These are terms that one most frequently comes across when studying or discussing Paganism, Wicca, or Witchcraft. There will probably be some slight variances based on individual interpretation, as well as some ritual tools used by specific paths that are not listed here. These are the definitions as I understand and use them.
Akasha – The fifth element, the omnipresent spiritual power that permeates the universe. It is the energy out of which the Elements formed. (Dryghton)
Alpha/The Alpha State – Occurs when the brain’s activity is between 7 and 20 cycles per second. Alpha is the brain’s state when we are daydreaming, eating, or watching T.V. It is the relaxed state desired for the brain to be in when working magic or performing ritual. The other brain cycles are Beta (active 21-60 cycles per second), Theta (deep trance 4-7 cycles per second) and Delta (deep dreamless sleep 1-3 cycles per second). The Alpha-Theta border is where the deepest meditation and self-hypnosis occur. Delta has two levels – the upper level is where dreaming occurs, between Theta (where REM sleep occurs) and Delta, and the lower level, where you are deeply asleep. The brain does not go to 0 cycles per second — that would mean you are brain dead.
Altar – A working table or surface where the items, statues, or other objects of focus are placed during ritual. An altar is cleansed and consecrated before use (called an altar devotion) and may be covered with various pieces of cloth or fabric that align it to a specific purpose.
Amulet – A magically charged object which deflects specific, usually negative energies. Generally, a protective object. Amulets send things away from you. Amulets are also often natural objects: a stone, a clover, a rabbit’s foot.
Ankh – An Egyptian hieroglyph that is widely used as a symbol for life, love, and reincarnation. It is depicted as a cross with a looped top.
Arcana – The two ‘halves’ of a Tarot deck. The Major Arcana consists of 22 trumps depicting dominant occurrences in our lives. The Minor Arcana consists of 56 suit cards (sometimes called lesser Arcana or ‘pips’) that assist in fleshing out the trump situations, or indicate smaller occurrences in our lives.
Archetype – an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated; a symbol universally recognized by all. In psychology, an archetype is a model of a person, personality, or behavior. In Paganism and Witchcraft, these are typically ‘aspects or titles’ of a universal understanding of The God/Goddess. An example is Goddess as Maiden, Mother, or Crone. God as Hunter, Consort, or Trickster.
Aspect, to – to take into yourself the essence of a deity, ancestor, elemental, or any other spiritual being. The most common examples of aspecting are Drawing Down the Moon or Sun. A form of Ritual Possession.
Asperger – A bundle of fresh herbs or a perforated object used to sprinkle water during or preceding Ritual, for purificatory purposes.
Astral – Another dimension of reality. It has been referred to as “dream-time’. This reference is from the Australian Aboriginal people and their teachings.
Astral Projection – is the action of separating the energy body/bodies from the physical for the purpose of an Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) or Astral Travel.
Athame – (pronounced: uh-THAH-may or ATH-uh-may) Traditionally, an athame has a black handle. It is a ritual knife or dagger used to direct energy, similar to a wand. It is double-edged and a personal tool of the Witch. It is associated with masculine energy. During the symbolic Great Rite, it is seen as a phallus symbol. Some traditions see it as belonging to the element of fire and some traditions follow that the athame belongs to the element of air.
Aura – the energy field of the human body that can be perceived psychically and can provide clues to the person’s emotional and physical state.
Awen – Welsh word usually translated as poetic inspiration. The real meaning is closer to Sacred Prophetic Power. Awen can overwhelm the unprepared recipient, throwing them into spiritual crisis.
Balefire – A fire lit for magical purposes, usually outdoors. Balefires are traditional on Yule, Beltane and Midsummer celebrations.
Bane – That which destroys life, which is poisonous, destructive, evil, dangerous.
Banish – To magically end something or exorcise unwanted entities. To rid the presence of.
Beltane – A festival celebrated on April 30th or May 1st (traditions vary). Beltane is also known as May Eve, Roodmas, Walpurgis Night, Cethsamhain. Beltane celebrates the symbolic union, mating or marriage of the Goddess and God, and links in with the approaching summer months.
Besom – A broom. Used in ritual for sweeping an area clear of negativity prior to the ceremony. It is then laid on the ground at the ‘gate’ (usually in the east or south) for circle members to pass over upon entering the circle. Besoms may also be decorated with ribbons or flowers and used in ritual. Sometimes a besom is used in a handfasting or wedding ceremony where the bride and groom “jump the broom” as a sign that they have entered married life.
Bi-Location – The practice of using a type of astral projection to travel in everyday reality by retaining the capability to be aware of your present surroundings. Synonymous terms are over-looking and mind-travel.
