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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Sa (Babylonian) The god of wisdom or of the cosmic deep; equivalent to Hea or Ea. As the remote and almost inscrutable divinity of the cosmic deep, the enclosure of all its cosmic children, Sa is seen to be the synthetic acme of the seven or twelve great gods — the cosmic hierarch of his own sphere.

Sabaean, Sabaeanism. See SABEAN

Sabalasvas (Sanskrit) Śabalāśva-s Having dappled horses; the children or sons of Daksha.

Sabao. See SABAOTH

Sabaoth (Gnostic) Title of the genii of Mars, one of the planetary regents of the seven sacred planets as enumerated by Origen in his outline of the Gnostic system. Likewise one of the quaternary of emanations which formed the unity of Jehovah, according to the Gnostics: Iao, Adonai, Sabaoth, and Eloi.

Also one transliteration of the Hebrew Tseba’oth (q.v.).

Sabazius (Greek) [from sabo a god of health; or sevas reverential awe] A Phrygian or Thracian deity whose worship was connected with that of the Great Mother, Cybele, and of Attis. He was associated with the chthonian deities and his emblem was a serpent. Regularly conducted Mysteries were held, probably similar in nature to the Dionysian Mysteries because the ancient Greeks connected Sabazius with Dionysos, even giving the name to Bacchus (or Dionysos). “Sabasia was a periodical festival with mysteries enacted in honour of some gods, a variant on the Mithraic Mysteries. The whole evolution of the races was performed in them” (SD 2:419n). The Sabazia were revived in Rome during the 2nd century, practiced under the name Sacra Savadia.

The deity also became associated with the Jewish Sabaoth (Tseba’oth) for Plutarch states that the Jews worshiped Dionysos, and that the day of the Jewish Sabbath was, in his opinion, a festival of Sabazius (Symposium. 4:6).

Sabbath (Hebrew) Shabbāth [from shābath voluntary repose] The seventh day of the week, appointed in the Hebrew decalog a day of rest, to be observed by the Jews — now equivalent to Saturday, Saturn’s day. The intimate relationship of ancient Jewish mystical and theological thought with the planet Saturn as the outermost then recognized of the planetary system provides a key.

In the deeper sense Sabbath “means rest or Nirvana. It is not the seventh day after six days but a period the duration of which equals that of the seven ‘days’ or any period made up of seven parts” (SD 1:240).

Sabda (Sanskrit) Śabda A sound, word, or tone; sometimes used mystically to mean the cosmic Word, thus equivalent to the Greek Logos.

Sabda-Brahman (Sanskrit) Śabda-brahman Word-Brahman, “the soul of Brahman expressing itself through its akasic veils as the Divine Logos, or Word, or Sound” (OG 149); analogous to the active unmanifested Logos of the solar system, and closely connected in meaning with the teachings concerning daiviprakriti.

In later ancient Hindu thought, because sabda meant word, and Brahman was considered to be revealed in the Vedas, Sabda-Brahman was often used as a title for the Vedas themselves, as being the revealed word of Brahman or Brahman expressed in words.

Sabean, Sabaean, Sabian, Sabianism [from Hebrew tsaba host, army, celestial hosts] A name given by the Shemitic peoples to those who worship the spiritual beings in the universe; and because the celestial bodies were the most evident manifestations of some classes of these spiritual beings, this religion naturally became confused with the worship of the celestial bodies themselves as the dwellings or mansions of the regents above, in, and behind the visible orbs. Hence the Sabeans were called astrolaters or star-worshipers; but it was not the physical bodies of the celestial orbs which were worshiped, but the spiritual entities, powers, or spirits which ensouled these orbs. This was one of the very archaic religions of the human race, found all over the globe in various forms; and in its origins Sabianism was undoubtedly an outpouring of occult teaching from the archaic Mysteries.

The word Sabean itself has come down to us mainly through Greek and Latin writers, but so thoroughly imbued were the ancient Hebrews with this idea of the celestial hosts or cosmic spirits that the Bible is full of references where the context even wrongly endows the celestial hosts with the properties of the Most High God, and it has been so understood by Christian theologians; forgetting, however, that manifested deities, however high, are but the manifestations of the infinite and ineffable Mystery or parabrahman, from which all the celestial hosts flow or emanate. Thus not only ancient and modern Judaism, but Christianity itself, is filled with the thought of the ancient Sabeans.

Sabeanism was unquestionably the main religious belief of the ancient Chaldeans and Assyrians, but likewise the very foundation stone of practically all the great religions of all the great peoples of the past. Upon the authority of the Jewish scholar Maimonides, scholars have considered the Sabeans as an ancient race whose principal religion was that of star-worship and closely affiliated with the Babylonians and Syrians. But the Sabeans were not a race, but those who followed and practiced the divine astrological astrolatry of the hoariest antiquity. Mohammed in the Koran mentions a sect between the Jews and Christians called Sabi una — to whom certain privileges were granted; older Moslem theologians were agreed that the Sabeans possessed manuscripts which they regarded in the light of a revelation, and the Mandeans came under the same protection granted to the Sabeans; hence the Mandeans also came to be regarded as Sabeans. Another sect of polytheists, the Harranians (830 AD), also affiliated with the Sabeans and shielded themselves under the same privileges; they were a remnant of a Mesopotamian cult, and star-worship had a prominent place in their system.

