GLOSSARY OF WICCAN TERMS
Akasha, Akashic principle -- The all-pervading spiritual 'ether', usually envisaged as violet in color.
Akashic Records -- The 'recordings' left in the Akasha by every event. Advanced occultists develop the gift of retrieving past events by 'reading the Akashic Records."
Alexandrians -- Witches initiated by (or stemming from those initiated by) Alex and Maxine Sanders. An offshoot of Gardnerian witchcraft, though founded independently.
Amulet -- An object worn as a protective charm against evil. (See also talisman.)
Ankh -- The crux ansata or looped cross, Egyptian hieroglyph for 'life'. Widely used as an occult symbol of the Life Principle.
Aradia -- Widely used Wiccan name for the Goddess, derived from the Tuscan witches' usage as recorded in C. G. Leland's Aradia -- the Gospel of the Witches.
Astral Body -- The "psychic" double of the physical body, consisting of substance more tenuous than matter, but grosser than mind or spirit.
Astral Plane -- The level of reality intermediate between the physical and the mental. It is the level of the emotions and instincts.
Astral Projection -- The transferring of consciousness from the physical to the astral body, so that one perceives and moves about on the astral plane while the physical body remains inert. It may be involuntary or deliberate.
Athame -- The witch's black-handled knife. Its use is purely ritual (for which purposes it is interchangeable with the Sword) and it is never used for actual cutting (cf. White-handled Knife). It is always a personal tool, belonging to one witch.
Aura -- The force-field which surrounds the human body, the inner bands at least of which are Etheric (q.v.) in substance. The aura is visible to sensitives, who can learn from its color, size and structure much about the person's health, emotional state and spiritual development.
Bealtaine, Bealtuinn, Beltane -- The May Eve/May Day Great Sabbat, normally celebrated on the night of 30 April. The original meaning is "Bel-fire", after the Celtic or proto-Celtic God variously known as Bel, Beli, Balar, Balor or Belenus. Bealtaine is the Irish Gaelic form, Bealtuinn the Scottish Gaelic, and Beltane the usual anglicized form. In Irish it also means the Month of May, and in Scottish, May Day.
Book of Shadows -- A traditional book of rituals and instructions, copied by hand by each new witch from that of his initiator. Different forms are passed on by the various Wiccan traditions; the Gardnerian Book of Shadows has been mostly widely and publicly quoted and misquoted.
Burning Times -- A term used by some witches for the period of persecution of witches (actual or alleged) which reached its height in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Used in reference to England, it is in fact a misnomer; English witches were customarily hanged, not burned, though they were burned in Scotland and on the Continent. In this country, 18 witches were hung, and one pressed to death in Salem, Ma, near where I live, in 1692. The sad fact is, that none of these were witches, they were all Christians who someone (a neighbor) was angry with.
Cernunnos, Cerunnos -- The only known name of the Celtic Horned God; it is much used by witches, in the Cernunnos form.
Cerridwen -- A Welsh Goddess-name, much used to represent the Mother or Crone Aspects.
Coven -- An organized group of witches, meeting and working regularly together.
Covenstead -- A coven's normal place of meeting.
Craft -- The Witches' name for the religion and practice of witchcraft, and its followers.
Cup, Chalice -- One of the four elemental tools, representing the Water element.
Deosil -- In a clockwise or sun-wise direction (Cf. Widdershins.)
Familiar -- An animal kept by a witch for the psychic help it can give; cats, dogs and horses in particular react very sensitively to negative influences, supplying early warning or corroborative evidence. Their human 'owners' (or rather, partners) are careful to give them psychic protection in return. Certain kinds of deliberately created and maintained thought-forms may also be called familiars.
Fetch -- A young boy, usually 12-15 years of age, who acts for the High Priest and Priestess in locating things either within or without the covenstead.
Fivefold Kiss, Fivefold Salute -- The witches' ritual salute, man to woman, or woman to man, with kisses (1) on each foot, (2) on each knee (3) on the lower belly, (4) on each breast and (5) on the lips - really eight kisses in all. I is only used within the Circle.
Gardnerians -- Witches initiated by (or stemming from those initiated by) Gerald Gardner or one of his High Priestesses. There are also many witches today who practice the Gardnerian system but whose initiation does not ultimately derive from Gardner's coven, and it would be sectarian not to call them Gardnerians.
