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 email@example.com
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 | La-Li | Lo-Lz | Ma-Mam | Man-Mar | 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
Masben The sun in putrefaction, used in modern Freemasonry with a direct reference to their “word at low breath.” The same Masonic thought appears in Macbenac [Gaelic the blessed son from mac son + benac blessed], the first syllable of which is said by some Masonic writers to be derivative from maq (rottenness), which is the substitute Master’s word in the French rite.
Masculine Principle. See MALE PRINCIPLE
Mash-mak Said to be used by the Atlanteans, the fourth root-race, for the great potent sidereal force, which Bulwer Lytton called in one of its earthly manifestations Vril.
“It is this vibratory Force, which, when aimed at an army from an Agni Rath fixed on a flying vessel, a balloon, according to the instructions found in Ashtar Vidya, reduced to ashes 100,000 men and elephants, as easily as it would a dead rat. It is allegorised in the Vishnu Purana, in the fable about the sage Kapila whose glance made a mountain of ashes of King Sagara’s 60,000 sons, and which is explained in the esoteric works, and referred to as the Kapilaksha — ‘Kapila’s Eye’ ” (SD 1:563).
Masonry Operative masonry, the art of building in stone; speculative and emblematic Freemasonry, called such since 1717 when four English Lodges of operative masons established the Grand Lodge of England of Speculative and Emblematic Freemasonry, so called because building materials, tools, and instruments are symbolically and analogically used in the building of the universe and of man as a temple enshrining a god. Originally, however, among the ancient Masons, and today throughout the Orient “wherever magic and the wisdom-religion are studied, its practitioners and students are known among their craft as Builders — for they build the temple of knowledge, of secret science. Those of the adepts who are active, are styled practical or operative Builders, while the students, or neophytes are classed as speculative or theoretical. The former exemplify in works their control over the forces of inanimate as well as animate nature; the latter are but perfecting themselves in the rudiments of the sacred science” (IU 2:392).
Modern Freemasonry includes many Rites and Degrees, all the so-called higher degrees being based upon the three fundamental craft degrees — 1) Entered Apprentice; 2) Fellow Craft; and 3) Master Mason — which degrees alone comprise true Masonic secrets and have any valid claim to descent from ancient Masonry. The lessons or keynotes of these three degrees are respectively 1) ethical, to subdue the passions; 2) intellectual, the training of the mind, the seven liberal arts and sciences, and the mounting of the stairway of wisdom; and 3) spiritual, the conquest of death. The lessons in each degree are enforced and illustrated by appropriate symbols and allegories. The central theme of modern Masonry is the building of King Solomon’s Temple; the death of Hiram Abif and the consequent loss of the Word; the raising of Hiram Abif, and the communication of a Substitute Word.
“Modern Masonry is undeniably the dim and hazy reflection of primeval Occult Masonry, of the teaching of those divine Masons who established the Mysteries of the prehistoric and prediluvian Temples and Initiation, raised by truly superhuman Builders” (SD III 165).
“The Temple was the last European secret organization which, as a body, had in its possession some of the mysteries of the East. True, there were in the past century (and perhaps still are) isolated ‘Brothers’ faithfully and secretly working under the direction of Eastern Brotherhoods. But these, when they did belong to European societies, invariably joined them for objects unknown to the Fraternity, though at the same time for the benefit of the latter. It is through them that modern Masons have all they know of importance; and the similarity now found between the Speculative Rites of antiquity, the mysteries of the Essences, Gnostics, and the Hindus, and the highest and oldest of the Masonic degrees well prove the fact. . . .
“Freedom of intellectual thought and the restoration of one and universal religion was their secret object” (IU 2:380, 382).
“The simple truth is that modern Masonry is a sadly different thing from what the once universal secret fraternity was . . .” and “the time has come to remodel Masonry and restore those ancient landmarks, borrowed from the early sodalities, which the eighteenth century founders of speculative Freemasonry meant to have incorporated in the fraternity” (IU 2:387, 377).
Freemasonry in fact was started as a minor theosophical movement as also were the original Order of the Temple, and the Rosicrucian Order, each of which was designed with the purpose of keeping alive in the outer world as far as the times permitted a knowledge of the ancient wisdom-teachings.
Masorah or Masoreth (Hebrew) Massōrāh, Massōreth Division, separation, arrangement, supposedly based upon tradition; applied to a school of rabbis in Palestine which flourished towards the commencement of the Christian era. Scholars differ as to the exact date during which the work was in process of perpetuating the alleged traditional method of vocalizing, and hence of pronouncing the vowelless Hebrew Manuscripts of the Bible by means of “points” or “punctating,” but assign the 7th century as the date of completion of the texts. This work in vocalization enabled the rabbis to place virtually any interpretation that they desired upon the vowelless Hebrew texts. See also MASORETIC POINTS
Masoretic Points or Vowels A system adopted by the College of the Massoretes where certain signs were added to the vowelless consonants of the Hebrew manuscripts, in order to supply vowels as well as to mark the division of the consonants into words — hence the term Massorah — thus enabling a reader to give the supposedly correct meaning, pronunciation, and intonation of the texts when read in the synagogue or to oneself. Hebrew, written originally without any spaces between the words, naturally called for some system of division, or vocalizing the series of consonants, and hence arose the usage of the Massoretic points or vowels. The vowel indications consist for the most part of dots and dashes, commonly termed points, and the placing of these dots and points is called puctating. This method of puctating was developed in the schools of Palestine, some say mainly by the rabbis of the School of Tiberias; another system, however, was used in Babylon, which differed in notation rather than in pronunciation. For an illustration of the method of employing differing vowels to the same Hebrew consonants, see also BERE’SHITH
Massorah. See MASORAH
Massoretic. See MASORETIC
Mastaba (Arabic) Bench; a long, low oblong ancient Egyptian structure, with sloping sides and flat top, used as a mortuary chapel and place for depositing offerings; it generally covered a sepulchral pit which led to the burial chamber, where the mummy was placed. “These tombs of the ancients were symbolical like the rest of their sacred edifices, and . . . this symbology points directly to the septenary division of man. But in death the order is revered; and while the Mastaba with its scenes of daily life painted on the walls, its table of offerings, to the Larva, the ghost, or ‘Linga-Sarira,’ was a memorial raised to the two Principles and Life which has quitted that which was a lower trio on earth; the Pit, the Passage, the Burial Chambers and the mummy in the Sarcophagus, were the objective symbols raised to the two perishable ‘principles,’ the personal mind and Kama, and the three imperishable, the higher Triad, now merged into one. This ‘One’ was the Spirit of the Blessed now resting in the Happy Circle of Aanroo” (TG 209).
During the reigns of Userkaf and Men-kau-Heru (5th dynasty) the mastaba was surmounted with a pyramidal structure, erected in honor of Ra.
Master(s) Adopted in theosophical literature to designate those human beings further progressed on the evolutionary pathway than the general run of humanity, from which are drawn the saviors of humanity and the founders of the world-religions. These great human beings (also known by the Sanskrit term mahatma, “great self”) are the representatives in our day of a brotherhood of immemorial antiquity running back into the very dawn of historic time, and for ages beyond it. It is a self-perpetuating brotherhood formed of individuals who, however much they may differ among themselves in evolution, have all attained mahatmaship, and whose lofty purposes comprise among other things the constant aiding in the regeneration of humanity, its spiritual and intellectual as well as psychic guidance, and in general the working of the best spiritual, intellectual, psychic, and moral good to mankind. From time to time members from their ranks, or their disciples, enter the outside world publicly in order to inspire mankind with their teachings.
Two of Blavatsky’s teachers became publicly known under the names of Master M (Morya) and Master KH (Koot Hoomi). Some of their correspondence with one of Blavatsky’s earlier theosophical helpers has been published as The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett.
Master KH. See KUTHUMI
Master M. See MORYA
Masters, The Three Ancient Grand In Freemasonry, a title applied to King Solomon, Hiram King of Tyre, and Hiram Abif, who are regarded by Masons as having been the Three Grand Masters of the Craft at the time of the building of Solomon’s Temple: Solomon as architect upon whom his father King David laid the charge to build “an house for the Lord,” and to whom he had given the plans, “the pattern of all that he had by the spirit” (1 Chron 28:12); King Hiram, who supplied the materials, in addition to those which had been collected by David; and Hiram as builder and artificer.
