Common Pagan Words and Concepts

Asatru: The old Norse religion. One of the PIE branches.

Aspergillum: A stick with a ball or set of strings on the end. The idea is that you can dip that ball or strings into water and then flick the water onto something or someone.

Athame: (pronounced uh-thay-may) is a black-handled knife. It is used to cut doors in the magick circle or for directing energy.

Besom: A broom. Usually a small hand broom that goes on your altar but any size qualifies.

Cakes and Ale: A sacrificial offering where a food and beverage are shared with participants at the conclusion of the ritual and then with the deity.

Casting (or Closing) the circle: The first step of any spell or ritual. Creates a protective barrier.

Cauldron: a small black iron pot that is used to burn things in safely or to hold liquids for some rituals or spells.

Centering: When we become one with the universe

Cernunnos: The horned god of the forest. A Celtic deity.

Coven: A group of witches who’ve gathered together to do spell work, celebrate, or for some other specific purpose. Each has their own hierarchal structure.

Dyeus: Sky Father

Deghom: Mother Goddess

Dryad: Tree spirit

Esbat: Full moon ritual. This is a common time for covens to meet. Some Wiccans also celebrate the esbat at the new moon.

Faerie (fairy): Any nature spirit. Faerie magick works in unison with the very fabric of nature. Anyone can do faerie magick because we are part of nature.

Gaea: Gaea is the ancient Greek name for Mother Earth.

Gaea Retreat Center (also called Camp Gaea): is a 168 acre property in a rural setting within an hour's drive of the Kansas City metropolitan area. The primary goal of Gaea Retreat Center is to provide a private, natural retreat area for a variety of people of all spiritual traditions, and to promote a feeling of connection with the land and people on it.

Gaea includes a 12 acre lake with a sandy swimming area. Many areas are available for tent camping and there are open areas for sports and other organized activities. The Gaea Retreat Center was formerly a church camp. It is now a Non-Denominational Retreat Center and is maintained for camping, day use and conferences for individuals and groups of varied spiritual and religious beliefs and philosophies, by Earth Rising, Inc. 

Ghosti: Proto-Indo-European word which refers to the reciprocal relationships of hospitality. In fact, the English words "guest" and "host" both come from this root. 

Gnomes: Earth spirits

Grounding: When we become one with the earth by directing our energy downward.

Heartland Pagan Festival: Held at Camp Gaea at the end of May.

Heathen: A pejorative term for Pagans, comes from heath which is a tract of uncultivated land, often covered in shrubbery. The implication is that these are people who live out in the wild countryside and are less civilized. Today some Pagans have adopted this to describe a contemporary Pagan new religious movement (NRM) that is consciously inspired by the linguistically, culturally, and (in some definitions) ethnically 'Germanic' societies of Iron Age and early medieval Europe as they existed prior to Christianization. Sometimes this is the same as Asatru and sometimes different.

Hekate: Greek goddess of

Hellenistic: Of or relating to Greek culture. One of the PIE branches

Magick: The ritual use of words and actions to send positive energy into the universe in order to affect positive change. Generally spelled with a k to differentiate it form illusion or stage magic.

Paganism: A Pagan is anybody who practices a religion that is not one of the major world religions. This includes indigenous beliefs of Africa and Asia, but is generally used to describe pre-Christian European traditions. The word 'Pagan" itself comes from the Latin paganus meaning "someone who is not from the city, rather from the country."

Neo-Pagan is used to denote a modern recreation of indigenous beliefs and practices

Pentacle: a five-pointed star encased in a circle. Used as a symbol of protection and a common symbol for witchcraft.

Proto Indo European (PIE): Technically a language group that included peoples from across Europe, the Middle East, India, and parts of South East Asia, but used as a way to describe their shared religious beliefs and practices.

Reconstructed Paganism: An attempt to accurately recreate ancient religious/spiritual practices of a particular ethnic group. Most practitioners now agree these practices have not been preserved in an unbroken line, but through research, they can be discovered and re-created.

Red Road Recovery: In some modern addiction treatment programs, the idea of the Red Road may be part of the recovery process. Some of these programs are primarily for Native populations, but take a Pan-Indian or New Age approach, through "the Sweat lodge, the Red Road, and the Recovery Medicine Wheel."[11] Other "Red Road to Recovery" programs are not run by or for Native people, but are groups of predominantly non-Native, New Age adherents.

Revivalist Pagans: Practitioners who blend reconstructed beliefs with more modern practices drawing inspiration from a variety of sources. Wicca is the largest of the revivalist traditions. Practitioners of Wicca used the work of philosophers, writers, and other religious traditions to create a cohesive a new tradition from what may have originally been a few specific rituals that had managed to survive. Wicca reflects an amalgamation of a variety of inspirations. The term Neo-Pagan is an acknowledgment that what is being practiced now is new, it is a revitalization of a former tradition.

Sabbat: The eight Wiccan holidays corresponding to the wheel of the year: Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh, Mabon

Salamanders: Fire spirits

Skylad: Naked

Smudging: To fan smoke from sage or other burning incense onto a person as a means of cleansing and protection.

Sylph: Air spirit

Tacitus: An important Roman historian, wrote the most detailed early description of the Germans at then end of the first century CE.

Undines: Water spirits

Wicca: A very diverse and decentralized Earth-based religion that is generally marked by reverence to the Goddess and the God who are personified in nature. Some Wiccans are members of a coven, a small group with their own beliefs and structure, and others are solitary practitioners.

Wiccan Rede: A short poem outlining good practices. Ends with the line central to most Wiccans, “An it harm none do what you will.” Wiccan ethics are based on the idea that if your actions don’t negatively impact others than you can do what you want. If they do cause harm you must consider and weigh the consequences. This is an individual determination. Many see it also as a call to actively help others as well as the environment.

Witch: A practitioner of Wicca is a Witch. This is in recognition that most Wiccan incorporate Witchcraft into their religious practice. There are some who practice Witchcraft as a magickal art with no religious connection. Generally, it is spelled with a capital W to differentiate it from the historical association with Devil worship and evil.

Witchvox: A website dedicated to worldwide networking for Pagan groups and individuals. Lists covens and other groups by state/area and provides contact information. It is run by The Witches Voice a nonprofit organization which features monthly newsletters and essays.

Xartus: The pattern of the cosmos, but not one that’s imposed from without. Instead, it grows from the cosmos itself. Usually depicted as a tree surrounded by the Sea of Chaos. It is through the interaction of order and chaos that the universe can exist.