Precision of communication is important, more important than ever, in our era of hair-trigger balances, when a false or misunderstood word may create as much disaster as a sudden thoughtless act.
13th Moon Glossary
In the material for this course, we will be using terms from many different schools of thought to show how all belief systems have been tied together through the millennia. Skepticism is natural, but let yourself be open to new ways of believing and new ways of defining your world.
The definitions of some words were adapted from sources found online, some came from our own understanding, and some were excerpted from published works. We have included an abbreviated source in parentheses for some of them, such as: Shamanic Experience: A Practical Guide to Shamanism for the New Millennium, by Kenneth Meadows; Dictionary of Mysticism, by Frank Gaynor; The Path through the Labyrinth: The Quest for Initiation into the Western Mystery Tradition, by Marian Green; and The Teachings of Don Carlos: Practical Applications of the Works of Carlos Castaneda, by Victor Sanchez.
We gratefully acknowledge their contributions.
Above (see also Ain Soph): The sacred direction that represents the realm of Grandfather Sky and the Great Creator; although the name of the Great Creator is different for most indigenous cultures, the active principle of Creation is often represented as a light that comes from above.
Adept: A person who has attained proficiency in any art or science; in mysticism or mystery schools, it refers to a person who has attained initiation and has become a master in that belief system.
Age of Aquarius: Our solar system entered the sign of Aquarius around the year 2010. The Aquarian age has been characterized as the Golden Age of humanity in which peace and harmony will abound. In reality, it is a time when illusion is stripped away and truth abounds. It is therefore a time of purification, uprooting, and resurrection in which chaos is experienced. As we are discovering, although chaos seems to have no pattern from a limited and finite perspective, from a larger perspective, there is a great plan to chaos.
Ain Soph (see also Above): In the representation of the Tree of Life from the Kabbala, the Ain Soph sits above and is the limitless light that is the source of all manifestation.
Akashic Records: Linda Howe, a leading authority on the Akashic Records, describes them as “a dimension of consciousness that contains a vibrational record of every soul and its journey” and “an experiential body of knowledge that contains everything that every soul has ever thought, said, and done over the course of its existence, as well as all its future possibilities.” Akasha is a Sanskrit word that means “primary substance, that out of which all things are formed.” Although the word comes from the Sanskrit, the Akashic Records are described in the Bible in as least two places: “You had scrutinized my every action, all were recorded in your book, my days listed and determined, even before the first of them occurred” (New Jerusalem Bible, Psalm 139:16) and “…the book in which men’s actions, good and bad, are recorded, the Book of Life” (New Jerusalem Bible, Revelation 20:12). The Akashic Records are the “light body” of universal self-awareness and contain the universal consciousness with its three main components: mind, heart, and will. Every time we access these records, our awareness is affected by this quality of light, and we become enlightened by it. When this happens, the effects of the light become evident in our thoughts and emotions, and we begin to experience an increased sense of peace and well-being.
Alchemical marriage, or alchemical union: A fusion of the male and female polarities within a oneness of Divine vibration and a necessary stage of attainment for the soul’s purpose that must be achieved before reunion with Sacred Spirit can occur; this union is characterized by Eastern traditions as a “release from the Wheel of Karma.“ It is the highest initiation, one in which our Spirit reunites with the Divine. This union is also characterized as a process by which one energy is fused with another, as in one’s consciousness becoming in tune with that of trees or another person and so on.
Alchemy: The science of chemistry applied to human consciousness, alchemy teaches how to transmute, transform, alter, or reformulate human consciousness at all levels of reality.
Alignment: The poise and balance that the shaman has with the Universe.
Allies: Spirit helpers who are associated with each individual.
All Our Relations, or All Are Related: A translation of the Lakota Mitakuye Oyasin, which begins the gratitude prayer used in many ceremonial occasions (to enter a Sweat Lodge, etc.) and acknowledges our interconnectedness with everything that is manifest
alpha: A level of brainwave activity when the mind and body are in a relaxed state of awareness
altar: A table, platform, or any dedicated group of objects placed together to create sacred space
altered states of consciousness: Non-ordinary consciousness, wherein awareness is directed usually toward inner, rather than outer, reality; the consciousness realm of shamanic journeys, meditational experiences, trances, and also reality state changes induced by drugs, fever, or illness (see also creative visualization)
amulets: Objects worn, carried, or possessed for the purpose of warding off harm or evil (see also charms, talismans)
ancestors: Not only our near, personal relatives who are no longer living and our own past lives that are present within us in our genes, the cells of our bodies contain “echoes“ of our personal, family, national, cultural, and racial past and have an influence on the way we perceive reality. Deep connection with our common bloodlines and genetic memories that maintain guardianship of skills and wisdom traditions and who teach us still
ancestral bequest: The accumulation of unfinished business which each human being inherits from ancestors of his or her blood lineage
anchoring: The process of bringing the understanding contained in a lesson into manifestation through both the subconscious and conscious minds
angels: Immortal energy beings or spirits who can act as mediators between humans and the Numinous
anima mundi: The concept that an intrinsic connection exists between all living things on the planet, which relates to our world in much the same way as the soul is connected to the human body; the idea originated with Plato and was an important component of most neo-platonic systems, therefore we may consequently state that this world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence, a single visible living entity that contains all other living entities, which by their nature are all related
animism: The belief in spirits of nature and that persons and objects are imbued or animated by spirit
Annwn: (Pronounced “Ah NOON“) An underground Netherworld region found in Welsh legend; surviving from pre-Christian Celtic mythology, its immortal inhabitants are the fairy folk , demons, or thinly disguised deities, depending on the viewpoint. There is neither Heaven nor Hell in the Christian sense, humans can enter spiritually .
anthropocentric: Regarding humankind as being the highest and most central aspect of the universe; this is humankind turned inward on itself.
appropriate disclosure: Disclosing only within a consensual circle
Aquarian Age: See Age of Aquarius
arcane (see also occult): Ancient or hidden, a term usually applied to magical knowledge
archangels: Raphael, Gabriel, Michael, and Uriel (or Auriel), guardians of the four quarters or cardinal directions
archetype: A universal symbol of an original energy pattern that indicates how certain forces or influences are operating; a collective, generalized representation of an idea or group of ideas or characteristics; forms that are fundamental to the existence of reality. The term and concept of the archetype was originated in modern times by C. G. Jung. Rupert Sheldrake furthers this concept with his “M forms“ or “morphic fields.“
as above, so below: A law of metaphysics in which every piece of reality is replicated in every other dimension and plane of existence; any truth on the spiritual plane has a corresponding truth on the physical plane and vice versa.
asana: (Sanskrit) Sitting down, or posture; one of the stages of the practice of Yoga, “seated in a position that is firm but relaxed.“
asceticism: The view that the physical body is evil and a detriment to a righteous moral and spiritual life and that through moderation or renunciation of the things generally considered pleasant, one can reach a higher spiritual state or degree of enlightenment; also, the practice of this belief
astral: Another plane of existence or energy level different from ordinary reality that can be entered into while in altered states of consciousness (astral travel, meditation, journeying, etc.); a combination of emotional thought forms and mental thought forms generated by thinking, consciousness, desires, and feelings
astral body: An energy body generated by the emotions of desire and the emotional thought forms generated by human beings
athame: A ceremonial blade, generally with a black handle; the main ritual implement or magical tool among several used in the religion of Wicca and various other neopagan traditions
Atlantis: A lost civilization reported to have sunk under the Atlantic Ocean thousands of years ago, but from which many arts and philosophies of the West have been said to have their spiritual roots
atma/atman: (Sanskrit) Spirit; in mysticism, the Universal Spirit or World Soul
attention: Focus; in shamanism, there is the first attention and the second attention; one occurs in the physical realm, the other occurs in the non-ordinary realm.
attunement: Being or bringing into harmony
aura: A cocoon-like fibrous energy field that surrounds and penetrates life forms, said to undulate rainbow colors by people able to see them and appearing in bright white flashes with some rainbow colors on photographic film; the totality of the energy fields that make up a human being (the electrical, magnetic, emotional, spiritual, etc.)
auric field: An apparent field of subtle, luminous radiation that surrounds both living and nonliving things
authentic: Genuine, not false or copied
awareness: Being alert to what goes on outside yourself; awareness is not consciousness. With awareness, you are conscious of yourself but aware of others; awareness is a function of the spirit and can be active, self-reflective, and unimpaired, or it can be passive and impaired.
