Pria, a Proto-Indo-European Goddess

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*Pria, Proto-Indo-European Goddess of Love and Generosity Pria, whose name might better be written *Pria to indicate that this is the reconstructed form, is one of the Great Goddesses of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Her name is formally reconstructed as *priHxeHa ‘beloved, friend,’ by Mallory and Adams on p. 208 in Oxford Introduction and she has cognate forms in many Indo-European languages.

The Hittite version of this Goddess is known as Puru, for whom the Purulli festival is celebrated, probably in January. Some have identified her with Pirwa, another one of the Goddesses of the Hittites.

In Sanskrit she is known as Priya, which is properly an adjective form. Other forms of her in India are Parvati and the masculine form Prajapati.

Zarathustra apparently demonized this Goddess so that she appears as Paurwa, the vulture that devours the dead. She was then replaced by Anahita, a Goddess worshiped as Queen of the Night. Later she was reintegrated into Zoroastrian religion as Parendi, for whom there is a Yasht, a hymn of praise. In later Persian (Moslem folklore) she appears as the Peris, little spirits of seductive beauty.

In Greek, this Goddess is known as Aphrodite, although this name properly refers to her domain of a walled garden or “paradise.” A masculinized form of her is Priapos, who is borrowed into Latin as Priapus where he becomes the protector of Roman gardens.

The Latin form of this Goddess is Venus, although the name is not cognate with the other forms. The name Flora probably is cognate, and the Floralia festival corresponds to the May 1st festivals which are general for these Goddesses who are especially associated with the blooming season of flowers. Venus gives her name to Friday, a day especially sacred to women wherever there was a seven day week.

In the Germanic languages, the cognate form of this Goddess was known as Freyja in Old Norse, a Goddess who was also worshiped as Freya by the Anglo-Saxons. Freyr is a masculinized version of her, although he has some characteristics of Ingwe, too. Freya gives her name to the fifth day of the week in English, Friday. Fairies are lesser forms of her since it was impossible to worship her directly after the introduction of Christianity. Among the Germanic-speaking people, the major holiday for Freya is May 1st which is celebrated with music, songs, dancing and is associated with romantic love. The songs and customs are discussed at May Day Revels 1, May Day Songs and May Day Revels 2. There are so many songs and dances for her, that I have separated the information into three separate pages.

Priye is one of the names for her in old Slavic sources though little is known about her from ancient records. She was christianized with a replacement name St. Paraskeva, and in that form she is given votive offerings and worshiped by women on Fridays with dancing in spite of the objections of church authorities.

Prende appears in Albanian folklore as the Goddess who is worshiped on Fridays (Prendi is the Albanian name of Friday). There are also Perit, beautiful spirits in Albanian folklore. She appears in a masculine form as Perendi who is identified as a sort of sky God by modern folklorists. She was christianized in the early Middle Ages as St. Prende, in Albanian called Shënepremte.

There are several myths associated with this Indo-European Goddess. The best known one tells of the theft or borrowing of her necklace of beauty and its return. Many types of jewels such as pearls, amber and gold beads are known as her tears, depending on what is most valued in each country. [fuggle26]

The most important festivals for her are associated with fruit trees, especially the time of their blooming in the spring (generally about May 1st, though the time varies according to the climate), and the beginning of the fruit harvest such as the Vinalia in August in Italy.

References
• Mallory, J.P. and Adams, Douglas Q., Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006.
• Grimm, Jacob, Deutsche Mythologie (English title Teutonic Mythology, translated by Stallybrass), George Bell and Sons, London, 1883.

This page was originally published at pierce.yolasite.com/pria but Yola was hacked in Nov. 2011 so it has been migrated here.

© 2007, last updated 4/4/2011, at piereligion.org/pria.html