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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in pagan vocabulary
Were Wiccans Originally "Wakers of the Dead"?

Well, didn't see that one coming.

According to philologist Calvert Watkins, the word Wicca is actually related to wake.

And Wiccans were originally necromancers, “wakers of the dead.”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Repaganization

Part of the underlying strategy for the Repaganization of the West is, shall we say...selective replacement.

Consider the so-called “Adam's apple.” A nasty bit of someone else's mythology has, mutatis mutandis, become attached to a perfectly innocuous part of the human body. What to do?

In this particular instance, at least, there's not far to look.

The old Witch word for the (to give it its technical name) laryngeal thyroid cartilege is thrapple: a contraction of “throat apple,” the apple being, of course, the prime sacred fruit of the Tribe of Witches (and, in fact, of Northern Europe generally).

A while back I was dishing with my friend “Granny” Ro NicBourne.

“Do you know such-and-so?” I asked.

“Wouldn't know him from Ash,” she deadpanned.*

 

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  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    I love the term thrapple and will be using it henceforth. Remember we still have Achilles tendon. What a force our beloved Spark

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Venery of Pagans

 Reader Alert: Contains material some may find offensive.

I was reading my favorite "non-pagan-but-regularly-writes-about-pagans" author, S. M. Stirling.

"[T]he Brannigans were a family as prominent as any in Sutterdown," he wrote, "and usually contributed the senior High Priestess and High Priest of the town's clutch of covens" (Stirling 352).

"'Clutch of covens,'" I thought, "that's good." Like “clutch of eggs,” presumably.

They call them "venereal terms" (from the hunting, rather than the amorous, form of venery): poetic miniatures of collective being. An exaltation of larks. A murder of crows. A parliament of owls.

So:

A clutch of covens.

A venery of pagans. (Some might say: "...venality....")

An argument of witches.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    "A battery of drummers." This one's directly from Brazilian Portuguese (e.g. Candomble usage: bateria).
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I just finished reading that book, too!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Yew Pegs and Round Holes

I hate acronyms.

There's something inherently ugly, opaque, even anti-poetic about them. If I could, I'd do away with them altogether.

Oh, I'll concede them a certain prosaic utility. The term DNA has saved a lot of time and breath down the years.

Point conceded. I would, nonetheless, contend that their use is best restricted to secular contexts. They have no place in religious vocabulary.

Let me pick on a particular example. The term UPG—that's "unverified personal gnosis" to the uninitiated—has gained a certain currency in pagan circles since it was coined some time in the late “20th" century.

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    I hate the term UPG. An essay on that topic (too long to post in a comment): http://www.bubblews.com/news/9753201-language-matters
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    We, of course, distinguish between visions (which happen while we're awake, if possibly while in an altered state) and dreams, whi
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Thanks for the term dream-lore. I rely on dreams and whimsy to guide me through the large amount of written material out there.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Taking a Slitch

You know the song I mean. The one that begins:

Let the joyous news be spread....

Just to refresh your memory: first, the house begins to pitch. Then the kitchen takes a slitch, and lands on the wicked witch. In the middle of a ditch, no less. How humiliating.

It had been raining off and on for a week before we got to the festival site, and there were mud slicks everywhere. A friend of ours came limping into camp, clearly a little the worse for wear.

"What happened to you?" someone asked.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Of Salmon and Arm-Rings

Every word's a story.

Anyone who has ever tried to plow through Beowulf in the original Old English knows the word béag: “ring, circle.” It seems to occur on practically every page, so important was it to Anglo-Saxon culture.

The béag was the most important form of jewelry: not so much a ring for the finger, as an arm-ring, a neck-ring, a torc, a crown. Conferring wealth and status, it was also a basic form of currency. One's lord was preeminently a béag-gifa, a “ring-giver”: the lord as generous giver of gifts to his dright. Think of the Horned Drighten, his antlers hung with neck-rings.

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  • tehomet
    tehomet says #
    There's a town here in Ireland called Leixlip (salmon leap). It was founded by the Vikings a while back.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I love the way that ancestral foods connect us to...well, the ancestors. The land. the sea. And they've all got their own stories.
  • susan
    susan says #
    I read this with some interest being of Swedish ancestry. Gravlax is a prepared salmon often found on a smorasborg. While entertai

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Gidden

On the off chance that there's still anyone left out there who would contend that there has been an ongoing tradition of Goddess-worship in the English-speaking world since antiquity, I have some bad news for you: the word “goddess” itself proves that you're wrong.

But this very fact opens the door to an exciting possibility.

Compare the words for “goddess” in Modern English and its sister Germanic languages:

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Thank you! Gidden bless you as well!
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    According to Cleasby-Vigfusson, gyðja is the feminine form of both goð, "god" and goði, "'priest'", and so means both "goddess" (a
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Gidden. I like it. I like words. gyðja isn't a word for goddess, though. Gythia is the feminine form of godhi, meaning priest or
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Gwion, stay tuned: more tomorrow.
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Oh Stephen! How I do love the word Gidden. I just used it yesterday in a multi-traditional Pagan gathering and saw a few quizzical

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