A Few Word Origins for Pagan Diviners

What is a Druid?

On the surface, we know Druids as ones who were/are among a certain group of Celtic priests, specific almost solely to the island of Ireland. These sorcerers were known to carry out the sacrifices and were known for their strict means of initiation; comprised of history, science, law, mythology, astronomy, and language. When we take a trip back in time linguistically, we come across the proto-Celtic words daru (oak) and windeti (to know, see), joined in the word druwits meaning “wise person,” or more specifically, “oak knower.” These words stem from earlier forms of the proto-Indo-European words dóru (tree) and weyd (to see), together as dóruweyd, which literally translates to “tree seer” or “tree knower.” As much as the druids were known for their sorcery, a key component of their characteristics lies in their knowledge of trees; their qualities, names and uses. Their writing system was known as Ogham, with each character also representing the name of a tree, hence it also being known as a “tree alphabet.”

What is a Godi?

A godi (goði) is a holy man or priest figure of the old Pagan north; invokers of the gods, custodians and facilitators of the Thing (þing). They were usually identified with jarls, chiefs, and landowners. When searching for origins in this word, we find ourselves first passing through the Gothic gudjô (pagan priest and custodian of temples, responsible for sacrifices) and eventually leading us to the proto-Indo-European ǵʰutós (to pour, libate, invoke). In pre-Christian Germanic culture, one poured libation to gods as sacred offerings, likely a remnant of the Soma ritual from Vedic literature. Godi also has its origin in the Gothic name for Odin as Gaut(az), where we are given an image of one that “flows” or “pours” out. Whether this is the ancient Odinic force of development or the entire population of people “flowing out” of the homeland is not entirely certain in this context. However, we know Odin as the ancient Godi, he who sacrifices himself to himself in a grand system of shamanic self-development. Odin (the operant) pours to his higher form, as the godi pours to Odin within him.

What is a Volva?

In Old Norse we have the term völva meaning prophetess, seeress, witch, wise woman etc. This word specifically relates to woman as opposed to many other terms delegating a person with “magical” ability. This word comes from a root word in proto-Germanic waluz (staff,stick) and an even older proto-Indo-European word welH- (to turn, wind, roll). Here we see an image start to solidify of a female “witch” figure can turn, wind, and roll the webs of fate. The association with a staff or stick can be contributed to “broomsticks” or wands of the classical witch, but in this context, one could assume that this connection alludes to the purported horse phallus preserved in herbs that was said to be consulted by these women for divine prophecy. Regardless, even Odin seeks the wisdom and knowledge of the ancient volva in ‘Völuspá,’ as it is with these primordial beings that cold, ancient, objective forms of knowledge are locked, trapped in their memories and experience of ages past.

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