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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in indo-european

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Our God Is a Solid Hill-Fort

Last Samhain having marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, here in Minnesota—the Holy Land of American Lutheranism—it was All “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” All the Time.

It might have been irritating, but instead I found myself reflecting on the ways of the ancient ancestors.

Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott: so begins Luther's marching-song of Protestantism Militant. The tune is a good, rousing, beer-swilling one, the lyrics a paraphrase of the Biblical psalm 46. The Hebrew begins: Elohim lanu mahase va-'oz, “Elohim [is] to us a protection and strength.” By the rules of Hebrew poetry, one could also translate, “Elohim [is] to us a strong protection.”

So Luther doesn't just translate, he Germanizes: “Our god is a solid burg.” Burg can mean “protection, refuge,” but primarily it means “castle, fort.”

It's an ancient word, from the depths of the Indo-European past. Originally, it meant a “hill-fort.” The Bronze Age having been a time of demographic upheaval, you can trace the spread of the Indo-European-speaking ancestors by the hill-forts that they left behind them.

In any given tribal territory, the largest hill-fort (in Irish, it would have been called a dún) marked the seat of the chieftain, or king (or, sometimes, queen). Here on a hill was found the Royal Hall, safe behind its solid concentric earthen walls. Most people lived dispersed throughout the territory, but in times of war they could gather together safely behind the walls of the burg.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

 

In the Northern Hemisphere, the period around the 1st of May is observed by many pagans as Beltane, based on the Gaelic celebration that traditionally marked the beginning of summer. As a celebration of life, which is bursting forth in abundance at the peak of spring, it is easy to see why this holy day is so popular with pagans of so many paths, including Druids.

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For millennia, people have used a wide variety of methods designed to foretell future events or to gain advice from the spirit realm. In many cultures, the ability to divine the future was a highly valued skill, and the word of augurs and professional soothsayers could influence important political or strategic decisions, such as whether or not an army should head into battle, or if planting or harvesting should commence. The ability to decipher meaning from the chaos of everyday life helped to establish a sense of order in the cosmos.

Divination remains popular in today’s society, even if the status of most professional readers and astrologers may not be quite as illustrious as in the past. Some of the more familiar forms of divination, such as tarot cards, are relatively recent inventions, while others—such as throwing bones or scrying for patterns in a crystal ball or flames are quite ancient. What all these forms of divination hold in common is a desire to try to provide answers for an oftentimes uncertain world.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Do Druids Cast Spells? A Look at Magic in Druidry 

I’m not sure where it happened, but somewhere along the way the notion that Druidry and magic are somehow separate things seems to have slipped into the collective consciousness. Perhaps it is because in Neo-paganism we tend to view magic as being the purview of witches and Wicca, the role of magic in Druidry has by consequence been diminished to the point that some may forget it is even there in the first place!

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  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Hiya - I find this post very interesting, but difficult to read because of what looks like a formatting error. Am I the only one e

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Thinking in Circles

Thinking in circles.

Imagine: some people think that's a bad thing.

6000 years ago, the Mother Language had a word: *serk-. It meant “make restitution, compensate.”

It also meant “make a circle, complete.”

Restitution is an important cultural value. When you screw up, you need to make up for it. People are going to hurt one another, and restitution helps heal the wound.

So what does restitution have to do with circles?

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember an article in Science News that said reciprocity is the basis for all moral and economic activities.
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    And what goes around comes around, also a circle. Do unto others, as the saying goes, (And be sure it is what you would like done
Did Ancient Indo-Europeans Celebrate Samhain 6000 Years Ago?

According to Italian anthropologist Augusto S. Cacopardo, we've been celebrating Samhain for a long, long time now.

Some 6500 years ago, a group of people speaking a family of related dialects called Proto-Indo-European lived in the grasslands between the Black and Caspian Seas. In time, they expanded east and west into Asia and Europe, bringing with them their language, ancestral to many South Asian, and most European, languages, including the one that you're reading now.

In his book Pagan Christmas: Winter Feasts of the Kalasha of the Hindu Kush (2010) Dr. Cacopardo contends that they also brought with them a festival called *Semen(os), the ancestor (and namesake) of our modern Samhain.

Of this festival Cacopardo writes, [T]hough it may not have marked the beginning of the year, it seems to have some traits of a New Year feast, or it must have opened, at any rate, the winter period (260).

He adds: It surely marked, however, a time considered to be particularly numinous because gods and fairies came close to human beings. It coincided with the time when the herds were brought back to their winter quarters and it marked the beginning of the winter sacrifices (260n51).

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Rhymes with 'Art'

The ancestors were practical people.

When linguists discovered that, by comparing words from daughter languages, they could reconstruct a vocabulary for a language from some 6000 years ago, predating the invention of writing, they were ecstatic.

In our understanding of the past, archaeological artifacts will take us only so far. To really understand how a culture thinks, we need to know what it says.

To the scholarly world's everlasting disappointment, what we can reconstruct of the Proto-Indo-European language really tells us very little about the ancestors' society, culture, or religion.

What we do know is that they had two words for, shall we say, “breaking wind.”

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