Lady with a Mead Cup is a broad-ranging, innovative and strikingly original study of the early medieval barbarian cup-offering ritual and its social, institutional and religious significance. Medievalists are familiar with the image of a queen offering a drink to a king or chieftain and to his retainers, the Wealhtheow scene in Beowulf being perhaps the most famous instancLady with a Mead Cup is a broad-ranging, innovative and strikingly original study of the early medieval barbarian cup-offering ritual and its social, institutional and religious significance. Medievalists are familiar with the image of a queen offering a drink to a king or chieftain and to his retainers, the Wealhtheow scene in Beowulf being perhaps the most famous instance. Drawing on archaeology, anthropology and philology, as well as medieval history, Professor Enright has produced the first work in English on the warband and on the significance of barbarian drinking rituals....
|Title||:||Lady with a Mead Cup: Ritual, Prophecy and Lordship in the European Warband from La Tene to the Viking Age|
|Number of Pages||:||356 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Lady with a Mead Cup: Ritual, Prophecy and Lordship in the European Warband from La Tene to the Viking Age Reviews
What if I told you that the so-called “valkyrie” is the pivotal role in the rite of sumbl and more important than that of Þyle? And that the role of “valkyrie” is properly that of a woman owing to the unique power of women in Germanic society, not only as brewers and weavers, but as oracles? And that the practice of sumbl itself has roots going back into Iron Age Celtic culture and thence into Bronze Age Greece? Would you believe me? If you don’t, or if you do but are intrigued, then get your hands on Enright’s Lady with a Mead Cup, where those points are thoroughly investigated and supported. Beowulf is Enright’s starting point and touchstone for his premise, and he references it throughout the book as a literary illustration of the importance of sumbl in Germanic society from the Iron Age up through Christianization. As Enright argues – without once using the word sumbl – the ritual sharing of drink bound the Germanic warband together in fictive kinship and was absolutely necessary to maintain group cohesion. In this religiously-fostered kinship, the warlord is the ‘father’ and his consort is the ‘mother’, while the warriors are all ‘sons’. This premise may seem patently obvious to us Heathens, but Enright explores a wealth of detail which, for me at least, deepens one’s understanding of sumbl and the significance of the roles within it. In particular, Enright finds that the ‘Lady with a Mead Cup’ is not only the ‘mother’ of the warband, but must possess magical and prophetic ability. Imagine, if you will, a sumbl in which the ‘valkyrie’ of common Heathen practice is a seiðkona, and that her words, in addressing each recipient of the horn, carry the weight of a woman performing spæ. Enright’s analysis considers the social effect of a prophetess in a warband, with her magico-religiously embued power to inspire courage and soothe tensions – yet the implications of his work for modern Heathens are no less than the finding of spæ within sumbl. For any who prefer to think of Germanic and Celtic as distinct, separate cultures, this book should be an eye-opener. Most scholarship to date acknowledges the confusion in Greco-Roman sources regarding the ethnicity of tribal groups along the Rhine, but most scholarship has also tended to see Roman influence on Germanic culture without acknowledging the more extensive Celtic influence in the Rhineland – which was present from the first signs of class hierarchy in Germanic culture and affected art styles, burial customs, political organization and relgious practice. Enright elucidates the Celtic influence on the Germanic warband, beginning with the relationship between Julius Civilis (leader of the Batavian revolt against Rome in 69 a.d.) and Veleda, the prophetess (with a Celtic name) described by Tacitus as a ‘volva’. Although some of the links he makes – such as between druidesses and volvae – are not strong (due to the meagre evidence), the overall connections drawn between Celtic and Germanic cultures are convincing. Heathen readers will also be interested in Enright’s proposed origin for Odin having only one eye – whether one accepts it or not. I won’t describe it here, but suffice to say he offers a compelling socio-historical origin for the mythical motif. Of more importance is how Enright traces the rise of the cult of Wodan to the adoption of the warband, via Celtic influence, into Germanic culture. A further implication of the evidence assembled by Enright is Freyja’s relationship with Odin – though Enright himself makes no mention of this, as he prefers to limit his analysis to deities well-known from the late Roman period. If one sees in Frejya an echo of the ‘Lady with a Mead Cup’ motif, it is rather intriguing to find that Veleda (whom Enright does characterize as an epitome of the motif) is described by Tacitus as receiving war captives for sacrifice – an intriguing parallel to Freyja receiving half the slain.Enright’s writing style is very accessible, though I recommend either re-reading the book (as I’ve done), or taking your time to digest the wealth of information in it. Enright covers such a wide range of inter-related data, often delving into the details, that it can be hard to hold all of this book in one’s head. I’ve highlighted the chief implications of his work here in this review, but there are many more that a Heathen reader will want to ponder. The book can be particularly helpful for readers who cannot read German, as Enright uses non-English sources extensively and often summarizes current scholarship (German, Irish, and English, up through the late 1980’s) on the topics he treats. Unfortunately, the book is on the expensive and hard-to-obtain end of things. Used copies are over-priced, starting at $300 – though, at the time of writing this, I see there is one copy available at WH Smith for £32.50. However, checking the publisher’s website (http://www.fourcourtspress.ie), the book still seems to be in print and selling for €76.50 – still difficult, but obtainable if you’re determined to own a copy. That said, though, visiting your local university library – which may offer library cards to the public – is likely to be the cheapest option.
Wow! this book is everything it claims,to be and more. Excellent source for research.
Lady with a Mead Cup is an analysis of the social/religious significance of a ritual in which the wife/lady/queen of a warlord offers a cup of mead to the members of a warband in Germanic and continental Celtic (Gaulish) culture. Actually that kind of relates to Wisdom of the Outlaw which I previously read in that it’s focused on warbands and their connection with seership, though it doesn’t discuss the Fenians.Much of it was rather dry and hard to get through so I skipped parts (mainly the big chunk in the middle about archeology), but there was some good info in there, especially about the role of sibyls/prophetesses in warbands, and later on in the book, the cult of the “Gaulish Mercury”, Rosmerta, and the connection between Mercury, Lugh and Odin and how the cult of Odin evolved in relation to the rise of the warband.