Bind – To magically restrain something or someone.
Bolline/Boleen – A crescent shaped or curved single-edged knife used for practical purposes. It differs from the Athame in that the Bolline is used to cut and harvest herbs or plants and to engrave spell candles. Where an athame has a black handle by tradition, a bolline has a white handle.
Book of Mirrors (BoM) — a part of the Book of Shadows or a separate volume which is used to record dreams, magical experiences, meditations, visualizations, etc. For those that use the Book of Mirrors, it is used only as a magical journal as opposed to the Book of Shadows which is used to record spells, incantations, rituals, and such things.
Book of Shadows – (See also Grimoire) – A book kept by an individual witch or a coven of witches that holds the rites and traditions of that witch or coven. These books are highly personal, often including spells, chants, incantations, prayers, rituals, and other ritual records. Modern witches may choose to use the computer and compile a ‘disc of shadows’ instead. That is their choice, but I will say that there is something deeply personal and sacred to putting a pen to paper for your individual book.
Burning Times – It is the reference to a historical time from around 1000 C.E. through the 17th century when it is said that over nine million people were tortured and burned by church and public officials on the assumption that they were the Christian version of Witches. This turned into an extremely profitable venture, as all land and property was seized from the accused individual and portions given to the accuser (in reward fashion) and the remainder seized by the church officials. Historians indicated that the majority of people tortured and murdered were women and children. It is also very likely that many if not most of those condemned and executed were Christian. The Burning Times was predominantly a political maneuver to claim more power and property for the accusers. Also, most historians believe that the number 9 million is far-fetched, but whether it was that amount or not, it was too many lives lost to superstition and hate.
Candle – Has various uses in ritual and magical practice. Candles may be chosen by color alignment to work with specific spell or ritual energies. They may be inscribed or annointed with oils to further correspond them to a specific purpose. Candles represent the element of fire.
Cauldron – Iron pot used for various purposes. Sometimes a fire may be lit beneath it and various potions or mixtures brewed together. Other times, a cauldron can be filled with water and used for scrying. Its uses are limited only by imagination and availability. Small cauldrons may be used as thuribles for burning sacred woods or other spell or ritual items. The cauldron is typically associated with feminine energy and the Goddess but some Gods, like Dagda, are known for possessing a cauldron as well.
Censer – A heat-proof container in which incense is smoldered. An incense burner. It symbolizes the Element of Air.
Ceremonial Magic (CM) – Note: “CM” can also refer to a Ceremonial Magician online; a broad term used in the context of Hermeticism or Western esotericism to encompass a wide variety of long, elaborate, and complex rituals of magic. It is named as such because the works included are characterized by ceremony and a myriad of necessary accessories to aid the practitioner. It can be seen as an extension of ritual magic, and in most cases synonymous with it. Popularized by the Golden Dawn, it draws on such schools of philosophical and occult thought as Hermetic Qabalah, Enochian magic, Thelema, and the magic of various grimoires.
Chakras – A major energy center found in the human body. Each is usually associated with a color. There are seven main ones most often recognized.
Chalice/Cup – (see also Goblet) – Ritual item used for holding water, wine, or juice. The chalice is associated with feminine energy. During the symbolic Great Rite, the chalice is seen as the womb of the goddess
Charge, To – To infuse and object with Personal Power. “Charging” is an act of Magic.
Circle, The – The temple space or area that is cast or drawn, enclosing a witch or coven for the purposes of ritual or religious worship. Essentially, the Circle is the church or sacred place. Witches do not worship or practice in buildings. Rather, we erect our temples each time we work magic or worship deity. If a permanent ritual space is erected, it is usually circular. The stone circles of the British Isles and Ireland are an example of a permanent ritual circle. The circle is sacred because within it is found the entire nature of our beliefs. The sun, moon, and earth are all round. The horizon, is round (stand in place outdoors and slowly spin around to see this) Time is circular. Life is a circular cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth. If more than one person joins both hands with another person, a circle is formed. The circle is one of the sacred mysteries.
Cleansing – The act of removing any negative energy, vibrations or images from an object or place by utilizing positive, psychic energy.
Cone of Power – Psychic energy raised and focused by either an individual or group mind (coven) to achieve a definite purpose.
Conscious Mind – The analytical, materially-based, rational half of our consciousness. The mind at work when we compute our taxes, theorize or struggle with ideas.
Consecration – The act of blessing an object or place by instilling it with positive or sacred energy.
Corn Dolly – A figure, often human-shaped, created by plaiting dried wheat or grains. It represented the fertility of the Earth and used in Wicca. Corn dollies aren’t made from cobs or husks; corn originally referred to any grain other than maize and still does in most English speaking countries.
