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An Essential Glossary of Witchcraft and Magick. Episode 2.

Confounded by words like Witchcraft, Wicca, Pagan, Pentagram & Pentacles? Here's an essential witchcraft glossary for you. Plus, we debunk 5 common misconceptions of being a witch.

The Persistence of Alchemy, Witchcraft & Magick Podcast is available for you to listen on, SpotifyGoogle Podcasts, Apple Podcasts & Stitcher

Altar
A physical workspace, like a cabinet, bench or table top, for doing magick. It usually contains physical representations of the elements, earth, water, fire, and air. Variations in altars come far and wide with permanent altars, temporary altars, facing various compass points and for different purposes. I have several altars in my home including a manifestation altar, where I print a vision board for my goals and dreams and surround it with meaningful décor, or elements.


Athame or Athalme
A ritual dagger. It is never used for daily chopping or opening the mail and of course never to hurt anyone. It is a magickal tool used to symbolically slice away negativity or cut through psychic barriers. 


A Year and a Day
In many Wiccan traditions, it is customary for someone to study for a year and a day prior to being formally initiated into a coven.


Besom
A broom usually made of wood and organic material used cleansing and energy sweeping. A humble, everyday household tool.


Broomstick Ointment or Flying Ointment
It was thought that besoms, or broomsticks were used to conceal witches wands and used to fly off to ritual gatherings. Flying ointments were made with a concoction of hallucinogenic, often poisonous, herbs that could induce hallucinations of flying. 


Bells
Use to clear negative energy from a space.


Bewitch
To bewitch is to cast a spell on someone with witchcraft or to capture their attention or affection.


Black Book or 'Book of Shadows’ as coined by Gerald Gardener
A journal where incantations, rituals and recipes are recorded. It’s best that the book itself is made by the witch. Usually its cover is bound with leather or cloth, with parchment for pages. According to sources, the book must be destroyed upon the witch’s death. This is why so little remains about witchcraft today — it exists as an oral tradition. Also known as a grimoire, your notes will help you develop your magickal working and you will become more aware of synchronicities. 


Candles
Candles are essential to any spell, ritual or magickal work. 
Candles energise and their flame enhances focus on a certain intention or magickal working. Their soft, flickering light creates a transient shift out of your ordinary reality. 
Witches keep a range of colours for different meanings, but white candles can be used as a substitute for any colour and is often placed on your altar. 
We have a beautiful range of ritual candles on our website, and we will definitely be launching a future podcast on candle magick!


Cats
In witch folklore, cats were thought to be witches familiars. This is why they were destroyed by the thousands during the Burning Times.


Cauldron
Used to contain a fire or concoct magickal brews, and cook ritual meals in it. The round shape is symbolic of pregnancy or fertility, so it is used to nurture and grow your intention.


Chalace
The chalice corresponds to the element of water and is a cup-like tool to hold brews, potions and ceremonial drinks. It can be made out of different materials like glass, metal, crystal and adorned with crystals, sigils or symbols.


Coven
A coven is a spiritual group or family traditionally with 13 people, no less than three or more than 20.


Covenstead 
Is the location of the coven


Craft
A shortened form of witchcraft


Craft Name
A name that you use or assign to yourself when practising magick. This is completely optional as a solitary practitioner. It is also a name a witch receives after an initiation ritual in a coven.


Divination
The art or practise that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of tools such as tarot, oracle cards, tasseomancy and scrying.


Eclectic
Eclectic Pagans bring aspects of many spiritual paths together to develop his or her own spiritual path. Practitioners blend paganism with aspects of other religions or philosophies, as well as from indigenous and other world traditions.


Enchant
To put someone or something under a spell.


Familiar
Familiars are helpful spirits they may take the form of a beloved pet, a totem animal, or even a helpful nonphysical entity. They are companions that guide and protect us. According to The Hoodwitch Owner and Creative Director, Bri Luna, “Familiars are not just pets, they are our truest friends and confidants. They hear and see it all, they understand and know us better than we may even know ourselves.” Not all pets are familiars.


