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Frau Harke, Goddess of the First Harvest

Around Lughnasadh or soon after, I saw my first mourning dove at our Appalachian farmhouse. We’ve lived here since March, and while I’ve seen blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, falcons, crows, and more, mourning doves were conspicuously absent. And then there it was on our white post-and-rail fence. The next day, I saw another, and then more appeared in the bushes and trees over the next weeks. This morning, there were five perched on the fence, observing me as I let out our dog.

I think of Frau Harke when I see them, thanks to Jacob Grimm, who wrote in Teutonic Mythology that "Harke flies through the air in the shape of a dove, making the fields fruitful” (Vol. 4, p.1364). Harke is a giantess of German folklore in the Brandenburg and Thuringia regions. Her name means “to rake,” calling to mind the harvest and care of the earth. While usually a dweller of wild mountain forests, she does travel about during her holy days, like other goddesses of her type. Folklorist Benjamin Thorpe wrote that "At Heteborn, when the flax was not housed at Bartholomew-tide [August 24], it was formerly the saying, 'Frau Harke will come'” (142).

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Divine Economy

In India, when you go to temple, you generally take along a tray of offerings: food, flowers, an oil lamp, incense, some cash. (Only a neo-pagan would go to see a god empty-handed.) You take this tray to the temple, and give it to the priest.

The priest offers it to the god, removes the god's portion—generally the incense and the money—and returns the rest to you. It's now become something sacred, something that the god shares with you.

These holy leftovers are called prasadam: literally, “grace.”

This, of course, is how the Pagan Economy, both human and divine, works: a gift for a gift. You give to the god, the god gives back to you. But of course, what you've given to the god is originally the gift of the god anyway—“thine own of thine own we offer to thee”—and so it goes, one giant Wheel a-turning.

I don't often have the privilege of worshiping in a temple, but in the contemporary pagan world there are still plenty of “holy overs”: things over from the ritual or the feast last night, things over from the festival. I generally partake of them with the sense that's there's value added here. The holy overs give us the opportunity to participate at a distance of time or place.

We need a good word in Pagan English for prasadam. “Holy leftovers” won't do: as a poet, let me tell you that joke names are always a mistake. “Grace” doesn't cut it, and prasadam is someone else's word. For so basic a concept, we need a name of our own.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake says #
    I love this.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Sorry, I don't know enough old English or Proto-Indo-European to be of any help here. You might try the Oxford English dictionary

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Cernunnos is known by many names. The Horned God, God of the Hunt, Lord of the Animals. He can be found in the sacred grove in the heart of the forest, in the call of the rutting stag. Of all the names he is known as I grew up knowing him as Herne the Hunter. As I generally make female dolls I was quite surprised that Cernunnos appeared, maybe I was inspired by the fallow deer stags I got to hang out with this summer.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jude Lally
    Jude Lally says #
    Ah! I was wondering who he had a message for, as it wasn't me!!!
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    Yep, apparently!
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    OMG I love him! I shouldn't have, but...yeah, that was me who just snatched him up. I've been wanting one of your dolls - still in

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Astrogemology: Virgo Soul Stones

Virgo, First Half: August 22-September 5: Black opal is the soul stone for early Virgos. Virgos are perhaps the most discriminating of signs and would relish the fact that until recently, black opals came from only a few acres in Australia. The ancient Romans, seeing the rainbow colors of opals, believed them to be the bridge between heaven and Earth, but they especially desired the few poor-quality black opals (now believed to have been faked) held by the barbarians in Hungary. The finest grade of black opal was discovered on the island of Java, in Indonesia. For Virgos, only the best and only the real black opals will do. Members of the sign of service and help to others, Virgos gain strength and intensity and augment their own purity with black opals. This stone has been called the gem of hope, and, as such, offers a high level of consciousness for Virgos.

 The power talisman for first-half Virgos is labradorite, the lovely iridescent stone that originated in Labrador. Like Gemini, Virgos are ruled by Mercury, and the quicksilver, peacock-hued labradorite is good for providing the mental swiftness Virgos need to accomplish all of their goals in life. This type of feldspar can reflect every color of the spectrum and help Virgos from becoming too task oriented—too focused on one thing. No one can work harder than Virgos, and labradorite can prevent exhaustion from overwork and can also ensure that early Virgos activate a variety of talents.