Coven – A group of witches that practice and study together. Covens are autonomous, meaning they operate independently and do not have a single “head” of all covens. Covens typically are led by a High Priest or High Priestess or both, though some prefer more of a delegatory role for teaching and leading and take turns. It is for the individual group to find what works best for their members.
Cowan – A non-witch. This has come to mean the same thing as a ‘muggle’ (to quote Harry Potter fame) but traditionally, a cowan was a person dedicated to study the Craft who had not yet been initiated. Only an initiate was considered a Witch, prior to this, the seeker was a cowan.
Craft, The – Wicca. Witchcraft. Folk magic.
Daemon/Daimon – Daemons are good or benevolent nature spirits, beings of the same nature as both mortals and gods, similar to ghosts, chthonic heroes, spirit guides, forces of nature or the gods themselves. Characterizations of the daemon as a dangerous, if not evil, lesser spirit were developed by Plato and his pupil Xenocrates, and later absorbed in Christian writings along with some other Neo-Platonic elements.
Dark Night of the Soul – A crisis of faith or belief. The DNotS is typically identified by erratic behavior, depression, and a longing and feeling of unfulfillment. It is a time of going within to seek answers and find out what you really are and what you really believe. It is a hard journey and typically occurs during the traditional Second Degree period.
Dedication – Unlike the initiation ceremony that brings one into an order, the dedication of a Witch is that process where the individual accepts the Craft as their path, and vows to study and learn all that is necessary to reach adeptness in a given tradition. In a dedication, you consciously prepare yourself to accept something new into your life and stick with it, regardless of the highs and lows this action may produce.
Deity – From the Latin word “deus” which means “god”. A deity is a divine being, seen as either a God or Goddess.
Degree – A level of attained study or adeptness; a title which delineates the stages of personal development as well as the amount of time and study spent with a particular group or Tradition and, thus, how much influence one may have within said group. It is used as a means of hierarchy within covens. Traditional groups are more prone to using degree systems, though eclectic groups may use them as well. Commonly there are three degrees recognized in Witchcraft. And are part of a three, four, or five-tiered system. Each degree lasts a year and a day– or sometimes longer, but rarely less. The first degree happens after the dedicant has spent the traditional year and a day in study since their dedication. The second degree is when the witch may take on deeper levels of study in preparation for clergy roles or teaching. The third degree is recognized as priest or priestess. The inverted pentagram is often a symbol of the second degree, as it focuses on turning inward and working with the God’s energy.
Deosil – Pronounced – “JES-shil” Sunwise movement in a circle, following the apparent movement of the sun through the sky. DEOSIL DOES NOT MEAN CLOCKWISE. In the northern hemisphere, the sun rises in the east, appears to arc through the southern sky and sets in the west, therefore in the northern hemisphere, deosil movement is the pattern ‘east-south-west-north’. In the southern hemisphere, the sun rises in the east, but appears to arc through the NORTHERN sky. Therefore, in the southern hemisphere, deosil movement goes east-NORTH-west- south. In the northern hemisphere, deosil lines up with what we call ‘clockwise’ movement, but in the southern hemisphere, this is not the case. Therefore it is not correct to say that deosil = clockwise. In magic and religion, deosil movement is symbolic of life, positive energies, good. It is much-used in spells and rituals; i.e. “walk deosil around the Circle of Stones.”
Divination – The magical art of discovering the unknown by interpreting random patterns or symbols through the use of tools such as clouds, tarot cards, flames, pendulums, runes and smoke. Divination contacts the Psychic Mind by tricking or drowsing the Counscious Mind through ritual and observation or of manipulation of tools. Divination isn’t necessary for those who can easily attain communication with the psychic mind, though they may practice it.
Divine Power – The unmanifest, pure energy that exists within the Goddess and God. The life force, the ultimate source of all things.
Dowsing – The art/science of using a pendulum or stick to find the actual location of a person, place, thing or element. Dowsing can also be used to answer yes or no questions.
Drawing Down the Moon – A ritual performed by a Witch to empower herself and unite her essence with a particular deity, usually the Goddess. It may also be performed by the High Priest where he draws down the Goddess into the body of the High Priestess. If this is done, the High Priestess first draws the God down into the High Priest — it is a woman who draws down the God; it is the God who draws down the Goddess. This is a form of divine possession and not to be undertaken lightly. During a drawing down, the Witch surrenders her consciousness to the Goddess and the Goddess speaks, teaches, or prophesies through her. Individual Witches who seek to connect with lunar energies are not performing a drawing down. What they do is more akin to ‘grounding to the moon’ or aligning themselves with these energies. Drawing Down the Moon is a form of possession. Possession takes place for the benefit of others gathered. There often is no real reason why a solitary Witch would be possessed.
