The unofficial Herstory of
Ancient Sacred Rocks of Germany
Article was published in " The Pipes of Pan", Number 19
|These eerie and wierd ("Wyrd" of Saxon
Magick) dark sandstone rocks
- ca. 300 feet high - on the northern slopes of the Teutoburg Forest (not far
from Hannover) were anciently one of the World Mountains, the Navel of the Earth
Mother, where different psychic realities meet and the spiritual can be reached
in Shamanistic trance journeys.
They are situated by a very ancient trade route, oak trees grow there
abundantly and there are numerous springs and healing mineral wells in the
Weserbergland. The Romans were defeated here in the Teutoberg Wald by the
Externsteine Mountain Mother
From the very earliest of times the
Externsteine ('steine' is German for 'stones' ) were a cultplace, a place
of worship: by the Celts, by the Germanic peoples, by the Romans. It is thought
that perhaps the Goddess Ostara/Eostra was worshipped here and it has been
suggested that the Bruchterian prophetess/oracle Veleda (front a tribe along the
lower Rhine) about whom The Roman historian, Tacitus, wrote, resided, unseen by
men, in the upper sanctuary - a space where men were not allowed to enter. This
upper temple on the rock pinnacle - the only one of the rocks that has retained
its original peak - was probably originally an enclosed cave-chamber within
which the prophetess/astrologer studied the heavens, the movements of the stars,
moon and sun, through the circular opening in the rock wall. Probably the
shadows cast on the walls from this light-beam enabled her to prophesy about
coming events and to heal. This space was an observatory and has an almost exact
The roof of this rock-chamber was either deliberately destroyed or it eroded
naturally and it is now only semi-enclosed. But considering that (according to
the Carolingian annals) the "Irminsul" was destroyed, or broken off by
Charlemagne in 772 AD one can be excused for thinking that it was deliberate.
This pinnacle was, according to legend, the site of the sacred "Irminsul",
the Saxon spiralling Tree Pillar (looking like a unicorn's horn) and Charlemagne
was an early German king set on unifying Germany under his rule. He was a
Christian and saw the church as a useful tool in creating a hierarchic state.
else the church and state worked
hand in glove to destroy the ancient religion
of the Goddess and Her son, the Horned One.
They tried to wipe out the millennia old love
that the peasantry of the land felt for the
Great Mother. In the 15th century this would
lead to the following 300 years of the "witch
hunts", the destruction of the ancient know
ledge and healing. '
On June 18th 601, Pope Gregor the Great instructed the Anglo-Saxon mission
with the following words: "One should under no circum stances destroy the
sanctuaries of the idols but only the idols themselves, because if they are well
constructed, these places of worship for demons can easily be transformed into
places where the true God is served. If people do not find their temples
destroyed, they may, with all their heart, become aware of their error, and
recognise and worship the true God and thus return to the familiar
It was also recommended to transform the sacrificial rites and to take over
traditions of the consecration of the church or of martyrs' birthdays. There are
several examples in south-west Germany of the transformation of Celtic and Roman
places of worship into Christian ones (all according to the official tourist
So... the "Irminsul" (embodying the sacred energy) was broken
off... but the rocks themselves were used first by hermits as cave-dwellings and
then in Medieval times they were taken over by Benedictine monks who made this
into an important Christian place of pilgrimage.
The upper sanctuary had been transformed into a mainly solar temple, and
first Mithras, the Roman/Persian sun god and then Jesus, another god said to
have been born at the midwinter solstice, were worshipped here. In the temple
with its now semi-enclosed room there is a free-standing niche with an altar
under a circular window with a beveled edge. There is apparently no historical
source that can tell us about the origin of this little chapel formed from the
ruin of the original cave-chamber. This "window" faces almost exactly
north east and the sun can be seen to rise through it on 22nd June. Nerthus was
the ancient Nordic Sun Goddess, and perhaps she was seen to give birth here on
midwinter solstice as the dying rays of the sun entered the vaginal circular
opening of the cave to be reborn again from Her. This death and rebirth of the
Sun at midwinter from the Mother was watched by the Neolithic peoples also at
New Grange in Ireland and at Stonehenge in England and other places.
