Words & Phrases

This page can be used like a simple Wiccan or Pagan dictionary, listing many of the terms commonly used. I’ve tried to provide a quick definition for each word or phrase, as well as links to more information when possible.

Adept: A person who is highly talented at a particular type of magic, for example kitchen magic, ceremonial magic, Egyptian magic etc.

Akasha: The fifth element, represented on a pentagram by the topmost point. Spirit, and spiritual power, this is the energy which forms the other four elements. Akasha can be thought of as that which everything else is part of – the Lord and Lady, spiritual energy, physical objects, human souls – everything is connected through Akasha.

Akashic Records: It is thought that everything that people have learned throughout existence is stored in a ‘library’ on the astral plane, the knowledge in this library is known collectively as the akashic records.

Arcana: Each part of a Tarot deck is called an Arcana; see Major Arcana, and Minor Arcana.

Astral: Another plane of existence, or dimension of reality. You have an astral body as well as your physical body, and the two can be separated when you travel on the astral plane. See astral projection.

Astral Projection: The act of leaving your physical body, and travelling in the astral plane.

Asperger: A bundle of fresh herbs, or a container with small holes in used to sprinkle water. The asperger is used to create sacred space and purify areas before magical workings.

Aura: An energy field that surrounds every living object. It is sometimes possible to see this with the naked eye, but is normally invisible. It is in three layers – physical, mental and spiritual and each can change colour according to the person’s state of health. Read more about auras.

Automatic Writing: The act of holding a pen to paper and allowing yourself to write, without consciously thinking about it. Normally used in the context of channelling where a spirit actually guides your hand and controls what you write as a way of communicating with this world.

Bane: Evil, negative energies; poisonous destructive forces, that which destroys life.

BCE: Before Common Era. This means exactly the same as BC which you may be more familiar with. BC stands for Before Christ, and using the BCE version is a simple way to refer to the same time period, without the religious associations. See also CE.

Bi-Location: The art of travelling in the astral plane while retaining awareness of your physical body and it’s surroundings. This allows you to be consciously aware of your presence in, and effect on two different places. Also called overlooking.

Bind: To magically restrain someone or something, normally to prevent them from causing harm.

Blood of the Moon: Another name for menstruation. When a woman’s menstrual cycle falls on the new, or full moon, it can be used to her advantage, as the Blood of the Moon can give her extra power.

Book of Shadows: Abbreviated to “B.O.S” / “BoS”. A book created by Pagans for recording spells, rituals, and other magical information. This can also be used to contain personal information such as a dream diary and a record of the practitioner’s progress. See also grimoire.

Burning Times: A period of history, during which many people were executed on the charge of witchcraft.

Casting A Circle: The process of creating a magic circle.

CE: Common Era. This means exactly same thing as AD, which you may be more familiar with. AD stands for Anno Domini, or the Year of our Lord, and using the CE version is a simple way to refer to the same time period, without the religious associations. See also BCE.

Circle: A magic circle is a 3-dimensional orb cast around a magic user to protect them from unfriendly influences, to contain any energies raised within it and to set the caster apart from the mundane world. It surrounds the person, meeting with the floor at it’s widest point to form a bubble above and below that person.

Centering: The process of centering oneself allows you to prepare for a magical ritual by calming yourself and bringing all of your energy into the very centre of your body, in order to direct it towards your goal.

Chakra: There are seven chakras in the body which are centers of spiritual energy. They can be cleansed by meditation, helping you to fight illness, and to work more efficient magic.

Channeling: The practise of allowing a spirit to take temporary control of your body so that it can communicate either verbally, or through automatic writing.

Charging: The act of infusing an object with magical power.

Cone of Power: Energy raised by an individual or as a group effort, for a specific purpose.

Coven: A group of witches working together, traditionally thirteen in number. A coven will gather together on Pagan holidays (Sabbats and Esbats) to perform ritual and work magic, although this needn’t be the only time they meet.

Covenstead: The meeting place of a coven, usually a specific building or place where the witches can gather and hold ritual without danger or interruptions.

Days of Power: Certain days in the year which have particular power for a witch. The Sabbats and Esbats are Days of Power, and other, more personal days of power may be your birthday, the anniversary of your initiation or dedication, or other days which have personal meaning to you.

