Definition of the Occult

The occult is an umbrella term which includes many practices linked to various belief systems. The concepts and teachings are usually based on beliefs that:





  1. Everything is or contains energy (an unquantifiable energy), and that one can supernaturally access, change, channel and/or manipulate this energy (or force) for the purposes of gaining information, healing, or bringing a desired situation or object into material reality. This energy may be described in different ways and have different names. Since this energy is viewed by some as part of the natural world, it is not always considered to be supernatural by all who practice these techniques. These practices are mostly part of sorcery/occult magic.
  2. Hidden meanings can be read in numbers, images (as on Tarot cards); creation itself (such as the sun, moon, planets, other heavenly bodies); shapes; patterns; natural objects such as hands for palm reading, coffee grounds or tea leaves, etc.; unconnected circumstances or events. These practices are divination.
  3. Disembodied beings (spirits) can be contacted for information or messages. These beings usually include one or more of the following: the supposed dead; angels; aliens; ancestors; alleged enlightened entities on another plane of existence (such as Ascended Masters, spirit guides, dead gurus, etc.); gods; or any disembodied non-human being. Contacting or seeking messages from these beings is the practice of spiritism/spirit contact.


Beliefs often include pantheism, panentheism, polytheism, monism, and variations on Gnosticism.  Nature and its forces, the spirit world, and/or paranormal powers of the mind are emphasized. There is also usually the denial of absolute truth, and of absolute good or evil.


The three major forms of the occult, following the list given at the beginning of this article, are magick/sorcery, divination(often called fortunetelling, although that term does not fully describe the practice), and spirit contact (spiritism). Historically, occult practices are connected to the worship of false gods and to child sacrifice; however, it should be noted that occultists today usually claim to use their abilities and powers for good. Occult practices, whether the intention is good or not, are condemned strongly by God in Deut. 18:9-12; 2 Kings 17:17; I Chron. 10:13; Is. 8:19, 47:12-15; Ezk. 13:20, 21; Acts 7:41-44; Gal. 5:20; Rev. 21:8; and in many other passages.



-The explanations are basic and general, and, for the most part, are not in-depth. Some terms link to other CANA articles that give more explanation.


-This list is not exhaustive. Some topics are covered more thoroughly in separate documents on this website. It is acknowledged that the terms here are only a small portion of extensive terms used in occultism. More terms will be added in the future.


-These are not academic definitions and might vary from dictionary definitions.


-Not all of these terms relate directly to occult practices; some are included because they may have occult content or are used peripherally to occult or New Age practices.


-Since there is no consistent agreement even among occultists on these terms, there will always be those who disagree with these definitions/explanations.


-Aside from research, the writer’s experiences and background in New Age and occult practices have contributed to her understanding and explanation of some of these terms.


-These terms are being defined/explained mainly in terms of their application to Western culture.



A list of selected sources is at the end of this document. The information here is based on these sources as well as on the personal experiences of the writer with many of these phenomena, and on the teachings the writer received while learning and participating for many years in New Age and occult practices.


For more complete explanations of many of these terms, see Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience by Rosemary Guiley and The Complete Book of Spells, Ceremonies, and Magic by Migene Gonzalez-Wippler. These books are sympathetic to the mystical and paranormal. For a counter view, see Testing the Spirits by Elizabeth l. Hillstrom, which offers physiological explanations (while not denying the possibility of a spiritual or supernatural source) for: near-death experiences, mystical healings, communication with spirits, altered states of consciousness, Eastern meditation, and UFO encounters. Both books are listed at the end under Selected Sources.


Foundational concepts often found in the occult

Animism – A spirit(s) or life force inhabits all creatures & nature, sometimes inanimate objects as well. This is found in Shamanism and many superstitious beliefs, as well as the New Age and the occult.


Chi (also ki, qi or ji) – A “life force” pervading the universe that sustains the body & the material world. These terms & concepts come from Taoism but are most prominently used in the martial arts and in alternative healing. Both ki and chi can be seen in the following terms: Aikido, Tai Chi, Reiki (energy healing). This force may also be known as the life force, vital force, the vital energy, bioenergy, universal life force, or universal energy. The belief in such a force is at the heart of occutlism, and is also found in New Age beliefs.


Dualism and Polarity – The belief in two equal, opposing forces; also a belief in two forces which appear opposite but are actually complementary. When these forces are seen as hostile to each other, as in matter and spirit, the belief is that matter must be transcended to attain a true spiritual understanding or state. This is related to Gnostic duality of matter vs. spirit and is found in many New Age beliefs. A common view is that matter is just the densest form of energy, and can be mastered and/or transcended (see James Redfield’s best-seller, The Celestine Prophecy, which teaches this view as a central spiritual tenet).

The belief that opposing forces are complementary and necessary to each other is sometimes termed polarity. These forces are not necessarily seen in terms of good vs. evil (See Farrar, chapter on “The Rationale of Witchcraft”). Balancing these forces is considered essential for harmony and wholeness. These forces are usually thought of as light & dark, male & female, or the yin & yang. The “Star Wars” movies express this idea as the light and dark sides of the Force. Good and evil are not absolute and are seen as necessary for balance. Good and evil, or other opposites, may also be seen as part of each other, or as mirrors of each other. Polarity is a principle in astrological interpretation and in New Age healing. There is also the belief that good and evil are transcended when one reaches the Source (defined differently in various beliefs) or Power beyond all. (An example of a best-selling book promoting this view is in Deepak Chopra’s How To Know God, pp. 151, 170; also see another best-seller, Rabbi David Cooper’s, God Is A Verb, p.156-157).


Monism – One force connects and pervades all life, both nature and humanity; this force is usually seen as impersonal. All that exists is this force; everything else is a manifestation of this force (or energy, god, etc.), or everything else is an illusion or projection. There are no real distinctions in monism since everything is ultimately one.