Dryghton – The original source of all things. The energy behind the Goddess and the God; the energy from which they manifest.
Dweller at the Threshold – the part of the self that attempts to protect us by hindering change.
Earth Magic – A practical form of magic wherein the powers and forces of Earth Mother are used to conduct magical workings or celebrations.
Egregore – A group mind consciousness. In time, with focus, the unified mental energies or thoughts of a group coalesce into an entity that can operate almost independently. This principle is why it is important to build up coven or group relationships slowly. You do not want someone who cannot be trusted contributing to the group mind.
Elder – Many Wiccan organizations have a group or board of Elders who over see the operations of the church and its variety of functions. These people have usually gained their positions through a combination of their abilities which may include education, experience, magical adeptness and counseling.
Elements, The – Earth, Air, Fire, Water. These four essences are the building blocks of the universe. Everything that exists (or has the potential to exist) contains one or more of these energies. The elements hum within ourselves and are also “at large” in the world. They can be utilized to cause change through magic.
Enochian – A magical “language” involving the names of angels and methods to invoke them. Invented by John Dee and Edward Kelly in the 16th century.
Entheos – (plural: Entheoi) Greek word for “the indwelling God” it is the energy or beingness of the divine within us.
Esbat – A Wiccan ritual, usually occurring on the Full Moon. Though some practitioners also hold Esbat on the New Moon.
Evocation – Not to be confused with INVOCATION. Evocation is calling up or out spirits or other non-physical entities, either to visible appearance or invisible attendance outside of the self or the ritual circle space.
Exorcism – a banishing ritual ranging from purifying the elements to removing an unwanted spirit from a home or person.
Familiar – an energy construct that can take any form (though animals are still quite popular) which is used to deflect energetic attacks through absorption. Presently, many Pagans and Witches will use the term to denote a particular pet that has some affinity towards magical working. This is based on the Christian belief that Witches had demonic spirits given to them by the Devil and disguised as animals like cats, toads, birds, etc. that would aid them in carrying out their [evil] work.
Fetch – A word of unknown origin, but typically means a creature formed of the will of a magician or witch, designed and created for a specific purpose. It is also frequently referred to as ‘an elemental’, not because it is crafted purely of a single element like air or fire, but because of how basic its construction is. It can also be referred to as: familiar, fith-fath, homunculous, or genie.
First Blood – a coming of age ritual done when a young woman receives her first menses. It is used to signify the new stage in her life and can be associated with the maiden aspect of the Goddess.
First Seed – a coming of age ritual done either when a young man enters puberty or after his first ejaculation. It is used to signify the new stage in his life and can be associated with the youth aspect of the God.
Fluffy Bunny (FB) – a Pagan who 1. has limited knowledge of the subject they speak of but does not wish to be educated or to further their knowledge in any way professing to be an expert after reading one book or website, 2. doesn’t acknowledge the darker side of Paganism, thinking the world is all love and light and anyone who disagrees with them is doing them “harm” or being negative, or 3. a combination of the two.
Glyph – a sign of letters from various alphabets (runes, Ogham, Theban script, etc.) that are combined to make one symbol, thus combining their energies for magical working; this symbol can be placed on an item to imbue it with the symbol’s energy.
Gnosis – knowledge or insight into the infinite, divine and uncreated in all and above all, rather than knowledge strictly into the finite, natural or material world. Gnosis is a transcendental as well as mature understanding. It indicates direct spiritual experiential knowledge and intuitive knowledge, mystic rather than that from rational or reasoned thinking. Gnosis itself is obtained through understanding at which one can arrive via inner experience or contemplation such as an internal epiphany of intuition and external epiphany.
Goetia – A type of magic involving the summoning of demons; a grimoire by that same name.
Great Rite – The recognition of the union of male and female energies. It is ritualized conjoining of male and female. The male is symbolized by the athame, the female by the cup. The athame is charged with God energy and inserted into the cup, which has been charged with Goddess energy. The energies become One. The Great Rite may be performed physically through an act of ritual sexual intercourse between two knowledgeable and consenting adults — most often the High Priestess and High Priest — after each have been assumed by a deity.
Great Work – The magical realization of personal divinity and expression of that divinity through every deed and action.
