Sunday, August 7, 2011

Warlocks, really?

This is a warlock- TV is make-believe.
I have been asked by several people recently about the warlock bruhaha. In case you were unaware, some men in the Witchcraft scene are going around trumpeting themselves as "warlocks" in the name of "reclaiming the word" and coming up with a masculinized version of Witch.

It's no surprise that the men that I have seen doing this mostly are (pardon my French) media whores.

After all, these are men who are trying to sell many many things (in their stores, with their lines of merchandise, their services, their classes and workshops), and what makes a bigger splash than having everyone talk about you? Masters of PR, that's what they are. They are looking to become a big fish in a little pond (and for those of you that do not know, the pagan community is a very small pond, let me tell you).

My problem with the word "warlock" is not that the term historically means "oath breaker" (it possibly doesn't) or even that is may mean "war lord". The fact is, it's a stupid word to reclaim because to most modern Witches, it DOES INDEED mean an unscrupulous person- an oath breaker, a cheat, a liar. Even if it never historically existed as a negative word, it means that now. It means the worst kind of person, actually. Oath breaking is the worst thing you can do as a Witch. So why strut around trying to reclaim a word like that?

It's not like the word Queer or Black. Those words were used by the dominant culture to oppress a minority of people with intrinsic qualities (their queerness or blackness). These words were reclaimed by people with that intrinsic quality because the word was used to make them feel shame. Nope warlock is not like those words at all. Far be it from me to tell people what to do- if folks want to use "warlock" to describe themselves, go for it. But that doesn't mean folks like me won't look at you and consider you stupid.

So this leads me to wonder- who are these warlocks talking to- most Witches are not convinced, so they must be talking to those on the outside. And if you look at it this way- their move makes sense. After all, warlock was used on the TV show Bewitched to mean a male Witch. It's friendly and familiar to non-Witches. So I believe that these folks are actually marketing their wares to those that are not part of our religion- but are merely Witchcraft tourists. (One of these warlocks is even in Salem- the biggest Witchy tourist trap of all!)

Uncle Arthur has it right-
this is a farce, for shits and giggles.
But here's my main objection to using this term. These folks are coming up with a male equivelent of Witch WHEN NONE IS NECESSARY. (Witch does not mean male or female.) This is just another stupid gender essentialist reaction on the part of cissexual men who have their panties in a bunch over not getting enough attention. It creates yet another divide of the sexes in a place where none existed before.

Despite what this writer says, (or this one) Warlock is NOT the male counterpart to the female Witch. It never was and still isn't. Witch HAS NO counterpart. Male and female mysteries have been a part of WITCHCRAFT for centuries, and no special word was ever needed to delineate or set apart men from women before. To do so, in a religion that celebrates the place of all genders is a travesty, a falsehood, and just plain bad theology.

I recognize that the beings we call gods and goddesses have no gender- not as we experience it, anyway. We experience these beings in these ways because of our own filters. As a Witch, I have access to all of the Divine. In my experience, being a Witch makes you fey- that is, beyond gender. You are both and neither, because you are in the process of realizing your own god self- and gods aren't "male" and "female".


  1. My family always taught me that "warlock" was an offensive term. Seems like a very stupid thing to "reclaim", and I don't think they can "re"claim something that never meant what they think in the first place.

  2. 'Media Whores' is an understatement. I recently listened to a podcast by the one in Salem and found myself embarrassed for him because he came across as one of those shock-jocks on morning rush-hour radio. The whole self-promotion thing really is out of line with an authentic spiritual practice... where humility is one of the first things one tends to learn. But hey, it sells junk (and most of it is) so it must be OK, right?

    Thanks for this post. I can now stop chewing on the inside of my mouth.

  3. I think (and most especially given personal experience of at least one of the people calling himself a "warlock") that there's no small amount of misogyny involved as well. They think of "witch" as a girl word and don't want to get the girl cooties on themselves. And that's just about the level of maturity as well.


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