isis unveiled: chapter x (outside the walls…)

“It appears that about the year 1678, a certain divine, named John Webster, wrote Criticisms and Interpretations of Scripture, against the existence of witches, and other “superstitions”. Finding the work “a weak and impertinent piece”, Dr. More criticized it in a latter to Glanvil, the author of Sadducismus Triumphatus, and as an appendix sent a treatise on witchcraft and explanations of the word witch, itself.

This document is very rare, but we possess it in a fragmentary form in an old manuscript, having seen it mentioned besides only in an insignificant work of 1820, on Apparitions, for it appears that the document itself was a long since out of print.

The words witch and wizard, according to Dr. More, signify no more than a wise man or a wise woman. In the word wizard, it is plain at the very sight; and “the most plain and least operose deduction of the name of witch, is from wit, whose derived adjective might be wittigh or wittich, and by contraction, afterwards witch; as the noun wit is from the verb to weet, which is, to know. So that a witch thus far, is no more than a knowing woman; which answers exactly to the Latin word saga, according to that of Festus, sagae dictae anus quae multa sciunt.”

This definition of the word appears to us the more plausible, as it exactly answers the evident meaning of the Slavonian-Russian names for witches and wizards. The former is called vyedma, and the latter vyedmak, both from the verb to know, vedat or vyedat; the root, moreover, being positively Sanscrit.

“Veda”, says Max Muller, in his Lecture on the Vedas, “means originally knowing, or knowledge. Veda is the same word which appears in Greek οιδα, I know [the digamma, vau being omitted], and in the English wise, wisdom, to wit.”

Furthermore, the Sanscrit word vidma, answering to the German wir wissen, means literally “we know”. It is a great pity that the eminent philologists, while giving in his lecture the Sanscrit, Greek, Gothic Anglo-Saxon, and German comparative roots of this word, has neglected the Slavonian.”

H. P. Blavatsky

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