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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Oannes (Assyrian-Babylonian) A deity, half man, half fish, who rose every day from the Persian Gulf and taught the people wisdom, the arts and sciences, agriculture, etc. Identified with the deity Ea and also called Dagon (Dāḡôn) and Annedotus. A somewhat similar story is related in the Sanskrit Hari-Purana about Vishnu during his Matsya-avatara (fish incarnation).

“There were Annedoti who came after him, five in number (our race being the fifth) — ‘all like Oannes in form and teaching the same’; but Musarus Oannes was the first to appear, and this he did during the reign of Ammenon, the third [fourth] of the ten antediluvian Kings whose dynasty ended with Xisuthrus, the Chaldean Noah. . . . This allegory of Oannes, the Annedotus, reminds us of the ‘Dragon’ and ‘Snake-Kings’; the Nagas who in Buddhist legends instruct people in wisdom on lakes and rivers, and end by becoming converts to the good Law and Arhats. The meaning is evident. The ‘fish’ is an old and very suggestive symbol in the Mystery-language, as is also ‘water.’ Ea or Hea was the god of the sea and Wisdom, and the sea serpent was one of his emblems, his priests being ‘serpents’ or Initiates. Thus one sees why Occultism places Oannes and the other Annedoti in the group of those ancient ‘adepts’ who were called ‘marine’ or ‘water dragons’ — Nagas. Water typified their human origin (as it is a symbol of earth and matter and also of purification), in distinction to the ‘fire Nagas’ or the immaterial, Spiritual Beings, whether celestial Bodhisattvas or Planetary Dhyanis, also regarded as the instructors of mankind. The hidden meaning becomes clear to the Occultist, once he is told that ‘this being (Oannes) was accustomed to pass the day among men, teaching; and when the Sun had set, he retired again into the sea, passing the night in the deep, ‘for he was amphibious,’ i.e., he belonged to two planes: the spiritual and the physical. For the Greek word amphibios means simply ‘life on two planes,’ . . . The word was often applied in antiquity to those men who, though still wearing a human form, had made themselves almost divine through knowledge, and lived as much in the spiritual supersensuous regions as on earth. Oannes is dimly reflected in Jonah, and even in John, the Precursor, both connected with Fish and Water” (TG 236-7).

’Ob (Hebrew) ’Ōb Also aub. A necromancer, one who “calls up the dead” in order to learn from them future events; secondarily, the spirit of divination in the necromancer; and thirdly, the apparition, shade, or kama-rupa itself which is raised. ’Ob is “the messenger of death used by the sorcerers, the nefarious evil fluid” (SD 1:76), the lowest aspect of the astral light — “or rather, its pernicious evil currents” (TG 237). As the astral light in its lower aspects was sometimes symbolized by a serpent, so was ’ob often thus symbolized. As signifying the powers of darkness, the denizens in the lower regions of the astral light, and the evil and immoral practices of necromancy, it is the opposite of the Shemitic word ’or (light, glory; to enlighten, inflame with wisdom and knowledge), used also for mystic revelations and the communication of esoteric truth.

Obeah, Obi [probably from African] Also obea, oby. The sorcery practiced by sub-Sahara Africans, and sometimes found in the New World.

Obryn (Welsh) The second stage in Abred or the circle of transmigration, intermediate between Annwn (the elemental kingdoms) and Cydfil (the animal kingdom). It therefore includes the mineral and vegetable kingdoms.

Obscuration A state of sleep or dormancy of greater or less extent, that prevails between two successive periods of activity on a globe of a planetary chain as the life-waves succeed one another in their serial rounds on such a chain.

“A globe when a Life-wave leaves it does not remain in obscuration or continuously dormant until the same Life-wave returns to it in the next Round. The Life-waves succeed each other in regular file, and each Life-wave as it enters a globe has its period of beginning, its efflorescence, and its decay, and then leaves the globe in obscuration so far as that particular Life-wave is concerned. But the globe within a relatively short time receives a succeeding Life-wave, which runs through its courses and leaves the globes again in obscuration so far as this last Life-wave is concerned, etc. It is obvious, therefore, that a period of obscuration on any globe of the Planetary Chain is much shorter than the term of a full Planetary Round” (OG 118).

Obscuration should not be confused with pralaya, dissolution or death; obscuration is rest or dormancy, analogous to sleep:

“cyclic pralaya so-called are but obscurations, during which periods Nature, i.e., everything visible and invisible on a resting planet — remains in statu quo. Nature rests and slumbers, no work of destruction going on on the globe even if no active work is done. All forms, as well as their astral types, remain as they were at the last moment of its activity. The ‘night’ of a planet has hardly any twilight preceding it. It is caught like a huge mammoth by an avalanche, and remains slumbering and frozen till the next dawn of its new day — a very short one indeed in comparison to the ‘Day of Brahma’ ” (SD 2:660n).

See also SISHTAS

Obsession The act of besieging, or the state of being bothered or besieged by a foreign personality, especially by an evil spirit, before demonic possession. This condition is found among the sufferers from insanity, epilepsy, hysteria, drug addiction, dipsomania, severe asthmas, and mediumship; these sufferers are found to be suitable, negative instruments or vehicles through which disimbodied entities of strong desire can contact sensuous life. Sometimes, even where organic degeneration is found to be present, questions arise whether this is the cause or the effect of continued nervous and mental wrongs. These latter are striking evidence of the vexing or besieging influence which appears in varying degrees, of restlessness with inner tension, of clouded consciousness, inhibition of will, unusual irritability, vague fears, suicidal impulses, epileptic befogged states, and sudden impulsions, criminal and otherwise. In these disorders those afflicted, although karmically sensitive to psychic conditions and influences, often retain enough normal resistance against surrendering to abnormal control to account for the many-sided inner conflict of the siege. This subjective conflict is sometimes disclosed, as in a patient who, subject to attacks of impulsive violence, anticipates them and asks to be restrained. Thus, psychiatrists note that in the insane, the will power to resist wrongdoing is usually lost before moral judgment is gone. Sometimes the inner man knows that he is not sane and longs for help, but cannot make himself understood.

What are technically classified as obsessing ideas and feelings are evidence of the subjective reality of the astral plane and its disimbodied entities. Knowledge of man’s multifold nature, including the parts played by each of its principles both during life and after death, gives a key to many psychological problems in the postmortem survival of the kama-rupa. The differing aspects of obsession result from the varied types of the astral entities — ghosts or shades of the dead, elementaries of suicides and executed criminals, evil sorcerers, nature spirits, etc. The kama-rupic shells alone, being remnants of deceased personalities, differ as the latter had done in their imbodied desires and impulses. The variety of obsessing influences accounts for the medley of typical symptoms in conditions of inert melancholia, of sustained catalepsy, of violent mania and convulsions, of emotional egoism in hysteria, of childish grimaces and erratic muscular contractions in essential chorea, of subjective horrors in delirium tremens, and of the perverted brutality in purposeless, unhuman crimes. Though only a seer’s inner vision could reveal just what entity was active in each case, yet a student of human duality can recognize the unseemly and distorted play of the animal, lower nature, separated from the conscience and higher mind — the kama-rupic condition. Mild types of these disorders frequently are simply the uncontrolled play of the person’s own selfish nature; but these are in danger of drifting into the severer forms, because like attracts like. See also POSSESSION

Ocean of Milk. See KURMA-AVATARA

Oceanus (Greek) okeanos. Probably “swift-flowing”; according to Hesiod one of the titans, children of Ouranos and Gaia (heaven and earth), who by his marriage with the titan Tethys became father of all rivers and waters. In ancient exoteric geography he was himself a mighty river encircling the supposedly flat disk of the earth; the notion of a vast reservoir of stationary water is derivative and does not pertain to the original meaning.