Pantheism – The One (force) or God is identical to creation, thus giving man a divine Self (also called Higher Self). It can also be the belief that a force (sometimes divine) manifests itself in creation. Terms for this force or divine being vary widely: the One, Universal Consciousness, Divine Mind, the Source.


Panentheism is related to Pantheism and sometimes it is difficult to discern if the view is panetheism or panentheism. Panentheism is the view that God or the Supreme Power, Divine Reality, Living Wisdom (can go by many labels) inhabits creation but is also transcends it. Creation is also found in God or whatever the ultimate being may be called. This view is found in Process Theology, Perennial Wisdom, and some areas of New Age although the New Age tends to be more pantheistic. However, it is usually difficult to tell if a New Age belief is one or the other as beliefs mingle and overlap in the New Age.


Polytheism – There are many gods/goddesses, or there is one divine being manifested in many deities. This belief is found in some (not all) Neo-pagan practices such as Wicca, Asatru, and Odinism. See Wicca.



[Note: The term ‘magick’ is often spelled by occultists with a ‘k’ to distinguish it from stage magic and will be spelled as ‘magick’ in this document]


Akashic Record – A sort of psychic file collection of everything said or done in the universe. It is believed that one can access this record through psychic means or alternate states of consciousness. Many psychics and occult teachers, such as Rudolf Steiner, have claimed this is how they accessed information on a client. Edgar Cayce, the “sleeping prophet,” who went into trances and did readings on people (first medical, later spiritual), claimed to access the Akashic Records, which he described as a room with books on people’s lives (Guiley, Paranormal, 4). Some believe that the Akashic Records are kept on the astral plane. See Astral Projection.


Altered State of Consciousness – A trance or light hypnosis brought about through one of the following: certain forms of meditation; repetitive chanting; mind-altering drugs; ecstatic dancing or movement (such as practiced by the followers of Sufism, a mystical spin-off of Islam); breathing techniques; sensory deprivation; concentrating on a repetitive movement (like a swinging pendulum); focusing on one point (like a candle flame); suggestion; guided visualization and other practices usually associated with Eastern meditation and the occult. In this state, the mind is highly suggestible to both outer and inner influences; critical judgment and thinking are suspended; and the person often feels a ‘high’ or a sense of oneness with the world. In deep experiences of this state, the person may hallucinate or hear voices.

The experience of altered states of consciousness has been compared to taking certain hallucinogens such as LSD. Such states are sought after by those who practice psychic techniques, forms of divination, and past life recall in order to facilitate their practices. Past life regression, the technique for recalling past lives, is preceded by exercises to bring about an altered state of consciousness. When the possibility of a past life is either believed by the querent or strongly suggested by the hypnotist or person guiding the querent, the chances are high that a person in an altered state will seem to recall a past life.

This state is often described in other ways, such as centering or getting centered, and is commonly used in alternative/complementary healing. Some scientists and psychologists claim that the experiences of these “altered states” have a basis in physiology, and may not be at all what they appear to be (see chapter 4 in Hillstrom’s book listed in Selected Sources). See Hypnosis.


Alternative/Complimentary Healing – This term refers to healing concepts and methods that are not based on objective data or cannot be tested due to inconsistencies in the products or methods of treatment. Almost all methods and products in this category are based on spirutual beliefs and/or on pseudoscience. Many of these originate with belief in chi/qi or Vitalism. Some of these treatments are covered in the CANA article on Life Force Energy, so please see that for more detail.

This area is to complex to explain here, but some of the more popular treatments based on spiritual beliefs and not facts, data, or cedible research include: acupuncture, ayurveda, cupping, homeopathy (based purely on occult concepts), muscle testing (Applied Kinesiology), shiatsu, reflexology, iridology, all forms of energy healing (see entry on Reiki), using the Rife machine or its derivatives (which are in the hundreds), Tapping/EFT, color healing, and sound healing.

Also included would be any treatment referring to or using these terms:  chi/qi, life force, vital energy, biofield, meridians, “natural healing,” holistic, or chakras (that is only a partial list). See entries on Altered States of Consciousness and Reiki. See CANA articles on Alternative/Complimentary/Integrative Healing and Life Force Energy.


Amulet – A charm (object, drawing, word, or symbol) believed to contain special powers or magick which is worn or carried as protection against misfortune (such as the Hamsa Hand). May also be used in sorcery to protect the magician from harmful spirits “summoned in ritual” (Guiley, Paranormal, 17; for extensive explanation, see Guiley, Witches, 8-9). Popular amulets today include the rabbit’s foot, the horseshoe, and the four-leaf clover, all believed to bring ‘luck’ to the owner by protecting against misfortune. See Pentagram, Sigil.


Angels –  “Angel” means “messenger.” Angels are creatures; that is, they are created by God. The Bible mentions categories of angels such as archangels ( 1 Thess. 4.16; Jude 9), seraphim (Isaiah Chapter 6), and cherubim (Genesis 3.24; Exodus Chapter 25 and related passages on the cherubim in the Ark of the Covenant;  and Ezekiel Chapter 10), but we are given limited information on these creatures and should be careful not to speculate too much nor take extra-biblical information on angels as valid. Angels are spirit beings (Heb. 1.14) and humans do not become angels after death.

The Bible names only 3 angels: Michael, Gabriel, and Satan (“Satan” means “the adversary”). Gabriel and Michael both appear in the book of Daniel where Daniel is given revelatory visions from God. Daniel is a prophet chosen by God to receive these visions; he does not summon angels. In Luke chapter one, Gabriel gives Mary the news that she will give birth to the Messiah. The archangel Michael is in Jude 9 and Revelation 12.7. Satan appears or is referred to in 1 Chronicles 1.21; in the first two chapters of Job; in Zechariah 3.1,2; in the Gospels, where he tempts Jesus; in numerous places where Jesus refers to Satan as a real being (for example, Luke 10.18); in Acts 5.3 and 23:18; in Romans 16:20 and other New Testament books; and in several places in Revelation.

