Arachne's Web Glossary of Occult Terms
This list will be updated on a regular basis. It is a labor of love that will continue until I run out of things to write about. If you search for something and can't find it, please email me and I will be happy to add it to the page.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T W X Y Z
Abramelin, the Book of
A grimoire from the 15th century. The book of Abramelin the Mage, as it is often called, gained popularity within the Golden Dawn. The book contains instructions for the Abramelin Operation, which was said to call a guardian angel, and to obtain esoteric knowledge, as well as instructions to create Abramelin oil, an ancient recipe for anointing and consecrating magickal tools and spaces.
Made famous by Aleister Crowley and Samuel Mathers in the early 20th century, Abramelin oil is the recipe for anointing oil mentioned in the Book of Abramelin, as discussed above. Abramelin oil is used for consecration and blessing of tools and people. We see a historically faithful version here: Abramelin Oil
Alchemy has been studied for many centuries and has been the subject of many books and magickal studies. At it's basic level, alchemy is a process where one thing changes into something else. The item or ingredient is transmuted into something else. Usually the original item is a common and inexpensive one, and the change makes it into something very valuable. The classic example is turning straw into gold. Fairy tales are loaded with examples like the Goose that laid the golden eggs. An alchemist is someone who has mastered the art of transmutation and is able to change substances at will.
See also: Wicca
The most widely known version of an altar is that in a church or sunagogue. Strictly speaking, an altar is a dedicated space, or area that is treated as sacred space. In Witchcraft, an altar may be a large, permanent structure, piece of furniture or even an entire room in a house. For many Witches however, the altar is a portable or discreet area for practicing spell craft. Some traditions use very ornate altars with very specific decorations and fittings, while others are very subtle and may not even be recognized as altars by the untrained eye.
For more information, see our blog post: Setting Up a Witch's Altar for the First Time
An amulet is any item, potentially jewelry but could be a pocket stone or other small item, worn or carried on the person, that it charmed for a purpose. Amultes can be for luck, love, protection or any purpose you like. Casting charms on small items to carry with you is a wonderful way to incorporate magick into your daily life.
See also, Talisman
The twin sister to Apollo, Artemis is the Greek Goddess of the Moon, and of the hunt. Historically, Artemis was a maiden goddess who protected women in childbirth. Wild animals and dogs are associated with Artemis.
The astral plane is the plane of existence where magick resides. invisible for the most part, this plane is just beyond our physical plane. Some individuals may see glimpses of the astral plane, and it can be felt through magick.
You may hear this described in various reading, or even hear some Witches talk about it occasionally. The term is used to describe a dreamlike state where you havean out of body experience. This doesn't generally refer to near death experiences which are different, this refers to a situation where the spirit of the "traveler" able to project themselves out of their body and move freely in the astral realm.
Astrology is a large topic! Generally, astrology is the study of the heavenly bodies, their movements and relationship with each other. movements and positions of celestial bodies (namely within our own solar system against named constellations), interpreted as having an effect on human life, world affairs, and the natural world.
There are various blog posts being added about Atrology. Here are the links:
What Sign is the Moon in, and what does it mean in Magic?
Classically, an Athame is a double edged knife, usually black. The Athame is the tool that represents the element of Fire in ritual magick. The Athame is never used to "cut" physical things. It is used to cut energy in ritual, and sometimes to cast a circle. This tool has been adopted by many traditions and may vary widely in it's appearance today. You may see Athames in almost any color or style.
For moreinformation, see our blog post: What is an Athame?
See also: Ritual Knife
The aura refers to the energetic field around the body. The human body has 7 distinct energy sources or chakras that radiate energy. Some individuals can see the aura surrounding others as a color. Different colors may refer back to the chakra colors, and as such may help interpret information about the person. For example, the 2nd chakra, at the navel is considered to be orange. This is the center of creativity and fertility. If a person's entire aura glows orange, it might be interprested that they are very creative or that they are perhaps pregnant.