The original idea of Oceanus parallels that contained in the Hindu Puranas concerning the various oceans and islands which surround the earth. Oceanus at first was the ocean of space, which the Hebrews called the waters of space, surrounding all celestial bodies. The reference is likewise to the invisible realms and spheres which mystical thought often grouped under the idea of an environing as well as interpenetrating system of fluid spheres or worlds, the meaning behind the oceans and islands of the Puranas. Ancient Greek mythology states that on the banks of Oceanus are the abodes of the dead, making clear that the reference is not to physical geography but to secret teaching dealing with both the Overworld and the Underworld, with the invisible spheres, planes, and realms of the universe.

Occult Arts Blavatsky in “Occultism versus the Occult Arts” (Studies in Occultism), distinguishes between occultism (gupta-vidya, the path of wisdom) and occult arts (evil occultism, sorcery, black magic, spells, incantations, etc.). While true occultism completely renounces self, the occult arts are practiced with selfish motives or from love of evil. Even where there is no sinister motive in one who ventures upon the occult arts, yet he enters a field where danger and destruction threaten unless he is protected by a training in true occultism. He will arouse in himself forces with which he cannot cope, open doors which later he seeks in vain to close, and put himself at the mercy of evil wills probably stronger than his own.

Occultism [from Latin occultus hid] The science of things behind the veils of nature both visible and invisible, things hidden from the multitudes. In theosophy frequently synonymous with the esoteric philosophy or secret doctrine. The study of genuine occultism signifies penetrating deep into the causal mysteries of universal being; the occult arts, by contrast, include psychism, black magic, hypnotism, psychologization, and similar uninstructed or malevolent uses of astral and mental forces.

The term occult has noble, but largely forgotten origins. It properly defines anything which is undisclosed, concealed, or not easily perceived. Early theologians, for example, spoke of “the occult judgment of God,” while “occult philosopher” was a designation for the pre-Renaissance scientist who sought the unseen causes regulating nature’s phenomena. In astronomy, the term is still used when one stellar body “occults” another by passing in front of it, temporarily hiding it from view. Writing a century ago, when the word had not acquired today’s mixed connotations, H.P. Blavatsky defined occultism as “altruism pure and simple” — the divine wisdom or hidden theosophy within all religions.

As the study or science of things which are hid and secret, occultism is a generalizing term because what is hid or secret in one age may readily be in a succeeding age more or less commonly known and open to public investigation. Many things that in medieval Europe were distinctly secret and therefore occult, are today the field of scientific investigation; and what is now considered to be occult, if science continues in its progress and research, may in the succeeding age in its turn become open and matter of common knowledge. Occultism then will simply have shifted its field of investigation and study to matters still more secret, still more recondite, still more deeply hid in fields of nature which are now scarcely suspected.

Theosophy or the wisdom-religion is the study of the ancient wisdom of the gods, and comprises in any one period that particular portion of knowledge which has been delivered to those who study it; whereas occultism in any age is that portion of the ancient wisdom dealing with matters which at such time are secret, hid, and unknown to the multitude. Thus occultism is that portion of theosophy which has not yet been openly and publicly promulgated. Occultism is founded on the principle that Divinity is concealed — transcendent yet immanent — within every living being. As a spiritual discipline occultism is the renunciation of selfishness; it is the “still small path” which leads to wisdom, to the right discrimination between good and evil, and the practice of altruism.

Occult Sciences The whole range of the sciences of the secrets of nature — physical, psychic, mental, and spiritual; also

“called Hermetic and Esoteric Sciences. In the West, the Kabbalah may be named; in the East, mysticism, magic, and Yoga philosophy, which latter is often referred to by the Chelas in India as the seventh ‘Darshana’ (school of philosophy), there being only six Darshanas in India known to the world of the profane. These sciences are, and have been for ages, hidden from the vulgar for the very good reason that they would never be appreciated by the selfish educated classes, nor understood by the uneducated; whilst the former might misuse them for their own profit, and thus turn the divine science into black magic” (TG 237).

Od; Odylic or Odic Force [od poss from Hebrew ’ud to surround, enclose as by a mist, emanation, or cloud] Names given by Baron Karl von Reichenbach, German industrialist and chemist, to a cosmic force or fluid which he believed he had discovered (1845). His extensive experimental investigations on the luminous emanations from the human body, from magnets, plants, and minerals, aroused much interest among students of animal magnetism. But his results depended upon the evidence of sensitives, often invalids and people in the somnambulic condition and, as is usual under such circumstances, do not coordinate well with results obtained by others. This class of phenomena cannot be considered as entirely objective, so much being dependent on the seer. He made too broad generalizations on too narrow a basis; he was, unconsciously to himself, working with effects originating largely on the astral plane and, in spite of its delusiveness, he did discover some facts which can be related to what theosophists call prana and the astral light; but he lacked the power and knowledge to coordinate them and thus to render his researches of practical use.

Od is also used, together with the Hebrew words ob (’ob) and aour (’or), by Eliphas Levi to denote aspects of the astral light. Ob is a well-known word for sorcery and necromancy, for a sorcerer or necromancer, as well as occasionally signifying an astral shade or spook. Aour, on the contrary, signifies light, brilliance, and hence revelation and the light of initiation.

Odacon (Babylonian) The fifth Annedotus (Dagon or Oannes), a man-fish who appeared from the deeps of the ocean to teach humanity. In the Babylonian description of the instructors and teachers of early humankind, their fishlike form is connected with their origin in the waters of space — spiritual beings taking human form and appearing out of the deeps of cosmic ether.

Oder. See ODR

Odic Chord The astral body, model-body, or linga-sarira is connected with the physical body by an extensible chord of astral-vital substance, which allows the astral to separate locally from the physical for a certain distance, as happens in sleep and trance, without severing the actual connection. When the chord is severed, however, physical death ensues. This chord is called magnetic and odic — words borrowed from the speculations of Reichenbach and the animal magnetists — for want of a better term.