We know there are bad or evil angels, because some angels went with Satan when he was cast down to earth: “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (Revelation 12.2). Satan can also appear good, disguising himself as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11.14). The bad or fallen angels, called evil or unclean spirits, or demons, are referred to in the four Gospels as possessing people or causing illness, and are warned against in the New Testament, especially in regards to deception and false teaching: “[I]n later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons”(1 Timothy 4.1).

Jesus demonstrated His authority over the realm of angels by commanding and casting out demons. God’s angels are sometimes called “holy angels” (Matthew 25.31; Mark 8.38; Luke 9.26; Acts 10:22; Revelation 14.10). The Bible reveals how God uses His angels: as messengers, to protect and to minister to those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1.14), to free apostles from prison, to battle against Satan, as “reapers” at the end of the age (Matthew 13.39-41, 49; Revelation 14.9), and for other endtime activities. These angels serve only God and go at His command. The messages brought by God’s angels were specific and related to Israel, the coming Messiah, the last days; and were announcements or warnings to those in the Christ story (Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Magi, the women at Christ’s resurrection). Angels from God are never personal guides or teachers.

Since Christ is the only Mediator between man and God (1 Timothy 2.5), and since spirit contact is forbidden (Deuteronomy 18.11, Isaiah 8.19, and other passages), no one should pray to angels, summon them, or contact them in any way. Such efforts will only bring responses from fallen evil angels, who are only too happy to disguise themselves as good angels (or as the dead, as aliens, as guardian angels, as helpful spirit guides, as benevolent beings from other dimensions, etc.). Practitioners of occult arts summon angels as part of their practices, and those in the occult and New Age have guides that they believe are benevolent. However, these guides are deceptive fallen angels. See Angel Oracle Cards, Satan, Spirit Guides, Spiritism. Also see, “What Does the Bible Teach About Angels?”


Angel Oracle Cards – See Angels, above.  Angel card decks exist purportedly as a divinatory tool, or to offer inspiration and/or healing. The cards’ instructions often urge the person to meditate on a particular angel and/or to contact an angel and are used this way in the New Age. Using these cards for divination or spirit contact violates commandments against such practices in Deuteronomy 18.10-12 and many other passages. Using the cards to contact angels will only elicit a response from fallen angels, also known as evil spirits or demons. See Divination, Spirit Guides, Spiritism.


Anime – Not an occult product in itself, but a cartoon form of storytelling imported from Japan. In many stories, the action is very violent and the characters have occult powers.


Ankh – A cross topped by a loop, sometimes called a tau-cross, connected to the worship of the Egyptian goddess, Isis. The symbol, a combination of a cross (male) and loop (female), is said to represent a mystical life force and/or immortality, the reconciliation of opposites, and/or the dualistic creative life force of male & female energies. The Egyptian kings, gods and goddesses are often depicted holding an ankh to show their immortality and their power over life and death. Ankhs were used as Egyptian amulets. The closed loop may symbolize “...the life force identified with Isis, from whom life flows in all its forms,” (Chevalier, The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols, 28). Used in New Age, Wicca, and Vampire subculture. See Amulet.


Astral Projection, Astral Travel, Astral Plane – Also known as out-of-body experience (OBE), this is a practice in which a person believes their astral self separates from the body and travels to other physical locations or possibly to an astral realm. Sometimes the person merely hovers above his/her body, especially during medical operations or severe accidents. This experience may be a physiologically caused hallucination. Astral travel is referred to in ancient practices from Egypt and Tibet, and is also written about by some ancient writers such as Plato, Plotinus and others (Guiley, Encyclopedia of the Mystical & Paranormal, 420). The astral self is a major belief of Theosophy (a religion based on Hinduism founded in the late 19th century by occultist Madame Blavatsky) and of other religions that divide a person into various essences and parts. The astral self is part of the etheric body and separates from the body at death. However, many occult teachings hold that the astral self can leave the body during life. The astral self is non-material but can be visible to those in material form, though not always.

In many New Age and occult belief systems, such as the cult of Eckankar, it is thought to be good, although potentially dangerous, to practice astral travel, and techniques to do this are taught. Some beliefs posit several planes of reality, such as the causal, spiritual, mental, astral and material, each being a realm through which the soul eventually passes.

Teachings somewhat similar to this are in Tibetan Buddhism, as espoused in The Tibetan Book of the Dead, which gives advice on preparing for what will happen after death. Some believe the Akashic Records are part of the astral plane. Astral projection is also used by those calling themselves psychic vampires, who believe they can leave their body and in astral form secretly feed off the spirit or energy of another person. There is no clear evidence that astral projection is real, though there are stories from those who claim to practice it that make it seem as though it is real (including this writer, who experienced astral projection frequently). However, proponents of astral projection do not account for spiritual deception and would dismiss this as a possible explanation.

Some claim that the apostle Paul in Second Corinthians 12:1-5 is speaking of an out-of-body or astral experience. However, first of all, Paul says that he does not know if he was in his body or not, so the value of this as an astral or out-of-body experience is totally diminished at the very beginning of the account. Secondly, this is a revelation and experience that God initiated and gave to Paul; Paul did not seek this out or initiate it. Thirdly, Paul did not reveal what he saw because he was not permitted (verse 4). Fourth, this experience or visionary revelation is not the point of the passage, but is used to make another point, that Paul cannot boast of anything because he is a weak man and God keeps Paul humble through his weakness (verses 6-10). There is no endorsement of astral travel in this passage and using it as such is a misuse and twisting of the passage. The advocates of astral travel teach that one can learn to initiate the experience and that it can be of spiritual benefit, but the benefits are measured according to the teachings and standards of those advocating it, and these teachings are rooted in occult philosophies.


