ABC’s for Witchcraft

Today we decided to touch base on some basic terminology for witchcraft, this is by no means a complete guide to Witchcraft ABC’s but it is an introduction to more of the key terms you will hear throughout you journey/path into your craft. We hope this helps some of you who are just starting out or hope it helps you explain to someone else what some of these things might mean.

A is for…

Altar 

A space specifically for spell work and rituals, it can be decorated with anything the witch wants, usually sacred or meaningful objects, magic tools, and flowers and crystals that correspond to the sabbats. It is a “raised structure or place used for worship or prayer”, upon which a Wiccan practitioner places several symbolic and functional items for the purpose of worshiping the God and Goddess, casting spells, and/or saying chants and prayers. There are eight Wiccan holidays, known as Sabbats, that celebrate the cycles and seasons of nature. These include the four seasons (Winter, Spring, Autumn & Summer), the mating habits animals and the reaping and sowing of crops. Based on the Sabbat, the altar is decorated accordingly. For example, the Summer Solstice altar cloth should be white and the altar decorated with Summer flowers, fruits and anything else that symbolizes Summer. This goes for each Sabbat. Certain Wiccan traditions may have different colors but universally, the altar is usually decorated to represent the time of year. However, Wiccans are not the only ones who use Altars in their practice.

Athame

An athame or athamé (/əˈθɒm//ˈæθəmeɪ/ or /ˈæθɪm/) is a ceremonial blade, generally with a black handle. It is the main ritual implement or magical tool among several used in ceremonial magic traditions, and by other neopaganswitchcraft, as well as satanic traditions. A black-handled knife called an arthame appears in certain versions of the Key of Solomon, a grimoire dating to the Renaissance.

The proper use of the tool was started by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, in the early 20th century, for the use of banishing rituals. The tool was later adopted by WiccansThelemites and Satanists.

The athame is also mentioned in the writings of Gerald Gardner in the 1950s, who claimed to have been initiated into a surviving tradition of Witchcraft, the New Forest Coven. The athame was their most important ritual tool, with many uses, but was not to be used for actual physical cutting.

There has been speculation that Gardner’s interest and expertise in antique swords and knives, and in particular the kris knives of Malaysia and Indonesia, may have contributed to the tool’s central importance in modern Wicca.

On the other hand, the athame stands as one of the four elemental tools in modern occultism, traditionally standing for fire, for witches, and air, for ceremonial magicians. (From the known origins of Wicca, with Gardner’s own Book of Shadows, the athame represents fire; where the wand corresponds to air. Other varieties of Wiccan practice may switch those two around.) The other three elemental tools are the wand, the pentacle, and the cup or chalice. These four magical tools correspond to four “weapons” of significance in Celtic myth—the sword, the spear, the shield, and the cauldron (and/or grail). The same four ritual tools also appear in the magical practices of the western hermetic tradition, derived from The Golden Dawn, who pioneered the modern occult tradition and new age spirituality; and they appear in tarot decks as the four card suits: swords, cups, wands, and pentacles. The athame is an elemental tool, while the sword is often a tool representing power, used to keep Spirits in check during goetic Evocation. Wiccans sometimes use the sword as a substitute for the athame.

Astral Body 

The astral body is the psychic or spirit form that we take on when astral travelling. Some describe it as the soul.

The Astral body is a subtle body posited by many philosophers, intermediate between the intelligent soul and the mental body, composed of a subtle material. The concept ultimately derives from the philosophy of Plato: it is related to an astral plane, which consists of the planetary heavens of astrology. The term was adopted by nineteenth-century Theosophists and neo-Rosicrucians.

The idea is rooted in common worldwide religious accounts of the afterlife in which the soul’s journey or “ascent” is described in such terms as “an ecstatic.., mystical or out-of body experience, wherein the spiritual traveller leaves the physical body and travels in his/her subtle body (or dreambody or astral body) into ‘higher’ realms”. Hence “the “many kinds of ‘heavens’, ‘hells’, and purgatorial existences believed in by followers of innumerable religions” may also be understood as astral phenomena, as may the various “phenomena of the séance room”. The phenomenon of apparitional experience is therefore related, as is made explicit in Cicero‘s Dream of Scipio.

The astral body is sometimes said to be visible as an aura of swirling colours. It is widely linked today with out-of-body experiences or astral projection. Where this refers to a supposed movement around the real world, as in Muldoon and Carrington’s book The Projection of the Astral Body, it conforms to Madame Blavatsky‘s usage of the term. Elsewhere this latter is termed “etheric”, while “astral” denotes an experience of dream-symbols, archetypes, memories, spiritual beings and visionary landscapes.

Astral Plane 

The astral plane is a state of existence which you go to when astral projecting or doing astral magick. It is reached through altered states of consciousness where the astral body is free from the material body. Some people say that the astral plane and dream space, in which you lucid dream, are the same, and others disagree and say they are two different states.

The astral plane, also called the astral realm or the astral world, is a plane of existence postulated by classical (particularly neo-Platonic, where it originated), medieval, oriental, and esoteric philosophies and mystery religions. It is the world of the celestial spheres, crossed by the soul in its astral body on the way to being born and after death, and is generally believed to be populated by angels, spirits or other immaterial beings. In the late 19th and early 20th century the term was popularised by Theosophy and neo-Rosicrucianism.

Another view holds that the astral plane or world, rather than being some kind of boundary area crossed by the soul, is the entirety of spirit existence or spirit worlds to which those who die on Earth go, and where they live out their non-physical lives. It is understood that all consciousness resides in the astral plane. Some writers conflate this realm with heaven or paradise or union with God itself, and others do not. Paramahansa Yogananda wrote in Autobiography of a Yogi, “The astral universe . . . is hundreds of times larger than the material universe . . .[with] many astral planets, teeming with astral beings.” (p.416) When Alice Bailey writes of seeing “Masters . . . upon the inner spiritual planes [who]. . . work with Christ and the planetary hierarchy,” she refers to a vision she had of the unseen astral realm that these and countless other beings inhabit. Christ being in that realm, it is hard to construe it as a non-heaven.

Astrology 

The study of the stars, constellations, zodiacs, and planets.

Astrology, in its broadest sense, is the search for meaning in the sky. Early evidence for humans making conscious attempts to measure, record, and predict seasonal changes by reference to astronomical cycles, appears as markings on bones and cave walls, which show that lunar cycles were being noted as early as 25,000 years ago. This was a first step towards recording the Moon’s influence upon tides and rivers, and towards organising a communal calendar. Farmers addressed agricultural needs with increasing knowledge of the constellations that appear in the different seasons—and used the rising of particular star-groups to herald annual floods or seasonal activities. By the 3rd millennium BCE, civilisations had sophisticated awareness of celestial cycles, and may have oriented temples in alignment with heliacal risings of the stars.

Scattered evidence suggests that the oldest known astrological references are copies of texts made in the ancient world. The Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa is thought to be compiled in Babylon around 1700 BCE. A scroll documenting an early use of electional astrology is doubtfully ascribed to the reign of the Sumerian ruler Gudea of Lagash (c. 2144 – 2124 BCE). This describes how the gods revealed to him in a dream the constellations that would be most favourable for the planned construction of a temple. However, there is controversy about whether these were genuinely recorded at the time or merely ascribed to ancient rulers by posterity. The oldest undisputed evidence of the use of astrology as an integrated system of knowledge is therefore attributed to the records of the first dynasty of Mesopotamia (1950–1651 BCE). This astrology had some parallels with Hellenistic Greek (western) astrology, including the zodiac, a norming point near 9 degrees in Aries, the trine aspect, planetary exaltations, and the dodekatemoria (the twelve divisions of 30 degrees each).[The Babylonians viewed celestial events as possible signs rather than as causes of physical events.

