Magical Paths Glossary
This glossary is to be used as a basic reference to the various magical pathways that you may hear about or study.
This glossary is by no means complete and I welcome everyone to add!
Please recognise that this is a brief simplified glossary. Also the belief systems discussed are often diverse and autonomous where beliefs, opinions and practices may vary. If you have suggestions or edits for my work please feel free to write me a message.
a) Paganism is often used as an umbrella term to define various spiritual paths. Some of the pagan spiritualities are Witchcraft, Wicca, Druidry, Asatru, Heathenry, Shamanism amongst others. Though it must be recognised that many debate which faiths are pagan and which are not. Some people call themselves pagans (a.k.a eclectic pagans) and choose not to specify in a specific spirituality defined under the umbrella of paganism.
The Pagan Federation recognises paganism including the following:
1. Love for and kinship with nature. Reverence for the life force and its ever-renewing cycles of life and death.
2. A positive morality in which the individual is responsible for the discovery and development of their true nature in harmony with the outer world and community. This is often expressed as ‘Do what you will, as long as it harms none’.
3. Recognition of the divine, which transcends gender, acknowledging both the female and male aspects of deity.
(Source: ‘What is Paganism’, The Pagan Federation, 2000)
b) It is also used as a term to define faiths not included within the Abrahamic religions such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Some people use the term neopaganism to mean modern day pagan, as a means of distinguishing between historical Pagans of ancient cultures and the adherents of modern religious movements. However many will use the term paganism as meaning both modern and ancient pagan movements.
Wicca is a Pagan belief system which was formed in the late 1940s and is based on the teachings of Gerald Gardner..
Wicca is considered a ‘mystery’ religion and by many it is considered to require initiation by a coven.
’Wicca is both a religion and a Craft. … As a religion - like any other religion - its purpose is to put the individual and the group in harmony with the divine creative principal of the Cosmos, and its manifestation at all levels. As a Craft, its purpose is to achieve practical ends by psychic means, for good, useful and healing purposes. In both aspects, the distinguishing characteristics of Wicca are its Nature- based attitude, its small group autonomy with no gulf between priesthood and 'congregation’, and its philosophy of creative polarity at all levels.’
(Source: Janet and Stewart Farrar, Eight Sabbats For Witches 1981)
Some Wiccans also practice Witchcraft. For some Witchcraft and Wicca are seen as two distinct paths, for others the boundaries between the two are more blurred. Some mark Wicca as requiring coven initiation while Witchcraft does not. Though Wicca by most is classified as a religion, Witchcraft on the other hand is seen as a religion to some and a craft to others.. Witchcraft can also allow for more freedom and autonomy than Wicca as it relies upon the practioners own personal values and beliefs rather than on a set of structured principles. Wicca is also a post 1940’s creation while many feel Witchcraft predates that. Both Wiccan and Witchcraft beliefs vary depending upon their tradition if any. Wiccans can ether be eclectic Wiccans or can be further categorised into a Wiccan tradition, branch or culture such as Gardnerian Wicca, Alexandrian Wicca etc.
Witchcraft is a Pagan belief system which is said to have its roots in Pagan pre-monotheistic folkways and beliefs which usually follows the agricultural seasonal cycles and reveres its connection with nature. Witches may practice alone as solitaries or in covens.
Many Witches believe in a polytheistic deity structure and/or a divine creative force which may be split into the polarity of a God and a Goddess. Witches may also practice various practical and psychic crafts such as herb lore, spellcraft and healing.
For some Witchcraft and Wicca are seen as two distinct paths, for others the boundaries between the two are more blurred.
- Some mark Wicca as requiring coven initiation while Witchcraft does not.
- Though Wicca by most is classified as a religion, Witchcraft on the other hand is seen as a religion to some and a craft to others.
- Both Wiccan and Witchcraft beliefs vary depending upon their tradition if any. Witches can ether be eclectic Witches or can be further categorised into a Witchcraft tradition, branch or culture such as Dianic Witchcraft, Hedge Witchcraft, Green Witchcraft, Celtic Witchcraft etc.
- Some Witches will focus on a particular cultural pantheon whilst others are content to mix deities from various races.
A branch of witchcraft past on by a family line. Most believe that one can only be a hereditary Witch if it is passed on through birth or marriage. Debate arises in relation to ‘adopting’ individuals into their tradition. Practices and beliefs vary from family to family.
a) A branch of witchcraft which is said to of existed before the modern Wiccan and Witchcraft movements of the 1950’s. Rituals tend to be more simple with little paraphernalia and a greater emphasis on worshipping a Horned God than in more modern Witchcraft traditions.
Any branch coven which can trace its lineage back to Gerald Gardner himself.
