Concepts & Definitions

~*This section is always under construction! If you have any suggestions, please comment below. Knowledge is a shared endeavor.*~

TOOLS OF THE CRAFT

  • Altar – the raised place used for spells and rituals
  • Altar cloth – a covering for the altar that can be changed out to aid the theme or purpose of different altar settings.
  • Athame – black handled dagger used to cast and dissolve the circle. Interchangeable with the magic sword.
  • Bell – used to symbolize the voice of the Goddess and to cleanse the area.
  • Book of Shadows – traditionally a hand-copied book of rituals, recipes, training techniques, guidelines, and other materials deemed important to a witch or a coven.
  • Broom – used to cleanse and clear a space of negative energies. Also a symbol of the witch.
  • Candles – can have multiple uses, including representing the Goddess and God, the four cardinal points, or to aid in the magic being worked depending on their color and/or scent.
  • Cauldron – used for mixing together any magickal potions, or for holding offerings. A central part of magickal workings.
  • Chalice – cup placed on the altar to represent the element of Water and/or the Mother Goddess.
  • Grimoire – a textbook of magic.
  • Incense – an aromatic herb based tool that released fragrant smoke when burned.
  • Mirror Book – a counterpart journal to a book of shadows. See here for more.
  • Pentagram/Pentacle – a five-pointed star that is formed by drawing a continuous line in five straight segments, each point connected by an outer circle. Often used as a mystic and magickal symbol.
  • Smudge sticks – a bundle of dried herbs bound together that is lit and then blown out so that the herbs smoke. Typically used for cleansing.
  • Stones – can have multiple purposes, including representing the Earth element, assist with grounding and carry energies to be invoked during workings.
  • Wand – a staff used to project power toward a goal. Frequently made of specific kinds of woods or adorned with crystals, but can also simply be an index finger.

 

PRACTICE CONCEPT

  • Cardinal Points – North, South, East and West. The points around which a circle is drawn. Also known as the Watchtowers or Quarters.
  • Circle – the area in which magickal worship and spells takes place. Witches typically cast these before beginning any workings.
  • Cone of Power – power raised in the circle by witches assembled and sent out into the world to work magick.
  • Coven – an organized group of witches, led by a high priestess and/or a high priest.
  • Deosil – clockwise, or sun-wise. Traditional direction for working to build magick.
  • Divination – magickal method of exploration or inquiry into a situation via methods such as tarot cards, rune stones, palm reading, scrying, etc.
  • Familiar – a witch’s animal companion that can serve any number of functions in and outside of magickal workings.
  • Handfasting – Wiccan/Neo-Pagan commitment ceremony used in conjunction with or replacement of a wedding ceremony.
  • Invocation – the ritual calling-in of an entity (or energies) higher than human.
  • Karma – the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
  • Rede – rule or law. See Wiccan Rede.
  • Sabbat – one of the eight festivals or high holy days of Wicca.
  • Scrying – a form of divination that usually involves crystals, incense smoke, water or tarot as the medium.
  • Spell – a prayer, or verbal direction of magickal energies toward the accomplishment of some goal.
  • Three-fold law – a tenant of Wiccan belief that whatever energy a person puts out into the world, be it positive or negative, will be returned to that person three times.
  • Widdershins – counter-clock wise, or the opposite of deosil. Used to release any gathered energies.
  • Esbat – a coven meeting or solitary meditation/ritual that usually happens once a month on the full moon. Sometimes called the low holy days.
  • Wheel of the Year – the annual cycle of Sabbats and Esbats and equinoxes observed by most modern Pagans.
  • Traditions – different established paths within an umbrella philosophy.
  • Degrees – levels of understanding within organized covens or traditions, generally organized in three or four levels.
  • Wiccan Rede – the generally accepted moral guiding document for Wicca and many Neo-Pagan faiths.

 

