Occult Terminology – Non-Fiction


Feature Writer: Craig Hawkins

Feature Title: Occult Terminology / Written by a Christian researcher

Link: The Modern World of Witchcraft / http://www.patholliday.com / no longer working


Occult Terminology

ALL-SEEING EYE — A universal symbol representing spiritual sight, inner vision, higher knowledge, insight into occult mysteries. Eye in top triangle of the pyramid Masonic symbol for the all-seeing eye of god.

ALCHEMY — This simple seventeenth century sign illustrates the blending of geometric shapes (circle, triangle, square) representing the various “elements” needed for spells and magic.

AMULET — A magic charm, worn to bring good luck and protection against illness, accidents and evil forces.

ANKH — An Egyptian cross symbolizing a mythical eternal life, rebirth, and the life-giving power of the sun.

ANGEL — Symbol of good and evil spirits in religions around the world.

ARROW — Through history, the arrow has symbolized war, power, swiftness, the rays of the sun, knowledge — as well as deities such as the Greek god Apollo and goddess Artemis (both hunters), the Hindu weather god, Rudra; and various gods of sexual attraction: Eros (Greek), Cupid (Roman), Kama (Hindu) — On ancient Roman coins, it represented the Zoroastrian god, Mithra. The native American Cheyenne warriors revered the “sacred medicine arrows” as symbols of male power. Arrows held by skeletons would point to disease or death. Today, they usually just point in the preferred direction.

CRYSTAL BALL — Used for divination (fortunetelling, scrying, clairvoyance…). When the heavy crystal balls were too expensive, witches often used glass-ball fishing floats, colored glass balls, or magic mirrors.

BAT — A symbol of good fortune in the East, it represented demons and spirits in medieval Europe.

BLAIR WITCH — A five-pointed compound symbol with a center triangle (see below) pointing down. The five lines resemble the microcosmic man with arms and legs outstretched inside a circle (with a pentagram in the background)– a magic symbol or charm among medieval alchemists and wizards.

BUTTERFLY — To many pagans, its mythical meaning is linked to the soul (of the deceased) in search of reincarnation. For more on reincarnation and the afterlife, visit Lites of Heaven.

CIRCLE — (sacred hoop, ring) — An ancient and universal symbol of unity, wholeness, infinity, the goddess, and female power. To earth-centered religions throughout history, as well as too many contemporary pagans, it represents the feminine spirit or force, the cosmos or a spiritualized Mother Earth, and a sacred space. Gnostic traditions linked the unbroken circle to the “world serpent” forming a circle as it eats its own tail.

CIRCLE — (with a Dot / BIindu in the center) — In the complex symbolic system of Hinduism and Buddhism, the Bindu (dot) represents the male force. Together, the circle and the Bindu symbolize the merging of male and female forces. (See “Sun Sign” below and “Circle” above)

CIRCLE — (quartered) — The sacred circle filled with a cross, four equal lines pointing from the center to the spirits of the north, east, south, and west — or to the basic element: earth, water, air (or wind), and fire. In Native American traditions, it forms the basic pattern of the MEDICINE WHEEL and plays a vital part in major spiritual rituals. Many contemporary pagans consider it their main symbol for transmitting the energy of the goddess. Christian churches have used variations of the same popular shape, usually calling it the Celtic Cross.

COMPASS — (Masonic) — The Masonic symbol of the compass and the T-square represents movement toward perfection and a balance between the spiritual and physical which resembles Egyptian and oriental mysticism. The compass (used to form circles) represents spirit. The ruler (part of a square) represents the physical.

COW — It symbolized the sky goddess Hathor to Egyptians, enlightenment to Buddhists, one of the highest and holiest stages of transmigration (reincarnation) to Hindus.

CRESCENT MOON — A symbol of the aging goddess (crone) to contemporary witches and victory over death to many Muslims. In Islamic lands, crescent can be seen enclosing a lone pentagram.

