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WHAT'S HERE:
Many times people will ask me a question or definition, or use a search engine to search for it and ended up here. and I have taken to adding it to this list when they do. This glossary is not restricted to just Christian or just Pagan terms or phrases.
These definitions are from my own research in discussion, books and online, often compiled from several sources.
IMHO ALERT:
My humble opinions, conclusions and observations are in red.
HOW TO REQUEST WORDS:
If you would like to know about a word or concept that is not on this list, or to request that I expand my explanation of one of these terms, please send me a request by e-mail. Thanks! (Please use your own email, not the one that pops up.)

 

VOCABULARY CATEGORIES
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Theological Concepts

Theological Doctrines and Schools of Thought

Theological Words Ending in -ism

Religious Actions and Processes

Religious Roles (People)

Sacred or Theological Places

Sacred or Ritual Objects

Prominent Individuals in Religious Development

Science Words

Historical Events in Religion

 

Beliefs of Christian Denominations

Beliefs of Pagan Traditions (Denominations)

Beliefs of Other World Religions

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Existence 

My Thoughts on The Bible 

Demons

Was Jesus Married?

 

OTHER INTERESTING THINGS

Fruits of the Spirit

Common Abbreviations: OT/NT - Old/New Testament, PIE - Proto Indo-European, RC - Roman Catholic,
CE - Common Era, BCE - Before Common Era


ACTIONS AND PROCESSES

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Absolution

The forgiveness of sin by a priest of any rank to those who have performed penance or are sufficiently penitent. This still requires satisfaction of the affront through reparation or restitution in order to avoid punishment in purgatory or another spiritual place of cleansing or penance.

Catholic doctrine is that only one in the ordained ministry can absolve a sin.

In Paganism, absolution can only be offered by the wronged party.

There is a TV movie called "Undercover Christmas" starring Jami Gertz and Tyne Daly. Daly's character said, "I don't think forgiveness is earned; it is given...out of generosity. You need that more than you need to be right....Tell him you're sorry. You don't have to mean it; that doesn't matter. It's the words that count."

This stance is much different than the dictionary definitions given above. The concept of forgiving someone who may not be deserving, in other words, who has repented, is supposed to be essential to Christianity and other world religions. And yet over time forgiveness has become so dear - no, so worthless - that it must be purchased with actions. This requires more thought.

Affusion (see baptism)

Annoint

A ceremonial way to indicate something is sacred and to infuse the with divine grace.

Apostasy, The Lapsi

Aspersion (see baptism)

Atonement, Expiation

Attrition

Baptism (compare to initiation, contrast with infant baptism)

Baptism is a sacrament of the Christian church, and has analogs in many other religions as well. It is a once-in-a-lifetime blessing of a person with water that marks them as a member of a faith community. Many Pagans call it "saining" (blessing) or "wiccaning". To be "baptized by fire" is an idiom that means to become part of a community through th experience of and victory over a crisis.

There are many forms of baptism, and each sect, tradition and denomination has its preference.

Affusion is the most common in Western churches. It is the pouring of water over the head of the individual, regardless of age.

Aspersion is very rare. This is where water is sprinkled with an asperger.

Immersion is sometimes performed in the Catholic Churches. A part of the body is submerged and the remaining body parts are affused.

Submersion is common in Baptist Churches.

Infant Baptism (pedobaptism) has been part of Christianity since the 200's CE. It was expected after the 4th century.

The NT mentions entire households being baptized together, but since children were viewed differently in NT Jewish society, there is no evidence that the children were included. Since the 1500's, it has been rejected by Anabaptist denominations, and within a hundred years, Baptists also rejected it as not warranted by Scripture.

There is a great deal of controversy over the practice, since an infant cannot willingly join a faith community, and often the parents are not devout believers either. In NT times, a new Christian would be baptized, take first Communion or Eucharist, and be confirmed as a member of the Church all in one ritual. Many Christian denominations are willing to defer baptism until the person reaches an age of understanding and consent.

Bead, Bede, "To Bid a Bead", "Telling Beads"

A bead is a prayer, and soon became the word for the spherical bodies of a rosary or necklace used for counting, or "telling", the beads/prayers.

To "bid" or ask a bead is to offer a prayer.

The Bidding Prayer is a certain Anglican prayer said before the sermon to pray for grace on behalf of the Church and the State. Before the Protestant Reformation, the same prayer was said after the sermon, or after the Gospel reading.

Beating of the Bounds

A medieval English practice taken directly froma Pagan ritual. The original ceremony was a four day holiday called Robigalia, where the people would process through the cornfields and pray for protection against mildew, an agricultural villain.

In the Middle Ages, the priest would lead a procession around the church property, beating the boundaries (and sometimes young boys!) with willow branches.

At Rogationtide today, generally late April or early May, or whenever determined by the local congregation, parishioners fast and pray for the needs of humankind, the "fruits of the earth, and the work of men's hands". The older forms of Rogationtide are being revived in some areas of England.

