Akasha: The fifth element, the omnipresent spiritual power that permeates the universe. It is the energy out of which the Elements formed.
Amulet: A magickally charged object which deflects specific, usually negative energies. Generally, a protective object.
Ankh: An Egyptian hieroglyphic that is widely used as a symbol for life, love, and reincarnation. It is depicted as a cross with a looped top. When worn or carried, the ankh brings good health, promotes fertility, and strengthens the psychic powers.
Asperger: A bundle of fresh herbs or a perforated object used to sprinkle water during or preceding ritual, for purificatory purposes.
Astral projection: The art of "leaving one's body" or "lucid dreaming" whereby someone in a trance state visits other locations and realms. This is thought of as traveling into the astral plane which is generally conceived as a parallel world unseen in our own world of form.
Astrology: The belief and study of the effects which the movements and placements of planets and other heavenly bodies have on the lives and behavior of human beings.
Athame: "ah-THAW-may". A Wiccan ritual knife. It usually has a double-edged blade and a dark handle. The athame is used to direct personal power during ritual workings.
Balefire: A fire lit for magickal purposes, usually outdoors. Balefires are traditional on Yule, Beltane and Midsummer. (Also great at Samhain!)
Bane: That which destroys life, which is poisonous, destructive, evil, dangerous.
Beltane: A Wiccan festival celebrated on April 30th or May 1st. Beltane is also known as May Eve, Roodmas. Beltane celebrates the symbolic union, mating or marriage of the Goddess and God, and links in with the approaching summer months.
Besom: "bay-shum" The witches' broomstick. European folklore tells of witches riding their brooms through the sky which may be an uninformed explanation of astral projection. As a tool the broom is used to sweep a sacred area, ground a circle, or to brush away negative influences.
Bolline: The white-handled knife, used in magick and Wiccan ritual for practical purposes such as cutting herbs.
Book of Shadows: A Wiccan book of rituals, spells and magickal lore. Once hand copied upon initiation, the BOS is now photocopied or typed in some covens. No one "true" BOS exists; all are relevant to their respective users.
The Burning Times: The time from the Spanish Inquistion through the last outbursts of persecution and witch killings (usually by hanging) in the med-nineteenth century (though actual persecution began as early as the twelfth century).
Cauldron: Linked to witchcraft in the popular mind, this is a primal Goddess image used like a chalice or cup.
Censer: A heat-proof container in which incense is smouldered. An incense burner. It symbolized the Element of Air.
Chalice: The chalice or cup as a ritual took represents water and the west, and it is also representative of the feminine principle. Chalices are used, but a cauldron is preferable.
Charging: The act of empowering herbs, stones, or other magickal objects with one's own energies directed towards a magickal goal. Charging is synonymous with enchanting.
Circle: The sacred space wherein all magick is to be worked. The circle contains raised energy and provides protection for the witch. It is created and banished with his or her own energy. Many books on magick include in-depth discussions on circle lore and practice, and it is recommended that students of the craft study these carefully.
Conscious Mind: The analytical, materially-based, rational half or our consciousness. The mind at work when we compute our taxes, theorize or struggle with ideas.
Coven: A group of witches who worship and work together, usually initiatory and led by one or two leaders.
Covenstead: An obsolete name for the area encompassed by an individual coven..
Deosil: "jes-l" Clockwise, the direction of the Sun's apparent motion in the sky.
Divination: The magickal art of discovering the unknown by interpreting random patterns or symbols through the use of tools such as clouds, tarot cards, flames, smoke. Divination contacts the psychic mind by tricking or drowsing the conscious 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 unmanifested, pure energy that exists within the Goddess and God. The life force, the ultimate source of all things.
Drawing Down The Moon: Ancient Pagan ritual enacted at the esbats to draw the powers of the full moon, in her aspect of Great Mother Goddess, into the body of a female witch.
Duality: The opposite of polarity. Duality separates two opposites such as good and evil and places those characteristics into two separate god-forms.
Earth Power: That energy which exists within stones, herbs, flames, wind and other natural objects. It is manifested divine power and can be utilized during magick to create needed change.
Elements: The: Earth, Air, Fire, Water. These four essences are the building blocks of the universe. Everything that exists (or that has 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 magick. The four elements formed from the primal essence of power- Akasha.
Elemental: Archetypal spirit being associated with one of the four elements.
Esbat: The time of the full moon which is celebrated monthly. The word is from the French esbattre meaning to gambol or frolic.
Evocation: Calling up spirits or other non-physical entities, either to visible appearence or invisible attendance.
God: The masculine aspect of deity.
Goddess: The feminine aspect of deity.
Grimoire: A magickal workbook containing ritual information, formulae, magickal properties of natural objects and preparation of ritual equipment.
Handfasting: Pagan marriage, traditionally contracted for a nine-year period, then renewed if agreed upon by both parties.
Herbalism: The art of using herbs to facilitate human needs both magickally and medically.