CROSS — Christians believe that Jesus accepted crucifixion on a cross for the benefit of us all. This has not always been the case however. Christians didn’t use the cross as their religious symbol for many generations after Christ was crucified. Rather than being a Christian symbol it had associations with executioners. Initially, Christians adopted the fish symbol to identify their religion. Then, early in the fourth century, when execution by crucifixion was abolished by Emperor Constantine and Christianity became the state religion of Rome, the cross became the emblem for Christians. The cross is used extensively in black magic and in many religions. The Cross has been used to torture, to threaten whole civilizations, yet used as jewelry and sometimes worshiped. It has associations with an illegal psychedelic 1960s drug, SARS, BSE and bird flu, hatred and despair, love, valor and heroism, World War I, World War II, the Crusades, mythology, Satan, and salvation.

CROSS — (IRON or EISERNAS KREUZ) — Also called Mantuan or Maltese cross. First linked to an ancient goddess temple on Malta, it was adopted as the Iron Cross in Prussia. During the First World War, it appeared on German fighter planes and tanks. Later, it became a fascist symbol in France, Portugal and other nations.

DOUBLE-HEADED EAGLE — A Masonic seal and initiation symbol. The number inside the pyramid over the eagle’s head is 33. The eagle is a universal symbol representing the sun, power, authority, victory, the sky gods and the royal head of a nation.

DRAGON — A mythical monster made up of many animals: serpent, lizard, bird, lion… It may have many heads and breathe fire. To medieval Europe, it was dangerous and evil, but people in Eastern Asia believe it has power to help them against more hostile spiritual forces.

DREAMCATCHER — An American Indian magic spider web inside a sacred circle. After making dream catchers in crafts lessons in school, many children hang them on or near their beds as it is believed that dream catchers will block bad dreams but allow good dreams to pass through the center.

ELEMENTS — The four basic elements too many pagans are earth, water, air (wind or spirit) and fire. Many consider the first two passive and feminine – and the last two active and masculine. In Wiccan or Native American rituals, the “quartered circle” (similar to the Medicine Wheel) represents a “sacred space” or the sacred earth. The four lines may represent the spirits of the four primary directions or the spirits of the earth, water, wind and fire.

EYE OF HORUS — It represents the eye of Egyptian sun-god Horus who lost an eye battling Set. Pagans use it as a charm to ward off evil.
FROG — A symbol of fertility to many cultures. The Romans linked it to Aphrodite, the Egyptian to the shape-shifting goddess Heket who would take the form of a frog. To the Chinese, it symbolized the moon — “the lunar, yin principle” bringing healing and prosperity. Since frogs need watery places, their image was often used in occult rain charms.

HEXAGRAM or SIX-POINTED STAR — When surrounded by a circle, it represents the “divine mind” to many occult groups throughout the centuries. Many still use it in occult rituals. But to Jewish people, it is their Star of David.

ITALIAN HORN — Also called the Cornu, Cornicello, Wiggly Horn, Unicorn horn, Lucifer’s horn, or Leprechaun staff. The ancient magical charm or amulet worn in Italy as protection against “evil eye” has also been linked to Celtic and Druid myths and beliefs. Other traditions link it to sexual power and good luck. It is often worn with a cross for double protection or luck. In pre-Christian Europe, animal horns pointed to the moon goddess and were considered sacred.

LIGHTNING BOLT — In ancient mythologies from many cultures (Norse, Roman, Greek, Native American, etc.) the lightning bolt would be hurled by male sky gods to punish, water, or fertilize the earth or its creatures. Navaho myths linked it to the Thunderbird, the symbol of salvation and divine gifts. On children’s toys, it represents supernatural power. Double bolts were used to symbolize Nazi power.

LIZARD — Its “sun-seeking habit symbolizes the soul’s search for awareness.” To the Romans, who believed it hibernated, the lizard meant death and resurrection.

