Glossary

ACUPUNCTURE. Holistic health technique defining disease as an imbalance in "energy flow"; seeks to restore and redirect the flow and balance by inserting needles at key points on the body. Acupuncture, acupressure, and allied therapies are derived from ancient Chinese medicine and philosophy. (See also HOLISTIC.)

AKASHIC RECORDS. Assumed vast reservoir of omniscient knowledge. Some New Agers believe the events of all human lives have been recorded in the "Universal Mind," or "Memory of Nature," in a region in space known as "the ether."

ALCHEMY. Often associated with medieval folklore, this is a chemical science and speculative philosophy designed to transform base metals into gold. Figuratively used regarding the change of base human nature into the divine.

ALTERED STATES. States other than normal waking consciousness, such as daydreaming, sleep-dreaming, hypnotic TRANCE; meditative, mystical, or drug-induced states. Also includes unconscious states.

ASCENDED MASTER. A "highly evolved" individual no longer required to undergo lifetimes on the physical plane in order to achieve spiritual growth.

ASTRAL. Nonphysical level characterized primarily by emotion. Said to be the place where most humans go after they die and where they exist between earthly incarnations. An astral projection, or Out-of-Body Experience (OBE), is an experience where one seems to be in a place separate from one's physical body while fully and normally conscious. The experience, which may be hallucinatory

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in nature, can be spontaneous or induced. The astral and physical bodies generally remain connected by a distended "cord" during the projection.

ASTROLOGY. Art of pseudoscience of deciphering the influence that cosmic forces radiating from celestial bodies supposedly have on any part of the universe, particularly humans. Astrology originated at least 5000 years ago, probably in Babylon. It is based on the erroneous belief that the Earth is the center of the universe and is circled by the ZODIAC.

AURA. An apparent envelope or field of colored radiation said to surround the human body and other animate objects, with the color or colors indicating different aspects of the person's physical, psychological, and spiritual condition. (See also KIRILIAN.)

BHAGAVAD GITA. Sanskrit poem relating a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna consisting of 700 2-line stanzas in 18 chapters; part of Krishna's revelation called an Upanishad, which is a succinct summary of dominant themes in Hindu theology.

BIOFEEDBACK. Technique using instruments to self-monitor normally unconscious, involuntary body processes such as brain waves, heartbeat, and muscle tension. As this information is fed back to the person, he or she can then consciously and voluntarily control internal biological functions.

CHANNELING. Process of receiving information from some level of reality other than the ordinary physical one and from beyond the "self" as it is generally understood. A "channeler," or medium, usually goes into a TRANCE to establish contact with a spirit, ASCENDED MASTER, higher consciousness, or some other entity, and then receives and repeats messages from "the other side" of the physical world.

CHAKRAS. The seven energy points on the human body, according to New Agers and YOGI(S) "Raising" the KUNDALINI up through the chakras is the aim of YOGA meditation. Enlightenment (SAMADHI) is achieved when kundalini reaches the "crown chakra" at the top of the head.

CLAIRAUDIENCE. Extrasensory data perceived as sound; generally considered a facet of CLAIRVOYANCE.

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CLAIRVOYANCE. Mental "seeing" of physical objects or events at a distance by PSYCHIC means. Distinguished from TELEPATHY, which involves ESP.

CONSCIOUSNESS. Mental awareness or present "knowing." New Agers usually refer to consciousness as the awareness or perception of one's "inner self," or of inward awareness of external objects or facts.

CULT. A religious organization founded by and built upon the teachings of a central charismatic figure whose authority is viewed as being equal to or greater than the established scriptures of the major religions. In Christian understanding, the teachings of a cult oppose or differ from historic biblical theology.

DHARMA. Law, truth, or teaching; used to express the central teachings of Hindu and Buddhist religion. Dharma implies that essential truth can be stated about the way things are, and that people should comply with that norm.

DIVINATION. Methods of discovering the personal, human significance of present or future events. Means to obtain insights may include dreams, hunches, involuntary body actions, mediumistic possession, consulting the dead, observing the behavior of animals and birds, tossing coins, casting lots, and "reading" natural phenomena.

ENTROPY. Degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity. (See also SYNTROPY, entropy's opposite.)

ESP. Extrasensory perception; the experience of, or response to, an external event, object, state, or influence without apparent contact through the known sense. ESP may occur without those involved being aware of it.

