Witchcraft Terminology
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Witchcraft Terminology



ALTAR     A raised structure (as a square or oblong erection of stone or wood) on which the various tools of witchcraft are placed and candles and  incense burned to a deity.

ANIMISM    Belief that a spirit or force residing in every animate and inanimate object, every dream and idea, gives individuality to each. The related Polynesian concept of man holds that the spirit in all things is responsible for the good and evil in the universe.

ANKH   Egyptian “Cross of Life” which represents the union of male and female and was regarded as a universal life charm. The symbol is a cross with a looped, oval top. Also called the Key of the Nile.

ARADIA   Daughter of the Goddess Diana, and a name for the

Goddess used by Italian Witches or Strega, commonly used in

many Wiccan traditions today.

ARCHETYPES   Universal symbols that speak in the language of the subconscious. They are the ideal images of deities and other powers.

ASPECTS    Forms, facets, or personas of Deity:  for example, Brighid, Iseult, Eos, and Kore are all aspects of the Maiden, and the Maiden is an aspect of the Goddess.

ASTRAL PLANE The invisible “other” world that is unseen from our material/temporal world, another dimension of reality. 

ASTRAL PROJECTION   The process of separating oneself (or one’s self) from the physical body in trance states in order to visit other planes, times or locations. 

ATHAME or RITUAL KNIFE  The Athame is charged with the energy of the owner and is used as a pointer to define space (such as casting a sacred circle) and as a conductor of the owner’s will and energy. 

BANE  An archaic word for bad, evil, destructive.

BANISH   To magically send away or repel negative energies or entities from the person, home, or ritual area.

BESOM   The witches’ broomstick. Often used to sweep away negative energies from a space before casting a circle there.

BALEFIRE   The traditional bonfire of the Sabbats, still used in many pagan celebrations.

BELTANE   An ancient Celtic Fire Festival celebrated on May 1. The modern version still celebrates the marriage of the Goddess and the God, and the passage of the Goddess from Maiden to Mother. Fertility rituals are commonly a part of this Sabbat.

BIND To magically restrain something or someone.

BLACK MAGICK   Any negative magick performed to harm or manipulate people or situations in a negative way. Practitioners of black magick are said to be on the “left hand path.”

BLOOD OF THE MOON   A woman’s menstrual cycle and her most powerful time, especially if it occurs on a Full or New Moon.

BOOK OF SHADOWS   A book of spells, rituals, recipes, and other guides and materials written by a witch or coven.  Also called the Book of Lights and Shadows or grimoire.

BURNING TIMES   a term used by some Witches for the period of

persecution in the Middle Ages and later. It is in fact a

misnomer in some places, as Witches were only burned in

Scotland, and on the continent of Europe. In England and the

U.S., they were hanged.

CALL UP    To invoke divine forces, as when one calls the Guardians of the Watchtowers before casting a circle.

CARDINAL POINTS   North, South, East, and West, often marked by candles of green, red, yellow, and blue.

CAULDRON   A favorite tool of witches, this three-legged cooking pot has many uses. It may be used to cook potions, for SCRYING, and as a censer. On an altar, the cauldron symbolizes the Goddess.

CHARKAS - Seven major intersections of energy located on the vertical axis of the body. Each is associated with a color and an area of the body. 

CHALICE - A witch’s tool, which can be used to represent the element of water and may also be used to hold the juice or wine for the offering.

CHANNELING - A New Age word for mediumship, channeling involves allowing a spirit entity to speak through the channeler. The process is virtually impossible to prove and therefore does not enjoy a particularly good reputation.

CHARGE OF THE GODDESS- Originally written by Doreen Valiente, the charge gives the story of the message from the Goddess to Her children. The High Priestess often recites the charge at the Full Moon Esbat.

CHARMS - May be a gemstone, amulet, talisman or other object that has been charged with power for a specific task.

CIRCLE   Within this sacred circle, two main activities occur: celebration, and the practice of magic. Celebration is most important at the major seasonal holy days, the Sabbats. At these times, the myths of that particular holiday are enacted in ritual drama, and dancing, singing, feasting, and revelry are all part of the festivities

CONE OF POWER- Energy or power raised within a circle by either an individual or group for a specific purpose. After the power is raised and visualized it is released to work the magick.

CLEANSING - The process of removing negative energy from an object or place. 

CONSECRATION - The act of cleansing and blessing an object or place by charging it with positive energy.

COVEN   A congregation of Witches, traditionally limited to 13 members or less. 

COVEN STEAD  The meeting place for a coven.

COWAN    a non-Witch. Formerly used in a very derogatory

manner.  Still used in Masonic Ritual to indicate the non

initiate and/or pretender to “real craft”.  Not often used

today among most Witches.

