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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Subject: Wicca and Witchcraft

A Year and a Day
A length of time often used in Wiccan traditions. For example, a person may dedicate himself or herself to studying with a coven for this period. In some covens, and within some occult orders, a year and a day is the minimum length of time you’re required to spend in one degree before moving onto the next level. Some handfastings last for this period. It may be based on English law which states that if you harm someone, but they do not die from that action for a year and a day, you are not responsible for their death.


Abbot Mellitus

(?–624 c.e.) Sent to England to convert the people by Pope Gregory I (after whom we have the Gregorian Calendar and Gregorian Chant). Among Pagans today he is best known for receiving a letter from the Pope known as Epistola ad Melitum, which told him to integrate Pagan customs and sites into Christianity. 




Actaeon
In Italian Witchcraft, the stag-horned God of the Forest.


Alex Sanders
Born in 1916 and died in 1988, Sanders became an important figure in the rebirth of Witchcraft during the last quarter of the twentieth century. This was due to a popular book written about him, King of the Witches by June Johns, and his frequent appearances in the popular media. His claim to being initiated into Witchcraft by his grandmother is still considered controversial, and some would say that his style of Witchcraft, known as “Alexandrian” (a clever play of words on his name) seems to be a combination of the system of Gerald Gardner (“Gardnerian Witchcraft”) and ceremonial magick. He began to introduce more of the idea of trance into Witchcraft, but it was later Pagans who followed in this path. He is survived by his wife, Maxine who, on occasion, still gives lectures.


Alexandrian
Alexandrian Tradition is a Wiccan sect founded in the 1960s by the British Witch Alex Sanders and his wife Maxine. Alexandrian covens focus strongly upon training in the area of ceremonial magick.


Algard
In the early days of Wicca, there were two major traditions: Gardnerian (formed by Gerald Gardner) and Alexandrian (formed by Alex Sanders). In 1972, a woman named Mary Nesnick—who was a High Priestess in both traditions—blended the two into one tradition known as Algard.


All Hallow's Eve
Another name for Samhain or Halloween.


Alpeno
In Italian Witchcraft, the Guardian of the Eastern Portal between the Worlds.


American Gardnerian
A tradition of Witchcraft that traces itself back to the system of Gerald Gardner by way of Raymond and Rosemary Buckland. In 1963 they traveled to Scotland and were initiated into Gardner’s system by Monique Wilson. They returned to the US and founded the “Long Island Coven.” American Gardnerianism is a bit more strict, especially concerning coven structure, lineage, and initiations, than are some other Gardnerian groups. Thus, although they are truly Gardnerian, not all Americans who are Gardnerian identify themselves as “American Gardnerian.”


Archetype
The original model after which similar things are patterned. From a metaphysical perspective, the concept of a Mother Goddess would be an archetype and the names and images by which she is worshipped would be generated patterns of the archetype. Archetypes are fixed within what many people call the Group Mind, the Collective Consciousness of a culture, or community. Therefore the appearance of an archetype figure to a specific group of people will transmit the same imagery to the individuals within the group. Generally speaking, each individual will have the same or a very similar impression of what the image represents.


Archetype
A symbol or image that is found cross-culturally that evokes deep emotional connection by embodying universal meaning. For example: the Warrior.


Archetype

(Psychology – Jungian) A universal image and center of psychological function and energy mostly similar across nationalities, races, cultures, and historical times. Generally speaking, “Mom” is the same mom everywhere. Nevertheless, there may be some minor variation across long established cultures as expressed in dominant religions, and personal variants may be the source of traumatic disturbances as when a real-life mom fails to fulfill her archetypal stature. 

The archetypes are the foundation of major mythologies, and correspond with gods, goddesses, and mythic heroes. They are found in the major arcana of the Tarot, may be seen and experienced through Kabalistic path-working and shamanic trances, and are often met in dreams and projected onto real life figures in times of crisis. One of the goals in every program of self-knowledge is to gain understanding of our particular interaction with them, and possibly change those interactions from a childish to a more mature level.

The archetypes may be the "gods," each charged with particular responsibilities in the natural world. See also Noosphere.




Aridian
One of several traditions of Italian Witchcraft. Separated from the Triad Clans in 1981 and became the first independent Italian tradition in America. It is a rejoining of the Triad traditions in one complete system.


Arrow Position
A physical position (similar to the Eastern concepts of the asana and mudra) taken by a participant during certain Pagan rituals. When holding this position, the feet are placed together and the arms are raised directly overhead, palms touching.


Art and Craft
A cute expression meaning Wicca or Witchcraft.


Auto-da-fe

Literally meaning an “act of faith,” the Auto-da-fé was a ritual held during the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions. After the religious authorities had determined the fate of a person accused of a crime before them, a public ritual, the Auto-da-fé, was held to announce it following which the civil authorities actually performed the punishment. Originally, the punishment consisted of a variety of forms of penance. It eventually became equated with just one form, burning to death. 




Befana
The “good witch” who brings presents to children on Epiphany. Remnant of the Goddess Fana.


Befano
Consort of Befana. Remnant of the God Faunus.


Bell, Book, and Candle
Originally a form of excommunication from the Catholic Church instituted in the late ninth century c.e. It included the ringing of a bell, the closing of the Bible, and the snuffing of a candle. In 1950, a romantic comedy play by this name was produced. It was made into a movie in 1958. Part of the plot is that if a Witch falls in love she loses her supernatural powers. Curiously, some modern Witches have used the phrase to indicate the closing of a ritual.


Benandanti
In Italy, the “Good Witches” who fought ritual battles against the Malandanti over the fate of the harvest.


Besom
A broom used by Witches and Wiccans. Just as a broom is used to sweep dirt away, a besom is used to cleanse an area as a type of banishing. Traditionally, a besom is made of a fairly straight stick, often an ash wood branch, with many twigs, frequently of willow, tied to the end. Unlike a modern broom where the brush tends to be narrow and wide, the brush of a besom tends to be circular. The besom is also used in some handfasting rituals with the couple jumping over the besom.


Black Book
This seems to be the original term used by Witches for the handwritten book for Witches to record their ideas and practices. Gerald Gardner seems to have introduced the expression “Book of Shadows” as a replacement for Black Book.


Blessed Be
An expression used by some Witches and Wiccans. In ritual, it is used to mean “let this be blessed.” Sometimes it is used with an officiating member stating it followed by the participants repeating it in a call-and-response fashion. Also used in farewell statements similar to the Hawaiian “Aloha” or Hebrew “Shalom.” Derived from part of the Gardnerian Witchcraft Initiation ritual’s “Five-fold Kiss.” Abbreviated BB.


Bodkin
A pointed tool originally used in sewing and later by printers. During the Inquisition, bodkins similar in design to an ice pick were used to “detect” Witches. Supposedly, when a Witch sold her soul in a pact with the Devil, the Devil would mark her with a spot, somewhere on the body, that became insensitive to pain. Inquisitors would insert the bodkin repeatedly all over the body. The pain would be so intense, that eventually the victim’s mind would just stop responding, and thus prove that the spot was real, leading to further torture (confessions were often only accepted during torture). The time taken during this inquiry could be extensive, so some industrious Inquisitors (who were, in some instances, paid not for their time, but by the number of Witches they uncovered) created a fake bodkin where the spring-loaded needle would recede into the handle, giving the impression that the bodkin was being inserted into the body when it was not. It also “showed” that the spot didn’t bleed.


Book of Shadows
In modern Wicca, the standard title for a book of Wiccan rituals and teachings. Traditionally each Witch was required to copy out his or her own Book of Shadows by hand from the copy owned by his or her initiator. This is still commonly done in the more traditional covens, although many modern Wiccans and other Pagans use published books for the bulk of their ritual and instructional work…

The term “Book of Shadows” does not occur in Western occult lore or the literature of Witchcraft before Gardner introduced it sometime around 1950. The title may have been borrowed from a 1949 article in the Occult Observer, “The Book of Shadows” by Mir Bahir, about a supposed system of Hindu divination by the measurement of the querent’s shadow.


