Copyright © 1999 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.
EDITORS’ NOTE: This online version of the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary is a work in progress. The manuscript, originally produced in the 1930s and ’40s, is currently being revised and expanded, and will be updated periodically. Comments, corrections, and suggestions are welcome; please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
For ease of searching, diacritical marks are omitted, with the exception of Hebrew and Sanskrit terms, where after the main head a current transliteration with accents is given.
Quick links: Aa-Adh | Adi-Ag | Ah-Al | Am-Ani | Anj-Arc | Ard-Asr | Ass-Atm | Ato-Az | Ba-Be | Bh-Bo | Br-Bz | Ca-Ce | Cha-Chy | Ci-Cz | Da-Der | Des-Dir | Dis-Dz | Ea-El | Em-Ez | F | Ga-Gl | Gn-Gz | Ha-Hh | Hi-Hz | I | J | Ka | Ke-Kz | Lo-Lz | Ma-Mam | Man-Mar | Mas-Me | Mi-Mo | Mp-Mz | Na-Ne | Nf-Nz | O | Pa-Peq | Per-Pi | Pl-Pral | Pram-Prj | Pro-Pz | Q-Rec | Red-Roos | Root-Rz | Sa-Sal | Sam-Saq | Sar-Sec | Sed-Sez | Sh-Sir | Sis-Som | Son-Sq | Sr-Sum | Sun-Sz | Ta-Tel | Tem-Thn | Tho-Tre | Tri-Tz | U | Va-Vih | Vij-Vz | W-X | Y | Z
ETG Main Page
List of Abbreviations
La and Laeti (Icelandic) [from la high water mark on the shore, used symbolically for blood, bloodline; laeti manner, including both appearance and sound] Skill and manner, also translated as blood and keen senses; the two qualities in human beings, bloodline, or in modern terms genetic heredity, and personality with the appearance and sound it presents, which are the gifts of Lodur (fire, vitality), the third member of the creative trinity which endowed humanity with its human and divine potential. The other two creative agents were Odin (air, spirit), and Honer (water, intelligence). The early humans were by them endowed with the properties of these three aspects of divine nature.
Labarum (Latin) Labaron (Greek) The standard carried by armies under the Christian Roman emperors, consisting of a pike from whose crossbar hung a silken banner bearing a crown of gold which enclosed the monogram made of the two first Greek letters of Christos. The banner was a modification of the original Roman banner, and the monogram was an ancient symbol used in the Mysteries, for instance in Egypt, where it was an emblem of Osiris and Horus ages before the Christian emperors. It is one form of the cross and circle, borrowed by the Christians and adapted to suit their purposes.
This symbol can be traced “from our modern cathedrals down to the Temple of Solomon, to the Egyptian Karnac, 1600 BC. The Thebans find it in the oldest Coptic records of symbols preserved on tablets of stone and recognize it, varying its multitudinous forms with every epoch, every people, creed or worship. It is a Rosicrucian symbol, one of the most ancient and the most mysterious. As the Egyptian Crux ansata, or that travelled from India, where it was considered as belonging to the Indian symbolism of the most early ages, its lines and curves could be suited to answer the purpose of many symbols in every age and fitted for every worship” (Some Unpublished Letters of Blavatsky 153-5).
Labyrinth [from Greek labyrinthos probably from laura crypt] The complex prison built for King Minos of Crete by Daedalus to house the Minotaur. Theseus succeeded in finding his way out with the aid of the thread given him by the king’s daughter, Ariadne. Symbolically, it may be the celestial labyrinth, into which the souls of the departed plunge, and also its earthly counterpart, as shown in the tortuous subterranean chambers in ancient Egypt, or similar constructions under temples in various ancient lands. These labyrinths also symbolized the races of mankind, and the succession of gods, demigods, and heroes who preceded mortal kings. These underground chambers in general were used as initiation chambers in the Mysteries, where candidates were taught by actual experience various truths regarding human destiny after death; hence there was an exact analogy between the physical construction of these chambers and the truths thus symbolized. The labyrinth therefore refers both to an inner and outer mystery. One of the coins unearthed at Knossos in Crete showed a diagram of such a maze, and this identical pattern, exact to the last important detail, has been found among the Pima Indians of Arizona (cf Theosophical Path, April 1925). Clearly its real significance was common knowledge to initiates in all parts of the world.
Concerning the labyrinth of ancient Egypt, “Herodotus, preserved for posterity the remembrance of that wonder of the world, the great Labyrinth. . . . Herodotus says that he found therein 3,000 chambers; half subterranean and the other half above-ground. ‘The upper chambers,’ he says, ‘I myself passed through and examined in detail. In the underground ones (which may exist till now, for all the archaeologists know), the keepers of the building would not let me in, for they contain the sepulchres of the kings who built the Labyrinth, and also those of the sacred crocodiles. The upper chambers I saw and examined with my own eyes, and found them to excel all other human productions’ ” (IU 1:522-3).
The series of chambers in the labyrinth was an attempt to portray in the Mysteries by means of a construction — whether subterranean or above ground — the peregrinations of the human monad in its postmortem destiny, as it wandered from chamber to chamber — from sphere to sphere or globe to globe — in the celestial spaces, finally returning to its point of departure, in this instance to human reimbodiment.
Lachesis (Greek) Lot, destiny; second of the three Moirae (Fates), represented in Greek mythology as allotting to each person the characteristics as well as the length of his life, measuring these by the thread which they spun. Lachesis measured the thread spun by her sister Clotho, which then was cut by Atropos. She is often represented as a maiden with a scroll or globe.
Ladder Used symbolically in many cultures, to represent a means of ascending or descending to different worlds or the structure of the universe. “The Brahmanical Ladder symbolises the Seven Worlds or Sapta Loka; the Kabalistical Ladder, the seven lower Sephiroth; Jacob’s Ladder is spoken of in the Bible; the Mithraic Ladder is also the ‘Mysterious Ladder.’ Then there are the Rosicrucian, the Scandinavian, the Borsippa Ladders, . . . and finally the Theological Ladder which, . . . consists of the four cardinal and three theological virtues” (TG 185).
Ladder of Life The system of hierarchies, all orders of worlds and beings from the highest to the lowest forming a regular graduated series like the rungs of a ladder or steps, which are like landing places in a continuous progress of evolution; they are temporary halting places of a monad descending and reascending through the planes between spirit at one end and matter at the other. The same sense is seen in the words scale [from Latin scala a flight of steps] and degree and grade [from Latin gradus step]. “From Gods to men, from Worlds to atoms, from a star to a rush-light, from the Sun to the vital heat of the meanest organic being — the world of Form and Existence is an immense chain, whose links are all connected” (SD 1:604). See also HERMETIC CHAIN
Lady of the Sycamore. See NEITH
Laeti. See LA
Lahash (Hebrew) Laḥash A whispering, sighing, or praying for help; magic, conjuration. Qabbalistically, the secret speech, “nearly identical in meaning with Vach, the hidden power of the Mantras” (SD 1:354).
Lahgash. See LAHASH
Lajja (Sanskrit) Lajjā Modesty, personified as the wife of Dharma and mother of Vinaya (good conduct, discipline), and the daughter of Daksha.
Lak (Hindi) [cf Sanskrit lakṣa] A hundred thousand.