Odin (Icelandic, Scandinavian) [from Wodan from odr cosmic mind; cf Greek nous, Sanskrit mahat] As a god, foremost of the aesir in Norse mythology; as a human being, the founder of the ancient Norse religion. Odin is the Great Sacrifice of our world system, hung or mounted on the Tree of Life throughout its duration, seeking runes of wisdom in the material worlds, “raising them with song” and at the end of time falling once more from the tree. He is said to have given one eye as forfeit to the matter-giant Mimer for the privilege of partaking of Mimer’s well of wisdom: experience in material life. Thus matter receives a part of divine vision during the god’s imbodiment.

As creative spirit Odin and his brother creators, Vili and Vi (will and awe), give rise to the worlds in manifestation. At the creation of humanity, Odin again participates with two creative energies on a lower level, Honer and Lodur (water and fire). Odin gives the breath of spirit, Honer mind, and Lodur vitality to the incipient humans.

In the myths Odin rides the eight-legged steed Sleipnir, wears a blue fur coat, and is the owner of a marvelous ring, Draupnir, from which eight more drip every ninth night, symbolizing proliferating cycles of every kind. His spear is named Gungnir (swaying), perhaps an allusion to the pendulum swing between life and death which is nature’s eternal way. Odin has two wolf hounds (the animal nature), Gere (greedy) and Freke (gluttonous); he feeds them, but himself subsists on wine or mead (wisdom) alone. His two ravens, Hugin (mind) and Munin (memory), fly daily over the battlefield Vigridsslatten (plain of consecration, earth), and report back to Allfather by night.

Odin’s hall is named Valhalla (hall of the chosen), where his heroes are brought by the Valkyries (crowners of the chosen) to feast with Yggjung (the ever-young, Odin).

As a planetary deity Odin is connected with Mercury, and his day is Wednesday (Woden’s day). He has many names, each fitting the role he has to play. At the beginning of a life cycle he is named Ofner (opener), while at the end he is called Svafner (closer). Blavatsky refers to the human Odin as “one of these thirty-five Buddhas; one of the earliest, indeed, for the continent to which he and his race belonged, is also one of the earliest” (SD 2:423).

Odr (Icelandic) Mind, wit, soul, sense; in Norse mythology, cosmic mind, corresponding to the Sanskrit mahat. The name Odin is derived from it when Odin represents the Allfather. In one legend reminiscent of the Egyptian tale of Isis, Odr is the husband of Frigga, who weeps golden tears as she searches the worlds for him. Here he may stand for one of the divine ancestors of the human race, and his long journeys are the peregrinations made by the monad, Odr’s spiritual aspect, through the worlds of form and matter. Odr is used for song or poetry in many compound words such as odar-smidr (song smith), odar-ar (speech oar, the tongue), odraerir (inspirer of wisdom, the vessel containing the blood of Kvasir: inspiration brought to the gods from higher gods).

Oeaohoo Also Oeaihu, Oeaihwu. A very ancient form of the sacred and mystical holy name as it occurs in the Stanzas of Dzyan. These seven letters stand for seven vowels, and according to the method of pronunciation the name may be given “as one, three, or even seven syllables by adding an e after the letter o” (SD 1:68). The pronunciation is somewhat similar to the Chinese tones (kungs): the spelling of a word is the same, but according to the tonal value or stress given, its meaning alters.

This word is a way of expressing the kosmic life in all its seven, ten, or twelvefold divisions, each letter of the seven referring to one of the kosmic principles or elements. Their union into a single term calls attention to kosmic unity. It is a representation for the six manifested and the one unmanifested, thus making the mystic seven principle-elements of our home universe. Oeaohoo the Younger is the reflection or mirroring on a lower plane of the universal unity; and therefore Oeaohoo the Younger is, strictly speaking, the Logos considered as a triad and thus really comprising the First or unmanifest, the Second or partially manifest, and the creative, manifest, or Third Logoi.

Corresponding to Kwan-shai-yin, Oeaohoo “contains in himself the Seven Creative Hosts (the Sephiroth), and is thus the essence of manifested Wisdom” (SD 1:72). In the human constitution, Oeaohoo the Younger is the higher triad of atma-buddhi-manas, with an emphatic pointing to the atman as the predominant life in this higher triad. Similarly so as regards the kosmos or universe. The meaning of one of its permutations, Oi-ha-hou, is “among the Eastern Occultists of the North, a circular wind, whirlwind; but in this instance, it is a term to denote the ceaseless and eternal Cosmic Motion; or rather the Force that moves it, which Force is tacitly accepted as the Deity but never named. It is the eternal Karana, the ever-acting Cause” (SD 1:93n).

The Gnostics used the seven vowels of the Greek alphabet AEHIOY-O on their gems; and in the Pistis Sophia the Rabbi Jesus in speaking to his disciples says: “Nothing therefore is more excellent than the mysteries which ye seek after, saving only the mystery of the seven vowels and their forty and nine powers, and their numbers thereof; and no name is more excellent than all these vowels” (SD 2:564).

Blavatsky gives several variants of the spelling of this word and the modern spelling is of minor importance; what is important is to get the mystic or metaphysical philosophical meaning behind the word.

Oedipus (Greek) Oidipous. Swollen-footed; Theban hero, son of Laius, named by the shepherd who found him with his feet swollen from the holes bored in them when he was exposed by his father, as it was predicted that he would kill his father and marry his mother — which he subsequently did. In many cosmogonies there are characters who slay their fathers or who are represented as both husband and son of the same goddess. This symbolism, being interpreted literally in Oedipus’ case, has made a fine story of horror for the tragedians. Oedipus is also famous for having solved the riddle of the Theban Sphinx. Oedipus’ romantic and tragic history formed the theme of three plays by Sophocles and by Aeschylus. The essential significance of the story is the inescapable consequences following upon karmic causes, from which there is no escape once these causes have been set in motion by man.

‘Og (Hebrew) ‘Ōg A king of Bashan, represented in the Bible as being of gigantic stature, and therefore as a survivor of the giants (Deut 3:11).

Ogam. See OGHAM

Ogdoad [from Greek] The number eight, a group of eight. It symbolizes the eternal, spiral motion of cycles, as is suggested by the form of the numeral 8 which, lying on its side, makes the modern mathematical symbol for infinity. The ogdoad show the regular breathing of the kosmos presided over by the eight great gods — seven from the primeval Mother, the One and the Triad (SD 2:580). A septenate may be made into an ogdoad by counting in either the last of the preceding hierarchy, or the first of the succeeding. If to a group of seven forces be added either the one from which they proceed, or that manifestation in which they eventuate, an ogdoad is produced, as in the case of the eight sons of Aditi, seven plus Martanda (the sun). Eight is the third power of two, and a number pertaining to physical space, and seems correlative to seven, just as four is correlative to three. The eight great gods of the Mediterranean ancients are the seven sacred planets, usually Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun as a substitute for a secret planet, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon as a substitute for another secret planet, with Earth as the eighth. It was not so much the physical celestial bodies which were intended as their respective rectors or planetary spirits. See also EIGHT

Ogham A cryptographic alphabet used in certain ancient Celtic inscriptions, notably in Britain and Ireland. Each character consists of from one to five parallel strokes, written over, under, and through the line, either upright or sloping. It was one of the means of intercommunication by the Druids both of the continent and of the British Isles.

