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


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Pagan: Symbol of xxxx.

  • Christian (European): When used during the period leading up to Lent, symbolizes "permitting the impermissible".

    Gobind Singh
    Sikh: The tenth and last Sikh guru (166-1708 CE) instituted a military order that raised men of any (Indian) caste to free and fearless soldiers called Khalsa.


    Chrisian: Anglicized version of Yahweh.
    Jewish: Yahweh.
    Muslim: Allah.

    Goddard, Marion Vincent

    New Age: Also known as Swami At Dhara; headed religious sect in Los Angeles, Calif., about 1940.


    Christian: A person (i.e. a godfather or a godmother) who stands as proxy for a child in the Christian rite of baptism of infants, making promises on the child's behalf and accepting responsibility for the child's spiritual upbringing.

    gonguji (Japanese)

    Shinto: The second in command at a shrine; the head priest is guji.

    Good Friday

    1. Christian: The Friday before Easter.

    2. Christian: Observance of the crucifixion of Jesus and related events.

    Good Saint Anne
    Christian (esp. Roman Catholic): A prayer repeated by women hoping for husbands. "Good Saint Anne, get me a man as quick as you can."

    Hindu: Cowherd girls; specifically those who cavorted with Krishna in a famous legend.

    Hindu: An 11th century yogi who founded a Shairite cult; now popularly regarded as an incarnation of Shiva.

    Gospel (=The Gospel)

    1. Common usage: The truth.

    2. Christian: Words spoken by Jesus in the Gospels.


    Christian: The first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.


    Hindu: The thousands of subcastes into which the caste system is divided.


    1. The favor of God.

    2. Christian (Augustinian): The inner help of God healing the disease of sin and strengthening the soul to do good.

    3. Christian (Roman Catholic): Grace not only heals and helps our nature, but raises it to a supernatural level where it may see God.

    Grace, Charles Emmanuel
    Immigrated to US in 1920. Holiness preacer; founded United House of Prayer for All People. d. 1960.

    grail (=graal)

    1. Common use: Any object or objective of a quest, especially in the European medieval romantic tradition (example: King Arthur legends).

    2. Christian: An object: see the first section of the glossary.

    3. Christian: The actual cup used to hold wine at the Last Supper.

    4. Christian: The actual cup used by Joseph of Aramathea to collect Jesus' blood after the crucifixion.

    5. Mystic (Perlesvaus composed by an unknown medieval European poet approx. 1200): The "figure of a child", "a king crowned and nailed upon a rood screen", a bleeding man wearing a crown of thorns; a chalice.

    6. Priory of Sion: A secret relating to Jesus; perhaps the "bloodline" of Jesus as manifested in European royalty, esp. Merovingian lineage.

    Grand Chingon
    New Age: Leader of the Four P Movement.

    granthi (Punjabi)

    Sikh : The title given to the person who serves as functionary in charge of a satsang, each of which is autonomous. There is no priestly order or ecclesiastical hierarchy in Sikhism, and granthi are encouraged to marry.

    Great Chain of Being

    Common usage (esp. 19th C): Every living thing has a specific place and purpose within an orderly world. Great Pollutant
    Christian: A term denoting the Devil.

    Great Zab, Battle of the

    Muslim: Decisive Abbasid victory over the Umayyads in 749.

    Gregory XIII

    Christian (Roman Catholic): Pope for whom Gregorian calendar is named.

    Ground of the Soul (German Grunt der Seele: “bottom of the soul”

    Christian: Refers to that aspect of the soul that is uncreated, eternally united with God.

    Guan Yin
    Taoist: The mother Goddess, embodiment of the healing power of love and compassion.

    Guanella, Louis
    Christian (Roman Catholic/Italian): Founder of Pious Union of St. Joseph in 1912.

    Guillaume de Gisors

    Priory of Sion: Third Grand Master; b. 1219 France; d. after 1269.

    guji (Japanese)

    Shinto: The head priest of a shrine.

    gunah (Arabic)

    Muslim: Sin.

    gunah-e-kabira (Arabic)

    Muslim: Severe sin.


