Name of one of the principle families or clans of gods described in the Northern mythos. The word Aesir has been translated as "pillar." Aesir is the plural form. The singular form is Ass.
A popular term used by many Pagans as a title for the male aspect of Divinity.
A popular term used by many Pagans as a title for the female aspect of Divinity.
Ancient Egyptian evil demon (also spelled Apepi and named Apophis by the Greeks) representing darkness and chaos and opposed light and order. He was the opposite of the sun god Ra. He is shown as a snake, crocodile, or dragon. The priests had a book of instructions on how to overcome Apep.
The Greek goddess of love.
Greek goddess of love and sexuality. She is the personification of physical beauty. It is believed her traditions were imported from or influenced by the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia.
Those who practice Asatru devote themselves to the Nordic, Germanic, and Icelandic Deities, and may do so to the exclusion of all other Deities by a voluntary covenant. The ethical system is based on the writings of Edred Thorsson, who identifies Nine Noble Virtues and the Sixfold Goal as an ethical system. The virtues are courage, honor, truth, fidelity, discipline, hospitality, industriousness, self-reliance, and perseverance. The goals are right, wisdom, might, harvest, peace (frith), and love.
This term has been adopted to describe the modern restoration of the Germanic religion of Northern Europe. The literal meaning is "true to the Aesir!"
An important ritual tool in the practice of Voodoo or Voudoun. It is a sacred rattle used in various rites. Typically it made of a coconut with beads (traditionally made of snake vertebrae) strung around it and placed on a stick. Rather than being shaken, one hand holds the beads while the other hand is used to twist the stick rhythmically back and forth, resulting in the beads scraping over the rough surface of the coconut and producing its sound. Sometimes they are brightly colored.
The Asson is a symbol of a Voudoun priest (Houngan) or Priestess (Mambo). To be "given the asson" is an expression meaning that a person has been raised to the priesthood.
Phoencian version of Egyptian Ishtar. Some believe that she became Aphrodite in Greek myth. She was a Moon goddess associated with love and sex, but also war. Symbols of Astarte include the sphinx and the horse, the lion and the dove. Graphically, she was symbolized as a star within a circle a symbol believed to be a representation of the planet Venus.
In Jewish myth she is called Ashtoreth and is considered a female demon of lust. This may be due to the policy of one religion turning the deities of other religions into representatives of evil.
Another term for Lammas.
A fire lit for magical purposes, usually outdoors.
Based on an earlier Celtic term meaning “praise,” it contemptuously referred to a traveling musician. This evolved in different cultures. By the Middle Ages, in Ireland and Wales, it meant a poet or musician hired to create songs that praised the lord who hired them. They also composed and sang songs praising warriors. Later, the term bard came to mean a romantic poet. In the 1700 and 1800 there was a Celtic Revival that associated bards with the Druids. In this context a bard was a musician, a poet, and a story teller as part of the Druidic priesthood.
Beltane is the holiday that draws all Witches outside to celebrate the returning power of the Sun and the fecundity of the land.
A favor. Specifically, a request of the Goddess to grant a gift.
Pagan magickal traditions primarily from Mexico and Central America combined with a Catholic veneer. Beliefs are similar to those held by Pagans all over the world. In the US, brujeria is popular in Latino areas commonly known as barrios, and specialized stores to serve the needs of practitioners (women are brujas; males are brujos) may be found there.
A city in the Nile delta of Egypt. Anciently it was a center for the worship of Bast or Bastet, the cat-Goddess.
A tool similar to an awl having a handle with a metal rod sharpened to a point used to inscribe. Used by some Pagans to inscribe symbols and magickal words on amulets, etc.
A Witch tool consisting of a slim metal shaft with a handle. It is correctly known as an awl and is used to inscribe designs and words on candles.
