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Glossary of Wiccan Terms (basic)

Glossary of Wiccan Terms
By: Keitha (FireWind)
From: The Glass Temple

Altar – A small table or surface on which items meaningful to owner are placed. Can be an intricately carved table made only for this purpose, or as simple as a cardboard box or tree stump. Generally used during ritual. Can also be a central place for meditation, divination, etc.

Athame – (pr. AH-tha-may or ah-THA-may) A ceremonial object usually used to focus energy. Most frequently a black-handled knife, but other objects may be used. Generally will only be used by it’s owner.

Besom – (pr. BEH-som) A broom; most frequently used to sweep a circle clear of unwanted energy. Generally, but not always, used by a woman. Usually stored Bristles pointed up to prevent damage.

Book of Shadows – Sometimes abbreviated BoS. This is a collection of rituals, information, research, spells, and other information that is meaningful to the owner. Can contain the individual’s magickal journal. Generally a black book or binder. Since an individual’s BoS is a collection of their journey through the Craft, it is not generally shown to others.

Burning Times – A period of time where Witch Hunts were common. Victims may or may not have been Witches. More often than not the victim(s) were women. For more information please read my page on “The Causes of the Burning Times”.

Cauldron – A pot which may be used for ritual purposes. Generally looks like the stereotypical black cast-iron pot. Can be used to burn things in.

Censer – A pot, dish, or other object that incense can be burned in.

Chakras (pr. SHA-kra)- Energy votexes in the body; each one has a specific property. While popular in many modern Wiccan circles, chakras actually have little to do with modern Witchcraft. However, they can be quite useful if so desired.

Chalice – A cup in which wine, water, or other beverages may be held. A ritual tool that can symbolize the Water element, etc.

Chant – A series of repeated words or tones that are usually used to help induce a trance state. Can be as simple as a one note hum, or a long song or series of words.

Circle -A group of people gathered together for a ritual, etc.
-A sphere of energy used in a ritual, generally to create a space “between the worlds”. For more information, please read our “Circle Casting” page.
-Another name for a ritual. i.e. “I’m going to circle tonight”.

Coven – (pr. CUH-ven) A group of individuals who regularly meet together for ritual purposes.

Cowan – (pr. COW-an) An old term meaning basically “outsider”, or “one who is not a Witch”. Not used as frequently today.

Crone – The Hag, the old Goddess. Frequently a death Goddess, usually wise and powerful. Also a woman who has passed menopause. Sometimes the Dark Moon Goddess.

Crystal – Usually a semi-precious gemstone thought to have specific qualities. For example, clear quartz can be used to focus energy, Black Onyx can be used for grounding, etc.

Dedicant – One who has been dedicated.

Dedication – A ritual that marks a person’s decision to dedicate themselves to the Craft. In eclectic circles, usually a first step “I’m going to study this” decision. Frequently marks the beginning of a year and a day period where an individual studies and decides if this is a path they want to follow. Solitary Practitioners may wait and perform a self-dedication as a “this marks the point that I choose this as my path” ritual. Not all dedications are equal. The definition of a Dedication varies between traditions and paths.

Degrees – A title that is earned, generally beginning at initiation. There are usually 3 degrees, initiation being the first.

Deity – An individual’s view of the Divine. May be an all-encompassing entity, or one of many Gods.

Deosil – (pr. JIH-sel) The direction of sunwise; the direction the sun takes through the sky. In the northern hemisphere this is clockwise.

Drawing down the Moon – A ritual in which the Goddess may be invoked at full moon. Also a highly influential book by Margot Adler which examines many modern Neopagan traditions.

Eclectic – A path that takes it’s “traditions” from many paths. One who is Eclectic may take rituals and philosophy from sources as widespread as traditional Witchcraft to Taoism to Christianity.

Elementals – A creature associated with a given element. For example, Gnomes are Earth elementals, Sylphs are Air elementals. For more information, please view our page on “The Elementals”.

Elements – Generally one of 4 or 5 “energies” that are thought to create all matter and thought in the universe. In modern Wicca there are thought to be 5 elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. Each has specific qualities; ie. Earth is home, law, stability, Air is thought, change, beginnings. For more information, we have a basic page on the “Elements”, or our “Element Correspondence Chart”.

Energy – Exactly what it sounds like. Energy, thought, vibration, life.

Esbat – Generally a celebration of the Full Moon, but can also celebrate the New Moon and Quarters, as well.