Lakshana (Sanskrit) Lakṣaṇa Mark, sign, or symbol; the 32 lakshanas are the 32 bodily signs or marks of a buddha by which he is recognized.
Lakshmi (Sanskrit) Lakṣmī Prosperity, happiness; the Hindu Venus, goddess of fortune and beauty who sprang with other precious things from the foam of the ocean when churned by the gods and demons for the recovery of the amrita. She is variously regarded as the wife or sakti of several of the great gods, notably Vishnu.
Lalitavistara (Sanskrit) Lalitavistara A celebrated biography of Gautama Buddha by Dhrarmaraksha (308 AD); a Theravada work of the Mahasanghika school, written in Sanskrit.
Lama bla ma (Tibetan) Superior, excellent; equivalent to the Sanskrit guru. Correctly applied only to the ecclesiastical dignitaries of superior classes or grades, who really should be teachers or gurus in monasteries; also to such officials as the tulkus, the heads of the better class of large monasteries; also to the heads of the great monastic colleges, and likewise to monks who hold high scholastic degrees; other monks are usually called trapas (students).
Unfortunately, Occidental authors almost invariably designate any Tibetan monk a Lama, due largely perhaps to the improper assumption of the title by Tibetans themselves who have no right to use it, though they may belong to the lower ranks of the ecclesiastical hierarchy in Tibet. Hence the religion is commonly called Lamaism by European writers.
Lamech (Hebrew) Lemech In the Bible, a son of Methusael (a descendant of Cain), and also a son of Methuselah (a descendant of Seth) and the father of Noah (Genesis 4:18-24; 5:25-31). Genesis 4:16 through ch 5 “give purely historical facts; though the latter were never correctly interpreted. . . . Every woman is an euhemerized land or city; every man and patriarch a race, a branch, or a subdivision of a race. The wives of Lamech give the key to the riddle which some good scholar might easily master, even without studying the esoteric sciences” (IU 1:579).
The individuals in these archaic genealogies are at one time to be considered as men, at another time as races or subdivisions of races, while on a cosmic scale they stand for various spiritual powers or celestial energies imbodied in constellations of the zodiac; whereas their wives or consorts are equivalent to the Hindu saktis, their manifested powers, attributes, or faculties in, by, and through which they express themselves. Thus the wife of such an individual is not only his companion, but the veil, sheath, or garment which encloses him.
Lamech’s length of life is given as 777 years. As each patriarch represents in one sense a new race or subrace, the number of years refers to a cycle. In the signs of the zodiac, Lamech stands for Aquarius. Assigning each patriarch to one of the Sephiroth, Lamech represents the ninth, Yesod.
Lamiae (Latin from Greek) According to classical popular ideas, monsters with the head and breast of a woman and the body of a serpent, alluring and destructive to men; astral vampires haunting human beings of negative and sympathetic character. Also an elementary, an earth-bound astral sorcerer of either sex; in some cases the lamiae are the astral shells.
Such hybrid symbols may, like the Siren and the Lorelei, likewise signify the astral light and the temptations of the Hall of Delusion, or the incubi and succubi, originating in the Near East and distorted as entities by the monkish imagination of the Middle Ages.
Lamrin lam rim (Tibetan) Stages of the path; the name for a genre of Tibetan Buddhist literature. The most famous such work is Tsong-kha-pa’s Lam rim chen mo, which claims to be based on the earliest such work, the Bodhipathapradipa by Atisha (Dipamkara-shrijnana).
Land of the Eternal Sun From immemorial time mystics and occult philosophers have consistently taught of the existence of a land where the sunshine is perpetual, the abode of the gods whose particular function it is to oversee the destinies, not only of mankind, but of other hierarchical groups occupying the earth. Any attempt to fix a geographical locality as this land of the eternal sun has never been successful, for it is no geographical locality, but a region mystically said to be at the top of Mount Meru or the north pole of the earth.
There is a legend known in Tibet which places the mystical Sambhala not only on earth, but likewise upon Mount Meru, and again in the sun — implying a hierarchy of divine or spiritual beings existing in a threefold order, each order having its own stage or place in this scheme.
Lang. See LUNG
Language. See SPEECH
Lanka (Sanskrit) Laṅkā The ancient name of the island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The third root-race ended its career in that part of a continent which later became the Lanka of the Atlanteans. In the Ramayana it is described as of gigantic extent and magnificence, “with seven broad moats and seven stupendous walls of stone and metal.” Its foundation is attributed to Visvakarman, who built it for Kuvera, the king of the demons, from whom it was taken by Ravena, the great foe of Rama, hero of the Ramayana. The Bhagavata-Purana shows Lanka or Ceylon as primarily the summit of Mount Meru, which was broken off by Vayu, god of the wind, and hurled into the ocean.
Ceylon has become the seat of the Southern Buddhist Church, the Siamese Sect, the representation of the purest exoteric Buddhism outside of Tibet, the latter one home of the Mahayana school.
Lanoo A student; an accepted chela.
Laomedon (Greek) The legendary founder and king of Troy; son of Ilus and Eurydice, and father of Priam. Zeus compelled Apollo and Poseidon to assist Laomedon in building Troy. This story represents the founding of a Mystery school, although the veiled language used hides the real meaning (SD 2:795).
Lao-Tse or Lao-tzu (Chinese) One of the great teachers of China who appeared and taught some little time before Confucius began his career. Tradition has it that there was a meeting between Confucius and Lao-Tzu, and that the former referred to the latter as a dragon, an ancient mode of referring to a master of wisdom or initiate.
Although said to have written one thousand books “his great work, however, the heart of his doctrine, the ‘Tao-te-King,’ or the sacred scriptures of the Taosse, has in it, as Stanislas Julien shows, only ‘about 5,000 words,’ hardly a dozen of pages, yet Professor Max Muller finds that ‘the text is unintelligible without commentaries, so that Mr. Julien had to consult more than sixty commentators for the purpose of his translation,’ the earliest going back as far as the year 163 BC, not earlier, as we see. During the four centuries and a half that preceded this earliest of the commentators there was ample time to veil the true Lao-Tse doctrine from all but his initiated priests. . . . Tradition affirms that the commentaries to which our Western Sinologues have access are not the real occult records, but intentional veils, and that the true commentaries, as well as almost all the texts, have long since disappeared from the eyes of the profane” (SD 1:xxv).
Lapis Philosophorum. See PHILOSOPHER’s STONE
Lararium (Latin) A shrine for holding the lares (images of the household gods) and similar relics in the houses of ancient Romans. The lares are described as those parts of the human constitution left behind by the immortal monad after death, these remnants being of different classes because belonging to different planes. The Latins grouped them under three general planes: manes, lares, and lemures. The lemures were virtually the kama-lokic shades or shells, and so likewise were the larvae; the lares were at once the ancestral images in a family or of a city, and at the same time more mystically the quasi-personalized astral forces hovering around and thus becoming tutelary influences — a Roman belief difficult to describe; whereas the manes corresponded more closely to excarnate human monads. See also LARVA
Lares (Latin) [from Etruscan lars conductor, leader] The tutelary household deities, or godlings, regarded as the souls of deceased ancestors and represented by images kept in the lararium of the household and to which a portion of each meal was reserved. Such belief and practice are common among many peoples, an instance of a lofty teaching becoming misunderstood and thereby degraded into popular belief and often superstition. The original meaning of lares was the psycho-intellectual part of imbodied human beings, who therefore in a sense guide and protect mankind. Later in mythology they became mere ghosts or kama-rupic phantoms of a better and higher class than the larvae.
