Glossary of Pagan Words

These are just some of the words you may have come across on this site, and on other sites.  I will add more later. Please Note:  The word "Witch" is used here to describe anyone who is Pagan.. please do not be offended by it's use.


A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Athame - A witches black handled ritual knife.  It is never used to cut anything.  It is used to direct energy and occasionally to scribe runes and other symbols into candles.  It is also used to dip into water to represent the union of the Goddess and the God in the great rite.  The Magick knife.

Adept - Someone who through study and experience is highly proficient in something.

Akashic Records - Records kept on the Astral plane of each and every human life and all our past lives.  It is believed you can access these records to look into you past lives and the future.

Amulet - A Magickally charged object for protection (different to a Talisman)

Astral Plane - The plane that interpenetrates and reflects our physical plane, but operates on a higher frequency.  Magickal workings are done in the Astral plane to effect the physical plane.  When casting a circle you do soon the Astral Plane to protect you on both the Astra and Physical planes.

Astral Projection - Projecting your Astral body (Soul/Spirit) out from the physical body.  This is sometimes done in dreams where the dreamer has dreams of flying that seem "Sooooooo real"



Balefire - A fire lit for a magical purpose.

Bane - Bad.  That which destroys life.

Besom - A witches broom, usually round.  Over which a couple jump during a handfasting or used to "sweep" away bad energy.  It is never used to actually sweep the floor it instead sweeps negativity away.

Bolline - A white handled knife used to cut herbs and other plants for ritual work, the Working knife.

Book Of Shadows - (B.O.S)  The book which contains all the magical information, spells, rites, herbal information, herbal recipes of a Witch.  Sometimes called a Grimoire.  This has been replaced by Computer folders and disks (F.O.S, D.O.S) in some cases.  (And webpages ;))



Cairn - A pillar of rocks.  Usually 9 or 11.

Call - Another term for Invoking

Cauldron - Preferably a cast iron pot, but even a bowl can do.  It represents the Goddess and if often filled with flowers and water.  It is often used for scrying.

Censer - A heat proof container in which incense is burnt.  It represents the Element Air.

Chakra - "Wheel of light"  There are 7 main Chakras in the body, Crown, 3rd Eye, Throat, Heart, Solar Plexus, Navel, Base. They are energy centres of the body.

Clairaudience - Being able to hear messages

Clairsentient - Being able to "feel"  or "Know"  messages  (Also called the power of Prophecy).  Sometimes  a Clairsentient person can perceive smells, taste or touch.

Clairvoyant - Being able to see messages through inner sight.

Cleansing - Removing negativity, either on the Astral (using white light etc.)  or on the physical (Using Salt etc.)

Cone of Power - The energy that is raised in a Magick Circle.  It is done by chanting/singing/drumming/walking etc.  The energy is focused on a goal, and then built up and then sent out through the top of the circle into the Astral to work it's power.

Consecration - A process of cleansing an object and blessing it in the names of the Goddess and/or God for Magickal/religious use.

Corn dolly - A dolly made from corn husks (some books I have read say that American "Corn" is actually wheat).  A symbol of the Goddess, especially at Beltane.

Coven - A group of 3 or more Witches, traditionally 13, who get together for Esbats and other rituals/meetings.  Usually led by a female (High Priestess) and a male (High Priest).  Members of a coven are referred to as Priests or Priestesses.

Covenstead - The meeting place of a coven (if not outdoors), or the High Priestess's house.



Deosil - Also called "Sunwise" The direction the sun travels in the sky.  In the Northern Hemisphere it is Clockwise, in the Southern hemisphere it is Anti-clockwise.

Divination - To see into the future using tools such as a cauldron, tarot cards, I Ching, Runes etc.

Divining - The use of Divination  (ie. "He was Divining using his Tarot cards)



Elementals - the personification of the Elements.  Earth = Gnomes, Fire = Salamanders (Some books have said they are fire spirits some have said they are the lizards..) Water = Undines (Mermaids and Mermen), Air = Sylphs.  For Grecco-Romans they are the 4 Winds, and for Ceremonials they are the 4 Archangels.

Esbat - A Witches gathering that is not on a Sabbat, usually occurring on a full or dark moon.

