Material Culture of Religion: Glossary of (selected) Religious Terms, Concepts, People, Etc. A ad


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arathi (or, arati)

  1. Hindu (ritual): Moving a camphor light clockwise in front of a deity.

  2. Hindu (ritual): Waving lighted lamps, incense sticks or camphor during worship.

See affinity-reality-communication triangle

ARC break
Scientologist: A sudden drop or cutting of affinity, reality or communication with someone or something.


  1. Christian: The bishop of an especially important see, usually with jurisdiction over a larger ecclesiastical province.

  2. Christian (Roman Catholic): A bishop who runs the largest diocese in a particular area. Indiana's only archbishop oversees the Indianapolis Archdiocese.


  1. Christian (Roman Catholic): A priest with special responsibility over a large area of a diocese for the training and management of other priests.

  2. Christian (Anglican): A priest who supervises deacons within a diocese as a representative of its bishop.

Christian (esp. Roman Catholic): A large and/or important diocese.

Christian (Eastern): The religious superior of an Orthodox group of monasteries or the holder of high ecclesiastical office below a bishop.

ardas (Punjabi: “petition”)
Sikh: A formal prayer recited at the end of Sikh rituals.

Arhat (Sanskrit)

  1. Buddhist (Zen): One free from the ten fetters to freedom.

  2. Buddhist (Zen): A term used both to criticise an individual who practices only for self benefit and to praise an accomplished adept.

  3. Buddhist (Zen): One of the Ten Names of a Buddha.

Ariadne's Thread


Christian (heretical): The view of the Trinity taught by Arius, according to which Christ as Logos is the first of all things God created and not "of one substance with the Father".

arif (Arabic: "one who knows")
Muslim: A common given name.

Armenian Martyrs' Day
Christian (Armenian Apostolic): April 24; commemorating those who perished in the Armenian genocide of 1915.

Hindu: The term for wealth, prosperity, and good material fortune; one of the four goals of life, representing the whole range of activities associated with material gain and the protection of it. (The other three are dharma,kama and moksha.)

Arthur Bell
See Bell, Arthur

Aryan (Sanskrit: "noble ones")

  1. Hindu (Indian): Used to describe migrants from Persia who moved into the Indus valley in the second millennium BCE.

  2. Christian Caucasians from Northern Europe.

  3. White, Anglo-Saxon, Germanic peoples; a subset of Caucasians.

  4. New Age : The fifth Root Race leading to human beings.

  5. Term used by Adolph Hitler to describe the racial origins of the German peoples.

  6. Pertaining to the Indo-European language family, often used in juxtaposition with the term Semitic.

'asabiya (Arabic)

  1. Common usage: Tribal or group solidarity.

  2. Muslim (American black): A group of 10 -40 men who band together in defence against hostile conduct.

  3. Muslim: A term used by Ibn Khaldun in his theory of state formation in North Africa.


  1. Arabic: "authenticity"
  2. Buddhist: =Turning of the Wheel of Teaching. Observance of the day when Gautama Buddha made his first public proclamation to five ascetics.

Asatruarmenn (Icelandic: "Believers in the Aesir")
New Age: This religious sect was officially recognized in Iceland in 1973 as a means of restoring the ancient rituals of pre-Christian Iceland.


  1. General usage: =Ascent to heaven. Jesus and Muhammad are two religious figures who are said to have ascended.

  2. Christian: A term usually restricted to recognition of the bodily assumption of the resurrected Jesus Christ into the heavens as described in the Acts of the Apostles; comparable in a general sense to the assumption of Elijah, of Mary and of Muhammad. In the Christian calendar, Ascension Day (when Jesus ascended) is celebrated on the fifth Thursday after Easter.

  3. Baha'i: Refers to Ascension of Abdu'l-Baha, the celebration of the rising of his spirit to the heavenly dwelling place.

  4. Baha'i: Refers to Ascension of Baha'u'llah, the founder. Observed by prayers and reading.

asceticism (Greek: “discipline”)
Religious or spiritual disciplines such as fasting and celibacy.

Norse/New Age: Dwelling place of the Aesir.

Ash Wednesday
Christian (Holy Day): A day of penance on which wood ashes are placed upon the foreheads of both clergy and lay people as a sign of penitence. Being the first day of Lent, it falls on the Wednesday in the seventh week before Easter Sunday, thus allowing 40 days of fasting (not counting Sundays).

ashab al-ray (Arabic)
Muslim: Scholars whose interetation of shari'a is based on personal opinion.

Muslim: Followers of the theological school of thought named after Al-Ash'ari.

Ashkenazi (=Askenazi, =Askenazim, =Ashkenazim)

Common usage: Jews whose recent ancestors came from Central or Eastern Europe.

Jewish: Jews from Christian Europe (and their descendants); specifically, the designation for Jews from Germany, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, etc., and the Yiddish-speaking European tradition they represent (in contrast to the Sephardi).

Buddhist: The Indian emperor who called a council in 253 BCE to support Buddhism. His support has been considered as important to Buddhism in Asia as the conversion of Constantine the Great was to Christianity in Europe.

ashraf (Arabic)
Denotes the aristocracy of a tribe.

Hindu: A religious community centered around a guru.

Ashta Matrikas
Hindu: The eight mother Goddesses said to attend Shiva or Skanda.

Ashta Nag
Hindu: The eight serpent deities who guard the cardinal directions and (if worshipped) keep evil spirits away.


  1. Muslim: Celebrated by a one day fast recognizing the Creation, Noah's departure from the ark, and the saving of Moses from Pharaoh.

  2. Muslim (Shi'ite): The 10th day of the month of Muharram, when rituals are held commemorating the death of Muhammad's grandson, Husayn.

askalitha brahmachari
Hindu: A perfect celebate (male).

Christian (Roman Catholic): The name given to the ceremony in which holy water is sprinkled over both altar and congregation before Mass to symbolize their purification. The name derives from the Latin text of Psalm 51.

