I’ve put together a quick glossary of terms and religions a person may come across when learning about magic for quick reference. I’ve only added enough information about each entry to convey the definition of the term. Let me know if there are any terms that I’ve missed or you’d like to see on the list. Note that I am not adding information about individuals and books (the I Ching and Necronomicon being exceptions) as this would make the list much larger. I’m also only including groups that are very large or influential, like the Golden Dawn and OTO.
Abrahamic Faiths – Also Abrahamic Religions and Abrahamism. Refers collectively to those religions, most notably Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which believe their foundation begins with Abraham in the Book of Genesis.
Aesir – The Norse pantheon, or sometimes only the male gods of the Norse pantheon, collectively. The term may also refer to a subset of the Norse Pantheon which were preceded by the Vanir, and into which the Vanir were eventually incorporated.
Age of Aquarius – The Age of Aquarius is one of the spiritual ages determined through astrology, each of which lasts 2150 years. Due to differences of opinion about calculating the exact beginning of ages, the Age of Aquarius is either the current spiritual age or an upcoming spiritual age. Likewise the exact qualities and meaning of the Age of Aquarius differs between different spiritual groups.
Agnosticism – The belief that the existence or nonexistence of deities, and also several other spiritual beliefs, are unknowable and unprovable. Although similar to Atheists in the sense that Agnostics usually lack any sort of spiritual beliefs, Agnostics differ in that they do not deny the possibly that at least some spiritual beliefs may be correct.
Alpha et Omega – A group founded by Golden Dawn leader McGregor Mathers after the dissolution of the Golden Dawn and originally consisting of those Golden Dawn members which remained loyal to Mathers.
Ancestral Spirit – A spirit that is attached to a person because of the family they were born into, a group they have been initiated into, or the line of spiritual teachers they descend from. Sometimes in the first case the spirit of a deceased relative who has ascended.
Ancient Astronaut Theory – The theory that all, or at least some, of the gods are really extraterrestrial beings that came to Earth thousands of years ago and aided man in the early development of civilizations and technology.
Angel – Also Angelic. A specific species and type of realm guardian, although the term is generally used, even among angels, to refer to any type of realm guardian. Distinct and different from a Guardian Angel and Holy Guardian Angel.
Anticult Movement – Abbreviated ACM. A secular movement which is opposed to smaller religions and to the formation of new religions, mainly due to a perceived tendency towards unethical recruiting practices and brainwashing techniques.
Antitheism – A belief that there are no deities, or that a particular deity or group of deities does not exist. May also refer to one who opposes organized religions in general, or a specific organized religion.
Apocryphia – Initially, written spiritual works which were hidden due to possessing a perceived spiritual power or profundity that was believed should only be revealed to the initiated. Later the term came to include Christian spiritual works which were hidden or surpressed by the church because they did not conform to church beliefs, were written by Christian groups that were later deemed heretical, or were of questionable value to the church. Later still the term came to mean false spiritual works, and also Christian spiritual works omitted from the bible.
Apocalypse – Traditionally apocalypse refers to when something hidden from the majority of people is finally disclosed to them. However in its modern context apocalypse usually refers to the end of the world or a major event which causes the world to be completely and suddenly changed in a very drastic way.
Ariosophy – A religion originating in Austria that combines aspects of Theosophy and reconstructed German Paganism with ideals of nationalism and racial superiority. Ariosophy was a forerunner to and direct influence on Nazi ideology and mysticism.
Armchair Magician – A disparaging term which refers to anyone involved in any sort of metaphysical faith, religion, or spiritual path who does not (at least normally) practice magic. The term originates within Ceremonial Magic and is still most often used to refer to Ceremonial Magicians, although the term is becoming more widespread.
Astral Projection – The act of shifting ones state of consciousness from ones physical body to ones astral body, which effectively results in projecting out of body and allowing oneself to travel in a spiritual form. Astral projection is also sometimes used to refer to a shift of consciousness to ones mental or emotional bodies.
Aura – Also biofield. The energy that a person naturally produces and then releases around their body which will eventually dissipate into the area. Some individuals perceive this energy in the form of colors and/or shapes that give clues as to its nature.
Autosuggestion – A psychological theory that our mental state and beliefs have an effect on our physical state, and the various techniques that have been developed to manipulate this phenomena. Autosuggestion is used to explain, for instance, why patients may have some success taking a placebo medication. The techniques of autosuggestion are sometimes used in various magical systems.
Bacchic Mysteries – Also Dionysion Mysteries. A set of secret ritual practices centered around Bacchus and reserved for the initiated, which involved using intoxication, dancing, and music to remove inhibitions and achieve trance. Initially the cult was centered around the chthonic nature of Bacchus, but later the group became more concerned with spiritual transcendence. Much of the group’s lore and rituals have been lost.
Bahá’í Faith – A monotheistic faith first developed in 19th century Iran which believes in the unity of all concepts of god, the unity of all religions, and the unity of all of mankind. The religion was directly developed from the Bábi Faith, and it acknowledges it’s founder, Bahá’u’lláh, as the Bábi Faith’s prophesied Chosen One Of God.
Ball Lightning – An unexplained electrical phenomena, usually connected with thunderstorms, in which a ball of light is sighted. Although the phenomena is as of yet unexplained, scientists generally admit to its existence.
Banishing Ritual – A ritual designed to clear an area of all entities, magical energies, and supernatural influences. The Lower Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is the most well known banishing ritual.
Beast, the – A creature in Christian mythology associated with the apocalypse and mentioned in Revelations. Along with the Dragon and the False Prophet, the Beast forms the unholy trinity which opposes the Christian god.
Beltane – Originally a Celtic holiday, it has more recently been adapted as a holy day by several Pagan religions. Beltane is celebrated in early May, and in most Pagan religions is the most important holiday after Samhain (and sometimes Yule). The meaning, importance, practices, and rituals associated with Beltane vary between different groups.
Bible Code – A theory largely popularized in the 1990s that hidden prophecies of past and future events could be found within the Jewish Torah or the original Hebrew language Old Testament of the bible.
Big Fat Stupid Druid Tradition – Sometimes BFSD Trad or just BFSD. A derogatory term applied to a Druid or Druids in general (as in ‘he’s a member of the BFSD trad’), which refers to the stereotype of Druids being overweight, ignorant, and generally not knowing what they’re talking about.
Binding – Any spell which completely, or less often partially, limits the magical ability of another person. Also any spell which restricts the ability of another to perform an action or actions as per their own freewill.
Bless – To charge an object with the divine energy of a deity, or to have a deity otherwise enchant an object, or to otherwise make an object associated with a specific deity. In regards to a person, to be given favor from a deity or to receive special aid from a deity.
Blessing – Divine energy used to charge an object, or an enchantment put on an object by a deity, or favor given on to a person from a deity, or special aid received from a deity. The term may also be used to refer to a spell or ritual meant to procure a blessing from a deity.
Blot – In the ancient Norse religion, a blood sacrifice ritual which was usually accompanied by a feast and drinking alcohol. Blot rituals have been incorporated into modern Pagan religions, namely Asatru.
Bodhisattva – Buddhist term meaning, literaly, an enlightened existence. The term refers to anyone who has chosen to attempt reaching Buddhahood as quickly as possible for the benefit other sentient beings.
Bokor – In Hatian Voodoo, a Houngan or Mambo which practices both light and dark magic. Sometimes also used to refer to an initiate of Hatian Voodoo who only practices dark magic in contrast with a Houngan who only practices light magic.
Boline – Also Bolline. Chiefly Wiccan, a small knife which usually has a white handle and is usually single-edged, and which is usually used during rituals for utilitarian purposes such as carving into candles and cutting herbs.
Bon – A spiritual system that developed within Tibet. Some belief it to have been a regional spiritual belief system preceding the introduction of Buddhism that eventually adapted elements of Buddhism. Others believe that the system developed in synchronicity with Tibetan Buddhism and represents a second form of Tibetan Buddhism.
Braucherei – Also Pow-Wow, Hex Work, and Spielwerk. A system of folk magic developed in the 19th century within the Pennsylvania Dutch community of the United States. The system combines elements of faith healing, folk remedies, spells, and talismans, and is partially influenced by European grimoires.
Brahmanism – Also Vedism or Vedic Brahmanism. An ancient Indian religion and the predecessor to Hinduism. Brahmanism was a major influence on other Indian religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism and is still practiced in some remote areas of India today.
British Traditional Wicca – Wiccan groups and sects which originated in the New Forest region of England, or which have a clear lineage to a group which originated in the New Forest region of England.
Buddhism – A group of religions originating in Northern India, which was originally developed as one of the Shramana traditions that opposed Brahmanism. Since then it has spread, mostly through out Asia, and has become one of the largest religious followings in the world. The religion was initially based off the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. Some key concepts of Buddhism include karma, reincarnation, the four noble truths, and nirvana.
Burning Times – A reference to periods of time in parts of Europe and the United States when those suspected of witchcraft were heavily persecuted and frequently executed, often times by being burned on a cross.