Ether - AKA Aether.  An intangeable material substance as opposed to a spiritual substance.  It often refers to an unseen vaporous substance, as well as the occult counterpart of an atmosphere.  Sometimes called "Spirit"

Etheric - Composed of Ether

Evocation - Calling up spirits.  (Not an Invocation)



Familiar - An animal with psychic or Magickal abilities that is used by a Witch to aid them in their Magickal Workings.


Geomancy - The art of reading the earth's energy and aligning yourself and your works to take best advantage of it.

Grimore - A work book containing ritual formulae, information and magical properties of natural objects and preparation of ritual equipment.  Some people call their spell, ritual and magical information books "Books Of Shadows" and the herbal information a "Herbal Grimore".  Other people call the whole lot a Book Of Shadows, or the whole lot a Grimoire.

Grounding - Clearing and releasing excess energy.  To focus back into the physical after Magickal and Psychic workings.

Guardians - Another name for the Elementals



Handfasting - A pagan wedding.  Couples are "handfasted" together for a specified number of days/years (Usually a year and a day) After which a "handparting" may take place if they wish to part or another handfasting for another period of time.  Some people have a registered Marriage Celebrant perform the Handfasting so that it will be a legally binding marriage in the eyes of the law.

Handparting - A pagan form of divorce.  The couple who had been handfasted are now released.

HPS - Shortened version of High Priestess.  The Female leader of a Coven.

HP - The shortened version of High Priest.  The Male leader of a Coven.



Intent - Your goal or purpose.    You focus on this before doing a spell or ritual, in the hope of making it happen.

Invocation - An appeal or petition to a higher power.  A prayer.  Invocation is a method of establishing conscious ties with those aspects of the Goddess and God that dwells within us.  To invoke.



Joss Stick - Incense in a stick form.

Karma - Divine justice.  For every action there is a reaction.  A good action will bring good, a bad one will bring bad.


Labrys - A double headed axe.  A symbol of the Goddess.


Malleus Maleficarum - "The Witches Hammer"  or "Hammer for Witches"  A document used in the Witch trials.  Containing sections on how to test if a victim was a Witch and torture methods.

Megalith - A huge stone structure or monument.  Stonehenge is the best known example of this.


Neo-Pagan - "New Pagan".  Pagan is a religion (see below) of which Wicca belongs.  All Wiccans are Pagan, but not all Pagans are Wiccan.  The modern form of Paganism


Pagan - Latin for " A country dweller". According to the Dictionary it is used to describe any religion which isn't Christian, Muslim or Jewish based.  Wicca is a form of Paganism, as is Shamanism, Druidism, etc.  Some say that Paganism means "Nature worshipping religion".  This is a topic which has been discussed a lot recently in the mailing lists I am on, and I believe that there are a lot of different opinions about what it is exactly, and that it basically doesn't matter which definition you chose to accept, so long as it seems right for you.

Panthenon - A grouping of deities associated with a particular culture or time.

Patron deity - A particular Goddess or God you feel most comfortable working with

Pentacle - A 5 pointed star surrounded by a circle.  Also - A circular piece of wood, metal, clay or other material onto which a Pentagram had been inscribed.  It represents the element of Earth.  Also seen in the Tarot decks.  Some people call the upside down pentagram a pentagram and the right way up one a pentacle. and some call them all pentacles.  Items are placed on the pentacle during a ritual to consecrate them.

Pentagram - A 5 pointed star.  Each point represents an element : Earth, Air, Fire, Water and the fifth element, Ether or Spirit.  It is the symbol of the horned God when turned upside down( nose, ears and horns make up the points).  It is not the symbol of Satanism, as some believe.  It is a symbol of protection, and many Wiccans and Pagans wear one as a symbol of their religion and for protection.  It can be scribed into or drawn on objects to protect them.  The upside down (inverted) version is a "banishing" pentagram, and the right way up, the "invoking" pentagram.  The Pentagram was used by many religions (including Christians) as a symbol of truth and Protection before it was said to symbolise "Evil".  The symbol apparently was used until the inquisition as a positive symbol, and then its meaning was reversed.  Some say that the upright pentagram shows Spirit/Divinity being first... it comes above everything else, and that the inverted pentagram shows Divinity at the bottom, and thus placed after everthing else.  Which is said to be why Satanists use the inverted symbol, not becuase of it's associations with the devil.  See the Magickal information page for more details)

Poppet - (No I didn't spell it wrong.....not puppet) A doll to represent a person.  It is used in a healing spell, love spells, Hexes (although pins ARE NOT poked into it, that is Voodoo) etc.  It can be wrapped in a ribbon or similar in a binding spell, it may be tied to another poppet for a love binding spell, there are different uses for poppets in different spells.  Can be made from cloth, wax, clay etc.

