Copyright © 1999 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.
EDITORS’ NOTE: This online version of the Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary is a work in progress.
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 | 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
Aham (Sanskrit) Aham Ego, I, conception of one’s individuality; the basis and psychologically the magic agent which is the root of ahamkara, the organ or faculty which produces in human beings the sense of egoity or individuality on whatever plane. While this faculty is perhaps the most powerful agent in the forward drive of evolutionary unfoldment, it is, nevertheless, but an illusory manifestation within the individual of paramatman, the supreme self of the hierarchy. The individuality, which is a characteristic of the monad, is not likewise merely maya, any more than human egoity manifesting is the full expression of the cosmic paramatman. The first cosmic Logos or paramatman is as creative of multitudes of children monads as is a human being, or indeed any other entity on its own plane. Every such child-monad is identic in substance, intelligence, and consciousness with parabrahman, and yet each is an eternal individual. As the Buddhist metaphor suggests, the sea of cosmic life is divided into incomputable hosts of drops of spirit called monads, each of which is predestined to undertake through long eons its cosmic pilgrimage in evolutionary unfoldment, finally to return and merge into the cosmic sea which gave it birth — “the dew-drop slips into the shining Sea” (Light of Asia).
Aham-atma (Sanskrit) Aham ātmā [from aham I + ātman self] I am self; meaning that every self is but a manifestation of the essential self or atman; in the case of mankind, a reflection of the Logos within. As man progresses in evolution his human self will become united with his atman, the spiritual source of his composite constitution. In the Bhagavad-Gita (10:20) Krishna says: ahamatma gudakesa sarvabhutasayasthitah (I am the atman, O Gudakesa, living in the heart of all beings).
Aham Eva Parabrahma (Sanskrit) Aham eva parabrahma [from aham I + eva indeed, verily + para beyond + brahma creative deity from the verbal root bṛh to expand] Also aham asmi parabrahma. I am verily parabrahma, the Boundless; imbodies the teaching that above and within every entity whatsoever is everything that is in universal space or boundless infinitude, so that each person is fundamentally one with all that is because the same divine consciousness flows through every point in space, in that all worlds, gods, human beings, and atoms are each one derived from the same original source.
Ahamkara (Sanskrit) Ahaṃkāra [from aham ego, I + kāra maker, doer from the verbal root kṛ to do] I-maker; conception of egoity or I-am-I-ness. In its lower aspect, the egoistical and mayavi principle, born of avidya (ignorance), which produces the notion of the personal ego as being different from the universal self. In Sankhya philosophy ahamkara is the third emanation: from prakriti (primal nature or substance) issues mahat (the great), standing for universal mind, which in turn produces ahamkara, selfhood, individuality; from ahamkara come forth the five tanmatras, the subtle forms of the elements or principles and “the two series of sense organs” (Samkhya-Sutra 1:61).
In the Bhagavad-Gita (7:4), prakriti manifests in eight portions — “earth, water, fire, air, ether [space: kham-akasa], mind [manas], understanding [buddhi] and egoity, self-sense [ahamkara]” — all of which relate to the object side, which gives an erroneous sense of identity or egoity.
As universal self-consciousness, ahamkara has “a triple aspect, as also Manas. For this conception of ‘I,’ or one’s Ego, is either sattwa, ‘pure quietude,’ or appears as rajas, ‘active,’ or remains tamas, ‘stagnant,’ in darkness. It belongs to Heaven and Earth, and assumes the properties of either” (SD 1:335n).
Ahammana (Sanskrit) Ahaṃmāna [from aham ego + māna from the verbal root man to think, reflect upon] Egoism, self-illusion; hence spiritual ignorance, the maya produced by reflecting upon or imagining one’s “I” as of primary importance. “When soul is associated with prakriti, it is vitiated by egotism [ahammana] and the rest, and assumes the qualities of grosser nature, although essentially distinct from them, and incorruptible [avyaya]” (VP 6:7).
Ahamsa (Sanskrit) Ahaṃsa [from aham ego + sa (sah) he] A mystic anagram used as a title of Brahman, the first or unmanifest kosmic Logos, to suggest the identity of man’s essence with the essence of kosmic divinity: “I am he,” “I am Brahman” (cf SD 2:465). See also HAMSA; KALAHAMSA
Ahan (Sanskrit) Ahan Day (ahan, ahas are base forms of some of the grammatical cases of ahan). In the Vishnu-Purana (1:5), one of the four bodies of Brahma: “Jyotsna (dawn), Ratri (night), Ahan (day), and Sandhya (evening)” which are “invested by the three qualities” (triguna). Esoterically this has “a direct bearing upon the seven principles of the manifested Brahma, or universe, in the same order as man. Exoterically, it is only four principles” (SD 2:58n). Hence only four bodies of Brahma are mentioned in the Puranas.
Ahancara, Ahankara. See AHAMKARA
’Ahar (Hebrew) ’Aḥar After, behind, later in time; used by some Qabbalistic writers as a name for the hierarchies of gods. Over these, the Jews said that Jehovah — the Achad (’Ehad) — was the supreme God. See also ’AHATH; ’AHER
’Ahath (Hebrew) ’Aḥath The femine form of the cardinal numberal one, signifying at times single, alone, sole; applied to the feminine aspect of the Logos or head of a hierarchy. In Hebrew occultism ’ahath or achath represents, together with the masculine form achod (’ehad) “the collective aggregate, or totality, of the principal Creators or Architects of this visible universe” (SD 1:129). Incorrectly applied to the Sephiroth-’elohim as Sephiroth, since these last are only vehicles or manifestations of the Logos. Achath-Achod (’ahath-’ehad) corresponds to the Sanskrit adi (first, primeval) or eka (One), meaning crown or hyparxis, and therefore the originant or cosmic hierarch, which divides into the many when its spiritual and substantial energies stream downwards into the planes of illusion and matter — which indeed these energies themselves compose. See also ’AHATH-RUAH-’ELOHIM-HAYYIM; ’EHAD
’Ahath-Ruah-’Elohim-Hayyim (Hebrew) ’Aḥath-Rūaḥ-’Elohīm-Ḥayyīm One soul, gods, lives; the Ancient of the Ancient (the cosmic originant, the hierarch of a cosmic hierarchy) which, being the source of the universe rolled out from within its own divine essence, thus becomes the universe itself; the Ancient of Days — not human days but cosmic manvantaras — or the Ancient of the Ancient is the soul (ruah), which thus expresses itself through the hierarchies of gods (’elohim) and the innumerable minor hierarchies of lives (hayyim) of which the universe as an organism is built.
There is a close connection in thought with the theosophic and Hindu teaching of the atman or paramatman — Brahman, the egg out of which the universe is born, filling the universe with divine and spiritual inspirations and dwelling in and working through the innumerable hierarchies of minor beings which compose and build that hierarchy, and which indeed are the universe. Another parallel is the Pythagorean teaching of Monas monadum (monad of monads). In the Qabbalah itself the correspondence is to Kether the Crown, out of which all the other, lower hierarchical grades flow emanationally. This Kether, the highest of the Sephiroth, is the Macroprosopus (the great or immense cosmic face) — an intuition of which may be gained by looking into the violet dome of night begemmed with worlds and instinct with life; the Chaldean ’Arikh ’Anpin (the vast countenance of nature), hiding the indwelling spirit. Kether, Macroprosopus, ’Arikh ’Anpin, and ’Adam Qadmon are but different manners of expressing the same hierarchical acme or originant which thus is the manifested vehicle of the Qabbalistic ’eyn soph, the parabrahman of the Vedantists, or the Boundless. Speaking of this phrase, Blavatsky remarks that it “denotes the Elohim as androgynous at best, the feminine element almost predominating, as it would read, ‘One is She the Spirit of the Elohim of Life’ ” (SD 1:130n). See also ARBA-IL
Aheie. See ’EHYEH
’Aher (Hebrew) ’Aḥēr To be after, behind, secondary, another; the plural ’aherim, especially when used in conjunction with ’elohim, means “other or strange gods,” which were supposed to be merely idols. As the Hebrew scriptures themselves show, the ancient Hebrews never at any time denied the existence of the gods of other peoples, but being utterly and strongly tribalistic, their own god Jehovah was to them supreme. Their tribal god is the regent of the planet Saturn, who was their planetary hierarch, and consequently, to them, the supreme god — the god over all other gods. Had the Jews been born as a people under the regent of some other planet, the hierarchical regent of this other planet would then have been in their opinion the supreme god.
