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A Druid Fellowship See Ár nDraíocht Féin<.

Aaronic Blessing See Birkat Kohanim.

Abraxas / Abrasax Abraxas, a variant of 'Abrasax', is a Gnostic solar deity associated by the ancients with Yahweh (a form of the Hebrew name of God used in the Bible, regarded as too sacred to be spoken), Mithras (a Persian/Greek god worshipped in the Roman Empire (mainly by by the Roman military) between the 1st and 4th centuries CE) and the Celtic Belenus, as well as Yeshu (Jesus).  It was a word of mystic meaning in the system of Basilides1.

The word 'Abraxas' is also found in Gnostic texts such as the Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit (informally called the Coptic Gospel of the Egyptians).  It also appears in the Greek Magical Papyri (the name given by scholars to a body of papyri from Graeco-Roman Egypt, each of which contains a number of magical spells).

The symbol was engraved on certain antique gemstones (known as 'Abraxas stones'), which were used as amulets or charms mainly in the 2nd century, but which were used as recently as the 13th century in the seals of the Knights Templar.

Opinions abound on Abraxas, who in recent centuries has been claimed to be both an Egyptian god and a demon.  Carl Jung (1875 - 1961) transcribed a short Gnostic treatise in 1916, attributed to Basilides, called The Seven Sermons to the Dead, which called Abraxas the supreme power of being transcending both God and the Devil who unites all opposites into one Being.  However, by mediaeval times, Abraxas appears to have been relegated to the ranks of demons.

The seven letters comprising the name 'Abraxas' may represent each of the seven classic planets.  Similarly, the word could be related to 'abracadabra', although other explanations exist.  See also IAO and Gnosticism.

1 Basilides was an early Gnostic religious teacher in Alexandria, Egypt who taught from 117 to 138 CE and who claimed to have inherited his teachings from the Apostle Saint Matthias.

Acorn The acorn, the seed or youth of the mighty oak tree, is considered to be a symbol of potential, health, strength and advancement through work.  It is also a Nordic and Celtic symbol of life, fertility, and immortality.

Adam Kadmon According to Kabbalah, before creation began, all that existed was 'God's' Infinite Light.  The first stage of creation began when 'God' (Ain-Soph/En-Sof) contracted Its infinite light to create a vacuum.  Then a ray of Divine Light penetrated that vacuum and the persona of Adam Kadmon was projected into it.

The first stage of Adam Kadmon was in the form of ten concentric circles (the Sephiroth/Sefiroth), which emanated from the ray.  The ray of light was then clothed by the anthropomorphic form of Adam Kadmon.

It is in Lurianic Kabbalism where the theory of the Ain-Soph's original emanation, resulting in the body of Adam Kadmon, is found.  In many respects he can therefore be considered not only as the first of the Partsufim (configurations), but as their father.

In some Kabbalists' opinions, he is the first 'God' who can be comprehended by man by virtue of the fact that man is made in his image.  Those Kabbalists are of the view that the first form shaped, etched or produced by the ray of light which emanated from Ain-Soph was not the Sephiroth, but the body of Adam Kadmon, from which the Sephiroth then flared out.

The Tetragrammaton symbolises the four-letter name of God -- Yod, Hé, Vau, Hé. 

Adar / Atar The Adar is the sacred Fire of the Zoroastrians symbolising purity, the essence of life, and the presence of God.  In the Zoroastrian creation story, fire is the final creation bringing life to all things that preceded it.  It is a similar concept to the Ruach ha Elohim2.  The sacred flame is presided over by Asha Vahista (Holiest Truth), one of the Amesha Spentas or 'bounteous immortals', divine beings similar to Archangels.  The fire is fed with offerings of sandalwood from worshippers.

A sacred fire is kept burning continuously in Zoroastrian temples (Zoroastrians must pray only in the presence of a fire).  The Adar is the origin of the idea of an 'eternal flame'.  The sacred flame in the temple at Yazd (Iran -- formerly Persia until 1935) has reputedly burned continuously for fifteen hundred years.

2 Elohim is a grammatically plural noun for 'God' or 'deity' in Biblical Hebrew.  In Modern Hebrew, it is often referred to in the singular despite the '-im' ending that denotes plural masculine nouns in Hebrew.

Adinkra See Adinkra Symbols.

Aegis Homer states in the Iliad, the aegis is carried by Athena and Zeus, although its nature is uncertain.  It was considered to be an animal skin or a shield, sometimes bearing the head of a Gorgon.  The aegis of Athena is referred to in several places in the Iliad:

"It produced a sound as from a myriad of roaring dragons (Iliad, 4.17) and was borne by Athena in battle ... and among them went bright-eyed Athene, holding the precious aegis which is ageless and immortal: a hundred tassels of pure gold hang fluttering from it, tight-woven each of them, and each the worth of a hundred oxen."

See also Gorgon.

Aegishjalmur See Helm of Awe.

Aemeth / Ameth See Sigillum Dei Aemeth.

Aether Aether or ether is defined as 'a highly flammable pleasant-smelling colourless volatile liquid'.  It is used as an anaesthetic and as a solvent or intermediate in industrial processes.  According to mediaeval science, aether, also called quintessence or upper air, is the material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere.  The concept of aether was used in several theories to explain natural phenomena such as the travelling of light, and gravity.

Aether was the fifth element in Alchemical chemistry and early physics.  The belief in aether as an element was held by mediaeval alchemists, Greeks, Buddhists, Hindus, the Japanese, and the Tibetan Bon although ancient Babylonians believed the fifth element to be sky.  However, in the Chinese Wu-Xing the fifth element was 'metal' rather than aether.

In the late 19th century CE, physicists postulated that aether permeated all space, providing a medium through which light could travel in a vacuum.  However, evidence for the presence of such a medium was not found in the Michelson-Morley3 experiment, and this result has been interpreted as meaning that no such luminiferous aether exists, and therefore light was self-propagating.

3 A scientific experiment to find the presence and properties of a substance called aether, a substance believed to fill empty space.  The experiment was carried out by Albert A. Michelson and Edward Morley in 1887.

Aetherius Society The Aetherius Society is a religious movement founded by George King (1919 - 1997) in the mid-1950s CE as the result of what King claimed were contacts with extra-terrestrial intelligences, whom he referred to as ‘Cosmic Masters’.  The main goal of the believer is to contact these Cosmic Masters who may help humanity solve its current Earthly problems and later allow them a place in the world to come.

It is a syncretic religion based primarily on Theoophical Society but also incorporating New Age and UFO religion aspects.  Members meet in congregations similar to a church.  The religion emphasises altruism, community service, nature worship, spiritual healing, and physical exercise, and can be considered to have relatively conventional ideas since its members come from mainstream society.  Membership, although international in composition, is not very large.  David V. Barrett (born 1952), a British sociologist of religion, suggested in 2011 that worldwide membership was now into the thousands, with the largest number of those members being in the United Kingdom, United States (particularly Southern California), and New Zealand.

John A. Saliba (born 1937), a Maltese-born Jesuit priest, professor of religious studies at the University of Detroit Mercy and noted writer and researcher in the field of new religious movements, states that unlike many other New Age or UFO religions, the Aetherius Society is largely considered uncontroversial, although its esoteric and millenarian aspects are sometimes ridiculed.

Agaou See Veves.

Agassou See Veves.

