Our Father from Water

Vatviae. Matron name. Twelve inscriptions have been found to date recording the name Vatviae. Three of the inscriptions come from Rödingen (Kreis Jülich) and five from Morken-Harff (Kreis Bergheim, Germany). Half of the inscriptions give the dative Vatviabus, and the others Vatvims, which confirms the Germanic character of the name. The most frequent interpretation relates the Vatviae etymologically to a Germanic word base meaning 'water', but the exact application of this is disputed. More original, but not more likely, is the connexion of the Vatviae with Latin vates 'seer'.

Veteranehae. Matron name. A number of inscriptions on votive stones from Embken and Wollersheim (Kreis Düren, Germany) are dedicated to the 'matronibus Veteranehis'. In addition to this there are two monuments with the name variant Veterahenae and three with Vataranehae from the same area, so that a cult centre in Embken may be postulated; four of the inscriptions with the Veteranehae come from donors from the same family. Another newly found inscription, of which only Veter . . . is extant is not found in the same area of the other stones (Rommerskirchen, Kreis Neuß), but it was used as a building stone and could therefore also come from Embken originally. The link of the name with veteranus 'veteran' is unlikely. Gutenbrunner suggested the form Vataranehae was the correct one and related the name etyrmologically to Germanic *watar- 'water' as numerous matron names are derived from river names. The great frequency of the form on Veter-, however, makes this interpretation somewhat improbable, and a derivation from the name of a camp Castra Vetera is to be preferred.

Heidi Graw

Let me start from the second name – Veteranehae. First, Gutenbrunner was right when he claimed that this name must be somehow related to Germanic "water". Second, hypothetically is quite possible that Veteranehae is related to veteranus as well as it is possible that veteranus is related to water. Following the same logic I used in my former message when I was talking about the Slavic words "voda" (water) and "vođa" (leader) I could say that Germanic *watar (water) is related to Germanic *fader (father). In Greek water is ύδωρ (hydor; also hygros) and leader is ηγήτηρ (hegeter). In this case, it could be supposed that Greek 'ydor (water) originally sounded as 'wydor' (cf. English otter, Greek hydra, Slavic vidra; all seem to be derived from "water"). Another Greek word can throw more light upon this problem. It is the word ποτίζω (potizo water), equal to Serbian vodica (small water) or the verb poticati/poteći (to flow, running as water).

Taking all the above facts in a serious consideration, we could conclude that Germanic *fader is just a synonym for the leader (Germ. water => father; Slav. voda => vođa). We could corroborate the above etymology with the Upper Sorbian words wótc, wóćec (father), which are phonetically almost the same as Serbian vožd (leader; vođa; cf. Russ. votčina/votčina patrimony). It means that Slavic word otac (father) also had its primary meaning of "leader", just in the same way as it happened to the Germanic *fader. Now we can also understand why we have the name "apa" (papa, babo) or hypocorism "ata" (tata; from voditi /lead/) with the meaning "father".

What we yet left unexplained is the Latin word veteranus (old). We all know that in old times the tribal leader was always the oldest member of the family. It means that "father" of those tribal-ages was at the same time the leader of the tribe and the father to all the members of the clan. Even today, when we observe the religious life and tradition, we will recognize the tribal conscience and system of organization among our religious LEADERS who are still bearing the "titles" of FATER, PATER, PADRE, V-OTAC, and POPE.

I think Vatviae is equal to the modern German word Witwe (widow). In Slavic widow is udova (Serb. udovica) and it is related to the Serbo-Slavic verbs odvoditi or odvojiti (take away, separate); i.e. it is a cognate of English devoid or Latin divido -videre (separate). It will become clearer if we say that Slavic name for maiden is "devojka"; cf. Serbian devica (virgin). It means devojka (Russ. devuška; Czech děvče, dívka) is a girl ready for marriage, the girl that is ready to be taken out or separated (odvojiti) from her parental home. Slavic udova and German Witwe represent woman who is ready to be re-married or married again (she is a maiden or devojka /girl/ again!).

Of course, in this case the word widow is indirectly related to water (Slavic odvoditi, odvojiti, devojka; from voda water); also Latin vadum -i (water).

Finally, if the married woman is willing to be young again (maiden) she must pray FATHER for her husbands death! What an amazing elixir of youth!


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