Ah-hi (Senzar) A group or class of celestial or spiritual beings known in different countries under various names: dhyani-chohans, angels or angelic hosts, ’elohim, the Greek minor logoi, etc. Vehicles for the manifestation of cosmic mind and will, they are “the collective hosts of spiritual beings” through which the universal mind comes into action. “They are the Intelligent Forces that give to and enact in Nature her ‘laws,’ while themselves acting according to laws imposed upon them in a similar manner by still higher Powers; but they are not ‘the personifications’ of the power of Nature, as erroneously thought” (SD 1:38). During pralaya “Universal Mind was not, for there were no Ah-hi to contain it,” no celestial beings to manifest mind (Stanzas of Dzyan 1:3).
Commenting on this, Blavatsky describes the Ah-hi as entities who “being on the highest plane, reflect the universal mind collectively at the first flutter of Manvantara. After which they begin the work of evolution of all the lower forces throughout the seven planes, down to the lowest — our own. The Ah-hi are the primordial seven rays, or Logoi, emanated from the first Logos, triple, yet one in its essence. . . .
“Like all other Hierarchies, on the highest plane they are arupa, i.e., formless, bodiless, without any substance, mere breaths. On the second plane, they first approach to Rupa, or form. On the third, they become Manasa-putras, those who became incarnated in men. With every plane they reach they are called by different names . . .” (TBL 17, 20-21).
Ahi (Sanskrit) Ahi [from the verbal root aṃh to press together, strangle] A serpent; in the Rig-Veda, the serpent of the sky, also called Vritra, mythologically referred to as the demon of darkness and drought who absorbed the cosmic waters. Indra, god of the sky and rainmaker, battles with Ahi and finally slays him, releasing the waters across the land.
Ahi is likewise a name of the sun; also of Rahu, the ascending node of the moon and the daitya (demon) who periodically “swallows” (eclipses) the sun and moon.
AHIH (Hebrew) A Qabbalistic form of the tetragrammaton, representing the Macroprosopus, in contradistinction to IHVH (Jehovah), representing Microprosopus. It is connected exoterically with ‘eyeh (absolute Be-ness) and with “I am that I am.” (BCW 8:142, 147)
Ahimsa (Sanskrit) Ahiṃsā [from a not + the verbal root hiṃs to injure, kill, destroy] Harmlessness; one of the cardinal virtues. The sanctity of life is imbodied in the teachings of the Buddhists and Jains, as well as of many Hindu schools. Asoka, the first Buddhist emperor, particularly espoused ahimsa as part of the practice of dharma. According to Manu (4:148), one may acquire the faculty of “remembering former births” by the observance of ahimsa.
In the Vamana-Purana, ahimsa is personified as the wife of Dharma, whose offspring, Nara and Narayana (epithets of Arjuna and Krishna respectively), pointed the way to spiritual enlightenment.
A’hoor. See ’AHOR
’Ahor (Hebrew) ’Āḥōr The hinder part, back; in the Qabbalah used in contradistinction to ’anpin, (face; a Chaldean word also spelled ’anaph, in Hebrew ’appayim, as of Macroprosopus).
Ahriman (Persian) [from ah (Avestan) conscious life + riman the corruptor, disturber of order in the cosmos, the corruptor of mind] Personification of the evil spirit in the world. According to Mazdean philosophy, life originates from two principles: Ahura-Mazda (the light principle) and Ahriman (darkness). Shahrestani, 12th century Islamic scholar, in Al-Melall Va Al-Nehal (Nations and Sects) writes that “Magis were of three sects: Geomarathians, Zurvanians and Zoroastrians. They all shared the view that two principles govern the universe: Ahura-Mazda and Ahriman. Ahura-Mazda is the being who pre-existed and Ahriman the created one.” He further narrates allegorically that “Ahura-Mazda wondered how it would be if he had a rival. From this thought Ahriman, the evil spirit, was born, who revolted against the light and declined to abide by its laws. A battle took place between the armies of the two. The Angels came forward as mediators and agreed upon a truce that the underworld be given to Ahriman for seven thousand years and then to the Ahura-Mazda for another seven thousand years. The creatures who previously existed all vanished. Then Man, Gaeo-Marth, and an animal, taurus, appeared. They both died. From man’s head, sprouted a rhubarb and from rhubarb male and female, Mashia and Mashiana, were born, who were mankind’s progenitors. From the head of the taurus all animals originated. Their belief is that light gave mankind two choices: to remain as bodiless spirits keeping away from Ahriman, or to clothe themselves with bodies to fight against him; mankind chose the latter. The destruction of Ahriman’s army would be the day of resurrection. Man’s reason for clothing himself in a physical body was to enable him to battle against Ahriman; and his salvation depends upon defeating him.”
In later Pahlavi writings we find the progeny of Ahriman, six opponents who in their turn stand up against the Amesha-Spentas (the six immortal benefactors). See also ANGRA-MAINYU
Ahti (Finnish) Finnish god of water, pictured as an old man and helpful to fishermen; his wife is Vellamo. Also a name for Lemminkainen, called the dragon of knowledge in the Kalevala.
Ahu (Avestan) [from the verbal root ah consciousness of life; cf Sanskrit asu] Sometimes Ahum, Akhum. The most aware and therefore best prepared to rule in the physical world. Fravashi, on the other hand, is least aware of the material world and yet is the source of awareness and closest to the source of absolute Being. According to later Pahlavi writings Ahu’s task is to establish order in the human physical body; therefore it can be considered the ruler in the physical world.
Rumi, 13th century Iranian mystic poet, considers ahu (jan) conscious life, in which the immutable divine knowledge is reflected. Molavi attributes three qualities to jan: consciousness; ability to distinguish between good and evil; and an inclination towards good and resentment towards evil (Massnavi bk 6). Ferdowsi, 10th century Iranian poet, considers kherad (intellect) the preserver of ahu, the first creation and the integral part of jan.
In Mazdean literature ahu corresponds to the first of the five life-giving forces or fires namely: ahu, daena, baudha, urvan, and fravashi in the order of awareness; James Darmesteter translates them respectively as: spirit, conscience, intelligence, soul, and fravashi (Yasna 26, 4).
Ahu (Sanskrit) Ahu [probably from paro’ṃhu beyond the range of sight] Invisible, unknown, secret, mysterious; Blavatsky equates it with the Sanskrit eka (one) and Hebrew echod, that which begins an emanation-series from the Unknowable (SD 1:113).
Ahum (Avestan) The lower personal existence or personal life; the lowest triad in the human septenary constitution: the physical body, the vital principle, and the astral body.
Ahura (Avestan) [from the verbal root ahu conscious life; cf Sanskrit asura] The lord of life, the one life from whom all proceed; as daevas who were originally gods of the Aryans changed to demons among the Iranian branch of the Aryans, asura also changed to demons among the Indians. In the earlier Vedas, asura is especially used for Varuna, the ruler of the heavenly sphere. “The Mazdean Scriptures of the Zend Avesta, the Vendidad and others correct and expose the later cunning shuffling of the gods in the Hindu Pantheon, and restore through Ahura the Asuras to their legitimate place in Theogony . . .” (SD 2:60-1).