MAGIC MIRROR — Used for “scrying” (foretelling the future, solve problems, answering questions, etc.). They are often decorated with “magic signs” during full moon rituals. Rosemary Ellen Guiley explains: “The ancient art of clairvoyance achieved by concentrating upon an object — usually one with a shiny surface — until visions appear — The term scrying comes from the English words descry which means ‘to make out dimly’ or ‘to reveal’.”

MANDALA — The Hindu term for “circle”. In Hindu and Buddhist meditations, it is used to raise consciousness. In meditation, the person fixes his or her mind on the center of the “sacred circle.” Geometric designs are common. The center of some mandalas show a triangle with a Bindu (dot) inside a circle. It represents the merging of male and female forces.

MASONS — (Freemasons) — The Masonic symbol of the compass and the T-square represents movement toward perfection and a balance between the spiritual and physical which resembles Egyptian and oriental mysticism. The compass (used to form circles) represents spirit. The ruler (part of a square) represents the physical.

MASK — Used by pagans around the world to represent animal powers, nature spirits, or ancestral spirits. In pagan rituals, the wearer may chant, dance and enter a trance in order to contact the spirit world and be possessed by the spirit represented by the mask.

MEDICINE SHIELD — A round shield decorated with personal symbols or pictures of the animal spirit(s) contacted on a Spirit Quest, as practiced by the American Indians. Its basic image is often the form of the “medicine wheel” or “quartered circle.”

OM — Sanskrit letters or symbol for the “sacred” Hindu sound om (ohm or aum) called “the mother of all mantras.” The four parts symbolize four stages of consciousness: Awake, sleeping, dreaming, and a trance or transcendental state.

PEACE SYMBOL — NERO’S CROSS — A broken, upside-down cross. To Roman emperor Nero, who hated and persecuted the early Christians, it meant destruction of Christianity. Revived in the sixties as a sign for peace, it now symbolizes a utopian hope for a new age of global peace and earth-centered unity.

PENTACLE or PENTAGRAM — A standard symbol for witches, Freemasons, and many other pagan or occult groups. To witches, it represent the four basic elements (wind, water, earth and fire) plus a pantheistic spiritual being such as Gaia or Mother Earth. The pentagram is also used for protection. to banish evil energy or to draw positive energy, depending on how it’s drawn.”

PENTAGRAM — (FIVE-POINTED STAR pointing down) — Used in occult rituals to direct forces or energies. Often represents Satanism, the horned god, or various expressions of contemporary occultism, especially when a goat-head is superimposed on the inverted pentagram.

PHILOSOPHER’S STONE — The symbol of the Alchemist’s quest for transformation and spiritual illumination, it was also the British title of the first Harry Potter book (the U.S. publisher changed it to Sorcerer’s Stone). The double-headed eagle in the center is also used as a Masonic seal.

PHOENIX — A universal symbol of the sun, rebirth, resurrection and immortality, this legendary red “fire bird” was believed to die in its self-made flames periodically (each hundred years, according to some sources) then rise again out of its own ashes (some say after three days). Linked to the worship of the fiery sun and sun gods such as Mexico’s Quetzalcoatl, it was named “a god of Phoenician” by the Phoenicians. To alchemists, it symbolized the destruction and creation of new forms of matter along the way to the ultimate goal: the philosopher’s stone.

SCARAB — Symbol of the rising sun, the Egyptian sun god Chepri (or Khepera), and protection from evil. To ancient Egyptians, the dung beetle rolled its dung balls like Chepri rolled the sun across the sky. The “sacred” symbol adorned popular seals, amulets and magic charms (worn as protection against evil spirits or to overcome barreness) first in Egypt, then in Phoenicia, Greece, and other Mediterranean lands. Medieval alchemists used its pattern in their magical diagrams.

