by Blackhawk

          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.
          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 practioner of Wicca. Applies to either gender.
          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.
          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.
          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).
          (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's personal property. 
Burning Times
          The name given by pagans to the period when people were
     imprisoned, tortured, and killed under the office of the
     Inquistion. 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.
          A pagan Solar holiday. There are eight Sabbats in a year
     occuring 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.
          A pagan Lunar holiday. There are usually 13 Esbats in a year,
     occuring on the nights of full moons. On occasion, Esbats
     coincide with Sabbats. These occasions call for a larger party
     than normal.
          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.
          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.