Larva (Latin) A ghost, phantom; used by certain Latin writers, such as Apuleius (2nd century), for the animal souls or astral-vital shells of deceased persons. Those shells which were more or less earth-bound and of grossly material character, and therefore baneful in their influence on living humans, were commonly called larvae, as distinguished from the lares, which were inoffensive or even friendly to the living. Larvae, therefore, are the astral and kamic remnants cast off by the disembodied ego in kama-loka, the shades or spooks, also including elementaries, all to be shunned by imbodied people, as they are without intelligence and conscience and invariably vampirize astrally and vitally those who give them the opportunity of doing so.
Last Judgment. See JUDGMENT, DAY OF
Latona (Latin) Equivalent of the Greek Leto; mother of Apollo and Artemis. Latona quarreled with Niobe, who taunted her with having only one son and one daughter, whereas she herself had seven sons and seven daughters. As a result, the 14 children were slain by Apollo and Artemis. Latona, geographically, represents the polar region and the former Hyperborean continent. Niobe is the Atlantean race, with its seven subraces and their seven branches; this race, falling into sin, is destroyed by Apollo and Artemis, deities of light; while an allusion to the Atlantean flood is seen in the copious tears of Niobe (SD 2:770). We see here how the keys to the Mysteries are made up into interesting stories, and thus repeated from age to age.
Laurentian Period. See GEOLOGICAL ERAS
Laws of Manu. See MANU, LAWS OF
Laya-center [from Sanskrit laya melting, dissolution, disappearance from the verbal root lī to dissolve, disintegrate, vanish away] A point of disappearance; a zero-point, or a point in substance where every differentiation has temporarily ceased; also the ultimate quiescent state: the nirvana of the seventh principle, the point at which primordial substance begins to differentiate and gives birth to the universe.
Matter in the laya-state is in its eternal and normal condition; when differentiated it is in an abnormal state — a phenomenon becoming a transitory illusion when perceived by the senses. “A laya-center is the mystical point where a thing disappears from one plane and passes onwards to reappear on another plane. It is that point or spot — any point or spot — in space, which, owing to karmic law, suddenly becomes the center of active life, first on a higher plane and later descending into manifestation through and by the laya-centers of the lower planes. In one sense a laya-center may be conceived of as a canal, a channel, through which the vitality of the superior spheres pours down into, and inspires, inbreathes into, the lower planes or states of matter, or rather of substance. . . .
“Finally, a laya-center is the point where substance rebecomes homogeneous. Any laya-center, therefore, of necessity exists in and on the critical line or stage dividing one plane from another. Any hierarchy, therefore, contains within itself a number of laya-centers” (OG 84-5).
The monad of a human being enters into manifested life through a solar laya-center which is the atman or universal spirit. Likewise the atmic plane of any being contains such a laya-center through which pour the forces from above.
“Dimensions or positions in space have nothing to do with it, because a laya-center is not of a physical and material nature. It is the disappearing-point for all things below it, and the entering-point for all things above it, for any one particular entity, be it an atom, a sun, a planet, a human being. . . .
“In speaking of the monad, we must not confuse it with the laya-center. . . . the neutral center, in matter or substance, through which consciousness passes — and the center of that consciousness is the monad” (Fund 375).
“A ‘neutral centre’ is, in one aspect, the limiting point of any given set of senses. Thus, imagine two consecutive planes of matter as already formed; each of these corresponding to an appropriate set of perceptive organs. We are forced to admit that between these two planes of matter an incessant circulation takes place; and if we follow the atoms and molecules of (say) the lower in their transformation upwards, these will come to a point where they pass altogether beyond the range of the faculties we are using on the lower plane. In fact, to us the matter of the lower plane there vanishes from our perception into nothing — or rather it passes on to the higher plane, and the state of matter corresponding to such a point of transition must certainly possess special and not readily discoverable properties” (SD 1:148).
Lay-chelas [from Greek laikos Latin laicus of the people + Sanskrit chela disciple] Coined by the Master KH who applied it to Sinnett and Hume in the same sense as in speaking of a lay preacher as contrasted with an officially ordained one. Such a chela has not entered upon the prescribed rules incumbent upon one formally accepted as a chela — nor is he even a probationary chela — but he has nevertheless by his devotion and study, by his own wish enrolled himself as member of the outer court, so to speak.
Lebanah (Hebrew) Lĕbānāh White; name for the moon used only in poetry, referring to the moon as a planet and astrological influence (TG 188).
Lebanon (Hebrew) Lĕbānōn A mountain range in Syria and Palestine of two principal chains, Lebanon or Libanus on the west and Antilibanus on the east. In this region dwell the brotherhood of the Druzes and likewise the Nabatheans. Lebanon is most often associated with its cedars; however, the phrase cedars of Lebanon also meant initiants who “were called the ‘trees of Righteousness,’ and the cedars of Lebanon, as also were come kings of Israel” (SD 2:494). In India too adepts of the right- and left-hand path were often called trees. It depended upon the tree which was selected as being beneficent or maleficent as, for instance, the upas tree of the left-hand, or the bodhi tree of the right-hand.
While the range of mountains in Syria and Palestine is called Lebanon (white), nevertheless there is a direct ancient mystical reference here to the moon or lunar influence; as a meaning of this range as envisaged by the ancient inhabitants would be the lunar range of mountains, points directly to esoteric observances connected with the moon and its malignant and unwholesome influences.
Leda (Greek) The wife of Tyndareus, king of Sparta, and mother of Clytemnestra, Helen, Castor, and Pollux by Tyndareus or Zeus or both (cf SD 2:121-3). In one allegory, Leda takes the form of a swan and, visited by Zeus in the form of a swan, lays two eggs, which connects her with Kala-hansa and similar mythologic birds. One allusion of the allegory is to the egg-born third root-race of mankind.
Left-hand Path or path of shadows, those taking it called in theosophy brothers of the shadow. One of the two fundamental paths or courses in nature, the left-hand path or path of matter in contrast to the right-hand path or path of spirit. Shadow signifies matter, for spirit may be considered to be pure energy, and matter, although essentially crystallized spirit, may be looked upon as the shadow world or vehicular world in which the energy, spirit, or pure light works. Matter is but a generalizing term, comprised of an almost infinite number of degrees of increasing ethereality from the grossest physical substance, or absolute matter, up to the most ethereal or spiritualized substance, providing the logic of calling this the path of shadows. Those on this path are often called black magicians in contrast to white magicians or sons of light who follow the path of self-renunciation, self-conquest, and an expansion of the heart, mind, and consciousness in love and service for all that lives.
A Sanskrit equivalent for the left-hand path is pratyeka-yana [from pratyeka every one for himself + yana path]. Those who follow this path are also called vamacharins, and their school or course of life is known as vamachara or savyachara. They follow the easy but perilous path leading downwards into ever more confusing, horrifying stages of matter and final spiritual obscuration and personal annihilation.
