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Author Topic: Wicca 404: Advanced Goddess Thealogy  (Read 13533 times)
SunflowerP
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« Reply #15: May 04, 2008, 08:32:17 pm »

I detest people messing with grammar and etymology more than I can say, but "thealogy" never really bothered me, as long as it was referring to the study of goddesses and goddess worship.  Now "Herstory" OTOH, is guaranteed to send me through the roof. 
Likewise.  "Thealogy" is a legitimate feminization of a masculine (or neutral but possibly male-normative) word - political, and often annoying for that reason, but sound linguistics.  "Herstory" assumes a masculine reference from a coincidence of letter sequence - though I don't mind that one too much when it's clearly intended as a play on words to make a point (i.e., used very sparingly, and not with the implication that h-i-s in sequence must be deliberate/oppressive); the one that really pisses me off is any instance of trying to take the "man" out of "mandate" (etc).  I've never seen an example of that which is even lame wordplay; it's always just Bad Linguistic Scholarship.

I can say much the same thing about feminism as I do about Paganism:  sometimes, the trouble with being one is the company you find yourself keeping.  Unfortunately, a look at the Amazon listing for the book cited in the OP suggests to me that it'd give me that feeling about both at once.  (Also, that it's less Wiccan than I am - though it might possibly be very sound stuff for goddess-religionists.)

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« Reply #16: May 05, 2008, 05:37:57 am »

Likewise.  "Thealogy" is a legitimate feminization of a masculine (or neutral but possibly male-normative) word - political, and often annoying for that reason, but sound linguistics. 

I wasn't clear, sorry.  I recognize that it's sound linguistics; my disagreement with the word "thealogy" is based solely on the politics of the word.  Words that are feminized (even if in a linguistically sound way) just to remove masculine etymology annoy me.  "Theology" is a perfectly good word; I see no need for another word to describe what is essentially the same stuff just because one wants to hammer in that one is speaking about feminine deities.

(I also should note that I didn't even realize the thread title contained the word until long after I'd posted about it; I'd been reading it as "theology" rather than "thealogy" the whole time.  Ooops.  Wasn't trying to be coy about it--"oh, I've seen it somewhere, gee, I wonder where!"--my brain had just not been really seeing it.)
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« Reply #17: May 05, 2008, 08:41:51 am »

"Theology" is a perfectly good word; I see no need for another word to describe what is essentially the same stuff just because one wants to hammer in that one is speaking about feminine deities.
From a linguistic point of view I find 'thealogy' more appropiate if one is only refering to a Goddess (=thea) because it's a much clearer composition than 'theology' which literally means doctrine/theory of God (=theos).

What's quite difficult is how to call if one refers to a pantheon of mixed sexes. Or even how to refer to the plural at all -> theoilogy?
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« Reply #18: May 05, 2008, 09:01:50 am »

From a linguistic point of view I find 'thealogy' more appropiate if one is only refering to a Goddess (=thea) because it's a much clearer composition than 'theology' which literally means doctrine/theory of God (=theos).

What's quite difficult is how to call if one refers to a pantheon of mixed sexes. Or even how to refer to the plural at all -> theoilogy?

I guess what I'm getting at here is that I don't see the usefulness in making a distinction between religious doctrine involving a Goddess vs. a God vs. multiple deities of mixed sexes.  Although the root "theos" is technically male, as far as I'm aware most English words composed with that root tend to be gender-neutral in practice.  "Theology" is just as valid when referring to religious doctrine involving a female deity, or multiple deities of mixed sex, as when referring to a male deity, IME.  I just don't see a reason to use a different term just because the god in question happens to be female.

If there is some other more substantial difference between thealogy and theology that I'm missing that requires a separate term for thealogy, that's different.  But if the sole purpose is to indicate gender...  I mean, having separate terms for individuals (i.e. "god" vs. "goddess") kind of makes sense because individuals are much more specific and there is a usefulness in specifically describing who you're talking about.  But when you're looking at something broader and less individually-focused like, in this case, the study of the nature of the divine and humanity's relationship to it, it really doesn't make sense to me to start using different terms for different genders.  Unless, like I said, there's something about thealogy that makes it a separate discipline from theology.
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« Reply #19: May 05, 2008, 12:29:47 pm »

To tell the truth, the only pantheons I can think of where the sun=male and the moon=female are the Greek and Roman ones.  AFAIK, Wicca is more influenced by the Celts so is the male sun and female moon in that culture as well?  I mean, I vaguely recall a male solar deity, but what about female?

Nope; no female moon deities (heck, no male moon deities) in Celtic mythology. The sun itself is referred to in the feminine, however.
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« Reply #20: May 05, 2008, 12:38:53 pm »

Nope; no female moon deities (heck, no male moon deities) in Celtic mythology. The sun itself is referred to in the feminine, however.