See also: Chakras
Augury is a word associated with the interpretation of omens or signs. In antiquity, crows were thought to be an augury of bad luck or even death.
Writing said to be produced by spiritual, subconscious, or occult influences rather than the conscious intention of the writer.
See also: Mabon
To be rid of something. The occult meaning generally refers to a ritual intended to remove non-physical influences (ranging from spirits to negative influences). Often the “lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram” (LBRP) is used for this purpose.
See also: Clearing
Egyptian goddess of love, magick and fertility. Bast is a cat-headed goddess.
In the most literal sense, a besom is a broom made of twigs or straw tied around a stick. It is the witches’ broom that is purposed for ritual use.
May 1st. Beltane is a Celtic word that means “fires of Bel” (Bel being a Celtic deity, meaning “the bright one”). It is a fire festival that celebrates the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year. Beltane is the midpoint between the Spring and Summer solstice.
See also: Walpurgisnacht
Interpretation of future events by randomly chosen pages/passages from a book, generally the Christian Bible.
Also referred to as Dark magick, this phrase referrs to rituals and spells designed to bring harm to another person, group or entity. Darker works are considered against the Wiccan Rede "an it harm none...". Many Witches beleive that performing dark work may result in the harm being visited back on the cast three times over.
Dark works may include hexes, curses and various types of manipulative magick designed to bend another to the will of the caster.
Made from a variety of materials - sometimes obsidian, sometimes a black backing on glass, etc. - black mirrors are used for the purposes of scrying or “mirror gazing” - the art of making contact with spirits, the dead, opening the gates to other realms, seeing the past, future, distant locations, and more.
See also: Scrying
Conclusion of a ritual used in Wiccan rituals. Adopted as greeting among practitioners of Wiccan Witchcraft. This specific phrase generally means the speaker is Wiccan, but has been adopted by many practitioners. Another optionf for the conclusion of a written greeting might be Bright blessings. This does not have any ties to specific schools or traditions of magick.
Generally white handled - but not always, the boline is a dedicated working knife. It is used to harvest herbs, inscribe candles, etc. Occasionally the blades are in a crescent shape, resembling a small handheld scythe.
Book of Shadows
This has been open to quite a bit of interpretation according to the individual witch and tradition it is involved with. Generally speaking, it is the Witches’ book that contains rituals, spells, diagrams, incantations, etc. Some witches will also include spell results, feelings, and more. This book can grow in size quite rapidly so many witches often separate research material, correspondences, meanings, etc. into a separate book or “Grimoire.” Additionally, separate books such as dream journals and the like are also maintained.
See also: Spellbook, Grimoire
Brigid is a triple goddess of the Hearth, Healing and the Forge in Irish custom. She is widely loved across the British Isles in Scotland, Wales and England as well. Tracing back to ancient times, Brigid was the keeper of the hearth fire and a protector of the home. February 1st (Imbolc) is a major festival for Brigid, also known as Candlemas and Brigid's Day.
Regarded as "good" house fairies, brownies can be very helpful to those who dwell in the house and may become very attached to them.
Fortune telling by the interpretation of the random selection of traditional playing cards or cards other than Tarot cards.
By definition, a cauldron is a large metal pot used for cooking over an open fire. They often come with a lid and handle, or bail, and legs to keep it raised slightly over the fire. More often than not they are made from cast iron. The cauldron represents feminine aspects as well as the element of water.
A fireproof vessel in which incense is burned.
Centering in magick, refers to pulling your magickal energy into yourself and finding the center. For many Witches, the solar plexus area (above the navel, around where your actual stomach is), and gathering power there. Usually centering is done with Grounding.
Also known as High Magic, ceremonial magic is based on a blend of occult teachings that includes Enochian Magic, Kabbalah, Thelema, and Judeo-Christian Mysticism. Groups such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), and the Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.) are examples of groups that practice ceremonial magic. Ceremonial Magic
The chakras refer to the 7 energetic centers within the body:
The base or root chakra is red and is the center for grounding.