Astrology – The belief that the planets, sun, and moon are external and internal signposts for individuals or society to follow in order to understand themselves and choose the best options. It is thought that the person’s birth time and place happen at a particular time when the planetary configurations will reveal that person’s character and path in this life. A chart of the planetary positions is cast by the astrologer which involves mathematical formulas for determining the planetary positions at a certain moment and place. Computer programs can compute a chart, but the astrologer still needs to know how to do this in order to understand how the chart works, and in order to rectify a chart (rectifying is determining a birth time through events when there is no known birth time).

The astrologer interprets the chart according to the meanings signified by the planets, sun, and moon, the significance of the houses, the meaning of the zodiac signs, and how the planets relate to each other by distance. Increasingly in the latter half of the 20th century, astrology took on concepts and terms from Carl Jung, humanistic psychology, and Eastern/occult beliefs such as Theosophy. The interpretation of charts became less rigid and fatalistic and became more of a psychological/spiritual counseling session. The planets are often referred to as archetypes (influence from Carl Jung) or energies. See Divination, Synchronicity.


Automatic writing – A method of spirit communication and/or divination. Many who practice this believe they are communicating with the dead or evolved spirit beings. The person’s hand is controlled by something beyond themselves, and they write out (or even type) words without knowing what is being written. Ruth Montgomery, a journalist, experienced automatic writing and produced many books from it. Neale Donald Walsch, author of the bestselling Conversations with God books, started getting “answers” from an entity he called God through automatic writing. See Channeling, Divination, Spiritism.


Aura – Believed to be a psychic energy or field of light surrounding and emanating from a person’s body and all living things. Auras may manifest in different colors, seen by clairvoyants, and those colors are interpreted as indicating a feeling, experience, state of health, spiritual level, or quality possessed by the owner. Reading or scanning a person’s aura is used in some alternative healing work.


Black Magick – The use of sorcery or magickal powers for evil intentions or selfish gain. White magicians and white witches would claim that black magick is using magick to harm people as opposed to white magick which is used to heal or help people. Anton La Vey, who founded the Church of Satan, stated that there is no such thing as black or white magick, that “Satanism draws no such dividing line” and “Magic is magic” (Anton La Vey, The Satanic Bible, [NY: Avon Books, 1969], 51). This echoes occultist Arthur Edward Waite who writes that the good and evil sides of the magical arts “dissolve into one another and belong one to another in the root that is common to both” (Arthur Edward Waite, The Book of Ceremonial Magick, [NY: Citadel Press, 1989; Carol Publishing Group Edition, 1994], XXIV). It should be noted that the condemnation of sorcery in the Bible does not acknowledge “white” or good sorcery or magic(k), or the good or bad intentions involved in practicing sorcery.


Channeling – Channeling is done by psychics and mediums. It may also be called “trance channeling” or “vocal channeling.” It involves allowing a disembodied spirit (the person may think of this spirit as a dead person, alien, angel, a being on another plane like an Ascended Master, a deity, or anything similar) to speak through the psychic or medium. This is done vocally with the psychic’s or medium’s voice changing due to the spirit’s control. The psychic or medium is usually in a trance (altered) state during channeling and does not remember it. Some mediums call this spirit their “Control.” A form of channeling is Automatic Writing. This is the same idea as vocal channeling except the person allows the spirit to control his writing hand or hands so that the psychic or medium is writing words coming from the spirit without consciously choosing the words. See Automatic Writing, Seance, Spiritism; CANA article on channeling and automatic writing.


Chakras – A Sanskrit word meaning ‘wheel’ used in Hindu beliefs and practices, such as yoga, to describe what are believed to be the five, six, or seven (depending on the teaching) psychic and spiritual centers of man. The chakras are invisible, and are believed to start at the base of the spine and end in the middle of the forehead. The top of the head is the culmination point for an energy called kundalini which rises through the chakras to the crown of the head through certain meditation and tantric practices. (Some sources which include the crown area state there are seven chakras). A different color is often associated with each chakra, usually red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo/purple, and white for the crown. The kundalini is believed to be a form of divine energy, coiled at the base of the spine like a serpent which can rise through a channel, called the Sushumna, up the chakras, thus bringing a spiritual awakening. It is taught that arousing the kundalini up through the chakras can be dangerous and should be done under the supervision of a teacher or guru. It is also taught that awakening the kundalini may uncover certain psychic powers called Siddhis. Buddhism, Hinduism, and Western views may differ in their teachings on the chakras. Chakras may be equated by mystics and occultists with the spheres from the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life. Chakras are often referred to in some New Age meditation practices and philosophies, and in some forms of energy healing, such as Therapeutic Touch. Alternative healing often assumes the existence of chakras and connects ill health to blockages in the chakras.


Clairvoyance – From term meaning ‘seeing clearly.’ This is considered a psychic ability. See ESP.


Cartoons, Comics – Many TV cartoons, video cartoons, and comics portray the main characters or heroes as possessing supernatural powers. Sometimes this is part fantasy, sometimes these powers are occult. If the character is practicing sorcery, or using an object to gain power, this is related to occult views. Often the powers are a mixture of fantasy and the occult. There are also comics featuring evil beings as the heroes.


Christ consciousness – A term from the New Thought movement signifying a state one achieves through realization that the innate self is divine. Followers of New Thought believe that Jesus was a man who achieved this and is the example for the rest of humanity. The New Age movement and some occult groups also use this term. Sometimes the term “higher consciousness” is used to designate Christ Consciousness. See Higher Consciousness.


Course in Miracles – Published in 1976. Writings and teachings channeled by an atheist, Helen Schucman, which are purportedly from Jesus. However, the teachings contradict what Jesus says in the Bible, and teach that sin is an illusion. The Jesus presented in the Course is a man who attained Christ consciousness, and supposedly represents what all people can do. This work has been popularized and promoted by author Marianne Williamson in her book, A Return to Love. For a good evaluation of the Course, read the article at Let Us Reason Ministries.