Ophidian Traditional Witchcraft
A branch of traditional witchcraft which venerates the element of water beyond others as a manifestation of the world serpent. This tradition draws upon a text known as the Oera Linda Book.
It is said that this branch was mainly family based until the 1940’s. In 1998 Tony Steele publicised the tradition.
A branch of traditional witchcraft which originated from Germany and/or the Netherlands. This was later developed as settlers moved to amercica and incorporate native Indian beliefs and practices into their tradition hence forming PowWow and Pennsylvania Dutch Witchcraft.
A branch of Wicca formed by Gerald Gardner which is said to be a major cause starting the 1950’s witchcraft and Wiccan religious movement. For most Gardnerian witchcraft requires initiation into a coven, for others this opinion is more blurred. It has a structured progression of degrees of teaching and a spiritual path.
A branch of post 1950’s Wicca formed by Alex Sanders. It is an offshoot from Gardnerian Wicca and carries a lot of similar elements. Many who follow this tradition practice in covens. However both the founder and some of its members support self-initiation.
A branch of post 1950’s Wicca formed by Raymond Buckland. This tradition focuses its attention around Saxon mythology. This tradition though sometimes practiced as a coven also supports self-initiation. The path differs from Asatru as it applies Saxon mythology and beliefs around Witchcraft, whereas most Asatru followers do not class themselves as Witches.
A branch of Italian Witchcraft which incorporates re-Christian European mystery teachings and the ancient Etruscan and Tuscan religions.
A further umbrella term within Paganism which for some means all other pagan belief systems other than Witchcraft and Wicca. Reconstructionist religions often stress cultural relevance and can include beliefs such as Ásatrú, Northern Tradition, Odinism, Shamanism, Celtic Reconstructionism, Druidry etc.
The Northern Tradition is a Pagan reconstructionist religion which is based on pre-Christian Northern European beliefs and mythology. Practioners can be male or female.
Ásatrú is a branch of the Northern Tradition. The Ásatrú belief system focuses more upon the Aesir, though some will also invest in the Vanir deties as well. However some will argue that Northern Tradition and Ásatrú are the same.
Odinism is a branch of the Northern Tradition. Odinism focuses more upon their patron god Odin. However some will argue that Northern Tradition and Odinism are the same.
Druidry is a Celtic reconstructionist religion which focuses of the ancient framework of the Celtic Druids. Most Druids are polytheistic and follow an astronomical calendar which marks the yearly stages of the sun, the earth and the moon.
Though much of the knowledge and practices of the ancient Druids is lost most modern consider that the old knowledge is still accessible through insight and revelation.
Often the Druids will classify themselves into three ranks:
- the Bards (composer of verses; keeper of the lore)
- the Ovates (guardians and interpreters of the mysteries; diviners)
- the Druids (advisors; authorities of worship, law and ceremony).
Practioners can be male or female.
There is much debate over whether Shamanism is a Pagan reconstructionsit religion or that of an independent one. Shamans practioners can be male or female.
None the less Shamans communicate regularly with the otherworld and use methods such as trance to achieve this. Most Shamanic traditions incorporate the use of power animals and spirit guides and are considered as healers or medicine men or women.
Shamans can ether be eclectic Shamans or relate their beliefs to a cultural context such as that of the Celts, Native Americans, Russian, African, Australian, Norse etc.
This belief system can include both Pagans and non-pagans alike as is often defined as a system on the fringe of Pagan belief.
Many practice esoteric practices such as dowsing, ceremonial magick, spiritual mediumship, divination etc. Some seek historical artefacts or mystical knowledge.
a) A solitary witch
b) A branch of Witchcraft which often holds a stronger reverence towards the environment.
Hedgewitchery is shamanic witchcraft, the hedge represents the borders between worlds which the Hedgewitch crosses through spirit flight.
Rituals are often more simplistic and less ceremonial.
This is a branch of Wicca or Witchcraft which can be practised in coven or solitary settings and focuses on the use of Celtic deities and beliefs.
The Draconian Path
This is a branch of Wicca which has been amalgamated with influences from the Celtic Welsh culture and the Druidic Wysardn Colleges. It was founded in 1986 by progenitor Lord Ash.
The Draconian path empathises balance especially with the polarity of light and dark and recognises the dragon the “face of the All-That-Is”.
This is a branch of Wicca which was created by Zsuzsanna Budapest and Morgan McFarlans and is the craft’s first feminist tradition.
Dianic Wiccans occasionally honour only the Goddess and place strong empathises on women’s spirituality, women’s rights and sexual equality. However practices and beliefs depend upon the coven and its practitioners.
Marion Weinstein states that many Dianics use very masculine gods in their practice (and even references Pan / Cernunnos as her own personal male patrons in her book) and that Dianics don’t only exclusively honour the goddess.