Si Valetis, Valeo
Whether you study with us, or someone else, you will need to know certain words and terms which make up the language of magicians, alchemists, Gnostics, and students of The Western Mystery Tradition.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and we will be adding to it as time allows. In other words, it will be a “living document,” in as much as a document can live digitally.
Enjoy your DEFG’s.
DALMATIC: (Ecclesiastic) A wide-sleeved garment worn by Deacons over the alb during the celebration of Mass.
DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL: (Psychology) A condition marked by depression, lack of energy mental and physical. Not pathological. The energy which is not available to the conscious is re-routed and used in other areas of the mind; usually the imaginative functions of the brain. Often encountered during magical work, the Dark Night of The Soul often signals a new beginning. It is a decent into Hades, the underworld. It is an immersion in the unconscious. The experiences of Osiris, Christ, Dante, etc., are examples describing this condition. This condition is normal, and even desirable, since it often leads the individual to a break in neurosis. (See REBIRTH)
DEDUCTIVE ARGUMENT: (Logic) An argument in which it is thought that the premises provide a guarantee of the truth of the conclusion. In this type of argument, the premises are intended to provide such strong support for the conclusion that, if the premises were true, it would be impossible for the conclusion to be false. For example:
All philosophers are wise. – Premise
Socrates is a philosopher. – Premise
Therefore: Socrates is wise. – Conclusion
DEMON: (Magick, religion, mythology) Demons is the plural form. This word has its roots in two different languages. Originally from the Greek, daemon simply meant “spirit” which could have included good, evil or indifferent forms including angels. In recent memory the profane use of the word is to indicate an evil or unruly spirit.
DEMIURGE: (Gnostic) The creator of the material world, or architect. Seen by the Gnostics in a negative manner because of the belief that the material world distracts us from the work of the Spirit.
DEONTOLOGY: (Logic) The basis of duty as morality. The doctrine that there are acts whose rightness or wrongness is not wholly dependent on the goodness or badness of their consequences. The phrase “no matter what the consequences” or “my country, right or wrong” are signs of a deontological view. The opposite of Deontology is CONSEQUENTIALISM.
DESCRIPTIVE MEANING: (Philosophy) A statements or declaration whose meaning is shown in terms of reporting or describing actual or possible facts have descriptive meaning. Compare to EMOTIVE MEANING.
DESERT RELIGIONS: (General religious usage) Typically Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism.
DETERMINISM: (Logic – Philosophy) The philosophy that anything that occurs (including human acts) is caused by something else. Physical Determinism maintains that the something else is a physical entity or event, while Psychological Determinism maintains that the cause of a human act (at least in terms of the immediate cause) is a psychological or mental entity or event (e.g. a need, a decision).
(N.B. it is wrong to define determinism as the view that we have no freedom, because whether determinism implies that we have no freedom is a key philosophical issue. Hard Determinism states determinism does imply that, whereas Soft Determinism or Compatibilism say it doesn’t.)
DIAGNOSTIC: (From the author’s personal lexicon) A person who does not believe in two gods.
DIANA: The Greek goddess of hunting and childbirth, traditionally identified with the Greek Artemis. In Qabalah, associated with Yesod and the planet Luna. In alchemy, Diana represents the Moon and Lunar consciousness.
DIGESTION: (Alchemy) A kind of Putrefaction in which nutrients or essences are reabsorbed.
DISSOLUTION: (Alchemy) The Second Operation in alchemical work, Dissolution is represented by the constellation Cancer. The process of dissolving a solid in a liquid.
DISTILLATION: (Alchemy) The process of purifying a liquid by boiling it and condensing its vapors. Known as the Sixth Operation of Alchemy, Distillation is indicated by the symbol for Virgo. Distillation is symbolic of physical, mental, or spiritual concentration.
DIVINATION: (Magick, mysticism) The ability notion that a random set of circumstances (such as the position of the stars) can reveal the hidden properties or workings of any given event and its likely outcome. Some forms of divination are Tarot, I Ching, Geomancy, and Astrology
DEW: (Alchemy) A symbol of incarnation or manifestation from Above. In alchemy, Dew is believed to contain the divine Salt that could transform the Sulfur and Mercury of the First Matter. Dew represents the Elixir or contents of the cup of God, the Holy Grail.
DOCETISM: (Gnostic) Like most Gnostic concepts, this has its roots in a Greek word whose root is “image.” Docetism is a belief which subscribes to the idea that the way to salvation is not through the belief in the historical Christ, but in the Gnosis caused by the scripture which explains his account.
