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

Pope. D Pope. Pope. Daddy Grace


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Daddy Grace
See Grace, Charles Emmanuel.

da'i (Arabic?: "he who summons")
Muslim: Refers to advocates for dissenting sects, such as the original Abbasid movement and the Isma'ilis.

Hindu: A token amount paid to a guru or priest for a religious service.

Dalai Lama
Buddhist: The Grand Lama of the Yellow Hat (or Dge Lugs Pa) Buddhist order of Tibet. The reincarnate high priest of Tibetan Buddhism and political leader of Tibetans around the world.

Dalai Lama birthday
Buddhist (holiday)

Dalit (=Untouchable)
Hindu: Persons beneath the lowest castelevel; that is, persons outside the caste system.. See: for more on the Untouchables.

damais (Nepalese)
Hindu (Nepal): Caste of tailors who form makeshift bands to play religious music for weddings and other occasions in Nepal.

dar (Arabic: "abode", "realm", "territory")
Dar al-Harb (=Darul Harb; Arabic: "abode of war", "house of confrontation")

  1. Muslim (common usage): Non-Muslim country.

  2. Muslim: Territories not under Muslim political control where jihads take place.

Dar al-Islam (=Darul Islam; Arabic: "abode of peace", "house of Islam")

  1. Muslim (common usage): Muslim country.

  2. Muslim: Territories under Muslim control, but sometimes used to describe those areas with Muslim majorities. Beyond the Dar al-Islam is the Dar al-Harb.

Dar al-Kufr (Arabic: "abode of infidels")

Dark Watchers

Native American (Chumash)/New Age: Spectral beings seen at twilight just below the peaks of the Santa Lucia Mountains near Avila Beach, Calif.

Muslim (Shi'ite): A recitation of blessing or praise for Muhammad.

Dasa Laxana
Jain (holiday): Observance focusing on the holy texts describing the ten characteristics to which devotees aspire.

Hindu (holiday): Celebration of victory of Lord Rama over evil.

Data Series
Scientologist: A series of policy letters written by L. Ron Hubbard which deal with logic, illogic, proper evaluation of data and how to detect and handle the causes of good and bad situations within groups and organizations.

Dattatraya (Nepalese)
Hindu: A syncretistic deity in Nepal variously worshipped as an incarnation of Vishnu, a teacher of Shiva, or a cousin of the Buddha.

da'wa (=dawah, Arabic: "call")

  1. Muslim: Religious outreach, proselytizing "by example".

  2. Muslim: Missionary work among non-Muslims.

  3. Muslim: "Invitation to Islam".

  4. Muslim (Shi'ite): Agents of the Imam who spread the doctrines of Isma'ilism.

Day of...

  1. Muslim / Day of Hajj (holiday): Observance of the revelation to Mohammed on Mount Arafat.

  2. Baha'i / Day of the Covenant (holiday): Celebration of the covenant given in the last will and testament of Baha'u'llah.

de novo (Latin: "from new")
A religous movement that does not appeal to tradition but claims to create that which has not previously existed.

deacon (“servant”, “attendant”, “minister”)
Christian: The lowest rank of ordination in the Roman Catholic and Episcopal Churches (below priest and bishop) conferring the authority to perform all priestly functions except the consecration during the Eucharist or Mass.


Christian (Anglican): Priest in charge of a cathedral.

Death of Guru Nanak Dev
Sikh (holiday): Observance of the passing of the first Guru.

Debussy, Claude

  1. French composer; born 1862.

  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.

Declaration of the BabBaha'i: Recognition of the declaration in 1844 by Ali Muhammed that he was the anticipated "Coming One" of all religions.

Dee, John (=Dr. John Dee)

New Age: Author of Enochian manuscripts, key texts in Ordo Templi Orientis. An Elizabethan occultist.


Hindu (festival): xxxxx.


See Moore, Robert.

demiurge (Greek: “craftsman” or “artificer”)

Platonic: The divine being who forms the world.

Muslim: A member of a mystical sect.

Descartes, René
Christian philosopher (France)(1596-1600): Founder of algebraic geometry and modern philosopy; added analysis to empirical evidence as a scientific requirement.

design, argument from

Christian: A proof for the existence of God based on the inference that the order of the world requires an intelligent designer.

Buddhist: A heavenly being.

Hindu: A shakti of Shiva (also called Maha Devi).

Devine, Major J.

Founder of the Father Divine Peace Mission Movement.

dhami (Nepalese)

Hindu (Nepal): A soothsayer and sorcerer; also, the priest of a temple, especially a priest claiming occult powers.

dharma (Sanskrit)

Hindu: The duties incumbent upon a person in traditional Hindu life based upon one's caste and station in life; truth, wise analysis of reality and prescription for successful living.

Dharma ("the path")

Buddhist: Key doctrine concerning cosmological principle and the essence of the absolute.

