Pagan Terms and Definitions

Adept:  The state acquired by an initiate, particularly in Ceremonial Magic, when material gain is no longer desired, and spiritual growth has grown to such a degree that Nature is at one's command.

Air:  Elemental energy representing East, sunrise, yellow/red, childhood, intellect, thought, mind, conscious mind, power, conflict, victory.

Akasha(ah-kah-shuh) The fifth element. An omnipresent spiritual power permeating the universe from which the Elements formed.

Altar:  A flat surface or table generally made of all natural materials and without metal fasteners for holding the supplies, statues, Book of Shadows, or other tools used during ritual.

Amulet:  Natural, empowered object which may be worn for protection.

Arcane:  Requiring secret or mysterious knowledge, only understood or known by a few.

Astral Plane:  An energy level of existence lying outside the physical or mental planes of reality; an energy that is "felt".

Astral Projection:  Moving spirit energy from the physical body through space and/or time to other locations while the physical body is asleep or in trance.

Astrology: Method of divination in which one studies celestial positions (Sun, Moon, Planets) and their movements to predict their influences on human behavior.

Athame (ah-thuh-may) Symbol of Elemental Air, ritual double-edged knife of the Craft, representing the energy of the God and used to direct energy in magic workings. Generally made with a black handle and not used for cutting.
Aura:  An energy field of multiple layers surrounding all things. It may be visually seen or sensed.

Bane:  Poisonous or destructive to life. Herbs like henbane are examples of baneful substances.

Banishing:  Casting away something undesired.

Benediction:  The closing of a ritual with blessings given and received, and acknowledging the peace of the Lord and Lady.

Besom (bee-zum) Broom used to sweep away all negative energy upon circle casting.

Blue Moon:  The second Full Moon in a Solar month.

Bolline (bow-lean) Generally a white handled knife for practical uses in the Craft, such as cutting and inscribing objects. Some opt to use only the Athame for all purposes.

Book of Shadows (BOS):  Handwritten personal book consisting of rituals, recipes, spells, deity associations, code of ethics, tool descriptions, and other information characteristic of a Witch's practice.

Cauldron:  A container, typically a cast iron vessel, used to contain spell crafting material or brews. Represents the fruitfulness of the Goddess.

Ceremonial Magic:  System of magic created between the 14th and 16th centuries in Europe, based on Paganism and the Hebrew magical system of Kabbalah.

Chakras (sha-kruh) Energy centers in the body.

Charge:  To imbue objects with energy, for a purpose.

Charms:  Objects infused with magical energy and carried to achieve a goal, such as protection, or to draw love or money.

Cleansing:  Removing chaotic and mixed energies from an object. Sea salt and spring water are best for cleansing.

Cone of Power:  Energy raised in a concentrated area or within a Circle for directing magic. When a cone of power is at its peak it is released and directed toward achieving a goal.

Consecration:  A ritual of purification and dedication. Witches typically consecrate their tools, for example.

Cosmic Lemniscate:  The number 8 on its side to represent Infinity. May be drawn in the air over the Altar during Circle Casting.

Cross-Quarters:  Sabbats of Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh, also known as the White or Greater Sabbats.

Cup or Chalice:  Symbol of Elemental Water used during ritual to contain a beverage.

Deflection Magic:  Magic used to diffuse malevolence and ill will of others by randomly dispersing and dissipating the negative energies.

Deosil(day-o-sil) Clockwise movement.

Directive Magic:  Spell method in which the energy of one object is moved to influence another. Energy may also be raised, directed and sent to accomplish a goal.

Divination: The art of obtaining information by supernatural means in order to foretell the future. Premonitions, prophecies, omens, meditation, and focused methods of divining may be used.

Drawing Down the Moon:  A ritual of drawing energy from the Moon into water to be blessed. Also a ritual of drawing the Goddess for communion and prophecy.

Earth:  Elemental representing North, Midnight, green/black, old age, wisdom, strength, business, money matters.

Esbat(ez-baht) Lunar celebrations of Witches during the Full and New Moons.

Esoteric:  Intended for or understood by only a particular group, limited to a small circle.

Etheric Plane (eth-ear-ic) An energy level of existence not on the physical plane, nor on the Astral Plane, but in between where it acts as a connecting passage.

Evoke:  Calling up spirits or nonphysical entities to appear either visibly or attend invisibly.

Exorcising Magic:  Magic that casts away negative energies and prevents their return so that positive energies may enter.

Familiar:  A Witch's animal or spirit helper in magical workings.

Feng Shui:  (feng-shway) Environmental science with formula which determines the rise and fall of energy in a given time span of a person or building.

Fire:  Elemental representing South, noon, red/white, youth, drive, energy, passion, ambition, career, and creativity.

Fume:  Like smudging, it is the dispensing of smoky incense in an area for cleansing.

Grimoire(grim-wahr) Books of magical formulas created by Ceremonial Magicians between the 12th and 16th centuries in Europe containing elaborate rituals based on Paganism and the Hebrew Kabbalah. Contain names of power, magical seals, sigils, and lists of correspondences.