BOS
Also written BoS, a shorthand for “Book of Shadows.”


Boschetto
A grove. An Italian word for a coven of Witches.


Bracelet
A symbol used in some Wiccan traditions. It is a metal band worn on the wrist and engraved with the Witch’s Name and Degree. Men wear one of gold and the women wear one of silver. Some traditions have both men and women wearing it on the left wrist. In some traditions the man wears it on his right wrist.


Bracelet
In palmistry, lines on the inside of the wrist below the palm.


British Traditional Witches
Those Wiccan traditions that trace their lineage to the covens of Gerald Gardner or Alex and Maxine Sanders.


Broom
Originally a type of plant (“broom corn,” a variety of sorghum) used in making a tool for sweeping known as a besom, it eventually became used as the name of the tool itself. In Wicca and Witchcraft, a broom or besom is sometimes used for banishing or in handfasting rituals. The herb is poisonous and magically associated with the element of air.


Broom Closet
An expression used to describe a person who is Pagan, but who does not share his or her beliefs with others; “In the broom closet.” Adapted from the use of the term “closet” by homosexuals to indicate a person who is gay but who doesn’t let their friends, relatives, neighbors, or business associates know; “In the closet.”


Bruja
Pronounced “broo-hah” (with the “r” rolled), it is Spanish for “Witch,” it is often used in Mexico to describe woman who use folk magic. With the impact of Christianity, it has developed a negative connotation for many people.


Brujo
Pronounced “broo-hoe” (with the “r” rolled), it is Spanish for “wizard,” it is often used in Mexico to describe people who use folk magic. With the impact of Christianity, it has developed a negative connotation for many people.


Cakes and Wine
A small “feast” marking the end to many Wiccan and Pagan rituals. The food of the feats consists of “cake” (usually a form of bread) and wine or wine substitute. Sometimes, instead of wine, some groups will use ale.


Cantrip
A Scottish term meaning a magick spell, especially as used by Witches. It may also be a minor spell and possibly mischievous. It has been used in novels and role-playing games (RPGs) with varying definitions.


Cauldron
The cauldron is a large metal vessel, usually made of iron. It is seen to be symbolic of the Goddess. Fires may be lit within it, or the cauldron may be filled with water and flowers. Despite popular misconceptions, brews are rarely created in the cauldron.


Cavallino
An all male occult society in Italy. Linked to the Luperci.


Celtic Witches
Those Witches who either try to remake ancient Celtic Religion or claim they are a continuation of that ancient religion. Some Celtic Witchcraft traditions include Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Welsh, and Algard.


Charge of the Goddess
An inspirational and instructional recitation and instruction repeated by the High Priestess manifesting the Goddess in some Pagan rituals. It was derived from sources both ancient and modern, especially from the works of Aleister Crowley and the book Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches by Charles Godfrey Leland. The earliest version was compiled by Gerald Gardner, arguable the founder of modern Wicca, but the more popular versions, both in prose and verse, were created from Gardner’s work by Doreen Valiente. Several variations have appeared over the years.


Chthonic
Deities, spirits, or anything connected or related to the Underworld. It is derived from the Greek word khthonios which means “of the earth.” Some of the oldest beliefs retained within Wicca/Witchcraft originate from the Neolithic period during which we find many chthonic elements apparent in the primitive religions of this era.


Cingulum
A consecrated Witch’s cord, traditionally either nine feet long or based on measurements of the Witch’s body. It can be used to lay out a circle of ritual and may be worn around the waist to represent the initiation level of the Witch. It may also have knots made in it at certain points, again representing the measure of the Witch and/or to hold magical power.


Cone of Power
Expression primarily used in Pagan traditions signifying a visualized cone with the point up and the edge of the cone matching the ritual circle used for containing magickal energy that is raised in a ritual before being directed to its goal. May be used by an individual or group. In the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn this was described as a “vortex of energy” and was built up via circumambulation.


Cone of Power

Also known as a "silver cone." A cone is commonly visualized as an extension of the Magick Circle to function as a container of inner strength and purpose and as a barrier against external disturbance. In Witchcraft, it is used to reach to the target of the magical operation.




Cookbook Witches
A derogatory term applied to a Solitary Witch or a self-formed coven of Wiccans who base their magick not on thorough training, but on simply following any popular book of spells. They may simply collect the materials for the spell that are listed in the book and then follow the instructions, going so far as to read the book during the casting of the spell. This is similar to following a recipe from a cookbook, which is the source of this term.


Cord
A rope or string used as a badge of rank in some Wiccan traditions. The color of the cord indicates the Degree of the Witch within the tradition. In some systems this is also known as the “measure."


Cord
A rope used to measure or make measurements in certain magickal spells.


Corn Dolly
A simple figure made by weaving wheat stalk together to form a symbolic figure that is symbolic of fertility and the harvest-oriented aspects of the Goddess. In most English-speaking countries, the term “corn” refers to any grain except maize. In the US, however, corn only refers to one grain: maize. Corn dollies are not made from the husks or cobs of maize.


Coven
A group of practitioners of Witchcraft. Traditionally composed of thirteen or fewer people, some covens are as small as two or three while others are much larger in number.


Covenant of the Goddess
Formed in 1975, Covenant of the Goddess is a group of covens and individuals linked to provide communication, as well as legal standing, to the members.


Covendom
The area around the physical location of a coven (the covenstead). This is traditionally one league [most commonly equal to three miles, but it has been different historically and in different locales] in all directions.


Covenstead
In Wicca, the meeting place of a coven.


Cowan
Term used by Witches and Wiccans to mean someone who is an outsider; not of the Craft. Similar to the term “Muggle” used in the Harry Potter novels.


Craft
A shorter version of Witchcraft and used instead of that term or Wicca. It is also used by Freemasons to describe their fraternity without publicly naming it.


Craft Laws
A generic term for rules set up by covens. There are two basic types of such rules. The first are for behavior among coven member. These include practices within a circle (for example, how to behave) and outside a circle (for example, which member is responsible for certain activities such as calling the members to a meeting). The second type describes what members should do during times of trouble and persecution for the protection of the coven and its members.


Cross Initiation
In most covens, the process leading to membership and initiation requires a period of study and practice, often a year and a day. Sometimes, to honor leaders of different covens or help establish friendly bonds between them, initiations will be given without such training. That is, a Witch of tradition 1 initiates into that tradition a Witch from tradition 2. In turn, the Witch from tradition 2 initiates into that tradition the Witch from tradition 1. Theologically, this allows covens to work with the specific deities of the other coven. It also allows a High Priest or High Priestess to officiate at another coven. This can be valuable if the person regularly working in this role becomes ill, leaves the coven, or dies.


Crossing the Bridge
A Wiccan rite of passage performed at the death of a loved one. Corresponds to the concept of a funeral. Different Wiccan groups have various Crossing the Bridge rituals, ranging from focusing on a spiral dance—representing the spiral of life—to a re-enactment of the famous goddess descending to the underworld and returning. Will often include a celebratory aspect with feasting, drinking, storytelling, and dance in honor of the deceased.


Curandera
Pronounced “kur-ahn-dehr-rah,” it is Spanish for “female healer.”


Curandero
Pronounced “kur-ahn-dehr-ro,” it is Spanish for “healer,” it differs from doctor or nurse (in Spanish, doctor or enfermera) in that it refers to a person who uses alternative healing methods, including herbal methods and magic for healing. In some ways, Curandero also means a “good Witch.”


