Magic has been around since the beginning of time. Since humankind's inception, our species has been fascinated with how we as mere mortals can manipulate what is around us... creating something new and entirely different. Women who do this have been called "witches" for centuries... but the art of magic was not restricted to women alone.
Christianity in medieval times referred to any male witch as a warlock. This word in its Old English origin is "waerloga" (one who breaks an oath or deceives). In Scottish lore, the word is often simply used to refer to a male witch. In modern Wicca, the word "witch" applies to both male and female, and most consider the term "warlock" an incorrect word. Gerald Gardner, the founder of Wicca, referred to the term in its verb context, which supposedly means "to bind", as in binding the cords for an initiation ceremony or a handfastening.
Not all modern pagans have issue with the word... there are a few who have, as with the terms "pagan" and "witch", reclaimed the word for their own. There is also a theory (although many dictionaries don't acknowledge it) that the word may actually have origins in Norse mythology. The word "vardlukker" comes from a song that, when sung, is said to shield against evil...and thought by some to be the actual origin of warlock.
Regardless of the word's original intent, it is not one that is generally embraced by modern paganism or Wicca. The misuse of it perpetuated by the early leaders of Christianity was part of what gave witchcraft a bad name in the first place, and it considered by many to be outdated and offensive. There are some covens who will refer to one who has been made to leave because of breaking the oaths taken as a warlock, using the word in its original Old English meaning of 'oath breaker'. ( Read The Truth About Witches )
In contrast, "wizard" has a more positive connotation. The word itself simply means "wise one", and in this context, indicates someone who is well trained in the craft of magic and possesses knowledge of what is hidden to most, or the occult. In the legends of King Arthur and the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, wizards such as Merlin and Gandalf are popular images of kindness and guidance for the respective heroes.
Medieval period weapons, armor, clothing and even tools and accessories are collected by many. One can even attend Medieval Festivals or fairs where everyone is wearing Medieval clothing and re-enacting the Medieval period.
Merlin is one of the most popular characters of legend. The tales of King Arthur were part of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britannaie (History of the Kings of Britain)in the year 1135. He claimed to have simply rewritten the earlier works of those who had recorded these histories, but none of those works have ever been discovered. Merlin was said to be based on a combination of the prophet Myrddian and the myth of Ambrosius, who was said to be a mystic with no earthly father. While authors such as Geoffery Ash and Nikolai Tolstoy have theorized that both Arthur and Merlin were based on actual people, it is thought that many of the stories were based in Celtic mythology. Merlin was always a central character in this tales, bringing young Arthur into his own, and guiding him to the magical sword of Excalibur.
"Sorcerer" has often wrongly been attributed to negative magic. It is simply one who practices witchcraft, namely in casting spells. A sorcerer is also called a magician... although that is not to be confused with an illusionist or someone who creates the illusion of magic for entertainment purposes. It comes from the common Latin word "sortiarius" or one who casts lots, or fates. This implies being able to see into the future and what fate has in store. As in anything, there were those who used this knowledge for the greater good..and those who used it for personal gain or unnecessary harm. Anyone who made the latter choice had to suffer the consequences... which was usually their own magic backfiring on them!
Many larger than life characters from history have been theorized as having connections with sorcery and mysticism. The epic poet Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro) was the inspiration for the medieval fairy tale "Virgillius the Sorcerer", and has been thought to have had coded, prophetic meanings in his poems, especially "The Aeneid". The legends gave him far more powers than he actually had... however his Eclogue 4 verses were interpreted by many early leaders and students of Christianity to foretell the birth of Jesus. Often in the Middle Ages, lines from "The Aeneid" were chosen at random and used to interpret events coinciding at the time. Since Biblical scholars consulted much of his writings, there is a question of where the line is drawn... when is it magic and when is it a gift from God?
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa was a 16th century German theologian and astronomer in the who was thought to also have ties to the occult, particularly in alchemy. He wrote many books, one of his best known being (translated to English) "Declamation Attacking the Uncertainty and Vanity of the Sciences and the Arts", which was published in 1527. The book was satirical in nature, compounding on the wretched state he felt science had taken. While he studied magic and the occult for most of his life, he was said to have changed his philosophies about it many times. One of his most famous quotes also gives the basic law of resonance... "All things which are similar and are therefore connected, are drawn to each others power."
Another figure from the past (or is he?) shrouded in mystery is Compte (Count of) St. Germain. Earliest accounts of him originated in the middle part of the 18th century, although specific records of his birth and death have been obscured. This has led to speculation by some that he never actually died, but rather ascended. The "St." in his name was not sanctioned by the Catholic Church, but rather refers to "Sanctus Germanus" or "holy brother", which is said to be a name he gave himself. He was apparently arrested in London, as well as Edinburgh for spying, although he was soon released. It was said that he was an accomplished violinist among many other things, and quite eccentric.
He disappeared and reappeared several times throughout Europe, and each time he had a different name and title, and his claims would be more fanciful. There were accounts of him showing his ability to turn iron and other metals into gold through manipulating the chemistry of the elements (alchemy), and yet he never had anything in the way of possessions. He is thought to have died around 1784, however there were rumors of him being seen in different areas of Europe in the 1800's. Throughout the years, there have been those who have claimed to be him.
Whether it has been feared or revered, people have always believed in magic. It has been studied, practiced, and often misunderstood and misinterpreted. Today words such as wizard, warlock, and sorcerer are often left to the fantasy role playing games and movies, however the ideologies behind those words are very much alive and in practice. Magic incorporates wisdom along with honing and practicing the gifts one has... no matter what name is given to its practitioner.
Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2010 TrueGhostTales.com
Would you like to add something to this page or make a suggestion?
Sign up for the True Ghost Tales Newsletter
Get ghost stories and interesting news and information about the paranormal and the strange. Absolutely no-spam - just great stuff to read.
The True Ghost Tales Newsletter is now being managed by FrogPressNews. The following link will land you on the sign up page. After you sign up you will receive a confirmation request by email. You will need to click the link in that email to confirm your subscription.
Get the True Ghost Tales Newsletter today!
Our Ghost Stories are updated every day with new ghost stories, paranormal articles, and all sorts of strange and ghostly stuff.
These is also an old ghost story archive. The archive represents an older section of True Ghost Tales which contains nearly 200 stories.
Here are just a few of the ghost stories and paranormal related articles on this site. Be sure to bookmark True Ghost Tales so you can come back to read the new stories.