After death the lower classes of those on the left-hand path become the terrestrial or earthly elementaries. Cunning, low, vindictive, and seeking to retaliate their sufferings upon imbodied humanity, they become, until final annihilation, astral vampires, and therefore a constant psychic and even physical menace to those who open the doors of communication with them.
The higher classes of the brothers of the shadow, those who may be called spiritual sorcerers, mentioned in the New Testament as entities of spiritual wickedness, have a longer life period than have the lower classes. These spiritual sorcerers, depending upon the degree of unfolding of spiritual energy which they have attained and prostituted to evil uses, may even endure till the end of the globe manvantara, reincarnating themselves at repeated, rapid intervals; but their pathway is downwards into still deeper ranges of matter, and involves a progressively greater loss of inner spiritual light reaching them from their spiritual monad.
“Multitudes of human beings are unconsciously treading the Path of the Shadows, and in comparison with these multitudes it is relatively only a few who self-consciously lead and guide with subtle and wicked intelligence this army of unsuspecting victims of Maya. The Brothers of the Shadow are often highly intellectual men and women, frequently individuals with apparent great personal charm, and to the ordinary observer, judging from their conversation and daily works, are fully as well able to ‘quote scripture’ as are the Angels of Light!” (OG 22).
The warnings given to students of occultism about this matter have always been very solemn and urgent, and no one should at any moment consider himself safe or beyond the possibilities of taking the downward way until he has become at one with the divine monitor within, his own inner god. At every step, with every morn, at every choice, we face the right- or the left-hand path and are forced to choose.
Lehdaio (Gnostic) In the Nazarene and Bardesanian systems, the Son or formative Logos. Lord Mano, the chief of the middle triad or the Second Logos, is represented as the Lord of Celsitude, who produces Lehdaio, the Just Lord. Thus in the triads of logoi, Mano, Spiritus (equivalent to the Holy Ghost), and Lehdaio form the second trinity, analogous to the Christian Father, Mother, Son (IU 2:227).
Lemminkainen (Finnish) A hero of the Kalevala, the son of Lempi. He does battle with the serpent of Tuoni (death) in the Finnish version of the archaic tale, so common in ancient mythologies. Lemminkainen, however, does not slay the serpent, but conquers it by means of the magic words: “But the hero, quick recalling, speaks the master-words of knowledge, words that came from distant ages, words his ancestors had taught him, words his mother learned in childhood” (rune 26).
Of especial interest is the account of the hero’s journey to the regions of the dead (Tuonela), thence to bring back with him the black swan. He is sent thither with but one arrow and his bow; but he is unsuccessful in returning to the upper regions, owing to the fact that he does not know the magic words enabling him to counteract the bite of an adder from the Stream of the Dead. Similar to the Egyptian account in the story of Osiris, there is the plaint of the bereaved mother, the search for her son, and finally the recovery of the body of Lemminkainen, which had been severed into five pieces and cast into the river of death. The mother is unable to restore her son to life, however, even though with divine aid she was able to make the body whole and heal the wounds with balsam obtained by a honeybee (Mehilainen). Finally she instructs the bee how to fly to the greatest deity, Ukko, on the seventh heaven: by way of the moon and the Great Bear. The honeybee makes the fight successfully, returning with the life-giving essence (the balm of the Creator), and the mother brings her son back to life once more.
Lemnos A volcanic island in the Aegean Sea, formerly one of several places sacred to the kabiri, who were regarded as deities of the sacred cosmic fire; also sacred to Hephaestos.
Lemures (Latin) Shades of the departed; used in archaic Rome for a class of entities of the underworld or the astral light, in an inclusive sense embracing both kama-rupic shells, called larvae, and the higher portions of the human constitution which have separated from the shells and were called lares or manes.
Zoologists called the animal the lemur, on account of its nocturnal habits.
Lemuria The ancient continent, or system of continental masses, inhabited by the various races and subraces of the third root-race. The name was adopted by theosophists from certain European zoologists, especially Sclater and Haeckel, who gave that name to a hypothetical zoologic area or sunken continent in order to explain the distribution of certain animals, especially the lemurs.
Lemuria embraced large areas in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and at one time extended in a horseshoe around Madagascar and South Africa (then but a fragment), while Northern Lemuria stretched into the North Atlantic and sent an arm as far as Norway. A ridge in the Atlantic 9000 feet high, runs south from a point near the British Isles, slopes towards South America, then turns southeast toward the African coast, and thence to Tristan d’Acunha. It would be wrong, however, to suppose that the configuration of Lemuria was always the same; for secular changes are continually operating in all geologic epochs. At one time it covered the whole area from the foot of the Himalayas, westward to Hardvar, eastward to Assam, southward to Southern India and Sumatra, embracing Australia on one side and Madagascar on the other, reaching nearly to the Antarctic Circle; extending far into the Pacific to Easter Island. Its remains are seen in the numerous islands included in this area.
Lemuria, although submerged as a continental system, was not submerged as was Atlantis, but sank because of terrific seismic and volcanic activities lasting for ages. Its Atlantic portion was the geological basis for the succeeding continental system of Atlantis, which thus was rather a development of the Lemurian system than an entirely new and separate body of continental masses. See ROOT-RACE, THIRD
Leo The lion; the fifth sign of the zodiac (in Sanskrit Simha or Sinha). It is a masculine sign, fiery and fixed, corresponding in the human body to the heart and being the only house of the sun. Among the twelve sons of Jacob in the allocation according to the Hebrew system, it is Judah, who is described as a lion’s whelp. In respect to the hierarchy of creative powers, “The highest group is composed of the divine Flames, so-called, also spoken of as the ‘Fiery Lions’ and the ‘Lions of Life,’ whose esotericism is securely hidden in the Zodiacal sign of Leo. It is the nucleole of the superior divine World. . . . They are the formless Fiery Breaths, identical in one aspect with the upper Sephirothal Triad, which is placed by the Kabalists in the ‘Archetypal World’ ” (SD 1:213).
In the Brahmanical zodiac Simha is dedicated to soma, the moon. Of two synonyms for Simha — Panchasyam and Hari — the first indicates that it represents the five Brahmas or Buddhas; and the second shows it to be Narayana, the Jivatman, or Pratyagatman, which the Advaitins regard as identical in essence with paramatman, and as the son of paramatman. This is the true cosmic christos, in which the elements of the phenomenal universe have only a potential existence, being combined into a unity, or indeed into a single cosmic entity.
The lion also is one of the four sacred animals, equivalent to the four Maharajas, represented as being situated in the four corners of the cosmos.
Lethe (Greek) Forgetfulness; a river of the Underworld which confers upon souls destined to live again on earth the boon of oblivion of their former experiences. It refers to the postmortem destiny of the human soul as it sinks into its pre-devachanic unconsciousness and final carefree devachanic bliss, thus gaining oblivion of inferior human concerns and utter peace before the time comes for the resumption of new bodies on earth. Also it refers to the loss of memory of the postmortem experiences and prebirth panoramic vision before birth.