Certain Arabian writers termed the Sabean language the science of astronomy, but what we now call astronomy was but a minor portion of ancient astrolatry; they also state that Seth or Set was the founder of Sabeanism, and that the pyramids were regarded as the place of sepulture of Seth or Agathodaimon. We see here confusion, reductions of general principles to details, and anthropomorphizations of cosmic principles. Hermes is in many senses the same as Seth, and the pyramids were consecrated to the regents of the stars, rather than to the orbs (SD 2:362).

Sabha (Sanskrit) Sabhā An assembly, congregation; a place for meeting, social or political. See also MAHASABHA

Saccidananda. See SACHCHIDANANDA

Sacea. See SAKAS

Sacha Kiriya. See SAKTI-KRIYA

Sachchidananda (Sanskrit) Saccidānanda [from sat reality + cit pure consciousness + ānanda bliss] Abstract being, abstract consciousness, abstract bliss; the state of the cosmic spiritual hierarch, Brahman or the Second Logos, the Absolute of our cosmic hierarchy. Subba Row wrote that the Logos is described as sachchidananda because as sat it is the efflux of parabrahman, as chit it contains within itself the whole law of cosmic evolution, as ananda it is the abode of impersonal bliss and the highest happiness possible for a person who has become a jivanmukta — a freed monad, when union with the cosmic Logos is attained.

Sacr, Zakhar (Hebrew) Zākhār Male, whether man or beast, as well as the masculine organ; and in connection with the Hebrew word for the feminine organ, neqebah (cavity), used whether of woman or beast, even from Hebrew times has been surrounded all too often with phallic significance.

These words, however, can have the same impersonal and abstract significance that have the linga and yoni in India. Zachar is generally rendered “male” in the English translation of the Bible: “It is the phallus which is the vehicle of the enunciation; and truly enough, as the sacr, or carrier of the germ, its use has passed down through ages to the sacr-factum of the Roman priest, and sacr-fice and sacr-ment of the English-speaking race” (Source of Measures 236).

Because of the function of the human organs of generation, even from ancient times these organs were considered with reverential awe as being the representatives of the creative or productive abstract forces of nature; and so greatly was the creative function held among the ancients that marriage and its functions were invariably considered to be a religious rite. Hence the presence of zachar or sacr in such words as sacrament and sacrifice, always with the religious meaning, has prevailed to our own days. The archaic symbology of the separation of the sexes was represented by a horizontal line, crossed by a perpendicular, surrounded by a circle: with the Hebrews, however, this became degraded into the purely phallic meaning of the sacr and n’cabvah (zachar and neqebah).

Sacrament [from Latin sacrare to make sacred] Consecration, an oath, pledge; later a sacred rite. The Roman Catholic Church recognizes seven sacraments, and the Protestant churches in general but two, the eurcharist and baptism. The Latin root sacr- (sacred, consecrated) is connected with the Hebrew zachar (male principle, often degraded into a purely phallic significance). Religious views as to the value of sacraments vary between those which regard them as channels by which actual grace is bestowed and those which regard them as merely symbolic and commemorative.

Sacrarium (Latin) The place wherein sacra (sacred objects) were kept; a shrine in a private house or temple.

Sacred Animals. See ANIMALS, SACRED

Sacred Four Used in the Stanzas of Dzyan in speaking of the primordial principles in cosmogenesis as numbers:

“I. The Adi-Sanat, the Number, for he is One.
II. The Voice of the Word, Svabhavat, the Numbers, for he is One and Nine.
III. The ‘Formless Square.’ (Arupa).
And these three enclosed within the O (boundless circle), are the sacred four” (SD 1:98).

The triad forms within the circle the tetraktys or sacred four, the square within the circle being the most potent of all magical figures.

The kumaras, though seven in number, are called the four, because the chief  four of them sprang from the fourfold mystery. It is one of the several meanings of the svastika. This sacred four has to be distinguished from the manifested four or quaternary.

The most sacred oath of the Pythagoreans was “by the Sacred Four,” or tetraktys. See also ADINIDANA; ADISANAT; ARUPA; SVABHAVAT

Sacred Heart In modern times a Roman Catholic cult which uses the heart as a symbol, especially the heart of Jesus, to which they address devotions. From time to time there have been various Christians who have particularly stressed this aspect of their religious views, among them St. Gertrude and St. Francis of Sales (17th century) who gave this symbol to his order as its object. By edict of Pope Pius IX (1856) the day is observed in the general calendar of the Church.

In ancient times the heart was also a sacred symbol, in Egypt associated with Horus, in Babylon, with Bel, while in Greece the lacerated heart was connected with Bacchus. “Its symbol was the persea. The pear-like shape of its fruit, and of its kernel especially, resembles the heart in form. It is sometimes seen on the head of Isis, the mother of Horus, the fruit being cut open and the heart-like kernel exposed to full view” (TG 283).

Sacred Name. See NAME, SACRED


Sacred Fire. See FIRE, SACRED


Sacred Sleep. See SLEEP, SACRED

Sacred Spark. See SPARK, SACRED

Sacrifice The performance of sacred rites, but with the more restricted sense of ceremonies of invocation, communion, or propitiation between man and gods. Scholars, in studying these universal rites, are at a loss to find an essential significance by which to gather them all into one class, and as to which to include and which to exclude from such a class. Sacrifices may take the form of a meal offered to the gods or shared with them, an oblation of first fruits of the harvest or flocks, or a propitiation or act of atonement. The Romans dedicated a portion of food or a libation to the lares or other deities; the Hebrews offered the first fruits of the harvest or the yearlings of the flock. The word also has the meaning of an act of self-dedication for a noble cause.

