The following is intended as an aid to help in the understanding in some of the words which may be unfamiliar on this site. For those new to the subject matter, these definitions will provide insight and clarification in the context of occult studies, but it should be pointed out that the definitions presented here may not match exactly the definitions as presented by other sources. Every attempt has been made to present and discuss alternate definitions where possible, but no claims are made as to the exhaustiveness of the information presented. For those already familiar with occult subject matter, the following definitions will provide clarity as to how debated terms are used here.


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Glossary


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Alchemy
Originally the exploration of transmuting various substances using methods that eventually evolved into the science of chemistry, the term now generally refers to the transformation of the self through philosophical and metaphysical exploration.  It is unclear when, exactly, this change in focus took place as the original writings can be read as allegorical descriptions of metaphysical processes, and the medieval texts are definitely "double-entendred" as they can refer to both chemical and philosophical processes.
Astral Plane
A non-physical plane of existence generally held to exist "parallel" to the physical plane. Some people posit the Astral as a single plane which is broken up into areas that various schools label "planes;" some people believe that the Astral is just one plane among many; and some people believe that the Astral is simply an extension of the physical. For purposes of this site, such distinctions are ignored and "Astral Plane" simply refers to a place in which the consciousness is 'separated' from the body under circumstances in which it seems reasonable to conclude that it is not simply an internal 'hallucination.'
Astral Projection
1. Projection of the consciousness to the Astral Plane (q.v.).
2. Projection of the Astral Body on the Physical Plane.
The second definition is steadily being replaced by the term "OOBE" (q.v.) to help clarify which case is being discussed. This site uses the first definition for Astral Projection.

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Cab(b)ala
See Qabalah.
Centering
The process of focusing one's attention and ridding oneself of distractions, usually in preparation for beginning a work of magic. It is often used in combination with the term 'Grounding' (q.v.), as in "grounding and centering," but they refer to the same process if used in the context of preparation.
Ceremonial Magic
A practice of magic which generally views proper execution of ceremony as the main test of effectiveness.  Usually using Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek and/or Goetic cosmologies, Ceremonial Magic can be adapted to nearly any theological or philosophical framework.  Ceremonial Magicians generally use the theological framework of their chosen cosmology as a map to how things work and do not actually practice the religion upon which their cosmology is based--the exception to this is, of course, Christian Mages who use a Christian framework and generally either translate other deities into various archangels or who simply see those deities as subservient to YHVH/God.  See Christian Mage, Goetia
Circle
Usually the protective (or projective) area, regardless of shape, which is cast before beginning a ritual.  It can also refer to *any* protective casting and/or *any* space set aside solely for ritual or religious function.
Christian Mage
This generally refers to a practitioner of Ceremonial Magic (q.v.) who is a Christian.  The term "mage" is, however, becoming more and more a generic term for anyone who practices magic and so may sometimes refer to a "Christian Witch" (q.v.)
Christian Witch
A person who practices both witchcraft and the Christian religion.

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Deep Mind
That part of the mind that operates below the level of conscious thought. Traditionally, analytical psychology views the mind as a three-roomed house with each room operating independently of the others. In this model there are lines of communication between each room, but that communication can be difficult and taxing. Modern works on occult studies have used this model. Increasingly, however, analytical psychology is recognizing the fact that the mind is more like a well--some parts may be deeper than others, but information flows rather freely between them under the proper circumstances. The term "deep mind" recognizes the fact that much of the operation of the mind goes on without ever being consciously recognized, but that information can be freely put into (or drawn out of) it.

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Egregore
Psychologically speaking, an egregore is that "ambiance" or "personality" that develops among groups independent of any of its members. It is the feeling or impression you get when walking into a neighborhood that feels different from the surrounding area, or when visiting a club or association that has been around for a long time.

