Witchy Words: Learning the Language of the Craft

Witchy Words: Learning the Language of the Craft

Confused by the language of witchy words?  If you’re just starting your journey in the Craft, but always feel roadblocked when you see words like “Lughnasadh” and “Stregheria,” this list is for you!

Familiarize yourself with the following terms, save yourself months (or years!) of frustration and fast-track your magical knowledge.

And if you’re not new to the Craft, glance over this list to see how many terms you already know!

And for a more in-depth foundational education in the Craft, don’t forget to check out Moody Moons School of Metaphysical Arts’ Witchcraft 101:  Discover the Magic in You.

Witchy Words

We grouped this list of witchy words by category, then alphabetical order because we think it makes it easier to form associations.  

Consider studying them under their heading as a weekly theme and then research them in depth.

For many of these terms, we included links to help you further your knowledge about subjects that interest you most.

Holidays, Festivals & Celebrations

Hundreds of holidays are celebrated by magical practitioners across many traditions around the world.  Below are just a few of the most commonly acknowledged in modern witchcraft.

Beltane

Honor this spring holiday outdoors with bonfires, flower crowns and a celebration of couplehood.  Often a traditional time to perform a handfasting or marriage.

Dark Moon

In the 28-day moon cycle, the dark moon is the night when no light is reflected on the moon and it remains dark.  Traditionally a time for divination, protection spells and deepening occult knowledge.

Esbats 

Any gathering of a coven for any purpose other than to celebrate a holiday on the Wheel of the Year.  Very often, this refers to gatherings for the purpose of honoring the lunar cycle or moon rituals.

Full Moon

Considered by those who practice moon magic the ideal time to cast spells.  Also the height of power for ocean magic and sea witches.  Generally, the day before and the day are also appropriate times to incorporate the full moon into spell work.

Imbolc 

Nestled deep in the winter season, Imbolc is a time to prepare for the coming spring.  Also called Candlemas, this holiday is often celebrated by lighting many white candles, cleaning your home deeply and blessing seeds for the spring planting season.

Ostara  

This holiday emphasizes fertility, abundance and herbalism.  Eggs, bulb flowers and spring gift baskets are all appropriate symbols.

Litha/Midsummer 

Falling on the Summer Solstice, this holiday honors the sun, solar energy and the abundance of summer.  Faeries, twinkle lights, honey and mead are all common symbols.

Lughnasadh/Lammas 

Best known as the “bread baking holiday,” Lammas honors the grain harvest.  Traditionally celebrated by baking a loaf of bread from scratch to share with family and friends.

Lupercalia

Sometimes cited by historians as the origin of Valentine’s Day, Lupercalia is an ancient Roman holiday sometimes honored by European pagan revivalists.

Mabon  

A celebration of the Fall Equinox, Americans often refer to this holiday as “The Witch’s Thanksgiving.”  Acknowledge the harvest by hosting a large meal with seasonal foods.

Sabbats 

A general term for any of the 8 holidays on the Wheel of the Year.

Samhain

Celebrated on October 31th, Samhain is typically a time to honor the dead, acknowledge your ancestors, and focus on developing divination skills.

Waning Moon

The phase of the moon during which the light reflected on its surface grows smaller.  An ideal time to work spells for elimination, banishing, to start new projects, reduction and weight loss.

Waxing Moon

The phase of the moon during which the light reflected on its surface grows larger.  An ideal time to work spells for drawing luck, money, love, growth, and personal development.

Wheel of the Year 

A group of 8 solar holidays (Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lammas & Mabon) loosely based on the seasonal holidays of pre-Christian Europe and celebrated broadly by modern witches across many traditions.

Yule  

Falling on the Winter Solstice, Yule focuses on time with family and around the hearth fire, indoor crafting and home-based spell casting.

Traditions & Identities 

Some of the following witchy words refer to formal, structured traditions, and some refer only to loosely defined identities or terms that encompass a certain emphasis in magical theory.  Many of these identities blend or overlap, and this list isn’t even close to exhaustive.

Appalachian Granny Witch 

Often called “weed medicine,” this practice is a form of heritage witchcraft practiced in the Appalachian mountains and typically passed down from grandmother to daughters and grandchildren.

Green Witch

A practice that emphasizes natural living, herbs, time spent outdoors, plant medicine and knowledge of local vegetation.  

Hedge Witch

Traditionally living on the outskirts of a small town or village, Hedge witches typically value connection to nature, the wisdom of the Crone, and learning folklore/traditional medicine from the eldest generations of her family.

