Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Bida, Aihtrons jah Inweita: Prayer and Invocation in Gothic Heathenry.

Prayer, whilst commonly being thought of as a feature of the Abrahamic religions, is vital to the essence of Germanic heathen practice. What differentiates prayer in a Gothic heathen context (and in other ethnic polytheistic religions across the world) is that it be addressed to not only God, or gods (ansjuns), but also to the spirits of natural forces (waihteis) and the ancestral spirits (ahmans). Instead of dropping to ones knees and clasping ones hands together like in the Abrahamic traditions, the Germanic prayer-stance involves standing upright with ones head facing the sky and the arms extending upwards and outwards, embracing himins.

In the Gutiska Galaubeins, the concept of prayer exists in three forms. They are the following:

Bida (prayer), Bidjan (to pray): in simple terms, the bida prayer is a request to an ahman, a spiritual being, which is said without a sense of extreme urgency. The bida, for example, would commonly be used to request wealth, healthy offspring or a bountiful forthcoming harvest. 

Aihtrons (supplication), Aihtron (to supplicate): when circumstances became dire and danger loomed close, the aihtrons would be employed to, in want for a better term, beg for the intervention of the ansjuns. Prayer such as this would be used during famines, outbreaks of disease and long bloody wars; none of these situations were unfamiliar to the Goths.

Inweita (invocation), Inwait (to invoke): this a prayer only in the sense that it is directly asking a god or a spirit to become present among the worshiper(s), nearly always used at the beginning of the bida or aihtrons prayer. The inweita is also used in a magical context, such as invoking the power of the runes, which is the reason why an epithet of the Wodans is Inwaits, 'the Invoker'.

I must express my deep gratitude to Roel Rala, the creator of the site Airus Himma Daga, for his help in providing these prayers and for his hard work and skill with translation.

Below is an example of a Gothic prayer translated from the Old Norse version in the Sigrdrifumal:

'Haila Ansjuns!
Hailos Gudeinjos!
Jah haila alla gibandei airþa
Gif uns handugein
Jah gifs uns goda waurdein,
Jah leikinondeins handuns, allai libainai.'

translating into:

'Hail to the gods!
Ye goddesses, hail!
And all the generous earth!
Give to us wisdom
and goodly speech,
And healing hands, life-long.'

More examples of Gothic prayers can be found here at the Airus Himma Daga web page. 







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