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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in language of witchcraft
A Few Friendly Tips on Choosing a Coven Name

Take your time. In the initial exhilaration of coming together, it's altogether tempting to want to name your new coven right away.

My recommendation is, don't. This is really far too important a decision to rush into.

Names are Wyrd-ful things. A coven name is aspirational, yes: but though it shapes what the coven will eventually become, it also needs to reflect what the coven already is. And sometimes that can take a while to "firm up."

So go slowly, and hold out for quality.

Avoid the humorous. Really, will the joke still seem funny 25 years down the road, after the ten thousandth repetition?

Probably not.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Oh gods, it's Posch being outrageous. Again.


An important part of learning to think in Pagan is what I'm going to call Paganonormativity.

The presumption of Paganness.

There's no need to say, “This song is sung only at Samhain and at pagan funerals.” It's enough to say, “This song is sung only at Samhain and at funerals.”

“Pagan funeral” is redundant. (Hey, we invented them.) All funerals are presumed to be pagan unless otherwise specified.

Thinking in Pagan, gods is normative; "God" gets quotation marks, as derivative.

In human history, paganism is normative. Non-paganism is the aberration.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Wait, wait: there's more. It's a woodcut by Robert Gibbings from Esther Forbes' incomparable 1928 novel, A Mirror for Witches. If
  • Anne Forrester
    Anne Forrester says #
    Yes, but where oh where did you get that delicious art at the top?! You really need to give credit where credit is due...

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Gods That Save

Who's your Savior?

Let me rephrase the question. If the plane were going down, Who would you call to?

The original (i.e. pagan) meaning of salvation had nothing to do with “sin.” As pagan things tend to be, it was actually quite pragmatic; concrete, even.

You're stuck in a bad situation. You need rescuing. What god (or goddess) do you call on?

In most pantheons, there's a specific god, or sometimes several, who gain a reputation as being good at getting people out of jams. These are the Savior gods.

Just Who that might be for you, of course, you would know better than I. For witches, it's Him o' the Horns. It makes sense that the animal god would be most concerned with the doings of animals like us. He's strong, he's quick, and (like all horn-bearers) he fights for his own. That's why he's known to witches as “Red Champion.”

Savior, of course, is a foreign word that came in with a foreign religion.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

You've heard of skyclad, ritual nudity.

But that's only one of many options.


Sty-clad: dirty

Spy-clad: wearing sunglasses and a trenchcoat

Shy-clad: dressed to cover

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Wanted: A Good Word for 'Energy'

It flows through everything.

Everything is made from it.


But how do you say that in Pagan?

“Energy” is a word from the vocabulary of science, which is no bad thing in and of itself.

But I would contend that for so primal a concept, we need a primal word.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I was able to dig out a copy of the book. The word the author uses was Ruach not roika. Apparently roika is a word my subconscio
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Doesn't sound Yiddish to me. A quick web-search turns up nothing relevant; I'm guessing that it's made-up. Not that there's anythi
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I'm reasonably sure it's not Yiddish. It might have been coined by that guy who invented Anthroposophy, but I'm not sure. I gues
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Hmm. I speak Modern Hebrew and read Biblical Hebrew, and I can tell you that it doesn't look Hebrew to me.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I think the author said he got it from the Hebrew.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
We Call It Yule

In the old Witch language, they called it Géol.

The Vikings called it Jól.

The Goths—the Elder, not the Latter-Day, kind—called it Jiuleis.

All three names descend from the Proto-Germanic Jehwla (or Jegwla), the great Midwinter festival of Germanic-speaking peoples some 2300 years ago.

No one knows what it originally meant. That, of course, doesn't stop the storytellers. If anything, it encourages us.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Huzzah! I love your blogs, especially the historical minutia and word etymology. Warm Yule greetings from blessedly rainy Califo

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Aunts and Uncles

Uncle Gerald. Aunt Doreen. Even (gods help us) Uncle Al.

I don't know about where you live, but around here I not infrequently hear people talking about our forebears in the Craft as "aunts" and "uncles."

I.e. as family.

Not, mind you, as "lords" and "ladies"; nothing so pretentious, so distancing. Aunts and uncles: not immediate family, but family nonetheless. These are titles, not of rank, but rather of relation, of familiarity, of fondness.

Aunts and uncles stand in a special place. Since with your aunts and uncles there's simultaneously a connection but also a certain distance, you can learn things from them that you can't easily learn from your parents.

In my family, in which the women tend to outlive the men, the aunts are a power to be reckoned with, and they carry the collective memory and experience of the family.

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