In this section you will find a convenient glossary of words commonly used in the practice of Wicca & Witchcraft. Understanding the meaning of these words will prove helpful in your studies as you continue to learn about the Old Ways.
Adept: An individual who through serious study and accomplishments is considered highly proficient in a particular magical system.
Akasha Spirit: The fifth element, the omnipresent spiritual power that permeates the universe.
Alchemy: A branch of High Magic developed in the Middle Ages which sought to magically and/or chemically turn base metals into gold.
Altar: A special, flat surface set aside exclusively for magickal workings or religious acknowledgment.
Amulet: A magically charged object which deflects specific, usually negative energies. A protective object.
Ankh: An Egyptian hieroglyphic widely used as a symbol of life, love, and reincarnation. It is a cross with a looped top.
Arcana: The two halves of a tarot deck. The Major Arcana consists of 22 trumps, the Minor Arcana consists of 56 suit cards (sometimes called the lesser or lower Arcana).
Aspect: The particular principle or part of the Creative Life Force being worked with or acknowledged at any one time.
Asperger: A bundle of fresh herbs or a perforated object used to sprinkle water during or preceding ritual, for purification purposes.
Astral Plane: A place which is generally conceptualized as an invisible parallel world which remains unseen from our own solid world of form.
Astral Travel/Projection: The process of separating your astral body from your physical one to accomplish travel in the astral plane or dream time.
Astrology: The study of and belief in the effects the movements and placements of planets and other heavenly bodies have on the lives and behavior of human beings.
Athame: A cleansed and consecrated ritual blade. Usually double edged and black handled. It is never used to cut anything on the physical plane. Pronounced several ways: Ah-THAM-ee ATH-ah-may ah-THAW-may.
Aura: The life-energy field which surrounds all living things.
Automatic Writing: Form of divination where the channeler uses a pen, paper and an altered state of consciousness to receive messages.
Balefire: A fire lit for magickal purposes, usually outdoors. They are traditional on Yule, Beltane, and Midsummer.
Bane: That which destroys life, which is poisonous, destructive, dangerous.
Banish: To magically end something or exorcise unwanted entities. To rid the presence of.
Bells: Often used as ritual tools. They can be used to invoke directional energies, to ring in the sunrise on a Sabbat, or to frighten away faeries and baneful spirits.
Besom: A witch's broom.
Bi-Location: A type of astral projection during which you maintain awareness of your present surroundings.
Bind: To magically restrain something or someone.
Blue Moon: Whenever there are two Full Moons in one calendar month, the second is referred to as a Blue Moon.
Book of Shadows: A witch's book of spells, rituals, magickal lore. Much akin to a magickal cookbook. Also known as a BOS.
Boline: A white-handled knife, used in magick and ritual for purposes such as cutting herbs or piercing a pomegranate.
Burning Times: Reference to a historical time from around 1000 C.E. through the 17th century when it is said that up to 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 indicate that the majority of people tortured and murdered were woman and children.
Call: Invoking Divine forces.
Calling the Quarters: Verbal or symbolic acknowledgment of the Four Elements (Earth, Air, Fire Water) in a ritual environment.
Cauldron: Linked to witchcraft in the popular mind, this symbolizes the Goddess, the waters of rebirth.
Censer: A heat-proof container in which incense is burned. It is associated with the element air.
Ceremonial Magick: A highly codified magickal tradition based upon Kabbala, the Jewish-Gnostic mystical teachings.
Chakras: Seven major energy vortexes found in the human body. Each is usually associated with a color. They are:
Smaller vortexes are located in the hands and feet as well.
Chalice: A ritual tool. It represents the female principals of creation.
Channeling: A New Age practice wherein you allow a discarnate entity to "borrow" your body to speak to others either through automatic writing or verbally.
Chaplet: A crown for the head usually made of flowers and worn at Beltane.
Charge: The Originally written in modern form by Doreen Valiente, it is a story of the message from Goddess to Her children.
Charging: To infuse an object with personal power.
Charms: Either an amulet or talisman that has been charmed by saying an incantation over it and instilling it with energy for a specific task.
Circle: Sacred space wherein all magick is to be worked and all ritual contained. It holds ritual energy until the Witch is ready to release it.
