I've been reading online lately a lot around the issues in the representation of males in the Craft today. I thought that an interesting development in the modern Craft around the reclaiming of the term Warlock to refer to male witches. There are a number of interesting articles out there looking towards the etymology of the term warlock and its definition of oath-breaker and traitor as well.
One explanation of the usage of the term comes from old Scottish use:
The Scots dialect word Warlock, meaning a cunning man or male white witch, is rarely used today except pejoratively. Because dictionary definitions have given it meanings like "liar", it has fallen from use, but it is clear that in reality it relates to the power to shut in or enclose, i.e. a person with the capability of making binding spells. This is found in the Norse tale Eir¡ks Saga Rauda. The story is set in Greenland, some years after the Christian religion was imposed. A V"lva (wise woman) conducting a ceremony asks the assembly that a song called Vardlokkur should be sung to enable the continuation of the ceremony.No-one knows it, except a girl on a visit from Iceland. She is Christian, but has been taught it by her nurse. Reluctant at first to sing the Vardlokkur, knowing it to be Pagan, eventually she is cajoled into singing, and the ceremony is completed without interference. The power of the warlock, then, is to ward off evil spirits and to lock or bind them up. - http://www.ladyoftheearth.com/witch/warlock.txt
The same link goes on to discuss the idea that warlock may come from the definition of "a caller of spirits". The same link also mentions references to be found within the Alexandrian Book of Shadows which I find interesting. If one accepts the idea that a warlock is a binder of oaths and secrets within the Wiccan traditions which I find interesting but personally would be inclined to believe that there is an element of seeking another title for a role found within Wicca's ceremonial beginnings. In the Golden Dawn tradition there is the role of the Sentinel, who presides over the candidate during initiation and the Keryx who secures the lodge/temple. Perhaps during middle-English period of history the medieval MSS provided experimentation with ritual circles and the need to ward the ritual space in a circle. Then again maybe it does relate to warding through talismans and charms and as such has little to no connection to ceremonial work of any kind?
Storm Faerywolf essay (found here) repeats some of the assertions of the true etymology of the word as well as links into some other elements of the word in a modern sense. Both links, thankfully, do acknowledge that words have changed meaning over time through progressive and evolutionary associations. I'd be very interested to hear other's thoughts?