The Dictionary of Wiccan Terms


Sabbat:A holy day of the seasonal cycle of the Sun and Earth. There are eight: the lesser Sabbats are the two equinoxes and the two solstices. The greater Sabbats are the holidays that fall half-way in between, or at the cross quarters. See also Wheel of the Year. 2The name given to the eight great festivals of the year, celebrating the movement of the sun through the sky, the turn of the seasons. 3A Wiccan religious festival. See, Beltane, Imbolc, Lughnasadh, Mabon, Midsummer, Ostara, Samhain, and Yule for specific descriptions. 4The eight seasonal festivals celebrated by witches and by many others. In order through the calendar year, they are: Imbolg (q.v) 2 February; Spring Equinox 21 March ; Bealtaine (q.v) 30 April; Midsummer Solstice 22 June; Lughnasadh (q.v) 31 July; Autumn Equinox 21 September ; Samhain (q.v) 31 October; and the Winter Solstice or Yule (q.v) 22 December. Imbolg, Bealtaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain are known as the Greater Sabbats, and the Solstices and Equinoxes are the Lesser Sabbats. The dates for observing the Lesser Sabbats may vary slightly in different traditions, and the actual dates of the Equinoxes and Solstices do vary, by a day at most, from year to year in astronomical fact. 5One of the holy days of the Wiccan religion, celebrating themes such as birth, fertility and death, related to the turning of the seasons. Most Wiccan traditions celebrate eight sabbats. They have more than one name each, bot one set goes as follows: Yule, Imbolg, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnassad, Mabon, and Samhain. 6One of the eight seasonal festivals of the Wiccan year.

Sachet: A cloth bag filled with herbs. In herb magick sachets are used to contain herb mixtures while they slowly release their energies for specific magickal goals.

Sacred Space: Any region in which the power of the elements have been called upon to protect and guide whatever is happening within that space. In considering what constitutes true sacred space, remember this: Sacredness is determined as much by attitude as action.(see also Magick Circle).

Salamander: The traditional name for an Elemental (q.v) spirit of the nature of the Fire element.

Salt: Used in many magickal procedures, including Wiccan, as a kind of spiritual antiseptic, or purifying symbol.² In ritual, salt is both a symbolic element of Earth and a cleansing agent, especially when mixed with water.

Samhain: A Wiccan festival celebrated on October 31st , also known as November Eve, Hallowmas, Halloween, Feast of Souls, Feast of the Dead, Feast of Apples. Samhain marks the symbolic death of the Sun God and His passing into the "land of the young" where He awaits rebirth of the Mother Goddess at Yule. This Celtic word is pronounced by Wiccans as : SOW-wen; SEW-wen; SAHM-hain; SAMH-ain; SAV-een and other ways. The first seems to be the one preferred among most Wiccans. 2The Hallowe'en Great Sabbat, celebrated on 31 October. In Celtic tradition, it is the start of the new year, and also of winter - Bealtaine (q.v) being the beginning of summer; the pastoral Celts only recognized two seasons. Samhain is particularly associated with the contacting of dead friends. The origin of the words seem uncertain, though it may relate to the Gaelic verb sámhaim, 'to quiet down, become silent'. 3Ancient Irish fires festival honoring the dead. One of the eight sabbats of the Wiccan year. Celebrated on October 31.

Scourge: This consists of several strands of light cord attached to a handle; some traditions require a token scourging as part of initiation, to ritually purify the candidate or induce trance.

Scribe a Circle: The act of drawing a protective circle, literally or figuratively, in a room to prepare the sacred space.

Scrying: To gaze into something in order to gain insight or psychic impressions. The obvious example of "something" is a crystal ball, but there are many other tools for scrying -- black mirrors, pools of still water, water in a dark bowl, flames, cloud formations … . ²Discerning images in a crystal that reveal the future or secrets of the past or present.³ To gaze at or into and object (a quartz crystal sphere, pools of water, reflections, a candle flame) to still the Conscious Mind and to contact the Psychic Mind. This allows the scryer to become aware of possible events prior to their actual occurrence, as well as previous or distant, simultaneous events through other than normally accepted senses. A form of Divination. (4) Any form of divination which involves gazing at or into something (crystal ball, black mirror, pool of ink etc.) to induce psychically perceived visual images.(5) Divination by means of gazing into a dark reflective surface.(6) The word scrying comes from an Old English word meaning "discover" and it's used to describe a type of divination. Here a person looks at the flames of a fire, the surface of a crystal, a reflective surface, or the like, and watches for specific visions to appear. Many students of this art believe the intense staring leads to self-induced trance states that heighten awareness so the symbolic imagery can appear for interpretation.

Sefirah: (Plural: sefiroth) One of ten aspects of God revealed during the creation of the universe and represented in the Kabbalistic Sefiroth, or Tree of Life.

Sefiroth: The Tree of Life, the most familiar symbol of the Kabbalah. The Sefiroth graphically sets out the stages of God's manifestation and the relationships that underlie the whole of existence and creation. Eachpoint on the Tree is associated with a Sefirah, whence the name.