Dharma Day

Buddhist (holiday): Commemorates Buddha's first discourse following his enlightenment.


Buddhist: The body of the Buddha that identifies his enlightenment with Dharma.


  1. Common usage (Indian subcontinent): A center of worship.

  2. Common usage (Indian subcontinent): A public resthouse for travelers and pilgrims.

  3. Place name (when capitalized): The current residence of the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, is a town called Dharamsala in northwestern India.

dhikr (Arabic: "remember", "mention", "invoke")

  1. Common usage: A practice to foster remembering God, usually by repeating particular phrases.

  2. Muslim (Shi'ite): A common practice of >Sufis, who repeatedly chant the name of God during meditation.

dhimmi (=zimmi; Arabic)

  1. Muslim: Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim country.

  2. Muslim: Covenanter for peace under God.

Indian subcontinent: A loose loin cloth, such as that often worn by male Hindu deities (and also by Mahatma Gandhi).

Dhu-al-Hijjah (= Dhu-l-Hijja, Arabic)

Muslim: The 12th month of the Muslim year, in which every Muslim is to make a hajj to Mecca at least once in lifetime if physically and financially able.


Muslim: The 11th month of the Muslim year.

dhuhr (=zuhr) (Arabic: "noon")

Muslim: The name for one of the five obligatory daily prayers; specifically, the one said at noon.

dhyana (Sanskrit?: "meditation").

Dianetics (Greek: dia “through”, nous “soul.”)

  • Scientologist: A methodology developed by L. Ron Hubbard which can help alleviate unwanted sensations and emotions, irrational fears and psychosomatic illnesses.

  • Scientologist: What the soul is doing to the body through the mind.

diaspora (Greek "dispersion")

  1. Jewish: Collective term for all Jewish communities existing outside ancient Palestine.

  2. Jewish: The scattering of the Israelite people away from their homeland which began with the Assyrian destruction of Israel in 722 BCE.

  3. Contemporary usage: Describes dispersed, global residential patterns for any definable ethnic group that used to reside in one location; for example, the Chinese diaspora.

Hindu/Buddhist: A place of congregation and prayer.

din (=deen; Arabic: "religion", "way to live")

din-e-fitrat (Arabic)
Muslim: Religion of nature.


  1. Christian: A defined geographic area wherein all the churches are ruled by the same bishop.

  2. Christian (Anglican): A large area containing a cathedral and a number of churches, each with their own parishes.

  3. Christian (Roman Catholic): A regional assembly of parishes.

Discernment Day
Christian (Roman Catholic): A day-long program, usually held in a church, during with participants are encouraged to explore whether each is called to religious, single or married life as an adult.

Divali (=Diwali, =Deepavali, =Deep Diwali; "garland of lights")

  1. Hindu: A five-day festival of lights marking the end of the calendar year, with the first day observed as a holiday.

  2. Common usage: A festival marking the beginning of a new year celebrated as the national festival of India.
  3. In the United States: A late fall festival celebrated by Indo-Pakistani immigrant communities; =Festival of Lights.

  4. Jain: Commemoration of the liberation of Mahavira from the endless cycle of birth and rebirth.

The use of magical means to discover information inaccessible to normal inquiry (about the future, lost objects, hidden character traits, etc.)


  1. Muslim: Government bureau, chancery.

  2. Muslim: Court or council, or the room in which a court or council meets.


  1. An established article or statement of faith.

  2. Christian (Roman Catholic): A theological statement without error if it has been declared ex cathedra by the Pope.

dogmatics (German: “systematic theology”)
Christian: A systemtic theology (not a pejorative term, as “dogmatic” is in English).

Domus Dei (Latin: "House of God")

Christian: The place where God resides.


  1. Buddhist (Tantric): A symbol of the Absolute.

  2. Hindu: A ritual scepter or thunderbolt.

Dormition of the Theotokos (=Dormition of the Virgin Mary, =Falling Asleep of the Virgin Mary)
Christian (Eastern Orthodox) (holiday): Commemorates the death and burial of Mary.

doxology (Greek: "glory")

Christian: A hymn of triumph or glory, such as the
Gloria in excelsis deo.


Scientologist: The acting out of an engram in its entirety or in part by an aberrated person in his current environment.

Druze (or, Druse)


  1. Muslim: A small sectarian Muslim group primarily identified with the mountainous regions of Lebanon, northern Israel and southern Syria and numbering around between 600,000; considered an offshoot of the Shi'a Muslim sect of Fatimid Isma'ilis.

