Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary

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 heading a current transliteration with accents is given.

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Anjala. See ANJALI

Anjali (Sanskrit) Añjali [from the verbal root añj to smear with, anoint, honor] Salutation; a gesture of respect when the hands placed side by side and slightly hollowed are raised to the forehead. This salutation of reverence and benediction has been universally used by Hindus since ancient times, not only as a sign of reverence to gurus or those to whom it is desired to show special respect, but also frequently as a gesture of prayer directed to divinities.

The form anjala is used at the end of a compound. Blavatsky speaks of anjala as one of “the personified powers which spring from Brahma’s body — the Prajapatis” (TG 23).

Anjana (Sanskrit) Añjana [from the verbal root añj to smear with, anoint, honor] Ungent, cosmetic; magic ointment. As a proper noun, one of the thousand mythical serpents having many heads, descended from Kadra, consort of the rishi Kasyapa (DP 1:21 p 74n); one of the four guardian elephants of Space — of the west or southwest quarter. Also the name of a mountain.

Anjana (Sanskrit) Añjanā [feminine of añjana] The mother of Hanumat or Hanuman, the celebrated monkey god of the Ramayana, who is therefore called Anjaneya (son of Anjana). In her previous birth she was a goddess, but due to a curse was born as a monkey in the Himalayas. The birth of her son, Hanuman, lifted the curse and after a period Anjana ascended to svarga (heaven).

Ank, Ankh (Egyptian) The symbol of life in ancient Egypt, represented as the tau-cross surmounted by a circle, and often called crux ansata (cross with a handle). Usually placed in the hand of every representation of god or goddess; likewise in the hand of the initiant, and again on the mummy. Also the present astronomical planetary sign for Venus; and the ansated cross reversed is the sign of the earth.


One meaning of the ankh is “esoterically, that mankind and all animal life had stepped out of the divine spiritual circle and fallen into physical male and female generation. This sign, from the end of the Third Race, has the same phallic significance as the ‘tree of life’ in Eden” (SD 2:30-1).

Anna (Chaldean). See ANA

Anna (Sanskrit) Anna [from the verbal root ad to eat, consume] Edible; food or victuals, boiled rice. Also food in a mystical sense: the lowest manifestation or body of Brahman, the supreme spirit, which manifestation is looked upon as “food” by the entities living therein, who thus feed mystically upon the body of their progenitor. Hence the word also occasionally means earth and water. “Beings are generated by food (anna); food is produced by rain; rain comes from sacrifice (yajna), and sacrifice is born of works (karma)” (BG 3:14; cf Taittiriya Upanishad 2:2).

Annamayakosa (Sanskrit) Annamayakośa [from anna food + maya from the verbal root to measure, delimit + kośa sheath, treasury] Food-built sheath; according to the Vedantic classification of the human constitution, the fifth and grossest of the panchakosa (five sheaths) which enclose the atman (divine monad), corresponding to the sthula-sarira (physical body) in the sevenfold theosophical division.

Annapurna (Sanskrit) Annapūrṇā [from anna food + pūrṇa filled, abundant from the verbal root pṝ to fill, nourish] Giver of food; a name applied to the goddess Durga, consort of Siva, popularly considered in one of her aspects as the goddess ever granting food. Originally she was Ammapurna, mother of plenty [from amma mother]. In ancient Rome the goddess of plenty was called Anna Perenna, whose festival was celebrated during the Ides of March. The mystical significance of the name is Eternal Mother, ever filled with the seeds of beings, constantly nourishing and producing. Likewise, Durga is looked upon as the dark side of nature, for the reference is not to the spirit side of Siva, but to his consort, the veil or sheath of universal nature, which is both the container of all seeds of beings and consequently the feeder, and likewise the bringer about of death. It is a curious paradox that by food all beings are generated, but likewise by food death comes to all beings. See also ANNA.

Annedotus (Greek) Berosus’ rendering of the significance of the Chaldean Oannes, the mystical man-fish. There were ten and seven Chaldean Annedoti, which are comparable to the Sephiroth, amshaspends, rishi-manus, etc., representing the divine races ancestral to human races and constituting a degree in the hierarchy of emanations proceeding from the primordial dhyani-chohans (SD 2:365-6). Berosus begins his history with creation and the stages intervening before the human races, which are full of mystical information for those with the keys to his myths.

Annihilation Complete destruction of consciousness is an impossibility in nature, for there can be no annihilation of the consciousness which makes the essential person. The universe is built of illimitable hosts of evolving entities existing in all-various grades of evolutionary unfoldment. All are passing through a continual series of changes — comprising the shedding of sheath after sheath — involving their essential consciousness. These entities continuously modify the vehicles through which they express themselves on the various cosmic planes. When the elements forming a compound become dissociated, the compound as such ceases to exist, at least temporarily; but there still exists that which brought the elements into the compound union. The human personality is constantly changing, even during a single life, and even more greatly through rebirth; indeed, the higher states of individualized consciousnesses, though they may endure for periods so vast as to seem to be everlasting, must disappear for a time during the kosmic pralaya. Even then, when the physical, psychic, and spiritual vehicles are reduced to unity, it is not annihilation any more than a person in dreamless sleep is annihilated while his higher self is in its original state of absolute consciousness, though it leaves no impression on the sleeping and therefore unconscious brain. “Nor is the individuality — nor even the essence of the personality, if any be left behind — lost, because re-absorbed. For, however limitless — from a human standpoint — the paranirvanic state, it has yet a limit in Eternity. Once reached, the same monad will re-emerge therefrom, as a still higher being, on a far higher plane, to recommence its cycle of perfected activity” (SD 1:266).

Nirvana, then, does not mean utter annihilation, nor did the Buddha teach utter annihilation or wiping out. Thus fundamental consciousness is uninterrupted from eternity to eternity, although undergoing continual change. But such change is not a difference of essence, but a continuously enlarging and ever greater unfolding of the inner essence.

Annunciation Announcing; in Christianity, the foretelling to Mary of Jesus’ birth by the angel Gabriel, celebrated on Lady Day, March 25. The fire and lamps used in this ceremony apparently point back to the marriage of Vulcan with Venus, to the Magi watching over the sacred fire in the East, to the Vestal Virgins in the West, and to the marriage of Father Sun with Mother Nature.

Some parallels from other religions are the luminous San-tusita (Bodhisat) appearing to Maya and announcing the coming birth of Gautama Buddha; the Hindu legend that there would be born the son of the Virgin (Krishna), the date of whose death marked the beginning of kali yuga; and in Egypt where scenes of an annunciation appear in the temple of Luxor.

Annus Magnus (Latin) Great year; the precessional cycle of 25,920 years. Also, the interval between two successive ecliptic conjunctions of all the planets, including sun and moon. The Hindus date the beginning of the kali yuga from such a conjunction said to have taken place in 3102 BC. It was a general belief in antiquity that cycles of varying lengths marked the terminal or initial points of eras, the occurrence or recurrence of cataclysms, and the consequent recurrence of similar events.

Annwn (Welsh) In Druidism, the great deep below the human world, the lowest plane of Abred. The soul had its origin in Annwn and evolved up thence through every possible form of life till it reached the human world. By long continued persistent evildoing, it might then sink into Annwn again, through Cydfil and Obryn, such sinking into Annwn being final and leading to annihilation: Nid a i Annwn ond unwaith (there is but one descent into Annwn) — avichi.