Great Rite -- In Wicca, the major ritual of male-female polarity, which is also the third-degree initiation rite. It can be either symbolic, in the presence of the coven, or 'actual' - i.e., involving intercourse - in which case it is always conducted in private. In our tradition, only a married couple or established lovers may perform the 'actual' Great Rite together.
Grimoire -- A (usually mediaeval) book or 'grammar' of magical procedures.
Handfasting -- A Wiccan wedding ceremony
Hereditaries -- Witches who claim a continuous family tradition and practice of the Craft, from long before the current revival. I am a Hereditary witch, my family having been involved in Wicca for over 400 years. However, this is a family tradition, and therefore cannot be taught to anyone else except a son or daughter or spiritually adopted son or daughter. SINCE I AM CHILDLESS, AND THE LAST OF MY FAMILY, MY TRADITION WILL END WITH MY DEATH.
High Priest -- (1) The male leader of a coven, partner of the High Priestess who is the overall leader. (2) Any second-degree or third-degree male witch. (The distinction is between a coven function and a personal rank.)
High Priestess -- (1) The female leader (and overall leader) of a coven. (2) Any second-degree female witch. (The distinction is between a coven function and a personal rank.)
Hiving Off -- The process whereby two or more members leave their parent coven to form their own coven. A relationship is continued during the first year between the two covens, afterward, no further communication is allowed. The High Priestess of the old coven, once two or more covens have hived off, becomes a Wiccan Queen, and wears slash marks of the appropriate number on her sleeve.
Incarnation -- The manifestations of a living entity into physical form; specifically, any one of the earthly lives of an immortal human individuality in the continuing Reincarnation process.
Individuality -- The immortal, reincarnating part of a human being, consisting of the Upper Spiritual, Lower Spiritual and Upper Mental levels; contrasted with the Personality, which consists of the Lower Mental, Upper Astral, Lower Astral, Etheric and physical levels, and which only persists for one Incarnation, a new Personality being built up around the immortal Individuality for each Incarnation.
Karma -- The 'spiritual bank balance' carried by the Individuality from one Incarnation to the next. The literal meaning of the word is 'action' or ' cause and effect'.
Left -- Hand Path Generally used to mean black-magic working, but this is really a corruption of its original Tantric meaning.
Magic(k) -- The Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will' (Aleister Crowley). Crowley added the 'k' to distinguish true magick from the debased, escape-from-reality concept of magic, and many occultists have adopted this usage.
Magus -- In general, a male occult adept. In Wiccan usage, a second-degree or third-degree male witch.
Maiden -- In a coven, the Assistant High Priestess for ritual purposes, who may or may not be the High Priestess's deputy in leadership. In earlier times, the title of Maiden was sometimes applied to the leader whom we would now call the High Priestess. In my tradition, the Maiden must be a young girl, 12 - 15 years (a virgin) when she is appointed to that position.
Pentacle -- One of the four elemental tools; an engraved disc representing the Earth's element. It is normally the centerpiece of a Wiccan Altar.
Pentagram -- A five-pointed star. An upright pentagram (ie; with a single point uppermost) represents (1) a human being (astride with arms outstretched) or (2) the four Elements governed by the fifth, Spirit. An inverted pentagram (ie; with a single point downwards) represents Spirit still subservient to the four Elements; it is generally seen as a black magick symbol, except when it is used as the symbol of a second-degree initiate, the implication there being that he or she is still on the way to full development.
Planes -- The various levels of being and activity - Spiritual, Mental, Astral, Etheric and Physical.
Priest, Priestess -- Every initiated witch is regarded as a priest or priestess, the priest-function being seen as inherent in every human being who is prepared to activate it.
Reincarnation -- The process, generally believed in by witches and many others, whereby each immortal human Individuality is reborn to life after life on Earth until all of its Karma is worked out and balanced, and it is sufficiently highly developed to progress to a higher state.
Skyclad -- The witches word for 'ritually naked'
Soul-Mates -- Individuals who are continuously involved with each other in successive Incarnations, becoming rather like a pair of binary stars. Also known as twin souls.
Summerlands -- A spiritualist word for the Heaven which souls enter after death. Often used by believers in Reincarnation to denote the astral stage of rest after Physical death, before the Individuality withdraws from all the lower levels to prepare for its next Incarnation.
Widdershins -- In an anti-clockwise direction, against the sun. (Deosil is clockwise motion.)
Witch Queen -- A High Priestess from whose coven at least two other covens have hived off.