widdershins (also withershins) A counterclockwise, circular movement used in the casting of binding and banishing spells and Curses, and in the casting of some Magic Circles. The term widdershins comes from the Anglo-Saxon term with sith, “to walk against.” The Irish equivalent is tuatal or tuathal, which means “a turning to the left”; it is the “unholy round” in Irish folklore. The opposite of widdershins is deosil, moving clockwise.

Widdershins refers to walking against the sun and generally represents the unnatural and negative.

In the casting of a black magic spell against the occupants of a house, for example, a witch or sorcerer would walk around the house counterclockwise. Widdershins motions and movements also are used in spells to get rid of negative spells or undesirable situations. It is used in necromantic rituals (see necromancy). In contemporary Witchcraft, once a Magic circle is cast deosil, a small section of it may be opened for access and egress with a widdershins motion with a sword or athame (see witches’ tools), then reclosed deosil.


The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca – written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – Copyright © 1989, 1999, 2008 by Visionary Living, Inc.