In an occult or magical context, an Egregore is such a thing that has developed to the point of attaining an indepent existence as an entity itself, or it is an intentionally created entity (such as a servitor) that has grown in power well past its original design. To a non-religious practioner of magic, an "egregore" and a "god/dess" would be interchangeable terms--to a religious practioner, an egregore would be just "under" the god/desses.
Evokation (Evocation)
Evokation means, literally, "calling out" and refers to the summoning of magical/spiritual entities.  For some people it refers to the act of calling the energy/being to appear before them and for some it refers simply to calling the energy/being to a "location" outside of a protective shield--and for some it refers to calling an emotion, energy or psychological archetype from within the deep mind (q.v.) to the conscious level.  See Invokation

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Goetia
A medieval form of magic concerned with summoning demons (and sometimes angels) in order to compel them to perform actions on behalf of the summoner.
Grounding
1. The process of focusing attention and ridding oneself of distraction when preparing to work magic.
2. The process of bleeding off 'excess' energy and returning to a 'normal' state of consciousness when ending a magical exercise.
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Incubus
A non-physical entity in male form whose purpose is to have sexual relations with humans. Incubi are generally seen as wandering entities who seek out appropriate individuals, but they can also be summoned. During medieval times it was believed that incubi could impregnate women, but this is generally not believed today. See Succubus.
Invokation (Invocation)
Invokation means, literally, "drawing in" and refers to the summoning of magical/spiritual entities.  For some people it refers to the act of calling the energy/being "into" their bodies and/or minds and for some it refers simply to calling the energy/being to a "location" inside a protective shield.  See Invokation

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Kab(b)alah
See Qabalah.

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Law of Three(fold Return)
See Threefold Law.

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Magic Mirror
A glass specially prepared for skrying (q.v.). It is usually black and concave, though flat versions are becoming popular as watch glasses become more rare. Magic mirrors can also be made of metal sheets, and the term is increasingly applied to objects bearing no resemblance at all to mirrors.
Material Basis
A phrase used to refer to the physical object(s) used in the creation of some entities, usually as a "home" for the entity which also acts as a focus for "recharging" it.
Mysticism
Mysticism is the study and practice concerned with coming closer to, or obtaining union with, God.  It is non-sectarian in that the term applies to *any* person seeking permanent communion with Deity, though those mystics who are pan- or poly-theistic generally focus on a single deity.  Mysticism is different from magic, though they are not mutually exclusive, and most mystics do not practice magic though it is not unheard of.

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OOBE
Out Of Body Experience. Originally coined to describe circumstances in which people seemed to find themselves observing their surroundings from a vantage point outside their own body, it now also refers to the intentional projection of the consciousness away from the physical body for whatever reason. Intentionally inducing an OOBE is sometimes called 'Astral Projection' (q.v.).

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Psychic Vampire
A person or entity that has the habit of feeding off other's emotions or energy. Not all psychic vampires are aware that they do this.

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Qab(b)alah
The Qabalah (sometimes spelled with two B's, and sometimes spelled with a C or a K instead of the Q) is a mystical system of catagorization of everything in the universe into "spheres of influence."  It is based on the assumption that the Name(s) and Word of God contain all the information necessary to know (and thus control) everything in the universe, and that the keys to discovery and interpretation can be found by studying the word of God, the Torah.  The Qabalah itself is simply the collection of what has been discovered thus far, and there have been many books written on and about it--some of them slightly contradictory, as can be imagined.  During the medieval period, Christians began to study Qabalistic thought as well, though they included the entire Old Testament as well as the New Testament as relevant.  In modern times the study of Qabalah has become so widespread that even atheists and Wiccans study it, though most seem content to ignore its basis and history.

