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Learning the Ropes , Wiccan Terminology Part I

HandfastingTo become more in tune with the practices, beliefs, and background on Wicca, it is important to familiarize yourself with some of the terminology of the religion. Below you will encounter an assortment of terms associated with Wicca:

Blessed Be , This is the typical manner in which Pagans and Wiccans will greet one another.

British Traditional Wicca , Also known as BTW, this is the name given to the branch of Alexandrian Wicca that is different from some of the more recent traditions that do not require an initiation.

Broom , Before casting a circle, Wiccans will use a broom to ‘purify’ a chosen space.

Burning Times , This term refers to the time period in which witch hunts were plentiful in Europe.

Coven , If you’ve watched any movie that depicts witches, then this term is probably already familiar to you. A coven refers to a congregation of Wiccans, which is often comprised of between 10 and 15 members. Typically, congregations of Wiccans consist of 13 members.

Drawing Down the Moon , When a full moon strikes, this Wiccan ritual is typically observed, where the power of the God and Goddess is ‘drawn’ down into the High Priest and Priestess.

Eclectic Wiccans , This is the name given to Wiccans who are not members of a particular tradition and are often solitary in their practice. Since they do not belong to a coven, it is up to them to pull from a variety of resources in order to form their own individual styles of following the religion.

Four Elements , At the start of Wiccan rituals, it is earth, water, air, and fire that are often invoked or used to purify a space.

Galdra , This is the word used in Seax Wicca to refer to magic , derived from the Saxon language.

Handfasting , When a Wiccan enters a marriage, this is a common ritual that is embraced. The term comes from the verb ‘to handfast,’ which was used in Middle to Early Modern English, which referred to the creation of a contract into marriage. Depending on the couple, the ceremony is known to take on many different versions, including a handfasting knot created around the clasped hands of a couple, where each person attending the wedding plays a role in tying a ribbon. Interestingly, when some Wiccan couples wish to divorce, they may take part in what is called a ‘handparting,’ where a couple may jump backwards over a broom before parting hands.

High Magic , Also known as ‘Ceremonial Magic,’ this term refers to the various forms of magic that are considered ‘educated.’ Under this category, you will find astrology, alchemy, numerology, and even Kaballah , the faith currently followed by many celebrities, such as Madonna and Demi Moore.

For more Wiccan terms, continue reading, “Learning the Ropes , Wiccan Terminology Part 2,” which will introduce Hwata, Magick, and the Ordo Templi Orientis.