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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Atom (Greek) atomos. Indivisible, individual, a unit; among the Greek Atomists what in theosophy is called a monad. Atomic theories of the constitution of the universe or of matter are many and ancient. In modern physics the atom is a small particle once thought indivisible, but now resolved into component units. In some philosophies, as that of Leibniz, the atoms (which he calls monads) are psychological rather than physical units — unitary beings of diverse kinds and grades, composing the universe.

In theosophy, atoms have to be considered in relation to monads; in The Secret Doctrine gods, monads, and atoms are a triad like spirit, soul, and body. A monad is a divine-spiritual life-atom, a living being, evolving on its own plane, and a life-atom is the vehicle of the monad which ensouls it, and in turn ensouls a physical atom. The ultimates of nature are atoms on the material side, monads on the energic side; monads are indivisible, atoms divisible (a departure from the etymological meaning). Thus there is a quaternary of gods, monads, life-atoms, and physical atoms. “An atom may be compared to (and is for the Occultist) the seventh principle of a body or rather of a molecule. The physical or chemical molecule is composed of an infinity of finer molecules and these in their turn of innumerable and still finer molecules. Take for instance a molecule of iron and so resolve it that it becomes non-molecular; it is then, at once transformed into one of its seven principles, viz., its astral body; the seventh of these is the atom. The analogy between a molecule of iron, before it is broken up, and this same molecule after resolution, is the same as that between a physical body before and after death. The principle remains minus the body. Of course this is occult alchemy, not modern chemistry” (TBL 84).

Atomists Certain ancient Greek philosophers, especially of the school of Leucippus and Deomcritus, who taught that all things arose from atoms (atomoi) and a vacuum (kenon). By atoms Democritus meant “indivisible particles of substance containing in themselves the potentialities of all possible future development, self-moved, self-driven . . . spiritual indivisible entities, the ultimates of being, self-conscious, spiritual monads.

“Nor by his word kenon, or void, did he mean an utter emptiness, as we misconstrue that word. He meant the vast expanses of the spatial deeps, Space, in fact, which this infinite host of monads filled” (MIE 34-5). The atomists became more materialistic as time passed. The equivalent Hindu atomist schools are the Nyaya and Vaiseshika.

Atonement Reconciliation brought about by a re-formation of the lower, so that it may become at one with the higher. Hence a number of Occidental mystics refer to the processes of atonement involving the foregoing idea as at-one-ment. In its best sense atonement means the becoming at one between the human ego and its spiritual counterpart, where the life or vitality of the lower personal man is offered up as a sacrifice, willing and utterly joyful, to the higher self. Thus the life which the hierophant is enjoined to offer is not his physical life, but the undesirable and imperfect life of his lower self, the selfish personality. The custom of sacrificing helpless animals — a custom protested against by Gautama Buddha in particular — is but an instance of the way in which lofty spiritual teachings or initiatory ceremonies can degenerate into repellent or cruel rites. Nevertheless, “the atonements by blood — blood-covenants and blood transferences from gods to men, and by men, as sacrifices to the gods — are the first keynote struck in every cosmogony and theogony; soul, life and blood were synonymous words in every language . . . The mystic meaning of the injunction, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves’ [John 6:53] . . . [has] to be interpreted with the help of three keys — one opening the psychic door, the second that of physiology, and the third that which unlocks the mystery of terrestrial being, by unveiling the inseparable blending of theogony with anthropology” (BCW 8:181-2).

The relation between the atonement and the intellectual and moral evolution of mankind may be explained as follows: “The Higher Manas or ego is essentially divine, and therefore pure; . . . Yet by the very fact that, though dual and during life the Higher is distinct from the Lower, ‘the Father and Son’ are one, and because that in reuniting with the parent Ego, the Lower Soul fastens and impresses upon it of all its bad as well as good actions, the Higher Ego — though innocent and without blemish — has to bear the punishment of the misdeeds committed by the lower Self together with it in their future incarnation. The whole doctrine of atonement is built upon this old esoteric tenet; . . . The Secret Doctrine shows that the Manasa-Putras or incarnating Egos have taken upon themselves, voluntarily and knowingly, the burden of all the future sins of their future personalities. . . . It is, then, true to say that when we remain deaf to the Voice of our Conscience, we crucify the Christos within us” (TBL 55-6). See also VICARIOUS ATONEMENT

Atri (Sanskrit) Atri [from the verbal root ad to eat] Devourer; one of the seven great rishis or maharshis, to whom many of the Vedic hymns are attributed. He is considered one of the ten prajapatis or lords of creation, the seven great rishis and ten prajapatis being intimately connected in mythologic history. He is married to Anusuya, a daughter of Daksha, their son being Durvasas. He is also represented as one of the seven mind-born sons of Brahma, who are also referred to as the seven rishis of the third manvantara (which may refer both to the third round and to the third root-race in the fourth round). The key to these shifting connections is analogy.

The Sons of Atri (atrayas or atreyas) are one of the classes of the pitris representing the barhishad pitris (those who were more particularly lunar pitris), the formers and developers of the human physical body and lower principles. After “having given birth to their astral doubles, [they] are reborn as the Sons of Atri” (SD 2:89).

In astronomy, Atri is one of the stars of the Ursa Major, this constellation being especially connected with the seven maharshis.

Atropos (Greek) [from a not + trepo to turn] The third of the three Fates or Moira: Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, meaning respectively, the spinner, the lot-thrower, and one who cannot be turned aside. They are aspects of karma, Atropos being residual karma not yet worked out combined with the action of the will in the person, thus making the destined or relatively inevitable future — that which by our own making “cannot be turned aside,” because it is we ourselves as we shall be.

Atsiloth, Atziluth. See ’ATSTSILOTH

’Atstsiloth (Hebrew) ’Atstsīlōth [from ’ātsal to join, separate, flow out] In the Qabbalah, the first of the four worlds or spheres (‘olams) emanated during the manifestation of a cosmos, called the “sphere of emanations or condensation.” Being the most exalted of the spheres or conditions, it contains the upper ten Sephiroth, which represent the operative qualities of the divine will, as the most abstract and spiritual of the emanations from ’eyn soph. This uppermost sphere is represented as the abode of Diyyuqna’ (the prototype, the image, the upper ’Adam or ’Adam ‘Illa’ah) and is also called ‘olam has-sephiroth (the world of the Sephiroth). As the most perfect emanation from ’eyn soph, ’Atstsiloth is the Great Sacred Seal, the prototype from which all inferior worlds are copied, having impressed on themselves the image of the Great Seal. From this ‘olam (also called the ’Atstsilatic World), through the conjunction of the King and Queen, proceeds the second world — ‘olam hab-beri’ah. “The globes A, Z, of our terrestrial chain are in Aziluth” (TG 46).

