Because I use terms here that some might not be familiar with or that I might use in a different way than you are accustomed to, I thought a glossary might be helpful to my visitors.
To derive concepts, ideas, styles, or tastes from a widely diverse range of sources. I believe knowledge and wisdom knows no cultural or geographical boundaries. Therefore, I seek enlightenment from any sources available regardless of my primary cultural leanings. I believe my ancestors would have done the same given the resources to do so.
A heathen was originally a word that meant hearth dweller or hills dweller. People who refer to themselves as Heathens rather than Pagan typically make the distinction that they follow a hereditary or folk-religion based spiritual path. Although many Pagan paths draw from folkish sources as well, Pagans tend to be more earth and nature centered in their spirituality. Heathens, generally, are more culturally specific in their path. Although both terms are often used interchangeably there are subtle differences in the ways some folks who choose between the two descriptors approach their spirituality.
The Kindred is an inclusive term which refers to the gods and goddesses, the ancestors and the nature spirits. I learned this term while studying with ADF (A Druid Order founded by Isaac Bonewits). In my view, all beings are children of the creative force of the universe and all are descended through countless lines of mothers and fathers. Beyond the mortal kindreds, are the numerous tribes of supernatural beings as well. In my spiritual practice I may deal with, and make offerings to, many kinds of spirits.
An effort to make a change in ones life by using your own personal energy and the energy of the creative force from which all things and all living beings are derived. Practitioners often add the “K” to differentiate this concept and practice from stage illusion magic and slight of hand tricks. The practice of magick involves finding your connection to the Earth, the divine and all that is natural, alive and moving in the universe. It is channeling the energy which binds all that exists together.
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus which means clandestine, hidden or secret and refers to knowledge of the hidden. It’s often taken to mean knowledge that “is meant only for certain people” or that “must be kept hidden”, but for most practicing occultists it is simply the study of a deeper spiritual reality. The words esoteric and arcane are very similar in meaning with occult and are often used interchangeably. Most of the knowledge which is considered “hidden” is actually hidden in plain sight but one has to be willing to look for it because it is not taught by mainstream sources.
Orthodoxy, a word most people are already familiar with, literally means “correct opinion” in Greek whereas heterodoxy, or being heretical, means to have a different opinion. Paganism, to us, is about orthopraxy. In other words, it’s more important how you do things than what you believe. In ancient times, “believerhood” at a temple had more to do with things like entering the temple and walking three times around the idol, making your image and reciting an inscription on the wall, as was done in Roman temples for example. No one really asked much what one might believe about the divine, about its nature, or whether you treated it as objectively real or not. Your relationship with the gods was a personal matter between you and them. What you practiced and what you did said more about your path than what you personally believed. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a good philosophical discussion about beliefs of the divine. But I don’t hold those beliefs to be of greater importance than how I choose to live and practice my faith.
According to Google’s online definition a Pagan is a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions. I can live with that. Mine is certainly outside of the current mainstream in religious beliefs but it was not always so. The term Pagan originally came from the Latin word paganus which meant a villager or rustic person from pagus, the country district. To Roman soldiers paganus also meant a civilian and later became used to mean one who is not enrolled in the army of Christ.
The belief that the spiritual makeup of everything, ourselves, the divine and other spiritual forces exists within every atom of everything within the universe, a collective soul so to speak. For the purposes of this glossary I say that from this collective energy, the gods and goddesses as well as all other beings both natural and supernatural is formed by the conscious will of the beings within that energy’s field of influence.
A creature, spirit, or deity in several religions throughout the world whose responsibility is to escort newly departed souls from this realm to the afterlife. A psychopomp is not charged with the duty of judging the deceased, but simply to provide safe passage of their spirit.
A Middle English word that means to give counsel, advise, interpret, or explain. It can also, in an older sense of the word, mean to tell a story. It is said to have derived from the Old English word “raedan” or the Old High German “ratan” which both also mean to advise. There is additionally a possibly related Sanskrit word “radhnoti” which means “to archive or prepare”. In any event, I take it to mean to give counsel or advice as in the Wiccan Rede which advises followers of that guidance to “harm none” among other things.
At it’s most elementary level a ritual is simply a series of acts that is always performed in the same way. I get up in the morning, say my daily devotional prayer, pull a rune for guidance and go make coffee. That’s my morning ritual so to speak. I do it almost every day in almost always the same order. In religious rites we also have certain things which are always done a particular way and in a set order. We cast circle, we call the elements, we welcome the gods and goddesses, we have cakes and ale, we close circle. Of course there are more steps and things that go on in between but that’s the gist of it. It’s a prescribed way and order of doing things for a particular occasion.
Working skyclad (nude) has a long and distinguished, albeit controversial at times, history within paganism. I believe that when we are skyclad the energies of magickal workings are less muddled and it is easier to focus and channel them. Also, it is felt by many, as is stated in The Charge Of The Goddess it is a sign of our freedom to be naked in our rites. I am a fan of skyclad working. But not everyone who practices a Pagan religion and not even all Wiccans, for that matter, practice skyclad. It’s a personal preference. I am blessed to have a group of people with whom I practice that share my views and also come from a background in naturism.
Disregard the Hollywood version of what spells and magick look like. Unfortunately, real magick doesn’t come with a special effects team. Essentially, a great many spells you will find are simply a focused form of prayer. Candles of a particular color, crystals which vibrate at particular frequencies, aromas from various incense varieties, all of those things are basically tools to help focus and direct energy.
A syncretic faith is one made up by the combination of different forms of belief or practice. Some examples include Voodoo, Santeria and some would say Wicca as well.
In this glossary, Wicca is defined as A modern religion influenced predominantly by the pre-Christian agrarian cultures of western Europe that believes in and practices magick and honors both male and female deities who exist in nature. Wicca emphasizes ritual observance of seasonal and life cycles based on solar and lunar cycles.
For the purposes of this glossary, a practitioner of natural or folk magick, particularly the sort relating to candles, herbs, stones, colors, knots, etc. I say this because generally, those who practice the more ceremonial forms of magick or “High Magick” as it is often called tend to prefer the term Magi to refer to themselves. Witch is used by some Wiccans to describe themselves and in Wicca either a male or female is called a witch. Male witches do not use the term warlock and it is actually a derogatory term. That being said though it is important to note that not all witches are Wiccan and not all Wiccans necessarily consider themselves witches. Witchcraft tends to have more to do with the workings of magick and spellcraft while Wicca is a religion with many facets beyond the witchcraft aspect of it.
Thank you for reading this post and if there are any other terms you would like to see added to this glossary feel free to ask. I’m always happy to help foster better communication and discussion.
P.S. Why did I insert such a ridiculous amount of blank space between the words and the definitions? Because, the WordPress theme I use apparently can’t handle anchor texts properly and without the big blank space people who click on links for definitions within the articles would miss the first few lines. It’s a sad workaround but it works.