The Temple representing as it does both the universe and man, as the microcosm, the Three Ancient Grand Masters can be viewed either cosmically or particularly with reference to man. Cosmogonically these Grand Masters represent the trinity of nature and are identical with the triads which are found in all the great world religions: Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva in India; Osiris, Isis, and Horus in Egypt; the highest three Sephiroth in the Jewish Qabbalah — Kether (the Crown), Hochmah (Wisdom), and Binah (Intelligence); and Father, Holy Ghost, and Son in Christianity.
Microcosmically the Three Ancient Grand Masters represent the highest triad of man’s composite sevenfold nature: atman, the inner divinity; buddhi, spiritual soul, the principle of spiritual intelligence and understanding and of spiritual will; and manas, the mind which is the artificer or builder. More generally they represent threefold human nature: spirit, soul, and body, for the Temple of Man is built by each one from within himself by the unfolding of his inner faculties and powers. This trinity of man whether as highest triad or as spirit, soul, and body, being the key to the “lock of Magic,” the trinity of nature.
Because nature is repetitive throughout, these Grand Masters are correspondentially related to the highest three of the four lower manifested planes of the seven planes of cosmic consciousness, in which exist the sevenfold manifested cosmos, the solar system, and the seven sacred planets. Specifically with reference to the seven globes of our earth-chain, Blavatsky gives these in the Chaldean Qabbalistic system as: 1) Archetypal World; 2) Intellectual or Creative World; and 3) Substantial or Formative World (SD 1:200). The lowest of the seven cosmic planes is the plane of our physical earth, which is the focus, result, and outermost expression of the energies and forces of the three higher planes. Thus our physical earth, as also physical man, are each the Temple, planned and built by the Three Grand Masters, according to the pattern which David has “by the spirit,” the divine plan which is hidden in the heart of everything that is. In accordance with this divine plan all evolution proceeds by the progressive manifestation of the divine life and the cosmic and human spiritual energies, powers, and faculties, evolving and unfolding from within, until at last the building of the Temple shall be completed and adorned as a fit and worthy habitation of the inner god.
Matarisvan, Matariswan (Sanskrit) Mātariśvan [from mātari from mātṛ mother + the verbal root śvas to breathe] A name of Agni, the fire god, or of a divine being closely connected with the messenger of Vivasvat, who brings down the hidden fire to the Bhrigus. Matarisvan is related to the manasaputras, bringers of fire of mind to the early races of mankind. It corresponds to Prometheus, the fire-bringer of ancient Greece, while the Bhrigus thus intellectually inspired by Matarisvan were what the medieval Rosicrucians and Qabbalists would call the Salamanders, as the intellectual children of the cosmic intellect itself, or of what the Hindus have called the offspring of taijasa-tattva.
Interestingly the moon is often called mata (Mother), otherwise matri, although mata likewise means a measurer, supposedly of time.
Mater (Latin) Mother; used in the categories of alchemy as one of the triad flamma, natura, mater; corresponding to sulphur, mercury, salt; or to spirit, water, and blood. Also used in conjunction with other names, meaning mother.
Materialism In the rigid philosophical sense, any theory which considers the facts of the universe to be sufficiently explained by the existence and nature of matter. A familiar form of this is what has been called the atomo-mechanical theory, which derives all phenomena from the movements of material atoms in space. The philosophical definition of materialism differs according to the meaning of the word matter; as for instance, when we limit matter by no physical attributes or implications alone, but see in it the sevenfold prakritis or pradhanas of Hindu philosophers and mystics, matter is then seen to be but a name for the veil or shadow of spirit — the other side of spirit as it were. This distinction makes materialism but a synonym for spiritualism — i.e., the profound philosophic theory that the universe is built throughout, from and of the substances and attributes of spirit, which become matter in its innumerable and manifold forms and phases on the lower cosmic planes. What physicists have been calling matter is a percept derived from the interaction of the physical senses with the physical plane of prakriti or nature.
Matter is one of the twin aspects of universal life, coeternal with spirit and indeed spirit’s veil or vehicle, and hence is present on every plane of manifestation, from the highest to the lowest. When the manifested One of a universe is considered as a unit or unity, it is called the First or Unmanifest Logos; when it is considered as a duality it is called the Manifest-Unmanifested or Second Logos, and is spirit-matter or life, spirit being its positive pole and matter its negative. Matter is everywhere the vehicle of spirit, and in matter inhere the attributes which spirit expresses in it. Hence materialism, in this sense, would define the whole theosophic philosophy.
The history of philosophy presents a rivalry of schools where materialism is contrasted with idealism, but all these rival schools originated outside of the Mysteries of the sanctuary, although many if not all contain substantial elements of occult verities. The attempt entirely to separate the notions of spirit and matter, of mind and body, of noumenon and phenomenon, results in futility and confusion; a purely ideal world is as unreal as a purely material one.
Materialism, however, stands commonly for an attitude of mind which exalts sense-life, together with its appropriate species of intellectualism, into a summum bonum; and which strives to devise a philosophy that will justify such an attitude. It is an attitude towards life consisting of mental and emotional attachment to externals, to the senses, and to reasoning based on sensory perceptions; and a corresponding neglect and denial of real values. This kind of materialism undermines morals by substituting self-interest or expediency for an innate moral sense, as the basis for conduct. It places illusory power in the hands of man, while at the same time depriving him of his real power of penetrating discrimination, and hence of his ability while under this illusion to use the powers of nature aright.
Materializations The taking on of an objective form or body by something of a subjective nature; used in modern spiritualism for appearances which the latter calls spirits of the dead. “Theosophists accept the phenomenon of ‘materialization’; but they reject the theory that it is produced by ‘Spirits,’ i.e., the immortal principles of the disembodied persons” (TG 209).
The post-mortem separation of man’s seven principles frees the higher triad, atma-buddhi-manas, for return to, and experience in, the arupa (formless) planes of existence. Then the human-animal soul — kama-manas — composed of the dregs of the selfish personal emotions, desires, and impulses, becomes for a shorter or longer time a coherent astral form, finding its natural level in kama-loka. These shells of the dead, as well as the various nature spirits and other astral entities, are normally invisible to us as we are to them. However, certain conditions attract them and help them to appear. Actual materializations, though rare, are possible, as are various similar phenomenal appearances; yet none are the spirits they are supposed to be by spiritualists. As a rule they all fall into three general classes: 1) the astral body of the living medium detaches itself and assumes the appearance of the so-called spirit by reflecting some invisible image already in the astral light, or in the mind of one or more of the sitters; 2) the astral shell of a deceased person, devoid of all spirit, intellect, and conscience, can become visible and even partially tangible when the condition of the air and ether is such as to alter the molecular vibration of the shell so that it can be seen; and 3) an unseen mass of chemical, magnetic, and electrical material is collected from the atmosphere, the passive medium, and the circle. With this material, the astral entities automatically make a form, which invariably reflects as pictures or portraits the shape or appearance of any desired person, either dead or alive. The astral entities, which are of various kinds, use the mind-pictures or images which crowd the thoughts and auras of those present, as the astral light receives, preserves, and reflects when conditions are right, pictures or portraits of both dead and living, and indeed of all events. The confusion and illusion of it all may be increased by scenes related to the multiple personality of someone present whose aura presents pictured records of past lives.
An apparition of another kind which, though rare, is genuine and authentic, is due to a dying person’s intense thought of another, making him for a brief moment objective to the latter. It may be due to an intense will to see or to appear to the other person, or it may be a more automatic projection of the mayavi-rupa of the dying one. These last cases, however, must be distinguished in quality from the adept’s consciously exercised power to project his higher astral-mental form to any distance in his mayavi-rupa. “The rays of thought have the same potentiality for producing forms in the astral atmosphere as the sunrays have with regard to a lens. Every thought so evolved with energy from the brain creates nolens volens a shape” (BCW 10:224).
