Glossary of Pagan Terms


Glossary of Pagan terms

Glossary of Pagan Terms

I'd like to make it clear that I did not compile this glossary of terms, it was sent to me by e-mail. I'm not sure who the author is or I would give them credit for their work, In any case I dont want to take the credit as that's really bad karma!

The list itself is very informative and helpful for those who need any clarification on words that are common to paganism. I dont agree, in full, with all the definitions, but it does give you a place to start from.

ADEPT: An individual who through serious study and accomplishments is considered highly proficient in a particular magickal system. A person can be an adept at Egyptian magickal practices, but a total failure at practical kitchen magick.

AKASHA (Akasba) : 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.- the spiritual ether (or Aether); the omnipresent fifth occult element.

AKASHIC RECORDS: In the early part of this century the famed psychic Edgar Cayce brought to general society the thought form of Akashic records. Supposedly, there is a giant data base somewhere that can be accessed for information on subjects such as past lives, healing, and other magickal/spiritual practices. This record system cannot be accessed by material equipment, such as PC networking with a larger computer. In this case, the mind of the psychic or Witch accesses the data through Universal Connections.

ALTAR: A special, flat surface set aside exclusively for magickal workings or religious acknowledgment.

AMULET: Usually considered an object of protection that has been charged to deflect specific negative energies or thought forms. Amulets can be made of feathers, plants, beads, etc. The horseshoe and the four-leaf-clover are two examples of amulets.

ANKH: An Egyptian hieroglyphic that is widely used as a symbol for life, love and reincarnation. It is depicted as a cross with a looped top.

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.

ARCANA: The two halves of a Tarot deck. The Major Arcana consists of 22 trumps depicting dominant occurrences in our lives. The Minor Arcana consists of 56 suit cards (sometimes called the lesser Arcana) that assist in fleshing out the trump situations, or indicate smaller occurrences in our lives. See also Tarot Cards.

ARCHETYPES: (EF) Extremely basic forms within the human psyche; the archaic "racial memories." Refer to the works of Dr.Carl Jung.

ASPECTING: Any advanced magickal activity in which a practitioner manifests a particular aspect of the Goddess or God, in thought, feelings, behavior, appearance, etc.; Often as a direct result of a "Drawing Down". Often a minor variation of this phenomena occurs with the selection of a "Magical Name", of Craft Name.

ASPECTS: Forms, facets, or personas of Deity: for example, Brighid, Iseult, Eos, and Kore are all aspects of the Maiden, and the Maiden is an aspect of the Goddess.

ASTRAL: (SR) This word conjures lots of definitions. To keep it simple, let's describe it as another dimension of reality. Referred to as "dreamtime". This reference is from the Australian Aboriginal people and their teachings, which are well worth further study.

ASTRAL TRAVEL/PROJECTION: The process of separating your astral body from your physical one to accomplish travel in the astral plane or dreamtime.

ATHAME : A Wiccan ritual knife. Generally double edged with a black handle, but not always. This knife is seldom used for physical cutting, if at all, and need not be sharp. It is *never* used to draw blood and Wicca do not draw blood or use blood in ritual. Its primary use is as an energy directing device, much like the wand, though with different common uses. compare: Boline, Wand. 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.

BALEFIRE : A fire laid and lit for magical or religious purposes, usually outdoors. Physically similar to the non-magical non-religious bonfire.

BANE : That which is harmful, destructive or evil.

BANISH : To make go away, To magically end something or exorcise unwanted entities. To rid the presence of, to cast out ,etc.

B.C.E : Before Common Era, non-Christian version of B.C.

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.

BI-LOCATION: This is an interesting practice. You use a type of astral projection to travel in everyday reality by retaining the capability to be aware of your present surroundings. Synonymous terms are Over-looking and mind-travel.

BIND : To prevent or limit. in the magickal context the act of limiting a spell (ie: to ensure it will harm none) or person (i.e.: to prevent them from harming others). Some consider it unethical to bind people other than yourself.

BLOOD OF THE MOON: A woman's menstrual cycle. If this cycle occurs over a Full or New Moon (and you can arrange that) she is far more powerful than during any other time of the month, as long as she acknowledges this strength within herself. For too many years women have been told that they must regard their cycle with an unkind eye, calling it a curse when actually it is a boon. Society has so dictated this to them that many feel weak, tired and disoriented because they are supposed to. Wrong. If you can rearrange your thinking on this matter, the Blood of the Moon can pack a powerful wallop for you. if you feel spacey, try grounding.

BOLINE : A Wiccan ritual knife used for more practical purposes, such as cutting herbs, etc. *never* to draw blood. Generally white handled with a curved blade. compare: Athame.

