Taboos in Proto-Indo-European

Words are potent and dangerous magic spells. Well, maybe a word like “toothpaste” isn’t particularly magical, but most words carry some power to them; and some words are so powerful that using them in casual conversation can have terrible unintended consequences. For example, there are any number of words — single, individual words with simple, uncomplicated meanings — that I could drop into this journal entry, and thereby cause half of you, dear readers, to leave and never come back. Forgive me if I don’t list out these words for you. But of course, they are words for Defecation, Reproduction, and People Not Like Me (racial/national/ethnic groups).

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Thor’s Stroll

Scrunch up on the couch
And cuddle in my arms,
Thor’s out a-striding,
And frightening the children.
He’s barreled down Bifrost
And slung his hammer wide,
It smacks and cracks the mountaintops,
It rivens the summer sky.
Lightning-crowned thunder clouds
Follow in his train,
They slam our doors and windows,
They whip the porch with rain.
Forget the hazy heat of the day,
Forget your games and plans you laid,
The world outside is a dangerous place
Where gods walk and giants play.
Now Thor’s grumbling beyond the hills,
He has children of his own,
And promises to keep.
The rain is soft, the air is cool,
The birds are singing,
The children asleep.

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