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

Second Section of Material Culture of Religion Glossary

Collected by and © Susan McKee

For online use by scholars and students; not for publication or distribution by any means

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No longer politically correct term for Anno Domini (Latin: "Year of Our Lord"). See CE.

AH (=After Hijra)
(see also hijra)
Muslim: In the Islamic calendar, years are counted beginning in 622 CE, the year Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina.

Indian subcontinent: Fourth month of the (solar) year.

Indian subcontinent: The seventh month of the (solar) year.

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here
Inscription above the door to hell in Dante's Inferno (incomplete)

Abbas Effendi (=Abdu'l-Baha, "Son of Baha'u'llah")
Baha'i: Born in 1844, he accompanied his father, Mirza Husayn-Ali on his exile to Palestine. The father appointed this son his successor, the exemplar of his teachings, and the interpreter of his revelation. Under Abdu'l-Baha the Baha'i faith spread beyond the Middle East, India and Burma to Europe, the Americas, southern Africa and Australasia. He died in 1921.

adalah (Arabic: "integrity")

Muslim: Uncle of Muhammad. Founder of Abbasid Dynasty.

Abbas I (=Shah Abbas I)
Muslim: Safavid ruler (1587-1629 CE).

Abbas II (=Khedive Abbas II)
Muslim: Viceroy of Egypt (1892-1914 CE).

Abbasid Caliphs, Reign of (=Abbasids, =Abbasid Dynasty)
Muslim: 132-656 AH (750-1258 CE). Centered in Baghdad (contemporary capital of Iraq). Arab family; descended from Abbas. The last Abbasid Caliph was killed by the Mongol chief, Hülegü, grandson of Ghengis Khan.

abd (Arabic)
  1. In ordinary usage, denotes a slave or servant
  2. Common usage: When used with another given name, the construct means "son of...".
  3. Muslim: When used with one of the names of Allah, the construct means "servant of God"; a common given name for Muslims.
Abd al-Ilah
Muslim: Regent of Iraq (1939-1953).

Abdallah (=Amir Abdallah)
Muslim: Son of Amir Husayn of Mecca, participant in the Arab Revolt and ruler of Transjordan (1921-1951).

Abdallah ibn al-Zubayr
Muslim: Challenger to the Umayyad dynasty (ca. 683-692).

Abd al-Malik
Muslim: Umayyad caliph (685-705) who ended the second fitna.

Muslim: Ottoman sultan (1861-1876).

Baha'i: A founder of the Baha'i faith; his given name was Abbas Effendi.

Abdhulhamid II
Muslim: Ottoman sultan (1876-1909), advocate of pan-Islam and opponent of constitutional government.

Abdulmejid I
Muslim: Ottoman sultan (1839-1861).

  1. [incomplete]
  2. Christian Identity: The son of Adam and Eve has a distinct role in Christian Identity.

Abbot, George
English. 1562-1633. Archbishop of Canterbury.

  1. Hindu (ritual): Sprinkling of water (or other liquid, such as milk or rosewater) while meditating on the sun and the pole star.
  2. Hindu (ritual): A ritual bathing of the image of a God or other deity.

Christian (Medieval England): A criminal who, after seeking sanctuary in a church, elects to confess to his crime and leave the country rather than be hanged.

Scientologist: An acronym for Association for Better Living and Education International.

abu (Arabic: "father")
In ordinary usage, when placed in front of another given name, it means "father of...".

Abu al-Abbas (=al-Saffah)
Muslim: Abbasid caliph (750-754 CE).

Abu Bakr
Muslim: The first caliph; Caliphate 11-13 AH (632-634 CE). Suppressed tribal revolts and began conquests outside Arabian peninsula.

Abu-Ja'far al-Mansur
Muslim: Abbasid caliph (754-775 CE) who began construction of Baghdad.

Abu-Kir, Battle of
Common usage: British victory over Napoleon at Abu-Kir in 1798.

Muslim: Persian leader of the Abbasid revolt.

Muslim: Muhammad's uncle and protector (d. 619)

acedia (Latin: "sloth")
Christian (Roman Catholic): One of the Seven Deadly Sins

Common usage (U.K.): Debilitating world weariness, listlessness, inability to function in daily life due to spiritual sloth.

Muslim: Persian dynasty (550-330 BCE).

Act Concerning Peter's Pence
Christian. 1534. Stopped all British financial contributions to Rome.

Act for Ecclesiastical Appointments
Christian. 1534. Gave the British crown complete control over the church hierarchy.

Act for the Dissolution of the Monasteries
Christian. 1536. In essence, dissolved "the greatest network of social and educational welfare that England had ever known.

Act of Restraint on Appeals
Christian. 1533. Cut off the English clery from Rome and from canon law.

Act of Supremacy
Christian. 1534. Created an independnt Church of England with the monarch as its head.

adab (Arabic)
  1. Common usage (Muslim): Good manners, politeness. Personal discipline.
  2. Muslim: Specific knowledge required for a given political or religious office, or social function.
  1. [xxxxx]
  2. Christian Identity: Father (with Eve) of Cain and Seth; see Christian Identity.

a'dat (Arabic)
  1. Common usage (Middle East): Cultural norm.
  2. Muslim: Customs prevailing in a region as distinguished from shari'a and/or hadith.
Adelard of Bath
Christian: Brought Arab teaching (especially geometry, astronomy, and astrology) to medieval Western Europe.

Place name: Port city between the Red and Arabian seas; once British (1839-1967), now in the Republic of Yemen.

adhan (=idhan, Arabic)
Muslim: The call to prayer by the mu'adhdhin, often from a minaret.

adl (Arabic: "social justice")

Adonai (Hebrew: "lord")
  1. Jewish: One of the indirect ways of referring to the ”unnamable God” without using the name of God.
  2. Jewish: Where the sacred name for God (YHWH) is written in the Bible, it is voiced as "Adonai".
  1. Christian: Liturgical season beginning on the Sunday nearest 30 November and continuing until 24 December.
  2. Christian: Time of preparation for observing the birth of Jesus.
  3. Christian: Implicit in the celebration of the liturgical season is anticipation of the Second Coming.

  1. New Age: The Gods who dwell at Asgard.
  2. Norse: Odin, Thor, Loki, Heimdall and Balder, along with an unspecified number of lesser Gods, considered as a group.

Aetherious Society
New Age: California-based sect centered on spiritual enlightenment.

Afdal al-khalq (Arabic: "most excellent one of the creation")
Muslim: A title given to Muhammad.

affinity-reality-communication triangle (=ARC)
Scientologist: A triangle which is a symbol of the fact that affinity, reality and communication act together to bring about understanding. No point of the triangle can be raised without also raising the other two points, and no point of it can be lowered without also lowering the other two points.

Christian: A method of baptism: a small quantity of water is poured over the head of the person being baptized by the person doing the baptizing.

Africano No Blass
New Age: One of the seven invisible doctors of the Central Spiritual Resurrection religious sect, this spectral being specialized in affairs of the heart.

Common usage: A view of the world using culture, beliefs and traditions of Africa as the norm.

ag ka matam
Muslim (Shi'ite; South Asia): Firewalking performed as an act of devotional mourning for Imam Husayn.

aga (=agha; Persian: "sir", "master", "gentleman")
  1. Common Usage (Ottoman Empire): Title used by medium-level and some high-level officers of the Janissary Corps as well as local officials.
  2. Islam (Shi'a/Ismaili): Title used by the Aga Khan.......
Aghlabid Dynasty
Muslim: Arab family ruling Tunisia 800-909 CE.

Christian Albanians.

Agni (Sanskrit: "fire")
Hindu: A major Vedic God associated with fire and the hearth.

Ahd (=Al Ahd)
Muslim: Nationalist secret society of Arab officers in the Ottoman army before and during World War I.

Hindu: A term connoting noninjury, nonviolence, and respect for the sacredness of life.

ahl (Arabic: "people")
In common usage, a family, household; clan, related group of people.

ahl al-bayt (=ahl al bait; Arabic: "people of the house")
  1. Common usage: Refers to the leading family of an Arabian tribe.
  2. Muslim: The family of Muhammad.
  3. Muslim: The family of Muhammad's son-in-law and cousin, Ali.
ahl al-dhimma (Arabic: "people of the contract")
Muslim: Used to denote Christians and Jews.

ahl al-hadith (Arabic: "people of the tradition")
  1. Muslim: Those who do not ascribe to any of the classic schools of Shari'a.
  2. Muslim: Used to describe people for whom hadith were supreme, even against Qur'anic injuction.

ahl al-kitab (Arabic: "people of the book")
Muslim: Used to denote Christians, Jews and others who have received revelation from God, including Zoroastrians.

ahl al-sunna (Arabic: "people of the ways and customs of Muhammad")
Muslim: An alternative term for the Sunni.

Muslim: A sect founded by Ghulam Ahmad Qadiyani; (usually considered heretical by Sunni and Shi'a).

Ahura Mazda ("wise lord"or "lord wisdom")
Zoroastrian: The Supreme God; God of Wisdom; the good half of the duality.

Jewish: American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group in the United States.

Muslim: Daughter of Abu-Bakr, wife of Muhammad, leader of the forces opposing Ali at the Battle of the Camel in 656.

ajam (Arabic)
Common usage: Denotes a person who is not an Arab.

ajami (Hausa)
Common usage: The script, a modified form of Arabic, in which the Hausa language is written.

Jain: Matter; physical reality.

Ajivaka Hindu (6th Century BCE): A sect that taught there is no such thing as free will; fate is preordained.

akal purakh (Punjabi)
Sikh: The doctrine of God as stated at the beginning of the Guru Granth Sahib in words attributed to Guru Nanak.

akali (=nihang) (Punjabi)
Sikh: Devotees of akal purakh; warriors noted for their bravery and disdain for official authority. During the 18th century they commanded formidable respect as fierce wariors, a tradition which they still endeavor to keep alive as they roam the Punjab on horseback.

A large ethnic group in Africa centered on southern Ghana whose traditional monotheistic worship centered on Nyame.

See Akashic record

Akashic record
New Age: A spiritual realm holding a record of all events, actions, thoughts and feelings that have ever occurred or will ever occur. Clairvoyance, spiritual insight, prophecy, etc. are made possible by tapping into the Akasha.

Muslim (American black): The ceremony to give a baby its name seven days after birth; ritual involves cutting hair.

akhbar (Arabic)
Muslim (Shi'a): Denotes the hadith.

akhbari (Arabic)
Muslim (Shi'a): The minority Ithna Ashari Shi'ite legal tradition, which emphasizes reliance on the Qu'ran and hadith.

akhira (Arabic)
Muslim: The afterlife.

akhlaq (Arabic: "manners", "morals")

akhlund (Arabic)
Muslim: Popular preacher.

akhoff-al-dararayn (=akhoff-ud-dararayn) (Arabic)
Muslim: "The lesser evil."

Akkoyunlu (Turkish: "those of the white sheep")
Muslim (Ottoman Empire): A confederation of Turcoman tribes which established an empire in eastern Anatolia, Iran and Iraq in the 15th Century CE.

Traditional (African): Creator of the universe and of humankind who is the source of all power and directly accessible to all.

Al-Ansar (Arabic: "the helpers")
Muslim: Used to denote the residents of Medina who supported Muhammad.

Muslim: Theologian, d. 935 CE.

Alawi (=Nusayris, =Nusairis,= 'Alawi, =Alawite)
  1. Muslim (Shi'ite): Member of extremist Nusairi sect in northwest Syria which venerates Ali.
  2. Muslim (Shi'ite): Syrian sect that played a role in post-1945 Syrian politics.

Albumazar (=Ja'far ibn Muhammad Abu Mashar al-Balkhi)
Muslim: Leading Arab authority on astrology.

Christian: The monk from Brittany who, at the request of Charlemagne, began schools for the public at major abbeys for instruction in Latin in basic subjects.

Aleister Crowley
See Crowley, Aleister.

New Age: One of the major branches of Wiccanism in the Neopagan Movement, it is an offshoot of Gardnerian ritual.

(See Hijra)

Alamut (=Aluh Amut)
Place name: Settlement and castle in the mountains of northwestern Iran that border the Caspian sea; associated with Ismai'li Islam.

Al-Aswad al-Ansi
Muslim: Yemani rival to Muhammad, known as "the veiled one" because he usually wore a mask in public.

Al-Ghazali (=Algazel)
Muslim: Theologian who wrote "The Incoherence of the Philosophers".

Ali (=Ali ibn al-Talib)
Muslim: The son-in-law (d. 40 AH/661 CE; assassinated by member of Khawarij) of the Prophet Muhammad, the fourth rightly-guided caliph of the Sunnis and the first imam of the Shi'a; caliphate 35-40 AH (656-661 CE).
Fourth Caliph (656-661); regarded by Shi'a as first imam after Muhammad.

Ali-Muhammad (=The Bab)
Baha'i: Born in southern Iran in 1819, in 1844 he announced that he was the promised one or Mahdi expected by Muslims. He wrote scriptures in which he promulgated a new calendar, new religious laws and new social norms. Opposed by Iran's Muslim clergy and ultimately by its government, thousands of the Bab's followers were killed; in 1850 the Bab himself was put to death.

Alice Bailey
See Bailey, Alice.

Muslim: Descendant or partisan of Ali.

Muslim: Arab geographer and director of King Roger II of Sicily's Map of the World project.

alim (='alim; pl. ulema; Arabic)
  1. Muslim: Any learned man.
  2. Muslim: One learned in the Islamic sciences.
  3. Muslim: One learned in legal and religious studies; a scholar-jurist.

alim-e-din (=alim al din) (Arabic)
Muslim: Expert in religion.

al'ilm al shar'i (Arabic)
Muslim: The knowledge pertaining to Islamic law.

Muslim: A religious leader.

aliya (=aliyah; Arabic)
Muslim: Immigration of Jews to Palestine, especially the increased immigration beginning in 1882.

aliyah (Hebrew: "ascent")
Jewish: Being called up in the synagogue to recite the blessings for a section of reading of the Torah.

Al-Khulafa al-Rashidun (Arabic: "the rightly guided caliphs")
Muslim: Refers to the first four caliphs (622-661 CE): Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali.

All Hallow's Eve
  1. Christian: Celebrated 31 October; religious celebration held the evening before All Saint's Day.
  2. General Usage: =Halloween.
All Saints Day
  1. Christian: Celebrated 1 November; a day to honor saints, both known and unknown.
  2. Christian (Roman Catholic): A Holy Day of Obligation.
Allah (Arabic, al-ilah: "The God")
Muslim: The Arabic word for (the one) God.
God / there is no god but He, the / Living, the Everlasting. (Sura 2:256)

Allahu akbar (Arabic: ''God is great'')
Muslim: Commonplace statement, often used as an answer to a rhetorical question by a public speaker.

  1. A method of interpretation in which persons, events or other aspects of a narrative are read as symbols of a higher reality.
  2. Christian: A method of reading the Bible ”according to the spirit rather than the letter.”
Allen, Richard
B. Philadelphia 1760. Founder of Free African Society and African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Al-Manum, Abdallah
Muslim: Seventh Abbasid caliph.

Al-Murabitun (=Almoravids; Arabic: "frontier warriors")
Muslim: A sect of religious reformers.

Indian subcontinent: Day with a New Moon.

Muslim: Lebanese Shi'i revolutionary movement led by Nabih Berri.

Muslim (Shi'ite): A series of prescribed ritual actions performed on 'Ashura.

amanah (Arabic)
Muslim: Divine trust.

Amaterasu (=Amaterasu-Omikami) (Japanese)
Shinto: Sun Goddess; the chief Shinto deity and the divine ancestor of the emperor's family.

(See Amaterasu.)

American Testament
American Civil Religion: Refers to the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the United States Constitution and the Gettysburg Address by President Abraham Lincoln, taken as a trilogy of sacred documents.

amidah (Hebrew: “standing”)
Jewish: The central prayer of the liturgy; the prayer is said standing, facing toward Jerusalem. It is recited three times daily, and in a slightly different form on Sabbaths and festivals, when an extra amidah, called musaf, is added.

see emir

Amir al Mu'mineen (=Amir al-muminin; Arabic: 'commander of believers")
Muslim: The title used for the caliphs.

Buddhist: A heavenly Buddha, whose name means "unmeasured light".

Christian (Anglican): The fourth stage of a sermon. (The others are praecognito, partito, applicatio and peroration.)

Buddhist: Suddhartha Gautama’s personal attendant and one of his principal disciples.

Buddhist: The term for “no-self”, for not having or being a subsistent, independent entity.

Anatolia (place name)
  1. Asia Minor, the area roughly corresponding to modern Turkey.
  2. (=Anadolu) The Ottoman province in western Turkey with the Aegean and the Sea of Marmara forming its western border.
Ananda Marga
Buddhist: Founded in India in 1955 by Shrii Shrii Anadamurti, the movement spread in the West during the 1970s.

Hindu: A huge snake whose coils created Vishnu’s bed (when reclining in ocean as Narayan).

Buddhist: One of the three principal characteristics of everything in the universe. (the others are anicca and dukkha)

Andrak 4000 (="Andy")
New Age: The computer on the planet Cablell. See also Cult of Hiternia.

andarun (Persian)
Muslim (Shi'ite, esp. Iran): The inner or private quarter of a residence where women live, barred from contact with the outside world.

Andrea, Johann Valentin
  1. German cleric, b. 1586, Württemberg; d. after 1648.
  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.
anfal ("spoils of war")
  1. Muslim: The name of a chapter of the Qur'an.
  2. Muslim: The code name given by Saddam Hussein to his terror campaign against the Kurds in Iraq.
See Andrak 4000.

  1. Common usage: Transcendent being, often depicted with wings.
  2. Common usage: A messenger of God, as referred to commonly in Jewish, Christian and Islamic writing.

Christian (especially Roman Catholic): Church bell run at 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m., mostly in rural Catholic areas (especially in Europe) calling the faithful to think of their salvation by reciting three Ave Marias.

Anglican: xxxx; emphasis on ritual.

Ango (Japanese)
Buddhist (Zen): A period of spiritual practice and training typically 1-3 months long.

Angra Mainyu
Zoroastrian: The source of all evil; the opposite of Ahura Mazda, the source of all good.

Buddhist: The first of the three general characteristics of existence (the others are anatta and dukkha).

The belief in impersonal spiritual power or live-force pervading all things.

  1. The belief that a spirit (or spirits) is active in aspects of the environment.
  2. The belief that inanimate objects have souls, life and personality, and can have interaction with humans.
Muslim (Shi'ite): A group formed to mourn Husayn.

anjuman-i-Islami (Arabic)
Muslim: Islamic society.

Hindu: The Goddess of abundance, one aspect of Devi.

Anne (=Ann, =Anna, =Hannah, =Hannah)
Christian: Mother of Mary; wife of Joachim; maternal grandmother of Jesus.

ansar (Arabic: "helper")
[incomplete] Muslim: Muslim converts in Medina during Muhammad's time.
Muslim: Refers to helpers of Muhammad native to Medina, as distinct from the muhajirin who accompanied him from Mecca.

Annunciation (=Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
Christian (esp. Roman Catholic): Celebration of Gabriel's announcement to Mary of her pregnancy with Jesus.

Christian: A choral composition, with or without organ accompaniment, usually based on a scriptural text and sung in the context of a church service.

Common usage: Human tendency to see humans as the center of all events and things, interpreting everything from the perspective of human experience.

anthropomorphism (Greek: “human” + “form”)
  1. (See anthropocentric)
  2. Jewish/ Christian: The tendency in the Bible, to portray God in ways that make him appear human (with human body parts and emotions, for example).
Muslim: Major antagonist of Christ who will fill the world with evil just before Christ's return.

Common usage: Prejudice against or persecution of Jews.

Scientologist: The abbreviation for Advanced Organization.

apatheia (Greek)
The rule of reason over passion.

Common usage: excluded from the canon.
Also: spurious, occult and secret, falsely attributed, of doubtful authorship or authenticity.

Christian (Western): The Christological teaching of Apolinarius: in Jesus, the divine logos replaced the human soul.

Christian: Early church father xxx

Apophaticism (Greek: "negation" or "denial")
Christian (Eastern Christianity): To speak of God by saying what he is not rather than what he is.

Apostle's Creed
Christian. Considered the "essence" of Christianity. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary: Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: he descended into hell: The third day he rose again from the dead: He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: From thence he shall come to judge the wuick and the dead; I believe in the Holy Ghost: I believe in the holy Christian church: the communiion of saints: The forgiveness of sins: The resurrection of the body: And the life everlasting. Amen. applicatio Christian (Anglican): Fifth rhetorical stage of a sermon. (The others are praecognito, partito, explicatio, amplificatio, and peroration.)

Applewhite, Marshall Herff
New Age: Founder (early 1970s) of Heaven’s Gate religious sect.

Muslim: Marriage contract.

aqaid (Arabic)
Muslim: Religious belief.

'aqebat (Arabic)
Muslim: Life after death; life in the hereafter.

Muslim (ritual): Celebration of the birth of a baby including sacrifice of a lamb and announcement to the community.

aql (Arabic: "intellect", "systematic reasoning")
Muslim (Shi'a): A source of shariah.

See Thomas Aquinas.

Common usage: Native speaker of Arabic.
Person who identifies with Arab culture.
Inhabitant of Arabian peninsula.
Citizen of a country in which the predominant language and culture is Arabic.

Common usage: Semitic language spoken by Arabs.
Muslim: The language of the Qur'an and salat.
Common usage: Pertaining to the culture of Arabs.

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.
  3. Christian: A senior priest who is assistant to the 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.

Jewish: Presiding officer of a synagogue.

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 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: The upper realm; 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.

Santeria. Parallel to Christian concept of grace.

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 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, =Augustine of Hippo)
Christian: Early church father. D. 430. Incorporated Greek philosophy into Roman Catholic teachings but demphasized its concerns with natural science.

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.

avaritia (Latin: "greed")
Christian (Roman Catholic): One of the Seven Deadly Sins

  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, =Abu al-Walid ibn Rushd)
Muslim (d. 1098): philosopher; commentator on Aristotle.

Avicenna (=Ibn Sina)
Muslim: Persian theologian, physician, 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.

Axial Age
Common usage: Sixth century BCE, a time of religious revolution.

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.

Bale, John
British. 1495-1563. Former Carmelite friar. Mentor of John Foxe.

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.

Bede (=The Venerable Bede)
Christian: eighth century monk and intellectual in Northern England.

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)

Benefit of Clergy
Christian (Medieval Europe): The right of clergy to escape trial in the secular courts; they could be tried only in church courts.

  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."

bloodshed (see also jihad): sanctification of warfare, a reconciliation of Christian teaching with military conflict (such as the Crusades), carnage as an expression of pious devotion.

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. Boethius
    Christian: Sixth-century Roman patricion who translated Aristotle's logical system and other treatises into Latin.

  4. 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.
  3. Three classes of Brahmans: rtvij, hotr, and purohita.
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.

Afro-Caribbean syncretic religion.

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).generally refers to the historical Buddha named Sakyamuni, who lived in India in the 6th century BC.
Sakyamuni = the Sage of the Sakyas; the historical Buddha who lived in India around 500 B.C.

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.

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.

Bunyan, John
English. Congregationalist Protestant and critic of the Quakers.

Burnet, Gilbert
English. Bishop of Salisbury. 1643-1715.

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.

Buyuk 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.

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 kanón: "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 that includes 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.
  7. Christian (Medieval Europe): A priestly member of the chapter of a cathedral (=prebendary).
canon law
Christian (Roman Catholic): The history of church law and papal judgments.

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.

cárceles secretas (=la cárceles 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.

Hindu (6th Century BCE): Sect that believed in neither rebirth nor afterlife.

  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

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

  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.

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.

Cha'an Buddhism (=Zen Buddhism)
Buddhism: Originated about 1000 CE; emphasizes meditation. chapter
  1. Christian: The administrative body of a cathedral, including the canons and senior clergy.
  2. 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.

Ferryman of the classical underworld (incomplete)

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.

Ancient China: Part of a professional priesthood; masters of ritual and in charge of composing and compiling prayers. Begun in Shang Dynasty. Other categories in priesthood: shih and wu.
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 (and last) event of the daily prayer time schedule; late afternon or early 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.

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.

conversion Common usage: Conversion is primarily an act of conformity.
Common usage: People tend to convert to a religious group when their social ties to members outweigh their ties to outsiders who might oppose the conversion (can occur before a convert knows much about what the new group believes).

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.
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.

Cranmer, Thomas
British. 1489-1556. Archbishop of Cangerbury.

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.

Christian (Roman Catholic): Sacred expedition akin to pilgrimage in order to cleanse sin.

Crusade, First
Christian (Roman Catholic): Launched by Urban II in 1095 to expand Rome's sphere of influence in Western Europe.

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

cult des morts
Voodoo: Outlaw sect using human corpses for magical purposes.

Christian (Roman Catholic): "When the Church confirms the public cultus of a saint, it means that the Church is formally acknowledging the holiness of this person, and is saying that it is acceptable to venerate this person. Confirmation of a public cult is one of the first steps toward canonization. It is a slightly different process than that of the modern formal beatification, but the person is referred to as 'Blessed'." -- from Catholic Forum.

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


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.
Buddhist: the incarnate lama recognized as a manifestation of Chenresi; they ruled Tibet since the 17th century. The first one was Gedundrub, a nephew and disciple of the founder of the Gelugpa sect. The present Dalai Lama is the 14th one.

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.

Hindu: slaves.

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 Bab
Baha'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.

Enlightenment: belief in an impersonal supreme being who designed and created the universe but then left it to run on its own.

demiurge (Greek: “craftsman” or “artificer”)
Platonic: The divine being who forms the world. A conscious, active, lower divine being. Personlification of reason.

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.

Jewish: Sect working to convert Israel to monotheism in the late seventh and sixth centuries BCE.

Buddhist and Hindu: A heavenly being; a god.

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.

dhimmi (Arabic)
Muslim: A Christian or Jew who refused to convert to Islam.

dhyana (Sanskrit?: "meditation").

Dianetics (Greek: dia “through”, nous “soul.”)
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.
Jain: Sect that practiced complete nudity.

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.)

Divine Accomodation, Principle of
Common usage: God reveals himself within the current limits of the human capacity to comprehend. Therefore, if faiths are ordered on the basis of when they began, later faiths will reveal more about God than earlier faiths.

Divine Trinity
Hindu: Brahma (creation), Vishnu (preservation), Shiva (destruction.

  1. Muslim: Government bureau, chancery.
  2. Muslim: Court or council, or the room in which a court or council meets.
  1. Christian (Medieval): a dog is a symbol of the repentant sinner because it swallows its own vomit.
  2. Christian (Medieval): a dog that dies defending its master is a symbol of Christ who died for human salvation.
  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.

Dusum Khyenpa
Buddhist: The first Karmapa. 1110-93 CE, a disciple of Gmpopa.

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.
Eastern Star
See Order of the Eastern Star.

Santeria: Parallel to Christian concept of penance.

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:
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 cousin of Mary; wife of Zacharias and mother of John the Baptist.

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

Christian (Medieval): an elephant signifies the Redemption by attempting to lift a fallen companion.

Christian: Sin (because it was beyond 10, that is, the 10 Commandments).

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).

Muslim: A clause in a marriage contract giving a woman the right to divorce.

est (=Erhard Seminars Training)

Jewish: One of three religious groups in post-exilic Israel.

Est Repair Rundown
Scientologist: An auditing action designed to repair the damage done to a person mentally and spiritually by the practice of est.

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

Eucharist (see also communion)
Christian: The chief sacrament and central act of Christian worship; esp. as used in liturgical traditions.

eudaimonia (Greek)
  1. Living a flourishing life capable of realizing the full range of possibilities for rational beings.
  2. Aristotilian: Happiness (as a human goal).
evangelical (Greek: "Gospel")
  1. Christian: "Proclaiming the Gospel".
  2. Christian (contemporary): A word used to describe groups of Protestants who concentrate on sharing the Gospel, especially those emphasizing such teachings as the infallibility of the Bible, justification by faith, and personal conversion.
  3. Christian: In German-speaking lands, the term is an alternative name for Lutheranism.
Christian: That portion of Protestant Christianity which emphasizes the (literal) message of the Gospel as opposed to secondary theological reflection.

  1. Christian: Proselytizing.
  2. Christian: The spreading of the Gospel.
The first woman.

"The only intrinsic evil is lack of love."

ex cathedra (Latin: "from the chair")
Christian (Roman Catholic): A statement by the Pope on matters of faith or moral conduct promulgated as a final decision on the issue and believed to be free from any possibility of misinterpretation or error.

ex nihilo (Latin: “out of nothing”)
Jewish/Christian: The doctrine that the process of creation began with nothing but God.

Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross
Christian (Eastern Orthodox) (holiday): Celebration of the finding by St. Helena of the Cross upon which Christ was crucified.

Muslim: The opening sura of the Qur'an.

experimenta fructifera (Latin: “fruitful experients”)
Term coined by Francis Bacon to describe experients designed to weigh competing accounts of facts.

experimenta lucifera (Latin: “light-shedding experiments”)
Term coined by Francis Bacon to describe a wide ranging scientific inquiry with no subjects barred from scrutiny.

Christian (Anglican): The third stage of a sermon. (The others are
praecognito, partitio, amplificatio, applicatio and peroration).

Scientologist: The state of the thetan being outside his body with or without full perception, but still able to control and handle the body.

extreme unction
See unction.


Christian (Anglican): A form of permission from an ecclesiastical governing body.

Trust, holistic commitment, or doctrinal belief, usually as determined by God or ultimate reality.

fajr (Arabic: "dawn")
Muslim: The first of the five obligatory daily prayers.

Muslim: Philosophy, including natural and moral sciences.

fana (Arabic)
Muslim: A state of religious ecstacy in which the devotee becomes absorbed in the divine.

faqid al-shay'la ya'tihi (Arabic: "he who does not possess something cannot give it to others")

faqih (pl. fuqaha'; Arabic: "jurist", "theologian")
  1. Muslim (common usage): Legal expert; one who is considered learned in fiqh.
  2. Muslim: A specialist in shari'a, particularly its derivative details.
faraid (Arabic)
Muslim: Shares of inheritance prescribed by the Qur'an.

fard (Arabic)
Muslim: Obligatory.

fard ayn
Muslim: Personal religious obligation.

fard khilafayah
Muslim: Corporate religious obligation.

farida (Arabic)
Muslim: Obligation.

farilla (Hausa)
Muslim (Hausa): That which is obligatory in Islamic law.

Zoroastrian: The seasonal calendar.

Fast in Honor of the Holy Mother of Lord Jesus
Christian (Orthodox): A 14-day fasting period in preparation for the celebration of the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.

Fast of the 17th of Tammuz
(see Tammuz)

Common usage: A religious ritual that usually includes abstaining from food and/or drink for a specific period of time. Other prohibitions also may apply, such as no sexual relations. Examples include Ramadan.

Father Divine
See Devine, Major J..

fatiha (=fatihah, =al-fatiha, Arabic)
Muslim: The short opening sura of the Qur'an, which is held in special reverence and much used liturgically. It is an indispensible part of salat, being recited at the beginning of each prostration, and is further used as a prayer for the sick, the dead, etc., as an exorcism fomula, and as a component in the wording of amulets and talismans.

Fatima (=Fatimah)
  1. Muslim (usually spelled Fatimah): A daughter of Muhammad by his first wife, Khadijah; born in 605 or 615 and died in 632; descendants of Muhammad trace their lineage to Fatimah, as she was his only child to have children.
  2. Christian (esp. Roman Catholic): Refers to a vision of Mary seen in 1916-17 by three children in Fatima, Portugal. (see
fatwa (=fetva, Arabic)
  1. Muslim: Legal opinion or decision, issued by a recognized Islamic authority.
  2. Muslim: A formal legal opinion issued by a mufti in response to a query on a point of religious law from a Muslim, whether a governor or a member of the public. The opinion is advisory only and does not bind a judge's final decision.
fayda (Arabic: "overflowing")
Muslim: The nature of God's gifts to mankind.

Feast of ...
  1. Christian / Feast of the Holy Apostles: Recognizes the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul.
  2. Christian (Eastern Orthodox) / Feast of St Basil: Commemorates St. Basil the Great, who wrote the Eucharist liturgy which bears his name.
  3. Christian (esp. Mexican Roman Catholic) / Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe: Honors the appearance of Mary near Mexico City in 1531.
  4. Zoroastrian / Feast of Mithra: Festival focusing on Mithra as the angel of light.
  5. Jewish / Feast of Tabernacles
  6. Christian (Eastern Orthodox) / Feast of the Theophany: Celebrates the revelation of the Holy Trinity in the baptism of Jesus.
  7. Christian / Feast of the Visitation: Remembrance of Mary and her cousin Elizabeth to whom the news of Jesus' coming was given.

Federation of Mary Immaculate
[See Poor Clare Nuns]

feng shui (Chinese: "wind" and "water")
  1. Chinese: Earth divination or geomancy.
  2. Traditionally, the Chinese practice of determining auspicious sites for buildings and graves, in accordance with the natural forces and currents of the landscape.
  3. Taoist: One of the sacred sciences.
  4. The ancient science of living in harmony with the earth through an understanding of the subtle influences of every aspect of surroundings, including landscape and buildings.
  5. In contemporary usage: The art of placement (of objects in an environment); creating balance, harmony and prosperity in one's environment.
  6. In contemporary usage: The three basic principles are:
Ferrante de Gonzaga (=Ferdinand de Gonzague)
  1. Spanish Nobleman: Count of Guastalla; b. 1507, d. 1557 or 1575.
  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.
Festival of Tabernacles
Jewish: Another term for Sukkot.

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.

Festivals of Pilgrimage
Jewish: Festivals during which Jews in ancient times would travel to Jerusalem. They are Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot.

fetishism Common usage: Ritual use of magic charms and/or idols.

fida'a (Arabic, =fida'i, "one who sacrifices himself"; pl. fida'in, =fida'iyan, =fedayeen, =fidaiyin)
  1. Muslim: A fighter who is prepared to risk his life with abandon.
  2. Muslim (Shi'ite): Term used to describe devotees of various causes in Iran, but primarily for members of groups engaged in violent or terrorist activities.
  3. Muslim (Shi'ite): Elite corps of assassins.
Fida'iyan-i khalq ("devotees of the people"
Muslim (Shi'ite): A left wing terrorist group in Iran which originated in 1963 as an offshoot of the Tudah party.

Fida'iyan-i Islam ("devotees of Islam")
Muslim (Shi'ite): A politico-religious terrorist group in Iran active from 1943-1955 and again after 1970; known for its political assassinations.

fideles beati Petri
Christian: (Roman Catholic): "The faithful of St. Peter"; specifically, the supporters of popes Gregory VII and Urban II in the 11th Century.

fikr' (Arabic: "thought", "reflection")

Final Judgment
  1. Christian/Jewish/Muslim: God’s decision-making at the end of time, dividing the good from the wicked.
  2. Christian (Assemblies of God USA): Number 15 in the Statement of Fundamental Truths: “There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Final Vows
Christian: The vows necessary to become a member of a religious organization. The last step in Formation.

fiqh (Arabic: "jurisprudence", "theology")
  1. Muslim: Islamic law, jurisprudence.
  2. Muslim: The science of shari'a.
  3. Muslim: The usual course of study by ulema.
  1. Taoist: One of the Five Elements forming the basis of physical and spiritual reality. Associated with heart, small intestine, summer, bitter, red, Mars and (the direction) south.
  2. Zoroastrian: Preeminent symbol of the Good Religion; sacred fires burn in temples.
  3. [more to come]
Fire Sacrifice
Hindu: A ritual that re-enacted the original creation, and exalted the power of the Brahmans.

First Nations Day
Common usage (Canada): The First Nations (Indian, Metis and Inuit) most sacred day occurs on the summer solstice.

First Order
Christian (Roman Catholic): Franciscans, an order of monks founded by St. Francis of Assisi.

First Studies
Christian (Roman Catholic): A three-year period when a Jesuit works on a master's degree in philosophy.

Christian: A symbol of Christianity; a simple two-curve outline of a fish denotes a Christian (often a member of a Fundamentalist Protestant denomination with the implication of belief in biblical creationism), used for example, on a car trunk or in a display advertisement in the Yellow Pages telephone directory. [In a take-off on this symbol, apparently denoting belief in the Darwinian explanation of evolution, some display on their cars the same simple fish outline with the addition of feet and/or the word DARWIN inside the body]

fitna (=fitnah; Arabic)
Muslim: Rebellion or civil strife (often religious) which breaks up the unity of a community. The term often refers to any of several civl wars in early Islam.

fitra (=fitrah; Arabic)
Muslim: The original positive and good nature of all creation.

Five Classics
Confucian: The canon includes the Four Books and these Five Classics:
Five Elements
Taoist: Dynamic forces whose interplay form the basis of physical and spiritual reality. They are: wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

The Creation Cycle
Wood creates Fire.
Fire creates Earth.
Earth creates Metal.
Metal holds Water.
Water creates Wood.

The Control/Destruction Cycle
Wood penetrates Earth.
Earth absorbs Water.
Water puts out Fire.
Fire melts Metal.
Metal chops Wood.

five "k's"
Sikh: Members of the Khalsa wear the following symbols of their adherence: kesh (long, uncut hair on one's head and chin), kangha (comb), kaccha (short pants), kara (steel bracelet), and kirpan (dagger).

Five Pillars
Muslim: The main components of Islam (creed, daily prayer, fasting during Ramadan, almsgiving and pilgrimage to Mecca.
Five Prayers
Muslim: The five obligatory daily prayers in Islam are fajr, dhuhr, asr, maghreb and isha.

Flamel, Nicolas
Priory of Sion: Grand Master; b. 1330, France; d. after 1413.

Fludd, Robert
  1. Esoteric writer and theorist, b. 1574, England; d. 1640. Associate of Dee, John. Member, London College of Physicians. Among scholars who produced King James version of the Bible.
  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.
Folk Religion (Chinese)
Aims are:
  1. Protection of life and property.
  2. Control of natural forces.
  3. Secure and harmonious family life.
  4. Economic success and security.
  5. Forgiveness of sins and salvation from hell.
  6. Entry into heaven.
Folk Shinto
Shinto: One of the three major types of Shinto, it is a Japanese folk belief system which includes small roadside images, agricultural rites of individual families and so forth. It has neither firmly organized religious bodies nor doctrinal formulas.

Roman: Feast celebrated 13 October to honor the nymphs who dwelled in fountains and wells with flowers.

Christian: The organizational training through which a layperson becomes a member of a religious community.

Common usage: A witness to a divine revelation that establishes a new religious tradition.

Founding of the Church
Mormon: Commemoration of the appearance of the angel Moroni in 1830 to Joseph Smith.
4 (=four)
Common usage (Asian): Unlucky number (a homonym for "death" in Chinese, Japanese and Korean).
Christian: (Divine) Creation.

Four Books
Confucian: The canon includes the Five Classics and these Four Books:
Four Chaplains Day
Jewish/Christian (United States): Commemoration of an event in World War II when four Chaplains of Jewish and Christian traditions gave their life jackets to others as a troop ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean.

Four Elements
  1. Prehistoric: The four arms of the cross.
  2. Ancient Greece: Pythagorean cycles of life.
  3. (Unknown): The four quadrants of the Zodiac; the four cardinal directions,
  4. Masonic (Absolute Initiation): Four mystic grades.
Four Last Things (=Den Vier Letzen Dingen, =Quatuor Novissima)
Christian (esp. Roman Catholic): Death, judgment, heaven, hell.

Four Noble Truths
Buddhist: A summary of the key concepts of Buddhism, attributed to the founder, Siddhartha Gautama:

Four P Movement
New Age: In existence approx. 1967-72, an offshoot of the Process Church of the Final Judgement.

14 (=fourteen)
Common usage (Asian): Unlucky number (homonym for "must die" in Chinese, Japanese and Korean).

Foxe, John
British. 1516-1587) "Defiant" English Protestant.

Christian: The ritual "breaking of the bread" in the eucharistic liturgy of various Christian churches, modeled on Christ's own action at the Last Supper, and recalling the recognition of the risen Christ in the breaking of the bread when he met with disciples on the road to Emmaus (Gospel According to Luke).

Francis Bacon
See Bacon, Francis

  1. Christian (Roman Catholic): Refers to any of several monastic orders based on the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi.
  2. Christian (Roman Catholic): Monks and priests who wear cowled cloaks in either black or brown with a corded belt including three knots.
  3. Christian (Roman Catholic): The male orders include four recognized by the Vatican -- 1. Capuchins, Order of Friars Minor (brown), 2. xxxx (brown), 3. xxxx (black), 4. xxxx (black).
Franciscan Sisters of the Most Blessed Sacrament
Christian (Roman Catholic): Cloistered order of women religious.

Frederick II
Holy Roman emperor and proponent of Arabic learning. Underwrote translations of Averroes, Avicenna, and Maimonides.

Free African Society
Christian: Forerunner of African Methodist Episcopal Church, a predominantly black denomination and the first to be independent of any white denomination.

free will
Common usage: Religious doctrine that God has created human beings capable of choosing their own actions (opposite of predestination).

Secret society/fraternal order: [xxxx] With roots in King Solomon’s Temple and the trappings of chivalric orders of medieval times, now distinctly Protestant…..

Fria (=Freya)
Norse: Goddess of love; Supreme Goddess.

  1. Roman: Traditional day of execution, including the crucifixion of Jesus.
  2. Common usage (archaic): Traditional day of execution for criminals in the United States until 20th century.
Fruit of Islam
Nation of Islam: The secret protective arm of the Nation of Islam, they are young men trained in the martial arts. Typically, they are fastidiously groomed, wearing dark suits, white shirts, and bow ties.

Scientologist: = Flag Service Organization.

Scientologist: = Flag Ship Service Organization.

Fulani (=Fulbe)
Muslim: A tribe in West Africa.


Gabriel (=Jibril)
  1. Christian: Archangel [incomplete].
  2. Muslim: Angel who transmitted the Qu'ran to Muhammad.
Ganesha Chaturthi (=Ganesa Chaturthi)
Hindu: A festival honoring Ganesh.

Ganga Dussehra (=Ganges Dussehra)
Hindu (holiday): Honors the sacred river Ganges.

Shinto: The festival celebrating the new year.

Gardiner, Stephen
British. Author of "De Vera Obedientia" (1534).

gassho (Korean, Hapchang)
Buddhist (Zen): A hand position for spiritual practice in which palms are placed together vertically in front of the body.

Gedaliah Ben-Ahikam
Jewish: The governor of Judea during the time of the Babylonian conquest whose assassination is commemorated by a Jewish holiday, Tsom Gedaliah.

genetic entity
Scientologist: That part of a human being which takes care of the automatic mechanisms of the body, such as heartbeat, respiration, etc.

  1. Jewish: Term for non-Jews.
  2. Christian (Mormon): Term for non-Mormons.

George King
See King, George.

Gerbert d'Aurillac
Roman Catholic: Pope Sylvester II. Born in France ca. 950 CE.

ghaflah (Arabic: "negligence", "forgetfulness")
(implied for Muslims: human forgetfulness of God)
  1. Muslim: The root of most sins.
  2. Muslim (Shi'ite/Sufi): A major impediment to spiritual realization.
Muslim (Shi'ite): The final portion of a majlis in which the zakir invokes the battle of Karbala and induces tears of grief in the congregation.

Ghambar Maidyozarem
Zoroastrian (holiday): The celebration of the creation of the sky and the harvest of winter crops.

ghawth al-zaman (Arabic: "succor of the age")
Muslim (Shi'ite: Sufi): A title given to a Sufi.

ghaybah (=ghayba; Arabic: "occultation", "concealment")
Muslim (Shi'ite): Refers to the removal from (human) view of the last of the Shi'ite imams.

ghaybat-i-kubra (Arabic: "greater occulation")
Muslim (Shi'ite): The period marked by the absence of human intermediaries between the imam and the faithful, starting with the death of the last vakil in 940 and still continuing.

ghazi (Arabic)
Muslim: A title of honor for one who takes part in raids against non-Muslims.

ghulat (=ghullat)(Arabic: "exaggerators")

ghuluww (=ghulluw) (Arabic: "exaggeration")
Muslim (Shi'ite): Believing extreme things about Ali such as ascribing divinity to him.

ghusl (Arabic)
Muslim ritual: Washing the body before burial.

Gion Matsuri
Shinto: Honoring the sun god with parades, music and story telling.

Gita Jayanti
Hindu (holiday): The celebration of the birthday of Srimad Bhagavad Gita and the revelation of the gospel of Dharma.

Gmar Khatimah Tovah (Hebrew: "May the end be a good signature")
Jewish: Traditional greeting between Jews during High Holidays that refers to the image of God signing judgements on humans. Hence, the literal meaning: "May the end be a good signature," or "May God inscribe you for a good fate."

gnosis (Greek: "knowledge")
Mystically attained knowledge.

Gnosticism (from Greek gnosis)
Christian (heretical): Any of a variety of early Christian movements that sought to escape from the material wolrd (regarded as evil) and return to live among heavenly beings via special or secret knowledge.

goat (=billy goat)
  1. Pagan: Symbol of xxxx.
  2. 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.

  1. Chrisian: Anglicized version of Yahweh.
  2. Jewish: Yahweh.
  3. Muslim: Allah.
  4. Supernatural being having consciousness and intentions. Measures and procedures for exchanging with the supernatural include rites and rituals.

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 Schism
Christian: The breach between the Eastern (Orthodox) Christian Church and the Western (Roman Catholic) Christian Church in 1054.

Great Zab, Battle of the
Muslim: Decisive Abbasid victory over the Umayyads in 749.

Greenwood, John
British. Puritan separatist. Executed ca. 1560.

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.

gula (Latin: "gluttony")
Christian (Roman Catholic): One of the Seven Deadly Sins

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.

Han Confucianism
Confucian (during Han Dynasty, 200 BCE-220CE). All things belong to one of three spheres: heaven, earth, and humans.

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. Archaic: A sacred place where overt conflict was forbidden, especially murder.
  5. 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.
Hasan ibn Al Sabbah (=Hasan-i-Sabbah, =Sheik al Jabal; "Old Man of the Mountains")
Muslim: Founder of Nizari subsect of Ismai'li Islam; ca. 1100 CE, died 1124(incomplete).

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..

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

Deviation or dissent from "official" religious dogma.

Hermann of Carinthia
Contributed to first translation of the Qu'ran into Latin.

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.

Voodoo: (Male) priest.

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.
Hujja (Arabic: "proof")
Muslim (Shi'ite: Ismai'li): A title of high rank; signified a senior missionary responsible for a particular territory. Or, someone who served as a link with a more exalted level in the hierarchy.

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

hukam (Punjabi: "command")
Sikh: The verses of the Guru Granth Sahib read during worship and selected by opening the book at random.

hukm (Arabic: "rule," "govern")

hulul (Arabic)
Muslim: The descent of the spirit of God into man.

huquq-ul-'ibad (Arabic)
Muslim: Man's duty toward man ("rights of people")

huququllah (Arabic)
Muslim: Religious duties of man ("rights of God").

hurmat (Arabic)
Muslim: Prohibition.

Husayn (=Hussein)
  1. Muslim: Common male first name.
  2. Common usage: Saddam Hussein, former president of Iraq.
  3. Muslim (Shi'ite): d. 61 (680 CE), martyred at Karbala. Younger son of Ali and Fatimah, killed in an anti-Umayyad revolt at Karbala in 680; a Shi'ia martyr.
Muslim (Shi'ite): Center for religious education and propagation of the faith.

hypostasis (pl: hypostases; Greek)
  1. A particular or individual being.
  2. Christian:. In the Trinity, there are three beings, but only one essence; Christ is one hypostasis with two essences (human and divine). (see Hypostatic Union)
Hypostatic Union
Christian: The doctrine that in Christ, divine nature and human nature are united in one person.


I Am
New Age: Sect founded in 1934 by Guy Ballard; see I Am.

Scientologist: International Association of Scientologists.

Gnostic: A Satanic rebel.

ibada (=ibadah; pl., ibadat; Arabic: "worship")
  1. Muslim (common usage): Religious practices.
  2. Muslim: Service to God through practice of the Five Pillars.
  3. Muslim: Regulations in Islamic law governing religious observance.
  4. Note: In Islamic law, injunctions are divided into those dealing with worship and those dealing with human relations and transactions, called mu'amala.
'Ibadi (Arabic)
Muslim: A minor school of religious law that is neither Sunni nor Shi'a.

Iblis (Arabic)
Muslim: the devil.

ibn (=bin; Arabic: "son of")
Muslim: Follows a man's given name and precedes his father's name; in common usage, it becomes equivalent to a surname.

Ibn Al-'Arabi, Muhyi Al-Din
Muslim (Sufi mystic): b. 7 Aug. 1165 in Murcia, Spain. Scholar and teacher of Qur'anic exegisis; author of The Bezels of Wisdom. d. November 1240 in Damascus, Syria.

ichiko (Japanese)
Shinto: A female medium or shaman. (See also miko.)

Christian: Referring to an icon or sacramental representation of a divine reality, such that the representation itself deserves veneration.

The destruction of sacred images, especially icons, and thus metaphorically an attack on cherished beliefs or symbols.

The detailed description and analysis of religious images.

Id al-Fitr (=Eid al-Fitr, Arabic; also called Id al-Saghir and Küçük Bayram)
Muslim (holiday): The breaking of the fast, 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.

Id al-Kabir (Arabic: "major festival")
See Id al-Adha.

Id al-Saghir (Arabic: "minor festival")
See Id al-Fitr

idhan (Arabic)
See adhan.

idol (Greek: eidOlon; related to eidolon)
Common usage: A representation or symbol of an object of worship.

Worship of idols.

Scientologist: International Hubbard Ecclesiastical League of Pastors.

ihram (Arabic)
Muslim: The state of ritual purity and dedication entered into by the pilgrim on hajj to Mecca.

Christian: An abbreviation of the name of Jesus as written in Greek, consisting of the first three letters written in capitals. Note: in western Christianity, the second letter has been widely misinterpreted as the letter "h" rather than the long "e" which it represents in Greek.

i'jaz (Arabic)
Muslim: The doctrine that the Qur'an cannot be imitated.

ijaza (pl. ijazat; Arabic)
  1. Muslim: Certificate given on completion of a critical (religious) text reading, which conveys to its recipent the authority to expound on the text to others.
  2. Muslim: Permission or authorization by a scholar or an Islamic institution to teach Islam or give religious opinions.

ijma' (=ijma; Arabic: "consensus")
  1. Muslim: Consensus of a community of believers.
  2. Muslim: Consensus of a scholarly community of believers on a specific religious regulation.
  3. Note: One of the main sources of shari'a.

ijtihad (Arabic)
  1. Muslim: Independent analysis or reasoning.
  2. Muslim: Use of individual reasoning to determine a specific Islamic rule. Note: this term has shifted meaning over time, varying from very general to extremely restricted applications of personal reasoning.
  3. Muslim: One who exercises ijtihad is a mujtahid.
ikwan (Arabic: "brotherhood", "brethren")

Ikwan al-Muslimin (=al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun, Arabic: "Muslim brotherhood") Muslim: A political and religious movement founded by Hasan al-Banna in 1926 in Egypt.

ilham (Arabic: "inspiration")

The Mongol dynasty ruling in Iran from the mid-13th to the mid-14th Century CE.

'illah (Arabic: "defect")

Secret Society: Formed in Medieval Europe and persisting in some form into the present; anti-clerical, esp. anti-Roman Catholic.

ilm (='ilm; Arabic: "knowledge")
Muslim: Used particularly as religious or scientific knowledge.

imam (Arabic: "exemplar", "model", "leader")
  1. Muslim: Community leader (male).
  2. Muslim: A male person with a spiritual quality marked by faith and trust in Allah.
  3. Muslim: Leader of salat in a mosque.
  4. Muslim: The leader of Muslim worship in a mosque. He may be any adult male Muslim of good character and standing in the community, and is not in any sense an ordained priest or minister, though larger mosques may imploy a salaried imam.
  5. Muslim: The title given to learned and respected men such as the founders of schools of law and certain theologians.
  6. Muslim: The head of the Muslim community, virtually equivalent to Caliph.
  7. Muslim: The head of a local Muslim community.
  8. Muslim (Shi'ite): One of the divinely guided descendants of Muhammad; the sinless and infallible members of the family of Ali whom God has designated the legitimate spiritual and temporal successors of Muhammad.
  9. Muslim (Shi'ite/Isma'ili): For Isma'ili and Ithna Ashari Shi'i, the Imam is the necessary, divinely guided, infallible, sinless, political/religious leader.
Imamate of the Twelve Shi'i Imams
Muslim (Shi'ite): 11-260 AH (632-873 CE).

Muslim (Shi'ite): Esoteric Shi'a leadership.

Muslim (Shi'ite): Term denoting the largest group of Shi'ites, the Ithna 'Ashariyya.

Muslim: Son or other (male) descendant of an imam.

iman (Arabic: "faith")
Muslim: One who has faith is a mu'min ("believer").

Imbolg (=Candlemas, =Imbolc)
New Age: One of the Celtic quarterly feasts, held on 1 or 2 February; often adopted as a holiday by Neopagans. Decorations are snowdrops.

Immaculate Conception
Christian (Roman Catholic)(holiday): Celebrates the belief that Mary was preserved from sin.

Immaculate Heart of Mary
Christian (Roman Catholic): Refers to the belief that Mary was preserved from sin.

impassability (from Latin passio: "suffering" or "emotion")
Christian: Doctrine of God’s freedom from suffering and emotion.

incarnation (from Latin for "flesh")
Christian: The doctrine that the Son of God took on flesh, was embodied as the man Jesus.

  1. Hindu: God of rain.
  2. Hindu: The chief deity of Brahminism.

Independent Order Of Odd Fellows
Secret Society/Fraternal Order: Founded as a secret society for “captive Israelites in Babylon,” now a declining fraternal organization.

Christian (Roman Catholic): A grant of remission of sin in exchange for (for example) participation in a crusade or a payment to a clergyman or church.
infitah (Arabic: "cleft", "opening")
Muslim: The policy of economic liberalization introduced in Egypt in the 1970s.

inqilab (Arabic: "revolution")

insan al khamil (=al-insan al-khamil; Arabic: "the perfect man")
  1. Muslim: Muhammad.
  2. Muslim: "The universal or perfect man who contains within himself all the possibilities of universal existence and who finds his embodiment in the prophets and saints." (Seyyid Hossein Nasr, Ideals and Realities of Islam Boston: Beacon Press, 1973: 180.)
insha'allah (Arabic: "God willing")
Muslim: A common interjection after a comment about an event scheduled in the future.

Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research
Secret Society/New Age: Founded by Dr. Henry Clifford Kinely in 1931. See Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research.

Instauration Magna (Latin: "new beginning")
Philosophy: The scheme for the unification of knowledge developed by Francis Bacon ca. 1600 based on observational science rather than classical texts.

int (=interiorization)
intellectual virtues
Aristotelian: They are: episteme, nous, phronesis, sophia, techne.

Intercalary Days
Baha'i: Insertion of days into the liturgical calendar in order to coordinate it with the solar calendar.

International Jungmann Society for Jesuits and Liturgy
Christian (Roman Catholic: Jesuit): A Jesuit liturgical association founded in June 2004 to promote liturgical renewal within the Jesuits and to assist that renewal within the wider church.

intifada (Arabic: "destroy", "annihilate")
Muslim: Name given to the Palestinian protest movement, begun in 1987, against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

invidia (Latin: "envy")
Christian (Roman Catholic): One of the Seven Deadly Sins

Iolande de Bar
Priory of Sion: Grand Master; b. 1428, France.

ira (Latin: "wrath")
Christian (Roman Catholic): One of the Seven Deadly Sins

ird (Arabic: "honor")
Muslim: That which a family must guard, particularly regarding the virtue of a family's female members.

irfan (=gnosis; Arabic)
Muslim: Mystically attained knowledge of the divine.

Isaac Newton
See Newton, Isaac.

isha (Arabic: "evening")
Muslim: The closing prayer of the day, about 1-1/2 hours after sunset; the last of the five daily prayers.

Ancient Middle East: Babylonian mother goddess. Considered equivalent to Astarte and Belial.

islah (Arabic: "reform")

Islam (Arabic: "submission", "peace")
For a Muslim ("one who submits"), Islam is peace through submission to the will of God.

Common usage: The degree or extent to which something (object, concept, person) exhibits the effect of Islam.

Common usage: The redering of something (concept, thing) through an Islamic worldview.

Muslim (Shi'ite): Final legitimate imam for Isma'ilis.

Isma'ili (=Isma'ilyah, =Isma'ilis, =Ismailites, =Seveners)
Note: The leader of the Isma'ilis carries the title of Aga Khan.
  1. Muslim (Shi'ite): A sectarian offshoot of Shi'a Islam. Members recognize Ismail's (d. 740) son Muhammad as the impending Mahdi. They split into many offshoots such as Fatimids, Quaramitah, Druze, Nizaris and Agha Khanis, continuing to present times.
  2. Muslim (Shi'ite): Member of a Shi'a sect who believes an infallible imamate passed from Ali to his descendants through a seventh Imam and to his descendants.