AGLA This protective magical talisman, inscribed 'AGLA', was designed for the reverse of the Sigillum Dei Aemeth by Dr John Dee (1527 - 1608/1609 CE), 'under the direction of the angel Uriel'.  It is a common form of an amulet which had already been in use for several hundred years.

AGLA is a notarikon of the biblical phrase 'Ateh Gibor Le-olam Adonai', 'The Lord is mighty forever'.  AGLA was considered a name of god by magicians in the middle ages and appeared in magical formulae for everything from protection to flying.  In its short form, AGLA is used in a number of apotropaic Circle-making formulae.  The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn used it as the 'god Name' of the North Quarter in the 'Lesser Banishing Ritual', representing Earth, and in the Greater Ritual of the Pentagram to represent the passive elements of Water and Earth.

Agwé See Veves.

Ailm Ailm is the Irish name of the twentieth letter of the Ogham alphabet, and is the Celtic symbol of purity.  A primeval form of communication in the Celtic culture, the Ogham is a realm of trees that were believed to lend knowledge and wisdom to the seeker.  Ailm symbolises pure energy, integrity, objectivity, clarity, strength and good health.

Its symbol represents the branches of the fir tree which is one of the 9 sacred pieces of wood used for sabbat fire.  This evergreen tree that grows tall and straight and survives through challenging conditions is representative of strength, resilience, endurance, longevity, friendship, honesty, truth and perceptiveness.

The circle in the Ailm symbol is a Celtic sign denoting the wholeness, intactness, and purity of the soul.

Air The element of Air is associated with the astrological signs Gemini, Libra and Aquarius.  Air is a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen and small amounts of other gases which surround the Earth and form its atmosphere, and is one of the four classical elements in ancient Greek philosophy and Western Alchemy.  It is also one of the five elements which appear in most Wiccan and Pagan traditions.  According to Plato, it is associated with the octahedron4.

Air is spiritual life, freedom, purity and the primal element in most cosmogonies.  It shares much of the symbolism of breath and wind, both of which are somewhat easier for artists to depict.  Air is equated with the soul by Stoic philosophers (followers of Zeno of Elea (c. 490 - 430 BCE), a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of Magna Graecia and a member of the Eleatic School founded by Parmenides.

The ancient Greeks used two words for air: 'aer' meant the dim lower atmosphere, and Aether meant the bright upper atmosphere above the clouds.  Plato, for instance, wrote, "So it is with air: there is the brightest variety which we call aether, the muddiest which we call mist and darkness, and other kinds for which we have no name...."

Among the early Greek pre-Socratic philosophers, Aristotle (384 - 322 BCE) named air as the arche and defined it as 'the element or principle of a thing, which although indemonstrable and intangible in itself, provides the conditions of the possibility of that thing'.  A similar belief was attributed by some ancient sources to Diogenes Apolloniates (late 5th century BCE), who also linked air with intelligence and the soul (psyche), but other sources claim that his arche was a substance between air and Fire.  Aristophanes parodied such teachings in his play The Clouds by putting a prayer to air in the mouth of Socrates.  See also Sylphs.

4 The Octahedron represents the element of Air and is linked to the Heart Chakra, which is the centre for love and compassion.

Ajna (Third Eye) Chakra The Ajna (or third-eye) Chakra, is the 6th primary chakra in the body according to Hindu tradition.  It is a part of the brain which can be made more powerful through meditation, yoga and other spiritual practices just as a muscle is.  It signifies the subconscious mind, the direct link to the Brahman.  While a person's two eyes see the physical world, the third eye is believed to reveal insights about the future.  The Third Eye Chakra connects people to their intuition, gives them the ability to communicate with the world, and helps them to receive messages from the past and the future.

Ajna Chakra's kshetram, or superficial location, is between the eyebrows at the bridge of the nose.  The pineal gland deep inside the brain is also associated with Ajna, as both are considered a 'third eye'.  The location makes it a sacred spot where Hindus apply a vermilion Bindi to show reverence.  See also Chakra.

Akhet This symbol represents the horizon from which the Sun emerged and disappeared daily, thus the horizon embodied the idea of sunrise and sunset.  It is similar to the two peaks of the Djew or mountain symbol with a solar disk in the centre.  Both the beginning and end of each day were guarded by Aker, a double lion god.

In the New Kingdom, Harmakhis (Horus in the Horizon) became the god of the rising and setting sun.  He was pictured as a falcon, or as a sphinx with the body of a lion.  The Great Sphinx of Giza is an example of 'Horus in the Horizon'.

Akua' Ba Akua' Ba are wooden ritual fertility dolls which originated in Ghana and the surrounding regions, of which the best known are those of the Ashanti people (an ethnic group from the Ashanti Region in Ghana), whose Akua' Ba have large, disc-like heads.  Other tribes in the region have their own distinctive style of Akua' Ba.

Traditionally, these dolls are carried on the backs of women either hoping to conceive a child, or to ensure the attractiveness of the one being carried.  When not in active use, the Akua' Ba would be ritually washed and cared for, just as one would a real child.

These days, travellers are more likely to see a mass-produced Akua' Ba for sale as a souvenir rather than as an heirloom in ritual use.  Traditional use does, however, continue in some areas.  The form of the Akua' Ba has also gained value as a general symbol of good luck.

Alchemy Alchemy is a philosophical and proto-scientific tradition practiced throughout Europe, Africa and Asia, which aimed to purify, mature, and perfect certain objects.  Common aims were chrysopoeia, the transmutation of 'base metals' (e.g. lead) into 'noble metals' (particularly gold); the creation of an elixir of immortality; the creation of panaceas able to cure any disease; and the development of an alkahest, a universal solvent.  The perfection of the human body and soul was thought to permit or result from the alchemical magnum opus and, in the Hellenistic and western tradition, the achievement of gnosis.  In Europe, the creation of a Philosopher's Stone was variously connected with all of these projects.

In English, the term is often limited to descriptions of European alchemy, but similar practices existed in the Far East, the Indian subcontinent, and much of the Muslim world.  In Europe, following the 12th century CE Renaissance produced by the translation of Islamic works on science and the Recovery of Aristotle, alchemists played a significant role in early modern science, particularly chemistry and medicine.  Islamic and European alchemists developed a structure of basic laboratory techniques, theory, terminology, and experimental method, some of which are still in use today.  However, they continued antiquity's belief in four elements and guarded their work in secrecy including cyphers and cryptic symbolism.  Their work was guided by Hermetic principles related to magic, mythology, and religion.

For comprehensive details of Alchemical Symbols, see Part IV - Other Symbols.

Alexandrian Wicca Alexandrian Wicca or Alexandrian Witchcraft is a tradition of the Neopagan religion of Wicca, founded by Alex Sanders (also known as 'King of the Witches') who, with his wife Maxine Sanders, established the tradition in the United Kingdom in the 1960s CE.  Alexandrian Wicca is similar to and is based largely upon Gardnerian Wicca, in which Sanders was trained, and also contains elements of ceremonial magic and Kabbalah, which Sanders had studied independently.

Maxine Sanders recalls that the name was chosen when Stewart Farrar, a student of the Sanders', began to write What Witches Do.  "Stewart asked what Witches who were initiated via our Covens should be called; after much discussion, he came up with 'Alexandrian' which both Alex and I rather liked.  Before this time, we were very happy to be called Witches".  Conversely, the most recent edition of What Witches Do (2010) includes previously published interviews between Sanders and Farrar.