axis mundi (also cosmic axis, world axis, world pillar, center of the world, world tree): In certain beliefs and philosophies, the world center, or the connection between Heaven and Earth; as the celestial and geographic pole, it expresses a point of connection between sky and earth where the four compass directions meet. At this point, travel and correspondence occur between higher and lower realms, wherein communication from lower realms may ascend to higher ones and blessings from higher realms may descend to lower ones and be disseminated to all. The axis mundi functions as the omphalos (navel), the world’s point of beginning. The image is mostly viewed as feminine, as it relates to the center of the earth, perhaps like an umbilical cord that provides nourishment. It may take the form of a natural object—a mountain, a tree, a vine, a stalk, a column of smoke or fire—or a product of human manufacture such as a staff, tower, ladder, staircase, maypole, cross, steeple, rope, totem pole, pillar, or spire. Its proximity to heaven may carry implications that are chiefly religious (pagoda, temple mount, minaret, church) or secular (obelisk, lighthouse, rocket, skyscraper). The image appears in religious and secular contexts. Often associated with mandalas, the axis mundi symbol may be found in cultures that follow shamanic practices or animist belief systems, in major world religions, and in technologically advanced urban centers. Mircea Eliade was a Rumanian historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, and professor at the University of Chicago; he was a leading interpreter of religious experience, who established paradigms in religious studies that persist to this day. In his opinion, “Every microcosm, every inhabited region, has a center; that is to say, a place that is sacred above all.“
balance: A state of steadiness and equilibrium, the “middle path“; an equal and harmonious relationship
banishing ceremony: A ritual performed to psychically purify or disperse energy in an area to create sacred space for ritual workings
bards: The ancient order of Celtic poets, storytellers, historians, and musicians who brought news, information, and music to the people and who orally preserved the family lineage records
Beings: Living energies that we honor with ceremony
belief system: A religion or philosophy that rests upon faith in the word or authority of another
Beltane: May Day, and one of eight seasonal festivals, or Solar Sabbats, celebrated in Celtic shamanism (Wicca); it honors the fertility of the Goddess and is traditionally celebrated between April 30 and May 1 with a bonfire or circular dances around a central pole, called a May Pole.
Bhagavad Gita: (Sanskrit) “Song of the Divine One,“ an epic poem that contains a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, which clearly indicates the relationship between morality and absolute ethical values in the Hindu philosophy of action (Karma Yoga)
black magic: Any act designed to subvert the will of another person; selfish and ultimately self-destructive acts that seek to control individuals or situations; practices that go against the evolution of the spirit
Black Road: The antithesis of the Red Road; a path that is self-serving and ultimately self-destructive
blessing: The practice of rendering a thing dedicated, holy, or set apart, usually with a ritual gesture (e.g., sign of the cross) or a full ceremony
Bodhisattva: Worshipped as deities in Mahayana Buddhism, one whose essence is enlightenment; a being that compassionately refrains from entering oneness with the Divine to return in a physical plane incarnation to help others
breakthrough: A process designed to reveal and thus eliminate internal formations
Buddhic plane: A continuum/universe that exists separately, enclosing and interpenetrating grosser hyperplanes; in theosophy, it is the world in which Buddhic (souls ) exist
Buddhism: The multifarious forms—philosophic, religious, ethical, and sociologic—that the teachings of Gautama (Siddhartha) Buddha have produced and which form the religion of hundreds of millions in China, Japan, and other countries. Buddhism centers around the Four Noble Truths, the last of which enables one to reach nirvana (enlightenment) in eight stages: right views, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.
buffalo: A natural symbol of the Universe to the North American Indian because the buffalo represented the totality of existence—it was a source of food, material for clothing, shelter, utensils, tools and weapons; an animal totem of the North
Cabbala: See: Kabbalah
cadre: A small group of people specially trained for a particular purpose or profession
candidate: Literally “One in White,“ an applicant for initiation
cardinal directions: North, South, East, and West
cauldron: A large iron pot, often placed in the center of women’s circles as an acknowledgment or a symbol of women’s spiritual work; forerunner of the Holy Grail
Center: That calm place within you that knows
center, centering: Allowing yourself to reach into the calm place that exists in the center of your being
ceremony: An action or series of actions with multiple, parallel, and harmonic levels of meaning, from the concrete and physical to the symbolic and universal; often celebratory in nature
chakra: A Sanskrit word meaning “wheel“ or “disc“; concentrated centers of spiraling energy found within the body; a system of the subtle energy world that is related to the physical world primarily via the endocrine system of the body; in Yogi philosophy, one of the stages of the developments of spiritual force in humankind; chakras act as gateways to different levels or planes and receive, assimilate, and distribute subtle energies that are pulled into them.
channeling: A form of mediumship that can be dangerous if done by someone who is untrained or not well grounded; people allow beings from other levels of creation to take over their consciousness in varying degrees in order to pass on messages or guidance. Safely done it can be a source of inspiration and otherworldly help.
chanting: A voice harmonic method of changing the frequency of brain wave patterns in order to invite or allow in the awareness of sacred or non-ordinary levels of reality
chaos: An unorganized state in which random, or apparently random, laws influence existence; a condition of untransformed power where energy moves freely and without apparent direction
charms: Objects, such as stones or trinkets, that have special relationships or power for the individual possessing them; spoken charms are used to heal or communicate with nature.
choice: The act of selecting or making a decision when faced with the possibility of one or more actions
Circle: A consecrated (blessed) place outlined as a spiritual working space; a powerfully harmonic energy shape standing for wholeness; a group of people who meet, usually in a circular space arrangement, and are dedicated to specific (i.e., spiritual) work
claim: To acknowledge that you possess or are something, such as to claim your power
clairvoyance: Literally, clear seeing; an ability to see clearly fields of energy that are beyond the frequency range of “normal“ vision; one of the four basic intuitive senses, along with clairaudience (clear hearing), clairsentience (clear sensing), and claircognizance (clear knowing)
clan: A group of people aligned around a central principle, which is often represented by a totem animal (e.g., Wolf clan)
cleansing: An act of purification designed to sanctify a person or object for a sacred purpose
clearing: A “reset” of sorts accomplished by ceremony to rid an area of its previous energies or patterns
commitment: A decision made with intention; giving your word, to yourself or others and acting on that word
communion: A shared meal of bread, cracker, water, juice, wine, or mead; Its origins are ancient and stem from rites that honored the grain Goddess, Ceres; a practice used to seal the bonds of companionship at the end of a ceremony; Earth-honoring communion ceremonies use multigrain bread and water to honor the gifts of life that the Earth gives us.
connection: A reciprocal alignment between two things; in the spiritual sense, a mutually beneficial alignment that honors the wholeness of the other
consciousness: A normal or ordinary state of awareness; primarily, a function that carries information within a level of existence or from one dimension of being to another
consecration (see also dedication): An act of setting aside for a particular (i.e., spiritual) use; a process that involves cleansing, purification, dedication, and empowerment
contemplation: A meditative state wherein the focus is lightly set on a specific state or thing (e.g., “contemplating your navel”)
correspondences: Relationships between things—such as colors, objects, traits, planets, and directions—that link them specifically to one another through a particular energy; in ritual workings, correspondences are used to empower a talisman and to focus, empower, or protect a ritual
cosmology: A system of comprehending the geography of the non-ordinary reality of existence
cosmic web: The universal alignment of all that is, the interconnecting network of spiritual pathways and power resonances of all beings now alive, dead, or only existent in subtle reality
Cosmos: The organized intelligence of the Universe and of the whole of Creation operating in accordance with natural and sacred laws and thus law abiding; the entire Universe, from galaxies down to the smallest aspect of atoms, seen as a coherent whole
council: An organization of people or energies assembled for a specific purpose, usually to teach, direct, or establish consensus
crane bag: A totem bag used by Celtic shamans in which are placed objects that have become symbols of the shaman’s inner spiritual journey and also power objects for shamanic work
Creation (see also Cosmos): The totality of all that is manifest
creative visualization: Directed “imaginative“ journeys sometimes used to create images, scenes, and desired changes; also used to make contact with allies and helpers in other energy realities
crone: A wise woman; a female initiate who is well past the age of menarche and has achieved a high degree of spiritual attainment; in ancient times, they supervised births (as midwives) and deaths and times near death (illness) and were skilled with herbs and the healing arts.
cup: Symbol of the element water, used in communion and on altars during ritual work; also a recollection of the Holy Grail; related to the chalice, a counterpart to the blade, in which the cup or chalice symbolized the feminine (receptive, emotional, magnetic) principle, and the blade represented the male (active, rational, electric) principle
cycle of energy: A circular flow of energy that is continuous through reciprocal nourishing; for example, the Earth gives us food through nutrients in the soil, and we use the waste from the food grown in that soil as compost to nourish the Earth
Dark Night of the Soul (or Descent into Darkness): A phase in the cycle of an initiate’s development in which she faces her imperfect characteristics and habits that do not promote her soul’s service
death: A transition from one state of being to another in a continuous cycle of change
dedication (see also consecration): A prayer that establishes intent in regard to how a thing will be used, as one might dedicate a building for a particular purpose; to do something with dedication is to consecrate ourselves to a purpose
deosil or deiseal: With the sun, or moving clockwise
Deva (see also Elementals): Energy beings of non-human evolution that proceed from the five elements to the mineral kingdom, to the plant kingdom, to elementals, on up to a culmination in the angelic realm
dharma: (Sanskrit) Law; when applied to the individual, it refers to the code of conduct that sustains the soul
directions: The four cardinal points—North, South, East, and West—of the Earth that have come to represent particular qualities or patterns of energy on the Sacred Medicine Wheel of Life; each direction also has a certain essence, tasks, and lessons or inner teachings associated with it. People who use the Wheel as a frame of reference for inner work sometimes speak of “being in the East“ with an issue, or “needing to get more North“ about a situation; analogous to the Four Quarters
divination: A technique using some device that enables the diviner to tap into the subconscious and observe energy patterns
Divine Self: The part of an individual that is inseparable from the Supreme Being and that shares in its perfection and grace
Druid: A shaman, or priest, of the ancient Celtic people of Central Europe and Western Asia before 600 CE who used oak groves, called Nemetons, as their place of worship
drumming: One type of sonic driving, a method of changing the frequency on which the brain operates on a conscious level so that a person can become aware of non-ordinary spiritual realities, rather than ordinary physical appearances
Dryad: In old folk practices, the group souls of trees who may help those who request aid
dual consciousness: A state of awareness common in meditative states in which you are partly aware of where you are actually sitting and partly focused on the theme or experience of the altered state
dualism: The doctrine that there exist two opposing and mutually antagonistic divine or cosmic forces, the extremes of any situation (e.g., good and bad, light and dark, positive and negative, etc.)
Earth-centered path: A path that acknowledges the central role the Earth plays as our teacher and guide; believing that our own inner cycles and patterns mirror the cycles and patterns that the Earth shows us; a deep sense of trust in the mysterious, unknowable ways that life on Earth unfolds; when informed by compassion and inner guidance, a whole-hearted opposition to non-conscious, disrespectful attitudes and actions that harm and degrade life, whether human or non-human; inner attitudes and outer ceremonial forms that respect and celebrate all life; support for both individual vision and aspiration, and the individual’s and our species’ responsibility toward the larger community of beings and ecosystems of the planet; ways to elicit human uniqueness and potential greatness while also affirming the uniqueness and greatness of all other forms of life; a path that shows us that the only way we can fully inhabit our own greatness is through feeling our interdependence with all other beings
Earth Medicine: A Sun Bear system of personality profiling, self-discovery, and personal development based upon Medicine Wheel principles; it has similarities with astrology but is concerned with Earth forces, rather than “influences“ of the stars; Earth Medicine might also be called “Nature Astrology.“
eclectic: A mix of things selected for their value; in this context, choosing doctrines or methods from various sources or systems for their applied value
ecology: The study of, and the stewardship and care of, the interaction of humans with the planet Earth
ego: The part of the human entity (personality) that is conscious of being an “I“; it contains our pride, our vanity, our negativity, and our positivity. The ego often only serves the self.
egoic: Of or relating to the ego. On the highest level, crucifixion-resurrection is symbolic of the spiritual aspirant leaving behind, or dying to, the egoic self—the individual identity defined by personality and physical form—and awakening to the infinite Self at the core of being, which we share with all of existence.
elders: People who have attained a level of knowledge that makes them valuable teachers for their community
elementals: Natural beings associated with each of the four elements who are from another order of Creation; they can be encountered if sought in their own environment but will not necessarily cooperate with humans. Examples include water nymphs, or undines; fire drakes; fairies, gnomes, and sprites; kachinas; and weather elementals.
elements: Components of the manifested Spirit that are coming into expression; each element has abstract qualities of expression that can best be understood in human terms by relating them to similar characteristics found in the physical or tangible Earth. In Wheel systems, these are grouped under headings of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, which are often used to mark out and bless a circle. Some systems recognize five elements; for example, Chinese culture acknowledges five elements and includes Wood and Metal but not Air; Wiccan systems (Celtic shamanism) acknowledge Spirit, or Ether, as a fifth element. In the Wiccan system, the five elements are represented by the five points of the pentagram, a symbol often used ritually or as a talisman for protection
Eleusis: An ancient mystery school and initiation center whose initiation procedures were called the Mysteries of Demeter; its training followed the same patterns as that of the Great Pyramid School in Egypt.
emotion: A flow of energy from subconscious levels that is stimulated by thought and which can be felt; related to the physical body through the endocrine and exocrine glands and the nervous system
emotional body (see astral body)
empty, or empty bowl: A state of being in which a person has cleared away mind chatter and resistance in preparation to be filled with Spirit
energies: The subtlest form of manifestation capable of assuming distinct characteristics
energy: The power to do or be something; has the properties of both matter and motion
enlightenment: The ability or state of perceiving beyond appearances to the essence of reality; the process of the quest for wisdom, which can sometimes produce spectacular flashes of understanding. Historically, enlightenment has been defined as the moment in time at which an individual achieved union with the Divine.
entities: A word often used for beings that have no physical body
Eros: In Platonism, the driving force of life aspiring to the Absolute Good
esoteric: Hidden or secret; not accessible to the uninitiated; when such information is published, it ceases to be esoteric and becomes exoteric, which means that the facts have become the property of the external world or generalized humanity. The study of the relationship between the Divine and the realities of the physical plane; another word for metaphysical
essence: That by which a thing is what it is, as distinguished from the thing’s existence, properties, or attributes
etheric body: The electrical webbing that is the foundation of the aura; it comprises the holographic model of the individual’s existence
etheric realm, or etheric plane: In Theosophy, the realm between the mental and the Buddhic planes that consists of electromagnetic patterns of the devas and elementals
evil: Utilization of misdirected, misplaced, or malignant energies contrary to the power of Love and in opposition to evolution
evocation: A request that is called up from deeper levels from within a person or the Cosmos; opposite of invocation
evolution: The cyclic return to the Source by patterns of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth
facilitator: Someone who assists the Medicine Person during ceremony
fana: In Sufism, self-attenuation or self-effacement, the final steps on the way to mystic union with God (tarigat)
far memory: Term used to describe past-life recall when consulting the Akashic Records
feather: The feather is symbolic of the human aura because it gives out impulses of high-frequency energy, and its fibers are arranged in a structure similar to the threads of energy that comprise the aura; shamans use feathers as an auric healing tool to align auric fibers. The feather is also symbolic of a message or messenger and may also be used as a badge of office. It is said that finding a feather is Spirit’s way of letting you know a prayer is being answered.
folklore: Unwritten and ancient tradition handed down in songs, poetry, and folk customs that retains keys to native traditions
Four Noble Truths: The four basic principles of the teaching of Gautama Buddha: The Truth of Suffering, the Truth of the Cause of Suffering, The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering, and the Truth of the Path to the Finding of Suffering
free will: Liberty to learn by experience and to decide what to do or not do
frequency: The vibratory rate of an energy field or entity
Gaia: The name of the indwelling spirit or consciousness of the planet Earth
gate: An opening; in the context of American Native spirituality, each of the cardinal directions is a gate that opens to deeper understanding
Gāyatrī: In Sanskrit, the feminine form of gāyatra, a song or a hymn having a Vedic meter of three padas, or lines, of eight syllables; in particular, it refers to the Gāyatrī Mantra and the Goddess Gāyatrī as that mantra personified.
Geas, or Geis: A sacred obligation or prohibition against doing something; a taboo in Irish folklore
gift: A particular alignment, unique skill, or ability; an occurrence, object, lesson, or teaching that has the potential to be of ultimate benefit to the receiver when properly understood
gifted: When some bounty shows up for the receiver of the bounty without any effort on the part of the receiver
Give-away: Among native people, status was attained not so much by the possessions one acquired but by how much a person gave away. The principle of the Give-away had the practical effect of ensuring that no one in the tribe had to do without and created a dynamic, renewing flow of energy. The spirit of the Give-away is present in a simple ritual of making an offering in exchange for anything taken from the natural world. The offering could take the form of a pinch of cornmeal or tobacco or a song or a prayer. The form is not as important as the intent: to acknowledge the deep relationship that exists between humans and that which gives us sustenance and to acknowledge our place in the great Web of Life. The act of offering creates a relationship, a circular flow of energy, and it recognizes and honors the flow that already exists, that has always existed, and that must exist for us to live.
glamours: Those things designed to fascinate and allure that embellish only the ego; originally, a spell cast with the intent of deceiving the observer into imagining the presence of something that did not actually exist in form
good looking: The practice of searching for truth with unattached discernment
grail: A thing that is being earnestly pursued or sought after; the Holy Grail is the cup Jesus drank out of at the Last Supper, and it is the Christian version of a pagan Sacred Cup or Cauldron. Also, it is a word for the inner goal of a personal spiritual quest, the path to initiation in the Western Mystery Tradition.
Great Cycle of Being: The idea that everything goes through a cycle of life and death that is unavoidable; the main ideology of the Priest of Rathma’s (Necromancer’s) doctrine
Great Good: The highest good possible for all of Creation
Great Mystery, or Sacred Mystery: Wakan-Tanka, the Lakota term for the triune Creator God, sometimes translated as “Great Spirit,” which includes Tunkashila (Grandfather)
Great Spirit (see also Wakan-Tanka, Great Mystery): The un-manifest Source from which all that is originates and in which all has its existence
Greater Circle: What we create or acknowledge any time we step beyond a limiting belief or limiting behavior into a greater aspect
grimoire: A medieval magical textbook
grounding: A method of ensuring that a person is fully restored to ordinary reality after meditative or shamanic work, such as walking barefoot on the Earth, eating or drinking, singing the musical scale, counting by twos, taking a bath, and so on
group consciousness (see also cadre): A set of human individuals born in the same generation who have agreed while in the spiritual realms to do some project or process together or to help each other or others in the physical plane
guardian incenses: Herbs or spices assigned by a culture to a particular direction—North, South, East, or West—and seen as protectors of the space; culture, location, and mythology determine which herb or spice is used; all are seen as sacred by those who follow an Earth-centered path.
Guardians: Inner aspects related to parts of our Self who prevent us from doing things on the inner levels that might harm us
Guides: Inner aspects related to parts of our Self that lead us through inner worlds and give information, guidance, advice, and inspiration
guilt: The acknowledgment that harm has been brought about by some action that we or our relatives, species, or those we feel responsible for (e.g., pets) have done
Halloween: see Samhain
Hasid (plural Hasidim): Hebrew for pious; originally denoted a Jewish mystic and practitioner of esoteric Judaism
Hatha Yoga: One system of meditative postures, or asanas, designed to “yoke” the practitioner to the Divine in a connection that promotes overall health
healing feather: In American Native tradition, a feather used to promote healing through purification and alignment of the aura
helpers: Beings from any kingdom—plant, mineral, animal, or elemental—that assist humans in their spiritual growth
Hermes Trismegistus: Thrice Great Hermes, the author and record keeper; a deep philosopher who obtained his wisdom from God and heavenly things and not from man; he is credited with creating neo-platonic, Judaic, Kabbalistic, alchemical, and astrological works studied as sacred writings by Egyptian priests and others; identified with the Egyptian god Thoth
Hermetic tradition: A complex system based on the theories of Hermes Trismegistus, involving ritual, symbolism, and arcane philosophy guided by the hermetic principle captured in the statement “That which is Above is like that which is Below and that which is Below is like that which is Above, to accomplish the Miracle of Unity.“
hierophant: High Priestess/Priest or adept
Higher Self (see also soul, Pure Self): The highest aspect of one’s being; some describe it as Divine Self, or the Self (spelled with a capital “S“). It is the permanent aspect of personality that is immortal, in contrast to the human self, from which the Higher Self is differentiated; similar to the Hokkshideh of Hasid tradition
hollow bone: What the shaman becomes in order to allow Spirit unfiltered and unobstructed access to the physical plane through a human vehicle for teaching or healing
honor, honoring: To acknowledge the value and right of being of another person or their point of view
honorable closure: a willingness to be coached to determine the outcome together
human self: The conscious aspect of a human being that commands, determines, and makes choices, usually through what information it receives through the five physical senses; it is sometimes referred to as the “middle self“ or in some systems as the “ego“ or “self,” spelled with a lowercase “s.“ It is the self of the individual human personality, which has only temporal existence, as differentiated from the part of the personality that is immortal. It is the counterpart of the Higher Self, soul, or Pure Self. Kahuna (Hawaiian and Polynesian) shamans call it the uhane.
humility: A mindset in which equal greatness is acknowledge in every aspect of Creation such that none is placed above any other and all gifts are honored
Hunab Ku: The Mayan name for the One God
hypnogogic state: A natural state between waking and sleeping in which dreamlike images flash across the screen of the mind; associated with lucid dreaming, sleep paralysis, and “hallucinations”
ida: One of the fundamental nadis that corresponds to one of two holes in the spine, left and right channels, through which the nerves pass; it is associated with feminine lunar energy, whereas the masculine energy that flows up the spine and is connected to the solar aspects of the Earth plane is called pingala. Together these represent the basic duality of existence.
imaginal realm: The plane of imagination created by visualization; this realm is used for the journeying experience, as an entrance into the Spirit World, and for dialoguing with dream characters and others who are not present physically; this realm allows the creation of a matrix for manifestation.
imagination: The ability to allow impressions to form in the mind that stimulate the senses; some people see pictures in the mind, others sense feelings, and others tend to primarily hear sounds.
imbas forosnai: A gift of clairvoyance or visionary ability practiced by the gifted poets of ancient Ireland; imbas means “inspiration,” specifically poetic inspiration, and forosnai means “illuminated” or “that which illuminates.” That practice involved techniques of sensory deprivation to induce trance states in which wisdom, in the form of poetry, could be received.
Imbolc: (Pronounced “IM-bulk“) Celtic spring festival held on February 1st, also called St. Brigid’s Day
impeccability: Ethics in shamanistic practice; a perennial search in every action, even the smallest, even the hardest, to do one’s best and make optimal use of individual energy, which carries us beyond our limits; performing each act as though it was the last battle, and therefore the best, with death as the constant companion who infuses each act with power, creating magic as a living person on earth; enjoying each moment of time in the way of the heart; reducing one’s needs to nothing, realizing that needs engender wants and misfortune; free from need, living in a permanent state of abundance (from The Teachings of Don Carlos)
incarnation: Literally, embodied in flesh; to take on a lifetime in a physical body
incubation: To incubate means “to sit on,” as with eggs; in the same way, incubation was the name given to an ancient tradition of healing sleep, often hypnotically induced, wherein the patient dreams of his/her cure
Inipi: The Sweat Lodge, a ceremony of purification
initiate: When used as a noun, a person who wishes to become enlightened and begins to dedicate the actions and thoughts of his or her life toward that accomplishment; as verb, to begin
initiation: In the mystery schools, a rite of passage ceremony; an aspect of Mystery teaching, whether an outer or inner experience, in which realization of mastery is obtained in one aspect or level and a new or next level of training is begun
Initiation Path: The succession of events that allows seekers to access the Divine at critical points in their lives
Inner Child (see also Pure Self): A person’s original or true self, especially when regarded as damaged or concealed by negative childhood experiences
Inner Self: The part of us most capable of evolving, healing, and obtaining wisdom
inner space, or inner planes: A dimension of non-physical existence and non-ordinary reality wherein time is not constant; it is entered through altered states of consciousness. Information may sometimes be obtained from an Inner Plane Adept, an evolved soul.
innocence: Complete impartiality and objectivity; the opposite of opinion and judgment
inspiration: Literally, “breathing in“; a direct form of knowledge usually expressed in poetry, art, writing, or another form of creativity; a direct gift from the Numinous
integrity: The state of being whole and undivided; the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; character
intent, or intention: Purpose; one of the fundamental principles of the three Sacred Fires of Will, Love, and Active Intelligence; the intent with which we do anything sets the energy pattern for that act.
internal formation: A limiting belief, negative thought or thought pattern, negative behavior or a knot in a muscle, a disease, or any dysfunctional behavior or addiction; anything that is stored in the body with ill effects.
introspection: The observation of the presentations and processes of one’s own consciousness
intuition: A knowing, often sudden, that transcends the reasoning mind; teachings from within; a faculty or ability to be aware of facts and knowledge that cannot be conveyed by reasoning processes, associated with irrational “right brain“ processes
invocation: Calling for help from sources such as angels and other evolved beings; sometimes called evocation
involution: In physiology, a shrinking inward, a with the womb after childbirth; in spirituality, the inner evolution of the heart, mind, and soul; also, forces of chaos breaking apart that which is formed so it becomes unformed
Journey: Perceiving with the mind’s eye, or from an altered state of consciousness, another scene in which you enter in search of guides, knowledge, and tools ; the means by which the shaman enters the Spirit World
Kabbalah (Cabbala): From the Hebrew, “to receive“; a mystery teaching of ancient Judaism based in the Tree of Life that describes how life and the world work
Kabbalists: Those who study or adhere to the teachings of the Kabbalah
Kahuna: A Hawaiian word meaning “priest,” “teacher,” or “expert”; when “decoded,” the word indicates a highly skilled shaman who acts as a vessel of vital force, which he is able to generate and direct to achieve desired results.
Kali Yuga: A Hindu concept of the age of the fire principle, the age in which we currently live, in which fire is let loose that burns away or purifies and leaves energy to regenerate
Karma: Repetitive conditions and circumstances indicating areas of life that are not working harmoniously and which need to be adjusted to further the individual’s spiritual evolution; often characterized as the law of cause and effect in which one is “punished“ for past transgressions. In actuality, it is a way of completion, not retribution.
Keepers: Aspects included in the introduction for each gate (Spirit Keepers); aspects of the North, South, East, and West are all the associated attributes listed on those pages such as elements, animals, plants, seasons, spirit pathways, colors, and so on.
labyrinth: A spiral pathway spiritual seekers follow that has inherent in its design spiritual teachings. (A maze is different form a labyrinth in that it is designed to trick or detour.) The labyrinth design takes the initiate from the outer world into the center of the Cosmos and back out again.
lamen: A ceremonial sacred symbol, usually a pendant or badge worn on a cord around the neck, that may indicate rank or office or may act as a signal of the intention to contact inner realms
Lammas: See Lughnasadh
lamp, light, or candle: An actual flame used in ceremony or ritual to stand for the Divine Light; in ritual magic, a candle may also be placed on the altar to represent the element of fire
Left-Hand Path: Magical path to self-destruction; anti-evolutionary magic
legends: Tales and myths, which may not agree entirely with history because many have a symbolic meaning, rather than a material basis; such stories preserved much of the pre-literate initiation ceremonies.
liminal: From the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”; it refers to the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual’s liminal stage, participants stand at the threshold between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community and the new way that the ritual establishes.
Litha: Summer solstice (June 20-22), also called Midsummer, and one of eight holidays celebrated in Celtic shamanism (Wicca); the longest day of the year and a time when light and life are abundant and the Sun God is at his greatest strength; Midsummer Night’s Eve is also special to those who practice the Faerie faith.
lodge: A group of celebrants or a place to hold ceremonies
love: A bonding power that holds together everything in existence; the spiritual essence from which everything in existence is derived; also, an unconditional sharing of the experience of connection with another, which is directed toward the harmonious growth and development of the beloved.
Lower World: See: Underworld
Lughnasadh, or Lammas: (Pronounced LOO-nass-ah) A Gaelic harvest festival usually celebrated from July 31 to August 1, about halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox; one of eight seasonal festivals widely celebrated in pre-Christian Britain and still celebrated today by practitioners of Wicca (Celtic shamanism).
lunar initiation: Going inward in a feminine polarity to clear the emotional body; the challenges and procedures that have to do with clearing the astral levels of our incarnation
Mabon (Pronounced MAH- bawn): One of the eight holidays celebrated in Celtic shamanism (Wicca); the Autumn Equinox, celebrated between September 21-23, marks the point at which day and night are divided equally. Wiccans celebrate the aging Goddess as she passes from mother to crone and her consort God as he prepares for death and rebirth.
magick: A technique for bringing desired changes into physical manifestation; a process of crafting and shaping the things in one’s life in accordance to will; this not to be confused with the magic of the clever illusionist nor with superstition or the magic of a ceremonial occultist or a practitioner of the “black arts”.
mandala: A universal circular symbol; as well as being an expression of the wholeness contained within the totality of life, it is a symbol of the Self and the Source; a sacred shield.
manifestation: The process of causing outward creation in alignment with inner goals by the power of focused intent .
matriarchy: A system of governance founded on the dominance of the feminine polarity and its energies.
matrilineal: Based on kinship with the mother or following the lineage of the mother; for example, much of Judaism is matrilineal, as are many American Native tribes, such as Cherokee, Choctaw, Hopi, Navajo, and many others.
matrix: A surrounding medium or structure; a mold to be filled.
Maya: A Sanskrit term, approximately meaning illusion.
Mazdayasna: see Zoroastrianism
Medicine: The spirit power of a life form; in the Native way, the power of a person, plant, animal, mineral, or other object to do good for the benefit of all; the ability to make a harmonious whole; also, inner knowledge; for example, a Medicine Man or Medicine Woman is a person empowered with knowledge of healing; many plants, such as Peyote and Ayahuasca, are said to contain “Big Medicine.”
Medicine Bundles, Bags, or Pouches: Items that provide protection by allowing you to carry your Medicine Objects, those things that enhance your personal Medicine; Medicine Bundles are dedicated to Spirit and thus become sacred, therefore it is not appropriate to use them for storing other belongings. Once a bundle or bag has been made or designated as a medicine tool, perform a bonding ceremony. Smudge yourself, the bag or pouch, and anything you will be putting into it. Give the pouch away to the Universe by praying that the Creator will use the tool, and you, for the highest good. Call to the Medicine you want to instill in the pouch by saying something like, “Creator, I would like to invite in the Medicine and Power of this Medicine Bundle. The intended purpose of the bag is to heal and to promote Spirit on this Earth, and I pray that the Medicine and Spirit of these energies enter the bag.“ Pray to be bonded with this tool for the purposes of the highest good. Then make a prayer of gratitude as an offering to give thanks for this gift of Spirit.
Medicine Keeper: See Keepers.
Medicine Path: The way of the healer.
Medicine Person: One who walks a Medicine Path.
Medicine Wheel: A ceremonial center of culture, astronomical laboratories, and places people would come to mark the times and changes in their own lives as well as in the life of the earth; the Wheel teachings represent the cycle of all things that spiral in the ever-moving Universe in a process of constant movement and subtle change in harmony together. Thus each one of us, within the circle of our own time and space, is ever spiraling with our thoughts and actions toward realization of the whole; this circle represents complete harmony and balance and becomes our personal Medicine Wheel.
meditation: A passive state of controlled altered consciousness
mental body: The webbing of energy that consists of all the thought forms, memories, and mental processes of a human being
Merlin: A legendary Druid, Britain’s magical guardian
metaphysics: The study of the relationship between the Divine and physical reality
Metis: A French word originally for the name of a people of French-Indian descent in Western Canada; now it applies to anyone of mixed Indian and other descent
microcosm: Literally, the “small universe”; a term used by theosophists for man, regarded as a replica of the macrocosm (the Great Universe) because man contains all the elements, qualities, and potencies of the Universe
Middle Pillar: The place of balance between the pillars of severity and mercy represented in the Tarot and the Kabballah; in Masonic practice, these outer pillars were called Boaz and Joachim, and the initiate stood in equanimity between them. The book “The Middle Pillar,” by Israel Regardie, is subtitled “The Balance Between Mind and Magic.”
mikvah: A ceremonial bath for purification practiced by people of the Jewish faith
mindfulness: The practice of maintaining a state of heightened awareness in order to be fully present with the actions taken on the Earth plane and the effects these actions have on ourselves and others
Mitakuye Oyasin: A Sioux acknowledgement of interconnectedness, literally “All My Relatives” or “All My Relations“
Mithraism: A mystery cult or religion originating in Persia, very popular during the Roman Empire; its divine being, Mithra, devoted his life on Earth to the service of humankind, and his followers believe he ascended to Heaven and continues to help the faithful in their fight against the forces of evil. The Mithraists had a very elaborate process of initiating, and the candidate had to pass through seven grades symbolic of the passage of the soul after death through the seven heavens to the final dwelling place of the blessed. Mithraism restricted its membership to men. Initiates called themselves syndexioi, those “united by the handshake.“
monad: Center of the soul; the spark of the Divine within us that is the core of our soul
moon time: Menstruation
moons: A specific, annually recurring 28-day cycle of time with unique qualities, characteristics, and symbolism
moonwise: In a counter-clockwise direction
mysteries: In esoteric philosophies, this term is used in general for any occult discipline, religion, or body of teachings or practice, the nature and meaning of which is not divulged to non-initiates (i.e., Eleusian mysteries, Egyptian Temple practices, Mithraism, Gnosticism, Alchemy, Rosicrucianism, Orphic mysteries, Masonic Rites, and the Temple practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints [Mormons]); a body of teachings that a human being must experience to achieve union with the Divine
mystery schools: Mystery religions, sacred mysteries, or simply mysteries were religious schools of the Greco-Roman world for which participation was reserved to initiates (mystai). The main characterization of these was the secrecy associated with the particulars of the initiation and the ritual practice, which may not be revealed to outsiders. The most famous mysteries of Greco-Roman antiquity were the Eleusinian Mysteries, which were of considerable antiquity and predated the Greek Dark Ages. The mystery schools flourished in late antiquity. In the mid fourth century, Julian the Apostate is known to have been initiated into three distinct mystery schools, most notably Mithraism. Due to the secret nature of the school, and because the mystery religions of late antiquity were persecuted by the Christian Roman Empire from the fourth century, the details of these religious practices are derived from descriptions, imagery and cross-cultural studies. Because of this element of secrecy, we are ill-informed as to the beliefs and practices of the various mystery faiths; all we really know is that they were similar.
mystical marriage: A term for the fusion of the male and female polarities into a oneness of divine vibration; when the mystical marriage within a person’s consciousness is achieved, it is achieved by the opening of the heart center, where the male and the female energies of consciousness unite and become divine within the heart, causing the human to become not only divine within but to merge into the Divine without. The mystical marriage is the first step toward union with the Divine. First the male and female within the self must fuse, which then allows people to connect to their own divinity. From that connection, they can connect or communicate to the Divine in all creation.
mysticism: Any philosophy, doctrine, teaching, or belief centered more on the worlds of the Spirit than the material universe and aimed at the spiritual union or mental oneness with the universal Spirit. In its simplest and most essential meaning, it is a type of religion that puts the emphasis on immediate awareness of relationship with Spirit.
names, naming: All words have power, but names with resonating energetic correspondences to the thing named are most powerful.
native tradition: Any land’s original tradition, grown from the rocks and soil and explored by the original or First People and usually handed down in songs and tales because such people were pre-literate
Nature, nature: The entirety of the natural world, including plants, animals, weather, and so on; also, the essential character of a thing, such as the Earth or of something on or in the Earth; the capitalization is used to reflect the sacredness of all life.