Ogmius “The god of wisdom and eloquence of the Druids, hence Hermes in a sense” (TG 239).

Ogygia An island inhabited by the nymph Calypso, far from Greece to the west, on which Odysseus was shipwrecked. Despite her promise of immortality if he stays, Odysseus wishes to leave, and the gods compel her to let him go after seven years.

Ogyges is an early king in the legends of Boeotia and Attica, a son of Poseidon, in whose reign a great flood overwhelmed the land. It refers to the tradition of the sinking of one of the last remnants of Atlantis and previous migrations of some of its inhabitants to Greece, where they founded new settlements. Ogygia was one of the last islands of the vast Atlantean continental system, and it may very readily be but another name for the Poseidonis referred to by Plato. As Egypt was settled originally by emigrants from Poseidonis or Ogygia, Egypt’s most ancient name was Ogygia.

Oi-ha-hou. See OEAOHOO

Oitzoe (Persian) Also Atizoe. Used by Blavatsky in connection with the Rocks of Destiny and the Rocking-stones (SD 2:346), referring to Pliny who said “In India . . . and Persia, there is a stone called atizoe. . . . which the magi considered necessary at the consecration of a king” (Natural History 27:54).

Ojas (Sanskrit) Ojas Bodily strength, vigor, energy, ability, power; also the principle of vitality in the body, giving it both heat and action, and therefore likewise including virility or the generative power.

Okhal (Druze) [from Arab akl intelligence, wisdom] The hierophant and chief initiator of the Syrian Brotherhood of the Druzes or Disciples of Hamsa.

Okhema (Greek) ochema [from echeo to carry] A vehicle, both as a wagon and figuratively as the support or carrier of anything. Euripides calls Zeus the okhema of the earth. See also VAHANA

Okuthorr. See THOR

‘Olam (Hebrew) ‘Ōlām Ulom (Phoenician) [from ‘ālam to hide, conceal] Also oulom. Long duration, long past time, great antiquity, hence occasionally used for the future; again, the world. Parallel to the Gnostic Aeon, which signifies a time period, something secret and esoteric, and the world which exists in the time period; also parallels the Sanskrit kala. Sometimes mistranslated as eternity. Frequently used in the plural (‘olamin).

In the Qabbalah, however, ‘olam particularly refers to a sphere or world, of which there are four, which come into being during the manifestation of a cosmos. They are enumerated as: ‘olam ’atstsiloth (the sphere of condensation); ‘olam had-Beri’ah (the sphere of creation); ‘olam hay-Yetsirah (the sphere of formation); and ‘olam ha-‘asiyyah or Qelippoth (the sphere of action or of shells). Each ‘olam is the emanation or continuation of its superior, so that each is as a pendant connected with its superior and a link in a chain from ’eyn soph. These four worlds or spheres form together a unit or macrocosm, termed ’Adam ‘Illa’ah (the great man).

Considering man as a microcosm, each ‘olam was made equivalent to the four principles into which man was divided according to the Qabbalah, each having its location as follows: ’atstsiloth — neshamah: to the head; beri’ah — ruah: to the breast or chest; yetsirah — nephesh: to the abdomen; and ‘asiyyah or qelippoth — guph: the physical body.

Old Testament. See BIBLE

Oligocene Epoch. See GEOLOGICAL ERAS

Olympus (Greek) The abode of the great gods in Grecian mythology in Homer and Hesiod. Such heavenly abodes are usually associated with mountains, such as the Hindu Meru, the Greek Atlas, and the Hebrew Sinai; in this case the name was given to the summit of the range dividing Macedonia from Thessaly, but there were other mountains called Olympus. Later philosophers, perhaps more mystically minded, placed Olympus in the zenith, as the abode of the divinities. There were many Olympuses, the references in story occasionally being to the higher globes of the earth-chain, and in a cosmic sense the higher planes of the solar system. At one time in Greek legend both the gods and their abode had a character of voluptuousness, comparable with the Hebrew Eden (which means “delight”), the heaven of Indra, or the abode of the Arabian houris; but this was when degeneracy had set in and the people had forgotten the significance of the deities, and lost the key enabling them to interpret the myths and allegories forming their respective mythologic religions.

Although in Greek mythology the gods are said to dwell on Olympus, three of the main Olympian divinities, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades (or Pluto), had their habitats respectively in what may be called heaven or the inmost world of spirit, the cosmic spaces or the waters of space, and the underworld of the universe. Yet these three same divinities, because of their permeant cosmic forces or energies, and strictly on the law of analogical reasoning, had the same functions and occupy the same relative places in the minor forms of their respective manifestations: as, Zeus in the sky, Poseidon in the oceans of the globe, and Hades or Pluto in the underworld of our earth. Or again, the twelve great gods of the Mediterranean peoples may be considered to be the twelve main cosmic and intelligent powers whose all-permeant nature and activity is as apparent in the universe itself as in every atom or minor division thereof.

In the mystic language of ancient time, a holy mountain universally signified a school of esoteric teaching. Just as a mountain on earth raises its summits towards the free heaven, and therefore mystically towards spirit and the gods, so in the ancient esoteric schools the training and the initiations conducted raised the neophytes or initiants towards the spirit, both cosmically and inner, and hence likewise towards the gods. See also PARNASSUS

Om (Sanskrit) Om In Brahmanical literature, a syllable of invocation, considered very holy: “Om is the bow, the Self is the arrow, Brahman is called its aim” (Mandukya Upanishad 2:2). It is placed at the beginning of scriptures considered of unusual sanctity. “Prolonging the uttering of this word, both of the O and the M, with the mouth closed, it reechoes in and arouses vibration in the skull, and affects, if the aspirations be pure, the different nervous centers of the body for great good” (Fund 28). The virtue or spiritual and magical properties attributed to this word, however, arise out of the purity and devotion of the one uttering it. See also AUM

Omen [from Latin os mouth, as the voice of a god] As in augury and divination, the laws of correspondences and of the interrelation of all parts of the cosmos imply that it is possible to interpret the invisible and to forecast the future by observing visible signs. The right interpretation of omens demands knowledge and skill, and the subject affords a fertile field for self-deception and quackery. As with astrology, an undue concern with influences tends to subject a person to them; it is advisable to discriminate between what might happen and what must happen.

There was in ancient times a fairly exact and, when properly practiced, accurate science of divination based on omens. Since the kosmos is an organism, an organic whole — every part intimately interconnected with every other part, so that the smallest atom can affect a star as well as a star affect the smallest atom — logically whatever happens takes place because of a chain of events; so if one knew enough and were wise enough to interpret what one knew, it would be a fairly simple matter not merely to understand the invisible from the appearances of the visible, but likewise to foretell the future.

