- This lexicon mainly applied to modern wicca.
WITCHCRAFT: the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers, usually in order to inflict harm or damage upon members of a community or their property. Other uses of the term distinguish between bad witchcraft (black magic) and good witchcraft (white witchcraft or wisecraft), with the latter often involving healing, and helping the community by communicating with the spirits.
WITCH: a practitioner of witchcraft.
WHITE WITCH: a good or wise witch that help the community.
WITCH HUNT: a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials.
THE BURNING TIMES: the period that strech from the 14th to the early 18th century during which people where persecuted and sometimes killed for witchcraft.
MALEFICIA: Any malicious acts which were contributed to witches and sorcerers in past times that were believed to cause harm or death to humans, animals or crops.
PAGAN: a practitioner of an Earth Religion; from the Latin paganus, a country dweller.
NEO PAGANISM: a modern Earth Religion which borrows and adapts from the best of pre-Christian Pagan religions, sometimes with additions from contemporary religious thinkers.
WICCA: The Old English word for a male witch; today a Neopagan duotheistic religion, (worshipping a Goddess and a God) that is often referred to as Witchcraft or the Craft by its adherents, who are known as Wiccans or Witches. Its disputed origins lie in England in the early 20th century, though it was first popularised during the 1950s by Gerald Gardner, a retired British civil servant, who at the time called it the “witch cult” and “witchcraft”, and its adherents “the Wica”. From the 1960s the name of the religion was normalised to “Wicca”. Black magic is supposed to be banned from wiccan practices.
ATHAME (also ATHALME): A dagger used to cast a circle and perform other witchcraft rituals.
CIRCLE: The space within which Wiccan rituals are held and where it is believed contact with greater spiritual forces can be achieved.
COVEN: A group of people who convene for ritual magic or pagan worship. Though usually numbering 12 or 13, a coven may range from three to a score or more.
DIANIC: In Margaret Murray’s “The God of the Witches,” published in 1933, the Dianic cult worshiped a two-faced, horned god known to the Romans as Janus or Dianus, who represented the cycle of the seasons. This was supposed to be the ancient religion continued by covens of witches. Today the Dianic tradition refers to the ritual worship of the triple goddess (maiden, mother, and crone).
ESBAT: Meeting of a coven held at regular intervals, such as once a week or at some phase of the moon. The word appears to have been invented by Margaret Murray.
GROVE: A group of covens.
OLD RELIGION: This term for the alleged universal pre-Christian goddess religion first appears in “Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches,” published in 1899. The author, Charles G. Leland, claimed to have met a woman in Italy who was descended from a with family that practiced “la Vecchia Religione” (the Old Religion).
PENTAGRAM: A continuous line that crosses itself to form a five pointed star. Shown with one point up, it is a symbol of the Old Religion. Two points up are supposed to indicate devotion to Satan.
SABBAT: Meeting of a coven to mark the eight major annual festivals of the Old Religion. These are :
- Samhain (Halloween), the Celtic religious new year;
- Oimelc (Feb. 1), a festival of winter purification and the approach of spring;
- Beltane (May 1), the great fertility festival;
- Lughnasadh (Aug. 1), the festival of first fruits and, in some traditions, the time of the death of the sacred king; the vernal and autumnal equinoxes; and the winter and summer solstices.
SATANISM: The worship of the devil, often employing inversions of Christian rituals. (Witchcraft is non-Christian, therefore not Satanism).