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Author Topic: The meaning of the word 'witch'  (Read 18302 times)
Juniper
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« Topic Start: June 03, 2008, 04:13:11 pm »

The word ‘witch’ has a multiplicity of uses.

It can be used to mean some one who practices magic, or it can be used to mean an evil sorcerer of some sort. It is also used to mean, quite simply, a ‘hag’.

Religiously, the word ‘witch’ crops up quite often. But what exactly is a ‘witch’ when speaking religiously? Does the word ‘witch’ still mean the same thing when putting either cottage, hedge or kitchen in front of it?

‘Witch’ is also commonly seen with the word ‘craft’ tagged onto it. But what exactly is Witchcraft? Is it as straightforward as it sounds: the practice of a witch, whatever a witch may be?

And finally, what do you think about a religious group laying claim to the title of ‘Witchcraft’? Do you think there is one that has a rightful claim, or do you think it is a practice that anybody can claim?
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« Reply #1: June 03, 2008, 04:23:42 pm »

Religiously, the word ‘witch’ crops up quite often. But what exactly is a ‘witch’ when speaking religiously? Does the word ‘witch’ still mean the same thing when putting either cottage, hedge or kitchen in front of it?

When I hear the word 'witch' I think of someone who practices magic and/or herbology.  I don't consider it a religious term. Although some religions have witchcraft highly imbedded in them, one can be a witch and not necessarily be religious.  It's like how some religions are 'nature based'.  Just because a person loves nature and devotes themselves to protecting it doesn't make them a member of any certain religion.

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‘Witch’ is also commonly seen with the word ‘craft’ tagged onto it. But what exactly is Witchcraft? Is it as straightforward as it sounds: the practice of a witch, whatever a witch may be?

Yes, I think so.

Quote
And finally, what do you think about a religious group laying claim to the title of ‘Witchcraft’? Do you think there is one that has a rightful claim, or do you think it is a practice that anybody can claim?

I think anyone has the right to do magic, so anyone can use the term. 
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« Reply #2: June 03, 2008, 10:41:44 pm »

The word ‘witch’ has a multiplicity of uses.

I sometimes describe my path as religious witchcraft. By which, I mean something like the following:

1) A good chunk of what we do has foundations in a particular kind of magical tradition, most commonly known in the English-speaking world as witchcraft. There's the potential to harm and to heal, a focus on a specific common range of tools and approaches (i.e. candle magic, knot magic, etc.) and  that there's a focus on being aware of natural resources (herbs and stones), cycles (lunar and solar) and phases (life stages and how to adapt across the thresholds of each.) 

2) That this also includes deities. It's unspecific about which deities unless there's more info given, but you can presume from the 'religious' part that that's part of the picture.

3) That it's in a general religious grouping with a bunch of other religious witchcraft paths (which include, but are not limited to, traditional Wicca, Feri, Reclaiming, various eclectic paths, etc.) depending on how you define some stuff (like the nature of deity.)
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« Reply #3: June 03, 2008, 11:28:48 pm »

Religiously, the word ‘witch’ crops up quite often. But what exactly is a ‘witch’ when speaking religiously? Does the word ‘witch’ still mean the same thing when putting either cottage, hedge or kitchen in front of it?

I don't think so. My mother was a Catholic witch. She definitely had a specific God (Jesus) and Goddess (Mary), but she also knew a lot about herbs and made an awesome chicken soup when people were sick, b/c she was not too shabby of a kitchen witch. The labels may be connected, but they're not the same.
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« Reply #4: June 04, 2008, 02:50:12 am »

I don't think so. My mother was a Catholic witch. She definitely had a specific God (Jesus) and Goddess (Mary), but she also knew a lot about herbs and made an awesome chicken soup when people were sick, b/c she was not too shabby of a kitchen witch. The labels may be connected, but they're not the same.
Did she practice magic and called herself a witch or did she just unconsciously put a lot of her energies into what she was doing?
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« Reply #5: June 04, 2008, 06:02:22 am »

I don't think so. My mother was a Catholic witch. She definitely had a specific God (Jesus) and Goddess (Mary), but she also knew a lot about herbs and made an awesome chicken soup when people were sick, b/c she was not too shabby of a kitchen witch. The labels may be connected, but they're not the same.

does herbology and chicken soup make someone a witch, though?

I mean, until recent times, there was frequently at least one person in every village that knew a good chunk about herbs - you had to, they were the only medicines you had!  And they could all cook, because there wasn't any other way to eat.

I think they'd all be very surprised to be relabeled into witches, though.
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« Reply #6: June 04, 2008, 09:06:34 am »

I think they'd all be very surprised to be relabeled into witches, though.