O-mi-to Fo, Amita Fo (Chinese) The Chinese form of Amita Buddha (Sanskrit, “boundless buddha”) a title given to the cosmic manifested buddhi or mahabuddhi, equivalent to the Second Logos, which is resident in the essence of every entity in the universe as its inspiring and guiding spiritual light.

Omkara (Sanskrit) Oṃkāra The sacred, mystical syllable Aum or Om; also one of the twelve lingas, the twelve powers of the creative or generative logoi of the solar system.

Om Mani Padme Hum Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ (Sanskrit) Om! the jewel in the lotus, hum! One of the most sacred Buddhist mantras or verbal formulas; used very frequently in Tibet and in surrounding countries of the Far East. Not only is every syllable said to have a secret power of producing a definite result, but the whole invocation has a number of meanings. When properly pronounced or changed, it produces different results, differing from the others according to the intonation and will given to the formula and its syllables. This mystic sentence above all refers to the indissoluble union between man and the universe, and thus conveys “I am in thee and thou art in me.” Each of us has within himself the jewel in the lotus or the divine self within. When understood in a kosmic sense, it signifies the divine kosmic self within, inspiring all beings within the range of that kosmic divinity.

Omoroka (Greek) [from Chaldean, cf Hebrew ‘amaq to be deep, profound; Hebrew ‘amar to heap together, overwhelm; and Arabic ‘amar to overwhelm with water] The deep, the ocean, whether physically or mystically; used in the Babylonian account of creation. One legend tells of Belus cutting Omoroka in two, from one part of which the heavens were formed, and from the other, the earth — showing that Omoroka signifies space.

In Chaldean mythology, Omoroka was a woman personifying the spatial deeps, and therefore divine water or the productive Logos of all manifestation. It likewise became connected with the moon, being equivalent to Selene, and was often used as the manifested wisdom or spirit.

In The Secret Doctrine Omoroka (the moon) presides over the monstrous creation of nondescript beings slain by the dhyanis; and further, while the gods were generated in svabhavat (mother-space), the reflection of wisdom became on earth Omoroka — the Chaldean Thalatth, the Greek Thalassa.

Om Vajrapani Hum (Sanskrit) Om vajrapāṇi hum [from Om the mystical syllable, uttered at the commencement of mantras + vajrapāṇi from vajra thunderbolt + pānīn holder + hum Tibetan mystical syllable equivalent to Om] Om! the holder of the thunderbolt, hum! Many of the mantras used in India and Tibet are not completed grammatical sentences, as the mantra is said to derive its potency from its rhythm as well as from its tonal utterance. The title of thunderbolt-holder is properly given to one who holds the thunderbolt of the spirit — one who has awakened the divine monad within himself. Vajrapani with Northern Buddhists is a class of celestial beings, and also a dhyani-bodhisattva, the hierarch of this class of beings. This mantric sentence is therefore an appeal, by an elevation in aspiration, to at least temporary spiritual union with this class of celestial entities.

One By itself the One represents not pure unalloyed spirit, which is signified by the zero — the all-containing womb of space and being — but is the First Logos or Pythagorean Monas monadum (monad of monads). From this monad of monads flows forth through emanation the duad, then the triad, and then the entire manifested universe of interlocking hierarchies, emanated from the cosmic womb of being or the zero through the First Logos or the One of primordial manifested spirit. “The sacredness of numbers begins with the great First — the one, and ends only with the nought or zero — symbol of the infinite and boundless circle which represents the universe. All the intervening figures, in whatever combination, or however multiplied, represent philosophical ideas, from vague outlines down to a definitely-established scientific axiom, relating either to a moral or a physical fact in nature. They are a key to the ancient views on cosmogony, in its broad sense, including man and beings, and the evolution of the human race, spiritually as well as physically” (IU 2:407).

The circle, zero, or nought is the symbol of the All, equivalent to Non-being, in contradistinction to being or the number One. With the Pythagoreans number One was equivalent to the cosmic monad, the Odd: odd numbers were considered by them to be perfect or celestial and the even numbers imperfect, manifested, or terrestrial. The cosmic One, the First Logos, alone was cosmic unity and therefore good and harmony, because no disharmony is to be found in the unitary One alone.

Yet “in all such numerical divisions the One universal Principle, — although referred to as (the) one, because the Only One — never enters into the calculations. It stands, in its character of the Absolute, the Infinite, and the universal abstraction, entirely by Itself and independent of every other Power whether noumenal or phenomenal” (SD 2:598). Here the cosmic One is intimately intertwined with the universal zero, the last being equivalent to the universal All. Analogies in different systems of thought are numerous; for instance, the cosmic zero corresponds to parabrahman-mulaprakriti, whereas the cosmic One or monad corresponds to Brahman. See also UNITY

Onech. See ENOCH


One Life. See LIFE

Onokoro, Onogoro (Japanese) In Japanese cosmogony, the island-world fashioned by the divine hero Isanagi when he thrust his jeweled spear into the primeval chaotic mass of cloud and water.

Oomancy [from Greek oon egg + manteia divination] The ancient art of divination by eggs was taught to mankind by Orpheus (SD 1:362); and the diviner was able by inspecting the contents of the egg to perceive whatever the bird born from it would have seen, had it ever been born. The possibility of divination is a logical deduction from the principle of universal correspondences and the interrelation and interpenetration of all parts of the universe. It is therefore only a question of esoteric knowledge and skill. The germ of the future lies concealed in the present, making prediction possible by one whose spiritual faculties have been awakened.

’Ophanim or ’Ophannim (Hebrew) ’Ōfannīm [plural of ’ōfān wheel from ’āfan to revolve, turn] The “wheels” seen by Ezekiel, and by John in Revelation, meaning world-spheres; also used in the Sepher Yetsirah (book of creation). The ’ophanim signify the turning or revolving celestial bodies, especially the planets, with a constant eye upon the indwelling angelic hosts which give to the celestial bodies their respective individualities, their characteristic energies and substances, and which produce and control their various cyclical movements in both space and time. In this connection four of the constellations of the zodiac — Taurus the Bull, Leo the Lion, Scorpio the “Eagle,” and Aquarius the Man — have been from earliest Christian times attached to the four canonical Evangelists. In the Zohar (ii 43a) the ’ophanim are one of the ten classes of the angelic hosts comprising the yetsiratic world.

Ophis (Greek) Serpent; used by the Gnostic Ophites for Chnouphis, the Agathodaimon (good serpent), emblem of wisdom and of the unending cycles of time and constituting, with Ennoia, the Logos. Its opposite pole is Ophiomorphos [serpent-form from ophis serpent + morphe form]. The two are represented in the zodiac by Virgo-Scorpio. The serpent before his fall was Ophis-Christos, and after his fall was Ophiomorphos-Chrestos. The Roman Catholic Church identified Ophiomorphos with Michael, and the Gnostics identified him with Jehovah.

Ophis-Christos. See OPHIS

Ophites One of the earliest Gnostic sects, flourishing in Egypt in the 2nd century and using as their sacred symbol the serpent (ophis) as symbolizing the Christos immanent in man.