Isma'ili (Arabic)
Muslim (Shi'a): One of the schools of religious law.

isnad (Arabic: "documents")
Muslim: Denotes those who passed on the hadiths (the "chain of transmitters") until they were collected. Used to verify validity of a hadith. The chain of witnesses authenticating an hadith.

Muslim: Muhammad's night journey to Jerusalem.

Budddhist (Zen): Hand position for zazen.

istihsan (Arabic)
  1. Muslim: Act of reaching a personal opinion on a legal question without the strict use of analogy.
  2. Muslim: Juristic preference.
  3. Muslim: Equity as a criterion in development of Islamic law.
istihslah (=istislah; Arabic: "public interest")
Muslim: General welfare of the community as a criterion in development of Islamic law.

istikharah (Arabic: "seeking the good alternative", "decision-making")
Muslim: When a Muslim is confronted with a choice between alternatives, he/she is encouraged to offer a prayer called istikharah. Then, whichever way his/her mind is inclined wil be considered as the divine indication of the preference.

istislah (Arabic)
Muslim: Act of reaching a legal decision by taking the public welfare into account; mode of reasoning which emphasizes the principle of expediency or concern for human welfare.

Ithna Ashari (=Itha Ash'ariyyah, =Twelvers, =Imamis =Jafari; Arabic)
Muslim (Shi'ite): Twelver Shi'ism.
Muslim (Shi'ite): Member of a sect who belives there were 12 successive imams descended fromAli, the last of whom () disappeared but will one day return.
Muslim (Shi'ite): Followers of this sect of Shi'a Islam believe in 12 imams, and hold that a son, Muhammad al-Muntaazar, was born to the 11th imam, Hassan al-Askari (d. 874 CE) but went into concealment until he will reappear at the proper time to set the whole world in order. They subscribe to the legal school Ja'fariyyah and have been established in Iran since the Safvid period (1501) and constitute the largest branch of Shi'a.

ittisal asanad (Arabic: "chain of transmitters")

ius civile (Greek)
Law as an expression of local values and interests that differe from place to place and people to people (from Cicero’s De Legibus).

ius gentium (Greek)
Laws as the universally adoped precepts of those who live under any rule of law (from Cicero’s De Legibus).

Jewish: Hebrew month of Iyar.

Izanagi and Izanami (or, Isanagi and Isanami) (Japanese)
Shinto: The mythological male and female who participated in the creation of the Japanese islands, and also are the parents of Ameratsu, the sun goddess, and the deities who became ancestors of various clans.
Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto consulted together, saying, 'We now have produced the Great-eight-island country, with the mountains, rivers, herbs and trees. Why should be not produce someone who shall be lord of the universe?'They then produced the Sun Goddess. The resplendent lustre of this child shone throughout all the six quarters. Therefore the two Deities rejoiced, saying, 'We have had many children, but none of them have been equal to this wondrous infant. She out not to be kept long in this land, but we ought of our own accrd to send her at once to Heaven, and entrust her to the affairs of Heaven.' (Nihongi)


Christian: An untrained preacher.

Jewish and Christian: Son of Isaac, ancestor of the Jews.

Christian: Denotes a Syrian Monophysite Christian.

Hindu: Krishna, worshipped as "Lord of the World".

jahannam (Arabic: "inferno")

jahili (Arabic: "ignorance")

jahiliya (=jahiliyya, =jahiliyyah; Arabic: "days of ignorance")
  1. Muslim: Denotes the period of Arab history before the advent of Islam.
  2. Muslim: Can also refer to those who "ignore" Islam.

Founded by Mahavira (c. 599-527 BCE), this offshoot of Hinduism arose in northern India where an estimated 2 million followers still reside. Jains are best known for their radical reverence for life.

jama (Punjabi)
Common usage (Indian subcontinent): A saffron robe, traditionally worn by one who has chosen a spiritual path.

jama'a (Arabic)
Muslim: A particular community of believers.

jama'at (Arabic)
Muslim: Organization of people who travel for purposes of da'wa (Muslim missionaries).

Jamal, Battle of
Muslim (Shi'ite): First civil war, in 35 AH (656 CE).

jammah (=jammat; Arabic?: "(political) party")

Hindu: A Goddess who rides a tortoise.

Hindu (festival): xxxxx.

janaazah (Arabic)
Muslim: Rituals surrounding the preparation of a corpse for burial and subsequent internment.

Hindu (holiday: The two-day celebration of the birthday of Krishna.

jannah (Arabic: "paradise")
Muslim: Heaven; the positive afterlife.

Jashan-e Sadeh (=Sadeh)
Zoroastrian (holiday: The mid winter celebration in which a bonfire is often used to express defiance of the cold of winter.

Hindu/Buddhist: Festival.

Jaya Varahi
Hindu: Vishnu's shakti in his incarnation as a boar.

Jean de Gisors
Priory of Sion: First independent Grand Master; b. 1133, France; d. 1220.

Jean de Saint-Clair
Priory of Sion: Sixth Grand Master; b. 1329, France (?).

Jeanne de Bar
Priory of Sion: Fifth Grand Master; b. 1295, England (?); d. 1361.

  1. Ancient Hebrew: God; derived from Jah ("the masculine" and Havah ("the feminine").
  2. New Age: One of the four co-equal deities of the Process Church of the Final Judgement.

Confucian: Good-heartedness, the adoption of a bright outlook on human nature. One of the tenets of Confucianism.

Christian (Roman Catholic: Basque): Non-Christians with magical powers who roam the woods and remote rural areas.

  1. Christian: The second person of the Trinity; Christ.
  2. Muslim: One of the prophets.
Jézuska (Hungarian)
Christian (Hungary): Jesus, especially as an infant. Children are told that Baby Jesus brings them gifts on Christmas eve.

Shaman or sorcerer.

Traditional animism, incorporating occult practices.

jihad (Arabic: "struggle")
  1. Common usage: Any conflict waged by Muslims against non-Muslims.
  2. Muslim: The struggle against evil or unbelief.
  3. Muslim: The effort to work for good and against evil, in oneself, one's community and in human society.
  4. Muslim: Striving in Allah's path; a duty of all Muslims, although the scope, form and definition are contested.
  5. Muslim: Holy War against unbelievers, the goal of which is either the expansion or defense of Islam.
jihad al-qawl (Arabic: "struggle with preaching")
Muslim: A period of preaching preceeding a greater jihad.

jihad al-sayf (Arabic: "struggle with sword")
Muslim: An armed jihad.

Jina (pl. Jinas)
Jain: A series of "fordmakers" who enable the faithful to ford the stream of existence to the other shore, Nirvana.

jinn (Arabic)
  1. Common usage: Demonic creatures.
  2. Muslim: Sprites or genies, evidence of another dimension to the creation on earth.
  3. Muslim: invisible creatures capable of doing either good or harm.
  4. Muslim: guardian angels who record each person's deeds in preparation for the last reckoning.

Jain: The soul.

jizya (Arabic?)
Muslim: Head tax levied on dhimmi.

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

joaldunak (Basque)
Christian: Character in pre-Lenten celebrations portrayed by grim-faced men in sheepskin and wearing high cone-shaped hats who ring copper bells strapped to their backs.

Jodo Shinshu (=Jodo Shinshu Nishi Hongwanji; Japanese: "true land, pure religion")
Buddhist (sect): Founded in Japan in 1224 CE by Shinran Shonin with the completion of the first draft of his most important work "Teaching, Practice, Faith and Attainment" (Kyo Gyo Shin Sho). (See website.

Hindu/Buddhist: Mystical Goddess.

Johann Valentin Andrea
See: Andrea, Johann Valentin

John Berchmans Society (=Saint John Berchmans Acolyte Society)
Christian (Roman Catholic): Organization for altar boys.

John de Villula
Christian. Named bishop of Wells (England) in 1088; patron of Adelard of Bath.

John Dee
See Dee, John.

John Wyclif Christian: Oxford teologian and philosopher. First to have Bible translated into English.

Jones, Absalom
Christian: Founder (approx 1800) of African Protestant Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, Pa.

Jones, C.P.
Christian: Founder of the Church of Christ, Holiness, USA, approx. 1894.

Jewish: Jewish quarter (of a predominantly Muslim) city.

Julian calendar
Western Europe: Created by Greek astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria; imposed on Roman Empire by Julius Caesar in 46 BCE.

Muslim (Shi'ite): Mourning procession.

Jumada-al-Akhir (Arabic)
Common usage (Muslim): The sixth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

Jumada-al-Oola (=Jumanda-al-Ula; Arabic: "The first month of dryness")
Common usage (Muslim): The fifth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

jum'ah (=jumah, =jum'a, =juma'ah; Arabic: "Day of Assembly")
  1. Common usage: Friday
  2. Muslim: The day (Friday) when it is obligatory for male Muslims to assemble for congregational prayer at midday, usually in a mosque.
  3. Muslim: The congregational prayers on Fridays.
Jummatul Wida (=Juma'a-t-ul Wida)
Muslim: Last Friday of Ramadan.

jyapu (Nepalese)
Hindu (Nepal): Newar farmer caste.

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


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

Ka'bah ("the cube")
Place name: Ancient Muslim shrine in Mecca housing the Black Stone (perhaps a meteorite) and serving as the focal point for the hajj and direction for formal worship.

kabbalah (=cabala

kafir (Arabic: "non-Muslim")
  1. Muslim: An unbeliever or infidel.
  2. Muslim: Originally meaning "ungrateful to Allah," in Islam it is the term used to designate an infidel, or unbeliever, who, in the Qur'an, is threatened with punishment in hell. It is therefore the opposite of Muslim.
  3. In popular usage: denotes a particular kind of ornamental plant, a kafir lily.
kagura (Japanese)
Shinto: A performance of music and dance whose origin is attributed to a performance by the heavenly gods. A popular form of kagura called satokagura is performed for local deities.

kahin (Arabic)
Pagan: Religious functionary at a pagan shrine. One who could enter a trance state and locate lost relatives, camels, or other objects.

Hindu: The abode of Shiva.

kalam (Arabic" "speech", "rhetorical formation")
  1. Muslim: Theological argument framed in terms of an argument.
  2. Muslim: Speculative theology.

Kali (or, Durga)
Hindu: "The black one;" the name of a Goddess represented as fierce and bloodthirsty, the destroyer of evil, but is also venerated as the Mother: Shiva's shakti in her most terrifying form.

  1. Hindu: The name of the God of love.
  2. Hindu: Together with artha, dharma and moksha, one of the four goals of life in Hindu tradition.
kami (Japanese)
  1. Shinto: Any of some 8 million deities or spiritual beings regarded as objects of worship.
  2. Shinto: Parishioners of a particular shrine believe in their tutelary kami as the source of human life and existence. Each kami is believed to have a divine personality and to respond to sincere prayers.
  3. Shinto: An appellation for all beings which possess extraordinary ability or virtue, and which are awesome or worthy of reverence (both good and evil).
  4. Shinto: Earthly deities (of the soil) are kunitsukami; heavenly deities (of the sky) are amatsukami.
kamiko (Japanese)
Shinto: A female officiant at a shrine trained to assist the priests and perform the sacred dances. (See also miko.)

kannushi (Japanese)
Shinto: Priest.

kanun (Turkish?)
Muslim (Ottoman Empire): Secular law.

Karbala'(place name)
Muslim (Shi'ite): The place in Iraq where Husayn was ambushed and killed; commemorated each year on the 10th of the month of Muharram.

Hindu/Buddhist: The moral law of cause and effect, such that past unenlightened actions keep beings in samsara, bound to the endless cycles of life, death and rebirth.

Karma Kagyu
Buddhist: A sect of Buddhism.

Buddhist: Lineage of incarnate lamas of the Kagyupa whose main seat is Tsurphu Monastery. Karmapas are the head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Buddhism.

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

kashiwade (Japanese)
Shinto: Ritual handclaps upon entering a shrine (see Shinto shrine ritual.)

Jewish: The method for preparing useable utensils and making them fit for Passover. The process, according to the American Jewish Committee: Cleaning them very carefully and then immersing them in boiling water. Metal utensils used for frying have a tendency to build up a residue of oil and food particles. Such utensils can be kashered by holding them over fire burning off that residue. In many Jewish homes this process is avoided by packing away the regular set of utensils and simply keeping a separate set of kitchen ware that is used only on Passover.

kashf (Arabic)
Muslim (Shi'ite: Sufi): Unveiling of the divine mysteries.

kashrut (Hebrew)
Jewish: A general term for religious dietary requirements.

katha (Punjabi)
Sikh: Pious discourse at an assembly for religious worship.

Buddhist: The celebration when monks end a three month rain retreat and are given new robes.

Kaur (Punjabi: "princess")
Sikh: The ritual name adopted by female believers. Sikh men take the additional name Singh ("lion").

kehillah (Hebrew)
Jewish: The community of believers, usually those who attend a particular synagogue.

Keithian Controversy Christian (Quaker): A spiritual schism in Pennsylvania about 1690-93 named for the leader of the movement, George Keith (a Scottish Quaker). Keith thought the Quakers needed a written creed, which the denomination did not have.

Buddhist (Zen): An experience of seeing into one's own nature.

kesdhari (=kesh) (Punjabi)
Sikh: A (male) believer who keeps the hair uncut (on head and chin) (one of the five "k's"of the Khalsa).

Keshav Baliram Hedgewar
See Hedgewar, Keshav Baliram

Ketzer (Hebrew: “crown”)
Jewish: The name for the first of the Sefirot in Kabbalah; also called “nothingness”.

  1. Muslim: Common first name for women.
  2. Muslim: Name of Muhammad's first wife.
Muslim: The creator of the universe.

Muslim: God's creations.

Khalsa (Punjabi)
Sikh: An institution or order established by the tenth guru, Gobind Singh, enrolling male Sikhs of any (Indian) caste. Membership requires obedience to a code of conduct and maintenance of a set of symbols (panj kakke -- the five "k's") and ideally marked by initiation rites.

khalwa (Arabic)
Muslim (Shi'ite: Sufi): Sufi retreat.

khan (Turkish?)
Muslim: A polite title for adult males.

kharaj (Arabic: "land tax")
Muslim (Ottoman): Paid by peasants on agricultural produce.

Khariji (=Kharijites; Arabic: "one who secedes")
  1. Muslim: Minor sect, usually in political opposition to a Sunni or Shi'ite ruler.
  2. Muslim: A group active in early Islam who believed in absolute devotion as the mark of a true Muslim; all others are unbelievers.
  3. Muslim: Members of an anarchist group believing that any sinless Muslim could be caliph.

khatib (Arabic)
Muslim: One who delivers the khutba.

Khedive (Persian)
Muslim: Title used by rulers of Muhammad Ali dynasty in Egypt from 1867-1914.

Khordad Sal
Zoroastrian: The remembrance of the birth of the Prophet Zarathushtra.

Khulafa al-Rashidun
See Al-Khulafa al-Rashidun.

khums (Arabic?: "1/5")
  1. Common usage: Religious tax.
  2. Muslim (Shi'ite): One-fifth of income given to the descendants of Muhammad.
  3. Muslim (Shi'ite/Iran): One-fifth of income as a religious tax divided between descendants of Muhammad and the ulema.
  4. Muslim (Shi'ite): One-fifth of one's earnings given as a religious tax.
  5. Muslim (Shi'ite: One-fifth of all profit earned in trade given as a charitable tax.

khuruj (Arabic: "reappearance")

khutba (=khutbah; Arabic: "sermon")
(See also: homily)
  1. Muslim: Sermon during a worship service in a mosque.
  2. Muslim: The reading from the Qur'an and its interpretation at the jum'a (roughly equivalent to ).
  3. Muslim: The address given at the jum'a by a khatib that disseminates political information as well as religious instruction. A symbol of political sovereignty of a ruler was to mention that ruler's name in the khutba.
kiai (Indonesian)
Muslim (Indonesian): A religious teacher of high standing.

kibbutz (Hebrew)
Jewish: Communal agricultural settlement, esp. in Israel.

Kiddush (Hebrew: "blessing over wine")
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.”
Muslim (d. 873): Philosopher and scientist.

Kinely, Dr. Henry Clifford
Secret Society/New Age: Founded Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research in 1931.

King, George
New Age: Leader (1950s) of Aetherious Society in California.

Buddhist (Zen): Walking zazen.

kirtan (Punjabi)
Sikh: Hymns sung at assemblies of religious worship.

kitab (Arabic: "book")
Muslim: Often refers to the Qu'ran.

Kizilbash (Turkish: "red head")
Muslim (Ottoman Empire): A follower of the Safavid religious order, so called from the order's distinctive red headdress.

Knights of Columbus
Secret Society/Fraternal Order: Roman Catholic men [xxxx]

Knights Templar
Secret Society/Europe: A religious order of Medieval crusaders; existence into contemporary times possible. (Also known as: Order of the Temple.)

knowledge-responsibility-control triangle (=KRC)
Scientologist: A symbol that knowledge, responsibility and control act together as a whole entity.

Knox, John
Scottish Calvinist. (1513-1572).

koan (=Chinese: kungan)
  1. Buddhist (Zen): A paradoxical saying or riddle used by Zen Buddhist masters as a prod to enlightenment.
  2. Buddhist (Zen): Literally, a "public record" pointing to realization in a Zen teaching context, usually involving interaction, which may be used discursively or as an object of meditation.
Koot Hoom (=Master KH)
New Age: An ascended master who revealed psychic communiqués to Alice Bailey, founder of Lucis Trust religious sect about 1930.

kosher ("fit, proper")
Jewish: That which is ritually clean or acceptable according to Jewish law. The term is usually applied to food or food preparation.

Hopi: "Life out of balance."

Krishna (=Krsna)
Hindu: Lord Krishna appears as a main character in the Bhagavad-Gita. He is considered the eighth avatar of Vishnu.

Krishna Jayanti (=Sri Krishna Janmashtami)
Hindu (holiday): The commemoration of the birth of Krishna.

Krishna Venta
New Age: Leader of WKLF Foundation of the World about 1948-1958 in Southern California.

Kshatriya (=chhetri)
Hindu: Second highest level in Indian caste system. “Sprung from Brahma’s arms.”

Hindu/Buddhist: A snake-eating figure often depicted on temple toranas.

Ku Klux Klan
Secret Society: {xxxx}

Küçük Bayram (Turkish: "minor festival")
See Id al-Fitr.

Kuhl, Regina (=High Priestess Regina Kuhl)
New Age: A leader of the Temple of Thelma in Los Angeles, CA., about 1940.

kumari (Nepalese)
Hindu (Nepal): A young virgin regarded as a living Goddess in Kathmandu Valley towns.

Kumbhy Mela
Hindu: A festival held once every 12 years that brings more than 10 million people to northern India to perform ritual ablutions in the Ganges River, considered a symbol of life without end.

Muslim: The practice of renaming a man or a woman after his/her first-born son. Example: Umm Daoud is David's mother, Abu Daoud is David's father.
Common usage (African-American)(holiday): Secular observance 26 December-1 January celebrating family, community and culture.


L. Ron Hubbard
See Hubbard, L. Ron.

Christian (holiday): The Feast of the Annunciation, when Gabriel appeared before Mary to tell her she had conceived Jesus; celebrated 25 March.


Lag B'Omer (Hebrew)
Jewish (minor holiday): A celebration of "Freedom and Perseverance" observed on the 33rd day of the month of Omer.

Lailat al-Miraj and Israa' (Arabic)
Muslim (holiday): Observance of Muhammad's night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and his ascension to heaven.

Lailat al-Bara'ah (=Shab-Barat; Arabic, "Night of Forgiveness")
Muslim: A night of prayer for forgiveness of the dead and preparation for Ramadan.

Lailat ul-Qadr (=Nuzulul Qur'an; Arabic, "Night of Destiny")
Muslim: Celebration of the first revelation of the Qur'an to Muhammad; observed during the last ten days of Ramadan.

See also layman.
Common usage: Members of religious congregations who are not clergy or other professional religous leaders.

Hindu/Buddhist: Sacred masked dancing.

Lakshmi (Sanskrit: "wealth", "beauty", "splendor")
Hindu: The Goddess of prosperity, wife (or, consort) of Vishnu, and sometimes referred to as the Lotus Goddess.

Buddhist (Tibetan): Priest; spiritual teacher, enlightened master.

New Age: (see, Lughnasa)

langar (Punjabi)
  1. Sikh: A meal shared by everyone in the congregation following a worship service.
  2. Sikh: The kitchen of the gurdwara in which the communal meal following a worship service is prepared.
Lantern Festival
Chinese: See Moon Cake Festival.

Lao-Tzu (= Lao Zi, = Liu Xiang) (Chinese: the old master)
Tao: The founder of Taoism, born about 600 BCE, Lao-Tzu is said to have lived most of his life as an official in the court of the Chou emperors. The author of Tao Te Ching.

Lao Zi (Chinese: “the old child”; =Lao Tzu)
See Lao Tzu.

laqab (Arabic)
  1. Muslim: Surname or family name.
  2. Muslim: The honorific part of a Muslim name, often a compound ending in al-Din or al-Dawla.
Las Posadas (=Feast of The Lodgings, =Navideñas)
Christian (esp. Hispanic Roman Catholic): A celebration re-enacting the search by Joseph for a room at an inn for Mary to give birth to Jesus.

Laud, William
English. 1573-1645. Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633.

layman (=layperson, =lay person)
Common usage: A person who is not a professional religious leader.
See also laity.

laying on of hands
Christian: Ritual.

Lazarus Saturday Christian (Eastern Orthodox): Celebration of the resurrection of Lazarus by Jesus on the eve of Palm Sunday.

Christian (especially liturgical traditions including Roman Catholic): A book containing portions of scripture which are designated to be read aloud at services of Holy Communion or Mass and at Matins and Evensong. The readings are selected because of their relevance to the sequence of the church year and are therefore taken out of their context in the original biblical works; listing of readings for each worship service.

Christian (Protestant): Refers to the attempt to justify oneself in God’s sight by obeying God’s law, without help from the grace and mercy of God.

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

Christian: The period of fasting or abstinence observed in the 40 days before Easter, not counting Sundays, beginning with Ash Wednesday.

Leonardo da Vinci
  1. Italian Renaissance artist, inventor, etc.
  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.
Jewish/Christian: The sea monster killed by God using a sword in Chapter 27 of the Book of Isaiah in the Bible.

lex naturale (Greek)
Natural law; a key concept in legal theory. Rational beings inherently possess intuitive principles of an essentiall juridical nature that are expressed in ius gentium (from Cicero’s De Legibus).

li (Chinese)
  1. Confucian: "The course of life as it is intended to go."
  2. Chinese term for propriety, proper conduct, ritual etiquette and due social form.
The pouring of wine, oil, honey or water on the ground as part of a religious ritual.

Christian: A tradition in theology characterized by the effort to base religious belief on experience.

Lie Xian Chuan
Taoist: Hagiographic work compiled presumably during the 3rd or 4th century CEby one or several persons using the name of Liu Xiang (or, Lao-Tzu), a historical personage of much earlier times.

Li Ji (or, Li Chi) (Chinese)
Confucian: One of the Five Classics of the canon, whose title is usually translated as "Book of Ritual".

Li Jiao Siwu Lun
Taoist (Quan Zhen): An important scripture, possibly dating from the hands of the founder Wang Zhe in the 11th century.

Temple Zagduku: The dark patron.

Lilitu's Night
Temple Zagduku: Celebration honoring Lilitu.

Christian (Roman Catholic): According to tradition, a special hell-like realm reserved for children who died very young and were therefore not baptized (and, maybe, for especially worthy non-believers).

Lingbao Wufu Jing
Taoist (Ling-bao): An important revelatory text dating to the 4th century CE.

lingum (plural: lingas) (Sanskrit)
Hindu: A symbolic male phallus, generally associated with Shiva.

lion Christian (Medieval): A lion signifies the Redemption because it covers its tracks.

Listing and Nulling
Scientologist: A specialized technique used in certain auditing processes.

Christian: A special type of prayer consisting of short sentences expressing hopes and supplications. These are read or sung by an officiant and followed by a repetitive formula on the part of the people.

New Age: The summer solstice holiday is celebrated by Neopagans between 20-23 June. Decorations are roses.
Bless us, O Queen of Summer, and bless all living creatures.
Now the peak has been reached, the change
shall be made.
Now the sails of the bright Sun are unfurled.

-- Neopagan Litha poem

Little Sisters of the Poor
Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

liturgical year
Christian: The annual cycle of festivals and days of penance beginning in the late fall with Advent and continuing through Christmas, Lent, Easter and Pentecost, to the long summer period after Pentecost.

A general term used to designate the whole procedure of ritual actions and prayers used in religious services, in particular in the context of the Jewish and Christian traditions.

Voodoo: A god or divinity.

Scientologist: A mental image picture of an experience where one was knowingly or unknowingly reminded of an engram.

Locke, John

locum (=locum tenens)
Christian (esp. Protestant): A clergyperson temporarily taking the place of another clergyperson, such as in case of illness or vacation.

logical positivism
Philosophy: The essence of scientific statements are defined by means of logic and the analysis of language. (see also positivism)

Logos (Greek)
  1. The final rationale, “the point of it all”.
  2. Stoic: Intrinsic ordering principle of the world.
  3. Christian: Refers to Jesus as the eternal Word of God (see John 1:1-14).
Lohri (=Makar Sankranti)
Hindu: Celebrated in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, this January festival marks the beginning of the end of winter, and the end of the winter month known as Poush.

Hindu/Buddhist: “Lord of the World,” a form of Avalokiteshwara to Buddhists and of Shiva to Hindus.

Norse/New Age: God who is agent of evil; trickster God.

Lord Brihaspathi
Hindu: See Brihaspathi.

Lord's Evening Meal
Christian (Jehovah's Witness): Primary annual celebration taking place in the evening.

Los Reyes Catolicos (Spanish)
Christian (Roman Catholic): Refers to King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile, who united the Iberian Peninsula* in the late 15th Century and expelled all non-Catholics. *except for Portugual and the Basque Kingdom of Navarra.

Louis de Nevers
Priory of Sion: Grand Master; b. 1539, d. after 1584. (Also known as Louis de Gonzaga.)

Louis Guanella
See Guanella, Louis.

  1. [xxxx]
  2. New Age (Process Church): One of the four co-equal deities of the Process Church of the Final Judgement.

Lughnasa (=Lughnasadh, =Lammas)
New Age: One of the Celtic quarterly feasts, held on 1 August; often adopted as a holiday by Neopagans. Connected with Lug, a widely worshipped Celtic god associated with the raven.
For the Sun we mourn
as he shall wane.
The crops remain.
Through kern and corn,
the harvest born,
shall life return.
Our Mother Earth
now brings to birth
the life poured forth
in light and warmth.
-- Neopagan Lughnasa chant

Lun Yu (= Analects)
Confucian: A text which contains the sayings and conversations of Confucius as collected by his disciples.

Luther, Martin
Christian (Protestant): [incomplete]

luxuria (Latin: "lust") Christian (Roman Catholic): One of the Seven Deadly Sins


Muslim (Egypt): A woman skilled in folk music and dance who passes her knowledge to others.

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

New Age: The autumn equinox holiday is celebrated by Neopagans about 20-23 September.
I celebrate the gain, the fruits, and all of the Earth's abundance, dancing the outgoing and the incoming spiral. Every end is followed by a beginning. Neopagan Mabon chant

Machhendra (Nepalese)
Hindu: The guardian God of the Kathmandu Valley, guarantor of rain and plenty. The deity is also a popular interpretation of Avalokiteshwara or Lokeshwar and is enshrined as the Rato (Red) Machhendra in Patan and the Seto (White) Machendra in Kathmandu.

madahu (Hausa)
Muslim (African): A category of Hausa Islamic verse.

madhhab (Arabic: "belief", "school of thought")
Muslim (Sunni): Denotes one of the four accepted legal schools (Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki an Shafi'i)

Madonna (=”Our Lady”)
Christian ( Roman Catholic): A popular term for representations of Mary.

Magen David
Jewish: see Star of David.

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

Magha Puja Day
Buddhist (holiday): The celebration of the presentation of teachings by Buddha to an assembly of holy men.

Sikh (holiday): The commemoration of a battle in which forty Sikhs died for Guru Gobindh Singh Ji.

maghreb (= maghrib) (Arabic: "sunset")
  1. One of the five daily prayers.
  2. North Africa, the "land of the setting sun" west of Arabia.
Zoroastrian: Priests.

Efforts to manipulate the supernatural to obtain desired outcomes, without reference to a god or gods.

Maha Shivaratri
Hindu (holiday): The festival in honor of Lord Shiva and his marriage to Goddess Parvati.

Hindu: Epic which contains the long poem

  1. Hindu: A “great soul” or saint.
  2. Common usage: Title given to Mohandas Gandhi by Rabindramath Tagore, a Nobel-prize-winning novelist.
Mahavir Jayanti
Jain (holiday): The festival honoring Mahavira's birthday.

