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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in language of witchcraft

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Gods Are My Co-Workers

150,000 years of pagan history, and it took the so-called 20th century to reduce the gods to the level of co-workers.

“I work with [Name of Deity].”

How many times have you heard this expression?

Note who's the active agent. Note the nature of the partnership. Note the implied equivalence.

The ancestors would never have used the phrase “work with” to describe their relationship with their gods. They might have worshiped a particular god. They might have offered to a certain goddess. They might have made their prayers to said gods.

But—for the most part—modern pagans are afraid of worship. (Why? Another day, another post.) Mostly we don't offer to our gods. We're not particularly strong on prayer, either. I.e. we have rejected the spiritual technology of the ancestors.

So much the worse for us.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • tehomet
    tehomet says #
    "Note who's the active agent. Note the nature of the partnership. Note the implied equivalence." Hear, hear!
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    Well said, Greybeard, the negative associations with "that other religion" were all a big part of my points. I also agree with y
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    I don't much like the terms "pray" or "praying." Praying for God(ess) to do something is a lot like acknowledging we don't have
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    Times change, Steve. People change, spirituality changes and, again, people have every right to define their spiritual relationshi
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I can't hear Sappho saying, "I work with Aphrodite." I can't hear Erik the Red saying: "I work with Thor." As a primary descriptor

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Darrins, Marindas, and Coven-Spouses

The non-witch husband of a witch is, of course, a darrin; everybody knows that.

Call it a Classical reference.

But what do you call a witch or pagan who is partnered with the member of a coven, but is not him- or herself a member of the same coven?

My friend and colleague Magenta Griffith raised this interesting question at a recent Full Moon. Hey, we're a youthful religion, and we're still getting our terminological ducks (so to speak) in a row.

For my coven, this is a particularly pertinent question, since we've got several such folks who regularly attend our holiday events—in some cases, for decades—but who do not themselves “belong” to the coven. (Our unofficial “No couples” policy has served us well over the course of the last 37-going-on-38 years; it's certainly at least one reason why, as a coven, we've managed to last so long.)

Well, taking darrin as a paradigm, are there any examples in the “literature” (I use the term loosely) of one witch married to another who doesn't belong to the same coven?

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I've always liked "consort": I have a fondness for that peculiar group of words in English (there are about 100 or so) that mean o
  • Jan Erickson
    Jan Erickson says #
    I prefer witch's consort... Blessings! Jan
What Do You Shout While Leaping a Bonfire?

Most languages have a certain number of words-without-meaning called vocables, words that are all connotation, no denotation.

Hurrah would be one such, along with its variants: hooray, etc. Any native speaker of English can tell you about hurrah. It's a cheer, signifying enthusiasm, but it doesn't really denote anything.

So how do you say “hurrah” in Witch?

No, don't huzza at me. (Huzza is the Elizabethan ancestor of modern hurrah, derivation unknown.) I'm sorry: huzza stinks of Renn Fest. It's affected, hopelessly attainted, and there's simply nothing to be done about it. Next.

Open your Books of Shadows, please. Kindly turn to the Bagabi lacha bachabe chant. Read down to the very end. There.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
You Are What You Worship

I would say, We're of the Old Religion, but that's not what the ancestors would have said.

The ancestors didn't even have a word for religion.

No; if they'd deigned to tell you at all, they would have said: We're of the Old Worship.

And that's much Truer.

Some people are what they believe. We're not.

We are what we do, and there's something else that we know.

You are what you worship.

Some of our people these days get squeamish around the word worship; to them, it's come to imply self-abasement and power-over.

But that's not worship at all. Or maybe it's one kind of worship, but it's certainly not ours.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Och, Robert, your question is so evocative that I want to reply with a post. Keep with me and I'll have it for you as soon as may
  • Roberto Pagliaro
    Roberto Pagliaro says #
    Thank you. Please don't forget me and if you have any more ideas please let me know. Someone has recommended Poseidon because I am
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    As I understand it Florida is having a problem with salt water encroachment into their water table. I can see how Poseidon might
  • Roberto Pagliaro
    Roberto Pagliaro says #
    I read your excellent RTicle. I am a novice and quite unsure of where I can find paganist groups in my location, though I am sure
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.

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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.

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