DICTIONARY - W
|Wadjet / Wedjat||
Wadjet was one of the earliest Egyptian deities and was often depicted as a cobra as she is known as the serpent goddess. The centre of her cult was in Per-Wadjet (an Ancient Egyptian town in the 10th Upper Egyptian area), later called Buto by the Greeks. She became the patroness of the Nile Delta and the protector of all of Lower Egypt.
By the end of the Predynastic period she was considered to be the personification of Lower Egypt rather than a distinct goddess and almost always appeared with her sister Nekhbet (who epitomised Upper Egypt). The two sisters represented the country as a whole and were depicted in the 'Nebty' (one of the five great names of the pharaoh, also known as 'the two ladies'), which showed that the king ruled over both parts of Egypt.
In the Pyramid Texts it is suggested that she created the first papyrus plant and primordial swamp. Her link to the papyrus is strengthened by the fact that her name was written using the glyph of a papyrus plant and the same plant was the heraldic plant of Lower Egypt.
According to another myth, Wadjet was the daughter of Atum (or later Ra) to whom she was sent as his 'eye' to find Tefnut (moisture) and Shu (Air) when they were lost in the waters of Nun (the deification of the primordial watery abyss of the ancient Egyptian religion). He was so happy when they returned that he cried and created the first human beings from his tears. To reward his daughter, he placed her upon his head in the form of a cobra so that she would always be close to him and could act as his protector.
She was one of the goddesses given the title Eye of Ra. In this form she was sent out to avenge her father and almost caused the destruction of mankind. Humanity was saved when she was tricked with some beer which had been dyed red with pomegranate juice to resemble blood.
There is also a suggestion that she was very closely linked to the principle of Ma'at (justice or balance). Before being crowned as king, Geb attacked and raped his mother Tefnut. When he went to take his place as pharaoh and put the Royal Uraeus on his own forehead, the snake reared up and attacked the god and his followers. The whole of Geb's retinue died and Geb himself was badly injured. Clearly, his actions were against Ma'at, and Wadjet was not prepared to allow him to go unpunished.
In magic, a magical weapon is any instrument used to bring about intentional change. In practice, magical weapons are usually specific, consecrated items used within ceremonial ritual. There is no hard and fast rule as to what constitutes or does not constitute a magical weapon -- if a magician considers it to be a weapon, then a weapon it is.
However, there does exist a set of magical weapons with particular uses and symbolic meanings. Some such common weapons/tools include the Dagger/Sword, Wand/Baton, Cup/Chalice, Paten/Pentacle/Disc, Holy Oil, Lamp and Bell.
The Was Sceptre is a symbol often seen in relics, art, and hieroglyphics associated with the ancient Egyptian religion.  It appears as a stylised animal head at the top of a long, straight staff with a forked end. Was Sceptres were used as symbols of power or dominion, and were associated with gods such as Set and Anubis as well as with the pharaoh. They also represent the Set Animal (the totem of the Egyptian deity Set). In later use, it was a symbol of control over the force of chaos that Set represented.
In a funerary context the Was Sceptre was responsible for the well-being of the deceased, and as such was sometimes included in the tomb equipment or in the decoration of the tomb or coffin. The sceptre is also considered to be an amulet. The Egyptians perceived the sky as being supported on four pillars, which could have the shape of the Was. This sceptre was also the symbol of the fourth Upper Egyptian Nome (a territorial division ruled by a nomarch), the Nome of Thebes.
Was Sceptres were portrayed as being carried by gods, pharaohs, and priests. They commonly occur in paintings, drawings, and carvings of gods, and often parallel other emblems such as the Ankh and the Djed pillar Remnants of actual Was Sceptres have been found constructed of faience or wood, where the head and forked tail of the Set animal are visible, the earliest examples dating to the 1st Dynasty.
This is one of many stylised representations of a mythical sea creature of the Northern Native tribes. Known to the Haida people as Wasgo, and to the Tlingit people, Gonakadet, the Sea-Wolf.
This creature, who is part wolf, part whale, figures in numerous folk tales about a young man who uses the skin of a sea creature for night fishing; he is caught by a pair of whales who punish his deception by transforming him into a creature of the sea.