The system of Chinese astrology was elaborated during the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BCE) and flourished during the Han Dynasty (2nd century BCE to 2nd century CE), during which all the familiar elements of traditional Chinese culture – the Yin-Yang philosophy, theory of the five elements, Heaven and Earth, Confucian morality – were brought together to formalise the philosophical principles of Chinese medicine and divination, astrology and alchemy.

Astronomy 

Astronomy (from Greek: ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematicsphysics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and evolution. Objects of interest include planetsmoonsstarsnebulaegalaxies, and comets. Relevant phenomena include supernova explosions, gamma ray burstsquasarsblazarspulsars, and cosmic microwave background radiation. More generally, astronomy studies everything that originates outside Earth’s atmosphereCosmology is a branch of astronomy. It studies the Universe as a whole.

Astronomy is one of the oldest natural sciences. The early civilizations in recorded history made methodical observations of the night sky. These include the BabyloniansGreeksIndiansEgyptiansChineseMaya, and many ancient indigenous peoples of the Americas. In the past, astronomy included disciplines as diverse as astrometrycelestial navigationobservational astronomy, and the making of calendars. Nowadays, professional astronomy is often said to be the same as astrophysics.

Professional astronomy is split into observational and theoretical branches. Observational astronomy is focused on acquiring data from observations of astronomical objects. This data is then analyzed using basic principles of physics. Theoretical astronomy is oriented toward the development of computer or analytical models to describe astronomical objects and phenomena. These two fields complement each other. Theoretical astronomy seeks to explain observational results and observations are used to confirm theoretical results.

Astronomy is one of the few sciences in which amateurs play an active role. This is especially true for the discovery and observation of transient eventsAmateur astronomers have helped with many important discoveries, such as finding new comets.

Aura 

An aura is a subtle energetic field that surrounds objects, places, and living things. It’s undetectable to the human eye, however some people train to be able to detect and ‘read’ auras.

  1. .the distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, thing, or place.”the ceremony retains an aura of mystery
  2. (in spiritualism and some forms of alternative medicine) a supposed emanation surrounding the body of a living creature and regarded as an essential part of the individual.”emotional, mental, and spiritual levels form an energy field around the body known as the aura”

B is for…

Beltane 

Beltane is a celebration which marks the halfway point between the spring equinox and summer solstice. During Beltane the veil between the world of the fay and our world is thinnest. In the northern hemisphere it’s celebrated on May 1 and in the southern on October 31. 

Beltane or Beltain (/ˈbɛl.teɪn/) is the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on 1 May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Historically, it was widely observed throughout IrelandScotlandCornwall and the Isle of Man. In Irish the name for the festival day is Lá Bealtaine ([l̪ˠaː ˈbʲal̪ˠt̪ˠənʲə]), in Scottish Gaelic Là Bealltainn ([l̪ˠaː ˈpjaul̪ˠt̪ɪɲ]) and in Manx Gaelic Laa Boaltinn/Boaldyn. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with SamhainImbolc and Lughnasadh—and is similar to the Welsh Calan Mai.

Beltane is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and is associated with important events in Irish mythology. Also known as Cétshamhain (“first of summer”), it marked the beginning of summer and it was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around or between bonfires, and sometimes leap over the flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire. These gatherings would be accompanied by a feast, and some of the food and drink would be offered to the aos sí. Doors, windows, byres and livestock would be decorated with yellow May flowers, perhaps because they evoked fire. In parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush: typically a thorn bush or branch decorated with flowers, ribbons, bright shells and rushlights. Holy wells were also visited, while Beltane dew was thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness. Many of these customs were part of May Day or Midsummer festivals in other parts of Great Britain and Europe.

Beltane celebrations had largely died out by the mid-20th century, although some of its customs continued and in some places (for example the ’Obby ‘Oss it has been revived as a cultural event. Since the late 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Beltane, or something based on it, as a religious holiday. Neopagans in the Southern Hemisphere celebrate Beltane on or around 1 November.

Birth Chart 

Your birth chart shows the positions and houses all the planets were in at the time you were born. Many people don’t know that they have signs for each planet – not just the sun! 

Black Magic 

Black magic refers to any magic which involves the use of negative energy or has the intent of malice or harm. Someone who has practised black magick in the past is not necessarily considered ‘evil’ because the concept of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is relative. Practitioners tend to avoid sending out bad juju because karma sends back whatever they put out three times as hard, and many follow the Wiccan Rede ‘an ye harm none, do what ye will’.

Book of Shadows 

Otherwise known as a ‘Grimoire’, a Book of Shadows is a diary where a witch keeps all the records of their path, magick and discoveries.

Book of Shadows is a book containing religious text and instructions for magical rituals found within the Neopagan religion of Wicca, and in many pagan practices. One famous Book of Shadows was created by the pioneering Wiccan Gerald Gardner sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s, and which he utilised first in his Bricket Wood coven and then in other covens which he founded in following decades. The Book of Shadows is also used by other Wiccan traditions, such as Alexandrianism and Mohsianism, and with the rise of books teaching people how to begin following Wicca in the 1970s onward, the idea of the Book of Shadows was then further propagated amongst solitary practitioners unconnected to earlier traditions.

Initially, when Wicca was still dominated by covens, “only one copy [of the Book] existed for an entire coven, kept by the high priestess or high priest. That rule has proved unfeasible, and it is [now] commonplace for all Witches to have their own copies.” In the various traditions that make up British Traditional Wicca, copies of the original Book composed by Gerald Gardner with the aid of his High Priestess Doreen Valiente, along with alterations and additions that have been made since then, is followed by adherents. They have tried to keep the contents of this Book a secret, although it has been published on a number of occasions by figures such as Charles Cardell, Lady Sheba, and Janet and Stewart Farrar. In other Wiccan traditions and amongst a number of solitary practitioners, alternate versions of the Book have been written that are independent of Gardner’s original.

Numerous associations and traditions have since grown up around the Book of Shadows. Traditionally, “a Witch’s book of shadows is destroyed upon death.” It can be an experimental practice, every day ritual works or a record of magic. This is also a book of inspiration and can be used in future rituals. The concept of the Book of Shadows has subsequently appeared in popular culture, for instance being used in the American television series Charmed and providing the title of films, musical albums and comics. However, in all these cases it was taken out of its original Wiccan contex

C is for… 

Caldron

cauldron (or caldron) is a large cast iron pot (kettle) for cooking or boiling over an open fire, with a large pot and frequently with an arc-shaped hanger. Often used in magic for making potions, herbs, elixirs etc.

Cauldrons have largely fallen out of use in the developed world as cooking vessels. While still used for practical purposes, a more common association in Western culture is the cauldron’s use in witchcraft—a cliché popularized by various works of fiction, such as William Shakespeare‘s play Macbeth. In fiction, witches often prepare their potions in a cauldron. Also, in Irish folklore, a cauldron is purported to be where leprechauns keep their gold and treasure.