Alexandrian Wicca is practiced outside of Britain, including Canada, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, the United States, Australia, Brazil and South Africa.

All-seeing Eye The All-seeing Eye or 'Eye of Providence' is a symbol depicting an eye surrounded by rays of light, i.e. a 'glory', usually enclosed in a triangle, and commonly interpreted as representing the Eye of God keeping an eternal watch on his creation, mankind.  It is used in divination and magic to cast spells and curses.

It is a symbol of the Illuminati, and is also used as a Masonic symbol for the 'All-seeing Eye of God', basically a mystical distortion of the all-knowing, all-seeing Biblical God, and is believed to be the eye of Lucifer.  See also Eye of Horus / Ra and Udjat.

Anyone who claims control of it reputedly has control of world finances (a good analogy is the currency used in the United States of America (US) -- see the image to the right).

Having seen that picture, it probably makes you wonder how and why it came to be associated with the US dollar.  If so, to see so many more incredible 'facts' about the US dollar bill visit The Unbelievable US Dollar to be amazed!  You might have to reduce the size of the PDF.

Alpha & Omega Alpha (A) and omega (ω) are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and represent a title of Jesus Christ and God in the Book of Revelation.  This pair of letters is used as a Christian symbol and is often combined with the Chi Rho (see below left), or other Christian symbols such as the cross.

The term Alpha and Omega comes from the phrase "I am the Alpha and Omega", an appellation of Jesus in the Book of Revelation (verses 1:8, 21:6, and 22:13).  The first part of this phrase "I am the Alpha and Omega" is first found in Chapter 1 verse 8 and is subsequently found in every manuscript of Revelation that has a Chapter 1 verse 8.  Several later manuscripts repeat "I am the Alpha and Omega" in Chapter 1 verse 11 too, but do not receive support here from most of the oldest manuscripts.  It is, therefore, omitted in some modern translations.  Scholar Robert Young stated, with regard to "I am the Alpha and Omega" in Chapter 1 verse 11, the "oldest manuscripts omit it”.  The reason for the use of the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet is because the book of Revelation is in the New Testament, which was originally written in Greek.

This phrase is interpreted by many Christians to mean that Jesus has existed for all eternity or that God is eternal.  Though many commentators and dictionaries ascribe the title ‘the alpha and the omega’ to both God and to Christ, some secular sources argue otherwise.  Albert Barnes' (1798 - 1870) 'Notes on the New Testament (1974)' claims: "It cannot be absolutely certain that the writer meant to refer to the Lord Jesus specifically here ... There is no real incongruity in supposing, also, that the writer here meant to refer to God as such."  Most Christian denominations also teach that the title applies to both Jesus and his Father.

The other image shown above is a Monogram of Christ, Museo Pio Cristiano, Vatican, undated.  Notice the Alpha and Omega symbols as part of the Chi-Rho monogram.

Amber The gemstone Amber is symbolic of several things.  In Norse mythology it was thought that amber represented the goddess Freya's tears for her lost husband.  It is also symbolic of sunlight due to its colour.

Amber is thought to have medicinal properties, and in many countries Amber bracelets are worn by young children to ease teething pains.  It is a natural purifier, esteemed for its ability to draw pain and 'dis-ease' from the physical body, as well as the mind and spirit, by absorbing negative or stagnant energies and transforming them into clear, positive energy which stimulates the body's own mechanisms to heal itself.

Amenta In ancient Egyptian culture this symbol represented the 'Land of the Dead', i.e. the 'Underworld'.  The Amenta was originally used as the symbol of the horizon where the Sun set.  In time it was used to signify the west bank of the Nile and since this was where the Egyptians buried their dead it explains why it is believed Amenta generated into the symbol of the Underworld.

Amulet An amulet, also known as a good luck charm, is an object believed to confer protection upon its possessor.  The word "amulet" comes from the Latin word amuletum, which Pliny's Natural History describes as "an object that protects a person from trouble".  Anything can function as an amulet; items commonly so used include gems, statues, coins, drawings, plant parts, animal parts, and written words.

Amulets which are said to derive their extraordinary properties and powers from magic or those which impart luck are typically part of folk religion or paganism, whereas amulets or sacred objects of formalised mainstream religion as in Christianity are believed to have no power of their own without being blessed by a clergyman, and they supposedly will also not provide any preternatural benefit to the bearer who does not have an appropriate disposition.  Talismans and charms may differ from amulets by having alleged magical powers other than protection. Amulets are sometimes confused with pendants, small aesthetic objects that hang from necklaces.  Any given pendant may indeed be an amulet but so may any other object that purportedly protects its holder from danger.

Amun / Ammon Amun was a major ancient Egyptian deity who appeared as a member of the Hermopolitan Ogdoad.  He was attested from the Old Kingdom together with his wife Amunet.  With the 11th dynasty (c. 21st century BCE), Amun rose to the position of patron deity of Thebes.

Following the rebellion of Thebes against the Hyksos (traditionally, only the 15th Dynasty rulers are referred to thus) and with the rule of Ahmose I (16th century BCE), Amun acquired national importance, expressed in his fusion with the Sun god, Ra, as Amun-Ra or Amun-Ré.

Amun-Ra maintained his chief importance in the Egyptian pantheon throughout the New Kingdom, and during this period (16th to 11th centuries BCE) he held the position of transcendental, self-created 'creator deity par excellence'.  He was the champion of the poor or troubled and central to personal piety.  His position as King of Gods developed to the point of virtual monotheism where other gods became manifestations of him.  Along with Osiris, Amun-Ra is the most widely recorded of the Egyptian gods.

Amun-Ra / Amun-Ré See Amun.

Anaharta (Heart) Chakra The Anaharta Chakra, or Heart Chakra, is the fourth primary chakra, according to Hindu Yogic, Shakta and Buddhist Tantric traditions.  In Sanskrit, Anaharta means 'unhurt, unstruck, and unbeaten'.  Anaharta Nad refers to the Vedic concept of unstruck sound (the sound of the celestial realm).  Anaharta is associated with balance, calmness, and serenity.

The Heart Chakra is located in the central channel of the spine near the heart, with its kshetram.  Anaharta is represented by a Lotus flower with twelve petals.  Inside there is a smoky region at the intersection of two triangles, creating a shatkona (a symbol used in Hindu Yantra, representing the union of male and female).  Specifically, it is meant to represent Purusha (the Supreme Being) and Prakriti (Mother Nature) and is often represented by Shiva and Shakti.  See also Chakra.

ANAK Society The ANAK5 Society is the oldest known secret society and honour society of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.  Founded in 1908 CE, its purpose was 'to honour outstanding juniors and seniors who have shown both exemplary leadership and a true love for Georgia Tech'.  The society is named after Anak, a biblical figure said to be the forefather of a race of giants.  It comprises at least 1100 Georgia Tech graduates, faculty members, and honorary members.

Although it was not founded as a secret society, it has kept its activities and membership rosters confidential since 1961; membership is only made public upon a student's graduation or a faculty member's retirement.  Notable members of ANAK include Jimmy Carter (honorary), Bobby Dodd (honorary), Ivan Allen Jr., Bobby Jones, and most of Georgia Tech's presidents.  Membership of the society has long been considered the highest honour a Georgia Tech student can receive despite its activities having been the object of suspicion and controversy in recent years.

