Temple of the Dark Moon



Please note that as this article was first written a number of years ago, it may contain some inaccurate information. We are in the progress of updating our research in this subject. We do include this article however as a starting point. Please do not hestitate to contact us if you have any queries

Most books on modern witchcraft will mention that the word witch is derived from the word wicca, and that this used to mean either (a) the bend or shape, or (b) to know. From the latter, we often hear that the term witchcraft means craft of the wise ones. Both of the above meanings are poetic, but incorrect.

According to Professor J.B. Russell in his book A History of Witchcraft - Sorcerors, Pagans and Heretics (Thames & Hudson), the ultimate origin of the word witch is an Indo-European word weik. This word had four families of derivatives and all have something to do with magick and religion. The most relevant of these derivatives is the word wikk, which simply meant magic or sorcery. From this particular source came the Middle German word widden which means to predict. Then came the Old English word wicca, which was pronounced witcha and was used to designate a male witch; with wicce, pronounced witcheh, and was used to designate a female witch. From these words came the Middle English term witche and this word eventually became the Modern English equivalent - witch.

Therefore, the original meaning of the word witch can be tranced back through various forms to simply mean exactly the same thing - a witch. When Gerald Gardner wrote down his ideas about witchcraft, he chose to pronounce the word wicca as wikka (instead of its original form, witcha), and by consensus (or sheer ignorance), this is now how everyone pronounces the word.

The word wizard is derived from the Middle English word wis and appeared around the year 1440 meaning wise man or wise woman - and it is only after 1825 that the word was used in a magickal sense.

The term warlock originally meant an oath breaker, or traitor. In approximately 1460 it was equated to the word witch. It was applied equally to both female as well as male witches, and there seems to be no historical justification for using the word warlock to specifically designate a male witch. Today it seems that only Hollywood movie makers still use the term in this way.

For more information, contact the Temple of the Dark Moon or write to us at PO Box 2451, SALISBURY DOWNS SA 5108.

© Temple of the Dark Moon (unless otherwise stated)