The Derivation of Smaug

In my researches as a story archaeologist, I often find myself plundering the same rich, golden seams of ancient Celtic and Norse myths that inspired the imaginations of much greater writers that went before me, notably J.S. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. And as I stand there, trowel in hand, before these gloriously resonant archetypal images – such as the dragon Smaug, from The Hobbit, that hoards piles of gold – I become fascinated to find out where such imagery came from because I know that will also give me its deeper, original wisdom meaning.

giphy

So where can we find the derivation of the dragon Smaug?

Well, we need to dig down even further into a dark, peaty layer that hasn’t seen the light of day for many thousands of years.

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the Celts and the Norse shared a common rootstock of myths that were probably Scythian in origin. The last Scythian migration rode down from the Caucasus Mountains around 1400 BCE and spread out across Europe. It is believed that some went north to become the Saxons and the Vikings, and that others went towards the Mediterranean countries and eventually became the Celts.

We can see these correspondences between the Celts and the Norse in their grave goods – notably metallurgy  – and there is also some DNA evidence. But we see it most clearly in the similarity of their myths, which were originally developed from stories written in the stars of the Northern hemisphere and that featured a huge water serpent which we know as Hydra.

Sidney_Hall_-_Urania's_Mirror_-_Noctua,_Corvus,_Crater,_Sextans_Uraniæ,_Hydra,_Felis,_Lupus,_Centaurus,_Antlia_Pneumatica,_Argo_Navis,_and_Pyxis_Nautica

Hydra guards a garden of apples, which is the symbol that was used for ‘stars’, ‘starfields’ and ‘knowledge of the stars’. (Read The Real Adam and Eve and Garden of Eden for more on this.) This knowledge of the stars, I believe, at its deepest level, is the knowledge of the stars of inner space which are taught in the Mysteries, and not necessarily outer space, although the ancients used the stars of outer space to illustrate their stories – as above, so below.

The starfield being guarded by Hydra could also be termed the Garden of Idun, because Idun (pronounced Eden) appears in the 13th century Norse Edda as an Aesir fertility goddess who carries around a box of apples, the eating of which grant the boon of immortality.

idungoldenapple10

Just like pretty well everyone else in the ancient world, the Norse set their myths in a multi-dimensional universe; in the Three Worlds of Asgard (Upper World), Midgard (Middle World) and Hel (Underworld).  The root word ‘gard’ of Asgard and Midgard meant ‘garden’. Idun with her box of apples came from Asgard, the garden of the Upper World – so could this be the origins of the Garden of Idun?

In the Celtic myths, the Plough constellation is operated by the farmer Hu Gardarn. The ancient Sumerians used the Plough in their star stories as a metaphor for ‘ploughing’ the vagina of the wheatfields of Virgo, which is guarded by Hydra.  In the Welsh language, garden is gardd, guard is gwarchod and guardian is gwarcheidwadd. I wonder then if the word ‘guardian’ originally meant someone who guarded a garden, just like Hydra?

Hydra is, as are all mythological water serpents and dragons, associated in Northern star lore with fertility and sacred sex rites that bring about knowledge of the true self and thus, of our own immortality, which is the boon of the Tree of Life in the Biblical story in Genesis of the Garden of Eden. (You can read more about how sacred sex magic works in my book The Grail Mysteries).

And just like Smaug in Tolkein’s The Hobbit who guards the gold, it would make sense in these stories to have a huge water serpent guarding the occult or hidden knowledge of the glittering inner stars which comes about from the phallic Plough ploughing the yoni Spica in the constellation of Virgo during sacred sex practices.

[Many thanks to Rosemary Taylor and Robert Allan Pittman]


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