The society claims involvement in a number of civil rights projects, most notably in peacefully integrating Georgia Tech's first African American students and preventing the Ku Klux Klan from setting up a student chapter at Georgia Tech, although these claims have not been substantiated.

5 Anak is a figure in the Hebrew Bible whose descendants are mentioned in narratives concerning the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites.  According to the Book of Numbers, Anak was a forefather of the Anakim, described in the Bible as very tall descendants of the Nephilim.  The text states that the Anakim were Rephaites, and that Anak was a son of Arba.

Anarchy / Anarchism Anarchy is a condition of a society, entity, group of people, or even a single person that rejects hierarchy.  The word originally meant ‘without a leader’, but in 1840 CE Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809 - 1865), a French politician and the founder of mutualist philosophy, adopted the term in his treatise What Is Property? to refer to a new political philosophy -- anarchism, which advocates stateless societies based on voluntary associations.  In practical terms, anarchy can refer to the curtailment or even abolition of traditional forms of government and institutions.  It can also designate a nation (or anywhere on earth that is inhabited) that has no system of government or central rule.

There are many types and traditions of anarchism, not all of which are mutually exclusive.  Anarchist schools of thought can differ fundamentally, supporting anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism.  Strains of anarchism have been divided into categories of social and individualist anarchism or similar dual classifications.  Anarchism is often considered to be a radical left-wing ideology.

Anchor Cross / Crux Dissimulata The Anchor Cross is an early clandestine Christian symbol which continues the symbolism of the Ichthus, or 'Jesus fish', and represents the Church.  It is one of several cross forms called 'dissimulata', meaning ‘dissimilar’.  It is a symbol commonly found in Christian catacombs and predates Christianity as a Pagan symbol.

Today, the lower portion of the anchor represents Mary's symbol, the crescent moon, surmounted by the cross of the son, Christ.

Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC) The Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC) is a worldwide mystical, educational, humanitarian and fraternal organisation founded in the United States of America by Harvey Spencer Lewis (1883 - 1939 CE) in 1915, with membership open to both sexes aged at least 18.  It was established as a non-profit, public benefit corporation, with the primary and specific purpose of advancing the knowledge of its history, principles, and teachings for charitable, educational, and scientific purposes, and is financed mainly through fees paid by its members.  The organisation neither endorses nor discourages religion, nor does it qualify as a religious movement in its own right.

The organisational headquarters for different jurisdictions of AMORC are designated 'Grand Lodges', with the headquarters for the English-speaking Grand Lodge for the Americas being located in California.  All Grand Lodges are governed by The Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORC, which is responsible for its worldwide co-ordination, the establishment of new administrations, and the appointment of jurisdictions to Grand Lodges, usually based on language.

On a local level, members of AMORC tend to form smaller affiliated groups organised as Lodges, Chapters, Pronaoi, or Atrium Groups, these various titles differing according to the regular attending members of each body.  Participation in these local groups is optional; participants retain compulsory membership with their respective Grand Lodge.  Many of these groups charge additional fees to participants to cover expenses such as rent and postage.  Most affiliated bodies of AMORC offer Open Meetings or Lectures to which the general public is invited.

Ancient Order of Druids (AOD) The Ancient Order of Druids (AOD) is a fraternal organisation founded in London, England, in 1781 CE by Henry Hurle, which still operates to this day.  It is the earliest known English group to be founded based upon images and symbols of the ancient druids, priest-like figures in Iron Age Celtic paganism.  As such, the Order was an early influence upon the development of the Neo-druidic movement, but it differs from most such groups in that it does not hold to a Neopagan religion, and is 'not a religious organisation' -- in fact any discussion on religion or politics is forbidden within the lodge rooms.  Instead, its members are expected 'to preserve and practice the main principles attributed to the early Druids, particularly the principles of justice, benevolence and friendship'.

By the 1920s, two different stories were circling amongst members of the Order regarding its foundation.  The first maintained that it was created by a group of friends, all merchants and artisans, who met on a regular basis at the King's Arms tavern just off Oxford Street in the West End of London.  The second story suggests that the same group of friends, who also met at the King's Arms, decided after the death of one of their number to form an organisation to honour his memory.

Irrespective of how it was founded, it is known that the first leader or 'Archdruid' of the group was the aforementioned Mr Hurle, whom the historian Wilhelm North suggested in a 1932 pamphlet was actually Henry Hurle, a wealthy carpenter, surveyor and builder who worked at Garlick Hill in London.  Meanwhile, a plaque can now be found on the wall of the King's Arms inn stating that the Order was founded there.

Angel An angel, generally, is a supernatural being found in various religions and mythologies.  In Abrahamic religions and Zoroastrianism, angels are often depicted as benevolent celestial beings who act as intermediaries between God or Heaven and humanity.  Other roles of angels include protecting and guiding human beings and carrying out God's tasks.  Within Abrahamic religions, angels are often organised into hierarchies, although such rankings may vary between sects in each religion, and are given specific names or titles, such as Gabriel or ‘Destroying angel’.  The term ‘angel’ has also been expanded to various notions of spirits or figures found in other religious traditions.  The theological study of angels is known as ‘angelology’.  Angels who were expelled from Heaven are referred to as fallen angels.

In fine art, angels are usually depicted as having the shape of human beings of extraordinary beauty; they are often identified using the symbols of bird wings, halos, and light.  Angels in tarot are seen as messengers of important or divine things in your life.

Anjali Mudra See Hands in Prayer.

Ankh The Ankh is an ancient Egyptian symbol of life.  Also known as an Ansata (Latin for handle) cross, it is a visual representation of a sandal strap.  The horizontal and vertical bars of the lower Tau Cross represent the feminine and masculine energy, respectively.  This combination of male and female symbols (the cross and Circle) in the Ankh suggest fertility and creative power.  The top loop also symbolises the Sun on the horizon, and suggests reincarnation and rebirth.

The Ankh appears frequently in Egyptian writings about rebirth, and this symbolism was adopted by Coptic Christians, especially Gnostic sects, to symbolise the resurrection of Christ and the heavenly marriage.  The Ankh was an earlier form of the cross than the better-known Latin Cross.  In tarot, it represents eternity or eternal life and can also be known to represent balance.

Antimony Antimony has been known and used by the Alchemists since ancient times.  It is sometimes found free in nature, but is usually obtained from two ores, stibnite and valentinite.  Nicolas Lémery (1645 CE - 1715 CE), a French chemist, was the first person to scientifically study antimony and its compounds, publishing his findings in 1707.  Antimony makes up about 0.00002% of the Earth's crust.

The metal antimony symbolises the animal nature or wild spirit of man and nature and was often depicted by the wolf.  It is a semi-metallic chemical element which can exist in two forms: the metallic form is bright, silvery, hard and brittle; the non-metallic form is a grey powder.  It is a poor conductor of heat and electricity.  Antimony and some of its alloys expand on cooling.  It is stable in dry air and is not attacked by dilute acids or alkalis.  See also Part IV - Other Symbols.

Anubis / Anpu Anubis is the Greek name of an Egyptian god associated with mummification and the afterlife in ancient Egyptian religion, usually depicted as a canine or a man with a canine head.  Archaeologists identified the sacred animal of Anubis as an Egyptian canid (golden Jackal), but recent genetic testing has caused the animal to be reclassified as the African golden wolf.

