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.

Philosophy of Yoga

The term yoga is an ancient one deriving from Sanskrit, originally from a proto-Indo-Iranian word yáwgas (team, yoke) and even more archaic proto-Indo-European word yewg (to join, yoke, tie together). When the common westerner hears the word yoga, he/she is likely stricken by visions of skinny, stretching, robed monks, silently posturing in abstract positions. What many do not realize, however, is that yoga applies to many different techniques, practices, and traditions. Additionally, many people practice yoga without being conscious of it, as it is more associated with purpose and action than it is with pure movement. The technical definition of the word means “a spiritual practice or teaching that aims to master the body, mind, or spirit.” In this context, anyone with extreme mastery within these fields of life is a practitioner of yoga, as long as this practice is intended and directed towards the positive development of mind, body, or spirit.

One could say that some sort of belief in the divine must be associated with this practice, as material mastery and purely mechanical operations do not seem to qualify as yoga without a higher purpose which one practices yoga in honor of. Mastery without purpose is near worthless, and likewise, purpose without a form of mastery is fantasy.

The channels or techniques of yoga are endless in spectrum, as one can do many things, such as the classic forms of stretching and meditation we commonly associate with yoga and yogis. Martial arts, physical exercise, hiking, art, music, crafting, writing, and most forms of creative or conscious repetitive action are all forms of yoga. If the action is meant to help the operative transcend or control body and consciousness, then it is fair to say that it would fall under the loose definition of the word yoga. In a way, every act in life could be considered yoga, if applied to them sacred and divine context.  

Yoga, through a resurrection and travel through linguistic history, appears to have a common theme in joining together, bringing into union, or “yoking.” Through this union, which could very well be seen mirrored in the alchemical schools of the west, creates, manipulates, and masters man’s position in the cosmos. The yogi, through yoga, connects, joins, and unifies intention and purpose into an action. He translates physical movement into a metaphysical act of devotion. If we look at the linguistic “criteria” for yoga, thus far, we can safely say that if our chosen practice aids in our self-mastery, our path of ascension or dharma, then we successfully practice yoga. If you achieve mastery over your technique, this is what it means to be a yogi.