En 04f Minerva

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    Ott 2023

    4f. Minerva

    [033/22] 2. From Minno’s writings:

    When Nyhellenia (or: Hellenia),[1] whose given name was Minerva, was well established in the land, and the Greeks loved her almost as much as her own folk,[2] there came a group of princes and priests to the burg and asked Minerva where her ‘erva’ (inheritance) lay.

    Hellenia answered: “‘Mina’-‘erva’ (‘my inheritance’) I bear in my bosom. What I have inherited is the love of wisdom, justice, and freedom. [034] Were I to lose that, I would be like the meanest of your slaves. For, now, I give advice freely, but, then, I would sell it.”

    The lords left and called, mockingly: “Your obedient servants, wise Hellenia!” But their ridicule went amiss, for the folk that loved and followed her took up this name as a title of honor. When they realized that they had missed their mark, the princes and priests began to denigrate her, saying she had bewitched the people. But our folk, and the good Greeks, avowed everywhere that it was slander.

    Once they came and asked: “So if you are not a sorceress, what then is the purpose of the eggs you always have with you?” Minerva answered: “These eggs are the symbol of Frya’s counsels, in which our future, and that of all humankind, lies concealed. Time must hatch them and we must see that they come to no harm.”

    The priests replied: “Well said, but what of the hound at your right hand?” Hellenia answered: “Does not the shepherd have a sheepdog to keep his flock together? Like the dog in the service of the shepherd, I am in Frya’s service. I must watch over her flock.”

    “That makes sense indeed,” said the priests. “But tell us, [035] what is the meaning of the night owl that sits always upon your head? Is that light-shunning creature perhaps the sign of your clairvoyance?”

    “No,” answered Hellenia. “He helps me remember that a certain breed of people wanders the earth, who, just as he, house themselves in temples and caves, gnawing in the dark. Though not as he, to help rid us of mice and other pests, but rather to contrive deceits, to rob other peoples of their knowledge so they can more easily lay hold of them to make them slaves and suck their blood like leeches.”

    Once, they came with a crowd of people. Plague had come over the land, and they said: “We are all making offerings to the gods, so that they might ward off the plague. Will you not help us to calm their wrath? Or did you yourself bring the plague over the land with your arts?”

    “No,” said Minerva. “But I know no gods who are doers of evil. Therefore, I cannot entreat them to become better. I know only one ‘God’ — that is Wralda’s spirit. And because ‘God’ means ‘good’, he also does no evil.”[3]

    “Where, then, does evil come from?” the priests asked.

    “All of the evil comes from yourselves and from the stupidity of the people who walk willingly into your trap.”

    “If, then, your supreme being is so very good, why does he not prevent evil?” the priests asked.

    Hellenia answered: “Frya has put us [036] on the path, and the Bearer — that is time — must do the rest. For all calamities, counsel and help may be found. But Wralda intends that we search for them ourselves, in order that we should become strong and wise. If we refuse, he lets our boils fester, so that we should experience the results of wise and foolish deeds.”

    One prince replied: “I would think it better to simply ward off disaster.”

    “Of course you would,” Hellenia answered, “because then the people would remain like tame sheep. You and the priests would want to guard them, but also to shear them and lead them to the slaughter. Such, though, is not the will of our supreme being. He wills that we help one another, but also that all should be free and become wise. This we desire as well, which is why our folk elects our leaders, aldermen, counselors, and all chieftains and masters from the wisest of the good people — so that all will do their best to become wise and good. Doing thus, we shall come to know, and to teach the people, that wisdom and wise deeds alone lead to salvation.”

    “That is quite a notion,” said the priests. “But if you assert that the plague is a result of our ignorance, then would Nyhellenia be so good as to lend us somewhat of the ‘new light’ of which she is so proud?”

    “Yes,” Hellenia said: [037] “Crows and other birds feed only on foul carrion, whereas the plague likes not only foul carrion, but also foul morals, customs, and habits.[4] If you want the plague to go away and never come again, you must rid yourselves of these habits, and see that you all become pure,[5] inside and out.”