Attavada (Pali) Attavāda [from attā self (Sanskrit ātman) + vāda theory, disputation from the verbal root vad to speak] Atmavada (Sanskrit) The theory of a persistent soul. A study of Buddhist sutras or suttas shows that Gautama Buddha intended the term to convey the meaning of the heresy of separateness, the belief that one’s self or soul is different and apart from the one universal self, Brahman. Its importance in philosophy and mystical thought, and its genuine Buddhist significance, lies in the fact that Buddhism does not deny the existence of a soul, but strongly emphasizes the fact that no such soul is either a special creation or in its essence different from and other than the cosmic self. Hence the meaning of the heresy of separateness, because those who hold this view are under the constant false impression that in themselves they are different from, and other than, the universe in which they live, move, and have all their being.

In The Mahatma Letters attavada is termed “the doctrine of Self,” and with sakkayaditthi leads “to the maya of heresy and belief in the efficacy of vain rites and ceremonies; in prayers and intercession” (ML 111).

At-teekah D’At-teekeen. See ‘ATTIQA’ DE‘ATTIQIN

‘Attiqa’ De‘Attiqin (Aramaic) ‘Attīqā’ dĕ‘attīqīn. Qabbalistic phrase generally rendered Ancient of the Ancient; an alternative for Kether, the first Sephirah of the Sephirothal Tree, referring especially to the originating aspect of this first emanation. Also referred to as ‘Attiqa’ Qaddisha’ (the Holy Ancient). See also ANCIENT OF THE ANCIENT; ’ARIKH ’ANPIN; RE’SH HIWWAR

Attis. See ATYS

Attraction and Repulsion Two forces ever in operation during periods of manifested activity, called by Empedocles love and hate. In physics attraction is an effect, whose cause cannot be mechanically explained without circular reasoning, and which must therefore be assumed. Newton in speaking of gravitational attraction treats it mathematically as an effect and does not dogmatize on its real nature. These two aspects of the manifestation of universal unity arise out of the polarity inherent in cosmic manifestation as between spirit and matter generally, between the higher hierarchies and the lower. Physical attraction is a manifestation of a cosmic principle which has manifestations on all planes, spiritual, mental, and psychic, so that its influence is seen in our thoughts and feelings.

In The Secret Doctrine (1:103), three great universal causes of manifestation are named in connection with intelligent cosmic motion, namely the breath, love or attraction, and hate or repulsion, the latter being merely polar antitheses of the same underlying cosmic energy. Through the interaction of these three, universes and worlds come into being, have their periods of manvantaric growth, and finally decay and disappear, only to reappear after a period of rest or pralaya. Herbert Spencer intuitively refers to manvantara and pralaya, and what takes place within each: “the universally co-existent forces of attraction and repulsion which, as we have seen, necessitate rhythm in all minor changes throughout the Universe, also necessitate rhythm in the totality of its changes — produce now an immeasurable period during which the attracting forces predominating, cause universal concentration, and then an immeasurable period, during which the repulsive forces predominating, causes universal diffusion — alternate eras of Evolution and dissolution” (SD 1:12).

A capital mistake made by modern science and philosophy, producing momentous consequences in theory, has been the arbitrary division of natural forces into disjunct and unrelated energies. All forces of nature originally spring from a common source, a cosmic spiritual unit, which is the heart of nature itself, and hence it is no more possible to divorce attraction from its alter ego repulsion than it would be to have a stick which has only one end. This principle applies directly to such forces as gravitation, which is bipolar exactly as electricity is recognized to be, its two forms being attraction and repulsion, though the last has been ignored in scientific experimentation and deduction. Just as human beings, because of the bipolarity in their vital auras feel attracted to, repelled by, or both from other human beings, producing the strong sympathies and antipathies which are so well known, so does gravity operate. Celestial bodies are not only strongly or weakly attracted to each other, but are likewise strongly or weakly repelled by each other.

The universal life principle which manifests everywhere in nature, and which under one of its forms is called kundalini-sakti, of necessity includes the two great forces of attraction and repulsion. Attraction and repulsion being of cosmic origin are therefore of necessity likewise manifest in the manifold conditions of human life; but this does not imply that the individual should passively or negatively accept disturbances caused by inharmony when it is within his power as an offspring of the higher divinities to restore it — insofar as his energies and knowledge permit — to the harmony or cosmic unity from which these cosmic energies themselves spring. Hence the teaching of the greatest sages and seers of history has been to rise above the elements of personal attraction or repulsion, and to blend the two into the compassionate mastery which the indomitable human will, when trained and practiced, can acquire over not merely moods but all conditions in life. Thus he becomes a friend to all, and an enemy to none, repelling evil and attracting good, until these by association may themselves blend or marry into that mystic unity which is the achievement or culmination of evolution, whether human or cosmic.

Atyantika Pralaya (Sanskrit) Ātyantika Pralaya [from ati beyond, over + anta end, limit; pra-laya from the verbal root to dissolve, dissolution] That which seems eternal or beyond limitation, which is beyond or more than the limit; individual pralaya or nirvana. The atyantika pralaya concerns only the individualities of certain rare entities, as it is the identification of the freed individual monad (jivanmukta) with the supreme spirit — a mahatmic state, whether temporary or lasting until the following mahakalpa. After having reached that state there is no future evolution possible, and consequently no reimbodiments till after the mahapralaya, which lasts 311,040,000,000,000 years. Since there is the probability of the jivanmukta’s reaching nirvana at an early cycle of the manvantara, this mahapralayic period may be almost doubled, and therefore is long enough to be regarded as eternal, if not endless. Atyantika pralaya is also occasionally used for absolute obscuration, as of a whole planetary chain (SD 2:309-10n).

Atys or Attis (Greek) [probably from Phrygian] A deity worshiped in connection with the Great Mother, Cybele, in Phrygia and later throughout the Roman Empire. The legends concerning Cybele and Atys are similar to those of Aphrodite and Adonis in Syria, to Baal and Astarte in Sidon, to Isis and Osiris in Egypt. In certain aspects he represents the type-figure of initiation and adeptship in the mysteries of Cybele. These rites were held by the Corybantes in Phrygia during the spring equinox, in imperial Rome annually from April 4-10, and then in later times from March 15-27. The fourth stage of this festival, the Hilaria, was the favorite festival in Rome.

Atziluth, Atzilatic World. See ’ATSTSILOTH

Aub. See ’OB

Audhumla (Icelandic) [from audr void + hum dusk] Dusky void; in Norse mythology, the cow (symbol of fertility) formed of the frozen vapors of elivagar (glaciers, ice waves). From her udder flowed the four streams that nourished the frost giant Ymir. She is the female principle and Ymir the male principle; the four streams of milk “which diffused themselves throughout space (the astral light in its purest emanation)” (IU 1:147). Audhumla licked the salt ice blocks and uncovered the head of Buri, the parentless progenitor of all living beings. “The meaning of the allegory is evident. It is the precosmic union of the elements, of Spirit, or the creative Force, with Matter, cooled and still seething, which it forms in accordance with universal Will. Then the Ases, ‘the pillars and supports of the World’ (Cosmocratores), step in and create as All-father wills them” (TG 43).