Projective Hand - The hand you use for manual activities. The Right hand in most people.  This is the hand which gives out energy.  Opposite to Receptive hand, which receives energy.

Psychism - The act of being consciously psychic.  When your conscious mind and your psychic mind are linked in perfect harmony.

Psychometry - Divination by holding an object belonging to another person



Quabala - (Also spelled Kabala, Quabalah, Cabalah, Kabalah).  An ancient Jewish system for spiritual knowledge.  Often used in ceremonial Magick.


Receptive Hand - In a Right Handed person this is the Left hand. It is the hand through which energy is received.

Rede - "To advise or counsel"  The Wiccan rede is a passage of advise for a Wiccan... found here



Sabbat - One of the 8 festivals in the Pagan year.  There are 2 solstice celebrations, 2 Equinox celebrations and some celebrations to mark season changes.  Samhain, Litha, Lammas, Yule, Beltane, Imbolc, Maybon, Ostara.  The 4 grand/major Sabbats are feminine Sabbats - Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnassadh.  The 4 lesser Sabbats are masculine Sabbats - The Solstices and Equinoxes.  (I don't think of them as being lesser and greater though)

Scry - To gaze at or into an object.  Commonly a Crystal Ball, Bowl of water, Mirror or a candle flame. (Called Scrying)

Scurge - A scurge is a whip, used in rituals by "traditional" witches (being those who practise Gardnarian or Alexandrian, or variants of those forms of Wicca).  It is not used much (if at all) today.  I have never seen or heard of anyone actually having one, much less using one.

Shaman - Someone who obtains their contact with divinity  and the earth through the use of substances which induce altered states of consciousness.

Sigil - A Magickal symbol placed on an object as a seal.

Skyclad - "Clad only in the sky".  Ritual nakedness.  Some include not wearing jewellery, hair adornments and makeup as being skyclad.  Many people believe that when you perform rituals naked you are free from restrictions and falsehood.  Some say magick is more powerful when performed in this way.

Sympathetic magick - Based on the principle that "Like cures like".  Most spells are done this way.  Items that have similar qualities can be used to effect eachother.  eg.  plants are green, - growing plants are green, green candles therefore symbolise growth.  You use a symbolic representation of the intent, and whatever you do to it, will be reflected on the actual goal.  Poppets are sympathetic magick.



Talisman - An object Magically charged to attract something (ie money).  Different to an Amulet

Thaumaturgy - Magick done for practical reasons.. magick to obtain things such as healing, money etc.

Theurgy - Magick to evolve spiritually

Thiurible - An Incense holder that is suspended from a chain that allows you to gently swing it to release the smoke.

Trilithon - A stone arch made from 2 upright slabs of rock or wood, with one lying atop.  Commonly used as an altar.

Tuathail - "Northward"  Means Widdershins



Vibration - The rate at which energy moves.  The slover the vibration - the denser the matter.  The Physical plave has a low vibration, and the Astral plane has a high vibration.  As energy goes from a place of low vibration to a place of high vibration it produces heat, as it moves froma place of high vibration to one of low vibration it cools.

Visualisation - Concentrating or imagining something very strongly as a visual image.  The act of visualising.



Widdershins - This is the opposite direction to deosil.  Anti-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

Wiccaning - A pagan form of Christening.  Unlike a Christening though, the child is placed in the care of the Goddess and God, not declared to be a Pagan.  The child is free to chose whichever religion they like, but a Wiccaning is done to protect them until they are old enough to become Pagan themselves.


Back to Obsidian's Book Of Shadows| Sitemap | Contact

© Obsidian 1999-2004 All Rights Reserved
Copying information from this page without the author's permission is breach of copyright.