Mahavira ("the great hero")
Jain: The title for the founder of Jainism who lived in northern India between ca. 599-527 BCE.

Mahayana (Sanskrit: "great vehicle " or "great raft")
Buddhist: The larger of the two major schools of Buddhism (the other, the Hinayana, is a collective and pejorative term for all those schools which preceded the rise of the Mahayana around the 1st century CE.).

mahdi (Arabic: "divinely guided one")
  1. Muslim: The person who has been sent by God to re-establish justice on earth before the end of time.
  2. Muslim: A messianic figure with millenarian and eschatological implications who has appeared at various stages in Islamic history. Mahdism is the belief that a divinely guided restorer of Islam will establish a prophetic kingdom at the end of history. The best-known person claiming the title of mahdi was Al Imam Muhammad Ahmad Al Mahdi, a Muslim warrior who fought the British in the Sudan in the 1880s, defeating General Gordon at Khartoum.
  3. Muslim: The returning savior; the second coming of Jesus.
  4. Muslim (Shi'ite): The Twelfth Imam, born 260 AH (873 CE).

Hindu: Another name for Shiva.

mahr (Arabic)
Muslim: The dowry given by the groom to his wife at the time of their marriage.

mahram (Arabic)
Muslim: The boundary of close blood relationship within which it is forbidden to marry and thus lawful for members of the opposite sex to socialize (for example, brothers and sisters, aunts and nephews).

Zoroastrian (holiday): The mid summer feast relating to the creation of the waters.

Maidyarem Gahambar
Zoroastrian (holiday): A winter feast.

Maimonides, Moses
Jewish: Scholar from Al-Andalus who wrote in Arabic.

Buddhist: The term denoting the "future Buddha".

majlis (Arabic: "assembly", "parliament")

Muslim: Saudi sect of Islam.

A unit of cultural transmission, propagated by imitation.
  1. Muslim: An assembly.
  2. Muslim (Shi'ite): Mourning assembly consisting of a recitation by a zakir consisting of an expository discourse followed by the gham.
majlis as-shura (=majlis i-shura; Arabic)
Muslim: Consultative body; elected council.

Makar Sankranti (=Lohri)
  1. Hindu (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh) (holiday): This festival, in January, marks the beginning of the end of winter, and the end of the winter month known as Poush. It is the last festival of the Hindu solar year.
  2. Hindu: The celebration marking turning of the sun toward the north.

Hindu/Buddhist: A mythical crocodile, often depicted on toranas.

makhzan (Arabic)
Muslim (African): A type of Islamic military administration.

(see Mecca)

makoto (Japanese)
Shinto: A core belief referring to sincerity or true heart.

Muslim: Something that is discouraged or disliked on religious grounds.

malam (pl. malamai; Hausa)
Muslim (African): Equivalent to alim.

maleficium (Latin)
Christian: harm done to a person by use of magic.

mali (Nepalese)
Hindu: A Newar caste of gardeners.

malik (Arabic?: "king")

Maliki (=Malikite, =Malekite; Arabic)
  1. Muslim (Sunni): Adherent of madhhab named after Malik Ibn Anas, d. 795.
  2. Muslim: Followers of one of the four major shari'a schools.

malleus maleficarum (Latin)
Christian: The just punishments to be meted out for witchcraft. (See also witch.)

Voodoo: (Female) priest.

mamluk (Turkish?: "owned")
  1. Muslim (Ottoman): A slave trained to be a soldier; especially applied to those of Turkish or Circassian origin.
  2. Common usage: Denotes dynasties of rulers in Egypt and Iraq comprised of mamluks and descendants.
mandylion (Aramaic? "little handkerchief")
  1. Christian: The cloth which Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus used to cover Jesus' face in the tomb after the crucifixion that took an imprint of the face.
  2. Christian (Eastern Orthodox): "According to ancient legend, King Abgar of Edessa, (now Urfa in Turkey), was a leper. He sent his archivist named Hannan (or Ananias) to Galilee with a letter to Jesus, beseeching Him to come to Edessa and heal him. Hannan was a painter and had orders to make a portrait of the Lord in case he refused to come. Hannan came upon Jesus in the midst of a large crowd. He tried to make a portrait but could not. Seeing Hannan’s need, Jesus asked for some water, washed himself, and wiping His face on a linen cloth, imprinted it with his features. When Abgar beheld the cloth, his leprosy was cured, although his scars remained. After Pentecost, the apostle Thaddeus, one of the seventy, went to Edessa and completed Abgar’s cure and conversion to Christianity." []
  3. Christian (Eastern Orthodox)(=achieropoietos from the Greek: "not made by human hands") : A particular iconographic style for portraits of Jesus said to derive from a face cloth used by Jesus.
  4. Christian (Knights Templar): A cloth with an imprint of Jesus' face acquired by the Order in the 13th century (in 1204, during the 4th Crusade) that became an object of veneration and secret ritual.
  5. Christian: The cloth is said to be or have inspired the creation of the Shroud of Turin, and also is said to be the same as the Veil of St. Veronica..

Manjushri (Nepalese)
Buddhist: The legendary patriarch of the Kathmandu Valley, now often regarded as the God of learning.

Mankind United
New Age: Sect in existence from about 1934-9; see Mankind United.

mantra (Sanskrit)
Hindu/Buddhist: An incantational formula designed for ritual use, with or without semantic meaning.

Buddhist (Tibetan): Demon-king.

Marie de Saint-Clair
Priory of Sion: Second Grand Master; b. 1192, Scotland.

Muslim (Shi'ite): Gnosis, which follows the love and fear of God.

Christian (Roman Catholic): Theology concerned with Mary.

Marion Vincent Goddard
See Goddard, Marion Vincent.

marja'i taqlid (=marja-i-taqlid; Arabic: "source of emulation")
  1. Muslim: A supreme authority on law.
  2. Muslim: A mujtahid whose practices and pronouncements furnish a binding example on those unable to exert independent judgment in matters relating to religious law.
  3. Muslim (Shi'ite): Title given to the most renowned mujtahids.
Christian: A sect, founded in Lebanon, that has been in communication with Roman Catholicism since the 17th Century. NOTE: its members are Arab in language and culture.

Jewish/Christian: Spanish Jews who openly converted to Christianity but who secretly continued to practice Judaism (esp. in Renaissance times). Derived from a Spanish word meaning "swine".

Marshall Herff Applewhite
See Applewhite, Marshall Herff.

Martin Luther
See Luther, Martin

Martin Luther King
NOTE: This man is the father of Martin Luther King Jr.
See King, Martin Luther.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martinmas (=St. Martin's Day)
Christian (holiday): Celebrated 10 November. In medieval Europe, it was the traditional day on which to slaughter animals to salt for winter eating.

martyr (Greek: witness)
  1. Common usage: [incomplete]
  2. Christian (esp. Roman Catholic): A person who, for the Christian faith, freely and patiently suffers death at the hands of a persecutor.
Martyrdom of...
  1. Baha'i / Martyrdom of the Bab: Ali Muhammed was executed in 1850 by Persian political and religious powers.
  2. Sikh / Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev: A time of remembering those who have suffered for the faith.
  3. Christian / Martyrdom of John the Baptist: Remembrance of the beheading of John the Baptist by King Herod.

Christian/Muslim: The mother of Jesus.
See Also Part III of this glossary.

masha'allah (Arabic: "may it please God")
Muslim: Common interjection.

Mason, C.H.
Christian: Founder of Church of God in Christ in Lexington, Miss., approx. 1895.

Christian (Roman Catholic): The central ritual, commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Master KH
See Koot Hoom

Christian: First event of the daily prayer time schedule; nighttime/pre-dawn; as early as midnight, later 2 or 3 a.m.

matn (Arabic)
Muslim: The text of a hadith.

matsuri (Japanese)
Shinto: A worship activity or festival.

Hindu: Incarnation of Vishnu in the form of a fish.

Muslim: Followers of the theological school named after Maturidi (d. 944).

Jain (holiday): A day of fasting, silence, and meditation on the five holy teachers.

Maundy Thursday
[incomplete; coordinate with Holy Thursday; date of the first Lord's Supper]

mawali (Arabic)
Muslim: Non-Arab subjects living under an Islamic government.

mawla (Arabic: "master", "friend")

mawlid (Arabic)
Common usage: birthday celebration, esp. of Muhammad or another Muslim holy man.

Mawlid al-Nabi (Arabic)
Muslim: Muhammad's birthday, celebrated on Rabi' I, 12. [incomplete]

Maximilian de Lorraine
  1. French nobleman: b. 1756. Also known as Maximillian von Hapsburg.
  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.

May Day
Common usage: Celebration of arrival of spring, esp. with partying and drinking.

May Eve
(see, Beltane)

May Otis Blackburn
See Blackburn, May Otis.

maya (Sanskrit: "illusion")
Hindu: A term for reality as perceived by the unenlightened.

Zoroastrian: Worship; the Good Religion.

Meatfare Sunday (=Judgment Sunday)
Christian (Eastern Orthodox): An observance, two weeks before the Great Lent, which is the last day for eating of meat until Easter.

Mecca (=Makkah; place name)
  1. Muslim: The holiest city; located on the Arabian Peninsula in what is now Saudi Arabia. It is towards Mecca that prayers are directed, and to Mecca that the obligatory pilgrimage is made.
  2. Common usage: A focal point, esp. a geographic or physical location.

Medha (=Medha Devi)
Hindu: Goddess denoting intellect.

Medha Devi
Hindu: See Medha.

Medina (place name; =Medinat al-nabi; in pre-Islamic times, Yathrib)
Muslim: Holy city located on the Arabian Peninsula in what is now Saudi Arabia. It is the site of Mohammed's grave and was the first city to come under the banner of Islam."

Melchite (=Melkite)
Christian: A Middle Eastern sect that broke from Greek Orthodox and is in communion with Roman Catholicism (specifically, Greek Catholicism). NOTE: its members are Arab in language and culture.

  1. American ethnic group in Appalachian Tennessee and Kentucky (probably) descended from Spanish and Portuguese settlers of Santa Elena Colony in 16th Century South Carolina and a group of Moors who were set ashore at Roanoke Island in 1586 by Sir Francis Drake. (Possibly) also called "Mecca Indians".
  2. Muslim (Portuguese): "Melungo" is a word used to describe Portuguese Muslims.
  3. Muslim: "Melun jinn" is Arabic for "cursed spirit"
  4. Muslim: "Melun cän" is Turkish for "damned soul"

African ethnic society centered in Sierra Leone whose monotheistic worship centers on Ngewo.

Meng Zi (= Meng-Tzu) (Chinese: "The Book of Mencius")
  1. Confucian: One of the Four Books.
  2. Confucian: The name of the philosopher (371-289 BCE) who comes closest to the thought of Confucius himself.
mental image pictures
Scientologist: Three-dimensional pictures which are continuously made by the mind, moment by moment, containing color, sound and smell, as well as other perceptions. They also include the conclusions or speculations of the individual. Mental image pictures are composed of energy, have mass, exist in space and follow definite routines of behavior.
merkabah (Hebrew: “chariot”)
Jewish: An esoteric tradition of mysticism that grew up around attempts to see the vision of God sitting upon a chariot-like vehicle drawn by four living creatures as recorded in the first chapter of Ezekiel. This tradition contributed to the development of Kabbalah.

Hindu: The mountain at the center of the world, which separates heaven and earth. Hindu temples (especially in India) have been compared to mountains of stone, and often are intended to invoke an image of Meru.

Messiah (Hebrew: “anointed one”)
  1. Jewish: A term generally used in reference to a recognized king.
  2. Jewish/Christian: The legitimate successor to King David.
  3. Christian: =Christ.
Scientologist: A word coined from the initial letters of matter, energy, space and time, which are the component parts (elements) of the physical universe.

  1. Taoist: One of the Five Elements that form physical and spiritual reality. Associated with lungs, large intestine, autumn, spicy, white, Venus and (the direction) West.
metanoia (Greek)
The process of exchanging a debilitating lifestyle for one that allows psychic survival.

The subdiscipline of philosophy concerned with ontology, cosmology and theology.

Michael Servetus Christian. A dissenter "judicially murdered" by John Calvin. Michaelmas
Christian (holiday): St. Michael's Day; celebrated 29 September.

Mid-Autumn Festival
Chinese: See Moon Cake Festival.

Midsummer Eve
Common usage: Celebration of the summer solstice.

middle knowledge
Knowledge (esp. knowledge attributed to God) of what would have happened if things had been different, or what someone would have chosen in situations that never actually occurred.

Midrash (Hebrew: "searching")
  1. Jewish: A tradition of biblical exegesis found in rabbinical literature. It may be either Halakhic (see halakha): interpreting and applying the legal and ritual norms of the Bible, or Aggadic (see aggadah): expounding theological and ethnical teachings on the basis of a biblical text.
  2. Jewish: Rabbinic method of exegesis.
  3. Jewish: Works in which expositions in the Midrashic manner are collected.
  4. Jewish: The rabbis' homiletic "interpretations" and embellishments of the Bible.
  5. Jewish: Midrash developed both within and alongside the Talmud, so that collections given over to rabbinic folklore are also called Midrash.
miko (Japanese)
Shinto: A female officiant at a shrine; these young women who are dedicated to the service of the kami. The kamiko are trained to assist the priests and perform the sacred dances. The ichiko evolved spontaneously as mediums or shamans.

Mikulás bácsi (Hungarian)
Christian (Hungary): Santa Claus (derived from St. Nicholas legends).

Mikulas Nap (Hungarian)
Christian (Hungary): St. Nicholas Day (6 December). The Hungarian Santa, called Mikulas, ("Me-ku-lash") visits children on December 6th, St. Nicholas' Day, which is the name day of "Miklós."

Buddhist (Tibetan): A poet-saint. 1040-1123 CE. teacher of Gampopa and founding patriarch of the Kagyupa.

millat (=millet; Arabic?: "community", "nation")
Muslim (Ottoman): An officially recognized religious community.

Christian: The belief in a future 1,000-year period of Jesus Christ's rule on earth. Pre-millennialists believe it will follow the Second Coming of Christ, post-millennialists that it will prepare for that coming by spreading righteousness over the earth.

Milvian Bridge Day
Christian: A day of solemn reflection on the relationship of the spiritual community and the powers of civil government. On Oct 28, 312 c.e., Emperor Constantine prevailed in a battle and proceeded to make Christianity the legal religion of the Roman Empire. See: Milvian Bridge event.

mimamsa ("investigation")
Hindu: The systematic hermeneutics of the Vedic scriptures.

Jewish: Quorum -- assembly of 10 (male) believers.

mi'raj (Arabic)
Muslim: The heavenly ascension of Muhammad.

Miranda, R.A.
New Age: Founder (about 1934) of Central Spiritual Resurrection in Los Angeles, Calif.

Mirza Husayn-Ali (also known as Baha'u'llah)
Baha’i: A founder of the Baha'i faith born in northern Iran in 1817, Mirza Husayn-Ali became a follower of the Bab in 1844 and was imprisoned for his beliefs. In 1853 he had a vision that he was the divine messenger the Bab had promised; he publicly declared himself a messenger of God (“Baha’u’llah”) in 1863. He spent the rest of his life in exile and prison, where he wrote over 100 volumes of scripture.

Mishnah (Hebrew)
  1. Jewish: The first and foundational document of rabbinic Judaism.
  2. Jewish: The rabbinic code of law, which is considered second only to the Torah itself.
  3. Jewish: A collection of oral laws gathered by Judah ha Nasi (born about 135 CE) which contained the bulk of extra-biblical Jewish law up to the second century CE.
  4. Jewish: A collection of rabbinic discussions and rulings concerning halakhot.
missed withhold
Scientologist: A withhold which has almost been found out by another, that leaves the person who has the withhold in a state of wondering whether or not his hidden deed is known.

Missionaries of Charity
Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

misogi (Japanese)
Shinto: Ritual cleansing before entering a shrine.

Mithraeum (pl: Mithraaea)
Roman: Man-made caverns within which Mithraist believers met; average Mithraeum is 16 to 22 feet long and nine to 12 feet wide, implying a small congregation of fewer than 50 individuals.

Persian: When associated with the ancient Persian god Mitra.
Roman: Mystery cult arising in Rome about 90 CE; popular among Roman soldiers; considered by many scholars as a key competitor to Christianity in the Roman Empire, especially in the third century CE.

mitzvah (plural: mitzvot) (Hebrew: "commandment")
  1. Jewish ritual: bar mitzvah (Hebrew: "son of commandment"): A "coming of age" ceremony for Jewish boys who turn 13 years old, and the often lavish celebration surrounding this temple ritual.
  2. Jewish ritual: bat mitzvah (Hebrew: "daughter of commandment"): A modern addition to Judaism in which girls who turn 13 years old participate in a "coming of age "ceremony.

Muslim: See Muhammad.

moksha (Sanskrit: "release", "liberation," "escape")
Hindu: The term for freedom, for liberation from this-worldly constraints and suffering, for release from the cycle of death and rebirth.

mondo (Japanese)
Buddhist (Zen): A dialogue exchanged between monks expressing their spirituality.

As a worldview, the belief that reality is of one kind (as against dualism and pluralism).


Worship of only one entity.

Common usage: The belief that there is only one God.

Christian: symbol of the Roman Catholic Church (because it reflected Divine Light).

Moon, Rev. Sun Myung Unification: Born in 1920, he is the founder of the Unification Church.

Moon Cake Festival
Chinese: A traditional autumn festival during which filled pastries called moon cakes are shared with family and friends; it has both religious and secular roots dating to about 2000 BCE. See also Moon Cake Festival.

Christian: Member of an Eastern church that believes Christ has a single nature: wholly divine. View condemned by the Council of Chalcedon.

A predominantly Muslim people of mixed Berber/North African ancestry.

Moore, Robert
New Age: Founder in 1963 of the Process Church of the Final Judgement. Also known as DeGrimston.

Christian: A Muslim who has received Christian baptism.

Morituri Te Salutamus (Latin: "we who are about to die salute you")

Muslim: Use "Muslim" instead of this outdated transliteration from the Arabic meaning "one who submits" to the will of God (that is, a member of the Islamic faith).

Most Precious Blood of Jesus (=Precious Blood of Jesus)
Christian (Roman Catholic): Veneration of the Blood of Jesus and its life-giving power.

Mothering Sunday
Christian (British): Holiday when people visit their parents, especially mothers. Traditional food: simnel cakes [incomplete]

Motzi (Hebrew)
Jewish: The blessing over bread, a 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.”

Mount Kailash (=Mount Meru)
Buddhist (Tibetan): The sacred mountain at the center of the universe.

Christian: Christians living under Islamic rule and the name given to churches and other religious edifices built by them.

mu'adhdhin (=muezzin) (Arabic)
  1. Muslim: The person who calls the faithful to prayer from the mosque. (See also masjid and minaret.)
  2. Muslim: Person who issues the five daily calls to prayer (see also adhan).
mu'amala (=mu'amalah, =muamala; pl. mu'amalat, =muamalat; Arabic)
  1. Muslim: Human relationships.
  2. Muslim: Day to day dealings as distinguished from prayers and worship.
  3. Muslim: Islamic laws governing social relations (that is, civil, criminal, family).
Muslim (661-680): Umayyad caliph.

mudang (Korean)
A shaman, usually female.

mudaraba (Arabic: profit-sharing in economic transactions)

Muslim/Christian: Muslims working for Christians.

mudir (Arabic: "director", "administrator")

Hindu/Buddhist: A symbolic hand posture or gesture often employed during religious prayer and meditation.

muezzin (Arabic)
Muslim: (see mu'adhdhin)

Muslim: Interpreters of the Qu'ran.

  1. Muslim: A specialist in Islamic law competent to deliver a fatwa.
  2. Muslim: A person trained in the shari'a who gives a non-binding legal opinion in response to questions submitted to him.

muhaddithun (Arabic)
Muslim: Transmitters of hadith; traditionalists.

muhajirin (=muhajirun; Arabic)
Muslim: Emigrants who moved from Mecca to Medina; that is, Muhammad's earliest supporters.

Muhammad (=Prophet Muhammad, =Muhammad the Messenger, =Muhammad ibn Abdullah)
(570-632 CE)
The last and greatest prophet, through whom God revealed Islam in its complete form.
Muslim: The founder of Islam lived on the Arabian peninsula c. 570-632 CE. He received the Qur'an from Allah via the angel Gabriel. In Islam, he is considered the last prophet, hence his title Seal of the Prophets. (NOTE: use this spelling, rather than the older version, Mohammad; never call Muslims “Muhammadans” or “Mohammedans”, because they do not consider themselves followers of the Prophet and consider the implication blasphemy.)
O Prophet, We have sent thee as a witness, and good tidings to bear and warning, calling unto God by His leave, and as a light-giving lamp. Give good tidings to the believers that there awaits them with God great bounty. (Sura 33: 44-5)

Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab
Muslim (d. 1787): Founder of the Wahhabi movement.

Muhammad al-Muntazar
Muslim (Shi'ite: Twelvers) (d. ca 878): Last of the 12 legitimate imans, who is expected to return by the Twelvers.

Muslim (Indonesian): A 20th Century Islamic reform movement emphasizing purity of faith and practices and service to other Muslims, especially through education.

Muharram (Arabic: "the sacred month")
  1. Common usage (Muslim): First month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
  2. Muslim (Shi'ite): The tenth day of Muharram is the anniversary of the battle of Karbala.

mujaddid (Arabic)
  1. Muslim: One who brings about taqlid.
  2. Muslim (African): The "renewer" sent by god to prepare the way for the mahdi.

mujahid (pl. mujahidin, =mujahadeen; Arabic: "fighter for religion")
Muslim: One who fights under the banner of Islam to achieve religious goals.

mujtahid (Arabic: “one who strives”; pl. mujtahidun)
  1. Muslim: One who exercises ijtihad to ascertain a rule of shari'a.
  2. Muslim (Shi’ite): An authority who makes original decisions of religious law.
  3. Muslim: A clergy who has learned jurisprudence and exercises interpretic judgment.
  4. Muslim: A designated theologian

mukat (Punjabi)
Sikh: A crown-shaped hat traditionally worn by gurus in formal portraits.

Mulaththamun (=al-Mulaththamun; Arabic)
Muslim (African): Those who wear the litham.

mullah (=mulla, =mollah)
Muslim: A lesser member of the religious establishment.

mumin (pl: mu'menin, =mumenin; Arabic: "believer")

muqaddam (pl. muqaddamun; Arabic: "initiator") Muslim (African): One who has the authority to initiate others into a sufi tariqa.

murabit (pl. murabitun; Arabic)
See also Al-Murabitun.
  1. Muslim: Frontier warrior.
  2. Muslim (Sufi): Saint.

Muslim: A group in early Islam who held the "status quo" position in the debates over faith; generally connected to Abu Hanifa (d. 767).

Muslim: Pre-Islamic code of Arab virtues.

Jewish: A prayer added to the amidah on Sabbaths and festivals.

Muslim: A prophet older than Muhammad, considered his rival.

musharaka (Arabic: profit-and-loss-sharing in economic transactions)

muslihun (Arabic: those who work for islah)

Muslim (Arabic: "one who submits" to the will of God)
Muslim: The common term used to denote a member of the Islamic faith. Note: this transliteration is the currently preferred form (do not use Moslem and never use Mohammedan).

mushrikun (Arabic: "polytheist")
Muslim: Used to denote those who worship god(s) other than God.

mustad afin (=mustaz afin) (Arabic)
  1. Muslim: Term which occurs five times in the Qur'an where it signifies orphans or the disinherited and perhaps the weak and oppressed generally.
  2. Muslim (Shi'ite): Denotes the oppressed classes in radical Shi'i political theory.

musuhi (Japanese)
Shinto: A core belief, referring to creating and harmonizing power.

Muslim: [incomplete] Temporary marriage.

mutakalimun (Arabic)
Muslim: Clerics who practiced speculative theology using the method of kalam.

Muslim (Saudi Arabia): The religious police.

Muslim: Rationalist formulation of theology known for stressing that God created all things, including the Qu'ran.

muwahid (Arabic)
Muslim: Believer in tawhid, the doctrine of the unity of God.

A person who seeks personal union with the divine.

A term invented by 20th century scholars to describe people who claim direct experiences of God.

  1. As an explanation of otherwise unexplainable mysteries, a myth is a story that may contain historical fact, may be entirely fictitious or some combination that is nonetheless rooted in reality.
  2. An account that may happen in this world or in "another" world, which includes active supernatural participants.

Group or collection of myths.


nabi (Arabic: "informer," "prophet")

Communicating with the dead to tell fortunes or work magic.

nafaqah (Arabic: "alimony")

Muslim (Shi'ite): The soul or psyche which stands between the body and the spirit or intellect.

Hindu/Buddhist: Snake; especially a legendary or a deified serpent.

nahda (Arabic?: "renaissance")

Nahrawan, Battle of
Muslim (Shi'ite): Event in 38 AH (658 CE).

naib (Arabic: "deputy", "representative")

Place name (Iraq): City in which Ali was assassinated, hence a pilgrimage site for Shi'a Muslims.

[incomplete] Hindu: There are 27 nakshatras in the zodiac: Ashwini, Bharani, Krittika, Rohini, Mrigasira, Ardra, Punarvasu, Pushya, Aashlesha, Magha, Purva phalguni, Uttara phalguni, Hasta, Chitra, Swaati, Vishaakha, Anuraadha, Jyshtha, Mula, Purvaashaadha, Uttaraashaadha, Shravanam, Dhanishtha, Shatabhisham, Puurvabhadra, Uttarabhaadra and Revati.

Hindu: A very common word of greeting, often translated as, "I salute all divine qualities in you."

namaz (Urdu, Persian)(=salat)
Muslim (Shi'ite): Ritual prayers.

Hindu: A bull, Shiva's traditional conveyance and a symbol of fecundity.

Muslim: Chief or leader.

Nar ayan
Hindu: Vishnu represented as the creator of life. A lotus from Narayan's navel issued Brahma.

Hindu: Vishnu's incarnation as a lion.

nasab (Arabic: "nobility of descent")

Muslim: The 10 days added to the Muslim lunar calendar to make it the same length as the solar calendar.

Nation of Islam (NOI)
Nation of Islam: A form of Islam indigenous to the United States; founded c. 1930 by Wallace Fard and led by Elijah Muhammad until his death in 1975. In the following decade, the majority followed Elijah's son, Wallace D. Mohammed into the Sunni path of traditional Islam while a minority, keeping the original name of the faith, remain with Louis Farrakhan.
Nation of Islam: African-American religious movement, now led by the Rev. Louis Farrakhan, founded in 1930 and emphasizing self-help and moral discipline. Theology viewed as unorthodox by many traditional Muslims.

Nativity of...
  1. Christian / Nativity of Mary: Celebration of Mary's birth.
  2. Christian / Nativity of St. John the Baptist: Celebration of the role of John in baptizing Jesus. Continues a pre-Christian Midsummer's Day celebration. Special interest for Hispanic tradition.
Priory of Sion: Title given to Grand Master.

natsu matsuri (Japanese)
Shinto: The summer festival.

Nav Ruz (=Naw Ruz; Farsi)
  1. Zoroastrian: New Year's observance.
  2. Baha'i: Observance of the vernal equinox symbolizing spiritual growth and renewal.
Navaratri Dusserha
Hindu (holiday): Festival of the divine mother honoring Durga, wife of Shiva, and seeking her blessings. Also observed as a celebration recalling the days of Lord Krishna.

negi (Japanese)
Shinto: A senior priest of a shrine, ranking after guji and gonguji.

Christian: The English name for a movement in German-language theology initiated by Karl Barth's book,The Epistle to the Romans; also called "crisis theology" and "dialectical theology".

New Age: Its practitioners revive and adapt ancient Pagan practices and beliefs of pre-Christian Europe to contemporary life. Core beliefs include: respect for all life, observation of the seasons and cycles of life through ritual, believe in the divine as manifesting in many gods (both male and female), and the practice of magic (often spelled magick to differentiate it from stage illusions) to help with the day-to-day trials of life. (see also Wicca)

Archaic: Philosophical system founded in the 3rd century based on Plato's ideas and common in the Middle East up to the Arab conquests.

Common usage (esp. 18th C): Belief that global floods are responsible for changes in topography. (See also Plutonism.)

Christian (heretical): The teachings of Nestorius, a 5th century bishop of Constantinople, that the eternal Logos of God and the man Jesus were united merely by conjunction.

New Church Day
Christian (Swedenborgian/Church of the New Jerusalem): The annual commemoration of the 1770 vision document, "The True Christian Religion", by Emanuel Swedenborg.

New Era Dianetics for OTs (=NOTs)
Scientologist: A series of auditing actions, delivered as part of the OT levels, developed by L. Ron Hubbard during his research into New Era Dianetics in the late 1970s.