In some forms of Wicca, incorporating aspects of Celtic mythology, the cauldron is associated with the goddess CerridwenWelsh legend also tells of cauldrons that were useful to warring armies. In the second branch of the Mabinogi in the tale of Branwen, Daughter of Llŷr, the Pair Dadeni (Cauldron of Rebirth) is a magical cauldron in which dead warriors could be placed and then be returned to life, save that they lacked the power of speech. It was suspected that they lacked souls. These warriors could go back into battle until they were killed again. In Wicca and some other forms of neopagan or pagan belief systems, the cauldron is still used in magical practices. Most often a cauldron is made of cast iron and is used to burn loose incense on a charcoal disc, to make black salt (used in banishing rituals), for mixing herbs, or to burn petitions (paper with words of power or wishes written on them). Cauldrons symbolize not only the Goddess but also represent the womb (because it holds something) and on an altar, it represents earth because it is a working tool. Cauldrons are often sold in New Age or “metaphysical” stores and may have various symbols of power inscribed on them.Bronze Age cauldron, and flesh-hook, made from sheet bronze

The holy grail of Arthurian legend is sometimes referred to as a “cauldron”, although traditionally the grail is thought of as a hand-held cup rather than the large pot that the word “cauldron” usually is used to mean. This may have resulted from the combination of the grail legend with earlier Celtic myths of magical cauldrons.

The common translation for ding is often referred to as a cauldron. In Chinese history and culture, possession of one or more ancient dings is often associated with power and dominion over the land. Therefore, the ding is often used as an implicit symbolism for power. The term “inquiring of the ding” (Chinese: 问鼎; pinyin: wèn dǐng) is often used interchangeably with the quest for power.

Chakras

Chakras are energy wheels found along the spine through which energy flows. There are seven main chakras – crown, third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral, and root – and they all correspond to a different energy and colour. We need to keep these balanced in order to stay spiritually and physically healthy.

Chakras are various focal points used in a variety of ancient meditation practices, collectively denominated as Tantra, or the esoteric or inner traditions of Hinduism.

The concept is found in the early traditions of Hinduism. Beliefs differ between the Indian religions, with many Buddhist texts consistently mentioning five chakras, while Hindu sources offer six or even seven. Early Sanskrit texts speak of them both as meditative visualizations combining flowers and mantras and as physical entities in the body. Some modern interpreters speak of them as complexes of electromagnetic variety, the precise degree and variety of which directly arise from a synthetic average of all positive and negative so-called “fields”, thus eventuating the complex Nadi. Within kundalini yoga, the techniques of breath exercisesvisualizationsmudrasbandhaskriyas, and mantras are focused on manipulating the flow of subtle energy through chakras.

Circle-casting 

Casting a circle is done to banish negative energy and create a sacred space in preparation for a spell or ritual, though it can also be cast unceremoniously to create a calm space for meditation or work. A magic circle is a circle of space marked out by practitioners of some branches of ritual magic, which they generally believe will contain energy and form a sacred space, or will provide them a form of magical protection, or both. It may be marked physically, drawn in a material like salt or chalk, or merely visualised.

Traditionally, circles were believed by ritual magicians to form a protective barrier between themselves and what they summoned.

Circles may or may not be physically marked out on the ground, and a variety of elaborate patterns for circle markings can be found in grimoires and magical manuals, often involving angelic and divine names. Such markings, or a simple unadorned circle, may be drawn in chalk or salt, or indicated by other means such as with a cord.

Cleansing

Cleansing an item or person is done to remove any excess lingering energies from previous rituals or that have been picked up unintentionally from going about one’s day.

Consecration 

The act of consecrating is to purify and dedicate an object to a specific use. Usually witches consecrate new wands or tools to make them sacred. 

Coven 

A coven is the name given to a group of practitioners that perform rituals or celebrate the sabbats together. The word originally referred to a group of people with similar interests. A coven /kʌvən/ usually refers to a group or gathering of witches. The word “coven” (from Anglo-Norman covent, cuvent, from Old French covent, from Latin conventum = convention) remained largely unused in English until 1921 when Margaret Murray promoted the idea that all witches across Europe met in groups of thirteen which they called “covens”.

Wicca and other similar forms of neopagan witchcraft, such as Stregheria and Feri, a coven is a gathering or community of witches, like an affinity group, engagement group, or small covenant group. It is composed of a group of practitioners who gather together for rituals such as Drawing Down the Moon, or celebrating the Sabbats.. The place at which they generally meet is called a covenstead.

The number of people involved may vary. Although some consider thirteen to be ideal (probably in deference to Murray‘s theories), any group of at least three can be a coven. A group of two is usually called a “working couple” (regardless of their gender). Within the community, many believe that a coven larger than thirteen is unwieldy, citing unwieldy group dynamics and an unfair burden on the leadership. When a coven has grown too large to be manageable, it may split, or “hive”. In Wicca, this may also occur when a newly made High Priest or High Priestess, also called 3rd Degree initiation, leaves to start their own coven.

Wiccan covens are usually jointly led by a High Priestess and a High Priest, although some are led by only one or the other, and some by a same-sex couple. In more recent forms of neopagan witchcraft, covens are sometimes run as democracies with a rotating leadership.

Crystal Elixir

A crystal elixir is water that is infused with the energies from whatever type of water-safe crystal you choose to soak in it. The elixir can be used for drinking or for use in rituals.

Crystals 

Rocks and minerals which have different properties for uses in spells, rituals, and meditation.

Different types of healing crystals: Basic Quick Intro to crystals.

Clear quartz

This white crystal is considered a “master healer.” It’s said to amplify energy by absorbing, storing, releasing, and regulating it. It’s also said to aid concentration and memory. Physically, clear crystals are claimed to help stimulate the immune system and balance out your entire body. This stone is often paired with others like rose quartz to aid and enhance their abilities.

Rose quartz

Just as the color may suggest, this pink stone is all about love. It’s said to help restore trust and harmony in all different kinds of relationships while improving their close connections. It’s also claimed to help provide comfort and calm during times of grief.

It isn’t all about other people, though. Rose quartz is said to also encourage love, respect, trust, and worth within one’s self — something we could all use in this day and age.

Jasper

This smooth crystal is known as the “supreme nurturer.” It’s said to empower the spirit and support you through times of stress by preparing you to fully “show up.” It’s claimed to protect you from and absorb negative vibes while promoting courage, quick thinking, and confidence. These are traits that are extra helpful when tackling important issues — which is exactly what this stone may be good for.

Obsidian

An intensely protective stone, obsidian is said to help form a shield against physical and emotional negativity. It’s also said to help get rid of emotional blockage and promote qualities of strength, clarity, and compassion to help find your true sense of self. For your physical body, it may aid in digestion and detoxification while potentially helping reduce pain and cramps.

crystals

Citrine

Bring joy, wonder, and enthusiasm to every part of your life with citrine. It’s said to help you release negative traits from your life like fear, and in turn help encourage optimism, warmth, motivation, and clarity. It’s also claimed to enhance mindful qualities, like creativity and concentration.

Turquoise

This blue crystal has powers that are said to help heal the mind, body, and soul. Generally speaking, it’s seen as a good luck charm that can help balance your emotions while finding your spiritual groundings. When it comes to the body, it’s said to benefit the respiratory, skeletal, and immune system.

Tiger’s eye

If you’re in need of a power or motivation boost, this golden stone may be for you. It’s said to help rid your mind and body of fear, anxiety, and self-doubt. This can be beneficial for career aspirations or even matters of the heart. Tiger’s eye is also said to help guide you to harmony and balance to help you make clear, conscious decisions.