“As Kamaloka is on the earth plane and differs from its degree of materiality only in the degree of its plane of consciousness, for which reason it is concealed from our normal sight, the occasional apparition of such shells is as natural as that of electric balls and other atmospheric phenomena. Electricity as a fluid, or atomic matter (for Theosophists hold with Maxwell that it is atomic), though invisible, is ever present in the air, and manifests under various shapes, but only when certain conditions are there to ‘materialize’ the fluid, when it passes from its own on to our plane and makes itself objective. Similarly with the eidola of the dead. They are present, around us, but being on another plane do not see us any more than we see them. But whenever the strong desires of living men and the conditions furnished by the abnormal constitutions of mediums are combined together, these eidola are drawn — nay, pulled down from their plane on to ours and made objective. This is Necromancy; it does no good to the dead, and great harm to the living, in addition to the fact that it interferes with a law of nature. The occasional materialization of the ‘astral bodies’ or doubles of living persons is quite another matter. These ‘astrals’ are often mistaken for the apparitions of the dead, since, chameleon-like, our own ‘Elementaries,’ along with those of the disembodied and cosmic Elementals, will often assume the appearance of those images which are strongest in our thoughts. In short, at the so-called ‘materialization’ séances it is those present and the medium, who create the peculiar likeness of the apparitions. Independent ‘apparitions’ belong to another kind of psychic phenomena. Materializations are also called ‘form-manifestations’ and ‘portrait statues.’ To call them materialized spirits is inadmissible, for they are not spirits but animated portrait-statues, indeed” (TG 210).
Mater Terra (Latin) Mother earth; used for an eighth planet after the seven great planets or gods (SD 2:393). Earth was called mother (mater) as the all-nourishing and all-producing feminine parent, giving birth to, supporting, and feeding her children. Mystically it refers to the generative or productive power working through the earth, and also to Mother Earth as the origin of future celestial bodies — thus referring directly to the next planetary chain.
Matha (Sanskrit) Maṭha A seat of learning or instruction and training, especially for young Brahmins; or occasionally a temple. Also a hut or cottage, particularly of an ascetic, as a center of mystical training.
Mathadhipati (Sanskrit) Maṭhādhipati [from maṭha a seat of learning, instruction, or training + adhipati chief or ruler] The head or chief of a center of mystical instruction and training; hence also the principal of a college.
Mathematical Point. See POINT; PRIMORDIAL POINT
Mathura (Sanskrit) Mathurā The birthplace of Krishna, situated in the province of Agra on the right bank of the Yamuna River.
Matra (Sanskrit) Mātra [from the verbal root mā to measure] feminine mātrā. A measure of any kind, a quantity, sum, size, duration, number; also a moment of time; hence a minute portion. Subba Row uses it in relation to the four degrees of pranava, drawing a correspondence with the four planes of the manifested solar system.
Matripadma (Sanskrit) Mātṛpadma [from matṛ mother + padma lotus] Mother-lotus; the egg or womb of the universe which is to be: “the Matri-padma had not yet swollen. Her heart had not yet opened for the one ray to enter” (SD 1:28). “One of the symbolical figures for the Dual creative power in Nature (matter and force on the material plane) is Padma, the water-lily of India. The Lotus is the product of heat (fire) and water (vapour or Ether); fire standing in every philosophical and religious system as a representation of the Spirit of Deity, the active, male, generative principle; and Ether, or the Soul of matter, the light of the fire, for the passive female principle from which everything in this Universe emanated. Hence, Ether or Water is the Mother, and Fire is the Father” (SD 1:57).
Matris (Sanskrit) Mātṛ-s The divine mothers or personified spiritual energies of the principle gods of the Hindu pantheon. Their number is reckoned as seven, ten, or twelve, and they bear the same relation, each one to her respective consort or god, as prakriti does to Brahma, pradhana to Brahman, and on a still vaster scale as mulaprakriti does to parabrahman. They are the respective wombs of beings bringing to birth or pouring forth the cosmogonical hierarchies. When these matris are by analogy mentioned in minor cases, their functions and attributes correspond with the cosmic sense. The sakti are the personifications or analogical reproductions of the matris on lower planes of being.
Matronethah. See MATRONITHA’
Matronitha’ (Chaldean) Maṭrōnīthā’ The matron; a Qabbalistic term, sometimes associated with the tenth Sephirah, Malchuth or Matrona’ (the Mother, the Queen). She will be united with the King after the regeneration on the day of Sabbath — to take place during the seventh race of the seventh round (SD 1:240). In the Zohar Matronitha’ is also regarded as the mediatrix between deity and man.
Matsya-avatara (Sanskrit) Matsya-avatāra The Fish-avatara; a descent of Vishnu, the cosmic sustainer of life, in the form of a fish — mystically not physically — in order to lead to safety from the deluge King Satyavrata and certain rishis, so that the seeds of hierarchical life might not perish from the earth. The Matsya-Purana is particularly descriptive of this incarnation.
One interpretation of this allegory is that Vishnu appears in such fashion at the time of a major deluge for the preservation of the sishtas — the fine flowers of all living things in their respective hierarchical classes, which are thus preserved as seeds of life from age to age. The Biblical Noah, the Babylonian Oannes, and the Chaldean Dagon are representations of the same cosmic or human event.
The ship or ark in which Vaivasvata-manu, the rishis, and all the seeds of living things were saved — in a still more remote cosmic event of actual cosmogonical history — was the symbol of the moon. In a merely human interpretation, but equally correct, the ship or ark carrying over, is the womb.
Matsya Purana (Sanskrit) Matsya Purāṇa One of the 18 principal Hindu Puranas, said to have been communicated to the seventh manu, Vaivasvata, by Vishnu in the form of a fish (matsya). It consists of over 14,000 slokas, but many of its chapters duplicate the Vishnu- and Padma-Puranas, and much of its material is drawn from the Mahabharata.
Matter In the widest sense, the negative pole of the one universal life regarded as a duality. The manifested One, considered as a unit, is called the manifested Logos; and as a duad it becomes spirit-matter or life. Matter is thus co-eternal with spirit, forming the vehicular or passive aspect of every plane. It is equivalent to prakriti (or sakti, maya, or pradhana), and just as there are seven, ten, or twelve prakritis, so there are seven, ten, or twelve matters: the root-essence of all the series is what the Hindus called mulaprakriti (root-nature). Equivalently, matter may also be defined as the illusory aggregate of veils surrounding the fundamental essence of the universe.
Matter in the scientific sense is a percept resulting from the interaction of our physical senses with the physical plane of prakriti. Formerly regarded as having an existence independently of the observer, its illusory nature is now better recognized. In attempting to conceive of matter in a general sense the mind must be relieved of familiar notions of physically extended space, of resistance, mass, bulk, etc. — properties peculiar to the physical plane of consciousness, but which we are apt to transfer unwittingly to our notions of other kinds of matter. We may speak of mind-stuff as the scene of mental activity and the vehicle of thought-force; but we can hardly view this as a kind of rare gas. Grossness, inertness, and immobility are attributes of the physical plane, rather than of matter itself. Yet the word matter has come to be significant of grossness, animalism, and materialism, although it is but the shadow or veil of cosmic spirit, spirit concreted or manifesting under the multifarious forms of the planes of the universe.
Maubed. See MOBED
Maya (Sanskrit) Māyā [from the verbal root mā to measure, form] Illusion, the non-eternal; in Brahmanical philosophy, the fabrication by the human mind of ideas derived from interior and exterior impressions, as it tries to interpret and understand the universe. While the exterior world exists — or it could not be illusory — we do not see clearly and as they actually are that which our mind and senses present to us. A traditional Vedantic illustration says that at twilight a person sees a coiled rope on the ground and springs aside, thinking it is a snake; the rope is there, but no snake.
Thus maya means that our minds are blinded and perverted by our own preconceptions and imperfections, and so does not interpret the world as it is.
“Maya or illusion is an element which enters into all finite things, for everything that exists has only a relative, not an absolute, reality, since the appearance which the hidden noumenon assumes for any observer depends upon his power of cognition. . . . Nothing is permanent except the one hidden absolute existence which contains in itself the noumena of all realities. The existences belonging to every plane of being, up to the highest Dhyan-Chohans, are, in degree, of the nature of shadows cast by a magic lantern on a colourless screen; but all things are relatively real, for the cogniser is also a reflection, and the things cognised are therefore as real to him as himself. Whatever reality things possess must be looked for in them before or after they have passed like a flash through the material world; but we cannot cognise any such existence directly, so long as we have sense-instruments which bring only material existence into the field of our consciousness. Whatever plane our consciousness may be acting in, both we and the things belonging to that plane are, for the time being, our only realities. As we rise in the scale of development we perceive that during the stages through which we have passed we mistook shadows for realities, and the upward progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings, each advance bringing with it the idea that now, at last, we have reached ‘reality’; but only when we shall have reached the absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with it, shall we be free from the delusions produced by Maya” (SD 1:39-40).
Though sometimes used as an equivalent for avidya, maya is properly applicable only to prakriti, which is doomed to disappear at the time of pralaya. It is thus prakriti and its productions or changes (vikaras) which, by reacting against the operations of the consciousness of a perceiving being, casts the perceiver into the bonds of illusions, out of which the deluded being has to strive in order to free himself from the maya with which he is surrounded.