Audlang (Icelandic) [from audr void + langr long] One of several heavens of the Norse Eddas; one of “the three gradually ascending planets of our ‘Chain’ ” (SD 2:100), these unseen globes usually designated E, F, and G in theosophical literature. Audlang is evidently one of the “shelves” (planes) of substances different from our matter, of which these unseen globes are built. Beyond Audlang lie other heavens: Grimnismal in the Edda enumerates twelve mansions of the gods on their appropriate shelves.

Augoeides [from Greek auge bright light, radiance + eidos form, shape] Bulwer-Lytton in Zanoni adopted the term from Marcus Aurelius (who says that the sphere of the soul is augoeides), using it to denote the radiant spiritual-divine human soul-ego. In Isis Unveiled it denotes the spiritual monad, atma-buddhi, and is collated with the Persian ferouer or feruer, the Platonic nous, etc. In a high degree of initiation the initiant comes face to face with this radiant presence, the luminous radiation streaming from the divine ego at the heart of the monad. When the Augoeides touches with its rays the inferior monads in the human constitution and awakens them to activity, these then becomes the various lower egos or manifested children of the divine ego.

Augurs [from Latin avis bird] One of the priestly colleges in ancient Rome. The original function was to take the auspices: to examine the heavens and other things for signs indicating the disposition of the celestial powers, especially at the inauguration of events. One of these modes of divination was the examination of the behavior of certain birds kept for the purpose. See also MANTICISM

Aum (Sanskrit) Aum The ancient Indians held that Om, when considered as a single letter was the symbol of the Supreme; when written with three letters — Aum — it stood among other things for the three Vedas, the three gunas or qualities of nature, the three divisions of the universe, and the deities of the Hindu Trimurti — Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva — concerned in the creation, preservation, and destruction of the universe or the beings composing it. “The mystic formula, résumé of every science, contained in the three mysterious letters, AUM which signify creation, conservation, and transformation” (IU 2:31). These three letters are supposed by some Hindus to have correspondences as follows: “The letter A is the Sattva Guna, U is the Rajas, and M is the Tamas; these three qualities are termed Nature (Prakriti). . . . A is Bhurloka, U is Bhuvarloka, and M is Svarloka; by these three letters the spirit exhibits itself” (Laheri in Lucifer 10:147). This word is said to have a morally spiritualizing effect if pronounced during meditation and when the mind is at peace and cleansed of all impurities. See also OM

Aupapaduka (Sanskrit) Aupapāduka Pali opapatika. Self-produced, spontaneously generated (research shows that anupapadaka, as found in Monier-Williams’ Sanskrit-English Dictionary, is a misreading of aupapaduka. Cf. Franklin Edgerton, Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Grammar and Dictionary, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1953, 2:162). One who does not go or come (as others do): parentless, having no material parent. One who is self-born by reason of his own intrinsic energy, without parents or predecessors from which his existence or activities are derived, as is the usual case in line descent; applied therefore to certain self-evolving gods. In Buddhism, used with particular reference to the dhyani-buddhas, who issue forth from adi-buddha without intermediary agency.

“The term Anupadaka, ‘parentless,’ or without progenitors, is a mystical designation having several meanings in the philosophy. By this name celestial beings, the Dhyan-Chohans or Dhyani-Buddhas, are generally meant. But as these correspond mystically to the human Buddhas and Bodhisattwas, known as the ‘Manushi (or human) Buddhas,’ the latter are also designated ‘Anupadaka,’ once that their whole personality is merged in their compound sixth and seventh principles — or Atma-Buddhi, and that they have become the ‘diamond-souled’ (Vajra-sattvas), the full Mahatmas. . . . The mystery in the hierarchy of the Anupadaka is great, its apex being the universal Spirit-Soul, and the lower rung the Manushi-Buddha; and even every Soul-endowed man is an Anupadaka in a latent state. Hence, when speaking of the Universe in its formless, eternal, or absolute condition, before it was fashioned by the ‘Builders’ — the expression, ‘the Universe was Anupadaka’ ” (SD 1:52).

Indeed, not only are there aupapaduka divinities of the solar system, but also of every organic entity, because the core of any such entity is aupapaduka — a mystical way of stating the doctrine of the inner god (cf OG 5-6; also FSO 487-91, 532).

Aupapaduka-bhuta (Sanskrit) Aupapāduka-bhūta [from aupapāduka self-producing + bhūta element from the verbal root bhū to be, become] The self-generated element; the second in the descending scale of the seven cosmic bhutas or elements. An analog of the Second or Unmanifest Logos.

Aupapaduka-tattva (Sanskrit) Aupapāduka-tattva [from aupapāduka self-producing + tattva thatness, reality from tad that] Self-born or parentless principle; second in the descending scale of seven cosmic tattvas, of which five only are enumerated in the philosophical schools of India. Aupapaduka has the mystical meaning of that which comes into being, whether in the cosmos or human being, out of its inherent energy and not as the offspring or child of a predecessor. Aupapaduka-tattva corresponds to the Second or Unmanifest Logos.

Aur. See ’OR

Aura [from Greek, Latin aura air] A subtle invisible essence or fluid emanating from and surrounding beings, both those classed as animate and inanimate. To the eyes of clairvoyants the human aura appears as a halo of light, variously colored according to the momentary psychic and mental condition of the individual. Since everything in the universe is a center of living energies of one kind or another, it must necessarily be surrounded by a field of force, representing its radiations into the surrounding space and upon all objects within its sphere of influence. The human being is of a composite nature, and his aura will, therefore, be composite, including astral-vital, psychomental, and spiritual emanations, and any of these may be perceptible according to the plane on which the perceiver is able to function. But the aura, even though not commonly visible to our eyes, is nevertheless perceptible by the effects which it produces upon those subtle senses which all possess in addition to the conventional five. By the auras of persons we are affected, both consciously and unconsciously, and thus is explained the influence which people exercise on each other. Animals are in some ways far more sensitive to auras than we are.

Auras also emanate from so-called inorganic substances, such as magnetic substances. This subject has been investigated in connection with different bodies by Reichenbach and others, whose researches show that these emanations are bipolar as is ordinary magnetism. The phenomena of animal magnetism, investigated by Mesmer, illustrate this, for his magnetic fluid was a reality. The aura is a psychomental effluvium, and in its higher parts is a direct manifestation of the akasic portion of the auric egg surrounding every individual.

Aureole [diminutive of Latin aureus golden] Either a special spiritual radiance adorning the heads of saints and martyrs, or a golden halo surrounding the head or whole body of a holy man. The matter is clearly explained in The Mahatma Letters as: “a counterpart of what the astronomers call the red flames in the ‘corona’ may be seen in Reichenbach’s crystals or in any other strongly magnetic body. The head of a man — in a strong ecstatic condition, when all the electricity of his system is centered around the brain, will represent — especially in darkness — a perfect simile of the Sun during such periods [eclipses]. The first artist who drew the aureoles about the heads of his Gods and Saints, was not inspired, but represented it on the authority of temple pictures and traditions of the sanctuary and the chambers of initiation where such phenomena took place” (p. 162).

