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I Ching The I Ching or Yi Jing, usually translated as Book of Changes, is an ancient Chinese divination text and among the oldest of the Chinese classics.  Originally a divination manual in the Western Zhou period (1000 - 750 BCE), over the course of the Warring States period and early imperial period (500 - 200 BCE) it was transformed into a cosmological text with a series of philosophical commentaries known as the "Ten Wings".  After becoming part of the Five Classics in the 2nd century BCE, the I Ching was the subject of scholarly commentary and the basis for divination practice for centuries across the Far East, and eventually took on an influential role in Western understanding of Eastern thought.

The I Ching is used in a type of divination called cleromancy, and uses apparently random numbers.  Six numbers between 6 and 9 are turned into a hexagram, which can then be looked up in the text, in which hexagrams are arranged in an order known as the King Wen sequence.  The image to the right shows Hexagram 31.

IAO IAO is the recognised formula of magic -- it is the way things reproduce and recreate themselves through extension and specialisation.

'I' represents the monad or the phallus.  Its actions do not produce change within, but only 'out of itself'.

'O' represents the yoni or the female, which changes through addition, subtraction or multiplication.  It represents matter that is capable of taking on form.

The union of the 'I' and the 'O' would create the triad, or the world formed by the two creative principals out of matter.  'A' would then represent the conjunction between these two principles.

The basic formula of IAO is one of life, death, and rebirth.  In Magick, Ch 5, Aleister Crowley states that IAO is the principal and most characteristic formula of Osiris, of the Redemption of Mankind.  'I' is Isis, Nature, ruined by 'A', Apophis the Destroyer, and restored to life by the Redeemer Osiris.  He also refers to it as the formula of yoga, as illustrated by the initial pleasure of this practice, followed by the inevitable agony, and finally resulting in a new, superior state, perhaps similar to, yet fundamentally different from the initial state.

In most examples of Abraxas stones, we find the classic depiction of Abraxas, with a rooster's head, man's torso and snakes for legs.  Something also of note is that in almost all of these examples, we can see the three letters 'I', 'A' and 'W' spelt out either as a word i.e. IAW and WAI, or else positioned separately on the shield carried by Abraxas and also more widely around the figure.  One of the reasons for the juxtaposition of these three letters derives from an ancient Jewish/Egyptian God name 'IAO', which is pronounced 'iaho'.  The common expression for God, 'Jah' is thought to derive from IAO.  The variant of IAO, i.e. IAW also has another meaning.  The Greek letters, 'I' Iota, 'A' Alpha and 'W' Omega, can be interpreted as 'I am the Alpha and the Omega' or another way of saying GOD.

Ibis The African sacred ibis was an object of religious veneration in ancient Egypt, particularly associated with the deity Thoth who is responsible for writing, mathematics, measurement and time as well as the moon and magic.  In artworks of the Late Period of Ancient Egypt, Thoth is popularly depicted as an ibis-headed man in the act of writing.

At the town of Hermopolis, ibises were reared specifically for sacrificial purposes and in the ruins of the temple at Saqqara, archaeologists found the mummies of one and a half million ibises and hundreds of thousands of falcons.

According to local legend in the Birecik area, the northern bald ibis was one of the first birds Noah released from the Ark as a symbol of fertility, and a lingering religious sentiment in Turkey helped the colonies there to survive long after the demise of the species in Europe.

The African sacred ibis is the unit symbol of the Israeli Special Forces unit known as Unit 212 or Maglan.

A bird in tarot often means grandiose ideas and matters of the spirit -- it also means freedom.

Icelandic Magical Staves Icelandic magical staves (sigils) are symbols called Galdrastafir in Icelandic.  They are credited with magical effects preserved in various grimoires dating from the 17th century CE and later.  According to the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft, the effects credited to most of the staves were very relevant to the average Icelanders of the time, who were mostly subsistence farmers having to deal with harsh climatic conditions.

The grimoires are books written on vellum (calf skin), but despite being extremely rare several have been found in Iceland which instruct the reader on how to perform spells, how to summon the supernatural, and how to create talismans.  The books themselves are believed to have supernatural magical powers.

For a complete list of the Icelandic staves click HERE.

Ichthys / Ichthus The Ichthys or Ichthus is a symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish.  It has become known colloquially as the 'sign of the fish' or the 'Jesus Fish'.