DOVE: (Alchemy) In alchemy, a symbol of renewed spirit or infusion of energy from Above. It signifies the change from the Black Stage to the White Phase of transformation.
DHYANA YOGA: (Yoga) Gives mastery over thought and leads to the control of the powers of the thought-processes.
DOGS: (Alchemy) In alchemy dogs can indicate primitive matter, natural sulfur, or gold. Purifying gold with antimony is illustrated as a dog being devoured by a wolf.
DRAGONS: (Alchemy) Mythical creatures which are symbols of elemental Fire. In Alchemy, a dragon in flames is a symbol of Calcination. Several dragons fighting are symbolic of Putrefaction. Flying dragons represent the volatile principle, while wingless dragons correspond to the fixed principle. A dragon biting its own tale is synonymous with Ouroboros and implies a fundamental unity of all things. (See SALAMANDER and OUROBOROS)
EAGLE: (Alchemy) The Eagle represents the element of Air and alchemical Volatilization. When an eagle is shown devouring a lion this indicates volatilization of a fixed component by a volatile component.
EARTH: (Alchemy) One of the Four Elements of alchemy which represents the archetypal properties of manifestation, birth, and material existence. It is associated with the operation of Conjunction and is represented by the green ore of copper.
EGG: (Alchemy) The egg represents the hermetically sealed vessel of creation. In alchemy, corked retorts, coffins, and sepulchers represent the same principles.
EGOISM: (Philosophy) the ethical theory that treats self-interest as the foundation of morality. The questions posed by philosophers of Egoism is whether it is possible for a person to act purely for one’s self, others, or some deity? Conversely, can a person exclusively act only according to self-interests without regard for others? Egoism is one of the most important studies to students of philosophy and religion. In particular students of Thelema, since at the foundation of these questions stands the foundation of free will. See ETHICAL EGOISM and PSYCHOLOGICAL EGOISM.
ELIXIR: (Alchemy) In alchemy and magick, a liquid version of the Philosopher’s Stone possessing the same ability to perfect any substance. When applied to the human body, the Elixir is said to cure diseases and restore youth.
ELOHIM: (Qabalah) Hebrew One of the many names of God from the Bible, corresponding to Binah and Geburah. A pluralized form of God used in Genesis.
ELYONIM: (Qabalah) Hebrew “Those who dwell above.” A reference to the Angels and Archangels that exist in the three higher worlds in the Tree of Life. A reference to the Elyonim is made in Genesis 1:26 in the form of “fish” and the “fowl” that swim in the Waters of Yetzirah and fly in the Air of Briah.
EMOTIVE MEANING: (Philosophy) Words have Emotive Meaning when their significance is shown in terms of the expression of feelings or attitudes (rather than opinions) in the hearer and/or the emotional responses or attitudes in the person addressed. A statement can have Emotive Meaning while being false. Compare to DESCRIPTIVE MEANING.
EMOTIVISM: (Philosophy) The emotive theory of moral judgments maintains that moral statements (good & evil) are to be understood wholly or primarily in terms of EMOTIVE MEANING.
EMPIRICAL: (Logic) And opinion verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic. See A POSTERIORI.
EMPIRICISM: (Logic) The doctrine that knowledge comes from experience.
ENOCHIAN MAGICK: (Magick) A distinct magical system pioneered by Dr John Dee and Sir Edward Kelley in England during the 16th century. Dee and Kelley claimed to have received the system from by angels who had been in contact with Enoch himself, hence the name Enochian. This system is reportedly much more powerful than most traditional forms of ceremonial magick and there are no shortage of stories warning the user from jumping in without preparation. Enochian magick is an important part of the Golden Dawn’s work.
EPICUREAN: Some one that is devoted to pleasure and concerned with receiving pleasure through the senses; a hedonist. A person who has refined their rapture and enjoys fine food and drink.
EPISTEMOLOGY: (Logic) A branch of philosophy that involves the study of knowledge.
EQUIVOCATION: (Logic) A type of FALLACY where an ambiguity arises because a term or phrase has been used in two different senses within the one argument. For example: “The college has a special scholarship designed to meet the needs of poor students. My teacher says that I am one of the poorest students he had ever had so I think that I should receive a scholarship.”
EROTURGY: (Hermetic) The practice and study of Sex Magick.