Aurgelmir. See ORGELMER

Auric Egg or Envelope The source of the human aura, taking its name from its shape. It ranges from the divine to the astral-physical, and is the seat of all the monadic, spiritual, intellectual, mental, passional, and vital energies and faculties. In its essence it is eternal and endures throughout the pralayas as well as during the manvantaras.

“Every being or thing throughout the universe, and indeed the universe itself, has, or rather is, its own auric egg. Its primal substance is the akasa . . .
“The auric egg originates in the monad which is its heart or core, and from which, when manifestation begins, it emanates forth in streams of vital effluvia. On the different planes which the auric egg traverses as a pillar of light, from the atmic to the physical, each such auric or pranic effluvium is a principle or element, commonly reckoned in man as seven in number. When the auric egg is viewed on any one plane of the human constitution, we discover that this plane or ‘layer’ not only corresponds to, but actually is, one of the unfolded six principles of man; it would appear to be ovoid or somewhat egg-shaped in outline, and to be a more or less dense, extremely brilliant, central portion surrounded by an enormously active interworking cloud of pranic currents. . . .
“These immensely active and interworking clouds or vital effluvia are actually the pranas of the auric egg on any one plane expressing themselves as auras” (FSO 427).

Aurnavabha (Sanskrit) Aurṇavābha A grammarian mentioned in Yaska’s Nirukta; also a demon in the Rig-Veda.

Aurva (Sanskrit) Aurva A rishi, son of Urva and grandson of Bhrigu, mentioned in the Rig-Veda (8:102:4). The Mahabharata relates that Aurva was the preceptor of Sagara (whose mother he saved from the funeral pyre), on whom he bestowed the agneyastra (fiery weapon).

Automatic Writing The practice in which a person takes pen and paper, makes his mind blank, and waits for his pen to write by some involuntary impulse. Sometimes the pen is replaced by a mechanical device such as an ouija board. The results vary from purely negative ones, through the stage of illegible scrawls, up to elaborate consecutive messages or even quotations from rare books. The ability of different persons to succeed in this practice varies, a minority being specially apt; and the aptitude can be developed by practice. The usual spiritualistic explanation is that these writings are communications from those “on the other side.” But in every case it is necessary for the automatic writer to resign the control of his own will over his physical and vital-astral body and to surrender these to the use of influences unknown to him.

From a theosophical viewpoint this is extremely hazardous, as we are protected by our physical organism and by our own will from the dangerous, often malignant influences of the lower astral light; and to strive to break down that barrier is a proceeding which can lead to a breakdown of our linkage with our higher self.

Autumn. See SEASONS

Avabodha (Sanskrit) Avabodha [from ava down away + bodha awakening] Consciously cognizant or aware of; hence discrimination or awakened perception.

Avadhuta (Sanskrit) Avadhūta [from ava-dhū to shake off] Shaken off, dispelled, rejected, as applied to evil spirits or enemies; also applied to plants shaken by the wind. As a noun, one who has shaken off himself worldly feeling and shackling ties. Also one of the six degrees or stages of asceticism.

Avaivartika (Sanskrit) Avaivartika [from a not + vi-vṛt to turn around, revolve] Non-revolving, nontransmigrating; in the case of a reimbodying entity, one who is advanced so far on the evolutionary path that he is no longer enslaved by, or enchained in, the whirling waves of samsara. Hence also translated “one who does not revolve any more,” applied to seventh round human beings, and therefore strictly referable to one who has reached nirvana. Also applied to every buddha “who turns no more back; who goes straight to Nirvana” (TG 44), for whether nirvana is entered as in the case of the Pratyeka Buddhas, or whether the avaivartika renounces that lofty state and remains in the nirmanakaya as a Buddha of Compassion, both classes of buddhas have passed beyond the necessity of “revolving” any more in this round.

Avaivartyas (Sanskrit) Avaivartya-s [from a not + vi-vṛt to turn around, revolve] Those who will never return; in Mahayana Buddhism those who have passed beyond a certain grade of evolution, freeing them from the need of returning to reimbodiments in lower spheres. The kumaras, strictly speaking, are avaivartya entities because although they inflamed and awoke our latent intellectual faculties on earth during this round, they themselves did not imbody, for they have no need of this, having passed beyond any lessons that they could themselves learn from earth-life. Hence they are those “who will never return” as imbodying egos.

Avalokiteshwara. See AVALOKITESVARA

Avalokitesvara (Sanskrit) Avalokiteśvara [from ava down, away from + the verbal root lok to look at, contemplate + īśvara lord] The lord who is perceived; the divinity or lord seen or contemplated in its inferior or “downward-seen” aspect. The essential meaning in theosophy is the Logos, whether considered in its kosmic aspect or in its function in an entity dwelling in such kosmos. “Simultaneously with the evolution of the Universal Mind, the concealed Wisdom of Adi-Buddha — the One Supreme and eternal — manifests itself as Avalokiteshwara (or manifested Iswara), which is the Osiris of the Egyptians, the  Ahura-Mazda of the Zoroastrians, the Heavenly Man of the Hermetic philosopher, the Logos of the Platonists, and the Atman of the Vedantins” (SD 1:110).

Avakokitesvara is the seventh principle in the microcosm, and therefore the atman or atma-buddhi; and analogically the seventh or highest principle in the universe, and hence the kosmic Logos in its macrocosmic position. There are in consequence two Avalokitesvaras: the First and Second Logos whether of the macrocosm or of the microcosm, because the First Logos reflects itself in the Second Logos, in the macrocosm, just as atman reflects itself in and works through its mirroring veil buddhi. There is an analogy with parabrahman and mulaprakriti, but Avalokitesvara is essentially the kosmic monad or First Logos on the one hand, and the human-divine monad or human logos, atma-buddhi, on the other hand. Avalokitesvara thus opens manifestation or differentiation in either case. See also Chenrezi; Kwan-shai-yin; Logos

Avapta (Sanskrit) Avāpta [from ava down, away + the verbal root āp to obtain] Attained, to obtain one’s aim or end; initiated.

Avara (Sanskrit) Avara [from ava down, below] Inferior, low, younger.

Avarana (Sanskrit) Āvaraṇa [from a-vṛ to conceal, surround] Covering, hiding, concealing, enclosing; as a noun, the act of enclosing or concealing, also anything that conceals, encloses, or protects, as a wall, shield, or garment. In philosophy, intellectual blindness.

In Vedanta philosophy, avarana-sakti is the power of illusion, that which veils, conceals, or surrounds the real nature of beings or things.

Avara-saila-sangharama (Sanskrit) Avara-śaila-saṅghārāma [from avara western +śaila mountain + saṅghārāma monastery] A Buddhist school or monastery situated on the “western mountain,” in a place variously spelled Dhanakataka, Dhanyakataka, Dhanakstchaka, and Dhanakacheka, which according to Eitel was “built 600 BC, and deserted AD 600” (TG 44).

