Wicca – Basic Dictionary

AKASHA – the spiritual ether (or Aether); the omnipresent fifth occult element which embraces the other four- earth, air, fire, and water; and from which they stem. This is the realm of “pattern” or causality, from which the realm the normally thought of “five senses manifests. Some define it is the “other” of the “two worlds” that the witch or magician walks between.

ARADIA – Daughter of the Goddess Diana, and a name for the Goddess used by Italian Witches or Strega, commonly used in many Wiccan traditions today.

ATHAME – black handled, double edged dagger. Principally used to cast and dissolve the circle, for which purposes it is interchangeable with the magic sword. A tool of the”Element” of Fire in the Georgian Tradition and some others.

BELTANE – May Eve festival. One of the Ancient Celtic “Fire Festivals.” on this night, the cattle were driven between two bonfires to protect them from disease. Couples wishing for fertility would ” jump the fires” on Beltane night. Also the traditional Sabbath where the rule of the “Wheel of the Year” is returned to the Goddess. This Festival also marks the transition point of the threefold Goddess energies from those of Maiden to Mother.

wicca basic dictionary

BURNING TIMES – The name given by pagans to the period when people were imprisoned, tortured, and killed under the office of the Inquistion. Although initially begun as an internal hunt within the Church for heretics, the Inquisition was expanded to include non-Christians, who were tortured for witchcraft. The death-toll from the Burning Times is held to be 9 million, but it is acknowledged that only a small percentage of these were actually pagan. The vast majority were Christian women.

BOOK OF SHADOWS – Traditionally hand copied book of rituals, recipes, training techniques, guidelines, and other materials deemed important to a Witch or a coven. Each tradition has it’s own standard version of the Book and each Witch’s book will be different as he or she adds to it with time from many different sources. Only another Witch can see your book of shadows. Also, traditionally, it may never leave your hands or possession until death, when it should be destroyed, or (in some traditions) returned to the coven to be disposed of. ( Gardnerian Book Of Shadows Index Page)

THE CRAFT – Witchcraft. (See Witchcraft Section)

CANDLEMAS – Festival held on Feb. 1. One of the 4 Celtic”Fire Festivals. Commemorates the changing of the Goddess from the Crone to the Maiden. Celebrates the first signs of Spring. Also called “Imbolc” (the old Celtic name). This is the seasonal change where the first signs of spring and the return of the sun are noted, i.e. the first sprouting of leaves, the sprouting of the Crocus flowers etc. In other words, it is the festival commemorating the successful passing of winter and the beginning of the agricultural year. This Festival also marks the transition point of the threefold Goddess energies from those of Crone to Maiden.

CARDINAL POINTS – North, South, East, and West, marked in the Georgian Tradition by candles of green, red, yellow, and blue, respectively. The Circle is drawn to connect these four points.

CHALICE – one of the tools of the Witch. Placed on the altar to represent the element of Water.

CHARGE OF THE GODDESS – The Traditional words of the Goddess to her followers, or “hidden children”. Normally declaimed by the HPS at every coven Circle.

CIRCLE – The space within which Wiccan rituals are held and where it is believed contact with greater spiritual forces can be achieved. ( Casting A Circle)


CIRCLE – the area in which the magickal worship and spells takes place. Can also be used to designate a particular group of Witches or Pagans such as “Silver Acorn Circle”.

CONE OF POWER – power raised in the circle by the Witches assembled, and sent out into the world to work magick, is usually visualized as being retained and built in the form of a “cone” prior to release.

COVEN – an organized group of Witches, led by a High priestess and/or a High Priest who meet regularly for worship and fellowship. The traditional membership is 13, but in fact most covens number considerably less. 3 is the minimum in the Georgian Tradition. In Middle English,”Covin” a group of confederates; In Old French “Covine” a band or group with a single purpose; Latin “Com”-together, “Venire”-to come or move.


COVEN – Traditionally, a group of 12 plus a “leader”. Most Witches covens were originally built around this number, though the Burning Times ended the widespread practice of this tradition, as there were seldom 13 Witches alive in any given area. In modern usage, “coven” refers to any group of pagans that wishes to use the term. Note: The original “12+1” configuration can be found in several Christian myths and traditions. Christ and his 12 Apostles, Arthur and his original 12 Knights, the 13 stars in
Mary, the Queen of Heaven’s crown, etc.