Imbolc: A Wiccan festival celebrated on February 2nd, also known as Candlemas, Feast of Pan and many other names. Imbolc celebrates the first stirrings of spring and recovery of the Goddess from giving birth to the Sun (the God) at Yule.
Incense: Herbs, oils, or other aromatic item which are burned to scent the air during acts of magick and ritual. Incense is associated with the element air.
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: An appeal or petition to a higher power (or powers), such as the Goddess and God. A prayer. Invocation is actually a method of establishing conscious ties with those aspects of the Goddess and God that dwell within us. In essence, then, we seemingly cause them to appear or make themselves known by becoming aware of them.
Karma: A Hindustani word which reflects the ancient belief that good and evil done will return to be visited on a person either in this life or in a succeeding one.
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.
Lughnasadh: "Loo-nas-sah" A Wiccan festival celebrated on August 1st, also known as August Eve, Lammas. Lughnasadh marks the first harvest, when the fruits of the Earth are cut and stored for the dark winter months, when the God also mysteriously weakens as the days grow shorter.
Mabon: On or around September 21st, the autumn equinox, Wiccans celebrate the second harvest. Nature is preparing for winter. Mabon is a vestige of ancient harvest festivals which, in some form or another, were once nearly universal among peoples of the Earth.
Magick: The movement of natural energies to create needed change. Energy exists within all things- ourselves, plants, stones, colors, sounds, movements. Magick is the process of rousing or building up this energy, giving it purpose, and releasing it. Magick is a natural, not supernatural, practice, though it is little understood.
Magick Circle: A sphere constructed of personal power in which Wiccan rituals are usually enacted. The term refers ti 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 magick.
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 magickal reasons.
Midsummer: The summer solstice, usually on or near June 21st, one of the Wiccan festivals and an excellent night for magick. Midsummer marks the point of the year when the Sun is symbolically at the height of its powers, and so too the God. The longest day of the year.
Mighty Ones, The: Being, 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.
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.
Ogham Alphabet: "oh-gom" Runic writing of the ancient Celts. Credit for the inception of this phonetic writing system is given to the Druids.
Old Ones, The: A Wiccan term often used to encompass all aspects of the Goddess and God. Some Wiccans view it as an alternative of The Mighty Ones.
Ostara: "O-star-ah" Occurring at the spring equinox, around March 21st, 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, and 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 magickal, shamanistic and polytheistic religions. Naturally, Christians have their own peculiar definition of this word. It can be interchanged with Neo-Pagan.
Pantheism: The belief in many deities who are really one because they are all merely aspects of the single creative life source. Witchcraft is a pantheistic religion.
Passing Over: A ritual observed when a loved one has died. This ceremony included keening and candle lighting, then feasting and revelry.
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, and the elbow steadied against a flat surface, and a question is asked. The movement of the heavy object's swing 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 movement; 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 "pentagram" and "pentacle" are not interchangeable, though they understandable cause some confusion.
Pentagram: The five-pointed star which has come to symbolize The Craft. It is an ancient symbol with multiple meanings. It is always used with an upward apex. Not a "Devil symbol" as modern Christianity teaches, it represents the four elements plus spirit, it represents a human being with arms and legs spread, and it stands for spirit over matter. Satanist cults often take the pentagram and invert it to signify matter over spirit.
Personal Power: That energy which sustains our bodies. It ultimately originates from the Goddess and 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. Magick is often a movement of personal power for a specific goal.
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: The belief in the existence of many unrelated deities with their won dominion and interests that have no spiritual relationship to one another.
Projective Hand, The: The hand that is normally used for manual activities such as writing, peeling apples and dialing telephones 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 form the palm or fingers of the hand for various magickal goals. This is also the hand in which tool such as the athame and wand are held. Ambidextrous persons simply choose which hand to utilize for this purpose.
Psychic Mind: The subconscious or unconscious mind, in which we receive psychic impulses. The psychic mind is at work when we sleep, dream and meditate. It is our direct link with the Goddess and God and with the larger, non-physical world around up.
Other related terms: Divination is a ritual process which utilizes the Conscious Mind to contact the psychic mind. Intuition is a term used to describe psychic information which unexpectedly reaches the conscious mind.
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.
Receptive Hand: The left hand in right-handed persons, the reverse for left-handed persons. This is the hand through which energy is received into the body.
Reincarnation: The belief that the souls of living things return to the earth plane in another body after death. A basic tenet of Paganism.
Ritual: Ceremony. A specific form of movement, manipulation of objects or inner processes designed to produce desired effects. In religion, ritual is geared toward union with the divine. In magick it produces a specific state of consciousness which allows the magician to move energy toward needed goals. A spell is a magickal ritual.