Caodaiism – A monotheistic religion originating in Vietnam in the early part of the 20th century. The religion combines elements of Buddhism, Taoism, and the Abrahamic faiths, among other faiths, and also includes some unique elements. Adherents believe that the faith was received directly from god.
Celestial Alphabet – Also Angelic Alphabet. A magical alphabet first published by Agrippa,who attributed it to and believed its name was derived from the fact that its letters are based on the positions of the stars. The alphabet is based on the Hebrew alphabet with which it has a one to one correspondence.
Ceremonial Magic – A general term applied to various systems of magic first appearing in Europe around the 18th century which combine several different sets of magical beliefs, most of which were developed in Europe and the Middle East during the middle ages, and which generally place a heavy emphasis on the ritual aspects of spellwork and magic. Alchemy, Ancient Egyptian mythology and spirituality, Christian Mysticism, Enochian Magic, Freemasonry, Greco-Roman mythology, Hermeticism, Kabalah, various medieval grimoires, the occult tarot, and Rosicrucianism were all major influences on systems of Ceremonial Magic. During the early part of the 20th century Ceremonial Magic was further influenced by several Eastern systems, such as Taoism and the practice of Yoga, and the New Thought Movement. Ceremonial Magic is the forerunner to both modern Paganism and Chaos Magic.
Cessationism – A Christan belief that the mystical or magical abilities possessed by some early Christians in the bible no longer occur among modern Christians. This belief is in opposition to continuationism.
Chaos Magick – Also Kaos Magick. A system of magic founded on the theories of Peter Carroll, particularly that most aspects of magic, and even reality, are actually due to internal forces and perceptions, and also that magical success is based on faith and belief in external forces.
Christianity – Consisting of many different sects and varied beliefs, Christianity is a monotheistic religion and the largest religion in the entire world. Christianity was initially a sect of Judaism which first appeared in the Middle-East and which later broke off and became a separate religion. The central belief of all sects of Christianity is that the historical figure Jesus Christ was born the son of and embodiment of the Abrahamic god.
Church – A place which is set aside for the worship of one or more deities, or which is set aside for other spiritual practices or gatherings. The term is primarily Christian, although it is sometimes used by other religions and spiritual groups. Also, within Christianity, a reference to the governing body and agents of a denomination collectively, and the institution as a whole.
Church of the Subgenius – A religious organization founded in the early eighties (although the church claims to have been founded in the fifties), which is often described as a parody religion or satirical religion. The religion is meant to satire both mainstream and alternative spiritual organizations along with psuedo-religious topics such as space aliens and conspiracy theories.
Circle – A circle, real or imagined, and of varied complexity, that appears in many magical rituals. Also, especially in Paganism, may refer to a group of practitioners who regularly perform rituals together or a group of practitioners that are currently performing a ritual together.
Client – Usually a person who has paid money or otherwise traded goods or services for a psychic reading. It may also refer to a person who has paid money or otherwise traded goods or services for a spell to be cast.
Collective Unconscious – The theory that the minds, thoughts, and knowledge of all people are connected together in a way that is, at least usually and under normal circumstances, not perceivable by anyone.
Communion – Also divine communion. Discourse with a deity, either through direct communication or by sending and receiving energy. A message to a deity in which no reply is received is not communion, but a prayer. Within some Christian denominations Communion is also another term for the Euchirist.
Comparative Religion – Comparing and contrasting the mythologies and rituals of various religions in an effort to derive spiritual truth. Comparative religion is a central theme of Theosophy and is present in most of the religions and groups that were influenced by it.
Continuationism – A Christian belief that some Christian individuals possess mystical and magical abilities similar to those possessed by the early Christians which appear in the bible. The belief is in opposition to cessationism.
Cross-Quarter Days – The four days of the year which fall in the middle of an Equinox and Solstice. Traditionally these four days have been associated with the holidays of many different religions and cultures.
Crystal Skull – Skulls carved out of quartz crystal and which are purported to be of pre-Colombian American origin and which are believed to have special metaphysical properties. The technology required to create the skulls is beyond the known technology of pre-Colombian American societies. So far all crystal skulls which have had their origins scientifically scrutinized have turned out to not be of a pre-Colombian American origin, which has led to many of these skulls no longer being displayed in museums.
Cult – A system of ritual practices. More recently the term has been used in a derogatory manner to refer to small religious orders which psychologically control or otherwise coerce members into joining or staying with the group.
Curse – Any type of magic which is intended to harm, control, or have some other negative effect on another. Also the act of doing any type of magic meant to harm, control, or have some other negative effect on another.
Dark Night of the Soul – A chiefly Christian term, although it is sometimes used outside of Christianity. The phrase usually refers to a personal crisis which threatens ones spiritual path. It may also be used to describe the trails one must undergo to achieve spiritual enlightenment.
Demiurge – In some belief systems a creationary deity which is believed to have shaped and designed all, or at least a significant part, of the universe, but which is not the supreme creationary deity.
Demon – Also daemon. Usually the term refers to a set of spirits (not all of which may technically be demons) that individually exist as combined intelligences. Sometimes used as a catch all term to refer to metaphysical beings that are perceived as negative, hostile, or evil. Although demon and daemon are usually synonymous, sometimes the terms are used as differently defined classifications.
Demonology – The spiritual belief system which studies spirits from a primarily Christian perspective and which labels all spirits and gods with the exception of some angelic spirits as being demonic and negative. The belief system has a negative view of most magical practices (labeling them as dangerous and possibly evil) and other non-Christian spiritual practices, although exorcisms and house cleanings are commonly performed and approved when done in accordance with their beliefs. Demonlogy is closely related to and influenced by paranormal investigation and parapsychology (and often times members of these three groups work together). There are also some influences of Spiritism, Spirtualism, Ceremonial Magick, and medieval grimoires.
Deva – A benevolent deity in the Hindu Pantheon. The Devas were half-siblings to the malevolent Asuras. The term may also be applied to any benevolent spirit. Within Zoroastrianism, the term refers to an order of malevolent spirits.
Disassociation – A psychologically recognized state in which a person feels disconnected from their physical selves as if they are watching themselves act. Although in extreme cases a sign of a psychological disorder, dissociative states are a common occurrence among the general population. Disassociation is a common side-effect of certain magical practices and can also be caused after experiencing certain types of metaphysical phenomena. Dissociation is also a common side-effect of drug use.
Djinn – Also Jinn. A type of spiritual creature from pre-Islamic Arabia that is also featured in the Islamic faith. Initially the term seems to be used to refer to any type of spiritual creature, although later the term became directed at specific types of spiritual creatures. There exist several different types of Djinn both in Islamic sources and pre-Islamic sources, and there are also various interpretations of the Djinn mythologies.
Dragon – A species of creature that is not native to earth. Although their natural form is that of a giant lizard, they are able to shape-shift and temporarily incarnate. Dragons are long lived and very slow in doing things, and are often concerned with long term investments in regards to accumulating things (typically knowledge and power). They are often seen as the opposite of fae creatures.
Druidism – Usually refers to a modern day pagan religion which attempts to reconstruct druidic traditions and which is often times combined with elements of Wicca. It may also refer to the original religious practices of the Druids found in Great Britain, Ireland, and Gaul, of which very little is known.
Eclectic Wicca – Refers to Wiccan sects or the beliefs of individual Wiccan practitioners which draw influences from several different Wiccan traditions, and possibly from spiritual sources outside of Wicca.
Electromagnetic Field – A measurable field produced by electrically charged objects often times used by Paranormal Investigators as evidence of the presence of spirits or other supernatural phenomena.
Element – The five purest and most basic aspects of which all things in the universe are made up of. In the Western Traditions, Hinduism, and Japanese spirituality these five elements are Fire, Water, Air, Earth and a fifth element referred to as Spirit, Akasha, or Void. In Chinese spirituality the five elements are Fire, Water, Earth, Wood, and Metal.
Eleusinian Mysteries – Secret initiation mysteries performed in the Greek city of Eleusis and centered around the cult of Demeter and Persephone. Participants were required to take a vow of secrecy and believed they would recieve some reward in the afterlife for having been initiated.
Elf – An intelligent species that is non-native to earth, and typically appears in this world only as a non-incarnate spirit, although incarnate elves have been sighted in the past. Physically and culturally elves are very similar to modern humans, so much so that they are probably just an alternate evolution of the same concept within a world that has a different climate and ecology.
Empath Sickness – A condition sometimes experienced by empathically sensitive people, which creates a discomfort or fear of crowds, and, if it progresses far enough, eventually a discomfort or fear of small groups and possibly even individuals.
Enchant – To cast a spell upon an item so that the item will perform some metaphysical function. Sometimes also used to refer to charging or blessing an item. Less often the term is used to refer to a, usually beneficial, spell upon a person which will have some continuous effect.
Energy Buzz – Sometimes shortened to buzz. Also energy drunk. A mental state brought about by a person rapidly absorbing more energy than they are used to working with. The state is similar to being buzzed on alcohol or certain other drugs, and in some cases it may have a mild euphoric affect on the person.