Older pictographic representations of Wasgo reveal a creature very similar to the horned serpent Avanyu.
|Watchtowers||This term came from the Enochian branch of Ceremonial Magic, but has now been incorporated into many traditions of Wicca. The watchtowers are the four elemental directions of north, south, east and west or the Quarters (corresponding with the appropriate points on the compass) called to protect the Circle during its establishment. Each has a correspondence with a compass point, an element, and (varying between different traditions) a colour. See also Quarters.|
An ancient and universal symbol of purity fertility and the source of life itself. In all major cosmologies life arose from the primordial waters. Water is one of the four classical elements in Alchemy. It is a transparent and virtually colourless chemical substance that is the main constituent of Earth's streams, lakes, and oceans, and the fluids of most living organisms.
It is considered to be both cold and wet, and according to Plato it is associated with the icosahedron, a polyhedron with 20 faces. It has 30 edges and 20 equilateral triangle faces with five meeting at each of its twelve vertices.
|Web of Wyrd||
A modern representation of the Web of Wyrd, the matrix of fate (Wyrd) as woven by the Nornir -- the fates of Norse legend. The emblem, nine staves arranged in an angular grid, contains all of the shapes of the Runes and therefore all of the past, present, and future possibilities they represent.
The Web of Wyrd serves as a reminder that the actions of the past affect the present and that present actions affect the future; all timelines are inextricably interconnected. In a sense it is a representation of the Tree of Life.
|Wheel of the Year||
The Wheel of the Year is an annual cycle of seasonal festivals, observed by many modern Pagans. It consists of either four or eight festivals: i.e. the solstices and equinoxes, known as the 'quarter days', or the four midpoints between, known as the 'cross quarter days'; syncretic traditions like Wicca often celebrate all eight festivals.
The eight Wiccan/Pagan traditional festivals of Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane/Beltaine, Litha/Midsummer, Luhgnasad/Lammas, Mabon, Samhain and Yule (known as sabbats, a term Gerald Gardner (1884 - 1964), the founder of Gardnerian Wicca, claimed was passed down from the Middle Ages, when the terminology for Jewish Shabbat was commingled with that of other heretical celebrations) are arranged around the Wheel of the Year.
The festivals celebrated by differing sects of modern Paganism can vary considerably in name and date. Observing the cycle of the seasons has been important to many people, both ancient and modern, and many contemporary Pagan festivals are based to varying degrees on folk traditions.
One of the Four Symbols representing four mythological creatures in the Chinese constellations. They are: the Azure Dragon of the East; the Vermilion Bird of the South; the White Tiger of the West; and the Black Turtle of the North. Each one of them represents a direction and a season, and each has its own individual characteristics and origins. Symbolically and as part of spiritual and religious belief, they have been culturally important in China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.
In Chinese culture, the tiger is the king of the beasts and has been presented with a 'king' on its forehead for centuries. According to legend, the tiger's tail would turn white when it reached the age of 500 years. In this way, the white tiger became a kind of mythological creature, which would only appear when the emperor ruled with absolute virtue, or if there were peace throughout the world.
Because the colour white of the Wu Xing theory also represents the west, the white tiger became a mythological guardian and protector of the west, and corresponds with the season of autumn.
Wicca is a modern witchcraft religion founded in 1954 CE by Gerald Gardner (1884 - 1964). He likened it to a resurgence of European witchcraft, which he believed was a collection of ancient Pagan religions.
Gardner claimed to have been initiated into a secret witch cult which had been in existence for more than 300 years, which is why Wicca is often referred to as 'The Old Religion'. Many believe the development of Wicca was influenced by Gardner's association with Aleister Crowley as quite a few of his original 'Wiccan' rituals were copied from Crowley's Thelemic rituals.
Widdershins is a term meaning to go counter-clockwise or anti-clockwise around an object by always keeping it on the left, i.e. literally, it means to take a course opposite to the apparent motion of the Sun viewed from the Northern Hemisphere -- the centre of this imaginary clock is the ground upon which the viewer stands. The earliest uses of the word, as cited by the Oxford English Dictionary, are from a 1513 CE translation of the Aeneid, where it is found in the phrase 'Abaisit I wolx, and widdersyns start my hair'.
It was considered unlucky in Britain to travel in an anticlockwise (not sun-wise) direction around a church, and a number of folk myths make reference to this superstition, e.g. Childe Rowland, where the protagonist and his sister are transported to Elfland after his sister runs widdershins round a church. There is also a reference to this in Dorothy Sayers' novels The Nine Tailors (chapter titled The Second Course; 'He turned to his right, knowing that it is unlucky to walk about a church widdershins, ...') and Clouds of Witness ('True, O King, and as this isn't a church, there's no harm in going around it widdershins').