Hellenism

A revival tradition that attempts to reconstruct the pagan traditions of ancient Greece.

Kitchen Witch

Focuses on making magic with food.  Generally works with local, fresh, seasonal and natural ingredients.  Possesses a deep knowledge of both the magical and culinary properties of kitchen herbs and spices.

Neopaganism

Any form of witchcraft that honors multiple gods or deities.  Includes modern pluralities (such as the Triple Goddess)

Reconstructionism

Any path (such as Hellenism) that attempts to revive an ancient or extinct form of magic.  Generally, reconstructionists adhere as strictly as possible to spells in their original form.

Sea Witch

Typically living near a coastline, the sea witch harnesses the ocean’s powerful energy for spell work and magic.

Stregheria Witch

A form of folk magic that blends Catholicism with Southern European (especially Italian) magical practices and modern witchcraft.

Wiccan

Largely popularized in the mid-20th century, Wicca is a modern religion that often incorporates witchcraft.

Tools

Memorize these witchy words and get comfortable with the basic tools of the Craft.

Altar

A sacred space (usually on a designated flat surface) that serves as a place to honor deities, cast spells, recognize seasonal holidays or practice spiritual disciplines (such as tarot reading).

Amulet

A charm typically used for protection or to ward off negativity.

Book of Shadows/Grimoire

A sacred journal used by solitary practitioners to collect spells, magical recipes, herbal notations, family lore and other knowledge important to the practitioner’s personal spiritual journey.

Cauldron

A 3-legged pot or kettle, usually made of cast iron, for use in spell craft.  Especially important in kitchen witchery.

Chalice

A ritual cup, usually shaped like a wine glass and made of ceramic, glass or stone.  Often used during coven rituals or during the Cakes & Ale.

Pentacle

A five-pointed star used in magic and spell work as a talisman, symbol of protection or for magical evocation.  

Runes

Symbols inspired by the alphabets from early Germanic languages and often adapted for use in divination.

Talisman

An object (jewelry, gemstone, “lucky charm,” ect) infused with magical energy.

Tarot Cards

A set of 78 cards used in divination and fortune telling.  Split into a Major and Minor Arcana, this deck is the basis for the modern playing card deck.

Wand

Often made of a specific branch from a tree (such as apple or willow), this long stick is used to direct energy and focus intention during spell work.

Concepts & Practices

All of the following witchy words refer to concepts and practices in the Craft.  

Animal Familiar

An animal with whom the witch maintains a spiritual, near-psychic relationship and is sometimes incorporated into spell work as an “assistant” to aid the witch in connected with the unseen world of spirits.

Attraction Magic

Spell work specifically aimed at improving romance, rekindling love or attracting a new non-Platonic relationship.

Divination

Using a specific spiritual discipline or modality (such as tarot, tea leaves or bone reading) to gain spiritual insight.  Usually answers a specific question or addresses the circumstances of a particular person.

Circle Casting

The act of creating a protective magical circle around the area in which a witch plans to do spell work.  Sometimes symbolic or imaginary, and sometimes literally marked with flowers, candles, seasonal items or elemental symbols.

Covens

A group of witches that meets on a regular, continuous basis for the purpose of spell casting and/or honoring deities and practicing shared traditions.  

Solitary Witch

A witch who practices primarily alone.  Often designs deeply personalized traditions, rituals and spells to create a unique practice.

Moon Circle

A gathering during the full moon to honor the lunar energy.  Sometimes incorporates group spell work, bonding rituals, and sacred communion.  

Handfasting

Based on the ancient Celtic practice of binding a couples hands with rope or fabric during a marriage ceremony, handfasting has become a general term for any ritual intended to unite a couple in a sacred way.  Sometimes, this union comes with a prescribed end date (such as “a-year-and-a-day” ceremony) and sometimes it is part of a legally binding marriage.

Cakes & Ale

A section at the end of a ritual during which the practitioner consumes food and drink in order to bring themselves “back down to Earth” after ritual work.  Traditionally, this features cakes or cookies and ale, but form of food or drink may be substituted.

Triple Goddess

A deity or sacred archetype conceptualized as a goddess with three aspects (Maid, Mother & Crone).  Honored in many coven traditions, as well a broad spectrum of modern pagan traditions. 

Ground & Center

The practice of redirecting your personal energy from the spiritual to the mundane.  For example, when the facilitator during a guided meditation directs you to “open your eyes and return to your surroundings.”  

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