The first appearances of the Ichthys symbol in Christian art and literature date to the 2nd century CE.  The symbol's use among Christians had become popular by the late 2nd century, and its usage spread widely in the 3rd and 4th centuries.  The symbolism of the fish itself may well have its origins in pre-Christian religious imagery.  For example, Orpheus, a legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion and myth, was described as a 'fisher of men' as early as the 3rd or 4th century BCE (Le Roux, M. (2007) -- The survival of the Greek gods in early Christianity; Journal for Semitics, 16(2): 483 - 497).  See also Triquetra.

IHS Letters that by tradition form an abbreviation of the name ‘Jesus’, symbolising salvation and/or resurrection.  The reverence with which Christians have regarded the Holy Name of Jesus goes back to the earliest days of Christianity, as shown in Acts 4:10 and Philippians 2:10.

Devotion to and veneration of the IHS monogram, which is derived from the Greek word for Jesus (iacchos/iacchus) taken to mean ‘Iesus Hominum Salvator’ -- Latin for ‘Jesus Saviour of Mankind’, also dates back to the early days of Christianity, where it was placed on altars and religious vestments, ornaments and other objects.  The IHS monogram was also found on a gold coin from the eighth century CE.

Ik Onkar Ik Onkar is the symbol that represents the 'One Supreme Reality' and is a central tenet of Sikh religious philosophy.  'Ik' means 'one' and only one, who cannot be compared or contrasted with any other, Onkar is the one universal ever flowing divine melody and existential unstuck never-ending sound of god.

To simplify, 'Ik' means 'one', 'Oang' 'everything' and 'Kar' means the 'creator', so the creator and his creation are not different and He, the supreme creator, resides everywhere and in everything.

It is a symbol of the unity of god in Sikhism, meaning god is one or one god, and is found in all religious scriptures and places such as Gurdwaras (temples).  Derived from Punjabi, Ik Onkar is the first phrase in the 'Mool Mantar' referring to the existence of 'one constant divine melody'.  'Mool Mantar, meaning 'basic teaching', is found at the beginning of every section of the Sikh Scriptures.

Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT) In the late 1970s CE, Ray Sherwin and Peter Carroll, two young British occultists with a particular interest in Ritual Magic, began to publish a magazine titled The New Equinox.  They were both connected with a rapidly growing occult scene developing around 'The Phoenix', a bookstore in London's East End.

By their own accounts, both men became dissatisfied with the state of the Magical Arts and the deficiencies they saw in occult groups at the time, so in 1978 they published a small announcement in The New Equinox proclaiming the creation of the Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT), a new kind of magical order.  It was to be based on a hierarchy of magical ability as opposed to invitation, basically a magical 'meritocracy'.  The new order was to pursue Chaos Magic, focusing on practical skills, and incorporating elements of Thelema, Zos Kia Cultus, Shamanism, Tantra and Taoism.  IOT refers to the dualism of the gods of death (Thanatos) and love (Eros).

Sherwin and Carroll soon began to publish private monographs detailing their new system of magical practice, some of which had been articles in their magazine, others being intended as instructions to members of the order.  In the 1980s they began to attract a strong following in England, Germany and Austria, including some influential occult writers and practitioners, but before the end of the decade, Sherwin resigned protesting that the IOT was beginning to resemble the hierarchical orders that were originally abhorrent to the concept of the order.  Carroll, however, continued and ensured the IOT became known to occultists around the world largely through his books Liber Null and Psychonaut.  Later, Carroll refined the direction of the IOT as a 'real' magical order and manifested it as 'The Magical Pact of the IOT', or simply 'The Pact'.

In the early 1990s this Chaos Magic order suffered badly as a result of the 'Ice Magic Wars' (detailed on many Chaos Magic sites), and several factions broke from the group to form new orders such as the 'Reformed IOT' (RIOT) in Germany, and the 'AutonomatriX' in California.

The IOT had some very powerful initiates within its ranks at many points, one such being the Austrian former lodge, 'Temple Pleasuredome' which operated from 1988 until 1990 when Temple founder Michael DeWitt was excommunicated due to his support for Peter Carroll in those infamous Wars.  Michael DeWitt has long been an innovator in the Austrian Magical scene, and even beyond it.  His work with the publishing house 'Edition Ananael' and his art work prove this particular point.  He also had several extremely powerful and dangerous rituals.

Shortly after the Ice Wars, Carroll published Liber Kaos and retired from active participation, stating this was not a consequence of disagreement with the state of 'The Pact' but a matter of his personal development.

Illuminati The Illuminati (plural of Latin illuminatus, 'enlightened') is an elite organisation of world leaders, business authorities, innovators, artists, and other influential members of this planet.  Rumours say the entertainment and music industries have been infiltrated by Illuminati members who are using the media to brainwash the masses.