Bell

A bell is a common part of rituals in many world religions, including Buddhism, Christianity and Paganism. It generally signals the beginning, end or a transition. There are various traditions of how many times the bell is to be struck, depending on its purpose.

The angelus is a bell used in the Western Catholic Church in conjunction with a series of daily devotions (three Hail Marys/versicles and a collect). These prayers were said at early morning, noon, and evening as a memorial of the Incarnation of God in Jesus. Three bell strikes signals each Hail Mary, and the collect is signalled by nine rings.

In Pagan traditions, the numbers three and nine are considered to be highly powerful. In Christianity, the number three likely is a reference to the Christian concept of Trinity.

Betrothal

A betrothal is a promise to marry. This practice was common in Jewish, Christian and Pagan communities.

In Judaism, there are two parts to a marriage ceremony; one is private and the other is public. In Christianity, couples used to become formally betrothed before witnesses, although this has fallen into disuse.

In Paganism, especially traditions derived from Celtic and English customs, the concept of handfasting is a trial marriage wherein the couple lives and is treated as a married couple, but measures are taken to prevent pregnancy. After a year and a day, the couple evaluates their relationship and decides to either go their separate ways with a handparting ceremony, or become married with a marriage ceremony.

Bibliolatry

The excessive veneration of the literal text of the Scriptures. It is part of some Protestant forms of Christianity.

Taken in its literal sense, the adoration of a book, it can be applied to the Fundamentalist branch of nearly any religious tradition.

There are always those that can't see the forest for the trees.

Black Mass

Banns of Marriage

This is a religious custom within the Anglican Communion. The names of the couple-to-be are published for the three preceding Sundays during the regular Church service, and a request is made during the marriage ceremony itself for any objections to the marriage. The intent is to prevent consanguinity.

The legality regarding genetics is nowadays determined by the place who issues the marriage license, and there are laws prohibiting the marriage of certain degrees of relation. These laws can be remarkably liberal!

I still include it in the weddings I perform because it is another chance for the couple to change their mind. An awkward moment is well worth if it saves one or both parties froma lifetime of unhappiness. Also, since I am acting as an officer of the State, and only the couple was present when obtaining the marriage license, this gives an opportunity for legitimate prior claims to be announced.

Canonization

Catachesis, Catechism, Catechist, Catechumen

In the RC church, the bishop lightly slaps the newly confirmed person. I have no idea what the significance of this is, but I would love to find out!

Charm

A short spoken chant or rhyme that is intended to have a specific effect.  Sometimes the charm is used to charge a physical object, hence the common term for a small pendant that has meaning, as in "charm bracelet."  (Also see talisman)

Circle

To circle means to gather for ritual. As a place, it is where people gather for ritual.

In many Neo pagan religious traditions (or "trads") the concept of gathering in a circle is the equivalent of a Jew or Christian sitting in pews. Shakers (a Christian denomination) also worshipped in the round. Open circles are generally considered to be open to the Pagan-friendly public, rather than a closed circle, also known as a coven, wherein members must be personally invited or petition for membership.

A circle of protection is also used during Ceremonial Magic and other magical systems such as Wicca and shamanism. The idea that a religious or magical circle can be "open" or "soft", or "closed" or "hard", depends on whether or not the witch or priest/ess-in-charge decides if and how people can enter/depart once the circle has been cast. To avoid confusion, the terms "soft" and "hard" are more often used to describe the nature of the protective boundary of a religous or magical circle.

Comprecation (compare to intercession)

A concept that may be foreign to any, comprecation means either asking a saint to ask God to do something, or asking God to ask a saint to do something for you. Either way, the petitioner is not directly asking the entity they really want the help from.

Paganism and early Christianity both emphasize a close relationship between human and Deity which eliminates the need for this spiritual telephone game.

Consecrate

Contemplation (contrast with meditation)

The act of thinking about a single topic in a logical way. It can be a spiritual topic or not. Either way, it is not a casual thought, rather it is deep thought.

The word comes from the Latin meaning "to prepare for temple augury".

Contrition

Drama

Dulia (contrast with iatria)

Veneration of created beings of a sacred character, i.e., RC saints.

Eucharist, Berakah

Euthanasia

Excommunication (compare with anathema)

Exclusion from worship and sacraments. The essential belonging to the faith community is retained.

Exegesis

This is the very important process of interpreting a text to explain either what the author meant, or to apply the author’s meaning to a contemporary situation. This, of course, is sometimes open to wide differences of opinion depending on the interpreter’s upbringing, experience and goals.

The word origin means ‘to lead or guide out’ with the connotation that one leads or guides by drawing something out (of the text).  Interestingly enough, the PIE root means ‘to seek out’ which is a personal act toward comprehension, not the received wisdom of others that it often means today.