Self: The true essence of the human psyche; the integrated individuality towards which all constructive psychic development strives. 2An individual's essential identity, referable to one or other of the main divisions of the total person: Higher Self, that part of the psyche which is more elevated than the rational mind: the Higher Unconciousness, the Spirit. Lower Self, the soul and the physical body together; the rational, emotional, instinctual, lower unconscious and material levels of the person.

Sensitive (as adjective): Having acute physical or mental perceptions, or emotional sensibility; (as noun) a person unusually susceptible to psychic influences.

Sephira (plural: Sephiroth): Any one of the ten spheres on the Tree of Life (q.v), the central concept of the Cabala (q.v). 2 One of the ten "Spheres" composing the Qabalistic "Tree of Life". Seven of the Sephiroth represent the modes of existence charaterized by the Seven Planets of traditional astrology.

Shadow: The buried, unconscious elements of the human psyche; everything except the Ego (q.v) and the Persona (q.v).

Shaman, Shamaness: A man or woman who has obtained knowledge of other dimensions as well as of the earth, usually through periods of alternate states of consciousness. This knowledge gives the shaman the power to change this world through magick. Once derisively known as "medicine men" and "witch doctors", shamans are once again respected as repositories of traditional healing, psychological, and magickal knowledge.² In many cultures, a priest like figure who communicates with the spirit world. ³ A man or woman who has obtained knowledge of the subtler dimensions of the Earth, usually through periods of alternate states of consciousness. Various types of Ritual allow the Shaman to pierce the veil of the physical world and to experience the realm of energies. This knowledge lends the shaman the power to change her or his world through Magick. (4) A priest or priestess who communicates with the inner planes by self-induced trance. Originally a North Asiatic tribal word, it has come to be used to describe such functionaries in other cultures.(5) An original priest of nature, who goes to the spirits who abide in that realm for power and insights into daily living. Shamanism has many varieties, as any other form of magick, and is among the most popular of the modern magickal schools because of its reverence for the earth. Like Pagans and Wiccans, shamans see the earth as a living, vital organism that is very important to our spiritual progress as well as our physical and mental well-being.

Shamanism: The practice of shamans , usually ritualistic or magickal in nature, and sometimes religious. Usually a derivative of a Native American tradition, the shaman's role is often one of healing, teaching, and divining. Shamanism is a tradition which usually has emphasis on ancestral and natural spirits. Those with shamanistic callings often feel very closely linked to the Earth and its creatures.

Shapeshifting: Shapeshifting is a type of glamoury but with a different effect. The process transforms the magic user's outlook, perceptions, and understanding to that of the animal, plant, or person they're mimicking. Sometimes this auric transformation can be sensed by people around the magick user, but the ultimate goal of shapeshifting is not a literal one. Instead, the hope is to "walk in something else's shoes" to learn and grow from the experience.

Shield: A thought form or psychic barrier of protection.

Show Stone: A crystal ball or other polished stone used for scrying; see magickal mirror.

Sick-Building Syndrome: The set of symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, nausea, chest problems, and general fatigue associated with buildings with actual air pollution or inadequate ventilation, or negative environmental energies.

Sidereal Year: The time it takes for the earth to revolve around the sun; 365.256 days.

Sigil: An occult seal or sign. It should be pronounced to rhyme with 'vigil'.(2) A concept or principle designed by magickal formala to contain the essence of something.

Simple Feast, The: A ritual meal shared with the Goddess and God.

Simples: An old term used for medicinal herbs. Also, a term sometimes applied to the recipes for herbal restoratives.

Sky Clad: Participating in a circle, ritual, or other magickal activity without clothing. This is done in an effort to connect with nature and get away from the superficial. It is not necessary for any type of Wiccan worship, but is a matter of personal choice. ²The witches' word for 'ritually naked'. ²Clothed by the sky; i.e., naked. Some Wiccan traditions practice occasionally or regularly in the nude, while others wear robes. By tradition, nudity deemphasizes socio-economic differences, recognizes the sanctity of the human body, and allows the free flow of psychic energy. It is not an invitation to sexual advances or orgies.

Smudge Stick: A bundle of herbs - most often including sage, cedar and/or lavender - which is lit. The smoke of these herbs is believed to alleviate negative influences and may be used to prepare a ritual space or aid in other spiritual activities, such as meditation.

Smudging: A method of purification, used by Native Americans, for the preparation of oneself and one's sacred place for spiritual practice. The process involves wafting about the smoke of slow burning herbs. 2Native American ceremony involving the burning of sage, sweetgrass, cedar, or any combination of these herbs in order to purify the psychic energy of an individual or area.

Soddag Valloo: Ritual cakes, baked and eaten at Samhain.

Solitary Wicca: Wicca practiced, due to either choice or circumstance, by individuals without group support. Compare with Group Wicca.

Solstice: The point in time when the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator.

Solstices: See Sabbats, also Yule.