Avastan (Sanskrit) Avasthāna A habitat or dwelling place, also applied to a country as the habitat of a people. Blavatsky defines it as “an ancient name for Arabia” (TG 44).

Avastha (Sanskrit) Avasthā [from ava down into + the verbal root sthā to stand] State, condition, position, situation; applied to the four states of consciousness (jagradavastha, svapnavastha, sushuptyavastha, and turiyavastha). The Greek equivalent is hypostasis, that which stands under, supports, carries, or bears a superior. Thus the superior is born or manifested by its hypostasis or avastha.

Avatamsaka Sutra (Sanskrit) Avataṃsaka Sutra The Flower Ornament Scripture or The Flower Adornment Scripture; a long and very profound Buddhist scripture, which Nagarjuna “brought back from the Realm of the Nagas” (adepts) (BCW 14:510). The basis for modern translations is the Chinese translation of Shikshananda (652-710). (BCW 14:285, 423; 6:100-1)

Avatar, Avatara (Sanskrit) Avatāra [from ava down + the verbal root tṛ to cross over, pass] That which passes down or descends; the passing down of a celestial energy or an individualized complex of celestial energies — a celestial being — in order to overshadow and illuminate a human being who, at the time of such connection of divinity with matter, possesses no human soul karmically destined to be the inner master of the body thus born. “Hence an Avatara is one who has a combination of three elements in his being: an inspiring divinity; a highly evolved intermediate nature or soul, which is loaned to him and is the channel of that inspiring divinity; and a pure, clean, physical body” (OG 16).

Sankaracharya, Krishna, Lao-tzu, and Jesus were avataras in differing degrees, of somewhat differing structure. There was a divine ray which came down at the cyclic time of each of these incarnations, and the connecting link or the flame of mind was provided in each case by a member of the Hierarchy of Compassion. Krishna says, “I incarnate in period after period in order to destroy wickedness and reestablish righteousness” (BG ch 4, sl 8). Krishna here represents the Logos or logoic ray which “on our plane would be utterly helpless, inactive, and have no possible means of communication with us and our sphere, because that logoic ray lacks an intermediate and fully conscious vehicle or carrier, i.e., it lacks the intermediate or highly ethereal mechanism, the spiritual-human in us, which in ordinary man is but slightly active. An avatara takes place when a direct ray from the Logos enters into, fully inspires, and illuminates, a human being, through the intermediary of a bodhisattva who has incarnated in that human being, thereby supplying the fit, ready, and fully conscious intermediate vehicle or carrier” (Fund 276).

Blavatsky says that “rebirths may be divided into three classes: the divine incarnations called Avataras; those of Adepts who give up Nirvana for the sake of helping on humanity — the Nirmanakayas; and the natural succession of rebirths for all — the common law. The Avatara . . . is a descent of the manifested Deity — whether under the specific name of Siva, Vishnu, or Adi-Buddha — into an illusive form of individuality, an appearance which to men on this illusive plane is objective, but it is not so in sober fact. That illusive form having neither past nor future, because it had neither previous incarnation nor will have subsequent rebirths, has naught to do with Karma, which has therefore no hold on it” (BCW 14:373-4).

Vishnu as the supporter of life is the source of one line of avataras so often spoken of in Hindu legends. These ten avataras of Vishnu are: 1) Matsya the fish; 2) Kurma the tortoise; 3) Varaha the boar; 4) Narasimha the man-lion (last of animal stage); 5) Vamana the dwarf (first step toward the human form); 6) Parasu-Rama, Rama with the axe (a hero); 7) Rama-chandra, the hero of the Ramayana; 8) Krishna, son of Devaki; 9) Gautama Buddha; and 10) Kalki, the avatara who is to appear at the end of the kali yuga mounted on a white horse, inaugurating a new reign of righteousness on earth. A horse has from immemorial time been a symbol of the spiritual as well as vital energies of the inner solar orb. Hence, when the next avatara is said to come riding a white horse, the meaning is that he comes infilled with the solar light or splendor — an avatara or manifestation of a spiritual and intellectual solar energy which will carry all before it on earth.

Brahmanical esotericism never taught that divinity descended into the animals as given in the legends. These names of different animals and men, like all zoological mythology, were chosen because of certain characteristic attributes. They actually represent ten degrees of advancing knowledge and growth in understanding — ten degrees in the esoteric cycle — as well as different evolutionary stages through which monads break through the lower spheres in order to express themselves on higher rungs of the evolutionary ladder of life. These names also represent the technical names given to neophytes in esoteric schools. The lowest chela was called a fish, the chela who had taken the second degree successfully was called a tortoise, and so forth, till the highest of all was called an incarnation of the sun — a white horse in Hindu legend.

These avataric descents do not appertain solely to a race, root-race, globe, chain, or solar system, because nature repeats itself by analogy, and the same line of enlarging understanding of evolutionary development takes place in all the spheres mutatis mutandis. Thus these avataric descents can be ascribed to the solar system, the planetary chain as a whole, a globe, a root-race, and even to a subrace.

Avayakta. See AVYAKTA

Avebury An English village in Wiltshire about 20 miles north of Stonehenge, where one of the most remarkable stone circles in England, and the largest in Europe, is located. Unfortunately many of the stones have been removed or buried, so that the monument at present is not as impressive as Stonehenge. Originally 300 stones are believed to have been in the three circles, the largest circle measuring on the average 1260 feet in diameter and 4442 feet in circumference.

Archaeologists have calculated that these circles date from about 1900 BC in the so-called Early Bronze Age. Blavatsky states that the erection of such great monolithic monuments was supervised by initiated priests, some at least coming from Egypt, belonging to the second subrace of the fifth root-race, at a time when a land connection existed between France and Great Britain, but gives no date for the British stone circles. Recent excavations, however, have disclosed that the great circle cuts right across the site of an older and rather smaller one.

Avernus (Latin) Aornos (Greek) [from a not + ornis bird] In popular speech an equivalent to the Greek Hades, to which the lake Avernus was supposed to be the entrance. This lake was located in the volcanic region near Vesuvius, not far from Cumae and Puteoli, and legend had it that over its waters no bird could cross.

Avesa (Sanskrit) Āveśa [from ā-viś to enter into] An entering, entrance, or taking possession of, as in the instance of an obsession; in later times used to denote a fit of anger or demoniacal frenzy. In occult literature used for the temporary occupancy of a human body for specific purposes by an adept, or to refer to an avatara during the presence of the divine influence on earth. Thus it is similar in meaning to the Tibetan tulku. Avesa, therefore, means the taking possession of, or temporary imbodiment in, a body, human or other, by an outside entity or power, whether divine or evil.

A classical instance of the avesa is the story told of Sankaracharya who, to gain in that imbodiment the human experiences of a life of another character, entered the body of a raja who had just died, requickened it, and for a time pursued his activities in the body of the former king.

