Laiza (lore): an additional post: what exactly is belief?

I just wanted to write a very—or at least I hope so—short post about the concept of “belief” and how the original concept can not really be paralleled in the modern usage of that term. In Laiza part I, I talked about belief not being the actual foundation of what I’m describing, and I qualify that with examples of things having verifiable states and interactions that can be understood to thrive.

Belief comes from *bi- “by, with, through” and *laubô “permission, praise”. In Dutch geloof, and German Glaube, the final root is the same, but the prefix is *ga- “with”; cognate to Lat. co-. What it therefore means is: “by/through/with permission/praise”. It does not refer to what people believe in the modern term, but what is allowed or praised; and thus an external feedback loop. Piety seems the clearer direct cognate, in that pious action is what is religiously-speaking permitted and—when done—praised. It is thus a set of ideals and morals that is developed and reinforced within a given social or religious environment. Absolutely, it is possible to set down your own ideals and morals; however, it may be incredibly hard to sustain these when they are constantly being challenged or frowned upon; in other words, not allowed or praised by the society or gods/ancestors/spirits that you interact with. This is another reason why I’ve chosen to use laiza (lore) here, since at the foundation of discovering what is permitted and praised lies knowledge and a constant sense of learning.

In a Latin and Celtic context, the words for belief are linked to the root for heart, which is harder to disentangle and qualify. Not much is known about how the Celts viewed the heart; both symbolically and physically. In ancient Greece, it was already understood as an organ that pumped blood around the body, but it was also linked to consciousness. This is worth mentioning as—in a modern view, and unsupportable ethnic stereotyping—this could initially indicate that the Romans and Celts were much more about feeling than the Germans, but there’s simply no grounds for such a claim.

The term “holy” is also interesting, since it refers to *haila- “whole, sound, healthy” plus *-ga- “having the quality of”. So, something that is holy—in the original context—I would define as something that is present to create an “ideological” whole, which should not be dishonoured or violated. In short, something that is vital to connect to, or progress a state of wholeness. For example, in Middle High German the word heilig referred to a pious person, which could be interpreted as being someone who through his/her/their piety has achieved a mode of being that is inviolable. The clearest older form for this word—and one I prefer in my focus—is *wīhaz sacred in a sense of consecrated or dedicated, e.g., incense G wiihrauch, Du wierrook, from *wīharaukiz “dedicated smoke”. There’s also a noun *wīhaz or *wīham meaning sanctuary. Another related word to *hailaga-—and the origin for E worship—is *werþaskapiz, literally meaning the shaping of worth, holding the same meaning of piety; this term seems less common when considering its distribution, but it’s still valid.

Thus, combining the concepts of *bilaubô or *galaubô (religion/belief), *hailaga- (holy), and *wīhaz(consecrated), gives us a glimpse into what the foundation of religion is: namely something that determines desirable ideals and morals that devise practices towards achieving a desired wholeness. In many monotheist religions, that state of wholeness is unity with God, while in polytheism—and animism—it is—and this is purely my opinion—a way to navigate the mundane and spiritual worlds successfully.

Consider this article, about the Yukaghir hunters of Northern Siberia on how they tread the line between observing religious practices, while also ensuring the system does not become total. In this case, total refers to a state where mankind manages all resources—and within the concept of a sharing culture—the spirits of the forest are allowed to demand or take back what was theirs; thus leading to illness and death. From a modern perspective, it really does not seem pious behaviour to seduce, deceive, or steal from the spirits, but when considering this from a logical standpoint regarding survival it makes perfect sense. In a polytheist society that faces fewer challenges regarding survival, the concept of reciprocity seems a natural progression—without attributing to this an evolutionist sentiment of being superior—of the sharing culture: I give you (a relevant person, divine being, ancestor, or spirit) X in exchange for Y towards our mutual benefit. Speaking purely from my viewpoint, this is a similar relationship to the sharing culture in that it acknowledges a relationship, not necessarily one of divine superiority or literal god-fearing., but one where both worlds are connected; this is why it’s not so much an evolution as a different modality of the same. A question I posed in part I was regarding the statement: “There are no hard and fast divisions between physical and spiritual dimensions in the world, although socially defined relationships and hierarchies may be found”. This is the answer to that question, namely, both make up the whole of the environment we live in, and if we can mutually benefit each other in some way, it behoves us to interact and build relationships towards that goal.