Christianity, in addition to a great many so-called pagan ideas, also inherited and adapted Jewish sacrificial ideas, but the word became limited to the sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world, and the sacrifice by man of his personal desires to the behests of his divinity. The true origin of the Christian atonement is in the Mysteries, when the hierophant offered his pure and sinless life as a sacrifice for his race to the gods whom he hoped to rejoin (IU 2:42). The general sense in theosophy is that of sacrificing one’s temporal interests to a lofty ideal.

Sadaikarupa (Sanskrit) Sadaikarūpa [from sadā always + eka one + rūpa form] Always the one and same body; the essence of immutable nature. This Hindu philosophical term means the cosmically perduring (through both pralaya and manvantara following each other alternately) of the karmic substance of universal nature, however much cosmic karma may mold or vary the cosmic fields in and upon which it is eternally active.

Sadasiva (Sanskrit) Sadāśiva [from sadā always + śiva name of the deity, commonly supposed to mean the auspicious] Always kind, prosperous; an epithet of Siva.

Sadducees [from Greek saddoukaioi from Hebrew tsadoq supposed to be the founder of the sect, meaning just, righteous] Among Europeans, a skeptic or doubter; originally the party of the Jewish priestly aristocracy which arose in the 2nd century BC under the later Hasmoneans. The Sadducees have come to be regarded as primarily a political party opposed to the Pharisees, called by some the party of the Scribes, but later Jewish tradition following Josephus more accurately regarded them as a philosophico-religious school. The Sadducees, a sect of erudite philosophers, opposed a great deal of the commonly accepted beliefs of the majority of the Jews, who were actually nearly all Pharisees — as for instance, the immortality of the personal soul, and the actual resurrection of the physical body; yet they strongly upheld what they considered the genuine meaning, and therefore the true authority, of the Jewish scriptures. They likewise opposed no small number of doctrinal or religious innovations, some of them true, and some of them less true in nature, which had been accepted by the body of the Pharisees — virtually by the Jewish people. And the reason for their reluctance to accept these innovations, whether of doctrine or interpretation of the Jewish scriptures, seems to be that they preferred a highly philosophical and even perhaps mystical interpretation, which they said the Jewish scriptures contained, rather than the more popular versions accepted by the Hebrew people as a whole. One may say that what the Gnostics were to the body of the Christians in the early centuries of the Christian era, the Sadducees were to the body of the Jews or Pharisees. The Sadducees likewise claimed to be the scientists and genuine philosophers of the Hebrews; although it is apparently quite true that as time went on their attitude of opposition, and even of reluctance, often became, at least among individual Sadducees, an attitude of cynicism and even possibly of cynical disbelief.

“Surely there must have been some very good reasons why the Sadducees, who furnished almost all the high Priests of Judea, held to the Laws of Moses and spurned the alleged ‘Books of Moses,’ the Penateuch of the Synagogue and the Talmud” (SD 1:320-1n) — doubtless because they rejected the literal rendering of the Pentateuch, and in the beginning at least preferred their own interpretations of the Hebrew scriptures.

In regard to Jehovah: “Jehovah was a substitute for purposes of an exoteric national faith, and had no importance or reality in the eyes of the erudite priests and philosophers — the Sadducees, the most refined as the most learned of all the Israelite sects, who stand as a living proof with their contemptuous rejection of every belief, save the Law” (SD 2:472-3).

Yet it must not be understood that the Pharisees were but the hypocritical and exoteric worshipers of the letter that Christian scripture and legend has endeavored to make them; for among the Pharisees themselves, as for instance Josephus (the greatest of Jewish historians), there were found many learned men. The wisest among the Pharisees desired to bring to the Jewish people as a whole certain more secret teachings, whether innovations or not, which for their own purposes the Sadducees strongly opposed.

Sadhu (Sanskrit) Sādhu [from the verbal root sādh to finish, perfect, complete, overcome, conquer] Feminine sadhi. A good and virtuous man; more particularly a holy man; especially with the Jains, a jina or deified saint. As an adjective, completed, perfected, hence accomplished; successful, effective (in regard to hymns), excellent, good, fit, proper. As an interjection, excellent! Well done! Good!

Sadhya (Sanskrit) Sādhya [from the verbal root sādh to finish, complete, subdue, master] To be fulfilled, completed, attained; to be mastered, won, subdued. As a plural noun, a class of the gana-devatas (divine beings), specifically the jnana-devas (gods of wisdom). In the Satapatha-Brahmana of the Rig-Veda their world is said to be above the sphere of the gods, while Yaska (Nirukta 12:41) gives their locality as in Bhuvarloka. In The Laws of Manu (3:195), the sadhyas are represented as the offspring of the pitris called soma-sads who are offspring of Viraj; hence they are children of the lunar ancestors (pitris), evolved after the gods and possessing natures more fully unfolded; while in the Puranas they are the sons of Sadhya (a daughter of Daksha) and Dharma — hence called sadhyas — given variously as 12 or 17 in number. These various manners of describing the ancestry of the sadhyas originated in different ways of envisioning their origin. In later mythology they are superseded by the siddhas, the difference between sadhyas and siddhas being in many respects slight. Their mythological names are given as Manas, Mantri, Prana, Nara, Pana, Vinirbhaya, Naya, Dansa, Narayana, Vrisha, and Trabhu. Two of the names are two of the theosophic seven human principles — manas and prana; while Nara and Narayan, are other aspects of man, human or cosmic. Blavatsky terms the sadhyas divine sacrificers, “the most occult of all” the classes of the dhyanis (SD 2:605) — the reference being to the manasaputras, those intellectual beings who sacrificed themselves in order to quicken the fires of human intelligence during the third root-race. “The names of the deities of a certain mystic class change with every Manvantara” (SD 2:90); thus they are called ajitas, tushitas, satyas, haris, vaikuntas, adityas, and rudras. The key to the various names given to these higher beings lies in the composite nature of each one of them. In every manvantara and in each minor cycle of a manvantara, every being unfolds another aspect of itself, just as mankind unfolds new but latent powers and senses in each age. Special names were often given to each of the sevenfold, tenfold, or twelvefold aspects of these high beings.

