Witchcraft Terms and Their Meaning
For many years, I have seen this list on hundreds of Pagan related websites. I am unsure of its true origin.

a person highly skilled in magick

Alexandrian Witches
Traditional Witches who trace their line of initiatory descent from Alex and Maxine Sanders, through a line of Alexandrian High Priests and High Priestesses, according to the Alexandrian Book of Shadows, and who practice the Alexandrian Tradition of Wicca

an artificial elemental embodied in an image made from rowan wood

a place, such as a table or raised platform, where offerings are made to the divine; the focal point of contact between the human and the divine

an object worn as a protective charm to ward off sickness, injury or evil

the personification of the feminine aspect of a man's unconscious

the personification of the masculine aspect of a woman's unconscious

ancient Egyptian hieroglyph for "life", combining the symbols of the male and female genitals in a looped cross, representing both Initiation and everlasting life

in religious studies, describes "solar-oriented" religions which emphasize mastery of the instincts by the conscious mind (named for Apollo, as the Greek God of light and the Sun)

(pl. of arcanum) secret or hidden knowledge or methods; secrets or mysteries

hidden or secret; esoteric

Art, the
generally, the Magickal Arts or Art Magickal; the skills and practices of magick; however, "Art" has the connotation of "ability, talent", of something innate, rather than merely a learned skill or practice, such as distinguishes the artist from the draftsman: both may need to learn the skills of the trade but the innate talent of the artist awakens and is channeled by such training

to sprinkle with water during a ceremony

Astral Plane
the plane, or level of energy and existence, between the Mental and the Physical Planes; it is the plane of the instincts and emotions, and as such, it is frequently said to consist of the "Upper Astral" - most influenced by thought and by the Mental Plane, and the "Lower Astral" - most influenced by the senses and the Physical Plane

("ah-thay-mee") the Witch's sacred magickal knife; in Traditional Wicca, it is black-hilted and double-edged, with the Signs used in its consecration generally painted or inscribed on the hilt; the Elemental Tool of Air, or in some Traditions of Fire

August Eve
see Lammas

the force-field that surrounds the physical body, whether of humans, animals, or plants, and even places and things; composed of two layers: the inner "etheric aura" or "health aura" is a band of bluish-white energy which closely follows the outlines of the body, beyond which radiates the "astral aura" whose size, color, and shape or structure as perceived by clairvoyant sight indicates the emotional and mental state and the personality and spiritual development

Autumn Equinox
see Equinox

against; harmful; opposed to, or having negative intent or results

harm or disaster; sorrow, woe; something which is harmful

ritual fire symbolizing the banishing of ill by the power and presence of the divine

to banish; to curse; to forbid

deadly harm, ruin, death; something which causes harm, ruin, or death; a poison

a burial mound, such as found in Celtic or Native American archeological sites

Beltane, Beltain
("bright fire" or "Bel's fire") a Celtic name for May Day, May 1st, also applied to its ritual observance on May Eve (April 30) since the Celtic day began at sunset

to tie together; to tie down, hold, or restrain; to obligate or compel, as by an oath; to prevent from a specific action; loosely, to cast a spell upon, to impose your will on by magick

term sometimes used to refer to the Witch's White-handled Knife, as distinct from the Athame; sometimes used to refer to a sickle-shaped blade, including an Athame in Traditions which allow it to have that shape

Book of Shadows
the book containing the traditional rituals, spells, etc. of a Coven or Tradition, which the Wiccan Initiate copies from her/his Initiator; sometimes used today by Eclectics to refer to their Grimoire

another term for Candlemas, derived from the Celtic goddess Brigid, later venerated as the Christian St. Brigid or St. Bride