The navel chakra is the 2nd and is orange. This is the center of creativity and fertility.
The 3rd chakra is the sacral chakra, in the center of the stomach area. This is th epower center.
The 4th is the heart chakra, and it is green. Here is the center of love and the heart.
The 5th is the throat chakra, it is a turquoise blue. Here is the truth and the voice.
The 6th chakra is the third eye, in the center of the forehead. This chakra is deep, royal blue. Here is the center for 2nd sight.
The 7th chakra is the crown of the head and is seen s violet or sometimes tending to white.
A chalice, or simply “the cup” - is a single-purposed item for ritual, magical, and ceremonial use. It represents the feminine and the element of water.
When we charge an object, we are pouring our magickal intent into it. In ritual and spell work we charge many items such as candles, altar tools and ingredients to help us work a spell. We can also charge objects such as a piece of jewelry to wear in order to imbue the property of the spell into the wearer.
A charm is another word for a spell. Charms often rhyme, and may be chanted or even sung. Charm can also be used to describe an object such as a "charm bag" which is a small spell bag created for the purpose of a magick spell.
“Clear Hearing,” the power to hear sounds/words from the spirit world.
“Clear Feeling,” empathic ability to sense emotions.
“Intuitive Vision,” is the ability to see telepathic information that others cannot.
“Clear Knowing,” is intuitively “just knowing” something.
“Clear Smelling,” is when you suddenly smell something that has meaning to you.
“Clear Touch,” - also known as Psychometry. The ability to receive information by touching a person or an object.cl
A form of divination that involves the casting of lots, sortition. An outcome is determined by the manner in which the lots (dice, bones, etc) fall.
To bring about something by an incantation or spell.
In Witchcraft, herbs, stones and other items have magickal correspondences to planets, times of day, phases of the moon, seasons, elements and more. These correspondences can have a profound impace on the use of thes eitems in magick and spell work.
For more information, see our blog post: Learning the Magickal Correspondence of Herbs
See Witch, Cottage
A coven is a group of Witches who practice together. Generally, a coven will meet regularly for ritual and do workings together. They often celebrate the pagan holidays together and help each other in many ways. A coven is a community as much as a religeous organization for many.
A late Victorian occult practitioner who lived until around 1940. Crowley was a member of the famous Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in London. The group beleived in the study of esoteric knowledge from anceint texts. They studied astrology, alchemy and spent a great deal of effort on ritual magick designed to connect with guardian angels, in order to allow them to summon demons.
Crowley was expelled form the Golden Dawn as a result of his radical ideas on sex magick and "dark magick" practices. He was reputed to have conducted violent and sado-masochistic rituals throughout his life, often aided with the use of narcotics to "alter conciousness".
Among his many writings, Crowley penned his own version of the Rede that omits a critical portion: "Do as though wilt." He wasn't interested in who or what would be harmed. In my admittedly biased opinion, he was a very sad, sick individual.
See also: the Golden Dawn
These were men who were healers and keepers on ancient magickal knowledge. The sunning man is the male counterpart to the wise woman.
See also: Wise Woman
For the meaning in magick, see Chalice.
A curse is a type of magick intended to cause harm to someone or some group or entity. A curse (magickally) is uttered to cause harm. Some curses involve ritual magick, some are very simple incantations. They all are considered darker or "black" magick by many branches of pagan tradition.
Clockwise. The direction of casting a circle, or moving energy is critically important in some spells. For example, a kitchen Witch might stir a stew Deosil, while focusing on attracting healthy and happiness for all who consume it. When opening a magick circle, you often go around it Deosil to build and seal in the energy as you begin your spell. The opposite of Deosil is Widdershins, which is used to remove energy or thing.
See also Widdershins.
The Witches’ Devil (or Devyl) has many names - Pan, Old Janicot, The Man in Black, The Dark Lord, The Dark Man, The Green Man, Cernunnos, Woden, Herne. He is the initiator of witches’ into the Traditional Craft. This remains a controversial term, but I would recommend this article by Kelden for a more complete explanation: Click here. Not to be confused with Satan or Lucifer.