Christian: Baptism by sprinkling. Distinguished from the much more common practice of affusion.

asr (Arabic: "afternoon")
Muslim: one of the five obligatory daily prayers.

as-salaam alaikum (or, assalamu alaikum) (Arabic: ''Peace be upon you'')

Muslim: The common English transliteration for the traditional Arabic greeting It is often printed on material distributed by Muslims. If used as a greeting in person, the one being greeted reverses the blessing in response with "and upon you, peace", or wa alaikum as-salaam.

assassin (from the Arabic: hasheshashin or "one who uses hashish")

  1. Common usage: One who kills for political reasons or purposes.

  2. Muslim (Shi'ite): Refers to Nizari (Ismaili Shi'ites) of Persia and Syria during medieval times who used assassination as a weapon against the Seljuks and other Sunni rulers between 1092 and 1256..

Scientologist: A technique which helps to isolate specific areas or subjects on which a preclear has charge so that they can be addressed in auditing.
Association for Research and Englightenment
New Age: Founded by Edgar Cayce in 1931 to continue his work on clairvoyance and prophecy.


  1. Christian: The drawing up into heaven of the body of a holy person, used particularly of the Virgin Mary, but also recounted in the cases of Elijah, Muhammad and Moses. The term ascension is more commonly used for Jesus Christ, but in either case, bodily remains are presumed not to remain on earth.

  2. Christian (Roman Catholic): Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary commemorates the belief that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven at the end of her earthly life.

[incomplete] Arab Christian (Nestorian)
Of or pertaining to Nestorian Christians in Syria, Iraq and Iran, or their descendants.


Ancient Middle East: Phoenician mother goddess. Considered equivalent to Belial and Ishtar.

New Age: The first Root Race leading to human beings.

atabeg (Turkish: "prince-father")
Muslim (Ottoman): A Turkish title orginally given to guardians appointed for minor princes of the Seljuk clan who became de facto rulers.

New Age: The fourth Root Race leading to human beings.

New Age: An island in the Atlantic, west of Gibraltar, that sunk beneath the sea during a violent eruption of earthquakes and floods some 10-12,000 years ago. It also has been placed in the mid-Atlantic, Cuba, the Andes, and dozens of other places. To many, however, Atlantis is not just a lost continent. It is a lost world. The Atlanteans were extraterrestrials who destroyed themselves with nuclear bombs or some other extraordinarily powerful device. Atlantis was a place of advanced civilization and technology.

Hindu: Soul.

atma sakshatkara
Hindu : Self-realization.

atman (Sanskrit: “breath”, “soul”, “principle of life”)
(see also qi)
Hindu: The ultimate principle of the living being.

Jewish: Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, is a High Holy Day of fasting intended to cleanse the people of their sin and restore the right relationship with God. The appointed day is the tenth of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, usually falling in October.

auditing (=processing; Latin: audire "to hear", "to listen")
Scientologist: Scientology counseling.

Auditing by List
Scientologist: A technique used in certain auditing procedures.

auditor (Latin: audire, "one who listens")
Scientologist: A minister or minister-in-training.

Augustine (=St. Augustine)
Christian: Early church father. xxxx


Christian: Referring to St. Augustine.

autocephaly ("self-government")
Christianity (Eastern): Fully independent Orthodox churches are called autocephalous.

Hindu: Messenger, sage, wiseman.


  1. Buddhist: A bodhisattiva regarded as the God of mercy in Mahyana Buddhist tradition.

  2. Buddhist (Nepalese): A bodhisattiva known as the compassionate Machhendra.


  1. Hindu: The incarnation of a deity (on earth); used especially to describe the human or other forms taken by Vishnu, especially as Lord Krishna.

  2. Hindu: An incarnation of God.

  3. Hindu: God coming down to earth in any life form.

  4. Common usage: An "alternate personality".

  5. Common usage: The personification of a principle, worldview or specific perspective on life, usually in the "form" of a famous personality or celebrity.

Ave Maria (Latin: "Hail, Mary")
Christian (Roman Catholic): A devotional recitation of Gabriel's greeting to Mary (Luke 1.28), Elizabeth's praise of Mary (Luke 1.42) and some additional invocations asking for Mary's intervention thanks to her rank close to her son, Jesus, who is the second person of the Trinity.

Averroes (=Ibn Rushd)
Muslim (d. 1098): philosopher.

Avicenna (=Ibn Sina)
Muslim: Theologican and scholar (980-1037 CE)

avidya (Sanskrit: "ignorance", "unawareness", "unconsciousness")

  1. Hindu: A key term found in the Upanisads.

  2. Buddhist (Zen): Human attachment to greed, anger, and delusion.

ayah (=aya; pl. ayat, Arabic: "sign", "miracle")
Muslim: A verse from the Qur'an.

Ayat al-Muhkamat (Arabic)
Muslim: Verses of the Qu'ran that have concrete meaning.

Ayat al-Mutashabihat (Arabic)
Muslim: Verses of the Qu'ran that have speculative meaning.

ayatollah (=ayatullah, =ayatallah) (Arabic: “Sign from God”)

  1. Muslim (Shi'ite/Iran): The title held by the highest dignitaries in the Shi'a religious hierarchy drawn from the ranks of outstanding mujtahids.

  2. Muslim (Shi'ite): A clergyman (male) who has reached the third level of Shi'ite higher education, is recognized as a mujtahid and is over 40.

ayatollah al-uzuma (Arabic)
Muslim (Shi'ite): Grand or supreme ayatollah.

Ayn Jalut
Common usage: Mamluk victory over Mongols in 1260.

aysk' (Armenian: "impure spirits")

Baha'i" The beginning of a series of Intercalary Days that balance out the calendar.

Ayyubid Dynasty
Common usage: Salah al-Din and his descendants,who ruled in Egypt fom 1171-1250 and Syria in 1174-1260.

Muslim (Shi'ite): The complex of rituals and performances used in mourning Husayn.

Muslim (Shi'ite): The call to ritual prayer.

azwaj (Arabic)
Muslim: Temporary marriage.


No longer politically correct term for designation of years "Before Christ". Replaced by BCE.

Politically correct term for years formerly called BC; verbalized as "Before Common Era".