Enochian Alphabet (Pantheus) – This is a magical alphabet created by Pantheus and first published in his book Voarchadumia. This should not be confused with the Enochian alphabet which was channeled by Dee and Kelly.
Epicureanism – An Ancient Greek philosophy developed around the 4th century BC, and one of the three major Greek philosophical schools. Epicureanism was based on the belief that what was pleasurable determined what was good, and the true pleasure came from the tranquility achieved through a humble life and the pursuit of knowledge.
Esoteric Buddhism – Also Vajrayana Buddhism and Tantric Buddhism. The third branch of the Buddhist religion, although it is sometimes classified as a kind of Mahayana Buddhism. Esoteric Buddhism is the newest form of Buddhism, features a wider variety of beliefs among the different sects, and places a much heavier emphasis on ritual than the other two branches of Buddhism.
Eucharist – A Christian ritual in remembrance of the last supper of Christ in which bread and wine, or possibly a non-alcoholic substitute, are ingested, and are meant as symbolic representations of the body and blood of Christ.
Fae – Also Fay. A specific intelligent species that is not native to earth, and also a catch all term for a group of species related to Fae (including pixies, trolls, goblins, brownies, and gnomes, among literally hundreds of others). The exact nature, personality, and culture of Fae creatures are dependent both on the exact species and the individual Fae, however all Fae creatures are creatures of desire, living entirely in the moment and acting on the current whims of their desires. They are often seen as the opposite of dragons.
Fertility Magic – A classification for magic, spells, and rituals which are intended to increase the likelihood of an individual person or group of people having children through sexual intercourse, or which are intended to prevent miscarriages.
Fertility Religion – A religion or belief system which is centered around rituals, and possibly mythologies, based in the acts of sexual procreation, conception, and birth. The religion may also include an additional emphasis on death as part of the birth-death cycle.
Flagellation – Methodically whipping or beating a person for spiritual or non-spiritual purposes, sometimes in order to induce an altered state of perception. Today flagellation is largely associated with Christianity, where it is used to experience Christ’s pain during his flagellation prior to the crucifixtion, although there is a long pre-Christian history of ritual flagellation. Flagellating oneself is known as self-flagellation.
Fluffy Bunny – Also just Fluffy. A disparaging term, chiefly Wiccan, used to describe other Wiccans. The exact definition of the term varies, but is generally used to describe Wiccans who are perceived as stupid, ignorant, not true Wiccans, have fantastic or magical world views, are overly optimistic, and/or are white lighters.
Flying Ointment – A topical ointment made by combining lard with various drugs, usually hallucinogens, so they can be absorbed through the skin. Several different recipes for flying ointments exist. Flying ointments are believed to have been used by Traditional Witches to fly or astrally project.
Freemasonry – A fraternal organization that, at least initially, was steeped in ceremonial ritual. In the last half century the emphasis of ritual has been downplayed and the group has become more focused on aspects of fraternity and community outreach.
Friendship Spell – A spell intended to aid in gaining friends, or to make someone be looked upon more favorably by others, or to make a specific person become a friend to or otherwise look favorably upon the practitioner or another.
Furry – A person who prefers to be dressed up as a specific type of animal and possibly engage in non-human animalistic behavior. Although not usually spiritual, some furries have claimed that their actions serve a spiritual purpose, and many furries have been showing up in otherkin based or otherkin friendly groups.
Gardnerian Wicca – The very first Wiccan sect, Gardnerian Wicca is a modern day Pagan religion which initially incorporated some aspects of Traditional Witchcraft, Ceremonial Magic, Celtic mythology, European Folklore (concerning witches), and BDSM. Later theological philosophies of the hippie counterculture movement were added to it.
Germanic Paganism – Also Germanic Neopaganism. The various Pagan religions which are specifically based off of the Norse pantheon and the pre-Christian beliefs of Scandinavia, Germany, and the surrounding areas.
Ghost Box – A device that allows one to record and hear EVPs in real time (rather than the traditional method of recording sound and then later analyzing the recording for EVPs) in order to facilitate real time communication between humans and spirits. The device is most often used by Paranormal Investigators.
Ghoul – From the Arabic Ghul, the term initially referred to a type of Djinn known to frequent graveyards. The term has now come to have many varied meanings. In modern magical usage, the term generally refers to the original Arabic myth, or to sighted creatures (which are strikingly similar to the Arabic myth) which appear as living corpses.
Gnosticism – A group of religions which have been argued to have originated as an early form of Christianity (there are other arguments, and some evidence, that gnosticism predated Christianity). Gnostic beliefs typically include the belief that the biblical God, although existing, is not the true god, and the goal of gnosticism is to reach enlightenment, something that is typically believed to be capable of by only an elite few.
Goddess, the – A term which is used to refer to a supreme monotheistic, possibly pantheistic, creator deity that is perceived as feminine. May also refer to just the feminine aspect of a supreme monotheistic pantheistic deity. The term is usually used within certain Pagan religions.
Goetic Spirit – Also Goetic Demon and Goetic Daemon. One of the various spirits which are listed in the first book of the Lemegaton, the Goetia. Less frequently it may also refer to one of the various spirits listed in the second book of the Lemegaton, the Thurgia Goetia.
Golden Dawn – Also Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a secret organization concerned primarily with Ceremonial Magic, Enochian Magic, Kabalah, and Tarot that lasted for about fourteen years around the turn of the 20th century. The group spawned many splinter groups and included several major occult authors, leading to the group being one of the largest influences of the Magick Revival.
Gospel – Christian term referring to an account that describes the life of Jesus Christ. Outside Christianity it is sometimes used in a broader sense to refer to any important religious or spiritual work.
Great Work – Also Magnum Opus. Anything which is done in order to aid a practitioner in reaching some perceived high point of spiritual attainment, often times what is thought to be the highest possible point of spiritual attainment. The end goal of the great work, the point of spiritual attainment which is being sought after, varies between different magical systems.
Grimoire – A term of medieval European origin that originally referred to a book of spells and/or magical instruction. In recent times the term has sometimes been applied to books which deal with magic in any way. It is also sometimes used to specifically refer to classic books from medieval Europe or books closely modeled after them.
Higher Realms – Also higher planes. May refer to those areas thought to be located directly above our current plane of existence or alternatively all areas thought to be located above our current plane of existence.
Hollow Earth – The belief that the Earth is either hollow, or consists of a large network of tunnels, and that through various means this area of the Earth may possibly be able to support intelligent life.
Homeopathy – An alternative form of medicine which is based on the belief that like cures like. Homeopathic patients are given very diluted medications which, in stronger doses, would cause the same symptoms the patient is suffering from in healthy individuals.
Hoodoo – Also conjure and conjuration. A set of magical practices and rituals that combine elements of West African spirituality with elements of Native American spirituality, European grimoires, and Christianity. Hoodoo was initially developed among slave populations in the southeast United States.
Hot Reading – A psychic reading in which information is gained through some sort of psychic or magical act in contrast to a cold reading. Also, within some skeptic circles, a psyhcic reading in which the information divined is procured by the reader beforehand through mundane methods.
Hypnosis – A scientifically recognized altered state of mind, although some critics argue it is not a true state of mind but instead derived from role enactment. In addition to its more common uses in therapy and entertainment, hypnosis is often times used for spiritual purposes. Hypnosis was also one of the main tools used to discover false repressed memories which fueled the Satanic Scare.
Ice Magick – A system of magic developed in Germany by Frater U.D. while he was part of the Illuminates of Thanaeros and another practitioner known as Hemult. The creation of Ice Magick lead directly to the Ice Wars.
Ice Wars – A reference to the battle for control of the Illuminates of Thanaeros between cofounder Peter Carrol and those who remained loyal to him and Frater U.D. and those who sided with him. Ultimately Carrol retained control of the group which survived the ordeal, but lost many members in the process.
Imaginary Elemental – Also artificial elemental. A spirit which is initially a thought form but is then imbued with sentient thought, freewill, and self-sustentation, in other words has been given a soul.
Imbolic – Imbolic was originally an Irish holiday which celebrated the beginning of spring. More recentally it has been adapted by several Pagan relgions and is celebrated on February 1st or 2nd. The meaning, importance, practices, and rituals associated with Imbolic vary between different groups.
Imp – A type of spirit which is often times employed by or bound into servitude to magicians, and which is typically malicious or amoral and prone to pranks and slightly harmful behavior. Due to superficial similarities imps are often mistaken for Fae creatures, although no relationship exists between imps and fae creatures.
Indigo Children – The theory that some children are now being born with a previously unforeseen, or rarely seen, indigo color within their aura, that the rate at which these children are being born is constantly increasing, and that these children represent a higher stage of spiritual evolution which is entering this world. The term may also be used to refer specifically to children with the indigo color.
Initiate – A general term used to describe someone who has found focus and direction in their spiritual path and in doing so has moved beyond the general exploration stage of the neophyte but has not yet become an adept. Also used to refer to someone who has been initiated into a specific group or spiritual system. Also used as the title of one of the lower ranks in several spiritual systems.