The Roman goddess of the hunt, associated with dogs and the Moon. DUrign the Middle Ages, Diana became known as the "Queen of the Witches", a title she shares today with Hecate. To many, Diana represents freedom, women's mysteries and the strength to stand on your own.
The practice of seeking knowledge of the unknown or the future by a particular divinatory means (ie. Tarot, Cartomancy, Geomancy, Rune Casting, Scrying, Dowsing, etc.)
A technique in which either a forked stick or two bent or handled wires are employed to search for something invisible by observing the motion of the point of the stick. Using pendulums are also a form of dowsing.
For more information on dowsing, see our blog post: Dowsing: What is it, and how is it used?
See also: Pendulum
Eclectic Witch (or Eclectic Witchcraft)
See Witch, Eclectic
The Equinoxes are the days when light and dark are in perfect balance. In the Northern hemisphere, the Vernal (Spring) Equinox is generally around March 21st, and the Autumnal (Fall) Equinox is on or near September 21st. The Equinoxes are celebrated by many traditions in Witchcraft as days of power. There are corresponding celebrations for the longest and shortest days of the year, marked by the solstices of Summer - on or near June 21st, and Winter on or near December 21st. The winter solstice is generally refered to as Yule.
See also: Solstice
A rite that regularly takes place on the full moon.
To “evoke” something / a spirit, you call it to come before you to do your bidding. Not to be confused with an “Invocation” which brings a power or spirit into you.
The expulsion, or attempted expulsion of a spirit from a person or place.
The Witches’ familiar traditionally is a small animal or imp kept as the witches’ attendant, given to her after initiation. Traditional witches believe that this is a gift from the Witches’ Devil or it is inherited from another witch. Other traditions often select their familiars.
A spirit that attends or obeys a witch. There are a variety of ways that a witch might “house” their familiar spirit, including a small animal, a skull, a doll, or a box just to name a few.
Feng Shui is a 5,000 year old practice of arranging living spaces and places of business to manipulate the "chi" or positive energy. Feng Shui evaluates the elements in the space, and looks at directions and how they work with the elements to bring prosperity, love, harmony or the opposite. If the energy is found to be less than optimal, Feng Shui uses "cures" such as adding a little object of a specific color to an area to activate the correct chi. The literal meaning of Feng Shui is "wind and water"
Magic that is often localized to a specific area and heavily based on tradition and local lore. The practitioners make use of what comes from their local area and what is handed down through the generations.
The practice of predicting outcomes or information regarding a client’s life by some form of divination.
Gerald Gardener was the father of what most people today know as Wicca. Born June 13, 1884 in the United Kingdom, Gerald was an ecentric with a fascination for all things occult. Among other things, Gerald was a nudist who believed ritual magick must be practiced in the nude.
As the founder of Gardnerian Wicca, Gerald borrowed many ideas from Aleister Crowley and (The Hermetic Order of) the Golden Dawn, but Gerald was extremely committed to the idea that magick must never harm. Gerald used the Rede as we know it today: An it harm none, do as thou will. Crowley at one point was hopeful that Gerald would carry on his work magickally. He was growing older, and Gerald was gaining in popularity. Gerald wasn't interested in Crowley's methods however, he had very different ideas on what ritual magick should be. Gerald died February 12, 1964 after establishing one of the fastest growing religeons in the world.
See also: Wicca.
Founded by Gerald Gardner in Bricket Wood, United Kingdom in 1954. A form of religious witchcraft that follows the teachings of Gerald Gardner which were published in the 1950’s. It is an initiatory tradition, where the practitioners generally work in covens of 13 members and that contains three separate degrees of initiation. Gardnerian Wicca has sprung several offshoot traditions, such as Alexandrian
See also: Wicca
A divination method that interprets markings on the ground, or patterns formed by tossed handfuls of soil, rocks or sand. Also - the casting of lots upon a map.