BOOK OF SHADOWS : Traditionally hand copied book of rituals, recipes, and 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. (Also Grimoire)

BURNING TIMES : A term used by some Witches for the period of persecution in the Middle Ages and later. It is in fact a misnomer in some places, as Witches were only burned in Scotland, and on the continent of Europe. In England and the U.S., they were hanged.

CABALA: Also seen as Kabbala, Kabbalah and Qabala. The ancient Hebrew magickal system.

CALL: Invoking Divine Forces.

CANDLEMAS : Also called "Imbolc" (the old Celtic name) Festival held on Feb.02. 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. 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.

C.E.: Common Era, non-Christian version of A.D.

CENSER : An incense burner.

CHAKRAS: Seven major energy vortexes found in the human body. Each is usually associated with a color. These vortexes are: crown - white; forehead (third eye position) - purple; throat - blue; chest - pink or green; navel - yellow; abdomen - orange; groin - red. Smaller vortexes are located in the hands and feet, as well.

CHALICE : One of the tools of the Witch. Placed on the altar to represent the element of Water.

CHANNELING: New Age practice wherein you allow a disincarnate entity to "borrow" your body to speak to others either through automatic writing or verbally. Channeling does not have a very good track record simply because it is difficult to prove and the information imparted is usually not about things that can be "tested." Subjects normally involve distance prophecy, what the after-life is like, the structure of other dimensions, words of wisdom that everybody really needs to know before it is too late, etc. Channeling is the new buzz-word for mediumship. The best known and most accurate medium within our present century was the later Edgar Cayce. Most book stores will carry some of his material and it is well worth your time to read. channeling is not the same as contacting the dead for information or help.

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.

CHARMS: Can either be an amulet or talisman that has been charged by saying an incantation over it and instilling it with energy for a specific task.

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".

CIRCLE, MAGIC : A sphere of magical energies in which Wiccan rituals are usually practiced. The area inside the circle is seen as being sacred ground in which Wicca and their deities may meet. The circle is deconstructed (released, grounded, etc) after use. Often constructed using the athame, along with incense, salt, and water, but methods vary greatly.

CLEANSING: The act of removing any negative energy, vibrations or images from an object or place by utilizing positive, psychic energy.

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.

CONSECRATION: The act of blessing an object or place by instilling it with positive energy.

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.

COVENSTEAD : Regular meeting place for a coven. Usually the home of the High Priestess or High Priest. There exists a traditional 20 mile radius between covensteads, in some a 50 mile. This means that one covenstead can't move into another's already established covenstead, without the permission of the high Priestess in the first covenstead. To do so would be a breach of conduct and those involved would been seen as without honor.

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.

COYOTE ENERGY : Trickster energies. Named for the American Indian Trickster, Coyote, who tricks man into learning what he needs to learn. Applies to one who constantly jokes and clowns. Also applies to the concept of "Holy Fool" in many traditions.

CRAFT, THE : Witchcraft, Wicca.

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

DAYS OF POWER: Although usually referred to as Sabbats, these are other days throughout the year that can be considered days of power. These days can be triggered by astrological occurrences, your birthday, a woman's menstrual cycle (also know as the Blood of the Moon), or your dedication/initiation anniversary.

DEDICATION: Unlike the initiation ceremony that brings one into an order, the dedication of a Witch is that process where the individual accepts the Craft as their path, and vows to study and learn all that is necessary to reach adeptship in a given tradition. In a dedication, you consciously prepare yourself to accept something new into your life and stick with it, regardless of the highs and lows this action may produce.

DEOSIL : In northern hemisphere, clockwise. Counter-clockwise in the southern hemisphere. Direction of motion for creative magick.

DIVINATION : Magical method of exploration or inquiry into a situation . The art of peering into the unknown by interpreting random patterns or symbols. Incorrectly referred to as "fortune telling". examples include: tarot cards, the I Ching, rune stones, staring (scrying) into water or fire, etc.

DOWSING: The art/science of using a pendulum or stick to find the actual location of a person, place, thing or element. Dowsing can also be used to answer yes or not questions, and quite a science has developed by holding a pendulum over a specially designed chart to answer specific questions on life patterns.

DRAWING DOWN THE MOON: A ritual used during the Full Moon by Witches to empower themselves and unite their essence with a particular deity, usually the Goddess. Ritual invocation of the spirit of the Goddess into the body of the High Priestess by the High Priest.

EARTH MAGICK: A practical form of magick wherein the powers and forces of Earth Mother are used to conduct magickal workings or celebrations. Usually items associated with the Earth and nature hold a particular significance in the ritual or spell.

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.

ELDER: Many Wiccan organizations have a group or board of Elders who oversee the operations of the church and its variety of functions. These people have usually gained their positions through a combination of their abilities, which may include education, experience, magickal adeptship and counseling.