Initiation Mattress – Much like Hollywood’s casting couch, a reference to group leaders who require (sometimes selectively) sex from new members as a prerequisite to group initiation, or teachers who require sex from their students as a prerequisite to receiving spiritual training.
Initiation Ritual – A group ritual which is performed when a new member first joins a group or spiritual system, or sometimes when a group member achieves a new, predetermined, grade within the group. Initiation rituals are usually centered around introducing the new member to their new spiritual path or to the spiritual world in general, and sometimes also introducing the member to and forming a bond with the group. See also self-initiation.
Inner Order – Within some magical orders which segregate between two differently ranked types of group members, the inner order refers to the higher ranked division, which is usually trusted with all or at least most of the available group knowledge and allowed to attend all of the group rituals.
Inner Mysteries – Sometimes the term is synonymous with sacred mysteries. Sometimes it refers to specific information and rituals reserved for initiates of a specific group. In regards to a specific group, it can also refer to information and rituals reserved for members of the inner order of that group.
Intelligent Design – The belief that the complexity of systems within nature and the improbability of various necessary factors occurring solely through chance proves that the universe was created by an intelligent higher power.
Inverted Cross – A Christian religious symbol which denotes a sinner in repentence. The symbol is in reference to Saint Peter, who denied Christ, repented, and is later believed to have been crucified on an upside down cross. The is sometimes used by Satanist, many who incorrectly believe it to be a Satanic symbol which is meant to mock Christianity.
Invisibility Magic – Any magic, ritual, or spell that is designed to render the practitioner or another invisible, or otherwise intended to hide the practitioner or another, either from the physical senses (such as making someone unseeable) or from magical senses (such as masking an energy signature), so that they will not be noticed.
Invisibility Spell – A spell designed to render the practitioner or another invisible, or otherwise intended to hide the practitioner or another, either from the physical senses (such as making someone unable to be seen) or from magical senses (such as masking an energy signature), so that they will not be noticed.
Islam – Consisting of many different sects and varied beliefs, Islam is a monotheistic religion based, at least partially, in Judeo-Christian beliefs. The major differences between Islam and Christianity is that Islam does not regard Jesus Christ as the son of god, although he is regarded as a prophet of god, and Islam also contains further revelations about god which were obtained from the prophet Muhammad.
Janism – An ancient religion developed in, and still mostly practiced in, India. Jans attempt to reach higher enlightenment and remove themselves from the cycle of life and death by removing karmas. This is achieved, primarily, through wisdom and self-control and following several basic principles of Janism which includes non-violence towards all living things, non-materialism, and celibacy.
Judaism – Consisting of many different sects and varied beliefs, Judaism is the oldest monotheistic religion still in existence and a predecessor to Christianity. Judaism was first developed in the middle-east among the Hebrews.
Judeo-Christian – Refers either to that which is among the collected beliefs, practices, and mythologies that exist in both Christianity and Judaism, or to any of the beliefs, practices, or mythologies which exist in either Judaism or Christianity.
Kabalah – Originally a form of Jewish mysticism, Kabalah has since been expanded and adapted to Christianity and almost all western magical traditions. Kabalah attempts to explain the method of the creation of the universe in order to understand the nature of the universe.
Karma – An idea originating in Hinduism that is simplified as an idea of action and reaction. The basic idea of karma is if you do good things (defined as thoughts, words, actions, and actions done under your instruction), you will have good fortune in your future, and if you do bad things, you will have misfortune in your future, and that this can transcend from one lifetime to the next. The idea has been shaped and molded in many different ways as it has passed through several different religions and spiritual beliefs.
Kitchen Witchery – Also Kitchen Witchcraft. Refers to forms of Wicca and Traditional Witchcraft in which commonplace objects used in non-magical everyday activities are also used as sacred magical tools.
Knights Templar – A medeival Christian organization endorsed by the Catholic Church. Eventually the French monarch, owing a large debt to the group, arrested and tried several members for a multitude of crimes, including heresy and idoltry, and pressured the Catholic church into disbanding the group. In the 18th century, largely due to the French accusations and the subsequent legends that arose about the group, several European secret societies started claiming an unbroken lineage to the Knights Templar.
Law of Attraction – In its simplest form, the law of attraction states that like attracts like and dissimilar things repel. The law of attraction is at the foundation of many theories involving magic, spirituality, and the nature of the universe.
Left Hand Path – Initially an Indian concept, the term is now used in contemporary western systems to describe any belief systems or practices that are perceived as dark, negative, evil, harmful, violent, and/or selfish.
Lemuria – A sunken continent believed to have been located in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Originally Lemuria was created as a scientific hypothesis to explain inconsistencies in biogeography, however no evidence of the existence of Lemuria has ever been found. Later the idea of Lemuria was incorporated by Blavatsky into her Theospian writings, which led to it also being incorporated into the works of several occultists who were influenced by Blavatsky.
Level – A measurement of rank within a group. The term is most often used informally or generally as groups seldom use this term internally to refer to rank (although it isn’t unheard of). In meaning the word is synonymous with grade and degree, although groups rarely use these words interchangebly.
Lilith (Moon) – A disputed second moon of Earth which is believed to be too dark to normally be seen by telescope first discovered by the scientist Georg Waltemath and later rediscovered and named by astrologer Walter Gornold. The moon is used by modern astrologers both under the assumption that it is a real hidden body and that it is an imaginary body.
Limited Possession – A momentary spiritual possession that results in personality changes, with the possessed retaining aspects of the possessing spirits personality and/or aspects of the possessed’s personality becomming more pronounced, and in some cases with the possessed gaining knowledge which was known by the possessing spirit.
Lineage – In regards to metaphysics, it refers to your spiritual or magical lineage, which consists of your family relations (and particularly any practicing relatives you may have), the spiritual and magical groups you have been or are a member of, your spiritual teacher, their teacher, and the teacher’s that came before them in their line of magical training.
Link – A metaphysical connection usually between two people, but can also refer to connections people have with objects and places. Any time people come into contact with each other or otherwise interact a link is formed.
Little White Book – Also LWB. A small white book that is usually included with tarot decks and which typically contains specific information about the deck and general information about reading tarot cards.
Louisiana Voodoo – A Voodoo religion originating in Louisiana and primarily developed early on within the slave population of the state. The religion combines elements of West African Vodun with Christianity and has been influenced by elements of Hoodoo. The religion is similar to, but distinct from, Haitian Vodou.
Lovecraftian Mythos – Also sometimes refered to as the Cthulian mythos. The mythology of the collected fictional works of H.P. Lovecraft and other authors who wrote stories within his shared universe. In the 1970s, based largely on the theories of Kenneth Grant and later Simon who he influenced, the Lovecraftian mythos was incorporated into various systems of Ceremonial Magic, Satanism, and Luciferianism.
Lower Realms – Also lower planes. May refer to those areas thought to be located directly beneath our current plane of existence or alternatively all areas thought to be located beneath our current plane of existence.
Lughnasadh – Also Lammas. Lughnasadh was a Celtic holiday celebrated on August 1st. More recentally the holiday of Lughnasadh has been combined with the Anglo-Saxon holiday of Lammas and adapted into a holy day by several modern Pagan religions. In regards to Pagan holidays, the terms Lammas and Lughnasadh are interchangeable. The meaning, importance, practices, and rituals associated with Lughnasadh vary between different groups.
Lust spell – A type of love spell specifically intended to get another to engage in sexual intercourse or other intimate acts, or a type of love spell that is intended to make a person more sexually desirable, or which otherwise makes it more likely that they will attract a sexual partner.
Lycanthrope – Traditionally any person able to physically transform themselves into any type of animal through any means. Recently the term has also been used to describe people who can or prefer to transform their astral body into an animal form.
Mabon – Mabon is a holy day celebrated by several Pagan religions which is connected to and celebrated on the Fall Equinox which occurs in late September. The meaning, importance, practices, and rituals associated with Mabon vary between different groups.
Magic Square – In mathmatics a square filled with numbers where the numbers from each row and coloumn add up to the same number. Metaphysically these magic squares are thought to hold special powers and are often used as talismans. Additionally in metaphysics magic squares are sometimes created using letters and power words.
Magical Name – Also magic name and Pagan name, although the later term is only used within Pagan religions. A magical name is a name given to a person to be used during their spiritual work. A magical name may serve mundane purposes, such as helping to conceal personal information about the individual, it may serve symbolic purposes, such as symbolizing a birth as a person enters a new spiritual phase of their life, or it may serve spiritual purposes, such as a belief that a person will gain attributes associated with their magical name.
Magick – An alternate middle-English spelling of the word magic which was used in many grimoires written in that period. The spelling continued to be used by several spiritual groups before being used in publication in the early twentieth century. Some have proposed the alternate spelling be used to distinguish real magic discussions from stage magic or magic in fictional fantasy works, however with a growing trend of stage magicians, writers, and role playing games using the alternate spelling for realism this proposal has become largely unattainable.