Dame Alice Kyteler

(1280–after 1325) A wealthy Irish woman, her fourth husband believed he was being poisoned by her. After his death, his children accused her of using sorcery and poisoning their father. She and her followers were accused of several crimes, including denying the [Christian] faith, sacrificing animals to demons, and blasphemy. The night before she was scheduled to be burned at the stake she escaped, possibly to England, and was not heard of again. Her followers received punishments ranging from having to go to church and feed the poor to being flogged and burned at the stake. The strong implication is that she was a Witch.




Daughter Coven

Under certain circumstances, members of a coven may wish to form another coven. This second coven is considered a daughter coven. Usually the day-to-day workings of the daughter coven are independent of the mother coven, but the mother coven has ultimate authority.

There are several reasons for having a daughter coven. It may be that space limitations of the mother coven’s covenstead make this a necessity. It may be that there are personality differences. It may be that a couple has achieved High Priest and High Priestess rank and wishes to form their own group. Initiation into a daughter coven is the same as initiation into the parent coven. Sometimes, parent and daughter covens will have rituals together on the major Sabbats. The High Priestess of the mother coven is known as a Witch Queen. She will usually wear a symbol of her authority over a daughter coven, often in the form of a garter, ring, or belt.




Dedicant
A person who dedicates himself or herself to a period of study and practice with a coven or magickal group. This may be required before so the person can determine if the group is right for him or her, and the group can determine if the dedicant is right for them. There may or may not be a ritual to indicate the acceptance by the individual and group of this mutual agreement.


Dedication
There are two types of dedication. The most common today is the self-dedication. This is frequently performed by a person who does not have access to a coven (or chooses not to join a coven) and who dedicates himself or herself to a particular Pagan path or to a deity. The second form of dedication is where a person dedicates himself or herself to spend a particular length of time, often a year and a day, to study with a coven. This is not an initiation, but it allows a person a chance to study, learn, and practice with the coven.


Deosil
Clockwise. The term is usually used to refer to the direction of a witch's dance or Circle-casting.


Diana
Traditionally, the Goddess of all Witches in Italy.


Diana's Crown
A relatively simple crescent moon, usually positioned with the points up, mounted a circle and worn as a crown. Usually made of silver, it is a symbol worn by a High Priestess of a coven to indicate her rank and position.


Dianic Wicca
This is a Wiccan path that focuses on the strong female Deity Diana. Dianic groups often allow only women members and may concentrate only on Goddess energy. Specifically, they work with the image of Goddess as maiden, mother, and crone, known as the Triple Goddess.


Dianus
In Italian Witchcraft, the Horned God of the Woods. Consort to Diana.


Disk of Shadows
A modern play on the term “Book of Shadows,” a Wiccan practitioner’s book of magical and spiritual rituals, rites, information, and knowledge that would be copied by hand from the one used by the practitioner’s teacher or coven. In the computer age, some practitioners now store this information on a computer disk rather than in a book. Hence, a “Disk of Shadows.” When kept on removable media from earlier computers it was known as a "Floppy Disk of Shadows."


Doreen Valiente
(1922-1999) Born Doreen Edith Dominy. She became one of the first initiates of Gerald Gardner, and eventually his High Priestess. In this role she was able to influence many of the writings that became the bedrock for modern Witchcraft. Her most well-known writing is her rendition of “The Charge of the Goddess,” which is still used by many covens today.


Drawing Down the Moon
A ritual in which the Goddess is drawn into the body of the High Priestess. Traditionally the rite is performed by the High Priest, leaving the High Priestess open to receive the Goddess. A new expression, “Drawing Down the Sun,” is sometimes used to describe a ritual wherein the God is drawn into the body of the High Priest. Thus invoked, the Goddess or God can communicate with practitioners and enjoy the experience of having a physical body.


Dunking
An ancient system of trial by ordeal sometimes also used for punishment dating to ancient Babylon, where it was used in cases of alleged adultery. It was made most famous during the middles ages in Europe where it was used to punish “scolds” (a woman who would break the peace by frequently arguing with neighbors) or to prove whether an accused person was a Witch. The technique could be as simple as tying a person’s hands and feet and throwing them in water. A more complex version involved tying a person to a chair suspended over water by a long pole with a counterbalance so the person could easily be dunked into the water. The dunking was repeated until the person either floated or drowned.

Depending on the locale, a person was judged to be a Witch if they floated (because water, the instrument of baptism, rejected them) or sank (because water enacted God's judgment and punishment).

The submersion of the head in water is generally regarded as a form of torture. It is currently debated as to whether a form of this, known as “waterboarding,” is actually torture.


Eclectic
A term used to describe certain Pagans or their “traditions” that freely borrow and use the spiritual beliefs and philosophy, as well as magickal methods, from a variety of sources. In the past, people generally had to adapt themselves to fit into a chosen spiritual tradition. Instances where people attempted to change the status quo often resulted in mutual denunciations and even wars. Eclectic Witchcraft and Eclectic Wicca allow practitioners to create a path that suits them, even combining traditions that seemed mutually exclusive.


Eclectic Wicca
A Wiccan neotradition created by selecting concepts and practices from other faiths and traditions, or from non-religious or completely original concepts.


Elder
A Witch (especially in Gardnerian Wicca) of a rank who helps govern a coven. Some covens require you to be the leader of a coven for nine years before you can be considered to be an elder. If the HP or HPS steps down, they become an Elder. Also, someone of high stature for a long period among a Wiccan community.


Eostara
See Ostara.


Eye Gouge
A hooked tool resembling a fishhook at the end of an ice pick. It was inserted into the eye socket between the eyeball and bone, then twisted so the hook caught the optic nerve. The device was then removed, taking with it the eyeball and ripping the muscles and nerves. It was one of the tools used during the Inquisition to obtain confessions (such as of the practice of Witchcraft) from people.


Faery Wicca
Those who practice Faery Wicca work specifically with nature spirits.


Faggot
A bundle of small pieces of wood used to start a fire. Several bundles were placed around larger pieces of wood used to burn Witches and heretics who had been tied to a stake. Today it is a pejorative term used against homosexual males. Although it has been claimed that this is because gay men were burned to start the fires that burned Witches, there is no evidence to support this. It is more likely that its use in this way is derived from its meaning as an “old and unpleasant woman,” possibly a shortening of the epithet “faggot-gatherer” used to describe some old, poor women.


Fairy Cross
Also know as a fairy stone, this rock comes in the shape of a cross. In addition to its obvious link to Christianity, the stone is also said to represent the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water. Fairy cross makes a natural good luck charm. It is also sometimes called andalusite, chiastolite, or staurolite.


Fam Trad
See Family Tradition.


Fam-Trad
Short for “Family Tradition,” it refers to a Wiccan or Witchcraft tradition that is centered around the beliefs and practices of a single family as opposed to a tradition that is centered around individual personalities or a coven.


Familiar
According to ancient lore, a spirit from the Otherworld was believed to dwell within the physical body of an animal or creature. The traditional vessels for such spirits were the cat, mouse, ferret, hare, bat, snake, hound, or bird—particularly a raven or an owl. The lore surrounding the Familiar spirit indicates that a Witch received one following initiation into the Witches' sect.


Familiar

The “Magickal Childe” created through Sex Magick.




Family Tradition
A system in which the Old Ways have been preserved through superstitions, practices or folkways among members of the same bloodline.


Fana
In Italian Witchcraft, Goddess of the forests and wildlife.


Fata
Italian word for fairies.


Faunus
In Italian Witchcraft, God of the forests and wildlife.


Fava Bean
The first bean known to Europeans. Among the Greeks and Romans it was associated with funeral rites and the Underworld. Used as offerings.


Fealty
In feudal societies, an oath of allegiance sworn to a ruling lord in exchange for protection. In Gardnerian Witchcraft, giving loyalty to a High Priest or High Priestess usually based upon respect for that person’s position.


