[MUD-Dev] Scripting Languages and Magic

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Fri Oct 24 22:58:02 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

In <URL:/archives/meow?group+local.muddev> on Sun 12 Oct, Sheela Caur'Lir wrote:
> From: "Crosbie Fitch"
>> From: Sheela Caur'Lir

>>> I'd almost say, that the only alphabet that does not put several
>>> meanings behind every single letter, is the latin one ... which
>>> is the one used across the western world nowadays.

Neither did the greek, and they in turn derived it from another
partial alphabet that also did not (or no longer) associate any
meaning with individual glyphs. It is true that the chinese and the
egyptians used ideograms, but there are many others who did or do
not, including indian and several south-eastern alphabets

>> Maybe there is a current field of study, 'archaeophilology' or
>> "archaeological linguistics', that is already attempting to
>> reconstruct a rune or ideographic basis underlying old english
>> simply by cataloging all the syllabic meanings and
>> inventing/matching a symbol for each?

> Hmmm ... dunno if such a field exists as such.

It does not, at least not for old-english.  Or any other
indo-european language. Those languages mostly evolved without
written form and only got written down by the time the latin
alphabet was adopted into europe. If they got written down at all.
For the most part their traditions were kept in oral form (and hence
the cultural importance of bards, and the power that was attributed
to them)

> I do know that there is a book on the runes mostly used in
> Scandinavian area in the era of Vikings. It also contained some
> myths on what magic was associated with which runes - Thors rune
> was associated with Strength if I remember correct. Been a while
> though.

However, it is uncertain if those runes were really used as an
alphabet. It may well be that they were more like the signs of the
zodiac.  Part of an extensive religious and magical system, but not
an alphabet.  (i.e. you can not write down arbitrary messages in

> As for the old English I'm uncertain - I guess the old Celtic ways
> would have left something here .. like the Zodiac signs, the magic
> of the moon phases, Stone henge and tree's. It was based on the
> belief that balance was the key to everything. Which also meant
> that not only men was ranking members of their religion, which was
> the druidic society. They had an interesting faith in spirits in
> tree's (true treehuggers I guess) and identified female
> treespirits as Dryads. I'm sure there is some description of their
> alphabets somewhere in all that. Gotta be something there.

Actually, Dryads were Greek. There may have been something like them
in Celtic tradition, but there are no myths or sagas left that can
both be attributed to that old religion and that have a tree spirit
in them, female or otherwise.  Part of the problem is that the
pre-historic european culture is so thoroughly christianised that
only minute fragments of it are left, often no more than the odd
turn of phrase.  Most of the writings you can find are conjecture
and projection rather than verifiable fact. E.g. Graves who builds
an elaborate framework of ideas about trees, druids and bards that
is based on the assumption that there are 12 moons in a year.  When
there are almost thirteen.  (So now you know why 13 has always been
considered a significant number.  Whether or not it was of old
considered unlucky is debatable, depending on how closely it was
associated with pagan rites that the church wished to squash)

Please keep in mind that I am not too familiar with the nordic
culture. Things may have been quite different for them.

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey
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