It is, for many of us, a language that we are still learning to speak. We may have been speaking this tongue for many years--decades, in some cases--but it is still, nonetheless, not our mother tongue.
This fact has implications. We may have mastered the grammar and have a large vocabulary. We may, over the years, have become fluent speakers of Pagan. But we are still not native speakers, and we never will be.
After I wrote about liminality recently, I have been thinking about change and how we create it in our lives. Affirmations are a magical tool that can be very powerful, but only when constructed well. Using the present progressive tense to craft affirmations puts them in a form that draws on the Element of Fire and makes them much more effective tools for transformation.
Fun fact about me: I have a degree in speech-language pathology, and my concentration was in clinical phonology with a heavy emphasis on linguistics. I love studying the sound systems of a language and how sounds are tied to meaning. Today I happened across Forvo, a linguistic site that specializes in using native speakers to demonstrate how to pronounce words. It is single words and not sentences, but it's still helpful in developing an ear for nonnative speakers.
Of course, Forvo has a list of Norse mythology terms and many other languages as well. I hope that resources such as this will help preserve and protect against linguistic extinction. Every language has its own way of expressing a view of the world, and the language we speak undoubtedly shapes the way we think about everything in the inner and outer world. As Pagans we are explorers of other worlds, and so preservation of language is as precious as any other resource.
In our culture belief is the sine qua non of religion. We talk of ‘beliefs’, and ‘believers’, and ‘other beliefs’, as synonyms for religious doctrines, adherents and other religions. The problem with this is that only one religion on the planet actually cares about what you believe: Christianity. Most other religions relate to their doctrines or practices in very different and sometimes contradictory ways, such as having several unresolved and conflicting opinions in one person. For them, this is not a problem, but for Christianity it is. The history of Christianity is mostly about disagreements in doctrine and who had to flee, hide, fight, be killed, or submit to whom, about it. It is true that across human history religion has been an excuse for war or plunder, but that was usually about resources or dominance and not about technical points of theology. Christianity is different.
Today's Hekate's Deipnon and I have a lot to do for it so I'm keeping this post brief. Since my progression into Hellenismos, I have started to consider language in Pagan practice. Although I am Dutch, I have nearly always practiced in English. I love this language; it's softer, more poetic, more fluid than Dutch. It has synonyms that make sense. 'Practicing in English' became part of my practice. When I set out onto the Hellenic path, I naturally started practicing in English. I can't read or pronounce Greek yet so it made sense. Since about a week, I am not so sure anymore.
I tried an on-the-spot translation into Dutch of my daily prayers and hymns and felt a deeper connection to Deity than I had felt before within this practice. I started wondering why that was as I stumbled through my translations this week. I think... that especially Hestia appreciates my Dutch prayers and hymns because Dutch is the language that is spoken in this household. It's part of our Oikos. I'm not sure the others care very much.
Of course, I would rather practice in ancient Greek. I got myself a home study course and will be attempting to learn as much as I can on my own before taking a language course. It's not mandatory in Hellenismos to speak Greek but I would love to be able to read the hymns, myths and plays I base my practice on in their original language and form. Translations are lovely but there is always artistic freedom. Besides, for me, it's the language of the Gods.