Blavatsky gives a human interpretation of Ahura: “The Magian knew not of any Supreme ‘personal’ individuality. He recognized but Ahura — the ‘lord’ — the 7th Principle in man, — and ‘prayed’, i.e. made efforts during the hours of meditation, to assimilate with, and merge his other principles — that are dependent on the physical body and ever under the sway of Angra-Mainya (or matter) — into the only pure, holy and eternal principle in him, his divine monad. To whom else could he pray? Who was ‘Ormuzd’ if not the chief Spent-Mainyu, the monad, our own god-principle in us? . . .
“And wisely does it [the occult doctrine] explain to us that Ahura is our own inner, truly personal God and that he is our Spiritual light and the ‘Creator of the material world’ — i.e., the architect and shaper of the Microcosm — Man, when the latter knows how to resist Angra-Mainyu, or Kama — lust or material desires — by relying on him who overshadows him, the Ahura-Mazda or Spiritual Essence. . . . Ahura-Mazda is also the Father of Tistrya, the rain-bestowing god (the 6th principle) that fructifies the parched soil of the 5th and 4th, and helps them to bear good fruit through their own exertions, i.e., by tasting of Haoma, the tree of eternal life, through spiritual enlightenment” (BCW 4:520-23).
Ahura-Mazda (Avestan) Aura-Mazda (Old Persian) Auhr-Mazd (Pahlavi) Hormazd, Hormoz, Ormazd, Ormuzd (Persian) [from Avestan ahura lord of life from the verbal root ahu conscious life + mazda the creator of mind, remembering, bearing in mind from the verbal root man to think + da the creator, bestower; cf Pahlavi dehesh creation] The lord of life and creator of mind; the immutable light, the uncreated supreme deity of the Mazdean system. Pythagoras said that “the Iranian Magis consider Ahura-Mazda a being whose body is of light and his soul is of truth.” He is referred to as the maker of the material world and father of the six Amesha-Spentas. In later Persian literature similar descriptions of the supreme creator have been given. Ferdowsi refers to him as the lord of jan (consciousness) and kherad (intellect).
Regarding the dualistic cosmic system of the Zoroastrians — good and evil — Blavatsky comments: “No more philosophically profound, no grander or more graphic and suggestive type exists among the allegories of the World-religions than that of the two Brother-Powers of the Mazdean religion, called Ahura-Mazda and Angra-Mainyu, better known in their modernized form of Ormuzd and Ahriman. Of these two emanations, ‘Sons of Boundless Time’ — Zeruana-Akrana — itself issued from the Supreme and Unknowable Principle, the one is the embodiment of ‘Good Thought’ (Vohu-Mano), the other of ‘Evil Thought’ (Ako-Mano). The ‘King of Light’ or Ahura-Mazda, emanates from Primordial Light and forms or creates by means of the ‘Word,’ Honover (Ahuna-Vairya), a pure and holy world. But Angra-Mainyu, though born as pure as his elder brother, becomes jealous of him, and mars everything in the Universe, as on the earth, creating Sin and Evil wherever he goes.
“The two Powers are inseparable on our present plane and at this stage of evolution, and would be meaningless, one without the other. They are, therefore, the two opposite poles of the One Manifested Creative Power, whether the latter is viewed as a Universal Cosmic Force which builds worlds, or under its anthropomorphic aspect, when its vehicle is thinking man” (BCW 13:123-4).
Because Maz or Mez in the word Mazda can also be another way of pronouncing myth, Mazda can mean that which is created by Mez, by the hidden truth. Then Ahura-Mazda would mean the life-bearer who is created by the hidden truth.
Aidoneus. See HADES
Aij-Taion The chief god of one of the Yakut tribes of Siberia who dwell principally near the Lena River. This deity presides at the formation of all the worlds, although not producing them itself. Aij-Taion is stationed on the ninth heaven, whereas the minor deities are located in the seventh heaven.
Aima (Aramaic) ’Immā’ or ’Īmmā’. The great mother; corresponding in the Qabbalah to ’Abba’ (father) and having the metaphorical significance of the beginning or foundation of anything. Binah (understanding, intelligence), the third Sephirah, is termed the Heavenly Mother (’Imma’ ‘illa’ah): “the ‘woman with child’ of Revelation (xii.) was Aime, the great mother, or Binah, the third Sephiroth, ‘whose name is Jehovah’; and the ‘Dragon,’ who seeks to devour her coming child (the Universe), is the Dragon of absolute Wisdom — that Wisdom which, recognising the non-separateness of the Universe and everything in it from the Absolute All, sees in it no better than the great Illusion, Mahamaya, hence the cause of misery and suffering” (SD 2:384n).
Ain. See ’EYN SOPH
Aindri (Sanskrit) Aindrī [feminine adjective of indra probably from the verbal root ind to drop] Pertaining to the god Indra; as a feminine proper noun, the consort of Indra; also called Aindri-sakti, Indrani, and Aindriya. Aindri (masculine) means a descendant of Indra, occasionally referring to Arjuna, son of Indra by Kunti.
Aindriya. See AINDRI
Aindriyaka (Sanskrit) Aindriyaka [from indriya sense, power; belonging to Indra] In the Puranas, the creations of Brahma are variously enumerated as six, seven, and nine. Aindriyaka represents the organic creation involving the evolution or unfolding of the senses (cf VP 1:5).
Ain Soph. See ’EYN SOPH
Ain Soph Aur. See ’EYN SOPH ’OR
Aion. See AEON
Aior. See ’OR
Air One of the four primary elements which also include fire, water, and earth. It does not denote the earth’s atmosphere, since ordinary air is a particular gas, and the gaseous state is only one of the conditions of matter — it might be called the air division or air condition of earth, since earth denotes physical matter. The primary elements have secondary derivatives, and these have again other derivatives. In the first round only one element was developed, fire; in the second round the elements were fire and air; in the third, water was added; in the fourth, earth; and ether will appear in the fifth round. Fire is spoken of as the One, air as the Two, water as the Three, earth as the Four. Air is the Father, the creative element. The Vishnu-Purana describes the attributes of air: it corresponds to the sense of touch, and gives bulk.
The states of matter give clues by means of correspondence to the understanding of the primary elements. Gases are indefinitely expansible and their particles have great freedom and range of movement and are always in rapid motion. It would seem by analogy that the solid state corresponds to the physical planes, the liquid state to the astral or psychic plane, air to mind, and fire to spirit. Air may be called the vehicle of fire, as mind is the vehicle of spirit. Fire is analogous to points or foci of energy; air, being number two, suggests lines of force or radiation, motion. The air which, according to the teaching of the medieval Fire-philosophers, is the domain of sylphs is certainly not our familiar mixture of oxygen and nitrogen, which is merely a correspondence of the element on our plane; it is when on our own astral air plane that these beings may be encountered.
Airavata (Sanskrit) Airāvata [from irāvat moisture-possessing from irā drink, food] Son of Iravati; a vast elephant produced at the churning of the ocean and appropriated by the god Indra. When seated upon Airavata, Indra blesses the earth with rain, i.e., with the water that is drawn up by Airavata from the underworld. According to the Matangalila, Airavata was born when Brahma sang over the halves of the shell from which Garuda hatched, followed by seven more male and eight female elephants.
In the Mahabharata (Adi-parvan, ch 66) Airavata guards the eastern zone. Four such “elephants” (sometimes eight, each with its sakti or feminine potency) uphold the structure of the earth. The mighty four-tusked Airavata, therefore, represents one of the lokapalas (world protectors) — called by Buddhists maharajas (great kings) — which are the guardians and supporters of the universe. They are also mystically connected with the lipikas, the eternal karmic scribes. In the Bhagavad-Gita (10:2, 7) Krishna, in naming his divine manifestations, says that among elephants he is Airavata.