Cleansing: Removing negative energies from an object or space.
Collective Unconsciousness: Term used to describe the sentient connection of all living things, past and present. See also Akashic Records.
Coming of Age Ritual: At age 13 for boys, and at the time of a girl's first menses, Pagan children are seen as spiritual adults. The ritual celebrates their new maturity. Generally this is the age when they are permitted membership in covens.
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 part of our mind that is at work while we balance our checkbooks, theorize, communicate, and perform other acts related to the physical world.
Consecration: The act of blessing an object or place by instilling it with positive energy.
Correspondence - An item that has a magickal association. Correspondences include: days, planets, moon phases, herbs, oils, colors, gemstones, Zodiac signs, hours, etc.
Coven: A group of thirteen or fewer witches that work together in an organized fashion for positive magickal endeavors or to perform religious ceremonies.
Covenstead: The meeting place of witches, often a fixed building or place where the witch can feel safe and at home.
Crone: Aspect of the Goddess represented by the old woman. Symbolized by the waning moon, the carrion crow, the cauldron, the color black. Her Sabbats are Mabon and Samhain.
Cross-Quarter Days: Refers to Sabbats not falling on the solstices or equinoxes.
Days of Power: See Sabbat. They can also be days triggered by astrological occurrences - your birthday, a woman's menstrual cycle, your dedication/initiation anniversary.
Dedication: The process where an individual accepts the Craft as their path and vows to study and learn all that is necessary to reach adept ship. It is a conscious preparation to accept something new into your life and stick with it, regardless of the highs and lows that may follow.
Deosil: Clockwise, the direction in which the shadow on a sundial moves as the Sun "moves" across the sky. Deosil is symbolic of life, positive magic and positive energies.
Dirk: Ritual knife of the Scottish tradition.
Divination: The magickal art of using tools and symbols to gather information from the Collective Unconsciousness. This can be on people, places, things and events past, present, and future.
Divine Power: The pure energy that exists within the Goddess and God. The life force, the ultimate source of all things.
Dowsing: The divinatory art of using a pendulum or stick to find the actual location of a person, place, thing, or element.
Drawing Down the Moon: A ritual performed during the Full Moon by witches to empower themselves and unite their essence with a particular deity, usually the Goddess.
Drawing Down the Sun: Lesser-known and lesser-used companion ritual to Drawing Down the Moon in which the essence of the Sun God is drawn into the body of a male witch.
Duality: The opposite of polarity. When used as a religious term, it separates two opposites such as good and evil and places those characteristics into two completely separate God-forms.
Earth Magick: The energy that exists within stones, herbs, flames, wind, and other natural objects.
Earth Plane: Metaphor for your normal waking consciousness, or for the everyday, solid world we live in.
Elements: Usually: Earth, air, fire, water. The building blocks of the universe. Everything that exists contains one or more of these energies. Some include a fifth element-spirit or Akasha.
Elementals: Archetypical spirit beings associated with one of the four elements.
Enchantment: A magickal object that must be kept absolutely secret and hidden from all human eyes and affects a hidden aura. They must be charmed first. Gems and magickal writing are good items to use.
Eostre's Eggs: Colored, decorated eggs of Ostara; named for the Teutonic Goddess Eostre. AKA Easter eggs.
Esbat: A gathering or ritual usually occurring on the Full Moon and dedicated to the Goddess in her lunar aspect.
Evocation: To call something out from within.
Faerie Burgh: Mound of earth which covers a faerie colony's underground home.
Familiar: An animal that has a spiritual bone with a witch; many times a family witch. Familiars can also be entities that dwell on the astral plane.
Fascination: A mental effort to control another animal or person's mind. Also known as "mind-bending". Often considered unethical.
Folklore: Traditional sayings, cures, faerie tales, and folk wisdom of a particular locale which is separate from their mythology.
Folk Magick: The Practice of projecting personal power, as well as the energies within natural objects such as herbs, and crystals, to bring about needed changes.
Gaea/Gaia: Mother Earth.
God: Masculine aspect of deity.
Goddess: Feminine aspect of deity.
Grain Dolly: Figure usually woven at Imbolc from dried sheaves of grain collected at the previous harvest. The dolly is traditionally burned at Yule and a new one made the following Imbolc.