    “We want to believe that your counsel is good,” said the priests, “but tell us how we are supposed to improve all the people under our rule?”

    At this, Hellenia rose from her seat and declared: “The sparrows follow the sower, the folks their good leaders. Therefore, you ought to begin by making yourselves so pure that you may look inward and outward without reddening in shame before your own conscience. But, instead of purifying the people, you have invented foul feasts where they drink so excessively that they end up wallowing in the mud like pigs, for you to satisfy your vile lusts.” The people began to yell and jeer, so that the priests did not dare resume the debate.

    Now, one might expect that they would have mobilized the people everywhere to drive us altogether from the land. But no. Instead of raising the alarm, they went to every corner, even to the Near Greeklands, all the way to the Alps, declaring that it had pleased the Most High God [038] to send among them his wise daughter Minerva, also named Nyhellenia, across the sea upon the shell of a whelk to give them good counsel, and that whosoever would hear her should become rich and happy, and eventually should rule the whole kingdom of Earth. They placed statues of her on their altars, or sold them to the simple people. They proclaimed counsels everywhere that she had never given, and told of miracles that she had never performed.

    Through cunning, they made themselves masters of our laws and customs, and through lies managed to blur and distort them all. They also placed maidens under their care (pretending these were under the care of Festa, our first honorable mother) to watch over the divine light.[6] But that flame they themselves had kindled, and instead of properly educating these young maidens and sending them amongst the people, to nurse the sick and teach the children, they kept them ignorant and dim by the light and did not allow them to come outside. The maidens were also used as counselors, but the counsel they gave only seemed to come from their own lips. In reality, they were no more than the mouthpiece through which the priests promulgated their own desires.

    When Nyhellenia died, we wished to choose another mother. Some wanted to go to Texland, [039] to ask one there. But the priests, who had regained power over their people, would not permit it and accused us before their people of impiety.


    1. ‘Nyhellenia’ (NY.HEL.LÉNJA) — in the next sentence shortened in original as HEL.LÉNJA, translated here as Hellenia; the name literally means ‘provide new clarity’. ‘Nehalennia’ is widely depicted on votive stones found mostly in the Dutch Province of Zeeland.
    2. ‘Greeks’ (KRÉKALANDER) from KRÉKALANDA — suggested to mean ‘creek-lands’; elsewhere differentiated as ‘near’ (current Italy) and ‘distant’ (current Greece).
    3. ‘and because ‘god’ means ‘good’...’ — lit.: ‘but because he is God/good...’
    4. ‘habits’ (FANGNISA) — lit.: ‘imprisonments’, here understood as ‘psychic imprisonment’, from verb FANGA (to catch, capture, trap).
    5. ‘rid yourselves of these habits’ (THA FANGNISA WÉI DVA) — lit.: ‘do away with imprisonments’.
    6. Compare the Vestals or Vestal Virgins of Ancient Rome.

    Sandbach 1876

    [p.49 cont.] From Minno's Writings.