British Traditional Witches
the family of Wiccan Traditions who can trace their lineage to Gerald Gardner or Alex and Maxine Sanders; sometimes the term is more broadly used to refer to those whose Wiccan practice is based upon or derived from the above but without having initiatory lineage back to Gardner or Sanders ("neo-Gardnerians", "Farrarian Wicca", etc.); the term "British Traditional Wicca" is more common in the U.S. than elsewhere

see Qabala

Feb. 2nd Sabbat, the Festival of the Waxing Light; the Return of the Goddess from the Underworld, bearing in Her arms the Infant Sun; the Renewal of Virginity of the Goddess (hence, later, the Purification of Mary after childbirth) viewed as the beginning of Spring because the slumbering seeds begin to stir within the womb of the Earth

Cardinal Points
the four directions East, South, West, and North, and hence the locations of the Watchtowers of the Four Quarters

Cardinal Signs
in astrology, the four Signs of the Zodiac which initiate the Elemental Tides (Aries, Fire; Cancer, Water; Libra, Air; Capricorn, Earth)

Causal Plane
a term sometimes used for the Lower Spiritual sub-plane of the Spiritual Plane

to perfume with incense, either by carrying or swinging the censer, or by passing an object through the incense smoke

a cup or goblet, the Elemental Tool of Water

to fill with energy, as a battery, or a magickal object, Tool, or talisman
to give instructions to, or command authoritatively
the Charge of the Goddess - in Wicca, the traditional address given by the Goddess to Her worshippers; the form used in Wicca today was written by Doreen Valiente, based upon Gardner's original

spoken or chanted words of magickal intent; such words written or inscribed; an object magickally charged for a particular intent

a Witch's magickal Cord, especially if worn as a belt or girdle

Cone of Power
magickal energy raised from the body, and channeled from Nature and the Universe, collected and concentrated within the Magick Circle

to summon; to solemnly charge or command; loosely, to work magick

to make sacred; to hallow, set apart as holy; to devote entirely to, dedicate to; to make someone a certain rank or office by religious ceremony

forces or entities with whom magickal links are established; especially, the forces or entities, and magickal current, from which a group draws its power to initiate, thus "to be contacted" means to be linked to a particular magickal current

(from a word meaning "a group of confederates, a band", meaning a group bound to meet and work together, to agree) an organized group of Witches that regularly meets and works together; especially, a group of initiated Witches that follows a specific Tradition, and its rites and practices; traditionally limited to no more than thirteen members for both practical and magickally symbolic reasons

traditionally, the area one league (three miles) in all directions from the Covenstead, from which the Coven members are drawn, and defining the boundaries between Covens; in modern practice, the area defined by the dwelling places of the members of a Coven - which may well overlap with another Covendom, especially of a different Tradition

the place where the Coven regularly meets, usually the home of the High Priestess and/or High Priest
outsider, non-initiate; especially for an intruder or unfriendly outsider

Craft, the
the Magickal Arts and practices of Traditional Witchcraft; those who belong to the Craft, who practice the Craft and its Arts [Masons also refer to Masonry as "the Craft"]

Cup, the
the Chalice, a cup or goblet, the Elemental Tool of Water

("daemon", a lesser divinity) a guardian spirit; the inspiring or indwelling spirit of a place or thing; an entity or intelligence of a particular force; an artificial elemental created by a person or group for a specific purpose or force

needle, pin, or thorn used in working image-magick, to indicate the area of the body to which the Power is being directed, whether to cure or to curse

(derived from "daemon") an artificial elemental created by a neurotic complex of energies and emotions, whether of one person or many, hence contra productive or harmful in influence and effect

("with the sun") clockwise or sunwise, moving to the right around a circle if facing out, to the left if facing in

in religious studies, describes "lunar- or nature-oriented" religions that emphasize the ecstatic and emotional aspects, and the liberating of the psyche from the limitations of mundane consciousness, to enable union with the "group mind", or collective consciousness of the group (named for Dionysus, the Greek God of wine and Ecstasy)

the discovery of unknown information through occult means

Earth Religion
a religion which reveres the Earth, and Nature, as the manifestation of the Divine, and calls for harmony with Nature and all life and for ecology; opposes the wanton exploitation of the natural resources of the Earth

selecting from various systems, doctrines, or sources; composed of material gathered from various sources, systems, etc.

