Welcome to the glossary of witchcraft terminology. This guide aims to provide you with a comprehensive list of key terms and concepts commonly used in the practice of witchcraft. Be sure to bookmark this page and refer to it often!
Table of Contents
From traditional witchcraft practices to modern neo-paganism, this glossary covers a wide range of topics, including spells, divination, deities, and magical tools.
Whether you are a seasoned practitioner or simply curious about the world of witchcraft, this guide will provide you with a deeper understanding of the terminology and concepts used within this fascinating and complex practice.
Alchemy – Book of Shadows
Alchemy – Originally, alchemy was a blend of science, philosophy, and spiritual practice that aimed to transform base metals into noble ones, like gold. Alchemists believed in the possibility of achieving perfection and immortality through this process, seeking to discover the philosopher’s stone, a mythical substance capable of turning lead into gold and granting eternal life.
But over time, the term has evolved and expanded. In a metaphorical sense, alchemy represents a process of transformation, refinement, or improvement. It’s about taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, whether it’s a physical substance like compost, a personal trait, or even an emotion.
Altar – In witchcraft, an altar is a ritual workspace where witches practice their craft, such as tables, shelves, or other dedicated areas. Some witches use altars for casting spells, performing rituals, and magickal workings, while others use altars as sacred spaces for symbolic objects. There is nothing to suggest that a witch’s altar should be dedicated to a specific religious path; in fact, there are witches across all religions, and some witches worship Mother Earth alone.
Amulet/Talisman – An object that has been assigned magickal powers or intentions. Amulets and talismans are good luck charms that are infused with the intention of the witch and carried with them so they can draw upon them when necessary. Often included in charm bags, spell bottles, or carried in pockets or purses.
Astral Travel – Also known as astral projection, astral travel occurs when the soul leaves the body and enters the astral plane, where it can observe or interact with spiritual beings and entities. In contrast to ‘out-of-body experiences’, astral travel involves directing your soul from your body in an intentional way.
Athame – A ceremonial knife or blade (most commonly with a black handle and a double-edged blade), used to channel and direct energy and cast protective circles. It is not traditionally used for cutting, so the blade is mostly designed for beauty. Athames have a firm, commanding energy, unlike wands, which are gentle. If the ritual, ceremony, or spell requires cutting, a different knife (or boline) is used.
Baby Witch – Often considered derogatory, a new witch with little or no experience in the Craft. This label should only be applied to yourself if it is something you would like to use; applying it to someone else could be interpreted as offensive as it suggests ‘helplessness’. The word ‘novice’ or ‘new’ is preferable when referring to others since these terms suggests an ability to move forward independently.
Beltane – As well as Beltane, Beltaine, Beltaine Day, and Beltaine Day, Beltane is another name for May Day or May Eve. Beltane is a joyous festival that marks the beginning of the planting cycle and ensures a bountiful harvest and is one of the eight sabbats. As well as spending time outdoors, spells and rituals are appropriate for fertility and abundance at this time.
Besome – An ancient broomstick made of twigs tied to a sturdy pole called a besom. The use of large besoms to clean a sacred space is mainly spiritual or metaphorical, so the besoms typically don’t touch the ground, but are usually used a few inches above it. The altar is often cleaned with small besoms in much the same manner.
Boline – Known also as the bolline or bolleen, the boline is a white-handled knife used before, or during spells and rituals, for cutting herbs, cords, wands, etc., or inscribing candles. It is not uncommon for the boline to have a crescent-shaped blade, but it can have a small, straight blade as well.
Book of Shadows – A book of instructions for magickal rituals and spells, often containing religious texts and personal thoughts, the Book of Shadows was originally associated with the Wiccan religion. The Book of Shadows is now widely used by witches of all religious paths. As opposed to the Grimoire, the Book of Shadows has more of a journal quality, as it is often used to record experiences and emotions rather than just ingredients and instructions.
Cauldron – Familiar
Cauldron – A metal pot or cast iron pot used for cooking and boiling is known as a cauldron. The classic image of a cauldron depicts it bubbling over leaping flames with magickal concoctions, but nowadays a cauldron is typically a smaller, more understated fireproof pot for burning herbs, incense, and performing fire magick.
Chalice – This vessel represents the element of water on a witch’s altar, as well as femininity and fertility, and is intended for ceremonial drinking. In many covens, it is customary for each coven member to take a sip from the chalice to symbolize their bond. Witches who work with deities use their chalice as a liquid offering.
Chakras – Believed to be the energy centres in the body, these spinning disks are at their best when open and aligned for our spiritual and physical wellbeing. There are seven major chakras in the human body: Root Chakra, Sacral Chakra, Solar Plexus Chakra, Heart Chakra, Throat Chakra, Third Eye Chakra, and the Crown Chakra. Two additional chakras, the Earth Star Chakra, and the Soul Star Chakra are located below and above the body and help keep us grounded (Earth Star) and to access a higher purpose (Soul Star).