    When Nyhalennia,[1] whose real name was Min-erva, was well established, and the Krekalanders[2] loved her as well as our own people did, there came some princes and priests to her citadel and asked Min-erva where her possessions lay. Hellenia answered, I carry my possessions in my own bosom. What I have inherited is the love of wisdom, justice, and freedom. If I lose these I shall become as the least of your slaves; now I give advice for nothing, but then I should sell it. The gentlemen went away laughing and saying, Your humble servants, wise Hellenia. But they missed their object, for the people took up this name as a name of honour. When they saw that [p.51] their shot had missed they began to calumniate her, and to say that she had bewitched the people; but our people and the good Krekalanders understood at once that it was calumny. She was once asked, If you are not a witch, what is the use of the eggs that you always carry with you? Min-erva answered, These eggs are the symbols of Frya's counsels, in which our future and that of the whole human race lies concealed. Time will hatch them, and we must watch that no harm happens to them. The priests said, Well answered; but what is the use of the dog on your right hand? Hellenia replied, Does not the shepherd have a sheep-dog to keep his flock together? What the dog is to the shepherd I am in Frya's service. I must watch over Frya's flocks. We understand that very well, said the priests; but tell us what means the owl that always sits upon your head, is that light-shunning animal a sign of your clear vision? No, answered Hellenia; he reminds me that there are people on earth who, like him, have their homes in churches and holes, who go about in the twilight, not, like him, to deliver us from mice and other plagues, but to invent tricks to steal away the knowledge of other people, in order to take advantage of them, to make slaves of them, and to suck their blood like leeches. Another time they came with a whole troop of people, when the plague was in the country, and said; We are all making offerings to the gods that they may take away the plague. Will you not help to turn away their anger, or have you yourself brought the plague into the land with all your arts? No, said Min-erva; I know no gods that do evil, therefore I cannot ask them to do better. I only know one good spirit, that is Wr-alda's; and as he is good be never does evil. Where, then, does evil come from? asked [p.53] the priests. All the evil comes from you, and from the stupidity of the people who let themselves be deceived by you. If, then, your god is so exceedingly good, why does he not turn away the bad? asked the priests. Hellenia answered: Frya has placed us here, and the carrier, that is, Time, must do the rest. For all calamities there is counsel and remedy to be found, but Wr-alda wills that we should search it out ourselves, in order that we may become strong and wise. If we will not do that, he leaves us to our own devices, in order that we may experience the results of wise or foolish conduct. Then a prince said, I should think it best to submit. Very possibly, answered Hellenia; for then men would be like sheep, and you and the priests would take care of them, shearing them and leading them to the shambles. This is what our god does not desire, he desires that we should help one another, but that all should be free and wise. That is also our desire, and therefore our people choose their princes, counts, councillors, chiefs, and masters among the wisest of the good men, in order that every man shall do his best to be wise and good. Thus doing, we learn ourselves and teach the people that being wise and acting wisely can alone lead to holiness. That seems very good judgment, said the priests; but if you mean that the plague is caused by our stupidity, then Nyhellenia will perhaps be so good as to bestow upon us a little of that new light of which she is so proud. Yes, said Hellenia, but ravens and other birds of prey feed only on dead carrion, whereas the plague feeds not only on carrion but on bad laws and customs and wicked passions. If yon wish the plague to depart from you and not return, you must put away your bad passions and become pure within and without. We admit that the advice is good, said the priests, but how shall we induce all the people under our rule [p.55] to agree to it? Then Hellenia stood up and said: The sparrows follow the sower, and the people their good princes, therefore it becomes you to begin by rendering yourselves pure, so that you may look within and without, and not be ashamed of your own conduct. Now, instead of purifying the people, you have invented foul festivals, in which they have so long revelled that they wallow like swine in the mire to atone for your evil passions. The people began to mock and to jeer, so that she did not dare to pursue the subject; and one would have thought that they would have called all the people together to drive us out of the land; but no, in place of abusing her they went all about from the heathenish Krekaland to the Alps, proclaiming that it had pleased the Almighty God to send his clever daughter Min-erva, surnamed Nyhellenia, over the sea in a cloud to give people good counsel, and that all who listened to her should become rich and happy, and in the end governors of all the kingdoms of the earth. They erected statues to her on all their altars, they announced and sold to the simple people advice that she had never given, and related miracles that she had never performed. They cunningly made themselves masters of our laws and customs, and by craft and subtlety were able to explain and spread them around. They appointed priestesses under their own care, who were apparently under the protection of Festa,[3] our first Eeremoeder, to watch over the holy lamp; but that lamp they lit themselves, and instead of imbuing the priestesses with wisdom, and then sending them to watch the sick and educate the young, they made them stupid and ignorant, and never allowed them to come out. They were employed [p.57] as advisers, but the advice which seemed to come from them was but the repetition of the behests of the priests. When Nyhellenia died, we wished to choose another mother, and some of us wished to go to Texland to look for her; but the priests, who were all-powerful among their own people, would not permit it, and accused us before the people of being unholy.

    Notes Sandbach

    1. Nyhellenia or Nehalennia.
    2. Krekaland, the Krekenland means Magna Grecia as well as Greece.
    3. Fâsta is Vesta, or the Vestal Virgins.

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