The Inner Sanctum
Pagan Glossary & Pronunciation Guide


Proper pronunciation and definitions of Pagan, Celtic,
Gaelic, old Irish, Asatru, Wiccan and other Witchcraft terms.
Also see our God/Goddess guide for deity information..
Return to The Inner Sanctum of Wicca & Witchcraft.
All terms listed in alphabetical order.






Altar

An area or surface built or designed exclusively for magickal or religous workings and ritual.


Amulet

A natural object, often of stone or fossil used as a protection device to the holder.


Ankh
(Angk)
The most famous Egyptian hieroglyphic, the Ankh symbolizes life, love and reincarnation.  It is often worn around the neck and is shaped like a cross with a loop on top.


Arcana

Half of a tarot deck  which is divided into two aracanas:  the major arcana consisting of the 22 trumps of importance and the lesser arcana of 56 suit cards that help to divinate the trump cards to a lesser degree.


Astrology

The belief and study of the effects of the movements and placements of planets and other heavenly bodies have on the lives and behavior of human beings.  Please see our Astrology section.


Athame
(AH-tha-may)
The ritual knife often associated with the element of air and the direction of east, thought some traditions attribute it to fire and the south.  The handle is traditionally black or of natural wood.  Please see our tools page.


Balefire

A synonymous word of 'Bonfire', a balefire is a communal bonfire of the sabbats, most notably used at Beltane, Litha and Lughnassadh.


Bane

A negative force or energy.    Another word for bad, negative, or in opposition.


Banish

The removal of negative energy or force.  To rid the presence of unwanted entities.


Bealtaine
(Bee-Al-tin-aye)
The old Irish word for 'Beltain'.  Please see our Sabbats page.


Beltain
(Bell-tain)
A grand sabbat also known as Walpurgis night, May eve, Roodmas, celebrates the symbolic union and mating of the goddess and the god.  Often celebrated April 30 or May 1, the true occurrence is more often May 5-7th. A time of fertility and growth. A very important day to most Pagan paths.  Please see our Sabbats page.

Besom
(Beh-som)
A witches broom used  to sweep a sacred area and in effect, purify the sacred space.  Legend comes from early fertility rites where besoms were 'ridden' over crops to enhance the coming bounty.  Please see our Besom page.


Bind

Restraining one's self or someone, using magick.


Bolline
(Bowl-in)
A curved knife, often white hilted, used for the magickal gathering of herbs and other natural reagents.  Where as the athame is a religious knife, the bolline is it's practical working sister.  Please see our tools page.

Book of Shadows

A witches book of reference where all magickal date, information, times, aspects, formulas and spells are enscribed.  One of the most important tools as recorded happenings cannot be forgotten.   Also known as a grimoire.   Please see our tools page.

The Burning Times

A reference of time between approximately 1500 B.C.E.  and the 1600's where many millions of people were murdered by the Christian church simply because they were 'non-believers'.  Their possessions and assets seized at death, the Christian church often profited on the killings of witches.  Vast information can be found in our Burning Times section.


Cauldron

Often replaced by the cup or chalice in ritual, this tool is used for making brews or magickal potions.  Its symbolizes the womb of the Goddess.   Please see our tools page.

Celtic
(Kel-tik)
Of or for the old subfamily of the Indo-European language family comprised of the peoples of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany and some teutonic lands.


Censer

A ritual tool used for burning incense during spellwork or ritual.   Please see our tools page.


Chalice

A ritual tool used in libation, this feminine principle tool represents the element water and the west.  Please see our tools page.

Chakra

One of the seven major energy centers in the human body.  These are at the third eye, head, throat, chest, navel, abdomen and groin.


Circle

Sacred space where all magickal rituals and workings are performed.   The circle not only protects the practitioner from outside energies but contains the working energies within.  Please see our Ritual page.


Consecration

Blessing an object (usually a ritual tool) to purify it and empowering it with positive energy.  Please see our Ritual page.

Coven
(Kuhv-en)
A group of witches who work and rite together utilizing the greater empowerment of the sum of its members, as opposed to the power of those members added individually.   Containing both male and female members, traditionally a coven has 13 members but may contain any number of members.


Dedication

The acceptance of the craft (of any way), as one's path and religion, followed by intense study to gain the necessary knowledge and preparation to be adept at this tradition.  Please see our Ritual page.

Deity

Synonymous with a god, goddess or godhead.


Deosil
(Jesh-il)
The working act usually in ritual or song of moving or dancing  in a clockwise motion.   This is used for positive works and is also known as "Sunwise".


Divination

Any method used to foretell or inform of the future.  Many popular forms include Astrology, Runes, Tarot, tea leaves, the pendulum, scrying, meditation and many more.  A common practice in one form or another with Pagans of any path.  Please see our divination page.


Dowsing

A divination method using a pendulum or stick to answer questions similar to the popular "Ouija" board.  Some forms of this include water finding where a dowser uses a forked stick or the like to find water underground.


Drawing down
the moon

Used primarily during an esbat to draw down the powers of the moon into a female witch.  Very powerful when a sabbat and esbat conjuct.  Please see our Ritual page.

Drawing down
the sun

Used  to draw down the powers of the sun into a male witch.  Very powerful on  the Equinoxes and Solstices.


Element

The primary elements are earth, air, fire, water and spirit.  Each of these 5 represents a point on the pentagram.   The elements and their directions are extremely important in Pagan ritual.  Please see our Ritual page.

Esbat
(Es-bat)
From the french word, esbattre, meaning to frolic, the esbat is the powerful ritual time of the full moon.  There are 13 esbats in a year, all known by moon names.  Please see our Moon page.