Herbs
A herb is generally a plant with is considered to possess medicinal or culinary value. Witch uses the term herb as an umbrella for flowers, spices, plants. They are used in kitchen witchery, for healing, and spell working. The physical and spiritual potency of their natural elements is harnessed in many ways.


Incantation
Catchy phrases are usually written in rhymes. Like rhyming affirmations used for spell working, ceremonies and rituals.


In the broom closet
Likened to the LGBT term in the closet, a witch or practitioner of witchcraft who isn't openly practicing or talking about his or her craft. Is usually known to practice witchcraft in subtle, undercover ways. For example, their altar is in a shoebox in their wardrobe.


Pagan/ Paganism/ Neopaganism
Pagan was originally a derogatory term coined by the church to shame those not of the Christian faith. Pagan and Wiccan communities share many interests and beliefs. Not all pagans are Wiccans or witches, but Wiccans and witches are usually considered pagan.
Today’s pagans or modern pagans are generally referred to as neopagans.
Paganism is polytheistic, a belief system or philosophy that is not confined to any one single deity or particular higher being. Rather, they uphold earth-honouring philosophies and strive to live in harmony with nature and the cosmos.


Pentagram and Pentacle
These are Wiccan terms and symbols of faith. Defamed by Hollywood and pop culture as devil worship and evil, it is actually a symbol of the 5 Elements Spirit, Air, Earth, Water and Fire in a 5 point star, drawn in a way in which its lines are still intact. The Pentacle is the star drawn within a circle - the circle is likened to represent the universe and connects them all.


Solitary
A witch or practitioner of witchcraft who chooses to work alone rather than in a coven or group of practitioners. It is a matter of choice, enables you to develop your own style of expression and set of practice beliefs and principles. A solitary witch still gathers with like-minded peers or other witches to celebrate sabbats or the seasons. 


Sabbat
A Sabbat is a pagan holiday or celebration. Sabbats celebrate the Earth's journey around the sun, called the Wheel of the Year. We will definitely have a podcast on this later on and how we can celebrate them!


Sigil 
A sigil is a line symbol with mystical or magical meaning. Often created with the intention of bringing a desire to fruition through your subconscious self.


Wand
A wand is filled with your intention or power. It’s main purpose is to direct energy. You can also use the wand to attract energy by pointing it to the earth or the sky. Early wands were wooden and traditionally 6 feet long, however, today you can find wands made of glass, resin and other materials. Some are adorned with crystals, art and decorations and some a simple and minimalist.


Wicca
Gerald Gardner is commonly credited as the founder of Wicca, with his own sect- Gardnerian Wicca. Wiccans share customs, rituals, and deities. Their religion is flexible with no rule except for one: do no harm.  Wiccans abide by the Wiccan Rede.
There are many branches of Wicca. For example, Dianic Wicca has strong feminist energy and coven members are usually females. Gardnerian Wicca is generally more formal and hierarchal.


If you do choose to be a witch or practice witchcraft, you'll have to remove silly and sensationalised things you've seen or heard about being a witch. Society’s ignorance towards witchcraft is still prevalent today, and I hope that over time and with social education, we practitioners of witchcraft and magick will live without bias and stigma. 

For now, you’ll just have to put on a protective shield from any negativity and focus on becoming your best magickal self. I believe one of the magical things I’ve ever done is release my concern over the opinion of others. 


Episode Two's Magickal Exercise:
Take 5 minutes to journal or reflect on what being a witch or practising witchcraft means to you. Now that you are armed with a basic understanding of common terminology - Consider what it means to be a witch, or maybe how your perception of witchcraft has changed. Free journaling and reflection is an excellent way to connect with our inner needs and desires. In our next episode, we will use the law of attraction and magick to fulfil dreams and goals, so get comfortable with asking yourself what you want out your life and magick.