Like many ancient Egyptian deities, Anubis assumed different roles in various contexts.  Depicted as a protector of graves as early as the 1st Dynasty (c. 3100 - 2890 BCE), he was also an embalmer.  By the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055 - 1650 BCE) he was replaced by Osiris in the role of Lord of the Underworld.  One of his prominent roles was as a god who ushered souls into the afterlife.  He attended the weighing scale during the 'Weighing of the Heart' (see Ma'at, in which it was determined whether a soul would be allowed to enter the realm of the dead.  Despite being one of the most ancient and one of the most frequently depicted and mentioned gods in the Egyptian pantheon, Anubis played no particular role in Egyptian myths.

He was depicted in black, a colour symbolising both rebirth and the discolouration of the corpse following embalming.  Anubis is associated with Wepwawet (also called Upuaut), another Egyptian god portrayed with a dog's head or in canine form, but with grey or white fur.  Historians assume that the two figures were eventually combined.  Anubis' female counterpart is Anput, and his daughter is the serpent goddess Kebechet.

Aphrodite According to Hesiod's Theogony, the Greek goddess of beauty, love, desire and pleasure was born from sea-foam and the severed genitals of Uranus, whereas in Homer's Iliad, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione.  Although married to Hephaestus, she bore him no children. but she had many lovers, most notably Ares, to whom she bore Harmonia, Phobos and Deimos.  Aphrodite was also a lover of Adonis and Anchises, to whom she bore Aeneas.

She is usually depicted as a naked or semi-naked beautiful woman, whose symbols include myrtle, roses, and the Scallop Shell.  Her sacred animals include doves and sparrows.  Her Roman counterpart is Venus.

Apis In ancient Egyptian religion, Apis or Hapis, alternatively spelled Hapi-ankh, was a sacred bull worshiped in the Memphis region, identified as the son of Hathor, a primary deity in the pantheon of ancient Egypt.  Initially, he was assigned a significant role in her worship, being sacrificed and reborn.  Later, Apis also served as an intermediary between humans and other powerful deities (originally Ptah, later Osiris, then Atum).

The Apis bull was an important sacred animal to the ancient Egyptians.  As with the other sacred beasts Apis' importance increased over the centuries.  During colonisation of the conquered Egypt, Greek and Roman authors had much to say about Apis, the markings by which the black calf was recognised, the manner of his conception by a ray from heaven, his house at Memphis (with a court for his deportment), the mode of prognostication from his actions, his death, the mourning at his death, his costly burial, and the rejoicings throughout the country when a new Apis was found.  Auguste Mariette's excavation of the Serapeum of Saqqara revealed the tombs of more than sixty animals, ranging from the time of Amenhotep III to that of the Ptolemaic dynasty.  Originally, each animal was buried in a separate tomb with a chapel built above it.

Apollo Apollo, the Greek and Roman god of music, arts, knowledge, healing, plague, prophecy, poetry, masculine beauty and archery, is the son of Zeus and Leto, and the twin brother of Artemis (or Diana).  Apollo is depicted as young, beardless, handsome and athletic.  In myth, he can be cruel and destructive, and his love affairs are rarely happy.  He is often accompanied by the Muses.

Among his signs and symbols are the laurel wreath, bow and arrow, and lyre, while his sacred animals include the roe deer, swans, and pythons.  Some late Roman and Greek poetry and mythography identify him as a Sun god, equivalent to Roman Sol and Greek Helios.  The Roman version of Apollo harnessed his chariot with four horses and drove the Sun across the sky daily.  His most famous temple is in Delphi, where he established his oracular shrine.

Apsara An apsara, also spelled as apsaras (respective plurals are apsaras and apsarases), is a type of female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hinduism and Buddhism culture.  They figure prominently in the sculpture, dance, literature and painting of many South Asian and Southeast Asian cultures.  There are two types of apsaras: laukika (worldly) and daivika (divine) - Urvasi, Menaka, Rambha, Tilottama and Ghritachi are the most famous among them.

In Indian mythology, apsaras are beautiful, supernatural female beings.  They are youthful and elegant, and superb in the art of dancing.  They are often wives of the Gandharvas, the court musicians of Indra.  They dance to the music made by the Gandharvas, usually in the palaces of the gods, entertain and sometimes seduce gods and men.  As ethereal beings who inhabit the skies, and are often depicted taking flight, or at service of a god, they may be compared to angels.

Apsaras are said to be able to change their shape at will and rule over the fortunes of gaming and gambling.  Apsaras are sometimes compared to the Muses of ancient Greece, with each of the 26 Apsaras at Indra's court representing a distinct aspect of the performing arts.  They are associated with fertility rites.  The Bhagavata Purana also states that the apsaras were born from Kashyapa and Muni.

Aquarius In many cultures, it is believed there is a link between the position of the Sun, the Moon and other planets at the time of a person's birth.  This position gives individuals certain personality traits, as well as predicting events which are likely to occur in their life.

Aquarius makes up one of the twelve 'houses' or signs of the astrological wheel.  Each of the twelve houses represents the position of the heavens at the time of a person’s birth.  Besides their birth sign, e.g. Aquarius, an element is attributed to a person at birth, either Earth, Fire, Water or Air:

Symbol: Water carrier
Dates: 19 January - 18 February
Constellation: Aquarius
Zodiac Element: Air
Sign ruler: Uranus
Detriment: Sun
Exaltation: None
Gemstone: Amethyst

Aquarius is referred to as the 'water carrier', the symbol or glyph for Aquarius represents water.  The form of waves in the symbol represents water and communication.  It is believed that each one of the zodiac signs represents a particular part of the human body -- the zodiac symbol for Aquarius relates to the legs and blood.

Those born under the symbol of Aquarius are considered to have the following personality traits: independent; individualistic; tend not to conform to traditional views; trend setters; eccentric; unique; naturally talented; like to keep busy.

Ár nDraíocht Féin Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (otherwise known as ADF) is a non-profit religious organisation dedicated to the study and further development of modern Neo-druidism.

In Modern Irish, Ár nDraíocht Féin (Irish pronunciation: means "our own magic (Druidism)".  ADF is also used to represent the phrase A Druid Fellowship.  The organisation was founded in 1983 and incorporated in 1990 as a U.S. 501(c)3 non-profit organisation by Isaac Bonewits.  The organisation's first public announcement and membership sign-up took place at the first WinterStar Symposium in 1984 at Burr Oak State Park in Glouster, OH. ADF was originally organised as an Association, with Articles of Association signed by all Trustees on April 18, 1987.

ADF is a neodruid organisation practicing a unique tradition of Neopagan Druidry and is mostly U.S.-based with members and groups in most states and in several other countries as well.  During the years 2000 - 2010 to the present, ADF's membership has remained well over 1000, making it the largest public form of definitively Neopagan Druidism in the USA.

Despite the Gaelic name, ADF Druidry actually encompasses all Indo-European religions, meaning that while most of the organisation is focused on Celtic practices, there are also Germanic, Hellenic, Roman, Slavic and Vedic religious practices in ADF.  In that sense, ADF uses the term Druid as "a member of the Indo-European intelligentsia, especially of the clergy" or even more broadly as "a worshipper of Indo-European gods and goddesses".  Strictly speaking, members of ADF are not only "druids", but are also members of related Indo-European religions which may have other terms for people in such clergy roles (e.g., gothi for clergy of ancient Norse religions).

Arachnid See Spider.