Golden Dawn, The Hermetic Order of
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was fellowship of like minded Victorian individuals who were devoted to absolute secrecy, and to the study of occult and metaphysics. The Order studied ancient texts and focused heavily on ritual magick. The practices of the Order were kept in strictest secrecy and rising through the ranks required sponsorship.
The founders of the Order of the Golden Dawn were Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, William Wynn Westcott, and William Robert Woodman. There were many famous member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author of the Sherlock Homes stories), the actress Florence Farr, the Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne, the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, the Welsh author Arthur Machen, and the English author Evelyn Underhill, as well as the now infamous Aleister Crowley.
See also: Lesser Key of Solomon
See Witch, Green
A grimoire is generally a book created by a Witch to contain information about correspondences of herbs, stones and other materials for spells. For some Witches, the grimoire is the only book they will create. For others, a second book called a Book of Shadows may be created to contain inforamtion about specific spells or rituals.
Grounding refers to calmly focusing on your connection to the Earth. When grounding, I picture a silver cord running from my heart and mind, down through my body, through my feet, into the floor, down through the house and into the ground below. I picture it running like a long tap root from a tree into the bedrock. Feel yourself standing solidly on the groun. Feel your connection to the Earth.
Grounding and Centering are advised befroe and after magickal proactice.
The Greek Goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, moon, ghosts, and necromancy. She was the only child of the Titanes Perses and ASteria from whom she received her power over heaven, earth, and sea.
Hermetics as we know them today, come from a couple of sources: Occult Philosophy by Aggrippa, a 15th century set of 3 books that cover a vast array of esoteric knowledge, and The Kybalion: A Study of the Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece (authors unknown). Hermetics does not describe a specific occult school or tradition, but rather the acquisition of knowledge. The teachings of Hermes Trismegistus (a combination of the Greek God Hermes and the Egyptian God Thoth) are supposedly the source. Regardless of whether you believe in the source, the information in Hermetic texts is great source for continued study in magick.
A very popular goddess in ancient Greece, Hestia was the goddess of the hearth flame. She is a counterpart to the Celtic goddess Brigid.
See also: Walpurgis Night
American folk magic that is predominantly practiced in the southeastern United States based on African American magical traditions. Including rituals of protection, conjuration, herbal medicine, charming, etc.
Imbolc is generally celebrated in the Northern hemisphere on February 2. This holiday traces back to the rural farming traditions in Ireland and the British Isles. February is the time of the "lambing" when the sheep give birth. This is when Winter "breaks", and the very earliest signs of spring are evident. Imbolc is part of the Wheel of the Year celebrated by many traditions, including Wiccans and some Traditional and Eclectic Witches.
To “invoke” something / a spirit, you call it to come into you for the purposes of absorbing its power or attributes. Not to be confused with an “Evocation” which brings a power or spirit before you.
Kabbalah is the study of an esoteric school of thought in Jewish mysticism. There are many modern practitioners who use Kabbalah teachings, the celebreties who study it make up a who's who list in Hollywood.
The ultimate life-force energy. It is the source of creative power, spiritual gifts, and divine feminine energy.
See Witch, Kitchen
Lesser Key of Solomon
See also: Greater Key of Solomon
The liminal refers to the space or time "between". The liminal is the threshold, so a liminal time could be sunrise or sunset; a liminal place would be considered a place of power. Many practitioners of Witchcraft beleive that they enter the liminal when they are in circle. Some people also use this term to refer to a trance state.
This is a type of divination based on the written word, and often on handwriting.
See also: Summer Solstice
Divination by the use of precious or semi-precious stones, gemstones, or normal stones by either interpreting the light they reflect or how they fall.
The first of the harvest festivals, Lughnasadh is celebrated on August 1st. As part of the Wheel of the Year, this is one of the 8 major holidays celebrated by Traditional and Wiccan Witches, and by many other pagans around the world.
Mabon is the second harvest festival of the Wheel of the Year.
