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Glossary of religious and spiritual terms

Starting with the letter "W"

bullet Wajib: A Muslim term referring to an obligatory act. It is sometimes considered a synonym of "Fard" and sometimes considered less obligatory than "Fard."

bullet Walpurgasnacht: A synonym for Beltane, a Celtic holy day celebrated on APR-30.

bullet Waldenses: An early schismatic group that broke away from the Roman Catholic church. Their history is in doubt; they may have existed as early as the eight century CE. They were viciously persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church from 1209 until 1690. They held many of the beliefs later promoted by Martin Luther and other Protestant reformers.

bullet Warlock: An old-English term for oath breaker. Conservative Christians and the media often refer to male Witches/Wiccans as Warlocks. The term is not used by Witches, Wiccans or other Neopagans.

bullet Watchblogger: An derogatory term for an individual who establishes a blog for the purpose of attacking, smearing, and/or discrediting a specific faith group or belief system. They frequently use quotes selected out of context, misquotes, guilt-by-association, genetic fallacies , ad-hominem attacks, and other tricks to maximize their impact.

bullet Watchtower Bible and Tract Society: The organization founded by Charles Taze Russell which publishes the Watchtower and Awake! magazines, and whose followers are called Jehovah's Witnesses -- a high-demand Protestant Christian denomination.

bullet Westminster Standards: The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechisms were written by the Westminster Assembly of Divines from 1643 to 1648. They form the theological basis for the Presbyterian and, with some changes, the Congregational denominations. The Baptist Confession of 1689 was largely based on the Westminster standards.

bullet Wicca: a Neo-pagan polytheistic religion with roots in pre-Christian, pre-Celtic Europe. Wiccans follow the Wiccan Rede: "do whatever you wish, as long as you harm nobody, including yourself". Power, manipulation and control of others strictly prohibited. Their drug usage usually confined to wine. Rare ritual sexual activity is practiced, but only in private between a committed adult couple. Wiccans do not proselytize. Most Wiccans are solitary practitioners; some form democratically organized covens, typically of 5 or more people. The minimum age for training or initiation is usually 18. Conservative usage: evil occultic practice based on a lust for power, manipulation and control. Rigid ritual practice; heavy illegal drug usage and sexual activity; organize into covens of 13 members each; practice shape shifting (human to animal). Active recruiters, particularly of young people. 

bullet Wiccan: a follower of Wicca

bullet Widdershins: The counter-clockwise direction. The term is often used in describing Neopagan rituals.

bullet Will: One of the basic functions of the human soul; the other is understanding.

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bulletWitch: a follower of Witchcraft. It has so many conflicting meanings that it should be used with great care (or perhaps never at all) in public, in order to avoid confusion. 19 common meanings are:
  1. A Gothic Satanist; a worshiper of Satan who, during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, was believed to use black magic to harm others, by involving the aid of Satan and his demons. They didn't exist then and don't exist now, .

  2. A Wiccan; a follower of Wicca, a recently created, benign, Neopagan religion which is largely based on the some of the symbols, deities, seasonal days of celebration of an ancient European Celtic religion. Wiccans are prohibited from using magic to harm or manipulate others; they do not believe in the existence of Satan or demons.

  3. A woman of such incredible beauty that she bewitches others.

  4. A woman of incredible ugliness; a hag.

  5. A person who practices benign Magick to influence the world through rituals.

  6. A magician with unusual knowledge who can apparently perform miracles during ceremonial magic rituals.

  7. In ancient Native American usage, the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), and some areas of India and Africa: an evil person who secretly uses evil sorcery (black magic) to intentionally harm others.

  8. In the Christian Scriptures (New Testament): a criminal who murders people through the use of poisons.

  9. A follower of modern-day Religious Satanism. They recognizing Satan as a virile pre-Christian, pagan principle, but do not believe in his existence as a living entity.

  10. A member of an underground, evil religious group who worship Satan who engage in ritual abuse, murder and sometimes cannibalism -- largely involving children. During the 1980s and early 1990s, many North Americans believed that this group exists; some still do, although hard evidence for their existence is non-existent.

  11. A wizard who inhabits an alternative world of fantasy and magic, filled with good and evil people with magical powers, flying broomsticks, invisibility cloaks, dragons, talking animals, magical quills, etc. e.g. Harry Potter books.

  12. A person, usually a woman, who was born with supernatural abilities and is capable of performing miracles by waving a wand, wiggling their nose, etc. This is often seen in TV programs, like Bewitched or Charmed. They don't exist either.

  13. Followers of a group of Caribbean religions which combine elements of tribal African religions with Christianity; e.g. Santeria and Vodun (a.k.a. Voodoo).

  14. In some African Aboriginal religions, a person who unknowingly has supernatural powers capable of hurting others. Witch doctors attempt to counteract these evil energies.

