Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Civilisation Judas - Judas of the North

*** An audio version of this book is available on YouTube.

Civilisation Judas - Chapter 2 - Judas of the North

In this chapter I'm going to explain what first led me to the thoughts in this book, as I feel this will be the quickest and most lucid way of providing context.

Strangely enough my original topic of interest was the history of red hair. [1] When I first began researching that history one of the things that struck me was the traditional depiction of Judas. In early art the figure of Judas was often depicted with red hair and red beard. He looked not only European, but also stereotypically northern European. This struck me as quite odd at first. It didn't really fit with the biblical image of Judas that I had in mind at the time. Why would the archetypal villain in Christian folklore come replete with red beard?

I also discovered that many of the negative stereotypes associated with Jews in European folklore also had their parallels in stereotypes regarding red hair. For example, it was commonly believed that redheads were untrustworthy, and there were many traditional sayings and proverbs attesting to this idea. Take the following medieval proverb - "Si ruber est fidelis, diabolus est in coelis" (If the redhead is faithful, the devil is in heaven). [2]

As I looked into this history further I also discovered that red hair wasn't uncommon amongst Jewish populations in Europe, and that particularly in places such as Poland red hair was often more frequent amongst Jews than amongst the native population. [3] I also found traditions concerning the "Red Jews" of Eastern Europe, often equated with the Khazars, who were believed to be so named because of their red hair.

All these unexpected overlaps between red hair and Jewishness led me to question the wider mainstream history. The generally accepted view is that the vast majority of Jewish people in Europe are descendants of people that arrived in Europe from the Middle East at some point in the last few thousand years or so. However, the odd relationship with red hair would perhaps suggest that this isn't entirely the case. After all, red hair is hardly common in Middle Eastern regions. It's also generally associated with areas of low sunlight.

If we look at European history from the medieval period onward, when the written record really starts to take shape (i.e. after the Dark Ages), we can see that Jewish populations existed in Europe alongside every other European group. In essence they're there in Europe from the beginning of the historical record. Now it's speculated that these populations arrived in Europe before this period, however no one knows quite when or how they arrived. With some historians speculating that they spread through Europe with the Roman legions, others stating that they came much later. Either way it's all just unevidenced speculation. I would flip this view and say if there's no evidence of them actually arriving from somewhere else then why not just assume that they've always been there? Or at least been there as long as any other group.

This leads to another interesting parallel that I noticed when looking at the history that may also play into all this, and that concerns similarities between the historical Jews and the Druids. This parallel may sound odd at first. However, when you look at the historical record it becomes much more apparent.

For a start medieval Jews were forced to wear pointed hats and stars on their clothes in order to differentiate themselves from the rest of the population. Again this would suggest that they didn't look sufficiently different enough that people could easily distinguish between Jew and non-Jew. For example, were they dark-skinned, a la native Middle Eastern people, clothing tags would hardly be necessary for making the distinction between them and their white-skinned compatriots. Now were I to draw a picture of a man or a woman dressed in a pointy hat and a star-covered cloak what would immediately spring to mind to most people would be the classic image of the witch or wizard. Those archetypal figures from northern European folklore and tradition.

On top of this medieval Jews were often accused of utilising spells and magic by Christian folk, some of whom believed that all Jews possessed magical powers which they derived from making a deal with the Devil. These seeming overlaps between the traditions regarding Jewish people and traditions regarding druids and witches seem strange at first, but become impossible not to notice once the comparison has been made. A further overlap comes in the form of the "blood libel" - the accusation that Jews would murder Christians in order to utilise their blood in religious rituals. This included the idea that Jews would actually drink the blood or bake it into bread. Again, the image of witches or Satanists drinking blood is a common motif that easily springs to mind when we conjure visions of people practising dark magic. Of course, the druids were likewise accused of carrying out human sacrifice too.

