- Hi everyone,
I'm new to the list. My name is AElfric, and I have worked with
reconstruction of various religious traditions, mostly Germanic stuff,
specifically Anglo-Saxon and Gothic. I've written a fair amount in those
languages and have released CDs of A-S and Gothic music set to the Germanic
lyre, as well as some song and ritual books.
I am interested in learning more about Indo-European myth ritual and
language, and am trying to read all I can right now. I am very impressed
with what I have seen of Ceisiwr Serith's reconstructions of Indo-European
gods, rituals and ritual formulas.
Ceisiwr, I do have a number of questions I would like to ask you, but I will
start out with one: what is the evidence that the Indo-Europeans used Ador
for purification of sacred spaces? I know that the Romans used a sacred
flour and salt mixture called mola, and that the Indians similarly used a
mixture including salt for the same purpose, but what is the evidence that
salt was specifically mixed with barley to form Ador? AElfric
- In a message dated 11/1/2003 2:47:39 PM Eastern Standard Time,
> Ceisiwr, I do have a number of questions I would like to ask you, but II hope I haven't miswritten, and I will have to check, but I didn't mean
> start out with one: what is the evidence that the Indo-Europeans used Ador
> for purification of sacred spaces?
to say that it was used to purify sacred space, but rather that it was used to
"anoint" sacificial animals before killing them.
I know that the Romans used a sacred
> flour and salt mixture called mola, and that the Indians similarly used aMy belief in the existence of ador comes from a variety of sources, many
> mixture including salt for the same purpose, but what is the evidence that
> salt was specifically mixed with barley to form Ador?
given in articles by Calvert Watkins.
There are first two of his articles published in Harvard Studies in
Classical Philology, "An Indo-European Agricultural Term: Latin Ador, Hittite Hat-,
vol. 77 (1973), pp. 187 - 193, and "Latin ador, Hittite hat- again: Addenda
to HCSP 77 (1973) 187 - 193." vol. 79 (1975), pp. 181 - 187. In these he
shows linguistic parallels between the Latin ador, an archaic word for "spelt,"
as used in ritual, and the Hittite ha:tan, of the same meaning, which he traces
from a PIE *H2ed- "dry," giving a collective *H2ed-o:r/H2ed-en "dry stuff,"
which, if the effects of the laryngeals is carried out, become *ado:r/ad-en.
(I hadn't noticed the value of the "o" before, and will have to change my
This ador is toasted and ground spelt mixed with salt. Note that the
words mean "spelt" in both languages, but I have speculated on barley instead.
I've done this for a number of reasons:
1. Barley is the grain most often used in the mixture that was the
Indo-European sacred drink(s). Another, justifiably famous, article by Watkins, "Let
us now Praise Famous Grains," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
122:1 (Feb., 1978), pp. 9 - 17, collects the primary evidence. The idea of a
sacred drink which is a mixture composed of water, barley, and water, and
sometimes other things, is found in Greece, Iran, and India. We always have to
be careful about identifying something as PIE when it is found in these three,
since there are number of isoglosses, both linguistic and cultural, in them,
but I think it worth noting nonetheless.
2. The Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, p. 7 (entry written by Mallory
and Adams), has this to say:
Perhaps the most specific of the solidly reconstructed terms is *ye/wos
"graim (particularly barley)." [I have used / to indicate that the preceding
vowel is accented.] Barley belongs to the oldest known of the domestic cereals,
recorded in the Near East and Anatolia from at least the ninth millennium BC
and it appears in Europe by the eighth or seventh millennium. The term
*meig^(h)- also seems to indicate "barley" in the Baltic languages although in the
language of its only Asian cognate, Khotanese, a derivative means "field" <
*barley-field?". There ae other terms for "barley" (*g^hre/sdh(i), *H2e/lbhit,
*bhars) but these are all restricted to European stocks. ... Conspicuous by its
absence is a certain term for the most prized of the cereals, wheat, which as
*puHxro/s is attested only in Balto-Slavic and Greek and *sepit is known only
They do also comment that "There is no agricultural regime known in any of
the relevant parts of Eurasia in which barley might have been known to the
exclusion of wheat," but only seems to me to reinforce the status of barley as
3. *ie/wos "barley" is essentially identical to *ye/w(o)s "law, particularly
ritual law." While I am exceedingly unqualified to suggest that these two
words are etymologically related, I find it hard to believe that the PIEs
wouldn't have seen the similarity, and that either it does reflect in the forms of
the two words an actual linguistic connection, or that either they would have
seen the homophony as significant, or that the two word grew together as a
result of a view that barley was a "canonical" grain.
Because of all this, I have to suggest that the Roman and Hittite use of
spelt rather than barley was an innovation, perhaps based on its use by the
pre-IE inhabitants of Italy and Anatolia. Aware, however, that substrates are
all too easily used to explain things which we simply don't understand, or
sometimes don't want to be true, I wouldn't want to be dogmatic about this and
insist that *ador would have to have been made of barley, and that there is no
chance that it could have been made of spelt. Still, I had to pick one grain, so
I went with barley.
You have to understand that the unpublished book on PIE religion that this
is taken from (and if anyone knows of a publisher that would be interested in
it please let me know) is already 400 pages long, and to explain everything
in it in this detail could easily put it over 1000. (Someone has suggested
that I do a "director's cut" which did include it all.) In the material on my
website, then, much is presented simply as true, or I only give a few examples,
simply to save space and time. But I would love to explain anything; if
nothing else, it makes me do the research again to see whether I still think I'm
I'm intrigued by your work on Germanic music. Do you know if anyone has
attempted to reconstruct any kind of proto-music from any of the IE cultures?
My guess would be that it would be impossible, given the ease with which music
crosses cultural boundaries, but it would interesting if someone did. I
myself have noted a striking similarity between the oldest Scottish music,
Gregorian chants, and the tunes to which the Vedic hymns are chanted, but that's
simply an observation by an amateur.
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