"Our coalition unites influencers of all political, religious, and geographical backgrounds to further the prosperity of the human species as a whole."

The Illuminati is a name given to several groups, both real and fictitious.  Historically, the name refers to the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded on 1 May 1776 CE by Adam Weishaupt (1748 - 1830), its aims being to oppose superstition, obscurantism, religious influence over public life, and abuses of state power.  They wrote in their general statutes:

"The order of the day is to put an end to the machinations of the purveyors of injustice, to control them without dominating them."

The Illuminati, along with Freemasonry and other secret societies, were outlawed by the Bavarian ruler, Charles Theodore, encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church, in the 1780s.  In the years following, the group was vilified by conservative and religious critics who claimed that they continued underground and were responsible for the French Revolution, following which the group was broken up by the German authorities.  However, modern conspiracy theorists assert the group survived and now operates as a sinister shadow government, directing world industry and politics as it sees fit.

Conspiracy theorists and writers such as Mark Dice (Mark Shouldice (born 1977) and known professionally as Mark Dice) have argued that the Illuminati have survived to this day.  They propose that world events are being controlled and manipulated by the Illuminati, and claim that many notable people were or are members of the Illuminati.  Presidents of the United States are a common target for such claims, one such being President Barack Obama.

Other theorists contend that a variety of historical events were orchestrated by the Illuminati, from the French Revolution, the Battle of Waterloo and the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, to an alleged communist plot to hasten the 'New World Order' by infiltrating the Hollywood film industry.

Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor The Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor was formed in 1908 CE and received Royal recognition four years later in 1912; its patron is Queen Elizabeth II.  The society is a registered charity which seeks to uphold the dignity of Knight Bachelor (the most basic and lowest rank of a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not as a member of one of the organised orders of chivalry; it is currently a part of the British honours system) and the rights of the degree of knighthood at all times, to register every duly authenticated knighthood, and to advise members on matters relating to the degree.

Its charitable objectives include the relief of poverty and the advancement of education, along with support for hospitals, the elderly, and the needy.  A specific objective is to encourage Knights Bachelor within the British Commonwealth to develop understanding and cooperation between the citizens of the Commonwealth.

In 1962, the society established its own chapel in the Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, London.  Then in 2005, the chapel was moved to the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral, London.  The society's badge may be worn in the form of a brooch by wives and daughters of knights.

Inanna See Knot of Inanna.

Indalo Indalo is an ancient Andalusian symbol -- the original image, dating from Neolithic times, can still be seen in the “Cave of the Signboards” at Almeria, in Southern Spain.  He appears as the figure of a man carrying a rainbow between his hands, alongside figures of animals, horned men, and a number of odd symbols.

The name Indalo is derived from the Latin phrase “Indal Eccius,” or “Messenger of the Gods”.  Indalo’s original meaning and purpose has been lost, but it most likely represents a Shaman or a God figure.  Today, the figure is closely associated with the village of Mojacar, and is used there as a symbol of luck and good fortune, and to ward off evil.  Like the Native American Kokopelli, he is often emblazoned on businesses, homes, and souvenirs for tourists.

Independent Spiritual Paths The solo path of Independent Spirituality focuses on increasing consciousness and enlightenment, knowing and loving yourself.  As the spiritual seeker progresses they will reach out unselfishly to help others.  This path of devotion is not an easy one to tread when compared with other religions where the person justifies their ego driven behaviour and finds support, comfort, and security within the socialisation of the religious group.

Independent Spirituality is a path where the seeker will experience 'aloneness' within its solo path yet be granted Divine Favour.  This path requires courage and inner faith.

Infinity The infinity symbol (sometimes called the lemniscate) is a mathematical symbol representing the concept of infinity.  It was introduced in 1655 CE by John Wallis (1616 - 1703), and since then has also been used outside of mathematics in modern mysticism and literary symbology.

The symbol is patterned after the device known as a mobius strip (named after the 19th century mathematician August Ferdinand Möbius (1790 - 1868)).  A mobius strip is a strip of paper given a half twist and attached at the ends, forming a two-dimensional surface.

INRI The acronym or initialism 'INRI' (Latin: Iesus/Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum) represents the Latin inscription (in the New Testament John 19:19) which in English reads as 'Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews' and John 19:20 states that this was written in three languages -- Hebrew, Latin, and Greek -- during the crucifixion of Jesus.  The Greek version of the initialism reads INBI.