Airgiod-Lamh An old Irish name for Zoroaster. “In an ancient Irish MSS Zaratusht is called Airgiod-Lamh, or the ‘Golden Hand,’ the hand that received and scattered celestial fire (Wm. Ouseley, Oriental Collections 1:303).” (BCW 3:462)
Airyaman (Persian) The divine aspect of Ahriman (the personification of evil in the Zoroastrian system) before he “became a dark opposing power, a Satan. For Ahriman is of the same essence with Ahura-Mazda, just as Typhon-Seth is of the same essence with Osiris” (TG 12). He is invoked in the Airyama-ishyo. (SD 2:517)
Airyana-Vaego, Airyamen Vaego, Airyana-Varsedya. See AIRYANMEN VAEJA
Airyana-ishejo. See AIRYEMA-ISHYO
Airyanmen Vaeja, Airyena-Vaegah, Airyana-Vaeja (Avestan) Airyam-Veg (Pahlavi) “The Aryans (the noble ones) are said in the Avesta to have had their original home in the far land of Airyana Vaeja (the cradle land of the Aryans), the first among the lands created by Mazda. It was at the center of the earth and in its very center stood the mountain Harabareza. This corresponds with the Hindu descriptions of the Land of the Gods with Mount Meru at its center” (Taraporewala, The Religion of Zarathushtra). The Aryans divided the universe into seven regions or keshvars: 1) Arzah or Arzahe; 2) Shabah, Sava-Cavahe; 3) Fradadafsh, Fradadhfsha; 4) Vidadafsh, Vidadahfshu; 5) Vorubarst, Vourubaresti; 6) Vorugarst, Vourujaresti, Vouruzaresti; and 7) Khvanuras, Ganiratha, Hvaniratha. The seventh land is situated in the middle of the other six. According to the introduction of Abu-Mansouri’s Shah-Nameh (the older Shah-Nameh), the seventh land, which the kings named Iran-Shahr (Airya-Vaeja) is also in the middle of the other six.
Airyanem Vaejo is the primeval land of innocence and bliss of the Vendidad, similar to the Sveta-dvipa (white island) of Puranic literature or to Mount Meru. In this “beautiful land,” by the river Daitya, “the stars, the moon, and the sun are only once (a year) seen to rise and set” (Vendidad). Blavatsky equates it with the cradleland of physical humanity, and locates it in Central Asia. It is identical to Sambhala and to Arghya Varsha from which the Kalki avatara is expected (SD 2:416; BCW 4:526-7).
In Persian legend, the serpent appeared in Airyanem Vaejo and by his venom transformed the beautiful, eternal spring into winter, generating disease and death. Interpreting this geologically and astronomically, “every occultist knows that the Serpent alluded to is the north pole, as also the pole of the heavens. The latter produces the seasons according to the angle at which it penetrates the centre of this earth. The two axes were no more parallel; hence the eternal spring of Airyana-Vaego by the good river Daitya had disappeared, and ‘the Aryan magi had to emigrate to Sagdiani’ — say exoteric accounts. But the esoteric teaching states that the pole had passed through the equator, and that the ‘land of bliss’ of the Fourth Race, its inheritance from the Third, had now become the region of desolation and woe. This alone ought to be an incontrovertible proof of the great antiquity of the Zoroastrian Scriptures” (SD 2:356).
Airyema-ishyo (Avestan) Airyemā-ishyō. The much-desired brotherhood, or Yasna 54: “May brotherhood of man, for which we yearn, come down amongst us and rejoice the hearts of men and maidens of Zarathustra’s faith. Bringing fulfillment unto Vohu Man; when souls of men receive their precious mead, I pray too Asha in His Grace to grant these blessings for which human souls do long, which Mazda hath meant for all.” “This verse, though actually not included in the Gathas, follows immediately after the Fifth Gatha. Both the language and the metre are exactly the same, as those of the Fifth Gatha. . . . This verse is recited during the Zoroastrian marriage service as part of ‘the blessing’ ” (Taraporewala, The Religion of Zarathushtra 148).
Aisa (Greek) Goddess who “gives to all their portion of good and evil, and is therefore karma.” (SD 2:604-5n)
Aish (Hebrew) ’Īsh Man; the name Jesus was said by Blavatsky to have been derived aish (BCW 9:228n). Regarding the symbology of the crucifixion, Blavatsky remarks that “the early compilers of the Christian Mysteries were well versed in Esoteric philosophy and the Hebrew occult metrology, and used it dexterously. Thus they took the word aish . . . and used it in conjunction with that of Shanah ‘lunar year,’ so mystically connected with the name of Jehovah, the supposed ‘father’ of Jesus, and embosomed the mystic idea in an astronomical value and formula” (SD 2:561).
Aistheton (Greek) Sensible, perceived by the senses; used by Plato in contrast with noeton (intelligible) to indicate the visible aspect of the primeval cause of the manifested world. (FSO 194)
Aisvarika (Sanskrit) Aiśvarika [from īśvara lord, prince, master from the verbal root īś to be valid, powerful, master of] Relating to a lord or king; the hierarch or supreme spirit of a hierarchy. One of the four philosophical schools or systems in Nepal (the others being Karmika, Yatnika, and Svabhavika). In this system, adi-buddha is individualized as the cosmic spirit of our hierarchy, attention being centered on this individualization to an extent unusual in Buddhism. While it is true that the highest individualized manifestation of adi-buddhi is adi-buddha, which is the isvara or supreme hierarch of our own cosmic hierarchy, nevertheless both adi-buddhi and adi-buddha are abstract principles of the galactic spaces.
Aitareya (Sanskrit) Aitareya [from itara other; also from itarā mother of Aitareya] Name of a Brahmana or literary work attached to the Rig-Veda; also of Mahidasa, author of a Brahmana and an Aranyaka. The Aitareya-Brahmana (or Aitareyaka) contains forty adhyayas (sections) in which the duties of a hotri (priest) are enumerated. The Aitareya-Aranyaka consists of five books or aranyakas, the second and third of which are called the Aitareya-Upanishad (although sometimes the last four sections of the second book alone are so designated).
Aithihya (Sanskrit) Aitihya [from iti thus, in this manner + ha emphatic particle] Thus indeed it was; traditional instructions, tradition. Closely similar to itihasa, a name applied to semi-legendary and epic accounts; also to the Mahabharata and Ramayana. As the instructors of certain schools in handing on teaching (especially oral teaching delivered with “mouth to ear”) invariably commenced an installment with the phrase “iti maya srutam” or “iti ha maya srutam” (truly thus have I heard), such instruction came to be called aitihya or aitiha. The adjectival form aitihasika also means what is communicated or derived from tradition, ancient legend, or heroic history.
Aja (Sanskrit) Aja [from a not + the verbal root jan to be born, produced] Unborn; title given to many of the primordial gods. In the Rig-Veda, the equivalent of the First Logos, which is a radiation or first manifestation on the plane of illusion of the cosmic One — the Absolute or cosmic paramatman. The Purusha-Sukta or Hymn of Man (RV 10:90) states that the thousand-headed Purusha is dismembered at the foundation of the world so that from his remains the universe might arise. This is the foundation of the later Christian symbol of the sacrificial lamb, for there is here a play on words: Aja the “unborn” — Purusha or manvantaric spirit — may also be derived from the verbal root aj (to drive, propel), whose meanings include a he-goat, a ram, and the sign Aries. Spirit disappears — dies, metaphorically — the more it becomes involved in cosmic matter, and hence the sacrifice of the unborn, the lamb, or the ram (cf TBL 56).
Aja when derived from the verbal root aj, is also a title given to various Vedic divinities such as Rudra, Indra, Agni, the sun, the maruts, and in post-Vedic works to Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, as well as to cosmic Kama, counterpart of the Greek cosmic Eros — all these gods being considered leaders of their respective hierarchies in the sense of urging, driving, or propelling life and intelligence therein.
In its feminine form, aja signifies maya (illusion) and hence prakriti (evolving nature).
Ajapa (Sanskrit) Ajapa [from a not + the verbal root jap to speak in a low voice] One who does not use orthodox prayers; a reciter of heterodox mantras or works. Ajapa is the form of mantra called hamsa, consisting of a series of inhalations and exhalations.