See also: Autumnal Equinox
The spelling of Magick with a K was (as far as I can discover) put forth in modern times first by Aleister Crowley. The use of the K was to distinguish ritual magick from parlor tricks done by magicians. Crowley found references in older manuscripts that used the K to reference high or ritual Magick and decided he liked the idea. He used it in his writing, and Gerald Gardener adopted it in his writing.
Today, many Witches use the K when writing about Magick to identify it was Witchcraft.
An act of witchcraft performed with the intention of causing damage, harm or injury to the target.
The table of Hebrew and Chaldee letters is a tabular display of the pronunciation, appearance, numerical values, transliteration, names, and symbolism of the twenty two letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. Used as a primary reference for basic understanding of the Hebrew alphabet as it applies to the Kabbalah.
The practice of mediating communication between spirits of the dead and living human beings.
Named after Franz A. Mesmer, it uses mainly non-verbal actions like gaze, fascination, passes (strokes), and other methods to instate trance and affect the body’s energy field.
The Morrigan is the face of war, destruction... in Irish mythology. She is a Goddess who is actively worshipped by many pagans today. The Morrigan
The practice of religious ecstasies (religious experiences during alternate states of consciousness), together with whatever ideologies, ethics, rites, myths, legends, and magic may be related to them.
Originally, this term referred to magickal practitioners who could "raise the dead" and create zombies. This was a belief popylarized by Voodo. Now Necromancy refers more generally to communicating with the dead, particularly for divination.
Refers to alternative phylosophy and religeon, generally different than traditional Western culture. Much of the focu in New Age is on spirituality, mysticism, holistic health and environmentalism. Many alternative healthcare practitioners are part of the New Age movement.
The study of numerology covers a lot of information. To see an introduction, see our blog post on Numerology 101.
Belief in or study of the action or influence of supernatural or paranormal powers or beings.
The interpretation of dreams in order to divine the future.
A device consisting of a small board or planchette, on legs that rests on a larger board marked with words, letters, and numbers. The fingers of spiritualists, mediums, or others rest lightly upon it as it moves over the board to answer questions, give messages, etc.
Polytheistic, nature worshipping religions of the pre-Christian/Judeo era. A pagan can follow any particular pantheon (or “set” of gods and goddesses - ie. Greek, Roman, Norse, etc.) that they choose. A pagan can be a witch, but not all witches are pagans.
The art or practice of interpreting a person’s character or predicting their future by examining the lines and other features of the hand, especially the palms and fingers.
A pendulum is a weighted item suspended from a chain or string. Pendulums are used for dowsing, and generally to find yes or no answers. I often us a pendulum while doing Tarot readings to help interpret the cards. Pendulums are also often used to find lost objects, or to point a direction. To use a pendulu, you hol one end and and focus on the question. Once th ependulum begins to move, you determine the answer based on the direction of the movement. Some people use a pendulum mat or board with yes or no written on it. I tend to see clockwise circles as yes and counter-clockwise as no. Side to side for me means unknown.
A five pointed star inside a circle. The points of the star represent the elements: Air, Earth, Fire and Water, with the top point representing Spirit. When a pentacle has the single point facing up, it represents Spirit as the most important "element". The circle represents eternity. For most pagans and Witches the direction of the star matters: pointing up represents "good" or "white" magick, while down represents "black" or dark magick. This isn't entirely true however, because Satanist often use the pentacle with the point facing down and they are not all focused on dark magick.
Often mistakenly used to refer to the Pentacle, a pentagram is a 5 pointed star shape. This does not refer to the star within the circle, but to the geometric shape itself of the star. Many people use the words pentacle and pentagram interchangeably.
Each day of the week is assigned an association to one of the original planets from the Chaldean order of planets. Sunday is associated with the Sun. Monday with the Moon, Tuesday with , Wednesday with Mercury, Thursday with Jupiter, Friday with and Saturday with Saturn. In many schools of thought, when preparing to do spells, you will find the working to be more successful and find less resistance to the work if you align the type of work with the planetary day. For example, abundance and money spells are best performed on Thursday, which corresponds to Jupiter, associated with wealth and growth.