Evocation

The act of summoning the presence of spirits, dieties or elementals to your sacred space.


Familiar

Most commonly an animal, a familiar is a witch's working helper.   Often advantageous to ritual, they can also become a liability and much thought should be given to taking a familiar.


God

The aspect of a masculine deity..


Goddess

The aspect of a feminine deity.


Handfasting

A Pagan or Wiccan marriage ceremony which traditionally takes place at a specified period of time depending on one's tradition.


Herbalism

The magickal and medicinal art of using herbs for the practitioner's use or benefit.


Imbolc
(Im-Bolc)
Observed on February 2nd, Imbolc is the early spring sabbat which honors the virgin goddess as the young bride of the returning sun god.


Initiation

The tranformation of ones ideals and values into the ideals and values of a particular path.  Please note one can be  in dedication but is not yet initiated whilst an initiated is always in dedication.


Invocation

The drawing of an aspect of a diety into one's self using magickal ritual.


Karma

Karma follows the law of cause an effect.   It is the belief that what one's actions do in this life, will carry over to the next life and lives to come.


Libation

Drink or sometimes food, given to a deity, or spirit during magickal ritual.


Litha
(Lith-ah)
Also known as Midsummer, Litha is the summer solstice which honors the sun god at his peak power.  Please see our Sabbats page.

Lughnassadh
(Loo-nuh-sa)
The Pagan first harvest, or harvest of corn.  Lughnassadh usually falls on August 1st.  It is the first of the harvests.  Please see our Sabbats page.

Mabon
(May-bun)
The Pagan Thanksgiving, or second harvest.  Mabon falls on the autumnal equinox, when the light of the year shifts toward darkness.  It is a traditional time for feasting.  Please see our Sabbats page.

Magick

Aleister Crowley said it best:  "Magick is the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity to will"


Neo-Pagan

Applies to the various movements incepted since the 1950's, when the British anti-witchcraft laws were finally repealed.


Ostara
(Oh-star-ah)
Observed at the vernal equinox, Ostara represents life and balance.  Please see our Sabbats page.

Pagan
(Pay-gun)
One who follows or practices an earth-based or nature religion.


Pagan Rede

Summed up as "An ye harm none, do what thou will".  Please see our Wicca section for more information.


Pendulum

A divination device consisting of a string attached to a heavy object such as a crystal or the like.  Questions are divined by noting the motion of the pendulum during divination.   Please see our tools page.

Pentacle

A pentagram surrounded by a circle and fashioned usually into a pendant.   The pentacle is used in some covens to represent the element of earth.


Pentagram

Always seen with the apex (point) upwards, the pentagram is the five pointed star symbolizing western Paganism.   It represents the elements of earth, air, fire, water and spirit and also creative principle over all creation.


Polytheism

The belief in the existence of multiple deites or godheads, as opposed to monotheism, where only a single god or godhead is revered.


Reincarnation

The belief that we all return, after death, to the earth in the form of another human body.   A result of a major Pagan principle that energy never dies.


Ritual

A mental ceremony using a prescribed set of rites and tools to perform magickal acts or workings.


Runes

Both an alphabet and a divination tool, runes are a set of symbols used similiarly to tarot, although they can be used in a much broader spectrum of divination.   Please see our divination page.

Sabbat
(Sabb-at)
One of the days of Power.   These are comprised of the eight solar festivals that celebrate the wheel of the year.  Please see our Sabbats page.

Samhain
(Sow-in)
October 31, is the grand sabbat marking the beginning of winter and the Celtic new year.  It is also a time strongly believed where the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest.  Please see our Samhain page.


Scrying

A form of divination using mirror and bowls where the user "sees" images, pictures of thoughts themselves.  Please see our divination page.

Sidhe
(Shee)
The name generally applied to all the faery races of Ireland and Scotland.


Skyclad

Nudity in ritual is said to be done "skyclad".


Solitary

The practicing lone witch who worships without a coven.


Spell

A specific ritual designed to change one condition or thing.  Also known as spinning, weaving, casting and spellcraft.  Please see our Ritual page.

Talisman

An object empowered to protect its wearer.  Note this differs from the amulet as it is empowered, not naturally protective as is the amulet.


Tarot
(Tair-oh)
Divination using a set of 78 tarot cards which are laid out in such a fashion that the diviner interprets them to answer the question at hand.   Please see our divination page.

Triple Goddess

The 3 aspects of  the mother goddess in one, maiden, mother and crone.   A symbol widely found throughout the civilized world.  The representation of the triple goddess is the waxing, full and waning moon.  )O(


Wheel of the Year

The never ending seasonal shift throughout the 8 sabbats or days of power.   In Pagan mythos, the goddess turns the wheel bringing everything to season.   Please see our Sabbats page.

Wicca
(Wik-uh)
Wicca represents an ancient religion of love for life and nature. Wicca is easily one of the most irrepressible religions in the world because it stimulates the intellect, promotes a simple, practical way of life and, most importantly, is emotionally satisfying.  Brought into the public eye in the 1950's by Gerald Gardner after the repeal of British anti-witchcraft laws, Wicca is now a strong, healthy and popular religion and movement.  Please see our Wicca section for more information.

Widdershins
(Widd-er-shins)
The working act usually in ritual or song of moving or dancing  in a counter-clockwise motion.   This is used for banishing or negative works.   This is the opposite of deosil.


Witch

A general word for Pagans worlwide although traditionally those of Anglo-Celtic, Celtic or Teutonic tradtions.


Yule
(Yool)
The winter solstice and the shortest day of the year, Yule is when the goddess gives birth to the god.  This is also the Norse New Year.