Dedication: The act of accepting and acknowledging Paganism or Wicca as your religion, and expressing your intention to continue learning about it.

Deosil: (JESS-ill) Clockwise movement, like the direction of the sun. This is thought to be positive, symbolic of helpful energies and is an invoking motion, bringing energy towards you. See widdershins.

Deva: A spirit that lives inside a plant, or other natural object. It is possible to communicate with these spirits to harmonize and balance the energies in the area that you live in.

Direct Motion: In reference to the planets. This describes the movement of a planet when it appears to be moving forwards when seen from earth. See retrograde.

Divination: The practice of foretelling the future by interpreting patterns or symbols. Divination techniques such as using a Tarot deck, runes or scrying.

Dowsing: The use of a divining rod or pendulum to search for a person or object. This is most commonly used to find water, or minerals underground. It can also be used to get answers to yes/no questions by holding the pendulum over a specially designed chart.

Dowsing Pendulum: A piece of chain or string with a coin, crystal or metal point at the end. It is used to predict the future by the way in which it swings. There are various ways of interpreting this, using a side-to-side swing or a forwards – backwards swing.

Drawing Down the Moon: A ritual used during the full moon whereby a witch takes the essence of the Goddess inside his/herself to empower themselves and commune with the Goddess.

Elder: A higly respected member of the Pagan community. Elders may form a group, and oversee and organise activities in the community as well as the workings of the coven. Elders attain their status by a combination of education, ability and experience, and are normally good at problem solving and counselling.

Elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water make up the four natural elements and the fifth, Spirit, encompasses them all. Everything that exists in this universe contains one or more of these energies; they are, essentially, the building blocks of life.

Esbat: A Pagan ritual which occurs on the Full Moon.

Evocation: To call up spirits or other magical beings to physical appearance or invisible attendance. Evocation calls something up from outside you, compare to invocation.

Familiar: Usually an animal which has a strong bond with a witch, although it could also be an elemental created for a particular purpose, or some other entity.

Fascination: Controlling, or influencing, another human or animal’s mind by your own mental efforts.

Fey: An old term for fairies or magical beings. It is still in use in the Pagan world today, along with the term faerie.

Grimoire: See Book of Shadows. A magical workbook for a witch, that will contain information on spells and other magical lore as well as personal information such as a dream diary.

Gris-gris: A small bag that contains charms, herbs, stones, and possibly some items that associate the bag to a particular individual (called sympathetic magic). It is used to draw luck, love or other energies.

Handfasting: The Wiccan, Pagan or gypsy equivalent of a wedding.

Initiation: The process of introducing or admitting an individual to a group or religion. These can be done in a ritual or occur spontaneously.

Invoke: An appeal or petition to a higher power in order to establish conscious ties with the aspects of the entity which lie with us. Invocation calls something from within you, compared to evocation.

Kabbalah: Or ‘cabala’, or ‘qabala’. An ancient Hebrew magical system.

Karma: The belief that any actions you take, good or bad, will be counted against you; the positive or negative energy returning to you over the course of one, or several lifetimes. This is the basic idea behind the Threefold Law, although with Karma the energy is not supposed to be tripled.

Left Hand Path: Referring to the practise of negative magic.

Macrocosm: The world around us. Compare to Microcosm.

Magick: You have probably noticed the unusual spelling; the extra ‘k’ is used to distinguish witchcraft magic from stage magic and illusion. Not everyone uses this spelling however, believing the context in which the word is used is more than enough to avoid any confusion. A magical working uses energies to create change. It rouses natural energies, gives them purpose and direction and then releases them to complete a specific goal.

Major Arcana: The 22 picture cards of a Tarot deck, which represent major events in our lives. Compare to Minor Arcana.

Mantra: A sacred chant used to embody divinity or draw energies. It is said by Hindus to possess deep magical powers.

Meditation: A process whereby the individual reflects upon particular thoughts or symbols, or allows them to come unbidden. Meditation may be so the individual can connect with themselves or so they can associate more with a deity or nature.

Microcosm: The world within us. Compare to Macrocosm.

Minor Arcana: The 56 cards of the Tarot deck that give more detailed information than the Major Arcana, fleshing out situations that may have been highlighted by the 22 picture cards.

Needfire: A ceremonial fire, kindled at dawn on the Wiccan sabbats, traditionally used to light all other household fires.