Crystals – Quartz, semiprecious and precious stones believed by some to contain and emit certain kinds of energy or vibrations which can be used for healing, protection, mental clarity, to enhance love, or to attract success and prosperity. The purchaser of a crystal may “cleanse” the crystal through certain techniques (such as immersing in salt, then placing in sunlight), then “charge” or “program” the crystal with his/her energy through meditation and/or visualization. The owner will wear the crystal, carry it on his/her person, or place it somewhere in the home. Crystals are often used in alternative healing by being placed on the body.


Divination – Also called “fortunetelling;” the art of retrieving information about the past, present or future via supernatural methods; reading hidden meanings into numbers, images, shapes, and/or creation;  or spirit contact. Beliefs behind divination include: one can tap into a psychic file cabinet, called the Akashic Record, where all information is stored; one’s spirit guide may retrieve the information from the client’s spirit guide or Higher Self; or that time itself, being an illusion, can be transcended in such a way that the past, present, or future may be viewed by those with divinatory abilities. Examples of divination include but are not limited to: astrology, palm reading, numerology, Tarot cards, the I-Ching, Runes, pendulum, automatic writing, tea-leaf and coffee ground reading (called Tasseomancy), crystal gazing (a form of scrying). See Akashic Records, Astrology, Automatic Writing, Numerology, Runes, Sacred Geometry, Scrying, Tarot Cards.


Energy healing – This form of healing is based on accessing, channeling, balancing and/or manipulating energy and is commonly found in many alternative healing practices such as Reiki, intuitive healing/medicine, acupuncture, acupressure, shiatsu, chi kung (also spelled qi gong), polarity, aura cleansing, and chakra balancing/healing. This energy is called by various names: chi, qi, ki, ji, the life force, the vital force, the universal force, universal energy, vital energy, bioenergy. See Chi under “Foundational Concepts.”


ESP, Extra Sensory Perception – Sometimes considered the sixth sense, a way in which one perceives or receives information beyond the five physical senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. The information can be about the past, present or future. This includes telepathy, the ability to know another’s thoughts; precognition, a knowledge of the future; and clairvoyance, a knowledge of past, present or future often associated with psychics. This is sometimes called the “sixth sense” or “the third eye.” These abilities fall under the general category of psychic abilities.


Familiar(s) – A spirit often assuming the form of an animal, or an actual animal believed to be used as a helper for sorcerers or witches. A familiar can also be conjured by a sorcerer for protection or aid; sometimes this is called a thought-form and has a quasi-independent existence. Although there is much legend and lore surrounding what a familiar exactly is or whether they exist, the King James translation of the Bible forbids consulting those with familiar spirits in several passages (16 to be exact). In more recent translations, the phrase used in these passages is “mediums and spiritists.” This may be linked to the idea that one practiced divination and spirit contact with the aid of a demonic spirit (Unger, 399-400).

An example in a popular series of books can be found in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban where Harry is taught by Professor Lupin to conjure a “Patronus” to protect Harry from the dementors (pp. 237-242). The Patronus appears in the form of an animal, a stag, and goes after the dementors (385, 411, 412). The Patronus as described in this book closely parallels the conjuring of a thought-form, which is sometimes considered to be a familiar. (See Brennan, 148; Guiley, Witchcraft, 120; Farrar, “Rituals of Protection,” 93, “Spells,” 240-241, Glossary, 321; Gonzalez-Wippler, 105).


Gematria – According to many Jewish sources, Gematria is a numerological system in which Hebrew letters correspond to numbers. This system, developed by practitioners of Kabbalah (a Gnostic-Jewish blend of teachings that started in the 13th century), allegedly had Greek influence and became a tool for biblical interpretation. Gematria is no different from Numerology, a form of divination, in that it is based on reading a hidden meaning in letters and words. While Numerology claims to provide information on a person through the name and birth date, on events, and even about the future, Gematria appears at first to be more biblical because it is confined to the biblical text (Old Testament).

However, Gematria is a system that uses occult methods and ideas and is not based on the Bible. While some Gematria results appear to make sense, this can be done just by chance. Reading a hidden meaning into a letter, image, planet, star, number, or shape, are all forms of divination. The words in the Bible have meaning and are given to express and convey ideas and events in words, not via a hidden meaning. God does not hide his meaning in tricky formulas or hidden codes, which are techniques of esoteric occultism. God uses the meaning of words in language to convey his truths. See Numerology, see CANA article on the Kabbalah


Geomancy – Divination using the earth and natural shapes. See Sacred Geometry.


Ghost – Usually believed to be the form or spirit of a dead person appearing to those still living. The belief in ghosts in Western culture assumes that people can linger or return after death, and that those alive can see dead people. However, the spirit world consists only of angels — good angels who serve God and the fallen angels, also known as demons or evil spirits. It is possible for these fallen angels to disguise themselves as dead people in order to deceive and mislead people. Those who claim to see a ghost are either imagining it, making it up, dreaming, hallucinating, or seeing an evil spirit. Attempting spirit contact or attempting to communicate with a dead person is strongly prohibited in God’s word.


Higher Consciousness – A term for a state of spiritual understanding that one reaches through various techniques and/or as a result of progressing spiriutally through many lives via reincarnation. This understanding is believed to come about when one realizes that this reality and this world are illusory and that actually we are all one and part of the Absolute (also called God, the One, Consciousness, the Universe, the Source) and are not separate beings.

One attains higher consciousness through meditation, recognizing that one is evolving through reincarnation, chanting various mantras, and other techniques often derived from Hindu and/or Buddhist beliefs and practices usually syncretized with Western terms and views of the self. One is able to tune into or tap into one’s Higher Self through pursuing Higher Consciousness. Higher Consciousness is sometimes equated with Christ Consciousness (also called God Consciousness), a term from the New Thought Movement which postulates that we all have a Christ Consciousness which we attain through realization of our inherent divine nature. See Christ Consciousness.


