Reply To: Cernunnos

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Hello there David, I’ve a little more time now …

Dwi wedi dod yn ôl at fy nghoed.
Welsh proverb: I have got a grip of my senses, lit. I am back to my trees.

In Welsh mythology we find Gwydion fab Dôn from Old Welsh Guidgen and which could mean “He who is born of wood/trees” and this in turn may derive from Proto-Celtic *widus. Welsh has the literary form gwŷdd and the singulative form gwydden. The word gwŷdd can also mean face, from Proto-Celtic *wēdos and ultimately Proto-Indo-European *weyd (to see). In addition, Welsh has the words gwiddon and gwiddan – with a variety of meanings connected to either magic and sorcery or skill and expertise. These names and derivations all seem to be pointing the same way, and therefore it is tempting to see a link with Mercury Uiducus (*Uidugenos) which would furthermore point towards Woden, whom the Romans equated with Mercury.

The Proto-Germanic *wōd (mad) is attested in Middle English as wood/wode, meaning maddened, possessed or enraged, whereas Proto-Celtic would gives us *wāto (poem) and *wāti (poet). Proto-Germanic *Wodanaz derives from similar roots, namely *wodeno/*wodono with similar meanings and from our root *wet. The English word wood, from Anglo-Saxon/Old English wudu comes from Proto-Germanic *widu, cognate with Welsh gwydd and Gaelic fiodh. Moreover, the English to be wood, i.e., to be enraged, would, I think, still have been understood in Shakespeare’s times.

So, after all of this linguistic investigation, we find Gwydion and Woden, similar etymologies, both psychopomp divinities, tricksters, shapeshifters, dispensers and seekers of wisdom and both connected to trees and poetry …

Make of this what you will.