In the study of older books of magic such as Agrippa and Abramelin, there are many references to Plantary Hours. The hours follow the Chaldean order of the planets, ad repeat in order. The sequence is: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, in that order. In many schools of thought, when preparing to do spells, you will find the working to be more successful and find less resistance to the work if you align the type of work with the planetary day (see above), and the planetary hour. For example, abundance and money spells are best performed on Thursday, which corresponds to Jupiter, associated with wealth and growth. And for the perfect symetry try performing the ritual at a Jupiter hour such as .
See also: Planetary Days
Quarters, Calling of
This practice refers to the practice of opening the ritual space in Wiccan rites. Some other traditions such as Celtic magick use similar methods to establish the presence of the representations of Air, Earth, Fire and Water.
The rule of three says that any magick you put out into the universe will be returned to you, times 3. This is a strong tennant of the Wiccan faith. The original, as far as I can find goes like this: "Ever mind the rule of three, three times what you send out returns to thee."
See also: The Witches Rede
The Witches Sabbats refer to holidays on the Wheel of the Year. There are 8 Sabbats thoughout the year, including (in the Northern Hemisphere) Imbolc (Feb 2), Ostara (Spring Equinox), Beltane (May 1), Litha (Summer Solstice), Lughnasadh (August 1), Mabon (Autumnal Rquinox), Samhain (October 31st), and Yule (Winter Solstice).
October 31st, also known as “Halloween". On the calendar, this night falls exactly opposite Walpurgisnacht (May Eve, April 31st). Celebrated by almost all Witches. Much like Walpurgisnacht, this is a time when the veil between the worlds is very thin. Both Samhain and Walpurgisnacht are a perfect time for ancestor communication and divination.
Arguably the most recognized method of scrying is the use of the crystal ball. The term itself refers to gazing into a reflective surface to see the future. Witches use many things for scrying: water, black glass surfaces, convex mirrors, the aforementioned crystals and even open flame from a candle or a fire. Staring into the object and letting themselves relax, some WItches begin to see visions of what will be in the future.
See Book of Shadows and Grimoire
Similar to to an amulet, a talisman is an object that has been charmed for a specific magickal purpose.
See also: Amulet
Refers to tea leaf reading. Generally the tea dregs in the bottom of the tea cup are read to see the future.
The triple moon is a sacred symbol for many Witches. It refers to a full circle in the center, with a crescent moon to either side facing to the left and right. It represents the phases of the Moon as it moves from waxing, to full and to waning each month.
Triple Moon Goddess
As the triple moon is the three phases of the Moon, the triple moon Goddess refers to the three faces of the Goddess: the Maiden symbolized by the waxing crescent moon; the Mother, symbolized by the full moon; and the Crone, symbolized by the waning crescent and the dark moon. There are many examples of this type of trinity, one is Maiden: Artemis, Mother: Selene and Crone: Hecate.
The Roman goddess of the hearth, Veta was a Roman counterpart to the Celtic goddess Brigid and the Greek Hestia. Vesta was held in a place of honor in the ancient Roman home. Among things sacred to Vesta were the tasks of housekeeping and fire making. Vesta's temple were guarded by her priestesses, the Vestal Virgins.
April 31, also known as “May Eve” or “Hexennacht”. The direct translation is “Witches’ Night.” On the calendar, this night falls exactly opposite Samhain (Halloween). Celebrated primarily be Traditonal Witches. In German legend, this was beleived to tbe night when Witches traveled to the Brocken mountain, to celebrate all night and welcome the arrival of Spring. Much like Samhain (October 31st), this is a time when the veil between the worlds is very thin. Both Walpurgisnacht and Samhain are a perfect time for ancestor communication and divination.
See also: Beltane
A ward is a protective spell. Setting wards on your home for example, is a way to set a protective safety net or "alarm" system. If your wards are crossed by someon of ill intent, you may feel uneasy or find yourself having a little shiver. Wards are an excellent early waarning you can create magickally.
