Wizard, from Old English wis meaning “wise” a sage, an adept, or a magician, usually is used to denote a person learned in both knowledge and skills of his profession. In the Wiccantradition the term wizard can denote either gender, but is usually associated with a person engaged in thaumaturgic spell-casting, using formulary and recitation in spell-work, alchemicalpractices and research, or Qabalistic (Kabbalah) studies. It can also be applied to a sorcerer, but usually is not. Wizard generally denotes knowledge as it is common to say “he is a wizard” or “he is a wiz,” meaning the person really knows it or can easily do it. A.G.H


Batty, Miles. Harry Potter and Wicca – A Comparative Analysis. <http://www.sdpaganpride.org/?q=node/71>
Drury, Nevil. The Watkins Dictionary of Magic. London. Watkins Publishing. 2005. p. 310

Witch’s mark


In the lore of the witch, this is claimed to be an extra teat or nipple on a witch’s body from which she or he permitted a familiar or imp to suckle human blood which these creatures supposedly craved. Although extra nipples appear naturally in a small percentage of the population, a fact which was either not widely known or disregarded in medieval times, these extra bodily protuberances took on an infernal association during this period. During witch trials virtually any wart, mole, tumor, outstanding swelling or discoloration of the skin was suspect as being a witch’s mark. After their arrest witches were bodily searched to see if any peculiarities could be discovered. Even red spots, or bumps under the tongue and folds in the vagina were considered paps for familiars.

People were employed as “prickers” during the trials to prick the skin of the accused witches to see if any insensitive portions on their bodies could be found. This was frequently done before the judge, jury and audience. The accused was usually naked to the waist, and often had to raise her skit for the examiner to examine her. The examining tool was usually a sharp instrument such as a pin or needle, as well as other instruments. An insensitive portion of the body was one which did not bleed when pricked, and so designated a witch’s mark. The prickers were often paid to discover witches, so much a witch, and some cheated by using a blunt ended instrument so certain portions of the skin would not bleed when pricked.

Out of fear people sometimes cut off their warts, moles, and other bumps in order not to be suspect as a witch. These tactics helped very little, if any, because scars that were left indicated where an incision had been made. When discovered the scars were judged to indicate the person had something to hide, and the person was suspect of being a witch. Often the terms witch’s mark and devil’s mark were used interchangeably, so the person might also be thought to be in covenant with the devil.

Currently witch’s marks are described as unusual birthmarks. The Witch Sybil Leek believed in them and said that she and other members of her family had them.

Witches’ marks are used in initiation rituals of some traditions of modern Witchcraft. These marks are symbolic and may take the shapes of X-crosses made with anointing oil on the body of the candidate. As described in the Book of Shadows for the Gardnerian tradition, the crosses are traced over the third eye, the heart and the genitals, symbolizing the freeing of the mind, heart and body.

A witch mark in Appalachia, a rural portion of the southeastern United States, is a star, similar to the Maltese cross, which is etched or drawn over the doorway of a house or barn, to keep witches away. Also, it can be cut out of wood and nailed over the door. A.G.H.


Guiley, Rosemary Ellen.The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft. New York: Facts On File.1989. pp. 388-389

Witch’s ladder


A string of 40 beads or a cord of 40 knots which some witches use for magic. The beads or knots enable a Witch to concentrate on repeated chants or incantations without having to keep count. Thus enabling the Witch to focus all his or her attention on the desired goal.

According to old tradition, a witch’s ladder, a rope of 40 knots, could be used to cast a death spell over a person. The witch tied the knots tightly in hatred and hid the rope so the victim could not find it because the only cure was to find the rope and untie the knots.

Today witch’s ladders are used often in healing work. A.G.H.

Source: 4.

Wiccan Mythos


This is a term designating the underlying spirituality of Wicca reflected in the seasonal rites of Nature, along with the metaphors linked with the lunar reverence. The essence of this mythos is based upon the Wheel of the Year, which designates the sabbats of the Wiccan religion. The Wheel possesses the foundation of the Wiccan belief in ever-returning cycles, an aspect also linking the Wiccan belief to reincarnation. Death and the survival of the soul or spirit are important elements of the Mystery Teachings contained within the Old Religion.

Since Wicca is essentially an agrarian Mystery Tradition every aspect of plowing, planting, growing, and harvesting has symbolic meaning in the journey of the soul. These agricultural Mystery Teachings are involved with loss, return, death, and rebirth. The death and rebirth concepts are perhaps best depicted in the ancient myths of Demeter and Persephone that illustrate the foundation of the Wiccan concepts to the descent of the Goddess into the Underworld. This mythos is found in the early civilizations of Mesopotamia. The Agricultural Mysteries are also involved with transforming and changing the states of consciousness. (see Altered States of Consciousness) Such involvement stems from ancient times when psychotropic plants such as hallucinogenic mushrooms and fermented liquids were used. This branch of the Mystery Tradition is often referred to as the Fermentation Mysteries, and includes as well the Harvest Mysteries. The latter symbolically reveals the ancient mysteries through a variety of myths of slain and resurrected gods.

