THE OCCULT: BRIEF EXPLANATIONS OF VARIOUS TERMS AND CONCEPTS

by Marcia Montenegro (page 3 of 4)

Karma - From Hinduism: The law of cause and effect. The actions in one's life will influence one's later lives. See Reincarnation.

Kundalini - A form of energy, sometimes called serpent fire, believed to lie coiled at the base of the spine, according to Hindu teachings, which, upon awakening, rises through the body's psychic/spiritual energy centers, called chakras, bringing the practitioner into a state of enlightenment, "the realisation of Self, the union of the transcendent, Siva [Shiva, Hindu god], and its power aspect, sakti" [Shakti, divine energy], (Feuerstein, 112). See Chakras.

Magick - Practices which may include casting spells, using or summoning energy for a desired end, invoking forces or spirits, and/or calling on spiritual entities for aid. Occultists differentiate between black and white magick, claiming that black magick is the use of magick for bad while white magick is the use of magick for good. Magician Aleister Crowley defined magick as "the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity to Will." See Sorcery.

Mandala - Meaning "circle" in Sanskrit, this term originates in Hinduism and is also used in Buddhism. It is a geometric representation of the cosmos. An image based on four points, the mandala is commonly used for meditation in order to transcend this reality. In Tibetan Buddhism, "the evocation of the mandala and its deities is the means whereby the Trantric adept [disciple of Tantra Buddhism] conjures up and unites himself with the forces needed for the rapid destruction of his ego," (John Blofeld, The Tantric Mysticism of Tibet [NY, NY: Penguin/Arkana, 1992], p. 99). Mandalas are used in Eastern forms of meditation to trigger an altered state of consciousness in which the practitioner can transcend the rational thought processes and experience the essence of reality or higher self, depending upon the particular teaching.

Mother Earth - A term describing the earth as literally and/or spiritually our mother. The rise and popularity of the environmental movement and earth religions such as Wicca enhanced the role of the earth and our dependence on its resources to the extent that the slightest mechanical or industrial interference with the earth was seen as a gross violation. In some earth religions, the earth is viewed not only as our literal mother but also as the Goddess. Some Neopagan groups may call earth by the name of a Greek goddess, Gaia. See Wicca.

Near Death Experience (NDE) - An experience claimed by many who came close to death or were declared dead medically before being brought back to life. Those who claim this experience often describe leaving their bodies, traveling in a tunnel towards a light, meeting deceased relatives or angels, and being taken to a beautiful place. For an investigation into possible physical and psychological causes of NDE's, see Hillstrom, Chapter 5. See Astral Projection.

Neo-paganism - Umbrella term for contemporary revival of pagan nature worship; includes many sub-movements such as Wicca, Druidry, Asatru (Norse pagan religions), Dianic groups, various goddess groups, worship of Egyptian goddess Isis, & others. Practices include some or all of the following: revering nature, polytheism (belief in many gods), divination, magick and casting spells. Neo-paganism views life as cyclical, not linear.

Numerology - A form of divination using numbers to represent hidden meanings. Names are converted to numbers through a system in which each letter of the alphabet corresponds to a number up to 9 (a for 1, b for 2, etc., through the letter i which is a 9, then starting over at 1 again for j, etc.). Names and birth dates are usually reduced to a one-digit number through an addition process and a casting out of nines (June 5, 1954 would be 6 (for June as the 6th month) + 5 + 1[the 9 is cast out of '1954' and 5 + 4 equal 9 which is cast out, leaving 1] which = 12, which is 1 + 2, equaling a final number of 3. There are variations on this process; sometimes the 9's are not cast out, or special double-digit numbers are not reduced (such as 11 or 22). These numbers represent a meaning to the numerologist who interprets them for the querent often in a psychological and spiritual manner.

Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) - See Near Death Experience; Astral Projection.