The Bab (Persian: "gate" or "gateway")

Baha’i: The title given to Mirza Ali-Muhammad of Shiraz (1819-1850), who announced in 1844 that he was the gateway to promised one expected by Muslims. He is a founder of the Baha'i faith.

Muslim (Shi'ite): Name of a sect from which a branch evolved into Baha'i.
Bacon, Francis
Christian philosopher (Elizabethan England)(1561-1626): Called for the study of nature (including humans) without artifice; argued for a “new beginning of knowledge” based on empirical evidence rather than faith. "He proposed a shift in scholarship away from rote learning and deductive reasoning from classical texts and toward engagement with the world. In science, he proclaimed, is civilization's future." [Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, New York: Vintage Books, 1998: 27]

Badr, Battle of
Muslim (Shi'ite): Event in 2 AH (624 CE).

Common usage: Founder of the Mughal (Timurid) dynasty in India.

Badr, Battle of
Common usage: Muhammad's first victory over the Meccans in 624 CE.

bagua (Chinese)

As a concept used in Feng Shui, it describes the eight basic building blocks, also called pa qua or trigrams, each of which is associated with specific "treasures" of life: wealth & prosperity [wood; blues, reds and purples], fame & reputation [fire; reds], love & marriage [fire; reds, pinks and white], health & family [wood; blues and greens], creativity & children [metal; whites and pastels], knowledge & self-cultivation [water; blacks, blues and greens], career [water; black and dark tones], helpful people & travel [metal; white, grays and blacks] -- all of which surround earth ("the center") [earth; yellows and earth tones]. Used in Feng Shui practice to "map out" spiritually satisfying spaces by associating the functions with elements and colors (shown in brackets, above).

Religious tradition founded in 19th Century Iran by the Bab, Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha, who formerly were adherents of Shi'a Islam. Central teachings are the oneness of God (that there is only one God and that God is actively concerned about the development of humanity); the oneness of religion (that God sends messengers such as Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad, the Bab and Baha'u'llah to humanity to educate it in morals and social values), and the oneness of humanity (that all humans come from the same original stock and deserve equal opportunities and treatment). Baha'i scriptures include the books, essays and letters composed by the three founders.

Baha'u'llah (Persian)
Baha’i: The title given to Mirza Husayn-Ali (1817-1892), a follower of the Bab, who publicly declared himself a messenger of God in 1863.

Muslim (American black): A vow of allegiance to a leader which includes one's resources, finances and talents.

Muslim: One of the narrators of the hadith.

Bailey, Alice
New Age: Founder of the Lucis Trust religious sect.

bairam (Turkish?)
Muslim: Ottoman term for the two Muslim festivals of Id al-Fitr and Id al-Adha.

Baishaakhi (=Baisakhi, =Vaisakhi)

  1. Hindu (holiday): First day of the Hindu (solar) year.

  2. Sikh (holiday): Commemorates the founding of the Khalsa.

bajracharya (Nepalese)
Buddhist: A Newar caste of Buddhist priests.

Bajra Jogini
Hindu: Tantric Goddess.

Hindu: A brother of Krishna.

Norse/New Age: [incomplete] Son of Thor.


Hindu: The consort of Bhairav.

Ballard, Guy
New Age: Founder of I Am religious sect about 1934.

banu (Arabic?)
Common usage: A construct referring to a family/tribe/people when followed by the name of that group's eponymous ancestor.


  1. Pagan: Fertility God associated with reproduction; a creative force; generally represented as a man with horns on his head or as a goat or ram..

  2. Christian (Roman Catholic): = Devil.

  3. Secret Society (Knights Templar): Stone head at the center of a ritual.

baptism (see also affusion, aspersion and immersion)
Christian: The initiatory ritual; a rite symbolizing repentance and purification by water; commonly required as an initiation into the community of the saved.

Baptism in the Holy Ghost (=Baptism in the Holy Spirit)

  1. Christian: Speaking in tongues (unknown languages) as inspired by the Holy Spirit.

  2. Christian (Assemblies of God USA): Number 7 of the Statements of Faith: All believers are entitled to and should ardently expect and earnestly seek the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Ghost and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian Church. With it comes the enduement of power for life and service, the bestowment of the gifts and their uses in the work of the ministry. This experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth. With the baptism in the Holy Ghost come such experiences as: an overflowing fullness of the Spirit, a deepened reverence for God, an intensified consecration to God and dedication to His work, and a more active love for Christ, for His Word and for the lost.” [from Our Statement of Fundamental Truths}

Baptism of Jesus

Christian (holiday): Commemoration of the beginning of Jesus' public ministry.

baraka (=barakah; Arabic: "blessing", "grace")

  1. Muslim: The distinctive spiritual power believed to reside in holy places and persons.

  2. Muslim (Shi'ite: Sufi): "The spiritual presence and influence which is, at once 'supernatural' and flowing with the arteries of the cosmos." (Seyyeid Hossein Nasr, Ideals and Realities of Islam, Boston: Beacon Press, 1973: 179.)

  3. Muslim A blessedness that can be passed on from a wali to his followers.

Barry Briskman
See Briskman, Barry.

Muslim: The period between earthly life and 'aqebat.

Christian (Byzantine): Title of Byzantine rulers beginning with Heraclius in 610 CE.

Basmala (=bismillah)
Muslim: The name for the formula recited by Muslims before beginning an act, such as making a speech. The invocation translates as "In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate" (roughly, bi'smillah al-rahman al-rahim).

bast (Arabic?)
Individual or group act of taking refuge in a mosque or other public place to evade arrest; mainly an Iranian custom.
Common usage (Muslim): The sanctuary from secular authority provided by mosques, residences of ulama and other sacred places.

Ba'th (Arabic: "renaissance", "resurrection")

  1. Common usage: The political party of deposed (2003) Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

  2. Common usage: A major Arab Socialist political party founded in Syria about 19xx.

batin (Arabic: "inward")

  1. Muslim: One of the names of God is Al-Batin.

  2. Muslim: The inward aspect of divine revelation.

batini (pl. =Batiniya, =Batinites)
Muslim (Shi'a): A devotee of esoteric interpretation of sacred texts particularly associated with Ismailis.

baya (Arabic?: "oath of allegiance")

bayt (Arabic: "house")

bayt al-mal (Arabic)
Common usage: A Muslim state's treasury.