Anoia. See AGNOIA

Anointed [from Latin translation of Greek christos anointed] Smeared with sacred unguent, having oil or unguent poured on the head; a ceremony originally symbolically denoting a high degree of initiation, but later borrowed for minor purposes by the Christian churches in consecrations and coronations. A true anointed or christos is one who has achieved the great victory over self in initiation and therefore in life, and thus has become a full or complete adept or mahatma.

Anouki. See ANUKIS

Ansamsavatara. See AMSAMSAVATARA

Ansated Cross. See ANK

Antahkarana (Sanskrit) Antaḥkaraṇa [from antar interior, within + karaṇa sense organ] Interior organ or instrument; defined variously as the seat of thought and feeling, the thinking faculty, the heart, mind, soul, and conscience. In Vedanta philosophy, it is looked upon as a fourfold inner instrument or intermediary between spirit and body, with mind being the go-between or bridge. One could say that there are several antahkaranas in the human septenary constitution: one for every path or bridge between any two monadic centers. Man is a unity in diversity, and the antahkaranas are the links of vibrating consciousness-substance uniting these various centers (cf OG 5). Blavatsky describes it as “the path that lies between thy Spirit and thy self, the highway of sensations, the rude arousers of Ahankara” (the sense of egoity); and that when the two have merged into the One and the personal sacrificed to self impersonal, then the antahkarana vanishes because no longer useful as a functioning bridge between the two. Further, the antahkarana is “the lower Manas, the Path of communication or communion between the personality and the higher Manas or human Soul. At death it is destroyed as a Path or medium of communication, and its remains survive in a form as the Kamarupa — the ‘shell’ ” (VS 56, 88-9).

Antahkarana also has the general sense of an intermediary between something or someone that is low to one that is high. Every messenger of truth and light is an antahkarana between the Masters of Wisdom and mankind. Likewise every great and good man or woman is an antahkarana between humanity and the spiritual essence of his or her own inner god. A person living in the noblest and loftiest part of his being, becomes such a bridge between the spiritual realm he is in touch with and all other entities and things contacted by him which belong to human life.

Antarakasa (Sanskrit) Antarākāśa [from antar within, in the middle + ākāśa space, ether from ā-kāś to shine, be brilliant] The akasa of akasa, the essence of akasa; interior or inner aether. The spiritual-divine aether or pradhana which is the seat of the primordial atman, on the cosmic scale or as applicable to an individual entity. “Now what is within the brahmapura (city of brahman) is an abode, a small lotus-flower; within it is a small space (antarakasa). What is within that, should be searched out; that, assuredly, is what one should desire to understand” (ChU 8:1:1).

Antaratman (Sanskrit) Antarātman [from antar interior, within + ātman self] Interior self; the inner self or primeval heart of an individual. The goal of the yogi is ultimate union with the antaratman.

Antarctic. See SOUTH POLE

Antariksha, Antariksha (Sanskrit) Antarīkṣa, Antarikṣa [from antar within, interior + īkṣa from the verbal root īkṣ to behold, see] The mid-region; the firmament or space between earth and heaven, the abode of apsaras (nymphs), gandharvas (celestial musicians), and yakshas (nature sprites of many types) along with the mythical wish-granting cow of plenty, Kamadhenu. In the Vedas, antariksha is the middle or second of three lokas (spheres) usually enumerated as bhur, bhuvar, and svar. Above these rise in serial order the four higher lokas of the ordinary Brahmanical hierarchy. Hierarchically, taking the bhurloka as the physical sphere, bhuvarloka or antariksha corresponds with the astral plane. In the Vishnu-Purana (3:3), Antariksha is named as the Vyasa (arranger of the Veda) in the 13th dvapara yuga in the Vaivasvata manvantara, our present world cycle.

Antaryoga (Sanskrit) Antaryoga [from antar interior, within + yoga union from the verbal root yuj to join, unite] Interior union; a state of deep thought or abstraction signifying that high stage of inner spiritual and intellectual recollection in which all the superior part of a person’s constitution is gathered together and focused as it were into a single point of consciousness. It is involved in the attaining of the higher states of consciousness such as turiya-samadhi.

Antaskarana. See ANTAHKARANA

Anthesteria (Greek) [from anthos flower] Flower festival; part of the Dionysion Mysteries celebrated from the 11th to the 13th of the month of Anthesterion (February-March). At Athens on the first day the casks of new wine were opened; on the second day a beaker of new wine was served to each guest at a public banquet and the wife of the Archon Basileus, representing the whole country, was married to Dionysos. These two days were considered of ill-omen, and the souls of the dead were thought to walk abroad. On the third day, offerings of cooked pulse were offered to Hermes as psychopomp and to the souls of the dead.

“At the mysteries of the Anthesteria . . . after the usual baptism by purification of water, the Mystae were made to pass through to another door (gate), and one particularly for that purpose, which was called, ‘the gate of Dionysus,’ and that of ‘the purified’ ” (IU 2:245-6). These were the Lesser Mysteries, preliminary and complementary to those held in the month of Boedromion (September) in Eleusis. Some scholars, seeing the analogy between climatic seasons and the stages of initiation, have supposed that the festival celebrated primarily the advent of spring and that the rites were symbolic of this; whereas others believe that the initiations were the main events and were held at times when nature harmonized with the purpose in view.

Anthropogenesis That stage of theogony when the spiritual monads of the central spiritual fire are passing through the human kingdom. If we include under “human being” everything from the primal spark to the culminating point of evolution, then anthropogenesis would become coextensive with cosmogenesis. The two cannot be sharply separated, for not only is man involved in those cosmic kingdoms which are at other stages than the human, but the human being, in common with every other organism, is an epitome of the universe. Three lines of evolution converge in humankind: the monadic or divine-spiritual, the intellectual from the manasa-dhyanis, and the vital-astral-physical. But we are not a mere product generated by external forces or creative powers outside of ourselves; it is the growth outwards from our own inner essence that is fundamental.

Anthropoids The larger or manlike apes. During the period when the fourth root-race of mankind in this fourth round on globe D (our earth) was passing its climax, certain humans as yet only partially conscious miscegenated with the then existing types of simians or monkeys, which were themselves the offspring of an earlier similar miscegenation of the third root-race. That the anthropoids are a product descended partly from the human stem, and not forms ascending towards man in the sense of earlier Darwinism, is shown by a study of the structural and functional differences and resemblances between anthropoids and man (cf MIE 94-116, 305-12).

Since the middle of the fourth root-race, no monads from the animal kingdom could any longer enter the human kingdom because from that time the earth started on its ascending arc of evolution. Nevertheless, the monads imbodied in the anthropoids will enter the very lowest and least evolved branchlets of the human kingdom during the fifth round. The monads now in anthropoid bodies will disappear from incarnation during the present fifth root-race to enter their inter-round paranirvana, remaining as astral monads until the next (fifth) round. A relatively few individuals among the anthropoids, because of having attained the most advanced degree of evolution in the anthropoid stock, will reach quasi-human status, although still in anthropoid bodies, before the fifth root-race has reached its end. Even these exceptional anthropoids will probably have died out before the fifth root-race is ended or by the early sixth root-race — a period several million years from now.

