Online Reference For Body, Mind & Spirit

Subject: Observances

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A neuter term meaning brother or sister through affection rather than blood. In the occult Order of the Astral Star, an Adelphon is the title for members in the first degree. It is associated with the Fire of Earth in the Sephirah Malkuth (In the Golden Dawn's coloring, the russet colored quarter of Malkuth using the Queen Scale of color).

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Derived from a Greek term that means “not to be entered,” it is most commonly used today to mean the most holy part of a temple or a secret room into which unenlightened people were not allowed to enter. Paul Foster Case started a magickal order called the Builders of the Adytum. The order still exists and is known for its extensive mail-order lessons about the Tarot.
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An archaic name for a particular length: from the elbow to the tip of the fingers. Used in Sweden.
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A tradition found in many religions, that features the veneration, honoring, or worship of deceased relatives. This may be a relative in a blood line or of an important person to the tribe.

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To rub a substance, usually an oil or ointment, onto a part of the body, usually as part of a religious ceremony. In Wiccan rituals this can be done for purification or consecration, and may be done to an object as well as to a person.
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Religious: An Apollonian religion or cult is one that focuses on the deity Apollo. Since Apollo is the Greek god of the Sun, an Apollonian tradition is solar-oriented. Philosophical: A person is said to be Apollonian in nature if he or she is calm, ordered, and well balanced.
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A person who is training with someone who has mastered some area of endeavor. Often, the apprentice agrees to do labor in exchange for the training.
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To bring two or more things into harmony. It is possible to attune to another person, with a philosophy, with a theology, with a spirit, etc.
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Holiday in ancient Rome to honor the god Bacchus (the Greek Dionysus), occurring on March 16 and 17. They began around 200 B.C.E. They eventually became quite wild and licentious, and were banned in Italy without a special dispensation from the Roman Senate. Today, the term means any revel where the participants seem drunken and orgiastic.
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Also known as a tumulus, a barrow is a mound of earth placed over one or more graves; a burial mound. Archeological sites around the world indicate the presence of barrows.
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A hollow device usually shaped like an inverted cup with a flared edge. It commonly has a handle that rises straight up. Most often made of metal (although other substances such as glass or ceramic may be used), it usually has a small weight hanging from the center of the interior so that when the bell is swung the weight, known as a “clapper,” hits the inside of the bell and causes a ringing tone. Alternatively, the bell may not have a clapper and a separate stick of wood or metal, ...
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(Anthropology) A term for people who cross-dress or reverse traditional gender roles within a society. The reason may be magickal, social, economic, psychological, or a combination of these motivations. Sociologically, the treatment of a Berdache has varied greatly. In some cultures the Berdache was (and remains) honored and accepted. In others they are believed to have magick powers. In others they have been treated poorly, rejected or dismissed, or even abused and killed.
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Stones associated with the month of birth. The practice may date back to the Breastplate of Aaron that had twelve stones. There have been many sets of such stones, but in 1912 the association known as the Jewelers of America (some cynics say to increase their income) created this list: January.............Garnet February............Amethyst March..................Aquamarine April.....................Diamond May....................Emerald June..................Pearl or ...
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1.  A perversion of the Catholic Mass supposedly performed by Satanists. It required a defrocked priest to run the service and a nude woman as the altar. The communion wafer would be stolen from a church and the Lord’s Prayer would be recited backwards. Although Witches were (and still are) accused of participating in this rite, it is not a part of Witchcraft.
2.  The Mass is a rite developed by early Christians duplicating some of the aspects of Jesus’ “Last Supper” in the garden of Gethsemane. By the Middle Ages, Christians saw Pagans having large celebrations and assumed that they were rituals done in opposition to the Mass and referred to them as Witches’ Black Masses. However, it was not until the 17th century when the Black Mass became associated with an actual inversion of the Christian Mass. Supposedly requiring a defrocked Priest as the ...
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In an SM scene, the person who receives intense sensation.