Higher Self – Based on the belief that our identity as a separate individual is part of a delusion or illusion. The Higher Self is divine or part of God and is the “true” self. This Higher Self is wise and good, and one must transcend the desires and illusions of the lower self (ego, self-identity) to access the understanding and views of the Higher Self. See Christ Consciousness, Higher Consciousness.


Hypnosis – An induced altered state of consciousness in which a person responds readily to suggestions. The hypnotic state may be light or be deep enough to the degree that the person is not aware of surrounding events. In the 1770’s, Franz Anton Mesmer espoused a theory of animal magnetism which was a term he used to describe the universal life force. Mesmer used techniques to heal people which he based on his idea that he was restoring health through magnetic forces by transmitting healing energy using iron rods or wands.

Techniques included staring into the patient’s eyes or “making slow passes…with hands or a wand,” (Guiley, Paranormal, 275, 366). The word “mesmerize” comes from Mesmer’s name. The passivity and lack of initiative or thinking on the part of one hypnotized is common (Hillstrom, 64). Fantasy can easily be woven in with real memories “to create entirely fictitious episodes in this state,” (Ibid, 65). As shown by psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, false memories can be implanted in hypnotized subjects. Because of the suggestibility and lack of reliability in memory in a hypnotized person, courts do not accept the testimony given by someone under hypnosis. See Altered State.


Kabbalah (also spelled Kabala, Cabala, Qabalah, etc.) – Considered an offshoot of Jewish mysticism, the beliefs of the Kabbalah are a mystical and incredibly complex re-interpretation of Hebrew Scriptures which is actually closer to Gnosticism. The Kabbalah uses terms, people and situations from Hebrew Scripture, but adds an underlying esoteric meaning and techniques to advance to mystical states. Followers of the Kabbalah believe it was taught to angels, and then to Adam as a way back to God after the Fall in the Garden of Eden.

The world was created by God “through 32 secret paths of wisdom which are the ten sephirot and the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet,” the sephirot being emanations originating in God (Guiley, Paranormal, 306). Creation is divine, and contains God: “Do not say, ‘This is a stone and not God.’ God forbid! Rather, all existence is God, and the stone is a thing pervaded by divinity,” (Matt, 24). The textbooks for the Kabbalah are the Sepher Yetzirah, ascribed to Rabbi Akiba (or Akiva) around 100 AD, and the Zohar (Book of Splendor), a thirteenth-century book often ascribed to Kabbalist Moses de Leon or to Rabbi Simeon.

God is called Ein-Sof (“without end”), and is “unknowable and beyond representation,” (Guiley, 307) and “should never be conceptualized in any way….should not be called Creator, Almighty, Father, Mother, Infinite, the One, Brahma, Buddhamind, Allah, Adonoy, Elohim, El, or Shaddai;…,” (Cooper, 65). Man’s goal is union with the Divine, and by doing so, others in the universe are also elevated. Ecstatic and mystical trance-like states are associated with the study of the Kabbalah. It is also considered dangerous to study the Kabbalah, and is only for one who is stable and ethical (Epstein, 2, 3; Matt, 17).

A central point of the Kabbalah is the Tree of Life, a diagram of “the descent of the divine into the material world,” and how man can ascend back to God (Guiley, 308; Epstein, 2). One “climbs” the Tree of Life back to God through meditation and contemplation of the different parts of this Tree, and “on the corresponding Hebrew letters of the divine names of God” and other things such as planets and angels (Guiley, 308). The Tree of Life is also called “a complete map of consciousness,” and represents “the evolution of the individual….and the universe,” (Parfitt, 3). The Tree of Life and its ten spheres are sometimes equated with the chakras of Yoga (Ibid., 61). A Kabbalist can receive “messages” and “teachings” from “archangels, angels, demons, animals, plants, and rocks, ” (Ibid., 73).

God is considered to have a female aspect, and sexual union is symbolic of spiritual union. There is a history of magickal practices, based on the Kabbalah, which are used today. The secret society, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, was influenced by the Kabbalah through occultists Eliphas Levi and MacGregor Mathers. Other well-known occultists who used the Kabbalah were Israel Regardie and the infamous Aleister Crowley. In fact, many regard the Kabbalah as the foundation of Western Esoteric/Mystery/Magickal Traditions, and it was called by occultist Dion Fortune “the Yoga of the West,” (Cicero, 6).

One of the more well-known practices is Gematria, the correspondence of a number for each Hebrew letter of the alphabet, and using this as a numerology for hidden meanings. The sounds and writing of the letters are also put into an occult context for either mystical or magickal purposes. There is an emphasis on the sacred name of God, the Tetragrammaton, which is used in the practice of magick. The practitioner of Kabbalah occultism uses techniques and rituals to have power over the spirit world, even demons, and hopes for a union with the Divine. The occult view of polarity is seen in Rabbi David Cooper’s explanation of good and evil in his best-selling book on the Kabbalah. Stating that even “evil has divine nature” in it, Cooper says that “evil as we know it can never be eradicated, even if we wanted, for it fulfills a primary function in creation,” (God Is A Verb, 160). The Kabbalah is perhaps the most extensive collection of occult teachings in existence. See Gematria.


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.


Luciferianism – Belief that Satan, called Lucifer by those with this view, was or is god, or is an angel who wants to give wisdom to man. In various tales, Lucifer is thwarted by a bad god (usually the God of the Old Testament) and punished (this theme is found in many Gnostic religions). Lucifer is seen as good angel of light. There are many varieties of Luciferianims which is followed by some New Age adherents and by some Gnostic, occult or neo-pagan followers.

Luciferianism differs from Satanism in that Satanists hold that wanting to do good or wanting morality is against the self. Genearlly speaking, Luciferians hold wisdom and enlightenment in high regard while Satanists hold self-indulgence and self-satisfaction in high regard (although wisdom is also sought by some Satanists).

