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Reconstructing Anglic Terminology for a Priesthood


Amateur Rambler / Proud Ergi
Premium Member
So, as I've said in a few other threads, I prefer to use more Angilc terminology when referring to religious matters, to help specify that I don't follow the more well-known Scandinavian Asatru, but a form that's more familiar to my native Anglo-American heritage.

I've since been inspired to try applying this to the people who might have collectively been thought of has a priesthood for Anglo-Saxon paganism, based on some of the information contained in Wiktionary and the Online Etymology Dictionary.

The first and obvious one is the term that became Witch. In Old English, the masculine for was wicca and the feminine wicce. Obviously it'd probably be confusing to just bring these terms back in these forms, even though the modern religion of Wicca pronounces it differently. (Originally, the double-c was pronounced pretty much like the -tch in "witch"). While the term has effectively become the catch-all term for basically any practitioner of non-Christian ritual and worship, it likely meant something distinct from other practices (as it was distinguished in at least one Anglo-Saxon law from the others). While the actual origin of the word isn't clear, to me all the theories seem consistent enough in theme to point to this practice involving direct work with the Gods.

Even though we probably can't just apply the word "witch" to modern such people without confusion, there is a solution. Two words survive which basically mean "god", that can serve as descriptive prefixes. The first is "os", plural "ese". This is cognate with the Old Norse Áss/Æsir. In Modern English, it sort of survives: in the word "Oz", that is to say, "The Wizard of". The second is "Tue", which is from "Tiu", an Old English word for the God known in Old Norse as "Tyr". There's plenty of indications that the word "god" effectively replaced this word. With these two words, we have two possible terms for the people who work directly with the Gods: Ozwitch, or Tuewitch. Perhaps both can be legitimate, and refer to two specific types.

To keep things somewhat short, other words I've been looking into that are listed in old laws are:


Galdercraft is the use of words, language, and incantations to induce changes in mental state, either in oneself or others. Galder is the name for the art itself, and someone who practices it is called a Gald. (Admittedly a rather quickly put together term.)

Libcraft is basically religious herbalism.

Shinecraft, however, is the tricky one. While at first, I figured that maybe this is the use of visual spectacle based on "shine", but according to Online Etymology Dictionary, the Old English word "scinlæce" refers to a female wizard, and has a root that means "phantom, evil spirit". So I'm kinda confused, here.

So, any thoughts from other linguistically-minded folks? Am I way off? Spot on? Incomplete?