So then I think it's safe to say that sun=male, moon=female was mostly a Greek and Roman influence?
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« Reply #21: May 05, 2008, 01:34:17 pm »

I haven't read it, so I can't say for sure, but I would guess she's looking at "theory" and picking out the Latin root "theo" (as in theology), and replacing it with "thea".  I've seen that done somewhere with "theology" ("thealogy")--and don't agree with it there either, incidentally.

The Greek (not Latin, by the way--that's deus) root is actually the-, not theo-, so forming the words that way show a misunderstanding of how the word is parsed (by the author, not you, Star).

The personal endings for theos in the nominative are:
-os (singular masculine)
-a (singular feminine)
-oi (plural masculine/collective)
-ai (plural feminine)

In Greek, the gender of the word is further clarified by the use of the article (ho, hoi for masculine, ha, hai for feminine). In English, our words don't have genders, so the- can be used to describe either.

When forming a new word, you take the personal endings off of the root word and add the suffix. The English suffix is -ology (taken from logos, which means word/story/explanation, the noun is from the verb lego, which means I say/converse with); the first o is added for a smooth transition from one part of the word to the next (try saying thelogy--or gelogy for the study of the earth).

In Greek the word is theologos:
-os: one who
-log-: discourses with
the-: the gods

thea- is an entirely different root (from the verb theaomai, meaning I gaze at, and used in words such as theater). Thealogy would more properly parse to something like the study of theater.

I have no doubt that those who are using thealogy or theary think that they are feminizing the word just as you describe, but they really should put a little more study into how words are formed before coining them.

Sasha

(Can you tell I'm procrastinating on studying for my Greek final?)
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« Reply #22: May 05, 2008, 01:42:04 pm »

Has anyone else read this book? What do you think?

I haven't read it, though I've come across it on amazon.com quite a few times.  It's always peaked my interest, as I'm sooooo tired of most books on Wicca being in the "101" category, where the same information is regurgitated over and over again.  LOL.  Now that I've heard a good review of it, I might buy it sometime.
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« Reply #23: May 05, 2008, 01:42:16 pm »

(Can you tell I'm procrastinating on studying for my Greek final?)

Well, you obviously have some parts of the language under control Cheesy

What you said makes sense because there are other words (such as geology, ornithology, archeology, psychology, etc.) that have the "ology" ending and seem to have nothing to do with gender.
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« Reply #24: May 05, 2008, 01:46:27 pm »

According to many bad Pagan 101 books, the moon deity is ALWAYS female and the sun deity is ALWAYS male in ALL cultures throughout the world and in all eras of history. Reality is NOT allowed to intrude on this TRUTH. Roll Eyes

I guess nobody clued the Japanese in on that little idea, huh?

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« Reply #25: May 05, 2008, 02:00:54 pm »

Likewise.  "Thealogy" is a legitimate feminization of a masculine (or neutral but possibly male-normative) word - political, and often annoying for that reason, but sound linguistics. 

Actually, it's not sound linguistics, since the-, not theo- is the root of the word. The -o- infix is merely a transitional vowel meant to get you from the root to the suffix. It follows the same principles as using "an" instead of "a" in front of a word that begins with a vowel. The -o- is there merely for ease of pronunciation.

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« Reply #26: May 05, 2008, 02:14:17 pm »

The Greek (not Latin, by the way--that's deus)

Oh, lord.  I knew that; I use the Greek word "theoi" every freaking day; why on earth did I say "Latin"?  Huh

*wanders off babbling to self*

I thank you for the lesson in linguistics, though.  Smiley
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« Reply #27: May 05, 2008, 02:16:17 pm »

According to many bad Pagan 101 books, the moon deity is ALWAYS female and the sun deity is ALWAYS male in ALL cultures throughout the world and in all eras of history. Reality is NOT allowed to intrude on this TRUTH. Roll Eyes

You mean we might have to accept that other gods exist TOO! No way!
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« Reply #28: May 05, 2008, 02:18:46 pm »

Well, you obviously have some parts of the language under control Cheesy

What you said makes sense because there are other words (such as geology, ornithology, archeology, psychology, etc.) that have the "ology" ending and seem to have nothing to do with gender.

Exactly! And my favorite example is geology, since the root is ge-, a feminine word meaning the earth. In English we tend to think of the root as geo-, but that's because the -o- is very necessary for easy pronunciation, otherwise we'd have words such as:

gelogy
gegraphy
gemotry
gecentric
gephysical

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« Reply #29: May 05, 2008, 02:19:48 pm »

Oh, lord.  I knew that; I use the Greek word "theoi" every freaking day; why on earth did I say "Latin"?  Huh

Don't worry--I'm taking both Latin and Greek this semester and I have to stop and think each time which one is which!

Sasha
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