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Witch: Another Perspective

I was talking with an elder in my tradition, who has been practicing Wicca since 1971. I asked him if he ever identified himself as a Witch. Here is what he told me:

“You know, the word ‘witch’ has never been a positive one. I don’t understand these people who want to ‘take it back’. It was always a word that was inflicted on other people by the establishment. It’s like the word N***** among Black people. If someone calls me a witch, I’m going to fight it, but amongst each other, we understand the context of it. Why try to change the meaning in mind of the general public?”

While the origin of the word is a bit ify–even the Oxford English Dictionary says the origin is unclear–here are a few definitions from around the internet:

Dictionary.com says:


/wɪtʃ/  Show Spelled[wich]


1. a person, now esp. a woman, who professes or is supposed to practice magic, esp. black magic or the black art; sorceress. Compare warlock.
2. an ugly or mean old woman; hag: the old witch who used to own this building.
3. a person who uses a divining rod; dowser.
bef. 900;  Middle English wicche,  Old English wicce  (fem.; cf. wicca (masc.) wizard; see wicked)
Interestingly, on Wikipedia, they add a fourth definition:
4. a practitioner of Wicca

So I wonder at how much things have changed since my elder friend began practicing and coming out of the broom closet. Too bad I can’t see when the fourth definition was added. When do you think it became socially OK to identify as a Witch?

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Vivienne Grainger
    June 10, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    I can’t say when labeling oneself “witch” became socially acceptable for larger cities. In my second-tier Pacific Northwest city, it’s still not. I have begun to loathe Xtians who, before hearing of my self-chosen religious practice, immediately begin to harass or attempt to convert me. Goddess knows what they would do if they knew the truth.

    And as late as 1999, I had a conversation with an workplace supervisor, who did her unintelligent alcoholic best to convince me that it was an “unattractive label,” and ask why I would use it.

  2. June 11, 2010 at 1:46 am

    I think the context does important. But it does have a negative connotation. Witch is always portrayed as the bad guy..er girl even in children books. I guess that’s where it comes from.

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