Ajita (Sanskrit) Ajita [from a not + the verbal root ji to conquer, triumph] The invisible, unsurpassed; in the Vayu-Purana, the highest of twelve gods, named jayas, who were created by Brahma to aid him at the beginning of the manvantara. But because they neglected his directives, Brahma “cursed” them to be born in each succeeding manvantara until the seventh, the Vaivasvata-manvantara (cf VP 1:15; n2, p. 26). These twelve jayas are the Hindu equivalent of the twelve great gods of Greco-Roman mythology. Because of their all-permeant character, on a lower scale these divinities are identical with the manasa, the jnana-devas, the rudras, and other classes of manifested deities. In these lower manifestations of their functions, they are identical with those dhyani-chohanic groups which “refuse to incarnate,” spoken of in The Secret Doctrine.
Also the name of the second of the 24 Tirthankaras or Jain teachers.
Ajnana (Sanskrit) Ajñāna [from a not + jñāna knowledge from the verbal root jñā to know, perceive, understand] More often absence of knowledge rather than ignorance. An ajnana is a profane, one who is outside the sanctum or inner temples of the Mysteries.
Akar. See AKERT
Akarsha (Sanskrit) Ākarṣa [from ā near to, towards + kṛṣ to draw, pull, lead] Drawing towards oneself, attraction, fascination as by magnetism. The law of attraction, and its alter ego repulsion, is a fundamental and universal operation of nature and is active on all planes and in all spaces and times. It is, in another sense, one of the functions of that unceasing motion which is an inherent attribute of cosmic consciousness. “Motion is the eternal order of things and affinity or attraction its handmaid of all works” (ML 67).
Akasa (Sanskrit) Ākāśa [from ā + the verbal root kāś to be visible, appear, shine, be brilliant] The shining; ether, cosmic space, the fifth cosmic element. The subtle, supersensuous spiritual essence which pervades all space. It is not the ether of science, but the aether of the ancients, such as the Stoics, which is to ether what spirit is to matter. In the Brahmanical scriptures, akasa is used for what the Northern Buddhists call svabhavat, more mystically adi-buddhi (primeval buddhi); it is also mulaprakriti, cosmic spirit-substance, the reservoir of being and of beings. Genesis refers to it as the waters of the deep. It is universal substantial space, and mystically in its highest elements is alaya.
As universal space, it is also known as Aditi, in which lies inherent the eternal and continuously active ideation of the universe producing its ever-changing aspects on the planes of matter and objectivity; and from this ideation radiates the First Logos. This is why the Puranas state that akasa has but one attribute, namely sound, for sound is but the translated symbol of logos (speech) in its mystic sense. Akasa as primordial spatial substance is thus the upadhi (vehicle) of divine thought. Further, it is the playground of all the intelligent and semi-intelligent forces in nature, the fountainhead of all terrestrial life, and the abode of the gods.
Akasa is the noumenon and spiritual substratum of differentiated prakriti, otherwise the seven or ten prakritis, the root or roots of all in the universe. These prakritis are not merely in akasa, but are the manifestations of akasa in its various grades or degrees of evolutionary development. All the ancient nations mythologically deified akasa in one or another of its aspects and powers (cf IU 1:125 for a descriptive listing of the many names anciently used for akasa). It is the indispensable agent in all religious or profane magic: occult electricity, the universal solvent, in another aspect kundalini. “Akasa is the mysterious fluid termed by scholastic science, ‘the all-pervading ether’; it enters into all the magical operations of nature, and produces mesmeric, magnetic, and spiritual phenomena. As, in Syria, Palestine, and India, meant the sky, life, and the sun at the same time; the sun being considered by the ancient sages as the great magnetic well of our universe” (IU 1:140n).
Sometimes the astral light is used as a convenient but inaccurate phrase for akasa. In clarifying the difference between these Blavatsky says: “The Astral Light is that which mirrors the three higher planes of consciousness, and is above the lower, or terrestrial plane; therefore it does not extend beyond the fourth plane, where, one may say, the Akasa begins.
“There is one great difference between the Astral Light and the Akasa which must be remembered. The latter is eternal, the former is periodic. The Astral Light changes not only with the Mahamanvantaras but also with every sub-period and planetary cycle or Round. . . .
“The Akasa is the eternal divine consciousness which cannot differentiate, have qualities, or act; action belongs to that which is reflected or mirrored from it. The unconditioned and infinite can have no relation with the finite and conditioned. . . . We may compare the Akasa and the Astral Light . . . to the germ in the acorn. The latter, besides containing in itself the astral form of the future oak, conceals the germ from which grows a tree containing millions of forms. These forms are contained in the acorn potentially, yet the development of each particular acorn depends upon extraneous circumstances, physical forces, etc.” (TBL 75-6; also IU 1:197).
The astral light is the tablet of memory of earth and of its child the animal-man; while akasa is the tablet of memory of the hierarchy of the planetary spirits controlling our chain of globes, and likewise of their child, each spiritual ego. The astral light is simply the dregs or lowers vehicles of akasa. Gautama Buddha held only two things as eternal: akasa and nirvana. In the Chandogya Upanishad (7:12:1-2) akasa (ether, space) is equated with Brahman.
Akasa-bhuta (Sanskrit) Ākāśa-bhūta [from ākāśa ether, space + bhūta element, existing, being from the verbal root bhū to be, become] The aether element, the Father-Mother element, third in the descending scale of seven cosmic bhutas which in the Upanishads are reckoned as five, and in Buddhist writings as four. Akasa-bhuta has its analog in the Third Logos, which because it is formative or creative is called Father-Mother. Not the ether, which is merely one of its lowest principles and only slightly more ethereal than physical matter.
Akasa-sakti (Sanskrit) Ākāśa-śākti [from ākāśa ether, space + śakti power, energy, from the verbal root śak to be strong, able] Used by Blavatsky for the soul or energy of prakriti: “The Tibetan esoteric Buddhist doctrine teaches that Prakriti is cosmic matter, out of which all visible forms are produced; and Akasa that same cosmic matter — but still more imponderable, its spirit, as it were, ‘Prakriti’ being the body or substance, and Akasa-Sakti its soul or energy” (BCW 3:405n). Each divinity is supposed to have his sakti (active energy), mythologically referred to as his consort or feminine counterpart. Thus akasa-sakti is used as the akasa-power in the all-various differentiations of prakriti.
Akasa-tattva (Sanskrit) Ākāśa-tattva [from ākāśa ether, space + tattva thatness, reality from tat that] The brilliant, shining, spiritually luminous, evolving substratum of nature; the third in the descending scale of the seven tattvas. According to one manner of enumerating the cosmic procession of consciousnesses, this tattva corresponds to the feminine aspect of the creative or Third Logos; but as nature repeats itself constantly in its processes of evolutionary unfolding, it is likewise proper to derive the subordinate First Logos from akasa when it is considered as virtually identical with mulaprakriti. In view of this repetitive functioning in nature, it is important not to allow the mind to crystallize around any one definition of a stage in any series of “descents” as being the only stage properly so described. This is seen with the First Logos: adi-tattva, first of the five or seven tattvas, may be called the First Logos; from another aspect the First Logos is born from akasa-tattva as the formative or creative mental impulse.
Akasic [from Sanskrit ākāśa ether, space] The anglicized adjectival form of akasa.
Akasic Magnetism In theosophy both electricity and magnetism are considered as the vital fluids or effluxes of living beings, which flow forth from them and, interblending and interworking, produce the multimyriad forms of electric and magnetic phenomenal activity common everywhere. This means that both magnetism and electricity are to be traced to their source in cosmic akasa, which is in the great what the magnetism of an individual is in the small. The changes occurring in the earth’s magnetism “are due to akasic magnetism incessantly generating electric currents which tend to restore disturbed equilibrium” (ML 160). Hence all magnetic or electrical activity on earth is produced by astral magnetism and electricity incessantly generating electric and magnetic currents which reproduce themselves in the physical sphere.