“Just as milliards of bright sparks dance on the waters of an ocean above which one and the same moon is shining, so our evanescent personalities — the illusive envelopes of the immortal monad-ego — twinkle and dance on the waves of Maya. They last and appear, as the thousands of sparks produced by the moon-beams, only so long as the Queen of the Night radiates her lustre on the running waters of life: the period of a Manvantara; and then they disappear, the beams — symbols of our eternal Spiritual Egos — alone surviving, re-merged in, and being, as they were before, one with the Mother-Source” (SD 1:237).
Mayamoha (Sanskrit) Māyāmoha The intoxication of illusion; the form assumed by Vishnu in order to deceive ascetic daityas who were becoming too holy through austerities and hence too dangerous in power, according to the Vishnu-Purana.
Mayasabha (Sanskrit) Māyāsabhā [from māyā illusion + sabhā assembly] An assemblage of illusions; one of the wonderful gifts given to the Pandavas in the Mahabharata by Mayasura.
Mayasura (Sanskrit) Māyāsura The asura mentioned in the Mahabharata, who presented the Padanava brothers with a gift of a bundle of wonderful things.
Mayavi, Mayavin (Sanskrit) Māyāvin [from māyā illusion] Illusory; frequently anglicized as mayavic.
Mayavi-rupa (Sanskrit) Māyāvi-rūpa [from māyāvin illusory from māyā illusion + rūpa form] Illusory body or thought-body, a higher astral-mental form. The projection of thought-consciousness-will power to any distant place while the physical body is left “entranced.” It is the whole man except the sthula-sarira (physical body), the linga-sarira (the astral or model-body) and prana. This projection can assume any form at the will of the adept. This body is called illusory because when it has accomplished its purpose, it is withdrawn and thus disappears. Synonymous with protean soul, the medieval German doppelganger, and the Tibetan hpho-wa.
Mazdean (Persian) [from Mazda bestower of intellect or knowledge] Also Mazdeism. Applied to the ancient religion of the Iranians and to the scriptures of the Zoroastrians, who are represented today by the Parsis. The earliest followers of the Zoroastrianism, however, in their records called themselves Airyavo danghavo (Aryan races). Nowadays the Parsis call themselves Mazdiasnians, or Mazda-Yasna, which means worship of intellect, referring to all those who believe in the supremacy of light over darkness. From the time of the renovation of Zoroastrianism during the Sassanid period, this term has been used concurrently in the same sense as Zoroastrianism.
Mazdiasnian. See MAZDEAN
Mazzaroth (Hebrew) Mazzārōth [probably from the verbal root nāzar to consecrate] The consecrated or holy; the twelve constellations of the zodiac. The more common form of the word is Mazzālōth [from nāzal to flow, distill, run] with reference to the universal belief that the celestial bodies distill or flow forth influences affecting the earth and all beings on it.
M’bul. See MABBUL
Meborach, Meborakh (Hebrew) Mĕborākh [from bārakh to bless] The holy, the blessed; a participle commonly used as a reverential title or name for the divinity.
Medha (Sanskrit) Medhā Intelligence, vigor, vitality; ability connected with the ideas of intellectual activity.
Medhatithi (Sanskrit) Medhātithi [from medhā wisdom, intelligence + atithi guest] The guest of wisdom or intelligence; a luminary in law and commentator on the Laws of Manu.
Mediator An agent who stands or goes between, specifically one who acts as the conscious agent or intermediary of special spiritual power and knowledge. Most often applied to highly-evolved characters who mediate, not only between superhuman spiritual entities and ordinary men, but who also themselves consciously unite their own spiritual nature with their merely human souls. Such people attain to this lofty state by the great sanctity and wisdom of their lives, aided by frequent interior ecstatic contemplation. They radiate a pure and beneficent atmosphere which invites, and is congenial to, exalted spiritual beings of the solar system. Evil entities of the astral realms cannot endure their clean and highly magnetic aura, nor are they able to continue obsessing other unfortunate persons if the mediator be present and will their departure, or even approaches the sufferer. This powerful spiritual self-consciousness of the individual who is a mediator reaching upwards to superior spiritual realms, is in sharpest possible contrast with the passive, unconscious, weak-willed medium who, through ignorance or folly, becomes the agent for the use of any astral entity that may be attracted to the entranced body. Apollonius, Iamblichus, Plotinus, and Porphyry are examples of mediators: “but if the temple is defiled by the admission of an evil passion, thought or desire, the mediator falls into the sphere of sorcery. The door is opened; the pure spirits retire and the evil ones rush in. This is still mediatorship, evil as it is; the sorcerer, like the pure magician, forms his own aura and subjects to his will congenial inferior spirits” (IU 1:487).
Medicine As the healing art, medicine is as old as thinking man. Before the latent fires of mind were lighted in the third root-race, disease and death were unknown. However, with the physicalization of protoplastic humanity, and the separation of the sexes, the unnatural linking with the animals in the third and fourth root-races disordered the harmonious relations between man and nature. In addition, self-conscious man’s continued evolution into matter, with the involution of his spiritual nature, brought about forms of disorder, disease, and physical death. Then, beings from higher spheres descended, and dynasties of divine kings and spiritual guides taught men, leading them to the invention of all the arts and sciences, including the medical use of plants (cf SD 2:364).
Medicine was originally a divine science, providing for the well-being of the spiritual, mental, psychic, astral, and physical man. Archaic medicine included a profound knowledge of genuine astrology, of true alchemy, of occult physiology, of the finer forces vibrating as sound, color, form, thought, and feeling, and whatever related man to his home universe of natural law and order. This was the basis of the natural “magic” which tradition has linked with the medical art. This knowledge was dual in its power to work for life or death, for good or evil ends. Its full comprehension required not only a trained intellect, but the intuitive understanding of a pure spiritual nature. Nevertheless, the Atlanteans acquired enough knowledge of the use of dangerous powers that they became — albeit with numerous and noteworthy exceptions — a nation of sorcerers. Then, the white magicians established the Mystery schools in which to safeguard the sacred teachings from evildoers and to protect humanity from their influence. Thus, the deeper truths of the healing art have ever since been entrusted only to pledged disciples and initiates. Such fragments of it as have been rediscovered by intuitive physicians from time to time have usually been in keeping with the general cultural level of their civilization. The exceptions have been men who have frequently been too far ahead of their times to be understood. Such a man was Paracelsus in medieval Europe, persecuted for heretical teachings such as the psychoelectric and magnetic play of sidereal forces which linked man with the stars — the spiritus vitae in man came from the spiritus mundi.
Of the archaic history of medicine — as of the race — little is to be found. However, echoes of the primitive wisdom have survived, and every country having a literature of its ancient periods has some account of the healing art. The Hindu sacred scriptures — the oldest literature extant — have treatises upon medicine and surgery, showing a profound and intimate knowledge of the subject. This high standard was not maintained when the Vedic writings became misunderstood and mutilated by later commentators. The exclusive Brahmins’ assumption of the right to all knowledge also prevented original thought and research. What writings are available today are of little practical value without the lost key. Even our typically matter-of-fact interpretation of legendary and classical beliefs and customs, and of archaeological findings, overlooks that what is known of ancient medical practice is largely exoteric, symbolic of a deeper teaching than we possess.
Records of ancient medicine in Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, etc., tell of the temples being used as hospitals, with priest-physicians supported by the state giving every care to the sick who came, both rich and poor. In addition to material means of treatment — many of which we have rediscovered — these devotees of the gods of healing used special incense, prayers, the “temple sleep,” invocations, music, astrology, etc., which we regard as harmless superstition of an earlier day. However, such conditions, intelligently adapted to each case, in making a pure, serene, uplifting atmosphere around the sick person, would invoke the influences of wholeness within and without him. By putting the inner man in tune with his body, his disordered nature-forces manifesting as disease would tend to flow freely in the currents of health. Natural magic is as practical as the unknown alchemy which transmutes our digested daily bread into molecules of our living body.
There is a mystic science attached to the caduceus, the classical emblem of medicine. To the priest-physicians in the temples, this symbol was sacred not only to the god of wisdom and healing, but stood for profound cosmic truths, knowledge of which was held in common by all initiates. It symbolized the tree of life and being. Cosmically this symbol stood for the concealed root or origin of universal duality which manifests as positive and negative, good and evil, subjective and objective, light and darkness, male and female, health and sickness, life and death.