Beatific Vision (“the seeing that makes us happy”)
Christian (Augustinian): The goal of human life is seeing God (the source of ultimate happiness or beatitude).

beati (plural noun)
(see also Blessed)
Christian (esp. Roman Catholic: Those who have received beatification.

beatification (Latin: beatus, blessed, and facere to make)
Christian (esp. Roman Catholic): The declaration by the pope that a person deserves to be entitled "Blessed" (regarded as dwelling in the happiness of heaven).

Christian: The first ten verses of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

bedikat hametz (Hebrew)
Jewish (ritual): On the evening of the fourteenth of Nisan it is customary to conduct a search of the house in order to find any hametz that may be left prior to the beginning of Passover.

bedouin (both sing. and pl.)
Common usage: Arab (camel) nomad.

Beheading of John the Baptist
Christian (holiday): Remembrance of the death of John, who baptised Jesus.

bein ha - meitsarim (=Three Weeks) (Hebrew: "between the straits")

Jewish: The Three Weeks between the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av commemorating the period between the breach of the walls of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and day of the destruction of the Temple. The term is drawn from a verse in the Book of Lamentations (1:3), "all her persecutors overtook her between the straits."

Scientologist: The assumption or choosing of a category of identity.

Bell, Arthur
New Age: Founder of Mankind United religious sect in Los Angeles, Calif., in the 1930s.

Beltane (=Beltene)
New Age/Pagan: One of the Celtic quarterly feasts, held on 1 May; often adopted as a holiday by Neopagans. If it is celebrated on 30 April, it is often called May Eve. Traditional decorations are hawthorn in blossom.

I dance delight
on Beltane's night.
All senses freeing,
I dance for being.
The flower and the flame
of love's own rite
shall blossom. Sun
embrace Earth, bright.

-- Neopagan chant for Beltane

Ancient Middle East: Sumerian mother goddess. Considered equivalent to Astarte and Ishtar.

Beltene (see Beltane)


  1. Common usage: Type of floor covering.

  2. Common usage: Native inhabitants of mountainous regions of western North Africa.

Bertrand de Blanchefort
Priory of Sion: Grand Master; Europe/12th Century.

Indian subcontinent; The sixth month of the (solar) calendar; the others are Chaitra, Vaishaaka, Jyeshta, Aashaadha, Sraavana, Aaswayuja, Kaartika, Maargasira, Pushya, Magha and Phaalguna.

Hindu: Tantric Goddess and consort of Bhairav.

Bhagavadgita (or, Bhagavad-Gita or Bhagwat Geeta) (Sanskrit: "Poem of the Lord")
Hindu scripture: The most widely known of all Hindu scriptures, this long poem was written between 200 BCE and 300 CE. It is part of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata.

Hindu: God.

Hindu: Shiva in his most terrifying form.

bhajan (Sanskrit?: "adoration", "worship")
Hindu ritual: The term is commonly used to describe Indian hymn-singing sessions, held, usually, by vaishavas, at which there may also be some brief exposition of scripture. Bhajan-mandali (hymn-singing groups) are the commonest form of village religious devotion and have been introduced by Gujarati immigrants as they settle outside India, including in North America.

Hindu ritual: Hymn-singing group.

Hindu: Devotee.


  1. Hindu: Devotion.

  2. Hindu: Emotional, devotional love of God.

bhaktimarga (=bhakti marga) (Sanskrit: "path of devotion")
Hindu: One of the three traditional "paths" of Hinduism, the other two being jnanamarga and karmamarga.

Buddhist: Meditation.

bharad (Nepalese)
Hindu (Nepal): A reverential title.

Hindu: A deity worshipped for his strength and courage.

Bhukhari (=Sahih al-Bukhari)
Muslim: An Islamic scholar who was well known for his authentication of hadith.

Common usage: One who destroys books, especially Bibles.

Common usage: The veneration of books, or of one particular book or set of books (ie. the Bible).

bid'a (=bida; Arabic: "innovation")

  1. Muslim: Heresy.

  2. Muslim: Deviation from tradition.

  3. Muslim: A belief or practice not found in the Sunna that is not acceptable to traditionalists.

Muslim: Muhammad's first mu'adhdhin, a Black Ethiopian (hence, a common chosen name for African-American converts).

binah (Hebrew: “thought”)

Jewish: The name for the third sefirah; emanates from and is paired with hokhmah.

Birth of ...

  1. Baha'i / Birth of the Bab (holiday): Honors the founder of the Babi religion, forerunner to Baha'u'llah and the Baha'i faith.

  2. Baha'i / Birth of Baha'u'llah (holiday): Celebration of the birth of Baha'u'llah.

  3. Sikh / Birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji (holiday): Honors the birthdate of the founder of the Sikh faith.


  1. Christian: A cleric with authority over subordinant clerics.

  2. Christian (Roman Catholic): A cleric who runs a diocese.

  3. Christian (Anglican): Priest in charge of a diocese; person with cathedra in the cathedral.

bismillah (=bashmillah; Arabic)
Muslim: English transliteration of the Arabic words "in the name of God", which begin all but one of the suras of the Qur'an. They are used by Muslims as a validating formulae for solemn acts; as invocation of a divine blessing before many acts of daily life, such as eating, and as a frequent calligraphic motif in Islamic art and the writing out of talismans and amulets.

Black Independents
Christian: Denominations whose congregants are predominantly black that have parallel denominations whose congregants are predominantly white. Examples are African Methodist Episcopal Church and National Baptist Convention USA.

Black Jews
[incomplete; controversial}
Jewish: A tradition among blacks in east coast urban areas (esp. New York and Philadelphia) begun about 1915 in reaction to the black nationalist movement.