Interestingly, the Star of David is also a common motif in pagan spellcraft. We intuitively associate the six-pointed star with Judaism and Israel, however we also commonly view it as a magical symbol. In fact, both the hexagram and the pentagram were often called by the name Solomon's Seal. This epithet is found in both Jewish/Islamic tradition and in western occultism. It was said that the symbol (both the five and six-pointed version, traditions vary) appeared on a signet ring possessed by King Solomon, which gave him magical powers. Including the power to conjure demons and to converse with animals. Again fittingly witch-like. It's also worth noting that medieval Scottish coins have been found which feature both six and five-pointed stars.

Now as you're reading this you may be pointing out the fact that druids were said to exist during the days of ancient Rome, long before the medieval period even began, and that any actual overlap between medieval Jews and ancient druids is simply a non-starter. This is a perfectly reasonable position to take if you're new to this sort of revisionism, and have complete faith in the current academic version of historical events. However, I would suggest that all these ideas need reassessing, and would start by pointing out that the only real evidence we have for the druids even existing at all are Roman texts.

The story goes that in these ancient times Britain and much of north-western Europe was populated by people that were governed by such druids. In somewhat primitive, more naturalistic societies. Societies that lacked the art of writing, that taught their beliefs and sciences orally in the open woodland, and that were eventually wiped out (not without sentiment) by the highly civilised and literate Roman Empire.

This is said to be why there was no trace of them left, nor any continuation whatsoever of their culture in the parts they inhabited. However, there is one problem with this entire story. The Romans only conquered Britain as far north as Scotland, and completely failed to conquer Ireland. So where did all the Scottish and Irish druids go? It all makes very little sense when you actually challenge the logistics of the idea.

My favoured personal opinion is that these Roman texts are largely fraudulent or fanciful. In fact, I doubt they're even Roman at all. Or at least ancient Roman at any rate. They were probably written much later - perhaps around the medieval period itself. The "druids" depicted in the texts just seem to be a convenient placeholder to fill the gap before the dominant culture (whatever that was at the time these texts were written) arrived. In effect a re-writing of history, erasing the original or opposing culture and putting a straw man (i.e. the druids) in its place. A straw man with the general witchy-wizardy feel of the previous culture, but without any of the actual substance. After all, this idea that the druids didn't possess any written language, and insisted on transmitting all their knowledge orally is a rather convenient trope in this regard. [4]

I would suggest that, in truth, we have very little idea of what was actually going on before the medieval period - and when we get this far back in history we simply find Jewish people mixed in with the Christian people right from the get-go. So perhaps this "druish" placeholder is in some sense a cover for a Jewish tradition that's rooted in northern Europe just as deeply as any Christian or pagan tradition. Though no doubt very far removed from what we think of as being "Jewish" today.

This brings me nicely onto the final part of this chapter, which lends even more weight to this argument. Namely the similarities that can be found between Judaism and the ancient Celtic Christian world. Firstly, the Celtic Christians celebrated Easter at the same time as the Jews celebrated Passover. In fact, it was said to have taken the famed Synod of Whitby in AD 664 to finally put an end to this practice. This was when, if we're to believe the few textual accounts, King Oswiu of Northumbria agreed to celebrate Easter in accordance with the customs of Rome. However, even then it's said that the Scots in the north still continued to cling to the older custom.

Another curiosity is the name David. Scotland, like Israel, had a King David - or rather two of them, King David I and King David II. The Welsh also famously have their Saint David - or dewy sant as it's rendered in Welsh. On top of this we also have the feminine name Dhuoda (or Dhuada) from the early medieval period. This name is said to be a variant of the name Davida - i.e. a feminised form of the name David. The most famous Dhuoda on record is the Frankish writer Dhuoda, Duchess consort of Septimania and Barcelona (fl. AD 824 - 844). Intriguingly Septimania, a historical region in the south of France, has often been referred to as a Jewish kingdom, owing to the large Jewish population it was said to have. Though again the actual historical record is a little patchy.

What's interesting about the name Dhuoda is that it's not dissimilar to the word druid. In fact, the presumed male variant, Dhuod, would have been even more similar. Which would perhaps suggest a possible link between the names David and Druid. There's also the name Drua, a female Jewish name once in use in medieval England (quite a beautiful and unique name for anyone thinking of a baby name). It's similarity to druid is quite obvious. Lending weight to the notion that the "druids" in the historical record are simply ancestors or precursors to the medieval European Jews, with the apparent separation simply being a product of confusion or deliberate misrepresentation on the part of later writers.