Medini (Sanskrit) Medinī [from medas fat, marrow] The earth; so called from its legendary creation from the marrow and fat of two demons who sprang from the ear of the sleeping Vishnu. Before they could kill Brahma, Vishnu awoke and killed them. Their bodies, thrown into the sea, produced so much fat and marrow that Narayana used it to form the earth. Here medas, while meaning fat or marrow, also signifies the stored-up richness of life or vitality, a treasury or fountain of vital power.
Meditation The attempt to raise the self-conscious mind to the level of its spiritual counterpart, to unite manas with a ray from buddhi. It is a positive attitude of mind, a state of consciousness rather than a system or a time period of intensive thinking. It corresponds in its more perfect form to the ecstasy of Plotinus, which he defines as “the liberation of the mind from its finite consciousness, becoming one and identified with the Infinite.” It is silent prayer in one real sense, for the heart aspires upwards to become freed from all desire for personal benefit, and the mind frames no specific object, but both unite in the aspiration; not my will, but thine, be done. When engaged in at the outset of the day, or on retiring to sleep, it often takes the form of reflecting profoundly and impersonally on spiritual teachings, as well as self-examination, attuning of the mind and heart to calm and unselfish thought and feelings, as well as the endeavor to realize in consciousness one’s highest ideals of duty, purity, and truth, and inducing thereby a general harmonizing and one-pointed adjustment of the whole nature.
“Meditate all the time — nothing is so easy and so helpful. Far better is this for most students than to have a set period: quiet, unremitting thought on the questions you have, continuing even when the hands are busy with the tasks of the day, and the mind itself quite absorbed by other duties. In the back of the consciousness there can still be this steady undercurrent of thought. It is likewise a protecting shield in all one’s affairs, for it surrounds the body with an aura drawn forth from the deeper recesses of the auric egg . . .” (FSO 39).
Medium Anything that serves as an intermediate, especially applied by modern spiritualists to a person who, alleged to be under the “control” of some other being, usually invisible, becomes a transmitting medium for phenomenal messages, feelings, or actions. These entities, mistakenly called spirits of the dead, are no part of the spiritual nature of composite man. On the contrary, these communications come from various entities in the astral world which interpenetrates and surrounds the physical earth, just as our astral model-body and aura surround and interpenetrate our physical form, cell for cell. In our present state of evolution, the astral or model-body acts normally only when conjoined to the physical — a natural provision for protection from conditions with which we are as yet evolutionally unprepared to deal. The medium, however, is one who is born with or develops a peculiarly unstable and often actually dislocated state of the elements of his inner constitution. Thereby he becomes at times disorganized physiologically and in his nervous system, which connects the inner man with the outer world, and he suffers, in effect, a psychic dislocation. Then the entranced, unconscious medium functions with magnetic sympathy with currents and entities in the astral light, especially with those in the kama-lokic levels which are nearest the earth. Of these many entities, the types usually manifesting are nature spirits or elements of various kinds; kamic remnants, the shells or spooks of the dead; and elementaries or the imperfect astral remains of excarnate human beings who when alive on earth showed marked tendencies to gross and evil living. Being fated, because of their strongly materialistic biases and appetites, to exist in the astral realm, these last are a peculiarly dangerous and demoralizing influence, especially to people of weak will or of mediumistic temperament. Without physical body or real conscience, the elementaries yet are living entities of the unexpended force of their earth-passions and desires, eager to occupy and use a living body, meantime absorbing its vital essence if they can make psychic contact with it. They are psychomagnetically drawn to such conditions as the seance room usually offers. The delicate tingling on the medium’s skin, supposed to come from angelic fingers, is actually an astral emanation of vitality to form an atmosphere or aura for the besieging control. These feathery touches are like the aurae which often precede convulsive epileptic attacks where the pale, cold, unconscious body of the ousted sufferer becomes temporarily possessed. Each time when the passive medium is controlled, his spiritual will is progressively weakened, his higher mind is blurred, and he becomes an open door for all kinds of uncanny astral influences. It is true that psychic sensitives of clean life and honest purpose, may first attract entities belonging to higher kama-lokic levels. But the finest types of supposed spirit faces that they see are generally reflections from their own mental pictures of beloved ones, or of their own innate ideals.
Of the many types of astral elementals, connection with even those friendly to man are injurious, for they all use part of the living for their automatic actions. Moreover, black magicians who live in their kama-rupas — in the astral world — relatively few though they are, survive by using many of these nature spirits to vampirize vitality from the living. The elementaries who, unfortunately, are galvanized into a fictitious life by devitalizing the medium and the sitters — as clairvoyants have often seen — are making new evil karma, and even inviting final spiritual disaster.
At most, this dealing with the dead is necromancy — a wrong condemned by the wise in all ages as misleading at the least, very dangerous and ethically demoralizing at the worst. The passive medium under alien astral control, is the very antithesis of the highly evolved human mediator whose awakened spiritual, intellectual, and psychic nature serves as a conscious channel of inspiring influence between lofty spiritual powers and ordinary men, or between mahatmas of the Great White Lodge and men.
Mediumship Usually, a peculiarly passive state or condition of a person, due to “disease or to the exuberance of nervous fluid,” either of which disturbs the normal balance of forces in his or her constitution. Thereby, the man or woman, becoming unconscious at times of his natural senses, is then made the automatic agent of various psycho-astral forces and entities, and these last are of several kinds: elementaries, astral shells or spooks, nature sprites, and astral and even physical elementals.
This entranced state is cultivated in modern spiritualism as a means of inviting spirit-control and of gaining special knowledge. However, the very relation of the seven human principles infallibly and necessarily prevents pure spirit from directly contacting physical matter. In the complete living man on earth, his spiritual nature — buddhi — is above, within, or beyond his higher mind (higher manas) yet can only act downwards through it. The spiritual does not directly contact or act through the lower mind and emotions (kama-manas). After death, the higher triad (atma-buddhi-manas) separates from the lower quaternary and ascends to its own realms, entirely beyond the reach of the personal man that was. Mediumship, moreover, is a negation of conscious selfhood and a reversal of natural evolutionary growth, whereby the reincarnating ego involved in material existence comes forth, step by step, taking positive, conscious control of its body, mind, and emotions. Our racial evolution reached the depths of materiality in Atlantean times, and therefrom made the turn onto the ascending arc. Hence, our future progress consists, not in trying further to materialize spirit, but in progressively spiritualizing matter.
Human mediumship is a voluntary, or more often involuntary, subjection to the lower planes of astral substance which, while more ethereal than ordinary matter, yet are of a quality more gross, more powerful, and usually more malefic. Entrance into these astral realms produces a species of astral intoxication, from the delusion of strange because unknown and often unequilibrated forces, deceptive astral pictures; and the astral intoxication is increased because of considering these experiences as wonder-phenomena. In other words, the conditions and experiences sensed are as genuine, and as unreliable and utterly useless, as are the hallucinations of the delirious or insane. Only an occultist of masterful will and great purity of life can rise consciously to the spiritual plane and, looking down on the astral levels below, understand, control, and remember what he sees. In untrained mediumship the atoms and molecules of the astrally “controlled” body which the alien astral entity uses to mold into a form and to move with its own desire-impulses, retain this astral psychomagnetic imprint. With repeated trances, the medium grows continuously and progressively less than his individual self, because of his thoughts and feelings becoming mixed with, overlaid, or blurred by ideas and emotions which per se are abnormal and misleading. He therefore becomes irresponsible as a source of genuine spiritual knowledge and prevision, and still less responsible as a guardian of sacred truths. Because of this, untrained mediumship precludes initiation into the Mysteries as the person’s faith in his astral “control” would dominate him instead of the rules of the sanctuary.
Medusa. See GORGON
Meenam. See MINA
Megacosm [from Greek megas great + kosmos world] Used of the astral light, in distinction from the entire macrocosm on the one hand and any microcosm, such as man or any other individual entity, on the other.
Meghayanti. See MAGHAYANTI
Mehen (Egyptian) A deity in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, represented as a serpent god. “In popular myths, the great serpent which represents the lower atmosphere. In Occultism, the world of the Astral light, called symbolically the Cosmic Dragon and the Serpent” (TG 211).
Meimra’ (Hebrew) Mēimrā’ The voice of the will, Qabbalistic term equivalent to the Greek logos. In the Zohar (1, 246b), the voice which goes out of the spirit and identifies itself with it in the supreme thought is at its foundation no other thing than the water, air, and fire; the north, south, east, and west, and all the energies of nature; but all these elements and forces are blended in one thing: the voice which goes out of the unknown.