Eclectic Witches
Witches who, rather than following a specific Tradition, use rituals and practices gathered from various sources

(Greek "ekstasis", "being out of its place, distraction, trance") the exaltation of consciousness beyond the limitations of ordinary awareness as a result of extreme emotional exaltation and religious fervor: the state of "being outside of oneself"

a thought-form, an artificial energy-construct, a body of force; a traditional ritual or spell builds up a store of force which may be tapped by the participants

the primitive non-human and non-material entity of the nature of one of the Four Elements; also, an artificial elemental is a thought form, whether created consciously by thought and will, or unconsciously by strong emotions, which develops a separate existence; that separate existence can be temporary, or - as in the case of the god forms, created by the devotion of the worshippers and ensouled by the Divine Force thus venerated through prayer and invocation - can become permanent and independent; the term "elemental" is also used to refer to the inhabitants of other realms of existence whose orders of being are similar to that of the Elementals, such as the inhabitants of the Faery Realm

Elements, the Four
the basic forces/modes of existence and action underlying all of manifestation: Air, Fire, Water, and Earth - plus the Quintessence ("Fifth Essence") of Spirit which includes and contains them all

Elf, Elvenfolk, Elves
in traditional lore, the pre-Celtic inhabitants of Britain, viewed as magickal beings by the later invading peoples and attributed with magickal skills and abilities that generally describe either natural survival skills or psychic talents; Witches were often viewed as descendents of intermarriages or cross-breeding, and hence as having inherited the magickal abilities of their elven ancestry [consider the common Celtic concept of "the Sight" as something passed down through the blood]; also refers to the legendary magickal beings who were considered to be the Children of the Gods, or the offspring of the mating of Gods with humans

("equal night") one of the two dates in the year when the length of the day equals the length of the night: the Vernal or Spring Equinox, which begins the "Bright Side of the Year", and the Autumnal or Fall Equinox which begins the "Dark Side of the Year"

Coven meetings held at the Full Moon, and often the New Moon (or "Dark Moon"); any Coven meeting held at other than one of the Eight Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year

(Greek "esoterikos", "inner") beyond ordinary knowledge or understanding; hidden or inner knowledge reserved for initiates

Etheric plane
the level of energy and existence between the Astral Plane and the material Physical and the intermediary between the Physical and higher Planes; it is usually regarded as a sub-plane of the Physical, together with the purely material sub-plane, rather than as a distinct Plane of its own

the "calling up" or summoning of a non-material force or entity of a lower order of being than oneself

the expulsion or banishing of unwanted forces or entities from a person, place, or thing

Fall Equinox
see Equinox

an animal with whom the Witch has a psychic link

Familiar spirit
an artificial elemental created for a particular function or purpose; a natural entity whose order of being is similar to that of the Elementals, and who agrees to perform a specific immediate or long-term service, and they must also benefit from the relationship, for humanity is the Initiator - not the enslaver - of the lower orders of being

the process of creating a reaction in someone using only a projection of personal power or charm


a thought form sent to bring something or someone; sometimes used for the Summoner or Guardian

an object imbued with magickal power; an object consecrated to a particular deity

to fill with, or expose to, incense smoke

Gardnerian Witches
Traditional Witches who trace their line of initiatory descent from Gerald Gardner, through a line of Gardnerian High Priests and High Priestesses, according to the Gardnerian Book of Shadows, and who practice the Gardnerian Tradition of Wicca

Glamour, Glamoury

the Elemental Order of Earth, the elemental spirits of the Earth Element

pertaining to non-religious magickal methods or systems, hence many forms of spellcraft

Great Rite
the Craft's ritual of the "Hieros Gamos", or Sacred Marriage of the Goddess and the God, the Marriage of the Divine Polarities, whether symbolic (in the presence of others) or actual (in private and only between established lovers and working-partners); it is an essential part of the Traditional Wiccan rite of Third Degree Initiation

Greater Sabbats
the four "cross-quarter festivals" of Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, and Hallows, whose observance in ancient cultures generally predated that of the "quarter festivals" of the Solstices and Equinoxes

