Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Barbara Walker: A grab-bag of wrongs, again


English "Brother" stemmed from Sanskrit bhratr, "support." [1, article "brother"]
 Brother and bhratr both stem from Proto-Indo-European *bʰréh₂tēr, rather than one from the other. This also signifies that this word is at least as old as the earliest branch's splitting off among the Indo-European languages. भृति - bhRti indeed is Sanskrit and means support, but bhratr is a separate word, भ्रातृ. It would have helped me to verify that if she had used a reasonable transliteration scheme or at least stated somewhere what scheme she uses. 

Worth noticing is that Ancient Greek also had a cognate, φράτηρ, although its meaning had shifted to clansman. However, this should be seen in contrast to Walker's more specific claims. The same article starts out with the following:

The Greek word for brother was adelphos, "one from the same womb," derived from the matrilineal family when only female parenthood was recognized. 
[1, article "brother"]
If adelphos was old enough to go back to such times, we would expect it to appear in some other Indo-European branch as well, which it does not. Even the groups most closely related to Greek - Armenian, as far as we can tell - has its word for brother derive from *bʰréh₂tēr.

Walker, throughout her work, maintains a view of history wherein patriarchy entered the world with Brahmanism which through its offshoots Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam suppressed matriarchal traditions everywhere. I think it is safe to assume her assumption that brother stems from India is a consequence of her belief that Brahmanism is the source of patriarchy, whereas the Greeks in this case somehow retained the more original word. No, it is unlikely the word 'brother' and its cognates have spread from India in order to cover up a matrilineal view of brotherhood. She does not state this outright, but considering the great obsession the entire encyclopedia showcases with Brahmanism being an important culprit in suppression of the matriarchy even outside of India - and positing that any number of PIE words are really of sanskrit origin, I find this a reasonable attempt at parsing her intentions.


Greeks assigned the yonic shape to the last letter of their sacred alphabet, Omega, literally, "Great Om," the Word of Creation beginning the next cycle of becoming. The implication of the horseshoe symbol was that, having entered the yonic Door at the end of life (Omega), man would be reborn as a new child (Alpha) through the same Door. [1, article "Horseshoe"]
Fascinatingly enough, this alphabet was not holy enough to prevent additional letters being added beyond omega, nor was it planned from the beginning to contain omega as its final letter: omega is not part of the original greek alphabet, but was added due to the appearance - through sound changes - of a distinction between long and short o. The etymology she gives - great om - also is false, as 'great O' is more honest. Again, Walker keeps trying to inflate the role of Hindu concepts in Indo-European culture.


 Persian-Arabian heavenly nymph, sexual angel, or temple prostitute; cognate with the Greek hora, Babylonian harine, Semitic harlot, or "whore." Houris were dancing "Ladies of the Hour" who kept time in heaven and tended the star-souls. [1, article "Houri"]
"Semitic" harlot? I guess there is a typo or something there, as harlot is not a semitic word. Besides, "whore" stems from Proto-Indo-European *karo, whereas English hour and Greek hora is from proto-indo-european *yer, *yor (year, season), the English being a loan from Greek (ὥρα). I've been trying to find harine in relevant dictionaries but been unable to do locate it, Google books gives short snippets from relevant literature indicating entire different meanings - indicating that probably, Walker has relied on unreliable sources again.

[1] Barbara Walker, Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets

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