En 09a Kelta and Minerva

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    Ott 2023

    9. Conflict and Migration

    9a. The War of Kelta and Minerva, ca. 1630 BCE

    [061/28] Now we will write about the war of the burgmaids Kelta and Minerva, and how we thereby lost all our southern lands and Britannia to the Gola.

    [062] Near the southern mouth of the Rhine and the Scheldt, there are seven islands, named after Frya’s seven watch maidens of the week. In the middle of one island is the burg Walhallagara. On its walls, the following history is written. It starts with:

    “Read, learn, and keep watch.”

    Five hundred and sixty-three years after Aldland sank, a wise burgmaid had her seat here. Minerva was her name, called by the navigators ‘Nyhellenia’. This epithet was well chosen, because the advice she lent (‘lenade’) was new (‘ny’) and bright (‘hel’) — above all other available counsel.

    Across the Scheldt, at Fleeburg, was the seat of Syrhed. This maid was a trickster. Comely was her face and quick was her tongue, but the advice she gave was always veiled in obscure words. Therefore, the navigators called her ‘Kelta’ (chatter), though this was interpreted by those who did not voyage at sea as a name of honor.

    Named first in the last will of the deceased mother was Rosamunde, second was Minerva, and Syrhed third in line of sucession. Minerva thought nothing of this, but Syrhed was offended. Like a foreign princess, she desired to be honored, feared, and worshiped. But Minerva wished only to be admired. Eventually, all navigators would come to pay her their respects, even from the Denmarks and the Flee Lake. That wounded Syrhed, [063] because she wished to be esteemed above Minerva. To advertise her vigilance, she depicted a rooster upon her banner.

    Minerva responded by depicting a herding dog and an owl upon hers. “The dog,” she said, “watches over his owner and the flock, and the owl watches over the field, to keep it from being devastated by mice. But the rooster has no friendship for anyone, and his lechery and cockiness has often made him the bane even of his nearest kin.”

    When Kelta saw that her scheme had failed, she went from bad to worse. Secretly, she invited Magyars to come and teach her sorcery. And when she was done, she threw herself into the arms of the Gola. All these misdeeds, though, did nothing to improve her position. When she realized that the navigators only shunned her more and more, she sought to entice them through fear. Whenever the moon was full and the sea stormy, she would go out, treading the wild swells, and shout at the seafarers that they should all perish if they would not worship her. She also blinded their eyes so that they mistook land for water and water for land, whereby many a ship was lost [064] with man and mouse.[1]

    At the first war feast that followed,[2] when all her landsmen were armed, she brought out barrels of beer, to which she had added a magic potion. As the folk became altogether drunk, she stood upon the back of her warhorse, leaning her head upon her spear — a vision of raw beauty in the reddening dawn. When she saw that all eyes were fixed upon her, she opened her lips and proclaimed: “Sons and daughters of Frya! Well do you know that we have suffered much loss and misery in recent times, since the navigators no longer come to export our writing felt.[3] But you do not know how it came about. Long have I kept my silence, but I can bear it no longer. Harken, my friends, that you may know where to bite!

    “On the other side of the Scheldt, where ships from almost all seas pass by, they nowadays make writing felt from waterlily leaves.[4] Thus, they no longer use linen and have no more need of us!

    “The making of writing felt has always been our chief industry, so the mother would have wanted them to teach us the new craft too. But Minerva has bewitched all the folk — yes bewitched, my friends — even as all our cattle that died recently. It must be made known, and I will tell you this: If I were not a [065] burgmaid, I know what I would do. I would burn that witch in her nest!”

    As soon as she had thus spoken, she hurried to her burg. But the besotted folk was in such a frenzy that they had lost all sense of reason. In a mad fervor they crossed the Sandfal and, as night was falling, they fell upon the burg with equal madness. But Kelta again failed of her goal. For Minerva, her maidens, and the Lamp were all rescued by the swift navigators.