New Year for the Trees (= Tu B’Shevat)
See Tu B’Shevat.

Newson, Henry (=Henry “Big Daddy” Newson)
New Age: Founder of the Ten Oaks religious sect in Whittier, Calif., about 1947. See also Love Cults.

Newton, Isaac
  1. English scientist (b. 1642, Lincolnshire): Formulated mass and distance laws of gravity in 1684 and the three laws of motion in 1687. Member, Royal Academy of Science. Friend of Boyle, Robert and John Locke.
  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.
  3. "Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
    God said, "Let Newton be!" and all was light." -- Alexander Pope
Traditional (African): A creator god, source of all life and power, no longer directly involved with human affairs; normally approached through intermediaries.

African ethnic society centered in the Congo whose traditional monotheistic worship centers on Akongo.

Christian: Location of a church council in 325 CE where the Nicene Creed was formulated.

Christian: Having to do with the council of Nicaea or the doctrine of the Trinity which it formulated.

Nichiren (Japanese: "sun lotus")
Buddhist (Mahayana): A sociopolitical Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism.

Nichiren Daishonin Memorial
Buddhist: The memory of Nichiren Daishonin and the Dai-Gohonzon, the true object of worship, for all humanity.

Nichiren Shoshu Soka Gakkai (Japanese)
(see Soka Gakkai)

Nicolas Flamel
See: Flamel, Nicolas.

nihang (see akali)

Muslim: The act of giving a woman in marriage; the contractual relationship defining marriage.

Nineteen Day Fast
[incomplete; see Ramadan]
Baha'i: The Fast to be observed by adult Baha'is in good health from sunrise to sundown.

Ninth Day of Ridvan
Baha'i: The celebration of the arrival of Baha'u'llah at a sacred garden.

Ninth of Av (Hebrew)
  1. Jewish: The day of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE.
  2. Jewish: The day of the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE
Nirvana Day
Buddhist: An observance of the death of the Buddha.

Jewish: Month in the Hebrew calendar in which Passover occurs.

nitem (or, nit-nem) (Punjabi: "daily rule")
  1. Sikh: The daily religious observance.
  2. Sikh: The recitation at appointed times of verses from the gutka, a book comprised of passages from Sikh scripture.
nirvana (Sanskrit: "blowing out"; =nibbana, =nehan)
  1. Common usage: The cessation of human individuality and desires; ultimate state of unconsciousness; everlasting bliss.
  2. Hindu: Absorption into Brahman
  3. Buddhist: The extinction of self; the goal of meditation.
  4. Buddhist (Zen): An aspect of the world expressed as oneness, stillness, and exhaustion of desires.
Muslim: Free will.

nizam (Persian?: "system")

Nizari (=Hashishin; ="assassins")
  1. Muslim: A subsect of Ismai'li, which is a subsect of Shi'a Islam {incomplete).
  2. Muslim: Khoja sect of Islam in India.
Noachian deluge (=Noah's flood)

Noche Buena (=Christmas Eve; Spanish)

Nodier, Charles
  1. French writer and politician; b. 1780.
  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.
nomological (from Greek)
Hellenistic: A mode of causation employed by God that makes use of immutable laws.

  1. Christian: Fifth part of the daily prayer time schedule.
  2. Common usage (Christian, esp. Roman Catholic): =Early afternoon.
  3. Common usage (Christian, esp. Roman Catholic): 3 p.m.

norito (Japanese)
Shinto: Words addressed by a priest to a deity or deities in an ancient style of Japanese.

Norman, Dr. Ernest and Ruth
New Age: Founders of the Unarious Society religious sect in El Cajon, Calif., in 1954.

Norooz (Farsi, "The New Day")
Zoroastrian: New Year's celebration.

nous (Greek)
  1. Developed reason.
  2. Aristotelian: Those with the most wisdom are the ideal combination of episteme and nous.
Christian (Roman Catholic): Any period of nine consecutive days during which special devotions are carried out.

Common usage: One who is new at a task.
Christian: One serving a noviceship.
Christian: Time spent in a novitiate; the second step in becoming a member of a religious organization. See formation.

Christian: A program in which a layperson participates in the life of a religious organization without taking the final vows of affiliation.

Novum Organum (Latin: "new logic")
Common usage: Title of a book by Francis Bacon published in 1620.

Novus Ordo Seclorum (Latin: "new secular order")
  1. Illuminati: Motto.
  2. American Civil Religion: Words which appear beneath the pyramid on the reverse of the $1 bill.
Hindu: God of dance.

Christian (Roman Catholic): A diplomat-bishop serving as ambassador of the Holy See at the Vatican to the government of a secular state.

nur al-muhammadi (Arabic: "light of Muhammad")
Muslim (Shi'ite: Sufi): A Sufi term associated with hadrat.


Akan (West Africa): The name of the Supreme Being.


See Ordo Templi Orientis.

Objectives (=Objective Processing)
Scientologist: An auditing action which helps a person to look or place his attention outward from himself.

Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart
Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

O-bon (=obon; Japanese)
Buddist/secular Japanese: A summer festival of Buddhist origin at which the spirits of departed ancestors are welcomed to feasting and dancing.

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

occultation, major
Muslim (Shi'ite): 329-? AH (940-? CE).

occultation, minor
Muslim (Shi'ite): 260-329 AH (873-940 CE).

Odin (or, Wodin)
New Age/Pagan: The leader of the Scandinavian Aesir is usually depicted as a riding warrior with a spear, attended by raven, eagle and wolf. His eight-legged horse, Sleipnir, carried him through the sky. The Valkyries did his bidding, conducting dead warriors to his hall, Valhalla.

The monks of monasteries and the canons of cathedrals attended and sang a series of services called "Offices", which took place throughout the day. The word "Office" means ‘function’ or duty, and most of the clergy devoted the majority of their time to the performance of this ‘duty’, especially in monastic communities. The monastic structure for the Hours was as follows: Oggun
Santeria: One of the four Gods (the others are Ellegua, Ochosi, and Oshu).

Shinto (ritual): Grand Purification Ceremony. Observed twice yearly to obtain purification from offenses committed during each half of the year.

Traditional (African): Creator, sustainer and final judge of all things; removed, transcendent but not immanent. The central focus of worship for the Yoruba.

Hindu: Specific sound made as part of meditation.
Om! -- this syllable is this whole world.
Its further explanation is:
The past, the present, the future -- everything is just the word Om.
And whatever else that transcends threefold time -- that, too, is just the word Om.
(Mandukya Upanisad)

Omer (Hebrew)
Jewish: The 49-day period between Passover and Shavuot.

o-mairi (Japanese)
Shinto/Buddhist: A visit to a Shinto shrine or a Buddhist temple, including an act of reverence or prayer.

Concerning being, existence.

ontological proof
An argument for the existence of God based on the concept of God, which is sufficient by itself to show that such a thing as God could not not exist.

ontology (from the Greek ontos: "being")
The subdiscipline of philosophy concerned with the nature of being or reality.

Operating Theatans (=OTs)
  1. Scientologist: Humans in their pure state.
  2. Scientologist: A state of being above Clear, in which the Clear has become refamiliarized with his native capabilities.

orange (color)
Buddhist (Tibetan): Flames in orange symbolize pristine awareness.

Christian: Torture used to extract confessions; abolished by the Vatican in 1215.

Order of the Crescent
Secret Society: Founded in France in 1448 by René d'Anjou as a revival of the Order of the Ship and the Double Cresent.

Order of the Eastern Star
Secret Society/Fraternal Order: Women’s division of the Freemasons.

Order of the Ship and the Double Crescent
Secret Society: Founded in France in the 13th Century; one member said to be Guillaume de Gisors.

Order of the Temple
See Knights Templar.

Order of the Thelmic Golden Dawn
Secret Society/New Age: An offshoot of the Order Templi Orientis.

ordinance (=sacrament)
Christian (Assemblies of God USA): There are two ordinances of the church, according to the Statement of Fundamental Truth: baptism in water and Holy Communion.

Christian/Jewish: A sacred rite marking the passage from the state of layman to that of an ordained clergyperson.

Orde de la Fidelite
Secret Society: Founded approx. 1420 by the Cardinal of Lorraine, France.

Ordre de la Rose-Croix Veritas
See Priory of Sion

Ordre de Sion
See Priory of Sion

Ordo Templi Orientis
Secret Society/New Age: A sect originating in Middle Europe in the early 19th Century; see also Ordo Templi Orientis.

organizing board
Scientologist: A pattern of organization which expresses every function a Scientology church needs to attend to in order to minister to its congregation.

Oriental Rite of Memphis
Freemasonry/Europe/18th Century: Order of Freemasonry.

Oriental Templar Order
See Ordo Templi Orientis.

Christian: The normative eastward-facing posture worshippers take; that part of the church one looks at when viewing the altar from the nave. In many cases, east is the direction along which the rising sun's first light penetrates the church on the day of the patron saint after whom the church was named.

Christian: Early Church father. xxxx

Christian: Prayer, esp. one repeated often.

  1. Gnostic: Egyptian sage/mystic, resident in Alexandria 1st Century CE.
  2. Priory of Sion: An acrostic or anagram used as a subtitle by Priory of Sion in 12-13th Century; combines Latin words or ("gold") and ursus ("bear").
  3. Orphics. Greek religious movement founded by Orpheus (6 century BCE).

  1. Jewish: A branch of Judaism.
  2. Christian (Eastern): A "shorthand" term for Eastern Christianity or the Church in Constantinople, headed by the Patriarch.
  3. Christian (Eastern): A general term for the historic churches of southern and eastern Europe which are in communion with the bishopric of Constantinople (Istanbul), notably the Greek Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church.
Orthodox Sunday
Christian (Eastern Orthodox): The first Sunday of Lent.

The position, regarding religious opinion or worship, that has come to be considered normative and representative of the mainstream of a religious tradition.

  1. Religious behavior and worship practice that has come to be considered normative and representative of the mainstream of a religious tradition.
  2. Right behavior, faith proven healthy by its producing the expected ethical results.

Buddhist (Zen): The traditional style of eating in a monastery.

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


Our Lady of Sorrows (=Mater Dolorosa)
Christian (Roman Catholic): Our Lady of Sorrows is represented as Mary wounded by seven swords in her heart.

Scientologist: Continue an auditing process or a series of processes past the point of completion.

(see also sin)
Scientologist: A harmful act or a transgression against the moral code of a group that can be intentional or unintentional.


P. Villaverde
New Age: One of the seven invisible doctors of Central Spiritual Resurrection religious sect, this spectral being specialized in casting evil spells.

Muslim: The letters "pbuh" are an abbreviation for "peace be upon him", an honorific added by (some) English-speaking Muslims after each mention of Prophet Muhammad's name. Usually, the abbreviation is used in print, and the entire phrase when speaking out loud.

padma (Sanskrit: lotus flower)
Common usage: A general symbol in (South Asian) Indian culture associated with purity, creativity and fertility.
In iconography it is often used as a pedestal or base for gods.
Buddhist: A symbol of Enlightenment.

pagan (Latin: paganus, "country-dweller, peasant")
  1. Christian (Early): Uneducated peasants who preferred ancient ways of nature worship to Christian ritual, doctrine and theology.
  2. Common usage: xxxx; contains inference of disdain.
  3. Christian (Evangelical): Devin-worshipper.
Paitishahem Gahambar
Zoroastrian (holiday): The festival commemorating the creation of the earth and the harvesting of summer crops.

Buddhist: The language of the Theravada Buddhist scriptures. Pali refers to scriptural text rather than commentary upon scriptural text.

Palm Sunday
Christian (holiday): The celebration of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem; the Sunday before Easter.

Palo Mayombe
Combines belief systems of the Congo with those of the Yoruba and Catholicism. Believers known as paleros or mayomberos.

Panchen Lama
Buddhist (Tibetan): Lineage of incarnate lamas; recognized as manifestations of the Amitabha Buddha.

Pandurang (=Vitthal)
Hindu: An incarnation of Vishnu.

panj kakke (Punjabi)
Sikh: The "five k's", symbols worn by all Sikh males who are members of the Khalsa. They are:
  1. kesh: uncut hair
  2. kangha: comb
  3. kirpan: dagger
  4. kara: steel bracelet
  5. kaccha: short pants
panth (Sanskrit: "path" or "road")
Hindu/Buddhist: Used to designate groups in India following particular teachers or doctrines.

Pantheism (from the Greek pan theos: "all is God")
The doctrine that everything that exists is in some sense identical with God, that the whole of reality is divine.

Pantokrator (Greek: "ruler of all")
Christian (Eastern): Christ represented as "Lord over Life and Death".

Christian (Roman Catholic): The ecclesiastical office held by the Pope.

pa qua (Chinese : " eight trigrams ")
Taoist: The foundations of the I Ching that represent the eight directions of the compass associated with the forces of nature that make up the universe. (see also bagua)

  1. Story, usually drawn from ordinary life, which teaches a spiritual or ethical lesson.
  2. Christian: A story that has a specific religious point to it, and is thus distinct from an allegory, in which the various details all carry separate meaning. Characteristic of the teaching activity of Jesus as narrated in the New Testament, many of the parables underwent a process of allegorization, which can be discerned through comparative study of the Gospels.
Buddhist (holiday): The observance of the entry of Buddha into the final nirvana - a state of complete detachment.

Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate
Christian (Roman Catholic): Religious Community of Women Contemplative-Missionaries founded in 1920 (in New York State?).

Parsi (=Parsee) ("the Persians")
Zoroastrian: A Zoroastrian living in India, or a Zoroastrian of Indian descent. The descendants of a small group of Zoroastrians who left their Iranian homeland to escape from Islamic oppression to seek a land of religious freedom, who settled in northwest India (Gujarat province) in the 10th Century CE.

Christian (Anglican): The second stage of a sermon. (The others are praecognito, explicatio, amplificatio, applicatio and peroration.)

Christian: Monastic networks.

Hindu: Shiva's consort, displaying both serene and fearful aspects.

Paryushana Parva
Jain (holiday): Eight day festival signifying human emergence into a new world of spiritual and moral refinement.

pasdaran (Arabic?: "guards")
Muslim: Sipah-i pasdaran-i inquilab-i islami = Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

pasha (Turkish?)
Muslim (Ottoman): An official title denoting rank of minister, governor or equivalent.

Paschal full moon
Christian: The full moon that precedes Easter.

Hindu: Shiva in his aspect as "Lord of the Beasts." Symbolized by the lingum, he is believed to bring fecundity.

Hindu (6th Century BCE): Sect that worshiped Shiva and engaged in public antisocial behavior.

Pasni (Nepalese)
Hindu (Nepal): A rice-feeding ceremony conducted for seven-month-old babies, and repeated at age 77 plus 7 months.

Passionist Nuns
Christian (Roman Catholic): Cloistered contemplative order of nuns founded in Italy in 1771 by St. Paul of the Cross.

Passover (= Pesach)
Jewish: A spring festival of freedom or liberation marking the exodus of the Children of Israel from slavery in ancient Egypt. It commemorates the angel of death's "passing over" the Israelite homes during the tenth plague. See also Passover details.

Pater noster (or, Paternoster) (Latin: "our father")
  1. Christian: The first two words of the Lord's Prayer in Latin, often used as a name for this common prayer.
  2. Common usage (Germany): A particular kind of always moving "dumb waiter" elevator for humans, requiring prayer for one's personal safety in leaping on and off.
path (Punjabi: "reading")
  1. Sikh: A reading of any portion of the sacred scriptures.
  2. Common usage (Nepal): A small raised platform which provides shelter for travelers on important routes and intersections.
  1. Christian: A bishop of a chief episcopal see.
  2. Christian (Eastern): A title for a senior bishop in the Orthodox Church.
  3. Jewish: When used in the plural, "patriarchs" often refers to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the founders of Judaism.
  4. Common usage: Founding father of any traditional community.
patristic (from the Greek patres: "fathers")
Christian: Referring to the church fathers.

Pavarana Day
Buddhist (holiday): The festival marking the end of the Rains Retreat, primarily observed by monks in monasteries.

Christian (Roman Catholic): One of the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church in which the believer confesses sin and receives absolution.

Christian: One who is repentant of his/her sins. See also contrition.

Pentecost (=Whitsunday)
  1. Christian: The festival celebrating the descent or gift of the Holy Spirit as narrated in Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 2, occurring fifty days after resurrection of Christ.
  2. Jewish: The holiday remembering the giving of the Law to Moses fifty days after the Passover.
Scientologist: Any sense message such as sight, sound, smell, etc.

Christian (Anglican): The sixth (and final) stage of a sermon. (The others are praecognito, partitio, explicatio, amplificatio and applicatio.)

Pesach (Hebrew)
See Passover.

Peter the Hermit
Christian: Charismatic leader of the disastrous People's Crusade.

xxxx; 1204-1374

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

Phap Luan (Vietnamese: “wheel of law”)
See Wheel of Law.

Jewish: "Mainstream" Judaism. One of three religious groups in post-exilic Israel.

Secret Society/Scotland/17th Century: Possibly connected with Rosicrucianism and/or Freemasonry

Philo of Alexandria
Christian: Early church father, first century CE xxxx

phronesis (Greek)
  1. Practical reason; common sense.
  2. Aristotelian: Practical reason as an intellectual virtue.
Religious devotion or form of reverence.

Pious Union of St. Joseph
Christian (Roman Catholic): An organization founded in Italy in 1912 by Blessed Louis Guanella; its goals are that all priests remember the dying in the Divine Sacrifice, and that all the faithful accustom themselves to raise up special prayers to God and to St. Joseph for the dying. (see Pious Union of St. Joseph)

Journeys for devotion, penance, thanksgiving, or the fulfillment of a vow.

Pillars of Islam
See Five Pillars.

The existence in a society of an array of idependent religious suppliers; pluralism is the natural state of any religious economy. [definition after Rodney Stark, "Discovering God"].

Common usage (exp. 18th C): Belief that volcanoes, earthquakes and other forces changed topography over time. (See also Neptunism.)

Common usage: Created or inventive beautiful falsehoods. (Umbert Eco)

Poher, Alain
Priory of Sion: Member/Leader (20th Century); provisional president of France from 28 April to 19 June 1969.

An action that renders one ritually unclean, in need of purification before reentering the presence of holy things.

  1. Multiple origins.
  2. Christian Identity : The different races have their origins in separate creations by God ; see also Christian Identity.

A system of marriage allowing one man two or more legal wives.

Common usage: The many gods worshipped by various groups of people are equally powerful.

Christian (Roman Ctholic): Designates Religious Institutes under the jurisdiction of the Holy See, and present in more than one Diocese.

Poor Clare Missionary Sisters
Christian (Roman Catholic): Cloistered Franciscan order of women religious.

Poor Clare Nuns
Christian (Roman Catholic): Cloistered Franciscan order of women religious; founded by St. Clare of Assisi.

Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration
Christian (Roman Catholic): Cloistered Franciscan order of nuns.

Poor Sisters of Jesus Crucified and the Sorrowful Mother
Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns established by Father Alphonsus Maria, C.P. on 21 January 1924 in Scranton, Pa.

Pope (=Supreme Pontiff
(see also papacy
  1. Christian (Roman Catholic): The title used for the Bishop of Rome, who is considered to have supreme authority in questions of faith and morals and in leadership of the church hierarchy.
  2. Christian (Roman Catholic): The highest authority in the church who leads 1.1 billion faithful worldwide through a bureaucracy based in the Vatican in Rome, Italy. (Note: the Pope has not always resided in the Vatican in Rome, but that has been the case in recent centuries).
Pope Clement XII
Christian (Roman Catholic): xxxx-xxxx. Issued papal bull in 1738 excommunicating Freemasons as "enemies of the Roman Church".

Philosophy: The conviction that the only certain knowledge is the exact description of what we perceive with our senses. (see also logical positivism)

Christian: The belief in a future 1,000-year period of Jesus Christ's rule on earth that will follow a period of preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Christian (Anglican): The first stage of a sermon. (The others are partitio, explicatio, amplificatio, peroration.)

Philosophy: The belief that truth is what consistently works in human action ("the practical").

praise house
Christian: Meetinghouse for slaves on some southern plantations used for religious and social events.

Prajna (= Prajna Devi)
Hindu: Goddess of wisdom.

pravrajya (Sanskrit: lower ordination)
Buddhist: A term for the lower ordination of a monk or nun. See also upasampad.

  1. {xxxx}
  2. Christian (Order of St. Benedict): Prayer schedule specifying Matins (nighttime/pre-dawn), Prime (6 a.m.), Terce (morning), Sext (noon), None (afternoon), Vespers (6 p.m.) and Compline (evening).
Christian Identity: People of color created before Adam and Eve; see also canon; generally bestowed by a bishop for exceptional service to the diocese.
  • Christian: A canon whose income derived from a prebend (a tract of land).

  • precentor
    Christian: A senior cleric in a cathedral responsible for organizing the services.

    Scientologist: A person who is receiving auditing on his way to becoming Clear.
    Christian: The belief in a future 1,000-year period of Jesus Christ's rule on earth following the Second Coming of Christ.

    Hindu/Buddhist: A spirit of someone who is dead.

    1. A term used in the context of many quite different religious to designate one who mediates, usually through specialist routines such as sacrifice, between God/Gods and community/humankind. Priests either inherit their positions or are consecrated to them.
    2. Those who serve in a relatively formal role as an intermediary between humans and the supernatural.

    Primary Cause
    Christian: God as the fundamental cause of events in this world (the causal powers of creatures is secondary).

    Christian (esp. Roman Catholic): The psalms, prayers, readings and versicles used at the first hour of the liturgical day.

    Prince Noachite de Notre Dame (=Seneschal)
    Priory of Sion: Second-level rank, below Nautonnier.

    Priory of Sion
    Secret Society/Europe: Founded approx. 1100; continuation into contemporary times possible. (Also known as: Ordre de Sion, Prieuré de Sion; Ormus; Ordre de la Rose-Croix Veritas; possibly allied with Knights Templar.)

    Scientologist: An exact set of questions asked or directions given by an auditor to help a person locate areas of spiritual distress, find out things about himself and improve his condition.

    Process Church of the Final Judgement
    New Age: Sect founded in 1963; see also Process Church of the Final Judgement.

    Divine inspiration to discern the religious significance of one's times and proclaim its practical implications.

    An enunciator or interpreter of a divine message imparted in visions or auditions. A prophet is summoned, sometimes against his/her will, to call people to "true" worship. Prophets are often persecuted and many times martyred. Sometimes prophets also are founders of religious traditions, for example Joseph Smith (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and Muhammad (Islam).

    Prophet, the
    Muslim: Denotes Muhammad.

    Prophet Cherry
    Christian: Founder of the Church of God in Philadelphia approx. 1915, a congregation of Black Jews.

    A form of prayer whereby the feet, knees, hands and forehead all touch the floor.

    Protocols of the Elders of Zion
    Anti-Semitic tract made public in 19th century offering a social and political program.
    [note: continuing controversy over authorship and date of composition; perhaps a satirical work written in Geneva in 1864 by Maurice Joly as an attack on Napoleon III.]

    providential (when used to describe God)
    1. Hellenistic: Refers to God as a perfect rational entity whose knowledge is also perfect who created the cosmos and takes an interest in that creation.
    2. Common usage: Refers to God as Father.
    Prieuré de Sion
    See Priory of Sion.

    Christian: Second part of the daily prayer time schedule; usually 6 a.m.

    Prynne, William
    British Puritan. 1602-1669.

    Jewish/Christian: The singing or chanting of psalms by a religious congregation.

    psyche (Greek)
    Soul or spirit; the principle which sustains life.

    Hindu: A ritual offering to the Gods.

    Hindu/Buddhist: Merit earned through actions and religious devotion.

    Hindu: A class of literature concerned with edifying tales about Gods and heroes.

    Pure Land Buddhism
    Buddhist: A version of Mahayana Buddhism popular in Japan, which teaches that its devotees can achieve a paradise after their deaths, called "the pure land of the west."

    Christian (Roman Catholic): A temporary place of suffering for those who will be saved at the Last Judgment but are not pure enough to enter the bliss of heaven immediately.

    Purim (Akkadian: "lots", "dice", "chances")
    Jewish (holiday): A festival in late winter celebrating the deliverance of the Jews from destruction at the hands of the Persians; commemorates the day (appointed by a random draw) upon which all the Jews of the Persian Empire were to have been murdered, but for the cunning intervention of the Jewish Queen Esther. (See Purim.)

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

    Indian subcontinent: Day with a full moon.

    Pythagorans Greek religious movement founded by Pythagoras (6th century BCE).


    Christian: A hypothetical source book for sayings attributed to Jesus. (From the German "Quelle" or "source".)

    qabala (=cabala)

    qabila (Arabic?: "tribe")

    Muslim: Group in early Islam who argued for free will in theological debates; considered precursors of the Mu'tazila.

    Muslim: False accusation of adultery.

    1. Muslim: Magistrate.
    2. Muslim: A judge administering or deciding religious law.
    3. Muslim: Judge appointed by the (political) state with administrative as well as judicial duties.
    Muslim: The day of judgment.

    qi (= ch'i; Chinese: "energy of life")
    Taoist: The Gods are representations of the natural world, variations of the all-pervading qi.

    qibla (Arabic)
    Muslim: The direction in which Muslims face to perform prayers.
    See also qibla
    "Subtle energy" exercises to maximize >qi

    qiyas (Arabic: "analogy")
    Muslim (Sunni): One of the sources of shari'a.

    Qu'ran (Arabic)
    (go to Qur'an glossary part one)

    Muslim: Refers to the Meccan tribe to which Muhammad belonged.

    The character in Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame was named for the day on which he was found, Quasimodogeniti Sunday.

    Quasimodogeniti Sunday ("newborn baby Sunday") Christian (Roman Catholic): The first Sunday after Easter. Like newborn babies, newly converted Christians crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it they can grow up in their salvation, now that they have tasted that the Lord is good. The reference is to the newly baptized and communed, those who had come to the new birth of water and the Holy Spirit at the Easter vigil and had received the Lord's Supper for the first time. If someone converted to Catholicism on Easter Sunday, then the following Sunday, Quasimodo Sunday, would be the first time the new church members could receive communion.

    qutb (Arabic: "axis")
    Muslim (Shi'ite: Sufi): A title given to a founder of a Sufi tariqa or sub-tariqa.


    R. A. Miranda
    See Miranda, R.A..

    rabb (Persian?: "ruler")

    rabbaniyyah (Persian?: "rule of God")

    rabbi (Hebrew: "my master")
    1. Jewish: An ordained authority in religious law and a respected leader of the community. The rabbi is not a priest, but primarily a teacher and spiritual guide.
    2. Jewish: The sages of Israel from about 200-600 CE, whose task was to study, interpret and debate the meaning of the Torah. The rabbis are the authorities who took part in the discussions recorded in the Mishnah, Talmud and Midrash. Rabbinic Judaism is the form of religion originating with these rabbis.
    Rabi-al-Awwal (Arabic: "the first spring")
    Common usage (Muslim): Third month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

    Rabi-al-Thani (Arabic: "the second spring")
    Common usage (Muslim): Fourth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

    Radclyffe, Charles
    1. English nobleman: b. 1693.
    2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.
    rahim (Arabic: "benevolent")
    Muslim: One of the names of God.

    rahman (Arabic: "merciful)
    Muslim: One of the names of God.

    ra'iyyet (pl. re'aya; Turkish?)
    Muslim (Ottoman Empire): A tax-paying subject of the sultan.

    ra'is (Arabic: "president")

    raj'a (Arabic)
    Muslim: Return of the 12th imam.

    rajab (Arabic: "the revered month")
    Common usage (Muslim): Seventh month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

    Raksha Bandhan (Sanskrit: "protective bond")
    1. Hindu (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh) (holiday): Falls on Shravana Poornima. Participants tie "rakhis" (decorative strings) to each other's wrists to pledge mutual protection and, symbolically, to the entire Hindu society.
    2. Hindu: The festival honoring the loving ties between brothers and sister in a family.
    Ram Navami
    Hindu (festival): xxxx.

    Hindu: The seventh avatar of Vishnu; a prince, hero of the Ramayana epic.

    Rama Krishna Jayanti (=Sri Krishna Jayanati)
    Hindu (holiday): The celebration of the birthday of Sri Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Krishna.

    Ramadan (Arabic: "The month of great heat")
    1. Common usage (Muslim): The ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
    2. Muslim: The month of the Muslim calendar during which observant Muslims do not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset. The fast celebrates the month in which Muhammad received the Qur'an.
    Hindu (holiday): The celebration of the birth of Lord Rama.

    Ramsey, Andrew (Chevalier)
    Philadelphians: Member/leader. b. 1680 Scotland, d. 1743.

    Ramsey, Michael
    Anglican: Archbishop of Canterbury, 1961-1974.