Grimoire – A magical workbook containing ritual information, formulae, magical properties of natural objects and preparation of ritual equipment. Many of these works include “catalogues of spirits.” The most famous of the old grimoires is probably The Key of Solomon. Most first appeared in the 16th and 17th centuries, though they may be far older and contain traces of Roman, Greek, Babylonian, late Egyptian and Sumerian rites. Another word used to describe Book of Shadows.
Handfasting – A Wiccan or Pagan wedding. It may or may not be a legally binding ceremony. This depends on abiding by the laws of the land and having the marriage officiated by someone legally ordained to perform weddings. Traditionally, it is meant to last for a ‘year and a day’. Handfasting was a form of ‘trial marriage’ where the bride and groom would live together as husband and wife for a year and a day. If at the end of this time they decided they were not suited to each other, they could part with no ill will or malice towards the other. Or they could seek to be bound together in a permanent ceremony or wedding.
Handparting – A Wiccan or Pagan divorce. If at the end of the trial marriage/handfasting the couple decides they are not meant for each other, the Handparting ceremony is held. In it, the ties that bound the souls of each together are severed, so that there may be release and healing. It may be performed in addition to a legal divorce, and it is my recommendation that this is so. Often, divorce is a hard, painful event filled with much stress and sadness. A ritual parting of the ways can help alleviate that.
Hiving – When a priestess initiates to the level of High Priestess (usually the third degree), she may hive or split-off from the coven she belongs to and form her own coven to carry on the teachings of her tradition. Hiving is not necessary. Some members who attain the status of High Priest or Priestess prefer instead to remain within the coven or tradition as Elders, rather than leaving to form and run their own groups.
Hoodoo – An American (United States) folk magic tradition based on African, Native American, and Christian magical practices.
Idol – the item into which the essence of deity can be placed.
Idolatry – the practice of worshiping or working with an item into which the essence of deity can be placed.
Imbolc – (pronounced Im-mulk) February 1. Also known as Imbolg, Candlemas, Bridget’s Day. Imbolc is believed to be a variation of the word ‘oimelc’ which means ‘in milk’. Some translate it as ‘in the belly’. It is the day when ewes begin to lactate to feed the lambs. It is the first sign of the Earth’s reawakening after Yule. It is linked with the Goddess as a mother, nursing the young God who was born at Yule.
Initiation – A process whereby an individual is introduced or admitted into a group, interest, skill, or religion. Initiations may be ritual occasions but can also occur spontaneously.
Invocation – (As opposed to EVOCATION) Is calling in a deity, force, or higher power to draw them in, either into a person or into the ritual space. An appeal or petition to a higher power (or powers) such as the Goddess and God.
Kabbalah/Qabalah – (sometimes spelled Cabala, or other variations) A mystical system rooted in Jewish practice and philosophy, and can be considered the mystical branch of that religious tradition. It is now more widely used than it once was and being integrated into several other magical systems as a means of uniting the practitioner or magician with the godhead. It uses an analysis of numbers and words, in conjunction with Hebraic cosmology for this purpose. It is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an eternal and mysterious Creator and the mortal and finite universe (His creation). While it is heavily used by some denominations, it is not a denomination in and of itself; it is a set of scriptures that exist outside the traditional Jewish Scriptures. Kabbalah seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realization. Kabbalah originally developed entirely within the realm of Jewish thought and constantly uses classical Jewish sources to explain and demonstrate its esoteric teachings.
Kahuna – A practitioner of the old Hawaiian philosophical, scientific and magical system.
Karma – The belief that one’s thoughts and deeds can be either counted against them or added to their spiritual path during several life times. It follows the law of cause and effect.
Labrys – A double-headed axe which symbolized the Goddess in ancient Crete, still used by some Wiccans for this same purpose. The labrys may be placed on or leaned against the left side of the altar.
Left-Hand Path – In classical Latin, the left is known as ‘sinister’ and the right as ‘dexter’. This gives root to the belief that ‘right’ is good, correct, wholesome, while demonizing the other. It remained a prevalent concept hidden in all languages that were birthed from Latin. For example, in French, the word for left is gauche which means something crude, tawdry, or inappropriate. Because of this understanding and acceptance of the word, in today’s usage it is common to refer to the paths that are not accepted by most society as ‘left-hand’, such as Satanism and its various traditions and offshoots. In actuality, the deepest roots of this term come from Tantra understandings and equate the Left-Hand Path with feminine/receptive energy. So, in a very true sense, Left-Hand Path means a focus on feminine energy and power and has nothing to do with a concept of right/wrong, good/evil, God/Satan. This is even seen in many things today, such as the bride standing to the left of the groom in a modern western marriage ceremony. In Kabbalah, the left pillar is Severity and is often seen as more masculine in nature to balance out the right pillar of Mercy. This is reflected as well by the positions of a bride on the right in a Jewish wedding ceremony.
