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MEANING OF THE WORD "WITCH"
(NOTE: Wicca isn't Satanism and Wiccans don't believe in Satan. Since I know this, thanks for not emailing me and telling me what I already know.)
The biggest hurdle in trying to have a rational discussion about Wicca is the definition of the word "Witch". Now, you know the idea of what a Witch is, don't you? A witch is an evil sorceress, an old crone, flies on a broomstick, and has sabbats with the Devil. The things associated traditionally with Witches along with pointed hats and noses are nudity, cannibalism, poison, and bad things in general.
Wiccans however believe this is all wrong. They think the negative image of the witch is purely a Christian invention, meant to slander their religion. They insist the word Wicca is derived from the middle English word "wicce", which they claim means "wise". It is true the word "Wizard" is derived from the word "wysard" which means "wise one". However, the word "wicce", from which Wiccans claim the word Witch is derived does not have any connotations about wisdom. The word actually means "to bend". "Wicce" is where we get the word "wicker", as in wicker furniture. This is because wicker is bent wood.
Wicce is also where we get the word "wicked". Why? Because wicked people are often described as being "bent". "Bent" is not used to describe witches because they use their powers to "bend reality" as some wiccan apologists claim, either. So, if we accept the idea that the word Witch comes from the old English word "wicce", this would mean Wiccans aren't wise, but wicked!
As some linguists have noted, the word witch may be a case of what linguists call "onomatopoeia", which is when a word is formed to sound like the thing it was really intended to mean. I won't write what some people think the word means. It obviously rhymes with "witch", and you can >ahem< probably figure it out. But again, this would be typical of what people throughout history thought of Witches. Even in Islamic countries, it is believed witches are people who reject Islam and engage in unholy practices.
It not only in the English language that people have a negative connotation of the word "witch". Every language of every culture has their equivalent to the word as well, and it never has anything to do with wisdom, midwifery, or herbalism (except in the making of poisons). Even in non-Christian cultures there is usually a counter sorcerer of some kind to combat the witch. In Vietnam, if someone feels they have been cursed by a witch, they will go to the Budhist priest. In the Congo, witch finders are called nganga ngombo seek out witches.
Satanist Anton LaVey (who was not a Wiccan because Wiccans aren't Satanists, yes, I know) despised so-called "white light" witches and considered them "hypocrites sinning on the layway plan". LaVey noted, "Anthropologists have shown that even in primitive societies, notably the Azande, the definition of the word witch carries malevolent connotations. Therefore, are we to assume the only "good" witches were English ones?" ( Anton LaVey, The Satanic Rituals, Page 13)
Here is a list of the meaning of "witch" in various languages (including superstitions associated with them), for those who doubt the word has anything but "malevolent connotations".
Descriptions of Witches From Around The World
Did Christians "Invent" The Devil??
claim that prior to Christianity there was no Devil. No Pagans anywhere
in the ancient world believed in evil spirits, according to Wiccans.
They say the Christians created apparently the greatest smear campaign
in history! Christians began to circulate a story that there was this
evil dude called Satan or Lucifer that was half man and half goat and,
the clencher, he had horns! And since the universal horned god
worshiped by Pagans everywhere had horns, he must have been the Devil.
Of course, Christians believe every being with horns is completely evil because it says so in the Bible, right? So, when Pagans began to hear this new information, they abandoned the religion called Wicca. Sure, apparently like all the Christians did when they were told their God was a Devil by Gnostics, yeah, sure. But is this how it happened?
deities were very seldom the primary deity of any ancient religion.
Odin, Osiris, Jupiter, Brahmin, Mithra, Ahura Mazda...none of them have
horns. True, there were a few times when heathens combined goats with
humans to create half man half goat idols. Pan was such an idol, but he
was only a minor deity in a pantheon of dozens of idols. On Crete the
Minotaur was thought to be their primary diety, with the head of a bull
and the body of a man.