GNOSTICISM. Refers to the secret doctrines and practices of MYSTICISM whereby a person may come to enlightenment or realization that he or she is of the same essence as God or the Absolute. The Greek word gnosis means knowledge, and at the heart of Gnostic thought is the idea that revelation of the hidden gnosis frees one from the fragmentary and illusory material world and teaches him or her about the origins of the spiritual world, to which the gnostic belongs by nature.

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GURU. Spiritual teacher who instructs disciples in the "way" of enlightenment. The guru's authority is to be implicitly accepted.

HIGHER SELF. The most "spiritual" and "knowing" part of oneself, said to lie beyond the ego, the day-to-day personality, and the personal unconscious. The Higher Self can be channeled for wisdom and guidance. Variations include the Oversoul, the Superconsciousness, the Atman, the Christ (or Krishna or Buddha) Consciousness, and the God Within.

HOLISTIC. Alternatively, but less frequently, spelled "wholistic"; derived from the Greek holos, meaning "whole" in the sense of "entire" or "unified." Holistic health practices emphasize the whole person, the impact of the environment, and the interdependence of all parts of the body, mind, and spirit in the prevention and treatment of ailments.

HYPNOSIS. State resembling deep sleep or TRANCE, but more active in that the person has some will and feeling but acts according to suggestions presented; a heightened sense of suggestibility of the imagination.

HUMANISM. System of philosophy that upholds the primacy of human beings rather than God or any abstract or METAPHYSICAL system. Humanism holds that man is the measure of all things.

I CHING. Chinese book of DIVINATION associated with TAOISM; the ancient system of telling fortunes by throwing sticks into six-sided figures.

INTUITION. Ability of knowing, or the knowledge obtained, without conscious recourse to inference or reasoning.

KABALA. System of Jewish OCCULT MYSTICISM developed by certain rabbis, especially during the Middle Ages, relying heavily on mathematical interpretation of Scripture; also spelled "Cabala."

KARMA. Hindu term for the "law" of justice, or cause and effect, requiring that the accumulated effect of one's actions in this life determine the type of existence the soul will have in the next life; you reap what you sow. (See also REINCARNATION.)

KIRILIAN. A type of high-voltage photography that uses a pulsed, high-frequency electrical field and two electrodes,

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between which are placed the object to be photographed and an unexposed film plate. The image captured is purported to be an AURA of energy that emanates from plants, animals, and humans and changes in accordance with physiological or emotional shifts.

KINESIOLOGY. Study of the principles of mechanics and anatomy in relation to human movement.

KUNDALINI. Psycho-spiritual power thought by YOGI(S) to lie dormant at the base of the spine. Believed to be a goddess, kundalini is referred to as "the serpent power."

MANTRA. A "holy" word, phrase, or verse in Hindu or Buddhist meditation techniques. A mantra is usually provided to an initiate by a GURU who is supposed to hold specific insights regarding the needs of his pupils. The vibrations of the mantra are said to lead the meditator into union with the divine source within.

METAPHYSICS. System of principles relating to the transcendent or supernatural.

MONISM. Literally means "one." In a spiritual framework, it refers to the classical OCCULT philosophy that "All Is One"; all reality may be reduced to a single, unifying principle partaking of the same essence and reality. Monism also relates to the belief in PANTHEISM that there is no ultimate distinction between the Creator and the creation.

MYSTICISM. Belief that God is totally different than anything the human mind can think and must be approached by a mind without content. Spiritual union or direct communion with Ultimate Reality can be obtained through subjective experience such as INTUITION or a unifying vision.

NATURALISM. View that asserts that nothing beyond nature is real. Human beings are therefore to be understood strictly in terms of heredity and environment.

NEOPAGAN. Follower of some Western religious tradition other than Judaism or Christianity. Neopagan groups have a close affinity for nature, OCCULT, and initiatory traditions, and may be patrons of ancient Greek or Egyptian religions, Druidism, WITCHCRAFT, ceremonial MAGIC, or even satanism.

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NIRVANA. Literally, a "blowing out" or a "cooling" of the fires of existence; the main word used in Buddhism for final release from the cycle of birth and death into bliss.

NUMEROLOGY. Study of the OCCULT, or secret, significance of numbers, especially in regard to DIVINATION.

OCCULT. Often spoken of as "the occult"; that which is not easily understood, revealed, or apprehended. Matters regarded as involving the action or influence of supernatural agencies or some secret knowledge of them.

PANTHEISM. Belief that God and the world are ultimately identical; "All is God." Everything that exists constitutes a unity, and this all-inclusive unity is divine. God is the forces and laws of the universe but is not a Being with personality.

