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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Brigit and Lugh

The Irish goddess Brigit and the god Lugh have a great deal in common. Both have a triple form, both are powerful at every level of society, and both have a major calendar holiday associated with them. In the myths of the war between the two groups of gods, they have family on both sides.

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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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Magpies (and Skadi)

I have been intrigued for some time by a bit of lore that I’ve run across on several websites, without any credit given. It connects the Norse goddess Skadi and magpies, and makes several rather large claims about a “magpie clan” and a priestesshood, and it usually runs something like this:

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Solimara: the Great Sun

Solimara was a sun-goddess, probably a tutelary goddess, from Bourges in central France. The Roman-era town of Solicia or Solimariaca, modern Soulosse-sous-Saint-Élophe, was named after her.

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