Akasic Samadhi [adjective of ākāśa ether, space + samādhi profound meditation from sam-ā-dha to hold or fix together (in abstract thought)] Used for the state of consciousness into which victims of accidental death enter: “a state of quiet slumber, a sleep full of rosy dreams, during which, they have no recollection of the accident, but move and live among their familiar friends and scenes, until their natural life-term is finished, when they find themselves born in the Deva-Chan . . .” (ML 109).
This condition of human consciousness differs from the devachanic state. As used above, akasic samadhi was applied to those individuals dying by accident who on earth had been of unusually pure character and life. It is a temporary condition, equivalent to an automatic reproduction in the victim’s consciousness of the beautiful and holy thoughts that the person had had during incarnated life; in fact, a sort of preliminary to the devachanic state. Such dream state immediately succeeds the first condition of absolute unconsciousness which the shock of death brings to all human beings, good, bad, or indifferent. In the above cases there is no conscious kama-lokic experience whatsoever, because the shock of death has brought about the paralysis of all the lower parts of the human constitution. Only adumbrations of the consciousness of the buddhi and atman, with the most spiritual portion of manas are then active (ML 131). In certain cases the condition of samadhi in the akasic portions of the human constitution may last until what would have been the natural life term on earth is completed; and then these individuals glide into the devachanic state.
Aker (Egyptian) Aker. An Egyptian god represented as a lion god stationed at the door of dawn, through which the sun entered each day. In later Egyptian civilization two lions were pictured, called the Lion of Yesterday (Sef) and of Today (Tuau), represented with human heads. In the conflict between the sun god Ra and Apep (the serpent of evil), Aker aids the forces of light by binding and chaining the serpent.
Akert (Egyptian) Ȧḳert. Name for the underworld, of which Osiris in his aspect of Un-nefer was the lord. Also the name of the god of the fifth hour of the day.
Akhu. See KHU
Akkadians, Accadians A non-Semitic race which preceded the Semites in Babylonia, evidence for whom is mainly found in some of the cuneiform inscriptions. The name comes from the city of Agade, the capital of Sargon I. Blavatsky says in The Secret Doctrine that the Akkadians were not Turanian, but were emigrants from India and were the Aryan instructors of the later Babylonians. There is an Akkadian Genesis, which stands in the line of descent leading to the Biblical Genesis.
The ethnology of the ancient peoples inhabiting Mesopotamia is extremely obscure. The records of occult history show that in a previous geological period, all that portion of western and central-western Asia, which includes Persia, Babylonia, Turkestan, Baluchistan, Afghanistan, etc., was once a highly fertile and well-populated portion of the earth’s surface, not only bearing once famous and brilliant civilizations, but likewise the seat of different peoples living side by side. When immense climatic and geological changes took place, this vast stretch of territory became the seeding-place or focus whence spread to the east, south, and west various emigrant offshoots which populated what were then less fertile territories, which in time became on the one hand northern India, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, and Turkestan, and on the southwest Iran, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and the Caucasus district. It was far later that a reverse current of emigration left what is now northern India and proceeded westward settling to a certain extent in the lands of their ancient forefathers, and this accounts not only for the similarities between the west and east of this district, but the Indian influence perceptible in Mesopotamia and the close linguistic and other links that existed between the ancient Zoroastrians and the Brahmanical streams of thought.
Akrishu, Akarsha (Sanskrit) Ākṛṣu, Ākarṣa [from ākṛṣ to attract, pull towards one] Attraction, contrasted with prishu or presha (repulsion) (ML 35).
Aksha (Sanskrit) Akṣa [from the verbal root akṣ to reach, pass through, pervade] An axle, axis, wheel, car; a die for gambling, a cube; rarely, inner knowledge, as the axis or pivot of life. As a neuter noun, either an organ or an object of sense perception. In the Ramayana, Aksha (akshakumara) was one of the three sons of Ravana, king of the demons, and was slain by Hanuman in Lanka.
Akshara (Sanskrit) Akṣara [from a not + kṣara flowing from the verbal root kṣar to flow, melt away] Imperishable; name of Brahman, also on occasion of Siva and Vishnu, signifying their enduring, imperishable nature for the term of the mahamanvantara. Krishna tells Arjuna that there are two Purushas in the world — kshara and akshara — the perishable and the imperishable; that all beings are kshara in the sense used by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus: panta rhei (all things flow); and that which dies not is akshara (BG 15:16-17). But the highest Purusha is still another, the paramatman (supreme atman).
Akshanvat, Akshanvanta (Sanskrit) Akṣanvat, Akṣanvanta One furnished with eyes; used in the Vedas (10:71:7), where friends emulate each other in singing. Connected by Blavatsky with the development of sight, hearing, and human language, and with the fact that words for light and sound originate from the same roots. (BCW 7:67)
Akta (Sanskrit) Akta [from the verbal root aj to drive, propel; also from the verbal root añj to smear, bedaub, anoint] Propelling force; also anointed. Linked with both christos (anointed) and Visvakarman (Tvashtri), divine artist and architect in Vedic literature personifying the cosmic formative force or energy of the Logos (SD 2:101&n).
Akupara (Sanskrit) Akūpāra [from a not + kūpāra ocean] Unbounded; the mythical tortoise which upholds the earth (sometimes kupara). Also the sea, whether earthly or cosmic; likewise a name for the sun (cf MB Vana-parvan, ch 199).
Al. See EL
Al-ait (Phoenician) The god of fire, a “very mystic name in Koptic occultism” (TG 14).
Alaparus (Chaldean) The second divine king of Babylonia who reigned “three Saroi,” a saros being 3600 years. According to Berosus, the first king of the divine dynasty was Alorus, who reigned ten saroi. These figures refer not to human individuals but to subraces: since each definitely distinctive subrace has its own svabhava or individuality, the ancients spoke of each as an individual.
Alawn (Welsh) [from alaw song, harmony] One of the three primitive Bards, the disciples of Tydain Tad Awen by whom Druidism was founded, the other two being Plenydd and Gwron. A Druidic movement being started would be presided over in turn by a Plenydd or light-bringer, a Gwron or stabilizer, and an Alawn or harmonizer, and so on in succession.
Alaya (Sanskrit) Alaya [from a not + laya dissolution from the verbal root lī to dissolve] Nondissolution; the indissoluble; used in Buddhism for the universal soul or higher portions of anima mundi, the source of all beings and things. Mystically identical with akasa in the latter’s highest elements and with mahabuddhi; also with mulaprakriti as root-producer or root-nature (OG 5).
With Mahayana Buddhists alaya is both the universal soul and the spiritual self of an advanced sage. Aryasangha taught that “he who is strong in the Yoga can introduce at will his Alaya by means of meditation into the true Nature of Existence” (cf SD 1:49-51; also FSO 98n).
The Secret Doctrine (1:49) mentions Alaya in the Yogachara system, most probably referring to alaya-vijnana, but adds that with the “Esoteric ‘Buddhists’ . . . ‘Alaya’ has a double and even a triple meaning.”
Alaya-mahat (Sanskrit) Alaya-mahat [from alaya abode, dwelling + mahat cosmic mind] The universal mind, of which the personal or individual mind (buddhi-manas) is a temporary reflection. (BCW 12:313, 371)
Alaya-vijnana (Sanskrit) Ālaya-vijñāna [from ālaya abode, dwelling from ā-lī to settle upon, come close to + vijñāna discernment, knowledge from vi-jñā to distinguish, know, understand] Abode of discriminative knowledge; the cognizing or discerning faculty, the mental power of making distinctions, hence the higher reasoning. When used mystically as “a receptacle or treasury of knowledge or wisdom,” it corresponds very closely to the Vedantic vijnanamaya-kosa, the “thought-made sheath” of the human constitution, the higher manas or reincarnating ego.