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A name used by some people for the more popular term Candlemas. It comes from the name of the Celtic goddess Brigid (pronounced “brih-yihd” and later “bride”). Brigid (“exalted one”) was transformed in Christianity to St. Brigid or St. Bride.
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To spread the odor of incense in an area by carrying or waving the incense itself, by using a fan to disburse the smoke, or by swinging a censer that holds the smoking incense. Also, the passing of a person or object through incense smoke, usually to purify that person or object.
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All organized religions experience a program of codification in which certain practices and literature are approved by a controlling body while other practices, books, myth and lore are disapproved and sometimes officially banned. Initially, much of this had political motivation—to bring the "faithful" under a single roof and to eliminate deviancy and competition to Roman rule in the case of early Christianity. Until the middle of the 20th century, certain books were listed as "sinful" ...
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In Tibetan spirituality, a ritual bell.
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In Tibetan spirituality Chöd is the name for a rite of magical self-sacrifice.
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See Deosil.
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In UFO lore, contact between human and alien beings. There is much to suggest that these may not be physical beings but perhaps projections of the Unconscious.The term was created by famed author and UFO investigator J. Allen Hynek. He proposed three types of close encounters: First Kind: The sighting of an unidentifiable object or odd light Second Kind: Observation plus effects such as heat, damage, paralysis, sound, lost time Third Kind: Observing beings Others have proposed further ...
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Acts and/or words used to make a person, place, or thing sacred. Once a consecration is complete, the person, item, or place so consecrated is ready to take part in a magical ritual.
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After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, those Jews who remained in Spain and pretended to convert to Christianity but still practiced Judaism—and often mystical Judaism in the form of the Kabalah—in secret.
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A ritual popular among Western Christians that commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and the presence of the body (corpus) of Jesus  in the Eucharist. In the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, it is a yearly ritual that consecrates the Vault of the Adepti used for Inner Order rituals.

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Also known as the Synod of Ancyra, this was a meeting of Christian elders held in Ancyra in the Roman province of Galatia (modern Ankara, Turkey) in 314 C.E. It’s important because it was the first meeting after the end of Roman persecution of Christianity with the overthrowing of Maximinus the previous year. Among the things they ordered were punishments for those who worshiped (freely or due to force) with Pagans, that clergy should not be vegetarians, that if you’re under 20 years old ...
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The appearance and phase of the moon when it is between new and full. Often the image of a partial moon is used as the sign of the High Priestess or of a degree level among some covens.
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The PaganWheel of the Year consists of eight major holidays, or Sabbats. Four of these are distinctly solar in nature: the two equinoxes, when the amount of daylight and night time are equal, and the solstices, the time of either the longest day or night. Dividing the time between a solstice and an equinox is a cross quarter day, also known as a fire Sabbat as they feature bonfires. They are commonly named Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lammas.
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The use or outright adoption of concepts, beliefs, practices, etc. taken from one culture—usually a minority culture—by another, usually dominant culture. While this is a common and natural occurance in the evolution of cultures and societies, in some instances the appropriation is partial (to fit in with preconceived notions of the dominant society) and even incorrect, leading persons in the minority society to consider it theft and a destruction of their beliefs and practices. ...
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Common term for the container in rituals that hold consecrated water or wine. In ceremonial magick orders, this tends to be in the form of a stemmed goblet or chalice. It is also the tool or “weapon” used by magickians to represent and manifest the magickal element of Water.
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Traditionally the secular and religious leader of Tibet.
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A small, double drum that looks a bit like an hourglass with the drumheads on both ends. Usually there would be a stick that was perpendicular to the drums that would allow the user to spin the drum back and forth. A string with a weight at the end would hit the drumhead as the drum was moved. Damarus are used in some Indian and Tibetan rituals. It is believed that anciently the drums may have been the tops of human skulls and the drumheads made of human skin.
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Term used by UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek as a category for any unusual object seen at a distance in the sky during the daytime.

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Another expression for the major Sabbats found on the Pagan Wheel of the Year. Significant magickal days around the year. Also see Sabbats.
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A diary of your dreams. For best results it is believed that entries should be made immediately upon awakening.
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Celebration of the resurrection of the Christian deity, Jesus, known as the Christ, three days after His death from crucifixion. Easter is associated with astronomical indicators and is therefore a “moveable feast,” its date changing each year. In 325 c.e. it was fixed as the first Sunday after the full moon following the spring equinox. This means it will occur between March 22 and April 25. According to the Christian monk the Venerable Bede (673–735 c.e.), the renowned ...
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A small group of stones piled loosely together so that if a candle is lit and placed within the stones, light will shine through the gaps in the pile.
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A popular, communal form of dance. Many English country dances are done in a circular formation, and may have been the original Maypole dances.
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A method for making up for perceived wrongdoing. This could include anything from admitting error to paying for costs incurred by another due to our action. Today, the term is most often used in the phrase, “expiation of sins.”
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Originally an Arabic term from the early 17th century, faqir, translates as "a poor man." However, it became used to mean a holy man of Islam who subsisted through begging. By the late 18th century, the term "fake," from German or from Latin, with our modern meaning, was used in the slang of London's criminals. The combination of these two terms seems likely to have produced the word fakir (pronounced fah-keer), which was applied to Hindu ascetics.

