Isha Nawhei

A Children’s Greeting Song

  • Isha nawhei sandaren
  • Moru osh sovan
  • Keln vadish va horvoren
  • Ko moru Kusan

Isha Nawhei is a teaching song from the southern desert of Erde, stressing the importance of showing hospitality to strangers.

Isha is a single abstract concept encompassing gods, spirits, and ancestors.  Nawhei is another abstract meaning a meeting of souls.  Isha nawhei is used as both a greeting and a farewell and means, roughly, “The gods see/meet each other through our eyes/meeting.”

Sandaren is a way of saying “stranger” but it means both “kinsman I have not yet met,” and “person I don’t know who might be related.”  It says a lot about the world view of the people who originally wrote the song.

Moru means journey, travels, and wandering.  The exact meaning is usually made clear in context, and in this song it means all forms of moving from point A to point B.  It’s also used to denote life transitions, such as puberty, marriage, childbirth, and death.

Osh simply means good.  It’s often used as a positive qualifier. Sovan means to follow, or to accompany.  So the line Moru osh sovan means, “I hope good things have followed/accompanied you on your journey.”

Keln vadish are the house spirits, the little deities, and the ancestors who watch over the home.  Va means to extend, offer, or give.  It also means welcome in the sense that your presence is enjoyable.  Horvoren is another abstract, all-encompassing concept.  It means the hospitality of the home, as well as the idea that you are a part of the family.

So the phrase Keln vadish va horvoren means, loosely, the gods/spirits/ancestors of our home welcome you as one of the family.

Ko means transition.  In this instance it means until.  Kusan means fate, destiny, or a similar calling.  It’s used to denote inevitability.  Ko moru Kusan means, “Until your journey calls you onward.”  Less formally it means, “Until you have to go/leave.”

In its simplest form, the song means:

  • Hello/welcome, Stranger-Kinsman
  • I hope you’ve had a good journey.
  • You’re welcome in my home as if it’s your own,
  • Until it’s time for you to go.

A note on pronunciation:  ‘i’ is pronounced as a long ‘e’, as in ‘tree’; ‘a’ is short, as in ‘water’; ‘e’ is also short, pronounced somewhere between the ‘e’ in ‘met’ and the ‘a’ in ‘mate’ (use either, just be consistent); ‘o’ is long, as in ‘open’; and ‘u’ is pronounced like the double ‘o’ in ‘cool’.

On a typical Western (Terran) scale, the notes are:

  • CDECAAG
  • CDECA
  • CDECAAG
  • ACDBC

IshaNawei


 

Creative Commons License This work by Jean Headley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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