    1. Hindu: A person through whom the voice of God is heard.

    2. Common Usage: An especially revered teacher.

    3. Sikh: The ten founders of the faith.

    4. Popular usage: A spiritual leader, sage, wise or charismatic person, one who is a remover of darkness.

    Guru Arjun (=Guru Arjan, =Guru Arjun Dev)
    Sikh: The fifth guru (1563-1606 CE) compiled the scriptures now known as Guru Granth Sahib.

    Guru Arjun Dev Martyrdom

    Sikh (holiday): A time of remembrance of those who have suffered for the faith observed by reading the Guru Granth Sahib.

    Guru Gobind Singh


    Sikh: Founder of the Khalsa

    Guru Gobind Singh's Birthday

    Sikh (holiday): Honors the birth of Guru Gobind Singh.

    Guru Granth Sahib Installation

    Sikh: The remembrance of the eternal installation of the holy books, Granth Sahib.

    Guru Nanak

    Sikh: The founder of Sikhism was a Hindu born into the ruler-warrior caste in Northern India c. 1469 CE (He died in 1539 CE) His followers believe he was charged with a redemptive mission to convert Muslims and Hindus to a more socially responsible faith.

    Guru Nanak's Day

    Sikh: Celebration of the birth of Guru Nanak.

    Guru Puja

    Hindu (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh) (holiday): Falls on Ashadha Poornima; offerings are "put to good use".

    Guru Purnima

    Hindu (holiday): A celebration at the full moon of the month Asadha of the ancient gurus, in particular Sage Ved Vyas.

    Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom

    Sikh (holiday): Commemorates the execution of Teg Bahadur by the Moghul Emperor of India.

    guthi (Nepalese)

    Hindu (Nepal): A communal Newar brotherhood serving the purpose of mutual support for members and their extended families.

    guthibar (Nepalese)

    Hindu (Nepal): The members of a guthi or a group of families with the same ancestry.

    Guy Ballard

    See Ballard, Guy.


    Habacuc (=Habakkuk)

    1. Bible: Eponymous prophet of Biblical Book of Habacuc and mentioned in [Dan., xiv, 32 sqq].

    2. Christian (Roman Catholic): The eighth of the Minor Prophets, who lived towards the end of the 7th century BCE. (See listing in the Catholic Encyclopedia.)

    hadd (pl. hudud; Arabic: "limits")

    Muslim: Penalty prescribed by the Qur'an.

    Haddad (Arabic: "ironsmith")
    Common usage: A common last lame in Arabic roughly equivalent to Smith.

    hadith (pl., ahadith; Arabic: "report", "account", "saying", "tradition")

    1. Muslim: Writings containing the words and deeds of Muhammad.

    2. Muslim: A report relating especially the words, deeds and views of Muhammad or those of his Companions and other early prominent Muslims. The hadith which have survived in major collections from the 9th and 10th centuries CE constitute the Prophet's Sunnah, or exemplary and normative practice, which forms a source of the law second only to that of the Qur'an.

    3. Muslim (Sunni): One of the four principal sources of the shari'a.

    4. Muslim(Shi'ite): Sayings and actions of Muhammad and the imams.

    hadith qudsi (Arabic: "sacred tradition")

    1. Muslim: A small number of hadith in which God speaks in the first person through Muhammad.

    2. Muslim (Sufi): The hadith in which God speaks in the first person through Muhammad which are considered of particular importance for the esoteric branch of Islam.

    hadra (pl. hadrat; Arabic)
    Muslim (Shi'ite: Sufi): A stage or level of the mystic cosmos of the Sufis.

    hafiz (Arabic)
    Muslim: One who has memorized the entire Qur'an.

    Hafiz (pseudonym of Shams-ud-din)
    A poet born in Shiraz, Persia, about 1320 CE, d. 1389 CE.

    haftarah (pl. haftarot) (Hebrew)
    Jewish: A reading from the Prophets of the Bible.

    haftarot (sing. haftarah; Hebrew)
    Jewish: Readings from the Prophets of the Bible.

    Hag (Hebrew: "the Festival") Jewish: Another term for Sukkot, used in Lev. 23:39-41; Num. 29:12.

