Hello Ladies, I ran across this in my insomniac wanderings and thought I would post it since it seems we have lately gotten a few new Pagans in the group. I know when I first started out I was at a loss to understand how to prounounce some of the Sabbats.
How do I pronounce...?
The names that are generally used to denote the Wiccan sabbats (as
well as festivals of many pagan traditions) come from Gaelic (both
Scots and Irish), Welsh, Norse, and Anglo-Saxon. There are variations
of pronunciations for each one. We are not trying to say that if you
don't say it like we tell you to, that you'll be wrong or anything
like that. But since so many people have asked, here is a list that
can give you a good start in trying to sound like the languages from
which these words came.
Just remember, this is not some kind of Sekrit Pagan Language (TM);
many of these words are in use in Europe today by pagans and
non-pagans alike to denote these days. And yes, this shows a European
bias, but then so do the commonly-used names for Wiccan holy days.
These seem to be the names most frequently asked about in alt.pagan.
Samhain (31 Oct) -- Irish Gaelic for "summer's end." The standard
Irish pronunciation is "sow-in" with the "ow" like in "cow." Other
pronunciations that follow with the many Gaelic dialects include
"sow-een" "shahvin" "sowin" (with "ow" like in "glow"). The Scots
Gaelic spelling is "Samhuin" or "Samhuinn." There is no linguistic
foundation for saying this word "samhane" the way it might look if it
were English. When in doubt, just say "Hallows" or even "Hallowe'en."
Yule (@21 Dec) -- Norse for "wheel." It's pretty much pronounced just
like it looks, although if you want to make a stab at a Scandinavian
sound, it'll be more like "yool" and less like "yewl." This is the
Imbolg/Imbolc (1 Feb) -- Irish Gaelic for "in the belly." Pronounce
this one "IM-bullug" or "IM-bulk" with a guttural "k" on the end.
Other names include Candlemas; Brighid (pronounced "breed"), who is
the Irish goddess whose festival this is; and Oimelc (pronounced
EE-mulk), which means "ewe's milk" in Scots Gaelic.
Ostara (@21 Mar) -- Saxon name for a maiden goddess of spring,
loosely connected to Astarte and Ishtar. This one's easy --
"o-STAHR-uh." Other names include Eostre (say "OHS-truh" or
"EST-truh"). This is the spring equinox.
Beltane/Bealtaine (30 April) -- Irish Gaelic for either "fires of
Bel" or "bright fires." If you want to try it in Gaelic, you can say
"bee-YAWL-tinnuh" or "BELL-tinnuh." Unlike Samhain, this word can
within the linguistic structure of its language of origin be
pronounced like it looks -- "BELL-tane" -- without totally abandoning
its original construction. Other names are Walpurgisnacht
(vawl-PUR-gis-nahkt) and May Day.
Litha (@21 Jun) -- Norse or Anglo-Saxon for "longest day." You can
say this one just like it looks, or you can try for a Scandinavian
sound and say "leetha" with the "th" more like a "t." This is the
Lughnasadh/Lunasa or Lammas (1 Aug) -- The first is Irish Gaelic for
"festival of Lugh" (a major Irish deity); the second is Anglo-Saxon
for "festival of the loaves" ("hlaf-mass"). Don't panic at that
spelling; the second (which is modern Irish as opposed to old Irish)
tells you all you need to know. Say "LOO-nah-sah." (Some people
maintain that the Scots dialect says it "LOO-nah-soo.") Lammas is
just like it looks, "LAH-mus." Mabon (@21 Sep) -- This is believed to
be a form of the Welsh word for "son." Therefore, it would probably
be pronounced "MA-bon" with the "a" like in "mass." However, most
Wiccans and pagans say "MAY-bon." This is the autumn equinox.