Melanephoros or Melanophoros (Greek) Wearer of black; the third of the degrees which the neophyte under trial at Thebes (Egypt) entered, the first and second degrees being respectively Neokoros (temple guardian) and Pastophoros (shrine bearer) (IU 2:364).
Melchior (Hebrew) Malkhī-’ōr [from melekh king + ’ōr light] King of light; one of the three Magi, kings or wise men of Christian legend, who followed the course of a brilliant star to Judaea in order to present homage and gifts to the initiate Jesus — the “infant.” The term was often applied to the planet Venus, which this King represents. The Greeks also called this planet Phosphoros, and the Latins Lucifer, both meaning “the light-bringer” or “light-bearer.”
Melchizedek (Hebrew) Malkhī-tsedeq [from melekh king + tsedeq righteousness] My king of righteousness; the king-priest of Salem, who met Abraham and blessed him (Genesis 14:18), alluding to the ancient king-initiates, the founders of races as well as the eponyms of cycles and the representatives of spiritual powers. The name afterwards became generic (Psalms 110:4 and Hebrew 7 where a Messianic theory is hinted at), and Jesus is described as a high priest after the order of Melchisedek, which corresponds in mystical Judaism to the Order of Wisdom and Compassion in the theosophic philosophy. The term may signify the Maha-chohan, of the brotherhood of mahatmas, and also can stand for this Order itself or anyone who has reached a high degree of initiation therein.
Melchizedek is identified with Kronos or Saturn and with Noah (SD 2:391-2), the variant spellings Sadik, Sydik, and Zedec being given. As a type-figure he is connected with the sun and moon and the story of Jesus Christ (Lucifer 1:493, Feb 1888).
Melech (Hebrew) Melekh, plural Melākhīm. A king; Melech Melachim (king of kings) referred to the king of Babylon. In the Qabbalah applied as a title to the sixth Sephirah, Tiph’ereth (beauty). See also MAL’ACHIM; MOLOCH
Melhas (Tibetan) [from me fire + lha deity] Fiery deity, used both individually and collectively; equivalent to the Sanskrit agnideva. A class of elemental beings or nature spirits corresponding to the Salamanders of medieval Fire-philosophers. Esoterically, they are classed with the dhyani-buddhas, chohans, and bodhisattvas (SD 2:34), but this classification has no necessary reference to an advanced degree in evolution. It is a general term, including both evolved and unevolved beings of the original element of fire.
In The Secret Doctrine (2:63) Melha is the Lord of the Flames, a hierarchy of spirits, corresponding to St. Michael.
Melissai (Greek) Bees; applied to poets and certain priestesses of Delphi, or to Demeter and Artemis, and by the Neoplatonists to any pure and chaste being. Honey is a symbol of wisdom as representing garnered experiences, in the same sense as nectar and similar words; human beings collect and extract the pure essence from the flowers of experience, so that the word was sometimes used in ancient Greece and Rome for disciples.
Melitta, Melytta, or Mylitta Queen of heaven; an alternative name for Belit, Babylonian or Chaldean for “chief lady,” a title applied to any goddess, most often to En-lil. Hence also applied to the moon, often regarded by the ancients as queen of heaven. Melitta is applicable to the feminine aspects of the chief hierarch of any hierarchy or of any planetary spirit.
Memrab. See MEIMRA’
Mendes [from Greek Bendes or Mendes from Egyptian Ba-neb-Tet ram] Generally associated with the worship of the Goat of Mendes, also known as Baphomet. However, the goat was really a ram, the ram symbol of later Egypt, probably adopted when the equinoctial point entered the sign of the Ram, seen in the common usage of ram-headed deities, especially Khnemu. Mendes was a town in the Nile delta where the worship of the mystical ram-headed Ammon or Amen prevailed, as it did at Hermopolis and Lycopolis. Ammon (the concealed) was a theological personification signifying the immense hidden divinity of the world who is not only self-engendered in his own spiritual being, but who is the source whence flow forth into manifestation the wide-flowing differentiated hierarchies of nature. Because this idea involved the conception of generation and reproduction, the thought very soon became degenerate even in Egypt, and thus it was that later ages clothed Ammon with some of the merely naturally reproductive qualities that the Greeks gave their nature god Pan. Certain Greek authors twisted this into the story that the Egyptians worshiped a goat, probably from confusion with Pan, who was represented as being goat-limbed and who was, like Ammon but in a lower field of thought, a personification of nature.
Diodorus (1, 88) compares the worship of the Ram of Mendes to that of Priapus, while Manetho ascribes the origin of the cult to Kakau, a king of the 2nd dynasty.
Menglad (Icelandic, Scandinavian) [from men jewel + glad happy] She who is happy in possession of a jewel; in Norse mythology, a kenning for Freya, the goddess corresponding to Aphrodite and Venus in Greek and Roman myths. She is not merely the goddess of love and beauty, but the spiritual intelligence of the human race. The jewel on her breast, Brisingamen, is humanity on earth.
Menhir [from Breton men stone + hir high] In archaeology, an upright monolith, standing either alone or as part of an alignment or circle. See also CARNAC; DOLMEN
Mens (Latin) Generally equivalent to mind or manas. However, as used by a few of the Roman writers, it would be more exactly equivalent to buddhi-manas.
Mensambulism [from Latin mensa table + ambule walk] Table-walking, table-turning, a familiar spiritualistic phenomenon. To obtain this phenomenon the sitters are supposed to form a circle or “bridge” which enables the astral elements or forces to perform physical effects. The astral forces are thereafter used as the vehicles for the passing over of intelligent or quasi-intelligent communications by means of a code concerted among the sitters themselves. The intelligent answers sometimes accruing to the sitters arise either in the sitters’ own subconscious or are the pranks of more or less intelligent astral elementals, talking shells — attracted to the magnetic media — or elementaries in the astral light.
Attempts to label and classify such phenomenon are hampered by dividing things sharply into intelligent and mechanical; a lack of experience prevents people from imagining any other kind of intelligent being than a disembodied human spirit. All forces are intelligent in one degree or another; and there are ranges of beings between those which operate in the ordinary laws of physics and those which manifest themselves as the intelligent kingdoms of nature. We have found out how to call into action some of the by-plays of a few of these occult forces, which can produce at times powerful mechanical effects, and also at times exhibit a degree of intelligence or stupidity. The tendency is to try to fit them into the scheme of familiar knowledge, but what is needed is much more observation of the facts by those who experiment with these matters before they venture to theorize or even dogmatize about them.
Mental Science. See FAITH HEALING
Mercaba, Mercavah. See MERKABAH
Mercurius Vitae (Latin) Mercury of life; a medical compound made by Paracelsus said to contain mercury and antimony, but the word quicksilver did not mean the liquid metal mercury but the living silver or spirit of silver introduced into medicines by an alchemical process; and Paracelsus did not use ordinary mercury to restore life to patients (IU 2:620-1).
Mercury For the Latin god, see HERMES
Also the closest visible planet to the sun. Irregularities discovered in its orbit led astronomers at one time to suspect that there is an inter-Mercurial planet, and such a suspected planet, once claimed to have been seen crossing the solar disk, was named Vulcan. Mercury is included in the enumeration of the seven sacred planets of the ancients. Theosophy, as it does with all the visible planetary bodies, considers Mercury to be the lowest globe of a septenary chain of globes; so that this planet is not one of the seven globes of the earth-chain (SD 1:163 et seq). A connection with the earth-chain, however, is found in that the spiritual rector or genius of the Mercury planetary chain has especial influence over globe E of the earth-chain, and over the fifth or present root-race of our globe D. Astrologically, the zodiacal houses of Mercury are Gemini and Virgo; it has given its name to the day of the week Wednesday.
As Mercury is about ready to inaugurate its last or seventh round, it is far older as a chain in its present imbodiment than is the earth-chain in its. It is supposed to receive seven times more light and other solar energies from the sun than the earth receives. “Mercury is, as an astrological planet, still more occult and mysterious than Venus. It is identical with the Mazdean Mithra, the genius, or god, ‘established between the Sun and the Moon, the perpetual companion of “Sun” of Wisdom’ ” (SD 2:28). Esoterically the planets Mercury, Venus, and the Moon in ancient ceremonial rites were represented by three initiators. This is the origin of the three Magi or wise men associated with Christmas and the birth of Jesus.