Pentagram, Pentacle - A five-pointed star, sometimes within a circle. An ancient symbol once used by the followers of Pythagoras, and in occult groups, it was seen as a combination of the masculine three with the feminine two, thereby representing either hermaphrodism or the total human being (Chevalier, 747; Tresidder, 156); now mainly used in witchcraft and Wicca with one point up, representing 'white magick' as the "Druid's foot;" used in Satanism with two points up as the "Goat's foot" or horns of the devil (Tresidder, 157). In Witchcraft and Wicca, the four lower points represent air, earth, water, and fire, and the top point may symbolize Spirit, or Goddess. Considered a powerful tool of magick and protection in witchcraft and Wicca. In Satanism, the two points up represent the carnal nature over spirit, and as the horns of a goat is called the Baphomet. Also used in Freemasonry as the "Blazing Start" (Chevalier, 747) or "flaming star," (Tresidder, 157). At one time, the pentagram represented the five wounds Christ received being nailed to the cross for Christians, the five elements for alchemists, and Solomon's power over the spirit and nature world for sorcerers (sorcerers believe Solomon was a sorcerer), (Tresidder, 156). Pentagrams were inscribed on occult tools for power as talismans and used for protection as amulets (Ibid., 157) There is resentment on the part of witches towards Satanists for using the pentagram, which they believe was originally theirs. See Sigil, Wicca.

Pokemon - A Japanese-originated video and card game which means "pocket monster." This is a strategy game distributed through Wizards of the Coast, a company which is now a subsidiary of Hasbro Manufacturing. Wizards of the Coast also owns Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. Pokemon involves many characters and several types of energy cards, one of which is termed "psychic energy." Some of the Pokemon characters have occultic or occult-type powers such as casting spells, hypnosis, the power to put another character to sleep and "eat his dreams."

Psychokinesis - Considered a power of the mind allowing one to move objects with one's mind, or otherwise influence things and events in the material world through the mind. This includes the alleged ability to materialize and dematerialize and to levitate.

Psychometry - The supposed ability to "read" the history of an object by holding it in one's hand or to one's forehead; thus claims are made that one can know about the owner or past owners of the object by holding it.

Reincarnation - Generally speaking, the belief that one lives many lives, returning after death to life in another body, time, and place. This belief an essential part of Hinduism. One accumulates karma, which are the actions of a person in life, which will influence the person's subsequent lives. There is also the teaching of 'group souls,' that one is part of a group whose souls are the offshoot of a higher, individual soul. In Hinduism, one can return as an animal or insect (called 'transmigration'), but in Western reincarnation, one returns as a person. The Buddhist concept of rebirth differs from reincarnation in that there is a belief that there is no ego or personal identity to reincarnate. At death, one's personality may disintegrate into different pieces which combine with other pieces to form a new personality. A hypnosis technique, past life regression, is used to help one remember former lives.

Remote Viewing - A term for seeing persons, objects, or events, without using physical senses or equipment, at a location or time remote from the viewer. This ability actually falls under the general heading of psychic abilities or powers. Proponents of RV try to make it sound scientific, but they offer no valid proof of this, and there is no scientific basis for it. It is clearly a part of the occult. The fact that proponents offer results from tests which they claim prove RV does not mean doing RV is a good thing. Psychic abilities often garner "hits," either by coincidence or through information from fallen angels, also the source for information for many other psychic abilities.

Runes - An early alphabet with distinct symbols ascribed to Norse or Germanic languages, and connected to the worship of Norse/Germanic gods, but whose origins are disputed. Runes are used for divination, but also for magickal workings since each rune is thought to be "the occult name and sigil of one of the most fundamental forces of existence," (Tyson, The Truth About Runes, 3) and thus runes "form the magical language of the northern gods and express the forces upon which those gods are named; manipulating them gives direct control over the actions not only of the deities, but also of the spirits and lesser entities of Norse mythology," (Ibid., 5). The view expressed here is the magickal view that one can learn to control the spirit world through various occult methods, such as using the supernatural power of runes. Runes are carved into magickal tools and drawn in the air for some magickal rituals (Ibid; Tresidder, 173). The symbol for Hitler's SS was a rune associated with the sun and victory (Tresidder, 173).

