Very interesting ideas around the counter-cultural notions which influenced the term Witch to begin with. Reclaiming of terms is a potent force for any ideological movement and I think modern Witchcraft is just as much a part of that as any other.
Edit Postscript: 02/04/2014
The link below is the original post from Summer Thunder, which spurred on the discussion of the use of Warlock. After leaving it for some time and returning to it I find myself captivated by ways in which bloggers have taken to re-exploring and even redefining this term. Uncle Herschel, from Star and System added to the discussion by examining the term “waer” as possibly meaning ‘truth’ rather than ‘oath’, thus making the term warlock referring to “truth-breaker”. Uncle Herschel is asking us to consider the more metaphysical implications when he says the following:
We can imagine something of the Old Norse world from whence truth arises from oaths or promises. Recall, for example, the spear of Odin on which was engraved every promise and oath he had made. These oaths provided not just the foundation of his rule, and that of the gods, but the very foundation for what was to count as truth and reality for the rest of the cosmos. The oaths of the gods are the metaphysical truths of humanity.
Taken in this sense, the Warlock need not be some dishonest lier. Rather, he might be the person who can make the gods break their previous oaths, calling them to new ones. In doing so, the Warlock breaks truth in the sense of recrafting the very structure of reality. To play on my previous interpretations of magic as making the impossible actual, the Truth-Breaker makes what was previously impossible based on the seemingly stable truths of reality suddenly possible and actual. Breaking truth means rewriting reality.
I’m reminded of so many of the tellings of Merlin as an warlock and sorcerer who is caught in the remaking of the oaths and rule of law in the land. But the thing is that this requires a strong sense of conviction because even other magicians or witches are not necessarily by one’s side if one pays attention to some of the stories and myths.
If you look around the Pagan internet you will find more people calling themselves Warlocks nowadays, a word which has a definite ring to it. This is in sharp contrast to 30 years ago, when (as is still quite commonly stated) you would be told in no uncertain terms that “Warlock” was a term of insult meaning “oath breaker”, and that a male Witch was still a Witch. Pretty much the only people who were publicly identifying with the term were Satanists, and well, you know how Pagans are about Satanism (usually in some form of denial).
Nowadays there are quite a lot more people picking up the term and identifying with it, eg the Feri initiate Storm Faerywolf, and he’s not alone.
The Online Etymology Dictionary says the following of the word:
“Old English wærloga ‘traitor, liar, enemy,’ from wær ‘faith, a compact’ (cf. Old High German wara ‘truth,’…
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