends

Is it an irony of a high order to embellish an axe with the Tree of Life symbol, the Lebensbaum the Yggdrasil? Probably from one point of view or the other one  the answer could be yes.

Tree O' Life is certainly Christian but that says nothing because it is nearly a ubiquitous symbol of fecundity, origination, and continuity. The cross on the other hand  distinctly connotes Christianity.
Tree O’ Life representations are nearly ubiquitous symbols of fecundity, origination, and continuity not limited in time or place. The cross on the other hand distinctly connotes Christianity with clear temporal and spacial implications.

On the face of it though, that is to say if we are to put ourself in the mind of the one who possibly made/forged, or was it the one who placed the order for? such an axe, (and we are going on then about that one who was actually breathing maybe even as late as say 1950 but which in theory might also have been 1450) no doubt the impuls was one of piety towards Jesus. But I always say that we can be better served by paying little or no attention to what motivates others. My point here is the  true origin of the symbolic representation depicted on this broadaxe out of Austria is more universal, one might even locate it in the collective consciousness introduced to us by that other Austrian C. Jung. Do you find the coincidence convincing enough? The smid, the priest, the zimmermann, and the philosopher all finding a unity in the expression so tangible, so timeless and self-reproducing as the tool taken in hand.


13 thoughts on “The Pagans and the Christians are Friends

  1. One does find, in medieval Scandinavian literature, Christians still making references to Odin, no longer as a deity per se, but rather out of cultural habit. This is most striking in the works of Sigrid Undset that are set in the medieval era. While Undset’s fiction was written in the early 20th century, her works are acknowledged as being historically accurate. And of course, Tolkien, who was a devout Christian, drew heavily on Norse mythology in his own writings.

    As to the axe….what a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. If I recall correctly, you are a “southpaw”. Are left-handed axes equally rare in Europe as they are in the US?


  2. Apart from those lefties and over to the topic at hand with particular attention to the aspect you raise about the Norwegians and by extension Swedes, but not the Danes, I got a little hatchet with odd markings, a kind of combination of indecipherable letters, someone has told me are referencing that Jesus character. The axe, I don’t know, it could be a hundred years old. I will surely to a post.


  3. I come back to the collective representationalism and my suggestion was that with the example of Saint Augustine, one could come back first to the roots of the ruptures between the pagans and the Christians (The city of God) as well as the possibility of fusionism in the customs for the people to adapt gradually to new forms of life (that was a clever understanding for a Christian Prince to succeed to be adopted by mostly pagan people living on his freshly conquired land, the choice to be liberal on practical grounds). it is a good example as well as to understand the symbolic ties between labour and the Christian dogma, labour is continuity of the personality of Godness on earth. Second as in Plato, manual labour is the practical base of ascetism as Saint Paul shows, it keeps people away from passions and excessive pride, the manifestations of the excessive ego. This is no surprise as to find there the base of the model of society imagined by More in Utopia (Plato) where the status of labour is in the center of the possibility of harmony between a community of men. The same could be said for Marx whose messianism is obvious. Now let’s have a quick look at Aristotle and distinguish that his view of happiness is connected with his finalism (the principle of individuation, form and substance will still be the main subject of the scholastic philosophy and theology), the general teleology and see in it that the condition of an individual to florish is to find his contribuction to it, to do what he is the most gifted for. Now what is all this infatuation connected with ? Understanding on how we relate labour and happiness, and duty in public and private questions, our meanings of life, in which psychology would falsely investigate from the common internal constitution are to be investigated descriptively, externally, in the innumerate ways they have been an outcome of a milieu, in a vague and diffused form and became more or less common to the community


    1. Well, it may be that these people theorized correctly or not about the virtues of work though probably never did much themselves, Marx for example relying on Engels’s experience in the factory – who was just there for the experience anyway being the son of a rich industrialist, well, at least it wasn’t a proper developer. And anyway labor for Marx had mostly utilitarian value in that it brought workers into collective arrangements we’re they could potentially pool their common will. All very good, as we know, but I was not being metaphorical to much, only going on about the story embellished into the surface of the broadaxe. On one level about pious and observant axemen, (and if we were to take on the broader view which really cannot be excluded we would remember to include the Feminist perspective and say also the women who fed and cleaned up after those axemen, you know, wiped the soup from the corner of their beards with a cloth), who may have been, or maybe not, even a bit full of themselves and yet unknowingly play their part in this collectivity of memory.


  4. yes, it is just a model of construction for Marx, and one may see more Chistianism and Marxism extracted out of ancient Greek Philosophy which was at first moral in a practical way, utilitarian (different than the modern doctrine of utilitarianism which his based on Hume’s psychology). At the end it became favorable to a monotheist conception but still kept under the prescription of a certain henotheism.For Marx, labour is both alienation coming from the division of labour, and freedom over nature’s alienation both being undissociable from any stage of culture which is a state he includes in human total mode of existence. His position is less moral than sociological, given that communism is a better order of organization as a human potentiality, being a man from the nineteenth century, darwinian views possibly penetrated his conception of the evolution of society and Marx adapted its materialist priority to the dialectical interpretation of history of Hegel, most surely he sees it as a mechanical évolution of society through the tensions between the organisation of production and the productive forces. Now if you want the criticism of christian morality of labour, take a look at Nietzsche.

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