In the cosmic sense the sadhyas signify the names collectively of the twelve great gods, the first twelve cosmic hierarchs emanating from Brahma, out of which flow not only the twelve cosmic planes, but the hierarchies inherent in these twelve planes. Their importance lies in the fact that they are the earliest emanations in serial order from the formative and productive Brahma-prakriti, and therefore are really the origin of all beings and things in the cosmos arranged from the beginning in the duodenary hierarchical scheme. Plato had the same thought when he spoke of Divinity forming the universe according to the number twelve. They are reminiscent of the Latin dii consentes, taken over from the ancient mystical Etruscans who stated that these twelve “agreeing or consenting divinities” form the council of Jupiter, the Latin Brahma. The twelve dii consentes consisted of six feminine and six masculine divinities, and the Etruscan theology stated that they govern not only the world, but time also, coming into existence periodically at the commencement of a world period, and passing into rest or pralaya when the world period ended.

Seneca in his Quaestiones Naturalis (2:41) states that there is a more sublime Council of Divinities, superior even to Jupiter and the twelve dii consentes, whose combined will and intelligence govern even the deliberations of Jupiter and the twelve great consenting gods. See also SATYAS


Saga, Sogn [cf Icelandic sogn from segja to tell, proclaim; Anglo-Saxon secgan, English say, Swedish saga] In the Scandinavian languages, something spoken, a saw, tale, or report which, like the Greek logos, refers both to an oral tradition and to the written history which ensued.

In Norse mythology, the name of an asynja (goddess) who occupies a world named Sokvaback (deep river) where she shares with Odin the draft of wisdom in golden goblets. Symbolically she represents the wisdom gained from experience of all the past, whether of humans or worlds. The sagor (plural of saga, stories) were the purveyors of wisdom.

Sagara (Sanskrit) Sagara With poison; a king of the solar dynasty and sovereign of Ayodhya, said to have been called sagara because he was born together with a poison given to his mother by the other wife of his father. Legend relates that he was the father of 60,000 sons who were turned into a heap of ashes by a glance of the sage Kapila, and their funeral ceremonies could be performed only in the waters of the Ganges, which had to be brought from heaven for the purpose of purifying their remains. This was finally accomplished by the devotion of Bhagiratha, who having led the river to the sea, called it Sagara in honor of his ancestor.

“That the story is an allegory is seen upon its very face: the 60,000 Sons, brutal, vicious, and impious, are the personification of the human passions that a ‘mere glance of the sage’ — the self who represents the highest state of purity that can be reached on earth — reduces to ashes. But it has also other significations — cyclic and chronological meanings, — a method of marking the periods when certain sages flourished, found also in other Puranas” (SD 2:571).

The 60,000 sons also represent 60,000 years of the cycle known mystically as Jatayu, the son of Garuda, king of the feathered tribe.

Sagardagan. See SAKRIDAGAMIN

Sagittarius The archer; the ninth sign of the zodiac. In astrology, a common or mutable and a fiery sign, one of the houses of Jupiter. Its correspondence in the body is the thighs. Its symbol is an archer or sometimes a centaur with a bow and arrow.

Applying the twelve sons of Jacob in the Hebrew scheme to the twelve signs of the zodiac, Joseph is assigned to Sagittarius: his “bow abode in strength.” In a circular representation of the zodiac, Seth (son of Adam) is made equivalent to Sagittarius (IU 2:462).

In the Brahmanical zodiac called Dhanus, its deity being Ganesa, the elephant-headed god of wisdom, son of Siva. In numbers Dhanus is equivalent to 9, being the ninth sign; hence it refers to the nine Brahmas or the nine prajapatis who assist the Demiurgus in constructing the material universe (12 Signs of the Zodiac, Subba Row). Nine is the number of becoming and therefore of change.

Saha (Sanskrit) Sahā [from the verbal root sah to endure, suffer] One of the loka-dhatus or divisions of the world in Buddhist philosophy: the world inhabited by men, or the earth — Buddhists consider this earth a world of suffering. Adopted into theosophy to signify the earth and likewise any inhabited or manifested world or globe in the chiliocosm or sakvala. Theosophy recognizes no hells in nature except those spheres of experience, evolutionary progress, and purgation through suffering which all the manifested globes of space are in almost infinitely varying degrees.

Saha-loka-dhatu, Sahalo-kadhatu (Sanskrit) Saha-loka-dhātu [from saha unity, union + loka world, plane + dhātu essential element] United world-elements, chiliocosm or universe.  Also a Buddhist phrase meaning “the world inhabited by men,” or the earth.