Arcane School "The word went forth to all the sons of men, the Sons of God: Shew forth the signature of God.  Leave this High Place and, in the outer realm of darkness, toil and serve; bring forth the Real; unveil the hidden depths of light.  Reveal divinity.

Thus, down the ages have the sons of men, who are the Sons of God, embodied in themselves the Light which shines, the Strength which lifts and serves, the Love that evermore endures.  They walked the Way of purity, the Way into the innermost.  We follow after.  They served their time.  We seek to do the same."  (The Old Commentary)

The School was established in 1923 by Alice Bailey to help meet an obvious and growing demand for training in the science of the soul.  Since then tens of thousands of students have taken advantage of this training.  Students are spread throughout the world with the headquarters in New York serving those living in North America, Canada and Asia as well as students in North and South America working in Spanish.  The London headquarters serves students in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth as well as students who wish to study in English from Europe and Africa.  It also serves students working in the Greek language.  The Geneva school works with students in all the main European languages (Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian).

The Arcane School trains people in meditation and service to develop their spiritual potential.  The purpose of such training is to help students understand and accept discipleship responsibility and to recognise the part that they can play in the evolution of consciousness by serving humanity.  In addition, the School assists spiritual aspirants to move forward on to the path of discipleship, and assists those who are already on the path to move on more quickly to achieve greater effectiveness in service.

Disciples are those who, above all else, are pledged to do three things:

  1. To serve humanity.
  2. To co-operate with the Plan, as they see it and as best they can.
  3. To develop the powers of the soul, to expand their consciousness to that of the higher self and to meet the needs of that higher self through service.

The Arcane School is primarily a distance learning course.  Students are guided through the meditations and course materials by the headquarters groups in London, New York and Geneva.  In addition, each student is allocated a Secretary, a fellow student who is further ahead in the training and who will support and advise them through the early years of the course.  All students are encouraged to think, meditate and search out the truth for themselves according to their own need and understanding, learning through acquired spiritual independence the significance of interdependence in group work.

No charges are made by the School for its services.  The work is financed through the Lucis Trust by the voluntary contributions of students and those interested in the work of the School and in the teaching.  Each gives according to personal circumstances.

Archangel An archangel is an angel of high rank.  The word ‘archangel’ itself is usually associated with the Abrahamic religions (the best known of which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam), although beings that are very similar to archangels are found in a number of religious traditions.

The word 'archangel' appears only once in the New Testament in the phrase 'the archangel Michael' (Jude 9).  The corresponding Hebrew word in the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament) is found in two places as in ‘Michael, one of the chief princes’ (Daniel 10:13) and in ‘Michael, the great prince’ (Daniel 12:1).

In the Catholic Church, three archangels are mentioned by name in its canon of scripture: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.  Raphael appears in the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit, where he is described as ‘one of the seven angels who stand ready and enter before the glory of the lord of spirits’, a phrase recalled in Revelation 8:2-6.

Some strands of the Eastern Orthodox Church, exemplified in the Orthodox Slavonic Bible (Ostrog Bible, Elizabeth Bible, and later consequently Russian Synodal Bible), recognise as authoritative also 2 Esdras, which mentions Uriel.  The Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine tradition, venerate seven archangels and sometimes an eighth.  Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Selaphiel (Salathiel), Jegudiel (Jehudiel), Barachiel, and the eighth, Jerahmeel (Jeremiel) (The Synaxis of the Chief of the Heavenly Hosts, Archangel Michael and the Other Heavenly Bodiless Powers: Feast Day: November 8).

As well as Uriel, the Book of Enoch, not regarded as canonical by any of these Christian churches, mentions (in chapter 21) Raguel, Sariel, and Jerahmeel, while other apocryphal sources give instead the names Izidkiel, Hanael, and Kepharel.

In the Coptic Orthodox tradition, the seven archangels are named as Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Suriel, Zadkiel, Sarathiel, and Ariel.  In Anglican and Episcopal tradition, there are three or four archangels in the calendar for September 29, the feast of St Michael and All Angels (also known as Michaelmas), namely Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael -- and often Uriel.

Seven angels or archangels are related to the seven days of the week: Michael (Sunday), Gabriel (Monday), Raphael (Tuesday), Uriel (Wednesday), Selaphiel (Thursday), Raguel (Friday), and Barachiel (Saturday).

In all, we have found 15 named archangels: Michael; Raphael; Gabriel; Ariel; Azrael; Chamuel; Haniel; Jeremiel; Jophiel; Metatron; Raguel; Raziel; Sandalphon; Uriel and Zadkiel

Archangels in Astrology

Astrology relates 12 Archangels to the 12 Months of the astrological year as follows.  Although each archangel has a specific role and trait that are matched with each astrological sign, remember that we may call upon any archangel at any time for help in any situation.

Mar 21 - Apr 20
Apr 21 - May 21
May 22 - Jun 21
Jun 22 - Jul 23
Jul 24 - Aug 23
Aug 24 - Sep 23
Sep 24 - Oct 23
Oct 24 - Nov 22
Nov 23 - Dec 22
Dec 23 - Jan 20
Jan 21 - Feb 19
Feb 20 - Mar 20

Ares The Greek god of war, bloodshed, and violence, Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera.  He is depicted as a beardless youth, either nude with a helmet and spear or sword, or as an armed warrior.  Homer portrays him as moody and unreliable, and as being the most unpopular god on Earth and Olympus, whereas his Roman counterpart, Mars, was regarded as the dignified ancestor of the Roman people.  In general, he represents the chaos of war in contrast to Athena, a goddess of military strategy and skill.

He is well known for cuckolding his brother Hephaestus, conducting an affair with his wife Aphrodite.  His sacred animals include vultures, venomous snakes, dogs, and boars.

Arevakhach See Armenian Eternity Symbol.

Argead Star See Vergina Sun.

Aries In many cultures, it is believed there is a link between the position of the Sun, the Moon and other planets at the time of a person's birth.  This position gives individuals certain personality traits, as well as predicting events which are likely to occur in their life.

Aries makes up one of the twelve 'houses' or signs of the astrological wheel.  Each of the twelve houses represents the position of the heavens at the time of a person’s birth.  Besides their birth sign, e.g. Aries, an element is attributed to a person at birth, either Earth, Fire, Water or Air:

Symbol: Ram
Dates: 20 March - 19 April
Constellation: Aries
Zodiac Element: Fire
Sign ruler: Mars
Detriment: Venus
Exaltation: Sun

The Aries symbol or glyph represents the head and horns of the ram.  Some people believe the symbol of Aries represents the fountain of life.  The ram is often pictured looking back but running forwards.  It is believed that each one of the zodiac signs represents a particular part of the human body -- the zodiac symbol for Aries relates to the face and head.

Those born under the symbol of Aries are considered to have the following personality traits: passionate; brave; assertive; enthusiastic; energetic; headstrong; ambitious; easily bored; tend to rush into things without thinking of the consequences; great leaders.

Armenian Eternity Symbol The Armenian eternity symbol, or Arevakhach, is an ancient symbol representing the national identity of the Armenian people which has become one of the most common symbols in Armenian architecture.  Since the 5th century CE it has been carved on khachkars (Armenian cross-stones -- carved, memorial Stèles bearing a cross and often with additional motifs such as rosettes, interlaces, and botanical motifs) and on walls of churches, and is now part of khachkar symbolism.

In mediaeval Armenian culture, the eternity sign symbolised the concept of everlasting, celestial life.  Somewhere around the 8th century, the use of the symbol had become a long established national iconographical practice, and retains its meaning up to modern times.