After all, we do seem to have the current situation; The Druids disappear during the "Dark Ages" without a trace. The Jews then appear in medieval Europe following these Dark Ages from whence knows where.

The name Jew itself is somewhat interesting in this regard too. We have for instance the French word Dieu meaning God, which sounds very similar to the word Jew, though it looks quite dissimilar when written down on paper. Likewise we have a bevy of other words sharing a similar root. For example, we have the god Tiw (or Tyr) - pronounced tue, where we get our word Tuesday from. We have the Teutons. Likewise the Tudors. In fact, the name Tudor is said to be a Welsh variant of the Greek Theo or Theodore, again meaning god.

We also have the Tuatha Dé Danann - the famed ancient race from Irish mythology. The Old Irish word tuath means "people" or "tribe" and the , once again, is said to be the equivalent of dios or deus meaning God. Giving a loose translation of "tribe of god". The supposed added appellation of Danann gives things an even curiouser turn as this was said to be used to help differentiate this Irish tribe from the ancient Hebrews. As Irish monks also used the term Tuath Dé to refer to the Israelites.

Added to all this we also have the fact that Ireland was once called by the name Iberion (Hibernia) and the Israelites were anciently called Iberi, derived from the name Eber or Heber. Hence the name Hebrew. [5]

Another curiosity worth mentioning concerns the English town of York. In Roman times it went by the name Eboracum. Now Ebura is said to mean yew - as in the yew tree. However, in Italian the word ebreo means Jew, which is obviously very similar, and both are quite close to the word Hebrew. The obvious similarity of the words Jew and yew is also impossible not to notice. Given the seeming links between all these words it makes one wonder if the name Eboracum perhaps betokens that in earlier times York was predominantly a Jewish settlement.

There was also, of course, the famous massacre of the Jews in York in 1190. The story told is that the Jewish inhabitants of the city were accosted by Crusaders who were preparing to go on the Third Crusade. Their demand was that the Jews convert to Christianity. However, the Jews asked the warden of York Castle for refuge, which he agreed to, and they barricaded themselves into the castle tower. Surrounded and besieged by the mob most chose to commit suicide rather than face baptism. With the few Jews that didn't finally falling victim to the baying rabble outside. [6]

It seems a little strange that the Jews would take refuge in a castle stronghold belonging to the very Christian community accosting them. So perhaps the story is somewhat garbled and the Jews themselves possessed the castle from the outset. Something which would possibly be the case if Eboracum was indeed originally a Jewish settlement. It's interesting to note in this regard that there is a treaty from the same period between Alphonso, king of Castille, and Sancho, king of Navarre which expressly mentions castles belonging to Jews. In it Alphonso pledges "Nagara, a castle of the Jews" and Sancho pledges "Stella, which Peter, the son of Roderic, holds, being a castle of the Jews". So perhaps there were similar circumstances in England at this time as well. [7]

Incidentally, and finally for this chapter, it's also worth noting that yew trees are traditionally found in churchyards in Britain and northern France. The very locus of druidic activity. So again, perhaps we have echoes of an ancient religious or cultural tradition lost in the mists of time. The yew tree was said to be associated with death - no doubt in part due to its toxicity. Making it poisonous to humans and animals. In fact, one theory for why it's so commonly found in churchyards is that it was used to keep animals away from burial grounds. The wood of the yew was also used to make bows, making it doubly associated with death.

Interestingly, Caesar himself, in his Gallic Wars noted that Cativolcus, the leader of the Eburones poisoned himself with yew rather than submit to Rome. [8] This has mild echoes of the above mentioned suicides at York. The Eburones were a Gallic-Germanic tribe that occupied the northeast of Gaul. Their name likewise has the "Ebura" prefix suggestive of the name Hebrew.

