Using Indo-European Liturgical Language
Some portions of this text are taken from my Indo-European Language 1 course for the CTP approved on September 9, 2014 by Rev. Rob Henderson.
1. Translate the following liturgical phrases into your Hearth Culture language:
- We are here to honor the Gods.
- So Be It. (or a similar finalizing statement) So sei es
- Ancestors, accept our offering!
- Nature Spirits, accept our offering!
- Gods (Deities), accept our offering!
- Sacred Well, flow within us!
- Sacred Tree, grow within us!
- Sacred Fire, burn within us!
- Let the Gates be open!
Öffne die Türe (is what german-speakers say)
- Gods, give us the Waters!
- Behold, the Waters of Life!
- Ancestors, we thank you.
- Nature Spirits, we thank you.
- Gods (Deities), we thank you.
- Let the Gates be closed!
Schliess die Türe
2. What do you consider to be the importance of using phrases in a hearth culture language other than Modern English (or your own native language) in ADF ritual? (Minimum 200 words)
I do not typically use languages other than my native tongue in ritual. However, a fair number of Druids do find it to be a useful practice (thus this course). Much ritual action and phrasing is intended to trigger an altered consciousness in the participants. Creating a sense of “other” time and place, is part of not just setting the atmosphere for a good ritual, but also helps the celebrants prepare themselves to achieve the trance state which is generally accepted as the goal for ritual. Ritual language can be an effective tool for helping the mind cue in that otherness is immanent.
Our ADF ritual language, like much Pagan ritual language, tends to be somewhat stilted. None of us (well, OK, maybe a few of us) would say “let the fridge be opened so that the mayo might draw near” in a mundane setting when what we mean to say is “honey, please hand me the mayo, it’s in the fridge.” The inflated language lends a sense of gravitas, of theatricality, to the endeavor. So it is when using ritual phrasing in the language of the IE hearth culture informing a specific ritual. Our minds and spirits may be ready to honor Frau Holda, but we will be more receptive to the trance-state and more engaged with the spiritual current of the ritual if the pertinent “May the fridge be opened” parts of ritual are proclaimed in German.
It may well be that the Gods and Spirits being honored appreciate the effort involved in including ritual phrases in a language different than one’s own.
I ran into some sticky phrasing issues when translating our ADF phrases into German. Many of our ritual phrases can be directly translated into German, but that is not how a German-speaker would say them. For instance, “Let the Gates be open,” can certainly be translated verbatim. However, German-speakers would be more direct in their wording and say, “Open the gates!” The direct translation for Holy Ones is Heilige. However, to German-speakers, that word denotes saints, which is not quite what is meant in a Druid context. Götter is closer to our English meaning.
There is no direct translation for “Kindreds” in German. I spent an evening discussing the difficulty of this phrase with three native German speakers (one originally Swiss, one from Saxony, and one from the Netherlands border). The closest word to “Kindreds” is a phrase that was tainted by extensive use by the Nazi party. So they have several work arounds that come close to the meaning. Often, they simply use the English term in their ritual work, or Götte und Geiste (“gods and spirits”-though geiste is more closely related to “ghosts”).
This Nazi issue extends into many elements of ritual speech. Many, many American pagans on a Germanic path say “Hail” throughout their rituals which would be translated into german as heil. Germans simply refuse to say “Heil” for very obvious reasons (cultural sensitivity mainly, also in most places in Germany saying it will land you in jail). Standing in ritual with Germans, they said “cheers” or “prost” instead, which was oddly informal.