Three words in English rooted in Paganism

The other day I wrote about Valentine’s Day (BIG thank you to those who read and liked it). So thinking about The Roman’s and their pagan practices, traditions and holidays that have somehow managed to find their way into some of our modern-day customs, made me want to dig into whether any of the words we have today in English are similarly connected to early paganism.

I found three that I thought I’d share in this post today and two of them surprised me and one was new to me. I wonder if you’ll be surprised by any of them also?

The first, a noun and the one I didn’t know before, is


but after reading about it, I thought what a great word! I’ll definitely be slipping it into conversation from time to time lol.

You have heard of tarot readers, right? Those people who read your future by turning over a pack of illustrated cards one by one? You’ve probably seen it on television or in films even if you’ve never actually been to one yourself. (I did many many years ago, but that’s a whole other blog post…).

These are a few examples from a typical pack of tarot cards

Anyway, the person who is having the reading and paying for their fortune to be told is the querent. It has its origins in the word ‘query’ , which of course you all know is ‘to ask’. Of course you can see the link, can’t you, to other words like question or inquiry too. If you look it up in the Oxford dictionary, you’ll see it for yourself.

So next time you ask, or someone asks you a question, you/they are the QUERENT. This tradition of reading tarot cards in order to answer people’s questions about what fate has planned for their lives has been practiced for thousands of years.

The second one, while not a new word to me, was one I had no idea had pagan roots until I began my research and that word is


Ok, I’m not going to insult you all by finding a photograph of a circle lol, I think we all know what this shape looks like. But finding out it had pagan origins made me think about some of the phrases we typically use in English.

Firstly, for early practitioners of paganism, the circle held a sacred, very special place in all they did. The circle was the place inside which they worshipped. If you were inside the circle you were in a peaceful place, a positive place, a calm place.

However, if you were on the outside, you were in a negative and disruptive, darker place.

Today in English we have phrases such as:

  • Let’s welcome him/her into the inner circle
  • She/he has a tight circle of loyal friends
  • I like to move within a wide range of social circles

All of these phrases are used to describe something positive that is happening to us or a particular person at any given time. There has to be a connection back to the ancient pagan meaning of the word circle. And which of us hasn’t at some point jumped at the chance to become part of some ‘inner circle’ either socially or more specifically to get ahead career-wise?

The last one, again, not one I would have linked to paganism before my research, so I too learned a lot from today’s post lol, is


How many of you have a degree? Maybe a masters degree too? Well this word also has roots in paganism and was around long before the concept of ‘getting a university degree‘ was ever dreamed of.

So apparently, early pagans, if they wanted to, could learn all about their religion in a methodical and planned way by studying everything there was to know about the customs and practices over a set period. These periods of time lasted for a year and a day. After exactly one year and a day’s worth of study had been completed, an individual was said to have their FIRST DEGREE.

If they continued studying they could earn their SECOND DEGREE. If they wanted to really scale dizzying heights and start up their own coven of pagan worshippers, they needed a THIRD DEGREE.

Doesn’t knowing this make you wonder if this might be the reason why degrees all across the world typically (not always, for example doctors and veterinarians to name two) but usually an undergraduate degree takes THREE years to accomplish. Just like the pagan third degree. Interesting thought.

Some of you probably know about degree systems used in martial arts, I personally don’t know a single thing about martial arts except having a black belt means you can kick everyone’s ___. LOL. What degree a black belt is though, I couldn’t tell you, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was probably a higher degree. Please do let me know if you have privy knowledge from within the ‘inner circles of the martial arts world‘, just drop me a comment below, I’d love to know.

So my querents just think about how ancient some of the language we use in English actually is and where it stems from, as you rush around building your circles of friends and amassing your degrees.

Well all I hope you enjoy reading this post as much as I enjoyed finding all the bits and putting it together. I have to thank the Roman’s and St Valentine for being the inspiration behind creating this post! haha

See you again soon.

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