The metal mercury plays a great part in alchemy, being one of the trinity of sulphur, mercury, salt — denoting spirit, water, and blood; or flame, nature, and mother.
Mercury Trismegistus. See HERMES TRISMEGISTUS; PYMANDER
Mergain. See MORGANA
Merkabah (Hebrew) Merkābāh A chariot, vehicle; used in two senses: first, as a chariot, the Qabbalists saying that the Supreme forms and then uses the ten Sephiroth as a chariot for descending through the various worlds enumerated in the Qabbalah. These worlds are the ten Sephiroth themselves, and ’Adam Qadmon (the Heavenly Man) is the same as the ten Sephiroth considered as a hierarchic entity permeated by and inspirited by the divine hierarch or Supreme. Here it is generally equivalent to the Sanskrit vahana.
Second, it is secret wisdom or knowledge: “without the final initiation into the Mercaba the study of the Kabala will be ever incomplete, and the Mercaba can be taught only in ‘darkness, in a deserted place, and after many and terrific trials.’ Since the death of Simeon Ben-Iochai this hidden doctrine has remained an inviolate secret for the outside world. Delivered only as a mystery, it was communicated to the candidate orally, ‘face to face and mouth to ear’” (IU 2:349). The secret wisdom or knowledge is envisaged as a vehicle or chariot because what men call esoteric wisdom is the vehicle for the communication to human consciousness of the mysteries of the universe, and consequently of man.
Merodach. See MARDUK
Meru (Sanskrit) Meru The mythological sacred mountain, said in Hindu mythology to be the abode of the gods. Each nation also has its own sacred mountain — Mount Sinai for the Hebrews, Olympus for the Greeks, Tai-shan for the Chinese, etc. Theosophical and Puranic teachings place it as the north pole, pointing to it as the center of the site of the first continent of our earth after the solidification of the globe: “It is the north pole, the country of ‘Meru,’ which is the seventh division, as it answers to the Seventh principle (or fourth metaphysically), of the occult calculation, for it represents the region of Atma, of pure soul, and Spirituality” (SD 2:403). It is described in the Surya Siddhanta as passing through the middle of the globe, and protruding on either side. On its north end are the gods, on the nether end are the demons or hells. Its roots are in the navel of the world, which connects it with the central imperishable land, the land in which each day and night lasts six months. The above also has its symbolism in the human body. See also MOUNTAINS, MUNDANE
Mesha (Sanskrit) Meṣa A ram; the first zodiacal sign, Aries. “One of the synonyms of this word is Aja. Now, Aja literally means that which has no birth, and is applied to the Eternal Brahmam in certain portions of the Upanishads. So, the first sign is intended to represent Parabrahmam, the self-existent, eternal, self-sufficient cause of creation” (Theos 3:42, 12 Signs of the Zodiac).
Mesmer, Friedrich Anton (1734-1815) Austrian physician who rediscovered and applied the human magnetic fluid, called animal magnetism and then mesmerism. “He was an initiated member of the Brotherhoods of the Fratres Lucis and of Lukshoor (or Luxor), or the Egyptian Branch of the latter. It was the Council of ‘Luxor’ which selected him — according to the orders of the ‘Great Brotherhood’ — to act in the XVIIIth century as their usual pioneer, sent in the last quarter of every century to enlighten a small portion of the Western nations in occult lore. It was St. Germain who supervised the development of events in this case; and later Cagloistro was commissioned to help, but having made a series of mistakes, more or less fatal, he was recalled. . . . Mesmer founded the ‘Order of Universal Harmony’ in 1783, in which presumably only animal magnetism was taught, but which in reality expounded the tenets of Hippocrates, the methods of the ancient Asclepieia, the Temples of Healing, and many other occult sciences” (TG 213-4). See also MAGNETIC HEALING
Mesmerism Named for Friedrich Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), a Viennese physician who conceived the idea that diseases could be healed by stroking the afflicted parts of the patient’s body with magnets. Later he discovered that the same healing effect could be produced by stroking or making passes over the afflicted parts with the hands. Hence the name animal magnetism as descriptive of this method of healing which today is generally called mesmerism.
Mesmer’s fundamental idea was that there resides in man a power, an odic force or nerve energy, which can be projected by the will and directed either to heal and cure, or to harm and kill. All people possess this power in varying degrees. The very life-atoms which continually enter and leave not only our physical bodies, but the higher parts of our composite nature, are charged with and carry with them this odic force or mesmeric influence. We continually exchange these life-atoms with other beings, unconsciously to ourselves, and with those kingdoms according to their respective natures or planes. Mesmerism, however, means the conscious or unconscious projection by a human being of this odic or vital nerve force or magnetic fluid. But the possession of this power depends upon the physical vitality and health rather than the moral or spiritual status of the operator; while the quality of this power is very greatly influenced by the moral or spiritual status of the operator. In this lies the danger of the practice of mesmerism, for unless the operator is pure minded and of high moral character, the physical vitality or magnetic fluid which he projects to the patient will be morally tainted and may constitute a grave danger to the patient who, while apparently deriving physical benefit from the treatment, may become morally weakened by it, be it in however small degree.
In accordance with the constant transmigration of life-atoms between person and person, and among all the kingdoms of nature; and, as those life-atoms are of all planes — physical, vital-astral, psychic, intellectual, and spiritual, each being of the nature of that plane and hence the carrier of the life-essence, prana, odic force, or magnetism of that plane — it follows that no person can live to himself alone; but that all people influence one another either for good or ill, particularly those who are closely associated together. This is the occult significance of the power of example good or bad, the power of a cheerful, courageous, optimistic nature, or of a nature of opposite character. Hence we may speak of the mesmeric influence as operative theoretically on all planes; but when used for purposes of physical or psychic healing, it operates on the physical and psychic planes alone, because of the vital carriers or life-atoms in question.
Even so considered, the mesmeric influence not only supplements and thus arouses to renewed activity the latent vitality of the patient, but acts indirectly upon the patient’s mind and will, by helping to remove the inhibitions upon the action of these due to physical suffering and lack of physical health; and can be used for either good or immoral ends when the influence is directed to the mental and psychic nature of the patient.
But mesmerism is not necessarily psychologization, which is control by psychic force of another’s mind and will, resulting in a dislocation of the psychic nature of the latter, a usurpation or forcible direction of the thought and will of another by the psychologizer, an invasion of that other’s most sacred rights — immoral and evil in its results, whatever immediate appearances may be, and whatever be the motive, for it cripples that part in man without which he is not fully human. Nevertheless the psychologizer, as well as the so-called hypnotizer, invariably makes use of mesmeric influence, odic force, and the pranas, for these are the carriers of thought-energy and will, without which these latter could not reach and dominate the mind and will of the subject. Mesmerism, purely as such, depends solely upon the inherent natures of the pranas, and is solely a transference of pranic energy from the operator to the subject. Thus, according to the health, physical and moral, of the operator so will the subject be affected either for good or ill.
The greatest and only sure safeguard against baneful mesmeric influence, whether consciously directed against one or unconsciously exercised by another, is one’s own aspirations, positive will, and endeavor to think and live one’s best and noblest. If all people were spiritually enlightened, the true mesmeric power could be safely used for the healing of disease and even for aid in bringing about a rectification, by the patient’s own will, of distortions and weaknesses in the patient’s character or constitution. But as matters stand, the danger in meddling with the subtle pranic energies is invariably both very real and great. One may always use the power of suggestion when this is elevated to, and employed solely on, the high moral and intellectual planes, such as by lofty spiritual and ethical teaching, precept, and especially the power of high example — because these instill thoughts and ideals in the patient’s mind arousing his own desire to follow them. These facts also demonstrate the real danger of suggestion when employed as it so often is on the lower planes, thus frequently taking the form of what are commonly called temptations.
Because mesmerism, psychologization, suggestion, and hypnotism are interlinked, all these have their respective play and place in any usage by one person of his vitality upon another.
Mesozoic Age, Era. See GEOLOGICAL ERAS
Messenger An intermediary between beings of a higher and a lower order, as between gods and men, or between the Great Lodge of Masters of Wisdom and ordinary mankind. There are buddhas, in whom the whole nature is perfect; avataras, in whom the intermediate nature, or part of it, is removed and replaced by that of another being superior to ordinary humanity who loans it temporarily for the purpose; lesser messengers, in whom the intermediate nature is partially — or even wholly — removed for a greater or less time, in order that they may become vehicles for the transmission of light undisturbed by the individual color of their own minds.