SERPENT OR SNAKE — Most ancient earth-centered or pagan cultures worshiped the serpent. It represents rebirth (because of its molting), protection against evil, either male of female sexuality, rain and fertility, and is believed to act as a mediator between the physical and spiritual world. In the Bible it usually represents sin, temptation, destruction, and Satan. The circular image of the serpent biting its tail links the mythical significance of the serpent to that of the sacred “circle.”

SPIDER — Linked to treachery and death in many cultures, it was seen as a “trickster” in ancient Africa, a “spinner of fate” in ancient goddess cultures and in ancient Greek myths the Goddess Arachne was turned into a spider by her jealous rival Athena. Christian cultures have linked it both to an evil force that sucked blood from its victims and to good luck because of the cross on the back of some species. The Chinese have welcomed the spider descending on its thread as a bringer of joys from heaven.

SPHINX — The Sphinx was the ancient Egyptian and Babylonian guardian of sacred places. An idol with human head and a lion’s body. The Greek sphinx would devour travelers who failed to answer her riddle. According to A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (by Arthur Waite, xii) the Masonic sphinx “is the guardian of the Mysteries and is the Mysteries summarized in a symbol. Their secret is the answer to her question. The initiate must know it or lose the life of the Mysteries. If he can and does answer, the Sphinx dies for him, because in his respect the Mysteries have given up their meaning.”

SPIRAL — Linked to the “circle”. Ancient symbol of the goddess, the womb, fertility, feminine serpent force, continual change, and the evolution of the universe.

SQUARE — In contrast to the circle which often symbolizes the sacred and spiritual (including the sacred earth), the square represents the physical world. Like the quartered circle, it points pagans to the four compass directions: north, east, south and west. While the circle and “spiral” symbolize female sexuality in many earth-centered cultures, the square represents male qualities.

SUN FACE — The sun face is a symbol that has been central to most major spiritual systems throughout history. Since the sun god usually reigned over a pantheon of lesser gods. his symbol played a vital part in pagan worship (and in the rituals of occult secret societies) around the world. In Inca myths, the sun was worshiped as the divine ancestor of the nation.

SUN & MOON JOINED AS ONE— A universal pagan expression of the merging of opposites. Like the “Yin Yang” (below), the marriage of the male sun and the female moon represents unity in diversity, compromise instead of conflict, and conformity to a new consciousness where all is one. The Oni or two-horned devil, is a popular image in the Japanese tattoo artwork of today. They are probably the most common of the ghostly beings in Japanese cosmology and are typically depicted as rampaging, violent, and cruel. Almost always shown with horns, their faces can be quite varied, similar to noh masks, and are typically pink, red, or blue-grey. In general, the Oni is a fearsome supernatural creature. They have been described variously as guardians of Buddhist hell, demons who act as torturers there, pranksters, devourers of human victims,
hunters of sinners, and bringers of disease and epidemics.

SUN and SUN SIGN — The sun was worshiped as a personified, life-giving deity in Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and other major civilizations of history. The more common symbol is the familiar face in the center of the sun’s rays. A dot or point in the center of a circle symbolizes the blending of male and female forces. Hindus call the midpoint in a circle the Bindu – the spark of masculine life within the cosmic womb.

SUN WHEEL or RING CROSS — A universal symbol found on ancient slabs in Nordic countries, in pre-Columbian America and in Mediterranean countries. Like the swastika and other sun symbols, it represents power and supremacy. It serves as a logo for the Swedish national socialist party, Nordiska Rikspartiets, and for the French Jeune Nation.

SWASTIKA — Ancient occult symbol of the sun and the four winds or directions and their corresponding spirits. Revived by Hitler, today it represents racism and the “white supremacy” of Neo-Nazis. Like other occult symbols, it is often placed inside a “circle”. Centuries ago it was a “fire and sun symbol occurring initially in Asia and later among the Germanic tribes,” according to The Herder Symbol Dictionary. “The cross inscribed in a circle mediates between the square and the circle,” emphasizing the “joining of heaven and earth…and “the perfected human being.”