Like any magical tool, it should be purified, in this case by fire, and then secret characters should be engraved on the handle by the Bolline. Then it may be consecrated with words such as the following:
Asophiel, Asophiel, Asophiel! Pentagrammaton, Athanatos, Eheieh, Asher, Eheieh! Qadosch, Qadosch, Qadosch! O, God Eternal and my Father, bless this instrument prepared in Thine honor, so that it may serve only for good use and end, for Thy Glory, Amen.
Term used to describe the oppression, repression, torture, and killing of accused Witches during the middle ages and on. Many of the accused, if not most of them, were not involved in any Witchcraft practices. The number of people so tortured and killed during this period is controversial, with “experts” giving totals ranging from under 100,000 to millions.
A Pagan festival traditionally celebrated on the second of February, also known as Imbolc, Lupercus, etc. Dedicated to the Goddess of Fertility and the Horned God, it was anciently known as a feast for the god Pan. Often seen as a celebration of change and of removing of the old to make way for the new.
In Europe and among some Pagans, any cereal grains such as wheat, barley, rye, etc., but excluding maize. Curiously, in the US it refers to maize and excludes other grains.
The largest Greek island in the Mediterranean Sea. It was the center of the Minoan civilization that thrived between about 2600 b.c.e. and 1454 b.c.e. Although it has been ruled by Christians and Moslems, previously it is believed to have been one of the few European civilizations known to have had a period of primarily goddess worship. Cretan Goddess statues show the Her wearing a full skirt and a vest that is open exposing Her breasts. She is shown holding a snake in each hand. Reproductions of this image are popular among many Neo-Pagans.
One of the three aspects of the triple goddess, the Crone has the image of an elderly woman. Also, an honored elder in some Pagan traditions. The image of a Witch found in many folk tales is actually that of the Crone. The age is necessary to show the wisdom she has acquired. Physical malformations such as the stooped stance and the infamous nose wart indicate the work she has done for the community as well as her skill as a healer.
A ritual marking a woman’s movement from representing the “mother” aspect of the triple goddess to that of the “crone,” respected for he knowledge and experience.
(Also spelled Dagda) An important deity of the ancient Pagan tribes of Ireland, usually referred to as The Daghda. The name means “The Good God” as in “good at everything” rather than ethically good.
Period of the month when the moon is not visible. Also called the new moon, although that designation would seem more appropriate to the first sight of the waxing moon.
A term used by Pagans to refer to the male horned god (often in His form as the bring of death leading to rebirth) or surprisingly the female goddess in Her aspect of the Crone, representing wisdom derived from experience and age. Some major religions equate their deity with light exclusively, leading to the conclusion that anything dark must be evil, Satanic, etc. As a result, the term has also been used in a derogatory fashion toward Pagan deities.
Although literally this means anything associated with the Greek good Dionysus or works mistakenly associated with Dionysius the Areopagite (who supposedly was converted to Christianity by the preaching of Paul) in common use this refers to the ecstatic rites and rituals directly or metaphorically associated with Dionysus as the God of wine and ecstasy. Most noted is the wild rite known as the Bacchanalia (named after the Roman version of Dionysis known a Bacchus) that became so bizarre it was legally banned by the Roman Senate in 186 b.c.e.
Derived from the Breton phrase taol maen, meaning “stone table,” a structure of three or more large upright stones covered by a flat stone called a “table.” Originally found as part of ancient burial tombs, eventually some became seen as “doorways” through which one might pass into another reality, or as a spiritual marker, as in the famous Stonehenge monument. Also known by the Welsh term, “cromlech.”
Drawing Down the Sun
A ritual added to many Pagan traditions to match that of Drawing Down the Moon. In this ritual, usually performed by a High Priestess, the God of the tradition is invoked into the High Priest. In this embodied form, the God may make oracular statements to the assembled people and enjoy the experience of having a physical body.
An Aboriginal Shamanic concept of multiple realities wherein the world of dreams (“dreamtime”) is as valid and real as our ordinary world.
