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Glossary of Wiccan, Neo-Pagan and Occult Terminology


Members of my old Coven, the 'Circle of the Mystic Moon', engaged in some simple Spell-working...
Members of my old Coven,
the 'Circle of the Mystic Moon', engaged in some simple

A Spell is a mental projection, either spoken, written or thought, which, in the act of Magick or Divination, is intended to create or change a particular course of events.   The belief in spells and their employment dates back to antiquity.   Spells have become an integral part of various religious and Magickal practices.   Their methods vary accordingly from culture to culture, but all spells function on ritual activity.

Spells are closely related to prayers, in that they both are a means of petitioning a deity or deities for a particular desired outcome, and which require the visualization of the goal, statement of desire for the goal and ritualized movements or body positions, such as the bowing of the head, the folding or clasping of hands, or shutting of the eyes, etc.  

Spells are also closely related to the various methods of employing the powers of the mind, such as "creative visualization," "positive thinking," and "positive imaging" (see VISUALIZATION).   Such methods help the one Casting the spell to emphasize his mental images so he can better identify with these images and form a clear goal .   The person repeats his intention to achieve the particular goal and combines it with the projection of his will and the invocation of the aid of the spirits, deities or Divine Force.

There are various types of spells.   Some are beneficial while others are harmful.   Some claim they may be worked on man and beast alike.   Their purposes are limitless including healing, love, success, money, fertility, longevity, protection against disaster, illness, misfortune and evil, exorcism of ghosts and spirits, victory in war and over an enemy, truth in Divination, weather control and accomplishment of supernatural feats.   When casted against enemies spells may be used to bring about illness, destruction, loss of love, impotence, loss of property, failure and even death.

A person can cast a spell for himself, or direct it toward another person.   A positive spell is called a blessing.   A negative spell usually known as a hex or curse.   Archaic terms for spells include bewitchment and Enchantment.  

A Binding spell is on that is casted with the intention of preventing harm or disaster, or to stop someone from performing a particular act such as a murder or rape, or something as inoffensive as spreading gossip.  

Structure of a spell:

An act of Magick, that requires a Magician, witch or Sorcerer, performing a spell in a ritual.   The spell itself consists of words or incantation (sometimes called charms or Runes).   The ritual is a prescribed set of actions performed while the spell is being recited.   For example, the ancient Egyptians believed words were so powerful that speaking them would achieve the desired result.   Certain words and Names of Power were essential in Egyptian Magick and had to be pronounced correctly and with the proper intonation.   The Tetragrammaton is the ultimate name on power in Western Ceremonial Magicians.

A spell-Casting ritual involves the raising of power (see also CONE OF POWER) through the combination of visualization, incantation (the statement of goal), petition of the deities and projection of the will.   It is thought that the success of the spell rests on the power and will raised and the skill with which they are focused and projected.   All of these powers go into spell casting.   Things aiding spell casting include words, chants, songs, movements or dance which may be accompanied by the use of objects such as ritual tools, effigies, poppets, cords, candles, and nail clippings.


In most cultures witches, Sorcerers, witch doctors, and other Magickally empowered persons cast spells which can be either beneficial or harmful.   Spells are cast to meet the needs of an individual or a group of people.   They can be can by an individual or a group, such as a solitary witch or witches in a coven.

The ethics set forth within the Wiccan Rede prohibits the casting of curses within Wicca.   Also within this group there is divided agreement on the acceptability of Binding spells.

Generally the words of the incantation used in casting spells are spontaneous and composed to serve the immediate purpose.   Rhyming words or verses help to create rhythm to boaster the increasing of energy.   While many effective spells and charms may be found in books on Wicca and Witchcraft, folk-Magick and Magick most Wiccans, Witches and Magicians believe spells composed from the heart work the best.   They know just the recitation of a chant or charm does not cast a spell.

Along with this many Wiccans, Witches and Ceremonial Magicians believe that the words of the incantation are not as important as their intent.   This involves, during Ceremonial Magick, the focus of intense concentration and will upon achieving the goal, visualizing it and believing that it already has been accomplished.   When the psychic power has peaked, it is released and directed toward the goal.   A psychic cleanup ritual finishes the spell casting work, this is to banish any remnants of psychic energy.   The invoked deities and forces of the elements are thanked.

A Biblical Perspective:

The Scriptures clearly prohibit Occult practices in any form.

The use of Magick and other forms of Occult practice usurp the rightful place of the Scripture in the life of the Christian.   It attempts to give direction and guidance to the individual.   The Bible is clear on the subject.   Magick and other forms of Occult practice is an abomination to God.   Some would have us believe the Bible endorses certain forms of Magick as an art that offers mankind an understanding of his true self, an opportunity to create his or her own reality to suit his or her personal spiritual goals.   The following Scripture indicates otherwise.
"When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.   Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices Divination or Sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead." - Deuteronomy 18:9-11

Scripture also calls each of us to place our faith in Jesus Christ rather than the created universe.   The book of Colossians reminds the individual to "see to it that no one takes you captive through vain philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of man, according to the elemental principles of the universe, rather than according to Christ." - (Colossians 2:8)

see also: MAGICK; MAGICK, Laws of; MAGICK, Theory of; WORKING

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One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.

Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans.   Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.

Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church.   Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.

- Jean-Luc
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