Magick Revival – The current trend over the last hundred years or so of renewed interest, acceptance, and popularity of metaphysics. First coined by Kenneth Grant who regarded it as starting with Crowley’s reception of the Book of Law.
Mahayana Buddhism – One of the two or three branches of the Buddhist religion. Mahayana is the newer form of Buddhism, is in contrast to Theravada Buddhism, and the most widely practiced form of Buddhism.
Mana – Originating in the Pacific Islands, the word refers to a force which exists in people, animals, and objects. The word is almost synonomous with the modern metaphysical idea of energy. In recent times the word has become more popular due to it’s usage in video games and role playing games as an alternative term for magic points.
Manicheanism – A major world religion that was at its peak between the third and seventh centuries BC, eventually fading out entirely around the 14th century. Manicheanism is a Gnostic religion founded on the works of its prophet Mani.
Manipulation Magic – A classification for any type of magic, ritual, or spell that is intended to change another’s perception of reality, their emotions, or their thoughts, usually in an attempt to modify or control their actions or decisions. Glamours, projections, and lures are all examples of manipulation magic.
Mark of the Beast – Generally written as 666, but actually spelled out as six-hundred-and-sixty-and-six. In Christian mythology, the number that all will be required, by punishment of death, to tattoo on their left hand prior to the apocalypse.
Mediumship – The act of taking a foreign spirit or ghost into ones body and allowing it some degree of control over ones body for a limited period of time. Alternatively the term is sometimes used to refer to an incarnate person easily and clearly communicating with disincarnate entities and passing these communications on to other people.
Mental Body – Also Holy Guardian Angel. A separate and distinct body which exists and acts within the mental planes and, at least initially, operates independently of the physical and astral bodies. This body can be reconnected to the astral and physical bodies, at which point the mental body will cease to operate independently and one can shift their state of consciousness to their mental body.
Mu – A once populated sunken continent, usually believed to have been located in the Atlantic ocean, and believed to be the origin of Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Greek, and Mayan Culture. The idea of Mu comes from Mayan archeological digs, and was presented as the Mayan name for the Greek Atlantis.
Mundane – Of or pertaining to the physical world as opposed to the magical world; the opposite of metaphysical. Also used to describe people who are not practitioners or have no magical ability, also known as mundies.
Mystery Tradition – Also Mystery Religion and Mysteries. A spiritual group, usually consisting of spiritually like-minded individuals, which is open only to initiates of the group and in which some effort is made to keep ritual practices or group beliefs secret from outsiders.
Nature Based Religion – Any spiritual faith which either claims to worship nature as if it were a deity, or which largely practices within the wilderness, or which works to conserve or protect the wilderness. Many Pagans and Pagan groups identify themselves as practicing a nature based religion.
Near Death Experience – Abbreviated NDE. A spontaneous astral projection or out of body experience which occurs due to a person almost dying, or having clinically died but afterwards being resuscitated.
Necromancy – Any magic that deals specifically with the dead or with death energy. It may also refer specifically to any magic or ritual which is meant to bring forth spirits of the dead, e.g. a seance.
Neo-Confucianism – A form of Confucianism developed in the 9th century that attempted to expunge some of the more spiritual aspects of Confucianism borrowed from Buddhism and Daoism and instead create a more rational and secular philosophy.
Neophyte – A person who has begun exploring their spiritual path. The neophyte stage is marked by a general exploration of spirituality and is proceeded by the initiate stage. Also the title of the lowest rank in several magical systems.
Neoplatonism – A spiritual belief system that developed around the 3rd century BC which combined elements of Plato’s works, Judaism, and Egyptian mythology. Neoplatonism is founded on the Enneads of Plotinus, which were derived from the teachings he recieved from Ammonius Saccas.
New Age – A decentralized religion developed within the United States which stresses an individual approach to spirituality and religious practices, and draws influences from a wide range of metaphysical practices and religions.
New Atheism – A modern 21st century movement within Atheism which believes that all religious and spiritual beliefs are inherently harmful and false and is completely intolerant of any spiritual or religious beliefs or institutions, and attempts to destroy and remove these beliefs and institutions wherever they are found while proselytizing Atheism.
Nigromancy – Literally refers to black magic. May also refer to magic that is based in non-Judeo-Christian beliefs or is anti-Christian, or magic which places an emphasis on working with demons, especially outside of Christian Mysticism. The term is mostly seen in works from later medeival and early modern era Europe and is largely archaic today.
Non-Euclidean Geometries – Self-contained systems of geometry first developed in the 19th century which do not conform to all of the five basic axioms of standard Euclidean geometry. In fiction non-Euclidean geometries are often portrayed as the standard geometry used in the architecture of alien worlds and species that have not been influenced by humans, and the idea features heavily in the Lovecraftian Mythos.
Nous – Within classical philosophy, a facualty of the human mind believed to exist which was necessary to discern what was true and right, and in many ways is similar to the concept of intuition. The word was also used in common practice to denote something similar in concept to the modern day idea of common sense.
Oathbound Material – Secret material within a group which is only supposed to be given to members of the appropriate rank. Also material a person has made an oath not to divulge or not to divulge except to the appropriate people.
Obsession – When a person is being influenced by a spirit in any way. Usually the term obsession isn’t used when dealing with gods or angels, except when the gods or angels are believed to be false. The term in its current denotation originates in Spiritism, but is derived from an earlier term in Christian theology. The term has since migrated to many other systems, especially Ceremonial Magic systems.
Occult – The original definition of the word is hidden. The word came into use within the realm of metaphysics to refer to secret or hidden knowledge or secret or hidden practices. In modern usage the word is used to refer to nearly anything relating to magic, especially in regards to things relating to Ceremonial Magic.
Odinism – A Pagan religion meant as a reconstruction of Germanic Paganism. Unlike Asatru which it is closely related to, Odinism contains clear racist overtones and promotes a racial kinship, although it no longer promotes racial supremacy.
Offering – Anything which is offered to an entity which it values, either as a show of respect, gratitude, or love, or as a means to procure its service. Note that an offering is valued by the entity which receives it, where as a sacrifice is valued by the person giving it away.
Old Ones – Old Ones refers to spirits or creatures which predated man and were roughly as intelligent or more intelligent than the average person. The term sometimes refers specifically to spirits and creatures that are believed to have been on Earth at or shortly after its creation. In the Lovecraft Mythos the term Old Ones specifically refers to the spawns of Cthulu, which are often times associated with primals by practitioners.
Order of Nine Angles – A Satanic group with Neo-Nazi influences that encourages its members to perform human sacrafices and commit illegal acts for spiritual enlightenment, and which encourages the rising up against and eventual overthrowing of modern mundane controlled governments.
Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) – Originally a Freemasonry organization founded by Carl Kelner and Theodor Ruess, the group was eventually taken over by Allister Crowley and morphed into a Thelemic organization. After a period of inactivity following Crowley’s death the group was revived by surviving members.
Orphic Mysteries – Also Orphism. A set of ancient Greek beliefs and practices centered around the myths of the Greek hero Orpheus which also had special reverence for the Greek deities Persephone and Bacchus (both having returned from the underworld as Orpheus had). Initiates were promised special rewards in the afterlife, and the mysteries had some influence on pythagoreanism, however to what extent they influenced pythagoreanism is unknown. Much of the system has been lost.
Otherkin – A person who is currently an incarnate human but was, in a past life, a (usually intelligent) creature that is not native to earth. Some also include people who were animals in past lives and vampires as otherkin.
Outer Order – Within some magical orders which segregate between two differently ranked types of group members, the outer order refers to the lower ranked division, which is usually restricted from some of the group knowledge and barred from attending certain group rituals.
Pagan – Initially a derogatory term applied to members of the European countryside who were seen as uneducated, uncultured, and backwards, and would be synonymous with the word hick in modern language. Later the term came to be applied to those who had not fully converted over to Christianity and had retained at least some of the beliefs and practices of older religions, eventually becomming synonymous with terms like infidel and heathen. In modern language the term is now used to identify a person who follows any of the reconstructions of pre-christian European religons. See also Paganism.
Pagan Pride – A modern Pagan festival held on various dates and in various localities, which is usually held annually, and which usually invites all of the Pagan groups in the local area which wish to attend and participate. It is also not uncommon for Pagan Pride events to invite other non-Pagan spiritual groups and individuals to the event.
Paganism – Also Neopaganism. A set of modern day religions that claim to be reconstructions of pre-christian European spiritual beliefs and rituals which includes the various forms of Wicca, Asatru, and some forms of Druidism. Most Pagan religions have been widely influenced by Wiccan beliefs.
Palm Reading – Divining facts about a person’s personality, past, or future by reading the lines on their palm according to the methods of palmistry. Also any sort of divination or introspection of a client achieved by gazing at or holding the client’s hand.
Paranormal Investigator – A person who uses quasi-scientific methods to investigate supernatural occurrences, usually in the hopes of gaining objective evidence as to its existence, or less often to stop or end the supernatural occurrence.
