Related to my last article, this one also touches a lot upon the importance of the language we use to talk about ourselves as Pagans and Heathens – it’s Meta (Literature joke)! Until the advent of the human ability to communicate purely by thought, language remains the primary (only?) way for humans to determine the universe around us. A tree is a tree both because we call it such and because that idea is expressed as tree (Gertrude would be proud). Definition is something that Pagan and Heathens have a demonstrable aversion to, yet ironically we constantly seem to be trying to find that one word that determines who or what we are. This is something that extends from our ideas of self into the nature of what we practice within our praxes. One day I hope to find a word that better encompasses the entire plethora of things we do than Magic; perhaps there is no better word.
Fundamentally, magic is what Pagans and Heathens do. Sometimes it’s called sorcery, sometimes its called wicca, sometimes its called witchcraft and sometimes its called other things. At the end of the day all of these things are magic of one kind or another – the only thing that changes between one and another is the nature of the magic being practiced. I say this because witchcraft is not the same thing as shamanism and both of those are different to druidry. When you start to consider how these things are defined in other languages there is a greater depth of understanding available in the cross comparison of some words that we take for granted – like bruja/o and brujeria. Brujeria is often translated in English as witchcraft, however when you look at the practices more closely and compare those who practice brujeria and witchcraft, it becomes increasingly obvious that witchcraft and brujeria are in fact not the same thing.
This degree of linguistic specificity does become impractical to carry after a certain point, but never the less it is necessary more often than most Pagans and Heathens would agree it is. If perhaps, there were not the number of disagreements as to what is what within the Pagan and Heathen community this would not be the case. The need for such explicitness does gradually reduce, but the knowledge doesn’t ever really become superfluous.