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Servitor
Any magical entity created or called for (a) specific purpose(s), no matter how narrow or broad the purpose(s). A servitor will generally have a "built-in" period of existence which may last anywhere from a few minutes to 'whenever the task is compleat.' Servitors are generally created or called so that the goal(s) can be acheived without constant worry/involvement on the part of the summoner.
Sigil
A sigil is any mark or design that represents somthing else. Runes, when used for anything other than communications, become sigils. The letter 'X,' when used to represent a cross or the word "Christ," becomes a sigil. Sigils are also often invented/created to help manifest magical intent.
Skrying
Using an object of some kind to glean information not normally available. Common methods include using mirrors, stones, crystal balls, pools of water, ink or blood, fire, &c.
Sorcery
Sorcery is a word that has a different meaning for everyone that uses it, so the definition presented here, while intended to provide a universal meaning to make the word useful, may only apply on this site and may not be representative of usage you may run across other places.  For the purposes of this site, sorcery is that magical style which seeks to utilize and influence energies directly rather than through the intervention of other entities.
Subconscience
One of three levels of consciousness generally ascribed by analytical psychology. It refers to that part of the mind that operates "below" the level of conscious thought. It is increasingly accepted, however, that the separation of the mind into three distinct parts is an inadequate model since all three levels operate concurrently and dependently. This site will use the term "Deep Mind" (q.v.) instead.
Sub-conscious
Below the level of conscious thought. Unlike the term "Subconscience" (q.v.), "sub-conscious" does not imply a separate state of mind, rather it indicates processes of the mind that are operating "behind the scenes."  See Deep Mind
Succubus
A non-physical enitity in female form whose purpose is to have sexual relations with humans. Succubi are generally seen as wandering entities who seek out appropriate individuals, but they can also be summoned. Some people, mostly medeval Christians, believe that succubi are simply Incubi (q.v.) who assume female form to collect sperm with which to impregnate women. Today, though, succubi and incubi are almost universally seen as seperate entities.
Sympathetic Magic
Following the adage "like attracts like," sympathetic magic operates under the principle that two things sharing enough similarity are connected and that two things that were a part of a single unit at one time retain the connection after separation, regardless of distance.  The classic "voodoo doll" is the quintessential example of sympathetic magic--making the poppet in the image of the person to be affected plays on the principle of similarity and adding hair, fingernail clippings, or some personal effect plays on the principle of the retained connection.

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Thoughtform
A term that has come into vogue since the advent of Chaos Magic and its practice of adopting "secular" terminology. A thoughtform can be any created entity, though generally it refers to those that are created through meditation and concentration rather than through the use of "heavy" ritual. Sigils (q.v.) are often used in the creation of thoughtforms, but material bases (q.v.) rarely are.
Threefold Law
A Wiccan axiom that has spread to many other neo-pagan religions, this is simply the belief that "Whatever you send out returns to you three-fold."  It is also referred to as the Law of Three.
Tulpa
The word "tulpa" comes from Tibetan Bhuddism, and is a type of Thoughtform (q.v.) which, once created, assumes an existence independent of its creator. Tulpas are generally created by the experience of extreme emotions, and once manifest can be extremely difficult (and sometimes "impossible") to destroy. Those that are created intentionally tend to follow the pattern of fulfilling their duties as expected at first, gradually adopting methods outside their intended parameters, and eventually either fulfilling their goals in ways that are compleatly outside their creators wishes or ignoring them compleatly. Tulpas are not always "bad" but they almost invariably become troublesome.

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Vampire
In the U.S. the term is generally used to describe a member of the undead who feeds on the blood of the living. Worldwide, however, the term can refer to any supernatural creature who feeds off the living, whether it be blood, flesh or energy (see Psychic Vampire).

:W:

Wicca
A fairly modern neo-pagan religion, Wicca is a nature-based practice that borrows elements of various pre-Christian European religions to create a unified, pan-cultural whole.  There are as many "flavours" of Wicca as there are of Christianity, but the most common elements are belief in both a male and female deity (commonly called 'the Lord and Lady') that represent the combination of every god and goddess of every religion, belief in the "Threefold Law" (q.v.) and the "Wiccan Rede."  Many Wiccans are also monotheists, believing that the Lord and Lady are actually aspects of a 'greater' deity which 'separates' into a male and female counterpart so that we can better comprehend it.
Wiccan Rede
"An harm ye none, do what thou will," is the most common form, though there are many slight variations.  Originally it was a single line from a much longer poem, and many Wiccans still consider the entire original as the Wiccan Rede, but this single line is generally what is referred to by the term.  Although the name itself ("rede" is an Old Norse word meaning "advice" or "counsel") indicates it is simply advice on how to conduct yourself, most Wiccans today consider it a moral stricture and turn the meaning around to indicate that anything that causes any kind of harm is wrong.
Witchcraft
Generally a "nature based" magical practice, witchcraft is composed mainly of practices that use, emphasize or increase the inherent magical properties of animals, plants and minerals, and is mainly sympathetic magic.  Contrary to an increasingly popular opinion, witchcraft is "non-religious."

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