Laiza (lore) – Part I

A little while ago I posted a “Rough Guide to Andî” in which I explained very briefly about my worldview and its Proto-Germanic framing. I intend to write a series of posts to expand upon this whole thing in more detail. I had a specific structure in mind, but given that I have a tendency to ramble—plus the topic being incredibly vast—means I’m going to keep it more flexible. Furthermore, I should also clarify that I’m perhaps not your average polytheist, as I’m very empiricist in my thinking. I quite simply can’t believe in anything without constructing an understanding of how and why based on my perceptions and inferences, something that you will see clearly in these posts, or anything I’ve ever posted here. Perhaps the earliest evidence of growing into this philosophical approach was when I—though growing up devoutly catholic—began to question it, and answers like “You need to have faith that God knows best” seriously frustrated me no end. Nor could I support a morality based on zombie-like, unthinking dogma. And before I get branded an anti-Christian, let me add the following very important statement.

I’m a polytheist, which means I subscribe to a worldview involving multiple gods. I do not subscribe to exclusionist, elitist, or conversionist notions, i.e., only the god(s) I worship is/are true. Every divine being ever worshipped in this universe—whether belonging to a group or being a single supreme being—is valid; the same holds for not worshipping any god. I will condemn groups who commit atrocities, racism, and discrimination on cultural or religious grounds, but that does not mean I will condemn the culture or religion as a whole. I hold myself to this same standard. Therefore, what I post here is not an effort to convince anyone that I’ve got the right end of the stick. I’m posting this for myself to reflect upon in a couple of years, and continue an internal dialogue on where I stand then, and how things have evolved in my understanding. If anything I write helps you to contrast and consider things, then great! I believe there is no such thing as an absolute truth, no black-and-white divide, but everything is grey with nuggets of truth and falsehood which shift or vary depending on many factors. I’m highly sceptical of anyone—including myself—who claims to have the final word or a world-shattering, conclusive theory on anything. This is based on the notion that people are limited beings; our sensory range is finite and defines our subjective and objective boundaries. Speaking of which, that’ll get covered in this very post, but first…

Introduction

Animism is an academic model developed by the British anthropologist Sir Edward Tylor in his book “Primitive Culture”, published in 1871. He states that animism was the earliest developmental phase in the formation of religion due to it stemming from a belief in souls; hence the coined term being built on “animus” soul. He also clearly expresses that “lower/savage” animism does not concern itself with morality, since his “hypothetical primitive peoples” were incapable of distinguishing objective from subjective reality.1 Eventually, it was replaced by polytheism and then monotheism, which implemented consecutively “better” moral value systems. Many anthropologists have rightly critiqued his work as naively evolutionist and overly intellectual. Considering that the origin of the term discusses “primitive peoples”, it does not centre itself on any cultural or linguistic paradigm. Because of this, one could argue that there is no such thing as a standalone or indigenous “animist” or “animism”. And considering the term’s judgmental baggage—despite its more recent developments—it does not seem entirely free of its evolutionist, colonial, and racial connotations; something that plagues modern polytheism as well. Without a cultural and linguistic context giving name and form to things, animism is a shell, a broad, simplistic, and abstract theoretical outline without substance or nuance. Simply put, culture and language are necessary to define and give form to a worldview. Therefore, a discussion of “animism” as a standalone subject without delving into lore is meaningless and unproductive.

This also applies to the main way of explaining an animistic worldview, e.g., “A belief that events in the world are mobilized by the activities of spirits”,2 which outlines the broad strokes without further qualifiers and definitions: what events, what spirits, and how do they mobilise events, and why? Another definition, e.g., “A belief system in which all material or experienced phenomena—including, for example, humans, animals, plants, trees, rocks, mountains, rivers, rain, wind, sun, moon, and stars—have a soul, spirit, or sentience of some kind, and therefore have agency amongst themselves and with each other. There are no hard and fast divisions between physical and spiritual dimensions in the world, although socially defined relationships and hierarchies may be found”, is much more succinct and helpful, yet again, it does not present us with anything concrete regarding the how and why underlying this belief system. It is like skipping to the end-product without highlighting its underlying rationale. Why is there no division between spiritual and physical dimensions? How are these phenomena sentient, or why is this the logical state for them? Is there a purpose? Many modern “animists” believe in spirits and their agency in the world, but very few—based on personal experience—can qualify such underlying lore. “It is just the way of things” is a static religious trope.