Parapsychology – A division of psychology which studies metaphysical occurrences and abilities. Despite what is said in Ghostbusters, I know of no accredited institution that offers degrees in parapsychology (the degree would be a psychology degree).
Passing the River – Also Transitus Fluvii. A magical alphabet first published by Agrippa who attributed it to the Hebrews. The alphabet is based on the Hebrew alphabet with which it has a one to one correspondence.
Philosopher Stone – In alchemy, a mythological substance which was believed to be able to turn any type of metal into another. Less often it was also believed that it not only had transmutative properties, but could also grant immortality. The philosopher stone has been regarded both as a physical object which is sought after and as a metaphorical concept used to describe spiritual attainment.
Philosophical Skepticism – An Ancient Greek philosophy developed around the 4th century BC and one of the three major Greek philosophical schools. Philosophical Skepticism is based on the belief that there are errors within all schools of philosophy, and true inner peace comes from an acknowledgement of ones own ignorance.
Pictish Swirl Script – A magical alphabet developed and used by the Pecti-Wica tradition. The alphabet is based on the modern Latin alphabet and the letters are based on the letters used in ancient Pictish writing.
Planchette – A small piece of wood or plastic, which contains either a hole or piece of transparent plastic or glass which can be seen through, and which is meant to be used on a spirit board, usually by two individuals, in order to derive letters and numbers.
Pope – The title given to the head of the Catholic church, and the highest rank within that religious institution. Pope is also a nominal title given to all professed Discordians. The title is also used in several other spiritual groups and systems, usually in an attempt to mock the Catholic Church or as a general statement against religious authority or organized religion.
Portal – A magical field which spiritually connects one place to another regardless of the actual distance between the two. May also sometimes be used to describe a magical field which physically connects two places.
Possession – When a foreign entity has entered into a body it was not born into, has taken partial or complete control of that body for a period or periods of time, and in which the original host’s spirit also remains in the body and has partial or complete control for periods of time.
Prayer Beads – Also worry beads. A spiritual tool consisting of a set of beads strung together which are used by many different religions around the world. The beads are usually used to count prayers, mantras, or recitations, however they are sometimes also used for meditation.
Primals – An intelligent species which existed on earth prior to mankind of which some remnants still remain. Typically they are hostile and not friendly towards humans. Often times associated with Lovecraft’s old ones.
Probability Shift – A change in the likelihood that a specific event will occur. In a spiritual context usually a change brought about solely through magic or through a combination of magical and mundane means.
Process Church – An offshoot of Scientology that formed in the 1960s, the organization’s full name is the Process Church of the Final Judgement. The church worshiped three deities, Jehovah, Lucifer, and Satan, along with Jesus Christ, and were awaiting the eventual reunification of Christ and Satan. The group began to fall apart in the mid 70s, and today it exists only as a secular non-profit organization dedicated to animal welfare and no kill shelters, known as the Best Friends Animal Society.
Profane – In a spiritual context, to insult, misrepresent, deny or make some other negative expression towards that which is considered sacred, or to take an action against that which is considered sacred, or to take an action with malice towards that which is considered sacred. The word is usually used in regard to deities, either collectively or individually.
Prophet – One who relates information about the future, or one who relates general spiritual information that was otherwise unknown. Usually this information is derived from a supposedly divine source.
Psionic Magic – Magic that is performed entirely by thought and willpower as opposed to ritual magic. It may also refer to those aspects of a ritual which are done purely through thought and willpower.
Psionic Vampire – Also an energy vampire or psychic vampire. Generally any person who engages in taking, through coercion or force, energy from another living thing. The term is also used to refer to a very specific, albeit the most common, type of psionic vampire, all of which have similar behavior patterns and use similar methods in order to take energy.
Psychic – One who is possessed of some sort of magical power which is often times associated with divination. The term is often times also used to refer to those who sell divinatory services. Within Gnosticism, the term refers to the second of the three worlds, the world where the soul exists, and is also used to refer to those individuals who are of the middle grade.
Psychic Surgery – The act of cutting and physically removing a tumor or foreign body thought to have caused a disease or illness from a patient then completely healing the patient through an act of magic.
Ptolemaic – Of or related to Ptolemy. Usually used in reference to astrology to denote something that was mentioned by Ptolemy in his highly influential early Greek treatise on astrology, meaning that it is part of ancient Western astrology and not a later development.
Pure Land Buddhism – A popular form of Mahayana Buddhism founded in the Pure Land sutras. Pure Land Buddhism teaches that Nirvanah has become harder to attain since the time of Siddhartha Gautama (the founder of Buddhism), although through proper devotion one can, after death, be reincarnated into a world of enlightenment (the Pure Land) where attainment of Nirvanah after death is garunteed.
Pythagoreanism – The collection of mystical and esoteric beliefs, largely based in mathmatics, developed by Pythagoras and his followers in ancient Greece around the 5th century BC. Never having written anything down himself, today pythagoras’s beliefs are only known through the surviving written works of his followers.
Qigong – A practice, first developed within China, of aligning breath, physical activity, and awareness in order to promote both spiritual and physical health. Qigong is an essential element of many different Eastern mystical systems.
Qlippoth – In Kabalism the collection of ten spheres and twenty-two paths that exist on the tree of knowledge and are in contrast to the Sepiroth. Also each of the ten individual spheres on the tree of knowledge.
Querent – A seeker. Usually used to refer to the person seeking an answer, or the client, in a psychic reading. Unlike the word client, querent may refer to a person who has not paid for the service or to a reader who is reading for themselves.
Ragnarök – An apocalypse prophesized in Norse mythology in which the gods will battle each other, many will die, and the world will subsequently be submerged in water before finally being reborn anew and repopulated by two human survivors.
Rastafari Movement – Also Rastafari and sometimes incorrectly refered to as Rastafarianism. A Christian religious movement originating in Jamacia. The movement emphasizes a resistance to Western culture, a return to African culture, the spiritual use of Marijuana, and the worship of Ethiopian king Haile Selassie I as a modern day incarnation of god.
Realm Guardians – Partially incarnate entities tied to a specific area and charged with guiding and protecting the area and its inhabitants. Often times referred to as angels, although not all Realm Guardians are angels.
Reflexology – A system of healing based on the theory that all parts of the body are connected to areas on the hands and feet, and that proper hand and foot massages can benefit other parts of the body.
Ritual – Any magical act that involves a physical component, such as using a tool, moving ones hands, or speaking specific words, as opposed to a magical act which is done entirely with thought and will.
Ritual Abuse – Any form of physical or sexual abuse, torture, rape, or murder that occurs as part of a religious ritual. Although there are a few instances of proven ritual abuse, there exists no evidence to support the vast majority of alleged instances besides uncorroberated victim testimony. See also Satanic Scare.
Runes – Depictions of the futhark, a pre-Latin Germanic alphabet, which is traditionally believed to hold magical power and is often put on wood chips or stones where it is primarily used for divination, the individual runes being randomly pulled from a bag. Runes are also used in other magical practices.
Sacrifice – A thing which holds personal value and which is willingly given to an entity to express respect, gratitude, or love. Note that a sacrifice is valued by the person giving it away, where as an offering is valued by the entity that receives it.
Sacrilege – To intentionally steal, damage, destroy, or otherwise indignify an object held as sacred within a religion or spiritual system. More broadly, sacrilege can refer to general offenses against a religion or person held to be sacred by a religion.
Samhain – Pronunced Sow-Inn, Samhain was originally a Celtic holiday which was later adapted into the North American holiday of Halloween. More recentally Samhain has been adapted as a holy day by several Pagan religions and is usually celebrated on October 31st or November 1st, and in most Pagan religions is considered to be the most important holy day. The meaning, importance, practices, and rituals associated with Samhain vary between different groups.
Saint – Generally, within Christianity, a deceased person who a church recognizeas as being of exemplarly religious character and who is believed to currently reside in heaven. Each Christian denomination has its own methods and procedures of recognizing saints and the exact definition of the term varies. Saints, especially those recognized by the Catholic church, are commonly used in magical workings within Christian mysticism and certain Afro-Caribiean systems.
Sanguinarian Vampire – Also sang, a person who, for whatever reason, feels a compulsion to drink human blood (as opposed to someone who drinks human blood for purely magical purposes), and may or may not believe this act bestows special powers or enlightenment upon them.
Satanic Scare – Also Satanic Ritual Abuse Scare. Refers to a period in the United States and Canada in the 1980s and 1990s when many individual citizens along with prominent church groups, popular members of the media, many members of law enforcement, and many within the justice system came to believe in the existence of a massive underground conspiracy in North America consisting of Satanists who murdered and raped adults, children, and infants along with engaging in other deviant and often illegal sexual acts despite the fact that the only evidence of the existence of this movement and its crimes were eye witness accounts from people who had regressed memories through hypnosis, people who had been diagnosed schizophrenic, and children who were coherced into giving testimony. During this period members of minority faiths along with heavy metal fans, role playing game enthusiasts, and members of the goth subculture were often targeted for harrassment by church groups and individual citizens with many also being suspected of crimes by their local law enforcement agencies. In several instances people were brought to trial and sometimes even convicted of serious crimes with little solid evidence besides the fact that they were suspected Satanists.