Amethyst

This purple stone is said to be incredibly protective, healing, and purifying. It’s claimed it can help rid the mind of negative thoughts and bring forth humility, sincerity, and spiritual wisdom. It’s also said to help promote sobriety. Sleep is another claimed benefit of this stone, from supposedly aiding in insomnia relief to understanding dreams. Physically, it’s said to boost hormone production, cleanse blood, and relieve pain and stress.

crystals

Moonstone

Known for “new beginnings,” moonstone is said to encourage inner growth and strength. When starting fresh, this stone is purported to also soothe those uneasy feelings of stress and instability so you’re able to move forward successfully. It’s also claimed to promote positive thinking, intuition, and inspiration while bringing forth success and good fortune.

Bloodstone

This powerful healing stone lives up to its name. Bloodstone is claimed to help cleanse the blood by drawing off bad environmental energies and improving circulation. Mindfully speaking, it encourages selflessness, creativity, and idealism while helping you live within the current moment. It’s also said it can also help you rid yourself of feelings of irritability, aggressiveness, and impatience.

Sapphire

This blue stone is one of wisdom and royalty. It’s said it can attract prosperity, happiness, and peace while opening up the mind to accept beauty and intuition. As for physical health, this stone is claimed to also help heal eye issues, cellular levels, and blood disorders while also easing depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

Ruby

A red standout, this stone helps restore vitality and energy levels. This can help improve things such as sensuality, sex, and intellect. It’s also said to help bring self-awareness and the realization of truth to one’s mind. Rubies were used in ancient times to help remove toxins from blood and improve the overall circulatory system.

crystals

How to select your crystal

First things first: Identify what you feel you’re missing before looking into what stones can provide you. This will help you indicate what’s going on within yourself before depending on outside sources.

From there, just let your intuition choose what’s best for you. Whether a crystal catches your eye or you can feel a physical pull toward one, your inner subconscious will help guide you to the crystal that’s right for you. Once it’s pick out, you can create the connection you need.

How to care for your crystal

When you first bring your crystal home, you’ll want to cleanse away any negativity it may have picked up. You can hold it under cold, running water from a tap or rinse it in a natural source of water. Either way, be sure the water is cool, not warm or hot.

Add a bit of sea salt to the cleanse or burn sage to really help it get rid of unwanted energies. You can also leave it out to dry in morning sunlight or full moon light to let the light filter through.

It’s not just about their physical care, though. For crystals to work their magic, you mentally have to remove the negative energy or skepticism you may have about their capabilities. It’s important to respect what they can do for you.

Curse

A spell cast with the intention to send or bring about negative energy or bad luck.

  1. a solemn utterance intended to invoke a supernatural power to inflict harm or punishment on someone or something.”she’d put a curse on him

verb

  1. .invoke or use a curse against.”it often seemed as if the family had been cursed”Similar:put a curse on put the evil eye

D is for… 

Dianic Wicca 

Dianic witchcraft is a female-only path named after the goddess Diana who represents female empowerment and sisterhood. It’s important to note that this path is not a matriarchy, but rather a tradition that emphasises and explores feminine energy by creating an environment tailored to women. [ See a more detailed breakdown in our types of witches part three post]

Divination 

Divination is the umbrella term used for all practises which are used to tell the future or uncover knowledge by interpretation of omens, tarot, runes, pendulums etc.

Divination (from Latin divinare, ‘to foresee, to foretell, to predict, to prophesy’, related to divinus, ‘divine‘), or “to be inspired by a god,” is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic, standardized process or ritual.Used in various forms throughout history, diviners ascertain their interpretations of how a querent should proceed by reading signs, events, or omens, or through alleged contact with a supernatural agency.Display on divination, featuring a cross-cultural range of items, in the Pitt Rivers Museum in OxfordEngland.

Divination can be seen as a systematic method with which to organize what appear to be disjointed, random facets of existence such that they provide insight into a problem at hand. If a distinction is to be made between divination and fortune-telling, divination has a more formal or ritualistic element and often contains a more social character, usually in a religious context, as seen in traditional African medicine. Fortune-telling, on the other hand, is a more everyday practice for personal purposes. Particular divination methods vary by culture and religion.

Divination has long been criticized. In the modern era, it has been dismissed by the scientific community and skeptics as being superstition; experiments do not support the idea that divination techniques can actually predict the future more reliably or precisely than would be possible without it.In antiquity it was attacked by philosophers such as the Academic Skeptic Cicero in De Divinatione and the Pyrrhonist Sextus Empiricus in Against the Astrologers. The satirist, Lucian, devoted a witty essay to Alexander the false prophet.

Draconic Witch 

Draconic witches follow dragon deities, similar to the gods and goddesses that are followed by other witches. They have their own slightly different set of ethics which they use to honour their deities. [For more information see our types of witch part 3 post]

Dream Journal 

A dream journal is a book to write down all the dreams you have. It’s done so you can decipher messages from your subconscious as a form of divination, or so that you familiarise yourself with your dreams in order to lucid dream or astral project easily. Record your dreams on a regular basis, track their themes and patterns over time, and you will discover through your own experience many of the key psychological principles that shape the general process of dreaming. 

Beyond that, you may find that your journal becomes a unique personal treasure — an invaluable source of insight into your most important concerns, activities, and relationships in the waking world.  

You can start a journal at any time by making some retroactive entries. For example, write out the earliest dream you ever remember, even if it was just a tiny fragment or wispy image. There it is, the beginning of a dream journal!

Have you ever had a dream of flying, or being chased, or having an intense sexual experience, or seeing someone who is dead appear as if they were alive again? Write those out, too. Do you remember any recurrent dreams? That’s very important to note, because recurrent dreams provide one of the best points of entry for a study of the long-term themes and patterns in your dreaming. 

Recording especially memorable dreams from the past can be a good way of initiating a dream journaling practice going forward into the future. Regular journal-keepers typically place a pad of paper and a pen next to their bedside, and when they wake up with a dream in mind, they immediately write it down. Because these bedside notes are often scrawled in semi-legible form, people will usually transcribe their dreams later in the day, either into better handwriting or onto their computer. They may want to use voice-to-text programs on their cell phones, which can be just as effective for those who know how to manage the technology.

Whatever method is used, the main goal is to set up a smooth, friction-free process to record as much of the dream as can be remembered, as soon upon awakening as possible. 

E is for…

Eclectic Witch 

An eclectic witch is someone who forms their practice through many different traditions, religions, and other magickal paths to create their own highly personalised witchcraft. An eclectic witch may choose to work one or a mix of gods and goddesses from many different religions, or can also be a secular witch, who does not work with any gods and goddesses. [See more about this type of witch in our part one of what type of witch are you]

Equinox

Equinoxes happen twice per year when the sun crosses the celestial equator resulting in a day and night that are the same length. The vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring and the autumnal equinox marks the beginning of autumn. Each equinox takes place on a different day for the southern and northern hemispheres. The word itself comes from the Latin for ‘equal’ and ‘night’.

An equinox is commonly regarded as the instant of time when the plane (extended indefinitely in all directions) of Earth‘s equator passes through the geometric center of the Sun‘s disk. This occurs twice each year, around 20 March and 23 September. In other words, it is the moment at which the center of the visible Sun is directly above the equator.

