Menu The concept of Xartus 4019.09

The concept of XARTUS among the Proto-Indo-Europeans (and ARTA in Mithraism)

Our quarry today will be the Proto-Indo-European word xártus The concept this word expresses is the essence of the Indo-European view of the Universe. Emile Benveniste went so far as to write that it “governs ... the orderliness of the universe, the motion of the stars, the regularity of the seasons and the years; and further the relations of gods and men, and finally the relations of men to one another. Nothing which concerns man or the world falls outside the realm of ‘Order.’ It is thus the foundation, both religious and moral, or every society. Without this principle everything would revert to chaos”.

We start from the verb xártus is based on, xar- (H2er- to linguists). Its meaning is “join together something in a way that is appropriate, effective, and esthetically pleasing.” One translation might be “harmonize;” the best one-word definition I’ve seen is Bruce Lincoln’s “dovetail” .

Adding -tu- to the full-grade form of a verb created abstract nouns which could either describe something that was going on, or the going on itself. Compare “song” in “I think that ‘Let it Be’ is a good song’ with “They were singing a song.” In the first, the song already exists in an abstract way, rather than as a thing, and in the second, the song is abstract in the sense that it only comes into being in the act of its performance. Thus we go from pei- “sing” to péitus “song.”

It’s pretty obvious that we’ve found what we’re looking for: xar- becomes xártus.

But what have we actually found? It’s an abstract noun that describes either the principle of dovetailing or what we have while the dovetailing is going on, or both.

I think that it is meant to signify both. That is, the Xártus is what links the universe together or is that which is going on when the universe is being linked together. Notice, though, that in neither case is the Xártus external to the universe. A song, whether it is being sung at present, or can potentially be sung, is not separate from either the singing or the imagining of the singing. In the same way, Xártus is inseparable from the universe which is going on. It is “Order” not in the sense of one which has to be followed, but as that which we observe when we look at something, and which is only there because its parts are doing what they’re doing.

That’s why Benveniste can say such amazing things about it. The Xártus is the dovetailing of everything. Most important of all, it comes out of what’s going on, not before it.

Remembering that the joining together which is xar- is one which is not just appropriate but beautiful (i.e., “fitting”), we can say that “In the continuing there is the Xártus,” and can look at the Universe and say, “and it is Good.”

Comparison can be made with the concept of Tao but it is not the same. In PIE ideology everything is not one, is not One. Rather, reality lies in relationships. Those relationships are beautiful, but only if they are reciprocal. Reality is about exchange, on every level from that between Chaos and Cosmos to that between friends. One is part of the Tao, but one takes part in the Xártus; one is an active participant in the process which joins everything together.

Now let’s end the hunting and sit home, and look at our quarry. What sort of thing have we caught? What does the Xártus mean to each of us?

When you’re dancing, and each part of your body is doing what you want it to, and is bringing about beauty, the relationship between your mind, your body, the space in which you are dancing, and the dance itself, that’s the Xártus. When you hit the sweet spot, and the ball flies away, the joining together of bat and ball, of the pitcher, the ballpark, the rules of the game, the experience you’ve brought to that moment – the Xártus.

When you’re balancing your checkbook, and the numbers finally add up just right, just like they should, you’re knowing the Xártus. When there’s a problem that’s been gnawing at you for days, and suddenly all the pieces fit together in a way that’s so perfect you can almost hear an audible “click,” what you’ve just done is the Xártus.

When you know the virtuous thing to do, the moral thing that fits that specific moment – the time, the people, the place, the culture, and everything else that makes it up – and then you do it, you’re doing the Xártus. When you know that the person you love is the perfect one for everything you are, and you abandon yourself to joining perfectly with them, your loving is the Xártus.

Whenever you do anything that’s just right, or see it, or know it, or feel it; whenever you join in this kind of relationship; you’re doing, or seeing, or knowing, or feeling the Xártus; you’re making a Xártus relationship. It’s just right and beautiful, because it dovetails.

At the end of our hunt, we find a word that says exactly (i.e., in a Xártus way) what the Proto-Indo-Europeans thought was going on all the time, making the world a beautiful and appropriate place.

Adapted from the work of Ceisiwr Serith