Sticks & Stones
May break my bones
But, words will never hurt me.
George Cuples (1872)
Sadly, words do hurt. History has documented proof of heinous consequences which resulted from verbal accusations. What do the words associated with Witchcraft mean? This article has taken a few of the most familiar and misused words and clarified their origin and defined them for you.
What do the words associated with Witchcraft mean?
Webster’s Dictionary, Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi, and, The Witch Book, by Raymond Buckland, provided clarification for these often misused and misunderstood terms:
- Old Religion: Many modern Witches and Wiccans often refer to the Old Religion to indicate the survival of an aspect of pre-Christian European religion, and the genuine antiquity of Witchcraft and Wicca. While Witchcraft dates back long before the Roman Empire, Wicca wasn’t organized until 1951, which led to its legal recognition in 1971.
- Old Ways: Living in harmony with the Earth sharing a common bond with the vegetable and animal kingdom; pre-Christian beliefs which include the Judaic roots of Christianity. (See Paganism)
- Pagan: Simple country folk; Latin pagani, which means dwellers in the country
- Paganism: As Christianity spread across Europe, urban inhabitants accepted the conversion long before the rural peasants would relinquish their nature based
- Old Religion. In retaliation, the Church put a negative bias on the Old Religion, and as a result, the term Paganism applied to followers of any religion other than Christianity. Today, Paganism is applied to followers of any religion other than Christianity, Judaism, or Islam.
- Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. M.L. Meneken
- Occult: Hidden, mysterious
- Witch: Derived from the Old English word Witha translated to mean Wise One; an aged village herbalist who lived a solitary life, but was called upon for spells and healing potions by the local folks, i.e., Hedge Witch
- Magic: Staged tricks of illusion; sleight of hand
- Magick: The art and Metaphysical science of manifesting personal desires through the collection and direction of energy; there are essentially five components to the art of creating successful works of Magick: 1) Personal Will 2) Timing 3) Imagery 4) Direction 5) Balance
- Grimoire: A book of ceremonies, rituals, and spells, usually dating back to the Middle Ages – Several grimoires written in modern times are noteworthy: The, Grimoire of Lady Sheba, by Lady Sheba, A Grimoire of Shadows by Ed Fitch, and, A Victorian Grimoire by Patricia Telesco. (To date; all of these books are in print, and available from Llewellyn)
- Satan: The fallen or dark Angel as characterized in Judaic-Christian religion, the personification of evil. Since the rise of Christianity, Witches have been accused of worshiping Satan and human sacrifice. Unfortunately, this ludicrous misconception remains alive today.
- Warlock: Male Witch-hunter; employed by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, during the inquisition, to find, accuse, and condemn village land owners of practicing Witchcraft, for the purpose of acquiring their land and wealth for the Church
- Wicca: Derived from the Old English word Wicce meaning Wizard. It is a religion promoting the veneration of Nature and the worship of Divinity as containing both feminine and masculine aspects. It is founded upon the spiritual roots of pre-Christian European beliefs and practices. The Old Religion, or The Craft of the wise, is the roots of Wiccan theology dating back to Neolithic, if not Paleolithic, times. Most Wiccans live by a philosophy of tolerance for the beliefs and practices of others, seeking to live in harmony with the local community and their environment. One of the primary tenets of Wiccan belief is to not intentionally harm other people or impose one’s will upon another. This philosophy is referred to as the Rede. As a member of the Wiccan faith, members must learn and practice Witchcraft. Witches, however, are not required to become initiated members of Wicca. (see Witch)
- Witch, Wiccan & Wicca: Terms used (or misused) interchangeably meaning; Wizard, Prophet, Seer, Sage, Magician and Sorcerer
- Coven: A congregation of people, traditionally thirteen in number, who join together to learn, share, and practice the art of Witchcraft.
- Wiccan Coven: A congregation of people, traditionally thirteen in number, who follow the same Wiccan tradition or path. i.e., ideology, theology So Mote It Be: A phrase used to declare that Magickal intent is in place
- Spells: A spell is part of the act of Magick, created by the essence of the actual working of the magick. While Magick itself is causing something to happen that you want to happen, a spell is the act (ritual or ceremonial things done) of bring about the desired result. Building power and energy with repetitious chanting, mantras, rhythm and rhymes, aided by visualization of the end result, help to project the spell into the Universe to manifest.
- Solitary: A devout, eclectic practitioner of one; often referred to as a Closet Witch
- Blessed Be: A phrase used in both greeting and parting. On a mundane level, it is simply a well-wishing between kindred spirits.
- Traditions: “Just as there are a large number of different denominations of Christianity, so are there a number of traditions or Paths of Wicca. The oldest formal tradition is Gardnerian, founded by Gerald Gardner and based on what he learned from the coven into which he was initiated in the 1930′s. With the success of Gardnerian, other traditions arose, most basing themselves on the Gardnerian rituals. Alexandrian, founded in the 1960′s by Alex Sanders, includes a large percentage of Gardnerian Wicca with the addition of many aspects of Ceremonial Magick. Others quickly emerged, many claiming great antiquity, but, further examination proved them to be based on the Gardnerian rites. Saxon Witchcraft, or Seax-Wica, founded in 1973 by Raymond Buckland, made no claims to antiquity nor did it use any of the Gardnerian rites. It broke with tradition by being open and far more democratically organized than most other traditions.” The Witch Book – The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism, Raymond Buckland, Visible Ink Press LLC, 2002
- Black Magick: Negative Magick; Magick that will harm a person in some way. Curses and hexes are example of black magick. It is the Magick that invokes malevolent forces and destructive elements. According to the Wiccan Rede, “An it harm none, do what thou wilt.” Black Witch is a blatantly inaccurate term. (See Black Magician)
- Black Magician: One who performs black magick. Historically, when right-handed was considered normal and left-handed was considered abnormal, black magick was referred to as the left Hand Path. Book of Shadows: Witchcraft was originally passed on by word of mouth from generation to generation. It was not until the persecutions of the Middle Ages, when Witches had to meet in secret preventing them from maintaining contact with one another, that their rituals and rites were recorded in books. And, since Witches had to meet in the shadows, as it were, the book acquired that name.
- Incantation: Words recited for a spell. In working magick, words are power whether they are written or recited, they contain energy. Repetitive rhyme and rhythm are most important in the working of magick.
- Charm: An amulet or a talisman is referred to as a charm, i.e., rabbit’s foot, four-leaf clover, Christian rosary, horse shoe, rainbow, two-headed coin, arrow head, Dove’s feather, Eagle’s feather, etc. Charms are believed to hold great power.
- Chants: A rhythmic repetition of words. They can have a seemingly hypnotic effect which allows the mind to focus on the osagsun.comect, purpose or goal of the spell.
- White Magick: Positive magick is considered White Magick, and the only form of magick that Witches and Wiccans may employ. There are many shades of magick, although magick is always thought of in black and white, thereby distinguishing good from evil. But, there are many shades of gray in-between. Helping people; without harming anyone in the process or intending to harm someone, falls in the privy of white magick.