Charm Bag – A magickal bag filled with things that represent your intention. Also known as a mojo bag or conjure bag, the pouch often contains herbs, crystals, affirmations, amulets, etc. It can be kept in the home, on the altar, or carried with you depending on its intended use. When your charm bag no longer serves a purpose, you can give back herbs and crystals to the earth with thanks.
Coven – The coven is a gathering of witches who practice witchcraft together. It is usually (but not always) led by the High Priestess, the High Priest, or both. Covens usually meet in nature to celebrate sabbats, perform rituals, and initiate children. When you join a coven, it is best to avoid initiations that make you feel uncomfortable or require you to pay a fee.
Craft – An abbreviation for the practice of witchcraft. An appropriate word, as witchcraft is a practice in which we are always learning, acquiring new skills, developing our abilities, and honing our power.
Crystal Grid – A crystal grid is a special geometric arrangement of crystals with a set intention. It is designed to amplify the power of the crystals and to combine the powers of many crystals towards one end goal.
Crystal Healing – Crystal healing is an energy-based alternative or complementary therapy which uses crystals to help bring balance and harmony to the body and mind. Each crystal resonates with its own unique vibration, which can intuitively be felt by those who are sensitive to energies. Bringing a crystal near the body will allow the person to feel how it brings their own energy systems into balance, restoring their chakras and overall wellbeing.
Crystal Magick – The use of crystals for healing, manifestation, and energy work.
Since crystals all have their own natural properties, they are excellent additions to charm bags, spell jars, etc. It is helpful to set your own intentions to maximize the magickal energies in crystals.
- Choose the crystal that best suits your goal (for instance, rose quartz for love, amethyst for health, citrine for abundance, etc.).
- Find a peaceful moment when your mind is clear of any negative thoughts.
- Place the crystal in your open palm and feel connected to it.
- Imagine a white light coming from it and embracing you completely.
- Visualize what you wish to achieve as if it has already come true.
- Hold this image until the intention is firmly imprinted.
- Use this crystal in your spellcraft, or simply keep it close by.
Now that your intentions have been set, it’s helpful to keep your crystal within your auric field as much as possible, so try sleeping with it under your pillow, or keeping it in your pocket, etc.
To stay connected to your crystal, reset your intentions periodically.
Curse – Ill wishes cast with the power of the spoken word and only requires the witch’s energy and harmful intent.
Divination – Techniques for receiving guidance and insight from the universe, such as tarot, astrology, and runes.
By using your intuition and insight to translate the images, visions, or messages that come through your chosen divination tool, divination is a practice of seeking insight into the future or the unknown. Many people seem to have a natural gift for divination, but this is also something you can master as you become more aware of your intuition over time.
Dream Work – Techniques for working with dreams to gain insight, healing, and guidance.
Earth Magick – Honoring and connecting with the natural world for healing, ritual, and manifestation.
Elemental Magick – Working with the elements of earth, air, fire, water, and spirit for manifestation and transformation.
Elements – There are four elements in our physical world: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Spirit, on the other hand, is the bond between all other elements and everything in the universe, making it the fifth element. Witches use these elements’ powers and invoke their energy when practicing magick.
Enchantments – Using magick to bring beauty and wonder into everyday life.
Energy Work – Practices for working with energy, such as Reiki, chakra balancing, and aura cleansing.
Esbat – An event in which a coven of witches meets at a time other than one of the eight Sabbats. The meetings often take place during the full moon and include healing, psychic and magical training, moon rituals, and more. It is common for solitary witches to refer to their lunar magick or rituals as ‘esbats.’
Familiar – Often, a witch’s familiar is a pet, a spirit animal, or even an obliging non-physical entity that assists them. Not every witch has a familiar, and not every witch who has a familiar knows about it, so keep an eye out for animals with which you share a special bond, and work on that psychic connection if you want it. Also, you may find your familiar in the spiritual realm by meditating or during astral travel.
Grimoire – Moon Water
Gramarye – Middle English gramarye, gramarie, modification of Middle French gramaire grammar, grammar book, book of sorcery.
Grimoire – A book of spells, rituals, and magickal instructions. The Grimoire is traditionally a book that contains only tried and trusted magickal directions, spells, incantations, and invocations (as opposed to the Book of Shadows, which contains scripts about experiences, emotions, and religious texts).