I Ching:  A Chinese numerological system based on hexagrams akin to astrology. Theme that all things run their course and change is immutable.

Invoke:  An appeal or prayer to a specific Deity to request appearance or attendance during a ritual. Also a mystical practice to produce an awareness of the Deity within.

Karma:  A Hindu idea of soul retribution by which the actions of this life will dictate the nature of the next reincarnation. Many refer to Karma as the equal and opposite consequence to a person for an action, deed, or thought returning up to three times more powerful upon them.

Lesser Sabbats:  Those of the Solstices and Equinoxes including Yule, Ostara, Litha, and Mabon. Also referred to as the Green Sabbats and the Quarters of the Wheel of the Year.

Libation:  Ritual offering of food and drink to the God and Goddess.

Magic:  Manifesting changes by raising, focusing, directing, releasing and sending energy. Many spell the word with a "k", as in "Magick" simply as a way to distinguish it from the tricks of smoke and mirrors used by magicians.

Mannuz(mon-new) The Self, as part of the Universe and the Divine.

Metaphysics:  Philosophy concerned with the nature of being, truth.

Mystic:  Concerned with direct communication of the soul with God/Nature; of or relating to mysteries or esoteric rites.

Numerology:  Study of occult meanings of numbers and their influence on human life.

Numinous:  Spiritually elevated, sublime, concerned with the spirit rather than the mind and body; filled with a sense of the presence of divinity; appealing to the higher emotions or to the aesthetic sense.

Occult:  From the Latin word "occultus" meaning hidden or secret, it is the "knowledge of the hidden", especially as it relates to the "knowledge of the paranormal"; the opposite of "knowledge of the measurable", also known as "scientific knowledge".

Old Religion:  Shamanic and Nature-based religions of pre-Christian Europe.

Oracle:  A person (as a priestess of ancient Greece) through whom a deity is believed to speak; a shrine in which a deity reveals hidden knowledge or the divine purpose through such a person; an answer or decision given by an oracle; a person giving wise or authoritative decisions or opinions; an authoritative or wise expression or answer.

Pagan:  The "rustic" or Folk Religion of the country dwellers who kept the traditions of the Old Religion during the conversion to the New Religion. In modern times, a Pagan is anyone who either has no religion at all, or who is not Christian, Jewish, or Muslim.

Pentacle:  A five-pointed star in a circle and symbol of Elemental Earth.

Pentagram:  A five-pointed star.

Quarters:  The Sabbats of Yule, Ostara, Litha, and Mabon.

Rade:  "Ride" referring to the wild ride of the Hunter gathering the souls of the departed. Passing of the Wild Hunt or Rade is demonstrated by stormy weather and fast-moving, black clouds in the sky.

Reiki:  Process by which hands are laid on energy centers of the body to enable the occurrence of healing.

Ritual:  A magical or devotional ceremony in which energy is raised for Divine communion and/or for conducting spell work and magic.

Runes:  Old Teutonic and Norse alphabet symbols associated with magic meanings. Often used in magical workings. Rune-casting is a form of divination.

Sabbat (sah-baht) Eight holy days  representing the four solar and four agricultural celebrations.

Scrying:  Psychic divination in which images are seen within a magical tool such as a black mirror, clouds, smoke, or a crystal ball.

Shadowland:  The Underworld realm of rest for spirits who have ended their incarnations in the Physical World; also the world where spirits rest before moving into the Summerland.

Sigil (sidge-il) Design drawn or engraved for magical power, such as a Planetary Seal or Square.

Summerland:  The Underworld Realm for the rested spirit to enjoy paradise, where the spirit may remain or move on to rebirth.

Supernatural: Related to or attributed to phenomena that cannot currently be explained by natural laws or scientific methods.

T'ai Chi:  A Chinese practice that combines martial arts, exercise and meditation to increase self-awareness, strengthen and relax the body.

Talisman:  An object engraved with magical symbols to bring good fortune and ward off misfortune. Similar to Charm.

Tarot: (tare-oh) A special pack of cards, now used mainly for divination or fortune-telling, usually consisting of 78 cards (4 suits of 14 cards each (the minor arcana), and 22 other cards (the major arcana)).

Vatic:  Prophetic or oracular.

Wand:  Symbol of Elemental Fire and a tool for gathering and transferring energy in the performance of magic.

Water:  Elemental representing West, sunset, blue/gray, maturity, emotion, intuition, psychic ability, love, subconscious mind, and feelings.

Wicca:  A polytheistic religion revering Nature, the God and Goddess, and the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Magic working is often a part of Wicca.

Widdershins:  Counterclockwise movement.

Witch:  A practitioner of magic, or Craft of the Wise, especially utilizing herbs, stones, and natural objects to combine with their own energies. A Witch may or may not worship Deities in a religious sense.
Inspired by her Native American roots and Bradbury lineage, Polly Taskey is a writer and grandmother in the northern USA.  She shares her wisdom and pagan interests through Pagan by Design and The Moonlit Grove
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