(grammar, learning, writings) the book containing one's personal spells, rites, recipes, etc., as distinguished from the Book of Shadows of the Coven or Tradition; the medieval books of magickal procedures written by, or ascribed to, famous magicians

Hallows, Hallows Eve, Hallowe'en
("holy" or "holy night") the Oct. 31 Greater Sabbat, also called November Eve, the Celtic Samhain ("sow-en"); the beginning of the Celtic winter, and of the Celtic year; the beginning of the Witches' Year, when the Veil Between the Worlds grows thin and the spirits of the dead may return to Earth; the Descent of the Goddess to the Underworld; the final Harvest festival

a betrothal; a trial marriage of "a Year and a Day"; a Wiccan marriage rite, which should embody the understanding that the union is "for as long as love shall last"

Hephaestic Transference
the process of transferring the power or properties of an object to another object by burning the object and rubbing the ashes on the receiving object; traditionally, a way of transferring the power of Signs and Symbols to an object without having to actually write or inscribe those Symbols on the object itself, and thereby risk discovery

Hereditary Witches
Witches who claim to practice a form of the Craft passed down through their families in an unbroken family line

six-pointed star formed of conjoined upright and reversed triangles, representing the union of Fire and Water, and of Male and Female; the Star of the Macrocosm ("big world", or universe)

High Priest
the male Coven Leader (an office); any Second or Third Degree male Witch (a rank)

High Priestess
the female Coven Leader (an office); any Second or Third Degree female Witch (a rank)

Hiving off
when someone of sufficient rank leaves the mother-Coven to form their own daughter-Coven

(Gaelic, "in the belly") a Celtic term for Candlemas, as the time when the first stirrings of Spring begin in the Womb of the Earth Mother

words ritually spoken or chanted in a magickal spell or ritual

the embodying of an entity in a physical form

male wraith form or demon, for the purpose of sexual intercourse; see Succubus

the immortal Self, the Higher Self, developed over the course of all of one's incarnations by the actualizing of the potential of the Divine Spark, as distinct from the Personality built up in a single incarnation

("a beginning, entrance into")
secret ritual by which a Postulant is admitted into membership in the Craft, and consecrated as a Priest or Priestess, and Witch; involving a symbolic death-and-rebirth, it is a spiritual rebirth into the Craft, and adoption into the spiritual family of the Coven, and of the Tradition; as such, Initiation links the Initiate to the group-mind of the Coven and to the "Initiatory Current" and "magickal Contacts" of that particular Wiccan Tradition
secret ritual by which an Initiate is elevated to a higher grade or degree, recognizing a level of knowledge, competence, and experience; hence often called an "Elevation"
an Inner Planes experience which alters one's consciousness and spiritual understanding

Inner Planes
levels of being or consciousness other than the ordinary, physical or mundane consciousness

the "calling in or down", the summoning or invitation of a non-material force or entity of a higher order of being than oneself

see Qabala

("a deed, an action, cause-and-effect, fate") the balance of all of one's actions throughout all of one's incarnations, which thus determines one's future experiences; thus loosely, fate or destiny as a result of one's actions; should not be seen as any doctrine of sin and punishment, but as the working of the Law of Cause and Effect, or "what ye sow, so shall ye reap"

(Old English "loaf mass", "bread feast") the Festival of the First-fruits of the Harvest, August 1, though usually celebrated the night of July 31, Lammas Eve, since the Celtic day began at sunset, hence also called August Eve; also called Lughnasadh ("Festival of Lugh") for the Celtic God of Light (Irish Celtic "Lugh", Welsh "Lleu", both meaning "Light", similar to the Latin "Lucifer" or "Light-bearer"); as start of harvest, the Festival of the Sacrifice and Death of the God-King, who like the grain is reaped at His prime before old age and decay sets in

Left-Hand Path
commonly used to refer to "black magick", because of the association of "left" with "evil"; hence the word "sinister", originally meaning "left, or lucky, side", acquired its modern connotation

