Tag Archives: folk-etymology

Zisa: the Augsburg Goddess or Invented Tradition?

You’ll sometimes see Cisa or Zisa listed among the Germanic goddesses, usually with some statement to the effect that she is the partner of Tiw/Ziu, a god the Romans saw as similar to Mars. Nigel Pennick mentions her in his works, calling her an earth-goddess, and Jacob Grimm devoted several pages to her in his Teutonic Mythology.

Urglaawe, a branch of Heathenry that incorporates Pennsylvania Dutch folklore, considers Zisa one of their deities, with the 28th of September as her day, and the pinecone as her symbol. They draw their inspiration from the legend of a goddess Zisa or Cisa who gave her name to the city of Augsburg and protected it from an attack by the Romans.

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The Elder Mother, a mystery

There are elder trees all over Europe and Asia, but no one has been able to trace a root word common to the Indo-European languages for it. Considering that other widespread trees like birch and oak do have names that are clearly related across the whole language family, it seems strange that a useful tree like the elder should be overlooked. (Hyllested: 119) Or was there a reason behind this refusal to name the tree?

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The Dark Side of the Sun: Circe, Medea, Pasiphae, Hecate

This post covers the darker side of Helios‘ family. These include Circe, Pasiphaë, and his granddaughters Medea and Hecate. Unlike his brighter descendants, who were mostly the children of Klymene, these were the children of Perseis, an Oceanid nymph. (Her name comes from the word persô, meaning to destroy, slay, ravish, or sack with fire, so perhaps her dangerous offspring shouldn’t be a surprise.)

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