A Psychic Glossary: Some Magic Vocabulary Words - Magic 101

The Big Book of Practical Spells: Everyday Magic That Works - Judika Illes 2016

A Psychic Glossary: Some Magic Vocabulary Words
Magic 101

Alive: In the hospital, heartbeat, pulse, breath and EKG measure life, the quality of being alive. In magic, when something is referred to as alive or living, that isn't necessarily what is meant. While water is “living,” no one is suggesting that you search for a literal pulse. The magical definition is broader:

· If something occurs naturally on Earth, whether plant, animal, human, element, stone or metal, that something is considered alive.

· If something radiates any degree of magical force or energy (baraka), that being is considered alive.

· Anything that is alive is unique, has a potential for power and cannot be totally predicted.

· If something can be recreated so that there are identical, indistinguishable specimens, and if that something is completely predictable, it is not alive, it lacks life. Lacking life, it contains no power, no innate magic.

Aphrodisiac: Something (usually food or fragrance) with the power to stimulate and enhance sexual desire and/or performance. Don't confuse these with love potions or fertility brews: Aphrodisiacs are about sex, pure and simple. Anything else is just an added bonus.

The concept of the aphrodisiac is named in honor of Aphrodite. Aphrodisiacs were considered to be her gifts to people. The finest are considered to share something of her essence, her power and her energy.

There is also such a thing as an anaphrodisiac, which has the opposite effect. Anaphrodisiacs reduce sexual interest, thoughts and sometimes ability. Anaphrodisiacs may be beneficial to those walking a celibate path, temporarily or not, voluntarily or not.

Some substances can go either way. Lavender, for instance, has a reputation as both an aphrodisiac and its opposite. Some schools of thought claim that men find the scent of lavender irresistible, while others recommend that lavender be used when you wish to discourage someone's attentions. The truth is that aphrodisiacs, like so much magic, are highly specific and individualized. Chemical interactions are highly personal and so you will find individuals to vouch for either affect.

The only way to discover the effect of a specific aphrodisiac upon you or your intended is to try it out for yourself. Have fun playing. Personal tastes and experiences influence which aphrodisiacs are best for you. If the object of your affections has allergies to seafood, forget about oysters.

Some Famous Aphrodisiacs!

















Botanica: Latin-American stores offering a variety of spiritual, herbal and magical supplies. Often a good source for herbs, oils and candles. Not long ago, botanicas were confined to immigrant enclaves, but it's now difficult to find an urban area without at least one. Botanicas have become sufficiently mainstream that in many communities they have their own category in the phone book. To some extent, botanicas now fill the marketing void left by the demise of the once-thriving hoodoo mail-order industry.

Evil Eye: Oh, that Evil Eye! Is there such a thing? Well, if there isn't, an awful lot of energy is exerted worldwide trying to avoid and repel it. The Evil Eye is the name that embodies the generic evils and dangers that threaten humans on Earth. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with eyes literally. The Evil Eye is jealousy and malice, a destructive, negative force. Sometimes it originates in spirit sources; however often humans are to blame. The Evil Eye isn't necessarily meant malevolently: those who cast it may do so inadvertently and unwillingly.

There are two paths to avoiding the Evil Eye.

1. Avoid bragging and boasting about one's good fortune so as not to attract dangerous attention.

2. The best defense is a good offense: a powerful, deflecting amulet. Wear, hang or carry as needed.

Fertility: In industrialized Western societies, much emphasis is placed on women not getting pregnant at the wrong time. Historically, and even today in much of the world, the emphasis is otherwise: this is reflected in the multitude of magical spells and rituals whose goal is to allow women to conceive more-or-less when they choose. Fertility spells are not limited to literal pregnancy, however: use them to remove any creative block or achieve any creative goal.

Infusion: The process by which one medium is encouraged to permeate another, usually herbs in water or oil. The most famous infusion of all is your basic cup of tea and if you can make a cup of tea with leaves rather than a tea bag, then you already know a good deal about making an infusion. Infusions allow you to insert true botanical powers into your magic potions, enchanted bath or floor wash.

The standard recipe for a water infusion is one teaspoon of dried herb or one-and-one-half teaspoons of fresh herb to every cup of boiling water. Maintain that same proportion even if using a combination of herbs, unless otherwise advised. Put the herbs into a nonreactive pot or container, pour the water over the botanical material and leave it to brew for a period of time, usually between five and fifteen minutes. Following the brewing period, the herbs are usually strained from the water.

The process of creating infused oils is slightly more complicated but still easily adaptable to your kitchen. The standard proportion suggests that for every cup of oil, you will need one ounce of fresh herbs or one half ounce of dried. Unless otherwise advised, do not exceed that proportion, even if using a combination of herbs, as a balance needs to be maintained.

1. Pour the oil over the herbs into a stainless steel bowl.

2. Heat over simmering water, either in a true double boiler or an improvised water bath, a saucepan one-quarter filled with water. The bowl with the herbs must not sit on the bottom of the pot but float in the water. The process needs constant supervision for safety. Keep the oil covered. Stir once in a while and simmer gently for thirty minutes. Make sure the oil doesn't get too hot because if it smokes, bubbles or burns, an acrid fragrance can develop, spoiling your infusion.