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Although today this generally means any large meal (especially one that is elaborate and intended for a group), the source of the word is the same as that for “festival” and is related to the same root as the Latin fanum, meaning “temple.” Therefore, this specifically relates to a meal shared by a spiritually-oriented group such as a coven. Today, many covens use a shared meal as a chance to come back to normal consciousness and relax after a ritual. Some occult groups, however, make a ...
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A period, day, or several days of celebration, sometimes with religious significance. Many groups have created festivals for Pagans, occultists, magicians, and other magickal people. Attendance at such festivals range from a small group to hundreds or even thousands. Some are open to the general public while others are limited to those who pay to enter. Most often they involve camping, although some festivals offer cabins for participants. Usually, such festivals include workshops, rituals, ...
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Christian sect that believed the self-mortification of the body through physical abuse such as whipping and the wearing of hair shirts would help the member learn that the physical body and world are terrible and that the spirit can, in this way, be exalted.

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A derogatory term used to denote Fundamentalist Christians.
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See Festival.
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The Gnosticon gatherings were originally called "The Gnostic-Aquarian Festival of Astrology, Magic and Witchcraft," but the name changed at the suggestion of Isaac Bonewits who moved to St. Paul to serve as editor of Llewellyn’s house publication, Gnostica News, later to become Gnostica magazine. Both were named after Llewellyn’s metaphysical bookstore just off the Minneapolis downtown district, a block away from the large Bascilica Catholic cathedral. These festivals drew people ...
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A reference in Voodoo to human sacrifice. Curiously, although the term was known, there is no actual reference to such sacrifices in historic literature and it is believed that another animal, such as a pig, was substituted for a human.
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See Degree.
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A winter solstice festival marking the return of the Solar light that became associated with a mythic event taking place during the Maccabean revolt against the Syrians during the 2nd century b.c.e. The Jews had been in control of Jerusalem, but were conquered by Rome and controlled by Syria (which had also been conquered by Rome). When the revolt took back the Jerusalem Temple, which had been desecrated, the Temple was purified and dedicated or consecrated (the meaning of the Hebrew word ...
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See Mabon.
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Literally a Circle dug into the earth to delineate a holy spot. The term has been conflated to mean Stone Circle due to the fame of Stonehenge. Many people think means “a stone circle,” but it really means “a circular ditch with a stone circle inside.” Some modern Druidic groups refer to the area where they meet as a Henge.
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1.  A set structure in an organization with positions and the duties and responsibilities of each position, ranging from the leader or head, to the regular participants and attendees. Theosophists relate this to the degrees and grades of development in the universe. Some Pagan traditions do not like the authority given to some as implied by the term. Others suggest that groups naturally form structures with hierarchies, and that the problem is not with the structure itself, but with locked-in ...
2.  It is believed that those of a higher initiation compose a leadership that has the ability to transmit spiritual energy to those of lesser spiritual stature and thus "raise them up." Nearly every kind of group is formally organized in ranks of power, authority, and seniority. Whether in government, business, social club, military group, non-profit organization, church or religious order, a hierarchical structure has generally proved to be more effective in accomplishing the group mission than ...
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An English custom that lasted well into the twentieth century. On December 26, the men of the village would capture a small wren and parade it through town on a decorative bier. The wren is the King of the Birds in English folklore.
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Herbs, plant resins, and other substances that, when burned, release an odor. Sometimes used to represent the element of Air. Burning of incense is also involved in banishing unwanted spirits and energies, or to attract such spirits or entities, depending upon the ingredient(s) of the incense.

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1.  The rational and cognitive powers of mind. Intelligence is found in Hod as part of Ruach, the Conscious Self.