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Cait Sith (Kellas Cat):Understanding Nonduality

 The Cait Sith of Scotland is a large black cat with dark green eyes, long ears and a white spot on her chest. If a person encountered the Cait Sith, they would hear a prophecy from Her. As a being from the Otherworld, She watches humans and reports on what She sees. In addition, the Cait Sith guards the secrets of the Otherworld. 

People should be wary of the Cait Sith for a number of reasons. First and foremost, She steals people’s souls from their bodies. In Scotland when a person died, the family would guard the body in a Feille Fadalach (late wake). The first thing, they did was to douse all the fires. Afterwards, they lit a fire far away from the body to entice the Cait Sith to its warmth. Catnip was also spread around there as well. To distract the Cait Sith, people played music, held wrestling matches, and told riddles.

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The Mammoth in the Cave, or: What Moral Authority?

So: a given organization claims to be operating on behalf of a particular god.

In fact, the organization claims to be speaking for that god. They claim that said god actually works through them.

Then it becomes clear that said organization has actually been operating in its own self-interest and, in so doing, has not only permitted, but has systematically protected—and, in protecting, promoted—the most profoundly immoral and destructive behaviors among its functionaries.

Now, this is just me asking, a nobody from nowhere. But really, I have to wonder.

If you had ever taken seriously this organization's claims to be acting on behalf of its god....

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Welcome to the second tutorial in Old Irish, in service to the Celtic Pagan / Druidic community!

Note: You may wish to print out the lessons so you can read and follow along with the sound file at the same time. Do read through the lesson first though, and then follow along with the sound file.
 
In this lesson, we are going to learn how to pronounce the names of Irish deities, a very important aspect of spiritual practice, whether one is speaking about a deity, invoking them, or chanting their name(s). The first pronunciation I will be providing below pertains to pronouncing the deities’ names correctly... say for example, if we were speaking about them in English but want to pronounce their name properly in Old Irish, or if we are chanting deity names (outside of any grammatical context) to explore the resonance of a holy name. 
 
However, once we attempt to address or invoke a deity, or use their name in an Old Irish phrase or sentence, then grammar comes into play...and there will be changes to the spelling and pronunciation of their name.
 
This is because in Old Irish there are ten versions of any given noun, depending upon the grammatical situation and context:
 
1) Nominative - when the noun is the subject of a sentence [The king rides the horse... king is the subject]... and there are different singular and plural forms. 
 
2) Accusative - when the noun is the object of the sentence [the woman weaves the cloth... cloth is the object]... with singular and plural forms. This form is also used after certain prepositions, which we can learn about later. 
 
3) Genitive - when in English we would use the word ‘of’ in relation to a noun [‘light of day’... or, ‘the silence of the forest’... in Old Irish, ‘of + noun’ results in a different form of the noun, which expresses both words (with singular and plural forms)
 
4) Dative - when the noun is preceded by certain prepositions (something we can explore later)
 
5) Vocative - when we address somebody (singular and plural forms)
 
So if we wish to address or invoke a deity, we will need to use the vocative form. Generally this involves changing the sound of the first letter of their name. This sound change is called ‘lenition’ (sometimes referred to as ‘aspiration’). Those of you who have studied a modern Celtic language will already be familiar with this.
 
In actuality, we observed lenition in the first tutorial... for example when a B takes on a /v/ sound in the middle or end of a word. That was lenition. 
 
Keep in mind that in Old Irish (and this is different from Middle Irish and the modern languages) most lenition is not seen or notated as such; we simply have to memorize the situations in which it occurs (even though it’s largely invisible on the page).
 
 For example, in Old Irish if I want to say ‘my dog,’ the word ‘mo’ meaning ‘my’ lenites the following word. Cú is the nominative, but if I say ‘my dog’ it’s ‘mo chú’; we can see the lenition by the addition of the ‘h’. 
 
But only C, P and T show the lenition in writing in this way. So, if I want to say  ‘my mother’ it is written ‘mo mathair’ but the second word is pronounced ‘VAH-ther.’ The M is lenited (but not seen in writing).
 
In Middle Irish, the orthography of the language changed to show the ‘h’, so we would actually see on the page: ‘mo mhathair.’ The spellings sometimes changed again in Classical Gaelic and then in the modern Q-Celtic languages. 
 