Nemeton: A sacred space of ancient Celtic religions; Nemeta appear to have been primarily situated in natural areas, and as they often utilized trees, this is often interpreted as a sacred grove. However, other evidence suggests that the word implied a wider variety of ritual spaces, such as shrines and temples.
New Age (see also Age of Aquarius): The idea of a time in history in which all achieve new levels of awareness and ways of being that promote only the highest and best
non-ordinary reality: All planes of existence that are nonphysical
Numinous: Deity; of or characteristic of a guardian deity or indwelling guiding force or spirit; having a deeply spiritual or mystical effect
occult: Hidden from the uninitiated; a synonym for esoteric
Old Ways: Earth-centered paths
One: The Supreme Being that comprises the whole of the Web of Life
Orenda: An energy believed by the Iroquois people to be present in varying degrees in all objects or persons and to be the spiritual force by which human accomplishment is attained or accounted for; also called Kundalini
Ostara: The first full moon after the vernal equinox (March 20-23), one of eight holidays celebrated in Celtic shamanism (Wicca); adopted by the Christian Church and celebrated as Easter, it is a celebration of fertility honored the world over with various fertility symbols, such as bunnies and chocolate eggs placed in baskets; the name relates to the Saxon lunar goddess Eostre, from whose the name the word “estrogen” evolved.
pagan: Originally Latin for “country-dweller“ but now applied to people who choose to worship outside of orthodox religions; those who walk an Earth-centered path devoted to acknowledging the sacredness of the elemental forces
path: A route the consciousness can take between different levels of being; the experience following a dedication to a certain doctrine, teaching, or belief system
pathworking: Originally a Kabbalistic practice of exploring the path of the Tree of Life, now used as a general term for “inner journeys“ or guided meditations, following a symbolic or real road through inner worlds to discover new information or receive direction from a Guide, and so on
patriarchy: Governance founded on the dominance of the masculine polarity and its energies
personal history: A strong attachment to a past pattern of life that has been impressed upon you by other people and which conditions your thoughts and actions; personal history makes you feel obliged to explain and justify your actions.
personality: A combination of character and behavior traits and parts of beingness that distinguish one individual from another
pingala: One of the fundamental nadis that corresponds to one of two holes in the spine, left and right channels, through which the nerves pass; the masculine energy that flows up the spine and is connected to the solar aspects of the Earth plane is called pingala, and its color is red; its lunar, feminine counterpart is known as ida. Together these represent the basic duality of existence.
Pipe: A sacred tool that represents the Universe; it unites all the human, animal, plant, and mineral kingdoms within it. The bowl represents the feminine aspect of divinity and the stem represents the masculine aspect. The tobacco and herbs are the sacred offering. The inhaled smoke is regarded as the breath of the Great Spirit, and the exhaled smoke represents the intentions and prayers of the one who smokes the pipe and those in whose presence it is smoked. The smoke has an analogous meaning to the burning of incense in Eastern and Christian practices.
planes (see also realms, Inner Space): Dimensions that have unique energy characteristics
Potlatch: A Northwest Coast Native American Give-away ceremony
power, or Power: Motive force, or the ability to influence people or events; the capitalized form is used to represent the inherent life-force energy within a thing.
power hour: A devotional period lasting one hour
Power Song: A song of Power received while questing
power spots: Sacred sites that emit an energy that can have a beneficial effect on those who visit them; a personal power spot is a place that has a harmonious atmosphere in which personal empowerment can be found.
prayer: A connection with the Divine that is established with dedicated intention using words spoken either aloud or silently within for a specific purpose; a prayer of supplication is used to ask for something, and it comes from the belief that we do not already have what we are asking for; a prayer of gratitude is used for acknowledging that which has already been given and can include those things that have not yet appeared on the physical plane at the point in time that the prayer is offered.
projection: A mirror that shows us what we have created, which is best illustrated in Gregg Braden’s YouTube video “The 7 Essene Mirrors” (the 2-hour version).
Pure Self, also called the Inner Child, silent self, or hidden self: Comparable to Freud’s “id” concept or the “inner child” concept in transactional analysis; a young and often fear-based aspect of our personality that is a prime mover of the unconscious. Its nature is like that of a child, and it is referred to as “silent” because it communicates not in words but in imagery.
purification: The process of ridding the body, an object, or a place of physical substances and/or psychic influences that cause discomfort or that do not serve the highest good; examples of these include mikvahs, smudging, and fasting.
purification incenses: Herbs or spices assigned by a culture to a particular direction—North, South, East, or West—and seen as purifiers of the space; culture, location, and mythology determine which herb or spice is used; all are seen as sacred by those who follow an Earth-centered path.
Qabalah (see Kabbalah)
quarters: Each of the four directions
quest: A real or symbolic journey in pursuit of wisdom, self-identity, and spiritual growth
rattling: A type of sonic driving used to change the frequency at which the brain operates on a conscious level in order to become aware of non-ordinary spiritual realities
realms (see also planes, inner space): Energy dimensions, spaces, or regions
reciprocity: The practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit
Red Road: The path of Spirit that serves the greatest good
relationship: The world of interconnectedness and being related to all things and to all processes; a balanced relationship is a two-way, circular flow of energy. The focus is on the flow between two entities and not on the individual. The strands of relationship continually weave us into a larger whole.
relaxation: A letting go of physical tensions and mental and emotional stress and a slowing down of the energy systems while being mentally attentive so that one can come into attunement with subconscious activity. Relaxation is an essential preliminary step to shamanic work and any expansion of the perceptions.
releasing (see also surrender): The surrender of one thing so something better can take its place
religion: A personal awareness of relationship with God/Goddess or Gods/Goddesses, the Creator, Source, or a Supreme Being through either orthodox faith or personal discovery, worship, celebration, and thanksgiving
Right-Hand Path: The path of spiritual evolution working in harmony with the laws of Creation
rites of passage: Originally, ceremonies to celebrate births, naming, deaths, puberty, marriages, and so on; also used to mean initiations or rituals to commemorate passage from one level or degree of spiritual attainment to another
ritual: A formalized symbolic action that is a reflection of the deep structure of the culture and the patterns and propensities of the individual(s) performing it; a method of converting thoughts into symbolic actions in order to reach or to powerfully impress the subconscious to act on the intention held for the ritual
runes: The twenty-four letters of the ancient proto-Germanic alphabet of the people of the Norse peninsula, which also include a twenty-fifth blank “mystery rune,” Odin, that symbolizes the Divine Unknown; these symbols were found in Nature and were carved on wood staves or stones for the purposes of storytelling, divinatory working, and talismanic magic. Each symbol has correspondences that represent aspects of Cosmic power or primal forces. Runes are one of the spiritual languages of the Cosmos and were neither devised or invented; according to legend, they were discovered through shamanism by Odin, who hung upside down from the World Tree, Yggdrasil, and saw them floating in the water. One common example of a runic talisman is the peace sign, a representation of the upside-down rune Eihwaz, the proto-Germanic letter “i” that corresponds to the yew, a shrub that the Norse people associated with protection.
Sacred Center: The nonphysical part of a person that is connected to the Divine
Sacred Feminine: A term that came to popularity in the 70s as part of the women’s movement as a representation of the goddess Shakti; this use of this term has since been expanded to embrace the goddess energy in general and all that it represents.
Sacred Intervention, or Divine Intervention: Life occurrences that come in often surprising ways to serve the highest good of an individual or all of Creation
Sacred Mystery: See Great Mystery
Sacred Round: See Sacred Wheel
Sacred Space: A space that becomes a sanctuary where one connects with the divine to do sacred work, such as meditation, soul retrieval, prayer, grief work, reflection, making love, family counsels, and so on
Sacred Spiral: A curve on a plane that winds around a fixed center point at a continuously increasing or decreasing distance from the point that is used to create sacred space where transformation happens by weaving together the psyche and soul that have been split
Sacred Wheel: Used throughout time to describe the cycle of life from birth to death; on the Wheel, we are all equal; if the wheel is spinning, this represents time.
Sacred Wisdom: Wisdom arises in observing repeated patterns of mind and action and embracing what no longer serves us. Wisdom develops like the pearl: within the oyster or the mussel, it starts as an irritation, and as the irritation heals, it is surrounded with a beautiful, layered crystalline structure.
Samhain (pronounced Sow-IN): One of eight seasonal festivals practiced in Celtic shamanism (Wicca) and widely observed in pre-Christian times throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Traditionally celebrated from sunset on October 31 to sunset on November 1 (the Celtic day began and ended at sunset), it marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the darker half of the year. About halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, it was popularly seen as the Celtic New Year and was acknowledged as the time of the year when the veil between the worlds was thinnest and spirits could walk the Earth, a belief that evolved the practice of dressing up as ghosts and goblins for “Halloween,” or All Hallows Eve (Holy Evening). In their attempt to convert the “pagans” (country dwellers) of Northern Europe to Christianity, the Catholic Church moved to subsume this celebration by pronouncing the following day “All Saints Day.”