Avesta (Avest, Pers) Apstak, Avestak (Pahlavi) Law or the basic foundation, the sacred scriptures of the Mazdeans. The language of the ancient Aryans was the language of the Vedic hymns and also of the Gathic chants of Zoroaster, these being so close that a mere phonetic change often suffices to translate a passage from one into the other. Because of this connection “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). Zend, on the other hand, traditionally designates the Pahlavi commentary on the Avesta. The Yasnas are the principal writings of the Zoroastrians; and in their oldest portion, the Gathas, the original philosophy of Mazdeism is expressed in a spirited poetic language. The Vispered (Pahlavi) or Visperataro (Avestan) [from vispe all + ratavo warriors, spiritual teachers] is an appendix to the later Yasnas which deals with the ritualistic aspects of the Mazdean faith.

The Vendidad (Pahlavi) or Vidaeva-data (Avestan) [from vi against + daeva evil + data law] has 22 fargards (chapters) of which the first two deal with the story of creation and the origin of civilization. The rest is the code of priesthood. The 21 Yashts are the epic of Yazatas or Izads (gods), composed in prose form. Their legends are often comparable with those of Shah-Nameh. Some hymns and prayers from other parts of the Avesta are found in shorter Yashts. There seems to be more profundity and originality of style in the longer Yashts. The Khorde Avesta (Avestan) or Khordak-Appestak (Pahlavi), meaning bits and pieces of Avesta, consists of different prayers taken from the other four parts of the Avesta, put together by Azarabad, the son of Mehrispand, during the reign of Shahpour II (310-379).

Zand or Zend is the Pahlavi interpretation of the Avesta written during the Sassanid dynasty (226-650) by the priests. Pahlavi script, due to the limitation of the number of letters, was very difficult to read correctly (one letter represented several consonantal sounds). Thus the interpretation was left to the knowledge and understanding of the reader. Hozvaresh — words which were written in Aramaic and read in Pahlavi — made the task of reading and understanding even more difficult. Pazand is the interpretation of Zand written in Dindabireh script which was a far better instrument for accurate reading.

The original Avesta consisted of 21 Nasks of which very few remain intact. Tabari (9th century Iranian historian) writes: “Thirty years after the reign of Kay Goshtasp, Zartusht Spitaman produced a book which was written in gold on 12,000 cowhides. Kay Goshtasp ordered that this book be kept in Dejh-Nebeshtak and be guarded by the Hierbads (the learned) away from the reach of the profane.” (Persian translation of Tarikh-e-Tabari, Tabari Hisrory, Book 11, p. 477) The Pahlavi Dinkard (of the 9th century) states that two complete copies of the Avesta existed: the one kept in the Dezh-Nebeshtak of Persopolis and the other in Ganj-e-Shizegan, which most likely was in the town of Shiz of Azarpategan. When Alexander burned down Persopolis, the copy there was destroyed; but the one in Shizegan was translated into Greek and sent to Aristotle, Alexander’s tutor. This translation has been lost. Bal’ami, historian and the minister of the Samanid kings (early 10th century), writes that Alexander “gathered Iranian philosophers and had their writings translated into Greek and sent them to Aristotle and other Greek philosophers. He destroyed the cities of Babel, Eragh and Pars, killed all men of eminence, and burned down all King Dara’s (Darius) libraries.” (Tarikh-e-Balami, Book 11, p. 699)

Avichi (Sanskrit) Avīci [from a not + vīci waves, pleasure] Waveless, having no waves or movement; without happiness; without repose. “A generalized term for places of evil realizations, but not of ‘punishment’ in the Christian sense; where the will for evil, and the unsatisfied evil longings for pure selfishness, find their chance for expansion — and final extinction of the entity itself. Avichi has many degrees or grades. Nature has all things in her; if she has heavens where good and true men find rest and peace and bliss, so has she other spheres and states where gravitate those who must find an outlet for the evil passions burning within. They, at the end of their avichi, go to pieces and are ground over and over, and vanish away finally like a shadow before the sunlight in the air — ground over in Nature’s laboratory” (OG 16-17).

Avichi is a state, not a locality per se; nevertheless, an entity, whatever state it may be in, must have location, and consequently so far as the human race is concerned, avichi is Myalba, our earth in certain of its lowest aspects. Furthermore, in avichi, although it can be looked upon as being the representation of stagnation of life and being in immobility, nevertheless this refers to the temporary or quasi-inability to rise along the evolutionary ladder — yet not completely so. Beings entirely in avichi are born and reborn uninterruptedly, with scarcely intermissions of time periods. But “suppose a case of a monster of wickedness, sensuality, ambition, avarice, pride, deceit, etc.: but who nevertheless has a germ or germs of something better, flashes of a more divine nature — where is he to go? The said spark smouldering under a heap of dirt will counteract, nevertheless, the attraction of the eighth sphere, whither fall but absolute nonentities; ‘failures of nature’ to be remodelled entirely, whose divine monad separated itself from the five principles during their life-time, . . . and who have lived as soulless human beings. . . . Well, the first named entity then, cannot, with all its wickedness go to the eighth sphere — since his wickedness is of a too spiritual, refined nature. He is a monster — not a mere Soulless brute. He must not be simply annihilated but punished; for, annihilation, i.e. total oblivion, and the fact of being snuffed out of conscious existence, constitutes per se no punishment, and as Voltaire expressed it: ‘le neant ne laisse pas d’avoir du bon.’ Here is no taper-glimmer to be puffed out by a zephyr, but a strong, positive, maleficent energy, fed and developed by circumstances, some of which may have really been beyond his control. There must be for such a nature a state corresponding to Devachan, and this is found in Avitchi — the perfect antithesis of devachan — vulgarized by the Western nations into Hell and Heaven . . . ” (ML 196-7).

As long as the entity does not sink by attraction into the Eighth Sphere, or Sphere of Death, it still has within it the possibility of regaining its foothold on the ascending evolutionary ladder and rising again. Rare indeed are those who succeed in so rising, but the case is not absolutely hopeless. And finally, an entity may be in avichi not only after death, but also during life on earth, as avichi is a state and not a place per se.

Avichi-nirvana (Sanskrit) Avīci-nirvāṇa A fearful state, the opposite of the wondrous nirvana experienced by the dhyani-chohans, consisting of aeons and aeons of unspeakable, self-imposed misery. It lasts until either the vanishing monad by a desperate effort saves itself or, more usually, the final dissolution ensues in the Eighth Sphere, and the entity disappears as an organic being, finally and utterly annihilated.

Avidya (Sanskrit) Avidyā [from a not + vidyā knowledge, wisdom] Nescience rather than ignorance; it implies absence of wisdom rather than inherent incapacity, and is the result of illusion producing ignorance. Hence ignorance of spiritual things. See also VIDYA

Avikara (Sanskrit) Avikāra [from a not + vikāra from vi-kṛ to transform, change] Non-change of form or nature, unchangeable or immutable for all below it or inferior to it in the same hierarchy, hence used of the deity, god, or hierarch of such hierarchy.