The eternity symbol is used on the logos of government agencies and on commemorative coins, as well as Armenian government agencies and non-government organisations and institutions.  The symbol is also used by Armenian neopagan organisations and their follower and is known by them as 'Arevakhach'.

Arsenic Arsenic was widely used by early Alchemists and was sometimes represented by the image of a swan, although a variety of seemingly unrelated symbols were used to represent the element.  Several forms involved a cross and then two Circles or an 'S' shape.

Arsenic was a well-known poison during this time, so the swan symbol might not make much sense until you consider the fact that the element is a metalloid.  Like other elements in the group, arsenic can transform from one physical appearance to another.  These allotropes display different properties from each other.  Cygnets turn into swans; arsenic, too, transforms itself.  See also Alchemy and Part IV - Other Symbols.

Artemis Artemis is the virgin goddess of the hunt, wilderness, animals, young girls, childbirth, and plague.  In later times, she became associated with bows and arrows.  She is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo, also an archer.  In art she is often depicted as a young woman dressed in a short knee-length chiton (a form of clothing in Ancient Greece, worn by both sexes, but especially men) and equipped with a hunting bow and a quiver of arrows.

Her attributes include hunting spears and animal pelts.  Her sacred animals include deer, bears and wild boars.  The Roman counterpart of Artemis is Diana.

Arwen The Arwen, also known as 'the symbol of three rays', was a Celtic symbol of the balance between male and female energy.  When shown with three lines parallel to one another, the Arwen tended to be used in jewellery.  The first and last rays signified the powers of the 'male' and 'female' respectively, while the middle ray signified the balance and equality of the other two.

Most experts in Celtic symbols and meanings have interpreted the Arwen to be a symbol implying balance between two opposing powers in the universe.  See also Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids.

Asatru Religion Less than 1000 years ago, the elders of Iceland made a 'fateful decision'.  Under political pressure from Christian Europe, and faced with the need for trade, the Althing (Iceland's National Parliament) officially declared Iceland to be a Christian country.  Within a few short centuries the last remnants of Nordic Paganism, which once stretched through the whole of Northern Europe, were considered to be dead.  However, Iceland being a tolerant country, the myths stories, and legends of Pagan times were left to kindle the fires of belief in later generations.  Then, under pressure from the poet Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson (1924 - 1993 CE), Iceland once again began to recognise Nordic Paganism as a legitimate and legal religion.  A restoration of this ancient faith is also blossoming in America.

The Pagan religion known as Asatru, an old Norse word which means 'troth' (loyalty) to the gods, and modern Asatru is basically the complete revival of the ancient Norse Pagan religion.  Asatru recognises many familiar gods and goddesses.  For example, Thor is the Thunderer, the wielder of the divine Hammer, Mjölnir.  Odin, the All father, is the god who gifted mankind with a divine nature.  Frey is a god of peace and plenty who is King of the Elves and brings fertility and prosperity to the land.  The most well-known goddess is Freya, the goddess of love and beauty, but who is also a fierce goddess of battle.  Frigg is Odin's wife, and she shares in his leadership of the gods.  Living alone in the icy wastes, Skadi is a goddess of strong independence and a patron of hunting and skiing.

Asatru values are based on individual liberty tempered with responsibility as outlined in the Nine Noble Virtues: Courage, Truth, Honour, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self-Reliance, and Perseverance.  In keeping with this independent spirit, religious hierarchy and dogma are rejected.  While they do not believe any religion is for everyone, the Asatru welcome anyone to their faith who is sincerely interested in pursuing the old ways.  See also Vegvisir.

Ashoka Chakra The Ashoka Chakra is a depiction of the Dharma Chakra with 24 spokes.  It is so called because it appears on a number of edicts of Ashoka, most prominent among which is the Lion Capital of Ashoka.  The most visible use of the Ashoka Chakra today is at the centre of the Flag of India (adopted on 22 July 1947 CE), where it is rendered in a navy blue colour on a white background, replacing the symbol of charkha (spinning wheel) of the pre-independence versions of the flag.

India's highest peacetime military decoration awarded for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice away from the battlefield is also called Ashoka Chakra.  See also Chakra.

Ashtamangala The Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism - or Ashtamangala - are a sacred suite of eight auspicious signs endemic to a number of Dharmic Traditions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.  The symbols or 'symbolic attributes' are Yidam (a type of deity associated with tantric or Vajrayana Buddhism said to be manifestations of Buddhahood or enlightened mind) and teaching tools.  Not only do these attributes point to qualities of enlightened mind stream, they are the investiture that ornaments these enlightened 'qualities'.  Many cultural enumerations and variations of the Ashtamangala are extant.

Groupings of eight auspicious symbols were originally used in India at ceremonies such as an investiture or coronation of a king.  An early grouping of symbols included a: throne, Swastika, handprint, hooked knot, vase of jewels, water libation flask, pair of fishes, lidded bowl.  In Buddhism, these eight symbols of good fortune represent the offerings made by the gods to Shakyamuni Buddha immediately after he gained enlightenment.

The umbrella or parasol embodies notions of wealth or royalty, for one had to be rich enough to possess such an item, and further, to have someone to carry it.  It points to the 'royal ease' and power experienced in the Buddhist life of detachment.

Astrum Argentum
George Cecil Jones (1873 - 1960 CE) was the man responsible for introducing Aleister Crowley (1875 - 1947) to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (G.D.) in 1898.  Crowley soon became an ardent supporter of the leader of the organisation, Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, but for various reasons, he lost faith in the order and eventually left.  Crowley decided to form his own replacement Order with the intention that it would supersede the G.D., so in 1907, with the help of Jones, he founded the Astrum Argentum AA.

When Crowley became the leader of the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), it became the outer order of the AA.  The emblem incorporates the symbols of the AA and the O.T.O.  The outer portion, known as the septagram, is the symbol of the outer order, representing the ceiling of the Vault of the Adepti (5=6 grade, G.D.), and the symbol of Babalon.  Babalon is a known holy name of Binah, corresponding with the High Priestess of the Tarot, whose title in Thelemic Tarot decks is 'Priestess of the Silver Star'.  Using the Hebrew system of Gematria, Babalon enumerates to 156.  Crowley devised a mathematical formula containing seven sevens to represent this number:

Unlike the AA, the G.D. was primarily a teaching order, preparing people to do magic in its 'Inner Order'.  The AA on the other hand, assumed that its members were either already trained or were receiving training from their immediate superior.

Subsequent to Crowley's death in 1947, several individuals claimed to continue the order, with some lineages being very clear while others are very much open to debate.

Astrum Sophiae See Ordo Astrum Sophiae.

Aten The Sun-disk venerated by the Egyptians, the Aten was originally the conveyance of Atum, the sun God, but later evolved into a deity in its own right.  The monotheistic religion of the Aten briefly replaced the original Egyptian practices under Amenhotep IV, who called himself Akhenaten (Son of Aten) and required his subjects to worship the Aten.

The new religion was terribly unpopular, and was abolished by his son, Tutankhaten (Tutankhamen).

Athame An Athame is a ceremonial blade, generally with a black handle.  It is the main ritual implement or magical tool among several used in ceremonial magical traditions, and by other Neopagans, witchcraft, as well as satanic traditions.  A black-handled knife called an Athame appears in certain versions of the Key of Solomon, a grimoire originating in the Middle Ages.

