Search Results for: digamma

Digamma fell out of favor a long time ago, but I aim for a restoration.

One of the reasons this caught my eye is that I’ve long had an interest in the letter ϝ.

All the way back in Strange Spirits I wrote:

An interlude while the actor pauses to refresh himself. Weird and alien, nothing is quite what it seems. The world rushing, the languid embrace of the vegetation, shadows that linger too long and light seen through the trees.

At least when I’m out of it I get poetry. I have made a Dionysos shape with my words, a door for the spirits to pass into the world. The land is familiar to me as a woman’s body; the forest beckons, I follow the path as drunkenness settles upon me, dark as the cloth of the robe of night.

I was born in flames and thunder, strong desire and a promise rashly made. Were it not for the cool ivy that the women on the mountain with skins of animals hanging off their shoulders chew to court madness – if it wasn’t for that I would be dead. Ivy wrapped herself around me, keeping the heat and destruction from my delicate flesh so that I might grow and one day teach the world to dance.

A man dressed like a goat runs across the stage, singing a libretto.

All error in Christianity stems from its inability to recognize the true plurality of the Gods. There are multitudes in me. All else is fine.

Wow, with what wry wit we weave wisdom’s winding ways, watching wonderstruck while wildly writhing wight-wed women willfully wail weird witchy words, wander wide western wildernesses, wet with waves wrecking whatever won’t withstand winter, wine, winds.

Digamma fell out of favor a long time ago, but I aim for a restoration.

I have come to claim the Basilinna in the venerable house of the bull so that the flowers will rise from the black earth and the children will get to taste wine for the first time. Placate the wet ghosts and the king with unwashed hands with silent feasts where no food is touched only the somber consumption of my liquid grace.

Suddenly the raven takes to wing, the song is at an end.

Fun fact

Fun fact: metrical evidence from the Iliad and Odyssey suggests that the name Ἴλιον (Ilion) formerly began with a digamma: Ϝίλιον (Wilion) and y’all know how much I dig the digamma

It’s writ in the stars

There’s lots of interesting stuff in the last post, but the highlight for me is the association of Freyja’s Distaff with the archaic Greek letter ϝ (digamma) which was pronounced something like the English W, likely originating from the Phoenicianw (wāw “hook.”) Before falling out of general usage it entered Etruscan as 𐌅 (with the value of V) and Latin as the letter F. It was then pillaged by the Germanic tribes on the border of Northern Italy, influencing the shape of the Fehu Rune ᚠ, which represents the f-sound in the Younger Futhark and has the meaning of “money, cattle, and wealth.”


In the Old Norwegian Rune Poem we find:

ᚠ Fé vældr frænda róge;
føðesk ulfr í skóge.
Wealth is a source of discord amongst kin;
the wolf lives in the forest.

While the Anglo-Saxon has:

ᚠ Feoh byþ frofur fira gehƿylcum;
sceal ðeah manna gehƿylc miclun hyt dælan
gif he ƿile for drihtne domes hleotan.
Wealth is a comfort to all;
yet must everyone bestow it freely,
if they wish to gain honour in the sight of the Lord.

Normally glossed as “Lord” (i.e. Freyr, brother of Freyja “the Lady”) drihtne more accurately signifies Chief of the Warband.


The Wandering Warrior’s Dog is a Distaff

Richard Hinckley Allen, Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning
Orion, the Giant, Hunter, and Warrior admired in all historic ages as the most strikingly brilliant of the stellar groups, lies partly within the Milky Way, extending on both sides of the celestial equator entirely south of the ecliptic, and so is visible from every part of the globe.

With Theban Greeks of Corinna’s time, about the year 490 before our era, it was Ὠαρίων, the initial letter having taken the place of the ancient digamma, ϝ, which, pronounced somewhat like the letter W, rendered the early word akin to our Warrior. Corinna’s pupil Pindar followed in Ὠαριώνειος, but by the time of Euripides the present Ὠρίων prevailed, and we see it thus in Polymestor’s words in the Ἐκάβη of 425 B.C.:

through the ether to the lofty ceiling,
where Orion and Seirios dart from their eyes
The flaming rays of fire.

Catullus transcribed Oarion from Pindar, shortened to Arion, and sometimes changed to Aorion; but the much later Argion, attributed to Firmicus, was for Procyon, probably from Ἀργος, the faithful dog of Ulixes.

At one time it was Ἀλετροπόδιον, found in the Uranologia of Petavius of the 16th century, which Ideler said should be Ἀλεκτροπόδιον, Cock’s Foot, likening the constellation to a Strutting Cock; but Brown goes back to Ἀλη, Roaming, and so reads it Ἀλητροπόδιον, the Foot-Turning Wanderer, mythologically recorded as roaming in his blindness till miraculously restored to side by viewing the rising sun.

Ovid said that the constellation was Comesque Boötae; and some authors asserted that Orion never set, an idea possibly coming from the confusion in name with Boötes already alluded to; although even as to that constellation the assertion would not have been strictly correct. Matthew Arnold similarly wrote in his Sohrab and Rustum:

the northern Bear,
who from her frozen height with jealous eye
confronts the Dog and Hunter in the South.

In the Norsemen’s astronomy Rigel marked one of the great toes of Orwandil, the other toe having been broken off by the god Thor when frost-bitten, and thrown to the northern sky, where it became the little Alcor of the Greater Bear.

Riccioli cited Baculus Jacobi, which became in popular English speech Jacob’s Rod or Staff, — the German Jakob Stab, — from the tradition given by Eusebius that Israel was an astrologer, as, indeed, he doubtless was; and some had it Peter’s Staff. Similarly, it with the Norse Fiskikallar, or Staff; the Scandinavian Frigge Rok, Frigg’s, or Freya’s Distaff, — in West Gothland Frigge Rakken, — and Maria Rok, Mary’s Distaff; in Schleswig, Peri-pik. In Lapland it was altered to Kalevan Miekka, Kaleva’s Sword, or still more changed to Niallar, a Tavern.