Feminist Witches
A movement that began in the 1970s primarily by women who only acknowledge a Goddess and not a God. There are only a few basic strains, and in some cases they are an outgrowth of a political focus rather than a spiritual focus. Many feminist or Dianic Witchcraft covens only allow women as members. Some groups, who may be considered extreme in their politics and/or sociology, eschew the terms “woman” and “women” because these words include “man” and “men,” preferring to use alternate spellings such as “wimmin” or “womyn,” etc.


Fith-Faith
A small image of someone made in either wax or clay. It is used in spellcasting and other forms of magick. The fifth-faith is similar in many ways to the so-called voodoo doll. Traditionally pins, needles, or nails are driven into the image to direct magickal energy or personal willpower into it so as to manifest a desired effect. Such an act is believed to be transferred to the person represented by the image of the fifth-faith.


Five-Fold Kiss
In Wiccan initiation rituals and other magical practices, a pattern of kisses applied to an initiate or witch. There are several different versions in common use at present. One involves kisses on both feet, both knees, and the genitals, forming a pentagram. Another expands the pentagram, and places kisses on the head, hands, and feet. Still another places the kisses on feet, knees, genitals, breasts, and lips. In many traditions, the Five-Fold Kiss is given by a woman to a man or by a man to a woman, but not by people of the same gender to one another.


Fluffy Bunny

A derogatory term used toward people who only see goodness and light in everything, ignoring that there are negative things that occur to people and the universe.




Flying Ointment
A formula supposedly used by Witches to “fly” to rituals. Today, it is generally assumed that the formula was psychoactive and caused the hallucination of flying rather than inducing a physical flight. The formula was put in code, and one of the ingredients, cooking fat, was unfortunately described as coming from an “unbaptized baby,” often leading to attacks on supposed Witches. Psychoactive ingredients may have included belladonna and mandrake. The ointment was rubbed on the skin rather than swallowed; however some have suggested that it was quickly absorbed by going through the membranes of a female Witch’s genitals. Beside the sensation of flying, the ointment might also cause feelings of transformations such as becoming an animal or participating in orgiastic rites.


Foletti
In Italian Witchcraft, Spirits of Air. They are similar to fairies.


Four
Number Symbolism in Tarot: Fours symbolize structure, stability, and security, because four points come together to form a solid. There are four walls in a room, and four corners to a house. There are four dimensions: width, length, height, and time. There are four cardinal directions: north, south, east, and west. There are four seasons, four winds, and four phases of the moon. There are four elements, and four corresponding suits in the Minor Arcana.


Four

On the Kabalistic Tree of Life, three is the number of Chesed, the central sephirah on the right-hand pillar, the fourth in order from the top of the Tree. It is important because to travel on the Tree above this Sephirah means that you must cross the Veil of the Abyss. Doing so requires taking the oath that you will consider everything a communication between yourself and the Divine. This can totally uproot your nature on the Earth and result in vast changes in your life.




Gardner, Gerald
Gardner, Gerald Brosseau (1884-1964) is perhaps the best-known figure in modern Witchcraft. Gardner was the founder of Gardnerian Wicca, one of the leading Traditions in the Wicca movement that began in the early 1960s.


Gardner, Gerald
His book in 1954 entitled Witchcraft Today was the first about Witchcraft by a self-proclaimed Witch. He is considered the father of modern Wicca.


Gardnerian
Gardnerian Wicca or Witchcraft is based on the teachings and Book of Shadows of Gerald Brousseau Gardner. Many Wiccan and Witchcraft traditions have evolved from this system.


Garter
Commonly known as a tie to hold up the stockings, in some Witchcraft traditions it is also a sign of authority held by the high priestess of a coven. It may also indicate that the person is the source or “queen” of several covens that have “hived off” from the original coven.


Gesith
(Saxon) A warrior. In Seax Wicca, a Witch.


God Posture
In Wiccan practice, a position taken when invoking the God. It is essentially identical with the Golden Dawn Sign of Osiris Slain—legs and ankles together, body erect, and arms folded across the chest. The head may be bowed to represent the God as the dying Harvest God, or raised to represent the God reborn.


God/dess
A spelling used by many to refer to both the God and Goddess at the same time.


Goddess Position
The stance taken by a High Priestess with feet apart and arms spread straight out to the sides. It is used to represent the Goddess. Others may use it to absorb energy. It is sometimes called the Pentacle Position.


Goddess Posture
In Wiccan practice, a position taken when invoking the Goddess, especially when drawing down the moon. It consists of standing with legs spread wide apart, body straight, and arms raised up at an angle so that the limbs form an X.


Goddess Religion
Any of set of religions that emphasizes the worship of a specific goddess, several goddesses, or all Goddesses from history. In some instances the male God is excluded, however more often the male principle is acknowledged but held to be of lesser importance than the Goddess. Sometimes a Goddess Religion is simply the beliefs of an individual rather than part of a group structure.


Goodswarden
A name given to the Witch who is assigned to keep a coven’s tools and supplies safe between meetings.


Great Book
See Book of Shadows.


Great Days
A term for the Wiccan Sabbats.


Great Rite
Expression introduced in Gardnerian Witchcraft and now adopted by many magickal traditions. It describes ritualized and spiritualized sexual intercourse. Originally, the male would function as the God on earth while the Female would function as the Goddess, thus this was a mating of deities. Over the years, this expression has evolved to mean any form of spiritualized sexuality.


Greater Sabbats
The four “cross-quarter festivals” of Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, and Hallows. It is believed by some that these festivals predated the solar-based festivals, the Solstices and Equinoxes.


Green Witch
A Witch who practices green magick.


Grigori
In Italian Witchcraft, Guardians of the portals between the Worlds.


Grimas
In Italian Witchcraft, the director and guardian of a Tradition.


Gris-gris
A small bag containing charms, herbs, stones, and other items to draw energy, luck, love, or prosperity to the wearer.


Grock
In Gardnerian Witchcraft, to watch a person while they are eating in the hope that they will offer you a place at the table with them.


Grok
An expression used in the book Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. It means “to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us (because of our Earthly assumptions) as color means to a blind man.” It is a popular term used by the Church of All Worlds meaning to understand something completely and absolutely.


Grove
Although technically a small wood, orchard, or just a group of trees, it is used by some Pagan groups instead of “coven.” Some druidic groups use it instead of “covenstead.”


Halloween
October 31. Also called Samhain by the Wiccan and Pagan communities. 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 worlds are said to open, stirring up much ghostly and otherworldly activity.


Hand of Glory
A magical device used supposedly used by Witches. It consisted of a severed hand from a dead person, usually that of an executed criminal. It would rest on the wrist with the fingers pointed up. Candles were placed between the fingers and lit. This would supposedly freeze someone and prevent him or her from moving.


Handfasting
The pre-Christian, Roman wedding ceremony also practiced in Celtic lands. As the name implies, it included tying the hands together and is the source of the expression “tying the knot” as a description of a wedding. In the sixteenth century, one English cleric noted its use as separate from the Christian marriage. Today the term is used by Wiccans and Witches for a wedding ceremony. In some traditions, a handfasting endures for a limited time, often a year and a day. Hence, a probationary marriage during which a couple would cohabit as husband and wife. After the probationary period the couple could decide if they wished to continue in a permanent marriage or part.

According to Handfasting and Wedding Rituals by Raven Kaldera & Tannin Schwartzstein (Llewellyn Publications), a handfasting was generally no more complex than the couple joining hands (thus making “fast” their hands) and declaring themselves united, sealing it with a kiss. They add that the handfasting gesture made a figure-eight with the hands, right to right and left to left, symbolizing that all parts of themselves were joined.