3. Allow the oil to cool and then strain out the herbal material through four layers of cheesecloth or another fine nonmetal strainer. Strain twice if necessary: all herbal material must be removed to prevent the oil from turning rancid.

4. If an infusion-spell includes essential oils or flower essences for enhancement, they should be added at the end, when the oil has been strained and is cool.

· A crockpot can be used instead of the water bath. Maintain the same proportions and leave on low heat for two hours. Strain as above.

· If you can depend upon some consistently warm, sunny weather, you can go real low-tech but high power and create an infusion through solar power. Place the herbs in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and pour the oil over them. The herbs must be completely covered. Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Leave the jar to sit in the warm sun all day and in a warm cupboard at night for two weeks. Strain as above.


Psychic Shield Infused Oil*

Rub this oil into your body or add it to your bath, to bestow psychic protection before embarking on any magical work and also to replenish psychic energy or to repair a damaged aura.

¼ ounce dried St. John's Wort

¼ ounce dried yarrow

(if using fresh herbs, increase proportion to ½ ounce of each herb)

1 cup sunflower oil

6 drops essential oil of rosemary

4 drops angelica flower essence (FES, Green Hope, Pegasus)

Use any of the three methods above (water bath, crockpot or solar) to create an infused oil. Strain the botanicals well. If St. John's Wort blossoms (rather than just the dried leaves) have been used, your oil may display a pretty, red hue. Pour the infused oil into a bottle. Add up to six drops of essential oil of rosemary as well as the flower essence. Close the bottle and roll gently to blend.


If you are making large quantities of infused oils that you wish to store, it's best to add a natural preservative. One-quarter teaspoon simple tincture of benzoin, available from many pharmacies, can be added per cup of infused oil. Benzoin is prepared from the gum of the styrax, an Indonesian tree, considered to have sacred properties and often burnt as cleansing incense. (Make sure that you have simple tincture of benzoin, not compound tincture, also known as Friar's Balsam.)


Occult: Occult means “hidden” or “secret.” Occult usually refers to some magical or spiritual knowledge that may not be well-known. It is a neutral term, neither positive nor negative and certainly not a synonym for “evil.”

Oracle: Oracle means “answer,” the ability to receive needed information about the future right now in the present. There are spiritual entities who possess this power and can provide direction and answers. Some are also able to bestow this ability upon a person. In the most famous case, Apollo gave this gift to the Trojan princess Cassandra, with the proviso that no one would ever believe her impeccably accurate predictions.

The simplest oracle of all comes courtesy of the Greek divine spirit, Hermes, a ruler of communication. Centuries ago, people would enter his shrine, make an offering, carefully phrase a question, then stop up their ears and leave. At some point, shortly after, they would open their ears and the first words they heard were considered the oracle's response. Hermes no longer has active public shrines but you can still utter a petition or make him a small gift. A pyramid of stones calls him. Give yourself a cue for when to open your ears. Count to 100, for instance, and then open your ears or look for a visual cue. When you see the color red or see a bird fly, that could be your signal that the oracle is ready. Words uttered by children are considered extra powerful and prophetic.

Prosperity: A common goal of magical spells, prosperity doesn't mean that you're guaranteed to win millions of dollars and do nothing but what pleases you for the rest of your life. Prosperity indicates that you have enough to fulfill your needs, beyond bare-bones needs, enough to feel comfortable and relaxed even if you're not rich beyond your wildest dreams. Prosperity doesn't have to mean cash; there are spells for when you specifically need money. Prosperity indicates a level of material comfort and independence. Prosperity has always been considered a reasonable and realistic magical goal.

Root Magic: Different spells use different parts of plants, but roots, which lie buried in Earth, are considered particularly magical. The most powerful plants have the most powerful roots and some are extremely potent indeed. Different roots are used for different purposes. Adam and Eve root, for instance, which resembles its namesake, is used to draw love, while Angelica root, also known as Archangel root because knowledge of its use was a gift from the Archangel Michael, bestows healing and protection to all, as well as extra power for women. You'll find some other roots, the Devil's Shoestrings and High John the Conqueror, discussed in greater detail in the Spells part of the book.

Root magic is tremendously ancient. The Jewish Bible records Leah and Rachel's squabble over possession of a prized mandrake root, said to draw both love and fertility. (The Bible incidentally records mandrake as a success story, attesting to its power.)

Today many magical root plants are terribly endangered. Because it's easier to destroy the plant to obtain the root, indiscriminate harvesting has decimated many of these species. In addition, many spells require roots to be chopped into small pieces. In this form they are fairly unrecognizable. Dishonest merchants prey on people's desires by substituting other plants. If you've purchased what is marketed as mandrake in the United States, it's most likely you've actually bought mayapple, also a plant used in enchantments but not the same thing, not as rare and certainly not worthy of mandrake prices. Even worse, artificial and/or petroleum products are frequent substitutes.