  2. Muslim: Religious group found chiefly in Greater Syria, whose faith drives from Fatimid Isma'ili doctrines and identifies al-Hakin as the final imam.

dua (=du'a; Arabic: "prayer")

  1. Muslim (Common Usage): A prayer.

  2. Muslim: A supplicatory prayer on a special occasion or on behalf of someone else.

  3. Muslim (Shi'ite): A personal petitionary prayer often performed at the end of namaz.

Platonic: The division of the human self into two parts: body and soul.

dukkha (Pali)

Buddhist: One of the three principal characteristics of all existence, variously translated as ill, suffering, unease and evil.

Anglican: Refers to Bishop of Durham, England.

Muslim: The world operating outside the rule of Islam.

Durga (=Kali)

  1. Hindu: The mother-Goddess.

  2. Hindu: The Goddess sometimes regarded as the spouse of Shiva.

  3. Hindu: Shiva’s shakti in one of her most awesome forms.

Hindu: The festival celebrating the victory of good over evil commemorating when Durga and Lord Rama prevailed over demons.

Dwarapala (Nepalese)

Hindu: A door guardian, esp. at a temple.
dwindling spiral
Scientologist: A condition characterized by continuous worsening, decreasing or shrinking.

Scientologist: The eight urges, drives or impulses of life.


E Clampus Vitus
New Age/Secret Society: A California sect founded in the 1800s. See E Clampus Vitus.

  1. Taoist: One of the Five Elements that make up the basis of physical and spiritual reality. Associated with spleen, stomach, (the season of ) Indian summer, sweet, yellow, Saturn and (the location) center.

  2. [more to come]


  1. Christian: The celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus in (approximately) 30 CE.

  2. Christian: The first Sunday after the first full moon after vernal equinox.

  3. Christian: The first Sunday after the official full moon on or after the official vernal equinox. The official vernal equinox is always 21 March. The official full moon may differ from the astronomical full moon by one or two days.

  4. Christian: Jesus was crucified immediately before the Jewish Passover. Celebration of Passover started on the 14th or 15th day of the (spring) month of Nisan. Jewish months start when the moon is new, therefore the 14th or 15th day of the month must be immediately after a full moon. It was therefore decided to make Easter Sunday the first Sunday after the first full moon after vernal equinox.

  5. Christian: Some countries have used the astronomical full moon instead of the official one when calculating Easter. This was the case, for example, of the German Protestant states from 1700-1776, in Sweden in 1740-1844 and in Denmark in the 1700s.

  • Paschal Moon: The full moon that precedes Easter.

Eastern Star
See Order of the Eastern Star.

ecclesiastical calendar
Christian: website

ecclesiology (Greek, ekklesia: "assembly of believers" or “church”) Christian: The study or theory of the church. The term is used both with reference to churches as buildings and to the church as a theological concept.


Christian: Those activities that are intended to foster unity among Christians.

Edgar Cayce
See Cayce, Edgar.

Christian (Roman Catholic): A priest or brother who is a member of Society of St. Edmund. Members affix SSE after their names. (See also St. Edmund.)

Edouard de Bar
Priory of Sion: Fourth Grand Master; b. 1302, France (?).

effendi (Byzantine: derived from a Greek term for "land")

  1. Muslim (Ottoman): A literate man, usually from an urban area.

  2. Muslim (Ottoman): A term of respect and subservience used for a civilian bureaucrat, an official in a religious instutition, a military officer.

eid (Arabic: "festival")
Muslim: Religious festivals include Eid Al-Fitr, celebrating the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and Eid Al-Adhha, commemorating the event when God spared Ibrahim from sacrificing his son Ismail.

Eid Al-Adha (=Eid Ul-Adha, =Id Al-Adha, =Id al-Kabir, =Büyük Bayram, =Feast of Sacrifice, =Feast of Abraham's Sacrifice; Arabic: "festival of sacrifice")
Muslim (holiday): Religious festival commemorating the readiness of Abraham (=Ibrahim) to sacrifice his son, Ishmael (=Ismail), and God allowed the sacrifice of animals in his place. Celebrated on the 10th of Dhu-al-Hijjah.

Eid Al-Fitr (=Eid Ul-Fitr, =Id Al-Fitr, =Id al-Saghir, =Aïd Essaghir, =Küçük Bayram, =Feast of the Fast-Breaking; Arabic: "festival of the breaking of the fast")
Muslim (holiday): Religious festival celebrating the end of the fasting month of Ramadan that involves prayers and feasting; celebrated on the first of Shawwal. It is a time of festive rejoicing, visits and exchange of presents. Zakat, the obligatory payment of alms, is due at this time.

eidolon (Greek: eidOlon; related to idol)


  1. A phantom, apparition, chimera, phantasma.

  2. An image of an ideal.

  3. A disposition available through intuition.

8 (=eight)
Common usage (Asian): Lucky number (homonym for "lucky").

Eight Immortals
Taoist: Representations of the concept that men and women, young and old, rich and poor, healthy and disabled, all can achieve the Tao.