ETHICAL EGOISM: (Philosophy) The doctrine that acts are right only insofar as they are advance the agents own interests. Ethical Egoism is a form of Consequentialism. It differs from Psychological Egotism, which concerns itself with things that motivate the agent into action, whereas Ethical Egoism is a doctrine about what it is right to do.
ETHICAL HEDONISM: (Philosophy) The doctrine that acts are right only insofar as they advance pleasure or happiness. Compare to UTILITARIANISM.
ETHICS: (Philosophy) The sphere of philosophy that deals with moral issues. Key questions in ethics include: What is the right or wrong thing to do? What is more important: The intentions behind action or the actual outcome? Are there any ethical rules that can be applied universally?
EVOCATION: (Magick, Religion) Literally, “calling out,” Evocation is the application of magick to cause the physical or astral appearance of a Spirit to appear. See INVOCATION.
EXPEDIENT: (Philosophy) Something useful or convenient serving to promote one’s interest based on a concern for self-interest rather than principle. Expedient arguments are often countered with what morality or justice demands, but sometimes uses expediency to refer to Utilitarianism. (See Chapter 2 of Mill’s Utilitarianism – Hackett Publishing, 2001)
FACTUAL: (Philosophy) Relating or restricted to facts. A factual proposition or claim means the statement is true or false based on Empirical evidence. For example: “The earth is round” is a factual statement.
FALLACY: (Logic) A logical error. A fallacious argument is not a valid argument. An example would be something like “God never fails anyone.”
FALSIFIABILITY: (Logic) A claim or theory is falsifiable if (and only if) there is some possible empirical observation which could show that it is false.
FILTRATION: (Alchemy) A process of separation, in which some material is passed through a sieve or screen designed to allow only pieces of a certain size to pass through. In alchemy, the procedure is illustrated by the sign of Sagittarius.
FIRST PERSON AUTHORITY: (Logic) A classic example of a First-Person Authority is the claim that one is in pain. This cannot be falsely believed.
FERMENTATION: (Alchemy) A procedure in which an agent causes an organic substance to break down into simpler substances, as in the conversion of sugar into alcohol. Also, the Fifth Operation in alchemy, illustrated by the sign of Capricorn.
FIDEISM: (Philosophy) The belief that faith alone (rather than scientific reasoning or philosophy) can be used in questions of religion.
FISH: (Alchemy) Symbolic for elemental Water.
FIRE: (Alchemy) One of the Four Elements which represents activity and transformation.
FIXATION: (Alchemy) The process of stabilizing an incarnating a substance. The sign Gemini represents the process.
FLAMING SWORD: (Qabalah) The path of descent from Kether to Malkuth. Also called The Lightning Bolt due to its jagged pattern. It represents descent from nothingness into matter. Some texts signify that the Flaming Sword protect the entrance to the Garden of Eden.
FORMULA: a fixed rule by which one can arrive at a predictable result.
FOUNDATIONALISM: (Philosophy) An epistemological view which maintains that there are two kinds of knowledge or beliefs: basic beliefs which are obvious or self-justifying and non-basic beliefs which are justified by those basic beliefs. The basic beliefs explain why the justification of knowledge does not involve an Infinite Regress.
FOUNTAIN: (Alchemy) The fountain is a symbol of the Ouroboros. Whenever three fountains are found they represent the three alchemical gunas: Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt. When a King and Queen are illustrated sitting in a fountain this indicate a bath or Dissolution and Distillation.
FREEMASONRY: A Fraternal Order founded on the belief that some architecture (the architecture of a church) is an image of the structural design of the Soul and man’s relationship with God. Despite its long history for providing charity, this once powerful organization has been the unfortunate recipient of much undeserved criticism on the grounds that it advances members by way of preferential treatment in business and politics. The number of Masons in Congress has dropped off dramatically as a result and is apparent by the lack of ethical conduct in many political offices. Due to the secret nature of their work there have been many ridiculous allegations about its goings on, such as the assassination of President John Kennedy, who is said to have been targeted by the Order for not having been a Mason. Freemasonry appears to be the one thing in common that most founders of occult organizations seem to share, and its influence can be seen in the degree structure and initiations of these groups.
GEMATRIA: (Qabalah) A numerical system whereby words with the same numerical value are interchangeable without losing the essence of the sentence in which they are used, often revealing hidden mysteries. Words containing the same values are held to possess some relation to one another. (See Qabalah and Tree of Life)
GEOMANCY: (Magick, divination) Literally “earth divination.” The method of divination that involves using a series of random marks on a tray of consecrated Earth to generate sixteen characters, each of which will be one of sixteen different combinations.