Leto. See LATONA
Levanah. See LEBANAH
Leviathan (Hebrew) Liwĕyāthān Foldings, turnings, windings, hence whatever is infolded or wound. Mystically time as the great serpent of cyclic or circling time, likewise space and the various phenomena that happen in space such as the turnings and windings of forces as manifested by electricity in lightning or thunderbolt. Ancient Hebrew Biblical esotericism made of Leviathan a great sea monster, with particular reference to the waters of space. In its exalted sense it means the cycling and everlasting motion of divinity in duration and in abstract space; its concrete or lowest aspect signifies the apparently unregulated, winding, turbulent forces of the material worlds — also inimical forces which seem antagonistic to the spiritual and intellectual balance of him who strives upwards. One significance was that of a great serpent or crocodile — it is sometimes compared to the Hindu Makara; another is “Deity in its double manifestation of good and evil” (TG 188).
In the Siphra’ Di-Tseni‘uthah Leviathan is described as the serpent which runs with 370 leaps and holds its tail in its mouth. Here there is a very evident reference to the cycling in time and space, and the 360 degrees or points, both of time and space, with an added 10 degrees or points implying the inauguration or beginning of a new cycle after the old one is ended. The tail in the mouth signifies unending cyclic time. Once in a thousand years, a revolution in its joints takes place, and its head is broken in the waters of the ocean.
Levitation [from Latin levis light in weight] The act of rising in the air at will or unconsciously, in opposition to gravitation. However, theosophy does not view gravitation in the Newtonian sense, but sees in it magnetic attraction and repulsion. Levitation is due to a change in the polarity of a body becoming identical with the polarity of the earth on which the body rests, which then repels the body or ceases to attract it. The height attained being dependent upon the strength or potentiality of the electric polar energy resident in the rising body. It is possible, and indeed easy, for the adept to change the polarity of his body at will.
In ancient Greece levitation was called aithrobates (from which aethrobacy), meaning the art of walking in the ether or air.
Lha hla (Tibetan) God, deity, equivalent to the Sanskrit deva.
Lhagpa hlag pa (Tibetan) In Tibetan astrology and mysticism the planet Mercury, symbolized by a hand. His solar house is Gemini, which signifies the arms and hands; like them he stands for action and executive skill. Equivalent to the Sanskrit Budha. Also Wednesday.
Lhakhang lha khang (Tibetan) God-house; a temple or image hall; a crypt, especially a subterranean temple.
Lhamayin lha ma yin (Tibetan) Non-deity, not a deity; equivalent to the Sanskrit asura. A class of elemental beings or nature spirits corresponding to the various elemental sprites of the lower planes, such as the terrestrial. The lhamayins in popular Tibetan folklore are considered demons and devils, but esoterically they are a class of beings one step higher than the terrestrial sphere (SD 2:63).
Lhasa or Lhassa lha sa (Tibetan) [from lha gods + sa place] Place of the gods, equivalent of the Sanskrit deva-bhumi. The capital city of Tibet, situated on the banks of an important tributary of the Tsang-po River; hither converged trade routes from Turkestan, Siberia, Mongolia, China, and India, as well as from the other parts of Tibet. Though called the Forbidden City, it was only so to Europeans, very few of whom were ever permitted to penetrate into the interior of Tibet. As well as being the most flourishing and prosperous city, it was the abode of the Dalai Lama and his government before the conquest of Tibet by the Chinese. Before it became the capital, Lhasa was apparently known as Ra-sa, “place of the goats.”
Lhy. See LI
Li (Chinese) The third and principal of the four cardinal virtues, embracing observance of all the duties imposed by the religious, social, and ethical rules for human life — the tao of man. “The li then positively have their origin in the Great Universum, which, dividing itself, became Heaven and Earth, and, revolving, is the Yin and the Yang. . . . Therefore the meaning of the term li is ‘chief principle of Man.’ It is through the li that Man speaks the truth and cultivates concord” (Li yun 4).
Liberalia (Latin) Festivals in honor of the Roman deities Liber and Libera — connected with the Greek Bacchus and Persephone — celebrated on March 17th of their calendar.
Liberation In theosophy, freedom from conditioned existence; in its strictest sense the state of a monad which has become the Brahman of its hierarchy, and therefore is free, released, perfected — a jivanmukta — for what seems to us an eternity. Synonymous with moksha, nirvana, emancipation.
Liberation of the self from the causes of illusion is sometimes spoken of in relation to the seven sensitive and sensory veils, especially with reference to the human manas principle. Emancipation consists in recognizing that these veils, of which the lower four are by far the most illusory, are the perceivers, and that the function of the true self is those higher faculties which collate and discriminate among perceptions of all kinds and which reach final and true judgment. The self sees or ascertains truth; the veils perceive and are caught by the webs of illusion. The one who has achieved this is said to have attained the fire of knowledge, which destroys not only illusion but even destroys the causes leading to the planes of illusion. Vishnu, among the Vaishnavas in India, and Siva among the Saivas, or indeed of any other divinity, can be considered the cause of final emancipation when used for the true self, exactly as Christians may claim with perfect truth that the Christ (in man) is the shower of final emancipation. The successive emancipation from the seven veils marks seven stages of initiation. Buddhi, from this standpoint the highest, most diaphanous, and therefore the closest to reality of the veils, is said to be transformed into the tree whose fruit is emancipation.
Libra A balance; the scales, the seventh sign of the zodiac. In astrology a masculine, airy cardinal sign, the chief house of Venus; its bodily correspondence being the loins and adjacent organs.
The three signs Virgo-Libra-Scorpio were formerly represented by one sign, Virgo-Scorpio, so that originally the zodiac exoterically consisted of ten signs; and then two secret signs were added, thus making the present zodiac of twelve signs or houses. This was done by dividing this sign into Virgo and Scorpio and placing between them the balancing sign Libra, said to have been invented by the Greeks. The Hindu zodiac also has the sign Tula (balance) in this position, presided over by Kuvera, ruler of the Underworld. As said by Subba Row, this sign prepares the way for the earthly Adam to become Nara (spiritual man).
In the system of the twelve sons of Jacob, Asher is assigned to Libra. Libra marks the autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere and one of the two beginnings of the Jewish year. Libra is also equated with Enoch and Hermes (IU 2:463).
Lif and Lifthrasir (Icelandic) [from lif to live, live on, remain (when others are gone on); lifthrasir tough, hard to kill from thrasir sturdy one] Life, and survival; in the Norse Edda, the enduring life principles of the human race which live on after the end of the world, “concealed in the memory hoard of the sun (Hoddmimir’s holt): morning dew is their food, and from them will be born ages to come” — when the world is reborn.
In this allegory life (or the monadic lives) remains sleeping during the cosmic, solar, or planetary pralayas, manifesting again when the periods of activity recommence. Also applied to racial cycles (TG 188).
Life Life per se is conscious, substantial, spiritual force, manifesting in myriad ways as the various lives and as forms of energy, whether macrocosmic, microcosmic, or infinitesimal. Force and substance, or life, are essential aspects of universal reality which in its highest is termed cosmic life-substance-intelligence. As there is a vast scale of substance-forces existing in all-various degrees of ethereality, so “there is life per se, in individuals manifesting as a vital fluid belonging to each one such grade or stage or plane of material manifestation — and these vital fluids in their aggregate form what we may call the Universal Life, manifesting in appropriate form on any one plane and functioning therefore through the various matters of that plane” (ET 216 3rd & rev ed).