2.  An independent, non-human, entity capable of communication across space or dimension.

3.  1) The relative degree to which a living being can understand and process data. Some mistakenly associate intelligence with the amount of collected data itself. For example, some look at people who have acquired a great deal of trivia as being intelligent. 2) An entity that has the capacity to exhibit understanding and processing of data 3) Knowledge about the activities and thoughts of others, often that of enemies. 4) A term used to describe a non-physical entity. Such entities are said to ...
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1.  Mythologically, the daughter if Inachus, a Greek river god; she was a nymph seduced by Zeus who impregnated her. He turned her into a heifer and eventually restored her. She was the ancestor of Heracles. The Greeks also associated her with the Moon, and she was referred to as the “horned virgin,” associated both with the Moon and the bull.

2.  One of the larger moons of Jupiter, sometimes used in astrological interpretations. It was discovered in 1610 and given that name by Galileo.

3.  A repeated expression in Aleister Crowley’s famous "Hymn to Pan."

4.  A cry of victory, celebration, or triumph used by some Pagans and Thelemites. It was originally pronounced “yo!” but most magickal people today pronounce it “EE-yo!”

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(1643*-1727) Virtually every school child knows the story of how an Apple supposedly fell on Newton’s head, leading him to discover the laws of gravity. High school and college students are familiar with Newton’s laws of physics. However, few today are familiar with the fact that Newton was as interested in both physical and metaphysical sciences. John Michael Greer, in The New Encyclopedia of the Occult, attributes this to scientists of the 18th century and onward thinking that Newton’s ...
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A type of incense in the form of a slender stick. Popularized in Asia and Southeast Asia, they have become widely adopted in the West. Their quality varies wildly, ranging from high-quality oils and resins to swine or camel dung and even cancerous compounds. Their advantage is their convenience and size.
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The practice of wailing and crying noisily to lament the death of someone. Said to have been invented by Brighid.
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A monk in a Tibetan religious order.
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A festival held on the first of August each year. In Europe it marked the first wheat harvest. Also known as Lughnassa. It also marks the change of energies in the triple goddess from Mother to Crone.
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The line of descent from an ancestor. In ceremonial magick and many Pagan traditions, the lineage is the line of initiation from the origination of the current group to the present day. For some people, lineage is very important, as it links a person to a group's egregore. The longer the lineage, the stronger the egregore. See also egregore.

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The cycle of 28 days starting at the new moon, moving through waxing (growing) moon, full moon and waning (shrinking) moon, and ending at the next new moon.

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An ancient festival held around February 15 that became popular among the ancient Roman and even earlier Greeks. Originally for the purpose of averting evil spirits and purifying cities, it became associated with fertility leading to some licentious rituals, often including flogging. Named after the Roman god Lupercus, who is associated with Faunus, the equivalent of the Greek Pan.

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A set of prayer beads used for keeping count of the repetition of prayers. Used in Hindu, Tantric, and Tibetan traditions. Similar to the Roman Catholic Rosary beads.
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The love interest of the Hero in the English death/rebirth mummer’s play tradition. Women were prohibited from performing in public until the 18th century, so men had to play all the parts.
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Tracing some form of power, inheritance, etc., from mother to daughter, to granddaughter, etc.

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See Beltane.

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A tall pole, firmly implanted in the ground, with long ribbons attached at the top. It is a phallic symbol associated with the spring, and people dance around it during celebrations such as Beltane or May Eve. It is based on Germanic traditions.

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A Jewish expression meaning “congratulations.” In Hebrew it literally means “good star.”
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A prehistoric monument that is noted for having extremely large stones. 

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A tall, upright stone. In Great Britain menhirs tended to be part of a collection of megaliths, such as at Stonehenge. In other areas, menhirs appear by themselves. Menhirs indicated holy places.

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The branch of conjuring that specializes in the imitation of ESP, paranormal phenomena, etc., for entertainment purposes.

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The idea that the structure of the worlds' governments, and the relationship of people to those governments, is evolving in a positive way and leaving old dysfunctional systems behind.

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A term adopted from computer users (and especially online forum users) meaning someone who is new to a subject. Often newbees ask the same questions that have been answered many times before.