Libation – an offering (usually beverage or food) that is poured/left on the ground, on a fire, or on the altar in a separate dish/cup as an offering to the Gods or other spirits.
Lineage – A line of initiation that begins with the founder of a tradition and is passed through his or her initiates. Lineage cannot be given by someone unqualified by the tradition to pass it on.
Litha – Summer Solstice, around June 21. Also known as Midsummer or Alban Hefin. Litha is the longest day of the year. The God is at his peak. Some traditions have the battle of the Oak and Holly King on this day where the Oak King (ruler of the light half of the year) loses his life to his brother the Holly King (ruler of the dark half of the year) Balefires and fairies are common on this day.
Lughnasadh – Pronounced “LOO-nass-ah”. A Pagan festival celebrated on August 1st, also known as August Eve, Lammas, Feast of Bread. It marks the first harvest, when the grains of the Earth are cut and stored for the dark winter months, and when the God also mysteriously weakens as the days grow shorter.
Mabon – On or around September 21, the autumn equinox (also known as Alban Elfed, Harvest Home, Michaelmas) Wiccans celebrate the second harvest. Mabon is the name of a Welsh godform, the ‘son of the mother’. This is bad scholarship as it’s not even his festival day, or historically connected with the Mabon (from whom we get the term Mabinogion, or ‘cycle of the son [of the Mother Goddess]). It’s popular now to call the sabbat Mabon, but incorrect. Nature is preparing for winter. The equinox is a vestige of ancient harvest festivals which, in some form or another, were once nearly universal among peoples of the Earth. The God gives his energy over to the earth in preparation for his death.
Magic -The movement of natural energies (such as Personal Power) to create needed change. Energy exists within all things – ourselves, plants, stones, colors, sounds, movements. Magic is the process of rousing or building up this energy, giving it purpose, and releasing it. Magic is a natural, not supernatural, practice, though it is little understood.
Magick – Magic spelled with the ‘k’ is popularly thought to differentiate it from stage magic or illusions performed by a theatrical magician. Personally, I can’t stand this definition or reason. If someone can’t tell from the context that the word magic is talking about spell-casting versus card tricks or sawing a lady in half, they have no business attempting Witchcraft. Magick is the spelling I use to differentiate High Magick/Ceremonial Magick from other practices such as folk magic or spell work as it was first utilized by Aleister Crowley in this form and for this reason. He chose to spell magick with the ‘k’ for very specific reasons aligned with these purposes.
Magic Circle, The – A sphere constructed of Personal Power in which Wiccan rituals are usually enacted. The term refers to the circle that marks the sphere’s penetration of the ground, for it extends both above and below it. It is created through visualization and magic.
Mantra – A word, or sometimes phrase, of mystical significance repeated to achieve a spiritual or magical goal.
Meditation – Reflection, contemplation, turning inward toward the self or outward toward Deity or nature. A quiet time in which the practitioner may dwell upon particular thoughts or symbols, or allow them to come unbidden.
Megalith – A huge stone monument or structure. Stonehenge is perhaps the best-known example of megalithic construction.
Menhir – A standing stone probably lifted by early peoples for religious, spiritual or magical reasons.
Mighty Ones, The – Beings, deities or presences often invoked during Wiccan ceremony to witness or guard the rituals. The Mighty Ones are thought to be either spiritually evolved beings, once human, or spiritual entities created by or charged by the Goddess and God to protect the Earth and to watch over the four directions. They are sometimes linked with the Elements.
Monism – ‘Mon’ means ‘one’. Monism is the belief that all gods are one God and all goddesses are one Goddess. That ‘all that is’ is quite literally all that is.
Monomyth – A single story, of which all other myths are simply parts or versions.
Monotheism – The belief in one singular God. Monotheistic religions are beliefs such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Mystery – That which cannot be fully explained in words but must be experienced to be fully realized and known. One cannot give a Mystery to another. They can only tell of their own experience with that Mystery and see if the other experiences it as well. Religion is a way for one to experience the Mysteries; it is not the Mystery itself.
Neo-Pagan – Literally, new-Pagan. A member, follower or sympathizer of one of the newly formed Pagan religions now spreading throughout the world. All Wiccans are Pagan, but not all Pagans are Wiccan.
Neophyte – In some magical traditions, a new initiate.
Oath – A promise made in a ritual setting where one pledges fealty and honor to the gods of a particular path or tradition and to one’s brothers and sisters in the Craft. It is witnessed by all called forth in the oath, in this world and others. It is considered the highest and most serious pledge a Witch can make.