Great Rite: Symbolic sexual union (also sacred marriage) of the Goddess and God that is enacted at Beltane in many traditions, and other Sabbats in other traditions. It symbolizes the primal act of creation from which all life comes.
Green Man: Another name for the God.
Grimoire: A magickal workbook containing ritual information, formulae, magickal properties of natural objects and preparation of ritual equipment. Often used interchangeably with Book of Shadows.
Grounding: To disperse excess energy generated during magickal work by sending it into the earth. It also means the process of centering one's self in the physical world both before and after any ritual or astral experience.
Grove: Synonymous with coven.
Guardians: Ceremonial magicians use the Guardians of the Watchtowers or Four Quarters. Some witches use them, too.
Hand Fasting: A Pagan wedding.
Herbalism: Art of using herbs to facilitate human needs both magically and medicinally.
Higher Self: That part of us which connects our corporeal minds to the Collective Unconscious and with the divine knowledge of the universe.
Hiving Off: This term is used for a small coven which splits off from a larger one. Sometimes this is done to keep the gatherings of a manageable size, other times covens split over philosophical differences.
Horned God: One of the most prevalent God-images in Paganism. NOT Satan or the Devil!!!
Initiation: A process whereby an individual is introduced or admitted into a coven. Usually a ritual occasion. Not to be confused with dedication.
Incense: Ritual burning of herbs, oils, or other aromatic items to scent the air during acts of magic and ritual, and to better help the witch attune to the goal of the working.
Invocation: To bring something in from without.
Karma: The belief that one's thoughts and deeds can either be counted against them or added to their spiritual path across several life times.
Kabbala: Mystical teaching from the Jewish-Gnostic tradition. Ceremonial Magic and the Alexandrian traditions are based in these teachings. Also, Qabalah.
Labrys: A double-headed ax which symbolizes the Goddess in Her Lunar aspect. Has roots in ancient Crete.
Left-Hand Path: Refers to the practice of using magick to control others, to change the will of others, for personal gain. Generally frowned upon by true Wiccans and Witches. Dark Magic.
Libation: Ritually given portion of food or drink to a deity, nature spirit, or ghost.
Macrocosm: The world around us.
Magick/Magic: The projection of natural energies (such as personal power) to bring about needed change. Magic is the process of raising this energy, giving it purpose, and releasing it. Some choose to spell magic with a "K" on the end. This spelling was made popular by Aleister Crowley in the 1900's to differentiate it from the stage magic performed in that time. Some believe that Magic is evil and should not be tampered with, or that it is only possessed by "chosen" ones. Both of these statements are false.
Magic Circle: A sphere constructed of personal power in which rituals are usually performed. Within it the witch is protected from outside forces. The sphere extends both above and below the surface of the ground.
Magical System: The basic set of guidelines relating to the worship of specific Gods and Goddesses or cultural traditions.
Male Mysteries: Pagan study which attempts to reclaim the power and mystery of the old Gods for today's Pagan males.
Matrifocal: Term used to denote pre-patriarchal life when family clans centered around and lived near or on clan matriarch.
May Pole: Sexual symbol of Beltane representing the phallus.
Meditation: Reflection, contemplation- turning inward toward the self, or outward toward Deity or nature. A quiet time in which the practitioner may either dwell upon particular thoughts or symbols, or allow them to come unbidden.
Megalith: A huge stone monument or structure. Stonehenge is the best-known example of a megalith.
Menhir: A huge stone probably erected by early peoples for religious, spiritual, or magickal reasons.
Microcosm: The world within us.
Monotheism: Belief in one supreme deity who has no other forms and/of displays no other aspects.
Mother: The aspect of the Goddess representing motherhood, mid-life, and fertility. She is represented by the full moon, the egg, and the colors red and green. Her Sabbats are Midsummer and Lughnasadh.
Myth: Cycles Body of lore about any land or people that makes up their mythology.
New Age: The mixing of metaphysical practices with a structured religion.
Nursery Rhyme: Cute doggerel or poems supposedly written for the amusement of children. Much Pagan lore was hidden in these ditties during the years of witch persecutions.
Occult: Literal meaning is "hidden" and is broadly applied to a wide range of metaphysical topics which lie outside the accepted realm of mainstream theologies.