PARANORMAL. Faculties and phenomena in psychical research that are beyond the "normal" in terms of cause and effect as presently understood.

PSI. The twenty-third letter of the Greek alphabet; a general Christian term for ESP, PSYCHOKINESIS, TELEPATHY, CLAIRVOYANCE, CLAIRAUDIENCE, precognition, and other PARANORMAL phenomena that are nonphysical in nature.

PSYCHIC. A medium, "sensitive," or channeler. Also means PARANORMAL events that can't be explained by established physical principles.

PSYCHOKINESIS. Power of the mind to influence matter or move objects. Popularly known as PK. (See also TELEKINESIS.)

REINCARNATION. Belief that the soul moves from one bodily existence to another until, usually following many particular existences, it is released from historical existence and absorbed into the Absolute. (See also KARMA.)

SAMADHI. Ultimate or highest state of God-consciousness or enlightenment in classical Hindu YOGA. SATORI is the equivalent in Zen Buddhism: a state of existential intuitive enlightenment.

SORCERY. Assumed power to manipulate and alter natural and supernatural events or states with proper knowledge of MAGIC and performance of ritual; typically understood as being available for good or evil use. (See also WITCHCRAFT.)

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SYNCRETISM. Fusion of different forms of belief or practice; the claim that all religions are one and share the same core teachings.

SYNCHRONICITY. Meaningful coincidences interpreted as having some higher, connecting purpose that could be accounted for by PSI phenomena.

SYNERGY. Quality of "whole making"; the New Age belief in the cooperation of natural systems to put things together in ever more meaningful patterns.

SYNTROPY. Belief that living matter has an inherent drive to perfect itself in increasingly complex patterns of association, communication, cooperation, and awareness. The opposite of ENTROPY.

TANTRA. Series of Hindu and Buddhist scriptures concerned with special yogic practices for swift attainment of enlightenment; also, the practices, techniques, and traditions of these teachings.

TAO. Pronounced "dow"; a Chinese concept of the Way, which is both a path of conduct and the principle governing the operations of the entire universe.

TAROT. Deck of picture cards used for DIVINATION or fortune-telling. Developed in its present form in the last century, it now includes twenty-two characters, among them the magician, death, the pope, the popes, the popess, the Devil, and the fool, who represents any human on the path of life — which is seen as all foolishness. Similar to the I CHING.

TELEKINESIS. Form of PSYCHOKINESIS, or PK; the apparent movement of stationary objects without the use of any known physical force.

TELEPATHY. Silent transfer of thoughts from one mind to another; ESP of another person's mental state or thoughts.

THEISM. Belief in one Personal Creator who is independent from, and sovereign over, his creation.

TRANCE. An ALTERED STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS, induced or spontaneous, that gives access to many ordinarily inhibited capacities of the mind-body system. Trance states are generally self-induced.

UPANISHADS. Philosophical literature by Indo-Aryans regarding the nature of ultimate truth and reality. The final section of the VEDAS.

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VEDAS. The oldest Hindu scriptures, including a collection of hymns, prose texts on sacrificial rites and ceremonies, advice for the elderly retired, and the MONISTIC philosophical speculations of the UPANISHADS. The main ideas are called Vedanta Hinduism.

WITCHCRAFT. Believed to be possessed as an inherited mystical power, traditionally used by witches for evil ends, Wicca (Old English for "male magician") groups practice ritual MAGIC and/or nature-oriented NEOPAGAN(ism). Contemporary witchcraft was founded by Gerald B. Gardner (1884-1964), a British civil servant and amateur archaeologist.

WORLDVIEW. A common consensus about the nature of reality; a set of presuppositions or premises held consciously or unconsciously about the makeup of the cosmos.

YOGA. Literally, "yoking" or "joining"; any system or spiritual discipline by which the practitioner or YOGI seeks to condition the self at all levels — physical, psychical, and spiritual. The goal of the Indian religious tradition is a state of well-being, the loss of self-identity, and absorption into union with the Absolute, or Ultimate Being.

YOGI. Master of one or more methods of YOGA who teaches it to others.

ZEN. Two-branched type of Buddhist thought best known for its emphasis on an experience of enlightenment that occurs from breaking down the commitment and attachment to the logical and rational ordering of experience.

ZODIAC. Imaginary belt in the heavens that encompasses the apparent paths of the principal planets except Pluto. Divided into twelve constellations or signs based on the assumed dates that the sun enters each of these "houses" or symbols, the Zodiac is used for predictions in ASTROLOGY.

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