Oathbound – a particular type of information shared with coven initiates that they are unable to share with outsiders to their Tradition or coven. It can include personal or intimate information about the coveners, things that wouldn’t make sense out of context to non-initiates, things that could be dangerous if done without proper instruction which the coven provides, coven secrets (i.e. changes to ritual structure, specific writings for ritual, etc.), and/or things that need to be experienced firsthand (i.e. the initiation ceremony of a particular tradition that might be ruined with previous information).
Old Ones, The – A Wiccan tern often used to encompass all aspects of the Goddess and God. Some Wiccans view it as an alternative of The Mighty Ones.
Orthopraxy/Orthopraxis – Literally means ‘correct practice’ where Orthodoxy means ‘correct belief’. An orthopraxic system instructs members to follow a system of practices to belong to the tradition. Personal beliefs aren’t the defining principle, personal practice is.
Ostara – Occurring at the spring equinox, around March 21st, also known as Alban Eiler. Ostara marks the beginning of true, astronomical spring, when snow and ice make way for green. As such, it is a fire and fertility festival, celebrating the return of the Sun, the God and the fertility of the Earth (the Goddess).
Pagan – From the Latin paganus, country-dweller. Today used as a general term for followers of Wicca and other magical, shamanic and polytheistic religions. It can be interchanged with Neo-Pagan.
Pantheism – Pan means ‘all’. The belief that identifies Deity with the manifest universe. It is closely related to the concept of immanence.
Panentheism – Belief that perceives the sacred as both pervading and transcending the manifest universe.
Pendulum – A divinatory device consisting of a string attached to a heavy object, such as a quartz crystal, root or ring. The free end of the string is held in the hand, the elbow steadied against a flat surface , and a question is asked. The movement of the heavy object’s swings determines the answer. A rotation indicates yes or positive energy. A back and forth swing signals the opposite. (There are many methods of deciphering the pendulum’s movements; use those that work best for you.) It is a tool which contacts the Psychic Mind.
Pentacle – A ritual object (usually a circular piece of wood, metal, clay etc) upon which a five-pointed star (pentagram) is inscribed, painted or engraved. It represents the element of Earth. The words “pentacle” and “pentagram” are not totally interchangeable. A pentagram is the five-pointed star alone. A pentacle is the star enclosed in a circle or one of the above described ritual items/tools.
Personal Power – That energy which sustains our bodies. It ultimately originates from the Goddess and the God (or rather, the power behind Them). We first absorb it from our biological mothers within the womb and , later from food, water, the Moon and Sun and other natural objects. We release personal power during stress, exercise, sex, conception and childbirth.
Polarity – The concept of equal, opposite energies. The Eastern yin/yang is a perfect example. Yin is cold; yang is hot. Other examples of polarity: Goddess/God, night/day, Moon/Sun, birth/death, dark/light, Psychic Mind/Conscious Mind. Universal balance.
Polytheism – Poly means ‘many’. The belief in many or multiple gods. Hinduism is an example of polytheism.
Poppet – A doll fashioned usually out of cloth, but may be crafted of wax. Used in spells as a representative of the person or their needs/desires. Poppets are filled with herbs and include something that links them to the spell’s target person like hair, nail clippings, spit, or blood.
Priestess – A female dedicated to the service of her chosen deity(ies). A High Priestess is the feminine leader of a coven or Wiccan organization and plays the role of Goddess in certain ceremonies. A solitary Witch can be a Priestess by dedicating herself to a particular God or Goddess. A High Priestess is a term only used in group or coven practice.
Priest – Is a male and plays the God role in certain ceremonies. Priestess and Priest are equal in every aspect, the only difference is their gender.
Projective Hand – The hand that is normally used for manual activities. The hand you favor i.e. right or left handed. In some traditions it is exclusively the right hand. It is symbolically thought to be the point at which personal power is sent from the body. In ritual, personal power is visualized as streaming out from the palm or fingers of the hand for various magical goals. This is also the hand in which tools such as the athame and wand are held. Ambidextrous persons simply choose which hand to utilize for this purpose. The hand used for giving gifts.
Psychic Mind – The subconscious or unconscious mind, in which we sleep, dream and meditate, It is our direct link with the Goddess and God and with the larger, non-physical world around us.
Psychism – The act of being consciously psychic, in which the psychic mind and conscious mind are linked and working in harmony. Ritual Consciousness is a form of psychism.