This is why we see different spellings and why there is confusion about that:
Old Irish spelling Lug, but Middle Irish spelling Lugh. Both pronounced /Loogh/.
Old Irish spelling Medb, but Middle Irish spelling Medhbh. Both pronounced /MEDDuv/. The ‘dd’ is the ‘th’ sound in ‘the,’ and although there is a slight ‘uh’ sound between consonants dd and v, it is actually one syllable. 
 
So here’s a quick and easy guide to the sound change of lenition in Old Irish, noting the difference between how a Lenited letter is written and how it sounds. 
 
Lenited B > /v/ sound, but still just written as B
 
Lenited C > /ch/ sound (as in loch), written CH
 
Lenited D > /dd/ sound (the ‘th’ sound in ‘the’), written D
 
Lenited F > silent, no sound; written F (sometimes with a small dot over the F to show it has a sound change). 
 
[This dot - the punctum delens - was originally used by scribes when they made a mistake, to show that they wanted to delete a letter, rather than scratching it out, which looked messy]
 
Lenited G > soft /gh/ in the back of the throat, written G
 
Lenited M > /vv/, a more emphatic ‘v’ sound as explained in lesson one; written M
 
Lenited P > /f/ sound, written PH
 
Lenited S > /h/ sound, written S (sometimes with a dot over it to denote the sound change)
 
Lenited T > /th/ sound as in ‘think,’ written TH
 
L, N and R experience a very slight and subtle sound change when lenited, but its easiest just to pronounce them regularly. (No change in spelling either)
 
Vowels don’t lenite, but in some cases an h- may precede them (we won’t get into that now). 
 
Also, in between certain consonant clusters, a tiny ‘uh’ sound is inserted. We saw this above with the name Medb. This tiny sound is not a separate or additional syllable... So Medb is actually one syllable. 
 
This little sound is sometimes inserted between the following (and sometimes others): BL, GN, LG, LM, MN, NM, RB, RCH, RG, RM, RN and THN. There’s not full agreement on the use of this, but I’ll notate it below. 
 
So... in the list below, the first pronunciation of the deity name is the Nominative form (abbreviated Nom.), when we are speaking about the deity in English, or chanting deity name(s) outside of a phrase or sentence. 
 
The second form is the Vocative form (abbreviated Voc.) used to address or invoke the deity. 
 
And, when we address somebody, the name is preceded by something called the ‘Vocative particle’ - a separate word ‘A’ (pronounced like short a). 
 
So if I’m speaking to a woman named Mugain, it would be written “A Mugain,’ but pronounced “A VU-ghen.” If I was addressing Cú Chulainn informally I might say “A Chú.” 
 
But with male names, in the Vocative there is sometimes an ‘i’ inserted near the end of the male name. For example, if I’m speaking to Cormac, it would be “A Chormaic.” We won’t get into the particulars of that right now, but it will be shown below on a ‘need to know’ basis. 
 
Old Irish: Female Divine Names
 
Airmed: Daughter of the physician god Dian Cécht. Pronounced (Nom.) /AHR[uh]-medd/... remember ‘dd’ is the ‘th’ sound in ‘the’. (Voc.) written: A h-Airmed. Pronounced /A HAHRuh-medd/

Banba: One of the three eponymous goddesses of the land of Ireland. (Nom.) /BAHN-vuh/. (Voc.) A Banba - pronounced /A VAHN-vuh/
 
Bé Chuille: A divine female magician from the Battle of Moytura. (Nom) /BAY CHU-luh/ with a slight ‘I’ sound before the L. (Voc) A Bé Chuille; /A VAY CHU-luh/
 
Boand: Goddess of the River Boyne. (Later spelled Boann). (Nom.) /BO-und/. (Voc.) A Boand; /A VO-und/
 
Bríg: Original spelling of name of the goddess Brigid. Goddess of healing, smithcraft and poetry. (Nom.) /Breegh/. (Voc.) A Bríg; /A Vreegh/
 
Cailleach: Literally ‘The veiled one.’ Used of old women, nuns. Earliest forms of the folklore character. (Nom.) /CAH-lech/. (Voc.) A Chailleach; /A CHAH-lech/
 
Clidna: Woman after whom the Wave of Clidna (later Cliodna) was named. (Nom.) /CLIDD-nuh/. (Voc.) A Chlidna; /A CHLIDD-nuh/
 
