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12 April 2010 @ 04:55 pm
Does the name of the god Bíle turn you off?  
 Bíle sounds a lot  like bile, as in bodily fluid, and I know it's ridiculous but it makes it hard to feel close to him. Partly because I'm confused about the pronunciation of the name (is it Bel, Beelya, Belya,  Bilya, or Bili?) Is there an alternative spelling of the name that's still Irish? What are your thoughts?
Kathryn of Nigheanan nan Cailleach: I looked it upcaitriona_nnc on April 12th, 2010 09:22 pm (UTC)

Once you get used to the Gaeilge, you won't hear the English (mis)pronunciations in your head. Remembering your fadas helps, too. í is always "ee".
saorbhreathach on April 12th, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC)
I'm usually used to it, I've been practicing the language for four years but this one just throws me haha.

Sláinte Mháith!
.felmac3 on April 12th, 2010 10:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, "BEE-luh," however I've always seen the name spelled "Bile," which I believe is pronounced "BILL-uh." He is not attested to be a god, though.
Angus-Michel: 05embryomystic on April 13th, 2010 05:06 am (UTC)
It's actually closest to 'BEE-lyeh'. Unless there's no síneadh fada over the I. Then it's 'BIH-lyeh'. Though bile is actually a word for a sacred tree. Plus it's the standard word for 'tree' in Manx, billey.

I don't think there's any alternative spelling of the name, but I'm strong on the language(s), not so strong on the length and breadth of the lore (still ruminating on the Táin Bó Cuailnge, not sure if I'll ever be done).
Kathryn of Nigheanan nan Cailleach: At the standing stonescaitriona_nnc on April 13th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I defer to you on the OI. Probably the other languages, as well :-)
Kathryn of Nigheanan nan Cailleach: At the standing stonescaitriona_nnc on April 13th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)
The reason you don't feel close to "him" may be, as the others mentioned, that Bíle is not a god. Or if there is a particular divine being that goes by that name, it may not be one that you have any affinity for.

The whole Bíle-as-a-god thing never resonated with me, so has never been part of my theology or practice. I don't know if that's because there is no divine being by that name or I just have no connection with "him".

I'm very connected to the trees, and the idea of *a* Bile as a local focal point for a community is meaningful to me. But I don't really do the World Tree-type thing. It's more about specific trees, and the lore connected with them, which can vary from community to community.
saorbhreathach on April 13th, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC)
After further research, I think your right, Bile isn't a god after all
Seren: argyllheilun_coo on April 13th, 2010 09:36 pm (UTC)
There's an article by Alden Watson, "Kings, Poets and Sacred Trees" in Études Celtique 18, who comments on the fact that the ancestor of the Milesian's was called Bile and links it to the idea of the bile as a focal point:

“One of the secondary meanings of bile is 'scion' or 'hero'. The tree's spreading branches made it an apt image for the poet interested in genealogies and so it came to refer to the founder of a dynasty. As it happened, the founders of the family trees in which the poets took the greatest interest were the progenitors of the lines which belonged to their kingly patrons. In this way, bile came to refer to a king.”

Which makes sense to me. So I agree, 'Bile' doesn't refer to a god specifically, it's more an epithet in the way it's used in the literature.
saorbhreathach on April 13th, 2010 11:58 pm (UTC)
so Bile is a being I see, not just a tree
Serenheilun_coo on April 14th, 2010 12:19 am (UTC)
Yes, that's one way of looking at it. But then again I think in this case, as the article argues, it's an idea rather than a being - something a little more remote. The Irish loved wordplay and something like this - a word that embodied so many things, so many interpretations, and gave a good name - would've been irresistible, in many respects.

So Bile, ancestor of the Milesians, is the embodiment of the sacred tree (the bile) in his role as the progenitor, spreading his branches protectively over his offspring (figuratively speaking) but also the hero, the scion in the sense that whoever the progenitor was must surely have been those things as well.

It may have referred to someone in particular, whose real name we no longer know, but then again it may have been just an idea that gave a convenient name to help the story along. There are lots of names in Irish literature that embody a particular concept, in general or in relation to a specific circumstance, which appear to be deeply meaningful on one level, and clever wordplay on another, so (IMHO) it's likely to be the latter.

I don't think there's a right answer, I just thought I'd throw out a different perspective, really...