In Mahayana Buddhism, alaya-vijnana has acquired a somewhat larger and higher significance: alaya (an abode, in the sense of focus of activity), the prepositional prefix a (meaning position or limitation) with the verb li (to dissolve) signifies solution or coalescence in unity. Used much as the term human monad is in theosophy, equivalent to the higher manas or even buddhi-manas, it therefore signifies the focus or interior organ of consciousness into which is collected at the end of each incarnation the aroma of the higher experiences during that lifetime, thus forming a kind of treasury.
Alaya Vynyana. See ALAYA-VIJNANA
Alba Petra (Latin) White stone; “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it” (Rev 2:17). The meaning of the white stone is initiation, the purified nature of the adept-initiate. The new name written in it is a way of expressing the new man who is thus reborn in the initiation chamber; and because he has thus become a new man, he is entitled to the new name which is that of adept-initiate. Clearly, no man knows this new name except him who receives it.
Albigenses A sect arising in Southern France in the 11th century and opposed by the Roman Catholic Church, which exterminated it in the 13th century. It had affinity with the Catharists and also more distantly with the Paulicians, derivatives of the Eastern Church. The doctrines and the pedigree of the Albigenses show it to be a distant offshoot of Manichaeism, so long the formidable rival of orthodox Christianity in Europe and Asia. There was the characteristic Manichaean dualism and belief in some form of transmigration and metempsychosis. There was, according to some, the Docetic view of Christ — that his body was a mere appearance, his spirit being the reality. The authority of the Old Testament was not admitted as inspired.
Alborz. See BORJ
Alcahest. See ALKAHEST
Alchemy [from Arab al-kimiya from al the + kimiya philosopher’s stone from Greek chyma fluid] The art of divine magic under a chemical symbolism. The ancient alchemists, more conscious of the unity of nature, perhaps did not need to distinguish between a natural and spiritual alchemy or to regard one as symbolic of the other. Alchemy was introduced into Europe by the Arabs, from whom it may be traced to Egypt and India. Modern Europe knows it best from medieval alchemists, who studied its physical aspects, though some could interpret the symbolism and work out the analogies between the physical elements and processes and their spiritual counterparts.
Alchemy seeks the primal unity beyond diversity: a homogeneous substance from which the many elements were derived; a pure gold which could be obtained from baser metals by purging them of the dross with which the pure element was alloyed; an elixir of life which would cure all diseases. The transmutation of metals was their magnum opus; the agent to be employed was the philosopher’s stone. Though these processes are possible physically, the spiritual processes to which they correspond are incomparably more important. The base metals are the passions and delusions of the lower mind; and the pure gold is the wisdom of the manas in alliance with buddhi.
The homogeneous substance and the elixir of life have virtually the same meaning. The perpetuum mobile (ever moving) and the inexhaustible lamp have their counterparts in the eternal motion and the spiritual fire. The three elements sulfur, salt, and mercury denote spirit, body, and soul, or fire, earth, and water.
Alcoholism. See DELIRIUM TREMENS
Alcyone The brightest star in the Pleiades. Alcyone and the Pleiades are the central group of “the system of sidereal symbology. . . . the focus from which, and into which the divine breath, Motion, works incessantly during the Manvantara” (SD 2:551). The culmination of the Pleiades and Alcyone on the meridian at midnight in November has been celebrated worldwide by festivals, chiefly in honor of the dead.
Aldebaran A first magnitude ruddy star, the principal star in Taurus the Bull. It is one of the four Royal Stars of the ancient Persians, which approximately marked the solstices and equinoxes about 4000 BC. It represented the spring equinox; the others being Antares in Scorpius (summer solstice), Regulus in Leo (autumnal equinox), and Fomalhaut in the Southern Fish (winter solstice). They have been connected from an early time in India with the legends concerning the four Maharajas (regents of the cardinal points) and the four primitive elements, and have come down to us in connection with Hebrew and Semitic writings as the archangels Uriel, Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael, as well as in the Christian symbols of the four evangelists: the bull, the eagle (Scorpio), the lion, and the angel or man. Blavatsky says that the spring equinox was in Taurus at the beginning of the kali yuga (3102 BC), though it was approaching Aries. Aldebaran symbolizes the Hebrew aleph (A or 1).
Alectryomancy, Alectoromancy [from Greek alektyon, alektor cock] Divination using a cock or other bird; “a circle was drawn and divided into spaces, each one allotted to a letter; corn was spread over these places and note was taken of the successive lettered divisions from which the bird took grains of corn.” (TG 16)
Aleph (Hebrew) ’Ālef The first letter in the Hebrew alphabet (Hebrew char), having the ox or bull for its symbol; also having the numerical value of 1. In its composition it is said by Qabbalists to symbolize waw (Hebrew char) between yod (Hebrew char) and daleth (Hebrew char), thus the letter itself represents the word yod (which again is the perfect number 10).
Alesia Ancient Gaulish city (now called St. Reine) known for its Celtic Mysteries; the revolt of the central Gauls against the Romans under Caesar resulted in “the slaughter of the garrison at Alesia (or Alisa), and of all its inhabitants, including the Druids, the college-priests and the neophytes; after this the whole city was plundered and razed to the ground” (BCW 14:294-5), with the loss of the Druidic libraries. With the destruction soon after of nearby Bibractis (present-day Autun), Druidism was destroyed in Gaul. (BCW 14:311)
Aletae (Phoenician) [from Al-ait the god of fire] Fire worshipers; the seven kabiri or rishis, the titans, sons of Agruerus or Kronos. In one of aspect, synonymous with the maruts.
Aletheia (Greek) [from a not + lethein to be hid] Truth, as opposed to a lie or to unreality. Also a sapphire ornament worn by the Egyptian high priest (Diodorus and Aelianus).
Alexandrian Library Begun by Ptolemy Soter (367?-283 BC), and zealously pursued by his successor Ptolemy Philadelphus. The two principal libraries were in the Bruchium and the Serapeum; the number of rolls or “books” is variously estimated between 400,000 and 700,000, but these rolls had not the contents of a modern printed volume. The Bruchium was accidentally set on fire when Caesar burnt the fleet in the harbor, but many rolls were rescued. The Bruchium quarter was destroyed by Aurelian in 273 and probably the library with it; and in about 390 Theodosius ordered the destruction of the Serapeum, and its books were pillaged by Christians. The Moslem Caliph ‘Omar is reputed finally to have destroyed the remainder of the library.
Alexandrian School Alexandria flourished from the 4th century BC to the 7th AD, being a remarkable center of learning due to the blending of Greek and Oriental influences, its favorable situation and commercial resources, and the enlightened energy of some of the Macedonian Dynasty of the Ptolemies ruling over Egypt. The Alexandrian school was formed of the Neoplatonist philosophers whose appearance marks the later outburst of Alexandrian culture; and with them may perhaps be classed those Gnostic schools which originated there. This philosophy is a characteristic presentation of parts of the archaic wisdom-religion, being derived from contact with India and with knowledge still then accessible in Egypt.
The Macedonian rulers had established here one of the most famous centers of learning known to history including a museum and a library with its famous collections of books; and the injury done to this center of learning and philosophy by various Roman potentates and Moslem invaders was a disaster for ensuing ages.
Alexeterioi (Greek) Tutelary gods whose figures were located in the sky, that Seldenus explains were used in building the Jewish teraphim (oracles). (SD 1:394)
Alfheim, Alfhem (Icelandic, Swedish) [alf elf (cf Icelandic elfrom river, channel) + heim, hem home] The home of elves in Norse mythology; the meaning commonly ascribed to the word elf as a fairy or sprite needs reexamination, as the myths bear out the assumption that an elf denotes a channel between the divine source of an entity and its vehicle or body; in other words, that the elf is the intermediate nature or soul of any being.
In the Edda, Alfhem is the “teething gift” bestowed in the morning of time on the god Frey, the planetary deity, indwelling consciousness, or lord of our earth-system with all its components, so that Elf-home is the abode of souls on this sphere. The warriors of Odin on earth use the sword of Frey (the spiritual will) to do battle in the “giant world” of matter. Alfhem is to Frey as the human soul (elf) is to a human being.
