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.

Reflections on Nepal

In 2007, my family took a large donation of school supplies to Kathmandu, Nepal. My stepfather had some connections there, so we were able to become acquainted and friendly with the locals fairly quickly. We stayed in a small hotel near the magnificent, blue-eyed stupa in the center of town.

The trip was extremely positive and mind expanding. From listening to the myths and story from locals, smoking Nepalese weed and drinking endless amounts of Yak butter tea; my heart and soul was filled to the brim with new experiences.

However, nothing had as much of an impact as this specific part of the trip.

This picture was taken at the Namo Buddha temple/palace in the foothills of the Himalayas. A 3 hour taxi ride through the ancient winding mountains and farms of Nepal. 

This specific ceremony was a “Long Life” blessing facilitated by Thrangu Rimpoche; one of the most respected and renowned Tibetan Buddhist lamas. We were among a small group of outsiders that were present for this event, and for lack of better words, the feeling was surreal. The atmosphere in the palace was organic, ethereal, and beautiful. An experience nearly untouched since antiquity. The art, colors and sounds robust on the senses.

From what I gathered, most of the monks in the picture had all lived and studied in the palace for their entire lives, but some were also on retreats or pilgrimages.

You could feel that Thrangu radiated kindness and care for the people and also how much these monks loved and cared for this man in return. It was an equal exchange of respect as he and his disciples were indistinguishable in dress and stature. There was a bigger “Love” here than the West has had access to in recent centuries, buried many years ago by Christianity and materialism.

Each person in the ceremony was able to make an offering personally and receive an individual blessing from Rimpoce. I genuinely felt during and afterward that it had affected my well being, which was enough convincing for me of its’ potency and effect. Being from America, these “occult” feelings are rarely discussed unless in specific groups or families, but in this Eastern culture, it is no new conversation or taboo subject to discuss and experiment with the science and systems of the mind and how they correlate to the body and ultimate well being of the individual. These people were clearly much more “in tune” as a whole than the people I had left behind in the states; and this was the poorest country in the world at the time.

I felt something inside as I walked amongst the gold, red and endless colors around me. The Himalayan air fresh and furious in my lungs with nothing but ancient beauty surrounding me. Ancient Tibetan Pagan beauty.

My experience and understanding of Buddhism set the stage for my spiritual development as it was the seemingly best and most effective system at controlling the mind and will. The techniques only differ in name and execution among the pre- Christian European natives, making “Folkish” native Paganism and the ancient Pagan mind that much easier to understand and ultimately “remember.”

It is important for all European Pagans to explore Buddhism (and Hinduism) to fully understand their own religion, culture and history; as these chains have remained unbroken by the Abrahamic world since they were established. The Vedic roots of the religion can be connected all the way up the tree into the last Pagan periods, with a written and documented history of myth dating back nearly 4000 years. I am not saying become Hindu or Buddhist, but through exploration of their systems we are better able to understand the techniques and myths later described and practiced by Greek, Germanic, Celtic, and Slavic cultures. Ethics, focus, and culture of course change as things develop and tribes expand, but it is wise to understand the roots of something if you want to be able to expand and use the branches attached to them.

As you become more and more familiar with the Eddas and Vedas, you will begin to reestablish contact with a 4000+ year old system and framework of culture, myth and religion. What you do with the pieces in between is up to your and your own experience and history. But it is not wise to overlook the framework we are given. 

Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus!