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Ra / Ré Ra or Ré was the primary name of the Sun god of Ancient Egypt.  He was often considered to be the King of the gods and thus the patron of the pharaoh and one of the central gods of the Egyptian pantheon.  He was also described as the creator of everything but see Atum.  Ra was believed to traverse the sky each day in a solar barque, or sun boat (named Atet from sunrise until noon, and Sektet from noon until sunset), then pass through the realms of the Underworld each night on another solar barge named Matet) to reappear in the east every morning.  According to legend he was attacked during this passage through the Underworld by Apep, a mighty serpent or snake god that typified evil and darkness, which was defeated by Set.

Ra was so powerful and popular and his worship so enduring that some modern commentators have argued that the Egyptian religion was in fact a form of veiled monotheism with Ra as the one god.  This seems to be somewhat of an overstatement, but underlines his primary position within religious texts throughout Egyptian history.

Although an ancient god, Ra was not the oldest of the gods, the first references to him dating only from the 2nd Dynasty.  However, by the 5th Dynasty he was a powerful god who was closely associated with the pharaoh.  The Pharaoh was already seen as the embodiment of Horus and so the two gods became linked, sometimes as the composite deity Ra-Harahkhte ('Ra' (is) Horus) of the Horizon.  Ra also came to be associated with Atum (the creator god of the Ennead in Heliopolis) as Atum-Ra.  By the 5th Dynasty, the pharaoh was referred to as the son of Ra and the name of Ra was incorporated into the throne name of every king from that point onwards.  Many of the Old Kingdom pharaohs had Sun temples built in which to worship Ra.

The Middle Kingdom saw the rise to prominence of Amun of Thebes.  Although Ra kept his association with the pharaoh, he was to some degree absorbed by Amun as Amun-Ra.  However, the priests of Amun became very wealthy and influential, so some of the pharaohs of the New Kingdom chose to elevate Ra in his stead, perhaps partly because he was already closely associated with the pharaoh.

Raëlism Raëlism (also known as Raëlianism or the Raëlian Movement) is an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) religion that was founded in 1974 CE by Claude Vorilhon (born 1946).  The Raëlian Movement teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extra-terrestrials, which they call the Elohim (a name for God used frequently in the Hebrew Bible).

Members of this species appeared human when having personal contact with the descendants of the humans that they made.  They purposefully misinformed early humanity that they were angels, Cherubim, or gods.  Raëlians believe that messengers, or prophets, of the Elohim include Buddha, Jesus, and others who informed humans of each era.  The founder of Raëlism received the final message from the Elohim and the purpose of that message is to inform the world about Elohim and that if humans become aware and peaceful enough, they wish to be welcomed by them.

Rajneesh Movement The Rajneesh movement comprises persons inspired by the Indian mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (1931 - 1990 CE), also known as Osho, particularly initiated disciples who are referred to as "neo-sannyasins" or simply "sannyasins".  They used to be known as Rajneeshees or "Orange People", because of the orange and later red, maroon and pink clothes they used from 1970 until 1985.  Members of the movement are sometimes called Oshoites in the Indian press.

The movement was controversial in the 1970s and 1980s, due to the founder's hostility to traditional moral values, first in India and later in the United States.  In the Soviet Union, the movement was banned as being contrary to "positive aspects of Indian culture and to the aims of the youth protest movement in Western countries".  The positive aspects were seen as being subverted by Rajneesh, who was as a reactionary ideologist of the monopolistic bourgeoisie of India, promoting the ideas of the consumer society in a traditional Hindu guise.

In Oregon, the movement's large intentional community of the early 1980s, called Rajneeshpuram, caused immediate tensions in the local community for its attempts to take over the nearby town of Antelope and later the county seat of The Dalles.

The movement in India gradually received a more positive response from the surrounding society, especially after the founder's death in 1990.  The Osho International Foundation (OIF), previously Rajneesh International Foundation (RIF), is managed by an "Inner Circle" set up by Rajneesh before his death.  They jointly administer Rajneesh's estate and operate the Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune.

There are a number of smaller centres of the movement in India and around the world including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

Rastafari / Rastafarianism Rastafarianism developed in Jamaica during the 1930s CE, and is classified as both a new religious and a social movement.  It is a monotheistic belief in a single God -- Jah -- who partially resides within each individual.  Haile Selassie (1892 - 1975), a former emperor of Ethiopia, is regarded by many Rastas as an incarnation of Jah on Earth and as the Second Coming of Christ.

Rastafari originated among impoverished and socially disenfranchised Afro-Jamaican communities in 1930s Jamaica, and was influenced by both the ‘Back-to-Africa’ movement promoted by black nationalist figures such as Marcus Garvey (1887 - 1940).  It developed after several Christian clergymen, most notably Leonard Howell (1898 - 1981), proclaimed a Biblical prophecy was fulfilled with the crowning of Haile Selassie as Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930.

By the 1950s, Rastafari's stance against the Jamaican culture brought the movement into conflict with the Jamaican society, and violent clashes with law enforcement ensued.  However, in the 1960s and 1970s it gained increased respectability through the popularity of Rasta-inspired reggae musicians such as Bob Marley (1945 - 1981), but the enthusiasm waned following the deaths of Haile Selassie and Marley.

There are an estimated 700,000 to 1 million Rastas across the world, with the largest population being in Jamaica although communities can be found in most of the world's major population centres.  The majority of practitioners are of black African descent, although a minority come from other racial groups.

Raven Because of their dark colouring and gruesome dietary habits, ravens were emblems of war and death, sacred to the gods and goddesses of the battlefield, most notably the warrior-god Bran and the war-goddess Morrigan, a figure from Irish mythology.  The raven acted as Psychopomp, tasked with escorting the souls of the dead into the Otherworld.  Ravens were sometimes viewed as the reincarnation of slain warriors and heroes.

Due to their close relationship with the gods, ravens were used for divinatory purposes and considered to be the voices of the gods -- the Otherworld deities Lugh and Midir are both accompanied by pairs of magical ravens.  This symbolism is echoed in Norse mythology, where the raven is the messenger of the father-god Odin.  Images of three interlinked ravens are emblems of the Triple Goddesses of sovereignty, in particular the Morrigan.

Red King (Sulphur) This image is taken from the 23rd image in a series of drawings from the 17th century alchemical work attributed to Eugenius Philalethes, the Speculum Veritatis (Mirror of Truth.)  This simple symbol of a fire triangle with three radiating arrows below represents the “Perfect Red King,” the Sulphur of the Philosophers.

In alchemy, sulphur represents Sol, the fiery male element (the counterpart of Luna, Mercury, the female element) of the Celestial marriage (conjunctio).  Chemically, the red sulphur was a mixture of mercury (spirit) and sulphur (soul), the marriage of which also represented the spiritual goal of alchemical work.

Religious Society of Friends See Quakers.

Ring of Troth See Troth.

Ring Stone The ring stone symbol, so called because it is worn on rings by many believers of the Baha'i Faith, consists of three horizontal lines which represent the three basics of Baha'i belief, the World of God, the World of God’s manifestation, and the World of man.

The vertical bar represents the connection of these worlds, and the stars flanking the glyph represent the Báb and Bahá’u'lláh, the founders and prophets of the faith.

Roma (Gypsy) Chakra The Roma chakra was adopted in 1971 at the First World Romani Congress as the official symbol of the Roma (Gypsy) people.  It resembles a Hindu Chakra wheel, and not unintentionally.  Chosen deliberately to honour the Romani’s Indian heritage, the sixteen spoked wheel adorns the Romani (Romany) flag, and is reminiscent of the wheels of the Vardo, or Wagon, which has served as the home for wandering Romany families for more than a hundred years.

The origin of the Roma people has until somewhat recently been shrouded in misinformation and misunderstanding.  Historical romantics have asserted their origin to be anything from wandering Egyptian mystics (hence Gypsy stems from this misunderstanding) to a lost tribe of Hebrews.  Anthropological and DNA evidence has since put the factual history of the “gypsies” to rest, but the public has been somewhat slow to follow.  Roma or Rom means “people.”  Romani people generally refer to themselves by tribal affiliations.  Common references like “Gypsy” are considered extremely derogatory and are never used by the Romani to refer to themselves.

Romuva See Lithuanian Religion.

Root Chakra See Muladhara (Root) Chakra.

Rosary Beads The rosary is an extremely popular traditional Catholic devotion which is in fact a series of individual catholic prayers repeated in a specific sequence whilst meditating on a particular mystery.  Rosary beads are an extremely important catholic symbol and are also referred to as prayer beads.  Prayer beads are used to help pray this comforting catholic devotion by allowing you to concentrate completely on meditating the mysteries while you count the series of prayers by moving your fingers from one bead to another as you recite (pray) the individual prayers.

Rosicrucian Fellowship The Rosicrucian Fellowship is composed of men and women who study the Rosicrucian Philosophy known as the Western Wisdom Teachings as presented in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception.  This Christian Mystic Philosophy presents deep insights into the Christian Mysteries and establishes a meeting ground for Art, Religion, and Science.  Max Heindel (1865 - 1919) was selected by the Elder Brothers of the Rose Cross to publicly give out the Western Wisdom Teachings in order to help prepare mankind for the coming age of Universal Brotherhood, the Age of Aquarius.

The work of the Rosicrucian Fellowship is to spread the gospel and heal the sick, which is to be achieved by making the Western Wisdom Teachings available to all who are willing to receive them, and by providing a Healing Department which emphasises spiritual healing along the principles of right living, and by making The Rosicrucian Fellowship books and home study courses available upon request.

These correspondence courses include: studies in Esoteric Christian Philosophy using the basic textbook, The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception; a Bible study course that helps to bring a better understanding of the satisfying truths contained in the Bible; and studies in Spiritual Astrology as a key to the Spirit, designed toward spiritual development and self-knowledge, as well as an aid to healing through Astro-Diagnosis.

One of the basic conditions on which the Western Wisdom Teachings were given to Max Heindel was that no price should be put on them, a condition which was faithfully observed by him, and which is still adhered to.  Although the Rosicrucian Fellowship books are sold, the services of its Healing Department, the Correspondence Courses, and the various School activities continue to be offered on a free-will love-offering basis.  The Rosicrucian Fellowship has no connection with any other organisation and there are no membership dues or fees.

Rosicrucian Society This is an occult secret society supposedly founded in 1407 CE in Germany by 'Christian Rosenkreutz', who was purported to be heavily influenced by Egyptian occultism.  As publicly documented in the early 17th century, the Rosicrucian Order is a legendary and secretive Order, viewed among both earlier and modern Rosicrucianists, as an 'Inner Worlds Order', composed of great Adepts.  When compared with human beings, the awareness or consciousness of these Adepts is reputed to be equivalent to that of demi-gods.  This so-called 'College of Invisibles' is regarded as the source permanently behind all development of the Rosicrucian movement.

In the 17th century three Rosicrucian Manifestos were published anonymously: Fama Fraternitatis in 1614, Confessio Fraternitatis in 1615 and the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz in 1616.  Together they presented a legend related to a German pilgrim named C.R.C., who was later, in the third Manifesto, introduced as Christian Rosenkreuz.  The legend tells us that this pilgrim studied in the Middle East under various occult masters and founded the Rosicrucian Order, aimed at bringing about a 'universal reformation of mankind'.  During his lifetime, the Order was alleged to be very small, consisting of no more than eight members; following his death, apparently in the 15th century, the Order disappeared, only to be 'reborn' in the early 17th century, at about the time the manifestos were published.

The foundation of the Order can be calculated as having occurred in the year 1407.  However, these numbers (and deduced years) are not taken literally by many students of occultism, and are considered as allegorical and symbolic statements for the understanding of the initiated, the reason for which relies on the Manifestos themselves.  On the one hand, the Rosicrucians clearly adopted, through the Manifestos, the Pythagorean tradition of seeing objects and ideas in terms of their numerical aspects, and, on the other hand, they state in the second Manifesto, "We speak unto you by parables, but would willingly bring you to the right, simple, easy and ingenuous exposition, understanding, declaration, and knowledge of all secrets".

In modern times, Rosicrucianism has fragmented into a number of competing organisations promoting variations of the same general occult themes.  Those who study Rosicrucianism are known as Rosicrucians, whose greeting is, "May the Roses bloom upon your Cross."

Rosicrucianism Rosicrucianism is a cultural movement which arose in Europe in the early 17th century CE following the publication of several texts which were supposed to have announced the existence of a hitherto unknown esoteric order to the world, and made seeking its knowledge an attractive opportunity to many.  The mysterious doctrine of the order is allegedly 'built on esoteric truths of the ancient past', which 'concealed from the average man, provide insight into nature, the physical universe and the spiritual realm'.  The manifestos do not elaborate extensively on the matter, but clearly combine references to Kabbalah, Hermeticism, Alchemy and mystical Christianity.

The Rosicrucian manifestos heralded a 'universal reformation of mankind', through a science which had been kept secret for decades until the intellectual climate might be ready to receive it.  Controversies have arisen as to whether they were a hoax, whether the 'Order of the Rosy Cross' existed as described in the manifestos, or whether the whole thing was a metaphor disguising a movement that really existed, but in a different form.  In 1616, Johannes Valentinus Andreae (1586 - 1654) famously designated it as a "ludibrium" (a word derived from the Latin ludus (plural ludi), meaning a plaything or a trivial game.

By promising a spiritual transformation at a time of great turmoil, the manifestos tempted many figures to seek esoteric knowledge.  Seventeenth-century occult philosophers such as Michael Maier (1568 - 1622), Robert Fludd (1574 - 1637), and Thomas Vaughan (1621 - 1666) interested themselves in the Rosicrucian world view.  According to historian David Stevenson (born 1942), it was influential to Freemasonry which was emerging in Scotland.  In later centuries, many esoteric societies have claimed to derive from the original Rosicrucians.  Rosicrucianism is symbolised by the Rosy Cross or Rose Cross.

Roter Adlerorden See Order of the Red Eagle.

Royal British Legion (RBL) The Royal British Legion (RBL), often called ‘The British Legion’ or simply ‘The Legion’, is a British charity founded in 1921 CE to provide financial, social and emotional support for members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families and dependants.  Field Marshal Earl Haig (1861 - 1928), commander at the Battle of the Somme (1916) and Passchendaele (1917), was one of the original founders of the Legion who served as its president until his death.

During WWII the RBL was active in civil defence and the Home Guard.  Later, as veterans of the war were demobilised, its membership grew rapidly.  Much later, in 1971, it was granted another Royal Charter to mark its 50th anniversary.

Possibly best known nowadays for its annual ‘Poppy Appeal and Remembrance services’, the RBL remains a campaigning organisation promoting the welfare and interests of current and ex-members of the British Armed Forces.  It supports around 36,000 War Disablement Pension cases for war veterans and makes in the region of 300,000 welfare and friendship visits every year.

Runes Early Gothic lettering which acquired quasi-magic symbolism as this form of alphabet spread from southern Europe to Scandinavia, runes are a Norse alphabet developed from characters used for magical purposes.  It was believed to have been discovered by Odin (the chief god in Norse mythology) as he hung upside down for nine days on the 'World Tree', Yggdrasil.

There are three commonly known runic alphabets, the 'elder' and 'younger' Futhark (Futhark is the transliteration of the first six letters of that alphabet), the Anglo-Saxon, and the Danish.  The Elder Futhark is the oldest of these, and consists of three sets of eight letters.

Russian Cross The Orthodox (Russian Orthodox) cross is a variation of the Christian cross, which could be found in every Eastern Orthodox Church, as well as the Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine rite (the system of liturgical practices and discipline observed by the Eastern Orthodox church and by the majority of Eastern-rite churches, which are in communion with Rome), and used widely by groups to imply the Byzantine Rite

The cross has three horizontal crossbeams: the top one represents the plate, which in the older Greek tradition is inscribed with a phrase based on John's Gospel 'The King of Glory', but in later images it represents INRI (a Latin abbreviation for 'Jesus, King of the Jews') who was crucified on Jesus' right, and downward towards the impenitent thief Gestas.

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