ENCHANTMENT: A magickal object that must be kept absolutely secret and hidden from all human eyes ands affects a hidden aura. Enchantments must be charmed first. Gems and magickal writing are good items for Enchantments

ESBAT : Weekly or biweekly meeting of a coven. Any Wiccan religious celebration held which is not a sabbat, commonly held on full moons in honor of the goddess. EVOCATION: To call something out from within.

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.

FASCINATION: A mental effort to control another animal or person's mind. It has been referred to as "mind-bending." Although the tecchnique of fascination runs a borderline when considering humans, it should not be totally trashed. Using it for a love spell would be unethical, and much like committing psychological rape. But if you found yourself in an unsafe situation where your person (or friend or family member) is in real physical danger. "Lest in self defense it be", use what you need to be safe.

GAEA/GAIA: Greek Goddess, now meaning Earth Mother or Mother Earth. Environmental action groups use this term almost as much as we do, if not more these days.

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.

GOD, THE : Loving father to all and the perfect compliment to the Goddess. He is viewed as co-creator of the universe. Often identified with the sun, sky deserts, forests, agriculture, and wild animals. not to be confused with the monotheistic Christian concept of 'God' he is part of a pair.

GODDESS, THE : Definitions differ but Generally the universal mother of all who created the universe with the god. Often associated with the Moon, ocean, earth, fertility, birth and death.

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 or on the astral level, as the participants wish.

GREEN MAN: Another name for the God, as in his kingdom of the forest.

GUARDIANS: Ceremonial magicians use the Guardians of the Watchtowers or Guardians of the Four Quarters. Some Witches use them, too. There are those that see these Guardians as lizards, dragons, etc. But Silver envisions them as the angels Michael, Ariel, Raphael and Gabriel, which follows the Judeo-Christian backgrounds.

HALLOWS : Name used by some traditions for Samhain, or Halloween. Many consider this a Christian word/meaning.

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.

IMBOLC : Celtic name for Candlemas. This sabbat is celebrated around Feb 02, (Lady Wolfen Mists birthday is on Feb.02 just in case you'd like to know ;->It is a festival of lights that celebrates the 'quickening" and the resurgence of life in the ground

INITIATION: An experience that so transforms the individual that their concept of personal and worldly reality has been altered. A dedication ceremony should not be confused with an initiation rite.

INVOCATION : The ritual "calling-in" of an entity (or energies) higher than human, either for communication with the caller through a medium or by visible manifestation or else to enter into a human body as in the Drawing Down the Moon. In some traditions, a Prayer. The Lady and lord are Invoked

KARMA: The belief that one's thoughts and deeds can be either counted against them or added to their spiritual path during several life times. In Sanskirt it means "action." Follow the law of cause and effect.

LAMMAS : August 1st. Witch Festival. The Old Celtic name for this festival is Lughnassadh. It is the Festival of the First Fruits, and is the first of the 3 harvests. This festival also marks the change of the Threefold Goddess energies from that of Mother to Crone.

LEFT-HAND PATH: A term that points to those people who feel that they are justified in using magick for purposes that are not constructive to other human beings or other entities in general. A negative use of energy. It is a reference that they are possibly a self-serving individual. Conversely, the right-hand path is considered positive in nature.

MACROCOSM: The world around us.

MAGIC(K): The art and science of focusing your will and emotions to effect change both in the world around you and the world within you. Magick is neither good nor evil, positive nor negative. It is the use of the power that determines the path it will take.

MAGICK CIRCLE: A circular boundary drawn in visionary blue flames or white light that protects the Witch from outside forces while conducting ritual magick. One must never step outside the circle while performing a ritual unless the appropriate precautions have been take to cut a door. Nor should anyone step in during a ritual, unless they are following a pathway made for them. The door is usually cut with the athame or wand. The circle should never be left hanging after your ritual is over. This means thhat it must be closed just as ceremoniously as it was opened. The magick circle is considered the doorway between the worlds and allow us to move between the two. Some Witches draw the circle in the physical, either permanently on the floor or for temporary use with herbs, sand, salt, chalk or a nine-foot cord. The circle us still cast with blue or white light by the High Priestess/Priest or individual designated to do so. In some covens, the person in charge if a particular quarter is responsible for preparing the area before the coven members arrive. This includes cleaning the area, cleansing, consecrating, and making sure all the necessary supplies have been transported to the location.

MAGICKAL SYSTEMS: Can refer to Traditions, denominations, sects, or pantheons. It is a basic set of guidelines relating to specific Gods and Goddesses or cultural traditions.

MAIDEN : An appointment held by one of the women of the coven. She is virtually the assistant High Priest. 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. She is a high priestess in training to the Clergy field.

MICROCOSM: The world within us.