Occultist: One who practices and or studies a variety of occult subjects.
Ogham: Celtic equivalent of the Teutonic runes. The ancient alphabet of the Celtic people.
Old Ones: The A term which refers to all aspects of the Goddess and God.
Old Religion: A name for Paganism as it pre-dates Christianity by at least 20,000 years. Also referred to as the Old Ways.
Pagan/Neo-Pagan: General term for followers of Wicca and other magickal, shamanistic, and polytheistic Earth-based religions. Also used to refer to pre-Christian religious and magickal systems.
Pantheon: A collection or group of Gods and Goddesses in a particular religious or mythical structure.
Pantheism: Belief in many deities who are really one because they are all merely aspects of the single creative life source. Paganism is pantheistic.
Passion Over Ritual: Ritual observed when a loved one dies.
Past-Life Regression: Act of using meditation or guided meditation to pass through the veil of linear time and perceive experiences encountered in a previous existence.
Path Working: Using astral projection, bi-location, or dream time to accomplish a specific goal. Also called vision questing.
Patriarchal: Term used to apply to the world since the matrifocal clans that worshipped Goddesses were supplanted by codified religions that honor all-male deity(s).
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 elbows steadied against a flat surface, and a question is asked. The movement of the heavy object's swings determines the answer. It is a tool which contacts the psychic mind.
Pentacle: A circle surrounding a five-pointed, upright star (pentagram). Worn as a symbol of a witch's beliefs. Many witches consider wearing it inverted to be blasphemy of their faith and is commonly associated with Satanism.
Pentagram: The basic interlaced five-pointed star, visualized with one point up. It represents the five elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. It is a symbol of power and protection.
Personal Power: The energy which sustains our bodies. It originates within the Goddess and God. We first absorb it from our biological mother within the womb, and later from food, water, the Moon and Sun, and other natural objects.
Polarity: The concept of equal, opposite energies. Yin and Yang is a perfect example. Yin is cold; Yang is hot. Other examples:
Polytheism: Belief in the existence of many unrelated deities each with their own dominion and interests who have no spiritual or familial relationships to one another.
Poppets: Anthropomorphic dolls used to represent certain human beings in magick spells.
Projective Hand: The hand thought to be the point through which personal power is sent from the body. Normally the hand used for manual activities such as writing, dialing the phone, etc. It is also the hand in which tools such as the athame and wand are held.
Psychic Mind: The subconscious or unconscious mind, in which we receive psychic impressions. It is at work when we sleep, dream, and meditate. It is our direct link with the Divine, and with the larger, nonphysical world around us.
Psychism: The act of being consciously psychic, in which the psychic mind and conscious mind are linked and working in harmony. Also known as psychic awareness.
Qabalah: See Kabbala
Receptive Hand: The hand through which energy is received into the body. The left hand in right-handed persons, the reverse for left-handed persons.
Rede: The Basic tenet of witchcraft. "An it harm none, do what thou will.
Reincarnation: The process of repeated incarnations in human form to allow evolution of the sexless, ageless soul.
Ritual Ceremony: A specific form of movement, a manipulation of objects or inner processes designed to produce desired effects. In religion ritual is geared toward union with the Divine. In magickal works it produces a specific state of consciousness that allows the magician to move energy toward needed goals.
Ritual Consciousness: A specific, alternate state of awareness necessary to the successful practice of magick. This state is achieved through the use of visualization and ritual. The conscious mind becomes attuned with the psychic mind, a state in which the magician senses energies, gives them purpose, and releases them toward a specific goal. It is a heightening of senses, an expanded awareness of the nonphysical world, a linking with nature and with Deity.
Ritual Tools: General name for magickal tools used by a witch or magician. They vary by tradition and usually represent one of the elements.
Runes: A set of symbols used both in divination and magickal work. There are several types will different origins- Scandinavian, Norse, Germanic.
Sabbat: A witch's festival.
Scourge: Small device made from leather or hemp which resembles a whip and is used in flagellation rites within some traditions.
Scrying: A method of divination. To gaze at or into an object (a quartz crystal sphere, a pool of water, reflections, a candle flame) to still the conscious mind in order to contact the psychic mind. Scrying allows the scryer to become aware of events prior to their actual occurrence, as well as to perceive past or present events through other than the five senses.
