The Difference Between a Spell Checker and a Spelling Checker

Don McLeod 1997

Having been in the Pagan scene for many years, but being new to computers, I was fascinated when I saw a program that was called a "Spell Checker". My naive mind had visions of a program that would check the contents of the spells that I typed up. I imagined that it might make suggestions such as, "You've forgotten to specify the type of incense to be used", or..."You are supposed to use a green candle for money spells, not red!" I soon found, however, that it only checked the spelling of the words, not the wording of the spells.

I discovered this difference during the course of updating my (computerized) Book of Shadows. I had typed up an ancient spell called "The Wicca Charm", and to my horror, when I pressed the Spell Checker option, the computer altered the wording significantly. Those of you who know more about computers than myself (which is probably everyone except the natives of the Upper Amazon) would undoubtably know that when a Spell Checker finds a word that is unfamiliar, it assumes that a typing error has been made, and it substitutes a word that it thinks may have been intended. I however, did not understand this basic premise.

And since Pagans tend to have a language that is littered with words that other people do not normally use, the results from using a Spell Checker can be hilarious, as was the case with the computer's versions of "The Wicca Charm".

The original spell is shown immediately below, and following that is the revised version that resulted from using the Spell Checker program.


Wicca followers heed the call
of Lammas to Imbolg,
dancing deosil, never widdershins
as we worship ye old religion.

From the grimoire's magic true,
we find that we now have the runes;
& the sigils that will bring power
to our Sabbat's witching hour.

With a pentacle in hand,
await the Goddess's command,
then cast your circle with athame
and with a censer burning vervain.

Throw your talisman into the fire,
and to you comes what you desire.
Then jump astride a besom firm
and ride until the talisman burns.

The computer-revised version is


Knicker followers heed the call
lamingtons to imbibe,
dancing docile, never widdling
we worship a yelled religion.

From the grim one's magic true,
we find that we now have the runs;
& the sickness that will bring power
to our sad bat's twitching hour.

With a testicle in hand,
await the Goddess's command
then cast your circle with shame
and with a sense of burning vermin.

Throw your tallest man into the fire,
and to you comes what you desire.
Then jump astride a bosom firm
and ride until the tallest man burns.

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