Life as an entity or process is all that is, the basis or essence of all that is — beginningless and endless. It is the spiritual electricity, or the vital svabhava, of the monad, which it pours forth out of itself and thus produces the individual characteristics of every entity, celestial or terrestrial. As the divine monad is a breath of pure spirit, pure consciousness, life may be called the innumerable manifold phases of consciousness in time and space. “Consciousness is the Originant, and this Originant by its own inherent powers and energies, faculties and attributes, produces life out of itself: not at any one time specifically, but continuously forever, and coincidentally with its own existing duration. Consciousness and life together originate and produce thereafter from themselves what men call the manifestations of force or energy, which in its turn deposits or lays down, so to say, the matters and substances of the Universe, much as wine will deposit its lees” (ET 399 3rd & rev ed).
Instead of life and death, birth and death are opposites, being different phases of life. See also JIVA; PRANA
Life-atom In theosophical literature, the vital ensouling power or vital entified unit in every primary or ultimate physical particle, itself a vital quasi-conscious individualized vehicle of the spiritual monad or highest consciousness-center. A life-atom is not the physical atom of science, which is but the vehicle or garment of the former, compounded of physical or physical-astral matter only. This being so, an atom decomposes when its term of expression on this plane is ended, but it reimbodies itself again, doing so by the innate force or life which its ensouling monad (life-atom) radiates. The term does not mean the ultimates or primary particles of prana (life principle or life force). Prana, itself derivative from the jiva, is as an entity quite distinct from the atoms it animates. The physical atoms belong to the lowest or grossest state of matter on our plane, while jiva essentially is an emanation or outpouring from atman or paramatman.
“Life is ever present in the atom of matter, whether organic or inorganic, conditioned or unconditioned — a difference that the occultists do not accept. Their doctrine is that life is as much present in the inorganic as in the organic matter: when life-energy is active in the atom, that atom is organic; when dormant or latent, then the atom is inorganic” (BCW 5:111-12).
Life-atoms may indeed be called the building blocks of the universe or of any imbodied entity: for they are in very truth the vehicles of universal life. They are composite of consciousness in the core of the core of each, and they manifest spontaneously in that form of consciousness which at times is called will and at other times force or energy. They partake of spirituality and remain ever invisible: physical atoms group and form around them and their aggregation results in physical matter, the life-atoms being to them very much as higher and invisible principles.
Life-atoms may be said to belong to all planes, functioning within each of the seven principles of which the human composition is built: thus we may speak of divine life-atoms, spiritual life-atoms, intellectual, psychic, vital, astral, and physical life-atoms. During man’s life those which are intimately connected with an individual are in a state of constant flux and reflux, entering and leaving in unceasing rhythms the body of their owner or host; but after death the dominant controlling factor having departed from the lower planes, each group of life-atoms proceeds to peregrinate throughout their respective natural habitats. Thus when the physical body dies, the life-atoms of the body go into the soil, into plants, or into the bodies of beasts or men — through food or by osmosis, or in breathing creatures through the air that is inspired or expired — they are drawn to bodies by magnetic sympathy. This transmigration of the life-atoms is the origin of the theories of the transmigration of the human soul into beasts after death.
The life-atoms belonging to the astral plane which make up the linga-sarira or model-body of men and beasts, are also liberated at death and follow along the same general lines as the physical life-atoms: they find their way into and out of other astral vehicles with which they are in magnetic sympathy. In this way they help form the astral vehicles of individuals of the three lower kingdoms as well as of the beast and human kingdoms. In similar manner peregrinate the psychic, intellectual, spiritual, and divine life-atoms. In order that the spiritual monad may proceed on its afterdeath journey, all sheaths of the spiritual consciousness must be dropped on their appropriate planes, thus finally permitting the spiritual ego to pursue its upward and inward journey unhampered by the attractions to the lower planes which these life-atoms bring about.
“The life-atoms are actually the offspring or the off-throwings of the interior principles of man’s constitution. It is obvious that the life-atoms which ensoul the physical atoms in man’s body are as numerous as the atoms which they ensoul; and there are almost countless hosts of them, . . . in practically incomputable numbers. Each one of these life-atoms is a learning entity, an evolving entity, a being which is living, moving, growing, never standing still — evolving towards a sublime destiny which ultimately becomes divinity” (OG 87).
During this evolutionary journey it passes from unself-consciousness through manifold and all-various stages of experience to self-consciousness, finally merging into divinity. When this last stage is reached it is no longer an unself-conscious god-spark but a self-conscious god, one of the co-laborers and collaborators in the great work of the building of the worlds.
Life-fluid Used for Dr. Richardson’s nervous ether and similar theories. If life is merely a property of matter, instead of matter in all its innumerable phases and densities being the productions of life, those materialists who wish to regard life as something more than a mere attribute, may posit a life-fluid, that moves “dead matter.” The hypothesis of a single life-fluid, however, is elementary in comparison with the Indian systems of psychophysiology, which divide prana into numberless vital currents, having various functions, pervading particular organs. All of these are modes or differentiations of vital cosmic electricity; and like other forms of electricity, they are each on its own plane atomic, so they may be viewed as currents of life-atoms. They follow the laws impressed on them by the linga-sarira and form a hierarchical system with master-centers and subordinate ones. At dissolution, when the linga-sarira is withdrawn, the life-atoms pass to other planes or lokas, according to their several affinities.
Life of Brahma. See BRAHMA’s DAY
Life-thread. See SUTRATMAN
Life-wave Each of the different classes or hosts of monads, whether considered as seven, ten, or twelve. Each class consists of monads in seven, ten, or twelve degrees of advancement. The ten classes or life-waves comprise three elemental, the mineral, the vegetable, the animal, the human, and three dhyan-chohanic kingdoms. When the hosts of beings forming a life-wave — entities derived from a former, now-dead planet — feel the impulse arriving for them to enter on their further evolutionary course, they cycle from globe to globe in regular serial order along the entire planetary chain which has been prepared for them by the three classes or hosts of elementals, who may be regarded as the predecessors of the life-waves, or as forming part of them. Each life-wave passes seven times around the seven spheres of the planetary chain, at first during our round cycling down the shadowy arc until the evolutionary bottom of the movement is attained during the middle of the fourth round, and then rising along the luminous arc, such round therefore passing through all the seven elements of the cosmos; each entity, whether divine, spiritual, mental, psychic, astral, and even physical, continuously progressing through the seven cosmic elements towards the source from which the life-wave started. The life-waves follow one another in the order named from globe to globe of the chain; but during the course of the ascent up the luminous arc, and before the seventh globe is reached, the law of retardation operates on the lower kingdoms in such fashion that all the seven classes complete their round more or less at the same time on the last globe. This constitutes a chain-round, and is followed by a chain minor nirvana. The time period during which the life-wave completes its evolution through seven root-races on one globe of the chain is a globe-round.
The terms rounds, races, and life-waves may apply to still greater evolutionary circulations, pertaining to the solar system as a whole, and even to the galaxy.
Life-winds. See PRANA
Light Light ranges from the arcana of cosmic being to the physical light that turns the vanes of some scientific mill. As the opposite of darkness, evil, ignorance, sleep, and death, it signifies wisdom, goodness, and life. In one sense it is a permutation of mulaprakriti, and as such is that root-substance which can never become objective to mortals in this race or round. It is objective only in relation to that Darkness which is absolute Light. Otherwise it includes both spirit and matter. Three kinds are enumerated: the abstract and absolute, which is darkness; the light of the unmanifest-manifest or Second Logos; and the latter reflected in the dhyani-chohans, minor logoi, and thence shed upon the lower and more objective planes. In a high aspect, it is daiviprakriti or the light of the Logos, the synthesis of the seven cosmic forces; descending through the planes of manifestation, it condenses into forms; physical matter itself is a condensation of light. Through light everything is thus brought into being. Being a root of mental self, it also therefore is the root of physical self (SD 1:430).