Satanism – A group of modern religions based on the philosophical and theological beliefs of Anton Levay. Satanic groups do not worship or believe in Satan, and most do not worship or believe in any type of deity.
Saturnalia – Saturnalia was a holiday honoring the god Saturn celebrated by the Ancient Romans that, at various times, lasted between one and seven days. On the modern calender Saturnalia is celebrated between December 17th and 23rd and is connected to the winter solstice. Many of the traditions and rituals of Saturnalia have been incorporated into the modern holiday of Christmas. Although not officially recognized as a holy day by any major modern religions, Saturnalia has been adapted into a modern holiday that is celebrated by many modern practitioners of magic.
Scientology – A religion founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, which was originally based on alternative healing practices developed by Hubbard and later added a full mythology concerning ancient space aliens. In addition to now famous claims that Scientology uses brainwashing and blackmail on its members, Scientology is also known for targetting members of the entertainment industry for membership, a model of paying large sums of money in order to gain spiritual enlightenment, and using the justice system to file frivolous lawsuits against its detractors.
Secret Chiefs – Spiritual masters (believed by some to be living humans, by others to be spiritual beings) which are theorized to control certain esoteric orders or to have some other form of high authority over the cosmos.
Self-Initiation – The act of initiating onself into a magical system or magical group, usually because a group is not available to perform the initation or because the practitioner does not want to associate with the group.
Shamanism – In modern metaphysical usage Shamanism refers to the eclectic spiritual beliefs of a person calling themselves a shaman which typically have a heavy emphasis on communication with and travel through the spiritual world.
Shruti – Also sruti or sruthi. Literally translates to that which was heard. Shruti refers to early Hindu religious texts that are believed to have been directly recieved from divine sources, and is in contrast to Smriti.
Sidereal Astrology – Based off of Ptolemaic theories, this is a form of western astrology. In contrast to tropical astrology, sidereal astrology theorizes that meanings are derived by the position of the star signs themselves and not by the procession of seasons, and so they take into account the changes in the signs due to the movement of the stars in a method which was developed from joytish astrology.
Sikhism – A monotheistic religion which first developed in Punjab in the 15th century, and is the fifth largest organized religion today. The religion is largely based on the works of ten gurus who lived between the 15th and 18th centuries, and puts a heavy emphasis on the ideas of faith and justice.
Skeptic – Traditionally one who questions and requires a good deal of evidence before they accept something as fact. Within a spiritual context though skepticism usually refers to one who practices a form of proactive Atheism where contrary evidence is often dismissed outright, complementary evidence is sometimes fabricated, and the sole purpose of such actions is to remove or destroy spiritual and religious beliefs and systems.
Skull and Bones – A secret society consisting of select Yale University seniors and alumni. Several prominent individuals, including major US politicians, have been members, which has in turn led to the creation of a wide variety of conspiracy theories concerning the group.
Sleep Paralysis – A medically recognized state where a person mentally wakes up but their body remains paralyzed as if they were still asleep. The state is often times associated with astral projection and other magical acts.
Smriti – Literally translates to that which was remembered. Smriti refers to later Hindu religious texts which are not believed to have been directly recieved from divine sources, but were rather written by man, and is in contrast to Shruti.
Solstice – Either the longest day of the year (the Summer Solstice) or the shortest day of the year (the Winter Solstice). The Solstices have traditionally been associated with the holidays of many different religions and cultures.
Spirit Animal – Also Power Animal. A spirit which is representative of a particular species of animal which is tied to a specific individual and will usually be related to that person’s personality and nature.
Spiritism – A religion originating in France based on the works of Allan Kardec. Spiritism is largely influenced by, and very similar to, Spiritualism. Unlike Spiritualism, Spiritism takes a definitive stand in favor of reincarnation.
Spiritualism – A monotheistic religion originating in the United States with a definite Christian influence which is largely concerned with contacting spirits through mediumship in order to gain spiritual insight.
Spontaneous Combustion – A belief that, on very rare occasions, individuals have been burned alive with a fire that started from inside of them, and in most cases barely affected the outside area. The evidence for spontaneous combustion has been based entirely on unrelated cases through out history where the remains of individuals have been found after being burned alive. So far there is no record of the phenomena having been witnessed as it happened.
Stoicism – A philosophy developed in Athens around the 4th century BC, and one of the three major Greek philosophical schools. Stoicism is centered around the ideas of self-control and will power, and is based on the belief that negative or destructive emotions are due to logical errors in judgement.
Stregheria – A group of religions which are modern day reconstructions of Italian witchcraft whose classification as a Pagan religion is disputed. Still these religions have been influenced by Wiccan beliefs and practices.
Subconscious – The thoughts and activities of and the memories stored within an individual’s mind of which the individual is not aware.
Subtle Body – A term which may refer to one or more non-physical bodies depending on the system and the context. The term most often, but not always, refers to the astral body.
Sweat Lodge – A humidified and heated room that is used in the ceremonies of some Native American religions. Sweat lodges were also used in some of the ancient spiritual practices of Europe and the Middle East, and have more recentally been incorporated into the belief systems of some members of the New Age movement.
Sympathetic Magic – Any magic that utilizes either or both of Fraizer’s two magical laws, the Law of Similarity, the idea that like produces like or imitation magic, and the Law of Contact, that things that have been physically connected to each other will continue to act upon one another after being separated.
Syncretism – Combining the beliefs and practices of two or more systems together and creating a new unified spiritual system. In many ways syncretism is synonymous with eclectisism, however some use the term in practice to refer to a more intensive merging of multiple belief systems. This is often done to show disapproval or disdain for eclecticism while professing a belief in a system which was originally derived from eclectic practices.
Synchronicity – Two or more seemingly unrelated experiences or events that are perceived as having some meaningful connection. Within a purely spiritual context synchronicity is seen as a phenomena which is achieved through some spiritual or supernatural means (such as the interconnectedness of the universe) and which holds some special meaning to the recipient about external events (such as omens foretelling an impending disaster) or is about the recipient specifically. However the term was first developed within the realm of psychology, and at least initially it was used to describe the theory that the human mind will group unrelated experiences together and ascribe to them some special meaning.
Tantra – A religion, or arguably a set of spiritual beliefs, originating in India and closely related to Hinduism and Brahmanism. Tantra is sometimes incorrectly used to refer to anything related to tantric sex.
Tarot – A deck of playing cards (of which the modern standard is 78 cards) which originated in Italy and was used to play a game called Tarochi. The cards have since been widely used for divination, meditation, the transmission of esoteric knowledge, and spellwork.
Temple – A sacred place where one or more gods are worshiped, or in which other spiritual practices take place. The word is used by many different religions, spiritual groups, denominations, and individuals.
Theban Alphabet – Also Honorian Alphabet and Witch’s Alphabet. A magical alphabet that was first published by Johannes Trithemius who attributed it to Honorius of Thebes, and widely used as a cipher alphabet in Wicca to hide spiritual writings. The alphabet has a letter for letter correspondance with the letters of the classical Latin alphabet.
Theocracy – A government which is controlled by those who are believed to have been divinely guided, or in which the government is led according to the beliefs and doctrines of a particular religious faith.
Theodism – A Pagan religion which is a recontruction of Germanic paganism. Theodism attempts to reconstruct not only the religious practices, but also the social structures and languages of Germanic Paganism. The religion has been named defunct by its founder under the grounds that it is impractical, but some active groups still remain today.
Therapeutic Touch – Also Non-Contact Therapeutic Touch and abbreviated NCTT. Therapeutic touch is a system of healing developed in the 1970s in which the practitioner lightly touches or holds their hands slightly above the patient and manipulates fields of energy in order to heal and to allieviate pain, anxiety, and stress.
Thought Form – A mass of energy that creates an astral body that has a specific shape yet lacks a soul or the ability for sentient, independent thought. Thought forms are created, however briefly, whenever a person thinks of something.
Thought Suggestions – The magical act of forcefully placing an idea into a persons mind while they are not channeling and without their permission, and often with the intention of disguising it as a genuine thought developed by the victim.
Thule – Thule was an island in the far north first written about by the Greeks, although the exact location being described by the Greeks is disputed. Through out the middle ages the name Thule was used to describe areas to the far north, and several different Northern islands (such as Iceland and Greenland) have been named Thule. The Thule Society, an Ariosophic group which was essential in the formation of the Nazi party, believed Thule to be a lost island from which the Aryan race first descended.
Thule Society – A mystical group which existed in Nazi Germany and practiced Ariosophy, which was largely concerned with combating percieved threats from communists and Jewish people. Members of the Thule Society formed the German Workers Party, which later became the Nazi Party, and were early supporters of Adolph Hitler. Several influential Nazi political figures were part of the Thule Society.
Tithe – Tithe literally means a tenth, and is the practice of paying a tenth of ones income to a religious organization. Within some organizations the amount of the tithe is changed to more or less than ten percent.
