Friday, 3 April 2015

One of my interests is vexillology  - and this subject overlaps somewhat with heraldry, so I often read heraldic references to the 'Ermine' which is symbolic fur that is depicted on crowns and cloaks etc. The Ermine is symbolic of the fur of the stoat, and is represented as a 'foot print' type dotted pattern in black and white. The symbol also represents the region of Brittany in France - where it is sometimes called L'Hermine. Looking at the etymology of the word Ermine and Hermine - and the shape of the heraldic pattern it is clear that this symbol must have common origins in the Germanic symbol of the Irminsul. In Armenian the Ermine or  Armine is the term for a rat. The French term refers to the stoat or weasel, and the name survives in Old English as Hearma meaning a shrew. Perhaps there is a connection here to Ratatosk - the squirrel who runs up and down the Irminsul-Yggdrasil.