Quote of the Week – The Sea and the Soul

Today, June 8, is World Oceans Day.

On World Oceans Day people around the planet celebrate and honor the body of water which links us all, for what it provides humans and what it represents. World Oceans Day provides an opportunity to get directly involved in protecting our future, through a new mindset and personal and community action and involvement — beach cleanups, educational programs, art contests, film festivals, sustainable seafood events, and other planned activities help to raise consciousness of how our lives depend on the oceans.

Just in time, Jeff Lilly over at Druid Journal explores the origins of the word “sea” and its intriguing connection to another word for spirit: soul.

The Proto Indo Europeans of the steppe near the Black Sea had no word for “ocean”. They had mori or mari, meaning “lake” or “sea,” but this most likely referred to the sparkling quality of its surface (cf PIE mer, “clear, sparkle”) and did not carry connotations of vast continent-wrapping waters. When the Indo Europeans started moving and trading around Eurasia, riding their horses and carts and spreading their culture wherever they went, they often found they needed a word for “ocean.” Usually they simply borrowed the word of whoever happened to be living nearby.

For example, the people living in Scandinavia adopted the Indo European language, probably because it was handy for trade; but since it had no word for “ocean”, they used one of their own: saiwaz. Thousands of years ago, there was a people, now lost, living by the northern seas; and they felt so strongly the tether between the sea and the soul that they used almost the same word for both.

Alison Leigh Lilly
Alison Leigh Lilly nurtures the earth-rooted, sea-soaked, mist-and-mystic spiritual heritage of her Celtic ancestors, exploring themes of peace, poesis and wilderness through essays, articles, poetry and podcasting. You can learn more about her work here.