Hard-Gards
A sect of Gardnerian Witchcraft that could be considered fundamentalist. They follow the original Gardnerian rules very literally, allowing no deviation or variation from those rules.


Heathen
A non-city dweller. A person of the heath, an uncultivated area usually filled with wild grasses and herbs. As Christianity and schools first took root in cities, the term became associated with Pagans and people who did not have a city education or manners.


Heating Chair
A torture device used during the Inquisition with the purpose of extrancting confessions from victims. Made of metal, the heating chair had numerous spikes which pierced the skin. The victim was stripped naked and strapped into the chair. A fire built beneath the chair would heat it to intolerable levels, adding to the torture.


Hecate
The patron Goddess of Witchcraft in Greece. Many modern Witches see Her as the Crone aspect of the Goddess. Some worship Her over the other aspects of the Goddess.


Hedge Witch
In modern Paganism, a term used by and for solitary Witches whose practices incorporate large amounts of natural magic, herb lore, and similar subjects, and who generally do not claim a connection with any particular tradition.


Hedge Witch
Raymond Buckland, in The Witch Book, adds that a Hedge Witch doesn’t necessarily become involved with the religious aspect of Witchcraft, and doesn’t use complicated rituals.


Hereditary Witch
A Witch who was born into a family of Witches. Sometimes, the immediate parents may not be practitioners and the link is through a grandparent, aunt, etc.


High Priest

A male Witch who, often with a High Priestess, is the leader of a coven. In traditional covens, to achieve this level requires extensive training and experience. In covens that have a three-degree system, a High Priest will have been initiated into the third degree. It is often abbreviated as HP.




Hive Off
In some Pagan traditions, to “hive off” means to start a new coven derived from members of a previous coven. This is usually done when the original coven becomes too large or there are disagreements between members. While the new coven will have its own leaders (High Priest and High Priestess), they would still owe allegiance to the High Priestess of the original coven who is known as a Queen (as in “queen bee”).


Hiving

See: Hive Off. 




Holy Strega
In Italian Witchcraft, a term of endearment for Aradia.


Hooded One

Also known as the Green Man. Lord of Vegetation, Lord of the Green-Wood. He who is hooded-in-the-green.




Horned Crown

The Crown of the High Priest in some Wiccan traditions, it is worn to symbolize his position. It generally very simple with attached horns or antlers and is worn only during rituals.




Horned God
The male aspect of deity in many forms of Wicca and Witchcraft. The horns represent fertility, wildness, and male sexuality. Often seen as a form of the Greek Pan or the Celtic Cernunnos. Although the Christian Bible does not describe Satan or the Devil other than saying he was beautiful and a bearer or bringer of light (Lucifer), various Christians later gave the Devil characteristics of the Horned God. Some people believe this was done to encourage Pagans to worship Jesus as the worship of their beloved Horned One, in the Christian view, would actually be the worship of Satan.


Insta-Witch

A derogatory term for a person who reads a book on Witchcraft and “instantly” becomes an expert, even going so far as to start a coven. Their lack of knowledge and training often results in questionable ideas and religious incompatibilities. See IROB.




Isis Position

See Goddess Position.




Isobel Gowdie
A famous Scottish Witch. In 1662 she confessed to a number of fanciful acts of magick, including shapeshifting into the form of a hare and visiting Elphame, the queen of the fairies, under the earth. She confessed without being tortured, but her bizarre claims did not fit with what her inquisitors expected. Some think she was psychotic while others think it was a clever way to confuse those who spoke against her. There is no record as to what happened to her.


James I

(1566–1625) He was just 13 months old when this son of Mary, Queen of Scots was crowned King James VI of Scotland. In 1603 he became James I of England after the death of the last Tudor ruler, Elizabeth I. He becme a believer in demons and evil Witches, thinking they were going to kill him. He even wrote a book, Daemonology, in 1597. He personally supervised the torture of women who were supposedly Witches. In 1604 he had passed repressive anti-Witchcraft laws. He commissioned a group of scholars to translate the Bible into English. He insisted that “his” Bible must be Protestant and passages must not support the Catholic Church. He also demanded that Witches should be made evil and condemned wherever possible. In 1611, the King James Version of the Bible was published. James refused to pay the people who had translated it.




Jana
Italian Moon Goddess.


Janus
Italian God of the Sun and of all Portals. God of all Beginnings and Ends.


Jewelry

Generically, any type of external decorative devices, usually made from metals, gems, shells, and other stones. In some Wiccan traditions, the term specifically refers to the Crown, Bracelet, Necklace, and Cord worn by a practitioner during ritual work.




Jewitch

A person who self-identifies as being Jewish and a Witch.




Joan of Arc

(1412(?)–1431)  As a result of hearing voices, she led the French army to several victories in the Hundred Years’ War, an almost unthinkable action for a woman of the time. She was captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English, who had her tried in an ecclesiastical court on charges of heresy. Although she was accused of Witchraft, for legal reasons she could not be charged with that offense. Behind the scenes there were a lot of politics going on, eventually leading to her death by being burned alive. Later the conviction was overturned and she was canonized, becoming a patron saint of France.

Besides being sainted, because of the accusation of Witchcraft, she is also honored by many Witches, including the adding of things such as her being trained by fairies and that she supposedly used magick and divination in her battles.




Josiah

(Joh-sai-uh, based on the Hebrew Yoh-see-yah-hoo) Believed to have lived from about 649–609 b.c.e., he was the king of Judah (commonly considered a king of Israel) from 659 until his death. He is an example of how the Biblical Jews kept abandoning the God of the Bible and being called to return to worhip Him. Josiah outlawed the worship of other deities, banned such worship from the Jerusalem Temple, destroyed Pagan objects of worship, and, according to the Bible, ended the worship if the Goddess. In The Hebrew Goddess, Raphael Patai contends that the Goddess was actually worshipped in the Temple until its desctruction in 70 c.e.




Kern
Name for the Stag-horned God of the forest. Father of the Hooded One. Symbol of the waxing power of Nature.


Kirfane

Spelled in a variety of ways, it is a white-hilted knife used by Witches for cutting. See Boline.




Kitchen Witchcraft

See Kitchen Magick.




Klingon Wicca

Created around 1995 by Pagan fans of the Star Trek TV and movie series. The rituals of this system were translated into the language invented for the warlike Klingon aliens of the Star Trek universe; participants brandish Klingon weapons, and wear armor and clothing copied from movies and TV episodes, while performing what are more or less standard Wiccan rituals.




Knife and Chalice

Tools used in the Symbolic Great Rite.




Lady

A name or title for the Goddess used by some Wiccan groups.




Lady

A name or title given to the High Priestess by some Wiccans while, during a ritual, she is possessed by the Goddess.




Lake Nemi
Site of the Temple of Diana. Also known as “Diana’s Mirror” because the full moon reflected upon the water.


Land of Faery

In some Wiccan tradtions, an expression that equates either to the Summerland or astral planes.




Landmarks

A term used in some Wiccan traditions that refers to certain signs that a person is ready to follow the path of Wicca.




Lare
In Italian Witchcraft, they are the ancestral spirits who are evolving within the Spirit World. They assist and protect members of their former Clan. They are worshipped in home shrines.


Lasa
Spirits of the Old Ways. In Tuscan Witchlore they are the first spirits known in the world. They are protectors and helpers in the Spirit World, and can be evoked for assistance.


Lesser Sabbats

The Equinoxes and Solstices.




Libation
Generically, any sort of alcoholic beverage. In Wicca, Witchcraft, and other forms of Paganism, a pouring out of a consecrated liquid, usually water or wine, to honor a deity. The liquid is usually poured on the ground or on the altar. It may also refer to such pouring in honor of a deceased person.


Lord of Misrule
The Lord of Misrule is a character who portrays the problems or regrets of the closing year. He represents chaos and disorder as well as licentiousness. He is another sacrificial king.


