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The island of Thule (Tile), here placed in the north of Scotland, Olaus Magnus, 1539

Thule was the Greek and Roman name for the most northerly known land. The most northerly known land in the north Atlantic.


The Ancient Greek explorer Pytheas (c. 300 BC) described is as being six days' sail most northerly of the British Isles, variously identified with Iceland, Norway, the Faroe Islands, and the Shetland Islands. it was inhabited, but produced little; corn grew there sparingly and ripened ill; in summer the nights were long and bright.

The historian Tacitus reported in his work Agricola that at the time of the governor Gnaeus Iulius Agricola, a Roman fleet circumnavigated the British Isles, proving the insular nature of Britain. During the journey, the orcades (Orkney Islands) were discovered and "defeated". Then the sentence follows:

“Dispecta est et Thule, quia hactenus iussum, et hiems adpetebat.” (Thule only came in sight because the order only went so far and, moreover, winter was approaching.)

Thus Agricola's fleet in A.D. 84 sailing up the east coast of Scotland is said to have espied but not to have reached Thule ("dispecta est Thule"), but the phrase is merely literary. After Pytheas, the name was used loosely for the farthest north. In some later writers, Thule seems sometimes to denote north Germania. The late antique historian Prokop (500-562) wrote in his work The Gothic War:

"When the Herulians were defeated by the Lombards and gave up their old dwellings, a part of them [...] settled in Illyria, the other did not want to cross the Danube, but founded dwellings at the extremities of the inhabited world: under the leadership of many members of the noble families, they first traveled through all the lands of the Slavs, then through the desert, until they came to the Warini [Germanic tribe]. Then they wandered through the land of the Danen. And all these wild peoples did nothing to them. When they reached the ocean, they boarded a ship and sailed to Thule, where they stayed. Thule is a very large island, over ten times the size of Britain; it's even further north from there.”

Wilhelm Landig (1909–1997) published the novels Götzen gegen Thule (1971), Wolfzeit um Thule (1980) and Rebellen für Thule (1991). The chemical element thulium, discovered in Sweden in 1879, was named after Thule.

Ultima Thule

Ultima Thule (the Latin phrase means ‘furthest Thule’) is the name given to the northernmost island on earth, lying off Greenland, since the name "Thule" has literally stood for the extreme northern edge of the world since ancient times. The term stands for the extreme end of the known, the extreme limit of travel and discovery, and is therefore also synonymous with the Midnight Mountain (Mitternachtsberg).


The Mitternachtsberg or Weltenberg (world mountain) designates an unspecified point in the north of the ancient world as the origin of the Germanic people. It is said to be connected to the Untersberg in the center of Germany, but is also assigned to Hyperborea or Atlantis. It is the Ultima Thule as the seat of the old Germanic gods. Although the name Midnight Mountain says that the world mountain is in the far north, it is not tied to any earthly place and, like the world pole and the magic sun, cannot be seen with the earthly eye. This otherworldly place is a gathering place for all the brave who make their way to the Middle Realm (Valhalla) after death.

However, under the umbrella of the Midnight Mountain there is an earthly and visible mountain, which can therefore be visited by people. This tangible mountain is the Untersberg in the Berchtesgadener Land (called "German Corner" in Austria). There the otherworldly female figure Jesse also appeared to the Templars around Hubertus Koch. Midnight mountain and Untersberg are therefore not identical, but are related to each other.

The Julleuchter is supposed to symbolize the Mitternachtsberg in its form.

See Also

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