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American Sign Language: "Wicca"


A Wiccan, Elisabeth Miles (elisabeth.miles21) writes:
Dr. Bill Vicars,

I have taught myself for a long time from your website, so first let me say thank you. It has helped me at work, where we have a large Deaf community and I have recently found your YouTube videos and I learn faster from them and I love them!

My question is, I saw that you have signs for Jewish and Jehovah's Witness. I am a Wiccan and I did not know what sign to use for that. I have a relatively large Wiccan/Pagan population where I am at as well and I was wondering what you might use to sign those religions.

Thank you very much!

-Elisabeth Miles

Hello :)

I haven't come across a widely used sign for "Wicca" or "Wiccan" yet.  Most people will tell you to "spell" it.  (Which is a "pun" if you think about it. Heh.)

However, there is a sign for "witch."  (See: WITCH)
The sign for "witch" varies widely from region to region but there are a couple of common characteristics to the sign:
1.  It is done on or starting from the nose.
2. It involves an "X" hand or a modified X hand.
3.  It originally represented either a large nose and/or a wart on the nose.

Ways it appears in the "literature" (by "literature" I'm referring to either "video dictionaries" or printed dictionaries of sign):

1.  An "X" hand, palm facing forward, starting from the nose, makes a small forward arch (as if showing an elongated/hooked nose.
2.  An "index" hand, palm forward, fingertip aimed upward, starts a few inches in front of the nose, moves backward while changing into an "X" hand, ends near or touching the nose.
3.  An "X" hand moves off of the nose, downward, and makes contact with a the other hand which is also in an "X" handshape (palm-side to palm-side).
4.  The side of the index finger in an "X"-hand shape, palm facing left (if you are right handed) is placed on top of the upper area of the nose, makes a small upward-forward-then-downward arch and touches the nose again (as if representing a bump or wart on the nose.

Of course, none of those signs are overly "pretty" nor "respectful." (Sorry. I didn't invent them. I'm just describing them.)

Which brings up the question: Within Wiccan culture and practice are there certain hand gestures of which a caricature could possibly be symbolized into a standard "sign" for Wiccan?  For example, the "live long and prosper" sign from Star Trek is sometimes used as the ASL sign for "Vulcan" simply because it is easily recognizable and "it works."
Dr. Bill

Dr. Bill,

After doing some extensive research and asking around several pagan/wiccan blogs, and online communities of Deaf Pagans, the only conclusion I could find is that there is no "one" way to sign it. Apparently it varies depending on the location of the signer's origin. Originally, it was suggested to use "nature" "prayer" but since nature is not a single word, but a variety, that wouldn't really work. "Magic" "prayer" would be the next suggestion from the majority of people though not all wiccans practice magick. Other signs that we recognize are the triple moon (the triple crescent), and the pentacle but I don't know how well you could really sign those.

"....Be aware tho… there is no established vocabulary of Pagan signs – most Deaf people invent the signs that work for them. My sign for “Witch” might not necessarily be the same sign that another Deaf Pagan out in California might use. We are so spread out and isolated from one another, that we have never really been able to get together to discuss and develop a common vocabulary to express Pagan concepts in ASL...."
 - Ocean of the Deaf Pagan Crossroads website.

Sorry for the long response but this is of a great interest to me. Your thoughts?

-Elisabeth Miles

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