The word Lucifer is Latin and is not found in the Hebrew of the Old Testament. It is a translation of “shining one” or “morning star,” which referred to Venus, but in Isaiah 14, refers directly to the King of Babylon and thought by some to refer implicitly to Satan:

הֵילֵל noun masculine appellative shining one, epithet of king of Babylon, בֶּןשָֿׁ֑חַר ׳אֵיךְ נָפַלְתָּ מִשָּׁמַיִם ה Isaiah 14:12 how art thou fallen, shinning one, son of dawn ! i.e. star of the morning. (compare Assyrian muštilil, epithet of (Venus a) morning-star III  – from Bible Hub lexicon for Isaiah 14:12

See entry on Satanism.


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.


Mediums – A term for those who claim to be able to contact and/or receive messages from the dead. Many mediums are part of a Spiritualist Church. Spiritualism is a recognized religion in the UK and in the United States, and is based on the belief that the departed grow in wisdom and have information superior to those stll alive. Mediums are practicing the occult art of Spiritism, which is forbidden by God in many Scriptures.


Meditation/Guided Visualization – See CANA article on Meditation and Visualization


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 is viewed 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. See Gematria.


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.

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, called past life regression, is sometimes used to help one remember supposed 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).


Sacred Geometry; related to Geomancy: The word “geomancy” comes from the late Greek word “geomanteia” with the literal meaning of “foresight by earth,” a form of divination based on interpretations of geometric shapes, markings on the ground, patterns and shapes in nature, or patterns resulting from tossing sand, soil, or rocks. The Greeks got it from an Arabic term meaning “science of the sand.” These influences came via widespread Arabic trade routes (source: Wikipedia). In the latter part of Greek history, Greece absorbed many Arab occult ideas and practices, including astrology.

These shapes and patterns are interpreted for a supposed meaning and effect on man, whether present or future, and became part of widely used occult practices in Europe mainly from the 7th to the 17th centuries, as well as being found in various non-Christian religions. There are many forms of Sacred Geometry, including one that uses 16 geometric lines or points. Geomancy forms the basis of the Chinese practice of Feng Shui. See Divination.


Satan – The word “Satan” eans “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.” 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 but not to fear him (1 Peter 5.8; 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, “the serpent of old” (Revelation 12.3,.9), and “devil” (Matthew 4.1, 5, and other references too numerous to list). See Angels


Satanism – The worship of Satan and/or demons as real entities or as concepts; the worship of self as a god based on the belief that Satan 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/ceremonial 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 ceremonial magician Crowley’s Law of Thelema: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. See entry on Luciferianism.


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 – A circle of people led by a medium with the purpose of allegedly contacting or summoning the dead. 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;), Sylvia Brown (To the Other Side and Back, and others); and 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 precognition. 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.


Sorcery – Manipulation of energy or forces to bring about a desired end through visualization; through invocation or summoning of powers/spirits; and/or through rituals. Sorcery encompasses occult techniques based on principles such as “like attracts like” and other principles. Sorcery comes from Gnostic-type beliefs in several levels of reality or planes, and that one can visualize & bring something into the material plane from the non-material plane. Sorcery may include what is known as ritual magick and/or ceremonial magick, a highly evolved and complicated form of sorcery involving complex rituals. Some sources of contemporary sorcery are the Kabbala (Qabala), mostly based on Gnostic mysticism & aberrant Judaism; teachings of Taoist occultism; Tantric teachings (Eastern); and the writings of notorious ritual magician Aleister Crowley, who died in 1947. In some occult circles, sorcery is a pejorative term for black magick. Sorcery is condemned by God. See Magick.


Spirit Guides – Also referred to as guides, guardian angels, angels, spiritual masters, or other names. It is common for people in the occult and New Age to have several spirit guides, which they unknowingly receive through their involvement in the occult or New age, or which they purposely invite into their lives, thinking these to be benevolent and helpful beings. Spirit Guides are believed to be enlightened beings, either dead humans or entities from “higher” planes that desire to assist those following esoteric spiritual paths. Spirit Guides are often introduced to people via guided meditation or visualization exercises, or come through the regular use of certain drugs, especially hallucinogens. All actual spirit guides are fallen angels, also known as demons. In some elementary schools, educators use guided visualization to introduce a supposed “imaginary friend” to children for children to confide in and feel safe with. Although done with good intentions, this practice may introduce children to demonic beings. See Angels, Spiritism.


Spiritism – Contact with spirits through methods such as summoning, channeling, evoking or invoking, using a spirit guide, using drugs, using a Ouija Board, worshipping spirits, or various rituals. The spirits contacted are believed to be one or more of the following: the dead, angels (angels are spirits, good or bad, not people), ascended masters, higher spiritual entities, advanced discarnate spirits on other planes, or spirits associated with nature such as fairies, elves, gnomes, devas, and others. Some spiritists may channel a spirit; that is, they give their bodies over to a spirit to speak through them or write though them (Automatic Writing). This is called channeling. Spirit contact is one of the occult practices most strongly condemned by God. See Automatic Writing, Seance.


Synchronicity – The belief, usually ascribed to Carl Jung, and popularized by James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy, that nothing happens by coincidence and that one can be led to truths through the messages implicit in events that seem to happen or be connected randomly. According to astrologer Stephen Arroyo, synchronicity (a basic principle in astrology) is what Jung believed was an “a-causal connecting principle” that something born at a certain moment “bears the qualities of that moment,” (Arroyo, 40; also Guiley, 595-97). In other words, every person or event that comes to be is magically connected to the moment when he/she/it comes into being.


Talisman – An object, drawing or symbol which is believed to confer power on the owner for a specific purpose through magickal or supernatural means. It is believed to also attract good luck health, love, or power. Used in magickal practices. Whereas an amulet is passive, a talisman is seen as possessing an active force (Guiley, Paranormal, 599; Guiley, Witches, 327)). See Pentagram, Sigil.