But his cult was abandoned for centuries, being replaced by the Olympian cult, by the time Christianity came along. Next, the idea of the Devil always being this guy in a red suit with pitchfork, horns, and pointy tail was not a universal idea in ancient times. If you look at the woodcuts from medieval times, the Devil is depicted as all sorts of scary combinations. Usually he has bird-like body parts such as beaks and claws. Often times he has the jaws and mouth with fangs like a bear or lion. When he has horns, they are usually bull horns, not goat horns. He very seldom, if ever, resembled the minor Greek Pagan god Pan, which had long vanished from the scene in the Middle Ages.
HOW BAD SCHOLARSHIP HELPED CREATE WICCA
The 19th Century was not the only victim of bad scholarship, people are still paying the price today. Historian Ronald Hutton discovered a whole chain of events that led to the creation of modern Neopagan Mythology, and the chain is far from broken in the 21st century.
such instance was the creation of the "goddess" Ceridwen. In the 13th
Century A.D. , Welsh poets compiled a manuscript now known as the Song
of Taliesin from earlier Welsh texts from 9th century. For some unknown
reason, many human and semi-human characters of these poems were
re-written as Pagan deities.
These 13th century Welsh writers either deliberately chose to create a new mythology, or else did not fully understand 9th century A.D. Welsh (not unlike how King James English confuses many people today). In either case, modern day Neopagans embrace these poems as a genuine Celtic Mythology, which they are not. It’s sort of like someone finding a copy of Paul Bunyon, rewriting it, and claiming that a religion that worshiped giant lumberjacks once existed.
fictitious character of Ceridwen, which is a popular name
for the Wiccan goddess, is one such human being who got "mistranslated"
into a goddess. Many other later writers copied this mistake .In 1849,
Lady Charlotte Guest perpetuated these errors in a book of Welsh tales
titled The Mabinogion.
This gave the mistranslations a new degree of undeserved credibility, and later writers followed suit, repeating the mistranslations even further. Ceridwen appears only in one poem about the birth of Taliesin. The very name Ceridwen, meaning "crooked woman," seems to have been created by the poets solely for that particular story. So in other words, there was no ancient goddess, Welsh or other wise, named Ceridwen according to Ronald Hutton. The elements of this story are not exclusive to Wales and are found all throughout Eurasia.
The Bitter Fruit Of "The Golden Bough"
James Frazer, a Cambridge academic wrote the book The Golden Bough in
1897. Frazer has been described as a rationalist, anti-Christian, and
anti-religion, and hardly the type to be involved in the occult. It was
perhaps the first book to compare Jesus to many Pagan gods of the past
who were "resurrected". Ironically, this book by anti-religious
rationalist became a source of inspiration for many neo-Pagans and
Wiccans creating their religion.
talk about occultism,
Paganism, Spiritism, Theosophy was about to come to a head. The roots
for the Wiccan/Pagan movement had been laid. Skeptic and Agnostic Sir
James Frazer unwittingly made his contribution to the Neopagan movement
in a book called The Golden Bough.. Sir James Frazer had grown to
dislike Christianity, and set out to make Christ appear as but one of
many ancient god-kings who died and was resurrected. The Golden Bough
combines material from all over the globe and during various time
periods. The book ignores when these things are taken out of context
and other discrepancies. Frazer popularized the concept that ancient
Pagan religions were all fertility cults, and introduced the theory of
the "sacrificial king". But Sir James never gave even a single example
of a king being killed and replaced by a new king. If this was
supposedly the tradition throughout the ancient world, why is there not
his hatred of Christianity, created a less than
scholarly work. The Golden Bough is not taken seriously by modern
anthropologists. It has never been accepted by credible historians or
who perpetuated the Song of
Talesin mistranslations was Robert Graves. His book The White Goddess
(written in 1945) is still a favorite of modern Neopagans (especially
Wiccan writers). Wiccans view The White Goddess as a source of
universal goddess lore, but in reality it is just a fantasy based on
mistranslations of ancient poems and prose. Perhaps Graves’ best
comment on his work was one he wrote in a letter years later to an
inquirer "It's a crazy book and I didn't mean to write it.." Graves
fantasy work about a "triple goddess" of mother, maiden, and crone
became the basis for the current Wiccan goddess. In reality, the idea
of the universal "triple goddess" is not an ancient belief. Grave even
told his close friends in private that he himself did not believe that
the triple goddess actually existed, and was merely writing metaphors.