Saturn Return: An astrological term used when the planet Saturn returns in your horoscope to the same place it was when you were born; this is experienced as a time of cleansing and upheaval and opportunity for renewal.
school: An established group that offers training to students who wish to follow its particular tradition; in ancient times, a place where one could go to study the nature of the Divine and his/her relationship to it
scrying: The practice of looking into a suitable medium, such as a crystal ball or a shallow cup of tea leaves, in the hope of detecting significant messages or visions; through the ages, a prominent form of divination, or “fortune telling,” whose objective might be personal guidance, prophecy, revelation, or inspiration
seeker: One who seriously pursues spiritual knowledge or who seeks the Light of Wisdom
self: The ego self, whose job it is to ensure survival
Self: The Divine self that persists beyond death
sentient beings: Any entity or energy that has a consciousness or that is on an evolutionary path
sephira (plural sephiroth): A sphere, or wheel; specifically, one of the ten spheres of manifestation represented in the Tree of Life from the Kabbalah, an esoteric visual description of how the world was created and how to return to union with the Divine
service, Service: The act of helping or doing work for some other; spelled with a capital “s,” it refers to acts given in devotion and dedication to the Divine. The essence of spiritual Service is that it be a complete form of energy; in other words, we receive as much as we give and give as much as we receive. Self-less service is not true service to the Divine but is rather an aspect of egoism.
shadow: The hidden or forgotten aspects of our inner nature that are often not owned or are denied
shaft: The single hollow spine that runs the entire length of a feather
shaman: Originally a Siberian word, it refers to a person who has access to and influence in nonphysical (Spirit) realms; often used to referred to a priest-magician or Medicine Person, it denotes one who has direct personal experience of non-ordinary realms and uses that ability to heal at all levels: physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual
shamanism: The practice of the principles and techniques of shamans, which involves working with entheogens, specifically to access the powers of Nature that exist both inside and outside the individual self as both manifest forms and un-manifested potentials; essentially an activity of the Spirit, shamanism is a means of learning by accessing the Spirit realms through direct personal experience; its methods transcend the intellect and form part of the ancient science of the Spirit.
sitting place: Your Earth Medicine birthplace on Sun Bear’s Medicine Wheel, or the direction from which you are perceiving reality; the place you are drawn to position yourself on an actual Wheel for purposes of learning from that position
Sidhe: (Pronounced Shee) From bean sidhe, or banshee, a female spirit from Irish legend; Leanan sidhe is the name given to a beautiful faerie woman who takes a human lover; also, a Cat Sidhe, or Cat sith, was a creature from Scottish and Irish mythology.
sigil: From the proto-Germanic alphabet of the people of the Norse peninsula, the rune that corresponds to the letter “s” and which is imbued with the power of the sun; often used for talismanic purposes, the double-sigil was seen to possess great power, which is why Hitler, a student of the occult, emblazoned it on his military uniforms
Silver Branch: A tool of Celtic shamanism analogous to rattles of the American Native tradition, the use of which acts a symbol to the inner realms or a statement of intention that you are ready to receive from them
skull: An ancient symbol of the seat of consciousness and of the existence of other realms of reality that lie behind the material world of flesh
smudging: The use of smoke to clear away unhelpful or distracting vibrations to attract beneficial energies to oneself, others, and things; because it operates on both the physical realm and inner realms, smudging acts as a dedication and a signal of declared intentions.
soft eyes: A specific type of focus used in shamanism to see the finer energies of the Spirit World; in popular culture, it is a reference from the TV show “The Wire,” used to refer to the ability to see the whole picture, situation, or agenda without judgement (see also good looking); if you are seeing with “hard eyes,” you are staring at the tree and missing the forest.
sonic drivi ng: A method of using repetitive, rhythmic sound to entrain the brainwaves to a specific state in order to evoke altered states of consciousness; see also rattling, drumming
sorcerer: One who practices nagualism, the search for freedom through the use of shamanic knowledge to hunt for Power; one who practices the transformative techniques of shape-shifting and power manipulation as outlined in the books of Carlos Casteneda; in negative usage, one who attempts to manipulate and exert control without loving concern or intentions
soul: The life expression system that enables the individuated Spirit within (the Higher Self) to express itself at conscious, subconscious, and superconscious levels; the soul is the spark of the Numinous within us that is immortal and that maintains direct connection to the Numinous; our Higher Selves have direct connection to our souls. A group soul is built up within any regularly meeting group of people and may link in with the group soul of a nation or land, the collective unconscious.
soul retrieval: When a trauma occurs, such as an illness or an assault, the injured person often detaches a part of their soul essence and sends it away to safety, often referred to as soul loss, so that the person can survive in a disassociated state to tolerate the physical or spiritual pain and suffering. To support the person, the shaman may undertake a Journey into the area of the Spirit world where the essence has gone (e.g., the Land of the Dead, the Cave of the Lost Children) in order to retrieve the missing soul essence and return it to the person to re-establish their wholeness. This is similar to the work a psychologist may undertake, such as with hypnosis or guided imagery, in which the person in need of support is instructed on how to find the missing elements of the personality in the imaginal realms to restore them to wholeness. As similar as these two techniques may appear to be, they are not the same. A shaman would never allow a wounded soul to Journey into the Spirit Realms alone without training and guidance. A detailed description of this process can be found in Sandra Ingermann’s book, Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self.
Spirit: In humans, the Higher Self; in Nature, the evolving inner aspect, the individuated essence of the Life Force, the driving force of every entity. Everything has a Spirit, be it human, animal, plant, mineral, or celestial form.
Spirit Body: The part of a person that enters into the physical body through the process of birth. Upon mortal death, the Spirit Body leaves the mortal body and returns to the Spirit realm. The Spirit Body has a function that guides us if we are willing to ask (pray, meditate) and then to listen to the answer.
Spirit feather: A feather consecrated for use in ceremony
Spirit Keeper: See Keeper
Spirit Teacher, Spirit Guide: An entity or consciousness dedicated to helping all beings toward enlightenment and union with the Divine
spiritual path: A set of values, ethics, morals, laws, codes of conduct, and choices that allows humans to regularly access the divinity within and without
spirituality: A sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves; being guided in one’s actions by the Spirit within; conditioning by principles rather than by rules, roles, or expectations; spirituality retains the fundamental liberty of free will.
Star Nation: Every star in the sky and all of that realm
story: Personal or collective history
subtle body: Another term for the energy body that makes up the aura
Sufism: A system of Mohammedan mysticism that arose chiefly in Persia; it offers steps for inward union with God such as repentance, abstinence, renunciation, poverty, patience, and trust. Love is the keynote to the Sufi ethics system, although they may be best known for their trance dance, known as a “whirling dervish,” that allows them to connect to the Divine .
supernatural: Not explicable by or contrary to known and established laws of nature
Supreme Being: The meaning varies widely, and this can be taken as the Creator or whatever that means to you; see also Wakan-Tanka, Sacred Mystery, Hunab Ku, and One
surrender: An internal process in which a person relaxes into trust in the Higher Self, embraces the moment, and stays in the flow
Sweet Mystery: See Sacred Mystery
symbol: That which seeks to describe complex ideas is a simpler way; designs, pictures, letters, shapes, and so on that convey meaning far beyond what simple words can capture; a means of exchanging energy between different planes of reality, symbols are links between the objective and the subjective, between one level of consciousness and another.
Tai Chi: A martial art considered by many to be a moving meditation; many forms are practiced that honor the five elements of Chinese culture (Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth, which correspond to Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, and Saturn)
talisman: An elaborately made charm of a particular aim based on correspondences
Taoism: The Chinese religion founded on the writings of Lao Tzu, and specifically the Tao Te Ching, which advocates humility and religious piety; it assimilates the Yin-Yang philosophy, the practice of Alchemy, and the worship of natural objects and immortals elaborated through the incorporation of a great many elements of Buddhism
Tarot: A system of ancient wisdom preserved from destruction by being hidden in a series of playing cards; a system of knowledge that corresponds to the wisdom of the Kabbalah, it provides a symbolic way of understanding the trials faced in life (the journey of the Fool) and mapping consciousness. Divided into the Major Arcana, the 22 “trump cards,” and the Minor Arcana, 56 cards roughly corresponding to a deck of playing cards: the suit of swords corresponds to clubs and relates to air or mental processes; cups (hearts) relate to the emotional realm; wands (diamonds) relate to creativity or growth; and pentacles (clubs), also called disks, relate to physical or financial concerns. The 22 trump cards of the Major Arcana correspond to the 22 paths of the Tree of Life from the Kabbala and reveal ways to evolve and grow spiritually.
teaching shield: Owning your personal power and knowledge and adding it to the work ONAC does; it is not about being another Linda Stone except that you must stay within the Codes of Conduct and Ethics and always seek after true wisdom; for example, if you are a healer, you will heal; if you are a storyteller, you will tell stories; if you are an artist, you will bring bead work or mask making to your ceremony.
temple: A sacred place, either created physically or perceived within an inner world; a temple can be elaborate or as elemental as your body.