Tarot Cards – Cards used for divination and/or meditation with symbolic pictures carrying hidden meanings. They are considered by some to have been playing cards in 14th century France (Guiley, Paranormal, 502), and claimed by others to be from the Roma (Gypsies) brought from Chaldea to Egypt, into Israel, and then Greece (Gray, 6). The origin of these cards, bound in legend and myth, are disputed and murky. The cards are used in present times for divination as well as “the cultivation of intuition and psychic ability,” (Guiley, Paranormal, 602). The pictures on the cards are interpreted symbolically in an occult context, and represent the soul’s journey to spiritual awakening, or the individual becoming whole (Gray, 14; Guiley, Paranormal, 603).

There are 78 cards which are divided into the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The Minor Arcana, made up of 56 cards, are divided into four suits, Pentacles, Wands, Cups, and Swords, which are usually linked to the four elements of earth, air, water, and fire. The Major Arcana is comprised of 22 cards with richly symbolic pictures, some of which are The Emperor, The Tower, Death, The Hanged Man, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, The Sun, The Moon, Justice, Strength, The Devil, and others. The Major Arcana represent “astrological, numerological, and Kabalistic teachings of the ancients” and are based on “the legends, myths, philosophies, religions, and magic beliefs of the human race,” (Gray, 2). It is claimed that the 22 cards of the Major Arcana originally corresponded to the 22 paths on the Tree of Life (see entry on Kabbalah) and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet (used in a magickal manner) (Ibid., 13, 14). However, this link to the Kabbalah and the Hebrew letters is a disputed one (Guiley, Paranormal, 603).

There is acceptance among occultists that the Tarot has “occult powers,” (Gray, 2.). The most popular deck is the Rider-Waite deck, developed first by occutlist A. E. Waite (a member of the occult Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) and published by William Rider & Son, Ltd. in the early 20th century. Waite claimed that he “restored” symbols on the cards from the Hermetic Kabbalah (Guiley, Paranormal, 603). There are hundreds of types of Tarot decks available today, such as round cards for feminists (the Motherpeace deck), cards with Native American themes, decks for witches, decks with Celtic themes, decks with fairy tale themes, etc. In laying out the cards for a reading, it is believed that the cards will “fall into positions that inevitably relate to the subject of the reading,” (Gray, 14). See Divination.


Telekinesis or Teleportation – A form of psychokinesis in which physical bodies or objects are supernaturally moved over distances, and in which solid objects are materialized and dematerialized in order to pass through matter.


Telepathy – The supposed paranormal ability to send or receive a thought over distance without verbal or visual help. See ESP.


The Third Eye – This usually refers to the area between the eyes which is where, according to Hindu beliefs, the sixth chakra is located. This chakra is alleged to be the center of psychic powers or the ability to see psychically, that is, without physical vision. One writer cites Yoga as calling the Third Eye “the seat of human consciousness and the point of contact between mind and spirit,” (Gonzalez-Wippler, 99). See Chakras, ESP.


Tree of Life – See entry on Kabbalah.


Warlock – A term once used to describe a male witch but which is generally not used today. This term has negative connotations associated with an old meaning that warlocks gained power through pacts with demons (Guiley, Witchcraft, 350). This term, however, could gain a more positive connotation due to increased interest in the occult.


White Magick – The belief that one is using magickal powers for good, for healing, and/or for self-transformation. See Magick.


White Witchcraft – Practicing witchcraft or Wicca with good intentions for helping or healing others. The idea of white and black magick and witchcraft are based in the idea of polarity, that the universe is balanced between dark and light forces. See Wicca.


Wicca – A subset of Neo-paganism; contemporary movement of witchcraft, started by Gerald Gardner in 1950’s England to revive the alleged “Old Religion” of witchcraft. Wicca and contemporary witchcraft mainly honor nature & the earth through rituals honoring nature, the seasons, and the male & female energies as embodied by the Goddess & her consort. Witches/Wiccans do not believe in Satan.

Some Wiccans believe in the Goddess as the main deity who has a consort (often called “the horned one,” a Pan-like being representing the wildness of nature and sensuality); others may believe in many gods and goddesses. Some believe that the Goddess manifests as many goddesses. The only creed of Wicca is the Wiccan Rede: An’ ye do no harm, do what thou wilt, which was adopted by Gardner from Aliester Crowley’s Thelemic Law: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law (Gardner knew Crowley).

Holidays: Greater Sabbats- Candlemas (Imbolc/g) (Feb. 2); Beltane/May Day (4/30 or 5/1); Lammas (Lughnasadh) (7/31 or 8/1); & Samhain (10/31; this pagan day has no connection to Halloween, either in history or practices). Lesser Sabbats- the first day of each season: spring equinox (Ostara), summer solstice (Midsummer), autumn equinox, & winter solstice (Yule).

Symbols: The most common symbol is the pentacle/pentagram, a 5-pointed star, representing air, earth, water, and fire, with the top point being Spirit. A witch’s pentacle usually has one point up, two points down. Satanists use the same symbol, but with the two points pointing up, sometimes with a goat’s head drawn in, which is called the Baphomet. There are many branches of Wicca and witchcraft (there is dispute as to whether Wicca and witchcraft are the same thing, with some witches not accepting Wicca as a genuine religion of witchcraft) such as Alexandrian, Gardnerian, Celtic, Native American shamanism, the worship of Isis, Italian witchcraft known as Strega, and Dianic. There are pagans who worship the Goddess, sometimes known as Goddess worshipers, who do not consider themselves Wiccans. Male witches or Wiccans are known as witches or Wiccans, not warlocks or wizards. See Pentagram.


Wizards – A term used in the past to describe a man with magical powers, or a magician or sorcerer. Used in connection with folk magic and alchemy.



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