The Slain God or Divine King is an integral part of the Wiccan mythos and Mystery Tradition. He is closely connected with the life cycle of the plant kingdom and shares the characteristics related to planting and harvesting. The blood of the Slain God/Divine King possesses the same vital life-giving principle, as does the seed. Therefore, the mythos states that all must be returned to the soil so that life and abundance will fill the coming year.

The Wiccan mythos also includes the seasonal cycles of Nature known as the waxing and waning tides of the earth. These are the growth and decline forces that are often personified as mythical figures. In many Wiccan Traditions these figures are the Oak King and the Holly King. Other Traditions use an older, more primal set of figures, the stag and the wolf. Which ever is the case, the mythos is one of life and death. The one figure supersedes the other in an ever-repeating cycle. As it is seen with the Oak King and the Holly King, one figure slays the other during the solstice. The stag and wolf are slain by exterior factors representing the forces of Nature.

In the classic Wiccan Mythos there are various myths connected to each of the eight sabbats. At the Winter Solstice the new sun is born. At Imbolc the sun god reaches maturity and is purified as he prepares to encounter the Goddess. The Spring Equinox marks the return of the Goddess from the Underworld. At Beltane the God and Goddess meet to begin their courtship. The Summer Solstice marks their wedding and finds the Goddess pregnant from their union at Beltane. Lughnasadh marks the fullness of the Harvest, and the sun god becomes the Harvest King, the Slain God. The Autumn Equinox begins the descent of the Goddess into the Underworld in search of the Slain God of the Harvest. At Samhain they meet again in the Underworld, unrecognized at first. There they fall in love anew and exchange their mysteries. He gives to the Goddess the necklace of rebirth and she teaches him the mystery of the cauldron of rebirth. A.G.H.

Source: 78, 398-399.



Wicca is a religion of Nature, which venerates Nature by worshiping both the feminine as masculine aspects of Divinity. Its spiritual roots go back to pre-Christian belief and practices in Europe. Wicca first attained public attention through the efforts of Gerald B.Gardner in the 1950s, as it was portrayed as the remnant of an ancient European fertility cult. Those practicing Wicca refer to it as the Old Religion, or the Craft of the Wise. Outwardly modern Wicca appears to be a system of folklore and folk magic, but its composition consists of pre-Christian European Mystery Teachings.

The main philosophical teachings of Wicca teach that the Divinity is composed of both masculine and feminine principles, which most Traditions personify as a Goddess and a God. (see The Horned God) Other Traditions teach that the supreme Deity is the Goddess who possesses within Herself the polarities of masculine and feminine energy.

Such Wiccan theology dates back to Neolithic, if not Paleolithic, times. Many debate whether modern Wicca is the survival of the Old Religion or a new religion, but it contains remnants of Old Religion theology. Others vigorously argue that nothing resembling modern Wicca ever previously existed. The truth may remain uncertain, but one certainty is that Wicca has been influenced by Masonic, Hermetic (see Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn), and Kabbalistic elements as well as various tenets of Western Occultism and Eastern mysticism.

As it will be shown there exists a debate as to whether modern Wicca shares a linkage with the past. Even though some deny any association with the past others truly believe in such a linkage and gain a spiritual strength from it. Although some currently may try to separate Wicca from Witchcraft, this appears to be a hard feat to accomplish especially Wicca embodies the veneration of Nature and the Goddess as a supreme Deity. Archeology has discovered paintings on wall depicting female figures giving birth to children. Ancient female figurines with enormous breasts were elsewhere found; both the paintings and figurines give evidence that even the primitive people knew the birth, or generative, process resided within the female. It was the feminine energy that was first acknowledged before the recognition of the male energy appeared. Coinciding with the recognition of this feminine generative process was the natural recognition and acknowledgement of the agricultural surroundings. Even primitive people soon realize that they had to eat to survive. This is not meant to be a demeaning statement, but rather a statement of fact. Food came from the earth; there were times when the earth gave forth more food that at other times. Out of this knowledge the concepts of the seasons and year were later formed. However Wicca may have changed, essentially it is a religion of Nature.

Most Wiccans celebrates the eight seasonal sabbats, marked by the solstice and equinox as well as the midpoints of the calendar between each period. Some Traditions hold rituals during the time of the full moon while others observe the time of the new moon. The worshipping of the various deities along with the conducting of various rites are pretty much dependent in the cultural foundation of the Tradition. Cultural Wiccan Traditions include Celtic, Germanic, Nordic, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Polish, Hungarian, Italian, and many others. Each Tradition mainly possesses particular cultural elements; some of the popular Traditions emphasize Irish, English, and Welsh elements.

Gerald B. Gardner gave emphasis to Wicca by presenting it as the Old Religion, a surviving sect of Witches practicing a form of pre-Christian religion. Wicca entered the United States in the early 1960s where it quickly took root. Also helping to form the foundation of the new Craft were several works that included Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough (10), Robert Graves’ The White Goddess, T. C. Lethbridge’s Witches, and Erich Neumann’s The Great Goddess, from which the new Wiccans drew inspiration.

