Origins of Religious Concepts Definitions S-Z

Salt - Modern definition or use:  A simple spice for cooking and eating

Origins:  Salt was considered one of the main signs of the Devil.  This relationship with evil and salt begins with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  At this destruction, lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt for disobeying orders and being tempted to look back.  Since then there have been superstitions and magickal properties attributed to salt.  Witches either use salt for their ceremonies, or they cannot touch salt, depending on your superstition.  If you spill salt you should throw some of it over your left shoulder.  Why?  Because the spilled salt attracts the devil, (Memories of Sodom and Gamorrah) and throwing it over your left shoulder will throw it in his eyes and make him leave you alone.

Sapphire- Modern definition or use:  A semiprecious stone made of Corundum and coloration's.  

Origins:  Although this is a word that most people do not associate with a specific religious concept, it is one of the highest concepts in Biblical text.  The name sapphire comes from three (3) letters that seem to signify a higher ideal.  The same three (3) letter word describes all books "sefir" thereby associating the word with knowledge.  The major ten (10) concepts of Kabballah and Jewish mystical study are called "sefara" (plural form). One branch of Judaism is the Sefardaic.  Biblical text is called Sefaratic text.  There are even statements in the the Torah say the original ten (10) commandments were carved on large slabs of Sapphire (no, that is not native stone of the region).  Although it is not associated in modern times, Sapphire is an important concept of Biblical belief.

'Satan'Modern definition or use:  The Ultimate evil, The devil. 

Origin:  I use  single quotations around this word as it is not as it actually appears in Biblical text.  Every Hebrew reference to 'Satan' is actually the phrase "the Satan" which in Hebrew means "The Accuser" or "The Adversary".  In original Hebrew texts, the Accuser was a being sent to earth by G-d to decry false prophets.  His job and duties was simply to show that the people falsely claiming to be prophets were exposed.  He did this usually by showing how they were violating scripture or rules of the Torah.  If you re-read the passages in which "Hasatan" appears with this idea in mind, you will notice a subtle difference in meaning.  Later usage of the word bound this adversary to the newly created 'Gahenna' afterlife punishment and made the devil and hell concept that we hear about today.

Shamanism - Modern definition or use:  Indian and Native American religions with animal and nature worship 

Origins: Actually Shamanism is a Hindu and Persian concept.  The original concept is that the Shamans or priests can influence good and evil spirits.  It was considered Idolatry by most western religions.  The Native American religions were also concerned with spirits. In Native American Belief, most of the spirits were in the form of nature and animals.  They also had a Medicine Man that was in charge of the spirits for the tribe.  The ‘Wakan Wicasa’ or ‘Holy Man’, in Lakota Sioux language, was considered to have great personal power.  His power was similar to Shamans of Persian belief, and as such he was called a Shaman by those of other religions.  The modern popularity of the Native American beliefs has made this cultural insult into a modern and respected holy man once again.  The term is not Native American.

Virgin- Modern definition or use:  A woman or man that has not had sex.  Something that  is pure

 Origins:  Although most accept the above definitions as the ancient meaning, there are also a few obsolete uses to the word.  Virgin also meant the first time.  A virgin birth was simply the first child someone had.  This meaning has become more recently used for "maiden."  As a modern example, the virgin or maiden voyage of a ship was the first voyage it took.   One of the religious meanings of virgin is simply "the members of a religious order of women that has taken a vow of chastity".  In this type of virginity, prior actions are irrelevant. One of the most controversial definitions of virgin was the belief that until a woman was wed to her husband, sex did not alter virginity.  If an agreement to marry was never completed, even if the woman had completed sexual intercourse with her future husband, she was still considered a virgin.

Wake - Modern definition or use:  A viewing of a dead person before their burial. 

Origins:  A wake is not an ancient burial custom.  Unlike today, not much was known about lead poisoning before the 1800s.  One common problem was the consumption of alcohol in pewter cups.  The alcohol would bleed the lead out of the pewter, and people would go into shock from the alcohol and lead combination.  This shock could create unconsciousness, comas, or even death.  It became a custom to have family and friends sit and watch a collapsed person, waiting for them to rise.  If they did not rise in a reasonable amount of time, they were buried. This custom of waiting for them to “wake” has been modified in modern times to our last view of the loved one.  

Warlock -  Modern definition or use:   A male witch or an evil devil worshipper.

  Origins:   The word warlock was originally synonymous with "traitor, liar, and deceiver."  Traitor; also meaning Faithless, changed the word's meaning to 'monster or dragon'. With the advent of Christianity in England and Scotland, the meaning changed slightly once again.  The Scottish adopted the words meaning to one that made a pact with the deceiver, or devil.  It then became its modern wizard like evil doing person.  With 1960s television bringing the word to popularity on "Bewitched", the popular meaning became simply a male witch.


Wedding rings - Modern definition or use:  a symbol of undying love and a bond to each other

Origins:  contrary to most popular conceptions, the wedding band was not a symbol of bondage to one another, it was actually a symbol of nobility and family.  The original wedding rings were signet rings.  Signet rings were ancient rings that held a family crest and proved your connection to a family.  To give someone your ring is to give them authority of your family as a trustee and a noble.

Witch- Modern definition or use:  A practitioner of forbidden arts and worships.  

Origins:  Strangely enough, this simple word has made more controversy and death than any other single word in the Bible.  The entire crusades, the witch trials and much prejudice has occurred  over this word.  The saddest part of it is that the entire word is a sad mistranslation.  The word that is in the Torah is the word for "sorceress" or possibly the word for "well poisoner". with  a slightly different spacing, the phrase assumed to say sorceress may also be read as “ordained in blood” The phrase (or commandment) literally says "Sorceress no resurrect," or  “Ordained in blood, no resurrect”. This was translated by people of King James' time to mean "Witches must die".  They did not understand that a sorceress in Biblical times was not a "witch", but rather “a women learned in the Torah".  It was not a religious prejudice statement, it was a gender prejudice statement.  How the "no resurrect" became a command to kill is unclear.  My personal opinion is that the entire statement was against the poisoners of wells, mass murderers of the desert, or  those whose beliefs were bloody and violent enough to be ‘ordained in blood;’ not against women or other religions.  To add insult to injury, the family of the 'accused witch' was forced to pay for the wood and stake that the witch was burned upon.

Yule- Modern definition or use:  The season of Christmas and the Nativity.  A celebration of the Birth of the Christian Savior.

  Origins:  One of the most contested beliefs in modern times, Yule was thought to be originally nothing more than the Pagan winter solstice celebration.  In this celebration, the legendary Oak King and the Holly King would fight for control of the world.  The Oak King represented light and community while the Holly King represented darkness and self introspection.  At winter solstice the Oak King won the battle, bringing a return of the light.  It was traditional to decorate homes with cut holly and put lights in oak trees.  When Christianity moved into the Celtic regions, it absorbed this ritual and altered the meaning to fit their own religious ideals. 

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