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Switch to Forum Live View Witchcraft vs. Sorcery
3 years ago  ::  Feb 13, 2012 - 4:44PM #1
Eveningstar69
Posts: 15
What separates Witchcraft from Sorcery?

I have given this question a great deal of thought and found that my answers only lead to a plethra of questions.

Therefore, I would like to hear your input, even if you can only answer a few of the questions: 
What is Witchcraft
What is Sorcery?
What separates the two?
What articles/books would you suggest someone read who is interested in either/or?

Note: This post has also been made on the Sorcery forum

Much appreciation,
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3 years ago  ::  Feb 22, 2012 - 8:39PM #2
Sacrificialgoddess
Posts: 9,496
Sound to me like you are talking high magick versus low.
Dark Energy. It can be found in the observable Universe. Found in ratios of 75% more than any other substance. Dark Energy. It can be found in religious extremists, in cheerleaders. To come to the conclusion that Dark signifies mean and malevolent would define 75% of the Universe as an evil force. Alternatively, to think that some cheerleaders don't have razors in their snatch is to be foolishly unarmed.

-- Tori Amos
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3 years ago  ::  Feb 22, 2012 - 9:53PM #3
gorm-sionnach
Posts: 1,663

What qualifies as "witchcraft" is dependent upon the period and culture in question. Witchcraft for the more recent part of European history, for example, has had associations with predominently maleific acts of magic. Modern witchcraft, predominently expressed via modern pagan religions/spirituality has done much to reclaim the term and put a more positive spin on it. Keeping in mind the dangers of projecting modern ideas onto the past, the picture is not particularly clear. Cunning folk, for example, have been said to have praciced witchcraft, but often as a counter to the maleific spells of witches. Among the later Gaelic cultures (esp. Ireland and Scotland) there was a difference between what was understood as beneficial magics v. witchcraft; the later being almost exclusively associated with, well evil. This may be expected, considering that both countries were thoroughly Christian by the 17th and 18th centuries, but then there is the issue of those who were sought out to counter the effects of evil spells and curses; not exactly Christian orthodoxy.

As far as sorcery goes, in some contexts it is cognate with witchcraft, even maintaining the maelific associations. In other contexts it can reflect the differences SG mentioned: broadly between folk magic and ceremonial magic. Modern witchcraft traditions, again speaking in broad terms, incorporate elements from CM and folk traditions.


On an annecdotal level, I have met many who refer to themselves as witches and none who refer to themselves as sorcerers. This may reflect my own limited experience, but the later term doesn't seem to have been something which many cared to reclaim; perhaps owing to an overexposure in fantasy genre lit.

Truth in our hearts, Strength in our arms, Fulfillment in our tongues.
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