The Christians saw the Externsteine as a replica of the holy places at
Jerusalem during the time of the crusades, with the upper sanctuary as the
chapel of Calvary. Close by there is a human-sized rock-cut tomb which was said
to be a copy of the tomb of Jesus in the church of the Holy Sepulchre in
Jerusalem. My guess is that initiates actually slept in this grave to experience
in themselves the death of Jesus.
The main cave is however at ground floor level and is the
womb of the Earth. In here there is a large hollow in the wall that continues
into the floor. Did the initiates originally lie in here, embraced by the
Earth-Mother? Did water collect in here from the rock walls?
Everywhere in the rocks it seems that rock-dust has been scraped out making
hollows and holes. Here, as with the standing stones, the substance of the rocks
and its waters must have been considered healing and holy to partake of.
It is interesting that the Christians compared this cave to the chapel of St.
Helena. Helle was the ancient Nordic Goddess of the Underworld and the chtonic
powers: in Denmark ancient healing and sacred wells are dedicated to Helena and
in the Celtic world Helena was the Goddess of the ancient tracks and underground
Old Hag Goddess in the Harz Mountains Kästeklippe
watching over Her land.
(Near Brocken-Blockberg where the Wicce
31/7/84 Monica Sjöö
There is a "Rocking Stone" balanced on one of the summits of the
Externsteine. After vain attempts to topple it down it was fastened by iron
hooks in 1813. Everywhere one sees gigantic heads, figures and shapes in the
rocks. They appear to have been originally natural shapes, slightly altered. On
the Kasteklippe, in the Harz mountains, it is clear for example that the
gigantic head of the old Hag Goddess - seen watching over Her distant lands -
has been shaped deliberately to resemble the head of a powerful, but sorrowing,
old woman. (Of course she is called "the old man of the mountain" by
people who cannot imagine a woman looking powerful!)
Many of the other astonishing rocks are balanced in strange ways - one of the
rock formations is even called "The Witches' Kitchen" -presumably to
channel the energies of the Earth and Her underground waters. There are some
very powerful and crazy energies in this place.
On the Externsteine was carved a huge and very early relief showing Jesus
being taken down from the cross. It is from 1130 AD. and is very powerful.
Jesus's head is resting lovingly on his mother's face, Nicodemus is shown
standing on the "Irminsul", here a bent stylised tree, and the Moon
and the Sun are mourning and crying.
Below this relief is another, and apparently older, carving which is partly
destroyed and difficult to read. The tourist blurb says that it is thought to
show Adam and (a fully dressed?) Eve standing on their knees while entwined by a
huge and powerful dragon which looks like a combination of a bird and a
spiraling serpent. It is a strange image...
The carving above the Cave Entrance
What is even stranger is the fact that close by, above one of the entrances
to the main large cave, there is the hollowed-out shape of a large Bird Goddess.
Again, it is called an "Eagle" but it is also said that no-one knows
the actual significance of this image. We were two women visiting these rocks
and to our eyes the image had a distinct female shape- the Goddess as bird,
butterfly or/and Double Axe. Perhaps at the Externsteine the Goddess was
worshipped in the upper sanctuary as Bird/ air/sky and in the groundfloor large
cave as Dragon/serpent of the underworld chtonic powers of the magnetic waters.
Perhaps Ostara, to whom Easter and fertility and our menstrual cycle belongs,
was served here by oracular priestesses who told the people of the important lunar positions; when to sow
and to reap; when to concieve and to give birth; when the healing wells were
miraculously healing etc. After all, the Neolithic stone circles were a kind of
Lunar and menstrual calendars standing in the landscape and aligned to the
spiraling energies of Earth and the Heavens. Women were the ancient
Shaman/astrologers and the guardians of these energies.
This sacred place was also used by the Nazis and they practiced solar rites
here in the service of extreme patriarchy.
We must reclaim these Goddess sites of powerful Earth energies and reactivate
them with our positive, menstrual, life-enhancing and life-creating
womanenergies. Our Mother needs us as we need Her... in this last and dangerous
hour of sterile, barren and life-hating patriarchy.
Article was published in " The Pipes of
Pan", Number 19
The Year of publication is unknown, but one of the
drawings is dated 31/7/1984