Pagan A person who follows a religious path which is Earth-centered. Including, but not limited to, Wicca, Druidic worship, Native American Ways, Aboriginal Australian, pre-Christian African, and in some respects, Shinto. Witch An archaic term, from the Old English "wice", meaning "Wise One". Modern usage varies, but it is sometimes used as a synonym for Wiccan, a practitioner of Wicca. Applies to either gender. Warlock Often used to mean a male Witch, but this is incorrect. The word actually comes from the Old English, and means "oath breaker". It refers to the Inquisitors' early tactic against Witch covens, where a deep-cover agent was sent to infiltrate a coven, and upon being initiated was to betray the coven members. Unfortunately for the agent, the Inquisitors usually tortured ALL initiated members of the coven, which included the agent. Coven Traditionally, a group of 12 plus a "leader".
Most Witches covens were originally built around this number, though the Burning Times ended the widespread practice of this tradition, as there were seldom 13 Witches alive in any given area. In modern usage, "coven" refers to any group of pagans that wishes to use the term. Note: The original "12+1" configuration can be found in several Christian myths and traditions. Christ and his 12 Apostles, Arthur and his original 12 Knights, the 13 stars in Mary, the Queen of Heaven's crown, etc. Witchcraft The forerunner of modern Wicca. Literally, "the Craft of the Wise". An Earth-centered religion holding Life as sacred, and honoring both the Divine Female and Male (Goddess and God). True Witchcraft was all but destroyed during the Burning Times, though some family traditions (famtrads) have survived in total secrecy (until lately). witchcraft (Note the small "w" here)
During the Burning Times, the Inquistitors tortured people for "witchcraft", which they erroneously held to be a pact with the Christian Satan. Although no Witches believed in Satan, the Church hierarchy did, and they saw the Witches, with their pagan ways, as being servants of Evil. Those who practiced witchcraft (small "w") were said to sacrifice children and drink their blood, engage in wild orgies under a full moon, and cause all sorts of trouble to the "God-fearing". Confessions were extracted by the use of gruesome tortures, and these confessions were usually used to convict the accused at their "trial". The sentence was normally death, but the accused or her/his family could sometimes buy their way out by giving the local church all the accused personal property.
Burning Times The name given by pagans to the period when people were imprisoned, tortured, and killed under the office of the Inquisition. Although initially begun as an internal hunt within the Church for heretics, the Inquisition was expanded to include non-Christians, who were tortured for witchcraft (see above). The death-toll from the Burning Times is held to be 9 million, but it is acknowledged that only a small percentage of these were actually pagan. The vast majority were Christian women. Sabbat A pagan Solar holiday. There are eight Sabbats in a year occurring at approximately six-week intervals, corresponding to solar events, i.e., solstices and equinoxes, and the midpoints between them.
The pagan New Year is usually Samhain (pronounced Sah'-when), which occurs on October 31. This Sabbat, which is a time for honoring those who have gone before, gave rise to Halloween. Note that the word "sabbat" has been adopted by certain satanic groups as a name for their own meetings, but this is a modern corruption of the pagan practice.
Esbat A pagan Lunar holiday. There are usually 13 Esbats in a year, occurring on the nights of full moons. On occasion, Esbats coincide with Sabbats. These occasions call for a larger party than normal. Pentagram An ancient symbol, comprised of a five-pointed star in a circle. The symbol has been given many meanings over the years. It has stood for Mankind, the Element of Earth, as a protective symbol. It is most often used to symbolize the five Elements (Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Spirit) bound together as one. It is often called a "pentacle", but this actually refers to a flat, round object inscribed with a pentagram. Either word is acceptable, however.
Magic Difficult to define, as nearly everyone has their own definition. Natural Magic does NOT require the intervention of spirits, and this is the form of magic practiced by most Wiccans. Other pagan groups will vary. Magic has been best defined (in the author's opinion) as: 1) Energies that flow through and permeate reality, that modern science has yet to quantify; 2) the use of these energies to affect a change in the status quo.