Neo-Pagan: A ‘new’ Pagan. A follower of one of the more recently created earth religions. Wiccans are Pagan, but Pagans are not necessarily Wiccan.

Overlooking: Another name for bi-location, the act of travelling in the astral plane while retaining awareness of your physical surroundings.

Pantheon: A (usually structured) collection of Gods and Goddesses within a particular belief system. For example, the Greek pantheon, the Celtic pantheon, etc…

Pentacle: The pentagram, surrounded by a circle.

Pentagram: A five pointed star, representing the five elements. It is used as a symbol of the Pagan religion and is traditionally protective.

Projective Hand: A person’s power hand; the one that is most commonly used to write with. It is used to project energy away from the individual in actions such as casting a spell, or creating a circle. This is that hand in which an athame or wand may be held as these tools help focus the energy that is directed outwards. Compare to receptive hand.

Psychic Mind: The subconscious or unconscious mind, in which psychic impulses are received. When a person sleeps, dreams or meditates, the psychic mind is at work and provides a link with deity and the akashic records.

Receptive Hand: The hand which is not used primarily for writing or other such activities. It is the hand through which energy is received into the body. Compare to projective hand.

Reincarnation: This is the process of a human’s soul being reborn into another body after they die. This will allow for the evolution of a sexless, ageless soul which must learn the lessons this world has to offer before being granted a final resting place in the Summerland.

Retrograde: In reference to the planets. This describes the movement of a planet when it appears to be moving backwards when seen from earth. The planets, obviously, do not move backwards but when they move at a certain speed in relation to us, they appear to go in the opposite direction. The wheels of a car, as it speeds up from stationary can give the same effect. Compared to direct motion.

Ritual: A Pagan ceremony in which a witch can manipulate energies to achieve a desired goal, or honour and give thanks to deity.

Runes: A set of symbols used in divination and magical workings. There are a number of different runic alphabets, and while the symbols can be equated to letters, they also represent particular ideas and qualities.

Sabbat: A Pagan festival which is held on the quarter and cross-quarter days of the year.

Scry: A form of divination whereby images are seen, visually or mentally, by gazing into a dark reflective object such as hematite, a crystal ball or a bowl of water with black dye in it.

Second Sight: The power or ability to foresee the future, whether through divination, dreams or another form.

Sigil: A seal or symbol, created for a specific purpose in order to represent the goal or aim of a spell. Sigils can be written down on paper, clothing or other objects.

Skyclad: Naked. Without clothing or other accessories, a witch’s energy is thought to flow more fluidly, and hence can be directed more effectively in ritual or spells.

Smudge: To cleanse an object spiritually by waving incense over, and around it. A ‘smudge stick’ is a bundle of incense sticks tied, or held together.

Spell: A magical working, not usually religious in nature, in which energy is manipulated and sent forth to produce a required goal.

Summerland: The Summerland is comparable with the idea of heaven in that it is the resting place your soul goes to after death. There is no Pagan counterpart to hell, and thus there is no criteria you must meet to be accepted into the Summerland. Also a soul may not remain in the Summerland forever, as Pagans generally believe in reincarnation, so the Summerland may house souls which are between incarnations.

Tarot: A deck of 78 cards, comprising the Minor and Major Arcanas, which can be used in divination, laid out in different spreads to predict the future.

Tradition: A Wiccan tradition is an organized and structured subgroup within the Wiccan religion. They usually have their own specific initiation ceremonies and a group Book of Shadows may be kept.

Tuatha de’ Danann: The people descended from the Celtic Goddess Danu. They were famed for their druidry and magic, and were said to be in posession of the stone of Fal, which shrieked under the true heir to the throne, Daghda’s cauldron of plenty, the spear of Lug, which made victory certain, and Nuadhu’s sword, which slayed all enemies.

Vision Quest: Using astral projection, or bi-location to find answers to a problem or achieve a specific goal.

Visualisation: The process of forming an image in one’s imagination; in magic this may be used to help achieve a goal or to help direct a person’s energy and power.

Webweaving: Networking with other Pagans and magical people.

Widdershins: A counterclockwise movement, the way that the moon moves. This symbolizes negative energies and is sometimes used for banishment and dispersal of negative energies. It can also be used to evoke energy from within yourself. Compared to deosil.

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