The word is derived from the Latin aequinoctium, from aequus (equal) and nox (genitive noctis) (night). On the day of an equinox, daytime and nighttime are of approximately equal duration all over the planet. They are not exactly equal, however, due to the angular size of the Sun, atmospheric refraction, and the rapidly changing duration of the length of day that occurs at most latitudes around the equinoxes. Long before conceiving this equality, primitive equatorial cultures noted the day when the Sun rises due east and sets due west, and indeed this happens on the day closest to the astronomically defined event.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the March equinox is called the vernal or spring equinox while the September equinox is called the autumnal or fall equinox. In the Southern Hemisphere, the reverse is true. The dates slightly vary due to leap years and other factors.

Since the Moon (and to a lesser extent the planets) causes Earth’s orbit to slightly vary from a perfect ellipse, the equinox is officially defined by the Sun’s more regular ecliptic longitude rather than by its declination. The instants of the equinoxes are currently defined to be when the apparent geocentric longitude of the Sun is 0° and 180°.

F is for…

Faery witch 

Witches who work with Fae magick are known as Faery witches. Instead of working with god or goddesses they prefer to seek help and advice from mythological creatures such as fairies and nymphs. These also include dragons but there is a separate path for those who use draconic deities known as draconian witchcraft. [See more about this type of witch in our part three of what type of witch are you]

G is for…

Green Witch 

Green witches heavily involve nature in their practice, usually doing their spells and rituals in forests, mountains, or beaches – wherever they can – and growing their own herb gardens. They are interested in botany and strive to protect the planet and the environment to the best of their abilities. [See more about this type of witch in part one of what type of witch are you]

Grounding 

Grounding is the act of connecting spiritually and physically to the earth’s energy. Grounding, also called earthing, is a therapeutic technique that involves doing activities that “ground” or electrically reconnect you to the earth.

This practice relies on earthing science and grounding physics to explain how electrical charges, from the earth can have positive effects on your body. This type of grounding therapy isn’t entirely the same as the technique that is used in mental health treatment.

H is for… 

Hedge Witch

Hedge witches like to work with different spiritual realms and planes. Out-of-body experiences such as astral projection, astral travel, and lucid dreaming are a main focus in their magic. [ See more here]

Hereditary Witch

Witches who are born into a family who also practises magick and have had traditions passed down through the generations. [See more here]

Hex 

A hex is a quick spell meant to bring about mischief, similar to a curse or jinx.

First attested about 1830, from Pennsylvania German hexe (“to practice witchcraft”), from German hexen (compare Hexe (“witch”)).The noun appeared later, in the 1850s.Cognate to Norwegian Bokmål heks (“witch”) and Dutch heks (“witch”), Dutch beheksen (“to bewitch”), Old English hægtesse (“witch, hag”). Related to hag.

Verb

hex (third-person singular simple present hexespresent participle hexingsimple past and past participle hexed)

  1. (transitive) To cast a spell on (specifically an evil spell), to bewitch.

I is for…

Imbolc 

The Sabbat which celebrates the first signs of spring. The northern hemisphere celebrates it at the beginning of February and the southern at the beginning of August.

Imbolc or Imbolg ([ɪˈmˠɔlˠɡ]), also called (SaintBrigid’s Day (IrishLá Fhéile BrídeScottish GaelicLà Fhèill BrìghdeManxLaa’l Breeshey), is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring. It is held on 1 February in the northern hemisphere or 1 August in the Southern Hemisphere. It lands about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Historically, it was widely observed throughout IrelandScotland and the Isle of Man. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with BeltaneLughnasadh and Samhain. For Christians, especially in Ireland, it is the feast day of Saint Brigid.

Imbolc is mentioned in early Irish literature, and there is evidence suggesting it was also an important date in ancient times. It is believed that Imbolc was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brigid, and that it was Christianized as a festival of Saint Brigid, who is thought to be a Christianization of the goddess.On Imbolc/St Brigid’s Day, Brigid’s crosses were made and a doll-like figure of Brigid (a Brídeóg) would be paraded from house-to-house by girls, sometimes accompanied by ‘strawboys‘. Brigid was said to visit one’s home at Imbolc. To receive her blessings, people would make a bed for Brigid and leave her food and drink, and items of clothing would be left outside for her to bless. Brigid was also invoked to protect homes and livestock. Special feasts were had, holy wells were visited, and it was a time for divination.

Although many of its customs died out in the 20th century, it is still observed and in some places it has been revived as a cultural event. Since the latter 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Imbolc as a religious holiday.

K is for…

Karma 

The notion that any positive or negative energy which is put out into the world will return to the sender. Karma is known by some witches as the ‘rule of three’ or ‘threefold law’, stating that the karma which comes back is always three times as strong as the one that is initially released.

Kitchen Witch 

Kitchen witches love working at home and making their everyday tasks and surroundings sacred. [See more here]

L is for…

Lammas 

Otherwise known as Lughnassadh is the Sabbat festival of the first grain harvest. The northern hemisphere celebrates it at the beginning of August and the southern at the beginning of February. 

Lammas Day (Anglo-Saxon hlaf-mas, “loaf-mass”), also known as Loaf Mass Day, is a Christian holiday celebrated in some English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere on 1 August. The name originates from the word “loaf” in reference to bread and “Mass” in reference to the primary Christian liturgy celebrating Holy Communion. It is a festival in the liturgical kalendar to mark the blessing of the First Fruits of harvest, with a loaf of bread being brought to the church for this purpose.

On Loaf Mass Day, it is customary to bring to a Christian church a loaf made from the new crop, which began to be harvested at Lammastide, which falls at the halfway point between the summer solstice and autumn September equinox. Christians also have church processions to bakeries, where those working therein are blessed by Christian clergy.

Lammas has coincided with the feast of St. Peter in Chains, commemorating St. Peter’s miraculous deliverance from prison, but in the liturgical reform of 1969, the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori was transferred to this day, the day of St. Alphonsus’ death.

While Loaf Mass Day is traditionally a Christian holy day, Lughnasadh is celebrated by Neopagans around the same time.

Litha 

Litha is the celebration of midsummer and summer solstice, fertility and new beginnings. In the northern hemisphere, it is celebrated on June 20-23 and in the southern on December 20-23. 

Litha is a pagan holiday; one of their eight sabbats during the year. Litha (also known as Midsummer) occurs on the summer solstice, and celebrates the beginning of summer. The traditions of Litha appear to be borrowed from many cultures. Most ancient cultures celebrated the summer solstice in some way. The Celts celebrated Litha with hilltop bonfires and dancing. Many people attempted to jump over or through the bonfires for good luck.

Photo of a Litha/Midsummer bonfire

Other European traditions included setting large wheels on fire, and rolling them down a hill into a body of water. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, and in some traditions, Litha is when a battle between light and dark takes place. In this battle, the Oak King and the Holly King battle for control. During each solstice, they battle for power, and the balance shifts. The Oak King, who represents daylight, rules from the winter solstice (Yule) to Litha. During this time, the days steadily get longer. However, during Litha, the Holly King wins this battle, and the days get steadily darker until Yule.

For modern day pagans, Litha is a day of inner power and brightness. Some people find a quiet spot and meditate about the light and dark forces in their world. Some other observers, particularly those with children, celebrate this holiday outside. Lastly, some observers choose to observe Litha more traditionally, and they would hold a fire ritual. This might include a large bonfire, or a small fire in a fire-safe pot in one’s house. Litha is also considered a good time to practice love magic or get married. The pagan version of this ceremony is called handfasting, and it includes many of the same practices one might find at a wedding.