So Mote It Be: The way most rituals, prayers, etc. are ended in magick circles. Like the Christian "Amen", meaning "So be it" or "So must it be".

Sorcerer, Sorceress: An enchanter, usually with inborn and undisciplined powers.

Soul Group: A cluster of souls who are in incarnation.

Soul Links: The connections between members of a soul group.

Soul-Mates: Individuals (q.v) who are continuously involved with each other in successive Incarnations (q.v), becoming rather like a pair of binary stars. Also known as twin souls.

Soul Retrieval:Trauma, shock or abuse can cause a part of the soul energy to leave and remain "stuck". A soul retrieval practitioner or shaman retrieves the soul, bringing it back to the physical body or , temporarily, to a crystal.

Spell:A clearly focused intent that is directed through a ritual raising of energy. ²A magickal rite, usually nonreligious in nature, and often accompanied by spoken words. ³The mainstay of Folk Magick, spells are simply magickal rites. They're usually non-religious and often include spoken words. ³A pattern or series of words and/or actions performed with magickal intent; or sometimes simply a spoken incantation. A spell may be part of a ritual, but may also be performed without the usual ritual steps: casting the circle, calling the quarters, invoking Deity and so on.(4) A mini-ritual in which magick is raised and directed toward a specific goal.

Spin-Off: A ritual in which one leaves the circle with which one has trained in order to form a new circle. Also called Hiving.

Spiral Dance: Refers to the "dance" of life, seen as a never-ending spiral. Also refers to an actual circle dance in which a group holds hands in a chain, spiraling inward to the center of the circle and out again, often snaking in and out in the process, but never dropping hands.

Spirit Guides: Discarnate souls who work from between-lives state to provide assistance to those on earth.

Spirits of the Stones, The: The elemental energies naturally inherent at the four directions of the magick circle, personified within the "Standing Stones Tradition" as the "Spirits of the Stones". They are linked with the Elements.

Spiritualist: Once who believes that the dead can communicate with the living, especially through a medium or channel.

Staff: A Witch's staff can be a ritual tool or Fire or Air, or symbolize the masculine energy of the God. They are sometimes used as hiking sticks, and sometimes in ritual. The kind of wood used and the carvings and decorations are usually symbolic of energies important to the owner.

Stang: A forked stick placed in the center of the circle, as a primitive symbol of the Horned God or other deity being invoked.

Stones: Rocks and gems are used for healing, divination, talismans, and other magickal purposes.Lodestone (magnetite) and quartz crystals are two commonly used stones, but many others are used as well.

Subliminal: Literally "below the threshold"; from Liebniz onwards, applied to experiences which enter the psyche without coming into consciousness, and can result in overt action still without themselves becoming conscious.

Subtle Bodies:The layers of the biomagnetic sheath that relate to the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels of being.

Subtle Energy Field: The invisible but detectable energy field that surrounds all living beings.

Succubus:A female spirit or demon once believed to sexually tempt and abuse men.. It may have been a theological explanation of nocturnal emissions. Compare with Incubus.

Summerlands: A spiritualist word for the Heaven which souls enter after death. Often used by believes in Reincarnation (q.v) to denote the astral stage of rest after physical death, before the Individuality (q.v) withdraws from all the lower levels to prepare for its next Incarnation (q.v). ² The Wiccan concept of the afterlife, where spirits rest in the company of the Lady and Lord, reflect on what they have learned in their most recent incarnation, and prepare for the next one. Witches do not believe in heaven, hell, or purgatory, but only in the Summerland.(3) The dwelling place of spirits after death.

Summoner: See Fetch.

Sun Magick: Pertaining to the masculine attributes, any fire-based magicks or any ritual that marks the passage of the Sun through the sky, such as a solstice (when the sun is farthest from the equator). In comparison, and equinox is usually celebrates as a Moon or midnight festival. The sun has attributes of leadership, strength, etc.

Sunward: Clockwise, usually referring to the movement around a circle in dance. Meant to mimic the motions of the heavens and bring positive energy to the working.

Sword: One of the four elemental tools, representing the Fire Element - or in some traditions the Air element. ² A ritual tool of Air or Fire, used in ritual to cast the circle. Most often individual Witches will own athames, and the coven may own a sword. It is also a masculine symbol; a priestess who wears a sword may take the part of a priest, in some traditions.

Sylph: The traditional name for an Elemental(q.v) spirit of the nature of the Air element.

Symbol: An image that represents something else.

Symbol System: A symbolic "map" of reality that represents the fundamental aspects of our emotional and spiritual experience and can be used as a means of exploring and developing the spiritual self.

Synchronicity: Jung's term for 'meaningful coincidence', an acausal connection principle for which he brought forward much evidence. His discussion of the subject is of great interest to all occultists.

Synthetic "Essential" Oils: Those fragrant oils which have not been obtained by steam distillation or cold expression from the naturally aromatic plant materials after which they are named. Synthetic scents are useless in both magickal aromatherapy and its conventional cousin and shouldn't be used for these purposes under any circumstances. Compare with Essential oils.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J,K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, Y, Z