Drycraft is a word that never was, but should have been.

Old English had two common words for the practitioners of magic. There was the popular wiccecræft, from which we get witchcraft; this referred to one who acted as a magician, a soothsayer, or a herbalist. We do not know how the word wicca originated, but likely candidates are from the Old English word wigle, meaning 'divination', or the Proto-Germanic wikkjaz, meaning 'necromancer'.

Then there was drycræft; this came from the Irish drui, meaning priest -- the same word that gave us Druid. Old English speakers gave it the -cræft suffix, and used it to mean 'one who practices magic'.

The word 'drycraft' was never actually used -- the French came and killed the word drycræft before it could evolve into its modern form, replacing it with the French magique. The villainized form, wiccecræft, was kept, as people need their folk villains. (The Anglo-Saxons had condemned wiccecræft as the evil workings of uppity women as early as 890, and the French are not to blame for this).

However, it is my contention that all practitioners of the pagan arts should be known as drycrafters, and not wiccans. Pagan, after all, is another damned Latin word imported by the French, meaning, approximately, 'rural' or 'hick'. Druidism is a fine word, but that '-ism' is also a Latin suffix. As a matter of fact, even the word 'Druid' has Latin influence, as the Romans took the Gaulish word Druides (singular) and adapted it to their own tongue before feeding it back into the English language.

It should be noted that Old English writers, being educated men who feared the Christian God, would use drycræft in a general and pejorative sense. They might, for example, talk of the heathen Egyptian Priests as working through drycræft. However, 'drycraft' remains as the most appropriate term for the modern-day equivalent of the ancient practitioners of Gaelic spirituality. Assuming that those practitioners are sufficiently pedantic in their word usage.

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