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 Hengest and Horsa

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Silver Wind
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PostSubject: Hengest and Horsa   Mon Aug 20, 2007 4:40 pm

Hengest and Horsa are the names of two brothers who are said to have led the settlement of England by the Anglo-Saxons. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle we read:


'Their war leaders were two brothers, Hengest and Horsa, who were Wihgtils sons. First of all they turned on the king and the British, destroying through fire and swords edge.'


Horsa is said to have died in the battle of Ayelsford in the year 455 c.e, and his brother Hengest is said to have lived till the year 488 c.e as ruler of Kent. Although mentioned historicaly, it's possible that at one time Hengest and Horsa could have been gods. The Roman historian Tacitus gives us a description of a cult amongst the Germanic peoples that included the worship of twin brother deities that were believed to be horse gods. The name Hengest means stallion and the name Horsa, not surprisingly, means horse, and the fact that they are historically said to be brothers or twins could indicate that Hengest and Horsa were originally born out of this ancient Germanic horse cult. Throughout Europe different Germanic peoples traced their ancestry back to brothers or twins like Hengest and Horsa, and in Anglo-Saxon tradition we find many royal lines going back to Hengest and Horsa. So it's possible that all were rooted in the Germanic 'twin brother cult'. It was widespread amongst Germanic peoples to be descended from the gods that they worshipped, so it could be that when the Anglo-Saxons settled England, the twin gods Hengest and Horsa were not just regarded as ancestor deities, but also seen as leaders of the Anglo-Saxons, and were thus made to look like real historical figures rather than gods. The horse as a symbol rears it's head many times throughout the Anglo-Saxon era, in both Heathen and Christian times, and even today we can find the horse as a symbol used in various ways throughout England. And interestingly even over 1500 years after Hengest was it's ruler, the modern day county of Kent still has a horse as it's county symbol.

http://www.homestead.com/englishheathenism/hengestandhorsa.html

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