Ériu: Goddess of the land of Ireland, for whom it was named. (Nom.) /AYR-yoo/ with a slight short ‘I’ sound before the second syllable. (Voc.) A h-Ériu; /A HAYR-yoo/
 
Ernmas: ‘Iron-Death’; Mother of the Mórrígan, Macha and Nemain. (Nom.) /EHRN(uh)-vahss/. (Voc). A h-Ernmas; /A HERN(uh)-vass/ 
 
Étain: Divine woman who features in  ‘The Wooing of Étain.’ (Nom.) /AY-duhn / with a slight short ‘i’ sound inserted before the final N. (Voc.) A h-Étain; /A HAY-duhn/
 
Flidais: Independent goddess associated with woodlands, deer, fertility and sovereignty. (Nom) /FLIH-ddish/. (Voc.) A Flidais; /A LIH-ddish) [Note: There is a wee error in the sound file; the Nominative form of Flidais should be pronounced with a Lenited D sound]
 
Fótla: The third eponymous goddess of the land of Ireland. (Nom) /FŌD-luh/. (Voc) A Fótla; /A ŌD-luh/
 
Macha: Goddess associated with horses, sovereignty, fertility and prophecy. Epithets: Mong-ruad (Red Mane) and Badb (Scaldcrow). (Nom.) /MAH-chuh/. (Voc) A Macha; /A VAH-chuh/. Mongruad: (Nom) /MONG-Roo-udd/. (Voc) A Mongruad; /A VONG-Roo-udd/
 
Mongfind: Supernatural female figure associated with Samain, kingship and prophecy. (Nom) /MONG-ind/. (Voc) A Mongfind; /A VONG-ind/
 
Mórrígan (‘Great Queen’) or Morrígan (‘Phantom / Nightmare Queen). Multi aspected goddess of life and death, sovereignty, battle, magic, etc. Epithets / Names included: Anu, Danu, Badb. 
 
[We are not certain which first syllable is correct - Mór with the fada, or Mor without. Mor is the earliest attested spelling, but since we know there are many earlier manuscripts - some of which were lost - we can’t be certain. In ‘Celtic Cosmology and the Otherworld’ I lean towards ‘Mor’ as part of her persona, but ‘Mór’ as more accurate because of the extremely wide range of her attributes and her prominence and importance in the god-tribe, the Túatha Dé Danann]
 
(Nom) /MŌR-Ree-gun/ with most emphasis on the first syllable, and more emphasis on ‘ree’ than ‘gun’ since it’s a compound epithet. (Voc) A Mórrígan; /A VŌR-Ree-gun/
 
Other names: (Nom) Anu: (Nom) /AH-nuh / or perhaps /AH-noo /; (Voc) A h-Anu; /A HAH-nuh/. 
 
Danu: (Nom) /DAH-nuh/ or perhaps /DAH-noo/. (Voc) A Danu; /A DDAH-nuh/. 
 
Badb: (Nom) /BAH-dd(uh)v/. (Voc) A Badb; /A VAH-dd(uh)v/
 
Nemain: Third daughter of Ernmas; sister of Macha and Mórrígan. Epithets: Badb; Bé Néit (either wife of Nét, or Woman of War) (Nom) /NEH-vunn/. (Voc) A Nemain; /A NEH-vunn/.  Bé Néit: (Nom) /BAY Nayd/, with a slight ‘i’ inserted before the D sound. (Voc) A Bé Néit; /A VAY Nayd/
Sadb: Divine woman and mother of Oisín with Finn Mac Cumhall. (Nom) /SAH-dd(uh)v/. (Voc) A Sadb; /A HAH-dd(uh)v/
 
Sinand: Goddess of the River Shannon (Later spelled Sinann). (Nom) /SHIN-und/, later /SHIN-unn/. (Voc) A Sinand; /A HIN-und/
 
Tlachtga: Daughter of the arch-Druid Mug Roith. Associated with magic and Samain assemblies. (Nom) /TLACHT-guh/. (Voc) A Thlachtga; /A THLACHT-guh/
 
 
Old Irish: Male Divine Names
 
Bodb Derg: A son of the Dagda. (Nom) /BAH-dd(uh)v + Derg or DER-(uh)g/. (Voc) A Bodb Derg; /A VAH-dd(uh)v Derg/
 
Cían: Father of the god Lug. (Nom) /CEE-uhn/. (Voc) A Chían; /A CHEE-uhn/
 
Crédne: Craftsman deity, brother of Goibniu and Luchta. (Nom) /CRAYDD-nuh/. (Voc) A Chrédne; /A CHRAYDD-nuh/
 
