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Wiccan Basics

The God and Goddess
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   Horned God
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Wiccan Rede
The Law of Return
Magic and Spellcasting
The Circle
The Pentagram
Book of Shadows
The Elements
Working Tools
Wheel of the Year

Craft Names

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Liturgy, Laws & Dogmas
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Myth and History
Why Bad History Matters
Myth of Matriarchy
The Really Old Religion
   Murray's Unlikely Theory
Power of Pagan Women
The Christian Church
The Burning Times
The Real History of Wicca
Wiccans, Witches,
Pagans and Magicians

What is a Fluffy Bunny?


Here is a list of quick definitions of commonly used terms on this site. Links are generally offered for more complete explanations.

Alexandrian Wicca - The Tradition founded by Alex Sanders. For many years Sanders insisted he was a Hereditary Witch, taught by his grandmother, but he eventually confessed to basing his Tradition upon Gardnerian teachings. It is one of the British-Traditional paths.

Asatru - Sometimes known as Odinism, although many Asatruar now reject the later term for a variety of reasons, including a non-focus on the god Odin. A Pagan religion based around old Norse traditions. Not Wiccan. A small number of Asatru/Odinist groups are dedicated to white-supremacy, and they are frequently unwelcome in both Pagan communities and the wider Asatru community. (see Wiccans, Witches, and Pagans)

Athame - Ritual dagger. One of nine Working Tools. The term, so far as can be determined, was created by Gerald Gardner, although it may have been based on a similar, obscure word.

B.C.E - Before Common Era. Alternate dating method corresponding to B.C., or Before Christ.

British Traditional Wicca - An umbrella term encompassing several lineaged and oathbound Traditions, of which the Gardnerians and Alexandrians are the most well known. (see Organization)

Burning Times - Erroneously applied to the period of the witch-hunts, or even to the entire Christian period up until modern times. Based on the myth that the Church was hunting members of the Old Religion. (see Old Religion, Burning Times)

C.E. - Common Era. Alternate dating method corresponding to A.D., Anno Domini, or the Year of our Lord. This is becoming more and more standard in academic works as Westerners begin to more freely acknowledge that they share this planet with more than four billion non-Christians who really do not care when Jesus was born.

Ceremonial magician - Magical practitioners who stress exact performance of complex rituals involving systems of correspondances. Well known groups include the Order of the Golden Dawn, Thelema, and the OTO. (see Cermonial Magicians)

Cross-quarter days - The Sabbats falling between the solstices and equinoxes - Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine, and Lughnassadh. They begin the seasons and are also called the major Sabbats or the Fire Festivals. They are named after Celtic festivals, although celebrations may vary significantly from their original forms, purpose and meaning.

Coven - A tightly knit group of Wiccans who regularly worship together and generally require initiation. (see Organization)

Crowley, Aleister - Occultist and ceremonial magician from the turn of the century. Founder of Thelema. Considered a major influence (at least indirectly) on Gerald Gardner, although he has no direct connections to Wicca.

Dianic Wicca - Tradition centered on women's mysteries. There are also non-Wiccan, Dianic traditions, and the term "Dianic Wicca" has been fading from use as its follows find other terms that may better describe their beliefs and practices.

Druidry - A Pagan religion based at least partially on old Celtic traditions. Not Wiccan. (see Wiccans, Witches, and Pagans)

Eclectic Wicca - The branch of Wicca including those seeking a path that does not fall into the realms of the more organized Traditions or who have never had the opportunity to explore another Tradition. Eclectic Wiccans are most often Solitaries. (see Organization)

Cowan - Someone who has not been initiated. May or may not be used derogatorily.

Craft - Erroneously thought to be short for witchcraft, this term is actually Masonic in origin, as in the craft of masonry that Masons were originally employed within. Many witches and Wiccans continue to refer to their practices as the Craft.

