Shaken, not stirred

Oh my. *fans self*

So I’m mulling over the etymology of óðr and specifically this bit:

Ultimately these Germanic words are derived from the Proto-Indo-European word *wāt-, which meant “to blow (on), to fan (flames)”, fig. “to inspire”. The same root also appears in Latin vātēs (“seer”, “singer”), which is considered to be a Celtic loanword, compare to Irish fāith (“poet”, but originally “excited”, “inspired”). The root has also been said to appear in Sanskrit vāt– “to fan.”

When I remembered something about Odysseus.

He carries the Mystica Vannus Iacchi.

And Odysseus of many wiles answered her, and said: “Strange lady! why dost thou now so urgently bid me tell thee? Yet I will declare it, and will hide nothing. Verily thy heart shall have no joy of it, even as I myself have none; for Teiresias bade me go forth to full many cities of men, bearing a shapely oar in my hands, till I should come to men that know naught of the sea, and eat not of food mingled with salt; aye, and they know naught of ships with purple cheeks, or of shapely oars that serve as wings to ships. And he told me this sign, right manifest; nor will I hide it from thee. When another wayfarer, on meeting me, should say that I had a winnowing fan on my stout shoulder, then he bade me fix my oar in the earth, and make goodly offerings to Lord Poseidon—a ram and a bull and a boar, that mates with sows—and depart for my home, and offer sacred hecatombs to the immortal Gods, who hold broad heaven, to each one in due order. And death shall come to me myself far from the sea, a death so gentle, that shall lay me low, when I am overcome with sleek old age, and my people shall dwell in prosperity around me. All this, he said, should I see fulfilled.” (Homer, Odyssey 23.263-284)

Particularly relevant in light of this post, winnowing is a method of separating the wheat from the chaff, as Wikipedia discusses here:

Wind winnowing is an agricultural method developed by ancient cultures for separating grain from straw. It can also be used to remove pests from stored grain. Winnowing usually follows threshing in grain preparation. In its simplest form it involves throwing the mixture into the air so that the wind blows away the lighter chaff, while the heavier grains fall back down for recovery. Techniques included using a winnowing fan (a shaped basket shaken to raise the chaff) or using a tool (a winnowing fork or shovel) on a pile of harvested grain. 

Regarding the winnowing fan, Servius (in his commentary on Vergil’s Georgics 1.65) writes:

The mystic fan of Iacchus, that is the sieve of the threshing-floor. He calls it the mystic fan of Iacchus because the rites of Father Liber had reference to the purification of the soul, and men are purified in his mysteries as grain is purified by fans. It is because of this that Isis is said to have placed the limbs of Osiris, when they had been torn to pieces by Typhon, on a sieve, for Father Liber is the same person. Whence also he is called Liber, because he liberates, and it is he whom Orpheus said was torn asunder by the Giants. Some add that Father Liber was called by the Greeks Liknites. Moreover the fan is called by them liknon, in which he was placed after being delivered from his mother’s womb. Others explain its being called ‘mystic’ by saying that the liknon is a wicker vessel in which peasants, because it was of large size, used to heap their first-fruits and consecrate it to Liber and Libera. 

Jane Ellen Harrison had a good deal more to say about this object in an article published in the Journal of Hellenic Studies vol. 23, available herehere is an alternative hypothesis worth considering.