Queen – Term used to describe a High Priestess who has had three successful hivings of her coven. There is no Queen or King of all witches or covens. Queen may also apply to a ‘rotating’ position among women as priestesses leading or facilitating a particular ritual – called Queen of the Sabbat. For example, “Mari was Queen of the Sabbat for Yule.”
Querent – The client or questioner in a divination setting.
Receptive Hand – The hand through which energy is received into the body. The hand that is used when receiving gifts. The opposite of the Projective Hand. In some traditions, this is always the left.
Reincarnation – The doctrine of rebirth. The process of repeated incarnations in human form to allow evolution of the sexless, ageless soul.
Ritual – Ceremony. A specific form of movement, manipulation of objects or inner processes designed to produce desired effects through repetition. In religion, ritual is geared toward union with the divine. In magic it produces a specific state of consciousness which aligns with personal power in which rituals occur.
Sabbat – Holidays or days of recognition. The Witch calendar celebrates eight Sabbats that mark the turning of the Wheel of the Year. Sabbats are Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh, and Mabon. They are the seasonal quarter days (solstices and equinoxes: Yule, Ostara, Litha, Mabon) and the Cross-Quarter days or High Sabbats (Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnasadh)
Samhain – (Pronounced “Sow-in” or “Sah-veen”) October 31/November 1. Samhain is the Celtic New Year. It symbolizes the end of the growing/harvest season and the beginning of winter. Samhain is the night when the veil between the spirit world and the physical world is thinnest and the souls of the departed may cross over and visit the earthly realm. It is a time for reverence and solemnity, honoring the dead, and preparation for the winter.
Samadhi – A state of consciousness in which one experiences a profound mental silence.
Samatha – The practice of slowing or stopping the thoughts.
Shadow/Shadow Self – the parts of the psyche that are not understood by the conscious mind which often include traumas, past life memories, repressed memories, unwanted emotions, childhood memories, etc.
Sigil – A magical symbol that may be invented by the magician or witch himself/herself for a specific purpose.
Smudging – the act of burning a smudge stick (a bundle of dried herbs almost always primarily comprised of sage) usually for the purpose of purification.
Stang – An upright altar. It is usually made of a long pole with antlers or that branches into a “Y” at the top. Ribbons and decorations are hung from it. Or anything that specifically ties it to an energy or force.
Summerland – The generic term for the Pagan/Wiccan/Witch form of the afterlife. The Summerland is a resting place for all souls, depending on the individual’s choice in afterlife belief. Most see it as a time to reunite with those that have passed on before, learn from them, and prepare for our next incarnation.
Talisman – An item specifically charged and crafted to serve a magical purpose, often using magical sigils in its construction. Talismans may be jewelry, but are often the form of spell bottles, pouches, etc. It is similar to an amulet, but an amulet is more protective in nature. A talisman is more for drawing things in. A talisman is crafted, not typically something natural.
Thaumaturgy – Practical magic not requiring the involvement of deity.
Theurgy – Magical practice involving communication or unity with gods.
Tradition – A set of beliefs and practices that is handed down through initiation or family. A specific group. It has now come to be interchangeable with the group that performs such rites. A Tradition in Witchcraft is typically a set structure formed by a person or group of people that is passed along to others initiated into that group. Somewhat similar to the definition of ‘denomination’ in Christianity.
Warlock – Derogatory term meaning ‘liar’, ‘traitor’ or ‘oathbreaker’. It is believed to derive from an old Scots-Gaelic word waer loga which means these things. Movies, books, and other media mistakenly use the term to identify a male witch but in actual practice, this word is not often used. A male witch is a witch. Some are seeking to reclaim the word and offer an alternate root and definition for it that is more in line with the popular definition of a male witch.
Widdershins – Anti-sunwise motion, usually used for negative magical purposes or for dispersing negative energies or conditions such as disease. It is the opposite of deosil movement. The use of widdershins and deosil in Wicca stems form ancient European rituals practiced by peoples who watched and revered the Sun and Moon in their daily revolutions. Some Wiccans walk widdershins around an altar to symbolize the end of a ritual.
Yggdrasil – The World Tree of Norse mythology. It has roots and branches that reach out to the Nine Worlds. A host of creatures and gods are also connected to its lore.
Yule – A Wiccan festival celebrated circa December 21st, also known as Alban Arthan, marking the rebirth of the Sun God from the Earth Goddess. Some traditions celebrate the battle between the Oak and Holly King again, as was done at midsummer. The Holly King gives up his reign to the Oak King and the light half of the year begins. The popular Christmas Carol “The Holly and the Ivy” has vestiges of this old belief: “The holly and the ivy, now both are full well grown. Of all trees in the wood, the holly bears the crown.”
4 thoughts on “Glossary of Terms”
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