Lesser Sabbats
the four "quarter festivals" of the Equinoxes and Solstices, whose observance in ancient cultures generally postdated that of the Greater Sabbats

direct descent from an ancestor; ancestry; family; in Wicca, the line of initiatory descent, or magickal and spiritual ancestry, and hence, the "initiatory family" related by a common ancestry

see Lammas

the conscious direction of power, of the proper kind, in the proper manner and in the proper degree, to accomplish the desired result; technically speaking, any conscious act is a magickal act

Material Basis
item or substance serving as the physical-plane focus, or means of manifestation, such as incense smoke in which shapes can be seen; also, when working for a practical result, the preparations or physical actions one performs to assist in achieving that goal - such as actually looking for a job if one is working for a job or money

May Eve
see Beltane

the Summer Solstice, so-called because the Celtic Summer began at Beltane and ended at Hallows

the Winter Solstice, so-called because the Celtic Winter began at Hallows and ended at Beltane

("new Pagan") a term often applied to both revivalist and reconstructionist Pagan religions in order to distinguish their modern adoption, or foundation, by their practitioners.

November Eve
see Hallows

("hidden, concealed") secret, esoteric; term used for magick and other esoteric arts and sciences, such as astrology or alchemy

Pagan, Paganism
(from the Latin word "paganus" meaning "a peasant, rustic")
Roman soldiers used the word in the pejorative sense of "hick, yokel, country bumpkin"; and this usage was continued by the early Roman Christians - who were mainly city-dwellers - to refer to everyone who preferred to continue to worship pre-Christian divinities. Hence "Paganism" refers to the worship of Pagan Deities: the Gods and Goddesses of the Old Religions that predate Judaism, Islam, or Christianity. As such, "Paganism" is actually an umbrella term covering a broad family of religions, which may be divided into three broad sub-categories:
survivalist - those whose religious practice has continued unbroken from their ancestors;
revivalist - those whose religious practice attempts to revive that of their ancestors, whether by actual descent or by personal spiritual affinity and inclination;
reconstructionist - those whose religious practice is an adaptation and reinterpretation of what they regard as the best of pre-Christian Pagan religions, adjusted to modern contemporary religious thought.
the Elemental Tool of Earth, a round wooden or metal disk usually inscribed with a pentagram, often with other magickal Signs and Symbols specific to a Tradition; also, the wax, paper, or parchment form used as a material basis when making talismans or otherwise invoking or evoking a specific force

the five-pointed star, the Star of the Microcosm ("little world"); the Four Elements ruled by Spirit (upright) or containing the unactualized potential of the Divine Spark (inverted); the inverted Pentagram also symbolizes the Horned God; Satanists also use it to represent the Christian "Satan", who was not pictured as horned until the Church used that symbolism to demonize the ancient Pagan Horned God by equating Him with their Devil

the "self" built up in a single incarnation, as a product of both heredity and environment and consisting of the "ego self" or one's own inner sense of identity, and the "persona" or outward personality shown to others; distinguished from one's Individuality, developed over the course of all one's incarnations

a petitioner or candidate for admission into a religious order; the Wiccan rite of Initiation refers to the candidate as a Postulant, which signifies not only that Wicca is a specific Pagan Mystery religion and magickal order, but also that, since Wicca does not proselytize, a candidate must ask to be Initiated into Wicca

Protean Family
"The Protean Family is made of most of the lineal descendants of Proteus Coven in New York City. The High Priestess of Proteus, Judy Harrow, founded the coven in the Gardnerian practice during the early 1980's. In late 1985, after a series of internal conflicts over some of the changes of practice instituted by Harrow, a body of Gardnerian Elders indicated a desire to disassociate with Proteus and her descendants. In the early 1990's, Harrow declared the Protean Family to be a "self-aware subgroup" of the Gardnerian line. The debates continue, but the Protean Family, whether separate Tradition or merely subgroup, continues to enjoy strong bonds." (quote from Circle of the Dragon's Weave)

a body of occult philosophy, doctrines, and magickal and mystical lore derived from certain Jewish rabbinical texts, probably originating in early Chaldean and other Mesopotamian cultures, including possibly the ancient Egyptian; also spelled Cabala, Cabbala, Kabala, Qabbalah