The proper use of the tool was started by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (G.D.) in the early 20th century CE for use in banishing rituals.  It was later adopted by Wiccans, Thelemites and Satanists.  The Athame is mentioned in the writings of Gerald Gardner (1884 - 1964) in the 1950s, who claimed to have been initiated into a surviving tradition of Witchcraft, the New Forest Coven.  The Athame was their most important ritual tool, with many uses, but was never to be used for actual physical cutting.  See also Dagger.

Athena Athena is the Greek goddess of reason, wisdom, intelligence, skill, peace, warfare, battle strategy, and handicrafts.  According to most traditions, she was born out of the forehead of Zeus, fully formed and wearing full armour.  She is depicted as being crowned with a crested helm, armed with an Aegis and a spear, and wearing a Dagger over a long dress.  Her Roman counterpart is Minerva.

Poets describe her as 'grey-eyed' or having especially bright, keen eyes.  She is a special patron of heroes such as Odysseus.  She is also the patron of the city of Athens (which was named after her) and is attributed to various inventions in arts and literature.  Her symbol is the olive tree.  She is commonly shown accompanied by her sacred animal, the owl.

Atum Atum is one of the most important and frequently mentioned deities in ancient Egyptian times as evidenced by his prominence in the Pyramid Texts where he is portrayed as both a creator and father to the king.

In the Heliopolitan creation myth, Atum was considered to be the first god, having created himself, sitting on a mound Ben ben (or identified with the mound itself), from the primordial waters, Nun.  Early myths say that Atum created the god Shu and goddess Tefnut by spitting them out of his mouth.  To explain how he accomplished this, the myth uses the metaphor of masturbation, with the hand he used in this act representing the female principle inherent within him.  Other interpretations state that he made union with his shadow.

One myth tells us his son and daughter, curious about the primeval waters surrounding them, went to explore and disappeared into the darkness.  Unable to bear his loss, Atum sent a fiery messenger, the Eye of Ra, to find his children.  The tears of joy he shed on their return became the first human beings.

In the Old Kingdom the Egyptians believed that Atum lifted the dead king's soul from his pyramid to the starry heavens.  He was also a solar deity, associated with the primary Sun god Ra as Atum-Ra.  He was linked specifically with the evening Sun, while Ra or the closely linked god Khepri were connected with the Sun at morning and midday.

In the Book of the Dead, which was still current in the Graeco-Roman period, the Sun god Atum is said to have ascended from chaos-waters with the appearance of a snake, the animal renewing itself every morning.

Atum is the god of pre-existence and post-existence.  In the binary solar cycle, the serpentine Atum is contrasted with the ram-headed Scarab Beetle, Khepri, the young Sun god whose name means 'to come into existence'.  Khepri-Atum encompassed sunrise and sunset, thus reflecting the entire solar cycle.

Atum-Ra See Atum.

Aum See Om.

Aum Shinrikyo Aum Shinrikyo, a Japanese doomsday cult founded by Shoko Asahara in 1984 CE, carried out the deadly Tokyo subway sarin attack in 1995 and was found to have been responsible for another smaller sarin attack the previous year.  The group never confessed, although those who carried out the attacks did so secretly, without being known to ordinary believers.  Asahara broadcast his singing, insisting on his innocence through a radio broadcast on a signal they purchased in Russia and directed toward Japan.

Aum Shinrikyo, which split into Aleph and Hikari no Wa in 2007, has been formally designated a terrorist organisation by several countries, including Russia, Canada, Kazakhstan, and the United States.  Japan's Public Security Examination Commission considers Aleph and Hikari no Wa to be branches of a 'dangerous religion' and announced in January 2015 that they would remain under surveillance for three more years.  The Japanese government ended surveillance of Hikari no Wa in 2017, but continues to keep Aleph under watch.

Aura See Halo.

Aureole This is a general term for the visible radiant aura used in art to distinguish those of spiritual holiness.  The symbol derives from the ‘radiant’ deities of ancient sun and fire cults.  See also Halo.

Aurum Solis See Ordo Aurum Solis.

Ausekla Zvaigzne / Star of Auseklis Aueskla means 'star' in Lithuanian, and the Ausekla Zvaigzne 'star cross', or 'Star of Auseklis', is the emblem of the morning star in the Baltic region -- the Latvian God Auseklis, as well as the Lithuanian goddess Ausrine, the daughter of the Sun.  The symbol is one of many ancient cosmological and magical symbols used in Eastern European folk art, and represents the god/goddess as the personification of the planet Venus.

Auspice Maria This symbol consists of the intertwined letters A and M; it is called Auspice Maria, a monogram of the Virgin Mary.  Auspice Maria is Latin for “Under the protection of Mary” and is commonly found in Catholic religious art, on churches, and inscribed on jewellery.

It is sometimes (incorrectly) referred to or used as a stand-in for the salutation “Ave maria.”

Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism See Ashtamangala.

Axe See Labrys.

Ayizan See Veves.

Azoth Azoth was considered to be a universal medication or universal solvent, and was sought for in Alchemy.  Similar to another alchemical idealised substance, alkahest, azoth was the aim, goal and vision of many alchemical works.  Its symbol was the Caduceus.  The term, while originally a term for an occult formula sought by alchemists much like the Philosopher's Stone, became a poetic word for the element Mercury.  The name is Mediaeval Latin, an alteration of azoc.

Aztec Sun Stone Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the late 15th and early 16th centuries CE, the Aztecs were the mightiest civilisation ever seen in the Americas.  While much of their culture was destroyed, lost and/or repressed in the succeeding centuries a few remnants such as the famous Sun Stone survived to bear witness to an empire that spanned much of modern-day Mexico and spawned some of the greatest technological feats the Americas had ever seen.

Discovered and unearthed in the former Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City) in 1790, the Sun Stone is a massive object measuring twelve feet in diameter and three feet in thickness; it weighs over 40,000 pounds, almost 18 tons.  It is housed at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City and has become one of the most recognisable icons of Aztec and Mesoamerican culture.

The mass of imagery on the Sun Stone can be broken down into a series of symbolic layers, each of which portrays a different concept, although there are varying interpretations as to what exactly each one represents.  Much more information can be found at Aztec-history.com.

Azure Dragon One of the Four Symbols representing four mythological creatures in the Chinese constellations -- the Azure Dragon of the East; the Vermilion Bird of the South; the White Tiger of the West; and the Black Tortoise/Turtle of the North.  Each one of them represents a direction and a season, and each has its own individual characteristics and origins.  Symbolically and as part of spiritual and religious belief, they have been culturally important in China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

The Azure Dragon, also known as 'Bluegreen Dragon' or 'Green Dragon', is one of the Dragon gods which represent the mount or chthonic forces of the Five Forms of the Highest Deity (Wufang Shàngdì).  It is also known as 'Seiryu' in Japanese, 'Cheong-ryong' in Korean, and 'Thanh Long' in Vietnamese.  The Bluegreen Dragon represents the east and the spring season.

The Dragon is frequently referred to in media, feng shui, other cultures, and in various venues as the Green Dragon and the Avalon Dragon.  His cardinal direction's epithet is 'Bluegreen Dragon of the East', while his proper name is the Dragon King of the East Sea.  Though mighty and fearsome, the Azure Dragon is considered benevolent, just, and a bringer of good fortune.  See also Dragon.

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