In ordinary waking consciousness, we experience time as a linear flow from past through present to future. During dreams, these divisions are transcended and time is best understood as the “eternal now,” thus allowing for dream premonitions or even deliberate programmed dreams to reveal specific future happenings
In shamanism, a dreamwalker is someone who works with dreams and travels to other worlds for the purpose of gaining information that can help the shaman, another person, several people, or the entire group/tribe. It involves lucid dreaming: being aware that you are dreaming while you are dreaming. Some dreamwalkers are able to enter the dreams of others to give them needed advice or spiritual assistance.
Pre-Roman spiritual leaders of Europe, there is much speculation and relatively little factual documentation about them. They seem to have been involved with divination, incantations, healing, magic, advising royalty, carrying history in song. Druidry was an oral tradition, hence the minimal documentation.
Druids were said to meet in groves (especially of oak) and in caves. They were seen as anti-Roman, so Rome (under Augustus) forbade the practice of Druidry and the armies (and later the Christians) would destroy their sacred areas and burn them.
There was a Druid center of learning on the island of Anglesey (Ynys Môn) in Wales. Druids assembled there for training from all over Europe, although the oral secrets revealed there are not known. Rome eventually invaded the island and destroyed the groves.
Today, many of their mysteries are being rediscovered.
See Wheel of the Year.
Rituals performed by Pagans, Witches, and Wiccans at the full moon. Unlike the eight Sabbats that are associated with devotional rituals based on Solar myths, the Esbat is not strictly devotional. It is where practitioners come together to work magick and discuss the needs of their group.
See Flags, Flax, Fodder and Frig. An abbreviation for this old Celtic blessing, also written as 4F.
Flags, Flax, Fodder and Frig
An old Saxon blessing that has been adopted by many Pagans and Witches. Frig is the Norse name of the goddess also known as Freya, goddess of the home and hearth. Its meaning is: “May you always have a home to live in, clothing to wear, food to eat, and someone to love.”
Name of an image found on a number of early churches that resembles a human face made of leaves. The faces were often horned or had antlers, or leaves in the shape of antlers, to symbolize the Horned God known as “The Green Man.”
Specific magical discipline involving verbal magic and the chanting of runes.
An ancient form of the male aspect of divinity now commonly called the Horned God. The Goat God was worshiped where the goat was a main source of food. He survived as the Greek deity Pan.
Goddess figurines dating back to the Gravettian culture between 22,000 and 28,000 years ago. The area they lived in is in present-day France. These figurines are the oldest such images known. The most famous example is the Venus of Willendorf.
The God as he is referred to in forests. He is frequently shown in the form of a foliate mask.
A common name for the holiday known as Samhain or Halloween. Short for All Hallow’s Eve.
A modern Pagan form of divorce. The Pagan version of marriage, the handfasting, was traditionally for a limited time. When the time was up, the couple could retake their vows or go their separate ways. Hence, no equivalent of divorce was needed. However, some Pagans have desired to speed this process up or mark the end of a relationship, resulting in the creation of handparting rituals.
Abbreviation for “High Priest.” the male head of a Coven. Each letter is pronounced separately.
Abbreviation for “High Priestess,” the female head of a Coven. Each letter is pronounced separately.
February 2 IMBOLC/IMBOLG is the Old Irish name for an ancient Celtic festival occurring at the beginning of February. Imbolc was the second of the four great fire festivals of Celtic religion and under Christian influence was also known as Candlemas. From early times Imbolc was associated with the fire goddess Brighid, and celebrated the approach of spring and the promise of renewal.
Alternate spelling of Imbolc.
An archaic term for a woman who works spells through incantations; a Witch.
A race of giants or gods that came before the Aesir and the Vanir. They can be compared roughly to the titans of Greek mythology.
A Hawaiian word that means a priest or sorcerer in any profession. In mystical traditions, it relates to leaders and experts in native Hawaiian spiritual practices based around the concept of huna, the basis of native Hawaiian spirituality. The term was introduced to the West by Max Freedom Long in his book, The Secret Science Behind Miracles.
A kenning is a poetic metaphor. For example, the fishes' bath means the sea.