Black Muslims

Nation of Islam: A term denoting members of the Nation of Islam (NOI). The term was first made popular by C. Eric Lincoln in his 1956 doctoral dissertation. However, the original NOI splintered in 1975, causing some confusion in use of the term. At present, it is used by (most) journalists and scholars to refer to those continuing to follow the Nation of Islam led by Louis Farrakhan.

Blackburn, May Otis
New Age: Leader of the Divine Order of the Royal Arms of the Great Eleven in the Santa Susana Hills of California in the 1920s.

Blanche de Navarre (=Blanche d'Evreux)
Priory of Sion: Grand Master; born 1332 (France); d. 1398.

Blanche d'Evreux (=Blanche de Navarre)
Priory of Sion: Grand Master; born 1332 (France); d. 1398.

Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna
Founder of the Theosophical Society in Hollywood (Los Angeles), California. (See also Theosophy.)

Christian (esp. Roman Catholic): The title give to one who has received beatification.

Blessed Hope
Christian: Expectation of resurrection of the dead along with those believers who are alive at the Second Coming of Christ.

Blessing of the Animals
Christian: Observance of respect for domestic animals that mean much to people, often observed on or near the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi."

blessing over apples dipped in honey
Jewish: A prayer said during religious ceremonies at home. “Barukh atah Adonai, elohenu melekh ha-olam, boreh pri ha-etz.” = “Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the tree.”

Blessing over Bread (=Motzi)
Jewish: The prayer said before eating. “Barukh atah adonai elohenu melekh ha-olam ha-Motzi lekhem min ha-aretz.” = “Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who brings bread forth from the Earth.”

Blessing over Wine (=Kiddush)
Jewish: The blessing said over wine: “Barukh atah adonai elohenu melekh ha-olam boreh pri ha-gafen” = "Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine."

blue (color)

Buddhist: Used to denote enlightened beings, who are "clear all the way through" like the sky.

[see bodhi]


  1. Buddhist: The pipal tree (Ficus religiosa) under which Gautama Buddha achieved enlightenment, and any tree so worshipped.

  2. Buddhist / Bodhi Day (holiday): celebration of the time when Prince Gautama took his place under the Bodhi tree, vowing to remain there until he attained supreme enlightenment.

Buddhist: The founder of Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma was an Indian Buddhist teacher who lived in the sixth century CE. His reform movement emphasizes meditation.

Bodhisattva (Sanskrit)

  1. Buddhist: The saintly ideal of Mahayana Buddhism.

  2. Buddhist: A Buddha-to-be who postpones entry into nirvana in order to labor for the salvation of all living things.

  3. Buddhist (Zen): As praise, it is for selfless spiritual practice, as criticism for insufficient attention for one's own practice.

Muslim (Shi'ite): Name of a group of Isma'ili Muslims of South Asia who are neither Twelver Shi'a nor followers of the Aga Khan.

The pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet, incorporating animism and sorcery.

Bon Festival
Shinto: Celebration of ancestral souls' day. People visit graveyards to recall the souls of ancestors.

A follower of the Bon faith.

Book One
Scientologist: The first book published on the subject of Dianetics, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.

bori (Hausa)
African (Hausa): A spirit possession cult.


  1. Renaissance Italy: The painter whose given name was Sandro Filipepi; born 1444.
  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.

Boyle, Robert

  1. English scientist: b. 1627, d. 1691.Youngest son of Earl of Cork. Member, Royal Academy of Science; friend of Newton, Isaac and John Locke.

  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.


  1. Hindu: God of creation.

  2. Hindu: The impersonal God who is seen as total reality in the Upanishads.

  3. Hindu: The term for the ultimate principle of the cosmos; the abstract, impersonal Absolute.

  4. Hindu: One of the three Great Gods of Hinduism. Brahma, Shiva (Siva) and Vishnu (Visnu) form the divine triad, within which Brahma is assigned the function of creator. He often is portrayed with four faces, embracing the four points of the compass, and with four arms in which he holds the Vedas. Brahma is considered above and beyond worship.

Brahma Day/Night
Hindu: Terms for the positive and negative phases of creation.

brahma vidya
Hindu: Metaphysics.

Brahman (plural: Brahmin)

  1. Hindu: Highest level in caste system; “sprung from the mouth of Brahma”.

  2. Hindu: The highest caste, originally that of priests.

Hindu: Ritual instruction found in Vedic literature.

Brahmin (plural of Brahman)

  1. Common usage: The elite (eg. "Boston Brahmin")

  2. Hindu: Vedic priests.

  3. Members of the first, most prestigious caste in Indian society.

Indian subcontinent: Ancient religion, predecessor of modern Hinduism and Buddhism.

brakha (Hebrew)
Jewish: A blessing.


Christian: A book containing the forms of service, psalms and scriptural readings for the daily liturgical practice required of Roman Catholic priests and some non-ordained monks.

Hindu: The guru of the Gods.

Briskman, Barry
New Age: Founder (late 1980s) of Cult of Hiternia.

Buddha (Sanskrit: "one who has awakened" or "an enlightened one"; from budh, "to know")
Buddhist: Buddha (or The Buddha) is not a proper name, but an honorific title for the historical founder of Buddhism, the Indian Nobleman whose given name was Siddhartha and whose family name was Gautama (or, Gotama).

Buddha Day
Buddhist (holiday): Celebration of the birthdate of Buddha.

Buddhist: An offshoot of Hinduism with more than 500 million followers worldwide founded about 2,500 years ago by Siddhartha Gautama (c. 563-c.483 B.C.E.), a Hindu born into the wealthy warrior caste in what is now Nepal.

See also Buddhism.

Buddhist Churches of America (BCA)
Buddhist: Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) is affiliated with the Honpa-Hongwanji branch of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, a Japanese Pure Land School.

Builders of the Adytum (=Adytum)
Secret Society: A Los Angeles-based group; see Builders of the Adytum.

bushido (Japanese)
Common usage: Ethical code stressing honor and loyalty to one's superiors.

Muslim (Shi'ite): Dynasty of Persian military rulers in power from 945 CE to 1055 CE, when the Sunni Seljuq took over.

Büyük Bayram (Turkish: "major festival") See Id al-Adha.