Lucid dreaming

The state of active and conscious dreaming where you are able to control what is going on in your dreams is known as lucid dreaming. A lucid dream is a dream during which the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming. During a lucid dream, the dreamer may gain some amount of control over the dream characters, narrative, and environment; however, this is not actually necessary for a dream to be described as lucid.

M is for…

Mabon 

The Sabbat which celebrates the Autumnal equinox, all about letting go of things that no longer serve you. In the northern hemisphere, it is celebrated on September 20-23 and in the southern on March 20-23.

Mabon is a pagan holiday, and one of the eight Wiccan sabbats celebrated during the year. Mabon celebrates the autumnal equinox. In the northern hemisphere, this September 23rd will be the autumnal equinox. However, the southern hemisphere already celebrated Mabon on March 20, when the Northern hemisphere celebrated Ostara. It also celebrates the mid-harvest festival (also known as the second harvest).

Many civilizations have celebrated a harvest festival around the equinox. In the 1700s, the Bavarians (part of present day Germany) began a festival that starts in the last week of September. They called this festival Oktoberfest. The festival had lots of feasting and celebrating. Oktoberfest is still celebrated in Bavaria today.

Photo of a Mabon altar. courtesy of Flickr user Colleen. Available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/pearlshelf/8726509704

Many cultures see the second harvest (after the first harvest Lammas) and equinox as a time for giving thanks. This time of year is when farmers know how well their summer crops did, and how well fed their animals have become. This determines whether you and your family would have enough food for the winter. That is why people used to give thanks around this time, thanks for their crops, and animals, and food. The original American Thanksgiving was celebrated on October 3, which makes more sense with harvest times. By the end of November, there’s not that much left to harvest.

The name Mabon comes from the Welsh God, who was the son of the Earth Mother Goddess. However, there is evidence that the name was adopted in the 1970s, and the holiday was not originally a Celtic celebration.

To celebrate this holiday, pagans might pick apples. Apples are a common symbol of the second harvest. They may use the apples in an apple harvest ritual that thanks the gods for the bountiful harvest. Others might perform a ritual to restore balance and harmony to their lives, as this holiday celebrates a day with equal light and day. Another common ritual is to set up an altar with symbols of the season, such as apples, grapes, and other seasonal harvests. Any sabbat would not be complete without a feast for family and friends.

Magick 

The word magick with a ‘k’ is used by witches to distinguish their practice from stage magic. It was popularised in the 1900s by Alistair Crowley and is considered a neutral term, not inherently ‘good’ or ‘evil’, the intent and morality behind it is up to the practitioner themselves.

Manifestation

Manifesting refers to the act of materialising your wants and goals by truly believing in their possibility.

Meditation 

Meditation is the act of concentrated mindfulness, where you can still the mind and empty it of thought while doing nothing. It is done to relax and reach an altered state of consciousness.

Mindfulness 

Mindfulness is the practice of being invested fully in whatever activity you are doing and not distracted by irrelevant thoughts. A manifestation is the public display of emotion or feeling, or something theoretical made real. Manifestation’s origins are in religion and spirituality because if something spiritual becomes real, it is said to be a manifestation. The word’s usage has spread to include all aspects of life.

N is for…

Necromancy 

The practice of working with the dead is known as necromancy. Witches who practise necromancy magick do a lot of ancestral and spirit work and use divination tools like ouija boards. The practise is surrounded with the fascination of death. It is not considered black magick as it is not necessary to kill or inflict pain on living things to practise necromancy. [ See more here ]

O is for…

Occultism 

The study of the ‘hidden secrets’ of the universe. Typically refers to the paranormal, however, it also can be used as an umbrella term similar to ‘paganism’ for witchcraft, astrology, shamanism, divination and botany, to name a few. Occultism, various theories and practices involving a belief in and knowledge or use of supernatural forces or beings. Such beliefs and practices—principally magical or divinatory—have occurred in all human societies throughout recorded history, with considerable variations both in their nature and in the attitude of societies toward them. In the West the term occultism has acquired intellectually and morally pejorative overtones that do not obtain in other societies where the practices and beliefs concerned do not run counter to the prevailing worldview.

Omen

An event or sign that is believed to foretell or foreshadow a good or bad future circumstance. 

An omen (also called portent or presage) is a phenomenon that is believed to foretell the future, often signifying the advent of change. People in ancient times believed that omens bring a divine message from their gods.

These omens include natural phenomena, for example an eclipseabnormal births of animals (especially humans) and behaviour of the sacrificial lamb on its way to the slaughter. They had specialists, the diviners, to interpret these omens. They would also use an artificial method, for example, a clay model of a sheep liver, to communicate with their gods in times of crisis. They would expect a binary answer, either yes or no answer, favourable or unfavourable. They did these to predict what would happen in the future and to take action to avoid disaster.

Though the word “omen” is usually devoid of reference to the change’s nature, hence being possibly either “good” or “bad,” the term is more often used in a foreboding sense, as with the word “ominous”. The origin of the word is unknown, although it may be connected with the Latin word audire, meaning “to hear.”

Ostara 

Ostara is the celebration of the Spring equinox, renewal and rebirth. It is the origin of the Christian holiday Easter. In the northern hemisphere, it is celebrated on March 20-23 and in the southern on September 20-23. It is also known as Ēostre (Old EnglishĒastre [æːɑstrə] or [eːɑstrə]Northumbrian dialect Ēastro,[Mercian dialect and West Saxon dialect (Old English) Ēostre [eːostrə];Old High German*Ôstara ) is a Germanic goddess who, by way of the Germanic month bearing her name (Northumbrian: ĒosturmōnaþWest SaxonĒastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth), is the namesake of the festival of Easter in some languages. Ēostre is attested solely by Bede in his 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time, where Bede states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Ēostre’s honour, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.

By way of linguistic reconstruction, the matter of a goddess called *Austrō in the Proto-Germanic language has been examined in detail since the foundation of Germanic philology in the 19th century by scholar Jacob Grimm and others. As the Germanic languages descend from Proto-Indo-European (PIE), historical linguists have traced the name to a Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn *H₂ewsṓs (→ *Ausṓs), from which descends the Common Germanic divinity from whom Ēostre and Ostara are held to descend. Additionally, scholars have linked the goddess’s name to a variety of Germanic personal names, a series of location names (toponyms) in England, and, discovered in 1958, over 150 inscriptions from the 2nd century CE referring to the matronae Austriahenae.

Theories connecting Ēostre with records of Germanic Easter customs, including hares and eggs, have been proposed. Particularly prior to the discovery of the matronae Austriahenae and further developments in Indo-European studies, debate has occurred among some scholars about whether or not the goddess was an invention of Bede. Ēostre and Ostara are sometimes referenced in modern popular culture and are venerated in some forms of Germanic neopaganism.

P is for…

Pagan

First used as a derogatory term to describe polytheists, who believe in more than one god or goddess, implying their inferiority. Later the term shifted to describe anyone who believes in ‘the false gods’ and the word ‘heathen’ was used alongside it. Now, it’s used as an umbrella term for occult and esoteric religions and spirituality. [ See more here]

Pentagram 

A star symbol with five points, four representing the four elements and the top one representing spirit. Contrary to popular belief it doesn’t have anything to do with anything inherently ‘evil’.

pentagram (sometimes known as a pentalphapentangle or star pentagon) is the shape of a five-pointed star polygon.