Shaman: A man or woman who has obtained knowledge of the subtler dimensions of the Earth, usually through periods of alternate states of consciousness. Various types of ritual allow the shaman to pierce the veil of the physical world and to experience the realm of energies. This knowledge lends the shaman the power to change his or her world through magick.
Shamanism: The practice of shamans, usually ritualistic or magickal in nature, sometimes religious.
Shillelagh: Magickal tool corresponding to the staff in other traditions. Usually made from blackthorn wood.
Sigil: Magically oriented seal, sign, glyph, or other device used in a magickal working. Ones you create yourself are the most effective. Sigils can be used on letters, packages, clothing, etc.
Simple Feast: A ritual meal shared with the Goddess and God.
Sky Father: Shamanistic in origin. It refers to the sky, or that which is above us, as a masculine deity.
Skyclad: The act of celebrating or performing magickal works in the nude. Considered deeply spiritual, NOT sexual.
Solitary: Pagan who works and worships alone.
Spell: A magical ritual or concentrated form of energy, usually non-religious in nature and often accompanied by spoken words. It should always be clear, concise, focused and emotional.
Spiral: Symbol of coming into being.
Staff: Ritual tool which corresponds to the wand or athame.
Subconscious Mind: Part of the mind which functions below the levers we are able to access in the course of a normal working day. This area stores symbolic knowledge, dreams, the most minute details of every experience ever had by a person.
Summerland: The Wiccan Land of the Dead where a soul travels waiting to be reincarnated/
Sympathetic Magic: Concept of likes attract. Most common way spells are worked.
Talisman: An object charged with personal power to attract a specific force or energy to its bearer.
Tarot Cards: Set of 78 cards which feature pictures and symbols used to conned the diviner with the collective unconscious.
Threefold Law: Karmic principle that energy that is released is returned three times over.
Tradition: Branch of paganism followed by any individual Pagan or coven.
Trilithon: A stone arch made from two upright slabs with one lying atop these. They are featured in Stonehenge.
Triple Goddess: One Goddess in all of her three aspects: Maiden, Mother, Crone.
Virgin: Youngest aspect of the Triple Goddess. Also known as the Maiden. Represented by the waxing moon, colors white and blue. Her Sabbats are Imbolc and Ostara.
Vision Quest: Using astral projection, bi-location, or dream time to accomplish a specific goal. Also called path working.
Visualization: The process of forming mental images. Magickal visualization consists of forming images of needed goals during ritual. It is also used to direct personal power and natural energies for various purposes during magick, including charging and forming of the magick circle.
Wand: Ritual tool brought to the craft from ritual magick.
Warlock: Antiquated term misused in reference to a male Witch. It means oath-breaker or Liar. Most Pagans, and witches find the term offensive.
Web Weaving: Networking with other magickal people via conversation, writing, e-mail, to gather information which will mutually assist each party.
Wheel of the Year: One full cycle of the seasonal year.
Wicca: A modern Pagan religion with spiritual roots in the earliest expressions of reverence for nature. Some major identifying motifs are: reverence for both the Goddess and God; acceptance of reincarnation and magic; ritual observance of astronomical and agricultural phenomena; and the use of magical circles for ritual purposes.
Wiccaning: When a baby is presented in circle to the Goddess and God. They can sometimes be given a craft name which (s)he will keep until about 13 and can choose their own at their Coming of Age celebration.
Wicce: Synonymous with Wicca. In some circles, Wicce is used for women and Wicca is used for men.
Widdershins: Counter-clockwise motion, usually used for negative magical purposes, or for dispersing negative energies or conditions such as disease.
Witch: A practitioner of folk magick, particularly that kind relating to herbs, stones, colors, wells, rivers, etc. It is used by some Wiccans to describe themselves. This term has nothing to do with Satanism.
Witchcraft: The craft of the witch- magick, especially magick utilizing personal power in conjunction with the energies within stones, herbs, colors, and other natural objects. This belief system also has nothing to do with Satanism.
Yggdrasil: One of the best known Tree of Life symbols. It unites all existence from the Underworld, to the Physical world.