Dedication - A private declaration of religious intent between you and the gods. Some authors erroneously refer to this as self-initiation. (see Organization)

Equinox - Roughly March 22 and September 22, when day and night are equal in length. They are celebrated (in the northern hemisphere) as the Sabbats of Eostara and Mabon. (see Sabbats)

Esbat - Coven meeting that's not on a Sabbat. Often timed with the full or new moon, but not required. The word is found in a single witch-trial document involving a torture-induced confession. In Basque. It may have been a corruption of Sabbat. The modern usage is based on the writings of Margaret Murray.

Feri Tradition - The Tradition founded by Victor Anderson. Some previously referred to it as Feri Wicca, but it is solidly its own religion. Also spelled Faery or Faerie. Very shamanistic. Has nothing to do with the images of cute little winged people the name might invoke.

Gardner, Gerald - Founder of Wicca in the 1950s. (see History)

Goddess worship / Goddess spirituality - Pagan religions in which the feminine aspect is dominant. Not Wiccan.

Gardnerian Wicca - The Tradition founded by Gerald Gardner. (see Organization)

High Magic - Historically, the "educated" forms of magic - alchemy, astrology, numerology, Qaballah, etc. These forms of magic were considered to be spiritually enlightening, allowing the practitioner to grow closer to God. (see Ceremonial Magicians for discussion of high vs. low magic)

Hereditary Witch - Someone who has passed the skills of witchcraft down through his family.

Initiation - To be formally accepted into a Tradition or coven. (see Organization)

Judeo-Christian - One who follows Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. These three religions share a considerable amount of mythology and belief. Some refer to these religions as the Abrahamic religions, because all three can trace their lines back to Abraham in the Old Testament. Christ was himself a Jew, and Jews see themselves as the Abraham's descendants. Muslims recognise him as the ansestor of both Jewish prophets (which they recognise as prophets) and the prophet Mohammed, who founded Islam.

Low magic - Folk magic, generally practical (as opposed to spiritually enlightening) in nature. Historically, the largely sympathetic magic practiced by the peasant class. (see Ceremonial Magicians for discussion of high vs. low magic)

Neo-Pagan - Issac Bonewits divided paganism into three sub-classes: Paleo-Paganism, Meso-Paganism, and Neo-Paganism. (see Pagans for Bonewit's definition) Many Neo-Pagans simply describe themselves as Pagans, while Meso-Pagans and Paleo-Pagans generally do not.

Pagan - When captitalized, it is anebulous term including a number of modern religions influenced by older practices. All Wiccans are Pagans. When not capitalized, pagan simply means non-Christian or non-Judeo-Christian and is frequently (although not nearly always) at least mildly derogatory. (see Pagans)

Sabbat - Any one of the eight Wiccan holidays. The solstices and equinoxes comprise the minor Sabbats. The cross-quarter days make up the major Sabbats. (see Sabbats)

Self-Initiation - While some books (particularly older ones) suggest that Solitaries perform a self-initiation ceremony, the modern community generally accepts that this is a non-sensical term, as initiation is something distinctly performed upon upon another. The term Solitaries now use is dedication. (see Organization)

Skyclad - The practice of doing rituals in the nude. Required in some Traditions, but not for all of Wicca.

Solitary Practitioners - Those Wiccans which generally practice alone, either by choice or because of a lack of access to appropriate covens. (see Organization)

Solstice - Roughly December 22 and June 22, when day and night are at their most extreme lengths. They are held (in the northern hemisphere) as the sabbats of Yule and Litha. (see Sabbats)

Strega - Italian witch, generally not considered Wiccan.

Tradition / Trad - Denominations of Wicca or witchcraft. (see Organization)

Warlock - Literally, "oath-breaker". Male Wiccans and witches do not use this term. They are Wiccans and witches, just like everyone else.

Wheel of the Year - The cycle of eight Sabbats, depicted as a circle as we view time as cyclical, not linear. (see Sabbats)

Witchcraft - The practice of certain forms of magic, whether it has religious overtones or not. (see Witches)

© Catherine Noble Beyer, 2002 - 2011   *     Awards