In the mythology of the 21st century North Yorkshire Moors, it is believed that if you dance widdershins nine times around a fairy ring of toadstools you will come under the power of the fairy people. The story of Fairy Cross Plain (Fryup Dale) chronicles the fate of a young boy, Thomas Skelderskew, who apparently did just that.
Many modern magical practitioners will move widdershins only when 'undoing' a magical action, such as opening a Circle. Some will walk widdershins when performing banishing magic and curses and deosil for drawing and healing magic. See also Deosil.
Willows, also called sallows and osiers, form the genus Salix, around 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs, found primarily on moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
The willow is one of the four species associated with the Jewish festival of Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, cited in Leviticus 23:40. Willow branches are also used during the synagogue service on Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh day of Sukkot.
In China, some people carry willow branches with them on the day of their Tomb Sweeping or Qingming Festival. Willow branches are also put up on gates and/or front doors, which they believe help ward off the evil spirits that wander on Qingming. Legend states that on Qingming Festival, the ruler of the underworld allows the spirits of the dead to return to earth. Since their presence may not always be welcome, willow branches keep them away. In traditional pictures of the Goddess of Mercy Guanyin, she is often shown seated on a rock with a willow branch in a vase of water at her side. The Goddess employs this mysterious water and the branch for putting demons to flight. Taoist witches also use a small carving made from willow wood for communicating with the spirits of the dead. The image is sent to the nether world, where the disembodied spirit is deemed to enter it, and give the desired information to surviving relatives on its return. The willow is a famous subject in many East Asian nations' cultures, particularly in pen and ink paintings from China and Japan.
In Japanese tradition, the willow is associated with ghosts. It is popularly supposed that a ghost will appear where a willow grows. Willow trees are also quite prevalent in folklore and myths. Green Willow is a Japanese ghost story in which a young samurai falls in love with a woman called Green Willow who has a close spiritual connection with a willow tree. The Willow Wife is another, not dissimilar tale.
In English folklore, a willow tree is believed to be quite sinister, capable of uprooting itself and stalking travellers. The Viminal Hill, one of the Seven Hills of Rome, derives its name from the Latin word for osier.
Willow is considered the national tree of Ukraine.
|Winged Solar Disc||
The 'Winged Disc' emblem is found in many ancient cultures around the world. It is one of the oldest religious symbols on Earth, and is invariably a solar symbol. The winged Sun is associated with divinity, royalty and power in the Ancient Near East (Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Persia).
In Ancient Egypt, the symbol is attested from the Old Kingdom, often flanked on either side with a Uraeus. In early Egyptian religion, the symbol Behudeti represented Horus of Edfu, later identified with Ra-Harahkhte. It is sometimes depicted on the neck of Apis, the bull of Ptah. As time passed (according to interpretation) all of the subordinated gods of Egypt were considered to be aspects of the Sun god, including, for example, Khepri.
This is a form that the god Horus Behudety (Horus of Edfu) takes in his battles with Set. Thoth used his magic to turn Horus into a Sun disc with splendid outstretched wings. The goddesses Nekhbet and Wadjet in the form of Uraeus cobras joined him at his side.
A wishing well is considered to have magical properties and the process of tossing a coin into a wishing well is considered lucky -- if anyone tosses a coin into a wishing well while making a wish, the wish is supposed to come true.
The Germanic and Celtic peoples considered springs and wells sacred places. Sometimes those places were marked with wooden statues possibly of the god associated with the pool. Germanic peoples were known to throw the armour and weapons of defeated enemies into bogs and other pools of water as offerings to their gods.
Water was seen to have healing powers, and wells became popular, with many people drinking the water, bathing in it or just simply wishing over it. Some people believed that the guardians or dwellers of the well would grant them their wish if they paid a price. After uttering the wish, one would generally drop coins in the well. That wish would then be granted by the guardian or dweller based upon how the coin would land at the bottom of the well -- if it landed heads up, the guardian of the well would grant the wish, but the wish of a tails up coin would be ignored.
|Witch Sign||The Witch Sign or Moon Sign is used to salute the rising Moon.|
|Witches Hammer||See Malleus Maleficarum.|
The Witches Knot is a common symbol in folk magic. It is a symbolic representation of the knot magic practiced by witches in the middle ages. It was also used as a sympathetic charm against witchcraft, and usually scratched over doorways of homes and stables. One aspect of its efficacy as a protective charm lay in the ability to draw the complicated symbol in one continuous motion.