  15. An expert, as in: "She is a witch of a writer.

  16. A person who uses a forked stick or other instrument to locate sources of underground material -- typically water.

  17. A woman who is not submissive to her husband.

  18. A general "snarl" word for a nasty, vicious person, typically female.

  19. A follower of any religion other than Christianity (e.g. of Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Native American Spirituality, etc.).
Note: The first and second definitions are mutually exclusive; the third and fourth definitions are also mutually exclusive.
bullet Witchcraft: a religion or practice followed by a Witch. It has so many meanings that it should be used with great care (or perhaps never at all) in order to avoid confusion.


Womanism, Womanist: "Womanist and womanism are populist and poetic synonyms for black feminist and black feminism." 4,5 Theologian Jacquelyn Grant defined womanism in 1995 as:

"... a prophetic voice concerned about the well-being of the entire African American community, male and female, adults and children. Womanist theology attempts to help black women see, affirm, and have confidence in the importance of their experience and faith for determining the character of the Christian religion in the African American community. Womanist theology challenges all oppressive forces impeding black women’s struggle for survival and for the development of a positive, productive quality of life conducive to women’s and the family’s freedom and well-being. Womanist theology opposes all oppression based on race, sex, class, sexual preference, physical ability, and caste.

The term "Sexual preference" is rarely used today and has been replaced by "sexual orientation."6

bullet Womym: A synonym, often used by feminists, for the word "woman," . "Woman" comes from the Old English term "wif-man." Womym was coined recently.

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bulletWord: In common usage, a unit of language that can be combined with other words to create phrases and sentences. In Christianity, the Bible is frequently referred to as "God's word." Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ), the second person of the Trinity, is often referred to as the Word, as in John 1:1.
bullet Word of Faith movement: (a.k.a. Health & Wealth Gospel, Positive Confession, Name it and Claim it, and Faith-formula). A group of conservative Protestant para-church ministries that focus on "anointed" ministers and the health, wealth, and success of their viewers and donors. MinistryWatch estimates that their total income is in excess of a half billion dollars annually. 3

bulletWord of God (a.k.a. God's word, The Word):

bullet Jesus is often referred to as the Word of God, incarnated in human form.

bullet An expression used primarily by conservative Protestants to refer to the the Holy Bible. It assumes that God inspired the authors of the Bible to write either inerrant text (free of errors) and/or infallible text (fully trustworthy. i.e. it does not deceive the reader into falsehood.) Note that this refers only to the original, autograph copy of each book as written by the author(s). Most Christians accept that subsequent copying errors occurred, which were either accidental or intentional.

bullet An expression that refers to God's message of salvation proclaimed to humanity.

bullet Word of Knowledge: A belief or instruction that a Christian believes comes directly from the Holy Spirit. This is found almost exclusively among Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians.

bullet Word of Wisdom: A code of health that Mormons believe was given by God to their founder, Joseph Smith on 1833-FEB-27.

bullet World Council of Churches: An umbrella group formed in 1948. They promote inter-faith dialog and ecumenical cooperation among mainline and liberal Christian denominations.

bullet World view(also spelled worldview): "...a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic make-up of our world." 1 See also biblical worldview

bullet Worship: In a religious sense, the act of expressing reverence to a deity or supernatural entity.


Wrath, God's: God's judgment on sinners, fueled by his anger, hatred, revulsion and indignation of sin. In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) there are many descriptions of mass murders and genocides either created or ordered by God. Author Martyn Lloyd-Jones found that the Hebrew Scriptures contains 20 words which describe God's wrath, and that they are used 580 times. In the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) the topic is discussed in detail in Romans 1:18 and in the Book of Revelation. Author Cairns comments:

"...the full power of the wrath of God has never yet been manifested on earth - not in the deluge [of Noah], or in the destruction of Sodom, or in any other judgment. The full fury of God's anger will be seen when 'the great day of his wrath is come' and the ungodly feel the indescribable torment of 'the wrath of the Lamb' Revelation 6:16-17." 2

Martin Luther felt that the wrath of God, as described in Revelation, was incompatible with the loving God that Jesus referred to as "Abba" during his prayers. When Luther translated the Bible into German, he downgraded Revelation, by placing it in an appendix. However. the book has been restored to its original position in modern translations.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. James Sire, "The Universe Next Door: A basic worldview catalog" Intervarsity Press, (3rd edition, 1997) He discusses, from a conservative Christian viewpoint, such worldviews as theism, deism, naturalism, nihilism, Marxism, postmodernism and the New Age. Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store
  2. Alan Cairns, "Dictionary of Theological Terms," Ambassador-Emerald Int., (1998), Page 446 & 447.
  3. "A critical look at the 'Word of Faith' ministries," Ministry Watch Reflections, 2003-OCT, at: This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 
  4. From Alice Walker, "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose," (1983).
  5. Amy Richards, "What is Feminism," at:
  6. "Womanist theology," Wikipedia, as on 2014-DEC-02, at:

Copyright © 1996 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published on: 1996-MAR-11
Last update: 2016-JAN-09
Author: B.A. Robins n

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