Alhim (Hebrew) ’Ēlīm [plural of ’ēl god] One method of transliterating ’elim, although the insertion of the h is incorrect. The number-values of the letters of ’Elohim, transliterated as alhim are 13514: when used anagrammatically they may be read as 31415, the value of pi. See also ELOHIM
Alipta (Sanskrit) Alipta [from a not + lipta smeared from the verbal root lip to smear, anoint] Unstained, unsoiled, undefiled; philosophically, unlimited, unbound. The highest principle in the human constitution, atman, may be called alipta — unstained and therefore unbound by all the principles inferior to it — since only those human principles which are imperfectly evolved, imperfect emanations from the latent divinity within, can be said to enjoy or suffer because of being soiled or defiled by being enchained to lower things.
Alkahest First used by Paracelsus to denote the Menstruum or universal solvent which, according to Paracelsus and Van Helmont, can reduce all bodies, simple or compound, to the primum ens. In one sense it is akasa, which in its lower form is the anima mundi or astral light. Van Helmont believed that such a general solvent is obtainable by chemical means, so far as it applies to physical things. But psychologically it signifies that the multiform and changing elements which rule our actions can be brought under control of the enlightened will by reducing them to the essence from which they all spring. The alkahest from its metaphysical, psychological, and mystical aspect is therefore the higher self which by its intrinsic energies, working upon matter or “lead,” produces in time the “pure gold,” or in other words brings the entire human constitution into perfect harmony and spiritual sympathy with the alkahest, monadic essence, or higher self.
All, The The Boundless, the Ineffable. To our physical ideas, the All appears as a vast aggregation of separate parts, but here the contrasted notions of unity and multiplicity merge. Infinitely great and infinitely small, as said in Hindu writings, the All is at once the emptiness of utter plenitude, and the shoreless fullness of kosmic space.
Allfather, Alfadir (Icelandic) [from al all + fadir father] Odin, father of gods and men. As Allfather, Odin occurs on many levels: as the indwelling divinity in a universe and in every part of the universe. He is also, together with his two brother-gods, the creative power of life on each level of existence. Odin (divine intelligence, Sanskrit mahat), Vile (will), and Vi or Ve (awe, sanctity) comprise the cosmic creative trinity. They spring from Bur, the quasi-manifest or Second Logos, which in turn emanated from Buri, the legendary king of cold. Buri was immersed in the ice of non-being until the cow Audhumla, symbol of fertility, uncovered his head when licking the ice blocks for salt.
On the next level Odin is again instrumental in creation. Here his brother creators are named Honir and Lodur. The gods of this second trinity correspond to the Hindu tattvas: Odin stands for air (breath, spirit), Honir for water (fluidity, intelligence), and Lodur for fire (energy, will and vital heat). They found on the earth “Ask (ash) and Embla (alder), indeterminate,” and gave to these vegetative life forms out of their own nature the properties needed to complete the human constitution.
In his capacity as Allfather, Odin “hung nine nights in the windtorn tree pierced by a spear,” in order to “raise runes of wisdom” from the nether worlds: the cosmic spirit sacrificed “my self to my Self above me in the tree” to gain universal experience.
Allgeist. See ALKAHEST
All Saints’ Day, All-Hallows, Hallowmas. A festival originally on the first of May, said to have been instituted for the martyrs in European countries about the 4th or 5th centuries. In the 7th century, Pope Boniface instituted it on May 13 to replace a pagan festival of the dead. In 834 the day was moved to November 1st by Gregory III and was then celebrated for all the saints. The Greek Church celebrates it on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Closely connected with the celebration was the keeping of the preceding evening, known as the vigil of Hallowmas or Halloween. This was especially kept in Scotland and in Brittany, France. In Scotland an important item was the lighting of a bonfire at each house. The Celts kept two festivals, one called Beltane (Bealtine or Beiltine) in which fires were lighted on the eve of May 1st, and the other called Samtheine on the eve of November 1st, in which people jumped over two fires placed very close together. “The Druids understood the meaning of the Sun in Taurus, therefore, when, while all the fires were extinguished on the 1st of November, their sacred and inextinguishable fires alone remained to illumine the horizon, like those of the Magi and the modern Zoroastrians” (SD 2:759). The Germanic nations had their Osterfeuer and Johannisfeuer.
Alogon (Greek) Used by Pythagoras and Plato for the irrational soul in man, divided into the thymichon and epithymichon; the rational soul was called logos. (BCW 7:229)
Al-om-jah A name by which the highest Egyptian hierophants were known.
Al-Orit. See AL-AIT
Alorus, Adi-ur (Chaldean) According to Berosus, the first king of the mythical age of Babylon, the period before the flood of Xisuthrus. Alorus reigned for a period of ten saroi or 36,000 years. See also ALAPARUS
Alpha and Omega The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,” says the Lord in Revelations. This means not only “I am all,” but also, for instance, the beginning and end of a divine-spiritual dragon or cosmic serpent, of which the alpha is the Logos or Second Person of the Trinity, and the omega is the wise men of earth. In another significance, the Logos of the solar system is the originator of a cosmic manvantara, and all the hierarchies of spiritually inferior beings flowing forth from this Logos undertake the work of building, preserving, and finally destroying the solar system when the manvantaric term is ended. Then the alpha or outflowing energy recombines with the omega or inflowing energy, recoalescing into their original oneness.
Alpha Draconis. Also Thuban. A third magnitude star, north of the constellation of the Great Bear, which was the pole star about the third millennium BC. Around 2170 BC it shone down the descending passage of the Great Pyramid at its lower meridian transit, but Egyptologists generally believe that the Pyramid is much older than that. In the previous precessional period Alpha Draconis would be in about the same position rather less than 26,000 years earlier. After it ceased to be the pole star, it shared the fate of all the fallen gods and was treated as an evil demon.
Alsvidr, Alsvinnr (Icelandic) [from al all + svinnr quick, clever] Also Alswider. Quick (with words), having a ready tongue; also prudent, wise. In the Lay of Grimner (Elder Edda), the horses that “draw the supple sun over the sky” are Arvakr and Alsvinnr (Early-awake and Prudently-wise). Alsvinnr has the runes of Odin inscribed on his hoof, while Arvakr has them in his ear. “Under their flanks the merciful powers have hidden the isarnkol (ironcold)” to protect them from the sun.
Altar [from Latin altare from altus high] Usually an elevation of earth, stone, or wood for the worshiper to kneel on, or for the offering of sacrifices, or as the pedestal of an invisible divinity or its statue. In the Old Testament it appears as part of the furniture of the Jewish tabernacle, that sacred shrine of the Deity. This altar has horns at each end, which is said to symbolize the fecund cow — in common with the ideas of Hindus and ancients Egyptians — which again represents Mother Nature; so the connection with the Holy of Holies, which stands for the great Mother, resurrection, and birth, is apparent. In general the altar is the earthly throne or supposed seat of a deity; and its familiar metaphorical use suggests both this and also the idea of sacrifice. The altar has been taken over by Christendom, where it has become the communion table. It also has the idea of refuge and sanctuary, for it was commonly so used both with the Hebrews and the Classical ancients.
Althotas First teacher of Cagliostro, “a great Hermetic Eastern Sage” or adept said to have given Cagliostro his symbolic name (BCW 12:79-80). Althotas is “a curious word containing the Arabic definite article ‘the,’ suffixed with a common Greek ending ‘as,’ and containing the Egyptian word Thoth, who was the Greek Hermes — the Initiator!” (SOPh 30)
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
M-Wms Dict - Sanskrit-English Dictionary, by Monier Williams
N on BG - Notes on the Bhagavad Gita, by T. Subba Row
OG - Occult Glossary, by G. de Purucker
Rev - Revelations
RV - Rig Veda
SBE - Sacred Books of the East, ed. Max Müller
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