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Who owns the word witch?

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  • Who owns the word witch?

    Hey everyone,

    Once I again I have a question that derives from a conversation I had with friend. Okay so here it goes. My best friend (I'll call her D) has always practiced Hoodoo. Here mother is from Barbados and she learned it in order to protect herself when coming to America. Anyway we were speaking to a friend of mine who was raised in Wicca. She refered to D as a traditional witch. D became really angry because while she has nothing against witchcraft, she doesn't refer to any of her magical work as spells or witchcraft. She feels that thoes words belonged to the neopagan movement. D doesn't do spells, she works the spirits. My other friend couldn't understand why she was so angry. She presumed that since D knew what witchcraft was, and it wasn't bad, that she would jump at the trad witch compliment. So what are your thoughts? Do we have the right to call someone who is a practioner of a mystical tradtion a witch? If a santera or a curandero does a cleansing bath for someone, are they doing magic? Do you feel that the words witch and magic are becoming too vague? Please talk to me people.
    Last edited by Sage Rainsong; May 4th, 2006, 10:48 PM.

  • #2

    I think that the words Witchcraft and magick are becoming or have become interchangeable, and that's half the problem. Not all magick is witchcraft, but a lot of people think it is the same. This goes for the word "witch" too. To some people a witch is someone who practices magick, to others a witch is someone who practices witchcraft, but to another person these things are the same so it all becomes very hazy.

    I understand why D was offended. For example, I like aboriginal people, I have nothing against them and have met a few who are very nice, but I'm not aboriginal. If someone came up to me and was complementing me on my aboriginal heritage I'd be angry, simply because I'm not aboriginal and to me at least, that fact is obvious.
    Last edited by Mouse; May 4th, 2006, 10:58 PM.


    • #3
      The term witch varies from culture to culture. I agree with your friend that the term 'witch' is only positive in the sense of neopaganism. Everywhere else the term witch is often deragatory and connotes evil. For instance, if someone calls someone else a witch, it usually means he/she is calling someone malicious, etc, etc.

      Let's also take the Azande of Africa for example. Their definition of witch is someone who practises magic either consciously or subconsciously to harm other people. To the Azande who believe very much in magic, witchcraft is a hereditary thing that exists as a physical trait (usually a blackish-looking thing near the intestines). Nonwitches cannot practise witchcraft. Witches are identified by an individual known as a Poison Oracle and can be either fined or killed (if their witchcraft produces death) for their acts. On the other hand, you have sorcerors who are sometimes called upon to repel witchcraft. Sorcerors can also be considered evil when they work evil magic, however, they do not bear the stigma that comes with the term 'witch.'

      Obviously calling someone a witch in the Azande culture would not be a good thing. In fact, many Azande go to great lengths to deny 'witchcraft' in their families (either by disowning or otherwise).

      In other words, you need to give thought to the person's culture when referring to them as a witch. If someone practises Voodou and does not want to be called a witch, then you must respect that wish. Not to mention the term 'witch,' even in the neopagan sense, brings forth a lot of connotations (magickal circles, God and Goddess, nature worship, etc) that might not be representative of someone else's beliefs.

      I, for one, am not pleased when someone calls me a witch, because I don't identify with the neopagan culture of a witch. I identify myself as a magician, which signifies a whole different culture of magick and beliefs than that of a witch. I don't worship nature, I don't have altars to a God or Goddess, and the range of my studies and interests are different from those of many witches.

      But yes I practise magick. Yes, witches practise magick. But there are different connotations that comes with different terms as well as different cultures, and people need to respect and recognize that.


      • #4
        I own it, bitch
        I don't see your name on it *sticks out tongue*


        • #5
          I relate a little bit to D in the fact that I practice Voodoo with some Hoodoo and Ifa and shamanism. I don't consider what I do to be spells or magic. But most people apply familiar terms to things they don't know about in an effort to understand them, or at least to categorize them and have the illusion of understanding. For example, even on this board full of knowledgeable pagans, Voodoo has been referred to as a left-hand path, a dark art, necromancy, and so on, with many people inferring that it's all about curses and crap, though these things are false. I think most people would rather comment on something as though they had a clue---like calling D's practices "witchcraft"---than to express a complete absence of knowledge and ask to be informed. I think people tend to prefer a dominant superior stance on a subject rather than be in the more submissive role as someone who knows nothing about the subject in question.
          The monkey formerly known as semicivilizedman.


