I had a thought the other day (yes, I know – thinking is dangerous) and wondered about the various names/titles used for those who practice/use “special abilities” in fantasy and/or cast spells (spellcasting).
I checked “spellcasting” first and found this: “The term is most often found in a variety of communities. Within the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying community, spellcasting is a skill often used by druids, clerics, and wizards. Spellcasting is also associated with occult communities, such as those practicing witchcraft. In addition, there is a long history of alleged spellcasting activities in most human societies, such as forms of curses, blessings, rain dances, or trinkets for protection.There are many forms of spellcasters, and thus an equal variety of spellcasting. Some of the main spellcasting varieties include: (1) arcane: the scientific manipulation of natural energies, often through the intermingling of oral, gesticulative, and physical components. (2) psychic: manipulation of the world through powers harnessed through the mind. The casting of a psychic “spell” usually requires intense discipline and focus. (3) spiritual: manipulation of energy derived from parallel spirit planes, whether in the form of communicating with, or summoning, spirits, phantoms, or poltergeists. (4) witchcraft: tapping into natural energies in order to release them into the physical plane, often through meditation, burning of candles, chanting or reciting incantations, performing physical rituals and making herbal preparations. (5) divine: tapping into the energy derived from a deity. Methods thus vary according to which deity is being invoked, but usually a “sacrifice” is preferred, whether in the form of an animal, a valuable object, or money.
Thus, descriptively, there are two major varieties of spellcasting, the manipulative and the harnessing. Harnessing varieties of magic are usually harmless as they do not change the natural order of things. However, manipulative spellcasting, in its extreme forms, such as when opening a parallel dimension, can disturb the natural fabric, and thus should only be used with care. [from here: http://www.reference.com/browse/Spellcasting]
I then checked the dictionary for each term to determine which of them were possibly “gender specific” that I didn’t realize were gender specific.
- Enchanter: a magician; sorcerer.
- Enchantress: a woman who practices magic; sorceress.
- Mage: a magician.
- Magic: the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature. Compare contagious magic, imitative magic, & sympathetic magic.
contagious magic: magic that attempts to affect a person through something once connected with him or her, as a shirt once worn by the person or a footprint left in the sand; a branch of sympathetic magic based on the belief that things once in contact are in some way permanently so, however separated physically they may subsequently become.
imitative magic: magic that attempts to control the universe through the mimicking of a desired event, as by stabbing an image of an enemy in an effort to destroy him or her or by performing a ritual dance imitative of the growth of food in an effort to secure an abundant supply; a branch of sympathetic magic based on the belief that similar actions produce similar results.
sympathetic magic: magic predicated on the belief that one thing or event can affect another at a distance as a consequence of a sympathetic connection between them.
- Magician: (1) an entertainer who is skilled in producing illusion by sleight of hand, deceptive devices, etc.; conjurer. or (2) a person who is skilled in magic; sorcerer.
- Sorcerer: a person who practices socery, black magician; wizard.
- Sorceress: a woman who practices sorcery; witch.
- Sorcery: the art, practices, or spells of a person who is supposed to exercise supernatural powers through the aid of evil spirits; black magic; witchery.
- Warlock: a man who practices the black arts; a male witch; sorcerer.
- Witch: a person, now especially a woman, who professes or is supposed to practice magic, especially black magic or the black art; sorceress. Compare warlock.
- Wizard: a person who practices magic, magician or sorcerer.
[definitions from: http://dictionary.reference.com/ site]
That the dictionary defined wizards, magicians, and mages as only male surprised me. I had’t considered those gender-specific. That only leaves three possibilities for a female spellcaster: Sorceress, Enchantress, or Witch.
I’m pretty sure I’m going to ignore the dictionary gender-specific definition for wizard, magicians and mages. What about you? Any thoughts?