He never thought "The White Goddess" was literally, true.
Historian Ronald Hutton noted that by Robert Graves writing the The White Goddess Graves "built a fantasy upon a forgery."(The Stations of The Sun, by Ronald Hutton, Page 145). The book is anti-Christian in its tone, claiming Moses used tricks to fool the people of Egypt and that Jesus never really performed miracles, but basically used slight of hand. Even though the White Goddess is a book of ridiculous speculation many Neopagans took it to be a genuine book of history, very much the same way The DaVinci Code is erroneously taken as genuine history. It still is influencing Neopagans to this day.
Stoneage people everywhere worshipped a "white goddess".
This idea is a modern idea meant to simplify things, and was unknown to Pagans of ancient times. Each god was in charge of his or own specialty. For instance, Diana (Artemis to the Greeks) was a goddess of hunting and childbirth. Venus (Aphrodite to the Greeks) was the goddess of love, sewers, and V.D. The Pagans didn’t see Venus and Diana as simply "The Goddess". In the 2nd Century A.D. there was an attempt to unite all goddesses as simply "Isis" by Roman writer Apuleius, but his success was very limited and short lived. The idea of a universal goddess was made popular in part by Robert Graves’ book The White Goddess. Like the current DaVinci Code controversy, the White Goddess is fiction that many people rely on as fact.
The "Wiccan Goddess"
Something I should point out here is that Diana, Artemis, and Pan were Greco-Roman gods. They were NOT Wiccan gods. Neither are Isis or Ra; they are ancient Egyptian deities (idols). Even deities like Lugh and Dagda are Celtic deities, but Wicca isn’t very Celtic. Every god and goddess of Wicca is simply "borrowed" from the religions of ancient and sometimes modern, cultures, but this does not make Wicca an ancient religion.
also a lot of borrowing from Native American religions. Native
Americans, far from feeling like they are a part of some universal
Pagan religion resent Wiccans, New Agers, and other occultniks stealing
things from their religion. The Nocatee Indians of Florida, for
instance, will not
let any outsiders view their "Blue Corn Dance", and Wiccans, New Agers,
and others are turned down if they ask to see it. The Lakota (Sioux)
tribe has even gone so far as to issue a symbolic "Declaration of War"
against Wiccans and New Agers for stealing their religion!
You can't just simply say "Since people in ancient Greece worshiped Diana and Wiccans worship Diana that proves Wicca is ancient." Suppose I started a religion that worshiped dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are certainly very old. Therefore I could say my religion is millions of years old simply because I have chosen to worship an object from the past. Does this make my religion millions of years old? Of course not! Neither is Wicca tens of thousands of years old because it worships ancient gods and goddesses. Neither is every ancient story somehow connected to Wicca. All these things are just examples of "witch-ful thinking".
Confronted with this, Wiccan will usually say something like "The reason there is a lack of evidence for Wicca existing in ancient times is because they had to hide from "xtian" persecution!". Assuming this were true, why is there no evidence of Wicca before Christianity either??? Did they also have to hide from other Pagans as well? Why didn't the Romans mention the Wiccans when they invaded the British Isles? Even once? They certainly mentioned the Druids. Why did Christian monks preserve writings of Pagan philosophers like Aristotle, Plato, or Socrates? According to Wiccans, Christians tried to erase all evidence of Paganism, and supposedly this is why evidence of Wicca vanished. If so, then we shouldn’t even know Pagans ever even existed from the sounds of things! Obviously, these things just don’t add up.
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