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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Wiccan jewelry
Bigghes: or, The Lost Treasure of the Witches

In my previous post about Old English béag, "ring, arm-ring, neck-ring, torc, crown," I was utterly remiss not to have mentioned what is perhaps the word's most obvious link with modern witchcraft.

The fairly obscure Gardnerian term bigghes refers to the High Priestess' parure, i.e. her matched set of jewelry: wristlets, necklace, crown. (Parure. Good old English: we really do have a word for everything. And if we don't, we just pick one up from someone else. Small wonder it's the sacred language of the witches.) The kinship with the Old English word is obvious.

Survival or revival? Wicca being a child of the 20th century, the latter seems indicated here. What it does show is that those early witches were doing their research.

Just as we still do today.

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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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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • 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

What’s the difference between a pentagram and a pentacle? Aren’t pentagrams satanic? Why do some Wiccans wear pentagrams? Do I have to wear a pentagram to be a Wiccan?

A pentagram is a five-pointed star, usually depicted as interwoven, or with the lines used to draw it overlapping. A pentacle is a pentagram with a circle around it. Pentagrams and pentacles have long been symbols of protection and warding off evil, and they are used for that purpose by many Wiccans today.

A Little History

Pentagrams have been used for thousands of years and appear in ancient Greek, Roman, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian art. They have been used by Christians, too—perhaps most famously by Hildegard of Bingen, who, along with other twelfth-century Christian scholars, associated the number five with the five senses and the human body (one head, two arms, and two legs; it reminds me a bit of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man), and saw it as the symbol of the microcosm, or the divine reflected on earth. The symbolism of the pentacle plays an important role in the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and of course it is also associated with the Christmas star and sits atop the Christmas tree in many Christian homes.

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