Author’s Note: I suppose this website is more of a Book of Shadows than a Grimoire, but I am not a stickler for hard and fast rules … so it is what it is 😀
Handfasting – During handfasting, the hands of the couple wishing to pledge their union are tied together with cords, ribbons, or lace, symbolizing the binding of two lives. This tradition spans many cultures and thousands of years and is currently a popular symbolic marriage ceremony among pagans and witches.
Hearth Witch – Both wild and wise, the hearth witch delights in transforming her home into a grounding and nourishing space for family and friends to gather.
Herbalism – The use of herbs for healing, spellcraft, and ritual.
Hex – In magick, hex means to put someone under a spell that will bring them misfortune, ill health, or hardship.
High Priestess – In a coven, the leader is often referred to as the High Priestess. It is believed that the High Priestess embodies intuition, creativity, and divine femininity. A High Priestess is a teacher, a leader, and a healer who has dedicated their life to the Craft, studied, trained, and integrated it into their daily life.
Imbolc – As one of the eight sabbats, Imbolc is held on the 1st of February (in the Northern Hemisphere), about midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, and is also known as Imbolg. As a time of purification, cleansing, and planning, it is celebrated in the Southern Hemisphere on the 1st of August.
Incantation – The power of spoken word to create change and manifest desires. Incantations are spoken spells or charms intended to affect a person or object. They can be spoken words in your own language or made-up words that only the witch knows the meaning or power of.
Invoke – Calling upon a spirit, deity, or the power of the elements for guidance, inspiration, or protection.
Jinx – In contrast to a hex, a jinx is considered more of an unintentional curse…it is believed that you unknowingly jinx someone or something.
Kitchen Magick – Using herbs, spices, and intention to infuse food with magic and intention.
Lughnasadh – On the 1st of August, midway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox, Lughnasadh or Lammas commemorates the first harvest and is a time for giving thanks for abundance.
Litha – One of the eight sabbats, Litha marks the longest day and shortest night of the year. As the sun is at its peak, it is a time of joy and celebration.
Mabon – Also known as the Autumn Equinox, Mabon is celebrated on Sept. 21st at the time when night and day, light and dark, are equal. Mabon marks the end of the harvest season and is a time to celebrate what you’ve sown.
Magic/Magick – To subdue or manipulate natural or supernatural beings and forces using rituals or actions, especially those based on occult knowledge. Spelling ‘magic’ with a ‘k’ was started by Aleister Crowley, a known English occultist, who began spelling it that way so it would not be confused with stage magic.
Magick Circle – A magick circle is an energy field that you can create before your rites begin or enter a meditative state. It serves as a form of insurance since you only permit benevolent energies to enter the space. Additionally, it kick-starts your spellcasting by containing and intensifying the ambient energies – like a cauldron for escalating potency!
Manifesting – Manifestation means putting your intention towards something, then seeing it take place in real life. In other words, if you can think it, it can happen. This is why you should be careful what you wish for!
Moon Magick – Harnessing the power of the moon phases for manifestation, cleansing, and ritual.
Many witches focus on the different moon phases to practice magick.
- At the full moon, powerful spells are typically cast for life-changing outcomes.
- The new moon is ideal for beginning new ventures or projects, and it’s also a good time to set intentions.
- Working with the waxing moon allows for increasing power, aiding in growth and self-esteem or to attract love or wealth.
- During the waning period, energy is used to banish old patterns or situations and release any negative energies.
Moon Water – Moon-charged water used in rituals, for cooking, drinking, for baths and cleansing, for watering plants, etc. Simply fill a container with water, place it under the full moon and surround it with crystals, charms, or herbs that match your intention. Drawing sigils on the jar is useful for focusing your energy and intention. Leave the jar overnight and wallah! It is now ready to use!
Pagan – Yule
Pagan – The belief that nature is sacred, and pagans connect spiritually with the earth by observing the seasons and the natural cycles of birth, growth, and death. Pagans hold beliefs outside of mainstream religions. Many Pagans worship multiple Gods and Goddesses, and some worship only Mother Earth. Pagans do not necessarily share the same beliefs and values; they follow their own spiritual path without feeling the need to conform to others.
Pentacle – Witches have long used the pentacle as a symbol of protection; its five points symbolize the five elements of earth, air, fire, water, and spirit, which sustain life. In addition to containing and protecting them, the circle also connects the five points, indicating that earth, air, fire, and spirit are all interconnected.
Pentagram – A five-pointed star (without the circle) symbolizing the elements.
Poppet – A makeshift doll that represents someone so that you can use magick to cast spells on them or aid them. As in traditional witchcraft, these are often carved from natural materials such as roots or branches, but in modern witchcraft, they are often made from cloth and stuffed with herbs that correspond to the intention of the witch making them.
Ostara – The Spring Equinox, also known as Ostara or Eostre, is one of the eight sabbats of March (usually the full moon after the Equinox) and is associated with balance, rebirth, and new beginnings. For purification spells, spells for new projects, or fresh starts, Ostara is a great time.
