Articles/Essays From Pagans
August 24th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
The Pagan Cleric
A Gathering of Sorcerers (A Strange Tale)
August 17th. 2014 ...
To Know, to Will, to Dare...
On Grief: Beacons of Light in the Shadows
August 10th. 2014 ...
As a Pagan, How Do I Represent My Path?
The Power of the Gorgon
August 3rd. 2014 ...
Are You a Natural Witch?
You Have to Believe We Are Magic...
July 27th. 2014 ...
Did I Just Draw Down the Moon?
Astrological Ages and the Great Astrological End-Time Cycle
The New Jersey Finishing School for Would-Be Glamour Girls and Boys
July 20th. 2014 ...
Being an Underage Wiccan
Greed, Power, Witches, and the Inquisition
Malleus Maleficarum - The Hammer of the Witches
Thoughts on Ghost Hunting
July 13th. 2014 ...
A World Of Witchcraft: Belief Is Only The Beginning...
From Christian to Pagan (Part III)
My Wiccan Ways...
July 6th. 2014 ...
Keys: Opening the Portals into Other Worlds
The Lore of the Door
Leaves of Love
June 29th. 2014 ...
What Does the Bible Say About Witches and Pagans?
Are You My Familiar ?
Invocations of the God and Goddess
Results Magic and the Moral Compass
Everything's Alright, Yes: Mary Magdalene
June 22nd. 2014 ...
Witchcraft vs. Religion
Christianity and Paganism: Why All Of the Fighting?
June 15th. 2014 ...
Becoming Your Own Wise One
Canine Familiars: Role of the Alpha
June 8th. 2014 ...
Moral Relativism and Wicca
Paganism in Cebu, Philippines
June 1st. 2014 ...
Rediscovering My Pagan Faith
13 Keys: The Wisdom of Chokmah
May 25th. 2014 ...
Some Differences Between Priestesses and Witches: Duties and Trials
Awakening to our Celestial Nature (A Free 8-Day Course)
How to Work With Your Muse
10 Things I Love about my Sacred Work as a Public Witch
May 18th. 2014 ...
Finding the God (From Christian to Pagan -Part II)
The Medea Within Us All
Visits from the Departed
May 11th. 2014 ...
Breaking the Law of Return
Karma and Sin
Mental and Emotional Balance- I CAN Have it!
The Sin Concept
May 4th. 2014 ...
When to Let Go...When to Hold On
Goddessy: Sorceress Speaks On Beauty
Embracing my Inner Goddess through Belly Dance
April 27th. 2014 ...
Mental Illness in the Pagan Community
World Crisis: Awaken Witches and Take Action
Being Pagan, Being Bipolar
"Earth Day" Is A Pagan Conspiracy!
April 20th. 2014 ...
Six Rules for Safer Pagan Sex: A Guide
Safety: Let's Shift Our Focus
Morality and Controversy in the Craft
A Pagan Perspective on Easter
The Star Child
April 13th. 2014 ...
Magick and Consequences: My Experience with Sigils
Being a Worrisome Witch
Don't Talk Yourself Out of Trying Something New!
What to Do When the Spell/Ritual Flops
April 6th. 2014 ...
The Elements and the Quarters
Dark Moon Scry: Aries 2014
How the Wheel of the Year Works “Down Under”
13 Keys: The Understanding of Binah
March 30th. 2014 ...
Manifesting the Dream: On Religious Organizations, Pagan Abbeys and our Order
True Meaning of Community
Thoughts on Unverified Personal Gnosis
My Beautiful Grove- A Matter Of Perspective
March 23rd. 2014 ...
Spirituality and Social Change
The First Step to Anywhere!
March 16th. 2014 ...
From Christian to Pagan (Part I)
Nature And The Celtic Tree Calendar
The Teeth in the Darkness
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Warlock: The Other 'W-Word'
Article ID: 8551
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,708
Times Read: 12,408
Author: RuneWolf [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: July 3rd. 2004
Times Viewed: 12,408
I have recently taken to referring to myself as a Warlock. At midnight on the Summer Solstice, in a solitary seaside ritual, I made it "official."
Now why in the world would I want to do such a boneheaded thing as that?
Well, I have a few reasons:
Aside from these admittedly shallow and self-serving reasons, I have other motives for this change. Allow me to ramble a bit...
- Because I want to.
- Because I can.
- Because it will probably irritate and scandalize the kind of people I enjoy irritating and scandalizing.
- Because it makes me feel "SPEH-shul!" (And yes, that's The Church Lady you hear...)
We are told by many modern Witches, particularly those involved with the various flavors of Feminist Wicca and Witchcraft, that we are "reclaiming the power and positive meaning of the word 'Witch' after centuries of patriarchal oppression and denigration." Cool - I am completely down with that.
So why not do the same for "Warlock?"