A word or phrase used by druids, bards, and poets to describe in highly symbolic language people, places, or things. (e.g. “the Plain of Tethra” is a kenning for the ocean. “The Cattle of the Plain of Tethra” is a kenning for fish and “The Man who tends the Plain of Tethra” is a kenning for a fisherman.)
Law of Responsibility
Although less popular today, many earlier Wiccan traditions established sets of rules or laws by which the coven operates. The Law of Responsibility, accepted by many covens, says that if you harm another, you must make restitution to that person.
The first day of summer is Litha, a festival that honors the Sun at its zenith.
A name for the summer solstice used in many modern Pagan traditions. It has been claimed as the original Pagan name for this festival, but no evidence has been presented to back this up. The actual origin of the term appears to be J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings; in the calendar Tolkien devised for the fictional race of Hobbits, midsummer’s day is named Lithe.
At Mabon, the Sun finally loses its dominion over the light, and its power wanes with each passing day.
A term used to refer to societies in which women hold the most key positions in government, and where lineage is traced through the female. Generally, a matriarchal society would also focus its religious view on a goddess concept over a god concept. In some cases, the latter may not even appear in the religious structure of matriarchal religion.
A term used to indicate ancient societies that focused primarily upon goddess worship. In matrifocal society the iconography of goddess images and symbols are more abundant that those related to the worship of a god. Matrifocal differs from matriarchal in several ways. For example, in a matrifocal society, family lineage may or may not be traced through the female line. In a matriarchal society, by contrast, it would be uncommon for lineage not to be traced through the women. Matrifocal societies also do not necessarily discriminate against men concerning their involvement in religious rites, tribal positions, and general status within the clan.
A favorite Beltane activity for Pagans on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Ribbons are affixed to a tall pole, then interwoven by all participants.
A term used, often disparagingly, for a shaman, spiritual leader, or healer in a pre-industrialized culture.
A large standing stone found individually and not in a group.
Name Pagans give the nurturing and healing aspects of the triple goddess.
A commonplace or worldly thing or concept. The opposite of spiritual. Some Pagans who are "closeted" (do not let most people know they are Pagan) may refer to their spiritual life as opposed to their mundane, worldly life. Some describe non-Pagans as "Mundanes," much as in the way outsiders are called "muggles" in the Harry Potter books.
A ceremonial fire kindled at dawn on major Wiccan holidays. It was traditionally used to light all other household fires.
Also written “Neopagan,” it literally means "New Pagan.” It identifies that many groups and individuals follow modern versions of ancient Pagan traditions rather than the actual ancient tradition.
Literally “of the new stone” and referring to the “new stone age” that began around 10,000 b.c.e. and continued to about 6,500 b.c.e. It was during this period when humans effectively began to use complex stone tools. Some say this is when Pagan spiritual beliefs first appeared.
The ancient magickal alphabet of the Celtic people. It was composed of a set of 20 letters known as “fews.” The letters were made of short vertical and/or diagonal lines drawn next to or across a horizontal line.
Orlog is the Old Norse for cycle of fate, or for the unalterable destiny of the world. Orlog encompasses all, including the gods. One aspect of Orlog is the "Ragnarok." Orlog is the collective wyrd of the world as a whole, whereas "wyrd" is more individual.
Ostara marks the first day of spring and celebrates the day that the Sun finally overtakes the night, proving the efficacy of the magic worked at the Yule festival of lights.
A menhir that is outside a stone circle. There are several potential explanations for these stones. Some say they are related to Ley Lines. Others say they are used for making some sort of sightings.
As a noun, a person who practices Paganism; as an adjective, something to do with Paganism.
From the Latin Paganus, “those of the earth.” Originally it was a derogatory term used to described people of the land and their simplicity. Later, it focused on their choice of Pre-Christian deities. Today, many Witches and Wiccans consider themselves to be Pagans or Neo-Pagans.