The title 'King of the Jews' is only used in the New Testament by Gentiles, namely by the Magi, Pontius Pilate, and the Roman soldiers.  In contrast, the Jewish leaders use the designation 'King of Israel'.  Although the phrase 'King of the Jews' is used in most English translations, it has also been translated as 'King of the Judeans'.

Inverted Cross The Inverted Cross was historically a symbol of humility depicting St Peter's refusal to be crucified in the same manner as his Master, feeling himself unfit to die in that way, and preferring to be hung upside down instead.  It was therefore a symbol of unworthiness showing great respect for one's superiors, representing failure and reverence of Christ.

Nowadays, the symbol has come to represent an opposition to Christian dogma, this concept having been taken from Christian writers who originally mistook the emblem of St Peter to be an anti-Christian symbol!

Although the Goat of Mendes is the official symbol of the Church of Satan, the Inverted Cross is now worn by many Satanists, or some who call themselves Satanists.  See also Cross of St Peter.

Inverted Pentagram The Inverted Pentagram now symbolises the Horned GodSatanists also use it to represent the 'Satan' of the Bible, who, believe it or not, had never actually been depicted as horned until the Christian Church used that symbolism to 'demonise' the ancient Pagan Horned God by equating Him with the Devil of The Bible.

The influential writer and occultist, Eliphas Lévi (1810 - 1875) called it evil whenever the pentagram was reversed:

"A reversed pentagram, with two points projecting upwards, is a symbol of evil and attracts sinister forces because it overturns the proper order of things and demonstrates the triumph of matter over spirit.  It is the goat of lust attacking the heavens with its horns, a sign execrated by initiates."

Ionic Cross See Celtic Cross.

Irminsul An Irminsul (old Saxon, probably meaning 'great/mighty pillar' or 'arising pillar') was a pillar-like object attested as playing an important role in the Germanic Paganism of the Saxon people.  The oldest chronicle describing an Irminsul refers to it as a tree trunk erected in the open air.

The purpose of Irminsuls and the implications thereof have been the subject of considerable scholarly discourse and speculation for hundreds of years.  See also Maypole.

Iron Seven metals (gold, silver, mercury, copper, lead, iron and tin) are associated with the seven classical planets, and seven deities, all figuring heavily in Alchemical symbolism.  Iron is symbolic of masculinity due to its hardness, rigidity and strength.

Although the metals occasionally have a glyph of their own, the symbol for the planet Mars is used most often to represent iron, and the symbolic and mythological septenary is consistent with Western astrology.  The planetary symbolism is limited to the seven wandering stars visible to the naked eye, with the extra Saturnian planets Uranus and Neptune not being used.

Ishtar Ishtar was the Mesopotamian goddess of love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, combat, and political power, and the East Semitic counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and a cognate of the Northwest Semitic goddess Astarte and the Armenian goddess Astghik.  Ishtar was an important deity in Mesopotamian religion from around 3500 BCE, until its gradual decline between the 1st and 5th centuries CE with the spread of Christianity.

Ishtar's primary symbols were the lion and the eight-pointed star of Ishtar.  She was associated with the planet Venus and assumed many important aspects of the character and cult of the earlier Sumerian goddess Inanna.

She had been unlucky in love.  Her husband Tammuz, the great love of her youth, had died when he was still very young.  She then fell in love with Gilgamesh, the great king, but he spurned her advances.  After being rejected Ishtar became depressed and decided she would descend into the Underworld to be with Tammuz.  Dressed in her finest garments, brilliant jewellery and her high crown, Ishtar entered the cave that leads into the Underworld, Irkalla's realm.  Many versions of this myth are freely available on the internet.

In the standard Akkadian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ishtar is portrayed as a spoiled and hot-headed femme fatale who demands Gilgamesh become her consort.  When he refuses, she unleashes the Bull of Heaven, resulting in the death of Enkidu.  This stands in sharp contrast to Inanna's radically different portrayal in the earlier Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld.  Ishtar also appears in the Hittite creation myth and in the Neo-Assyrian Birth Legend of Sargon.

Isis Isis is a goddess from the polytheistic pantheon of Egypt.  She was first worshiped in ancient Egyptian religion, and later that worship spread throughout the Roman Empire and the greater Greco-Roman world.  Isis was considered the ideal mother and wife as well as the patroness of nature and magic.  She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans and the downtrodden, but she also listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats and rulers.  Isis is also known as protector of the dead and goddess of children.

The name Isis means 'Throne'; her headdress is a throne.  As the personification of the throne, she was an important representation of the pharaoh's power, the pharaoh being depicted as her child, who sat on the throne she provided.