Christian (Roman Catholic): ="Blessed Virgin Mary".



Common Era; politically correct term that replaces AD.

cabala (=kabbalah, =qabala) (Hebrew: "tradition")

  1. Jewish: General term for mystical elements in Judaism.

  2. Jewish: An esoteric tradition of mysticism whose central document is the Zohar and whose distinctive idea is the Sefirot.

  3. Jewish: A mystical movement begun in medieval times that seeks to allegorize scripture and unlock both its secret directions for daily life and its descriptions of the emanations of God.

New Age: Planet ruled by Hiternia; see Cult of Hiternia.


  1. [xxxx]

  2. Christian Identity : The son of Satan and Eve; the father of the Jews. See Christian Identity.

(see also Calendars Through the Ages, from which much of this material has been adapted)

  1. Common usage: Accounting of time based on the motion of the earth around the sun. Years have 365 or 366 days divided into 12 months that have no relationship to the motion of the moon. Weeks group days in sets of 7.

  2. Common usage (Europe/Americas): Solar calendar (example: Gregorian) designed to maintain synchrony with the tropical year.

  3. Common usage (some Muslim-majority countries): Lunar calendar follows the lunar phase cycle without regard for the tropical year.

  4. Common usage (Israel; historic China): Lunisolar calendar has a sequence of months based on the lunar phase cycle; but every few years a whole month is intercalated to bring the calendar back in phase with the tropical year.
  5. Christian: Two main versions have existed in recent times: The Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar. The difference between them lies in the way they approximate the length of the tropical year and their rules for calculating Easter

  6. Muslim: Accounting of time based on the motion of the moon (the year has no connection with the motion of the earth around the sun). The year is divided by lunar phases, so its 355 days do not correspond to the time it takes the earth to make one revolution around the sun. In order to match it with the solar year, intercalation (10 days of concatenation called nasi are added). The months are (1) Muharram, (2) Safar, (3) Rabi-al-Awwal, (4) Rabi-al-Thani, (5) Jumada-al-Oola, (6) Jumada-al-Akhir, (7) Rajab, (8) Sha'ban, (9) Ramadan, (10) Shawwal, (11) Zul-Hijja, (12) Zul-Qa'da.

  7. Hindu: Solar calendar; The months are Chaitra, Vaishaaka, Jyeshta, Aashaadha, Sraavana, Bhaadrapada, Aaswayuja, Kaartika, Maargasira, Pushya, Magha and Phaalguna.

  8. Hebrew: Its years are linked to the motion of the earth around the sun, and its months are linked to the motion of the moon.

  • Julian calendar: Introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 BCE. It was in common use until the 1500s, when it was supplanted by he Gregorian calendar. A few countries (notably Greece and Russia) used it into the 1900s, and the Orthodox church in Russia still uses it, as do some other Orthodox churches. In the Julian calendar, the tropical year is approximated as 365 1/4 days = 365.25 days. This gives an error of 1 day in approximately 128 years. The approximation 365 1/4 is achieved by having 1 leap year every 4 years.
  • Gregorian calendar: the one commonly used today. It was proposed by Aloysius Lilius, a physician from Naples, and adopted by Pope Gregory XIII in accordance with instructions from the Council of Trent (1545-1563) to correct for errors in the older Julian Calendar. It was decreed by Pope Gregory XIII in a papal bull on 24 February 1582. This bull is named "Inter Gravissimas" after its first two words. In the Gregorian calendar, the tropical year is approximated as 365 97/400 days = 365.2425 days. Thus it takes approximately 3300 years for the tropical year to shift one day with respect to the Gregorian calendar. The approximation 365 97/400 is achieved by having 97 leap years every 400 years.

Caliph (=khalifah; Arabic: "successor")

  1. Muslim: Successor to and representative of Muhammad.

  2. Muslim: A title implying continuation of Muhammad's leadership of the Muslim community, but without direct divine revelation.

Muslim: Institution and government of Caliphs.

Camel,Battle of the
Muslim: First clash between Muslim armies in 656,in chich Talhah,Zubayr and Aishah challenged Ali unsuccessfully.

Christian: Application and acceptance as a potential member; the first step in becoming a member of a religious organization. See formation.

candle lighting prayer
Jewish: The prayer said at home before lighting candles: “Barukh atah Adonai elohenu melekh ha-olam asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadleek ner shel yom tov.” = “Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe who makes us holy with mitzvot and commands us to kindle the Festival lights.”

(see, Imbolg)

canon (Greek kan
َn: "rule")

  1. A rule or list, in particular, a list of scriptures regarded as authoritative (the sacred canon)

  2. Christian: A set of ecclesiastical rules (canon law).

  3. An authoritative list of works accepted as Holy Scripture.

  4. Christian (Roman Catholic): The most solemn portion of the Mass including the consecration of the bread and wine.

  5. Christian: As an ecclesiastical title it refers to a member of clergy on the regular staff of a cathedral.

  6. Christian (Roman Catholic): An ecclesiastical member of a chapter or body of clerics living according to rule, and presided over by one of their number.


Christian (esp. Roman Catholic): The process by which a person becomes a saint.

Jewish: The prayer leader in the synagogue, particularly on Sabbaths and festivals. The cantor is not a rabbi, and any layperson can fulfill this role. In modern times, with the use of choirs in synagogues and the development of liturgical music, the cantor has become a full-time, paid synagogue official.

Anglican: Refers to Archbishop of Canterbury, England.

Christian (Roman Catholic): An order of monks in the Franciscan Order. Name derived from European medieval peasant garb, a recycled grain sack called the capuche.

cلrceles secretas (=la cلrceles secretas)
Christian (Roman Catholic: Spanish): The prisons run by the inquisitor general (head of the Inquisition).

Christian (Roman Catholic): A bishop who runs a large politically and culturally significant diocese. Cardinals are appointed by the >Pope, and, in turn, elect new popes. There are no cardinals in Indiana.

Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Christian (Roman Catholic): An order of nuns.