Let me clarify this further before I come across as judgmental and insulting; yet I realise this is definitely possible even so. The fact of the matter is that an animistic worldview is not a belief system, but an ontological endeavour that strives to understand and explain the world around oneself to survive and thrive. Quite simply, there’s no belief involved whatsoever. Similar to science, there is a process of constant interaction—defining and redefining—going on. Furthermore, all the mentioned things in the last description, like plants, animals, mountains, rain, or the sun do not involve belief. They exist in a verifiable state. The same applies to the ways in which they interact with one another. Basically, animism is a method to engage with, what we nowadays call the broader grouping of natural sciences: physics, chemistry, biology, geophysics, environmental studies, ecology, etc., with the minor difference that science has developed the tools to see more distant and smaller aspects of this cosmos. Very little contradiction exists between science and indigenous knowledge on a whole. In fact, the interconnected world of indigenous worldviews is slowly but surely becoming supported by science, e.g., the gestalt formation, mutual aid, and kin recognition of a forest through the mycorrhizal network3, or consciousness theories, such as integrated information theory and panpsychism. Since animism isn’t a belief, plus carries many evolutionist, colonial, and racial notions, I will henceforth avoid the term in favour of laiza “lore”, which indicates learning and skill, and seems a less stigmatising way to consider indigenous worldview and knowledge. Of course, what will be described in this and the following posts will be lore extracted and framed through Proto-Germanic as its linguistic paradigm. It is lived tradition based on my personal positionality and understanding; something that the model described below highlights and clarifies as well.

Anaskawoniz (cosmology)

Anaskawoniz literally means “an observing upon”, perhaps better translated as “outlook” or “mode of view”. At first, this may not seem entirely synonymous with cosmology in the sense of being a knowledge system concerning how the cosmos is structured, but more with worldview. Many online sources indicate that the Germanic worldview begins and ends with the Norse model, which does not seem realistic when considering etymologies, e.g., the term “Yggdrasil”—presumably translated as “Yggr’s steed”—does not implicitly indicate a world tree; one needs to have read the Eddas to build that particular association, though the exact mythology behind that name is one that is not directly attested. What I’ve attempted to do is consider Proto-Germanic terms that have clearly attested implicit meanings for building an Early Germanic worldview.

Fulda: the physical plain; cognate to SKT prithvi (earth, mother Earth), YAv ząm pərəθβīm (broad earth), and Gaulish Litavi (the vast one); the latter attested as a theonym on at least three inscriptions.4 The term is related to the words felþaz (field), Flataz (flat), and flatjam (floor). This could be interpreted as supporting a flat-earth concept, but we have no concrete evidence of such applying to the Germans or Celts of antiquity. In fact, if we consider Pliny the Elder—who dedicates chapter 64 of his Naturalis Historia to the form of the earth5—in combination with the significant Roman-Celtic-Germanic contact and mixing, that such a view may have been—or became—shared. Thus, the predominant contemporary view around Pliny’s time (23/24–79 AD) was that the earth was a sphere, though still within a geocentric model.6

Weraldiz: the subjective plain. This term is a compound of wiraz (human) and aldiz (age, lifetime). This being a compound word, there are no clear cognates outside of Germanic, though it may have conceptual overlap with PCelt Bitus (world, life), which has a similar underlying concept of being. Interestingly, it does not present us with a locative concept, but a temporal one. Therefore, the moment you are experiencing now—and valid throughout your lifetime—is the world as you know it. A similar temporal notion can also be seen in terms such as English afterlife or hereafter, and Dutch hiernamaals (lit. The moment here after).