A modern religious movement that encompasses traditions which are generally earth-centered; magickal; indigenous; stress a connection to and respect for the natural world; recognize both male and female deities; encourage diversity in spiritual beliefs, practices, and lifestyles; do not operate under a centralized hierarchy; have no official or standardized dogma that extends beyond the particular tradition; and stresses personal responsibility in matters of belief, ethics, and spiritual practice.
A term in wide use today that describes personal religious activities and constructs in which the pre-Christian deities of many lands are worshipped. Paganism is quite popular, especially among women, as it supports women clergy and is often centered on Goddess worship. Sometimes known as Neo-Paganism.
The ancient way of practicing religion that is rooted in the awe of nature, ascribing deities or qualities to the natural forces. Wicca is a form of Paganism.
A person who goes to Pagan events not for the spiritual aspects, but because there is often a party at the conclusion of a ritual. At festivals, a Party Pagan does not go to any workshops or rituals, but does go to dances and performances. Party Pagans are not really interested in the spiritual aspects of Paganism, but will wear signs of Paganism (clothes, jewelry, etc.) to fit in and attract others Pagans for friendship, romance, sex, etc.
Referring to a religion focused upon the worship of a god or gods, but without the negative, limiting and controlling aspects often found in such religions. People using this term may use “patriarchal” to mean related to a god(s)-centered faith that does have negative qualities.
Archaic term for an herbal aphrodisiac or love potion.
Generally a harmless, mischievous Irish spirit. Although it could change shapes, it would often manifest in the form of a black horse. The Irish Druid priests believed that Pookas would destroy crops not gathered by Samhain.
Doom or destiny of the gods. The Northern version of the end of the world. In occult terms it implies the end of an era.
An ancient word, now rarely used, that means “advise” and “counsel" For a specific use, see Wiccan Rede.
Sabbats and Esbats
Regular rituals found in Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism. Sabbats are solar rituals and are associated with the cycles of the sun. Esbats are rituals that take place at each full moon.
A sacred responsibility in some ancient Pagan traditions, priestesses, or women functioning as priestesses, would give themselves to partners as a way of honoring the goddess. Money collected for this—as with the collection plate in churches—was given to the temple dedicated to the particular goddess. Long forgotten due to the ascendancy of Christianity which opposed such practices, the rediscovery of this sacred Pagan practice was vilified by Christian archeologists as “prostitution,” even though they also called it “sacred.”
Expect the unexpected if you celebrate Samhain—the Celtic New Year—on All Hallows Eve...
October 31. Also called Hallowee, Hallowe'en, and All Hallows Eve. This holiday is widely celebrated by people of all faiths with costume parties and trick-or-treating. But this night also marks the Wiccan new year. In the wheel of the year, Samhain is the night when the God dies and leaves the Goddess alone until Yule, when he is born again. Halloween/Samhain is a time when the doors between the words are said to open, stirring up much ghostly and otherworldly activity.
As a noun, a type of whip. As a verb, the use of a whip. In some Pagan traditions (such as Gardnerian, Alexandrian, or versions of them) it is used as a part of ritual cleansing. Some say this is done very lightly while others say it is done with exuberance.
Meaning literally seething. Seidr is the name of a variety of magical and shamanic practices such as sorcery and divination and "soul journeys."
Latin name for the Moon Goddess. In some Wiccan traditions (with a three-fold Lunar goddess) Selene is the name of the Maiden aspect of the goddess, the others being mother and crone.
A term used by some Pagans to describe their practices as not being involved with other people. While this is probably a linguistic error (sounding more like a card game for one than a Wiccan practitioner) for what should be a Solitary Witch or Wiccan), it has been popularized by many practitioners.
Traditional Italian Witchcraft. It has been popularized by the works of Raven Grimassi.
Scottish-Gaelic term for fire, usually a ritual bonfire.
Old English term for a Pagan priest. The term has evolved over time so that, when used as a boy’s given name, it means “follower.”