Anthropomorphism The ascription of human qualities, attributes, and possibly human form to divine beings; also, more generally, the degradation of symbolism by giving it a humanized, materialistic, or animalistic interpretation. This error has a more or less mystical origin: because human beings are children of the universe, imbodying in themselves all qualities, attributes, powers, and functions that the universe has on the macrocosmic scale, it is easy through careless thinking to slip into the idea that therefore the divinities must be copies of humans. As form in religious and philosophic conception took precedence over the spirit, the original religious, philosophic, and mystical ideas became clothed or imbodied, and the spirit then was more or less lost sight of.

Anthropos (Greek) Man, mankind; philosophically equivalent to Adam or primal humanity. In Gnosticism, the first principle, also called Ieov (the four-voweled name), corresponding to Brahma (SD 1:449; BCW 13:35; 14:205).

Antichrist [from Greek anti against + christos anointed] An adversary of Christ. The Epistles of John refers to the belief in the coming of an antichrist, and also uses the word to signify any of the deniers of Christ who existed in those times. This refers to the belief among Jews and Jewish Christians that the second coming of the Messiah would be preceded by a reign of wickedness under Antichrist, as found in Paul’s Epistles and in Revelation. Moslem literature tells of the false messiah (mesihu ’d-dajjal) who will overrun the earth, ruling for 40 days and leaving only Mecca and Medina unharmed. Such beliefs are ancient and universal: the nether pole of manifestation which, though a necessary factor in cosmogenesis and anthropogenesis, has been converted by doctrinal theology into an evil demon, such as Satan, Devil, Lucifer, Angra-Mainyu, and Prometheus.

A more mystical significance is founded in the fact that when a buddha or avatara appears or whenever an effort is made to aid mankind along spiritual lines, the powers of darkness automatically react along their own lines. This corresponding tendency to evil is the fundamental significance of Antichrist — Christos being the name of the high initiate in whom was imbodied a ray of the Logos.

Antimimon Pneumatos (Greek) Counterfeit or counterpart of the spirit; one of the inner human principles, according to the Pistis Sophia. It is not “our conscience, but our Buddhi; nor is it again the ‘counterfeit of Spirit’ but ‘modelled after,’ or a counterpart of the Spirit — which Buddhi is, as the vehicle of Atma . . .” (SD 2:605n).

Antipodes. See PATALA

Antum. See ANATUM

Anu (Chaldean) Supreme god of the Babylonian pantheon, king of angels and spirits, ruler of destiny, lord of the city of Erech or Uruk — later Ur. One of the loftiest of Babylonian divinities, part of a trinity with Enlil and Ea, he was especially the god of heaven, creator of star spirits and of the demons of cold, rain, and darkness. His consort Antum or Anatum was mother of the gods. Anu was the concealed deity; in the Chaldean account of Genesis, he is the passive deity, however, “the primordial chaos, the god time and world at once, chronos, and kosmos, the uncreated matter issued from the one and fundamental principle of all things” (IU 2:423).

In later Babylonian history, one of the trinity Anu, Bel, and Ea, associated with the three divisions of the universe: heaven, earth, and the spatial or watery deep. In another aspect, Anu is identical with Sin (the moon). “And the Moon in the Hebrew Kabala is the Argha of the seed of all material life, and is still more closely connected, kabalistically, with Jehovah, who is double-sexed as Anu is. They are both represented in Esotericism and viewed from a dual aspect: male or spiritual, female or material, or Spirit and Matter, the two antagonistic principles” (SD 2:62). In the astrological theology of Babylonia and Assyria, Anu, Bel, and Ea became the northern, middle, and southern zones of the ecliptic respectively.

There seems little doubt that the Chaldean Anu and the Sanskrit anu (atom) are identic in origin. Anu is a title of the formative Brahma who philosophically is often envisaged as the cosmic atom or infinite universe. The mystical significance is the ever-invisible, unreachable divine center — whether of a being or universe — which is the divine-spiritual focus of essential consciousness, from which flow forth all the streams of consciousness in its multiform varieties.

Anu (Sanskrit) Aṇu As a noun, an atom of matter; as an adjective, atomic, fine, minute. A title of Brahma, conceived as both infinitesimal and universal, thus pointing to the pantheistic character of divinity. Hence, every anu is “a centre of potential vitality, with latent intelligence in it” (SD 1:567; cf FSO 273-5, 431). In the Bhagavad-Gita (8:9) Arjuna is enjoined to meditate on the “seer,” i.e., the enlightened, omniscient One, who is “more atomic than the atom” (anor aniyamsam) and yet “the supporter of all” (cf VP 1:2, 5:1; ChU 3:14, 3-4, Katha 2:20, MU 3:1, 7).

In Jainism the soul is represented as being like an anu, atomic in size, and seated within the heart, while the jiva (life-monad) is the quickening element that pervades the whole.

Besides meaning a particle of substance, anu also means an atom of time, being equivalent to the 54,675,000th part of a muhurta (48 minutes).

Anubis (Greek) Anpu (Egyptian) Ȧnpu. The Egyptian jackal-headed deity, lord of the Silent Land of the West (the underworld). To him with Thoth was entrusted the psychopompic leading of the dead. In the judgment after death, Anubis tests the balance in the scene of the weighing of the heart. His offices were likewise those of the embalmer, mystically speaking. Originally the god of the underworld, he was later replaced by Osiris. In Heliopolis during the later dynasties he was identified with Horus, for he was often regarded as the son of Osiris and Isis — more often of Osiris and Nephthys (Neith). Plutarch writes: “By Anubis they understand the horizontal circle, which divides the invisible part of the world, which they call Nephthys, from the visible, to which they give the name of Isis; and as this circle equally touches upon the confines of both light and darkness, it may be looked upon as common to them both . . . Others again are of opinion that by Anubis is meant Time . . . ” (On Isis and Osiris, sec 44).

The mysteries of Osiris and Isis were revived in Rome, and Apuleius (2nd century) in The Golden Ass tells of the Procession of Isis, in which the dual aspect of Anubis was portrayed: “that messenger between heaven and hell displaying alternately a face black as night, and golden as the day; in his left the caduceus, in his right waving aloft the green palm branch” (Gods of the Egyptians, Budge 2:264-5). In most of his attributes, Anubis is a lunar power, Plutarch connecting him with the Grecian Hecate, one of the names for the moon; and this is further emphasized by his being a guide of the dead. Also identified with Hermes as psychopomp. See also Hermanubis

Anugita (Sanskrit) Anugītā [from anu after, alongside + gītā sung, chanted, song from the verbal root gai to sing, intone] After-song; chapters 16-92 of the Asvamedhika-parvan, 14th book of the Mahabharata that deals with the asvamedha (horse sacrifice) conducted by Yudhishthira, a rite that stems from the Vedic period.

Like the Bhagavad-Gita, the Anugita is a discourse between Krishna and Arjuna, an “after-song” in which Krishna gives a fuller unfolding of teaching with many mystical allusions.

Anugraha, Anugrahana (Sanskrit) Anugraha, Anugrahaṇa [from anu-grah to support, uphold, foster, treat kindly] Favor, kindness, promoting or favoring a good object. In the Vishnu-Purana (1:5) applied to the eighth creation (in the Matsya and other Puranas to the fifth creation), the period of formative development “which possesses both the qualities of goodness and darkness.” In Sankhya philosophy anugraha-sarga is the creation or formation of “the feelings or mental conditions.”