Combining these two Earths, we have a way to situate ourselves on the X-axis of “where” and the Y-axis of “when” or “what is being perceived”. In so doing, we have a firm foundational concept that every human being has their coordinates at which they are the centre of their reality. Expanding this further may indicate that plants, trees, animals and other phenomena occupy their own central perceptual centre; some of which may overlap with our human ones, while others may be wholly alien. Understanding this as a fundamental philosophy sets a precedent regarding interaction, dialogue, and obtaining knowledge. This is—what I shall refer to as—the 1st and 2nd principles, namely:

  1. Each living thing resides within the centre (weraldiz; personal, subjective, finite reality). This is the place of role and emotional embodiment (shifting identities and perceptions in response to the infinite reality).
  2. Knowledge and understanding can only be gained by stepping out of the centre by engaging in observation and dialogue (fulda; interactive, infinite reality). Of course, this is basically an amalgamation of countless subjective realities, and thus never an absolute form of objectivity or truth.

As stated above, I do not believe anyone can pull all of the interactive infinite reality into their subjective finite one, thereby obtaining absolute knowledge. We are limited to one core reality that we can shift in terms of embodiment. To put this into a numeric value, there are 7151 languages spoken today, 40% of which are endangered, and 21% accounts for half the Earth’s population.7 Language is the predominant medium for describing phenomena. In order to obtain all knowledge, one needs to have an understanding of all possible ways these can be described, which is complicated by the fluid nature of language, e.g., the concept of the colour orange existed in Old English, but not as a single colour, but as a compound of yellow and red: ġeolurēad. This illustrates how an explanation of a relatively simple perceived reality can vary based on words; linguistic embodiment. In the Old English paradigm, there was no such thing as a clear orange, which came in later through the import of the fruit that unambiguously helped to qualify the colour. The same is true for a more theoretical form of perception, e.g., temporal orientation. For most of us, the past is behind us and the future in front. However, Quechua—the language of the Inca—and Aymara-speaking populations of South America express the metaphysical directions of the past and the future in an opposite manner, I.e., the anterior space being the past where one can visually perceive the effects of time passing, whereas the posterior space expresses futurity which cannot be seen, yet can be based on the visible—and thus known—past. This may seem somewhat contradictory or unusual, however, one way to begin comprehending such a notion is by considering the orientation and directionality while rowing a boat; in which you can see where you’ve been, but your actions are moving you towards an as-yet unseen point behind you. With both examples, one needs a shift in linguistic embodiment to approach the concept fully and subjectively. Certainly, I may understand yellow-red as orange or the Quechua-Aymara temporal positionality through analogy, but that does not mean I occupy that reality in my own central position. In other words, I do not embody those realities, but I can at least acknowledge them without value judgments of right or wrong or superior vs inferior, and use them to expand my world’s horizons and evaluate my morality. My preamble was based on this very notion of embodiment and acknowledgment. And of course, someone can shift their role embodiment towards a new paradigm over time; this is natural, but will be constantly reinforced—or challenged—by the infinite reality; or rather the countless subjective views present there.

I hear you thinking: “This is not animism, polytheism, or as you call it, lore?” I would argue that this is—without claiming this to be a universal or anything other than my own understanding—the basis of everything; though admittedly, it can be framed in so many different ways. At the foundation of any religion is the embodiment of a certain reality based on interactions and internal evaluations. Why are you a polytheist, monotheist, or atheist? The answer is that you developed that role embodiment by being raised as such or later on based on interactions with parents, teachers, peers, travelling to other countries, reading books, facing life’s easy and difficult moments, etc. As described in the introduction, lore is a knowledge system to help you survive and thrive in the world. This initial bit on fulda and weraldiz lays a solid foundation for explaining how all those things interact to make you you; and by extension it can help explain the interactions of natural phenomena like animals, plants, mountains, rivers, rain, sun, but also spirits and gods by considering their subjective realities, role embodiments, and how they respond to, and are affirmed and challenged by things beyond their centre.

Since I’ve passed the 2.5k word count, I’m going to leave it for now. Next up I’ll be discussing ferhwam, andô, and līkahamô, which in a way is a rephrasing—or different layer—of the concept described here; thus building more nuance.