In the typical form of her myth, Isis was the first daughter of Geb, god of the Earth, and Nut, goddess of the Sky.  She married her brother, Osiris, and conceived Horus with him.  Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by his brother Set.  Using her magical skills, she restored his body to life after having gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the Earth by Set.

This myth became very important during the Greco-Roman period.  For example, it was believed that the Nile River flooded every year because of the tears of sorrow which Isis wept for Osiris.  Osiris' death and rebirth were relived each year through rituals, and the worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of Paganism in the Christian era.  The well-known motif of Isis suckling her son Horus, however, lived on in a Christianised context as the image of Mary suckling her infant son Jesus.

Her cult was popular throughout Egypt; her most important temple is at Philae, now an island in the reservoir of the Aswan Low Dam downstream of the Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser, Egypt.

Isis is still widely worshiped by many Pagans today in diverse religious contexts; including a number of distinct Pagan religions, the modern goddess movement, and interfaith organisations such as the Fellowship of Isis.

Islam Islam is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching there is only one incomparable god (Allah) and that Mohammed is the messenger of god.  It is the world's second-largest religion and the fastest-growing major religion in the world, with more than 1.8 billion followers or 24.1% of the global population, calling themselves Muslims.  Muslims make up a majority of the population in 49 countries.

Islam teaches that god is merciful, all-powerful, unique, and has guided mankind through prophets and revealed scriptures and natural signs.  The primary scriptures of Islam are the Koran, viewed by Muslims as the verbatim word of god, and the teachings and normative example (called the sunnah, composed of accounts called hadith) of Mohammed.

Muslims believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed many times before through prophets including Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.  As for the Koran, Muslims consider it to be the unaltered and final revelation of god.  Like other Abrahamic religions, Islam also teaches a final judgement with the righteous rewarded in paradise and the unrighteous punished in hell.

Religious concepts and practices include the 'Five Pillars of Islam' (obligatory acts of worship), and following Islamic law, which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society from banking and welfare to women and the environment.  The cities of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem are home to the three holiest sites in Islam.

Italian Horn See Cornicello.

Italo-Roman Neopaganism Italo-Roman Neopaganism, also known as Nova Roma, is an international Roman revivalist and reconstructionist organisation created in 1998 CE by Joseph Bloch (1917 - 2009) and William Bradford, later incorporated in Maine as a non-profit organisation with an educational and religious mission.  Nova Roma claims to promote 'the restoration of classical Roman religion, culture, and virtues' and 'shared Roman ideals'.

Reported to provide online resources about Roman culture, Latin language, ancient Roman costuming and re-enactment guidelines, Nova Roma aims to be more than a community of re-enactors or history study group.  The writers Strimska, Davy, Adler, Gallagher-Ashcraft, and recently Chryssides all refer to it as a polytheistic reconstructionist community.  It has a structure based on the ancient Roman Republic, with a senate, magistrates and laws enacted by vote of the comitia, and has its own coinage.

Ivory Ivory is a symbol of purity often associated with the Virgin Mary.  Many Christian crosses were made of Ivory.  To live in an 'Ivory Tower' is used to describe a person who is detached from the real world.

Ivory is a hard, white material from the tusks, traditionally elephants, and teeth of animals, consisting mainly of dentine, one of the physical structures of teeth and tusks.  The chemical structure of the teeth and tusks of mammals is the same, regardless of the species of origin.  The trade in certain teeth and tusks other than elephant is well established and widespread; therefore, "ivory" can correctly be used to describe any mammalian teeth or tusks of commercial interest which are large enough to be carved or scrimshawed (scrollwork, engravings, and carvings done in bone or ivory).  It has been valued since ancient times in art or manufacturing for making a range of items from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes and joint tubes.  Elephant ivory is the most important source, but ivory from mammoth, walrus, hippopotamus, sperm whale, killer whale, narwhal and wart hog is used as well. Elk also have two ivory teeth, which are believed to be the remnants of tusks from their ancestors.

The national and international trade in ivory of threatened species such as African and Asian elephants is illegal.

Ivy Ivy (hedera) signifies immortality and tenacity of life and desire.  Ivy wreaths cool the brow and were also thought to prevent drunkenness.

Dionysus was the ancient Greek god of wine, agriculture, festivity, and theatre, whose festivals often included drunken frenzy and ecstasy as an important component of the revelry (in ancient Rome, Dionysus was known as Bacchus).

Dionysus and his wine drinking retinue are usually depicted wearing a crown of ivy and carrying a thyrsus, which is believed to have been a fertility symbol.  Dionysus sometimes carries a drinking cup in addition to a thyrsus.

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