What's the difference between these (mage) terms?

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Alchemist
Archmage
Druid
Mage
Magister
Sorcerer/Sorceress
Thaumaturge
Warlock
Witch
Wizard

The only one I think I know is Wizard. Because the wizard Merlin had his powers because was a cambion (half-demon half-man) and Gandalf is a lesser angel. So a wizard is someone who is born with supernatural powers.

I also heard that Druids deal with nature magic, but I'm not sure about that, because one of my friends said that they were wise-men who knew how to deliver babies without anyone dying and heal the sick with herbs.

I would be thankful if anyone cloud explain the difference. Or at least explain what some of these terms means. Thanks in advance. And I'm sorry for my bad English :eek: luckily I'm writing in Polish.

Yours sincerely, Jacék.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Alchemist
Archmage
Druid
Mage
Magister
Sorcerer/Sorceress
Thaumaturge
Warlock
Witch
Wizard
I am going to try to help you a bit with a combination of what the dictionary says about these words, and what I think they mean.

"Alchemist" = one who attempts to transform base metals into gold, find a universal cure for diseases, and/or find a way to prolong life by combining and manipulating various substances. Alchemy was the ancestor of modern chemistry. Although it involved mystical thinking in medieval times, it wasn't really magical in the minds of those who attempted it, I think. It was more semi-scientific, given the limited knowledge of the time.

"Archmage" = a term that seems to appear only in fantasy fiction; a particularly powerful magician.

"Druid" = A member of an order of priests in ancient Gaul and Britain who appear in Welsh and Irish legend as prophets and sorcerers. (There are also modern New Age types who call themselves "druids.") It is more of a religious term that has become associated in modern minds with nature magic.

"Mage" = old-fashioned term for magician (in the sense of "real" magic, not stage magicians).

"Magister" = a Medieval title that just means "Master," used for someone in authority or someone who has an advanced degree in learning. Not necessarily related to magic at all.

"Sorceror" = one who uses "sorcery" (supernatural powers using the aid of spirits.) "Sorceress" = female sorceror.

"Thaumaturge" = an old-fashioned, rare term for any miracle-worker/magician.

"Warlock" = a male witch/sorceror/wizard

"Witch" = 1. a woman with magical powers. In the popular mind, often one in league with Satan. Sometimes use to describe a male with magical powers.
2. any follower (male or female) of the religion of Wicca

"Wizard" = sorceror or magician


You can see there is a lot of overlap here! Note also the very different meanings of the word "witch."
 

Warren_Paul

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The meanings are subjective as everyone might have a different opinion. But personally, if I was asked, these are the answers I'd give:

From a more fictional perspective:


Alchemist - All their magic comes from the use of potions they mix together. They were most famously known for turning lesser metals into gold.
Archmage - A head magician in charge of a group of magicians.
Druid - Harness magic they get in return for taking care of nature.

Mage/Wizard - They are the same thing, but a mage is a generic term for many different spellcasters, but most commonly associated with Wizard. They are general practitioners that have no specialist magic that they harness. A Jack of all trades. A wizard is typically portrayed as a more noble character than other spellcasters.

Magister - They are teachers, not necessarily magicians, but also philosophers and highly educated men. In fiction they are also used as an alternative to 'achemage' to show them having some authority over a city, its people, or other mages. If you had a city that was run by mages, the government in charge, especially the guy right at the top, would be called magisters.

Sorcerer/Sorceress - This one tends to change quite a bit, but typically they are another type of generic spellcaster, but this time halfway between being a wizard, and being a witch. They tend towards the spirit magic of witches, yet consider themselves above witches. Personally, I've always wanted to consider them associated with fire, but that's just me remembering my Ultima 8: Pagan days.

Thaumaturge - The saints from the bible were considered Thaumaturges. They are the people who were able to perform miracles using powers granted them by God.

Warlock - The name for a male witch

Witch - A woman who uses curses and spirit magic to control people.