GNOME: (Alchemy) Legendary being resembling a tiny man. They are believed to know the location of treasures hidden in the earth. Also believed to be the rulers of inner earth.
GNOSIS: (Gnostic) From the Greek knowledge, meaning a Divine knowledge which can be gained by uniting Wisdom and Understanding. The word is a reference for a number of religious sects that existed around the time of Christ. They believed in two deities: one who is responsible for the creation of the Spirit world commonly referred to as “the Logos,” and the other who created the world of Matter called “the Demiurge.” Gnosticism underlines a return to the Spirit world via the development of mystical knowledge, which leads to salvation. Today, Gnosis has become somewhat fashionable, and seems everyone wants a piece of it, but not badly enough to attain it or at least use the word correctly. Consequently, Gnosis has been interpreted in a lot of really silly ways and is used in some ridiculously incorrect ways as a mundane “knowing” (i.e. financial gnosis, or real estate gnosis, as in the some Thelemic prosperity gospels etc.) by those want to try to make everything they do “magical,” or the “state of magical readiness,” a definition applied by Chaos magicians. Crowley himself uses the term to describe the knowledge of his “The Supreme Secret.”
GNOSTALGIA: (From the author’s personal lexicon) The act of reminiscing the days one had Gnosis.
GEBER: (Alchemist) The Latin name for the father or Islamic and European alchemy, Jabir ibn Hayyan (721 -??? A.D.). He lived in what is now known as Iran and spread the doctrines of the Four Elements and the Mercury-Sulfur theory of the generation of the metals. The date of his death is also unknown, although some scholars suggest it may have been in 815. He was the son of a druggist and a Sufi who may have had some allegiance with the infamous Assassins or Hashim, who fed on hashish and committed political assassination. He wrote that the base of all metals were Mercury and Sulfur, and by breaking down worthless metals, (such as Lead) to these components Gold could be made by recombining these elements in the right proportions. This could all be accomplished by via a substance he called “Elixir,” which could not change Gold into another metal, but by adding it to Gold one could produce a liquid or substance believed to confer (among other things) immortality. It seemed perfectly logical to assume that a substance so miraculous could also have other medicinal properties, such as restoring youth, prolonging life, or curing all disease. Hence, he popularized the idea of the Philosopher’s Stone or the Elixir of Life which would obsess the minds of alchemists and magicians for hundreds of years. His offerings to science were his discovery of ammonium chloride and illustrated how to process white lead. He pioneered the use of weak acids, such as vinegar and nitric acid; and made many advances in metal refining. Perhaps his most important contribution is the care he took in recording his chemical experiments.
GEMINI: (Astrology) The third sign of the zodiac; the sun is in this sign from about May 21 to June 20. Also known as “The Twins.”
GOLD: (Alchemy) The most perfect of all the metals, gold represented the perfection of all matter on any level, including that of the mind, spirit, and soul. The Sun is often used to hint to gold.
GOLDEN DAWN: (Magical Order) Originally founded in England in 1887by S. L. Macgregor Mathers, Wynn Westcott and William Woodman, the Golden Dawn is the most influential magical Order of our time. When the Order broke up in 1903, many of the students tried to keep the tradition alive, working its Hermetic Qabalistic magick within their own Orders. In fact, the Golden Dawn has influenced just about every existing magical organization today and is widely known thanks to the work of Aleister Crowley, Israel Regardie, Dion Fortune and others.
GOETIA: (Magick) Greek literally meaning “Howling.” As a common term, Goetia indicates a so-called “low magic,” involving the evocation and manipulation of evil spirits. The idea is that these lesser demons can be forced into service of the magicians to help him achieve his goals. “The Goetia” is a section of a grimoire known as the “Lesser Key of Solomon” which was translated by Macgregor Mathers and later edited by Aleister Crowley. Allegedly, this work led to their falling out.
GOLEM: (Qabalah) Hebrew A legendary being of clay given life by magic.
GRIFFIN: (Alchemy) A mythological beast half-lion and half-eagle whose eggs symbolize the Conjunction of the fixed and volatile principles. The griffin egg is a reference to the Vessel of Hermes.
GUNAS: (Yoga) Sanskrit The Gunas are the three basic principles in Ayurvedic medicine that represent the process through which the subtle becomes gross. They are defined as consciousness or essence (sattva), activity (rajas), and inactivity (tamas). These principles also correspond with the alchemic principles of Mercury, Sulfur and Salt.