  1. Scientologist: A general term for a person being treated or helped.

  2. Scientologist: The entire accumulation of upsets, pain, failures, etc., residing in a preclear’s reactive mind.

case gains

  1. Scientologist: The improvements and resurgences a person experiences from auditing.

  2. Scientologist: Any case betterment according to the preclear.

Case Supervisor (=C/S)
Scientologist: A highly trained auditor who is also trained in the technology of supervising auditing.


Hindu (social system). The status of an individual in society is determined by the caste into which he or she is born. A person’s surname includes reference to his/her caste. In order from highest to lowest: Brahman, Kshatriya, Vashya, Sudra, Dalit


  1. Common usage: A short manual of critical beliefs.

  2. Christian: A list of essential doctrines memorized by the faithful or those who seek confirmation in the faith.

catholic (Greek: "general", "universal")

  1. Christian: Universal or worldwide, as in "one holy catholic and apostolic church".

  2. Christian: When capitalized, Catholic usually refers to the Roman Catholic Church, headed by the Pope.

  3. Christian: Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Byzantine Catholic [incomplete]

Christian (Roman Catholic): That form of Christianity which recognizes the supreme authority of the Pope, normally resident in the Vatican (Rome, Italy). Catholicism took on distinctive form as a result of two major schisms, one with the Eastern Orthodox Churches in 1054 CE and one within the western church at the time of the Protestant Reformation.

Common usage (esp. 19th C): Belief that earth's topology formed by catastrophic events, principally floods. (See also Uniformitarianism.)

Cayce, Edgar
New Age: American clairvoyant, prophet and seer, 1877-1945; founded Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) in 1931.

Celtic Quarterly Feasts
New Age: As celebrated in historic and contemporary ritual, they are: Samhain (1 November), Imbolg (1 February), Beltane (1 May) and Lughnasa (1 August).

Central Spiritual Resurrection
New Age: Sect in existence approx. 1934-5; see Central Spiritual Resurrection.



center (=centre)

  1. Common usage (noun): One's core beliefs, one's true self. "...[T]he greatest journey one can ever take is to the centre of one's being." [Susan Howatch, Mystical Paths (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992): 191]

  2. Common usage (verb): The process of finding/validating one's core beliefs.

chaddar (Punjabi)
Indian subcontinent: Shawl; part of the traditional apparel of one who has chosen a spiritual path.

Chakrasamvara (Tibetan: "Circle of Supreme Bliss")
Buddhist (Tibetan): God the Father.

Indian subcontinent: The first month of the (solar) year. The others are Vaishaaka, Jyeshta, Aashaadha, Sraavana, Bhaadrapada, Aaswayuja, Kaartika, Maargasira, Pushya, Magha and Phaalguna.

Christian: The site of a church council in 451, where the orthodox Christology was formulated.

Christian (Anglican): Group of residential canons for a cathedral.

Scientologist: Harmful energy or force contained in mental image pictures of painful or upsetting experiences.

Spiritual gift; example: leadership.

Possessed of spiritual gifts giving energy and influence to an individual.


Charles de Montpensier et de Bourbon

  1. French nobleman; Connetable de Bourbon, duke of Châtelleraut, Constable of France; viceroy of Milan; b. 1490, d. 1527.

  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.>

Charles de Lorraine
  1. French nobleman: b. 1744.

  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.

Charles Nodier
See: Nodier, Charles.

Charles Radclyffe
See Radclyffe, Charles.

Muslim (Shi'ite): The 40th day after 'Ashura; a day of ritual mourning and the end of the major mourning cycle begun on the first day of Muharram.

chhetri (=kshatriya)
Hindu: Warrior caste; second in status (brahmin is first).

ch'i (Chinese) (=qi)
The vital energy that animates, connects and moves everything through the cycles of life.

Chief Mufti
Muslim (Ottoman Empire): The highest legal and religious authority in the Ottoman Empire from the 16th Century CE.

Common usage: Belief in the coming of the "last thousand years".

Chinese New Year Common usage (holiday): First day of a 15-day festival celebrated by Chinese people of all religions."

chitrakar (Nepalese)
Hindu: Newar caste of artists.

Chong Kui
Taoist: Deity whose sword and fierce expression protect an altar and scare away demons.


  1. Definition: The Greek word for Messiah.

  2. Christian: [xxxx]

  3. New Age: One of the four co-equal deities of the Process Church of the Final Judgement.

Christ the King
Christian (esp. Roman Catholic)(holiday): Celebration of the preeminence of Jesus over all earthly authorities.

Christian Identity
Christian: A religious movement based on the “superiority of the white race”. See Christian Identity.

Christmas (=Nativity of Jesus)
  1. Common usage: 25 December.

  2. Christian (holiday): 25 December or 6 January.

  3. Christian: A season of the liturgical year following Advent and preceding Epiphany.

  4. Christian / Christmas Day: 25 December or 6 January.

  5. Christian / Christmas eve: 24 December or 5 January.

  6. Christian (Eastern Orthodox) / Christmas Fast: Fasting period in preparation for the celebration of Christmas.


  1. Christian: Teachings concerning the person of Jesus Christ.

  2. Christian: Doctrine concerning the person of Christ; that he is one person with two natures, truly God and truly man.

Christus alius (Latin: "another Christ")
Christian (Archaic): A priest.

chun-zu (Chinese)
Confucian: One of the tenets of Confucianism, it refers to striving toward the model of (human) perfection.

See also umma.

  1. Common usage: Building used for worship.

  2. Christian: The Body of Christ.

  3. Christian: An agency of God for evangelizing the world.

  4. Christian: Community of believers worldwide.

  5. Christian: A specific local gathering of Christians; therefore, a building used for Christian worship.

  6. Christian (Assemblies of God USA): According to Number 10 in the Statement of Fundamental Truth, the church is “to be a channel of God’s purpose to build a body of saints being perfected in the image of his Son.”

church fathers

Christian: Theologians of the early Christian tradition (about 150-500 CE), who formulated the basic teachings of Christian orthodoxy, including the doctrines of the Trinity and Christology.

Native American: A giantess who ruled Lake Copalla (said to be in what is now the Imperial Valley, California).