There are others. Some are:

Conjurer - ability to create physical items and illusions from nothing using magic. On-stage performers are often called this for their almost illusion-like sleight of hand.
Elementalist - ability to manipulate the elements (fire, earth, water, air, life, death) to perform magic.
Necromancer - the ability to raise and control the dead
Enchanter - the ability to empower people and objects with magic that makes them more powerful or feel a certain way.
Magi - A Magi is a tribal mage, but I think in the end they are really just voodoo doctors and astrologers.
 
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I heard that sorcery comes from study and mastery of magic. Morgan Le Fey (also from the Arthurian legend) was a sorceress, she was born a normal human but learned magic through study. And in Tolkien; (evil) men become sorcerers (unlike wizard which you had to be born with).

Also I thought necromancers were people who saw the future in scrambled bones?
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Thanks.

Also. I'd like to add these terms.

Animist
Elementalist
Enchanter
Psion
"Animist" = one who believes in "animism" = the belief that natural objects, natural phenomena, and the universe itself possess souls. A religious term.

"Elementalist" = Ths word doesn't seem to exist outside the realm of fantasy games. It would imply a magic-user who makes use of the aid of elementals. ("Elementals" = spirits that inhabit the four classical elements of earth, air, fire, and water.)

"Enchanter" = magician or sorcerer; one who "enchants" (casts a spell over someone.)

"Psion" = seems to exist only in science fiction; a person with psychic powers (ESP, telekenesis, etc.)
 

Abernovo

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An animist is a follower of a religion which believes that all things, including trees rocks and landscape, have a spirit, and are thus part of a universal whole. Animalist religions believe that is so of only animals, and inanimate objects are have no spirit.

An enchanter is someone who cast spells (enchants) other people.

Warren Paul is correct about the meaning of the word necromancer.


Oops, crossed with Victoria. :)


Oh, and welcome to the Chrons, Kaldonian Mage.
 
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Warren_Paul

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Also I thought necromancers were people who saw the future in scrambled bones?
I was speaking about the version portrayed in fiction. In real life they were practitioners of divination, by calling on the spirits of the dead.

But reading bones wasn't really a practice of necromancers that I'm aware of. That was more a tribal thing. Voodoo priests were well known for it.
 

Warren_Paul

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I heard that sorcery comes from study and mastery of magic. Morgan Le Fey (also from the Arthurian legend) was a sorceress, she was born a normal human but learned magic through study. And in Tolkien; (evil) men become sorcerers (unlike wizard which you had to be born with).
Yes, they are typically made out to be lesser than wizards, painted in a negative light.
 

goldhawk

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Warlock - a Scottish word that means oath-breaker.

Witch - a practitioner of magick derived from the word wit (wise) or wick (woven), nobody knows which.
 

Karn Maeshalanadae

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In fantasy, these are the terms I often use each for.

Alchemist: A scientifically-based practitioner, often relying on the use of scientific methods such as potion making, astronomy, and molecular generation.

Archmage: An extremely powerful spellcaster, mage, wizard, sorcerer, and archmage I feel are just ranks within a heirarchy of general practitioners based on the power of their spells and the strength of the creatures they can summon.

Druid: The druids actually existed within Celtic lands before the arrival of the Roman Legions headed by Caesar. They were a religious order, but beyond that, I really don't know much more. Within fantasy, they are a clerical order, rather than a mage order, that worship and harness the powers of nature and some control of animals. They often have healing abilities, much as non-druid clerics are meant to have, and they often have the ability to shapeshift into the animals of the wild.

Sorcerer: Similar to wizards and mages, but more attune to the spiritual side of things, but not nearly as much so as a witch.

Which leads to the witch: An (often) solitary type of spellcaster, sometimes covens can be found, and rather than delve into base arcane like wizards or mages, they delve into the occult. They tend not to have their own borne powers, but are granted power by spiritual beings, whether they are the spirits of the deceased, demons, or what have you. They don't particularly hold water with any type of true "god" like most civil clerics, but neither are they completely on the side of nature as druids. Witches also tend to dabble in potions and elixirs, but again, not solely so as do alchemists. Warlocks are the male version of witches.


The others, I really don't use, and I have really no kind of knowledge for.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Victoria and goldhawk have the traditional definitions right. Everything else comes from 20th and 21st century fiction.