Ritual – While a spell is a set of actions to bring about a desired result, a ritual, similarly, is a set of actions to bring about a desired result, but is more involved and tends to bring religious or spiritual beliefs into the magick; this can be done in several ways, including calling on deities, chanting, dancing, etc. You can turn any spell into a ritual by incorporating your own spiritual practices into it.
Sabbat – A sabbat is one of the eight celebrations/festivals that Wiccans and many (but not all) pagans and witches recognize and celebrate. Depending on the religious or spiritual beliefs of each individual, and based on distinctions such as the lunar phase and geographical hemisphere, people may have different beliefs about the precise timing of each celebration. The eight sabbats are: Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lammas, Mabon, and Samhain.
Sacred Space – Creating and maintaining a special place for ritual and meditation.
Samhain – As one of eight sabbats, Samhain, also known as Halloween, is observed on the 31st of October. Samhain represents the thinning of the veil between the world of the spirit and our world. In addition to celebrating and honoring our ancestors and loved ones who have passed, it is a time to communicate with them, leave them offerings, and remember them.
Scrying – Scrying is an ancient form of divination that involves gazing into a variety of objects, ranging from a crystal ball to flame or even darkness. Some people also suggest eyelid scrying – that is, closing one’s eyes and allowing oneself to decipher the images that appear. The pictures seen may be fleeting or vague, so the skill of the practitioner is required to interpret them correctly. To gain insight into whatever they seek knowledge on, users must focus all their attention on their chosen tool, thus entering a trance-like state of mind with clarity. An understanding of what appears can then be established.
Shadow Work – Exploring and integrating the shadow self for personal growth and healing.
Sigil – A sigil is a symbol used to represent a desired outcome. Sigils are often created by condensing lettering down to a single symbol. Sigils are charged with the intent of the practitioner or witch when they are created. When used in magick, these sigils can be etched into candles, written in salt, herbs, or sewn into charm bags and poppets.
Smoke Cleansing – During smoke cleansing, herbs, woods, incense, or resins are burned in order to rid your space of negative or stagnant energy. Lavender, peppermint, sandalwood, and cedar are all good for protection, purification, calming, and healing. Dragon’s Blood is used for banishing and Frankincense is used for attracting good fortune.
“So mote it be.” – A common way to end a spell or ritual. Often used as the last words in a spoken spell or ritual, for example, in candle magick, as the candle burns out; during the making of a charm bag, as the bag is tied shut; or as the final words in a spoken spell.
Sour Jar – A sour jar is a jar created to literally sour someone’s life as a form of revenge or retribution. The jar contains a base of vinegar and a variety of items to annoy and irritate your target, such as chili, thorns, and so on.
Spell Jar – A spell jar, also known as a witch jar or spell bottle, is a container used in witchcraft to hold the ingredients and intentions of a spell. It’s typically a small jar or bottle into which specific items are placed, such as herbs, stones, oils, written intentions or spells, and other symbolic materials. Each ingredient is chosen for its magical properties and the specific energies it brings to the spell.
Spirit Work – Connecting with spirit guides, ancestors, and other spiritual beings for guidance and support.
Triple Moon – A symbol of the three phases of a woman’s life cycle, the triple moon represents the Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Also known as the Triple Goddess or the Triple Moon Goddess, the Triple Moon symbolizes the three united.
Wand – The wand is traditionally made of wood (but it can also be made of metal, rock, or gemstones, and is often set with crystals and gemstones). Unlike an athame, a wand has a gentler energy, which is used to invite and encourage rather than to command.
Wheel of the Year – The Wheel of the Year is based on an ancient Celtic calendar of festivals and feasts celebrating our connection to nature.
Witches’ Bells – The ringing of bells has long been used to clear away stagnant and unwanted energy from the home. Witch bells are clusters of bells designed to hang on your door as a protective charm, and ring whenever anyone enters, ensuring anyone entering brings no negative energy with them.
Witching Hour – It is believed that the veil between worlds is at its thinnest during this time of night when witches are at their most powerful and spirits are most active. Some believe that the witching hour occurs around midnight, while others think it happens around three in the morning.
Yule – Yule or the Winter Solstice is one of the eight sabbats and marks the time when darkness gradually yields to the sun, a sign of rebirth and renewal. Celebrating this event allows us to practice candle magick, take rest, and self-care.
As you learn about witchcraft, you will encounter many more terms and words, but we hope this guide helps you understand the importance of some of them. As witches, we must maintain an open mind and embrace diversity as we discover our own paths and grow in our craft – no one witch knows it all! By respecting each other and embracing curiosity, we can never cease to learn more.