Tradition – Chiefly Wiccan. A group of covens which share beliefs and a common descendancy. For the most part synonymous with sect, although generally the term is only used to refer to sects within the Wiccan religion.
Traditionalism – A belief that certain older rituals or spells should be performed exactly as they were written, or that a certain system or religion should be practiced exactly as it was in the past, without any new additions or omissions, due to the belief that, in practice, this will produce the strongest results.
Traditional Witchcraft – A set of spiritual beliefs originating in the UK which can be traced back several hundred years. Traditional witchcraft is matriarchal and uses the pre-Christian Celtic pantheon. Spiritual beliefs have a large focus on herbalism and divination, along with spellwork largely focused on love spells, fertility, prosperity spells, healing, and curses.
Tranfitu Fluuij – A magical alphabet which combines elements of Agrippa’s Malchium, Celestial, and Passing the River alphabets together. The alphabet was created by Pantheus and first published in his book Voarchadumia.
Trans-Neptunian Planets – 8 planets proposed to exist beyond the planet Neptune in Uraniun astrology. Four planets were originally proposed by Witte, with an additional four proposed by Sieggrun. These planetary positions were based off of observations by Witte of additional forces acting upon a person’s astrological chart, and where these planets would have to orbit. Some have theorized that the trans-neptunian planets may not be planets at all, but rather other bodies such as gravitational fields or nodes of other planets. So far the existance of the tran-neptunian planets has neither been proven nor disproven by modern astronomy.
Tree of Knowledge – Sometimes used to refer to an abstract Kabalistic diagram mapping the Qlippoth (although omitted from the tree of life, the Qlippoth are still referenced due to their association to the Sepiroth). Also in the book of Genesis a tree in the Garden of Eden which granted man the potential to gain all of the knowledge and power of god.
Tree of Life – An abstract Kabalistic diagram which shows the make-up of the universe and the methods of creation and division. Also in the book of Genesis a tree in the Garden of Eden with the power to grant immortality.
Trickster God – Any of the gods from the various pantheons which are known for being generally deceptive and possibly partial to pranks. Examples of trickster gods include Coyote, Loki, Monkey, and Prometheus.
Triple Goddess – A triad of three connected goddesses or a single goddess which is seen as having three different forms. Triple goddesses are a common occurance through out mythology. Sometimes the term triple deity is also used, in which case the term may refer to female goddesses or male gods.
Tropical Astrology – Based off of Ptolemaic theories, this is the most common form of western astrology. Tropical astrology theorizes that meanings are derived from the procession of seasons in the northern hemisphere, not from the actual placement of the constellations which are moving, and is in contrast to sidereal astrology.
Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis (T.O.T.O.) – More recently known as the Typhonian Order, an organization founded by Crowley’s student Kenneth Grant after his expulsion from the Ordo Templi Orientis. In addition to Crowley’s work and the additional texts which make up the core spiritual beliefs and practices of the Ordo Templi Orientis, the TOTO also incorporates Grant’s original work.
Unitarian Universalism – A religion that combines elements of the Unitarian and Universalist churches. Despite the fact that both Unitarianism and Universalism are Christian religions, Unitarian Universalism is not a Christian religion. The Unitarian Universalist church has no doctrine and allows its members to follow any religious or spiritual beliefs they choose, including none at all, with the primary goal of the church being to support the free and responsible search for spiritual truth and growth. Individual Unitarian Universalist churches have been known to sponser Pagan groups composed of members of its parish and local Pagan community events.
Universe – Traditionally the word universe refers to everything in existence, however more modern theories in spirituality, philosophy, physics, and literature allow for the existence of multiple seperate universes, in which case the word multiverse or metaverse is used to refer to everything in existence. If a belief model which allows for multiple universes is being employed, the exact definition of what constitutes a single universe varies.
Uraniun Astrology – A relatively rescent form of Western astrology which places a greater emphasis on precission and also on deriving and validating astrological theory through observation rather than following traditional theories. Uraniun astrology also introduced the theory of trans-Neptunian planets.
Vampire Hunter – An individual, who may or may not be loosely associated with a vampire hunting group, that has dedicated themsleves to seeking out and combating vampires, possibly professionally, and may concentrate on fighting only psionic or sanguinarian vampires, or may seek out both. Generally they hold a negative view on magic and alternative spiritual beliefs and are usually closely related to demonologists in their beliefs and practices.
Vanatru – A Germanic Pagan religion which attempts to reconstruct prechristian Norse beliefs. The religion is similar to Asatru, however it differs in that it has a heavy emphasis the deities which are classified as the Vanir, sometimes to the exclusion of other Norse deities.
Vedas – A collection of Vedic Sanskrit texts which form the foundation of Hinduism and are believed to have been directly received from divine sources. The Vedas are both the oldest Hindu texts and the oldest Sanskrit texts.
Vision Quest – Initially this was a ritual rite of passage in some Native American religions which generally involved having a child, usually near the onset of puberty, enter the wilderness in search of a vision or dream to guide them into their future path. The ritual has been incorporated into the beliefs of some members of the New Age movement, however they usually undertake the vision quest at a much older age.
Voodoo – A set of religions compromised of Vudon and those religions that are partially based off of Vudon beliefs and practices. The Voodoo religions are Vudon, Haitian Vodou, Louisiana Voodoo, and Hoodoo.
Walk-in – An entity which comes to permanently and totally inhabit and control a physical body in which it was not originally incarnated into, and in which the original incarnate spirit no longer resides. This differs from a possession where the original incarnate spirit still resides within the physical body and passes control back and forth between it and the entity which possesses it.
Warlock – A term used to describe one who practices magic, or specifically one who has the power to bind spirits. In the past few decades a lot has been made out of the term originally being used to describe oathbreakers or liars, especially by Wiccans who, for the most part, prefer that male members are also titled witches and not called warlocks. Because of this the term has largely fallen out of use among practitioners.
Werewolf – A person who can, through whatever means, shapeshift between their human body and a wolf form. More recently the word is also sometimes used to describe a person who can or who prefers to transform their astral body into a wolf.
Western Magical Tradition – The magical beliefs, practices, and religions originating in Europe, parts of the Middle-East, and post-colonial Americas, except for those religions and practices originating in the post-colonial Americas that are influenced by African religions.
White-Lighter – A disparaging term used to describe a zealot devoted to what they perceive as the good or light side of spirituality and which typically attempts to change, cleanse, destroy, exorcise, or attack that which they perceive as dark, negative, or evil.
Whore of Babylon – In Christian mythology, a biblical character described in the prophecies given in the Book of Revelations. Generally believed, by historians and Christian theologins alike, to be symbolic and not refer to an actual person.
Wicca – A group of Pagan religions originating in the UK. There are many different and varied traditions of Wicca, although most combine elements of Celtic mythology and practices, European folklore concerning witches, Traditional Witchcraft, and Ceremonial Magic.
Witchcraft – A set of specific pre-Christian and/or non-Christian spiritual practices and beliefs practiced originally in parts of Europe. Also refers to ritual, spellwork, and/or magical aspects of the Wiccan religion.
Witching Hour – A time of night in which random metaphysical occurrences seem to be at a peak, and which is generally believed to be a preferable time to perform magic. Generally the Witching Hour is believed to take place sometime between one and five AM, usually at approximately three AM, although the exact time varies depending on the length of the night and the time the sun sets.
Wotanism – Wotanism is a Germanic Pagan religion developed by David Lane, who at the time was a convicted felon serving a life sentence for numerous violent crimes and a noted racist. The religion is largely centered around the ideas of white racial superiority and national socialism and contains many political undercurrents.
Yana – Within Buddhism the vehicle through which spiritual attainment is achieved. In a more broader sense, a spiritual journey. The idea of yana is synonymous with the metaphorical concept of a spiritual path or road.
Yin and Yang – Literally the dark and the light. Within Chinese philosophy and some Eastern religions the idea of Yin and Yang is used to describe the idea of the existence of polar opposites through out the universe which act in a complimentary fashion to each other.
Yule – Yule was originally a pre-Christian German holiday that took place on the winter solstice and many of the traditions and rituals have been incorporated into the modern holiday of Christmas. More recentally it has been adapted by several Pagan religions and is usually celebrated on the winter solstice on December 21st or 22nd, but is sometimes moved to either December 24th or 25th to correspond with Christmas eve or Christmas day. The meaning, importance, practices, and rituals associated with Yule vary between different groups.
Zen – In modern metaphysical usage, a momentary state of meditation, peace, or enlightenment, or a continuous higher understanding of the universe and its meaning, or a continuous state of higher being. May also refer to that which brings about a state of enlightenment, understanding, or higher being. Originally the term referred to a school of Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, however the common modern connotation of the term has little to do with Buddhist beliefs. See also Zen Buddhism.
Zen Buddhism – A form of Mahayana Buddhism developed in Japan which places a greater emphesis on wisdom gained through experience, such as meditation and actions, rather than on theoretical knowledge. Zen Buddhism was initially developed as a Japanese variant of Chan Buddhism.