Friday, December 19, 2008

Speaking to God

In the Greek and Latinate traditions, the word for God is connected to the ideal of Light, no doubt a connection to solar deities.

However, in Old English language traditions, God is related to words and sound. Consider this from John 1:;&version=31;

The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Let's look at the word Word for a moment. Today it indicates a thing, a noun, but way back when, it was a verb. (All etymological definitions are from the Online Etymology Dictionary at )


O.E. word "speech, talk, utterance, word," from P.Gmc. *wurdan (cf. O.S., O.Fris. word, Du. woord, O.H.G., Ger. wort, O.N. orð, Goth. waurd), from PIE *were- "speak, say" (see verb).


1388, from O.Fr. verbe "part of speech that expresses action or being," from L. verbum "verb," originally "a word," from PIE base *were- (cf. Avestan urvata- "command;" Skt. vrata- "command, vow;" Gk. rhetor "public speaker," rhetra "agreement, covenant," eirein "to speak, say;" Hittite weriga- "call, summon;" Lith. vardas "name;" Goth. waurd, O.E. word "word").

Now, if God was the Word and the word was a verb, God moves from being an "it" to a "be," from an "out there" to an "in here," from a separate personage/being to an activity in which we all are included in our Being-ness.

Checking out God again, how do we access this being-ness? Possibly through the practice of making sounds. The derivation of the word God shows us how earliest peoples connected with deity; they called or invoked the divine.


O.E. god "supreme being, deity," from P.Gmc. *guthan (cf. Du. god, Ger. Gott, O.N. guð, Goth. guþ), from PIE *ghut- "that which is invoked" (cf. Skt. huta- "invoked," an epithet of Indra), from root *gheu(e)- "to call, invoke." Not related to good. Originally neut. in Gmc., the gender shifted to masc. after the coming of Christianity.

Here is a peek into some of the ways we talk to God. You'll notice that these methods are universal, another example of how unified we truly are in our seeming diversity!


c.1290, "ask earnestly, beg," also "pray to a god or saint," from O.Fr. preier (c.900), from L. precari "ask earnestly, beg," from *prex (plural preces, gen. precis) "prayer, request, entreaty," from PIE base *prek- "to ask, request, entreat" (cf. Skt. prasna-, Avestan frashna- "question;" O.C.S. prositi, Lith. prasyti "to ask, beg;" O.H.G. frahen, Ger. fragen, O.E. fricgan "to ask" a question).


1377, bede "prayer bead," from O.E. gebed "prayer," from P.Gmc. *beðan (cf. M.Du. bede, O.H.G. beta, Ger. bitte, Goth. bida). Shift in meaning came via beads threaded on a string to count prayers, and in phrases like to bid one's beads, to count one's beads. Ger. cognate Bitte is the usual word for conversational request "please." Also related to bid (O.E. biddan) and Goth. bidjan "to ask, pray." [This is a very universal tradition: to name a few, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims all use prayer beads.]


1808, "that part of the Vedas which contains hymns," from Skt. mantra-s "sacred message or text, charm, spell, counsel," lit. "instrument of thought," related to manyate "thinks." Sense of "special word used for meditation" is first recorded in Eng. 1956.


c.1386, from O.Fr. chanter, from L. cantare, freq. of canere "sing," from PIE base *kan- "to sing" (cf. Gk. eikanos "cock," O.E. hana "cock," both lit. "bird who sings for sunrise;" O.Ir. caniaid "sings," Welsh canu "sing"). The frequentative quality of the word was no longer felt in L., and by the time Fr. emerged the word had entirely displaced canere.


O.E. singan "to chant, sing, tell in song," also used of birds (class III strong verb; past tense sang, pp. sungen), from P.Gmc. *sengwanan (cf. O.Fris. sionga, M.Du. singhen, O.H.G. singan, Ger. singen, Goth. siggwan, O.N. syngva, Swed. sjunga), from PIE base *sengwh- "to sing, make an incantation." No related forms in other languages, unless perhaps it is connected to Gk. omphe "voice" (especially of a god), "oracle;" and Welsh dehongli "explain, interpret." The typical IE root is represented by L. canere (see chant).


c.1384, "a message from a god, expressed by divine inspiration," from O.Fr. oracle (12c.), from L. oraculum "divine announcement, oracle," from orare "pray, plead" (see orator), with material instrumental suffix -culo-. In antiquity, "the agency or medium of a god," also "the place where such divine utterances were given." This sense is attested in Eng. from c.1400.


c.1305, from O.Fr. aourer "to adore, worship," from L. adorare "speak to formally, beseech," in L.L. "to worship," from ad- "to" + orare "speak formally, pray" (see orator).

We know that any of these activities, when we engage in them whole-heartedly, invokes a state of altered consciousness. That is often the reason we practice them, to walk through the door from the everyday world and become One with Universal energies.

So, whether you sing, pray, chant, or even consult an oracle, you are engaging in the Word and the word is Be-ing, and the Word/Be-ing Is GOD.

And so are we all.