Eightfold Path
Buddhist: The moral code which leads to nirvana:

  • Right understanding.

  • Right thinking (or, right thoughts).

  • Right speech.

  • Right conduct (or, right action).

  • Right livelihood (or, right means of livelihood).

  • Right endeavor (or, right effort).

  • Right mindfulness.

  • Right meditation (or, right concentration).

eight-spoked wheel (see also Wheel of Law)
Buddhist: This symbol refers to the Eightfold Path.

Ein-Sof (Hebrew: “the infinite”)
Jewish (Cabala: A designation of the hidden and unknowable God.

Ek (Nepalese)
Hindu: The number one, a symbol of unity.

Christian (Protestant): Used in Calvinist theology to describe those predestined by God for salvation (= “chosen”). Derived from Paul’s phrase “the election of grace” in Romans 11:5.

Christian: The mother of Mary and therefore maternal grandmother of Jesus.

Santeria: One of the four Gods (the others are Ochosi, Oggun and Oshu).

Elohim (Hebrew: "gods")
Jewish: One of the names by which the God of the Hebrews was known.

emir (Turkish, from the Arabic am?r, "one who commands")

Muslim: Denotes a commander, ruler or prince.

Emir al-Muminin (Arabic: "commander of believers")
Muslim: Title adopted by Caliph Umar b. al-Khattab and succeeding caliphs.

empirikoi (Greek)
Refers to those whose knowledge comes from observation. In English: empiricists.

empistimonikon (Greek)
Abstract and universal statements.

Christian (Roman Catholic): ( aka Papal Enclosure) [the Enclosure of Nuns of the wholly Contemplative Life, in which the rules governing the Enclosure must be confirmed by the Holy See.

Scientologist: A recording made by the reactive mind when a person is “unconscious” that is a complete recording, down to the last accurate detail, of every perception present in a moment of partial or full “unconsciousness.”

Name given to a movement in Western Europe in 18th century thought which was critical of revealed religion and its dogmas and insisted on the primacy of the individual and his own reason.

Enthusiasm (Greek: "God within")
Western Enlightenment: A pejorative term used by 18th century mainstream Protestants to refer to religious sects that based their beliefs on claims of direct inward inspiration.

Scientologist: Mental turbulence, or agitation and disturbance.

New Age: The spring equinox holiday, named for the Teutonic Goddess Oestre, is celebrated by Neopagans between 20 and 23 March. Decorations are daffodils.

Breaking through and breaking out.
Change! Sun and Earth together,
Pledged for life, within, without,
Sun God stretches out his hand,

Spring Queen dances through the land,

Spring booms, throughout and about.
-- Neopagan Eostar song

Christian: Site of a church council in 431, where the description of Mary as “mother of God” and Christ’s body as “life-giving flesh” were officially adopted.

Epiphany (Greek epiphania: "manifestation")

  1. Christian: The day marking the manifestation of the Christ at Jesus' baptism in the River Jordan.

  2. Christian (Hispanic tradition): The day on which the Three Kings visited Jesus in Bethlehem.

  3. Christian: The day after 12th Night; the end of the Christmas season.

  4. Christian (Protestant): The name of the liturgical season between Christmas and Lent.

  5. Christian (Eastern Orthodox): Linked with the blessing of water for baptism.

  6. Christian (Roman Catholic, Protestant): Linked with the legend of the showing of Jesus to the three magi or “wise men”; celebrated 6 January.

  7. epiphany website1, epiphany website2, epiphany website3.

episcopacy (Greek, episkopos: "overseer", which came to mean “bishop”)
Christian: An organizational form of the church based on bishops, usually thought to be consecrated in a continuous line of succession.

episteme (Greek)

  1. Scientific knowledge by which one knows the causes of things and the laws that govern them.

  2. Aristotelian: Scientific knowledge is the chief intellectual virtue. Those with the most wisdom embody the ideal combination of episteme and nous.

epistemology (from Greek)

The branch of philosophy that deals with the nature and possibility of human knowledge.


  1. Common usage: Letters.

  2. Christian: The letters from St. Paul to Christian communities as included in the New Testament.


  1. Vernal equinox: The day (near 20 March) when the sun passes the equator moving from the southern to the northern hemisphere. Day and night have approximately the same length.

  2. Autumnal equinox: The day (near 22 September)when the sun passes the equator moving from the northern to the southern hemisphere. Day and night have approximately the same length.

[more to come]

Ernest Norman
See Norman, Dr. Ernest and Ruth.


  1. Beliefs and doctrines concerning the end of the world.

  2. Jewish/Christian: Any account of the end or goal or ultimate end of human history.

  3. Beliefs and doctrines concerning the end of history.

  4. Christian: Beliefs and doctrines concerning the events predicted in the Book of Revelations: the final events (death, judgment, heaven and hell).

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