    Rashid el-din Sinan (="Old Man of the Mountains")
    Muslim: 12th Century leader of the Nizari subsect of Shi'a Islam.

    rasi (Sanskrit: "constellation")
    Hindu: The names of the 12 constellations in the zodiac are Mesha, Vrishabha, Mithuna, Karkataka, Simha, Kanya, Tula, Vrischika, Dhanus, Makara, Kumbha and Meena.

    Members of any of a variety of dynamic religious movements originating in Jamaica and Dominica since the 1930s among poor landless men. Many current (male) practioners wear their hair in dreadlocks. The movements were inspired by Marcus Garvey's "Back to Africa"movement and the accession of Ras Tafari (hence the name) as Emperor of Ethiopia.

    rasul (Arabic: "messenger")
    Muslim (Shi'ite): A member of a particular category of prophets who bring a message for a particular subset of humans.

    Hindu: The anti-hero of the Ramayana epic.

    rawda (Arabic: "preachment")

    reactive mind
    Scientologist: That part of the mind which works on a totally stimulus-response basis, which is not under a person’s volitional control, and which exerts force and the power of command over his awareness, purposes, thoughts, body and actions.

    rebbe (=reb; Yiddish)
    1. :Jewish: A rabbi.
    2. Jewish: A title used to acknowledge a person who not only has rabbinical ordination, but also is a spiritual master.
    3. Jewish: A more informal title than rabbi, showing affection as well as respect.

    red (color)
    Buddhist: Used to symbolize the fire of passion purified into a longing for wisdom.

    (Philosophy): The search strategy used to find points of entry into otherwise impenetrable complex systems.

    Christian: A 16th century movement in Western Europe to reform the Roman Catholic Church led by Martin Luther (in Germany), John Calvin (in Switzerland) and others, resulting in the formation of the Protestant churches.

    Reformation Day
    Christian (Protestant): Celebration of 31 October 1517, when Martin Luther posted a belief statement on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany.

    Reformed Epistemology
    Christian (Protestant): An Anglo-American philosophy of religion,which criticises evidentialism and classical foundationalism in order to argue in support of the rationality of religious belief.

    An innovator who protests practices that belie the original vision of a religion (as he/she sees it).

    Christian (Roman Catholic): A two- or three-year period after First Studies when a Jesuit lives in community while working in a ministry.

    Regina Kuhl
    See Kuhl, Regina.

    rehab (=rehabilitation)
    Scientologist: An auditing action which is used to help a person regain a former ability, state of being or more optimum condition which has been discredited, denied or suppressed.

    relic (incomplete)
    "...a good relic could change the fate of a city, cause it to become the destination of uninterrupted pilgrimage, transform a simple church into a shrine." (Umberto Eco)

    1. A system of belief and ritual with subjective depth and social extension.
    2. The sort of human activity that deals with the ultimate and most important questions of life.
    3. Explanations of existence based on supernatural assumptions and including statements about the nature of the supernatural.
    1. Common usage: Of or pertaining to religion.
    2. Christian: Used as a noun, it refers to monks or nuns who join together in communities that are dedicated to living out a religious vision; Roman Catholic nuns, for example, are sometimes referred to as women religious.
    Religious capital
    Common usage: The degree of mastery and attachment to a paricular body of religious culture. Through practice and social reinforcement, people invest emotionally in their religious culture.

    Religious Daughters of St. Joseph
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

    Religious Economy
    All the religious activity goig on in a society. A "market" of current and potential adherents, a set of one or mor organizations seeking to attract or maintain adherents, and the religious culture offered by the organization(s). [definition by Rodney Stark in "Discovering God"]

    Religious Teachers Filippini
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns founded by St. Lucy Filippini and Cardinal Mark Anthony Barbarigo in 1692 in Montefiascone, Italy.

    René d'Anjou
    1. Duke of Lorraine, 15th Century France; b. 1408.
    2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.
    Christian (Roman Catholic): A Mass said for the dead.

    Scientologist: The "awakening" of an old engram, which occurs when a person’s present environment contains enough similarities to the elements found in the engram to cause a reactivation of it.

    1. Common usage: Returning alive after death; arising from the dead.
    2. Christian: A core tenet of faith. On the third day after his crucifixion, Jesus was resurrected.
    Common usage: The collection of memories, practices and artifacts of a people from a past culture.

    1. A communication believed to come from a supernatural source, usually from a god, or to be divinely-inspired knowledge.
    2. Western Europe: From the 17th century, this word has been used to designate external sources of authoritative religious knowledge (e.g. Scripture or prophecy). Examples of revealed religions are Biblical Christianity, Qur'anic Islam and Talmudic Judaism.

    Common usage: "The art of saying well that which may or may not be true." (Umberto Eco)

    riba (Arabic)
    1. Common usage: Bank interest.
    2. Muslim: The practice, forbidden in the Qur'an, of charging or paying "usurious interest".
    Richard Allen
    See Allen, Richard

    Baha'i: The commemoration of the twelve day period in 1863 when Baha'u'llah declared that he was God's messenger for this age. Work is to be suspended on days 1, 9, and 12 of the festival.

    Buddhist (Tibetan): The abbot of a gompa. honorific term for a Tibetan guru; a recognized, reincarnated lama of high status. It directly translates into "precious one."

    Rinzai (=Chinese: Linji)
    Buddhist (Zen): A Japanese sect of Zen Buddhism.

    A specific ritual action or practice, including physical movements and any accompanying words.

    ritu (Sanskrit: "season")
    Hindu: There are six seasons in the religious calendar: Vasanta, Griishma, Varsha, Sarat, Hemanta and Sisira.

    Patterned behavior, often communal, consisting of prescribed actions performed periodically and/or repetitively.

    Robert Boyle
    See: Boyle, Robert

    Robert Fludd
    See Fludd, Robert.

    Robert of Ketton
    Worked on the first translation of the Qu'ran into Latin with Hermann of Carinthia.

    Rogation Sunday
    Christian: An occasion to ask God to bless the land for growing crops and to also ask forgiveness of sins.

    Pagan (Lithuanian): Guardian spirit of pickling (the process of salt-curing vegetables).

    Buddhist: The celebration of the enlightenment of Buddha.

    Root Race
    New Age: A concept of the origin of humans developed by W. Scott-Elliot in Los Lemuria.

    Rosarian Dominican Sisters
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Dominican order of nuns.

    Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew)
    Jewish (Holy Day): This is the "New Year," which marks the beginning of the lunar year in the autumn. It is the first day of the Ten Days of Awe in which the Jews examine their lives in order to bring them into accord with the Mosaic Law. Yom Kippur is the tenth day. In the Hebrew Bible, Rosh Hashanah is called by three names: Shabbaton, "day of rest," Zikhron Teru'ah; "day of the proclamation of a memorial with the blast of the shofar" (Lev. 23:24); and Yom Teru'ah, "day of blowing the shofar" (Num. 29:1). (See also Rosh Hashanah)

    Secret Society: [incomplete]

    Scientologist: The auditing process used on Grade VI.

    ruba'i (pl. rubaiyat; Persian?)
    Common usage: A poem (esp. in Persian) of four lines in which usually the first, second and fourth lines rhyme. Each poem is separate, not part of a longer poem.

    Rudrayana (Nepalese)
    Hindu (Nepal): A Kathmandu Valley nature Goddess, also known as Shekali Mai.

    Rule of St. Benedict
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Set of regulations for monastic communities attributed to 6th Century Italian monk, St. Benedict. See Rule of Benedict.

    Rule of St. Chrodegang
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Set of regulations for communal life attributed to an 8th Century bishop of Metz.

    rundown (=RD)
    Scientologist: A series of related actions which culminate in a specific end result.

    Ruth Norman
    See Norman, Dr. Ernest and Ruth.

    ru'yah (Arabic: "dream", "vision")


    Muslim: Abbreviation of transliterated Arabic for salla-Allahu alayhi was salaam ( "may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him”), a ritual honorific added by (some) Muslims following each mention of the Prophet Muhammad's name in speech or in print. This usage is less common in the U.S. than the addition of PBUH (“peace be upon him”) following mention of his name.

    New Age: The eight Neopagan festivals as a group (see: Beltane, Eostar, Imbolg, Litha, Lughnasa, Mabon, Samhain and Yule).

    Sabbatarian Movement
    Christian (esp. American Protestant): Social movement esp. active ca. 1900 working to prohibit pasttimes such as shopping and entertainment on Sundays.

    1. Christian/Jewish: The seventh day of a seven day week, set aside as a day of rest and worship.
      “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your ass may have rest, and the son of your bondmaid, and the alien, may be refreshed.” (Exodus 23:12)
      “And the Lord said to Moses, "Say to the people of Israel, You shall keep my sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.“
      (Exodus 31:12)
    2. Christian: = Sunday.
    3. Jewish: = Shabbat, which begins every Friday evening at sundown and concludes Saturday evening at sundown. (See Shabbat).

    1. Common Usage: A ritual encompassing the sacred; a rite.
    2. Christian (theology): An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace received from God.
    3. Christian: Ritual practices.
    4. Christian (Orthodox and Roman Catholic): Beginning In medieval Christianity, the sacraments are baptism, confirmation, Mass, absolution, extreme unction, ordination and matrimony.
    5. Christian ( Protestant): Most denominations regard only baptism and communion as sacraments, on the grounds that these two were specifically instituted by Christ, as related in scripture.
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Minor symbols of the faith such as the sign of the cross, use of the rosary, or the wearing of liturgical vestments symbolic of the season in the church year, but also specific acts of prayer or devotion such as grace at meals, set litanies, and prayers at the stations of the cross.

    Sacred Heart
    Christian (Roman Catholic): An observance paying homage to Christ's all encompassing love for humanity.

    Disrespect toward anything held to be sacred.

    sadaqa (Arabic: "charity")

    Jewish: "Official" Temple Judaism, one of the three Jewish religous groups in post-exilic Israel.

    Hindu: Religious practice.

    Hindu: Mendicant (religious beggar).

    Safar (Arabic: "the month which is void")
    Common usage (Muslim): Second month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

    The dynasty ruling Iran from 1501, descended and taking its name from Safi al-Din of Ardabil (d. 1334 CE), the founder of the Safavid religious order.

    Muslim: Companions of the Prophet.

    Said (=Syed, =Syeed) (Arabic)
    Muslim (Shi’ite): When used as an honorific, the word indicates that its bearer is descended from the family of the Prophet Muhammad. However, it also is used as a given (first) name by both Sunni and Shi’a Muslims - a cause for confusion among non-Muslims.

    (for biographies and images of Christian saints, click here)
    1. Common Usage: A holy person.
    2. Christian (Roman Catholic): A deceased person who has been canonized by an ecclesiastical authority.

    St. Thomas Aquinas
    See Thomas Aquinas

    Muslim: Prophetic challenger to Muhammad from a northern nomadic tribe.

    sakina (Arabic)
    Muslim: A divine tranquility that is said to descend when the Qur'an is recited.

    Sakyamuni ("enlightenment")
    Buddhist: Another name for Siddhartha Gautama.

    Muslim: Worship of God according to Muslim ritual.

    salat (Arabic: “prayer”)
    Muslim: Formal prayer.
    Muslim (ritual): Prayer taking place five times each day.
    Muslim: One of the Five Pillars. Every male and female adult Muslim is obliged to offer five daily worship-prayers (Qur'an 4:103, 2:177).
    Muslim: Prayerful recitation of the opening sura of the Qur'an:
    In the name of Allah
    The Compassionate
    The Merciful
    Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Creation,
    The Compassionate, the Merciful,
    King of the Last Judgment!
    You alone we worship, and to You alone we pray for help.
    Guide us to the straight path,
    The path of those whom You have favored
    Not of those who have incurred Your wrath
    Nor of those who have gone astray.

    Salesian Sisters [see: Daughters of Mary Help of Christians]

    saligia Christian (Roman Catholic): An acronym for superbia, avaritia, luxuria, invidia, gula, ira, acedia (the Salat
  • Muslim (African): Either of the two major festivals of Islam.

  • samadhi
    Hindu/Buddhist: The deepest state of trance or yogic self-possession.

    New Age: One of the Celtic quarterly feasts, held on 1 November; often adopted as a holiday (sometimes celebrated the day before, 31 October: Hallowe'en) by Neopagans. Samhain marks the beginning of winter, when the way to the "other world" lay open (note that it is the same as All Saints ' Day in the Christian calendar). Decorations are apples and nuts.

    The Wheel of Life must always turn
    and death is preparation for rebirth,
    as darkness deeply holds the seeds of light.
    We shall meet and know, and remember, and love again.
    -- Neopagan Samhain chant

    samsara (Sanskrit,Pali: "wandering")
    1. Hindu/Buddhist: The endless cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth causing cosmic suffering.
    2. Buddhist (Zen): An aspect of world expressed as differentiation, change, becoming, impermanence and desires.

    Hindu: Preparation of an individual for study, reflection and planned refinement of the body, mind and intellect so that he or she may attain inward spiritual grace.

    Sanatana Dharma (Sanskrit: "eternal truth:)
    Hindu: The essence of religion.

    san-chiao ("three ways")
    Chinese: The three components are the way of Confucius, Taoism, and Buddhism. Because the Chinese do not choose one religion or philosophy and reject the others, their rituals at home, in public life, or for one of their rites of passage are drawn from a variety of sources. This syncretism continues into the present. For example, since World War II, Christian rituals have popularly been adopted for wedding ceremonies.

    Sancrift, William
    English. 1617-93. Archbishop of Canterbury.

    1. [xxxxx]
    2. Christian (Assemblies of God) : Number 9 in the Statement of Fundamental Truths, sanctification is defined as an act of separation from that which is evil, and of dedication unto God.

    Christian (Medieval): A fugitive who reached a church could claim forty days' immunity from prosecution.

    Sandro Filipepi
    See Botticelli.

    sangat (Punjabi)
    Sikh: A place-specific community of Sikh faithful.

    Buddhist: The community of either monks and nuns, or of monks, nuns and laity. An assemblage of those who have formally undertaken to pursue the Buddhist life, and who accept the obligation of conforming to the body of regulations known as vinaya.

    Jewish: Council of Jewish Elders.

    sanskar (Sanskrit, Pali)
    Sikh: The life-cycle sacraments, particularly name-giving, marriage, initiation (Amrit) and cremation, all of which include the reciting of prayers and the reading of the Guru Granth Sahib in addition to the sharing of karah prasad and other ritual activities.

    The ancient Indo-European language in which many Hindu and Buddhist scriptures were composed.

    Christian/Animist: Syncretic religion founded in Cuba with Roman Catholic and Nigerian Animist roots.

    Christian: "Child of Abraham's wife, Sarah"; used in Medieval Europe as synonym for Muslim.

    Hindu/Buddhist: A religious ascetic who has renounced his ties to society.

    Hindu: Goddess denoting knowledge or learning; Brahma’s consort.

    1. [incomplete]
    2. New Age): One of the four co-equal deities of the Process Church of the Final Judgement.
    3. New Age (Wicca): A male God.
    4. Christian Identity: The father (with Eve as the mother) of Cain, and thence, the Jews; see also Christian Identity.

    1. [xxxx]
    2. New Age: The worship of Satan or other central figures from Christian demonology. Note: There is considerable evidence that this practice is related more to adolescent rebellion than religious conviction.

    Buddhist (Zen): An experience of enlightenment.

    Sikh: An assembly for religious worship; congregation.

    Christian ruler (Florence, Italy): Burned the "vanities" (non-religious books and artwork) in 1497 ("Bonfire of the Vanities") xxxx.

    sawm (=saum; Arabic: "fasting")
    Muslim: One of the Five Pillars. Fasting during Ramadan; includes abstaining from food, drink, sex and all sorts of idle and immoral acts from sunrise to sunset. (Qur'an 2:183-187).

    1. Muslim: A title denoting a descendant of Muhammad.
    2. Muslim: A common male first name.
    3. Muslim: A title of respect roughly equivalent to Mr.
    Christian: A tradition of medieval thought centered in the universities rather than the monasteries. Its most prominent representative is St. Thomas Aquinas.

    School Sister of Christ the King
    Christian: Roman Catholic): Order of nuns founded in 1976 by Bishop Glennon Patrick Flavin in Lincoln, Nebr.

    School Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Franciscan order of nuns founded 13 September 1869 in Maribor, Austria.

    School Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Franciscan order of nuns founded by Mother Maria Hyacintha in 1723 in Hallein, Austria.

    " the organized, systematic enterprise that gathers knowledge about the world and condenses the knowledge into testable laws and principles." [Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, New York: Vintage Books, 1998: 58]

    Religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard in United States in 1954. See website.

    scriptures (Latin: “writings”)
    Common Usage: A collection of religious text which may include writings on instructional matters, institutional concerns and/or theological reflections. Often the books containing these writings are considered holy, such as the Bible, Qur'an and Guru Granth Sahib.

    Second Order
    Christian (Roman Catholic): The women’s branch of Franciscans, founded by Saint Clare of Assisi.

    Christian (Roman Catholic): A man, younger than 24, aspiring to be a priest who assisted canons and vicars at cathedrals.

    secondary causes
    The causal powers of creatures (for example: free will), in contrast to God, who is the Primary Cause.

    Common usage: a religious group in a substantial degree of tension within its cultural environment, in large part due to its relatively intense level of idiocyncratic religous commitment. Sect movement
    Common usage: a sect that actively promotes social change in accord with its beliefs and practices.

    Sectarian Shinto
    Shinto: One of the three major types of Shinto, it is a relatively new movement represented by the 13 major sects which emerged in Japan around the 19th Century. Each of the 13 sects has either a founder or a systematizer who organized the religious body. New Shinto sects which appeared in Japan after 1945 are included in this type for convenience of discussion.

    Seder (Hebrew: "the order")
    Jewish (ritual): The order of the festive meal and Passover service which is recited by Jewish families around the dinner table, usually in their homes. Includes haroset, karpas, matzos, hard-boiled egg, seat for Elijah [incomplete].

    Christian: Geographic area under the jurisdiction of a bishop.

    (see Sephardim)

    Sefirah (pl. sefirot; Hebrew)
    Jewish (Cabala): The spheres or attributes of divine manifestation or creative activity.

    1. A Turkish dynasty ruling in Iran, Iraq and Syria during the 11th and 12th Centuries CE.
    2. A dynasty ruling in central and eastern Anatolia from the late 11th Century to 1302.
    Seneschal (=Prince Noachite de Notre Dame)
    Priory of Sion: Second-level rank, below Nautonnier.

    Sephardim (=Sephardi)
    1. Jewish: Descendants of Jews of Spanish or Portuguese origin who left the Iberian peninsula at the end of the 15th Century when the Jews were expelled and settled in North Africa, the Levant, the Far East and southern Europe. (As contrasted with Ashkenazi.)
    2. Jewish: Descendants of speakers of Ladino.
    seriqa (Arabic?: "theft")

    Christian: Speech about faith or theology, usually including references to a specific Biblical text (see also homily).

    1. Philosophy: The dream equivalent of a (real world) snake. The images of snakes "evoke blends of emotion that fall on a triagular gradient defined by the three points of fear, revulsion, and reverential awe. Where the real snake frightens, the dream serpent transfixes. In the dreamer's paralytic state of sleep the serpent cannot be escaped." [Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, New York: Vintage Books, 1998: 78]
    2. Bible: Genesis xxxx
    3. Christian (Medieval): a serpent signifies the Redemption because it sloughs off its old skin.
    Buddhist (Zen): A spiritual practice to inspect one's heart-mind typically lasting a week.

    1. Ancient Egyptian religion: The figure of Seth, represented as a mythical, pig-like animal, was an important pre-dynastic deity.
    2. New Age: "An energy essence personality no longer focused in physical reality" who was channeled by the late Jane Roberts, and whose philosophy is contained in a 25-volume set written by Ms. Roberts and her husband, Robert Butts.
    3. Christian Identity: Son of Adam and Eve; father of the white race.
    Shinto (holiday): The celebration of the coming of spring.

    se'udah mafseket (Hebrew: "final meal")
    Jewish: The name for the meal taken just before the fast of Yom Kippur begins.

    7 (=seven)
    Christian: "Perfection" (the sum of the Trinity, 3, and Creation, 4). Hence the tendency of religious imagery to appear in sevens.

    Seven Deadly Sins Christian (Roman Catholic): pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, sloth

    Seven Joys of Mary
    Christian (Roman Catholic): [incomplete]
    1. The Annunciation
    2. The Nativity of Jesus
    3. The Adoration of the Magi
    4. The Resurrection of Jesus
    5. The Ascension of Jesus to Heaven
    6. The Pentecost
    7. The Coronation of Mary in Heaven

    Seven Patriarchs
    Buddhist (Jodo Shinshu): Nagarjuna, India; Vasubanshu, India; Donran, China; Doshaku, China; Zendo, China; Genshin, Japan, and Honen, Japan.

    Seven Sacraments
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Baptism, Penance, Eucharist, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders, Last Rites.

    Seven Sins (=Seven Deadly Sins)
    Christian (Roman Catholic: Pride, Envy, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Sloth.

    Seven Sorrows of Mary
    Christian (Roman Catholic): [incomplete]
    1. The Prophecy of Simeon over the Infant Jesus. (Luke 2:34)
    2. The Flight into Egypt of the Holy Family. (Matthew 2:13)
    3. The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days. (Luke 2:43)
    4. The Meeting of Jesus and Mary along the Way of the Cross. (Luke 23:26)
    5. The Crucifixion where Mary stands at the foot of the cross. (John 19:25)
    6. The Descent from the Cross where Mary receives the dead body of Jesus in her arms. (Matthew 27:57)
    7. The Burial of Jesus. (John 19:40)

    Seventeenth of Tammuz
    See Tammuz

    Christian: Fourth part of the daily prayer time schedule; noon.

    Sha'ban (Arabic: "the month of division")
    Common usage (Muslim): Eighth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

    Shabbat (pl. Shabbatot) (Hebrew: “Sabbath”)
    Jewish: Weekly holiday; the seventh day of the seven-day week, begins every Friday evening at sundown and concludes Saturday evening at sundown. (See Shabbat).

    Shabbat Shabbaton (Hebrew: "the Sabbath of Sabbaths" or "a Sabbath of solemn rest")
    Jewish: Another name for Yom Kippur.

    Shabbaton (Hebrew: “day of rest”)
    Jewish: One of the three names for the holiday Rosh Hashanah in the Hebrew Bible.

    Shabbatot (Hebrew) Jewish: Plural of Shabbat

    Nation of Islam: Elijah Muhammad referred to American blacks as members of the Tribe of Shabazz, and this term was used as a last name by many of his followers, most notably Malcolm Little (Malcolm X) and by his widow, Betty Shabazz.

    Muslim (Sunni): Followers of the school of law named after al-Shafi'i (d. 820).

    shah (Persian: "king")

    shahadah (=shahada;(Arabic: "creed")
    . Declaration of faith, required of all converts: ''I testify that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammed is the Messenger of Allah.''
    Muslim: One of the Five Pillars, the statement of faith. A person becomes a Muslim when, out of his own will and conviction, bears witness (in front of other believers) that there is no deity but Allah and Muhammad is his (final prophet, servant and) messenger.

    shahid (Arabic)
    Muslim: Martyr to the faith.

    shaka (Sanskrit: “branch")
    Hindu: Used in the description of a section of Hindu tradition, culture or theology.

    Shakti (=shakti)
    1. Hindu: The female personification of power as a deity.
    2. Hindu: Shiva’s consort.
    3. Hindu: The female aspect of the Tantric Absolute.
    Shakti Peethams
    Hindu: Sites (in India) where the parts of Sati's body fell to earth.

    1. An expert in reciprocal ecstatic communication between the normal and the supranormal.
    2. One who is possessed by the Gods and can therefore predict the future.
    3. A witch doctor, medicine man or other specialist in archaic techniques of ecstasy such as drum beating, dancing, self-hypnosis, chanting or drugs.
    Hindu/Buddhist: A mythic bird, a griffin.

    African (traditional): God of lightening and thunder for Yoruba.

    Shari'a (=shari'ah, =shariah; Arabic: "clear path")
    Religious, legal and moral code derived from the Qur'an and the sunna.
    Islamic law and morality. In many Islamic states, it is enforced by civil authorities.
    Muslim: Canon law, the totality of God's prescriptions for mankind, hence considered of divine origin and not the result of human legislation. There are four main schools of shari'a (which disagree with each other on a variety of legal interpretations); named for their founders, they are Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki and Shafi'i.

    sharif (Arabic)
    1. Muslim: Orignally applied only to descendants of Muhammad, a member of the Hashemite Clan.
    2. Muslim: =noble.

    Buddhist (Zen): Hand position for zazen.

    Shavuot (=Gift of Torah) (Hebrew)
    Jewish (holiday): The holiday celebrates the anniversary of the giving of the Torah. According to Rabbinic tradition, the Exodus from Egypt took place on Friday the fifteenth of the Hebrew month of Nisan. The Torah was given on Shabbat, the sixth of the Hebrew month of Sivan, which is the fiftieth day of the Omer. Shavuot is observed by Orthodox and Conservative Jews in the Diaspora for two days. Reform Jews and all Jews living in Israel observe it for one day. (See Shavuot.)

    Shawwal (Arabic)
    Common usage: Tenth month of the Muslim calendar.

    shaykh (=sheikh; Arabic: "elder")
    1. Common Usage: A title of respect bestowed upon any learned or accomplished man such as a distinguished scholar. (note: avoid using shiekh or sheik - use shaykh instead)
    2. Muslim (Shi'ite): A Sufi master.
    3. Muslim (Ottoman): Shaykh al-Islam is the title used by the chief religious officer of the Ottoman Empire.
    Shaytan (Arabic)
    Muslim: The devil.

    Shehekheyanu (Hebrew)
    Jewish: A prayer that thanks God for keeping the supplicants alive and sustaining them. “Barukh atah Adonai elohenu melekh ha-olam, shehekheyanu vekiyimanu vehigiyanu lazman hazeh”. = “Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe who has kept us alive and sustained and enabled us to reach this season.”

    Shekali Mai (=Rudrayana)
    Hindu (Nepal): A Kathmandu Valley nature Goddess.

    Shekkinah (Hebrew)
    1. Jewish (rabbinic): The divine presence.
    2. Jewish (Cabala): The lowest of the ten Sefirot, which goes into exile along with Israel.

    Shema (Hebrew: "hear")
    Jewish: Biblical passages affirming the unity of God, the complete love with which he must be served, and the acceptance of his commandments, which are recited twice daily in the Jewish liturgy. The prayer which expresses the central affirmation of Jewish faith: "Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is One."

    Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you like down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
    (Deuteronomy 6)

    Shemini Atzeret (Hebrew "Eighth Day of Assembly or Convocation")
    Jewish: Thecompletion of the annual cycle of reading of the Torah.
    Jewish: A biblical festival: "On the eighth day you shall observe a holy is a solemn gathering ; you shall not work at your occupations" (Lev. 23:36); The term atzeret (which literally means "concluding gathering") is also applied to the last day of Passover and to the end of the holiday of Shavuot. The "Eighth Day" after Sukkot is a festival in its own right. (See also Shemini Atzeret.)

    Jewish: The place where the dead reside.

    Shi'a (Persian: "the party of...")
    Shi'a: One of two major branches of Islam, consisting of 10-15 percent of Muslims, who split with the Sunnis and claimed that Mohammed's relative Ali should be the prophet's successor.
    Muslim (Shi’a): This group which accounts for approximately 14% of all Muslims began as "the party of Ali." They were those who believed that the legitimate successor to Muhammad was his cousin and son-in-law, Ali. The three major offshoots of this Islamic tradition are Ithna Ash'ariyyah (“Twelvers”), Zaydiyah and Isma'iliyah.

    Ancient China: Part of a professional priesthood, selected from the royal family. Begun in Shang Dynasty. Other categories in priesthood: chu and wu.

    Muslim: Adjectival form of Shi’a

    shikinen sengu (Japanese)
    Shinto (ritual): The transfer of a deity to a new shrine building after a prescribed number of years.

    Shin Buddhist
    Buddhist(Japan/Sect): see Jodo Shinshu Nishi Hongwanji.

    Shinto shrine ritual
    Shinto: A visit to a shrine includes, minimally, purification at the entrance by rinsing hands and mouth with water, and a sequence of (usually) two bows (gasho), two handclaps (kashiwade) and another bow.