Avitchi. See AVICHI

Avyakta (Sanskrit) Avyakta [from a not + vyakta manifested from vy-añj to anoint, adorn, cause to appear, manifest] Unmanifested; applied to Vishnu and Siva, and in the Bhagavad-Gita to Krishna. Hence Avyakta is the unmanifest or the undifferentiated, as opposed to vyakta, the manifest or differentiated. In the Sankhya philosophy, it is mulaprikriti (root- or primordial nature), the veil of parabrahman, or parabrahman manifested in mulaprakriti. Mulaprakriti is the unmanifested side of differentiated nature, and hence avyakta; but the term is equally applicable to the consciousness side of the universe, during those immensely long time periods when cosmic consciousness is sunken in its own essence and not manifesting. Similarly, the higher or divine-spiritual parts of cosmic consciousness may be said to be avyakta even during periods of cosmic manifestation. To the Sankhyas, avyakta is the one cosmic principle which is the root of all essential selfhood and which during cosmic manvantara is in its lower parts differentiated in and through the innumerable hierarchical organisms. It therefore subsists in every kind of upadhi and is the real spiritual entity which a person has to reach in his progress towards spirit.

In the Vedantic system of Krishna, however, avyakta is also parabrahman, that which will not perish even at the time of cosmic pralaya, because parabrahman is the one essence, not only of the whole cosmos, but even of mulaprakriti itself, the foundation of the manifested cosmos. “In case you follow the Sankhyan doctrine, you have to rise from Upadhi to Upadhi in gradual succession, and when you try to rise from the last Upadhi to their Avyaktam, there is unfortunately no connection that is likely to enable your consciousness to bridge the interval. If the Sankhyan system of philosophy is the true one, your aim will be to trace Upadhi to its source, but not consciousness to its source. The consciousness manifested in every Upadhi is traceable to the Logos and not to the Avyaktam of the Sankhyas. It is very much easier for a man to follow his own consciousness farther and farther into the depths of his inmost nature, and ultimately reach its source — the Logos — than to try to follow Upadhi to its source in this Mulaprakriti, this Avyaktam. Moreover, supposing you do succeed in reaching this Avyaktam, you can never fix your thoughts in it or preserve your individuality in it; for, it is incapable of retaining any of these permanently” (Notes on BG 98). Nevertheless the Sankhya philosophy is as true as is the Vedanta, and reaches the same ultimates of philosophic thought and understanding, although along differing systemic lines.

In the Law of Manu avyakta is used as an equivalent to paramatman (universal spirit).

Avyaktabrahma (Sanskrit) Avyaktabrahma [from avyakta unmanifested + brahman first deity] Unmanifested deity; standing for the seventh principle (BCW 6:166; 3:315).

Avyaktamurti (Sanskrit) Avyaktamūrti [from avyakta unmanifested + mūrti form, shape from the verbal root murc to condense, solidify] To assume form; the undifferentiated or indiscrete cosmic substance. Krishna says, “the whole of this universe is pervaded by me in my avyaktamurti” (BG) — a way of stating that the undifferentiated spiritual substance of the universe pervades the universe, Krishna standing for the Logos.

Avyaktanugrahana (Sanskrit) Avyaktānugrahaṇa [from avyakta unmanifested + anugrahaṇa the fifth or eighth creation of the Puranas] The unmanifested period of formative development, applied to parabrahman and mulaprakriti conjointly (SD 1:521-2).

Avyaya (Sanskrit) Avyaya [from a not + vyaya subject to change, decay from the verbal root vyay to expend] As an adjective, not subject to change, imperishable, incorruptible; as a masculine noun, a name of Vishnu and of Siva; as a neuter noun, a member or corporeal part of an organized body (used in Vedanta philosophy). See also APARINAMIN

Awen (Welsh) The muse, the inspiration of the poets. Tydain Tad Awen (Tydain father of the muse), according to the Iolo Manuscript, was the founder of Druidism.

Axieros, Axiokersa, Axiokersos, (Greek) Also Aschieros, Achiosera, Achiochersus. In ancient Greek mythology, three divinities whose Mysteries and worship were mainly centered in Samothrace. With Kadmilos, often said to be their parent, they were the kabiri [cf Chaldean gibbor, Hebrew geber beings of power or might, the great ones]. Frequently Axieros, Axiokersa, and Axiokersos are stated to be the offspring of Hephaestus or Vulcan, the fiery flame of creative cosmic intellect or mahat. The kabiri are equivalent to the four kumaras of Hindu literature — Sanat-kumara, Sananda, Sanaka, and Sanatana. The functions of both groups was as guardians, guides, inspirers, bringers of illumination and prosperity; and, in the kosmic sense, as divinities intimately involved in the intelligent productive energies of nature. Their number is the same as that of the kosmic elements — four, occasionally five, and in reality seven or ten. The four named above are the lower quaternary of the kosmic septenary — those divinities most closely involved in the intelligent building and architectural construction and therefore government of the four lower cosmic planes.

In connection with man, the kabiri are the four lower classes of spiritual entities otherwise known as pitris, kumaras, and agnishvattas — all children of kosmic mahat. These divinities, although minor gods compared with the twelve great gods, were nevertheless held in the highest veneration particularly by those who were initiated into their Mysteries. Herodotus speaks of them and their functions with great reserve, but refers to them as being fire gods — which they were because cosmically representing the divine powers of the creative intellectual fire which in humanity works in similar fashion as the intellectual fire- or solar pitris. Their human influence is connected directly with manas and buddhi-manas.

Ayana (Sanskrit) Ayana [from the verbal root i, ay to go] Going, walking; road, path, way. Used in astronomy for advancing, precession; the sun’s progress northward or southward, from one solstice to the other, is an ayana or half-year, two ayanas making one year. Also the equinoctial and solstitial points, the term for the solstice being ayananta. Finally, ayana signifies circulatory courses or circulations, as of the universe.

Ayatana (Sanskrit) Āyatana [from ā towards + the verbal root yat to rest in or on, make effort in or on] A resting place, seat, or abode; an altar, place of the sacred fire; a sanctuary, inner or outer. In Buddhism, the six ayatanas (shadayatanas), enumerated as the five senses plus manas, are regarded as the inner seats or foci of the lower consciousness, functioning through the ordinary five sense organs plus the manasic organ in the body, the brain. They are therefore classed as one of the twelve nidanas (bonds, halters, links) composing the chain of causation or lower causes of existence.

Ayin. See ’EYN

Ayodhya (Sanskrit) Ayodhyā The ancient city founded by Ikshvaku, the founder of the solar race (suryavansa); also the capital of Rama, hero of the Ramayana. It is now believed to be the modern city of Oude on the Sarayu River.