  1. Put in other words, these primitive peoples were inferior human beings, not much above animals, who mindlessly acted upon their urges and feelings.
  2. From the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology.
  3. https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2019/exploring-the-underground-network-of-trees-the-nervous-system-of-the-forest/
  4. From Aignay-le-duc: Aug(usto) sac(rum) / deo Marti Ci/collui et Litavi / P(ublius) Attius Paterc[l]u[s] / v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito)
  5. “Every one agrees that it has the most perfect figure. We always speak of the ball of the earth, and we admit it to be a globe bounded by the poles. It has not indeed the form of an absolute sphere, from the number of lofty mountains and flat plains; but if the termination of the lines be bounded by a curve, this would compose a perfect sphere. And this we learn from arguments drawn from the nature of things, although not from the same considerations which we made use of with respect to the heavens. For in these the hollow convexity everywhere bends on itself, and leans upon the earth as its centre. Whereas the earth rises up solid and dense, like something that swells up and is protruded outwards. The heavens bend towards the centre, while the earth goes from the centre, the continual rolling of the heavens about it forcing its immense globe into the form of a sphere.”
  6. Possibly a geo-heliocentric model in which Mercury and Venus revolved around the sun, which revolved around the Earth.
  7. https://www.ethnologue.com/guides/how-many-languages

(Apollo) Grannus: What’s in a Name?

I’ve been considering the name Grannus for a couple of years now and—due to having some time—I wanted to summarise my thoughts thus far and share them here. For a more general overview of Grannus and other Apollos in the Gaulish sphere, I would suggest this article by Viducus Brigantici Filius.

One of the places most heavily associated with Grannus was Aquae Granni (modern day Aachen), which was also a very important city in later years regarding being Charlemagne’s capital, and the cathedral hosting the Coronation of 30—out of 40—German kings (936–1531). The region’s history of inhabitation goes back to various flint quarries (roughly 3000-2500 BC) and the arrival of Celts around 600 BC. The clearest evidence of local Germanic groups was the presence of groups described in Cæsar’s Commentarii de Bello Gallico as the Germani Cisrhenani (58–50 BC), and the settling of the Ubii in Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippanensis in 38 BC (modern day Cologne; roughly 65 km distance). There’s no conclusive evidence that the Cisrhenani were Germanic, but there’s no doubt about the Ubii originating across the Rhine. The first Roman bath house at Aquae Granni was likely built around the start of the 1st century AD, which does not mean there were no local settlements there prior to this date. Apparently the town also included a a thriving Jewish community. Considering this, it is clear we cannot state conclusively what the ethnolinguistic paradigm was in the region. Looking at the epigraphic evidence for the name Grannus throughout the Roman empire—and specifically the date ranges— indicates a range of 71–300 AD; with the clear majority overlapping with the 2nd and 3rd centuries. This overlaps with the founding of Aquae Granni, and their locations does not definitively support any early cult centre where the worship of Grannus may have originated.

The following quote is interesting: “Later, the 25-hectare Roman spa resort town of Aquae Granni was, according to legend, founded by Grenus, under Hadrian, in ca. a.d. 124. Instead, the fictitious founder refers to the Celtic god.”1 This statement is obviously very sure of the Celtic identity of Grannus, plus the notion that he has a direct hand in the founding of the town. It provides us with an alternative spelling of the theonym; though one that is not reflected in the standardised form in epigraphic attestations. Another—and probably a more supportable—spelling for this mythical founder of Aquae Granni is “Granus”, and even includes the cognomen Serenus. Judith Ley mentions it when discussing the Granus Tower; part of Aachen’s city hall built late-8th and early-9th century and providing another spelling alternative: “In later medieval sources the tower is referred to as “turris regia” or “saltorn”, which underlines its connection to the King’s Hall. It is only since the Renaissance that it has been referred to as the “Granus Tower”. In those days, the tower was construed as a relic from Roman times and the home of the legendary founder of the town, Granus Serenus, a brother of the Roman Emperor Nero, as the legend would have it.”2 Whether Granus Serenus was an actual person is highly unlikely; including the supposed kinship to Nero. However, discounting the legend outright would disrespect its underlying folklore, thus it must be considered as part of the town’s mythos. Yet it also adds more cultural confusion as it introduces a supposed Roman angle of interpretation. Incidentally, a magazine by the historic society of Aachen from 1902 uses both spellings of Grenus and Granus.