Lords of the Watchtowers

In some Wiccan traditions, a name used to describe the Guardians of the Four Quarters. Sometimes they are also called the Mighty Ones.




Lughnasadh
In modern Pagan practice, one of the festivals of the eightfold year-wheel, usually celebrated on or about August 1. The day is also known by the English name of Lammas. Lughnasadh is derived from an old Irish festival of the same name, celebrated in late summer with horse races and temporary “teltown marriages” that lasted for one year.

In modern Irish Gaelic, Lughnasadh is the name for the month of August.


Lughnasadh
The first in the trilogy of harvest festivals in ancient Celtic culture. It marked the beginning of the harvest season and the decline of summer into winter. It was also known as Lammas from the Saxon word Hlaf-mass, the Feast of Bread. Festivities and rituals typically centered around the assurance of a bountiful harvest season and the celebration of the harvest cycle.


Luperci
Priests of the God Lupercus.


Lupercus
In Italian Witchcraft, the Wolf God of Winter. Symbol of the waning power of Nature.


Magistillus

Literally, a “little master.” A term used derogatorily by Witch hunters to describe an animal familiar




Maiden
1) An aspect of the triple goddess who is young and virginal.

2) A member of a coven, traditionally younger and female, who assists the High Priestess.


Malandanti
In Italy, the “evil witches” who fought ritual battles over the outcome of the harvest. Their war was against the rich Feudal Lords and the Church, but more often than not this caused harm to the peasants.


Maleficia

Malicious acts attributed to Witches and sorcerers who had made a pact with the Devil.




Malkin
Obsolete term for a Witch’s familiar, especially a cat.


Malleus Maleficarum
(Latin, “Hammer of Witches”) Witch-hunting manual written by the German friars Heinrich Kramer and Jakob Sprenger, first published in 1486. The most popular of all the Witch-hunting manuals of early modern Europe, the Malleus provided a detailed account of official Catholic beliefs about Witches, their actions and motives, and the proper methods for identifying them and obtaining confessions through torture.


Margaret Murray
Anthropologist whose controversial book The Witch Cult in Western Europe in 1921 sparked a revival of interest in Witchcraft.


Maybon
Also Mabon.
A name for the autumnal equinox, also known as the Second Harvest Festival, Festival of Dionysus, Wine Harvest, Cornucopia, Feast of Avalon, etc. The first Thanksgiving was held on or near this date, and it is from these early harvest festivals that the modern Thanksgiving feasts developed.

At this time of equal day and night, we give thanks for the harvest that will sustain us through the dark winter months. This is the season for gratitude and for giving back to the Earth; for continuing the cycle by giving freely to those less fortunate than we are.


Meana
In Italian Witchcraft, Guardian of the Western Portal between the Worlds.


Measure
The physical measurement of a person taken during a Wiccan initiation and marked by knots on a cord. This may include both your height and girth, or the distance between finger tips when your arms are spread out. It is said to link the person to the coven.


Messenger of the Gods

A title used in Gardnerian Witchcraft. For privacy, knowledge of the location of other covens and their members was limited to a coven’s priest, priestess, and messenger of the gods. That person was responsible for carrying communications between covens.




Mighty Ones

See Lords of the Watchtowers.




Moon Crown

In some Wiccan traditions, the crown worn by a coven’s High Priestess. They are usually rather simple, often not more than a silver band with a silver crescent moon at the forehead, usually with the points up. Sometimes they show a full moon with a crescent moon, points out, at either side. Some are adorned with gems.




Moot
The name given to a meeting, usually of Neo-Pagans.


Nanta Bag
In Italian Witchcraft, a magickal pouch intended to keep one linked to the forces of nature.


Necklace

Jewelry worn around the neck, most often for decoration but also as a talisman or amulet. In some Wiccan traditions, a necklace is worn by women as a sign of initiation. As a circle, it is also symbolic of rebirth. 




Northway

In some Wiccan traditions, a term that means to move Widdershins, or anti-clockwise, within a magickal circle.




November Eve

See Samhain




Odic Force
There is a specific type of energy that many occultists call the Odic (pronounced Oh-dek) Force. It is believed to be the underlying principle of metaphysical nature, behind the physical forces of electricity and magnetism (as well as light and heat). In metaphysical terms Od (pronounced like the word owed) is the very fabric of the universe and is present in all things to varying degrees.


Odic Force
Name given to the universal vital energy in the 1800s by Baron Carl von Reichenbach. He believed that psychic people could see it emanating from crystals and magnets. From the negative pole it was blue, while from the positive pole it was yellowish-red. Also known as Od or Odyllic energy.


Old Horney

One of the many nicknames for the Horned God found in numerous Pagan traditions. In many Wiccan traditions, the Goddess is always treated with respect. The God, while respected, often appears as a trickster and thus gets these more familiar names. Today it also indicates that Wicca is a fertility religion and the God is ready for sexual activity.




Old Ones
Expression often used to collectively represent the deities of the Old Religion: Wicca, Witchcraft, etc.


Old Order Robed Clad Covens

Name of a set of covens [allegedly] hidden for generations. Old Order Robed Clad Covens are from the Isle of Mann.




Old Order Witchcraft

A term used by some who worked Robert Cochrane as a way to differentiate themselves from the Gardnerians.




Old Religion
Another name for Wicca or Witchcraft, religions that have evolved from the religions and beliefs of people that pre-date Christianity.


Once Born

An early derogatory expression—used by some Wiccans at the beginning of Wicca’s modern growth—for Christians. It was to refute the Christian claim that they were “born again” and used to indicate that Christians want to get off the natural cycle of reincarnation and that this life is their first incarnation. This is in distinction to Pagans who have the advanced knowledge and development of multiple incarnations and lifetimes.




Ordains
(From the phrase “Be it ordained”) In Wicca, rules of practice and conduct within a given tradition, normally written out in the tradition’s version of the Book of Shadows.


Order of the Garter
The world’s oldest national order of knights, it is supposedly associated with Paganism. Founded in 1348 (other dates have been given), while dancing with King Edward III (1312-1377), at a party, had a garter fall from her leg. Edward picked it up, tied it to his own leg, and supposedly said, “Honi soit qui mal y pense,” French for “shame on any who think evil of it.” The reason someone might think evil of it is because it is believed that a garter was symbolic of a leader of Witches.

Whether this story is true or not, the result was the formation of a small and exclusive order of knights. The small size of this order has led some to conclude that they formed a coven. The British king or queen is the only one who can offer membership.


Outer Court

A type of “degree” wherein a person can start learning about Wicca from a coven without actually being initiated into that coven. 




Pagan Rede

See Wiccan Rede




Pagan Standard Time
Also known by the abbreviation PST, a joking reference to the common experience of Pagan rituals starting later than planned or announced due not having preparations completed or awaiting participants who are arriving late.


Parting of the Ways

A description of a person leaving a coven under positive terms. This may be due to a person moving or because he or she doesn’t get along with a person in the coven. There may be a ritual to mark this parting. The person who parts is still considered a member of the tradition, just not a member of a specific coven.




Pecti-Wita

A Scottish tradition of Wicca with a strong focus on divination




Pentacle
A five-pointed star, the points of which represent earth, air, fire, water, and spirit. Pentacles are frequently set within a circle, which can represent the wheel of life, the encircling of the divine, or the union of the material and spiritual realms. Despite Hollywood’s insistence otherwise, the pentacle is not a symbol of Satan or evil.


Pentacle
(Archaic) A wide variety of images of mystical importance, usually intended to be worn around the neck. Here, the root is not the Greek pente, meaning five, but rather three Greek roots, pend (“to hang”), a (“to”), and col (“neck). This construction was first used in 14th century France as pentacol, which means “amulet worn around the neck.” Although this meaning is not in common usage today, it is still a descriptor used in some ceremonial magic texts being published today where it is a generic term for many symbols. This explains, for example, why the Pentacle used by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn—a flat, circular object that represents the Earth element—has a six-pointed star on it.