Saham-pati (Sanskrit) Sahām-pati The All-parent, or common progenitor, lord, or source of all; a synonym for Brahman or even mahabrahman or parabrahman.

Saharakshas (Sanskrit) Saharakṣas Strength preserving; commonly explained as the fire of the asuras or the sacrificial fire which receives the offerings to the rakshasas. In the Puranas, pavamana — the fire which is produced by friction — is represented as the parent of saharakshas.

Sahir (Hindi) Sāhir. A necromancer; equivalent to jadugar.

Sahu (Egyptian) Sāḥu. The spiritual entity, the entity of the deceased in heaven. According to popular legend it grew out of the dead body and was called into being by the ceremonies performed over the defunct. From the comparatively little that has come down to us, apparently equivalent to the reincarnating ego. In this sense, a spiritual entity, a development of the earthly experiences of the monad.

Saint George Patron saint of England; the universal allegory of the dragonslayer reappears in Christian ecclesiasticism as the archangel Michael who slays the red dragon, and again as St. George. It is a historical mystery both how this apocryphal legend came to be attached to the name of George of Cappadocia, the ecclesiastic put to death by Diocletian for opposing him in the persecution of the Christians; and that the Roman Catholic Church should have canonized so rabid an Arian. His is another form of the story of Bel and the dragon, Apollo and Python, Osiris and Typhon, etc., which denote the fallen angels or kumaras who, by bringing intellectual life to earth, thereby truly conquer death.

Saint-Germain, Count

“Referred to as an enigmatical personage by modern writers. Frederic II., King of Prussia, used to say of him that he was a man whom no one had ever been able to make out. Many are his ‘biographies,’ and each is wilder than the other. By some he was regarded as an incarnate god, by others as a clever Alsatian Jew. One thing is certain, Count de St. Germain — whatever his real patronymic may have been — had a right to his name and title, for he had bought a property called San Germano, in the Italian Tyrol, and paid the Pope for the title. He was uncommonly handsome, and his enormous erudition and linguistic capacities are undeniable, for he spoke English, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Russian, Swedish, Danish, and many Slavonian and Oriental languages, with equal facility with a native. He was extremely wealthy, never received a sou from anyone — in fact never accepted a glass of water or broke bread with anyone — but made most extravagant presents of superb jewellery to all his friends, even to the royal families of Europe. His proficiency in music was marvellous; he played on every instrument, the violin being his favourite. ‘St. Germain rivalled Paganinni himself,’ was said of him by an octogenarian Belgian in 1835, after hearing the ‘Genoese maestro.’ ‘It is St. Germain resurrected who plays the violin in the body of an Italian Skeleton,’ exclaimed a Lithuanian baron who had heard both.
“He never laid claim to spiritual powers, but proved to have a right to such claim. He used to pass into a dead trance from thirty-seven to forty-nine hours without awakening, and then knew all he had to know, and demonstrated the fact by prophesying futurity and never making a mistake. It is he who prophesied before the Kings Louis XV. and XVI., and the unfortunate Marie Antoinette. Many were the still-living witnesses in the first quarter of this century who testified to his marvellous memory; he could read a paper in the morning and, though hardly glancing at it, could repeat its contents without missing one word days afterwards; he could write with two hands at once, the right hand writing a piece of poetry, the left a diplomatic paper of the greatest importance. He read sealed letters without touching them, while still in the hand of those who brought them to him. He was the greatest adept in transmuting metals, making gold and the most marvellous diamonds, an art, he said, he had learned from certain Brahmans in India, who taught him the artificial crystallisation (‘quickening’) of pure carbon. As our Brother Kenneth Mackenzie has it: — ‘In 1780, when on a visit to the French Ambassador to the Hague, he broke to pieces with a hammer a superb diamond of his own manufacture, the counterpart of which, also manufactured by himself, he had just before sold to a jeweller for 5500 louis d’or.’ He was the friend and confidant of Count Orloff in 1772 at Vienna, whom he had helped and saved in St. Petersburg in 1762, when concerned in the famous political conspiracies of that time; he also became intimate with Frederick the Great of Prussia. As a matter of course, he had numerous enemies, and therefore it is not to be wondered at if all the gossip invented about him is now attributed to his own confessions: e.g., that he was over five hundred years old; also, that he claimed personal intimacy ‘with the Saviour and his twelve Apostles, and that he had reproved Peter for his bad temper’ — the latter clashing somewhat in point of time with the former, if he had really claimed to be only five hundred years old. If he said that ‘he had been born in Chaldea and professed to possess the secrets of the Egyptian magicians and sage,’ he may have spoken truth without making any miraculous claim. There are Initiates, and not the highest either, who are placed in a condition to remember more than one of their past lives. But we have good reason to know that St. Germain could never have claimed ‘personal intimacy’ with the Saviour. However that may be, Count St. Germain was certainly the greatest Oriental Adept Europe has seen during the last centuries. But Europe knew him not. Perchance some may recognise him at the next Terreur, which will affect all Europe when it comes, and not one country alone” (TG 308-9).
“Saint Germain recorded the good doctrine in figures and his only cyphered MS. remained with his staunch friend and patron the benevolent German prince from whose house and in whose presence he made his last exit — Home” (ML 280).

Saint-Martin, Louis Claude de. See MARTINISTS

Sais (Greek) Saut (Egyptian) Saut. An important ancient city of Lower Egypt, the capital of the fifth nome: the residence of kings of the 26th dynasty. Only ruins mark the famous temple of Neith wherein was kept the ever-veiled statue of Neith-Isis, Neith being the principal deity of Sais, regarded as Athena by the Greeks. Festivals in honor of Osiris were held regularly as well.