Blavatsky calls the anugraha creation a blind, “for it refers to a purely mental process: the cognition of the ‘ninth’ creation, which, in its turn, is an effect, manifesting in the secondary of that which was a ‘Creation’ in the Primary (Prakrita) Creation. The Eighth, then, called Anugraha (the Pratyayasarga or the intellectual creation of the Sankhyas . . .), is ‘that creation of which we have a perception’ — in its esoteric aspect — and ‘to which we give intellectual assent (Anugraha) in contradistinction to organic creation.’ It is the correct perception of our relations to the whole range of ‘gods’ and especially of those we bear to the Kumaras — the so-called ‘Ninth Creation’ — which is in reality an aspect of or reflection of the sixth in our manvantara (the Vaivasvata)” (SD 1:456).

All theses various “creations” mentioned in the Puranas represent stages of evolutionary production, following each other in regular serial order, and thus unfolding into manifestation what lay originally latent in the seed out of which these various stages arise. Thus the reference in the Vishnu-Purana, for example, by analogical reasoning can apply either to a universe, solar system, planetary chain, or to the developmental history of earth and its inhabitants.

Anukis [Greek from Egyptian Ȧnqet from ȧnq to surround, embrace] Third of the triad of deities of Elephantine, consisting of Khnemu, Sati, and Anqet or Anukis. Her worship was common in northern Nubia, but later centered at Sahal, where her principal temple was situated. At Philae she was identified with Nephthys or Neith, it being common to regard Khnemu as a form of Osiris: hence Sati and Anqet became associated with Isis and Nephthys. However, Anqet is also represented with the disk and horned headdress of Isis and is called the lady of heaven, mistress of all the gods; giver of life and of all power, and of all health and joy of heart. The goddess is also associated with the embracing waters of the Nile, though the root itself shows that she is the embracing and all-surrounding cosmic life as well as it minor functions in manifestation. The ascriptions given to Anukis as the giver of life and of all power associate the goddess with the moon, whether in the cosmogonical or lower generative sense.

Anuma. See ANUMANA

Anumana (Sanskrit) Anumāna [from anu- to infer, conclude, conjecture] An inference, conclusion, or deduction from given premises. In the Sankya yoga the second of the three pramanas (proofs or modes of cognition) by which perception or knowledge is sought. The Nyaya system recognizes four sources of accurate knowledge, of which anumana (inference) is also the second. Anuma and Anumiti are virtually synonymous.

Anumati (Sanskrit) Anumati [from anu-man to approve, grant] Assent, permission, approbation; personified frequently as a goddess. The fifteenth day of the moon’s age “when one digit is deficient” (VP 2:8), a time said to be propitious for the offering of oblations to devas and pitris.

It is therefore the moon at full: “when from a god — Soma — she becomes a goddess” (TG 25). Mythologically the first fortnight of the moon or waxing period is often regarded as being masculine, and its second fortnight or waning period as feminine. The moon in some cultures is looked upon as masculine, in others as feminine. In Latin the moon was both lunus (masculine) and luna (feminine), but in most other languages the moon is almost consistently either masculine or feminine.

Anumiti. See ANUMANA

Anunit (Chaldean) One of the popular nature goddesses of the early Babylonian peoples, who in one aspect is called Ishtar. Her worship was prominent at Sippar in the later Babylonian period. A sanctuary was erected in her honor by Sargon of Akkad at Babylon (3800 BC). Blavatsky held that Anunit was the planet Venus as the morning star, whereas the same planet as the evening star was Ishtar of Erech.

Anunnaki (Chaldean) In Babylonian mythology, a hierarchy of lower angels: the angels of earth or the underworld, star gods who had sunk below the horizon and become judges of the dead. Below the anunnaki were several classes of genii — sadu, vadukku, ekimu, gallu — some of which were represented as being good, some evil. The anunnaki are “terrestrial Elementals also” (TG 25).

In Sumerian mythology, the children and followers of An, judges of the dead.

Anupadaka, Anupapadaka. See Aupapaduka

Anupapadaka-bhuta. See Aupapaduka-bhuta

Anupapadaka-tattva. See Aupapaduka-tattva

Anuttara, Anuttaras (Sanskrit) Anuttara, Anuttarās [from an not + uttara comparative of ud up] Nonsuperior; unrivaled, unexcelled, chief, principal; secondarily inferior, base, low. Often used adjectivally in compounds: anuttara-bodhi (unexcelled intelligence or wisdom), anuttara-dharma (unexcelled law, truth, religion). In Buddhism anuttara-tantra, one of the four classes of tantric treatises, expounds the yogic procedures for the acquisition of the highest truth.

Anuttaras (masculine plural) is a class of deities among the Jains.

Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi (Sanskrit) Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi The unsurpassingly merciful and enlightened heart; applied to jivanmuktas or liberated, perfected beings collectively, who then may “pass through all the six worlds of Being (Rupaloka) and get into the first three worlds of Arupa” (BCW 14:409).

Anyamsam Aniyasam. See ANIYAMSAM ANIYASAM

Anzu or Zu (Babylonian) The lion-headed eagle, often portrayed as “master of the animals.” Plotting to assume sovereignty and command the gods, he stole the Tablet of Destinies (DUB-šima-a-ti) from the empty throne of his master, the high god Enlil, then flew off to hide in the inaccessible mountain. Warrior-god Ninurta was sent to battle Anzu, slay him, and return the Tablet. George Smith’s 1875 translation (cited in SD 2:283n) was tentative at best and is now superseded by modern translations such as in Dalley, Myths from Mesopotamia, 1989.

Ao. See IAO

Aoai (Gnostic) Among the Peratae Gnostics, one of the ministers of Chozzar, equivalent to the Greek Poseidon; the other three ministers being Aou, Ouo, and Ouoab. The name of the fifth was kept secret and was in reality triple, thus making seven. These ministers in one sense correspond to the Hindu kumaras, whose number was variously four, five, or seven according to the meaning to be conveyed. Also comparable to the prachetasas (ministers of Varuna, the Hindu water deity), the five words of Brahma, and other groups of five (cf SD 2:578).

Aour. See ’OR

Ap, Apas, Apah (Sanskrit) Ap, Apas, Āpaḥ [from ap water] Watery, water; in the plural [apaḥ, apas the waters], considered as feminine deities and mothers from whom all issue forth. Cosmically apah or apas are the waters of space, out of which the universe is produced. “Apah (the waters) assume different forms of this earth, this atmosphere, this sky, the mountains, gods and humans (deva-manushyah), beasts and birds, grass and trees, animals together with worms, flies, and ants. Apah (water) indeed is all these forms” (ChU 7:10, 1).

Apas or Ap is the name of the rakshasa associated with the month Karttika (October) (VP 2:10, p.5n); Apas is listed also as a prajapati of the second manvantara, son of Vasishtha (VP 3:1, n1).

Apamnapat (Sanskrit) Apāṃnapāt [from apām of waters from ap water + napāt child, son, offspring] Son of the waters; in the Vedas one name of Agni (cosmic and terrestrial fire), as having issued as lightning from the firmament or cosmic spaces, so frequently called waters in ancient scriptures. This connects Apamnapat with fohat: just as fohat is cosmic vitality manifest in one of its forms as fire (agni) or as electricity and magnetism in their manifold appearances, so is fohat or apamnapat the child or offspring of cosmic space or the cosmic waters. But these waters “are not the liquid we know, but Ether — the fiery waters of space” (SD 2:400n). Fohat likewise is called the son of ether in the latter’s highest aspect, akasa.