NEW AGE: Usually refers to mixing metaphysical practices with a structured religion.

OLD RELIGION : Another name for the Craft.

PAGANING : Presentation of an infant to the Circle and to the Gods.

PAGANS/NEOPAGANS: Follower of a nature-based religion. The term Neopagan means "new Pagan" and is not a popular term. It seems to be a direct result of the New Age lingo.

PANTHEON: A Collection or group of Gods and Goddesses in a particular religious or mythical structure. Example are: Greek pantheon, Roman pantheon, Egyptian pantheon, Teutonic pantheon, etc.

PATHWORKING: This is a wiccan Journey through the astral realm. It is narrated and occurs often in groups. There usually is a set destination that all arrive at.

PENTACLE : A circle surrounding a five-pointed, upright star (known as a pentagram). Worn as a symbol of a Witch's belief and used in magickal workings and ceremonies. Each point on the star has a specific meaning: Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit. Pentacles are never worn inverted in the Craft. Witches consider this blasphemy of their faith. However, an inverted pentagram is used in some second degree initiations, not to indicate evil, but to fulfill a function of growth.

PENTAGRAM : The five-pointed star. With a single point uppermost, it represents the human being. Inverted, with two points uppermost, it can have Satanist associations; but not necessarily. Some traditions of Wicca use the inverted pentagram to signify an initiate of the second degree.

PRIEST: A male dedicated to both the service of his chosen deity(ies) and humankind. a High Priest is the male leader of a coven or Wiccan organization and plays the role of the God in certain ceremonies. He is usually chosen by the High Priestess. Although it is true neither male nor female has dominion over the other in the Craft, the High Priestess has the last word, for Her word is Law. The High Priest and High Priestess in a coven environment should work as a balanced team. On occasion they draw the energy of the God and Goddess respective to their sex in order to further a positive magickal working or celebrate a holiday/ These people must be skilled in magick and ceremony, but they also need maturity, wisdom and a great deal of humility. They are required to be diplomatic and merciful when the situation demands. Their job is not an easy one. You will hear reference to the Great Rite, wherein the High Priest and High Priestess magically draw the energy of the God and Goddess through sexual interaction, either simulated or real. However, if intercourse actually takes place, it is almost always done in privacy, out of sight of the other coven members. In the 1970s sexual intercourse among coven members was prominent in some traditions. In the 1990s with the threat of the AIDS virus and society's shift to more conservative views on sexuality, actual intercourse is not as widely practiced. Sex magick is NOT a requirement for any individual to practice Witchcraft.

PRIESTESS: A female dedicated to both the service of her chosen deity(ies) and humankind. a High Priestess is the feminine leader of a coven or Wiccan organization and plays the role of Goddess in certain ceremonies. A solitary Witch can be a Priestess by dedicating herself to a particular God or Goddess.

PROJECTIVE ENERGY: That which is electrical, forward moving, active. Projective energy is protective. See also Receptive Energy.

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

RECEPTIVE ENERGY: The opposite of Projective Energy; magnetic, soothing, attracting energy often used for meditation, promoting love, calm and quiet. REDE : Rule or law.

REINCARNATION : The doctrine of rebirth after death. The belief that one has lived before in another lifetime. It is one of the tenets of Wicca. RITUAL: A focused mental/physical ceremony to either honor or thank one's chosen pantheon, or to perform a specific magickal working or act.

RUNES: A set of symbols that are used both in divination and magickal workings. There are several types of runes with different origins. A few are the Norse, Scandinavian and Germanic runes. Unlike the Tarot, they are an integral part of the magickal system with its own pantheon, should you care to use it. They can function as an alphabet and are useful in vision questing, dream recall and controlling your environment.

SABBAT : Any one of eight Wiccan solar festivals, marked by the 4 solstices and equinoxes, as well as 4 dates in-between them. They are (Celtic style names, others exist) Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh, Mabon, and Samhain.

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. A method using specific tools such as a bowl of inked water, a mirror, crystal ball, etc., where the diviner "sees" either normal visual pictures, mental visual pictures, or information without any pictures at all!

SIGIL: A magically oriented seal, sign, glyph, or other device used in a magickal working. The most powerful sigils are those that you create yourself. Sigils can be used on letters, packages, clothing, on paper tucked in your pocket, etc.

SKYFATHER: Assigning deification to the sky as a male entity. Although shamanistic in its origin, it compliments Earth Mother perfectly. Skyfather is also used by several Native American belief systems.

SKYCLAD: In some traditions, for example the Alexandrian, it is the act of celebrating or doing a magickal working in the nude. This should not be misconstrued with sexual contact. There are many solitaries that prefer to work skyclad, feeling that he absence of clothing leaves their energy unhindered during the ceremony.



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