Athame: (A-tha-may) The sacred black handled knife of the Wiccae. This is traditionally a double-edged knife with a leaf shaped blade. Often Athames have sacred symbols on their hilts. They are not used for actual cutting, which is reserved for the Kerfan, or white handled knife, but for rituals.
Circle: A gathering of Witches or Pagans. We meet in Circles to worship and work magic. Sometimes the entire group is also known as the Circle. This can get a little confusing, "Our Circle is having a Circle where we will circle in a circle." You mostly have to figure it out from the context.
Craft: Short for "Witchcraft," or "the Craft of the Wise." Often used because it isn't as much of a buzzword as "Witch," which can cause instant and undesirable reactions in people who equate us with Satanists and think we eat babies. See Wicca, Satanism
Cult: In my definition, which is entirely mine, I think a cult is something that claims to be a religion, but spends 50% or more of its entire resources (time, money, and energy) trying to convert other people. If you are spending as much time trying to convert others as you are worshiping whoever you worship, what is your actual point here? Normally, Wiccan groups do not proselytize at all. We figure if you need us, you will find us. Therefore, by my definition, although we are occult, we are not a cult.
Esbat: Full Moon. Many groups meet for Circles during the full moon. These are called "Esbat Circles," so as not to confuse them with the Sabbat Circles held at the eight holidays. See Sabbat, Wheel of the Year
God: See Lord
Goddess: See Lady
Grounding and Centering: The process of connecting oneself to the Earth (grounding) and aligning one's own energy flow (centering). It is absolutely necessary to Ground and Center before one does any work at all involving energy or power. If you don't, you are likely to have a simply horrific headache, at the very least. You may also faint dead away, or become quite ill. If you want to know how to do this, I have a section on Grounding and Centering.
Initiate: Someone who has been through a Ritual of Initiation, and taken certain vows. (Mostly to protect the Craft and other practitioners and dedicate oneself to the Gods. They vary a bit from Group to Group.) Although you can be self-initiated, I think it's lots more fun to do it in a group. The main point of the ritual, I believe, is to open the doors of your far memory (memories form previous lives) and remind you of things you learned before. In my case, and that of all but one of the people I have initiated, this sparked far reaching and overnight changes. These varied from individual to individual; but no one was quite the same afterward. (In the case of the one, the changes seemed to happen several weeks before the planned ritual date. A sort of spontaneous initiation, if you will. After all, as the saying goes, "The Gods initiate. We just officiate.") There is a great deal of controversy in some circles about whether someone who has not had an initiation ritual can call herself a Witch. I, personally, think that there is already more than enough controversy in this world; and if someone calls herself a Witch, it's not my place to argue with her about her bona fides. But I think that only someone who has experienced some form of initiation should call herself an Initiate. After all, that is what the word means. See Wicca, Witch
Initiates Circle: A Circle for Initiates only. These may vary in form from non-initiates circles (often called Pagan Groves) or not. In my own tradition, magic is practiced only in the Initiates Circle, because a number of folk in our Grove cannot yet ground and center reliably, and would get terrific headaches from energy use. See Pagan Grove, Magic, Grounding and Centering
Kerfan: The white-handled knife that is used for actual cutting of material objects (usually string etc.) in a circle. It's the opposite, and compliment to, the Athame. This is handed down, they say, from a time when they were both hidden as kitchen tools, and it was important to keep them apart from your other knives. Today, many of us use Leatherman Tools, Sacred Fiskars, or something else which is easier to cut with as our Kerfan! See Athame
Lady: The Goddess of the Wiccae. We also refer to Her by any of the names of any of Her aspects. She is a triple Goddess; Maiden, Mother, and Crone, and we identify ourselves with different aspects of Her at different points in our lives, as well as appealing to different aspects for different things. She is all encompassing, containing especially all creative and procreative properties, all aspects of nurturing and healing, all forms of birth and rebirth, all growth and plenty. All women partake of Her nature, and are part of Her. All things are Her children. She is the earth, the moon, the stars and the rain. Together, the Lord and the Lady bring forth all the life that is on the earth.
Laughter: Something we do a lot of. We crack jokes, we commit faux paus, we knock over the altar candles and set ourselves on fire. (We are never hurt in any of this, mind you. We know how to extinguish ourselves quite well, thank you.) Not all groups do this to quite the extent ours does; but then, we all have our own traditions.
Lord: The God of the Wiccae. We also refer to Him by any of the names of any of His aspects. He is the Horned God of the Hunt, the Lord of Death and Resurrection. (The two are inextricably wed in our religion. You can't have one without automatically having the other.) We often refer to Him as the Laughing Lord. He is the Consort of the Lady, who dies and is reborn each year. He is sensuality, strength, music and lust. All men partake of His nature, and are part of Him. He is the sun, the sky and the wind. Together, the Lord and the Lady bring forth all the life that is on the earth.
Magic: Using knowledge and focused will to direct energy, and manifest a change in the world. This is stuff that must be done surely, carefully, and gently. If you don't know what you are doing, it can give you a killer headache. I'm not going to tell you how in this book, because I don't tell anyone how unless I know why they want to do this, and am sure that they can handle the energies involved. If you want to learn this, please find a teacher whose ethics agree with yours. If you can't find a teacher, pray for one! Explain to the Lord and the Lady what you want, and why, and ask them to arrange things so you will meet your teacher, or someone who can introduce you to her.