Satan - Means "the adversary." Satan is a personal created being, a fallen angel. Satan is referred to in both the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament as the enemy of God. Satan is completely opposed to Jesus Christ, to the Church established by Christ (the body of believers in Christ), and to those who have trusted in Christ and been regenerated by the Holy Spirit. He desires worship for himself (Matthew 4.9-10) and seeks to draw people away from salvation through Jesus Christ. For this reason, he is not opposed to any belief system that teaches one can please God or redeem one's self outside of Christ or by one's own works. Satan is crafty and cunning: he schemes against the spread of the authentic Gospel of Christ; he attacks God's word; he afflicts; he accuses Christians; he deceives, tempts, and lies; and he can appear disguised as a benevolent being (an "angel of light" see 2 Corinthians 11.14). However, since Satan is a created being, he cannot be in more than two places at one time, he is not omniscient, and he does not have powers equal to God. Angels that chose to go with Satan when he defied God are malevolent spirits who serve Satan, and are referred to as fallen angels, evil spirits, unclean spirits, or demons. Unredeemed humanity is under the sway of Satan (2 Corinthians 4.4; 1 John 5.19). Christians are to be vigilant and on guard against Satan (1 Peter 5.8) but not to fear him (2 Thessalonians 3.3; 1 John 4.4). Christians are to focus not on Satan but instead submit to God (James 4.7), and are not to rebuke him but to turn to God for help (Jude 8-10; 2 Peter 2.10). Those who are not in Christ have no protection against Satan unless God chooses to protect them. Satan's power through sin and the second death (eternal separation from God) was broken when Jesus atoned for sins (Romans 6.6, 14, 18, 22-23; Hebrews 2.14). After the return of Christ, Satan will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20.10). Satan is also referred to as the "evil one" (Matthew 13.19, 38; John 17.15; Ephesians 6.16, and others), "god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4.4), "prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2.2), "dragon" (Revelation chapter 12), "the serpent of old" (Revelation 12.9), and "devil" (Matthew 4.1, 5, and other references too numerous to list). See Angels

Satanism - The worship of Satan, Lucifer and/or demons as real entities or as concepts; the worship of self as a god based on the belief that Satan/Lucifer is the ultimate rebel. The self is the final arbiter of one's conduct. Satan as real or as symbol is honored as a rebel against an unjust God; as an enlightened angel who brought wisdom to mankind; as evil; as ultimate individuality; as the apex of man's wisdom; and/or as representing total self-indulgence. Many Satanists are atheists. Wisdom may be sought in intellectual and esoteric studies. Examples of those who have influenced contemporary Satanism: Aleister Crowley (a ritual magician, not a Satanist), Nietzsche, Michael Aquino (founder of the Satanic Temple of Set), Anton La Vey (founded the Church of Satan, San Francisco, 1966); rock performer Marilyn Manson. Satanism often adopts Crowley's Law of Thelema: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

Scrying - A form of divination by gazing into an opaque surface such as a crystal, glass, water surface, or dark mirror. The gazing induces an altered state of consciousness, bringing about a vision or psychic picture. See Divination.

Seance - Contacting or summoning the dead, usually through a person acting as a medium. The medium goes into an altered state of consciousness during which time his/her 'control' takes over. The medium believes that the control is a spirit helping to bring the dead into contact through the medium. The control is sometimes called a spirit guide or spirit helper. The control speaks through the medium, using the medium's vocal cords, to bring messages from the departed. This is sometimes called channeling. Seances are somewhat passe now, and more often are called 'readings' or 'sittings.' Today, mediums are usually not visibly aided by a spirit nor do they always claim a spirit helps them. Modern day mediums have written bestsellers: James Van Praagh (Talking to Heaven, Reaching to Heaven;), and Sylvia Brown (To the Other Side and Back, and others). Also popular is sci-fi channel medium, John Edward. See Spiritism.

Siddhis - Paranormal powers claimed as a result of some forms of Hindu meditation and Tantric practice. See Chakras.

Sigil - A symbol usually created from a name to embody the essence of that which is named, and used in magick. The occultist believes that using sigils allows him/her to control the spirit or deity represented by that sigil. Guiley considers the witches' pentagram a sigil (Witchcraft, 310). Sigils may be shapes, astrological signs, or other symbols, and may be used as amulets or talismans (Ibid). See Amulet, Runes, Talisman.

Sixth Sense - A term usually used to describe a psychic ability, such as telepathy or premonition. This is also the title of a popular movie, "The Sixth Sense," which is about a young boy who claims he can see dead people. The movie's message is that this communication with the dead is a gift, and is a gift that the boy can use to help people. See ESP.  

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