Around this time of the year, the word “witch” starts creeping into our vocabulary more and more.
Perhaps that explains why this blog’s Word Press stats indicate that two of the most popular search engine terms bringing people to Deaf Pagan Crossroads in the past few days have been
1) ASL sign for witch
2) american sign language pagan
I am going to assume that people are trying to find “appropriate” signs for these two words, which they can use at this time.
I say “appropriate” in quotes…because while such signs do exist (particularly for witch, I have only seen one on the internet for pagan); neither sign is one that a true witch or practicing Pagan would utilize, and I do not endorse either of them.
Now, before we begin…I would like to encourage any and all of my readers who have gotten this far in reading this post to please first go and read an earlier post I wrote about “Pagan Sign Language” here:
I think the above post will help you to get a better understanding of sign language and its use in the Deaf Pagan Community.
The one sign for Pagan that I recall once seeing on an on-line vocabulary site for American Sign Language used some type of multi-sign combination which basically translated into “no-believe-God.”
This of course is false. Pagans do believe in deity… but not necessarily in the Christian concept of deity. Most Pagans do invoke a Goddess and/or God during their rituals. So such a sign would not be accurate.
The sign that I personally use for P/pagan is a P handshape used similarly to the sign for”religion” – to represent Paganism as a legitimate group of religions in the same way that monotheistic religions such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are recognized.
If you don’t know how to make the P handshape or what the sign for religion is, then you’re going to have a problem. My advice would be that you first develop your basic ASL skills… then you’re going to have an easier time understanding what I’m talking about.
This is one of the issues that I have with people who send me emails asking for “Pagan signs.” We don’t have pagan sign language – what we have is adaptations of American Sign Language (ASL) to accomodate pagan vocabulary. And since ASL is a visual language, I am left to wonder how these individuals expected me to explain how to make these signs.
Yes, I can put videos which explain such, but at this time I do not have a video camera nor the technical know-how to do so. Hopefully that will change in the near future.
But until then, folks…bear with me, okay?
For those of you with little to no background in sign language, let me explain this…
In teaching sign language, there are some components which go into the creation of individual signs:
1) Handshape – how the hands & fingers are positioned for that sign
2) Location – where on the body that sign is made
3) Movement – how the hands, fingers, and face/body are moved to create the sign
4) Direction – in which way does the movement proceed
So… the sign for “pagan” would be a P handshape at shoulder, moving outwards from the shoulder in a lower-arching formation.
To get a better sense of the sign, check out this link for a video of the sign for “religion”…
Now, instead of that crossed fingers handshape, which is the letter R in the manual-visual alphabet… use a P handshape instead.
Your location, movement, and direction should remain the same as in the video.
I hope that this answers the question for those who have been using the search engines to locate such.
Keep in mind that this is MY sign for “pagan”…and while it has been adopted by many I have come in contact with, I do not declare it to be the definitive sign for such. There may be other signs in use out there.
If in fact you have seen or developed your own sign for “pagan,” I would certainly be interested in learning other signs for such! Please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email with your own sign. The more we can discuss such vocabulary and our own concepts for expressing such vocabulary in a manual-visual way, the more such signs can be owned and disseminated by the Deaf Pagan Community.
Oh…by the way, I am planning to put up another post with my thoughts on a sign for “witch.” Stay tuned!