COVENSTEAD – regular meeting place for a coven. Usually the home of the High Priestess or High Priest.

COWAN – a non-Witch. Formerly used in a very derogatory manner. Still used in Masonic Ritual to indicate the non initiate and/or pretender to “real craft”. Not often used today among most Witches.

CROSS QUARTER DAYS – The modern name for the Celtic Fire Festivals of Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lammas.

DEOSIL – clockwise, or sunwise. Traditional direction for working “building” magick.

DIANIC – In Margaret Murray’s “The God of the Witches,” published in 1933, the Dianic cult worshiped a two-faced, horned god known to the Romans as Janus or Dianus, who represented the cycle of the seasons. This was supposed to be the ancient religion continued by covens of witches. Today the Dianic tradition refers to the ritual worship of the triple goddess (maiden, mother, and

DIVINATION – magical method of exploration or inquiry into a situation via such methods as Tarot cards, runestones, I- Ching, etc.

DRAWING DOWN THE MOON – Ritual invocation of the spirit of the Goddess into the body of the High Priestess by the High Priest. ( Drawing Down The Moon Ritual)

ELEMENTS – Earth, air, fire, and water, plus spirit, which includes them all. These are regarded as realms or categories of nature (both material and non-material) and are not to be confused with the physicists table of elements, which the modern witch, of course, accepts. (The Elements)

ESBAT – A pagan Lunar holiday. There are usually 13 Esbats in a year, occuring on the nights of full moons. On occasion, Esbats coincide with Sabbats. These occasions call for a larger party than normal.

FAMILIARS – Either a Witch’s pet animal which has been trained to be a magickal helper, or an artificially created “elemental” which performs the same functions as the animal friend.

FIVEFOLD KISS, FIVEFOLD SALUTE – The Witches’ ritual salute, with kisses; (1) on each foot, (2) on each knee, (3) above the pubic hair, (4) on each breast, and (5) on the lips- really 8 kisses in all. It is only used within the Circle, but the words that go with it are the origin of “Blessed Be.”

GARDNERIANS – Tradition of Witchcraft descended from the teachings of Gerald Gardner.

GNOMES – an “entity” or “elemental” that dwells in the plane of Earth or is associated with the EARTH Element.

GREAT RITE – The rite which is the main feature of the third degree initiation, and which is also laid down for certain festivals. It is sexual in nature, but may be `actual’ (and private to the couples concerned) or symbolic, as the participants wish.

GROVE – A group of covens.

HANDFASTING – Wiccan equivalent of a wedding. It can be made legal if the Priestess and/or Priest are registered as clergy with the local authorities, or it may only be considered binding within the coven.

HIGH PRIEST/ESS – Technically speaking, a Witch who has received the 3rd. degree initiation. More usually, the male and female leaders of a coven.

MAIDEN – An appointment held by one of the women of the coven. She is virtually the assistant High Priestess. This term is also the descriptive term used to describe the first of the aspects of the Threefold Goddess Energies (Maiden, Mother, and Crone). It is traditionally associated with the Waxing Moon, and the period from Imbolc (Candlemas) to Beltane (May eve) where the energies are those of initiating, beginning, and creation.

OLD RELIGION – This term for the alleged universal pre-Christian goddess religion first appears in “Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches,” published in 1899. The author, Charles G. Leland, claimed to have met a woman in Italy who was descended from a with family that practiced “la Vecchia Religione” (the Old Religion). (See also Stregheria)

PAGAN – A person who follows a religious path which is Earth-centered. Including, but not limited to, Wicca, Druidic worship, Native American Ways, Aboriginal Australian, pre-Christian African, and in some respects, Shinto.

PENTACLE – a disc shaped talisman; in particular, the metal disc which represents the earth element among the witch’s
working tools.

PENTAGRAM – An ancient symbol, comprised of a five-pointed star in a circle. The symbol has been given many meanings over the years. It has stood for Mankind, the Element of Earth, as a protective symbol. It is most often used to symbolize the five Elements (Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Spirit) bound together as one. It is often called a “pentacle”, but this actually refers to a flat, round object inscribed with a pentagram. Either word is acceptable, however.

QUARTERS – The North, East, South, and West parts of a magickal circle or other ritual area. (See also”Watchtowers”)

MAGIC – Difficult to define, as nearly everyone has their own definition. Natural Magic does NOT require the intervention of spirits, and this is the form of magic practiced by most Wiccans. Other pagan groups will vary. Magic has been best defined (in the author’s opinion) as: 1) Energies that flow through and permeate reality, that modern science has yet to quantify; 2) the use of these energies to affect a change in the status quo. (See Magick Section)

REDE – rule or law.

