One of the more interesting concepts in Our Druidry, and one that often goes right over my head, is the way we can use language to understand culture.
For instance, one of our most important concepts is the idea of a "gift for a gift" it is on this understanding that we currently base our entire ritual structure. Our Core Order of Ritual can be divided into two sections. We offer to the Kindreds and then open ourselves to the return flow of their blessings. This type of relationship can be seen in mythology and folklore but can also be seen in the reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language. We see that in many cultures the words for "give/distribute" are very similar to the words in other cultures for "take/receive". "Take for instance the root do of Latin donre means “to give” in most dialects but in Hittite means “to take.” The root nem- is “to distribute” in Greek (NEMESIS), but in German it means “to take,” and the cognate of English GIVE (ghabh-) has the meaning “to take” in Irish."
This is most clearly expressed in a word many of you ADFers may be familiar with in the word that means both guest and host, "ghos-ti- in Indo-European times was the person with whom one had mutual obligations of hospitality. But he was also the stranger, and the stranger in an uncertain and warring tribal society may well be hostile: the Latin cognate hostis means “enemy.”
The idea of these types of exercises is that in reconstructing words that have survived in existing (or more recently extinct) Indo-European languages we can understand how important these concepts were in Proto-Indo-European culture. For instance we can make an educated assumption that women in PIE were considered an essential part of the tribe or group because of the PIE word swesor- (sister) which includes the word for women *esor and the root word that designates "self" or "one's own group"; s(w)e.
Using this same process we also learn the technology and fabrication where important in PIE culture. The root word teks- for example, which means to fabricate or to create. Another is also the root word dheigh-, "meaning “to mold, shape,” is applied both to bread (DOUGH) and to mud or clay, whence words for both pottery and mud walls (Iranian *pari-daiza-, “walled around,” borrowed into Greek as the word that became English PARADISE.)"
We also know that metal and metallurgy were known in PIE cultures due to the word *ayes-, which applied to copper or bronze. Iron working, of course, came later and the words for it vary from culture to culture. But words have been reconstructed for Gold (ghel-) and Silver (arg-) which use was nearly always ceremonial or economic.
The wheel was most likely a late discovery in PIE culture. Archeological finds place the wheel in the earliest of Indo-Eurpoean cultures but the words themselves are most often metaphors, "most terms relating to wheeled vehicles seem to be metaphors formed from already existing words, rather than original, unanalyzable ones. So NAVE, or hub of the wheel (nobh-), is the same word as NAVEL. This is clearly the case with WHEEL itself, where the widespread *k-w(e)-k w l-o- is an expressive derivative of a verb (kel-1) meaning “to revolve or go around.” Other words for “wheel” are dialectal and again derivative, such as Latin rota from a verbal root ret-, 'to run.'"
Besides being interesting, these examinations tell us other things about PIE cultures, and the Indo-European cultures that came later. The acts of creating or fabricating were important enough to the cultures that distinct language was created for them and these same root words have remained even unto today. From my perspective, knowing that these ancient cultures accepted and even honored the technological aspects or their life give me a sense that honoring our own technology is in line with Indo-European thought. Part of our mission continues to be to find ways to make that honor a reality in a spiritually moving way.
Until Then, and Always
Source: "Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans" by Calvert Watkins
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