“At Sais, also, in the sacred precinct of Minerva, behind the chapel and joining the whole of the wall, is the tomb of one whose name I consider it impious to divulge on such an occasion; and in the inclosure stand large stone obelisks, and there is a lake near, ornamented with a stone margin, formed in a circle, and in size, as appeared to me, much the same as that in Delos, which is called the Circular. In this lake they perform by night the representation of that person’s adventures, which they call mysteries. On these matters, however, . . . I must observe a discrete silence; and respecting the sacred rites of Ceres, which the Greeks call Thesmophoria although I am acquainted with them, I must observe silence, . . . ” (Herodotus 2:170-1).

Saiva (Sanskrit) Śaiva The adjectival form of Siva; devotees of the sect of Siva. This divinity is the great patron of all yogis, quite apart from this sect claiming to be especial followers of Siva.

Saka (Sanskrit) Saka Applied to intellect or cosmic wisdom in the Vishnu-Purana, mystically and philosophically identical with cosmic mahat. Esoterically, the aggregate or synthesis of certain manifesting divine principles unfolding or emanating themselves through spirit into and throughout the web of Being. Hence saka is equivalent also to what the Chinese referred to as the Dragon of Wisdom — the synthesis of all the manifesting deities in any cosmic unit — and to the cosmic Logos.

Saka (Sanskrit) Śaka An era, epoch.

Saka-dvipa (Sanskrit) Śāka-dvīpa According to the Puranas, the sixth of the seven dvipas (continents or islands) which compose the globe. Esoterically these seven dvipas, among other things, represent our globe and its six invisible companion globes. Jambu-dvipa represents globe D, while plaksha, salmala, kusa, krauncha, saka, and pushkara represent the six higher and invisible globes of our planetary chain. These dvipas also correspond to the geographical continents of the seven great races, and even to the dry-land divisions of the earth during the period of one root-race. Some portions of America, Africa, and Central Asia, with the Gobi region, will have a part in the building of future continental dvipas (SD 2:404).

Sakas (Sanskrit) Śaka-s A people supposed to be of Western origin, Indo-Scythians; according to Orientalists, the same as the classical Sacae. It is during the reign of their King Yudhishthira that kali yuga is said to have begun.

Sakkayaditthi (Pali) Sakkāyadiṭṭhi [from sakkāya individuality + diṭṭhi belief, theory; cf Sanskrit sat-kāya true individuality + dṛṣti appearance] The delusion of personality, rather than heresy of individuality, for in theosophical literature the individuality is that part of man which reincarnates again and again, clothing itself with one personality or imbodiment after another. As “the erroneous idea that ‘I am I,’ a man or a woman with a special name, instead of being an inseparable part of the whole” (TG 284), the term signifies the sense of separateness and personality, as opposed to the idea that man is an inseparable part of the universe throughout all the ranges of his composite constitution. It means that the personality of the imbodied man has the appearance, and thereby brings about the delusion that the merely personal man is the spiritual man.

In the Buddhist sutras, sakkayaditthi is the first chain to be broken upon entering the path; when the path is really entered this chain is in fact recognized to be nonexistent.

Connected with one of the skandhas, Sakkayaditthi together with attavada, “both of which (in the case of the fifth principle the soul) lead to the maya of heresy and belief in the efficacy of vain rites and ceremonies; in prayers and intercession” (ML 111).

Sakra (Sanskrit) Śakra The powerful, the mighty; a name of Indra.

Sakridagamin (Sanskrit) Sakṛdāgāmin [from sakṛt once + āgāmin one coming from ā-gam to come] In mystical Buddhist philosophy, he who will receive birth (only) once more; also the second stage of the fourfold path that leads to nirvana, the path of arhatship. See also ARHAT

Sakshin (Sanskrit) Sākṣin [from sa together with + akṣa eye] That which is before the eyes; an observer, witness. In philosophy, the ego or subject, as opposed to the object or that which is external to the observing ego. Subba Row used the term as the highest of the four aspects of a parabrahman within the human constitution (Five Years of Theosophy 108).

Sakta (Sanskrit) Śākta [from śakti power] Also sakteya, saktya. Relating to sakti; a worshiper of Sakti, especially in her aspect of Durga, the cosmic consort of Siva. The Saktas are a Hindu sect which base their doctrines largely upon the Tantras, their ritual being of two kinds: the more impure called vamachara (left-hand path), and the purer, dakshinachara (right-hand path). But present-day worshipers have strayed far from the original, quaintly philosophical teachings and consequently have degraded the conception throughout as well as its symbols.

Saktaya. See SAKTA

Sakti (Sanskrit) Śakti [from the verbal root sak to be powerful, energetic, have force] Universal energy, the feminine aspect of fohat; one of the seven forces of nature, of which six are manifest and the seventh partly manifest. It is energy that proceeds through itself, not being due to the active or conscious will of the one that produces it. Popularly, the wives or consorts of the gods — the energies or active powers of these deities represented as feminine influences.

“These anthropomorphic definitions are unfortunate, because misleading. The Saktis of Nature are really the veils, or sheaths, or vehicular carriers, through which work the inner and ever-active energies. As substance and energy, or force and matter, are fundamentally one, . . . it becomes apparent that even these Saktis, or sheaths, or veils, are themselves energic to lower spheres or realms through which they themselves work.
“The crown of the astral light, as H. P. Blavatsky puts it, is the generalized Sakti of Universal Nature in so far as our solar system is concerned” (OG 150).