TYPES OF WICCA

  • Gardnerian Wicca – organized by Gerald Gardner in England in the 1950s, Gardnerian Wicca is considered the original Wicca, as it was the first version of the Old Religion that was publicized despite the risk to its practitioners. This tradition requires initiation and has a degree system. Despite its public nature, much of this tradition’s information is oath bound, which means that it cannot be shared with anyone outside of their path. This tradition places an emphasis on the Goddess/female over the God/male.
  • Alexandrian Wicca – founded by Alex Sanders in the 1960s. Sanders referred to himself as the “king” of his witches. Alexandrian Wicca is heavily influenced by Gardnerian Wicca, but focuses more heavily on equality between the God and Goddess, with an emphasis on ceremonial magick during Esbats and Sabbats. Covens in this traditional typically have and initiation and degree system.
  • Seax Wicca – founded by Raymond Buckland in 1973. Buckland was an initiate of Gardner’s coven, and holds that he brought the Gardnerian tradition to the USA, and then shortly thereafter dubbed his own Seax Wiccan tradition. This tradition is open to public rituals and does not require initiation; in fact self-dedication is believed to have originated here. This allows for coven and solitary practitioners, and is focused heavily on the symbolism of Anglo-Saxon Paganism.
  • Dianic Wicca – born from the feminist movement in the early 1920s, this tradition focuses solely on the Goddess and the female, with only a handful of aspects from other traditions. Many believe this specific tradition came about as a direct result of generations of monotheistic religions being overpoweringly mainstream. This tradition observes the Wheel of the Year, and maintains that a priestess be present for all magickal rites. Solo practitioners, covens and mixed covens are all acceptable.
  • Georgian Wicca – founded in the 1970s by George Patterson, this very eclectic form of Wicca closely resembles Traditional British Wicca, Gardnerian and Alexandrian, but leans more towards the Goddess. Covens are generally the accepted form of practice, and members are encouraged to learn and study through all available resources.
  • Blue Star Witchcraft – the Coven of the Blue Star, which was established in Pennsylvania in 1975 is believed to be the originator of both the name and the original membership of this tradition. From there, it grew, assimilating parts of the Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions. This tradition like others utilizes initiation and a degree system, but has 5 degrees rather than the standard 3. Many members of this tradition prefer to self-identify with ‘witchcraft’ and ‘witch’ instead of ‘Wicca’.
  • British Traditional Wicca – this tradition could be considered an umbrella label for various Britain-originating traditions (such as Gardnerian and Alexandrian) though covens are found world-wide. This tradition is considered one of the oldest traditions, and new members may only be initiated by a lineaged member. A degree system is also utilized here, and all members must maintain certain levels of training and practices. Covens are generally mixed.
  • Celtic Wicca – this path combines both the Celtic and Druidic pantheons with some Gardnerian influence. The elements, nature and ancient ones and rites are all heavily emphasized, as are the healing qualities of every aspect of life and all its objects. This tradition treasures its stores of knowledge.
  • Eclectic Wicca – one of the more popular modern forms of Wicca is Eclectic Wicca, which is usually a solitary practitioner choosing the pieces of different traditions (or even other religions) to incorporate into their own personal spirituality. Eclectic Wiccans generally only hold to the Three Fold Law and the Rede as general guidelines of practice. Covens are also present here.
  • Odyssean Wicca – originating in Canada in the 1970s, primarily by Tamarra and Richard James. Strongly connected to the Wiccan Church of Canada, this tradition has a heavy focus on preparing its initiated members for public priesthood. The name is believed to be inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, and is meant to emphasize their belief in life being a spiritual journey.
  • Caledonni Wicca – Originally called the Hectaine tradition, Caledonni is a Scottish tradition that preserves Scottish festivals and their unique history within its rites. Because their Scottish history and festivals are so important, there’s a lot of focus on the collective mind of members (and as such solitary practitioners are rarer) and their goddess Hecate.
  • Pictish Witchcraft – Another Scottish tradition, Pictish Witchcraft is focused on attuning oneself with all aspects of nature. This form is generally practiced solitary, and the magickal rites have little religion or structure.
  • Christian Wicca – Christian Wicca is exactly what it sounds like, a melding of Wicca and Christianity. Generally, this ultra-modern tradition is Wiccan principles (such as white magic and healing magics) practiced within a Christian framework. Practitioners are generally solitary and because the two systems have such different structures, no two practitioners’ practices will look the same.

 

NEO-PAGANISM

  • Wicca – the religious understanding of modern witchcraft, especially an initiatory tradition founded in England in the mid-20th century and claiming its origins in pre-Christian pagan religions.
  • Neo-Paganism – an umbrella term that encompasses a number of modern belief systems that frequently revere nature, acknowledge multiple deities and have their basis and origins in pre-Christian religions.
  • Neo-Druidism – a form of modern spirituality that promotes harmony with and worship of nature and respect for all beings and the environment. Also called Neo-Druidry.
  • Shamanism – the practice of reaching altered states of consciousness in order to interact with the spirit world and channel those energies into the world.

 

RELIGIOUS LABELS

  • Monotheism – the doctrine or belief that there is only one god.
  • Pantheism – a doctrine which identifies god [or a generic deity] with the universe, or regards the universe as a manifestation of god.
  • Polytheism – the belief in or worship of more than one god or goddess.
  • Duotheism – the worshipping of a god and goddess, traditionally viewed as a mother goddess and a horned god.

 

SELF-IDENTIFYING TERMS

  • Witch – a person who practices witchcraft, whether black or white magick, male or female.
  • Kitchen Witch – a witch whose magickal practice and rites are based in and strengthened by preparations within her hearth (and the home in general.)
  • Pagan – a broad group of indigenous and historically polytheistic religious traditions.
  • Neo-Pagan – sometimes called contemporary or modern paganism. Neo-Paganism is a group of new religious movements influenced by and deriving from various pagan belief systems that extend back pre-modern Europe. The groups that fall under Neo-Paganism are diverse and share no single set of beliefs, deities, practices or text and do not claim absolute authority.
  • Wiccan – a practitioner, whether solitary or within a coven, of modern pagan practices. Because Wicca is so diverse, there are no central authority figures or any across-the-board defining characteristics aside from acknowledgment of the Wiccan Rede.
  • Hereditary Witch – one who can trace witchcraft through their family tree, and usually has been taught the Old Religion from a relative. This can sometimes be a person who is “adopted” into the family for purposes of being taught as if s/he were a blood-born child of the family, though this is a serious decision that typically involves the entire family. It should also be noted that channeling a relative or ancestor is generally not regarded as being a hereditary witch.
  • Solitary Witch – one who practices alone, regardless of tradition or sect. Some solitaries are also part of covens as well and differentiate themselves in their magickal practices. Others simply have no desire to practice with or learn from others.
  • Strega Witch – Stregheria is a form of witchcraft that is believed to have originated in Italy with a woman named Aridian in the 1980s. This type of witchcraft is very region/country/culture focused and honors a pantheon centered on a Moon Goddess and a Horned God in a similar manner to Wicca.
  • Teutonic Witch – sometimes also called the Nordic Tradition, this form of witchcraft has its originals deep in the ancient world, and the group of people who identify this way are generally those who speak the Germanic group of languages. Culturally this has included the English, Cutch, Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish peoples.
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One Response to Concepts & Definitions

  1. Pingback: Spell to Heal a Wounded Tree | Ayslyn's Corner

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