Pentagrams were used symbolically in ancient Greece and Babylonia, and are used today as a symbol of faith by many Wiccans, akin to the use of the cross by Christians. The pentagram has magical associations. Many people who practice Neopagan faiths wear jewelry incorporating the symbol. Christians once commonly used the pentagram to represent the five wounds of Jesus. The pentagram is also used as a symbol by other belief systems and is associated with Freemasonry.

The word pentagram comes from the Greek word πεντάγραμμον (pentagrammon), from πέντε (pente), “five” + γραμμή (grammē), “line”. The word “pentacle” is sometimes used synonymously with “pentagram”. The word pentalpha is a learned modern (17th-century) revival of a post-classical Greek name of the shape.

Pendulum

A weight of some kind attached to a chain or string which swings to give answers to questions. Using a pendulum is a form of dowsing, meaning you use your intuition and subconscious thoughts to understand what is happening in your life.  A pendulum is technically ‘a weight hung from a fixed point so that it can swing freely back and forth.’ But pendulums have been used as ancient divination tools for many, many years. The idea behind the pendulum is that is can bring subconscious energy into conscious awareness to give you answers to questions you may have. Of course, you should always use them for your highest good.

The idea behind them is just how there is energy in everything, the energy within us runs through our arm and down through the pendulum. They can help you gain insight by asking them yes or no questions and seeing how they respond. They help to bring unconscious energy into conscious awareness.

Psychic Attack

A psychic attack can be an intentional or unintentional alteration of your mood or vibration caused by someone’s powerful negative energy towards you. Envy, jealousy, and anger, among others, can all lead to a psychic attack or a change in the atmosphere and vibration of a space.

R is for…

Ritual

Definition of ritual

1: of or relating to rites or a ritual CEREMONIALritual dance

2: according to religious law ritual purity

3: done in accordance with social custom or normal protocol

Rising sign

Also known as the ascendant, refers to the zodiac sign that was ascending over the eastern horizon at the time and place you were born. It is described as the ‘mask’ of how we first come across when meeting new people or being in new situations. 

Runes 

Runes are the letters of runic alphabets used in Germanic languages before the Latin alphabet. There were variations also used in Scandinavia and in norse mythology. Runes can also be used for divination in the form of wood pieces, stones, clay or rocks which have the letters inscribed onto the surface. Each letter has its own meaning. [ See more here ]

S is for… 

Sabbat 

Eight pagan festivals throughout the year celebrating the changing phases of the seasons. A sabbat is a seasonal festival, observed by many modern Pagans. Sabbat may also refer to: Witches’ Sabbath, supposed gathering of witches. The Witches’ Sabbath is a phrase that became popular in the 20th century to denote a gathering of those considered to practice witchcraft and other rites.

Samhain

The Sabbat which marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the darker half of the year. It’s also called the witches new year by some and is when the veil between our world and the spirit world is thinnest. There are many different names which this Sabbat goes by, the most popular being Halloween. In the northern hemisphere, it is celebrated on October 31 and in the southern on May 1.

Samhain (/ˈsɑːwɪn, ˈsaʊɪn/Irish: [ˈsˠəuɪnʲ] Scottish Gaelic: [ˈs̪ãũ.ɪɲ]) is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset. This is about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with ImbolcBealtaine and Lughnasadh. Historically, it was widely observed throughout IrelandScotland and the Isle of Man. Similar festivals are held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands, for example the Brittonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall), and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany).

Samhain is believed to have Celtic pagan origins and there is evidence it has been an important date since ancient times. Some Neolithic passage tombs in Ireland are aligned with the sunrise around the time of Samhain. It is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter.

As at Beltane, special bonfires were lit, which were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers, and there were rituals involving them. Like Bealtaine, Samhain was seen as a liminal time, when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld could more easily be crossed. This meant the Aos Sí, the ‘spirits’ or ‘fairies‘, could more easily come into our world. Most scholars see the Aos Sí as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits. At Samhain, it was believed that the Aos Sí needed to be propitiated to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink were left outside for them. The souls of the dead were also thought to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them.

Mumming and guising were part of the festival, and involved people going door-to-door in costume (or in disguise), often reciting verses in exchange for food. The costumes may have been a way of imitating, and disguising oneself from, the Aos SíDivination rituals and games were also a big part of the festival and often involved nuts and apples. In the late 19th century, Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer suggested that it was the “Celtic New Year”, and this view has been repeated by some other scholars.

In the 9th century, the Western Christian church shifted the date of All Saints’ Day to 1 November, while 2 November later became All Souls’ Day. Over time, Samhain and All Saints’/All Souls’ merged to create the modern Halloween. Historians have used the name ‘Samhain’ to refer to Gaelic ‘Halloween’ customs up until the 19th century.

Since the later 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Samhain, or something based on it, as a religious holiday.Neopagans in the Southern Hemisphere celebrate Samhain on or around 1 May.

Sea Witch 

Sea witches like being around and utilising large bodies of water such as oceans, rivers, and lakes in their practice. The element of water is a large part of their practice, and they usually choose to make their tools and use ingredients found near water locations such as shells, driftwood, sea glass, and aquatic flowers. [ see more here ]

Secular Witch

Secular witches choose to believe the energies they work with come from themselves, the natural world or the universe rather than following or calling upon personified deities or spirits in their practices. [See more here]

Shadow Work 

The ‘shadow’ refers to the dark side of our personalities which we repress and overlook. It is the side of us that is wounded with past traumas and impulsive emotions such as envy, greed, rage and desire. Shadow work is the practice of facing those emotions and traumas head on to be able to heal properly and balance your life. Shadow work is an introspective psychological practice that anyone can do and can lead to a more fulfilling life. When working with the shadow, you may have moments of awakening that lead to greater authenticity, creativity, and emotional freedom.

Shaman 

A shaman is a person who has access to and influence over all kinds of spirits and they typically can enter into a state of trance during rituals, divination and healing so that they can interact with the spiritual realms. Shamanism originates from tribes and indigenous traditions. [see more here]

Sigils

Sigils are symbols which are used in magick. Sigil magick can be highly personalised as the symbols can be made specifically for a certain goal, spell, or ritual. A sigil (/ˈsɪdʒəl/; pl. sigilla or sigils) is a type of symbol used in ritual magic. The term has usually referred to a type of pictorial signature of a Jinn or other entity. In modern usage, especially in the context of chaos magic, sigil refers to a symbolic representation of the practitioner’s desired outcome.

Smudging

The use of incense or dried herb smoke to cleanse items or an area. Part of cleansing.

Solitary Witch 

A solitary witch prefers to work alone rather than in covens, groups, or organisations. They may often be a Secular or Hedge witch [ you can see more about both of those in previous posts]

Solstice 

A solstice is the point in Earth’s orbit when the sun is farthest from the equator, the opposite of equinox which is when the sun is the closest to the equator. The days are longer in summer solstice and shorter during the winter solstice and both take place on a different day for the southern and northern hemispheres.

solstice is an event occurring when the Sun appears to reach its most northerly or southerly excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. Two solstices occur annually, around June 21 and December 21. In many countries, the seasons of the year are determined by reference to the solstices and the equinoxes.

The term solstice can also be used in a broader sense, as the day when this occurs. The day of a solstice in either hemisphere has either the most sunlight of the year (summer solstice) or the least sunlight of the year (winter solstice) for any place other than the Equator. Alternative terms, with no ambiguity as to which hemisphere is the context, are “June solstice” and “December solstice“, referring to the months in which they take place every year.