Perfect Love and Perfect Trust

Among many Wiccans, you are expected to enter the ritual circle by having perfect love and perfect trust with other members of the coven.




Pricking

A technique used by Witchfinders. They used a device called a bodkin (it looks like an icepick) to stab a suspected Witch repeatedly in order to find a “Devil’s Mark,” indicating that the person was a Witch. 




Protean Family

Lineal descendants of Proteus Coven that was located in New York City. During the early 1980s, Judy Harrow founded the coven as part of the Gardnerian tradition. By the early 1990s, Harrow declared the Protean Family to be a “self-aware subgroup” of the Gardnerian line, although some Gardnerians no longer considered them part of the tradition.




Purse Warden

In some Wiccan traditions, the person in a coven responsible for collecting, safekeeping, and distribution of any money that the coven may have. Some have pointed out that Wiccan traditions generally do not pass a collection plate, thus questioning the value of such a role. However, many covens collect dues and gratefully accept donations given by those who attend public rituals in order to help pay for consumables (incense, candles, etc.) and the costs of upkeep of the covenstead.




Rosemary
Rosmarinus officinalis. This evergreen shrub is native to the lands around the Mediterranean Sea, but is grown in gardens over much of the world. It's narrow, needle like leaves are dark green above and white beneath, with a clearly visible vein down the center and edges that roll down. Its flowers, white or pale blue, bloom in the spring in most climates. Rosemary is mildly poisonous in large doses, and should be taken internally only in small amounts. An essential oil is extracted from the flowers.

Temperature: Fiery–warm and dry in the second degree.
Astrology: Sun in Aries. It is associated with the fixed star Alphecca.
Lore: Rosemary's name comes from the Latin ros marinus, "dew of the sea," and in its native habitat it flourishes on seaside cliffs. The most important traditional use for rosemary was to strengthen the memory; students in ancient Greece would wear rosemary garlands while preparing for examinations, and in the Renaissance rosemary gardens were a favored location for practicing the magical Art of Memory. It was also held to clear the mind, prevent giddiness, and banish depressed moods.
Safety Issues: Rosemary is somewhat poisonous in large doses. The essential oil should be avoided during pregnancy and by epileptics.
Parts Used: Leaves, root, and essential oil.
How Used: Living plant, amulets, sachets, seasoning for food, incense, baths, washes, oils, and scents.
Magical Uses: For all its fiery and solar symbolism, rosemary has an important magical link to the Moon, and through it to the ocean and to oceanic energies; use it whenever you need a solar force compatible with Moon magic or sea magic. At the same time, like most solar herbs, it has substantial protective powers and can be used to banish nightmares and hostile spirits. The root makes a fine incense, with similar scent to frankincense and many of the same magical effects.


Rule of Three
A Wiccan belief that whatever you send out from yourself will come back threefold.


Sabbat
Sabbat is a term for the eight seasonal festivals of the Wiccan year.

The sabbats comprise what Witches/Wiccans call the Wheel of the Year. This wheel is based largely upon the ancient solar rites of pre-Christian European tradition. Because the Old Religion was a fertility cult, in ancient times the traditional rituals of Wicca were designed to incorporate the waxing and waning periods of Nature. These periods are marked by each solstice and equinox and the cross-quarters that fall between each one.


Seax Wicca

A tradition of Wicca created and popularized by Raymond Buckland in the early 1970s. He proudly admitted that this was a new Wiccan tradition while others were [falsely] claiming antiquity for their traditions. Somewhat eclectic, it is based on the Saxon mythos instead of the more familiar Celtic system. 




Settrano
In Italian Witchcraft, Guardian of the Southern Portal between the Worlds.


Sister Covens

When a coven becomes too large to be easily manageable, it may divide into two or more smaller sister covens. They are considered equal and friendly and may attend each other’s rituals. Note that this is different from a daughter coven that “hives off” from a mother coven. Generally, the coven that keeps the original High Priestess maintains the original name while the other coven adopts a new name.




Skyclad
Naked, usually in ritual.


Skyclad
A term used by Wiccans to indicate ritual nudity.


Solitaries
Pagans who prefer to practice alone. Although they may attend public Pagan functions and enjoy group interaction on occasion, they are not interested in joining a Pagan circle or coven on a permanent basis.


Solitary

Alone. Also, a short version of Solitary Witch. See: Solitary Witch. 




Solitary Witch
In modern Neo-Paganism, a person who practices Witchcraft by himself or herself as opposed to being part of a group (traditionally called a Coven). The Solitary Witch, also known as a Solitary, practices this way out of choice, out of the necessity of keeping their practices private, or having no other Witches in the area with which to practice. A Solitary Witch may have learned his or her practices with the help of a Coven, but more often learns from books, websites, etc. The most popular resources for Solitary Witches include Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham, and Solitary Witch by Silver RavenWolf (both published by Llewellyn Publications).


Solitary Witch
Some Solitary Witches have begun to call themselves “Solitaires,” which has added a new definition to that word as they are certainly not a gem in a setting by itself, a type of North American thrush, an extinct bird related to the dodo, or a card game played by oneself.


Sonadora
Witch and diviner (Turkish 16th Century). This Witch was repeatedly consulted by [Kabalist] Chayyim vital, who relied on her ability to use lecanomancy to divine the future.


Spellbook
A book of spells. Most often these are just notes and do not have details of the underlying principles that allow the spells to function.


Spiral

A curving line that starts at a central point and gradually gets farther from the center. This is a shape commonly found in nature such as in the nautilus shell. Symbolically, it represents manifestation or coming into being. A Spiral Dance, where a line of people follow a spiral path, is popular among Witches and Pagans.




Spirit Flame
In Italian Witchcraft, a blue flame burned upon the altar, believed to be the living essence of the Gods and Spirits of Old.


Splitting the Coven

A friendly division wherein some members of a relatively large coven leave that coven to form their own coven. This resulting covens are generally considered “sister” covens. Compare this to hiving which results in a mother coven and daughter coven(s). 




Squassation

See: Strappado 




StarKindler Line

A tradition of Alexandrian Wicca. Members trace their lineage to Dianis Lucien (D. W. Piper), a founder of StarKindler coven.




Strappado

A form of torture used during the Spanish Inquisition, often against people (primarily women) suspected of Witchcraft. It was a popular form of such harsh interrogation because of it did not require an expensive apparatus.

The victim’s hands were tied behind his or her back. A rope was then tied to the bonds and the person was lifted to the roof by these ropes. The pain was excruciating.

If the inquisitor did not receive the desired confession, he might convert the torture to a practice called squassation. The victim raised to the ceiling was dropped so that they fell, but the rope was short enough so they did not reach the ground. The result dislocated the bones and damaged the muscles of the victim beyond any repair.




Strega
This is an Italian tradition that emphasizes herbal knowledge and tends to be strongly matriarchal.


Stregone
In Italian Witchcraft, a male Witch.


Stregoneria
Italian for the magickal arts of Witchcraft.


Summerland
In the belief of many Wiccans, a place of peace, healing, and restoration between incarnations on Earth.


Summoner
A person (according to the Witches’ lore) who, during the time of the Inquisition, secretly notified Witches as to when and where the rituals would take place. This person also scouted out new possible members among the village folks. He is sometimes known as the man in black.


Swimming

See: Dunking. 




Symbolic Great Rite

A Symbolic version of the ritual known as the Great Rite. In the Symbolic Great Rite, the ritual is metaphorically performed. A knife is used to represent the male and a chalice is used to represent the female. During the rite, the knife is inserted into the chalice, representing the sexual nature of the actual Great Rite.