Evoking – To call a Deity or Element(al). To ask someone/thing to be present. There is more information on our page on “Invoking and Evoking”.

Familiar – Generally a cat, although not necessarily. During the Witch Hunts, was thought to be the incarnation of a demon that helped a Witch perform evil magick. A Familiar can be a magickal helper, but it certainly is not a demon.

God – The Divine male principle. Can be the Horned God, the Greenman, the god of the Hunt, an agricultural god, a specific God from a certain mythology, etc.

Goddess – The Divine feminine. Can be the Maiden, Mother, Crone, Earth Mother, Moon Goddess, Dark Goddess, a specific Goddess from a certain mythology, etc.

Greenman – Generally the God of the Forest, etc.

Grounding – A process by which you bring yourself to a normal, clear state of consciousness. Usually involves shedding all the extraneous thoughts and worries that get in the way of self.

Handfasting – A Pagan “marriage”, although the word ‘marriage’ isn’t quite right at all. Can be of short duration, such as a year and a day, or can be a permanent bond.

Herbs – A plant that has a use. For medicinal or magickal purposes.

Hived – A coven that has branched off of a previous coven is said to have “hived off” the older coven.

Initiate – One who has been initiated.

Initiation – There are many different definitions of initiation. Generally, however, it is a ritual that marks an individuals formal acceptance into a tradition. A solitary initiation may be a ritual that vows “I am dedicating my life to the gods”. Generally one who has been initiated into a tradition has earned the title of Priest/ess.

Inscribe – To carve or mark something. For example, carving a rune into a candle is to inscribe that candle.

Invoking – To call a Deity, etc. “into” yourself. Please read more on our page on “Invoking and Evoking”.

Law of Three – A law that states “whatever you do returns threefold”. ie. Harming someone returns harm on you three times, helping someone returns good things three times.

Magick – Spelled with a “k” to note its difference from stage ‘rabbit out of the hat’ magic, it is the art of causing a desired result through no apparent measurable cause.

Maiden – The spirit of the wild, untamed feminine; the young Goddess. The strong, free Goddess. Sometimes the Waxing Crescent Goddess.

Mother – The Mother Goddess, who gives birth to all life. Sometimes consort to the Horned God, sometimes the Full Moon Goddess.

NeoPaganism – A way of life, or a spirituality, who’s movement began during the 20th Century c.e, and whose practices are usually based on Pagan practices.

Paganism – A way of life, or a spirituality, that generally involves Pre-Christian practices and or beliefs.

Pantheism – Basically a belief that all gods are part of one greater encompassing Deity.

Pentacle – A five pointed star within a circle thought to represent the five elements, among other things.

Pentagram – A five pointed star that can be drawn in one single line.

Polytheism – Basically a belief that all gods are separate beings.

Rede (pr. Reed) – A Wiccan “moral guideline” that states “An’ it harm none, do as ye will”.

Ritual – An activity, generally repeated over time, that has some sort of spiritual meaning. For more information, please view our page on “Ritual Construction”

Ritual Bath – A ritual cleansing, generally a bath, but a sometimes a shower, swim, etc. .

Sabbat – A day with specific meaning in the wheel of the year. There are generally 8 Sabbats, roughly a month and a half apart representing the turning of the seasons, etc.

Solitary – One who practices the Craft alone; usually with their own personal “tradition”.

Spell – A method of bending reality to will. For more information, please view our page on “Spells”.

Summerland – Sort of a Pagan “heaven”; a place after death.

Sympathetic Magick – Magick done by acting out the situation to your desired result, thus encouraging reality to do the same.

The Broom Closet – proverbial; One who does not acknowledge they are Wiccan to non-Wiccans is said to be “in the Broom Closet”.

Tools – Athame, Besom, Altar, Chalice, etc; an object that helps achieve a purpose.

Tradition – A specific way of practicing the Craft.

Visualization – To see something clearly in your mind.

WarlockNot a Witch. An Oathbreaker.

Wheel of the Year – The turning of the seasons, the cycle of the year.

White Handled Knife – Sometimes used to harvest herbs, sometimes for all the menial cutting chores (plants, paper, cloth, etc.).

Wicca – A Neopagan spirituality that emphasizes spiritual balance and the idea of “Harm None”.

Widdershins – Not Sunwise; counterclockwise.

Witch Queen – A Priestess who has hived off three or more covens.

Witchcraft – Without annoying too many people, the art of practicing Earth-based magick, and sometimes a Pagan spirituality.

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