Apamnapat is also an Avestan name which means “Son of the Waters” and, like his Vedic counterpart, is closely linked with the fire of lightning as well as the spring or source of the waters (Sirozah 1:8, T in Yasht 2:4; ZA II, 6, 94, SBE 23).

Apana (Sanskrit) Apāna [from apa away, off, down + an to blow, breathe] Down-breath; one of the vital airs, life-currents, or pranas which vitalize, build, and sustain the human or animal body. As apa indicates, it is the prana which ejects from the system material which it no longer requires, such as wastes, etc. Opposite in function to the upward-tending breath, udana.

Apap or Apep (Egyptian) Āpep Apophis (Greek) The serpent of evil, generally denoting matter in its lower reaches of differentiation from spirit; the slayer of every soul too loosely linked to its immortal spirit. Typhon, having slain Osiris, incarnates in Apap and seeks to kill Horus (the personal ego), but is slain by Horus through the power of Horus’ father Osiris, the buddhic principle. It is also the serpent which is slain by the sun god Ra. The combat is another aspect of the myth of the battle between Horus and Set, these deities representing cosmic and physical light and cosmic and physical darkness respectively. “Apap is called ‘the devourer of the Souls,’ and truly, since Apap symbolizes the animal body, as matter left soulless and to itself. Osiris, being, like all the other Solar gods, a type of the Higher Ego (Christos), Horus (his son) is the lower Manas or the personal Ego. On many a monument one can see Horus, helped by a number of dog-headed gods armed with crosses and spears, killing Apap” (TG 26).

The same general story is found in St. George and the Dragon, Michael and Satan, etc. Apap, the serpent of evil, is slain by Aker, Set’s serpent, showing the twofold meaning of the serpent symbol. Cosmologically this means the bringing into order of the confused and turbulent principles in chaos; in the human being it refers to the trials of initiation; in astronomy, to eclipses.

Aparavidya (Sanskrit) Aparāvidyā [from a not + parā supreme + vidyā knowledge from the verbal root vid to see, know, percieve] Nonsupreme knowledge; in Vedanta philosophy the lower wisdom of Brahman, relative knowledge acquired by the intellect and through the performance of ritual worship and duties, in contradistinction to paravidya (supreme wisdom), the transcendental knowledge of Brahman attainable by him who has achieved moksha (liberation) during life. This distinction between the exoteric and esoteric tradition and doctrine is found in practically all cultures.

Aparinamin (Sanskrit) Apariṇāmin [from a not + pari around, about + the verbal root nam to bend, turn, change] Unchanging; used in connection with Purusha and prakriti or pradhana, when regarded in their fundamental essence of continuous spiritual substance. In the Puranas, for example, Purusha (spirit per se) is called both avyaya (imperishable, undecaying) and aparinamin (immutable, unchanging); while prahana or prakriti (matter in its elemental state) is vyaya (perishable) and parinamin (subject to change) (cf VP 1:2; SD 1:582). However, when Purusha and prakriti are regarded from the standpoint of the periods of manifestation, their aspects become mayavi (illusory), and hence in their interblending actions subject to the modifications of manvantaric evolution.

Aparoksha (Sanskrit) Aparokṣa Direct perception.

Apas-bhuta (Sanskrit) Apas-bhūta [from ap water + bhūta element from the verbal root bhū to be, become] The water element; sixth in the descending scale of the seven cosmic bhutas (of which five are popularly reckoned), and second in the ascending scale of the cosmic ladder of elements. Apas-bhuta has its analog in the human constitution in the linga-sarira, the model or astral body. See also APAS-TATTVA.

Apas-tattva (Sanskrit) Apas-tattva [from ap water + tattva thatness, reality] Also Āpas-tattva. The water principle; sixth in the descending scale of the seven tattvas, the principles or categories of nature. In the Upanishads and Vedanta only five tattvas are enumerated.

Apava (Sanskrit) Āpava [from ap water] Water-mover; associated with Narayana, “he who moves in or on the waters of space,” and hence with Vishnu and Brahma. In the Harivamsa, Apava performed the office of Brahma: dividing himself into male and female he produced Vishnu, who produced Viraj, who in turn brought the first manu, Manu Svayambhuva, into being. This manu then brought forth the ten prajapatis, the progenitors of the manifested world (cf VP 1:7). In the Mahabharata, a name of the prajapati Vasishtha.

Apavarga (Sanskrit) Apavarga [from apa-vṛj to leave off, fulfill] Emancipation of the soul from the necessity of repeated rebirths; moksha or liberation.


Apeiros (Greek) The boundless, infinite; frontierless expansion. Used by Anaximander and Anaximenes, and by Plato in Philebus; the equivalent term apeiria was used by Anaxagoras and Aristotle. Corresponds to ’eyn soph, and according to Porphyry to the Pythagorean monad (one), the “cause of all unity and measure of all things” (SD 1:353, 426; FSO 71).

Apep. See APAP

Apherides (Greek) Idas and Lynceus, sons of Aphareus, paternal uncle of Castor and Pollux, by whom Castor is killed in a quarrel over stolen cattle or over the rape of the Apherides’ betrothed, Phoebe and Hilaria. See also DIOSCURI

Aphophis. See APAP

Aphrodite (Greek) Greek Goddess of love and beauty, in older times regarded as signifying the harmony of cosmos. Originally the daughter of Zeus and Dione, a lunar deity like Aphrodite, both being represented with the horns of the moon or of the zodiacal sign Taurus; but the same deity in ancient mystical philosophy may be at once mother, wife, and daughter — so difficult is it to find among our common notions a symbolism that will convey the full meaning anciently intended. Later, under Eastern influence, she was said to have been born from the sea foam and to have landed in a seashell on the isle of Cythera. A sea goddess as well as an earth goddess of gardens, groves, and springtime, she was the wife of Hephaestus and connected also with Ares and Adonis; mother of Eros. As Aphrodite Urania, she was identified with the goddess of heaven Astarte, and later under Platonic influence came to represent spiritual love as opposed to earthly love, represented by Aphrodite Pandemos. Among her analogs are Isis, Ishtar, Mylitta, Eve, Vach, etc., all the mother of all living beings and of the gods, cosmically. The Romans identified Aphrodite with Venus, and the Egyptians with Hathor.

Apis (Greek) Hap (Egyptian) Ḥap. The sacred bull of Memphis into which Osiris was thought to incarnate. Classical Greek authors all mention the veneration with which the Egyptians regarded the bull, Manetho stating that it was under Ka-kau (2nd dynasty) that Apis was appointed a god. The Egyptians believed that after the death of a sacred animal, on reaching 28 years (the age Osiris was killed by Typhon), the soul of Apis joined Osiris, forming the dual god Asar-Hapi (Osiris-Apis), which the Greeks in the Ptolemaic period renamed Serapis. “As in the exoteric interpretation of the Egyptian rites the soul of every defunct person — from the Hierophant down to the sacred bull Apis — became an Osiris, was Osirified . . .” (SD 1:135).

Generally speaking the bull was the symbol for terrestrial and physical generation, linking it with the moon — as indeed was Apis; although the bull is also connected with the sun, as in the case with Mnevis, the sacred bull of Heliopolis. In any event, “it was not the Bull that was worshipped but the Osiridian symbol; just as Christians kneel now before the Lamb, the symbol of Jesus Christ, in their churches” (TG 26). See also BULL; SERAPIS


Apocatastasis (Greek) Restoration, return; used by Plato and Plutarch for a return of the stars to the same places.

