Something I love about our field is the manner in which the linguistics – the etymology – facilitates the proper understanding and construal of meaning. This is occasionally derided as being the supplanting of serious theology via etymology … but with this I do not agree. At most, it is the supplementation – and as we have capaciously demonstrated through the course of our works, it is a vital tool in our arsenal. One with serious probative, indeed outright predictive value. And which is capable of revealing otherwise hidden mythemes held sacred and in common cohort by our ancestors.
Now, speaking of That Which Is Hidden … This is, of course, exactly what Hades (Aides) is held to mean. Deriving from Proto-Indo-European N-Weyd, meaning Non- (N-) Seen (Weyd).
In this, it has a considerable coterminity with an otherwise dissimilar appearing theonym and conceptual term in Sanskrit – Kaal (as in MahaKaal, Kali). I should take a moment to acknowledge that there is some disagreement and debate about the potential roots of this term, but I connect it to Proto-Indo-European ‘Kel’ – a term to refer to a covering; an which not at all coincidentally derives into later Germanic words like “Hell”.
“Kaal”, for us, does not merely mean “Death”, but also “Blackness”, and “Time”. Which renders the phrasing that Oppenheimer was translating in his famous quotation, rather different in its proper implication, of course (the ‘Death’ (Kaal) that is the Destroyer of Worlds is more properly understood as Time or, perhaps, ‘Causality’/’Fate’ in its Bhagavad Gita context – although that is plainly less apt for the detonation of a nuclear weapon, and in any case is something of a counterpoint given the ‘Blackness’ symbolism inherent in the term to the Radiance of the Thousand Suns. Even if there is also an intriguing irony that it is the Vishvarupa Darshana – the Omniform of the Universe seemingly as it truly is, that is referred to by this term meaning ‘Veiling’ in its most archaic sense. But I digress…).
But why am I invoking this ‘Kaal’ and ‘Kel’ here? Because it is the most succinct illustration of what is truly going on here. The sense being communicated is that of Death as the Veil Between Worlds; the impenetrable Blackness beyond which one cannot see. Light and Life are inexorably co-connoted in various IE theological schemas – and perhaps we might look at that in a future piece; but the Solar Radiancy is at the root of the World of the Living, indeed is the All-Father and All-Mother (ref: Dyaus Pitar and Vedic Aditi respectively – or, for that matter, Vivasvat as Father and Saranyu (Sauri) as Mother to Mankind) – and hence the dual understanding inherent in the etymology of “Loka” (Sanskrit for Realm, Kingdom) as both a place that is inhabited (or even a race) and also as the Light (it derives from PIE ‘Lewk’ – which also informs our modern terminology such as “Look”).
Now, that notion of the Light as the ultimate source of Life is doubly intriguing – because in the Vedic cosmology (afore the parallel ‘mytho-linguistic’ derivation had taken place which relegated it to the Under-World – a pattern also visible in the other IE cosmological understandings), where we find the Afterlife is up high in the sky. Paramevyoman is proximate to it – YamaLoka (‘Yama’ of the latter being used directly as a kenning for ‘Sun’, ‘Sun’s Zenith’ in the Vedas), Pitrloka in the Solar Sphere (or Nordic Valaskjalf); Aditi hailed as presiding over such, a parallel expression to what is found in the Hittite ‘Solar Underworld’ figure, the situation also of Anatolian/Greek Hekate, etc.
So this invites an obvious paradox – as we ALSO have the position proximate to the AfterLife referred to in terms of Darkness. In addition to the aforementioned, the prominent example is Ancient Greek Erebus (from PIE ‘Hregwos’ – a term for Darkness, that is quite close in its formulation to a suite of terms for ‘Rulership’ (PIE ‘Hregs’) – as we discussed in ‘Ragnarok And The Night Lord’).
What explains this? Why is it that we have an Afterlife that is expressly Solar connoted (although later winds up shrouded in the Earth – and ‘Hole’, too, is from this PIE ‘Kel’ root), yet simultaneously is covered and occluded via the Dark ?
Well, at once we have this notion of the Underworld being in the Sky – and the Night Sky in particular being relevant for this. The Night acts as a ‘Cover’ for the Sky , and also represents the ‘Veiling’ between this present cycle of life and the next cycle of life – the aforementioned ‘AfterLife’ – that is akin to a new dawn, a new day, a day unending even, in the Indo-European world-view.
Over time, this has become somewhat forgotten – and the ‘Solar’ element to the AfterLife is de-emphasized in many of these post-PIE descendant cosmologies. So all that is left, often, is the ‘Darkness’ which shrouds it from view as if this were the substantive and all-encompassing sphere of the matter.
So – ‘Hades’ (as in The Unseen) becomes not a term for That Which Is Unseen (due to the shroud of darkness between worlds) – but rather, the underworld as having an essentialized Dark and Gloomy character. The ‘Darkness’, if you like, has not just eclipsed but actually displaced the ‘Light’.
Something that is also, in its way, visible via the suite of conceptry for the Master of that grim(nir) realm often preserving the luminous, radiant terminology inherent in His descriptor and surrounding conceptry. Hades described as the Zeus (i.e. Shining Daylight Sky – Dyaus) of the Underworld (something which makes additional sense considering the archaic Greek remembrance that Hades and Zeus were, in fact, the same figure), Varuna (the dweller in Pitrloka with Lord Yama) having both extensive Solar associations (including the Solar Eye – seen also via Odin’s situation with Hlidskjalf, itself a ‘Lidded’ or ‘Covered’ position, as shown via the etymology of same) yet also a ‘Covering’ root to the theonym that may either (or perhaps simultaneously) refer to the Wide-Covering illumination of the Sky Father (c.f Vivasvat, Vivasvan, etc.) or alternatively to the Dusky Covering of the Sun that is the onrushing Shades of Night (and c.f my earlier work upon the Star-Studded Cloak of the Sky Father).
And which we can also find just quite directly in the conceptry around Kali – wherein the bright, radiantly beautiful form of Parvati is ‘covered’ via the blackness of all-consuming Death, Night, Destruction that is Kali, afore being re-illuminated via the removing (often via ‘washing off’) of this Kaal covering to reveal MahaGauri [‘Great White One’/’Great Beauty’ – a standard Solar understanding in the Indo-European mythic conceptual syllabary; c.f also Aditi in relation to Her Consort, the Sky Father) ; something directly paralleled via the de-dark-ifying of Demeter Erinyes (the Furious Form of the Mother Goddess) via the bathing in a particular holy river – which would attain additional relevancy given my postulation of an alternative etymology for “Demeter” as “De-Mater” (i.e. ‘Shining/Radiant/Solar Mother’), and my observation of the direct correspondence of Demeter Erinyes with the position of Sauri in various of the Hindu perceptions of the same underlying Indo-European myth.
So there you have it. The Truth, as it were, ‘Unveiled’.