To explain the name Granus Serenus, I found some interesting info in the Latin Etymologies by Isidore, bishop of Seville; written between 615-630 AD.3 The entry of pomegranate starts with: “The pomegranate ( malum Punicum ) is so called because that species was brought from the Punic region. It also has the name malogranatum , because it contains a great multitude of seeds ( granus ) within the sphere of its rind.” At the end of the paragraph, Isidore of Seville states: “Physicians say that our bodies are not nourished by eating pomegranates, but they consider them better for medicinal use than for eating.” The latter comment is obviously relevant; though obliquely. The notion of seeds ties in remarkably well with the meaning of the cognomen, because in his entry on agricultural practices he states: “Moreover it is called sowing ( serere ), because it ought to be done when the sky is clear ( serenus ), not in rain.” This creates quite an interesting mental image of healing seeds and clear weather. As was supposed in an earlier quote that the mythical founder of Aquae Granni was none other than Grannus himself, this name and the discussed meanings—in no shape or form—stands contrary to what we know of Grannus’s attributes and associations. Yet the double n from epigraphic sources is the predominant—and admittedly a very solid—counterargument why Granus Serenus being the same as Grannus is not a convincing hypothesis. Another argument could be the length of the “a” in the initial syllable, which for Granus is probably long, and short for Grannus; but this is not at all certain. However, it could be argued that the name Granus Serenus could have had more manipulation over the centuries; hence also the alternate spelling of Grenus. I do not want to discount the theory Granus and Grannus are the same, yet proving that link is perhaps only supportable by the attested Latin spellings “Aquae Granni” and “Aquisgranum”.

NB. Briefly, the closest Celtic and Germanic terms to lat. granus “seed” are PCelt *grānom and PGmc *kurnam “grain”; both are neuter and align more with Lat. granum.

Considering Celtic, Matosović discusses Grannus as follows, and includes a fair bit of the theonym’s academic backstory: “Another often-discussed problem concerns the etymology of the name of the Gaulish god Grannos. This theonym has been related to the PCelt. word for “beard”, *grendo-, *grando- (OIr. grend, W. grann “chin, beard”), and interpreted as “the bearded one”. However, this Gaulish god, who is usually identified with Graeco- Roman Apollo, is never portrayed with a beard (cp. Delamarre 2002: 183). On the other hand, Apollo is, especially in the later stages of Graeco-Roman religion, a solar deity par excellence. The name Grannos could, in principle, be derived from a proto- form *gwransos (with *-an- from syllabic *n), which would be parallel to *gwrenso- > W. gwres. That PCelt. *sn gave nn in Gaulish appears certain from the development of PCelt. *kwresno- “tree” (OIr. crann) > Gaul. prenne gl. arborem grandem (Endlicher Glossary). Also, a proto-form *gwransnos, parallel to *gwrensnā (> OIr. grían), at least does not contradict the evidence, since it is unknown how the cluster *-nsn- would have been reflected in Gaulish. However, it is possible to relate Gaul. Grannos to PIE *gwher- “hot” only if one assumes that g is the regular reflex of PCelt. *gw before r. Before vowels, PCelt. *gw regularly gives w /u/ in Gaulish, cp. PIE *gwhedh- “pray, beseech” (Gk. pothéō “wish”) > PCelt. *gwed-yo- (OIr. guidid “pray”) > Gaul. uediíumí “I pray” (Chamalières). It cannot be argued that, on structural grounds, PCelt. *gwr > Gaul. gr would be more probable than PCelt. *gwr > Gaul. wr-, since the onset wr- is attested in Gaulish, cp. Gaul. uroica “heather” (attested in the theonym Matres Uroicae, Delamarre 2002: 329) < *wroykā (OIr. fráech, fróech). So, if we insist that Grannos is related to the OIr. word for “sun”, we have to argue that PCelt. *gwr > Gaul. gr is a special development, occurring before the reflexes of PCelt. *gw and *w merged in Gaulish.”4 Although he supports this notion well, he also highlights a few uncertainties regarding this theory. The explanation of the double nn seems plausible.5 Addendum: Donodubus—who commented via Twitter—helped clarify the issue described by Matasović, and mentioned the following alternatives by De Bernardo-Stempel and Zeidler in recconstructing the theonym: “Stempel (in the same vein as Zeidler) uses: PIE gʷʰr-snó-s > garsnós, with regular metathesis to P-Celt. grasnós > Gránnos. Matasović is working from gʷransos or gʷransnos, which is why he runs into the problem of PIE gʷr > P-Celt. gr.”