The word angel, from the Greek, means a messenger, and in the Occident referred to the various orders of spiritual beings above man. Early Christianity, as is evidenced in the works of Dionysius the pseudo-Areopagite, distinguished very clearly between the different hierarchies of angelic or spiritual beings; but Christianity for centuries has virtually forgotten or ignored these fundamental distinctions derivative from neo-Pythagorean and Neoplatonic teachings.
Messiah (Hebrew) Māshīaḥ Anointed; translated into the Greek as Christos. The Hebrews had their special form of the universal belief in the coming of avataras, and the Christians claimed that Jesus was the fulfillment of the particular Hebrew expectation. Hence Messiah is often used as a title for Jesus. Generally, a Messiah is an esoteric spiritual sun, surrounded by his spiritual family composed of twelve less powers (as in the 12 disciples); the term is connected with fish and water symbols and with the zodiacal sign Pisces (Fishes). Early Christian astrologers expected the coming of the Messiah to be signalized by a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Pisces, in connection with other planetary configurations. As regards the future, the looked-for great avatara is the Kalki-avatara of the Brahmins, virtually identical with Maitreya, the fifth buddha.
Messianic Cycle Theosophical literature gives this cycle both as a period of 2,160 years, and as a grand cycle or cosmic year — the cycle of the precession of the equinoxes — totaling 25,920 years. This grand cycle is one of the fundamental and most important of the great periods of cosmic history and evolution. The Messianic cycle is therefore a recurrent time period, at whose opening (or close) a new spiritual and intellectual effort is made publicly by the Great Brotherhood, but strictly in accordance with nature’s own cyclic vital periods or life-pulse.
Meta-spirit That which is beyond spirit; used in The Key to Theosophy to denote atman, or paramatman (Brahman) cosmically, the word spirit being reserved for emanated manifestations of this meta-spirit.
Metatron (Chaldean) Mĕṭaṭrōn Messenger; the Presence-Angel of the Covenant, superior to all other angels, according to the Qabbalah, considered as occupying as its Angel the second world (‘olam Beri’ah), constituting the entire world of spirits or angels, as he governs the visible world, preserves the harmony, unity, and revolutions of the spheres, planets, and celestial bodies, and is the commander of all the myriads of the angelic hosts of the next inferior world (Yetsirah).
Metatron is equivalent to the Greek angel, the idea being that it steps down the first world (’Atstsiloth) of spirit to the third world of form. Metatron is the garment or visible manifestation of the projected spiritual and substantial energies from the first world, and his name equals 314, and thus is equal numerically to Shaddai, the Almighty (Zohar iii, 231a).
Metempsychosis Commonly used for the entry of the soul into a new body or reimbodiment; but etymologically it means the clothing of a monad with a new soul, while metensomatosis means the clothing of that ensouled monad with a new body. The new psychic vesture with which the monad is clothed — its metempsychosis in this case — is evolved from the monad itself. Metempsychosis is in one sense a transmigration, but transmigration is not necessarily metempsychosis; for transmigration merely means changing or passing over from one condition to another, and therefore may include metensomatosis. Metempsychosis also means that the soul “is an indivisible entity in its inmost essence, which is pursuing a course along its own particular evolutionary path as an individual monad, taking upon itself ‘soul’ after ‘soul’; and it is the adventures which befall the soul, in its assumption of, or assuming, ‘soul’ after ‘soul,’ which in their aggregate are grouped together under this word Metempsychosis.
“In ordinary language metempsychosis is supposed to be a synonym for transmigration, reincarnation, pre-existence, and palingenesis, etc., but all these words in the Esoteric Philosophy have specific meanings of their own, and should not be confused” (OG 105).
Metensomatosis (Greek) Putting into another body, in the sense of repetitive somatic imbodiments. It includes all forms of imbodiment and indicates, not a single process, but a succession of imbodiments in vehicles of differing kinds. Thus a monad, expressing itself in a succession of vehicles on successive planes, would be said to undergo metensomatosis, when the attention is fixed for the time being on these vehicles themselves. The term imbodiment, almost a synonym, differs from metensomatosis only in being somewhat more general, for a monad may be imbodying itself in spiritual vestures, whereas the Greek word soma is used of the grossest vehicles on any plane, what in Sanskrit would be called the sthula-sarira.
Meteoric Veil or Continent Interplanetary space teems with fragmentary cosmic material of many kinds, from astral stuff to gross physical fragments, all being of the kind of which globes are built, but which has not yet for one reason or another been collected together into globes. The earth itself is magnetic, and these cosmic materials are mostly composed of magnetic metals; hence they are attracted to the earth and form a veil or continent or shell around it, at various heights above the explored regions of the atmosphere, and most numerous probably around the northern hemisphere. This veil or continent of magnetic material, consisting of astral stuff as well as of meteoric dust and stones, has immense and perhaps predominating influence on the weather; for the convection currents to which the changes in weather are usually attributed are only secondary causes, magnetism and indeed vital magnetism being the governing cause. This veil also interferes with, and in many ways alters, the luminous and thermal as well as other radiations from the sun and other heavenly bodies, and therefore makes unreliable attempts to calculate distances and other physical elements in accordance with the laws of radiation as they are measured on earth.
Most of the heat which the earth has, with which fact is intimately bound up what is called cold on earth, as well as most if not all of the meteoric phenomena to which the atmosphere of the earth is subject, originate in electric and electromagnetic interplay between the vital electricity and vital magnetism of the earth itself and the surrounding meteoric continent or veil. The idea of science that the earth’s heat is communicated directly from the sun is mistaken, for such heat as the sun does convey to the earth — and this is the least part of the heat the earth possesses — is aroused not by direct transmission of heat from sun to earth, but springs from the forces emanating from the sun impinging, and thus arousing heat, on the surface of the earth.
Meteorites [from Greek meteoros above the earth, applied to celestial bodies, meteorological phenomena, and shooting stars] Masses of stone or various minerals that have fallen on earth from interplanetary space. Planets are surrounded by veils or continents of meteoric stones and dust, and there is a continual fall of it upon the surface of planets. Some meteorites are in swarms orbiting around the sun, and are encountered by the earth periodically.
Blavatsky says that “they were used in the Mysteries for purposes to which we now apply the magnet” (IU 1:282). According to Herodotus, in Babylonia, Thebes, and Lycia, “the priestesses developed the prophetic vision in themselves by pressing one of these sacred stones against their heads and bosoms” (ibid., 331). Also The Mahatma Letters (p. 162) states that “all our temple knives are made of this ‘heavenly’ iron, which reaches us without having undergone any change — the magnetism of the earth keeping them in cohesion.”
Methuselah (Hebrew) Methūshelaḥ A Biblical patriarch, son of Enoch and grandfather of Noah; his life-span was stated as 969 years. The patriarchs each represented a race or subrace, and the number of years, to which the necessary ciphers should be added, referred to the cycle of such a race. Each character likewise stood for a sign of the zodiac (IU 2:459-60). Further, Methuselah assisted Enoch in constructing an underground building with nine apartments, each one of which contained one of the nine names of deity — a reference to the occult or mystical language of initiation, and of the buildings constructed for its formal rites.
Metis (Greek) [cf Sanskrit mati counsel from man to think from the verbal root mā] Wisdom; the first spouse of Zeus, and often called the mother of Athena, goddess of wisdom. She represents divine wisdom, of which water is a symbol. For this reason many ancient cosmologies speak of the universe as springing forth from the waters of space or from the bosom of divine wisdom.
Metrology One key of the ancient symbol-language, which concealed and revealed certain aspects of the esoteric teachings. It is seen in Hebrew metrology and its connection with the numerical values of the Hebrew letters, some clues to which were discovered by Ralston Skinner, author of The Source of Measures. A measure, apart from number, reduces itself to a unit of measurement. It is hard to imagine how such a unit could be conceived, defined, or preserved, apart from physical objects; so that it would not be very surprising to find that such units have been preserved in ancient masonry. A number of well-defined units, generally called cubits, have thus been found.
If metrology is taken to include ratios, pi, the golden section, and other such constants may be sought among the proportions of ancient architecture. Clearly if we know the unit used, the length or other dimensions of a building will give us a number; and so those who knew the units would have the clue to the secret numbers.
Metronethah. See MATRONITHA’
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
MU - Mundaka Upanishad
N on BG - Notes on the Bhagavad Gita, by T. Subba Row
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