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The Creation of the Uddeler- and Pale Lake - Thunar and the Winter Giants
Thunar and the Winter Giants
There was a time when giants stormed the sky and a large snake resided at Uunnilo1. The coarse giants, subjects of the powerful Winter Giant, had begun their battle against the Gods of Summer. With sand from the Wolfskamer2 they built up the Woldbergen3; but Thunar4, the great God of Thunder, as yet restrained them.
Already the mists of autumn drew across the forests, pale flags of the approaching winter-army, and large wolf-clouds struggled with the God of the Sun.
Wildly the Thunderer growled in his red beard, so that the giants where filled with fear and momentarily stepped aside from the battle. The herons and swallows, frightened by the threat of war, fled quickly southwards.
The Wintergiants convened in the forest and called upon the aid of the large snake. With her lethal breath she made the leaves on the trees colour and whither, and wherever she crawled poisonous mushrooms appeared. In that forest of hellish red and foul yellow the giants made a pact with the snake, and the trees dropped many leaves in their sadness at this terrible collaboration.
The next day the snake wrapped itself around the highest oak to spew her poison into the heavens, and the giants threw hands full of hail towards the sky.
From all sides Thunar called his clouds to shield the skies as he rode across the clouded heavens in his thundering chariot, drawn by two black goats. His red beard blew in the wind and the hooves of the goats drew sparks from the ground. The entire heaven was burning and the hammering thunder made the earth shake.
The snake raised her mighty head and spewed her foul breath into the blue sky, turning it black. Then Thunar raised his never-failing hammer of thunder and hit the snake with such force that the monster crashed down to earth and the hammer made a seven mile deep hole in the ground. The high oak sank into the depths carrying its dark burden.
The lightning set the snake’s poison aflame and the smoke rose up in foul brown clouds, wrapping itself around the head of the Thundergod. He stumbled in his chariot and swooned. With a terrible blow he fell down from the heavens and hit the ground near the place where he’d crushed the snake. It was as if the heavens were ripped apart and the earth was shattered. His empty chariot, still drawn by the runaway goats, thundered across the dark sky, only to crash into the Donderberg5.
Then all became silent and the earth sank into the sea. From across the fields of flood came the night and the waves raised their heads of foam up high. Then the clouds parted on the horizon. The God of the Sea blew his horn and sailed across the water in his dark ship. He took the dead Thunar with him, and then the icebergs of the white Wintergiants came from the North and chased away the ship of the gods. The times were long and sad while the Winter Giant ruled the land.
After the earth had dried up, two lakes remained. They were as deep as the world and one was called Uttiloch or Uddeler and the other was the Godenmeer, also called Witte lake or Bleeke lake6. The place where the goats fell was named Dieren7.
It is presumed that people worshipped the God of Thunder at the Godenmeer, and when Thunar’s hammer came floating up and was found near the other lake, a sacred space was erected there where people made their offerings and cremated their dead.
The forest quickly grew up around the two lakes again and almost reached across the Uttiloch where the beast was buried, coming near to erasing the last proof of its evil existence. But one day, when people had settled near the lake, the entire hell and netherworld rose up to prevent its disappearance. A hellish flame came out of the water and all the devils of fire rose to the surface. Cheering, they raced through the forest, burning the peat and the trees. The flames leaped high into the air and through the smoke the ghost of the giant snake fled forth quickly. The proud large forest was destroyed and the area turned into a bare wasteland, where the two lakes can still be found.
Later, when people had become Christians and the old gods were chased away, the people said that a golden calf had sunk into the Bleeke lake, but that was just a matter of speaking, for it was a heathen god who’d sunk there.
From Legends of the Veluwe/Veluwsche Sagen by Gust van de Wall Perné, published in 1910-1912 by Scheltens & Giltay and translated by Eva Weggelaar
1. Uunnilo, Uunni-bosch (bosch=forest), is the name of the forest that used to cover the heath where you find the Uddeler- and Bleeke lake. It was destroyed by fire in 1222.
2.Wolfskamer: wolfchamber, an area near the western foot of the Woldbergen (see below). A report by Haasloop Werner from 1844 mentions there was a row of seven stones in that area, brought there naturally during the Ice Age. At the time he thought they might have been used by our ancestors for ritual purposes. The stones aren’t there anymore, though one of them, called the Reuze Pinke (big calf) can apparently be found in the village of Doornspijk. An anthropological magazine from the 1830’s mentions that the ‘wolf’ in certain place names could have referred to areas where people used to catch wolves, but that Wolfskamer specifically might have referred to the wolf Fenrir of the Northern sagas.
3.Woldbergen: ‘wold’ means a large, uncultivated forest or wet forest area, related to the English weald. ‘Bergen’ means mountain or mount. Legend has it that giants built the Woldbergen with sand from Wolfskamer and also created two mountain chains, the Big and Little Hul (‘hul’ means hill), just by emptying their shoes of the sand that had gotten in them during that chore.
4. Van De Wall Perné writes that he used the Saxon name Thunar, instead of Thor or Donar, as that was the name most likely used in the east of The Netherlands. Traces of its use can still be found in certain place names such as Tinaarlo (Thunar’s forest).
6. Another legend tells of a mighty castle that must’ve stood at the site of the Uddeler-lake. A wealthy man lived there, who was so evil that he could easily be compared to the devil himself. One night, when thunder raged, the giants removed the ground from under the castle, causing it to sink into the depths. People often searched the lake, hoping to find the castle’s treasures, but all they ever found was the iron fire screen.
Another tale mentions that in the depths of the Bleeke (Pale) lake, the treasures of the old Frisian kings could be found. The historians mention a castle built in 323 by king Ruchold near the Godenmeer (Lake of Gods), or Witte (White) lake.
Inhabitants of the area told Van De Wall Perné that gold jewelry had been found near the lake, that there were many burial mounds in the area, and that they still found heavy oaks when dredging the lake.
Yet another story tells of a Christian preacher who threw a golden statue of the Thundergod into the Pale lake. In any case, all signs point to the ancient roots of this tale.
7. Literally, animals