Dagda: Multi aspected deity associated with life and death, druidic wisdom, fertility, music, etc. Epithets: Echu Ollathir (‘Great Father of (many?) Horses’) and Ruad Rofessa (‘Red / Noble One of Great Knowledge’)
 
Dagda: (Nom) /DAHG-duh/ or perhaps /DAHGH-dduh/. (Voc) A Dagda; /A DDAGH-duh/ or /A DDAGH-dduh/
 
Echu Ollathair: (Nom) /ECH-uh or ECH-oo + OLL-ah-ther/. (Voc). A h-Echu Ollathair; /A HECH-oo OLL-ah-ther/
 
Ruad Rofessa: (Nom) /ROO-udd Ro-ESS-uh/; (Voc) A Ruad Rofessa; /A ROO-udd Ro-ESS-uh/
 
Dian Cécht: Divine Physician. (Nom) /DEE-uhn CAYCHT/. (Voc) A Dian Cécht; /A DDEE-uhn CAYCHT/
 
Goibniu: Divine Smith. (Nom) /GOV-nyoo/. (Voc) A Goibniu; /A GHOV-nyoo/
 
Luchta: Craftsman deity, brother of Goibniu and Crédne. (Nom) /LUCH-tuh/. (Voc) A Luchta; /A LUCH-tuh/
 
Lug: Many skilled deity, associated with Lugnasad. Epithets included: Samildánach (‘Of Many Skills’) and Lámfada (‘Of the Long Arm’)
 
Lug: (Nom) /LOOGH/; (Voc) A Lug; /A LOOGH/
 
Samildánach: (Nom) /SAH-vull + DAW-nuch/. (Voc) A Samildánach; /A HAW-vull + DAW-nuch/
 
Lámfada: (Nom) /LAWV-ah-dduh/; (Voc) A Lámfada; /A LAWV-ah-dduh/
Mac Cecht (Son of Plough); Mac Cuill (Son of Hazel) and Mac Gréne (Son of Sun): Three kings of the Túatha Dé Danann; consorts of Ériu, Banba and Fotla 
 
Mac Cecht: (Nom) /MAHK Cecht/
Mac Gréne: (Nom) /MAHK GRAY-nuh/
Mac Cuill: (Nom) /MAHK CU-ill/
 
For Voc, A Mac (+ name) = /A VAHK)/
 
Manannán Mac Lir: God associated with the ocean, journeys and magic. (Nom). /MAH-nuh-NAWN mahk LEER/
(Voc) A Mannanán; /A VAH-nuh-NAWN/
 
Míach: Son of the physician deity. (Nom) /MEE-uch/. (Voc) A Míach; /A VEE-uch/
 
Midir: Deity whose name may come from the old Irish verb ‘midither’ meaning ‘to judge’. (Nom) /MIDD-er/. (Voc) A Midir; /A VIDD-er/
 
Núadu: A king of the Túatha Dé Danann. Epithet: Argatlám (‘of the Silver Hand’). (Nom) /NOO-uh-ddoo AHR-gut-lawv/. (Voc). A Nuadu; /A NOO-uh-ddoo/
 
Nét: Possible War deity and consort of Nemain. (Nom) /NAYD/. (Voc) A Néit; /A NAYD/ with slight ‘i’ sound inserted before the D sound 
 
Oengus: Son of the Dagda and Boand. Epithet: Mac Óc (‘Young Son’). This word starts with the diphthong discussed previously that occurs in Táin - ah+ee all in one syllable. (Nom) /AHEENG-guss/ + /MAHK Ōg/. (Voc) A H-Oengus; /A HAHEENG-guss/
 
Ogma: Brother of the Dagda; Strongman and Warrior. Epithet: Grian-enech (later Grian-ainech), ‘Sun Face.’ (Nom) /OGH-muh/. (Voc) A h-Ogma; /A HOGH-muh/
 
Grian-ainech: (Nom) /GREE-unn AH-nuch. (Voc) A Grianainech; /A GHREE-unn AH-nuch/
 
Copyright 2018 Sharon Paice MacLeod; For personal use only. 

Please do not copy, share, or distribute without permission.
Interested parties may be directed to The Three Cauldrons blog. 
 
 
 
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