Sakti in another sense is soul-power, the mental-psychic energy of the god as of the adept. In the Mahabharata, Draupadi, the wife or sakti of the five Pandava brothers, represents a spiritual power they all possessed in common. In legends and tales of the ancient peoples, the wives of the great heroes mystically represent the aggregate of the saktis or spiritual powers that the heroes had individually attained.

Considering the saktis as more or less conscious forces in nature, gives a picture of not only the turbulent and ever-active movements in the lower planes of nature, but likewise the calm and stately measures of spiritual activity. It is common in the West to associate power, activity, energy, and force with masculine correlations; but this is quite arbitrary, and an impassionate viewing of nature will show it to be continuously moved by vehicular as well as inspiriting causes.

Cosmically sakti or the saktis originate in the summit of the astral light or akasa, which in one sense may be considered as not only the womb of the cosmic saktis, but as their playground and in another sense as the saktis collectively themselves. In man, sakti is the buddhi in its higher aspect, and the activities of the various pranas in the human constitution in its lower aspect. There is no essential distinction between any divinity and its consort, between Brahman and pradhana, Brahma and prakriti, or between parabrahman and mulaprakriti. Furthermore, all the saktis are either conscious entities in nature, or vital effluxes or emanations, cosmic fluids, with which nature is infused throughout.

The reason the occultist of all ages looks askance at the tantric practices, or the Tantras dealing largely with the saktis, is because these tantric books and practices are almost wholly occupied in relations and correlations both in nature and in man of the saktis in their lower aspect. The kundalini, for instance, is likewise born in the buddhi in man, but descending through the human constitution has its pranic or psychovital physical representations in the various chakras or vital centers of the human frame, and thus the kundalini is an example of sakti or of its fluidic effluxes in the lower portions of the human constitution.

The early Christians looked upon the Holy Spirit as of distinctly feminine characteristics, influence, or svabhava, as the center not only of vital but of spiritual and intellectual activity, whether in the universe or man, so that the Holy Spirit corresponds to a divine sakti. A notable instance in Hinduism is the Sakti or goddess Durga, having both a lofty or spiritual, and an inferior or distinctly material, function in nature, and therefore a beneficent as well as a terrible action therein — the very name Durga meaning “terrible in action,” or “terrible in going.” And yet Durga is the consort or sakti of Siva, often called the Mahesvara (Great Lord); and the name of this goddess arises from the utterly impartial, infinitely just, and yet often simply terrific action of the forces in nature, particularly when karmically directed to works of regeneration, often called destruction. Cosmic operations or cosmic justice are often indeed to human vision terrible in their operation, which can never be set aside, stayed, or diverted. Hence Durga is often represented in iconography as surrounded with a necklace of skulls or by similar ghastly emblems — a series of ideas which the pragmatic West misinterprets and consequently depicts as horrible and revolting.

Saktidhara (Sanskrit) Śaktidhara Power-holder, holder of a spear; an epithet of the Hindu god Karttikeya in his mystical function as a warrior.

Sakti-kriya (Sanskrit) Śakti-kriyā [from śakti power + kriyā action] An inner power or force recognized and taught from immemorial time in India, embracing spiritual, intellectual, as well as psychic elements, which can be exercised by any adept, whether ascetic or layman, and said to be most efficient when accompanied by meditation or bhavana. Its reality depends on the inner merits of one’s character and on the intensity of one’s will, added to an absolute faith born of knowledge in one’s own powers. When applied to ceremonial or ritualistic practice, sakti-kriya is akin to a magic mantra.

Sakti-trimurti (Sanskrit) Śakti-trimūrti The feminine aspect of the Hindu Trimurti or Triad; passive complement or vehicle of the active principle. While sakti is often termed passive by comparison, in India it has always been considered to be the very active feminine energy of the divinities, or the intense activity of the vehicles in and through which divinities manifest.

Sakwala (Sinhalese, Cakkavāḷa in Pali) Gautama Buddha uttered this “word” (bana) in his oral instructions to denote “a solar system, of which there is an infinite number in the universe, and which denotes that space to which the light of every sun extends. Each Sakwala contains earths, hells and heavens (meaning good and bad spheres, our earth being considered as hell, in Occultism); attains its prime, then falls into decay and is finally destroyed at regularly recurring periods, in virtue of one immutable law. Upon the earth, the Master taught that there have been already four great ‘continents’ (the Land of the Gods, Lemuria, Atlantis, and the present ‘continent’ divided into five parts of the Secret Doctrine), and that three more have to appear. The former ‘did not communicate with each other,’ a sentence showing that Buddha was not speaking of the actual continents known in his day (for Patala or America was perfectly familiar to the ancient Hindus), but of the four geological formations of the earth, with their four distinct root-races which had already disappeared” (TG 285). See also SAHA

Sakya (Sanskrit) Śākya A clan in ancient India, with a capital called Kapilavastu. From this clan was descended Siddhartha-Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. Hence the patronymic Sakya, by which he is commonly known.

Sakyamuni (Sanskrit) Śākyamuni The Sakya sage, a name of Gautama Buddha.

