The Serpent and the Triskelion

The Serpent and the Triskelion:
(Pictured: Snake-witch (Ormhäxan) stone, Gotland, Sweden. Now in Fornsalen museum, Visby.) 

The Snake-witch (Ormhäxan), Snake-charmer (Ormtjuserskan) or Smiss stone (Smisstenen) is a picture stone found at Smiss, När parish, Gotland, Sweden. Discovered in a cemetery, it measures 82 cm (32 in) in height and depicts a figure holding a snake in each hand. Above the figure there are three interlaced creatures (forming a triskelion pattern) that have been identified as a boar, an eagle, and a wolf. The stone has been dated to 400–600 AD.

Although many scholars call it the Snake-witch,[4] what the stone depicts—an accurate interpretation of the figures—and whether it derives from Celtic art or Norse art remain debated. 

Parallels, interpretations, and speculation 

The figure on the stone was first described by Sune Lindquist in 1955. He tried unsuccessfully to find connections with accounts in Old Icelandic sources, and he also compared the stone with the Snake Goddess from Crete. Lindquist found connections with the late Celtic Gundestrup cauldron, although he appears to have overlooked that the cauldron also shows a figure holding a snake.

Arrhenius and Holmquist (1960) also found a connection with late Celtic art suggesting that the stone depicted Daniel in the lions' den and compared it with a depiction on a purse lid from Sutton Hoo, although the stone in question does not show creatures with legs. Arwidsson (1963) also attributed the stone to late Celtic art and compared it with the figure holding a snake on the Gundestrup cauldron.In a later publication Arrhenius (1994) considered the figure not to be a witch but a male magician and she dated it to the Vendel era. Hauk (1983), who is a specialist on bracteates, suggested that the stone depicts Odin in the fetch of a woman, while Görman (1983) has proposed that the stone depicts the Celtic god Cernunnos.

It also has been connected to a nearby stone relief on a door jamb at the church of Väte on Gotland which shows a woman who suckles two dragons, but this was made five centuriesl ater than the picture stone.

Snake symbolism 

Snakes were popular as a motif on later picture stones which show snake pits, used as a painful means of execution; this form of punishment also is known through Norse sagas. Snakes are considered to have had an important symbolism during the passage from paganism to Germanic Christianity. They were frequently combined with images of deer, crustaceans, or supernatural beasts. The purpose may have been to protect the stones and to deter people who might destroy them.
(credit Wiki)
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About Gaby F

lectora, estudiosa de la historia antigua, especialmente la mitología germánica, indoeuropea. ".
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