(Old Norse, Old English, and Gaelic "run", "secret, mystery") the ancient Teutonic alphabet, which developed into various forms, including an Old English form introduced in England by the Angles and Saxons; the symbols of that alphabet used for divination; a chant, charm, or spell, used for magickal purposes (because writing was originally a secret Mystery)

one of the eight great festivals of the year, celebrating the seasonal tides of power of the Wheel of the Year; see Lesser Sabbats and Greater Sabbats

the Elemental Order of Fire, the elemental spirits of the Fire Element

("sun standing still") one of the two dates in the year when the Sun reaches its furthest position north, or south, of the equator: in the Northern Hemisphere, the Summer Solstice is the north most position, and begins the "Waning Side of the Year", while the Winter Solstice is the south most position and begins the "Waxing Side of the Year"; called "solstice" because the Sun appears to stand still on that day, before beginning to move south/north again

Spring Equinox
see Equinox

female wraith form or demon, for the purpose of sexual intercourse; legend held that the succubus would manifest to a male, perhaps in his dreams, and thus acquire his semen; it would then take the form of an incubus and manifest to a woman

Summer Solstice
see Solstice

the Elemental Order of Air, the elemental spirits of the Air Element

Threefold Return, the Law of
although related to the concept of Karma, the Law of Threefold Return says that whatever one does by Magick, whether of good or of ill, returns to one threefold

Traditional Witches
Witches who claim their initiatory descent from surviving hereditary or traditional Witchcraft, which includes the Gardnerian and Alexandrian Traditions and their branches and offshoots via Gerald Gardner and/or Alex Sanders
the term "Traditionals" is sometimes used to distinguish Witches or Traditions that claim initiatory descent from hereditary or traditional Witchcraft via persons other than Gerald Gardner or Alex Sanders
the term "Traditional" is also sometimes used to refer to any Tradition that follows a specific body of rites and practices - including admittedly modern revived or reconstructed Traditions, especially ones that focus on a particular ethnic or cultural background - in order to distinguish between "Traditional" and "Eclectic" Witchcraft

the Elemental Order of Water, the elemental spirits of the Water Element

Vernal Equinox
see Equinox

the Elemental Tool of Fire, or in some Traditions, of Air

Wicca, the Wicca, Wiccan
(from the Old English "wicca" a male witch, and "wicce" a female witch, and "wiccan" witchcraft)
an Initiatory, Oath bound, Pagan Mystery religion celebrating the Mysteries contained in the Legend of the Descent of the Goddess and in the Charge of the Goddess, in which every Initiate is consecrated as a Priest or Priestess as well as a Witch
the Wicca are those thus Initiated and consecrated, the Priests and Priestesses of a specific Mystery religion within the larger body of Pagan religions
a Wiccan is an Initiate of Wicca, a consecrated Priest or Priestess and Witch
there is also a different, although related, religious movement calling itself "Wicca" - one that sprang from, and is loosely based upon the Mystery Religion, but that is more exoteric and oriented toward worship and devotion and public celebration, rather than toward a specific initiatory path, magickal practice, and spiritual discipline; this religious movement has been aptly described as "Wicca-based Paganism"

Winter Solstice
see Solstice

a practitioner of witchcraft; the lower-case "witch" indicates a practitioner who does not regard witchcraft as part of their particular religious belief or practice, for example, Christians or atheists who practice witch's magicks and are thus "witches", while the upper-case "Witch" indicates a practitioner of witchcraft as an intrinsic part of their specific religious beliefs and practices, although not necessarily those of the Wicca

the craft, or magickal arts and practices, of witches; as with witch, and Witch, the lower-case or upper-case letter indicates witchcraft as a practice outside of (lower-case), or as an intrinsic part of (upper-case), a religious belief or practice

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