In my recent Hellenism studies, I came across some new pronunciations of the Greek gods’ names. It turns out I’ve been mispronouncing their names for decades. But it didn’t stop there — in the past year, I also learned a few other proper pronunciations as well.
Anglicization is a weird thing. It happens when someone takes something that already works and changes it to something different. Spellings and pronunciations fly out the window for something more palatable to English speakers.
Once, I had a boss who didn’t care enough to learn how to pronounce my name. Not once in the three years I worked for him did he say it correctly, even though I’d corrected him over a dozen times. What do you think happened when he asked me to perform a task? I did the marginal amount of work required and left out the frills. I’m not very passive aggressive, but because this guy couldn’t waste one second to learn something as important as my name, I decided it was okay.
That’s why I think it’s important to pronounce their names correctly. We commune with the gods. We address them by name and ask them for things. We might as well call them by the correct pronounciation.
Here are the greatest of my flub-ups.
Like most people, I said something like “E-OS-ter,” but this one is actually much like the holiday, pronounced “IHS-tir.”
I adore Isis, and have an emblem of her on my east altar. I couldn’t believe I’d been saying this wrong for decades, like “EYE-sis.” The Greeks called her “EE-sis;” however, scholars don’t actually know how the Egyptians pronounced it because hieroglyphs only included consonant sounds.
I’m actually thrilled that it doesn’t sound like the terrorist group.
Once, I was trying to win Hekate’s favor. She brushed me off like yesterday’s dandruff. I later learned I had mistaken her for another dark goddess, and didn’t answer for that reason. But perhaps another reason she didn’t come to me willingly was because I’d called upon “HECK-a-tay.”
In my Hellensim studies, I came across an audio book where the reader pronounced it differently. The Greek pronunciation is “heh-KAH-teh” or “heh-KAH-tee.” As soon as I heard it, something magical lit up within me. I felt Her presence as the Queen of the Witches for the first time outside of a large ritual.
When I was a little witchling in my teens, Brigid appealed to me. She was warm and bright, and I felt so much love from her. At the time, I thought I might be part Irish, but it turns out, after DNA testing, that I’m not.
I can’t tell you how often I called upon “BRIDGE-id,” only it’s “BRIID.” I should’ve known better than to try to pronounce an Irish name.
Mighty Aphrodite! Well. . . her Greek pronounciation doesn’t rhyme. To me, it sounds like the second and third syllables are accented. “aph-RO-DEE-tee.” Listen to the pronunciation in the link and let me know what you think.
She’s still mighty. Just different.
Oh man, it’s the butt of all astrology jokes! I’m far too old to just now find out I’ve been mispronouncing this for decades. I actually said “your-ANUS” in front of an astrologer. The Greeks pronounced it “OAR-an-os.”
I hated learning that I had been mispronouncing “DIE-o-NICE-us.” “DEE-on-e-sus” or “DAY-o-nay-sus” is closer to the proper pronunciation.
I’d always called Norse allfather god “OH-din,” but apparently it’s “OATH-in.”
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While it’s fun learning the old pronunciations of the gods, with this being said, I’ll never be the pagan police. I’ll never correct someone when they talk about their deity, because they know their gods better than I, and they must be doing something that works. Our gods probably know when we call upon them by the energy, even if we don’t pronounce their names the same way they were pronounced in the old days.
What about you? Are there any gods or goddesses that you’ve mispronounced? I’d love to hear about them and learn more, even if I facepalm.
Until next time lovelies.