Salagrama (Sanskrit) Śālagrāma A village situated on the river Gandaki, regarded as sacred by the Vaishnavas. It received its name from the sal trees growing near it. Also the name of Vishnu as worshiped in this village; and a supposedly sacred stone revered by the Vaishnavas and said by them to be pervaded by the presence of Vishnu. This stone is a black fossil ammonite and is stated to be chiefly found near this village.

Salamander The name given by the medieval fire-philosophers to the nature spirits of fire, the fire elementals. The Greek salamandra meant a lizard-like animal believed to have power over and hence to extinguish fire — or to produce it. Marco Polo wrote that the salamander is not a beast but a substance found in the earth, corresponding from his description to asbestos.

Salmala, Salmali-dvipa (Sanskrit) Śālmala-, Śālmali-, Śālmalī-dvīpa According to the Puranas, the third of the seven dvipas (continents or islands) which compose the world. Esoterically these dvipas, among other things, represent our globe and its six invisible companion globes. Jambu-dvipa represents globe D, while plaksha, salmala, kusa, krauncha, saka, and pushkara represent the six invisible globes of our planetary chain. These dvipas also correspond to the geographical continents of the seven root-races appearing in serial order, and even to the dry-land divisions of the earth during the period of any one root-race.

Salt Used in alchemy for a fundamental principle of nature, a member of the triad mercury, sulphur, and salt, corresponding to spirit, soul, and body; or to fire (or air), water, and earth. Paracelsus regarded these as the mystical elements of all compound bodies. All forms of matter were reducible to one or other of them — everything was either a sulphur, a mercury, a salt, or a compound. The philosopher’s stone was said to be a compound of all three. Thus salt is the physical rudiment, as illustrated by the cubical crystals of common salt. Ancient thought regarded such elements as fundamental principles which manifest on various planes, nor did it make hard and fast distinctions between physical and nonphysical; but modern thought has given a fictitious reality to physical objects, and regards the ancient use of the terms as metaphorical. The veneration shown for salt was not a mere deification of its physical virtues, but a recognition of the salt-principle in nature, of which ordinary salt is merely a physical emblem. The well-known stimulant, flavoring, and preservative qualities of salt prove it to be a physical manifestation of an important principle; such phrases as bread and salt, and salt of the earth are therefore theosophy, as concerns not merely figures of speech but a use of salt in its more radical sense. For the same reason it played an important part, along with other substances, in sacrificial ceremonies. The word was also used to include other bodies besides sodium chloride or common salt, and is still used in chemistry in this generic sense. With some alchemists we find arsenic taking the place of salt in the fundamental triad, and this would be one of the salts of arsenic.

The Roman Catholic ritual of the exorcism of salt, promulgated in 1851 and 1852 under the sanction of Cardinal Engelbert, Archbishop of Malines, and of the Archbishop of Paris, runs: “The Priest blesses the salt and says: ‘Creature of Salt, I exorcise thee in the name of the living God . . . become the health of the soul and of the body. Everywhere where thou art thrown may the unclean spirit be put to flight’ ” (IU 2:85). A Qabbalistic version is similar.

Salvation [from Latin salvatio from salvare to save] In Christianity, the saving of individual souls from supposed damnation, usually by faith in the Atonement. In theosophy, as concerns the individual, salvation is achieved by victory of his divine self over the illusions created by the contact of the intermediate nature with the lower planes. In this sense the serpent of Eden, Satan even, is man’s savior, as are Prometheus, Lucifer, etc. Mankind as a whole is saved by those manasaputras who descended into intellectually senseless mankind of the third root-race and who, by thus enlightening the minds of early humanity, became the elect custodians of the mysteries revealed to mankind by its divine teachers. Again, the Silent Watchers in their various grades, who refuse to pass on into a greater light and maintain their post for the protection and guidance of humanity, are saviors also. Yet no one can be saved by the vicarious merit of another; his salvation is achieved by means of that very free will and enlightened intelligence of his own through which he at first risks falling. But the great ones maintain the ideal which the multitude elect to follow, and thus light the path mankind will ultimately tread.

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BCW - H. P. Blavatsky: Collected Writings

BG - Bhagavad-Gita

BP - Bhagavata Purana

cf - confer

ChU - Chandogya Upanishad

Dial, Dialogues - The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, ed. A. L. Conger

Echoes - Echoes of the Orient, by William Q. Judge (comp. Dara Eklund)

ET - The Esoteric Tradition, by G. de Purucker

FSO - Fountain-Source of Occultism, by G. de Purucker

Fund - Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, by G. de Purucker

IU - Isis Unveiled, by H. P. Blavatsky

MB - Mahabharata

MIE - Man in Evolution, by G. de Purucker

ML - The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, ed. A. Trevor Barker

MU - Mundaka Upanishad

M-Wms Dict - Sanskrit-English Dictionary, by Monier Williams

N on BG - Notes on the Bhagavad Gita, by T. Subba Row

OG - Occult Glossary, by G. de Purucker

Rev - Revelations

RV - Rig Veda

SBE - Sacred Books of the East, ed. Max Müller

SD - The Secret Doctrine, by H. P. Blavatsky

SOPh - Studies in Occult Philosophy, by G. de Purucker

TBL - Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge (Secret Doctrine Commentary), by H. P. Blavatsky

TG - Theosophical Glossary, by H. P. Blavatsky

Theos - The Theosophist (magazine)

VP - Vishnu Purana

VS - The Voice of the Silence, by H. P. Blavatsky

WG - Working Glossary, by William Q. Judge

ZA - Zend-Avesta

Theosophical University Press Online Edition