Meaning of Name: Uncertain. Although there may be some connection to the Old English verb, ‘wadan’, which means to go, pass or proceed.
Pronunciation: ‘Wa-dah.’ The first ‘a’ is short , and pronounced as the ‘o’ in ‘pot’ and the second is pronounced as the ‘a’ in ‘sofa.’
Other Names: Wade (Modern English), Wate (Middle High German), and Vadi (Norse)
Function: Wada governs the briny depths of the sea, and the expanses of lakes and springs. Because water acts as a natural passageway between our world and the next, Wada also straddles both realms and acts as intermediary. Seafarers and those who live adjacent to bodies of water would do well to offer to him in propitiation. He may also be employed in a similar role to Roman Janus, acting as a liminal deity who “opens the gates”, and allows divine communion to occur.
In The Tale of Wade, a fragment of a twelfth or thirteenth century poem embedded within a Latin sermon discovered in the nineteenth century, Wada is potentially (depending on the translation) known to take those who fell to the water and turn them “into elves, adders, or nickors who live in pools”. While the story concerns itself more with Hildebrand, this is possibly a curious bit of a remnant of Wada’s character. Given the Anglo-Saxon conflations with the elves as a type of ancestral dead, this would potentially point to Wade receiving the souls of those who drowned, marking him as an underworld deity.
The Angles reportedly viewed him as a ferryman, and protector.
Iconography: None known. However, as a water and seafaring god, his boat features prominently in later sources of lore regarding him. His icons could otherwise be marine life (especially fish) and his boat,*Ganglæt (Slow-Goer).
Attested Sources: The earliest attested name is in the Old English poem Widsith. Wada, as Vadi, appears in the Old Norse Þiðrekssaga, as the son of a king and a mermaid, and the father of Weyland and, potentially, Egil and Slagfin, of the Poetic Edda. Stones found near Mulgrave, Whitby are called “Waddes Grave”, and are said to be the final resting place of a mighty sea-giant. Wada also appears in Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale, where his boat is used euphemistically to denote a possible fertility aspect to his character.
Interpretatio Romana: None.
Contemporary Bīnaman: Grēatmeras (of the Great Lakes), Norþēa (of the North River), Fordweard (Keeper of the Ford), Hellegod (God of the infernal), Wæterbrōga (Terror of the Deep), Drencflod (Deluge), Brimwīsa (Sea Leader, Captain), Fiscwylle (Abounding in Fish), Līcswelgere (Corpse Swallower/Glutton), Þerscold (Threshold).