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Hiraeth definition


(n.) a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home that maybe never was; the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past. A blend of homesickness, nostalgia, and longing, "hiraeth" is a pull on the heart that conveys a distinct feeling of missing something irretrievably lost. Formed from "hir", meaning long, and "aeth" meaning sorrow or grief.

Mae hiraeth arna amdanot ti. There’s a homesickness on me for you.

Hiraeth is a Welsh word that has no direct translation in English. It is helpful to give some historical context. In 1282, the English invaded what we now know as ‘Wales’, and it would become the first English Colony. Ultimately, the English went on to rule nearly half the globe; as noted in the Paris Review article Dreaming in Welsh, “we know its (Englands) first colony by the name the colonizers gave it: Wales, which means Place of the Others, or Place of the Romanized Foreigners. So that’s how the Welsh—the original Britons—became foreigners on their own island.” 

The Portugese have a word which is considered to be the only true “cognate” to Hiraeth, which is Saudade. Saudade means “the love that remains after someone, or something is gone. Or, a vague and constant desire for something that does not, and probably cannot, exist. In fact, we originally learned of Hiraeth by way of first understanding Saudade. The emotional precision of these words to encapsulate such an abstract state of mind and heart became a powerful framing for our musical.

What are selkies?

what are selkies, selkie mythology

In Celtic mythology, selkies are mythological beings capable of therianthropy (the mythological ability for humans to metamorphose into animals by means of shapeshifting), changing from seal to human form by “shedding their skin”. They are found in folktales and mythology originating from the Northern Isles of Scotland and Ireland.

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