THEOSOPHY — To members of the Theosophical Society, as well as to countless non-members, the Theosophical Seal with its motto, “There is no Religion Higher than Truth”, is everywhere evidence of the Society’s existence. It is a distinguishing badge, representative of the character of the Theosophical Society. More than just a distinguishing mark, the Seal symbolizes the truths of the Ancient Wisdom which the Theosophical Movement was designed to promulgate in the modern world, and something of the mission and high destiny of the Society in the pure transmission of
those truths.

TOAD — Linked to witchcraft and other occult practices.

TONGUE — (protruding) — Linked to flame, fire, fertility, sexual power and spiritual power. In nations around the world, images of deities or masks with protruding tongues have indicated active and occupying spiritual forces, often a union of masculine and feminine spirits. Such images were vital to pagan rituals invoking spirits. The sexual/spiritual forces represented by gargoyles with protruding tongues which adorned Gothic cathedrals were believed to protect the buildings from other spiritual powers.

TOTEM — Carved, painted representation of power animals or animal-human ancestors. To American Indians in the Northwest, who believe that all of nature has spiritual life, the animals in their totems poles represent the spiritual powers of animal protectors or ancestors.

TRIANGLE — Associated with the number three. Pointing upwards, it symbolizes fire, male power and God. To Christians, it often represents the Trinity. Pointing down, it symbolizes water, female sexuality, goddess religions, and homosexuality.

UNICORN — To many New Agers, it means power, purification, healing, wisdom, self-knowledge, renewal and eternal life. Origin: In the 4th century BC, Greek historian Ctesias told about a wild animal with healing powers and a spiral horn on its forehead. Medieval myths suggested it could only be caught with help from a virgin who would befriend it.

UROBORUS — The “circular” serpent biting its own tail represents eternity and the cycles or “circle of life.” Medieval alchemists linked it to the cyclical processes in nature.
WHEEL — A universal symbol of cosmic unity, astrology, “the circle of life,” evolution, etc. The pagan sacred circle plus any number of radiating spokes or petals form the wheel – a Wheel of Life to Buddhists, a Medicine Wheel to Native Americans, and a Mandala to Hindus. It symbolizes unity, movement, the sun, the zodiac, reincarnation, and earth’s cycles of renewal. Pagans use it in astrology, magic, and many kinds of rituals.

WHEEL OF DHARMA — Buddhist wheel of life and reincarnation.
WISHBONE — Civilizations dating back to the 4th Century (Etruscans, Rome, Britain, America) have held turkey or chicken wishbone contests. Pulling the dry turkey or chicken bone until it snapped (“lucky break”), they believing the winner’s wish or dream would come true. Today, many believe that this symbol will “catch” their dreams, bring good luck, and make their wishes come true. As in contemporary witchcraft or magic, the object becomes a channel of “good” energy. Astrology and horoscopes link it to Sagittarius. It might also be confused with the Lambda (looks like a lower case, upside-down “y”), the Greek letter adopted by the International Gay Rights Congress in 1974 as the global symbol of homosexual “pride”.

WORLD TRIAD — Originally an oriental symbol, it was “adopted by western Gnostics as an emblem of cosmic creativity, the threefold nature of reality or fate, and the eternally spiraling cycles of time. In Japan it was maga-tama or mitsu tomoe, the world soul. In Bhutan and Tibet, it is still known as the Cosmic Mandal, a sign of the Trimurti.” This is also the symbol for U.S. Department of Transportation.

YIN YANG — A Chinese Tao picture of universal harmony and the unity between all opposites: light/dark, male/female, etc. Yin is the dark, passive, negative female principle. Yang is the light, active, positive principle Syncretism A world view. The combination of different forms of belief and/or practice. See also eclecticism, and cafeteria religion. The combining or merging and synthesizing of religions or religious beliefs, practices, and
philosophies. This results in new or hybrid religions that are composed of diverse elements of the religions from which they were derived.

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