Pagan: One who practices a religion that is not part of the Judo-Christian-Islamic Hindu Muslim Buddhist etc. mainstream. A Neo-Pagan usually is practicing a religion that hearkens back to the old religions that were practiced before most of today's major religions came into being. These can take many forms, including the ancient African religions, Native American Shamanism, the old Greco-Roman stuff the Celtic or Nordic traditions and so on. All Witches are Pagan. Not all Pagans are Witches, by any matter of means.
Pagan Grove: An outer circle, normally set up for teaching purposes, and led by a Wiccan High Priestess (HPS) and High Priest (HP.) This is where folks start in many traditions (including mine) and learn what the Craft is about, and whether it is the right Path for them. This is the place you study for a year and a day before becoming an Initiate. Groves tend to be fluid but then, Pagan groups in general are like Lava Lamps. They flow, divide, join together, etc. with amazin' frequency. Sometimes an entire grove of new students is started at once. Then people drop out as they lose interest, or become initiated, and a new Grove begins. Sometimes, people join the Grove as they become interested, and then leave, decide to just stay Pagans, or become initiated, move on to the Initiate's Circles, and eventually hive off and start groups of their own. I find the first easier to teach, because everyone tends to be more or less at the same place. But the second is more like a family because, in the words of one of my Coveners, "all the kids aren't the same age." See Initiate, Initiate's Circle
Reincarnation: The belief that souls do not end at death, but wait for a time and then are reborn to live and learn on this earth again. This is one of the central tenets of the Craft. Exactly how we do it is explained differently by different practitioners. (If you are studying Craft at all, you should know that we are a disorganized religion. In Simple Terms, that means that wherever you have five of us, you have seven religions.) But we all tend to agree that it is definitely something that we do, and many of us have the memories to prove it. I tend to refer to this as "rolling up a new character." That undoubtedly comes from many years working for places like TSR, of Dungeons and Dragons fame. The Craft has absolutely nothing to do with D&D, which is just a game; but the simile is useful. See the Reincarnation FAQ
Sabbat: One of the eight holidays that Wiccans celebrate. A time for feasting, partying, and general merrymaking. See Wheel of the Year
Satanism: The flip side of Christianity. These are folk who believe in the entire Christian mythos, especially the Catholic Christian mythos, and have decided to cast their lot with Evil instead of Good in the Great War that they think they are having. Witches are not any form of Satanists. We can't be; we don't believe in Satan, and we don't promote evil. We have a saying, "In order to be a Satanist, you have to be a Christian. Otherwise, you are going to a great deal of trouble to insult a piece of bread."
Sky-Clad: Nude. Some traditions always practice sky-clad, on the principle that clothing interferes with the vibrations from the Earth. Since many of these same people practice indoors, and think that wood, steel and concrete don't interfere with these vibrations, I find myself wondering a bit. But if they feel that way, hey, they aren't hurting anyone. Others practice sky-clad to show our freedom, which makes more sense to me, or to remember the burning times, when it is said that clothing identified the person and the person's social rank; so it was left outside the Circle for mutual safety. In those Circles, we are told, masks were also worn. With the parts usually seen covered, and the parts never seen uncovered, people were supposedly anonymous. Some groups work sky-clad because it tends to be quite warm inside a Circle. Some do, because they simply do. I think they need to examine this more closely. In my tradition, we usually do some things, like initiations, sky-clad; because it has long been done that way, and we are trying to rekindle old memories here. (According to my old memories, by the way, the purpose of being naked was to show that you were being born all over again. Your old life was over, and a new one starting. Babies are always naked when they are being born.) Other things, like Pagan Grove, and outdoor stuff in public places, are always done clothed, for obvious reasons. In other words, we take this, like everything else, on a case-by-case basis. See Initiate, Pagan Grove
Wheel of the Year: The eight Sabbats in the Wiccan calendar. They occur at the Equinoxes and Solstices (the Quarters) and on the days marking the midpoints between them (the Cross-Quarters.) A short list of the names used by my tradition; Yule Winter Solstice; Candlemas or Imbolc Feb. 2; Eostar Spring Equinox; Beltane May 1; Litha Summer Solstice; Lughnassad August 2; Mabon Autumn Equinox; Samhain (pronounced Sowen) October 31.
Wicca: A neo-pagan religion which has its roots in the ancient past, and its revival in the late fifties and early sixties. The reason for much of the revival was that the law against Witchcraft, which carried capital punishment, was repealed in England in 1952. Yes. Nineteen. Less than fifty years ago. Therefore, some of the people who are responsible for the revival in this country are still alive today. They are amazingly interesting to talk to! For more information, see the rest of this grove!
Wiccae: Plural of Witch. One Witch, folk of the Wiccae, religion of Wicca, Craft, Witchcraft. Things Wiccan. All are terms for the neo-pagan religion of Wicca. See Wicca
Witch: A practitioner of the Craft. (See Craft) A member of the Wiccae. (See Wiccae, and Wicca.) This term applies equally to either males or females.
Warlock, a term that the popular media applies to male witches, actually means "Traitor." A friend has suggested that it was used because male witches, by turning away from the Patriarchal religions, were seen as traitors to their sex.
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