Wheel of the Year
The Wheel of the Year refers to the Witches holidays, celebrating as the seasons turn. The holidays are largely based on pagan Irish holidays, although some harken back to Germany as well.
Wicca is the largest group of practicing pagans today. To be Wiccan refers to following a specific philosophy of magickal practice, with specific rules for ritual. Wicca has very strict rules about colors of candles, calling the quarters. In Wicca, specific tools are used such as the Chalice, the Athame (ritual knife) and the Pentacle, to represent the elements on the altar during ritual.
Wiccans beleive that when they cast their circle and begin their ritual, they are stepping into a space between the worlds - the liminal - a beleif they share with Traditional Witchcraft. This is in contrast to practitioners like the Druids, who beleive that their circle is sacred, but is in the here and now, on this plane, not between the worlds.
Counter-clockwise. The direction of casting a circle, or moving energy is critically important in some spells. For example, a kitchen Witch might stir a soup Widdershins, while focusing on removing illness from the one(s) who consume it. When closing a magick circle, you often go around it Widdershins to release the energy as you close your spell. The opposite of Widdershins is Deosil, which is used to attract energy or things.
See also Deosil.
Thought to be the first Witches, the wise women were the keepers of herbal knowledge, hedge magick and a variety of spells and charms. The wise women tended to be the healers and wise folk of their communities.
See also: Cunning Men
A Witch is a tricky term to define. Generally, a Witch practices magick. Some Witches are pagan - meaning they beleive in pagan gods. Some other Witches are atheist, and still others are practicing with the bounds of major religeons. Some Witches practice herbal magick, or work with stones or essential oils, some work with all of it. Some are Ecelectic, others are extremely Traditional. Some belong to formalized groups, wuch as Wicca, while others are solitary practitioners.
A cottage Witch is one who uses nature based witchery. The practice of the Cottage Witch tends to be heavily focused on the hearth and home. Tools and materials for the Cottage Witch may have a more practical, multi-purpose vibe.
An eclectic Witch is one who takes information and practices from multiple other traditions and makes them part of their practice. I am an eclectic Witch. I own (and sometimes use) a chalice, and athame and a wand, borrowed from Wicca. I use red and green candles for the Goddess and God, in keeping with Celtic magick. The majority of my spell-craft is done simply and uses herbs, flowers and roots, as a Green Witch might.
A witch who adopts ideas and practices from multiple traditions and incorporates them into their own practice. An Eclectic Witch might use a ritual chalice and Athame generally associated with Wicca, but might not use the ritual calling of the directions and other classic Wiccan ritual components. Instead they might simply ground and center themselves and focus on a single candle. Eclectic Witchcraft is extremely personal and varies widely from one individual Witch to the next.
A Green Witch is someone who practices magick focused strongly on the natural world. They often have many plants around them, and a garden - even if it's a tiny one - could be their favorite place. Green Witchcraft works with the elements, plants and trees.
A Kitchen Witch has some things in common with the Cottage Witch, in that they are very focused on hearth and home. The Kitchen Witch however, focused deeply on cooking up magick by charming food and enchanting teas for those who they welcome into their space. The Kitchen Witch tends to be a quiet, grounded type who practices using common household tools, and cooking herbs and spices.
Witchcraft is the practice of magick...but there are many, many different types.
The Witches Rede is from the Ticca religeon and states: "An it harm none, do what ye will." The intention being that any spell craft should harm no one. This can be taken very literally in some traditions, and others leave it completely behind. Think of it as Witchcrafts "Golden Rule" of do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
See also: The Rule of Three
ALso known as the Winter Solstice. This is the shortest day of the year, usually around December 21st. Yule is a Wiccan Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year, but is also celebrated by other traditions as it was sacred to the Celts and other groups in Traditional Witchcraft.
Refers to a decorative log used either literally on the fire, or a smaller purley decorative element decorated with holly and ivy and evergreen boughs. The Yule Log would have 3 candles in it and is often be used as a centerpeice for winter celebrations.