    Hag ha-Asif (Hebrew: "the Festival of the Harvest")
    Jewish: Another term for Sukkot. In Israel, Sukkot is a festival that falls right at the Autumn Harvest and celebrates God’s goodness in giving us the fruit of the Earth.

    Hag ha-Sukkot (Hebrew: "the Festival of Tabernacles")
    Jewish: Another term for Sukkot.

    Muslim: Abraham's second wife, the mother of Ishael, ancestor of the Arabs.

    Haggadah (pl. Haggadot; Hebrew: "narrative")
    Jewish: History, folklore and sermons found in the Talmud.

    Haggadot (Hebrew: lore or legends)
    Jewish: Refers to all rabbinic discourse other than Halakhot.


    haji (=hajii; derived from hajj)

    1. Common usage (caution: often a pejorative when used by non-Muslims): Any Muslim man, especially an Arab.

    2. Muslim: Title given to one who has made the hajj.

    hajj (=haj; Arabic: "pilgrimage")

    1. Common usage: Any pilgrimage to the central Islamic shrine of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

    2. Muslim: The pilgrimage which each Muslim is obliged to make once in his lifetime to the shrines in and around Mecca during the first ten days of Dhu-al-Hijjah. Pilgrimage at other times of the year is called umrah.

    3. Muslim: One of the Five Pillars.

    hakim (Arabic)
    Muslim: An arbitrator or judge.

    hakimiyya (Arabic: "sovereignty")

    Halakah (=Halachah; pl. halakhot) (Hebrew: "going")
    Jewish: Law, legal ruling; used specifically for legal material in the two Talmudim and in subsequent Rabbinic literature.

    Halakhot (Hebrew)

    Jewish: Rabinnic legal rulings or interpretations of religious law.

    halal (Arabic)
    [incomplete] Muslim: That which is permitted in Islam, allowed by Islamic teachings. For example, halal meat has been slaughtered and prepared according to Muslim standards.

    Hana Matsuri
    Buddhist (Japan): A flower festival invoking a plentiful harvest.

    Hanafi (=Hanafee, =Hanafites; Arabic)
    Muslim (Sunni): Adherent of madhhab named after Abu Hanifa. Rite of Sunni Muslim jurisprudence originating in Iraq stresing communal consensus as a source of the shari'a.

    Hanbali (=Hanbalites; Arabic)
    Muslim (Sunni): Adherent of madhhab named after Ahmad Ibn Hanbal. Rite of Sunni Muslim jurispridence, very stict, requirng that all rules of conduct be based on the Qu'ran and hadith.

    hanif (Arabic)

    1. Muslim: Denotes a pre-Islamic-era Arab monotheist.

    2. Muslim: The attribute of being a sincere believer in God before Islam, ascribed to Abraham in the Qur'an.

    Hanukkah (=Chanukah) (Hebrew)
    Jewish: The festival of the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the successful Hasmonean revolt against the Syrian Greeks in 165 BCE. The celebration of Hanukkah traditionally involves the lighting of a special eight-branched menorah as well as playing games of chance with a dreydel (dreidel). (see also: Hanukkah)

    Hindu: A deified monkey, hero of the Ramayana epic; he is believed to bring success to armies.

    Hanuman Jayanti
    Hindu (holiday): Honors Hanuman.

    haqiqah (Arabic: "truth")
    Muslim: The spiritual essence of things; ultimate reality.

    harai (or, harae) (Japanese)

    Shinto: Purification ceremonies in which prayers are offered for the removal of all sin, pollution and misfortune.

    haram (=harem; Arabic)

    1. Muslim: A sacred precinct or area set aside from the world.

    2. Muslim: That which is proscribed by Muslim law and tradition, and forbidden to the faithful (such as the eating of pork).

    3. Muslim: Prohibited conduct.

    4. Common usage: Esp. when spelled as "harem", refers to area of a household set aside for females and young children.

    Hindu/Buddhist: A fierce Tantric Goddess.


    1. Muslim: Common male first name.

    2. Muslim (Shi'ite): Second Shi'ite Imam; d. 49 AH (669 CE). Older son of Ali and Fatimah, named by Ali as his successor but pensioned off by Mu'awiyah.