“While holding some of the principles of Valentinus [it] had its own occult rites and symbology. A living serpent, representing the Christos-principle (i.e, the divine reincarnating Monad, not Jesus the man), was displayed in their mysteries and reverenced as a symbol of wisdom, Sophia, the type of the all-good and all-wise. The Gnostics were not a Christian sect, in the common acceptation of this term, as the Christos of pre-Christian thought and the Gnosis was not the ‘god-man’ Christ, but the divine Ego, made one with Buddhi. Their Christos was the ‘Eternal Initiate,’ the Pilgrim, typified by hundreds of Ophidian symbols for several thousands of years before the ‘Christian’ era, so-called” (TG 241).

Opposites. See TWO

’Or (Hebrew) ’Ōr [from ’ōr to be or become light] Also aior, aour, aur. Light, with secondary meanings of dawn, daybreak, lightning; the light of life; mystically light in the sense of instruction, knowledge, hence doctrine. Metaphorically, happiness, prosperity, guidance, and a teacher. By extension when used with paneh (face), to make the face shine, said of a candidate during initiation.

Equivalent to the astral light, and the source and synthesis of the two aspects of the manifested astro-etheric light: the one being the light- and life-giving (’od) and the other the matter side (’ob), the dealer of death.

Oracle A divine saying, or the place or means by which a divine message is communicated. The soul, according to Plato, has a certain innate prophetic power. The person in whom this power is fully manifest needs no means of communication; in some it may be manifest temporarily and under certain conditions. In the Greek Heroic ages, deities spoke or appeared directly to man, as we see in Homer. Later, indirect means of communication were used, which may be classed under the general name of oracular. In some cases the intervention of a seer was employed, as in the Sibyllae of Rome and the Pythian seeress of Delphi. Sometimes the “spirits” of the dead were consulted, as in the case of Saul and the wise woman of Endor, and Aeneas and Anchises. The earth and the chthonic deities played an important part: at Delphi, though Apollo was consulted, yet the priestess was entranced, as alleged, through the influence of vapors from the earth; sometimes descent into subterranean caves was necessary, and the inquirer might have to undergo experiences analogous to those of one who dies, as in initiation. Again, it was often customary for the inquirer to sleep in a sacred place to obtain in a dream a revelation from the presiding deity. Or the message might be conveyed by some sign requiring the skill of a diviner for its interpretation, but this comes under the head of divination and omens. The whole purpose was to supplement the intelligence of the incarnate man by appealing to truly spiritual intelligences.

Although a species of necromancy, or consulting with the dead, was not infrequent in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, yet invariably it was strongly discountenanced and in many cases rigorously put down by the State. Even in those cases where Greek and Roman literature show important personages in mythology consulting the dead, it was understood among the educated that the astral spooks or shades thus evoked were by no means spirits of excarnate human beings; but the attempt was to gather from the astral shades automatic responses from impressions retained in the astral corpses.

The famous Greek oracles (manteia or chresteria) had a widespread repute which attests their public use, though their repute outlasted their genuineness.


Orcus (Latin) [from Greek horcos an oath, the object by which one swears, the witness of an oath] Synonym for Hades, Dis, Pluto; Roman name for the presiding god of the Underworld, also for the Underworld itself. Horcos was the son of Eris (strife), who punishes the perjurer.

Also used in the Codex Nazaraeus for the bottomless pit: the more accurate meaning of the bottomless pit, however, is Tartarus.

Ordovician Period. See GEOLOGICAL ERAS

Orgalmer, Orgelmir (Swedish, Icelandic) [from or primal + galmer loud one] In Norse mythology, the first loud sound or keynote which, like the fundamental of an overtone series, echoing through the spaces of infinitude, originates the multiplying vibrations of a cosmic organism. The frostgiant Ymer — utter immobility and nothingness — becomes Orgalmer when it is slain at the beginning of a universal life cycle by the creative deities Odin, Vile, and Vi (or Ve), who then use the giant body (latent matter) to create the worlds. Odin as Ofner (opener) is the galvanizing energy that organizes the frost giant (latent matter) into a cosmos. As Svafner (closer) Odin is paired with Bergelmir at the end of a cosmic lifetime.

Orion (Greek) A handsome giant and mighty hunter of Boeotia, who was placed among the stars. The constellation Orion was regarded as a giant not only in Greece but in Syria, Arabia, and Palestine; in Ireland and among the Mayas it is a warrior; in Egypt it is identified with Horus, the young sun, in the solar boat; and in Babylonia with Merodach, or Nimrod the mighty hunter.

Orlog (Icelandic) [from or, ur primal + log law] In Norse mythology, the primal law of all existence, corresponding to karma, the beginningless and endless succession of causes and effects constantly modifying each being’s fate or destiny as a result of its own actions. The agents of Orlog are the three norns that represent the past (Urd, origin), present (Verdandi, becoming), and future (Skuld, debt). It is the inescapable result of all that has gone before and is presently creating the future, whether of universal gods or human beings.

Ormazd or Ormuzd. See  Ahura-Mazda

Orpheus (Greek) An early religious teacher and reformer in Greece about whom clustered so many legends that in course of time his historic existence came to be disputed. He was, however, an actual historic character, probably born in Thrace about the 13th century BC, lived and taught at Pimpleia on Mount Olympus, revived the ancient wisdom-religion, reformed the then degraded popular religion, and was killed — according to the story — because of it. He gathered pupils or disciples about him, and founded a famous Mystery school from which in time emanated a vast literature, now perished with the exception of the Orphic Hymns, the Lithica (a poem on the nature of precious stones), the Argonautica (which recites the connection of Orpheus with the Argonautic expedition), and some other fugitive fragments — and in our time these are supposed to be apocryphal or of a far later date than Orpheus himself, although certainly containing Orphic elements.

There appears to have been no question in antiquity as to the actual historical existence of a godlike man who founded the Orphic religion or Mysteries, and whose work was continued by others in direct line, some of whom took his name, for no less than six different teachers by the name of Orpheus were known. When we add to the historic account the story of Orpheus as the Magician-Bard, and the legends of his divinity, his marriage with Eurydice (esoteric wisdom), his teaching, his agony and passion, and finally his martyr’s death — legends almost identical with some of those attached to world-saviors such as Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and Mithra — it is clear that he was not only a great teacher in himself, but an important link in the Hermetic Chain of esoteric succession.

The legendary Orpheus was the son of Apollo, god of music and the sun, and of Calliope, muse of epic poetry. With his seven-stringed lyre, the symbol of the cosmic and human constitution, he became the magical musician: rocks moved, trees bent, flowers sprang forth, mountains bowed themselves before his song. He journeyed with the Argonauts on their quest for the Golden Fleece. His mystic union with Eurydice, like the Argonautic quest, is clearly allegorical. Orpheus won his mystic bride by the power of his music and after the mystic union returned to Pimpleia on Mount Olympus where he lived and taught in a cave (recorded also of other great teachers).

