Glossary of Terms

I thought it would be helpful to start a glossary on here for terms that may or may not need explaining. If you’d like me to define anything not listed, please leave a comment.

Atheme: A ritual knife or a knife used for ritual/magickal purposes. Often athemes are decorative and are left dull (not sharpened).

Baby Witch: Used to denote that a person is new or relatively new to the practice of witchcraft. This is not a pejorative, but rather a category of witch that indicates that someone is still learning and exploring various paths.

Besom: A magickal broom or a broom used for magickal purposes.

Book of Shadows: Abbreviated to BoS, this is a relatively modern coinage showing up in the 1940s at the absolute earliest and attributed to Gerald Gardner. It’s a handy term for a witch’s personal book of spells and personal magickal workings. It is specific to the witch, coven, and/or time in which is was created. Originally Wiccan, any witch of any affiliation may maintain a BoS, though some may choose not to use this term due to its Wiccan association. If this is the case “magickal journal” would be a better term.

Broom Closet: Slang; to be not-open or secretive about one’s Craft. One can be “in the broom closet” at work, but “out” at home. Most witches are not fully “out,” and have one part (or just one person) in their lives where they are not open about being a witch.

Cosmic Witch: Cosmic witchcraft focuses on using the energy of the constellations, planets, and stars for their magickal practice. While many witches uses cosmic element in their craft, a cosmic witch would work exclusively with these energies.

Coven: A group of witches who work together and who often have regular meetings. This term originated in 1662 when Isobel Gowdie spontaneously confessed to witchcraft, entering ‘coven’ and its meaning into the historical register for the first time.

Craft: Abbreviation; the practice of witchcraft.

EBBS: Acronym for “Earth Based Belief System,” an umbrella phrase incorporating any system of belief to which the Earth is an inexorable part or of foundational importance.

Esbat: A Wiccan term for a ritual or coven meeting other than the Sabbats. Full Moon rituals are frequently referred to as Esbats.

Fluffy Bunny: A slur in the witchcraft and paganism communities that indicates that the person being labeled as such is not a ‘true’ witch/pagan and/or is not serious enough about their practice.

Green Witch: Green witchcraft works with the energy of the Earth itself and parts of the natural world, such as herbs, crystals,animals, etc. Green witches may also work with faeries, elemental deities, and other nature spirits.

Grimoire: Sometimes used interchangeably with “Book of Shadows,” Grimoire is a much older term used across many religious affiliations. In witchcraft, a Grimoire is a collection of magickal information that is ‘evergreen’ (ie: not attached to a specific time or witch’s personal experience).

Kitchen Witch: Kitchen witchcraft is the art of infusing home life with magick with an emphasis on cooking, cleaning, and organization magick. Generally speaking, kitchen witches concern themselves with their families’ lives and use magick to make the home more harmonious and prosperous.

Magick: Used to differentiate between magic (card tricks, illusions, etc.) and magick (performing spells). This term is falling out of use, but I feel that it’s still quite helpful.

Muggle: Slang; a non-magickal person. Originating with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, this term has been adopted by the real life magickal community. Many witches and pagans find this term offensive because it either discriminates against the non-magickal and is used as a slur, or because they object to incorporating terms from fiction into their practice.

Pagan: A blanket term for followers of an EBBS.

Sunwise: Also called sunward or deosil, sunwise means clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Sunwise indicates building or growing, casing a circle sunwise builds the magickal barrier, for example. Sunwise movement should be used in spells that build. See also “Widdershins.”

Void-of-Course: When the Moon is “void-of-course,” it means that it has exited the last major aspect of the previous astrological sign, but is not yet in the first solid aspect of the next astrological sign. Sometimes the process takes minutes, other times it takes hours; doing magick during this time can be fruitless. Generally marked as “v/c” on astrologically-minded calendars.

Widdershins: Counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Widdershins indicates diminishing power and unwinding. Widdershins movement should be used in spells that remove or take away. See also “Sunwise.”

Witchling: Not to be confused with Baby Witch (see above), a witchling is what I call young witches or witch children. Generally, witchlings are initiated into a path or considered adult witches at certain developmental milestones: for girls it is the first menses, for boys or non-binary children it is on their 13th birthday.