I'd think the difference would be in the intent the practitioner put into their creation, i.e. deliberately choosing herbs for their magical correspondences in addition to their culinary properties, and whether they self identified as a witch.

Which brings me to another thought that may need it's own thread: what's the difference between witchcraft and folk or low magic?
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« Reply #7: June 04, 2008, 10:30:20 am »

Which brings me to another thought that may need it's own thread: what's the difference between witchcraft and folk or low magic?

Ok, I spun off a tangentially related thread if anyone is interested in discussing different folk magic systems:

Folk Magic Systems?
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« Reply #8: June 04, 2008, 09:14:19 pm »

I sometimes describe my path as religious witchcraft. By which, I mean something like the following:

1) A good chunk of what we do has foundations in a particular kind of magical tradition, most commonly known in the English-speaking world as witchcraft. There's the potential to harm and to heal, a focus on a specific common range of tools and approaches (i.e. candle magic, knot magic, etc.) and  that there's a focus on being aware of natural resources (herbs and stones), cycles (lunar and solar) and phases (life stages and how to adapt across the thresholds of each.) 

2) That this also includes deities. It's unspecific about which deities unless there's more info given, but you can presume from the 'religious' part that that's part of the picture.

Ok, I think I see what you mean. The term 'witch' or 'witchcraft' for you doesn't automatically include any religious practice, it just incorporates your magical traditional. Therefore, you put 'religious' in front of the term 'witch' to show that deity is included in your belief/path. That makes sense to me.
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« Reply #9: June 04, 2008, 09:22:10 pm »

I mean, until recent times, there was frequently at least one person in every village that knew a good chunk about herbs - you had to, they were the only medicines you had!  And they could all cook, because there wasn't any other way to eat.

I think they'd all be very surprised to be relabeled into witches, though.

The village wisewoman, or wiseman, IMO were simply that: a woman or man who happened to be 'wise' about herbs and medicines. I believe that it was only recently that some started to say that they are the 'ancestors', if you will, of the modern day witch. I don't think that they were witches at all. But then again, as a witch with an interest in herbology, I do honour those wisewomen and men from back then; if only for the fact that I'm happy to be practicing something that has been practiced for hundreds of years.
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« Reply #10: June 04, 2008, 10:11:08 pm »

The term 'witch' or 'witchcraft' for you doesn't automatically include any religious practice, it just incorporates your magical traditional.

That's all the terms do for me as well. A witch is someone who practices (the magic of) witchcraft. One can practice witchcraft and be of any religion or no religion.
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« Reply #11: June 04, 2008, 11:18:47 pm »

does herbology and chicken soup make someone a witch, though?

I mean, until recent times, there was frequently at least one person in every village that knew a good chunk about herbs - you had to, they were the only medicines you had!  And they could all cook, because there wasn't any other way to eat.

I think they'd all be very surprised to be relabeled into witches, though.

Oh, I think a number of them would be plain old offended, esp. my super religious great grandma who was psychic as heck. My mom did not start calling herself a witch until she started consciously practicing witchcraft, which was not until I was an adult and she was around 50. But everything she did before that time was sort of subconsciously witchy, if you will. I never thought of her as a witch until she started doing witchcraft, and saying that's what she was doing. But it was prettty easy to connect the dots and see where she'd been doing witchcrafty things but didn't really see it as such, until it became a conscious act. It was a natural progression, for her.
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  The power of Fire,
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  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

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« Reply #12: June 05, 2008, 02:30:25 am »

That's all the terms do for me as well. A witch is someone who practices (the magic of) witchcraft. One can practice witchcraft and be of any religion or no religion.
Is there magic that isn't witchcraft?
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« Reply #13: June 05, 2008, 08:49:17 am »

Is there magic that isn't witchcraft?

There are many different systems of magic that are not typically considered witchcraft by people who study/use magic systems: various ceremonial magic systems, alchemy, hoodoo, etc.
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« Reply #14: June 05, 2008, 04:18:32 pm »

That's all the terms do for me as well. A witch is someone who practices (the magic of) witchcraft. One can practice witchcraft and be of any religion or no religion.

That makes sense, and I wish it was that simple. But what confuses me are those groups/religions that include 'witchcraft' in their title. For instance, BTW and Tradtional Witchcraft. If I understand them correctly, the former is religious- Wicca- but the second isn't religious? Is that right?

And do these groups lay claim to the title 'witchcraft' or does it become something different because the word is capitalized? As if to say, anyone can practice witchcraft, but Witchcraft specifically refers to the so-and-so group.
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