By Aidan Kelly
[Snip] The vast majority of Pagans in America are those who call themselves Witches. But what exactly does “Witch” mean? As linguists know, the etymology of a word often has very little to do with how the word is actually used. Instead, one must consider what people might mean when they use the word.
First, many people do still use “witch” to mean “someone who worships the Devil and/or evil and who engages in gratuitous malevolence.” Present-day Witches generally feel that such a definition of “witch” results merely from Christian politics and propaganda. True, there are now “Satanic” churches, the most prominent having been Anton LeVay’s Church of Satan and the Temple of Set, and its members do call themselves “witches,” which certainly confuses outsiders. However, as J. Gordon Melton has pointed out, the members of these churches are actually atheistic, hedonistic, and egoistic in their ethics. Pagan Witches regard Satanist witches as Christian heretics and not Pagan at all. Setting all that aside, we can look at the more positive usages of the term.