SABBAT – Meeting of a coven to mark the eight major annual festivals of the Old Religion. These are Samhain (Halloween), the Celtic religious new year; Oimelc (Feb. 1), a festival of winter purification and the approach of spring; Beltane (May 1), the great fertility festival; Lughnasadh (Aug. 1), the festival of first fruits and, in some traditions, the time of the death of the sacred king; the vernal and autumnal equinoxes; and the winter and summer solstices.


SABBAT – A pagan Solar holiday. There are eight Sabbats in a year occuring at approximately six-week intervals, corresponding to solar events, i.e., solstices and equinoxes, and the midpoints between them. The pagan New Year is usually Samhain (pronounced Sah’-when), which occurs on October 31. This Sabbat, which is a time for honoring those who have gone before, gave rise to Halloween. Note that the word “sabbat” has been adopted by certain satanic groups as a name for their own meetings, but this is a modern corruption of the pagan practice.

SALAMANDER – an entity that dwells in the realm of Fire.

SAMHAIN – The festival of remembrance for the dead, held on the eve of Nov. 1st. It is the last of the three harvests. This festival also marks the transition of rulership of the”Wheel of the Year from that of the Goddess to that of the God.

SCRYING – divination, usually using such methods as crystal gazing, or divination via incense smoke, or water as opposed to tarot or other manipulative means.

SATANISM – The worship of the devil, often employing inversions of Christian rituals. (Witchcraft is non-Christian, therefore not Satanism).

SPELL – a prayer, or verbal direction of magickal energies toward the accomplishment of some goal.

SUMMONER – The male officer of the coven who corresponds to the Maiden. He is the assistant High Priest.

SYLPH – an “entity” or “elemental” that dwells in the plane of Air or is associated with the AIR Element.

TRADITIONS – any of the various “sects” of Wicca such as Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Georgian, Seax, etc.

UNDINE – an “entity” or “elemental” that dwells in the plane of Water or is associated with the WATER Element.

WAND – A rod or staff that is prepared so that it may be used for magickal or psychic purposes, usually to project some form of power.

WARLOCK – a term coined in the Burning Times . It was used to denote a traitor to the Craft, or one who had betrayed the followers of the Old Religion. It’s origin is Scottish. Because of the negative connotations, it is not used by most Wiccans today.


WARLOCK – Often used to mean a male Witch, but this is incorrect. The word actually comes from the Old English, and means “oath breaker”. It refers to the Inquisitors’ early tactic against Witch covens, where a deep-cover agent was sent to infiltrate a coven, and upon being initiated was to betray the coven members. Unfortunately for the agent, the Inquisitors usually tortured ALL initiated members of the coven, which included the agent.

WATCH TOWERS – Originally from the Enochian branch of Ceremonial Magick, now incorporated into many “Traditions” of Wicca, these are the four elemental “directions” or “quarters” (corresponding to the appropriate points on the compass) called to protect the Circle during its establishment. Each of them have a correspondence between the compass point, an element, and (varying amongst different traditions) color associated with them.

WHITE HANDLED KNIFE- the working knife of a Witch. It is used to carve candles, and for fashioning the other tools. Traditionally, it can only be used in a Circle.

WICCA – The Old English word for a male witch; today widely used by followers of the Craft to refer to wisecraft, that is.


WICCA – The name most modern day Witches use for the Craft. It comes from the Anglo-Saxon word Wicce, meaning to bend or to shape. This is the root word from which we get wicker.

WIDDERSHINS- counter clock wise. Used for “tearing down” OR BANISHING magick.

WITCH – An archaic term, from the Old English “wice”, meaning “Wise One”. Modern usage varies, but it is sometimes used as a synonym for Wiccan, a practioner of Wicca. Applies to either gender.

WITCHCRAFT – The craft of the wise. (See Witchcraft Section)


WITCHCRAFT – The forerunner of modern Wicca. Literally, “the Craft of the Wise”. An Earth-centered religion holding Life as sacred, and honoring both the Divine Female and Male (Goddess and God). True Witchcraft was all but destroyed during the Burning Times, though some family traditions (famtrads) have survived in total secrecy (until lately).

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