The Witch, The Warlock
and The Witchcraft


    A witch is a female shaman, typically including divination (astrology, palmistry, tarot, I Ching, etc.), healing (herbal medications, aromatherapy, massage, sacred sexuality, etc.), and magick.


    The practice of any of the arts of a witch or the religion of a witch.


    Wizard: a traitor. From Old English wær covenant + -loga one who denies (related to leogan to lie), literally meaning “oath-breaker”. This term reflects medieval Christian propaganda and does not accurately describe a male witch. Warlock is sometimes wrongly used these days as the term for male witches. But men who practice witchcraft as a religion generally prefer to be referred to as Witches or Wiccans. Warlock comes from the old English "wer loga" and means enemy, traitor, liar, etc. The word Warlock became associated with one who had made a pact with the devil. In an attempt to discredit Wicca the Catholic Church started this slander. The devil has nothing to do with witchcraft, as contemporary witchcraft does not share Christianity's belief in the devil.

There is a lot of confusion over exactly what witchcraft is. Part of this confusion is because “witch” has a lot of different meanings, and the number of meanings is expanding rapidly. The preceding definition is a root definition, from which the many modern definitions are derived. Obviously there will be a lot of modern witches who don’t match the root definition. We’re not trying to exclude them. Once you understand the root definition, it becomes easier to understand how the many modern varieties came into existence.

In particular, we are not trying to discriminate against guys. Of course men can be witches. Traditionally, witches are women, but there have always been a small number of male witches. In modern times it is much more common for males to become witches.

You see, the origins of witchcraft are early human efforts to deal with women’s mysteries, particularly the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and childbirth. We can’t be certain when witchcraft first started, although it probably started around the same time that pre-humans mastered fire (around 400,000 years ago). The oldest evidence of witchcraft is a piece of whalebone from 106,000 years ago that has a crude calendar marking the phases of the moon and a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Early witchcraft combined magick ritual with herbal preparations, built on millennia of lore passed down through generations of wise women.

As one example, consider the use of the rose. Modern science has revealed that the rose hip (the sweet part at the center of a rose) has the highest concentration of iron of any plant (it is also an excellent source of vitamin C). A woman loses a lot of iron during her period, and a natural supplement of iron has obvious positive benefits. Additionally, there are a few dozen minor trace ingredients in rose hips, many of which help stabilize a woman’s emotions and moods while on her period.

Obviously early witches didn’t know the scientific details, but they did know that eating rose hips (either fresh, or dried rose hips used to make rose hip tea) helped during menstruation. So, taking rose hips during menstruation became a fairly standard part of witchcraft.

In fact, it is this witchcraft practice that led to the association of roses with romance. Before Christianity, the use of rose hips or rose hip tea during a woman’s period was fairly common knowledge. The men who were close to a woman (particularly her husband or mate) would make sure that they brought their lover plenty of roses during her period. And obviously a man would have to be on intimate terms with a woman to know the right timing for when to bring roses.

Several Christian popes attempted to eliminate the practice of witchcraft, including outlawing growing or possessing flowers with the death penalty (because witchcraft made so much use of various flowers for herbal preparations). This harsh penalty caused a lot of the common knowledge about the herbal effects of various flowers to be lost in Western civilization, but the association of roses with romance and love remained long after the actual witchcraft meaning was lost.

Witchcraft, like any living religion, has blossomed and grown and changed through the millennia, and now has lots of different forms. But all of those new forms can be traced back to early female shamanism.

Book of Shadows

The Wicca ABC's - we define witches as wicca (modern witch), and these page explain the simplest meaning.
Wiccan Rede - Witch rules and regulations
The Spell - The entire meaning of spell and some spell you can use
Casting A Circle - Your circle is important
Some Witches Greetings - How to greet one witch at a time
List of Gods and Goddesses - Your Deities
Witches Powers - Can you handle these
Herbal Knowledge - medical knowledge
SALEM Witchcraft Trials - Remembering Old Salem (1690)
Magical Creature and Beings - Other beings connected to witches