CROSS QUARTERS   The modern name for the Celtic Fire Festivals 

DEDICATION   A ritual in which a Witch dedicates herself to the Craft and vows to remain steadfast to the path he/ she has chosen.

DEGREE   Levels of achievement in a particular tradition. Many traditions have three degrees.

DEOSIL  Clockwise or sunwise movement of actions in a ritual.

DIANIC   Tradition emphasizing the Goddess Diana. Leadership is generally female, though males may be members.

DIVINATION   The use of magical tools and means to seek information on events, people and situations in the past, present and future.  

DRAWING DOWN THE MOON - A ritual used during the Full Moon in which Witches invoke the power of a Moon Goddess to increase their power.

EARTH MAGICK - A form of magick in which the powers of the Earth are sought and used to conduct ritual and magical workings.

EARTH RELIGION    A religion whose main tenet is that the worshipper is in harmony with the Earth and with all life. Such religions oppose the idea that the world is a resource to be subdued and exploited. 

ELEMENTS  Earth, air, fire, and water, plus spirit, 

EQUINOX  One of the two times a year when the sun crosses the equator 

FAMILIAR   An animal, either a pet or a spiritual entity, who serves the Witch as a magical helper.

FIVEFOLD KISS  The Witches’ ritual salute performed in the Circle, with kisses; (1) on each foot, (2) on each knee, (3) above the pubic hair, (4) on each breast, and (5) on the lips.

ESBAT    Monthly meeting of a coven, usually held at full moon. There are about 13 full moons each year. Some groups also meet at the dark of the moon. 

FETISH   Inanimate natural or cultural object believed to have magical power, either from a will of its own or from a god that has transformed the object into an instrument of its desires.

GAEA - The Earth Mother or Mother Earth. The name has recent significance for Environmental action groups.

GREAT RITE - Part of the third degree initiation as well as some festivals, the Great Rite symbolizes the union of the God and Goddess.  It is usually performed by placing a knife into a chalice, though it may be performed by the physical union of a man and woman.

GREEN MAN - Another name for the God, particularly in His aspect of God of fertility.

GUARDIANS - Ceremonial magicians and some Witches call the Guardians of the Watchtowers to guard the sacred circle during rituals. 

HAND FASTING - A Wiccan or Pagan marriage ceremony.

HOODOO- Magickal system created by slaves when African beliefs intermixed with Native American Botanical Knowledge and Western European Folk Magick

IMBOLC- Celtic name for Candlemas.

INVOCATION - A ritual to call energies into oneself from outside, sometimes in the form of a deity.  

INVOKE- To call energies into oneself from outside, as in calling a Goddess or drawing down the Moon.

KABALA - Mystical teachings from the Jewish-Gnostic tradition that formed the basis of ceremonial magick and the Alexandrian tradition. An elaborately structured Tree of Life is central to the system of study. Also Qabalah and Cabala.

KARMA - In Hindu belief where the term originated, it is the idea that the good and evil a person does will return either in this life or in a later one. Among Pagans, the theory is that whatever negative or positive energies one sends out will come back to the sender in like kind. The “Three Fold Law” is a version of this belief.

LEFT HAND PATH - Also known as the Dark Path, this is the path taken by those who would oppose nature.  Satanists are considered followers of the left hand path.

MAIDEN - The first aspect of the Triple Goddess, which symbolizes new beginnings and creation.

METAPHYSICAL - Pertaining to realities which are outside those of science, such as cosmology and ontology.

MYSTICISM - The belief that one can achieve direct consciousness of God or truth through meditation and intuition. In mystic practices, one attempts to merge with God or the source of creation.

OLD RELIGION - Another name for Wicca. Also, Old Path or Old Ways.

OSTARA- The Sabbat celebrated at the Vernal Equinox, the second festival of spring. Symbolized by the egg, it is a time to celebrate new life and sexuality.

PENTAGRAM or PENTACLE    A five-pointed star sometimes surrounded by a circle.  It is often used to symbolize Earth and its properties—stability, material wealth, the body, and practical affairs.  Each point represents an element, with the topmost one representing Spirit.       

PAGAN   A practitioner of an Earth Religion; from the Latin a country dweller.  Also considered any religion that is not Christianity.

PROJECTIVE ENERGY - The energy that one sends out either intentionally or unintentionally. In magick, it is the energy that is put into an object or thought-form to achieve one’s goals. It is also the energy of power objects that repel negative forces by sending out positive energy.

QUARTERS   The North, East, South, and West parts of a

magickal circle or other ritual area. (See also


RECEPTIVE ENERGY - The energy that attracts or is magnetic. Gemstones carried to draw in love or wealth have receptive energy.