    Shinto (=Shintoism; Japanese: "The way of the gods")
    Shinto: The indigenous, national religion of Japan, Shinto is more vividly observed in the social life of the people, or in personal motivations, than as a firmly established theology or philosophy. Often described as centering on the worship of nature and the veneration of the spirits of nature, called kami. Little is known about Shinto prior to the 700s CE, when the first Shinto scriptures were codified. Only when Buddhism became popular in Japan, and Shintoism was thus threatened, did the Shintoists begin to define and structure their religion, which has at its core the love and worship of Japan itself and of the Japanese people as a whole. Ancestor worship and emperor worship long have had a place in Shintoism, which considers people as elements in nature rather than separate from nature. The three basic types are Shrine Shinto, Sectarian Shinto and Folk Shinto.

    shirk (Arabic: "idolatry")
    Muslim: The most severe sin: imagining God as more than one unit.

    Shitala Mai
    Hindu (Nepalese): A former ogress who became a protector of children, worshipped at Swayambhunath, Nepal.

    Shiva (=Siva)
    Hindu: One of the three most important Gods, the God of death and destruction and of rebirth and reproduction (the other two are Brahma and Vishnu). He is indifferent to worldly matters; his cosmic dance is invariably so wild that it results in the world's being burned to ashes. Shiva is portrayed as wearing a necklace of skulls, his hair tangled and matted. Like Kali, Shiva beckons humans out of the world to their liberation.

    Jewish (ritual): The sacred ceremonies for honoring the dead.

    shivah asar be-Tammuz (=Tammuz) (Hebrew)
    Jewish (minor holiday): Commemorates the first breach in the walls of Jerusalem when it was besieged by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. (see also Tammuz)

    Shivarat (=Mahasivaratri)
    Hindu: The worship of Shiva with flowers.

    Shou Lao
    Taoist: Deity; the god of longevity, easily recognized by his large cranium, medicinal gourd and "peach of immortality".

    Hindu: Non-Brahman holy men.

    shrestha (Nepalese)
    Hindu (Nepal): A Newar caste.

    Shrine Shinto
    Shinto: One of the three major types of Shinto, which has been in existence from the prehistoric ages to the present and constitutes a main current of Japanese Shinto tradition. Until the Emperor renounced his divine status as a part of Japan's surrender at the end of World War II, it included State Shinto. The majority of Japanese are simultaneous believers in Shrine Shinto and Buddhism; because Shinto shrines are used only for "positive" celebrations, funerals are held in Buddhist temples.

    Shogatsu (=Gantan-sai)
    Shinto: New Year's Day celebration.

    shohet (Hebrew)
    Jewish: A person whose vocation it is to be a ritual slaughterer of kosher meat; kosher butcher.

    Shou Lao
    Taoist: Deity often found on altars, the God of longevity easily recognized by his large cranium, medicinal gourd and "peach of immortality".

    Shrove Tuesday (=Fat Tuesday, =Mardi Gras)
    Christian: A carnival day on the eve of Ash Wednesday. Pancakes are often served."

    Christian: Period before Lent [incomplete].

    shu (Chinese)
    Confucian: The law of reciprocity.

    Shinto (holiday): The vernal equinox observance.

    shura (Arabic: "council", "consultation")

    shu'ubiyya (Arabic: "ethno-loyalty", "tribalism")
    Muslim: In the early Islamic period, shu'ubiyya was a movement to provide recognition to non-Arab ethnic groups.

    Jain: Sect that wore only white clothing.

    Siddhartha Gautama
    Buddhist: The founder of Buddhism was born as a Hindu into the wealthy warrior caste in Nepal (c. 563-c.483 BCE.). His father, King Suddhodana, was the ruler of the Sakya clan, who lived in the foothills of the Himalayas. His mother, Queen Maya, was the daughter of Anjara, also a Sakya raja. Siddhartha means, literally, "every wish fulfilled."

    Siffin, Battle of
    Muslim (Shi'ite): Second civil war, 37 AH (657 CE).

    Muslim (Shi'ite, esp. Iran): A temporary marriage recognized by religious authorities.

    Anything that brings to mind something else (over and above the impression a thing makes on our senses).

    Sikh faith (=Sikhism; Punjabi)
    Sikh: Founded in the 15th Century by Guru Nanak (1439-1539)l, Sikhism has been called an amalgam of Hindu and Muslim traditions. Guru Nanak taught that true religion consisted of being ever mindful of God, meditating on God's name, and reflecting it in all activities of daily life. Ritual is discouraged. Sikhs of Indian origin number approximately 500,000 in North America and 21 million throughout the world.

    Sikh Dharma of the Western Hemisphere (= 3HO, Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization)
    Sikh: An American sectarian offshoot of Sikhism; founded in 1971by Yogi Harbhajan Singh, it claims 5,000 members.

    silsila (pl. salasil; Arabic)
    Muslim (Shi'ite: Sufi): A mystic genealogy.

    sima (Pali: "boundary")
    Buddhist: The consecrated boundary within which higher ordination and other (monastic) ceremonies are performed.

    Simchat Torah (Hebrew: "rejoicing of the law")
    Jewish: Holiday celebrating the Torah. (See also Simchat Torah.)

    Christian (Roman Catholic): The buying and selling of saints' relics. The deliberate intention and act of selling and/or buying spiritual goods or material things so connected with the spiritual that they cannot be separated from it. Simony is a violation of the virtue of religion, and a sacrilege, because it wrongfully puts a material price on spiritual things, which can be neither bought nor sold. The term is derived from the name Simon Magus who, in The Acts of the Apostles, tried to buy the power to confirm people in the Holy Spirit.

    1. Common Usage: An immoral act; alienation of the ego from the quest for integration with the inner self.
    2. Christian: Transgression against the known will of God.
    3. Christian: Turning away from God.
    4. Christian (Roman Catholic): The seven mortal, or deadly, sins are: pride, covetousness, lust, envy, gluttony, anger and sloth.
    5. Muslim: xxxx

    Singh (Punjabi: “lion”)
    1. Sikh: A surname adopted by male members of the Khalsa in the 16th Century and, thus, a common surname among contemporary Sikhs, male and female.
    2. Sikh: An additional ritual name adopted by male believers.
    Muslim: The biography of Muhammad.

    sirat (Arabic)
    Muslim: The bridge that spans hellfire and leads to paradised.

    Sister Disciples of the Divine Master
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns founded by Father James Alberione 10 February 1924, in Alba, Italy.

    Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.founded 15 April1894 in Krakow, Poland by Bishop Joseph Sebastian Pelczar.

    Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

    Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

    Sisters of Christian Charity
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

    Sisters of Life
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns founded 1 June 1991 in New York State.

    Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Dominican order of nuns founded 9 February 1997 in Ann Arbor, Mich., by Mother Assumpta Long, Sister Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, Sister Mary Samuel Handwerker, and Sister John Dominic Rasmussen.

    Sisters of Nazareth
    Christian (Roman Catholic) Order of nuns founded in London, England, in 1854 by Mother St. Basil (b. Victoire Larmenier 21 July 1827, France; d. 16 June 1878,).

    Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns founded in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, on 1 August 1 1977.

    Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns founded by Mother Teresa Eva Potocka (1814-1881) in Warsaw, Poland, in 1862.

    Sisters of Reparation of the Congregation of Mary
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

    Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Franciscan order of nuns founded in Olpe, Germany in 1863 by Mother Theresia Bonzel.

    Sisters of St. Francis of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Franciscan order of nuns founded in Dillingen, Germany, in 1241.

    Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Franciscan order of nuns founded by Mother M. Anselma in Thuine, Germany in 1869.

    Sisters of St. Joseph
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

    Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

    Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns. "SJW"

    Sisters of St. Rita
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Augustinian order of nuns founded by Father Hugolinus Dach, an Augustinian priest from Wuerzburg, Germany, in 1911 to provide apostolate; family care.

    Sisters of the Holy Family
    Christian (Roman Catholic) Order of nuns.

    Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

    Sisters of the Holy Spirit
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

    Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns founded in 1848 by Fr. Joachim Masmitjá (Spain) for the purpose of rebuilding society through the education of young women.

    Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

    Sisters of the Resurrection
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns. The Congregation of the Sisters of the Resurrection was founded in Rome in 1891 by a widow, Celine Borzecka, and her daughter, Hedwig. Celine Chludzinska was born on October 29, 1833 in Poland. In 1853 she married Joseph Borzecki. After his death in 1874 she left for Rome where, together with her daughter Hedwig, she founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Resurrection. Mother Celine died in Cracow on October 26, 1913, and is presently a candidate for canonization. The decree regarding her heroic virtues was proclaimed on February 11, 1982. Hedwig Borzecka was born on February 1, 1863 in Poland. After the death of her father she accompanied her mother Celine to Rome, where she cooperated with her in founding the Congregation of the Sisters of the Resurrection. She died suddenly in Kety on September 27, 1906 at the age of forty-three. She is presently a candidate for canonization, together with her mother. The decree regarding her heroic virtues was proclaimed on December 17,1982.

    Sisters of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

    Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

    Hindu: Rama’s wife, heroine of the Ramayana epic; she is worshipped in Jankpur, her legendary birthplace.

    666 (=six hundred threescore and six)
    Christian: The number of the beast in Revelation 13:18.

    Hindu: God of war.

    Native American (Navajo): Werewolf-like evil spirit.

    Jewish: The worship service to begin making repentance for wrongs done the past year.

    See: serpent

    Soka Gakkai (Japanese: "value creation society”)
    Buddhist: A lay movement in contemporary Japan based on the teachings of Nichiren and of the Lotus Sutra.

    Place name: Province in Nigeria.

    Sol Invictus (=invincible sun god)
    Roman cult.

    Solemn Exposition
    Christian (Roman Catholic): The Blessed Sacrament exposed in the Monstrance in a most dignified setting for public Adoration.

    Solemn Vows
    Christian (Roman Catholic): The strictest type of religious Vows in which the adherents renounce their right to own property of any kind.

    1. winter solstice: the day (near 21 December) when the sun reaches its southernmost latitude. It is the shortest day in the northern hemisphere.
    2. summer solstice: the day (near 21 June) when the sun reaches its northernmost latitude. It is the longest day in the norhern hemisphere.

    Son of the Widow Lady
    Medieval Europe: An honorific of unknown origin and meaning often applied to Jesus.

    sophia (Greek)
    1. Common Usage: Wisdom
    2. Aristotelian: Wisdom as an intellectual virtue.
    1. Performing magic, usually to do harm, by the use of substances or objects inbued with supernatural powers, often involving specific gestures or spoken spells.
    2. A sophisticated form of magic.

    Soto (=Chinese: Caodong)
    Buddhist (Zen): A Japanese sect of Zen Buddhism.

    Common usage: The most general term (a spirit, spirits) for any superhuman (usually invisible) being.

    Spring Ohigon
    Buddhist: The time of meditation on the teachings of Buddha at the vernal equinox.

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

    Sraddha (=Sraddha Devi)
    Hindu: Goddess denoting diligence, faith and devotion.

    stable terminal
    Scientologist: One who is reliable, responsible and can be depended upon to competently perform the duties of his job.

    standard memory banks
    Scientologist: Recordings in the analytical mind of everything perceived throughout the lifetime up to the present by the individual except painful emotion and physical pain, which are recorded in the reactive mind.

    Starkey, Rhomas
    British. Author of "An Exhortation to Unity and Obedience" (1534).

    1. Common usage: xxxx
    2. Refers to a school of philosophy developed in the Hellenic world after 300 BCE that later formed the ethos of the Roman Empire. The emphasis is on law as the defining mark of humanity and reflection of the universal order. One must maintain resignation in the face of determinative cosmic order.

    Christian (Archaic): Vampire, Undead; minion of Satan.

    suba (Arabic: "province")

    Christian (heretical): A version of the doctrine of the Trinity according to which Christ as the eternal Logos is less than or subordinate to God the Father.

    success Christian: Realizing the fullest potential for good of one's true self so that one's life ia s harmonious expression of one's innate gifts."

    Hindu: Fourth highest (or, lowest) of the Indian caste system. “Spring from Brahma’s feet.”

    Muslim: Representatives of the twelfth Imam.

    Muslim: One who practices Sufism.

    Muslim (Shi'ite): A mystical tradition emphasizing spiritual experience.

    Sukkot (=Sukkoth, =Festival of Tabernacles; Hebrew)
    Jewish: Autumn festival of thanksgiving during which Jews build temporary booths with thatched roofs to commemorate the sojourn of the people of Israel for 40 years in the wilderness of Sinai. A ceremony called Simchat Torah closes Sukkot and marks the end of the yearly reading of the first five books of the Jewish scriptures. (See also Sukkot.)

    Muslim: A ruler.

    Sun Myung Moon
    See Moon, Rev. Sun Myung.

    Sunna (=sunnah; Arabic: "custom", "code of behavior")
    Muslim: Traditions of Muhammad
    Muslim: Reported practices of Muhammad
    Muslim: The ethical and religious example set by Muhammad in his words and deeds, as recorded in the Hadith.
    Muslim: The sayings, actions and approvals of Muhammad, which serve to confirm or explain the Qur'an. Their reportage in narration is called hadith.

    Muslim: Recommended or desirable for religious reasons.

    Muslim: Divine tradition.

    Muslim: One of two major branches of Islam, including at least 85 percent of Muslims. Sunnis split with Shi'ites over who should succeed the prophet Mohammed after his death;. Muslim: The majority of Muslims (about 86%) who accept orthodox Muslim theology and the traditional line of Caliphs. Al-al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah means people of the tradition and the community.

    superbia (Latin: "pride")
    Christian (Roman Catholic): One of the Seven Deadly Sins

    1. Christian (Roman Catholic): In theology since St. Thomas Aquinas, this term refers to the grace of God as it elevates human nature above itself in order to see God.
    2. Somewhat mysterious forces or entities that are above, beyond, outside nature, and which can control, suspend, alter, or ignore the natural order.
    Christian. The Gospels by Mark, Matthew, and Luke, which are similar to each other. (Synoptic: look-alike).

    superstition (from Latin: "to stand over or next to")
    Common usage: A belief with no basis in fact or orthodox religion.

    Suprema (=La Suprema)
    Christian (Roman Catholic: Spanish): The ministry of the inquisitor general (head of the Inquisition).

    Supreme Pontiff

    suppressive person (=SP, =antisocial person)
    Scientologist: A person who possesses a distinct set of characteristics and mental attitudes that cause him to suppress other people in his vicinity.

    sura (=surah) (Arabic)
    Muslim: A chapter of the Qur'an; there are 114 total.

    Hindu: The sun God, often identified with Vishnu.

    sutra (Sanskrit: "thread")
    1. Common Usage (Indian subcontinent): Refers to an authoritative text.
    2. Buddhist: Addresses of the Buddha, or texts attributed to the Buddha.

    Hindu: The tradition of immolating widows on their husbands’ funeral pyres.

    Swami At Dhara
    See Goddard, Marion Vincent.

    Hindu: A self-inspired person working without any expectation of fame, reward or remuneration.

    An object that stands for something more abstract or general. The cross, for example, is a symbol in Christianity representing Christ's suffering and death. Symbols usually presuppose a certain learning process in order to be understood. Through attachment to specific emotional experiences and models of thought, symbols acquire great importance in the creation of intense experiences and commonly have clear implications for action based on belief.

    symposium (from Greek for “drinking party”)
    Platonic: The title of a dialogue by Plato, in which a number of Athenian men at a drinking party give speeches on the nature of love.

    syncretic religion
    A belief system that combines two or more cultural and spiritual ideologies into a single faith. Examples are the Afro-Caribbean religions of Santeria, voodoo and brujeria.

    • Synod of Forcheim (1078)
    Christian: A term referring to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke in the New Testament, which share the same basic plot structure (unlike the Gospel of John, which differs from these three).


    ta'allaa (Arabic: "be exalted")
    Muslim (exclamation): Follows Allah.

    tadbir (Arabic: "planning")

    tafsir (=tafseer; Arabic: "exegesis")
    Muslim: Technical interpetation of the Qur'an, as contrasted with ta'wil.
    Muslim: Explanation of or commentary on the Qur'an.

    tahara (Arabic)
    Muslim: Ritual purity, a state required before participation in the salat, touching the Qur'an or other ritual acts. There are two divisions: A major purification (ghusl) after e.g. coitus or menstruation, is distinguished from a minor one (wudu), such as performed before salat. Sand may be used if water is lacking.

    Native American (Cahuilla)/New Age: An evil spirit residing in the San Jacinto Mountains near Palm Springs, Calif.

    tai chi (=tai xi, =t'ai chi, = t'ai xi; Chinese: "embryonic respiration")
    1. Common Usage: A series of meditation exercising stressing correct breathing.
    2. Common Usage: Another name for the yin-yang symbol.
    3. Confucian: Refers to "The Great Ultimate" of Confucianism.
    4. Taoist: A specific meditation practice.
    Taiping Jing
    Taoist: A Chinese sect of Taoism.

    tajalli (Arabic)
    1. Muslim: Theophany of God's names and qualities.
    2. Muslim (Shi'ite): God's truth is reflected in the world as through a mirror; it does not enter into nor is it affected by the world.
    tajdid (Arabic: "revival", "renewal")

    tajweed (=tajwid; Arabic)
    1. Common usage (Muslim): The science of the recitation of the Qur'an.
    2. Muslim: Recitation of the Qur'an by someone who has had professional training.
    Muslim: Divorce by repudiation (done by husband).

    Taleju Bhawani
    Hindu (Nepalese): A goddess, originally a South Indian deity; an aspect of Devi.

    talib (pl. talibun; Arabic: "student")
    Common usage: Denotes the religious zealots in Afghanistan who defeated the Soviets.

    Talmud (Hebrew)
    Jewish: The key document of Rabbinic Judaism, consisting of the Mishnah together with its commentary, the Gemara.

    Talmudist (from the Hebrew)
    Jewish: A specialist in study of the Talmud.

    Jewish (minor holiday): Marks the first breach in the walls of Jerusalem when it was besieged by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. (see also Tammuz)

    tanasukh (Arabic)
    Muslim: Transmigration of human souls.

    Buddhist/Hindu: Primarily found in Tibetan Buddhism, but also present in other Buddhist sects and in Hinduism, the tantra refers to a manual that teaches magical words and spells to harness imaginative and libidinal energies in the pursuit of salvation.

    Tao (=Dao) (Chinese)
    (see also Hindu: dharma)
    1. The way, as in "the way of nature".
    2. The cosmic, mysterious and ultimate principle underlying form, substance, being and change. The unproduced Producer of all that is; the source of all things.
    3. The way the whole universe operates.

    Tao Jia (Chinese: "Taoist Philosophy")
    Taoist: The second strand of Taoism, begun about 500 BCE: the first is Xian Tao and the third Tao Jiao.

    Tao Jiao (Chinese: "Taoist Religion")
    Taoist: The third strand of Taoism, begun about 150 CE; the first is Xian Tao and the second Tao Jia.

    Taoist: The English-language name of a religious faith founded by Lao-Tzu about 2500 years ago in China. Taoism teaches people to enhance their health and longevity by minimizing their desires and centering themselves on stillness. Key concepts include:
    • Life is to be lived in harmony with the Tao.
    • Life is to be lived simply.
    • Human achievement is foolish (because one person's achievements only make other people envious and unhappy).
    There was something containing all,
    Before heaven and earth it exists:
    Tranquil, oh! Incorporeal, oh!
    Alone it stands and does not change.
    It goes everywhere and is not hindered.
    It can thereby become the universe's mother.
    I know not its name;
    I characterize it by calling it the Way.
    Forced to make a name for it I call it the Great.
    Great I call the elusive.
    The elusive I call the far.
    The far I call the returning.
    --(from Tao Te Ching)

    taqwa (Arabic: "God consciousness")
    Muslim: Fear of Allah.

    taqiya (=taqiyya; Arabic: "dissimulation")
    Muslim (Shi'ite): Resort to concealing of facts or intentions in defense of Islam.

    taqlid (Arabic)
    1. Muslim: Reliance on tradition.
    2. Muslim: Adoption and imitation of traditional legal decisions. Criticized as the opposite of ijtihad.

    1. Hindu (Nepal): A Nepalese princess.
    2. Hindu/Buddhist: A deity (see also White Tara).
    3. Common Usage: A fictional plantation in antebellum Georgia (from Gone With The Wind); symbolizes a belief in white Southern superiority.

    tariqa (pl. turuq)
    1. Muslim: Spiritual path leading to God.
    2. Muslim (Shi'ite): The way of Sufism as a whole as the mystical path of Islam.
    3. Muslim: A specific Sufi organization or brotherhood with a specific method of meditation.
    Muslim (Shi'ite): The esoteric dimension of Islam manifested as Sufism.

    Tashlikh (Hebrew)
    Jewish: On the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah (or the second day, if the first was the sabbath), members of a Jewish community gather by a river, lake or other body of water. Each individual throws crumbs of bread into the water and recites prayers that include this verse from the Hebrew Bible: "And You will cast their sins into the depths of the sea." (Micah 7:19)

    Muslim: Sufism.

    tathata (Sanskrit)
    Buddhist (Zen): Theological construct of thusness, the as-it-is-ness of the world.

    Roman: the most solemn ritual of Xybelee worship wherein a bull as slaughtered on a wooden platform under which lay new initiates who were then drenched in the bull's blood (which washed away the initiate's past).

    tawhid (=tauheed; Arabic: "unity")
    Muslim (common usage): Shouted by the audience as a interjected commentary during presentations on Islamic topics.
    Muslim: The belief in the oneness of the Creator.
    Muslim: The doctrine of the unity of Allah, which is stressed in the Qur'an and thus became a cardinal principle in Islamic theology. Often used as a shouted affirmation by a Muslim audience in response to a speech or presentation with Muslim content.

    ta'wil (Arabic)
    Muslim: Spiritual interpretation of the Qur'an, as contrasted with tafsir.

    tawwabun (Arabic: "penitents")

    ta'ziya (Arabic: "consolation")
    Muslim (Shi'ite): A play commemorating the tragic death of the third Imam, Husayn, at Karbala in 680 CE.

    Te (Chinese: "power", "virtue", "integrity", "character")
    Taoist: The power of one who follows the Tao.

    techne (Greek)
    1. Common usage: The process by which things are created.
    2. Aristotelian: Art is an intellectual virtue.

    telia philia (Greek)
    Aristotelian: Perfected or completed friendship; friendship grounded in virtue.

    teleological proof
    Proofs for the existence of God are called teleological if they are based on the apparent design or purposive order of the world.

    Concern with ends, goals, final outcomes (see, eschatology).

    Ten Commandments
    Jewish/Christian: The laws revealed to Moses by God at the summit of Mount Sinai. There are two versions in the Hebrew Bible: Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-18.

    Ten Days of Repentance
    Jewish: The first 10 days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, which begins with Rosh Hashanah and ends with Yom Kippur. (See also Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.)

    Ten Fetters (=Sanskrit: Samyojanas)
    Buddhist (Zen): Illusion of an ego, skepticism, belief in magic as solving the problem of life, sensory delusion, ill-will, desire for formed existence, desire for formless existence, arrogance, restlessness, and ignorance of the true nature of reality.

    Ten Good Deeds
    Buddhist: The "Ten Good Deeds" are: giving, keeping the precepts, meditating, transferring merit, rejoicing in another's merit, giving service, showing respect, teaching, listening to teaching and right beliefs.

    Ten Gurus
    Sikh: The ten spiritual leaders who took the title guru. They are regarded as vehicles for the divine word, but not as avatars, incarnations or intercessors. Guru Nanak was the first (1469-1539) followed by Angad, Amar Das, Ram Das, Arjan, Hargobind, Har Rai, Har Krishan, Tegh Badadur and Gobind Singh, who died in 1708 after giving joint spiritual authority to the book Guru Granth Sahib and the corporate community (called panth in Punjabi).

    Tenri-kyo (Japanese: "teaching of heavenly reason")
    Shinto: A sect which gives emphasis to faith healing.

    Tenth of Tevet
    Jewish (holiday): A minor fast that marks the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, in the year 587-6 BCE. (See also Tenth of Tevet.)

    Christian: Third event of the daily prayer time schedule; mid-morning, around 9 a.m. (third of nine services)

    Christian (Roman Catholic): A Jesuit serving a Tertianship.

    Christian (Roman Catholic): A period of time when a Jesuit, three or more after ordination, pursues a temporary ministry different than that previously served.

    Christian: Early church father.

    Test Acts
    English. First (1673)required renunciation of transubstantian by all civil and military officers of the crown. English. Second (1678) extended provisions of the first to all members of both houses of parliament.

    Hindu: A high caste.

    Common usage (North America): Secular celebration of the created earth which has religious overtones.

    Christian, Jewish: a dynamic understanding of God as utterly transcendent yet interacting with the world in the course of human history.

    Thelmic Golden Dawn
    See Order of the Thelmic Golden Dawn.

    Theodicy (Greek: "justification of God")
    A philosophical reply to the problem of evil, trying to show it is possible that God is good, despite all the evil there is in the world.

    Theological Studies
    Christian (Roman Catholic): A time when a Jesuit pursues a master's degree in theology; this generally occurs just prior to ordination.

    Manifestation of a deity visible to humans.

    A religious movement founded in New York City by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge, and others, as the Theosophical Society. The faith regards itself as a contemporary expression of a tradition going back to the Neo-Platonists of classical antiquity. Primary concepts are:
    • the fundamental unity of all existence, so that dichotomies (matter & spirit, human & divine, I & Thou) are seen as transitory and relative distinctions of an underlying absolute Oneness
    • the regularity of universal law, cyclically producing universes out of the absolute ground of being
    • the progress of consciousness developing through the cycles of life to an ever-increasing realization of Unity.
    These beliefs often lead to such practices as meditation, vegetarianism and care for animal welfare, active support of women's and minority rights, and a concern for ecology. Some individual Theosophists also profess various of the world's religions; others have no religious affiliation. (See also Theosophy.)

    Christian: Mary, as the Mother of God; God-bearer, she who has begotten God.

    thera (Pali: "elder", "senior monk")
    Buddhist: A monk with more than ten years of manhood from the day of his higher ordination.

    Theravada ("the tradition of the elders") (= Hinayana)
    Buddhist: The smaller and more conservative version of Buddhism.

    theta (= Greek letter "theta" ?, representing "thought")
    1. Scientologist: Energy peculiar to life which acts upon material in the physical universe and animates it, mobilizes it and changes it.
    2. Scientologist: Natural creative energy of a being which s/he is free to direct toward survival goals.
    1. Scientologist: An immortal spiritual being. "The thetan is the person himself, not his body or his name or the physical universe, his mind or anything else. It is that which is aware of being aware; the identity which IS the individual." (reference)
    2. Scientologist: The human soul. "One does not have a thetan, something one keeps somewhere apart from oneself; one is a thetan." (reference)
    Third Order
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Religious community adhering to the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Assisi.

    13 (=thirteen)
    1. Common usage (Christian): Unlucky number (because there were 13 at the Last Supper).
    2. Common usage (Christian): Lucky number (because Jesus and his Disciples numbered 13).
    3. Common usage (Asia): Lucky number (homonym in Chinese for "must succeed").
    4. Common usage (esp. United States): Friday the 13th (when Friday is congruent with the 13th day of any month) is an unlucky day (combination of 13 as unlucky number and Friday as traditional day for executions, including the crucifixion of Jesus).
    5. Common usage (archaic): If 13 sit at a table, one will die within the year (a superstition dating to the 17th century; related to 13 at the Last Supper).
    6. New Age: The Tarot card for "death" is 13.
    7. Common usage (traditional): =baker's dozen. From the European baker's historic custom to add one or two to each dozen items purchased.
    Thomas Aquinas
    Christian (Medieval): 1225-1274; the most influential thinker of the Scholastic period, integrating classical and Christian thought.

    Norse/New Age: Scandinavian sky-god, controlling winds and storms.

    3 (=three)
    Christian: The Trinity.
    Common usage: "Bad things happen in threes."

    Three Dan Tians
    Taoist: Refers to three bodily centers of spirituality located between the eyebrows (upper; associated with purple); the center of the chest (middle; associated with gold) and below the navel (lower; associated with white).

    Three Jewels
    Buddhist: Faith (in Buddha); law or doctrine (taught by Buddha), and community (depository of Buddha's teachings).

    Three Teachings (see also San-ciao)
    A standard phrase used to refer to the three major Chinese religions: Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism.

    Three Weeks (=bein ha-meitsarim)
    Jewish: The interval between the Fast of the Seventeenth 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.

    Tian Shi (Chinese: heavenly teachers" or "heavenly masters")
    Taoist: A sect of Taoism founded by Zhang Dao-Ling.

    T'ien (Chinese: "heaven")
    Confucian: The source and guarantor of order.

    Tikkun (Hebrew)
    1. The name of a magazine.
    2. Jewish: In Cabala, the restoration of the world and the divine realm of the Sefirot brought by the good deeds of humanity, and especially by Israel's obedience to Torah.

    tilawa (Arabic)
    Muslim: Ritual recitation of the Qur'an.

    time track
    Scientologist: The consecutive record of mental image pictures which accumulates through a person’s life.