So it depends on how historically based your fantasy world is, whether you might want to go with the traditional definitions, follow along with what other people are doing in fantasy at the moment, or make up your own. Since it's your story, you can choose whatever feels right for your world.

Warren_Paul said:
Necromancer - the ability to raise and control the dead
Almost right. Necromancy was the practice of raising or communicating with the dead for purposes of divination, and a necromancer was the one who practiced this type of magic. However, the word began to be used in a more general sense to describe anyone who practiced black magic or sorcery.

The use of bones in magic is associated with practitioners of Voodoo and with Shamans (either one of these a subject which could spark an entire discussion of its own).

The history of the term mage is too tangled for me to explain. Here is what wikipedia says: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magi
 

Warren_Paul

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Almost right. Necromancy was the practice of raising or communicating with the dead for purposes of divination, and a necromancer was the one who practiced this type of magic. However, the word began to be used in a more general sense to describe anyone who practiced black magic or sorcery.

The use of bones in magic is associated with practitioners of Voodoo and with Shamans (either one of these a subject which could spark an entire discussion of its own).
I agree and said as much in the follow-up post I made. Necromancers in fiction are quite a bit different to Necromancers in history.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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I was actually agreeing with what you said in both messages, except about necromancy being the art and necromancer the practitioner (that was why I said "almost"), but I see now that it didn't come out that way.

I'm operating on even less sleep than usual the last two days, so it's a wonder if I'm coherent at all.
 

Warren_Paul

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No worries. It's Christmas Day after all. I think we all get a little that way. I was up to all hours of the night baking.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Christmas Eve here, and a few hours to go until Christmas.

Up to all hours is usual for me (insomnia) but generally I can sleep in. So my problem is that I have to get up at the same time everyone else does this week. And of course particularly early on Christmas morning, because the grandchildren will be astir.

But I can sympathize with the late night baking. I've done that in the days when late night really was late night for me.
 

MelodiazZ

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PLEASE may I have your intention ?

I've made an account here only to correct this so hear me out.
Warlock are NOT "the male version of witches" (you all dismissed it as if it was the easiest to explain)

As said by goldhawk warlock means oath-breaker, the witch who were exiled from their coven (or weren't part of one to begin with) were called Warlock. As most men dabbling with the dark art did it alone (without a coven) the term got tied to masculinity.
 

Cathbad

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PLEASE may I have your intention ?

I've made an account here only to correct this so hear me out.
Warlock are NOT "the male version of witches" (you all dismissed it as if it was the easiest to explain)
Just looked this up: the definition did say "the male version of witches", but there was an attached rider, declaring the definition to be the current usage of the word. I think they're right on that point - though it's just another example of "dumbing down".

I don't see it now, but a definition I saw in the 90s said Warlock meant "All Knowing" and could mean either male or female. This definition might be solely Gardnerian Witchcraft, since that was what I was studying at the time. (I recall there could only be one Warlock at a time, too.)
 

The Judge

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From the Online Etymology Dictionary, to which Goldhawk linked without expanding to give the full detail:

Old English wærloga "traitor, liar, enemy, devil," from wær "faith, fidelity; a compact, agreement, covenant," from Proto-Germanic *wera- (source also of Old High German wara"truth," Old Norse varar "solemn promise, vow"), from PIE root *were-o- "true, trustworthy." Second element is an agent noun related to leogan "to lie" (see lie (v.1); and compare Old English wordloga "deceiver, liar").​
Original primary sense seems to have been "oath-breaker;" given special application to the devil (c. 1000), but also used of giants and cannibals. Meaning "one in league with the devil" is recorded from c. 1300. Ending in -ck (1680s) and meaning "male equivalent of a witch" (1560s) are from Scottish.​
Evidently, whatever its origins its current definition has been around for over 450 years, so I think it's fine to use it in that sense.
 

Dave

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Use of the word "witch" has also changed over time. It has mostly been a misogynistic slur. Women didn't need to practise magic at all, only to speak out of turn and to have a mind of their own. When women were generally uneducated, and thought feeble and unintelligent, then a woman who was more knowledgeable then most men could only have gained such knowledge by magic. You will still see women being called "witches" by men today in newspapers and on social media.
 
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