In Germanic, one easily spotted potential is *grannaz “sharp, thin, slender, fine, accurate, delicate, pretty”, which to some extent could be considered applicable to Apollo as an adept archer, refined figure, or his youthful androgynous appearance, yet this term has only survived in Northern Germanic languages. Furthermore, it is supposedly derived from Granō “hair of the beard”, and thus leads to the problematic issue Matasović described regarding Grannus’s beardlessness. This makes it an uncertain explanation at best. In line with the Celtic interpretation, I’ve worked out *grinanaz > *grennaz6 “he who flashed, gavee light” or *Grenaz “he who flashes, gives light”, both from *grīnan. Another option is *grin(n)iz > *gren(n)az “able to flash; bare one’s teeth (grin, laugh, snarl, cry))”, and considering the related *grainōn- “to murmur, lament”, *granōn- “to grunt”, *granjan- or *granjōn- “to snarl, bare one’s teeth”, and *grīmô “mask, make-up”, this could mean “expressive”; perhaps in line with heat framed as “passionate”. The mentioned *grainōn- could potentially explain a shift to a long a, e.g. OE grānian, E groan, whereas *granōn, *granjan-, and *granjōn- could lead to a short a. The interpretation of emotive seems more likely considering Apollo’s general character and patronage of the arts and sciences, or… describing the sounds and expressions of people when stepping into his hot springs at Aachen; which are some of the hottest in Europe.7 Kroonen connects the initial element *grī- to OIr grían “sun”, but mentions that it has also been connected to OIr Grinniguth “the creaking of bows”.8 The latter also has some merit considering Apollo’s mythology, but what they show most of all is potential overlap with the above elements of bringing light and expression.

Regardless, given that the classical Apollo is a very multifaceted figure, it is easy to approach the name Grannus from various angles and being able to twist it into some sort of workable connection. What I have attempted is to highlight a few possibilities that I feel are worth consideration without getting too creative or hypothetical. Also, given that I’ve approached these from three linguistic paradigms, it is vitally important to mention that Grannus—above all—is a Gallo-Roman god with a difficult backstory that can’t be unravelled without any hope of finding a 100% clear explanation for the name and its cultural or linguistic paradigm. Personally, my favourite has to be “the expressive Apollo”, which I also read as the Apollo who is present in people expressing themselves; artistically or otherwise. Secondly, are the notions of the sun—or in the case of Granus Serenus—the seed of healing under a clear sky; the perfect conditions for sowing. These could also be linked to conveying a creative spark or seed. In this way, I’m combining all three explanations into a coherent whole upon which to base my Grannus-related practices.

  1. http://ancientworld.hansotten.com/germany/aachen-aquae-granni/
  2. Ley, Judith. The Granus Tower. Online. http://rathaus-aachen.de/en/tour-2/the-granus-tower/
  3. Barney, Stephen A., Lewis, W. J., and Beach, J. A., eds. 2006. The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  4. Matasović, Ranko. “sun” and “Moon” in Celtic and Indo-European.— Online. https://www.ulster.ac.uk/data/assets/pdffile/0004/937345/0212.pdf
  5. A statement I should qualify with that I have very little knowledge on Celtic sound changes.
  6. For this formation, the I becomes emphasised to a short e, and the a in the middle—being weakest—gets phased out.
  7. https://carolus-thermen.de/en/aachen-mineral-thermal-water/
  8. Kroonen, Guus. 2013. Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic.— Leiden, Boston: BRILL.
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