Monday, March 3, 2008

Derivation of wicca

An ongoing argument* in Craft circles centers on the derivation of the word Wicca. We have always been very fond of the Oxford English Dictionary system, finding sources in which a given word was used and the dates of such usage. Recently there has come into our hands an Oxford Etymological Dictionary dated 1995. It tells us that wicca is an Anglo-Saxon masculine noun (feminine wicce). The Bosworth/Toller dictionary of 1898 CE, cited therein, defines wycce as phytonyssa--probably a typographical error by those two esteemed worthies for the word we know as pythoness.
Wiccan occurred in the laws of Edward and Guthrum (880-890 CE) and in the Laws of King Cnut (1043-1086 CE). There it is related to the Anglo-Saxon wican: to give way, and links to the Norwegian and Icelandic vikja (to push aside, to move, to turn [in the sense of warding off something headed toward you]). From this derivation in turn, it has been tenuously connected to know or know how and to the Sanskrit vedeti (each e with a Latin-style straight line over), thence to the Sanskrit veda.
So, modern arguments aside, we see that it was in use in the time of King Cnut, derived from the ancient vedas of perhaps 3,000 BCE.
Remember: You read it first here. Please don't get arrogant about refuting our scholarship until you can suggest something better, and can cite sources for your claims.
Blessed be those who seek. Gavin and Yvonne
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* among all the others


SecondComingOfBast said...

The picture on your header is an improvement. It fits much better than the old one did. Are you trying out for the "Blue Man Group", Gavin, or is that blue tinge in my computer?

I never realized there was a relationship between the words Wicca and Veda. As a former very lackluster student of Krishna Consciousness, I find that very interesting, even if tentative.

To say nothing of the relationship with the "Pythoness". Makes you wonder what the ancient Sybillene oracles really practiced before they came to be dominated by a male hierarchy in the form of the worship of the god Apollo. Prior to this, of course, theoretically they were worshipers of Hera. As she may have originally been a lunar goddess herself, it might seem to fit better than it would appear at first glance, however the meaning of words evolve over the centuries.

Kiran Paranjape said...

A good article on this ancient religion.
Just a small correction.
The root verb in Sanskrit is vid belongs to 2nd conjugation parasmaipada which means to know, understand, learn, find out, ascertain, discover. The third person singular of this verb is vetti(not vedeti).
Please let me know if you need any further help.

Webmaster - Translations

WiLL said...

Hi Gavin and Yvonne,

Thank you for sharing some of this interesting derivations of this word. I had not known about the use of it by Edward and Guthrum or in the Laws of King Cnut.

My research seems to show that Gardner first began to use this word 'wica' some time between 1952 and 1953 and that he used it to mean 'wise person' and that it was used in place of the word witch.

Blessed Be,

SecondComingOfBast said...

By the way, here's another one-Mage, which is somewhat similar etymologically, I think.


Both mean wise, and the variation might have something to do with a divergence through a difference in linguistic groups.

Of course, mage forms the root of "magic" and "magician".

wushih said...

I don't know about Gavin's face but I do know this. I am taking a specific medication for my heart and one of the rare but allegedly harmless side effects is a 'flush'. My face is a lovely shade of pink. The med works so it is good for me. On the other hand, the self esteem factor sucks.

na said...

I liked the old picture better.