Circumcision of Jesus
Christian (holiday): Celebration of the day the infant Jesus was brought to the Temple for the ritual act of circumcision, in accordance with Jewish custom.

classical theism
Western Enlightenment: The view of God combining Biblical concepts with metaphysical concepts from the Platonic and Aristolelian traditions developed by the Christian church fathers and systematized in the Middle Ages by Islamic, Jewish and Christian scholars.

Claude Debussy
See Debussy, Claude.

Clay Table Processing
Scientologist: A particular process used in certain types of auditing.

Scientologist: An individual's positive state of mind achieved through successful auditing.

Christian (Roman Catholic): Refers to the private, restricted areas ("Enclosure") of the Monastery and grounds reserved for the use of the Nuns.

close Christian: Area surrounding and belonging to a cathedral; generally consists of various administrative and residential structures often enclosed within a wall or fence.

Cocteau, Jean

  1. French artist; born 1889.

  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.

Christian: One who shares in the common life of a monastery or convent, subject to religious vows.

Cogito, ergo sum (Latin: “I think, therefore I am”)
One of Decartes’ claims, reflecting his views that the claim of being an existing, thinking being is affirmed because it cannot be subjected to deception.

Comforter (=The Comforter)
Christian (archaic): The Holy Spirit.


(as Christian ritual, also called Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, Mass).

  1. Christian: The bread and wine consumed during Jesus' last supper with his disciples

  2. Christian: In contemporary Christian practice, the exact meaning and symbolism varies, as does the form -- from wine and wafer to water and Wonder bread.

  3. Christian ritual: The memorial meal of bread and wine which celebrates the sacrifice of Jesus.

  4. Christian ritual: The act of a believer receiving the consecrated bread and wine from clergy.

  5. Christian: The giving the body and blood of Christ to his church through the bread and wine.

  6. Christian: The fellowship of all Christians in heaven and on earth.:"the communion of saints".

  7. Christian: Can refer to a specific Christian church or family of churches.

  8. Christian: To be in communion with a church indicates mutual aceptance of the sacraments and ministry by an individual or group.

Christian: Seventh part of the daily prayer time schedule; evening.

Christian (Roman Catholic): An agreement or treaty concluded between a sovereign state or government and the Holy See, represented by the Pope himself or by a Nuncio.

Christian: A rite of initiation complementary to baptism in which the gift of the Holy Spirit is conveyed through the laying on of hands.

Conversion of...

  1. Christian / Conversion of St. Peter (=Confession of St Peter): Recognition of the words of St Peter when he responded to a question by Jesus and described him as the long awaited messiah.
  2. Christian / Conversion of St. Paul (holiday): Observance of the experience of the Paul when he was confronted by a vision of Jesus while on his way to Damascus.

Confucian: A Chinese religion attributed to Confucius. The key teachings include jen (good-heartedness), chun-zu (the model of human perfection), li (proper conduct) and wen (education).

Confucius (=K'ung Fu-Tzu, =K'ung Fo-tzu, =Master K’ung)
Confucian: Born in China in 551 BCE in the waning years of the Chou dynasty, Confucius was the child of an aristocratic family that had lost its wealth in the decaying Chou feudal system. He became a teacher and author; he died in 479 BCE. The Analects are believed to record some of his dialogues with students or his teachings, as well as the Five Classics..

Confucius' birthday
Confucian (holiday): Celebration of Confucius' birth.

Congregation for the Causes of Saints
Christian (Roman Catholic): [incomplete]

Christian: The presence of the body and blood of Jesus along with the bread and wine of communion.


  1. Prayer.

  2. Christian: The loving awareness of God (the essence of prayer in Christian tradition). It involves no discursive thought.

Christian (Roman Catholic): Designates Religious Institutes whose primary Apostolate is prayer rather than active ministries of teaching, nursing, etc.

Constable (=Croisé de Saint-Jean)
Priory of Sion: Third-level rank, below Seneschal.

Christian: In medieval penetential theology, the proper state of mind for a penitent: sincere hatred of one’s sins.

Copt (=Qibt)
Christian: A monophysite Egyptian Christian.

Corpus Christi (Latin: "body of Christ")

Christian (Roman Catholic): A holy day falling on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday to celebrate the foundation of the Eucharist.

cosmological proof
Christian: An argument for the existence of God which reasons from the existence of the world to the existence of a necessary “first principle” from which the world originates.

cosmology (from Greek cosmos: “world”)
A subdiscipline of philosophy concerned with the nature of the universe.

Christian: A formal meeting of bishops and other representatives of regionally distinct Christian churches to regulate doctrine or discipline.

New Age: A group or assembly of Wiccans or other Neopagans.


  1. A solemn compact pledging the partners to mutual rights and duties.

  2. A promise between God and a category or group of people (= keeping God's law).

  3. Jewish: An important Hebrew biblical motif and the central metaphor of Judaism. It is understood that Israel is bound to God for all generations by a covenant whose terms were revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of the Torah.

  4. Christian: The New Covenant includes Jesus' death as payment for human sins.

Covenant of the Goddess (abbreviation: CoG)
New Age: The world's largest religious organization for Wiccans (including members from North America, Europe and Australia) was organized at the spring equinox in 1975 and incorporated as a non-profit religious organization on Hallowe'en 1975 to increase cooperation among Wiccans and to secure for Wiccans and covens the legal protection enjoyed by members of other religions.

Christian: A living thing created by God.


  1. A list of basic beliefs stated as theological propositions.
  2. Christian: A short statement of faith in the Christian church, the most important of which are the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed.

Crowley, Aleister
New Age: Author of Book of Law, a key text in Ordo Templi Orientis. Native of Scotland; active in 1930s.


  1. Classical method of capital punishment used in the Roman Empire in which the condemned are fastened to a cross until death.

  2. Christian: According to Biblical accounts, the way Jesus was executed under Roman authority.

Cult of Hiternia
New Age: In existence approx. 1990-1, an offshoot of Process Church of the Final Judgement.

Christian (Roman Catholic): The central administrative body of the Roman Catholic Church, which acts under the authority of the Pope.

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