Light does not necessarily imply heat, as heat is one of the effects produced by the action of light on matter. The term cool radiance has its physical application in the light of phosphorescence. Light becomes relative on manifested planes, its correlative being darkness, which to other beings may be light, while our light may be their darkness. Again, what is light to beings on a higher plane of perception, may be darkness to us, because it does not impress our senses.
Light-bearer, Light-bringer A title given since immemorial time and in most civilized countries to anyone who brings light to others, such as Lucifer or Prometheus. The planet Venus is said to be the light-bearer of our earth, in both its physical and mystic sense (SD 2:33).
Light of the Logos. See DAIVIPRAKRITI
Lights The formative or creative radiations or rays through the hierarchies of beings descending in serial order down even to physical light. Physical light is the distant reflection on our plane of the spiritual light emanating from the collective group of the Lights and the Flames. Again, the Qabbalah speaks of six lights emanating from the Crown or Kether.
Lila (Sanskrit) Līlā Sport, diversion, pastime; in Hindu scriptures the acts of divinity, such as the creation or emanation of worlds, are called lila.
Lilalohita. See NILALOHITA
Lilatu. See LILITH
Lilin (Chaldean) Līlīn In the Hebrew Qabbalah, a name for those general classes of astral and semi-astral entities who in the early times of the human race, notably during the third root-race, were the offspring of unconscious sorcery arising in intercourse between the unconscious mankind of those times and astral or semi-astral entities lower than man. For this reason in the Qabbalah they are inaccurately but graphically called demons. Referred to as children of Lilith and their descendants.
Lilith (Hebrew) Līlīth [from layil night] In popular Jewish legend a female demon, commonly but erroneously supposed to be nocturnal, counterpart of the Babylo-Assyrian Lilit or Lilu. In Rabbinical writings Lilith is the first consort or wife of the mindless Adam, and it was from the snares of Eve-Lilith that the second Eve, the woman, become his savior (IU 2:445).
“The numberless traditions about Satyrs are no fables, but represent an extinct race of animal men. The animal ‘Eves’ were their foremothers, and the human ‘Adams’ their forefathers; hence the Kabalistic allegory of Lilith or Lilatu, Adam’s first wife, whom the Talmud describes as a charming woman, with long wavy hair, i.e., — a female hairy animal of a character now unknown, still a female animal, who in the Kabalistic and Talmudic allegories is called the female reflection of Samael, Samael-Lilith, or man-animal united, a being called Hayoh Bishah, the Beast or Evil Beast. (Zohar, ii, 255, 259). It is from this unnatural union that the present apes descended” (SD 2:262).
Lilith or the Liliths in the common Talmudic idea are nocturnal specters or female creatures usually appearing at night and haunting human beings. The Rabbis describe these entities as having the female form, as being elegantly dressed, and as lying in wait for children by night. These Jewish fables,which have direct reference to female elementaries and other denizens of the astral light, and correspond to the Roman and Greek empusas, stringes, and lamiae; the Arabian ghulah (masculine ghul), entities of monstrous character dwelling in the sandy deserts, awaiting men and destroying them if possible; and to the Hindu pramlocha, khados, and dakinis.
Limbo or Limbus [from Latin limbus border] The fringe of hell, according to the Scholastic conception, which was used by Dante and Milton in their epics. In patristic theology, it was regarded as a place for the souls of people who had lived before Christ, or imbeciles and unbaptized infants. Also in some churches it is regarded as a kind of purgatory or waiting place for the soul after death. Similar to kama-loka.
Limbs The Qabbalah speaks of the limbs of Microprosopus, of ’Adam Qadmon (the Heavenly Man), and of the Sephiroth. In Hindu writings, especially the Puranas, the beings created from the limbs of Brahma remain without progeny, whereas his mind-born sons become the creators. In Egyptian mythology Osiris-Ptah or Ra creates his own limbs by creating the gods destined to personify his phases.
Limbus Major (Latin) [from limbus border + major great] Used by Paracelsus for the fundamental matter from which all creatures have sprung — Adam’s Earth. He also applied it to the manifestation of that primordial substance in each one of the creatures.
Line Stages of evolutionary development in cosmic manifestation are sometimes symbolized by the geometrical forms point, line, plane, solid, corresponding to unit or monad, duad, triad, and quaternary. Lines are therefore rays proceeding from an egoic center, and represent cosmic forces and, on the lower planes, the forces familiar in physics. These are dual, bipolar. In geometric symbols, lines may be combined, as for instance in the cross, where common agreement makes the vertical line masculine, the horizontal feminine; or in triangles, where the side lines and the base line each have its particular meaning. A line drawn in physical space may be regarded as a symbol for a real line, but to comprehend what the latter is, we must abstract the idea from all notions of physical space.
Linga (Sanskrit) Liṅga The phallus; in ancient India, the symbol of abstract creation. Force becomes the linga or organ of creation only on this earth. With the ancient Aryans the significance was grand, sublime, and poetical — and these views of this symbol were those of the whole archaic pagan world. The idea of creative power or force was divine, and much of this same spirit of abstract reverence prevails even today in India. It was the sacred symbol of cosmic productive and regenerative power, whose multimyriad activities are manifest in universal nature and thus it was that in the small or concrete, as well as in the great or abstract, the idea was discovered and the spiritual aspect of the matter was dominant. Hence, the linga was made a symbol of Siva, and of every other creative god. The linga (symbol of creative activity) and yoni (symbol of generative or productive activity) of Siva worship, stand too high philosophically in their original significance, its modern degeneration notwithstanding, in any wise to be called phallic worship, where the spiritual has been dragged down to become the animal, the sublime into the grossness of the terrestrial.
Linga Purana (Sanskrit) Liṅga Purāṇa One of the 18 principal Puranas, in which Siva, supposed to be present in the Agni-linga (great fiery phallus) gives an account of the formation of the worlds and the objects of life. It also contains mythologic accounts of Siva’s incarnations as avataras.
Linga-sarira (Sanskrit) Liṅga-śarīra [from liṅga characteristic mark, model, pattern + śarīra form from the verbal root sri to moulder, waste away] A pattern or model that is impermanent; the model-body or astral body, only slightly more ethereal than the physical body; the second principle in the ascending scale of the sevenfold human constitution. It is the astral model around which the physical body is built, and from which the physical body flows or develops as growth proceeds. “These astral realms are not one single plane, but a series of planes growing gradually more ethereal or spiritual as they approach the inward spheres of Nature’s constitution or structure. The Linga-sarira is formed before the body is formed, and thus serves as a model or pattern around which the physical body is molded and grows to maturity; it is as mortal as is the physical body, and disappears with the physical body” (OG 88), dissolving atom by atom with the atoms of the physical corpse.