During the 1960s Wicca was commonly associated with the goddess Diana and Rex Nemorensis, the King of the Woods (see Slain God). Also during this period many Aegean/Mediterranean influences intermixed into the modern Wiccan structure. This also was the time of the peace-loving hippies who were drawn to the ecological message of this Nature religion. A distinguishing characteristic of Wicca during the 1960s was a longing for a linkage to an ancient religion evolved, which gave birth to stories of a grandmother who was secretly a Witch and had passed her teachings onto her children.

In the 1970s Wicca began to be thought of as a Celtic religion. This was helped by the writings of Dion Fortune, Aleister Crowley, and Kabbalistic teachings, which began merging with Wiccan beliefs and practices. This was a time the many new systems were evolving, particularly within the United States, which generated in some a feeling of lost. The romantic fantasy of the ancient Celts being noble savages filled this void for many during the 1970s. Along with this experience came an increased interest in Celtic literature and many Witches turned to Celtic mythology including such early works as the Mabinogi, a collection of heroic tales, myths, and legends.

During the 1980s Wicca experienced the effects of the New Age movement that promoted the self-styled Wiccan, whom stopped using the word “Witch” and made distinctions between Witchcraft and Wicca. A self-interpretive approach to Wicca lead to the turning away from structured Traditions and time-honored practices. There was a sharp increase in the number of people choosing Wicca for their religion, the majority of these individuals lack connections to established Traditions as guidelines or initiated Witches as teachers. The definitions of Wicca and Wiccans of the previous two decades now changed. The practitioners of the 1980s held more divergent views. There was a combination of vestiges of Judaic-Christian morality and philosophy imported from these religious backgrounds along with gender politics and sexual preferences, which transformed Wicca during the decade.

The Wiccan elders returned to the community in the 1990s, many of whom wrote influential magazine articles and books. The decade saw an effort to move toward a balance, an attempt was made to blend tradition, training, and structure, together with the self-styled systems carried over from the past decade. Although the elders continued to write and teach throughout the decade, many Wiccans, especially the younger practitioners, thought the teaching was too “preachy” and looked on it with disfavor, but gradually the two philosophies edged closer together in balance. A.G.H.

Sources: 28, 28-29; 78, 395-397

Wheel of the Year


This is the expression used by neo-Pagans and in neo-Pagan Witchcraft designating the changing seasons of the year. It also symbolizes the belief in the birth, death, and rebirth cycle. In design, the Wheel of the Year has eight spokes designating the eight sabbats that are generally celebrated in neo-Paganism. The eight-spoke wheel is thought by many to be a Celtic symbol; however, it appeared in Greek symbolism as early as 600 BC, over two hundred years prior to Aegean/Mediterranean contact with the Celts. The rotation of the wheel symbolizes the year passing through its seasons or cycles.

The Wheel of the Year for modern Wiccans and Witches represents the four “greater” and “lesser” sabbats. In the most northern European traditions the Cross Quarters are the greater sabbats: Imbolc/Candlemas (February Eve), Beltane/Roodmas (May Eve), Lughnasadh/Lammas (August Eve), and Samhain/Halloween (November Eve). In most of the southern European traditions the agricultural traditions are the greater sabbats: Autumn Equinox, Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, and Summer Solstice.

Related articles: how many days does a leap year have


Sources: 4, 363; 78, 394-395.



The West corresponds to the element Water, to emotions, to twilight, autumn, to deep blues, and sea greens, to sea serpents, dolphins, fish, to the power or strength to dare. It is from the West that one receives the courage to combat one’s deepest feelings. The West also is the portal to the Underworld or the Summerland. A.G.H.

Sources: 71, 89; 78, 394.



Wells are symbols of portals to the Underworld as well as to the realms of spirits and fairies. The water in a well was deep, therefore it was believed to have a direct connection to the Underworld. Wells thus were thought to be sacred and magical because of their association with spirits and deities. Often offerings were dropped into wells to appease the entities living beneath.

The well is also seen as a feminine principle, the womb of the Great Goddess. Therefore, its water is identified with the body fluids of the female. Women were thought to be magical because they bled every month without becoming ill or dying. The blood and vaginal lubricants associated with fertility were connected to life and considered magical. In correspondence the water from a well was believed to possess renewal and healing power.

In many regions of Europe the very old tradition of “dressing” well was popular as late as the 19th century. This tradition involved decorating wells with flowers, garland, statuary, and other items. This pagan custom was especially at Midsummer (see Sabbats) and represented the abundance of life born of Nature. The custom of dressing wells was eventually assimilated into the Catholic Church, and became associated with the Christian festivals centering on the themes of resurrection and ascension. A.G.H.

Source: 78, 391-392.



Warlock is a term denoting the counterpart of a female Witch. The term usually is avoided because of its common etymology being derived from the Old English term waeloga meaning deceiver or oath breaker. This is why it is considered a pejorative term in the Wiccan tradition: one who reveals secrets. A warlock can designate a sorcerer who invokes supernatural powers for evil purposes. Warlocks are thought to practice black magic. However, few prefer the term. A.G.H


Drury, Nevil. The Watkins Dictionary of Magic. London. Watkins Publishing. 2005. p. 302
Warlock. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warlock>