The best way to be confident that your roots are genuine is to be familiar with its aroma and appearance. What should it look like, what should it smell like? Lucky Hand Root (Dactylorhiza orchids), for instance, looks like a tiny human hand with too many fingers. Those extra fingers are believed to help you catch whatever it is that you need. For complete security and power, cultivate your own root plants or purchase roots only from reputable vendors.

Shaman: Don't be confused by the last three letters of the word. Shaman names a function, not a gender and the earliest shamans were women. A shaman is not synonymous with witch or fortune-teller although some individuals may be all, or some, of the above. The magical abilities possessed by a shaman are among the most profound. A shaman can soul-travel to different dimensions, the spirit land, the realm of the dead. Through this ability, which may take years to master, they can perform healings and soul retrievals, receive and deliver messages and, very importantly, return safely.

Threshold: A threshold is a border area where one force, power or element meets another. There are borders and thresholds everywhere. The seashore is the most prominent example, the transitional area where ocean meets land. There are thresholds in your home: the windows and doors, for instance. There are thresholds in time: New Year's Eve, your birthday, midnight. Twilight and dawn are thresholds: you can feel the energy of the incoming power but the old power hasn't departed yet. There are thresholds on your body: your mouth is the threshold between thought and speech.


Women's Thresholds

In many cultures, the time immediately preceding menstruation is considered a powerful threshold. Rather than negative associations of “PMS,” traditional cultures perceived the premenstrual period as a time of great psychic potential. A young girl's first period, as well as the entry into menopause, are also considered powerful, yet vulnerable, thresholds, a time to expand one's power but also to nourish one's well-being. The Warundi people from East Africa have a ceremony that celebrates a girl's first surge of female power: upon the occasion of her first menstruation, the girl's grandmother leads her through their home so that she may touch every object in order to imbue it with the special holiness now upon her.


Thresholds are simultaneously areas of great power and extreme vulnerability. A tremendous percentage of amulets and rituals are created specifically to protect thresholds.

Totem: Most frequently used to describe an animal ally, a totem is a creature bearing personal spiritual significance. Thus, if my animal ally is a wolf, then I might describe a wolf as being my “totem.” The implication is one of veneration, alliance and spiritual connection. Totems may also be shared by families, clans and communities: the bald eagle is the totem bird of the United States. Plants and crystals may also be considered totems. Spiritual entities are not referred to as totems; however their sacred animals may be referred to as such. In other words, if I venerate Artemis, and her sacred creature is a deer, then I might perhaps include deer among my totems. Totem poles refer to the traditional carved pillars of the Pacific Northwest that depict a clan, moiety or tribe's sacred animal allies.

Wicca: Deriving from the same source as wisdom, wise and witch, “Wicca” refers to the modern Earth-centered spiritual traditions based upon ancient Celtic roots, and focused upon enhancing personal power through harmonious existence with all of nature.

Vodoun, Voodoo, Hoodoo: Confused? Well, although some people do use these words synonymously, no, they're not the same. Vodoun literally means “spirit” in the Fon language of West Africa but the word is now commonly used to name the spiritual traditions of the descendents of the Fon people who were enslaved in Haiti. Because their faith has been ridiculed, vilified and stereotyped by outsiders and because the word Voodoo is often used pejoratively, some practitioners prefer the spelling “Vodoun” to “Voodoo.” Voodoo, however is also used to distinguish the specific traditions that emerged in New Orleans following the emigration in the nineteenth century of many Haitian refugees and the word has been used in that sense within this book.

Hoodoo, on the other hand, is American magic. Based largely on African practices, Hoodoo evolved in America's melting pot. Enslaved African magicians, healers and shamans unable to access their old materials, learned a whole new botanical repertoire from Native Americans. Eventually, elements of Freemasonry, Kabbalah and Spiritism were incorporated, too.

The first half of the twentieth century saw the rise of Hoodoo as a business enterprise. Although rural populations may have easy access to botanical materials, urban dwellers typically do not. In response to massive urban migration, commercial manufacturing and marketing of Hoodoo magic products developed. Specific, generic formulas developed: “Boss Fix” if you were having trouble at work, for instance, or “Kiss Me Now!” for those feeling lonely. Formulas were available as oils, soaps, powders and floor wash, in much the same way as if you were to go to a perfume counter, a fragrance might be available as perfume, cologne, dusting powder or soap.


Floor washes are botanical infusions, which are strained and then added to a bucket of rinse water along with some vinegar for cleaning your floor. Different recipes serve different purposes: cleansing, protection or romance, for example. Check among the spells for some samples. If you're only looking to freshen the atmosphere a bit, you can allow someone else to clean your floor, but if you need real magical energy, you must do it yourself.


Many of the old formulas are still available, although they are often sold as novelty products, complete with lurid packaging. Because the creators may not take the product seriously, there's no telling exactly what's in those cute little vials. If you really want the stuff to work as intended, buy from a reputable dealer (some sources are listed in the Appendix) or go back to the roots and mix up your own. Formulas are easily concocted at home. You'll find variations of some of the most popular among this book's spells.

* Not recommended for pregnant and nursing women or those who are actively trying to conceive.