The linga-sarira has great tensile strength. It changes continuously during a lifetime, although these changes never depart from the fundamental human type or pattern, just as the physical body alters every moment. It also possesses the ability to exteriorize itself to a certain distance from its physical encasement, but in no case more than a few feet. It is composed of electromagnetic matter, which is somewhat more refined than the matter of our physical body. The whole world was composed of such matter in far past ages before it became the dense physical sphere it now is. After long ages the astral form had evolved and perfected, so that it has the form that the human races had during the early period of the third root-race — a more or less materialized concretion of the still more ethereal astrals of the first and second root-races. After another long period, during which the cycle of further descent into matter progressed, the gradually thickening astral form oozed forth from itself a coat of skin, corresponding to the Hebrew allegory of the Garden of Eden. Thus the present physical flesh-form of mankind appears.
The astral form sustains and permeates the body, containing the real or causal organs corresponding to the physical outer sense organs. It has its own complete system of nerves and arteries for conveying the various astral auric fluids, which are to that body as our blood, nervous energy, and pranic currents are to the physical. Hence, the linga-sarira is the real personal body.
Amongst others of its functions, it automatically registers and retains all the effects, including the physical memories, of earth-life, and thus automatically and of necessity repeats after death, in accordance with its limited powers, what the person knew, said, thought, and saw during life. If properly understood, the workings of the linga-sarira during life would give the key to many of what are now called the mysteries and problems of psychological and physiological science.
Lion In Christian mystical thought one of the four sacred animals of the Bible, associated with the evangelist Mark and, as in the mystical thought of other peoples, representing intense energy, sometimes undaunted courage, and occasionally the solar fire. The lion was a favorite symbol with the ancients, for instance with the Chaldeans, and as a leitmotif of Chaldean art is found extensively. It is also found frequently on Gnostic gems and as emblem and as symbol among the ancient Mithraists, where the lion was one of the stages of instruction and initiation.
“’Over the seven rays of the lion’s crown, and corresponding to their points, stand, in many cases, the seven vowels of the Greek alphabet ΑΕΗΙΟΥΩ, testifying to the Seven Heavens.’ This is the Solar lion and the emblem of the Solar cycle . . .” (SD 2:564).
The lion is also Leo, one of the twelve signs of the zodiac.
Lingha(m). See LINGA
Lipika (Sanskrit) Lipika [from the verbal root lip to write] A scribe; divine beings connected with karma, recorders who impress on the astral light a record of every act and thought, great or small, in the phenomenal universe. The lipika are active cosmic karmic intelligences, the highest class of architects, which lay down from manvantara to manvantara the tracks of karmic evolution to be followed by all evolving entities within the manvantara about to begin; and these tracks are rigidly begun, and their direction controlled, by the endpoint of the paths of karmic achievement in the preceding manvantara. They “project into objectivity from the passive Universal Mind the ideal plan of the universe, upon which the ‘Builders’ reconstruct the Kosmos after every Pralaya, . . . it is they who are the direct amanuenses of the Eternal Ideation — or, as called by Plato, the ‘Divine Thought’ ” (SD 1:104). The lipika thus are in every sense the agents of karmic destiny, for they are both the vehicles of divine ideation in their work, and yet the expressions of karmic law arising in the past and projected on the background of the future. Their intelligence and vitality permeate their particular universe and all the beings in it, so that the lipikas are stamped with whatever takes place.
The lipikas are among the very highest classes of dhyani-chohans or cosmic spirits in the universe; as entities, they may be thought of as acting from the highest plane of our chain of globes. In a sense they connect, karmically, the planes of pure spirit with those of matter, the cosmically vast with the manifested. These recorders of and in the karmic ledger of the solar system mark the distinctive barrier between the personal ego and the impersonal self, which latter is the noumenon and parent-source of the former. Hence the allegory that they circumscribe the manifested world of matter within the Ring-pass-not — a mystical way of saying that they karmically circumscribe the limits of manifestation of the worlds of matter within the limits of karmic achievement for the evolving beings, and these limits form the Ring-pass-not.
Because of their lofty position, they are identified with the universal intelligence, as its immediate vehicles or channels. Thus they are not only the channels but the imbodiments of karma, and therefore not only the interpreters or agents of karma, but the recorders or scribes upwards into cosmic ideation of whatever takes place on lower planes. Their function is thus dual: imbodiments, channels, or interpreters of karma to be worked out in the universe in which the lipikas function, and thus agents of cosmic ideation; and second, as the scribes or recorders of the innumerably multitudinous karmic records of the beings below themselves.
The lipikas correspond to the Egyptian forty Assessors of Amenti, to the four Recording Angels of the Qabbalah, the Hindu four Maharajas and chitra-gupta, the Christian seven Angels of the Presence, and to the Book of Life of Revelations. They are directly connected with karma, with the Day of Judgment, or the Day-Be-With-Us, when everything becomes one, all individualities becoming one, yet each knowing itself.
Liquor Amnii A serous liquid which appears early and freely in the development of the embryo. Concerning the analogy between the formation of the human body and that of a planet: “This mysterious process of a nine-months’ formation, the Kabalists call the completion of the ‘individual cycle of evolution.’ As the foetus develops amidst the liquor amnii in the womb, so the Earths germinate in the universal ether, or astral fluid, in the womb of the Universe” (SD 2:188).
Liquor Vitae (Latin) Life-fluid; used by Paracelsus to describe the life principle in the nerves, apparently the same as prana or Dr. B. W. Richardson’s nervous ether. Prana is but a generalizing term for the five or seven distinct pranas which collectively form the life principle or vital essences in the human constitution.
Lithos, Lithoi (Greek) Stone monuments in Egypt, at Carnac in Brittany, and elsewhere, with symbolic markings on them. Those of archaic age were set up by the last subrace of the Lemurians, who lived until late in Atlantean times, and by the late subraces of the Atlanteans as well as by early races of the present fifth root-race.
Living Buddhas. See TULKU
Living Dead “Soulless” persons rather than lost souls; a term originating with Pythagoras. The numerous class of people who live wholly in the sense-life and drift along, their higher nature dormant.
Top of File
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
BCW - H. P. Blavatsky: Collected Writings
BG - Bhagavad-Gita
BP - Bhagavata Purana
cf - confer
ChU - Chandogya Upanishad
Dial, Dialogues - The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, ed. A. L. Conger
Echoes - Echoes of the Orient, by William Q. Judge (comp. Dara Eklund)
ET - The Esoteric Tradition, by G. de Purucker
FSO - Fountain-Source of Occultism, by G. de Purucker
Fund - Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, by G. de Purucker
IU - Isis Unveiled, by H. P. Blavatsky
MB - Mahabharata
MIE - Man in Evolution, by G. de Purucker
ML - The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, ed. A. Trevor Barker
OG - Occult Glossary, by G. de Purucker
Rev - Revelations
RV - Rig Veda
SD - The Secret Doctrine, by H. P. Blavatsky
SOPh - Studies in Occult Philosophy, by G. de Purucker
TBL - Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge (Secret Doctrine Commentary), by H. P. Blavatsky
TG - Theosophical Glossary, by H. P. Blavatsky
Theos - The Theosophist (magazine)
VP - Vishnu Purana
VS - The Voice of the Silence, by H. P. Blavatsky
WG - Working Glossary, by William Q. Judge
ZA - Zend-Avesta
Theosophical Society Homepage