Norse - Jelling – The Rune stone of Harald Bluetooth
Type of Spiritual Experience
The Runestone of Harald Bluetooth according to archaeologists has “a figure of Jesus Christ on one side and on another side a serpent wrapped around a lion. Christ is depicted as standing in the shape of a cross and entangled in what appear to be branches. One scholar has suggested that this imagery was used to suggest that Christ had replaced the Norse pagan god Odin, who in one myth hung for nine nights in the tree Yggdrasill.”
And here we have an indicator of what happens when a Christian attempts to translate the symbolism of a religion he does not even begin to understand.
The figure is not Jesus. The bulging eyes indicate a person in ecstasy and the surrounding intertwining ‘branches’ are representative of energy flows – symbolically wool or even vines. The halo was a universal symbol.
Note that the figure is not on a cross nailed to it, but in the shape of a cross.
The position is thus the symbolic cross – the cross also has universal symbolism. But although the indication is that the man in question – probably Harald himself was a spiritually advanced man, the shape of the cross indicates a person somehow stymied – the St Andrews cross shape is the real state of ecstasy, whereas the cross shape used here is of a man pinned to the Earth unable to break free. This is no rune stone of celebration, it is a stone of tragic mourning.
The lion and the serpent may have more than one meaning. It could be the symbolism of the Tarot card Strength, or the more likely meaning given the other side, is that the Lion has been downed by the serpent – the Lion being the King and the Viking religion and the serpent being the Christian religion. Thus this stone is a memorial to a form of defeat, not a celebration. It is actually a clever but totally tragic memorial to a lost age.