The tree was also associated with death in other ways. For instance, in folklore it was said that Jesus was crucified on a yew tree. [9] A traditional ballad titled "The Leaves of Light" contains the following verse;

And they went down into yonder town
and sat in the Gallery,
And there they saw sweet Jesus Christ
Hanging from a big Yew tree.

Finally, it's also perhaps worth mentioning the Dule (or Dool) tree. These were trees that were used as gallows for hanging criminals in Britain. They were usually situated at prominent locations so that justice could be seen to be done. Jesus, of course, was said to have been crucified alongside criminals, so the link is quite fitting. The trees were known as "grief" or "lamentation trees", a suitable theme. They also sometimes went by the name "Justice Tree". In this regard the duality is quite notable. What is justice from one perspective, may be a cause of sorrow and grief from another. Judas, similarly was said to have died by hanging from a tree. Though in that case under his own volition following the guilt he felt after his betrayal of Jesus. Various trees have been suggested as the one he used, including the Elder and the appropriately named Judas Tree, which produces flowers of a deep pink colouring. The figure of Judas seems to be an almost inverse image of the figure of Jesus. Their similar fates perhaps denoting two sides of a moral tale regarding the life of man, and man's final fate under the law.



[1] I have another book available covering this history, An Esoteric History of Red Hair.


[2] This proverb is noted in a work titled Nero su nero by the Italian writer Leonardo Sciascia, published 1979.


[3] From the paper Red Hair: A Mutation, A Royal Trait, and Sometimes a Curse by Aminah Sheikh, supervised by Dr. Rashid Alam. The paper quotes from a much older article tilted On the Racial Characteristics of Modern Jews.

"In an article titled, "On the Racial Characteristics of Modern Jews," researchers found that there were "..thrice as many red-haired individuals as either Poles, Russians, or Austrians, and half as many again as Germans." Although this is quite an old article from 1886, it suggests to us the high amount of red haired Jews in Europe."

[4] You can almost imagine the conversation;

Medieval Person A: "So how come we have no idea what these people believed?"

Medieval Person B: "Well, they just insisted on never writing anything down, their beliefs simply wouldn't permit it, shame really."

[5] I came across this piece of information in a very interesting book titled When Scotland Was Jewish by Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman and Donald H. Yates. A book filled with curious pieces of information linking medieval Scotland with Jewishness. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in exploring the topic further.

[6] An account of these events can be found in the works of the 12th century English historian William of Newburgh. A further source is the 12th century chronicler Roger of Hoveden (or Howden).

[7] Likewise found in The Annals of Roger of Hoveden.

The full passage..

"These are the treaty and covenants which were entered into between Alphonso, king of Castille, and Sancho, king of Navarre, his uncle, for submitting the points in dispute between them to the judgment of the king of England. For this purpose each of these kings gives three castles in pledge, that he will receive and fulfil the award of Henry, king of England, son of the empress Matilda, and father-in-law of king Alphonso ; and he who shall fail so to do, is to lose the castles underwritten. For this purpose king Alphonso gives in pledge Nagara, a castle of the Jews, Arnedo, a castle of the Christians and a castle of the Jews, and Celorigo. In like manner, Sancho, king of Navarre, gives in pledge the castle of Stella, which Peter, the son of Roderic, holds, being a castle of the Jews, as also Funes and Maranon."

[8] The Gallic Wars. Book 6. Julius Caesar.

Later in the book I question whether Caesar actually wrote this text. So I'm being a little cheeky in quoting from it here too :)

Incidentally, the use of poison from the Yew tree as a form of suicide was said to be quite common in the ancient world. A further example comes from the works of the Roman writer Florus. Where in the work The Epitome of Roman History it's stated that the Cantabrians, under siege from the Romans, chose to take their own lives ..by sword, fire or a poison extracted from the Yew tree. Rather than submit themselves to captivity.

[9] In the Qur'an it states that Jesus was born under a palm-tree. So it seems trees abound in these tales.

"So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: she cried (in her anguish): 'Ah! Would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!'"

Sūrah 19 - Maryam. The Holy Qur'an. Wordsworth Classics of World Literature, 2000.

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