    Notes

    1. ‘man and mouse’ — ‘crew and cargo’ (expression).
    2. ‘war feast’ (WÉRFÉSTE) — or: ‘gathering of warriors’, ‘military/defense feast’; from verb WÉRA (to defend).
    3. ‘writing felt’ (SKRIF.FILT) — ‘FILT’ may originally not have meant ‘felt’ but rather prepared animal skin (pelt); the Dutch verb 'villen' means 'to skin' and 'filt' could represent the participle form: i.e., skinned/pelted (peeled). Thus, SKRIF.FILT may refer to parchment.
    4. ‘water-lily leaves’ (POMPA.BLÉDAR) — Frisian: ‘pompeblêden’; may be related to the Old Frisian word for paper: ‘pompier’.

    Sandbach 1876

    [p.87 cont.] Now we will write about the War between the Burgtmaagden Kalta and Min-erva,

    And how we thereby lost all our southern lands and Britain to the Golen.

    Near the southern mouth of the Rhine and the Scheldt there are seven islands, named after Frya's seven virgins of the week. In the middle of one island is the city of Walhallagara (Middelburg),[1] and on the walls of this city the following history is inscribed. Above it are the words "Read, learn, and watch."

    Five hundred and sixty-three years after the submersion of Atland — that is, 1600 years before Christ —[2] a wise town priestess presided here, whose name was Min-erva — called by the sailors Nyhellenia. This name was well chosen, for her counsels were new and clear above all others.

    On the other side of the Scheldt, at Flyburgt, Sijrhed presided. This maiden was full of tricks. Her face was [p.89] beautiful, and her tongue was nimble; but the advice that she gave was always conveyed in mysterious terms. Therefore the mariners called her Kalta, and the landsmen thought it was a title. In the last will of the dead mother, Rosamond was named first, Min-erva second, and Sijrhed third in succession. Min-erva did not mind that, but Sijrhed was very much offended. Like a foreign princess, she wished to be honoured, feared, and worshipped; but Min-erva only desired to be loved. At last all the sailors, even from Denmark and Flymeer, did homage to her. This hurt Sijrhed, because she wanted to excel Min-erva. In order to give an impression of her great watchfulness, she had a cock put on her banner. So then Min-erva went and put a sheep-dog and an owl on her banner. The dog, she said, guards his master and his flock, and the owl watches that the mice shall not devastate the fields; but the cock in his lewdness and his pride is only fit to murder his nearest relations. When Kalta found that her scheme had failed she was still more vexed, so she secretly sent for the Magyars to teach her conjuring. When she had had enough of this she threw herself into the hands of the Gauls; but all her malpractices did not improve her position. When she saw that the sailors kept more and more aloof from her, she tried to win them back by fear. At the full moon, when the sea was stormy, she ran over the wild waves, calling to the sailors that they would all be lost if they did not worship her. Then she blinded their eyes, so that they mistook land for water and water for land, and in this way many a good ship was totally lost. At the first war-feast, when all her countrymen were armed, she brought casks of beer, which she had drugged. When they were all drunk [p.91] she mounted her war-horse, leaning her head upon her spear. Sunrise could not be more beautiful. When she saw that the eyes of all were fixed upon her, she opened her lips and said:

    Sons and daughters of Frya, you know that in these last times we have suffered much loss and misery because the sailors no longer come to buy our paper, but you do not know what the reason of it is. I have long kept silence about it, but can do so no longer. Listen, then, my friends, that you may know on which side to show your teeth. On the other side of the Scheldt, where from time to time there come ships from all parts, they make now paper from pumpkin leaves, by which they save flax and outdo us. Now, as the making of paper was always our principal industry, the mother willed that people should learn it from us; but Min-erva has bewitched all the people—yes, bewitched, my friends—as well as all our cattle that died lately. I must come out with it. If I were not Burgtmaagd, I should know what to do. I should burn the witch in her nest.

    As soon as she had uttered these words she sped away to her citadel; but the drunken people were so excited that they did not stop to weigh what they had heard. In mad haste they hurried over the Sandfal, and as night came on they burst into the citadel. However, Kalta again missed her aim; for Min-erva, her maidens, and her lamp were all saved by the alertness of the seamen.

    Notes Sandbach

    1. Walhallagara is Middelburg, in Walcheren.
    2. 2193-583 is 1630 years before Christ.


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