REDE   Rule or law.  The Wiccan Rede is traditionally stated as ‘An it harm none, Do as thou wilt’ stating that as long as you harm no one (this include physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, ect. Harm) you may do what you want.

REINCARNATION - The belief that one has lived before in another lifetime, and that one will live again after physical death.

RUNES - A set of symbols that are used both in divination and magickal workings. These symbols may be engraved in small pieces of wood for divination purposes. Runes that fit one’s magickal goals are often carved into candles for candle magick.

MAGIC   A conscious direction of will to accomplish a goal. 

NEO-PAGANISM   A modern Earth Religion which borrows and adapts from the best of pre-Christian Pagan religions, sometimes with additions from contemporary religious thinkers. 

SABBAT   One of the eight seasonal festivals equally spaced during the year, celebrated by individuals and covens of Witches.  Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Midsummer, Lughnasa, and Mabon.

SAMHAIN - The Sabbat now celebrated on Halloween (October 31). This celebration marks the New Year and is a time for remembering the dead and honoring the Crone Goddess. It is also the final festival of the harvest season.

SCRYING - A method of divination in which one gazes at an object (crystal ball, water, candle) until prophetic visions appear.

SHAMAN - A word derived from the Tungas language of Siberia, it is a generic term for healers and spiritual leaders in tribal societies. Traditional shamans induced trance states through drums, dancing, ingesting hallucinogens, self-mutilation and deprivation and virtually any means by which one might achieve an altered state of consciousness. While in such a trance, the shaman crosses over into another world to get information for his people such as the cause of illnesses and other misfortunes. The shaman is the peoples’ link to the spirit world.

SIGIL - A symbol with some occult meaning that may be used in magickal workings. Often a seal, sign or other drawing, it may be carried or otherwise used to control the power symbolized.

SKY CLAD - The act of doing magickal workings or rituals in the nude. It is common in some traditions such as the Alexandrian, as well as among many solitary practitioners. Working sky clad does not imply anything sexual, but rather is an attempt to remove all barriers to the energies with which one is working.

SPELL  A magical working directed toward the achievement of some goal such as obtaining, banishing, changing a condition, etc. Sometimes refers to the verbal part of the ritual.  Very similar to a Christian prayer, but using herbs, candles and other assorted objects to strengthen and focus the “prayer” or spell.

TALISMAN - An object carried for protection or other goals that has been charged for that purpose. Examples are gemstones, shells, drawings and virtually any small object that one may carry.

TAROT - A set of 78 cards with pictures and symbols that are used for divination by connecting the reader to the subconscious mind. The origin of the cards is unknown.  Some guesses on the origin are from the Romany (Gypsy) people, but that is unsupported so far.

TRIPLE GODDESS - The one Goddess that encompasses three aspects, the Maiden, Mother, and Crone.                                            

TOTEM    An object, usually an animal or plant, revered by an individual or a particular social group. A group totem represents the bond of unity and is often considered the ancestor or brother of the group’s members; marriage between those of one totem is often prohibited as incest. The group’s symbol and protector, the totem may be pictured on the body or masks, or carved on totem poles.

WARLOCK   Derogatory term for a Male Witch. It’s original meaning, derived from the Old English “waer logga,” is “oath breaker” and it was used in reference to a traitor to the Craft during the Burning Times.

WATCHTOWERS   Originally from the Enochian branch of

Ceremonial Magick, now incorporated into many “Traditions”

of Wicca, these are the four elemental “directions” or

“quarters” (corresponding to the appropriate points on the

compass) called to protect the Circle during its

establishment. Each of them have a correspondence between

the compass point, an element, and (varying amongst

                                different traditions) color associated with them.

WHEEL OF THE YEAR - The Pagan calendar that symbolizes the eternal cycle of time. It usually begins with Samhain.

WHITE HANDLED KNIFE - The knife used by a Witch for Craft tasks such as carving candles, making tools, chopping herbs, etc. Though it is not as sacred as the athame, it is reserved for Craft work exclusively.

WICCA - A modern tradition of witchcraft based on the old earth religions of Europe. The term comes from an Old English word meaning “to bend” or “to have wisdom.”

WIDDERSHINS - Counterclockwise motion used in magical workings or ceremonies. It means to go backward and is sometimes used in banishing magick.

WITCHCRAFT   A magical religion with many diverse traditions derived from various cultural sources around which covens and individual practitioners base their practices.

THE CRAFT   Another name for Witchcraft. 

WITCH   One who worships the Goddess, and sometimes also Her Consort, the God; practices magic; and considers her/himself to be following the spiritual path of Witchcraft. 

YULE  The Sabbat celebrated on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. In some traditions it celebrates the birth of the God and in others the coming birth.


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