Apocrypha [from Greek apokryphos secret] Esoteric, hid, secret; later spurious. First applied to writings regarded as esoteric, for private instruction, and of profounder import than the exoteric writings; but the rise of bogus esoteric schools gradually brought the word into contempt and clothed it with its later meaning of spurious or doubtful.

Apollo (Greek) Also called Phoebus (the pure, shining); son of Zeus and Leto (Latona), the polar region or night, and twin brother of Artemis (Diana). His birth shows the emanation of light from darkness. One of the most popular gods of Greek mythology, he is primarily the god of light, and is also associated with the sun, hence a giver of life, light, and wisdom to the earth and humanity. Apollo and Artemis are the mystic sun and the higher occult moon (SD 2:771). Apollo stands for order, justice, law, and purification by penance. His attribute as a punisher of evil is shown by his bow, with which as an infant he slew Python. He is the deity who wards off evil; the healer, father of Aesculapius and often identified with him; and the god of divination, associated especially with the Oracle at Delphi. The other principal seat of his worship was at Delos, his birthplace. He was also the patron of song and music, of new civic foundations, and protector of crops and flocks. His lyre is the sacred heptachord or septenary, seen in the sevenfold manifestations of the Logos in the universe and man; he is also the sun with its seven planets. He answers in some respects to the Hindu Indra and Karttikeya and in others to the Christian archangel Michael; Janus was the Roman god of light.

Apollonius of Tyana First-century neo-Pythagorean, known for his ascetic life, moral teachings, and occult powers. His biography is a Hermetic allegory, though based on facts. A theurgist and adept of high powers, he studied Phoenician sciences as well as Pythagorean philosophy. He traveled widely, journeying to Babylon and India where he associated with the Chaldeans, Magi, Brahmans, and Buddhists. His life was spent preaching noble ethics, prophesying, healing, and performing many well-attested phenomena or “miracles.” Before his death he opened an esoteric school at Ephesus. Blavatsky states that he was a nirmanakaya rather than an avatara.

Apollyon (Greek) The destroyer; derived from the same verb as Apollo, the term recognizes that involved in every growth there is an equivalent energy of destruction or dissipation, which aids the new growth. Originally a significant mystical term, it became in Christian times one of the aliases of Satan. Ecclesiastical monotheism required that some of the beneficent creative powers should be eliminated from heaven and relegated to the bottomless pit.

Apophis. See APAP

Aporrheta (Greek) Forbidden, secret, mystical, not to be spoken (things); secret instructions delivered to a candidate for initiation in the Mysteries. More importantly, facts of nature of rigidly esoteric character learned by adepts through initiation and improper to divulge to the uninitiated; hence spoken of as forbidden.

Apostolic Succession The doctrine held in various branches of the Christian Church that the episcopal power necessary for the valid administration of the sacraments, for the transmission of orders, etc., has been handed down in unbroken succession from Saint Peter, to whom it was said to have been entrusted by Jesus.

One of the ideas which early Christianity took over from the esoteric teaching of the Mediterranean peoples, the apostolic succession was originally derived from the passing on of light from one adept to another at initiation, thus constituting what is called the guruparampara or the succession of teacher following teacher in regular serial order. A similar institution existed in the Eleusinian Mysteries, whose hierophants were drawn from one family, the Eumolpidae, as well as in many other parts of the world.

Apparition. See GHOST; MAYAVI-RUPA

Apperception Perception involving self-consciousness; cognition through the relating of new ideas to familiar ideas. Used by Leibniz to denote a stage higher or more subtle than perception. The impressions received through perception are apprehended by the mind and are related to other impressions which the memory holds, so that complex ideas are formed. Apperception may be called perception accompanied by awareness and an interpretative power. In contrast to the theory that the higher faculties of mind are built up synthetically from the lower, Leibniz’s views support the theory that the intuitive or original inner powers are primary. “Nascent apperception, which is the Mahat of the lower kingdoms, especially developed in the third order of Elementals . . . [is] succeeded by the objective kingdom of minerals, in which latter that apperception is entirely latent, to re-develop only in the plants”; and “that which is meant by ‘animals,’ in primary Creation, is the germ of awakening consciousness or of apperception, that which is faintly traceable in some sensitive plants on Earth and more distinctly in the protistic monera. . . . Neither plant nor animal, but an existence between the two” (SD 1:454-5&n; cf ET 505 3rd & rev ed ).

Apportation The carrying or projecting of an object through space, whether a human form or any other thing; commonly met with in Indian stories, and those of Christian saints and such figures as Apollonius of Tyana (WQJ Echoes 1:378-82, 2:292).

Apsaras (Sanskrit) Apsaras [from ap water + saras flowing from the verbal root sṛ to flow, glide, blow (as of wind)] Moving in the waters; a class of feminine divinities known as celestial water nymphs, whose location is commonly placed in the sky between the clouds rather than in the waters of earth, although they are often described as visiting earth. These fairy-like wives of the gandharvas (celestial musicians) can change their shape at will, often appearing as aquatic birds. In Manu they are held to be the creations of the seven manus, but in the Puranas and the Ramayana their origin is attributed to the churning of the cosmic waters, and it is said that neither gods nor asuras would have them for wives. Since mythologically they were common to all, they are called Sumadatmajas (self-willed pleasurers) — 35 million of them, of whom Kama, god of love, is lord and king. One of their roles is to act as temptresses to those too ardent for divine status. Only the individual who can withstand the perfumed entreaties of the apsarasas is worthy of full enlightenment. In the Yajur-Veda the apsarasas are called sunbeams because of their connection with the gandharva who personifies the sun.

Blavatsky looks upon the apsarasas as “both qualities and quantities” (SD 2:585) and also as “ ‘sleep-producing’ aquatic plants, and interior forces of nature” (TG 28).

In the Puranas the apsarasas are sometimes divided into two classes, the daivika (divine or belonging to the devas), hence highly ethereal beings, and the laukika [from loka worldly], belonging to the worlds of manifestation, such as a physical plane. Considered apart from mythologic references, the apsarasas bear a strong resemblance to the undines of medieval Europe, nature forces and elementals appurtenant to all ten ranges of their hierarchical distribution, from the spiritual to the grossly material and physical. Every one of the seven or ten cosmic elements (bhutas) or principles (tattvas) has its own class of inhabitants.

Apsu (Babylonian) Abzu (Sumerian) Also Ab Soo. The primordial deep; the waters of space in the Babylonian epic of creation Enuma Elish (when on high). From Apsu and Tiamat were born all the gods, man being fashioned from the clay of Apsu in a Sumerian version, and from the blood of Kingu, son and second consort of Tiamat, in Enuma Elish. The deep is the abode of Ea (wisdom) who saves humanity from destruction by Apsu, Apsu being transformed into still or stagnant subterranean waters.

The Babylonian hero-creator is Marduk, whose prowess against the monstrous forces of Tiamat (matter) caused the gods to endow him with the power to overcome them and to complete the creation of heaven and earth.

Apuleius, Lucius Second-century Latin writer, born and educated in North Africa. Student of Platonism at Athens and initiate into many of the Mysteries of his time; best known for his Golden Ass (Metamorphoseon libri XI de Asino Aureo), a satire on mores and religious conditions.

