Glossary of Wicca


Neopaganism (or Neo-Paganism or Paganism) is a broad designation that refers to any nature-based or earth-based religion, most of which pattern themselves on ancient western pagan religions.

Wicca is one form of Neopaganism. Thus all Wiccans are Neopagans (or Pagans), but not all Pagans are Wiccans. The main difference between Pagans who refer to themselves as such and Wiccans is that Wiccans practice magic and witchcraft.

Though sometimes used interchangeably, "Wicca" and "Witchcraft" are not the same thing. The confusion comes, understandably, because both practitioners of Wicca and practitioners of witchcraft are called witches. All practitioners of Wicca are witches, but not all witches are practitioners of Wicca.

"Wicca" refers to a religion. The term can refer to the initiatory tradition, where initiates are assigned a degree and generally work in covens, or to Solitary Wicca, where practitioners self-dedicate themselves to the tradition and generally practice on their own. Both Initiates and Solitary Wiccans worship the Goddess and/or the God, and both celebrate the Sabbats and Esbats.

"Witchcraft," or "The Craft," on the other hand, requires no belief in specific gods or goddesses and is not a specific spiritual path. Thus, there are witches who adhere to a variety of beliefs and religious systems besides Wiccan ones. Witchcraft, the casting of spells and the practice of magic, is considered to be a learned skill that can be separated from religious beliefs.

blessed be
A common Pagan and Wiccan salutation.
British Traditional Wicca (BTW)
Another name for Alexandrian Wicca, as distinguished from newer, non-initiatory traditions.
broom
A Wiccan tool used to purify a space before casting a circle.
Burning Times
The period of the European witch-hunts.
coven
A congregation of Wiccans, ideally consisting of between 10 to 15 members, with the norm being 13.
Drawing Down the Moon
Wiccan ritual that normally takes place during a full moon, in which the power of the God and Goddess is drawn down into the High Priest and Priestess.
Eclectic Wiccans
Wiccans who are not members of a particular tradition and often are solitary practitioners. They draw upon several sources to form their own individualized and innovative religious practices.
Fluffy Bunny
Derogatory term used by some Wiccans for other Wiccans perceived as being too New-Agey or naïve.
Four Elements
Earth, air, fire and water. Usually invoked or used to purify space at the beginning of Wiccan rituals.
galdra
Saxon word for magic, used in Seax Wicca.
handfasting
Wiccan marriage ritual.
High Magic (also called Ceremonial Magic)
Educated" forms of magic - alchemy, astrology, numerology, Kaballah, etc.
Hereditary Witch
A witch who has learned the skills of witchcraft from his or her relatives.
hwata
Name for divination (fortune-telling) in Seax Wicca.
Llewellyn Publications
The major publisher of Wiccan literature in America.
magick
Common Neo-Pagan and Wiccan spelling of "magic," coined by occultist Aleister Crowley to distinguish real magic from false stage magic.
Neo-Pagan (or Pagan)
A broad designation encompassing various non-Abrahamic and earth-based religious traditions. All Wiccans are Neo-Pagans, but not all Neo-Pagans are Wiccans.
Ordo Templi Orientis
Occult group founded by Aleister Crowley and related to Freemasonry. One of the influences on Wicca founder Gerald Gardner.
Proper Person
In Alexandrian Wicca, a designation one must receive from a coven in order to be considered for initiation. A Proper Person has right motivations, maturity and ethics, among other qualifications.
skyclad
The practice of performing rituals in the nude; also used as an adjective for those who do so. The practice was taught by Gardner and is still practiced by many, but not all, Wiccan traditions.
Tabard
Ritual robe in Seax Wicca, which bearing the Seax symbol and the name of the practitioner.
Threefold Law (or Law of Threefold Return)
Wiccan ethical doctrine that good or bad deeds will come back upon the doer threefold.
tradition
A branch of Wicca. Major traditions include Gardnerian Wicca, Alexandrian Wiccan, and Seax Wicca.
Traditional Wicca (TW)
Refers to various Wiccan covens that are based on the teachings of Gerald Gardner, are coven-based (rather than solitary), and can trace their lineage to Gardner. Used as another name for Alexandrian Wicca in Europe.
wanna-blessed-be
A derogatory/humorous term that was coined on the television show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as a play on the Pagan salutation "blessed be." It refers to someone who is involved in Wicca or other Neopagan paths as a fad or form of rebellion rather than out of actual religious devotion.
Wicca
A new, earth-based religion based on ancient European pagan religions and the practice of witchcraft.
Wiccan Rede
The Wiccan ethical code, which states, "If it harm none, do what you will."
witch
A person (male or female) who practices witchcraft.
witchcraft
Exercise or invocation of alleged supernatural powers to control people or events, practices typically involving sorcery or magic. (EB) All Wiccans practice witchcraft, but not all who practice witchcraft are Wiccans.
W.I.T.C.H.
A protest organization formed in 1968 by a group of radical political women. The acronym stood for "Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy From Hell" and they called themselves a coven. Although W.I.T.C.H. was almost purely a political organization, it inspired covens around the country, some of which became spiritual as well as political in nature.