    Muslim: The great-grandfather of Muhammad.

    Hashimite (=Sharifian)

    1. Muslim: A descendant of Hashim, the great-grandfather of Muhammad.

    2. Muslim: Specifically, King Husayn of the Hijaz and his descendants in Iraq, Syria and Jordan.

    hashishiya (Arabic)
    Muslim (Shi'ite): Denotes followers (esp. Syrian) of Nizari Isma'ili movement.

    Scientologist: Hubbard Association of Scientologists International.

    Jewish: Era of religious enlightenment in 18th and 19th centuries.

    Scientologist: The write-ups, checksheets and packs that outline the purposes, know-how and duties of a job in a Scientology organization.

    Scientologist: The training given to a person so that he or she can successfully perform the functions and produce the products of a specific job, duty or activity (see hat).

    Hatha Yoga

    Hindu: The branch of Yoga which specializes in methods of physical training.

    Scientologist: The concept of being able to reach; owning, possessing, being capable of commanding, taking charge of objects, energies and spaces.

    havurah (Hebrew)
    Jewish: An informal but closely-knit fellowship of friends who gather for prayer, celebration and study.

    Scientologist: Hubbard Communications Office.

    Heaven’s Gate
    New Age: Sect in existence approx. 1970-1997; see Heaven’s Gate.

    Hedgewar, Keshav Baliram
    Hindu: b. 1889, Nagpur, India; d. ; Founder of the Hindu unity movement in India known as Rashtreeya Swayamsevak Sangh, known in the United States as Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh.

    Norse/New Age:

    Helena Blavatsky
    See Blavatsky, Helena.

    The Greek culture of the Eastern Mediterranean in the era roughly from the conquests of Alexander the Great (323 BCE) to the establishment of the Roman Empire (30 BCE). Used Greek as its main literary and administrative language.

    Common usage: The affirmation of many gods, each supreme in his/her own sphere of influence. Each is worshipped separately depending on petitioners' needs.

    Henry Newson
    See Newson, Henry

    hermeneutics (from the Greek God Hermes, the divine messenger)

    1. The theory, method or style of interpretation.

    2. The science of interpretation of texts, or of other cultural artifacts.

    Hermes Trismegistus (Hermes “thrice-blessed”)
    1. Christian/Pagan: A quasi-divine pre-Pythagorean scholar whose works were said to be recovered during the Renaissance and attracted the attention of leading intellectuals.

    2. Secret Societies: A key figure in Rosecrucian history.

    hezbollah (=hisbullah; Arabic: "party of God") Common usage: Refers to a political organization in contemporary Middle East.

    Scientologist: Hubbard Guidance Center.

    Hieros Gamos (Greek: "sacred marriage")
    Ancient rite celebrating reproductive power of the female.

    hijab (Arabic: "curtain")
    Muslim: Women's apparel that follows Islamic strictures.

    Hijaz (place name)

    1. Common usage: A region in the west of central Arabia.

    2. Muslim: Birthplace of Muhammad.

    Hijra (=hegira, =higra; Arabic" "emigration", "departure")
    Muslim: The emigration, movement or flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE. The Muslim calendar dates from this event.

    hikmah (Arabic: "wisdom")

    Hinayana (Sanskrit)
    Buddhist: The smaller of the two major schools of Buddhism; it is a collective and pejorative term for all those schools which preceded the rise of the larger, the Mahayana, around the 1st century CE.).

    The indigenous language most commonly spoken in the northern part of the Indian sub-continent.


    1. An adjectival form of "Hinduism".

    2. A person who practices Hinduism.

    Hindu Samrajya Dinotsav
    Hindu (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh): The "Hindu Self-Rule Festival" falls on Jyeshtha Shuddha Trayodashi and commemorates the coronation of Chatrapati Shivaji, an exemplary Hindu ruler.