The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (“sun”) and sistere (“to stand still”), because at the solstices, the Sun’s declination appears to “stand still”; that is, the seasonal movement of the Sun’s daily path (as seen from Earth) pauses at a northern or southern limit before reversing direction.

T is for…

Talisman

A talisman is an object that brings luck or protection from harm and negative energies to the person who owns it.

Tarot

Tarot cards are a set of 78 cards used as a tool for divination.

The tarot (/ˈtæroʊ/, first known as trionfi and later as tarocchi or tarock) is a pack of playing cards, used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play games such as Italian tarocchiniFrench tarot and Austrian Königrufen, many of which are still played today. In the late 18th century, some tarot decks began to be used for divination via tarot card reading and cartomancy leading to custom decks developed for such occult purposes.

Like common playing cards, the tarot has four suits which vary by region: French suits in Northern Europe, Latin suits in Southern Europe, and German suits in Central Europe. Each suit has 14 cards: ten pip cards numbering from one (or Ace) to ten, and four face cards (KingQueenKnight, and Jack/Knave/Page). In addition, the tarot has a separate 21-card trump suit and a single card known as the Fool. Depending on the game, the Fool may act as the top trump or may be played to avoid following suit. These tarot cards are still used throughout much of Europe to play conventional card games without occult associations.

Among English-speaking countries where these games are not played frequently, tarot cards are used primarily for novelty and divinatory purposes, usually using specially designed packs. Some who use tarot for cartomancy believe that the cards have esoteric links to ancient Egypt, the Kabbalah, Indian Tantra, or the I Ching, though scholarly research has not found documented evidence of such origins or of the usage of tarot for divination before the 18th century.

Tech Witch

The most modern of witches have begun to use technology and gadgets as tools for their magick, using apps as their Grimoires, listening to podcasts, and utilising the internet to find spells and information.

Technopaganism is the use of modern technology or music within neopaganism and magical ritual. This can include the substitution of technology for traditional magical tools, such as using their oven for a hearth, keeping a “Disk of Shadows” instead of a “Book of Shadows“, and using a laser pointer as a wand. In other practice, technology is the target of the magical work, such as the use of stones and other charms to help improve the performance of mundane items or online role-playing avatars. Modern tribal and urban primitive movements such as urban shamanism and rave culture are associated with electronic dance music.

Technopaganism deals with spiritual and magical facets of technology and technological society. Associated with this is the use of technological metaphors (most often computer or telecommunications metaphors) to describe spiritual phenomena, as well as the use of symbolism from popular culture in spiritual contexts.

U is for…

Universe 

Some use the universe to describe the highest power or energy from which everything stems, similar to ‘God’ but not personified. The universe is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy.

V is for… 

Vibration

In spirituality, vibration is used to describe the invisible or spiritual energy that objects or people give off. Auras have vibrational energy and we can pick up good or bad vibrations from situations, objects and people throughout our day. We cleanse ourselves and objects in an effort to rid ourselves of these stagnant and lingering vibrations. 

Voodoo

A religion deriving from African polytheism. The word can also be used for dolls or puppets that are implied by popular media as used for harm or ill intent, however, that isn’t always the case. [ See more here ] *** There will be a more in depth article coming soon***

W is for…

Wand

A stick that is used to point and focus energy. It can be made of wood, glass, metal, or any other material which has been consecrated in preparation for ritual and spell work. Wands aren’t necessary and some choose to use their hands or fingers to guide energy.

Wicca

Wicca is a religion which stems from pagan witchcraft. Not all witches are Wiccans and not all Wiccans practise witchcraft. [ See more here]

Wiccan Rede

The Wiccan Rede refers to the basic ethical code ‘an it harm none, do what ye will’. There are several interpretations of it which are followed by many practitioners, not just Wiccans. It is considered advice rather than a rule or commandment. 

Y is for… 

Yin-Yang

A Chinese philosophical symbol representing the duality of life, and how seemingly opposite or juxtaposing forces are interconnected and can complement and balance each other out.

In Ancient Chinese philosophyyin and yang (/jɪn/ and /jɑːŋ, jæŋ/Chinese yīnyáng, lit. “dark-bright”, “negative-positive”) is a concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.In Chinese cosmology, the universe creates itself out of a primary chaos of material energy, organized into the cycles of Yin and Yang and formed into objects and lives. Yin is the receptive and Yang the active principle, seen in all forms of change and difference such as the annual cycle (winter and summer), the landscape (north-facing shade and south-facing brightness), sexual coupling (female and male), the formation of both women and men as characters and sociopolitical history (disorder and order).

There are various dynamics in Chinese cosmology. In the cosmology pertaining to Yin and Yang, the material energy, which this universe has created itself out of, is also referred to as qi. It is believed that the organization of qi in this cosmology of Yin and Yang has formed many things. Included among these forms are humans. Many natural dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, expanding and contracting) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality symbolized by yin and yang. This duality lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy, as well as being a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine,and a central principle of different forms of Chinese martial arts and exercise, such as baguazhangtaijiquan (t’ai chi), and qigong (Chi Kung), as well as appearing in the pages of the I Ching.

The notion of duality can be found in many areas, such as Communities of Practice. The term “dualistic-monism” or dialectical monism has been coined in an attempt to express this fruitful paradox of simultaneous unity and duality. Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. According to this philosophy, everything has both yin and yang aspects (for instance, shadow cannot exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The yin yang (i.e. taijitu symbol) shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the opposite element in each section.

In Taoist metaphysics, distinctions between good and bad, along with other dichotomous moral judgments, are perceptual, not real; so, the duality of yin and yang is an indivisible whole. In the ethics of Confucianism on the other hand, most notably in the philosophy of Dong Zhongshu (c. 2nd century BC), a moral dimension is attached to the idea of yin and yang.

Yule 

Yule is the Sabbat which celebrates the winter solstice. It is the origin of the Christian holiday Christmas. In the northern hemisphere it is celebrated on December 20-23 and in the southern hemisphere June 20-23.

Yule or Yuletide (“Yule time” or “Yule season”) is a festival historically observed by the Germanic peoples. Scholars have connected the original celebrations of Yule to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht.

Later departing from its pagan roots, Yule underwent Christianised reformulation, resulting in the term Christmastide. Many present-day Christmas customs and traditions such as the Yule logYule goatYule boarYule singing, and others stem from pagan Yule traditions. Terms with an etymological equivalent to Yule are still used in Nordic countries and Estonia to describe Christmas and other festivals occurring during the winter holiday season. Today, Yule is celebrated in Heathenry and other forms of Neopaganism, as well as in LaVeyan Satanism.

Z is for…

Zodiac

The Zodiac refers to the 12-star constellations that can be found along the paths of the sun, moon and planets. You have a zodiac sign for each planet which is determined by the position of the planet in accordance with the 12 constellations.

The zodiac is an area of the sky that extends approximately 8° north or south (as measured in celestial latitude) of the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year. The paths of the Moon and visible planets are also within the belt of the zodiac.

In Western astrology, and formerly astronomy, the zodiac is divided into twelve signs, each occupying 30° of celestial longitude and roughly corresponding to the constellations: AriesTaurusGeminiCancerLeoVirgoLibraScorpioSagittariusCapricornAquarius, and Pisces.

These astrological signs form a celestial coordinate system, or even more specifically an ecliptic coordinate system, which takes the ecliptic as the origin of latitude and the Sun’s position at vernal equinox as the origin of longitude.


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