Theosophy: The “wisdom religion” of the 19th century Theosophical Society based on a combination of Eastern Hindu and Western Traditions based mainly in England; Anthroposophy was a German counterpart group led by Rudoph Steiner.
theta: A level of brainwave activity that is just above the unconscious at which we are best able to accomplish healing, receive messages via our Higher Selves, and access inner realms; the level at which shamanism operates, accessed through sonic driving (drumming, rattling), chanting, ritual, intentional relaxation, guided imagery
thought form: A belief, opinion, idea, memory, or way of being or holding reality that is solidified and so attached to a human being that it has a life of its own; because of their rigid nature, thought forms can often become blockages that have to be transcended.
toning: Using resonant voice to make sounds that restore balance to the body; it may be focused on the chakras and can be used in healing work to release trapped emotions and blocks of any kind (internal formations); one example is deep trance throat singing (see YouTube)
totem: A symbol that serves as a link between different levels of existence and provides as an aid to comprehending non-physical powers and formative forces; because a totem expresses the qualities of a living entity, it is easier to relate to and can thus be a more effective learning aid than other symbols; analogous to the signs of the Zodiac or the elements of Alchemy (e.g., gold, silver, mercury, the sun, the moon, etc.).
tracking: Quietly following the signs that lead to where shamanic power (energy) can be found; also called “stalking” and “hunting power”
tradition: The total body of accepted group beliefs; the non-material content of the cultural heritage of a nation, race, or other group transmitted continuously from generation to generation
transegoic: That which goes beyond the ego
transformation: The total breakdown of one form to allow creation of a another form; for example, the caterpillar completely dissolves into a sticky goo inside the cocoon before rebuilding itself into a “glorified form” utterly unrecognizable as its former self and with new and expanded capabilities
transmute: To change a thing into its more evolved counterpart; in alchemy, transmuting lead into gold was a metaphor for taking something base, heavy, poisonous, and dark (lead) into something precious, brilliant, shining, and useful (gold); to alchemists, the idea of these two elements being so close molecularly is especially significant; emotions can also be transmuted by removing the perception of negativity; for example, anger transmutes to determination, which can be used as “fuel”
Tree (see also Dryad): In general terms, a Guardian of the environment and of the entrances to other dimensions of existence that takes on a woody, branching plant form; one of the guardians of the World Soul
Tree of Life: From the Kabbalistic tradition, a glyph or diagram that symbolizes all of the understanding of the Kabbalah; a sort of “blueprint” or symbolic system of reality, both ordinary and non-ordinary, with ten spheres of creation joined by twenty-two paths, or “royal roads,” that represent energies of evolution; twelve of these correspond to the signs of the Zodiac, and 10 correspond to the planets that travel through them.
tribal energy: Belief systems we inherited or learned from our culture, family, schools, and society; not bad or wrong, simply something we must to ensure continues to serve us
Truth: That which is effective; what is often dogmatically assert as Absolute Truth is but information
Tunkashila: Grandfather God, part of the trinity known as Great Spirit recognized by the Lakota
Turtle Island: North America
twice born, or born again: The initiate’s symbolic rebirth into a life of spiritual awareness
unconscious: The deeper part of our mind, usually beyond our waking awareness, but which can be explored through dream symbolism and meditation
Underworld: The non-ordinary reality of unconscious existence; the reality of the unconscious mind and the Pure Self, not to be confused with the Christian concept of Hell
Universe (see also Cosmos): All of creation; the entirety of the Web of Life not limited to Earth
Upper World: The non-ordinary reality of superconscious existence; the reality of the superconscious mind and the realm of experience of the Higher Self
vanes: The part of a feather that grows out of the shaft closely grouped in parallel rows to support flight
veil: The invisible barrier between the known and the unknown; a form of “Spirit clothing,” for example, as the body is the veil of the Soul
veiled: That which is esoteric or not revealed to the uninitiated; the Jewish inner court (the Holy of Holies) of the most holy Mystery, the Arc of the Covenant, was a veiled enclosure; mysteries that we are not ready to received are veiled, or unavailable to our conscious mind, until we have prepared our consciousness and energy to be able to receive them
vibration: In physics, an oscillation of the parts of a fluid or an elastic solid whose equilibrium has been disturbed or an oscillation of an electromagnetic wave; in metaphysics, the energetic sense of a person’s emotional state, the atmosphere of a place, or the associations of an object communicated to or felt by others
vigil: A period of separation, contemplation, and withdrawal, usually before an initiation or important ceremony.
Vipassana mediation: A means of receiving information from the higher self by scanning sensations in the body or observing sources, such as from adepts or deep aspects of the self
Vision Quest: A time of fasting and prayer, usually on a mountain or in the wilderness, for the purpose of seeking a Spirit Guide or a healing vision for oneself or one’s family, clan, or nation
visioning: The development of a plan, goal, or vision for the future; the action or fact of seeing visions
vortex: Places upon the Earth where Earth energies conjoin with certain energies of different planes of time and space; places where power is palpable, often called “power spots”
Wakan-Tanka: The Lakota word for the Divine, sometimes translated as “Great Spirit” or “Sacred Mystery”
Western Mystery Tradition: The store of inner knowledge of Britain and Western Europe, expressed in ancient legends, folk traditions, and ritual
Wheel: A symbolic device for creating sacred space and obtaining sacred knowledge, especially about oneself, and for making connections at different levels of reality; at its simplest, a circle of stones laid out on the Earth, with larger stones to mark the cardinal directions; such constructions have been found on every continent dating back at least 20,000 years. Although more recently associated with Native American teachings, Wheel forms are universal and are a part of the consciousness and heritage of all people (e.g., Stonehenge in Great Britain, the Yin-Yang symbol of the Tao).
Wheel of Rebirth: The Buddhist idea that a human being lives many lifetimes in pursuit of enlightenment; when there is no more Karma to complete and all is forgiven; when the heart center has been initiated, or opened, the being is no longer attracted to the physical plane in order to seek testing and refinement of their energy. At this point the being can choose to become a Bodhisattva and return anyway to the Earth plane to help others, or they can go on to Divine Union. Also associated with the Wheel is Dharma, a Sanskrit word that is the principle of cosmic order, reality, and the path of righteousness.
Wheel systems: See Sacred Wheel
White Magic: A form of healing, beneficial, or responsible magic; those methods used to invoke a connection with archetypal forces, the Archangels, and the Holy Guardian Angel
widdershins: “Against,” or moving counter-clockwise
wisdom: Knowledge and experience combined so as to be greater than both
World: An ecosystem of life; also, a complete and consistent environment in non-ordinary reality that is not perceivable to the human eye in states of ordinary consciousness
World Soul: An intelligent, animating, indwelling principle of the Cosmos and its organizing and integrating cause, which permeates and animates everything in Nature; all sentient life is fused, blended, and unified by the World Soul, so that in reality, there is no such thing as separateness. Some Asian occultists call it “alaya”; the medieval mystic philosophers referred to it as the “anima mundi,” and the Sanskrit term for it is “atma” or “atman.”
World Tree: The axis mundi; the center axis, or pole, that connects the realms of the various worlds
yang: The masculine, active, or positive principle in all that manifests represented in some ancient cultures the “God” power behind Nature and all its correspondences; its counterpart is yin
Yggdrasil: The sacred ash tree of Nordic mythology and the Cosmic Tree of the shaman that links all planes of existence; similar to the Tree of Life from the Kabbalah, it is a symbol of the structure of the Cosmos and a device to enable the shaman to find his way. The dragon, eagle, and stag live in the tree, whose branches extend far into the heavens. Three roots support the tree: one goes to the well that goes into the heavens; one goes to the spring, which has three subroots (fate, happening or present, and debt or future); and another goes to the well of wisdom, also known as the “Well of Wyrd.”
yin: The feminine, passive, receptive, nurturing, life-giving principle in all that manifests; represented in some cultures as the Goddess power behind Nature and all its correspondences; its counterpart is yang
Yule: Celebrated between December 20 and December 23 by those who practice Wicca (Celtic shamanism), it marks the time when light returns to the Earth; one of the eight Solar Sabbats, it marks the Winter Solstice; another holiday subsumed by Christianity for its symbolism with the birth of the God and the bringing of light to the world
Zoroastrianism, or Mazdayasna: One of the world’s oldest extant religions, developed in Eastern Persia, based on the Teachings of Zoroaster (Zarathustra); its practices include the element of fire and altars, and it teaches that an ethical and dualistic struggle exists between good (angels) and evil (demons); this is projected on the cosmology and symbolized by the vying for supremacy between Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord) and Drui (falsehood, or deceit).