          • #6
            My understanding was that 'witch' was a term that Christians gave to 'heathens' who practiced some kind of shamanic religion. Their interaction with the spirit world looked like something supernatural to Christians, hence it must be evil of course.

            Today it seems that the word witch is given to any kind of sorcerer or magical practitioner. The stereotypes come out, like an old woman in her Victorian estate with her broomstick and her candles, chanting words in some forgotten language. Makes for good Halloween specials. However, some witches adopt the stereotypical image and the lines start to blur between fact and fiction. What a witch really means can vary a lot depending on a lot of factors. There really is no ultimate definition (to the best of my knowledge).


            • #7
              Words are words, and Realities are Realities. There are inherent limitations in the spoken & written languages that we use, but no limitations in what we can comprehend, and apply of the Metaphysical Principles that structure the Universe, (except those we impose upon ourselves).

              By virtue of the fact that all living beings have Consciousness, we are all co-creating the Universe around us, not just on the Physical Plane, but upon all of the others as well. One doesn't even need to know what the Cosmic Laws of the Universe are, (or even that there are Metaphysical Laws), in order for this to be true. Our thoughts, beliefs, and feelings are exerting profound effects upon the manefestation of what is going on, on a constant basis, whether we know it or not.

              Those who understand this, are doing it more or less consciously, and those who don't understand this, are doing it unconsciously. What we think & believe, shapes the world around us personally, but doesn't change the processes of the Cascade of Creation. So where a Wiccan would use a Spell, a Practitioner of Voodun would work with the Spirits, or a Christian would use a Prayer, the results are the same, and it doesn't matter what you call it.
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              That Path is for, your steps alone." : -Grateful Dead

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              • #8
                I know santeria and voodoo practitioners who don't deem themselves as witches from what I get its a negative word.


                • #9
                  I think I'll put my 2 cents in. Though thes are just some Defanitions.

                  Witchcraft, in various historical, religious and mythical contexts, is the use of certain kinds of alleged supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a person (sometimes specifically female) who engages in witchcraft.

                  The term witchcraft (and witch) is a controversial one with a complicated history. Witchcraft is viewed differently in different cultures around the globe. Used with entirely different contexts, and within entirely different cultural references, it can take on distinct and often contradictory meanings. (from Wokipedia).

                  In modern times, the term "witch" covers both sexes, and what witches beleive in extermely varied. Witchcraft hes now been reborn as "Wicca" - a term derived from Old English word that simply meaning "worker of sorcery". (from The learned arts of Witches & Wizards).

                  The term witch comes from the Anglo-Saxon, Wicce, a word meaning "shaper" - from which we get our term "Witch". This word, in turn, comes from Middle High German Wicken, "to conjure". (from Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard).

                  But it would seem that most people that call themself Witches are people that follow a Neo-Pagan path, and some other cultures don't like the term.
                  I myself prefure the trem Wizard.
                  Free Hugs


                  • #10
                    Who owns the word witch?

                    I do. That'll be $79.95 for each time it's been used in this thread. I accept paypal, money orders and cash...
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Shield_Wolf
                      Witchcraft, in various historical, religious and mythical contexts, is the use of certain kinds of alleged supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a person (sometimes specifically female) who engages in witchcraft.
                      I wonder how the word witch got associated with women in the popular mind? I've had people say "you can't be a witch - you're a guy!"

                      But even during the "witch trials" period, although most of the accused were female, there were many males accused and convicted of witchcraft.

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                      • #12
                        perhaps its just me, but when i hear someone say magic, or magick, or whatever i cant help but think of those cool illiusionists ya see on tv. totally fake and done with trick mirrors and wires, but still fun to watch. witchcraft to me is something totally real, raw, and uncut and no production crews behind the scenes.

                        as for you Rick! (the check is in the mail for the use of the copywrite! )


                        • #13
                          I own the word witch. Copyright and everything. Now, pagan authors, pay up! I didn't go around inventing words for your benefit.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Rick
                            Who owns the word witch?

                            I do. That'll be $79.95 for each time it's been used in this thread. I accept paypal, money orders and cash...
                            I have your money right here Rick
                            Last edited by TaysatWesir; May 6th, 2006, 07:19 PM.


                            • #15