Ayur Veda (Sanskrit) Āyurveda [from āyus life, health, vital power + veda knowledge] One of the minor Vedas, generally considered a supplement to the Atharva-Veda, one of the four principal Vedas. It treats of the science of health and medicine, and is divided into eight departments: 1) salya, surgery; 2) salakya, the science and cure of diseases of the head and its organs; 3) kaya-chikitsa, the cure of diseases affecting the whole body, or general medical treatment; 4) bhuta-vidya, the treatment of mental — and consequent physical — diseases supposed to be produced by bhutas (demons); 5) kaumara-bhritya, the medical treatment of children; 6) agada-tantra, the doctrine of antidotes; 7) rasayana-tantra, the doctrine of elixirs; and 8) vajikarana-tantra, the doctrine of aphrodisiacs. Medicine was regarded as one of the sacred sciences by all ancient peoples and in archaic ages was one of the knowledges or sciences belonging to the priesthood; and this list of subjects shows that the field covered by its practitioners was extensive. Its authorship is attributed by some to Dhanvantari, sometimes called the physician of the gods, who was produced by the mystical churning of the ocean and appeared holding a cup of amrita (immortality) in his hands.

Ayuta (Sanskrit) Ayuta [from a not + the verbal root yu to be interrupted, separated] Unimpeded; unseparated; ayuta-siddha is a philosophical term meaning proved to be not separated (by the intervention of space), hence inherent or innate. As an adjective, unbound, unfastened [from the verbal root yu to bind, fasten]. Also, ten thousand, a myriad.

Azael (Hebrew) ‘Azā’ēl or ‘Azzā’ēl One of the higher angels mentioned in the Qabbalah; the Zohar (iii, 208a) relates that he and the angel ‘Uzza’ scoffed at God (the elohim) for creating a humanity that sinned, and consequently were thrown to earth and changed into men. See also ‘UZZA’. (SD 2:491)

Azazel (Hebrew) ‘Azā’zēl [from ‘azāz to be firm, strong, powerful (or from ‘ēz goat) + ‘ēl divinity, god] Also Azaziel, Azazyel. God of victory; equivalent of Greek Prometheus, he was chief of the ’ishin (Chaldean) or ’ishim (Hebrew), men-spirits who, according to the Zohar, mixed themselves with mortal men, having come to earth to do so (Genesis 6:2-4). The ’ishin are chained on a mountain in the desert, which means that they undergo descent into material life and confinement in incarnation. Azazel and the six other ’ishin teach humankind to make weapons and utensils, and impart the knowledge of various other arts. These seven were the first instructors of the fourth root-race. The story is a form of the universal myth which represents the descent of the manasaputras and, as usual, the god of might or victory has been turned into a god of evil, his benefits into seductions, and his chivalrous sacrifice into a rebellion. He was, like Baphomet, turned into a goat — the scapegoat of the Old Testament, whose name in the Hebrew is Azazel. The goat in ancient animal symbology signified regeneration and reproductive power, hence strength, might.

Suggested additional material: Many experts in ancient Hebrew hold that the name of the old Syriac desert spirit/deity Azazel (Azazyel from the Ethiopian text) was confused with the Hebrew term “oz-oz-el” which literally meant “A goat that goes away.” This confusion was fueled by the use of a sacrificial goat “for Azazel” (actually released, not killed) in the Jewish Old Testament rite of atonement. Later, in comparatively modern times, the term “azazel” became synonymous with the idea of the scapegoat. While a firm connection has never been established, it seems likely that the 3,000-year-old Syriac Azazel is the same one mentioned about 200 BC in the apocryphal “Book of Enoch” (Henoch) as the eventual leader of the “Sons of God” or “Watchers” sent to earth to watch over mankind, but later punished for taking human wives and teaching hidden knowledge to mankind. Confined to a thousand years’ bondage in the “abyss,” he was guarded by Archangels Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, and Phanuel. Although modern Christians often equate Azazel with Satan (Lucifer/Heylel), there is little scholarly evidence to support this view. A more likely view holds that the ancient worshippers of Yahweh sought to incorporate a link to existing, older belief systems while demonizing competing deities.

Azburj. See BORJ

Azerekhsh (Pahlavi) The most celebrated of the ancient fire-temples of the Magi, situated in Shiz, the capital of Atropatene (the Persian Gazn). Tradition ascribes the temple of Azerekhsh to Zartusht (Zoroaster).

Azhi-Dahaka (Avestan) Zahak (Persian) [from azhi, azi serpent; cf Sanskrit ahi] The destroying serpent or dragon; in the Avesta a three-headed dragon who strives to seize and put out the hvareno — the sovereign light, the glory from above. He takes hold of it, but Atar, the fire god, son of Ahura-Mazda, frightens him away and recovers the light. The scene of the fight is the sea, Vourukasha (the sea from which all the waters on the earth fall down with the winds and the clouds) or the waters of space (Yast 19).

Another myth, closely parallel with that in the Vedas, tells how Thraetaona Athwya slays the three-mouthed, three-headed, six-eyed serpent, the most dreadful drugh created by Angra-Mainyu. The scene of the battle is the four-cornered Varena, the four sided heavens (Yasna 9). Connecting the serpent with Satan or evil, Blavatsky writes: “War in heaven between Thraetaona and Azhidahaka, the destroying Serpent, ends on earth, according to Burnouf, in the battle of pious men against the power of Evil, ‘of the Iranians with the Aryan Brahmins of India’ ” (SD 2:390).

In far later times both the Pahlavi commentaries on the Avesta and the great epic writer of Persia, Ferdowsi, personalized Azhi-Dahaka as a fiend called Zahak and Thraetaona as King Jamshid. Azhi-Dahak in a pact with the Devil sells his soul in return for worldly possessions and the estate of his father, Mardas, a man of many virtues. He consents to the death of his father, totally gives into self-indulgence in physical pleasures out of vanity, and falls prey to the enchantment of flattery. No sooner does Zahak permit the Devil to kiss his shoulders than two black snakes grow in place of his lip marks. Since no cure can be found that will get rid of the vicious snakes, the Devil in the form of a physician prescribes that relief would only come from feeding the snakes with the fresh brains of young men. Azhak later finds and cuts Jamshid into two in the sea of China, and reigns with cruelty for a thousand years until Fereydoun (Thraetaona, the thrice potent) defeats him and chains him to Mount Damavand.

Aziluth. See ’ATSTSILOTH

Azoth [from Arabic azzaug the metal mercury] Used by Paracelsus for his universal remedy; mercury was regarded as a sort of common or root-metal contained in all other metals. Such words as mercury, in alchemical language, were generic rather than specific, and gross elements were considered as derivative from subtle ones. Thus a unitary and radical element, the parent of the other elements, is intended; the synthesis of the four elements, one aspect of the astral light.

Also used by Qabbalists, meaning pure air.

Azure Seats [from Persian lazhward lapis lazuli] Azure means a blue color, also the sky, hence celestial, referring to the causal realms of being, where the gods of kosmic intelligences function. Thus the azure seats of the gods conveys the abode of the spiritual forces that govern the universe in its manifold operations.

Top of File


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