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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in pagan vocabulary

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Altar or Alter? Censer or Censor?

Altar or alter? Censer or censor?

Pagans being people of praxis, our vocabulary generally references ritual rather than belief. When it comes to writing, though, homonymy can be problematic, and with homonyms, Spell Check can't help you.

Why should you care? Credibility. If you get the small stuff wrong, why should we trust you on the large?

Here as elsewhere, the ancestors knew what to do. With a mnemonic—what French would call an aide-memoire—you can remember anything.

Here's mine.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I agree entirely. Autocorrect is the enemy of poetry.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I find it helpful to have my Dictionary in a place where I can find it easily. Spellcheck is sometimes problematic but way better

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Frying Onions

Before my old high priestess Back East would pronounce one of the Witch Words—and, believe me, she did not merely say these words, she (rrrroll that R, now) pronounced them—there would be a little pause.

[Pause] uh-THAW-may, she would utter, in that breathy, sing-song kind of voice that people use to read poetry.

[Pause] DAY-o-sill. [Pause] SAM-ane. [Pause] BIG-us. (Bigghes is Witch for “jewelry.”)

It may seem as if I'm being cruel here, but please believe me, I'm not. Actually, I find the habit rather endearing, and down the years I've known (and know) many who do it. (There are times when I do it myself: ah, irony.) And I completely understand and appreciate what's being said behind what's being said here.

We love our paganism because it's special, perfumed with that singular redolence of the exotic.

And, indeed, that is certainly so.

Increasingly, though—especially as I get older—I find that what I love most about paganism is not so much that it's exotic or unusual. What I love best about paganism is precisely its quotidian quality: the familiarity of the everyday.

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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

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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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.
Were Wiccans Originally "Wakers of the Dead"?

Well, didn't see that one coming.

According to philologist Calvert Watkins, the word Wicca is actually related to wake.

And Wiccans were originally necromancers, “wakers of the dead.”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Part of the underlying strategy for the Repaganization of the West is, shall we say...selective replacement.

Consider the so-called “Adam's apple.” A nasty bit of someone else's mythology has, mutatis mutandis, become attached to a perfectly innocuous part of the human body. What to do?

In this particular instance, at least, there's not far to look.

The old Witch word for the (to give it its technical name) laryngeal thyroid cartilege is thrapple: a contraction of “throat apple,” the apple being, of course, the prime sacred fruit of the Tribe of Witches (and, in fact, of Northern Europe generally).

A while back I was dishing with my friend “Granny” Ro NicBourne.

“Do you know such-and-so?” I asked.

“Wouldn't know him from Ash,” she deadpanned.*


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  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    I love the term thrapple and will be using it henceforth. Remember we still have Achilles tendon. What a force our beloved Spark

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