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A derogatory version of newbee

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An enormous stone that juts upward vertically. Originally the term specifically applied to the large, towering stones in front of the doors to ancient Egyptian temples. These pillars had four sides and narrowed as they approached the top. A pyramid shape was often at the top. Originally obelisks were monoliths (made of one stone), but newer versions were made of multiple stones.

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A gift to a deity or deities, often made as part of a spiritual service. It may include such things as a libation, reciting a poem, singing a song, presentation of an object such as a corn dolly, etc.
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Another name for the gum resin also known as frankincense. Some sources try to separate the two and state that olibanium is actually the resin of a similar but related tree that primarily grows in India (Olibanum:Boswellia Serrata; Frankincense: Boswellia Sacra or possibly Boswellia Thurifera, or Boswellia Carterii). Further, the term “olibanum” in some areas is a generic term meaning “incense.” Although Boswellia Serrata does have a very slightly different scent than the other ...
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The second most senior lama of Tibet, second only to the Dalai Lama.
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The older term for Pentacle

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A model or pattern that forms a conceptual basis for other ideas. It is often the underlying belief pattern that controls a person’s understanding of his or her environment. Thus, if a person believes in a mythical paradigm, the wind might be seen as the actions of a deity while if a person believes in a meterological paradigm, that same wind might be seen as the result of different amounts of air pressure.

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A type of group marriage based on the idea that it is indeed possible to be deeply in love with more than one person. Such love may or may not be manifested sexually. An aspect of polyfidelitous relationships is the necessity of open communications. All members of such a relationship are aware of the other members and the feelings each has toward the others. All members of such a group relationship must agree on admitting any other into the relationship.

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A person who follows a particular practice or set of practices. Thus, a person can be a practitioner of Wicca, a practitioner of magick, etc.

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A form of attempting to communicate with a deity, spiritual being, or power. Prayers are usually lauditory of the entity and/or requesting of something through supernatural means. Ambrose Bierce, in his decidedly cynical Devil’s Dictionary, describes the act of praying as: “To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.”

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A brief talk given by a hypnotist to an individual or group about to be hypnotized. During this talk the hypnotist prepares them for ease of going into hypnosis and alleviates fears due to false information about hypnosis that they have learned from novels, movies, etc., that incorrectly present hypnosis.

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The position of the Earth in relation to the Sun and the zodiac slowly shifts because the Earth’s rotation on its axis is not fixed. Thus, it appears as if we are slowly moving back through the zodiac. It takes about 2,100 years to move through a sign, and we are currently moving from a period or age of being in Pisces and going into the Age of Aquarius.
See Also:  Precession
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A research method sometimes used in psychical research where the researchers collect non-quantitative data, including interviews, personal observations, subjective reports, individual case studies, etc. The oppositive of using a quantitative method.

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A research method sometimes used in psychical research where the researchers collect and statistically analyze numerical data. An example would be performing numerous "guesses" of which side of a flipped coin will come up and comparing the results to chance. The oppositive of using a qualitative method.

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Term for solstices and equinoxes

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A term identifying events that are believed to be completely haphazard and unpredictable. Psychical researchers may test people for their psychic abilities by presenting them with a number of random items, such as from a well-shuffled deck of cards, and ask the subjects to "guess" which card is at the top or bottom of the pack. Also see Chance.

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A repetitive practice. Such repetition may include words, actions, or the use of certain paraphernalia. Rituals may be to used to honor deities, mark life cycles, or achieve change (magick).
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See Great Rite

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1.  The area within a magickal circle after it has been cast.

2.  Any area where a rituals are regularly performed, such as around a personal altar, an ancient temple, etc.

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A place where a specific deity or set of deities is believed to dwell. Often there are shrines to the deities dwelling there as part of the sanctuary.

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The worship of Satan. Although there is very little evidence of the existence of Satanism prior to the 17th century, many were accused of it and died because of the accusation. Actual Satanism developed in response to the repressiveness of Christian authorities and frequently simply reversed Christian practices and symbolism with such things as reciting the Lord’s Prayer backwards or spitting on the holy symbol of Christianity, the cross, or Crucifix. In 1966, Anton LaVey founded the Church ...
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An Old English term for a cutting tool such as a knife or an athame

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A ram’s horn that has been hollowed out for use as a trumpet. It is used in Jewish synagogues during certain rituals.
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A small permanent or semi-permanent altar dedicated to a deity and its surrounding area. Although a shrine may be place in nature or in a section of a public building, it often refers to an area set up for this purpose in a home.

