East-West Church & Ministry Report
Vol. 7, No. 4, Fall 1999, Covering the Former Soviet Union and East Central Europe
Occult Terminology

Editor's note:  Definitions are provided for purposes of clarity, not endorsement.

alchemy (alkhimiia) - ancient chemistry-based magic aimed at the extraction of gold from baser metals, or the discovery of an elixir for immortality (Mather and Nichols)

anomalies (anomolii) - phenomena that deviate from what may be discerned empirically (Webster's)

Anthroposophy (antroposofiia) - occult movement founded by Rudolf Steiner stressing liberation from egoism and the development of "higher capacities for knowledge and enlightenment" (Gaynor)

aura (aura) - energy field that is said to surround all living beings, not to be confused with aureoles, or halos, of saints used in iconography; biofield (Briggs; Carroll; Ozhegov)

biofield (biopole) - an invisible energy that is said to surround all organisms (Ozhegov)

biorhythm (biorifma) - physical, emotional, or intellectual cycle claimed to affect everyday lives (Carroll)

chiromancy (khiromantiia) - Obtaining hidden knowledge by the study of the lines in the palm of the hand; palmistry; palm reading (Briggs)

extrasensitive (ekstrasens) - see psychic

kabbala (kabbala) - Jewish mystical tradition which interprets the Torah according to secret or hidden knowledge.  In Russian, the term also refers to Egyptian (Western) and Indian (Eastern) occultism (Mather and Nichols)

karma (karma) - doctrine common to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Theosophy that teaches that everything done is done for eternity with consequences for the transmigration of the soul (Spence; Webster's)

New Age (dvizhenie "Niu eidzh") - contemporary religious orientation incorporating organic farming, environmentalism, meditation, "higher consciousness," and "alternative energy" (Shepard)

occultism (okkultizm) - belief in supernatural powers derived from secret or concealed truth available only to initiates (Webster's)

poltergeist (poltergeist) - a noisy, usually mischievous, ghost held responsible for unexplained noises (Webster's)

psychic (ekstrasens) - a person said to be sensitive to nonphysical forces who is an intermediary between the earthly world and the world of spirits; a medium; an extrasensitive (Webster's)

shaman (shaman) - Siberian tribal medicine man or magician (Gaynor)

Theosophy (teosofiia) - spiritual philosophy stressing truths thought to be common to all religions based on the writings of Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott (Mather and Nichols)

vampirism, psychic or energy (energeticheskii vampirizm) - the practice of subsisting on the energy of others.  Vampirism can also refer to a belief in dead bodies rising from the grave at night to prey on sleeping persons (Briggs; Webster's)  See also aura and biofield.

yoga - Hindu philosophy teaching suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may attain liberation (Webster's)

Editor's note:  Definitions adapted from R. Briggs, Briggs First Dictionary of Occult Terminology, http://members.visi.net/~robinson/shadows/b1d/ (1996); Robert Todd Carroll, The Skeptic's Dictionary, http://skepdic.com/ (1994-99); Frank Gaynor, ed., Dictionary of Mysticism (New York:  Philosophical Library, 1953); George A. Mather and Larry A. Nichols, eds., Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1993); S.I. Ozhegov and I. Iu. Shvedova, Tolkovyi slovar russkogo iazika,  2nd ed. (Moscow:  AZ, 1995); Leslie A. Shepard, ed., Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, 2nd ed., Vol. 2 (Detroit, MI:  Gale, 1985); Lewis Spence, An Encyclopedia of Occultism (New Hyde Park, NY:  University Books, 1968; and Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, MA:  Merriam Co., 1976).

"Occult Terminology," East-West Church & Ministry Report 7 (Fall 1999), 9.

Written permission is required for reprinting or electronic distribution of any portion of the East-West Church & Ministry Report.

© 1999 East-West Church and Ministry Report
ISSN 1069-5664

EWC&M Report | Contents | Search Back Issues | From Our Readers | Subscribe