When Eurydice died from the bite of a venomous snake, Orpheus visited the Underworld to reclaim her, and his descent there is a veiled record of initiation. Orpheus was permitted to take Eurydice back with him on condition that he did not look back, symbolic of a stern condition for successfully traveling the mystic path. But Orpheus did look back and his union with the esoteric doctrine, personified as Eurydice, was broken. After mourning, he withdrew to Mount Rhodope, where a group of Maenads or Bacchanals tore him limb from limb.

Blavatsky identifies Orpheus with Arjuna, son of Indra and disciple of Krishna, who taught mankind, established Mysteries, and went to Patala (hell or the Antipodes) and there marries the daughter of the naga king (TG 242).

Orpheus may be regarded both as an ideal or as a man and teacher. In either case, whether cosmic or terrestrial, Orpheus corresponds to the unceasing attempts of the higher or spiritual ego to raise the lower ego out of the toils of matter, much as in the Gnostic story the Christos attempts to raises the Sophia, his own lower self or vehicle, out of the mire and toils of the inferior worlds. If the call of impersonal compassion be so strong that it become personal, in other words if Orpheus looks back to see and becomes attracted to the lower planes, he loses his Eurydice. Eurydice means “wide judgment,” the function of reason in the human constitution. Orpheus here would represent intuition, and Eurydice the reason: manas sunk in the earthly nature is raised to wisdom through buddhi.

When the ideal Orpheus in the neophyte conjoins with Orpheus the struggling soul, then Orpheus becomes the initiate who during the trials in the Underworld secures the safety of mind (Eurydice) and thus becomes a son of the sun. Should, however, Orpheus look back — should buddhi itself become entangled in the lower morass — then Eurydice is not rescued, Orpheus is enchained, and the task must be essayed anew.

Orphism, Orphic Mysteries [from Greek orphikos] Orphism originally taught of the Causeless Cause on which all speculation is impossible; the periodical appearance and disappearance of all things, from atom to universe; reimbodiment; cyclic law; the essential divinity of all beings and things; and the duality in manifestation of the universe. It postulated seven emanations from the Boundless: aether (spirit) and chaos (matter), from which two spring the world egg, out of which is born Phanes, the First Logos; then Uranus (and Gaia) the Second Logos, with Kronos (and Rhea, mother of the Olympian gods) a later phase of the Second Logos; and Zeus, the Third Logos or Demiurge — who starts a minor sevenfold hierarchy of emanation by begetting Zagreus-Dionysos the god-man, the divine son. Characteristic of Orphic cosmogony is the important place given to the number seven. “The rise of the Orphic worship of Dionysos is the most important fact in the history of Greek religion, and marks a great spiritual awakening. Its three great ideas are (1) a belief in the essential Divinity of humanity and the complete immortality or eternity of the soul, its pre-existence and its post-existence; (2) the necessity for individual responsibility and righteousness; and (3) the regeneration or redemption of man’s lower nature by his own higher Self” (F. S. Darrow).

The Orphic teachings were kept intact by the Golden or Hermetic Chain of Succession down to the days of the Neoplatonists after which (as symbolically told in the archaic story of Eurydice) they were killed — obscured or lost, so far as the public was concerned. Their keynote was consecration to the mandates of the god within: perfect purity, perfect impersonal love, perfect understanding, and devotion to the interests of humanity.

The three Orphic mystery-gods were Zeus, the divine All-father; Demeter-Kore, the earth goddess as both mother and maid; and Zagreus-Dionysos, the divine son. This trinity finds its counterpart in Egyptian, Indian, Chaldean, Christian, and other religions. There were two forms of baptism, one purification by water, later adopted into the Christian ritual; and the other a ceremony in which the face of the neophyte was cleansed with a mixture of earth and bran, symbolizing the washing away of stains from the soul.

The ceremony of the Eucharist was also adopted by the Christians and as Orphic ritual forbade the use of wine (substituting for it a mead of honey and milk), in the rite as adopted by the primitive Christians the neophyte drank not only wine but also milk and honey. Under Orphism, the honey symbolized not only purification and preservation, or endless life and bliss, but the secret knowledge obtained during initiation. Bees, the gatherers of honey, were emblems of the reincarnating soul, as was the butterfly; and as the bees gathered the nectar from flowers and made it into honey, so the human soul in its various peregrinations gathers from the beings and things of life the mystic experience and stores it away in the chambers of the soul. Milk symbolized knowledge, which fed the inner man, as a child of eternity, just as milk feeds the human child.

Orphism flourished from before the 14th until the 6th century BC, and again, after some five centuries of obscuration, during the first four centuries of the Christian era. Plato, Empedocles, the Pythagorean teachings, some of the Greek dramatists and poets are our main source material for the earlier period, as well as the various Orphic fragments including the Orphic Tablets. These Tablets, with the Orphic Hymns, consist of eight gold plates containing inscriptions, dating from about the 4th century BC. They consist of instructions given to the soul for its journey through the afterdeath worlds or states very reminiscent of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The keynote is spoken by the soul: “I am a child of earth and of starry Heaven, but my race is of Heaven (alone). . . . Lo, I am parched with thirst . . .” For the later period we have the writings of the Neoplatonists and their opponents, the early Christian Fathers.

That the entire Orphic mythogony is intentionally allegorical does not invalidate that a great prehistoric religious reformer named Orpheus lived, worked, taught, and founded a religion as the outgrowth of a genuine Mystery school.

Oshadhi-prastha (Sanskrit) Oṣadhi-prastha The place of medicinal herbs; “a mysterious city in the Himalayas mentioned even from the Vedic period. Tradition shows it as once inhabited by sages, great adepts in the healing art, who used only herbs and plants, as did the ancient Chaldees. The city is mentioned in the Kumara Sambhava of Kalidasa” (TG 243).

Osiris (Greek) As-ar, Us-ar (Egyptian) Ȧs-ȧr, Us-ȧr. The most famous deity of the Egyptian pantheon, corresponding to Zagreus-Bacchus of the Eleusinian Mysteries. In Plutarch’s On Isis and Osiris, Osiris is represented as the son of Nut, space and primordial matter (equivalent to the Greek Rhea) by Seb, celestial fire (Kronos). He became king of Egypt, teaching the people the worship of the gods, and husbandry, and formulating laws. His brother Set, filled with envy, brought about his destruction. Isis, his distraught wife, set out in search of the body, and finally recovered it. But Set then dismembered the body into fourteen pieces, scattering them over Egypt, of which Isis recovered all but one.

After meeting with death on earth Osiris became resurrected, and then became the ruler of the other world (Khenti-Amentet). His death and resurrection depict the drama of the initiation chamber which is one interpretation of glorification or osirification of the defunct human, as mystically portrayed in the Book of the Dead.