Aquarius (Latin) Pertaining to water; the water-bearer, the 11th sign of the zodiac. In astrology an airy, fixed, masculine sign, the principal house of Saturn, though sometimes said to by ruled by Uranus. In about 1898, the equinoctial point passed from Pisces to Aquarius of the stellar (movable) zodiac, thus initiating a new Messianic cycle succeeding that of Pisces — the fish-man, associated with Jesus Christ. The Gnostic sun god is depicted as a man covered with breasts, having a fish on his head and a sea monster at his feet, which plainly indicates the group of three signs — Pisces, Aquarius, and Capricorn — and points to a fourfold division of the zodiac, each division embracing three signs; Taurus perhaps represented by the Egyptian bull Apis, standing for the triad of signs which preceded Aquarius.

The Brahmanical equivalent to Aquarius, presided over by the sky god Indra, is Kumbha, which Subba Row states is equivalent in its numerical value to 14, a number intended to represent the 14 lokas or chaturdasa-bhuvana (Theos, Nov 1881). Assigning the twelve sons of Jacob in the Hebrew system to the signs of the zodiac, Reuben is ascribed to Aquarius, who is “unstable as water”; also associated with Rimmon, the god of storms and rain (SD 2:353), and equated with Ganymede.

Arachne (Greek) In Greek mythology the daughter of the dyer Idmon of Colophon, who was so skillful a weaver that she dared to challenge Athena to a competitive trial. Indignant because Arachne had presumed to depict the amours of the gods in her weaving, Athena tore her work, Arache hung herself, and Athena turned the presumptuous maiden into a spider, doomed to spin her web forever. The amours of the gods woven by Arachne signify the weaving of the marvelous web of manifested existence in all its intricate hierarchical structure.

Araea. See AAREA

Arahant (Pali) Arahant [from the verbal root arh to be worthy; or from ari foe + the verbal root han to slay] The worthy one; enemy, slayer. One who has attained the highest state next to being a buddha, especially one who has freed himself from the asavas (Sanskrit asrava) — intoxication or bewilderment of mind or sense. The term arahant, like the Sanskrit arhat, is often popularly used for individuals of less exalted grade. See also ARHAT; ARAHATTA

Arahatta (Pali) Arahatta [from the verbal root arh to be worthy; or from ari enemy, foe + the verbal root han to slay] State of arhatship; in Buddhism the state or condition of an arahant, free from the asavas (intoxication of mind or sense); by extension of thought, final and complete emancipation, the state of nibbana (Sanskrit nirvana). See also ARHAT

Arambha (Sanskrit) Ārambha Beginning; the Hindu philosophic stance that a supreme divinity formed the universe out of pre-existing material. It includes the Nyaya and Vaiseshika schools of philosophy, the two atomistic schools, and corresponds to the scientific outlook in the Western division of science, religion, and philosophy. It “envisions the universe as proceeding forth as a ‘new’ production of already pre-existent cosmic intelligence and pre-existent ‘points’ of individuality, what we would call monads rather than atoms. Although such newly produced universe is recognized as being the karmic resultant of a preceding universe, the former ‘self’ of the present, nevertheless emphasis is laid upon beginnings, upon the universe as a ‘new’ production, very much as scientists construe the universe to be” (FSO 101; SOPh 33).

Arani (Sanskrit) Araṇi, Araṇī [from the verbal root to tend upward, move, insert, fix] Moving around; being fitted in or inserted. Arani (sing) is one of the two ceremonial rubbing-sticks used to ignite the sacrificial fire: the upper stick, uttararani or pramantha, is held upright and set into a groove in the lower stick, adhararani, and when twirled or rotated rapidly it generates heat and flame. According to the Rig-Veda, the upright stick was made from the sami tree (Mimosa suma), and the horizontal from the asvattha or pipal tree (Ficus religiosa), the sacred fig tree. In the Satapatha-brahmana, however, both sticks were carved from the wood of the asvattha.

The arani (dual) represent the father and mother elements in nature, the creative, generative energy producing the offspring from the receiver, the mother. While the male/female metaphor has application physiologically, it may be interpreted cosmically: “this idea of the creative power of fire is explained at once by the ancient assimilation of the human soul to a celestial spark” (M. G. Dech 261); again “The ‘female Arani,’ the mistress of the race, is Aditi, the mother of the gods, or Shekinah, eternal light — in the world of Spirit, the ‘Great Deep’ and Chaos; or primordial Substance in its first remove from the Unknown, in the manifested Kosmos” (SD 2:527).

Aranya (Sanskrit) Āraṇya [from araṇya distant land, wilderness] As an adjective, relating to a forest, wild; as a noun, a wild animal.

Aranyaka (Sanskrit) Āraṇyaka [from āraṇya forest-like from araṇya wilderness, forest] Forest-born; a hermit or holy man who dwells in the forest during the process of becoming a genuine spiritual yogi. Aranyakas (plural) are a class of Vedic treatises of a mystical nature attached to the Brahmanas and closely associated with the Upanishads. They were called such either because they were written in the solitude of the wilderness or because they were intended for study and contemplation by those who had retired from the world to lead the life of spiritual recluses. The Aranyakas are ritualistic, treating of special ceremonies either omitted or dealt with only in part in the Brahmanas, and hence are considered to be supplemental to the latter.

Only four Aranyakas are presently known to exist: the Aitareya (Rig-vedic) forming part of the Aitareya-Brahmana; the Kausitaki (Rig-vedic) whose third and final chapter is the Kanusitaki Upanishad; the Taittiriya, of ten books, belonging to the Yajur-Veda; and the Brihad (Yajur-Veda) which forms a part of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad attached to the Satapatha-Brahmana.

Ararat (Hebrew) ’Arārāṭ The mount on which the ark is supposed to have rested at the first subsiding of the flood. Mystically, the earth, in reference to the preservation of the human seed by incarnation on earth. The Chaldean equivalent is Nizir; the Arabian, Jebel Judi; the Hindu, Himalaya (SD 2:145). The Biblical flood is symbolic, as there never was a universal deluge covering all the earth.

Arasa-mara (Sanskrit) Arasa-mara [from arasa sapless, tasteless + mara dying, death] The banyan tree, considered in one of its aspects as the Tree of Knowledge or the Tree of Life. According to popular Hindu belief, under one of these trees Vishnu taught during one of his incarnations on earth, hence it is held sacred. “Under the protecting foliage of this king of the forests, the Gurus teach their pupils their first lessons on immortality and initiate them into the mysteries of life and death” (SD 2:215).

Arba-Il (Hebrew) ’Arba‘-’ēl [from ’arba‘ four + ’ēl divinity] Four great divinities synthesized into a unity; mystically the four are one, precisely as the divine triad in nearly all ancient religious philosophies are both a divine unity and a trinity — one in three, three in one, according to the Christian system. “This is the Kabalistic abstract Trinity, so unceremoniously anthropomorphized by the Fathers. From this triple one emanated the whole Kosmos. First from one emanated number two, or Air, the creative element; and then number three, Water, proceeded from the air; Ether or Fire complete the mystic four, the Arba-il” (SD 1:447). “These are the ten Sephiroth out of Space (or the Void); One, from the Soul of the ’Elohim (or divinities) of living beings emanated Soul (Air); from the Air Water; from the Water Fire or Ether”; and from this last the manifested universe (Sepher Yetzirah 1:9). See also ’AHATH-RUAH-’ELOHIM-HAYYIM.