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An Egyptian rattle, sometimes with pieces of metal to sound like a noisy tambourine, used to keep rhythm during music and rituals. 

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Short for “Sado-Masochism.” A term used to avoid negative popular connotations incorrectly applied to certain types of stimulating acts. SM involves trust, exchange of power, and intense sensations. SM techniques can be used to enhance sex magick or to induce a trance for magical purposes.

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1.  The burning of incense or fragrant herbs for the purpose of clearing away psychically perceived negative energies or entities and to cleanse or purify an area.
2.  To cleanse or clear space or the aura using smoke such as sage or cedarwood.
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On October 31, poor British children used to beg for small cakes, or the money to buy them, so their departed dead would have a special treat when they’d come visit on All Souls’ Day (November 1). This is the origin of American trick-or-treating on Halloween.
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Attributed to the famous science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon. When asked if 90% of science fiction was garbage, his response was that 90% of everything is garbage.
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See: Deosil. 

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  1. A belief that once had a legitimate cause or reason, but now is still believed even though that cause or reason is forgotten or superceded.
  2. A belief, idea, or practice that resulted from false information. This information may have been derived from ignorance, fear, desire for luck, misunderstanding coincidence, etc.
  3. A belief or practice still followed even though evidence to the contrary should negate it. 
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Traditionally a short coat either having short sleeves or no sleeves, occultists today make them quickly for use as a simple ritual robe by using a sheet with a neck hole cut in the center. Some of the more formal tabards are used by occult orders such as some temples of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn to represent ritual roles and authority as opposed to capes. Such clothing may have symbols place on them to further represent the position and authority of the person who wears one during ...
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A prayer shawl used by male Jews during certain prayers and rituals.
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An eighteenth-century philosophical movement which used human logic and reason to examine traditions and doctrines which had previously been accepted without such examination.

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A type of censer, often having three legs and representative of the Air element.
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A term describing a particular spiritual path. Each tradition identifies itself by its particular set of rules, guidelines, beliefs, and history. Some examples of Pagan traditions are Gardnerian, Celtic, Faery, and Strega. Some ceremonial magick traditions include Golden Dawn, O.T.O., and Ogdoadic.

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A form of yoga practiced in Tibet with the purpose of generating heat. Practitioners claim the practice will keep them safe during period of extremely cold weather.
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See Barrow.
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The act of anointing someone, usually with oil.
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In some coven-oriented Wiccan or ceremonial magick traditions, the concept of validity refers to the authenticity of a person’s initiation. Thus, if person A was initiated into a coven by person B (who has authorization to initiate), and if person B was previously initiated by person C who also had official authorization to initiate (ad infinitum), then person A’s initiation is considered valid. 

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A special, seven-sided room used for initiation into the Inner Order of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. All of the furniture in the room is symbolic, and the surfaces of the furniture, as well as the floor, ceiling, and walls are covered with symbols and symbolic illustrations, as well as being made in the famed “flashing colors” used by the Golden Dawn.

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It has long been an occult secret that all matter is made of vibration. Today many scientists depend on this being a fact in their research. If we follow this assumption that all matter is vibratory energy, then magick becomes a type of science which allows a person to affect vibrations. It becomes very valuable for us to develop an understanding of how to control vibratory energy. The techniques for doing this are called Vibratory Formulae.
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A shamanic practice of personal separation from a group, often accompanied by physical hardships, eventually leading to an altered state of consciousness that provides spiritual insight. The separation may be accomplished physically, such as by going out on a desert, or mentally, through meditation, astral projection, etc.

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Midnight. The time when Witches supposedly meet. A time exactly halfway between sunset and sunrise.

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A short, intensive class in a subject designed to teach the basics of a subject. Although frequently equated with “lectures,” they are differentiated by including in-class practice. Thus, in a class on talismans a lecture would tell you how to create and charge them while a workshop would have you at least create one or more in class and possibly charge it, too.

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An English tradition. A huge log is cut down with much celebration and fanfare, and then allowed to burn throughout the midwinter season. The ashes are kept for good luck. Source of the line in “Deck the Halls”: “See the blazing Yule before us.”
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