Ritual Consciousness: A specific, alternate state of awareness necessary to the successful practice of magick. The magician achieves this through the use of visualization and ritual. It denotes a state in which the conscious mind and psychic mind are attuned, in which the magician sense energies, gives them purpose and released them toward the magickal goal. It is a heightening of the senses, an awareness-expansion of the seemingly non-physical world, a linking with nature and with for forces behind all conceptions of Deity.
Runes: Stick-like figures, some of which are remnants of the old Teutonic alphabets. Others are pictographs. These symbols are once again widely being used in magick and divination.
Sabbat: A great festival of observance of the Pagan year (there are eight sabbats per year). The word is from the Greek sabatu meaning "to rest."
Samhain: "Sow-wen" A Wiccan festival celebrated on October 31st, also known as November Eve, Hallowmas, Halloween, Feast of Souls. Samhain marks the symbolic death of the Sun God and His passing into the "land of the young," where He awaits rebirth of the Mother Goddess at Yule. This Celtic word is pronounced by Wiccan as: SOW-wen; SEW-wen; SAHM-hain; SAHM-ain; SAV-een and other ways. The first seems to be the one preferred among most Wiccans.
Scrying: To gaze at or into an object (a quartz crystal sphere, pool of water, reflection, a candle flame) to still the conscious mind and to contact the psychic mind. This allows the scryer to become aware of possible events prior to their actual occurrence, as well as of previous or distant, simultaneous events through other than the normally accepted senses. A form of divination.
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 her or his world through magick.
Shamanism: The practice of shamans, usually ritualistic or magickal in nature, sometimes religous.
Simple Feast, The: A ritual meal shared with the Goddess and God.
Skyclad: Ritual nudity, a common pratice within the Gardnerian tradition of Wicca. In the Old Religion of Ireland, going skyclad is ALWAYS a personal choice.
Solitary: A Witch or other Pagan who works and worships alone without the aid of a coven.
Spell: A magickal ritual, usually non-religious in nature and often accompanied by spoken words.
Spirits of the Stones, The: The elemental emergies naturally inherent at the four directions of the magick circle, personified within the standing stones tradition as the "Spirits of the Stones." They are linked with the Elements
Staff: Ritual tool which corresponds to the wand in Wicca. (a cane.)
The Summerland: The Wiccan land of the dead, where you go when you die to wait to be reincarnated.
Talisman: An object, such as an amethyst crystal, ritually charged with power to attract a specific force or energy to its bearer.
Threefold Law: The karmic principle of The Craft. It states that any energy sent will return to the sender three times over.
Tradition: The branch of Paganism followed by any individual Witch or coven. The word is synonymous with "path." Witta is one tradition of Paganism.
Trilithon: A stone arch made from two upright slabs with one lying atop these. Trilithons are featured in Stonehenge as well as the circle visualization in The Standing Stones Book of Shadows.
Triple Goddess: The one Goddess in all of her three aspects: maiden, mother, and crone. This theme of triple feminine deity has been found in nearly every known culture.
Visualization: The process of forming mental images. Magical visualization consists of forming images of needed goals during ritual. Visualization is also used to direct personal power and natural energies during magick for various purposes, including charging and forming the magick circle. It is a function of the conscious mind.
Wand: A ritual tool brought to The Craft through ceremonial magick. Made of usualy of wood, the wand symbolizes the element of air and the direction or east.
White-Handled Knife: A normal cutting knife, with a sharp blade and white handle. It is used within Wicca to cut herbs and fruits, to slice bread during the simple feast and for other functions. Sometimes called the bolline.
Wicca: A tradition of Witchcraft. A contemporary Pagan religion with spiritual roots in Shamanism and the earliest expressions of reverence of nature. Among its major motifs are: reverence for the Goddess and God; reincarnation; magick; ritual observances of the Full Moon, astronomical and agricultural phenomena; spheroid temples, created with personal power, in which rituals occur.
Wiccan Rede: This is the basic tenet of Witchcraft. "As ye harm none, do what thou will." The rede prohibits Witches from harming any other living thing, or from violating the free will of any living thing.
Widdershins: Anti-clockwise motion, usually used in the Northen Hemisphere for negative magickal purposes or for dispersing negative energies or conditions such as disease.
Witch: Anciently, a European practitioner of the remnants of pre-Christian folk magick, particularly that relating to herbs, healing, wells, rivers and stones. One who practiced Witchcraft. Later, this term's meaning was deliberately altered to denote demented, dangerous, supernatural beings who practiced destructive magick and who threatened Christianity. This change was a political, monetary and sexist move on the part of organized religion, not a change in the practices of Witches. This later, erroneous meaning is still accepted by many non-Witches. It is also, somewhat surprisingly, used by some members of Wicca to describe themselves.
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. While this may have spiritual overtones, Witchcraft, using this definition, isn't a religion. However, some followers of Wicca use this word to denote their religion.
Yule: A Wiccan festival celebrate on or about December 21st, marking the rebirth of the Sun God from the Earth Goddess. A time of joy and celebration during the miseries of winter. Yule occurs on the winter solstice.