    Hindu: The oldest continuously practiced and perhaps most complex of all the living historical world religions, it has no one single identifiable founder. It encompasses not only religious belief and practice, but an entire civilization and way of life whose roots date back prior to 3000 BCE, beyond the peoples of the Indus Valley culture. The main sources of religious knowledge are the scriptures (Vedas, Agamas), works of law (Smritis) and epics (Ramayana and Mahabharata). The One all-pervasive supreme Being is both immanent and transcendent, both supra personal and God, who can be worshiped as both Father and/or Mother of the Universe. Tolerant of other religious traditions, Hinduism holds that all lead to the One God and are facets of God's love and light.

    hisba (Arabic)

    1. Muslim: The functions of the muhtasib.

    2. Muslim: The duty of every Muslim to fulfill the obligations of shari'a.

    New Age: Founder of the Cult of Hiternia; queen and ruler of the planet Cablell.

    Hobbes, Thomas
    (1588-1679); xxxx


    Hokkaijoin (=Cosmic Mudra)
    Buddhist (Zen): The oval hand position used in zazen.

    Hol Ha-Moed (Hebrew)
    Jewish: The middle days of a long holiday period when work is permitted.

    Hola Mohalla
    Sikh (holiday): A day when mock battles are fought and martial arts displayed.

    Hindu: A spring festival dedicated to Lord Krishna.

    Holy Cross Day
    Christian: Aay of recognition for the Cross on which Jesus was crucified as a central symbol of the Christian religion.

    Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, Joseph
    Christian (Roman Catholic): A celebration of the love between the family of Jesus.

    Holy Ghost
    Christian: obsolete term for the Holy Spirit; English usage thought to be derived from German word for spirit (Geist)

    Holy Innocents Day
    Christian (holiday): Day of remembrance for male children killed by King Herod in the attempt to kill the infant Jesus.

    holy jerks
    Christian (esp. Pentecostal): Spasmodic, involuntary muscular spasms experienced by those attending church services or camp meetings (American vernacular, esp. Appalachian).

    Holy Pascha
    Christian (Orthodox) (holiday): The feast day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Holy Saturday
    Christian (holiday): The day before Easter.

    Holy See

    Christian (Roman Catholic): The episcopal seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is at the same time the Pope or supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.

    Holy Sepulcher

    1. Place name (Jerusalem): Jesus' burial place.

    2. Place name (Jerusalem): A major church in Jerusalem.

    Holy Spirit
    Christian: One of the three persons of the Trinity; the other two are the Father and the Son.

    Holy Thursday (=Maundy Thursday)
    [incomplete; see Seder]
    Christian (holiday): Commemoration of the final meal that Jesus observed with his disciples.

    Holy Week
    [incomplete; Palm Sunday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Easter]
    Christian: The week in the liturgical calendar which commemorates the passion (i.e. suffering), death and resurrection of Christ, beginning with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and including Maundy Thursday (commemorating Jesus' washing of his disciples' feet), Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.


    1. Common Usage: A religious discourse.

    2. Christian: An informal exposition of Scripture.

    3. Christian (Roman Catholic): An informal exposition of Scripture during the Mass.

    homo-ousios (Greek: “the same essence”)
    Christian: A key phrase in the Nicene Creed, where Christ is confessed as having the same essence (or, of one substance, or of one being or consubstantial) as God the Father.

    hrorts (Armenian; "spirits of the ancestors")

    Hua To
    Taoist: Deity; the patron of healing and Chinese medicine.

    Hubbard, L. Ron
    Founder of Scientology in 1954.

    hujjah (Arabic: "juristic argument", "proof")

    Hujjat al-Islam ("proof of God")

    Muslim (Shi'ite): The title of the religious authority below that of ayatollah, adopted by Iranian ulema in the 19th Century.

    Hubbard Consultant Outpoint-Pluspoint List
    Scientologist: A list of illogics (outpoints) and logics (pluspoints) used in an auditing process to help the preclear locate and handle illogical thinking in the area being addressed.

    Hubbard, L. Ron
    Founder of Church of Scientology International.

    hududullah (Arabic)
    Muslim: Divine principles ("limits of God").

    Hughes de Payen
    Europe: 12th century; Grand Master of Priory of Sion.

    Hugo, Victor

    1. French writer; born 1802. Protegé of Nodier, Charles.

    2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.

    Hujjat al-Islam (Arabic: "proof of God")
    Muslim (Shi'ite): A title one rank below ayatollah adopted by Iranian ulema in the 19th Century.

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