Arca. See ARK

Arcana (Latin) Secrets, mysteries; in ancient times almost invariably what was secret, sacred, and taught in silence and privacy in the Mysteries, whether such teachings comprised the revelation of truth, the explanation of difficult points regarding ceremonies, or the hidden wisdom.

Arcanum (singular) sometimes meant in medieval and modern Europe, an elixir, philosopher’s stone, or magical agent, whether physical or spiritual.

Arc(s), Ascending and Descending Also Luminous and Shadowy Arcs. A cycle of development, such as that of a planetary chain, can be divided into two halves, the first from the first globe to the middle of the most material globe, and the other extending from this midpoint upwards to the last globe. The first half is the downward or shadowy arc; the second is the ascending or luminous arc. The descending arc represents an involution of spirit and a concurrent evolution of matter resulting in a progressive materialization of spirit and a continuous grossening or concretion of the texture of matter; the ascending arc represents an evolution of spirit and involution of matter, resulting in a progressive dematerialization, spiritualization, or refinement of matter as it increasingly manifests the qualities of spirit. Yet spirit and matter are fundamentally one essence at different stages of development.

Archaeus, Archeus [from Greek archaios original, ancient] Used by Paracelsus and others after him to denote the unitary cosmic or human spiritual-vital force or essence. It is one aspect of the anima mundi and therefore the source of all astral-physical phenomena, whether as energy or substance; also called Father-Ether.

From another standpoint, Archaeus is one phase of fohat manifesting as energy on lower planes of the universe. Indeed, even in a spiritual sense archaeus in its highest portions may be called fohat itself, as it is a combination of intelligent energy and original substance working as soul and vehicle.

Archangel [from Greek arch higher, original + angelos messenger] A higher or original order of angels; cosmic powers synonymous with the highest class of dhyani-chohans. In Christian legend, they number seven; in the Koran, four. In Catholic theology, the eighth of the nine divisions in the divine hierarchy. Jewish astrology associates the archangels with the planets: Raphael with the Sun, Gabriel with the Moon, Michael with Mercury, Aniel (Anael) with Venus, Samael with Mars, Zadkiel (Sachiel) with Jupiter, and Kafziel (Cassiel) with Saturn. In medieval Europe, influenced by the Islamic system of Averroes, the planets of Michael and Raphael were reversed. The archangels parallel the Babylonian planetary spirits, the Zoroastrian amesha spentas, and the Hindu adityas.

Achebiosis [from Greek arch original + bios life] Life from the beginning; in some scientific uses, life not derived from life, spontaneous generation. Such generation occurs even today but pertains specially to certain stages of evolution. Archebiosis is used to designate a life origination occurring in a fifth stage of evolution (SD 1:455); but this origination means a manifestation of life on the seven planes concerned.

Archetypal World or Universe [from Greek archetypos original pattern] Either an abstract type in the divine mind, or a subtle form which is the model for a grosser form. In the processes of cosmic manifestation, forms are built by the builders working on a particular plane from abstract models already existing on a higher plane. In order for ideation to pass from the abstract into the concrete or visible form, the creative logoi see in the ideal world the archetypal forms of all and proceed to build upon these models forms both evanescent and transcendent (SD 1:380).

The Archetypal Man of the Qabbalah is the host of the higher dhyani-chohans collectively called ’Adam Qadmon or the upper triad of the ten Sephiroth, also svabhavat or the fourfold anima mundi, whence proceed the creative, formative, and material worlds. The archetypal world has three planes, corresponding to the First, Second, and Third Logoi, and to parabrahman with mulaprakriti or to Brahman with pradhana. In the human hierarchy, this is paramatman (the supreme self) from which fall the armies of rays which permeate every atom on every plane, constituting the unity in the divine selfhood which is the essence of all. In contrast with the septenary hierarchy below, this upper triad is called arupa (formless).

Archetypal world is also used to designate the fourth cosmic plane.

Archeus. See ARCHAEUS

Architects [from Greek architektones master-builders] Among groups of the creators such as the cosmocratores, demiourgoi, and dhyani-chohans, architect applies to the designers, those possessing and using the ideational faculties, and the term builder applies to the workmen or those who execute the general design. “The architects form the higher or more spiritual side, and actually form the line of the luminous arc; and the builders or constructors form, on the other hand, the shadowy arc” (Fund 507-8). The architects are the dhyani-buddhas, the principle creators, the elohim, synthesized by demiourgus; they follow the plan of the inherent divine thought.

Architecture [from Latin architectura from Greek architekton master-builder] Signifies not building in itself, but the science or art of building in accordance with certain principles or rules which endure through the ages, because rooted in cosmic order and beauty. Architecture is reckoned as one of the five great arts, and the monuments of antiquity in whatever land show clearly that those who designed them had, besides a knowledge of materials and the technique of using them, some knowledge at least of the great cosmic laws of harmony and beauty, and their derivative, proportion.

Primeval self-conscious humanity — not savage by any means, however much it may have needed spiritual guidance — was watched over and protected by divine instructors, and among the arts taught by these great beings, architecture had a prominent place: “No man descended from a Palaeolithic cave-dweller could ever evolve such a science unaided, even in millenniums of thought and intellectual evolution. It is the pupils of those incarnated Rishis and Devas of the third root race, who handed their knowledge from one generation to another, to Egypt and Greece with its now lost canon of proportion. . . . It is Vitruvius who gave to posterity the rules of construction of the Grecian temples erected to the immortal gods; and the ten books of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio on Architecture, of one, in short, who was an initiate, can only be studied esoterically. The Druidical circles, the Dolmens, the Temples of India, Egypt and Greece, the Towers and the 127 towns in Europe which were found ‘Cyclopean in origin’ by the French Institute, are all the work of initiated Priest-Architects, the descendants of those primarily taught by the ‘Sons of God,’ justly called ‘The Builders’ ” (SD 1:208-9n).

Archobiosis. See ARCHEBIOSIS

Archon, Archontes (Greek) ’archon. Ruler; originally celestial beings, these primordial planetary spirits or dhyani-chohans transfer their mystic fluids or essences into their “shadows” or vehicles, thus enabling them to manifest on the various planes of the universe. In one sense, they are the fallen angels, counterparts alike of the highest celestial beings of the hierarchies and of the human personalities at the lowest rung of the ladder of emanations. Hence they are humanity’s teachers or guardian angels, made by theology into evil spirits, and contrasted with archangels, their own supreme and primordial essences. These beings are concerned with a kind of hypostatic action or a transference of consciousness, vitality, and force from a higher to lower planes through various vehicles or sheaths in which the descending ray clothes itself on the different planes of the universe that it traverses.

Archon also was the Athenian name for the supreme authority established after the abolition of royalty in 1068 BC. After 683 BC nine were chosen by election or lot, each holding office for one year, one of whom, the Archon Basileus (ruler king), was the initiated and initiating hierophant in the Mysteries of Eleusis. In accordance with all ancient initiations the initiator, whether supreme or secondary, was held to be an imbodiment, at least temporarily, of spiritual-intellectual powers which worked for the time being through him.

Archytas of Tarentum (flourished 400-365 BC) Greek Pythagorean philosopher, general, statesman, scientist, and mathematician, contemporary of Plato. He was the first to distinguish harmonic progression from arithmetical and geometric progression, is credited with inventing the pulley, and contributed to the study of acoustics, music, and mathematics.


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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

Theosophical University Press Online Edition