Triangle of Manifestation
A phrase indicating the principle behind magickal manifestation. This basic principle is rooted in the number three. According to metaphysics, in order to manifest something, three components must come together. These components are time, space, and energy. Accordingly, if one selects a space, and a time, and then directs energy there, a manifestation occurs.
In ritual and spellcasting this principle can be symbolized through a hand gesture. By holding the hands in front of you with the palms out and bringing the tips of both index fingers together, while at the same time touching the tips of each thumb together, a triangle appears in the opening between the hands. This symbolic hand gesture can be used in ritual while chanting, charging objects, or speaking blessings.
In some Pagan traditions the name of the area, metaphorically under the surface of the earth, where the souls of the recently dead go. In some traditions this is a temporary location followed by a location where the souls may spend more time, either permanently or temporarily in anticipation of reincarnation.
Unintentional Dream Incubation
When a person receives a powerful but unrequested meaningful dream, usually as the result of sleeping in a place of power or that is holy, it is known as Unintentional Dream Incubation.
A family of gods, the Vanir are especially connected with fertility. The name Vanir could very well come from the Danish word for sea, "van," as the Vanir are very much sea gods.
A term popular among some “techno-pagans,” it describes the process of communicating with other Pagans via electronic means such as through using the Internet. More than just social interaction, webweaving most often has the purpose of gaining information for personal, spiritual, or magickal development.
According to the Roman writers Tacitus and Julius Caesar, Druids performed human scarifies by placing people in giant wicker cages formed in human shape and then set them afire, allowing the victims to roast slowly as a sacrifice to the Gods. The idea became well know due to a 1973 movie by Robin Hardy which remain both popular and controversial among Neopagans. The movie was remade in 2006 by Neil LaBute and is generally disliked by Neopagans and film critics.
The goddess of Willendorf was found in 1908 near Willendorf in Austria. She is over 30,000 years old and is one of the oldest pieces of artwork found on the planet. She was found among some tools from that era and was carved out of limestone. Most commonly she is known as the Venus of Willendorf; however, Venus was a goddess who did not appear until later in the history of humankind.
A solitary female, usually elderly and often living outside of the local European village, who dispensed advice, medicines, medical aid, and folk magick remedies to people around her. When problems developed in the village or politicians needed a scapegoat, she would be prosecuted for Witchcraft.
A script used by some Witches as a secret alphabet. It has also been called the Theban script. The Witches’ alphabet was popular in the Craft Community during the 1960s and 1970s, but was gradually replaced by Germanic and Celtic runes sometime in the mid-1980s. A few tradition-minded Wiccan/Witchcraft Traditions still employ this old alphabet.
A length of cord tied with thirteen knots. In modern Wicca/Witchcraft it is used to keep track of counting during chanting or meditation. If, for example, a chant were to be repeated nine times, the Wiccan/Witch would use a cord with only nine knots and slide his or her fingers along the cord during the chant. Each time the chant is completed the Wiccan/Witch slides their fingers to the next knot until all nine knots have been encountered. Another type of Witches’ Ladder is used for magickal binding. Personal items such as a hair clipping, and symbolic charms or items are tied within the knots. This is believed to bind an offender and prevent him or her from further acts of harm. The cord is kept inside a box until the person is released from the spell. Untying the knots and burying the items in the soil will negate the magick.
The word "Wyrd" is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and roughly corresponds to the concept of "karma" in Hinduism. Although wyrd can be personal it is often linked to whole families, tribes, and even races. Unlike Karma, it is not totally fixed. One can move within one's individual web of Wyrd in accord with the amount of consciousness one commands. The less conscious one is, the more one is subject to the seemingly random workings of Wyrd, in contrast to "orlog," which is impersonal and cannot be manipulated.
World Tree, generally an ash, more correctly identified in later times as a Yew. The word Yggdrasil means literally "gallow" or "horse" of Ygg (i.e., Odin).
Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year. In most Wiccan/Witchcraft traditions the theme of the Winter Solstice is linked to the rebirth/renewal of the sun.