We have all heard the explanation that a "male Witch" must never be referred to as a Warlock because the word means "oath-breaker" or "traitor" or some such. However, this is from the same folks who insist that we must ignore any dictionary or encyclopedia entries that give a less-than-favorable definition for the word "Witch." Why can't this logic be applied to "Warlock?" Many entries indicate that the primary definition of "Warlock" is, indeed, a "male Witch" or sorcerer. Only the secondary or archaic definitions - if they are present at all - have anything to do with oath-breaking.
In addition, there are several excellent arguments currently at large on the Internet regarding possible alternate etymologies of the word that trace it back to an Old Norse term for enchanter or sorcerer, "vard-lokkur." This alternate origin for the word "Warlock," and hence the rightful priority of its positive meaning, is becoming more accepted - or at least more publicized - within our Internet community, to judge from even a cursory Google search.
In the final analysis, I myself lack the academic horsepower and other resources to verify conclusively for myself the veracity of such claims to the ultimate origins of "Warlock." I must therefore admit that I am committing what I myself consider one of the most heinous crimes of "Pop Wicca," and I am taking something that I have read at face value because it happens to agree with what I choose to believe.
But I will take this heinous act one step further, and suggest yet another - and perhaps more outlandish - alternate etymology for "Warlock."
In The Call of the Horned Piper, Nigel Jackson makes a connection between the Craft and the so-called "lycanthropic cults" that occurred in various Mediterranean, Eurasian and European cultures. A somewhat obscure example of such a cult was the ulfhednar, the "wolf-coats" of the Viking Norse, a cult of Odhinnic warriors who were said to shape-shift into wolves or werewolves when the battle-frenzy came upon them, gaining supernatural strength, ferocity and immunity to normal weapons. These warriors were very much the "wolf version" of the more well-know berserkers; "berserker" meaning "bear-shirt." Werewolfism was a common, often hereditary, condition in the Norse Sagas, and it was not uncommon for Sagic heroes to be referred to as "shape-strong," the most common "shapes" being that of the bear and the wolf. "Faring forth" is a modern term for the Norse practice of projecting the fylgia or fetch (often referred to as the animal-fetch) out of the body/soul complex to achieve some end. Amongst warriors who practiced faring forth, the animal-fetch often fared forth in the form of a wolf. It is said that those who were sensitive to such things could detect such a fetch roaming about, and indeed discern the personality behind the animal-form, leading to a sort of visual mosaic of so-and-so "walking abroad as a wolf."
Faring forth in such a manner would have been an elementary skill of the "vard-lokkur" or enchanter, but I have also noted that, in Old Icelandic (very similar to Old Norse), we have the words "vargr" (wolf) and "lik" (physical body). Whilst I am certainly no linguist or etymologist, it seems possible, given the Norse penchant for compound words, that "vargr-lik" or "wolf-body" could have been a valid combination and perhaps a term for those who fared forth in "wolf bodies." Again, with nothing but intuition to back it up, it seems no great stretch to me to derive "Warlock" from "vargr-lik," given the manner in which spellings and pronunciations mutate over the years. I would be very interested to hear from anyone out there who has the academic background to comment on this possibility.
While it is no great recommendation, there was clearly a link in the collective mind of the Inquisition between werewolfism and Witchcraft; at the very least they were considered to be equally repugnant crimes, deriving from the same interaction with "diabolic forces" (which is all the pedigree they need in my book!). And it is beyond doubt that many Witches today practice some form of "shamanic journeying" or faring forth, whether in wolf-form or some other, in much the same way as the "vargr-liks" might have. So whether a historic precedent exists for a link between the Way of the Wolf and the Way of the Witch, our modern community seems to have embraced it.
Matthew Sandow speculates that what we think of as Witchcraft might originally have involved both Male and Female Mysteries, and that much of what we think of as "Wicca" today descends predominantly from the Female Mysteries. The Male Mysteries, on the other hand, would have had more to do with hunting and warfare, and that the "War" in "Warlock" refers to just that - the Way of the Warrior and the arts of "battle-magic," as exemplified by the ulfhednar and berserkers. This only further enthralls me, as I consider myself to practice a "Warrior" Tradition of the Craft, and have long felt the need for a specific term for "Warrior Witch." Given the possible history of the word, "Warlock" seems to fit that bill quite nicely.
Not to mention my long-standing association with the Spirit of the Wolf...
"Warlock" also has a somewhat darker connotation than the now-popular definition of "Witch," and that applies to me as well. The whole issue of what constitutes "Dark Paganism" has been addressed by better writers than I, and whilst I won't rehash any of it here, if you tend to dismiss Dark Paganism as an aberration, I suggest that you do a little research. After all, that's one of the first suggestions we make to Christians who try to inflict their stereotypes and misconceptions on us.
And finally, I have to admit to a little rebelliousness in choosing to be known as a Warlock. In many ways it's just my way of saying, "Go ahead - tell me I can't." My personal definition of "Warlock" could be summed up as "Male Witch - With Attitude." It has its own, in-your-face kind of mystique that I find endearing.
Many years ago, my Wiccan teacher gave me some good advice, and that was to use anything in the practice of my Craft that helped me to "feel Witchier." Ironically, "Warlock" does that for me.
Location: Reston, Virginia
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