Etymology — what is it good for?

Etymology. The origin of words. Sometimes this issue comes up in groups on Facebook. What exactly is the origin of the word “rune”?  Or “Seidr”?  Or any other word related to the work of a Vitki?  Interesting questions to be sure. Yet really what does it matter?

I maintain the only issue that should surround a word is how it is used currently. The only thing that matters is the current use and meaning of a word. Everything else in my opinion is merely mental mastrubation.

Take the word “rune”. The origin of that word is the word “runa” which means “mystery”. What does this mean to us now?  Would we not have discovered this meaning if we simply studied them?  What difference does it make if a word is Old Norse or Old German or whatever?  The meaning of a word is what it does for us today. So in this case the word means “mystery” to us today because in studying the runes we find it to be true.

My opinion is that a word is only as good and as powerful as it’s current usage. Otherwise we run the risk of being trapped in some dusty yesterday rather than being full and vibrant practitioners of a living craft. And that’s what I strain to be. A living breathing Vitki with his eyes looking towards the future. Not looking back on where we’ve been.

Author: vitkimusings

A fifty-something Vitki living in the suburbs of Chicago. Follower of the Nordic Path for the last fifteen years. Student of runes for the last 23 years and seidr for the last seven years. Always learning and growing!

One thought on “Etymology — what is it good for?”

  1. I find this to be true not just in etymology but in symbology in general. What do the symbols mean to us NOW? It doesn’t matter that a certain symbol meant something a thousand years ago if it means something entirely different now. Divination tools are lovely, but if the symbolism doesn’t connect deeply with us NOW, then, as you said, it’s nothing more than mental masturbation, which is fun, sure, but only as productive as masturbation in general is – that is, a temporary relief and release. We have an attachment to old things, but truthfully, meaning is renewed by consensus every generation, and so shifts over time.


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