    Tipitaka ("three baskets")
    Buddhist: (Collectively) the Buddhist scriptures: Sutta Pitaka (basket of discourse), Vinaya Pitaka (basket of discipline or rules), and Abhidhamma Pitaka (basket of scholasticism).

    Zoroastrian (holiday): The celebration in honor of Tishtat, the Dog Star; recognizes dogs as helpers of humanity.

    Tishah Be-Av (=Tishah B'av; Hebrew)
    Jewish (holiday): A solemn holy day marking several disasters in history: the date of the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem, of the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, of the defeat of the Bar Kokhva Revolt, the expulsion of Jews from England and the expulsion of Jews from Spain. (See also Tishah Be-Av.)

    Tishrei (Hebrew)
    Jewish: Name of the month in the Hebrew calendar which contains the Ten Days of Repentance, beginning with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur.

    1. Christian (Medieval): A tenth part of the harvest claimed by the church.
    2. Christian (contemporary): A tenth part of one's net income given to the church to which one belongs.
    Shinto: Grand Ceremony of the Winter Solstice.

    Torah (Hebrew: "law")
    1. Jewish: The scroll containing the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible.
    2. Jewish: The whole of God's revelation to Israel at Mount Sinai, both written and oral, the latter being identified with the rabbinic interpretation of Scripture that was eventually written down in the Talmud

    Irish: Roman Catholic rebel.
    English: a political party formed in late 1600s.

    Toyouke Okami
    Shinto: The Goddess of farming and harvest.

    TRs (=training routines)
    Scientologist: Practical drills which can greatly increase a student’s ability in essential auditing skills.

    Muslim: Term used to describe followers of Ibn Hanbal (d. 855) who rejected the claims of rationalism especially in early theological discussions.

    Transfiguration of Jesus
    Christian: The commemoration of the experience on Mount Tabor when Jesus' physical appearance became brilliant as his connection with traditional Jewish holy figures became evident to the disciples.

    transcendence (Latin: "to go beyond")
    Christian: The characteristic of God being beyond this world or beyond time and space.

    Common usage: The view that souls move or migrate from one body to another at death (including from animal bodies to human bodies, and vice-versa).

    Christian (Roman Catholic): The change which occurs at the blessing of the elements of the Mass, in which the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus.

    Tribe of Dan
    Christian: A subgroup of Christian Identity; see also Tribe of Dan.

    Trinitarians of Mary
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

    Christian: The teaching that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are not identical with one another yet are one God.

    Trinity Sunday (=Trinity Day)
    Christian: A day honoring the belief in the Trinity.

    Christian (Eastern Orthodox): Liturgical period leading up to Lent.

    Common usage: The belief that 13 is a lucky number.

    Common usage: The belief that 13 is an unlucky number.

    Christian (heretic): The teaching that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three different gods.

    Tsom Gedaliah (Hebrew)
    Jewish (holiday): A minor fast, it mourns the assassination of Gedaliah Ben- Ahikam, the Jewish governor of Judea during the time of the Babylonian conquest. It is observed on the third day of the month of Tishrei. (See also Tsom Gedaliah.)

    Tu B'Av (Hebrew)
    Jewish: The celebration of romance between couples.

    Tu B'Shevat (Hebrew: "15th of Shevat") (="New Year for the Trees")
    Jewish celebration of the coming of spring by preparation of foods native to Israel.
    Jewish (holiday): A minor holiday commemorating the cut-off date in ancient Israel for calculating the harvest from which a tithe had to be sent to the Temple in Jerusalem. (See also Tu B'Shevat.)

    Tu Di Gong
    Taoist: God often found on temple altars, the Lord of the soil, guardian of the realm of the ancestors, bestower of wealth.

    Buddhist (Tibetan): A religious figure regarded as a reincarnation of a great lama of the past.
    enlightened Tibetan Buddhist lama who has, through phowa and siddhi, consciously determined to take birth, often many times, in order to continue his or her Bodhisattva vow.

    Tulsedas Jayanti
    Hindu: The remembrance of the poet Tulsedas as one who brought spiritual uplift to the masses.

    Spirit residing in a tiki.

    twain (Arabic)
    Common usage: Married couple; husband and wife.

    Twelfth Night
    Christian (minor holiday): The observance of the close of the Christmas season.

    12 (=twelve)
    Common usage: The number associated with completeness (for example: dozen, 12 Apostles, 12 Patriarchs, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 months).

    Twelve Patriarchs
    Jewish: Eponymous ancestors of the 12 tribes of Israel.

    Twelvers (=Itha Ash'ariyuyah)
    Muslim (Shi'a): Followers of this sect rever 12 imams, and hold that a son, Muhammad al-Muntaazar, was born to the 11th imam, Hassan al-Askari (d. 874 C.E.) but went into concealment until he will reappear at the proper time to set the whole world in order. They subscribe to the legal school Ja'fariyyah and have been established in Iran since the Safvid period (1501) and constitute the largest branch of Shi'a.

    24 (=twenty-four)
    Common usage (Asia): Unlucky number (honomym for "easy to die" in Chinese, Japanese and Korean).


    ubusuna no kami (Japanese)
    Shinto: The tutelary deity of one's birthplace.

    Ugadi (=ug Adhi)
    Hindu: The New Year's Day for Telugu people and those of Andhra Pradesh. It is said that Lord Braham began the creation on this day. It is one of at least eight regional New Year observances in India.

    Uhud, Battle of
    Muslim (Shi'ite): Event in 3 AH (625 CE)

    ujigami (Japanese)
    Shinto: The tutelary deity of a specific geographical area, such as a village.

    ujiko (Japanese)
    Shinto: A member of a shrine community living within the geographical area of the shrine.

    ulema (=ulama; singular: 'alim) (Arabic: "learned men")
    Muslim: Learned interpreters of Islamic teaching and law; usually refers to normative Islamic theologians, scholars and teachers in the Sunni tradition.

    Buddhist (ritual): The celebration of saving the deceased from torments after death.

    Hindu: Shiva's consort in one of her many aspects.

    Umar (=Omar)
    Muslim: The second caliph; Caliphate 13-23 AH (634-644 CE).

    Umayyad Caliphs, Reign of (=Umayyads)
    Muslim: 40-132 AH (661-750 CE)The first dynasty of caliphs, ruling from 661 until the takeover by the Abbasids in 750.

    Umm al Qurrah (Arabic: "Mother of Cities")
    Muslim: Refers to Mecca.

    umma (=ummah; Arabic)
    1. Muslim: The particular religious community in which an individual believer participates.
    2. Muslim: World Muslim community; the entire community of believers in Islam.
    (See also church.)

    umra (=umrah; Arabic: "visitation")
    Muslim: A pilgrimage made by a believer to Mecca at a time other than the first ten days of the last (lunar) month in the Muslim calendar, Dhu-al Hijjah. (Qur'an 2:189-199, 3:97). (See also hajj.)

    Unarious Society
    New Age: Sect founded in 1954; see Unarious Society.

    Christian: A theological term referring to God, who is the only thing in existence not made by God.

    unction (=holy unction)
    1. Anointment with oil.
    2. Christian (Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox): A religious rite performed at the coronation of a king or queen, at baptism and confirmation.
    3. Christian (Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox): A religious rite performed for the sick, in which case it may be called extreme unction or holy unction.

    Unification Church
    A religious movement founded by Rev. Sun Myung Moon (b. 1920) in Korea after World War II. See also Unification Church.

    Common usage (esp. 19th C): Belief that changes in earth's topography are gradual and happen over long periods of time. (See also Catastrophism.)

    Universal House of Justice
    Baha'i: The supreme international governing body of the Baha'i faith, representing 20,000 spiritual assemblies, including 1,400 in the United States enrolling 12,000 Baha'is.

    Scientologist: Become nothing, disappear, cease to exist.

    Untouchable (=Dalit)
    Hindu: The group lower than the lowest caste.

    upasaka (Sanskrit and Pali)
    Buddhist: A layman who observes the Five, Eight or Ten Precepts. (See also upasika.)

    upasampad (Sanskrit: higher ordination)
    Buddhist: A term for the full ordination of a monk or nun. It follows the lower ordination (pravrajya) and the minimum age for it is 20.

    upasika (Sanskrit and Pali)
    Buddhist: A laywoman who observes the Five, Eight or Ten Precepts. (See also upasaka.)

    Urban II
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Pope from 1088-1099; launched First Crusade in 1095.

    Muslim: Religious tax on land.

    Ussher, James
    Christian: Archbishop, Church of Ireland. Published Annals of the Old Testament in 1650 asserting that the earth had been created at midday on 23 October 4004 BCE, using information in the Bible and other sources.

    usul al-fiqh (Arabic)
    Muslim: Principles of shari'a.

    Uthman (=Othman)
    Muslim: The third caliph; caliphate 23-35 AH (644-656 CE).

    Hindu: Religious festivals or holidays.


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

    Hindu: The caste of merchants and farmers.

    1. Hindu (Nepalese): A ritual scepter or thunderbolt.
    2. Buddhist (Tibetan): A diamond, the symbol of the indestructible nature of truth.

    Buddhist (Tibetan): God the Mother; consort of Chakrasamvara.

    Valhalla ("Hall of the Slain")
    New Age/ Old Norse: The place to which kings and outstanding warriors were conducted after death by the Valkyries, if they had died in battle or been sacrificed to Odin. Here, Odin presides over an eternal life of fighting and feasting.

    New Age/Old Norse: Warrior Goddesses.

    New Age/ Old Norse: Fertility deities, sometimes represented as fair giants dwelling in earth or sea who provided wives for the Aesir.

    Hindu: A God incarnated as a boar.

    Vardhamana Mahavira
    Jain: Founder of Jainism. Born mid-sixth century BCE in Kundagrama, Ganges Valley, India.

    Hindu: the four major castes during Vedic times (Brahmans (brahamanas , warriors (ksatriyas , farmers/merchants (vaisyas , menials (sudra ).

    Varsha Pratipada
    Hindu: (Hindu New Year) occurs in April and is the first festival of the year according to the Hindu solar calendar.

    Vasant Panchami
    Hindu: The celebration dedicated to Saraswati, goddess of learning.

    Hindu: Fifth highest caste, "Sprung from Brahma's thigh."

    velayat (Arabic)
    Muslim: Designation of leadership.

    Venta, Krishna
    See Krishna Venta.

    Christian: Sixth part of the daily prayer time schedule; 6 p.m.

    via negativa (Latin: "the negative way")
    Christian: The theological method of speaking about God by saying what he is not rather than what he is. (See also apophaticism.)

    viaticum (Derived from Latin: viaticus)
    1. Christian (Roman Catholic): Holy Communion given to those in danger of death.
    2. Christian (Roman Catholic): Anything that gave spiritual strength and comfort to the dying.
    3. Christian (Medieval Catholic): Holy Communion.

    vicar (=vicar-choral)
    Christian: A priest employed by a more senior cleric to carry out his religious duties.

    Victor Hugo
    See: Hugo, Victor.

    Hindu: Beginning of studies for the Samskara.

    Vijaya Dashami (Sanskrit: "victory on the 10th day"
    1. Hindu (holiday): Commemorates the victory of Durga over the demon, Mahishasura, on the 10th day of their battle.
    2. Hindu (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh) (holiday): Commemorates the founding of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

    Vikrantha (=Vamana)
    Hindu: Vishnu in his fifth incarnation as a dwarf.

    vilayt-i-faqih (Arabic)
    Muslim: Guardianship or government by the religious authority.

    villain (Latin: "villager", resident of "ville")
    1. Common usage: Evil-doer.
    2. Christian (early): Wicked soul.
    See P. Villaverde.

    vinaya ("The Discipline")
    Buddhist: The body of regulations delineating a proper Buddhist life.

    Visakha Puja
    Buddhist (holiday): Celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death (attainment of Nirvana) of Buddha.

    Vishnu (=Visnu)
    Hindu: One of the three most important Gods, the preserver of the world and god of love (the others are Shiva and Brahma) He is typically depicted as descending to earth in various forms (avatars) to uphold order (for example, see Krishna, the eighth avatar). Gautama, the Buddha (the founder of Buddhism) is considered (by some) the ninth avatar of Vishnu).

    Christian (Roman Catholic): Members of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary.

    Visitation Nuns
    Christian (Roman Catholic): Members of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary.

    Visitation of Holy Mary
    Christian (Roman Catholic): An order of nuns founded on June 6, 1610, in Annecy, France by St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal. The monastery is strictly contemplative with papal enclosure and solemn vows.

    Vitthal (=Pandurang)
    Hindu: One of the incarnations of Vishnu.

    Vivekananda Jayanti
    Hindu (holiday): The celebration of the birthday of Swami Vivekenanda who was dedicated to bridging the gap between east and west.

    vizier (from Arabic waz?r, "minister")
    Muslim: Under the Fatimid Dynasty of Egypt, the vizier was in charge of the administration of the realm in the name of the caliph.

    voluntarism (from the Latin voluntas: "will")
    1. A philosophical emphasis on the will
    2. Christian: Divine voluntarism is the belief that any essences or laws in the universe, including moral laws, are the result of God's will and not the other way 'round.

    New Age/Old Norse: A female seer who presides over divination ceremonies.

    1. Common Usage: Describes an exotic or otherwise unfamiliar religious rite.
    2. Afro-Caribbean syncretic religion.
    3. Christian: The popular religion originating in Haiti as a blend of Roman Catholicism with west African religious traditions on slave plantations from the 17th Century onwards.

    votive mass
    Christian (Roman Catholic): A Mass dedicated to a special, symbolic occasion which marks a transition for those concerned in it, such as a wedding, a funeral, or the establishment of peace after conflict.

    vrata (Sanskrit: "vow")
    Hindu : A general term used to describe festivals in honor of a deity.


    WKFL Foundation of the World
    New Age: Sect in existence approx. 1948-1958; see WKLF Foundation of the World.

    wa al hamdu lillah (Arabic)
    Muslim (exclamation): "and thanks to Allah".

    wa'azi (Hausa)
    Muslim (African): Denotes a category of Hausa Islamic verse.

    wafd (Arabic: "delegation")
    Muslim (Egyptian): The name of a political party.

    wahdat al-wujud
    1. Muslim (Shi'ite): The transcendent unity of being.
    2. Muslim (Shi'ite): The characteristic doctrine of Sufi metaphysics as formulted by Muhyi al-Din ibn Arabi.
    Muslim: Puritanical Muslim reform movement that arise in Arabia in the 18th Century CE under Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1787).
    Muslim: Puritanical form of Islam based on a strict interpretation of the Qu'ran, prevalent in Saudi Arabia and an inspiration for Afghanistan's Taliban. Founded by Mohamed Ibn Abd-al-Wahab in 18th century.
    Muslim: Name of a puritanical Muslim sect deriving its teachings from Ibn Hanbal, established in Arabia in the 18th C and the dominant sect in Saudi Arabia and some of the Gulf states.

    Native American/New Age: A vindictive spirit living in Superstition Mountain near El Centro, Calif.

    wahy (Arabic: "revelation")
    1. Muslim: Revelation, which can come only from prophets; as distinguished from ilham.
    2. Muslim: The revelation of the Qur'an to Muhammad by a kind of verbal/mental process of inspiration.
    Muslim: A religiously obligatory act.

    wakil (=wakkil; Arabic: "representative," "delegate", "mediator"; pl. wukala)

    wali (=wa'li, pl. awliya; Arabic)
    1. Muslim: A saint or holy person.
    2. Muslim: A friend or protector.
    3. Muslim (Iran): wali faqih denotes the leader of the jurists, a post established inthe Islamic Republic of Iran and first held by Ayatallah Khumayni.
    waqf (=wakf; Arabic: "pious endowment", "charitable endowment")
    1. Muslim: Endowment of property for religious purposes.
    2. Muslim: Money or property placed in trust, the income from which can be used for charitable purposes to benefit the community as a whole. Such purposes typically include the building and maintenance of mosques, schools and hospitals.
    Waraqa ibn Naufal
    A cousin of Muhammad's wife, Khadijah.

    Waqf al Arafa
    Muslim (holiday): Observed during Hajj when pilgrims pray for forgiveness and mercy.

    warith (Arabic: "inheritor")
    Muslim: Common (male) first name.

    wasan (Japanese)
    Buddhist: A song of praise composed in Japanese to extol a Buddha or Bodhisattva or a historical patriarch.

    wasi (Arabic: "guardian")

    Watch Night
    Christian (African-American; dates from 1863): An occasion to thank God for bringing people safely through another year.

    1. Taoist: One of the Five Elements that form physical and spiritual reality. Associated with kidneys, bladder, winter, salty, (the color) blue and black, Mercury and (the direction) North.
    2. xxxx

    wato (=Korean: Hwadu, Chinese: Huatou)
    Buddhist (Zen): The head word of a koan.

    wazir (=vizier, pl. wuzara; Arabic)
    Muslim: Chief minister of an Islamic government.

    Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
    Christian (North American?): An observance with prayer for the restoration of unity among Christian churches.

    Confucian: A key tenet, it refers to education, to learning the art of peace as opposed to war, and especially to the cultivation of music, poetry and painting.

    Wheel of Law
    Buddhist: This international symbol has eight spokes which symbolize the Eightfold Path. (See also Third section Glossary.)

    Scottish: Covenanter.
    English: Political party formed in late 1600s.

    white (color)
    Buddhist: Used to denote purity, reminiscent of a lotus rising untouched and luminous albeit from mud.

    White Tara
    Buddhist (Tibetan): The Mother of all the Buddhas; White Tara represents the motherly aspect of compassion. Her seven eyes (three on her face, one on the palm of each hand, and one on the sole of each foot) symbolize the vigilance of her compassion. Seated in the meditation posture, her right hand is in the gesture of supreme generosity and her left holds the lotus of compassion with the mudra of the three jewels (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha). White Tara brings the devotee long life and protects against all dangers.

    Whitsunday (=Whitsun)
    See Pentecost.

    whole track
    Scientologist: The whole span of the time track.

    New Age: Modern Witchcraft, called Wicca, is the most common expression of the religious movement known as Neopaganism. Wiccans focus their liturgy and worship around a Goddess and a God. Rituals and services are timed to the phases of the moon and to the Wheel of the Year (i.e. the solstices, equinoxes, and the days falling midway between these such as May Day and Halloween). The word witch comes from the Anglo-Saxon wicce, which in turn derives from an Indo-European root word meaning to bend or change or perform magic/religion. There are an estimated 200,000 Wiccans in the United States.

    wilaya (Arabic)
    1. Muslim: The state of being a wali.
    2. Muslim (Shi'ite): Refers to Ali.
    William of Volpiano
    Norman. 962-1031. Introduced ecclesiastical and monastic reforms.

    Christian: Symbolizes the Holy Spirit.

    Winter Lent
    Christian (Eastern Orthodox): Liturgical season of preparation for Christmas.

    wird (Arabic)
    Muslim (Shi'ite: Sufi): A Sufi litany.

    wisaya (Arabic: "testament")
    Muslim: Designation of Ali as executor of Muhammad's last will and testament.

    Christian (esp. Roman Catholic): A gift of the Holy Spirit.
    Christian: Sophia (see Hagia Sophia)xxxx.

    Scientologist: An acronym for World Institute of Scientology Enterprises.

    1. Common usage: An evil female dressed in black, often with a pointed black hat, black cape, black cat and/or broom. Example: The Wicked Witch in the film, "The Wizard of Oz." A common Halloween character.
    2. A human being, either male or female, who is believed to cause physical, psychological or spiritual harm to other humans or living beings by means undetectable to the naked eye.
    3. New Age: A man or woman who practices a life affirming, earth and nature-oriented religion honoring Divinity in female as well as (or instead of) male aspects, and practicing magic (or, magick). (See also Wicca).
    Performing magic.

    1. Scientologist: An overt a person has committed but is not talking about.
    2. Scientologist: An unspoken, unannounced transgression against a moral code by which a person was bound.
    World Communion Sunday
    Christian (Protestant; North American?): Observation of the unity of Christians as symbolized in celebration of the Eucharist.

    World Religion Day
    Baha'i: A day dedicated to the unity and oneness of all world religions.

    Ancient China: Part of a professional priesthood, experts in divination. Begun in Shang Dynasty. Other categories in priesthood: chu and shih.
    wudu (Arabic)
    1. Muslim:A purification rite of washing before one prays or reads the Qu'ran.
    2. Muslim (ritual): A purification ritual performed before salat.

    wukala (Arabic: pl. of wakil)
    Muslim: Refers to the representatives of the Twelfth Imam.

    wu-wei (Chinese)
    Taoist: The principle of nonaggression and pacifism; actionless action, positive non-doing, active non-acting.


    Muslim (American black): A double meaning --"ex" as in no longer what one was, and "X" as in an unknown quantity.
    Nation of Islam: The founder of the Nation of Islam considered the existing surnames of blacks to be white-imposed slave names. The X was chosen to represent a black person's lost, unknowable, original African name. When a second member of a particular Nation of Islam group with the same first name was deemed worthy of being honored with the symbolic last name, he would be called 2X and so forth. In some congregations there were as many as ten or more with the same first name, so a person might be called John 10X. This practice has fallen out of favor recently, with many Nation of Islam members choosing "Muhammad" as a last name.

    Xunzi (=Hsün-tzu)
    1. Confucian: The Chinese philosopher who developed a new version of Confucianism in the period 298-238 BCE.
    2. Confucian: A book with 32 chapters outlining the theories developed by Xunzi.

    Scientology : The head of the galactic federation.

    Xian (Chinese: "person in the mountains")
    Taoist: Pictogram denoting the philosopher-hermits of ancient China who developed the Tao.

    Xian Tao (Chinese: "The Way of the Xian")
    Taoist: The first strand of Taoism, dating from about 3000 BCE. The second is Tao Jia, and the third, Tao Jiao


    Jewish: The Latin alphabet transliteration of the Hebrew letters for the sacred name for the God of Israel. The actual pronunciation of the name is no longer known, because Jews have for many centuries regarded it as blasphemous to utter the name, and the original Hebrew script was written without vowels. However, an old Christian suggestion is "Jehovah" and a recent scholarly guess is "Yahweh" (see also Adonai).

    Hindu (ritual): xxxx.

    Buddhist (Tibetan): God of death, usually black in color.

    Yamim Nora'im (Hebrew: "Days of Awe")
    Jewish: The holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, considered together as a set.

    1. The positive or great energy force in nature; the complementary opposite of yin.
    2. The masculine force, associated with front (not back), light, hot, hard, dry, sky and sun.
    3. Taoist: Solar: warm, active, dynamic, creative, masculine.

    Norse/New Age: The name of the World Ash, the guardian tree of the Aesir. The "middle realm", where humans live, supported by a vast evergreen ash tree.

    1. The negative or passive force in nature; the complementary opposite of yang.
    2. The feminine force, associated with back (not front), dark, cool, soft, wet, earth and moon.
    3. Taoist: Lunar: cool, passive, tranquil, receptive, feminine

    1. The basic duality of complementary forces,
    2. A balance of positive and negative forces.
    yishuv (Hebrew: "settlement")
    Jewish: The Jewish community in Palestine and Israel.

    yoga (Sanskrit: "yoking")
    1. Generic meaning: Synonymous with path, practice, religion, etc.
    2. A set of exercises practiced either with the aim of physical benefits or spiritual emancipation.
    3. Disciplinary exercises or regimens for the sake of interior freedom or overall health.
    4. Hindu (post-classical): A philosophical system which teaches a dualistic worldview.

    1. A practitioner of yoga.
    2. Common usage: A (male) first name, esp. Yogi Berra.

    Yom ha-Din (Hebrew: "Day of Judgment")
    Jewish: A name for Yom Kippur assigned by rabbis of the Talmud.

    Yom ha-Kippurim (Hebrew: "Day of Atonement")
    Jewish: A name for Yom Kippur in the Torah.

    Yom Hashoah (=Holocaust Day)
    Jewish: The day to remember the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in 1933-45.

    Yom ha-Zikkaron (Hebrew: "Day of Remembrance")
    Jewish: A name for Rosh Hashanah assigned by rabbis of the Talmud.

    Yom Kippur (Heberew: "Day of Atonement")
    Jewish (holiday): The tenth day of Tishrei; a day of fasting and prayer which concludes the Ten Days of Remembrance which began with Rosh Hashanah.

    Yom Teru'ah (Hebrew: "day of blowing the shofar")
    Jewish: One of the three names for Rosh Hashanah in the Hebrew Bible; from Num. 29:1.

    Yom Tov (Hebrew)
    Jewish: A Holy Day.

    yongmaeng chongjin (Korean: "fearless practice")
    Buddhist (Zen): Intensive spiritual retreat.

    African ethnic group centered in southwestern Nigeria whose monotheistic worship centered on Olorun.

    Hindu (holiday):

    New Age: The winter solstice holiday is celebrated by Neopagans between 20-23 December. Decorations are holly, oak and mistletoe.

    I dance for birth, for the returning Sun
    and for the Earth in dawn beauty.
    Now the womb of night gives birth to life and light
    and all shall be renewed. It begins here, now.
    Womb of the night bring forth new life and light.
    -- Neopagan Yule chant


    zahir (Arabic: "outward")
    Muslim: One of the names of God is Al-Zahir.

    za'im (Arabic: "leader")
    Common usage (Lebanon): A notable person.

    zakat (Arabic: "alms")
    1. Common usage: Alms, charity.
    2. Muslim: The tax prescribed in the Qur'an; that is, compulsory charity.
    3. Muslim: One of the Five Pillars.
    4. Muslim: The alms-tax (usually 2.5% of net income) allocated by Muslims for the general welfare of the Muslim community and contributed by every believer as an obligatory religious duty. Wealth-sharing purifies the giver's wealth from greed and stinginess and reconciles the hearts of the recipients. (Qu'ran 9:60).
    Muslim (Shi'ite): The person who delivers majlis.

    Zarathushtra (=Zarathustra
    See Zoroaster.

    zawiya (pl. zawaya; Arabic)
    Muslim (Shi'ite: Sufi): A Sufi hostel and seminary.

    Zaydi (=Zayidiyah)
    1. Muslim (Shi'a): One of the schools of Islamic law.
    2. Muslim (Shi'a): A sect (principally in North Yemen) which considers Zayd b. Ali (d. 740 CE), the second grandson of Husayn, to be the fifth and final imam. Zaydiyah follow the Zaydi school of Islamic law and are found mainly in Yemen.

    zazen (=Chinese: zuochan)
    Buddhist (Zen): Sitting meditation.

    1. Common usage: Fanatic.
    2. Jewish: A political movement in ancient Israel drawn from various religious sects.
    Zen (Japanese: "meditiation"; =Korean: son; Chinese: chan; Sanskrit: dhyana; Pali: jhana)

    Zen Bhuddism (=Ch'an Buddhism)
    Buddhist (Mahayana): A sect, originating in Japan, which teaches that the real truth about life comes from intuitive flashes of insight. See Zen pages.

    Zhang Dao-Ling
    Taoist: Founder (2nd Century CE) of Tian Shi sect.

    Zhong Qiu Jie (Chinese)
    Chinese: See Moon Cake Festival.

    Zhong Yong (Chinese: "central" + "universal and harmonious")
    Taoist/Confucian: The concept of moderation in all things; finding a harmonious and balanced way of life and relationship with the universe.

    Zikhron Teru'ah (Hebrew: "day of the proclamation of a memorial with the blast of the shofar")
    Jewish: One of the names for Rosh Hashanah in the Hebrew Bible; from Lev. 23:24.

    zina ("adultery")


    Zohar (Aramaic: "splendor")
    Jewish: The name of the central text of Cabala, composed in Spain about 1280 CE.

    Zoroaster (=Zarathushtra)
    Zoroastrian: The founder of Zoroastrianism was born between 2000 and 1800 BCE in what is now western Iran. He saw Ahura Mazda (the One God), felt conscious of His presence, and heard His words, which are recorded in the five Songs or Poems he composed, called the Gathas.

    Zoroastrian: A monotheistic religion that emerged in what is now Iran some 4000 years ago. The scriptures, Avestan, were written in 21 books called the Nasks, of which only one complete Nask has survived to the present. Fire is the core symbol of the faith, acting as a focal point for prayers and signifying purity. The Parsis of/from India are descendants of Persian Zoroastrians who moved to the Indian subcontinent in the 10th Century CE. An estimated 12,000 Zoroastrians live in North America.

    Muslim: Appearance of the Mahdi.

    Muslim: Ali's sword (given by Muhammad to Ali)

    Zul-Hijja (Arabic)
    Common usage: Eleventh month of the Muslim calendar.

    Zul-Qa'da (Arabic)
    Common usage: Twelfth month of the Muslim calendar.

    zulm (Arabic: "oppression", "sin")

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