Taga
In Italian Witchcraft, Guardian of the Northern Portal between the Worlds.


Tagni
In Italian Witchcraft, the name of the most ancient God of the Witches.


Tanus
In Italian Witchcraft, the Star God or Universal aspect. Consort to Tana.


Three-Fold Law
In some Neo-Pagan traditions, the belief that whatever you do will come back to you three times over. Thus, you should only do good things, as if you do something negative, that negativity will effect you much more strongly than what you did. A variation on the Tantric concept of karma.


Thumb Screw

A torture device. Placed tightly around a person’s thumbs (or fingers), the device was cranked tighter, causing intense pain and eventually breaking, then crushing, a victim’s digits in an attempt to obtain a confession. It was one means to “question” a suspected Witch during the Inquisition. 




Torture

Any of a wide set of techniques that use mental, emotional, or especially physical pain, often with the intent of obtaining (some would say coercing) the admission of information such as guilt for breaking a law. During the Inquisition, torture was used on people suspected of Witchcraft in order to get them to admit to the “crime.” In some cases, the confession wouldn’t be accepted without torture. 

During the Inquisition, as now, the definition of what constituted torture (as used by the torturers and those authorizing torture), was extremely limited. It was said that if there were no bones broken, a confession was obtained “without torture.” Yelling, lying, slapping, enforced wakefulness, and denial of food or water, threatening family members, etc., were not legally considered torture.

Although the use of torture is popular in fiction, most experts declare that torture is ineffective for obtaining truth as victims will say anything in order to get the pain to stop.




Tregua
In Italian Witchcraft, slang term for Full Moon gatherings/celebrations.


Trequenda
Italian word for Sabbat. The eight seasonal rites.


Triple Goddess

In Paganism, the belief that the Goddess manifests Herself in three aspects, each symbolized by a phase of the Moon. The maiden (Waxing Moon) is young and sexually active, but not pregnant. She revels in her independence, especially freedom from male control, and freedom to be Herself. The Mother (Full Moon) is more mature and pregnant (from the Horned God at Imbolc). The Crone (Waning and New Moon) has given birth and raised the Sun God, and being older is revered for Her wisdom, knowledge and experience. 




Uni
In Italian Witchcraft, the most ancient name for the Goddess of Witchcraft.


Veglia
In Italian Witchcraft, the oral family history and traditions.


Veglione
In Italian Witchcraft, the Full Moon ceremony.


Wand
The wand is much like those used by early ceremonial magicians. It is often fashioned of wood and may be engraved with symbols or studded with stones. Some are made of silver. The wand is an instrument of invocation, of inviting the deities’ presence during ritual.


Wand
The quintessential magical tool in the minds of most people is the wand. This is made by the Magus to project the power of will. In fact, it becomes the physical representation of his or her magical will. It should be made of wood, about as thick as the thumb and as long as the space between the fingertips and the elbow. Some woods are favored for the wand—hazel is traditional. Oak is also good, being the wood of Zeus and therefore the traditional attractor of lightning. Ideally, the wand should be cut and fashioned by the Magus, as it becomes the most intensely personal tool of the Art and is used for virtually everything. Over time, it will gather a magical charge through use that is clearly perceptible when it is held.


Wanna-Be

A person who pretends to be something such as a Wiccan or Witch or magician after reading a few books on the subject or seeing some movies. They often will mix Wicca, paganism, psuedo-Native American and New Age concepts into a single composite often filled with inner contradictions. Because a wanna-be is doing this for himself or herself and not trying to show off, a wanna-be is often considered to be a step above the Insta-Witch.




Warlock
A term used by Wiccans and Witches meaning a traitor to the coven or the religion. Mistakenly used by Cowans (people who are not Witches or Wiccans) to mean a male Witch. Sometimes used to describe any male practitioner of magick.


Wheel of the Year
A term for the seasons or cycles of Nature marked by the Sabbats of Wicca/Witchcraft. It is often symbolized by an eight-spoke wheel indicating each solstice and equinox, as well as the days that fall exactly between each, the midpoints or cross-quarters.


White Handled Knife

See: boline. 




Wicca
Wicca is a religion of veneration of Nature and the worship of Divinity as containing both feminine and masculine aspects. It is founded upon the spiritual roots of pre-Christian European beliefs and practices. When Wicca first came to public attention in the early 1950s through the efforts of Gerald Gardner, it was portrayed as the remnant of an ancient European fertility cult. Practitioners referred to Wicca as the Old Religion. It was also known as the Craft of the Wise. On the surface modern Wicca appears to be a folklore and folk magick system. On the inner initiate level Wicca contains pre-Christian European Mystery Teachings.


Wicca
The single largest tradition within Paganism, which is earth-centered, celebrates the eight Pagan holidays, envisions Deity as both male and female (which it calls the God and the Goddess), practices magick, and believes in an afterlife known as the Summerland. The Wiccan ethical system is stated in the Rede and the Rule of Threes. The Rede contains the ethical instruction to "harm none and do what you will." The Rule of Threes states that whatever you send out from yourself will come back threefold.


Wicca
A contemporary Pagan religion in which the divine is worshipped as the Goddess and God. Rituals include the creation of sacred space with magic; invocation to the deities; ritual enactments or celebrations of seasonal phenomena; power-raising (for magic); and a simple meal. Wicca has no links or associations with “Satanism” or other quasi-Christian reactionary groups.


Wiccan
A person who follows one of the many sects of Wicca.


Wiccan Rede
A summation of Wiccan ethical beliefs: harm none and do what you will.


Wiccaning
A Wiccan ritual during which a baby, the child of Pagan parents, is given his or her name. A modern Wiccan version of the Christian church’s christening rite.


Wicce
Feminine of Wicca.


Widdershins
Anti-clockwise.


Witch
Practitioner of Witchcraft.


Witch Bottle

A small bottle, traditionally of blue or green glass, filled with broken glass, bent nails, and other damaged bits of material which can cut and pierce. They are a protective spell and might also contain the hair, nails, and urine of a victim. They may be sealed into the walls of a house or buried under the porch or hearth to absorb evil. More recently the contents have included herbs such as rosemary, wine, and pins.




Witch Hat
A tall, conical hat, usually in black and with a wide brim. Today, the hat of the Witch is an archetype and appears silly. Most Witches today wear no headgear (although the High Priest and High Priestess may wear a simple crown or stag horns).

In the Europe of the 1400s, such a hat was popular among royalty and the upper classes. By the time the fashion filtered down to the common folk, it was out of style for the wealthy. At that time, the Christian church was trying to bring people away from Paganism and into Christianity. By claiming that Witches wore such hats they were subtly indicating that Pagan beliefs, like the hat, were out of fashion.
,br> Today, in children’s costumes, it is often depicted without the brim as the hat of a princess.


Witch King

A term found initially in Gardnerian Wicca that refers to the consort and working partner of a Witch Queen. Although usually a High Priest, it is not always the case. It does not mean the king of all Witches.




Witch Queen

A term found initially in Gardnerian Wicca that refers to a coven’s High Priestess who has initiated people who have achieved the highest degree of the coven and have branched or “hived” off to form covens of their own. 




Witchcraft
Among modern practitioners Witchcraft can be defined as the practice of magick and Paganism as it relates to pre-Christian European Paganism. The arts of Witchcraft include herbalism, divination, magick, ceremonial ritual, healing, potions, and spirit-world contact (familiars, elementals, etc.). Witchcraft, as depicted by the Church during the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods, is considered by many modern Witches to be a deliberate distortion of the facts.


Witta

Irish term for Wicca. 




Wort
An archaic term for herb, especially to indicate herbs used for food or medicine. Often combined with another word to indicate that use of the herb, such as St. John’s Wort, Feverwort, Kidneywort, etc.



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