Cosmologically, Osiris is the Third Logos, containing in himself the seeds of all things and beings in the universe to be unrolled from the Logos:

“the self-existent and self-creative god, the first manifesting deity (our third Logos), identical with Ahura-Mazda and other ‘First Causes.’ For as Ahura-Mazda is one with, or the synthesis of, the Amshaspends, so Osiris, the collective unit, when differentiated and personified, becomes Typhon, his brother, Isis and Nephtys his sisters, Horus his son and his other aspects. . . . The four chief aspects of Osiris were — Osiris-Phtah (Light), the spiritual aspect; Osiris-Horus (Mind), the intellectual manasic aspect; Osiris-Lunus, the ‘Lunar’ or psychic, astral aspect; Osiris-Typhon, Daimonic, or physical, material, therefore passional turbulent aspect. In these four aspects he symbolizes the dual ego — the divine and the human, the cosmico-spiritual and the terrestrial” (TG 243).

Osiris’ place in cosmological mythology is seen to be that of the cosmic creator; thus on a more abstract scale Osiris is equivalent to the svabhavat of Buddhist thought. As in other archaic religions and philosophies, when Osiris is considered as an individual divinity, he becomes the cosmic source from which flow forth in hierarchical series of emanations the gradually descending groups of the hierarchy of Light; and from this aspect he is the chief of all initiates of the right-hand path, who thus trace their spiritual ascendance and origin directly to the Third Logos itself.

Osiris-Isis-Horus. See TRIAD; TRINITY

Osraios. See OURAIOS

Otz-Chiim. See ‘ETS HA-HAYYIM

Oulom. See ‘OLAM

Ouo (Gnostic) With the Peratae, a sect of the Gnostic Naasseni, Chozzar is equated to Poseidon, and his five ministers are Aou, Aoai, Ouo, Ouoae, the name of the fifth being lost (SD 2:578); these being equivalent to the five prachetasas of Varuna.

Ouraios (Gnostic) Also Ourai. Corresponding to the genius of the planet Venus; one of the six stellar spirits, mystically dark spirits of manifestation or material existence, produced from Ildabaoth (child from the cosmic egg). These spirits of manifestation are to be contrasted with the stellar spirits of Light, spiritual originals, of which the latter are the reflections in matter. The Egyptian Gnostics postulated three Hebdomads of spirits: Ildabaoth, according to this theory, appertained to the intermediate or second Hebdomed.

Blavatsky places the progeny of Ildabaoth as belonging to the lowest of the cosmic reamls of manifestation, making Ildabaoth the child of the cosmic egg which was the producer of our physical globe (TG 152-3). Ildabaoth is well-known as the dark side of the genius of the planet Saturn. See also ASTAPHAI

Ouranos (Greek) Uranus (Latin) [cf Sanskrit Varuṇa] Originally the celestial spaces of the starry deep, its spiritual, invisible fullness. Heaven or Ouranos is sometimes represented as the son of earth and sometimes as her husband; but earth may stand for Aditi (mulaprakriti) or for prakriti, unformed matter, in which case Ouranos, as chief of the adityas or seven planetary and solar gods, is a son; but Ouranos afterwards, with the Greek Gaia, becomes parent of many titans. Ouranos rules the world in the first age but, fearing his children, he shuts them into Tartarus; whereupon Gaia, with the aid of the titan Kronos, dethrones Ouranos, and Kronos takes his place. These legends conceal much esoteric astronomy and geology relating to cosmic matters, and on this earth the succession of human races and the terrestrial changes accompanying them. For Ouranos, like the other Olympian gods, has many significances, representing one of the noumena of the intelligent powers of nature, one of the dhyani-chohans, again one of the divine kings, etc., and his sway was over the second root-race and its continent. The titans who overthrew him were of the third root-race, who fell into physical generation and recognized and followed Ouranos no more.

Outer Round The passage of all the life-waves of a planetary chain to other planetary chains in serial order, at the completion of a specific cycle of manifestation on the original planetary chain. This outer round encompasses the seven sacred planets for seven or ten times, in accordance with the working of the circulations of the solar system. Also used for the journey of the human spiritual monad through the solar system after death. See also INNER ROUND; ROUND

Overshadowing Generally used in references to the spiritual influence exercised by a higher being upon a lower, as in the case of an excarnate buddha, who is said to overshadow and thus to inspire or enlighten living men on earth.

Oversoul When signifying the universal soul, oversoul corresponds to alaya, the consciousness aspect or crown of akasa; or it may be compared with mulaprakriti in its essence as the intelligent conscious basis or root of all in a universe.

Theosophy teaches “the fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over-Soul, the latter being itself an aspect of the Unknown Root” (SD 1:17); Emerson speaks of “that unity, that oversoul, within which every man’s particular being is contained and made one with all other.” Mystically, the anima mundi is the spiritual essence emanating from alaya or the oversoul, anima mundi spreading throughout the spatial deeps of a universe and being the framework in or upon which the manifested planes of that universe are built. Thus when the oversoul is considered as anima mundi, it is alaya or the essence of akasa, or again in its highest it is nirvana, and in its lowest it is the astral light.

Oviform or Ovoid Humanity. See ROOT-RACE, FIRST

Oviparous Humanity. See EGG-BORN; ROOT-RACE, THIRD

Ox. See BULL

Oxygen The physical elements are merely the grossest manifestations or reflections on this material plane of invisible, intangible spiritual originants. In this context, all the matter in the universe can be reduced to four substantial elements: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. In the first manifested triad — Mother, Father-Son-Husband, Son — Oxygen corresponds to Father-Son-Husband; thus, the names of the chemical elements are also used to denote the subtler, more ethereal or spiritual elements from which they proceed.

“We would call hydrogen and oxygen (which instills the fire of life into the ‘Mother’ by incubation) in the pregenetic and even pre-geological ages — the Spirit, the noumenon of that which becomes in its grossest form oxygen and hydrogen and nitrogen on Earth — nitrogen being of no divine origin, but merely an earth-born cement to unite other gases and fluids, and serve as a sponge to carry in itself the breath of LIFE — pure air” (SD 1:626). Oxygen corresponds to vitality or prana in the lower quaternary of human principles. Moreover, an elixir of life is said to be produced alchemically from ozone, an allotrope of oxygen (SD 1:144).

Ozone In chemistry, an allotropic form of oxygen, having a triatomic instead of a diatomic molecule, and being more active chemically on account of the ease with which the molecule parts with one of its atoms. Blavatsky stated that sound generates an ozone such as cannot be made by chemistry, and which can, in proper circumstances, resurrect a person; moreover, “He who would allotropize sluggish oxygen into Ozone to a measure of alchemical activity, reducing it to its pure essence (for which there are means), would discover thereby a substitute for an ‘Elixir of Life’ and prepare it for practical use” (SD 1:555, 144n). She mentions too, with approval, a theory that the cause of influenza may be an excess of ozone in the atmosphere, causing a rush of life and perhaps excessive oxidation and metabolism in the human body (BCW 12:109-10). Ozone is usually made in the laboratory by electric discharges, and it is similarly formed by lightning. All the above indicates that ozone is a physical form of a more subtle and potent original.

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