While the symbol appears to consist of intertwined Vesica Piscis, it does not represent 'feminine powers' as is sometimes claimed, but the inversion of those powers -- the four radiating half Circles symbolically reflect malefic winds. Ironically, this is a popular emblem of choice for modern witches.
The Wolfsangel is a German heraldic charge inspired by historic wolf traps consisting of two metal parts and a connecting chain. The top part of the trap, which resembled a crescent moon with a ring inside, used to be fastened between branches of a tree in the forest while the bottom part, on which meat scraps used to be hung, was a hook meant to be swallowed by a wolf. The simplified design based on the iron "wolf-hook" was often heavily stylised to no longer resemble a baited hook hung from a tree or an entire wolf trap. Other names included Wolfsanker or Wolfsjagd as well as hameçon or hameçon de loup, a half-moon shape with a ring, or as cramp or crampon in English with a ring at the centre, sometimes also called Doppelhaken ("double-hook"), or a crampon with a transversal stroke. All of these symbols are still found in a number of municipal coats of arms in Germany. The crampon is also found as a mason's mark in mediaeval stonework.
In early times, believed to possess magical powers, it became a symbol of liberty and independence after its adoption as an emblem of a peasant revolt in the 15th century against the oppression of the German princes and their mercenaries.
The Wolfsangel was an initial symbol of the Nazi Party. In World War II the sign and its elements were used by various German SS armoured and infantry divisions such as the Waffen-SS Division Das Reich and the Waffen-SS Division Landstorm Nederland. In pre-war Germany, the Wolfsangel was partly inspired by the immense popularity of Hermann Löns's 1910 novel Der Wehrwolf during the 1930s, where the protagonist, a resistance fighter during the Thirty Years' War, adopted the magic symbol as his personal badge. The symbol itself bears a visual resemblance to the Eihwaz rune, historically part of the runic alphabet.
|World Tamil Movemment (WTM)||
The World Tamil Movement (WTM) is a non-profit organisation created in 1986 CE and run by Canadians of ethnic Tamil descent. The organisation has functioned as a community group offering services such as translation, vocational training and a library for the Tamil population in Toronto, Canada. It also organised cultural and sports leagues, and classes to help women and children integrate into the greater Canadian society.
The movement has also openly declared itself to share the politics of Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism, stating "It's no secret that the World Tamil Movement supports the right of the Tamil people to self-determination in the Northern and Eastern part of Sri Lanka. This is a political position -- perhaps one that not everyone will agree with, but one that we are constitutionally entitled to hold."
Since 2006, the WTM has been accused by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Government of Canada as being a front for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In April 2006, five days after the federal government labelled the LTTE a terrorist organisation, police raided the offices of the WTM in Toronto, sealing the buildings and confiscating boxes of documents.
The RCMP accused the WTM of collecting ‘war taxes’ from Canada's large ethnic Tamil community and funnelling the cash to the LTTE guerrillas in Sri Lanka. During the raid on the WTM offices in April 2006, RCMP officers claimed to have found ‘pledge forms, receipts, ledger books and lists of contributors’. The RCMP also claimed it had obtained lists of Tamil Canadians and the amounts they had donated, as well as pre-authorised bank payment forms; -- Lists of businesses that had made donations in multiples of $10,000; -- Plastic collection jars with the WTM and Tamil Tigers logos side by side; -- Computer disks that police said suggests money flows from Montreal to Toronto, then to other countries, with one RCMP Corporal stating they had found ‘significant evidence of terrorist financing’.
On June 16, 2008, the Government of Canada formally listed the World Tamil Movement as a terrorist organisation. See also Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
|World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)||
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organisation founded in 1961 CE, working in the field of the wilderness preservation, and the reduction of human impact on the environment. It was formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States.
WWF is the world's largest conservation organisation with over five million supporters worldwide, working in more than 100 countries, supporting around 1,300 conservation and environmental projects. They have invested over $1 billion in more than 12,000 conservation initiatives since 1995. WWF is a foundation with 55% of funding from individuals and bequests, 19% from government sources (such as the World Bank, DFID, USAID) and 8% from corporations in 2014.
WWF aims to 'stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature'. The Living Planet Report is published every two years by WWF since 1998; it is based on a Living Planet Index and ecological footprint calculation. In addition, WWF has launched several notable worldwide campaigns including Earth Hour and Debt-for-Nature Swap, and its current work is organised around these six areas: food, climate, freshwater, wildlife, forests, and oceans.
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