Exorcism

Gematria

Graffiti

Healing

Human Act

A moral theology term. A free, voluntary, knowledgeable and aware action of a human. Only a human act can be morally judged as worthy of praise or blame.

IMHO I think this is the basis of the American legal system.

Iatria (contrast with dulia)

Adoration of Deity through sacrifice, prayer, and praise.

It is also the name of a chain of day spas. Can you believe it?

Immersion (see baptism)

Immolation

Infant Baptism (see baptism)

Initiation

Intercession, Intercede (compare to comprecation)

This is the process of praying on behalf of other people. When someone is "added to the prayer list", those who pray are interceding for that person.

In the Roman Catholic tradition, a priest intercedes for the congregation. In Protestant traditions, the congregation prays aloud together, generally from a prayer book. Customs are diffusing in modern times.

Liturgy

Meditation (contrast with contemplation)

Meditation is mental prayer which rambles from spiritual subject to spiritual subject in order to deepen spiritual insight and stimulate a change in a person's intentions and feelings through devout reflection on a single chosen theme.

Meditation produces an altered state of consciousness that is measurable.

Zen Buddhist transcendental meditation attempts to clear the mind of all thought and simply exist.by repeating a verbal chant or mantra, you know, "OHM...OHM..." If done often, the hope is that with the body relaxed, the mind can transcend the body and reach the state of enlightenment called Nirvana, the union of Atman (soul) and the Brahma (creative & sustaining principle, Deity) and an end to the cycle of personal reincarnation.

Metempsychosis

The ability to jump into another body for the purpose of extending life, or preventing death. Hindu yogis are reputed to be able to accomplish this.

Missions

Ordination (contrast with lay)

Penance

Pilgrimage

Prayer

A prayer is a specially worded form of communication with Deity or another venerated entity for the purpose of requesting something for oneself (petition) or on behalf of someone else (intercession), to indicate adoration of or supplication to Deity/entity, or to give thanks. Some prayers are formulaic, such as children's bedtime prayers, the Holy Rosary prayer, or the Lord's Prayer. Other prayers are more free-form and emotionally based, but generally still use a form of speech that is only used for prayer.

Affective prayer is a more advanced kind of prayer, where prayer is less an intellectual exercise and more an imaginative one. The soul-self is using directed will to unite with Deity.

Prayer is the verbal component of magical spell work.

SPECIAL NOTE: Prayer was suggested by Jesus to be said alone in private. He eschewed public, demonstrative, verbose prayer.

Prophecy

Propitiation

Proselyze

Reparation

The act of making material amends for damage done to another, it is an attempt to "repair" the damage. Restitution is a similar concept but is generally restricted to the restoration of rights to a wronged party, whether societal or property rights.

These concepts are part of moral theology.

Repentance

This is way more than saying you're sorry. To repent is more than a simple action; it is a process.

First you must recognize your act as evil, condemn it and hate it in your heart. Then comes the sorrow for both your action itself, and its effects. You must confess your wrongdoing to someone else. Finally, you must intend and try to make amends through reparation or restitution. To repent, you do not need to make perfect amends.

Retreat

A period of days spent in silence, meditation and religious activity. They were recognized in as a formally recognized R.C.C. form of religious devotion.

Ritual

The words of a liturgy. More commonly, the word "ritual" is used as a synonym for the whole liturgy, both wrods and actions.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, "ritual" was often used as a derogatory term by non-RCs. Even today, there is a slight negative connotation to the word "ritual" that gives it a sense of superstition rather that serious intent or worship.

Rosary Prayer (Roman Catholic)

As a process, the Roman Catholic Rosary, or "saying the Rosary", is a devotional or meditational tool. It is the recitation of "the Twenty Mysteries". Each Mystery is a series of prayers. One recites the following set of prayers five times, once for each Mystery you will be saying. It is okay to perform five decades a day, or all twenty.

Pope John Paul II recommended that certain sets of Mysteries be said on specific days of the week, and I see direct correlations with the traditional patrons and auspicious acts of each day.

Mystery
Theme
Pope's Recommended Day
Day's Patron
Joyful Blessed Virgin Mary Mondays, plus Sundays from Advent to Lent The Moon is the symbol of the feminine divine.
Luminous Acts with water or cloud Thursdays Thor/Jupiter was protector of the world, and ruler of rain (water) and clouds
Sorrowful Jesus' torture and crucifixion, endured for love of humanity Tuesdays and Fridays, plus daily during Lent Tyr/Mars and Freya/Venus are the patrons of war and love
Glorious Messengers and Prophecies Wednesdays, plus Sundays from Easter to Advent Mercury/Gabriel is the messenger between the gods and humanity

Saturday is not included unless "daily" is recommended. It seems that this then is the spiritual sabbath, not Sunday. Here, too, is a correlation to the day's patron, Saturn, the patron of endings and homes.

Devotions are not prescribed for Sunday, the day of the Sun/Son, during the season of Lent because the Sun/Son was hidden while Satan tempted him with food (he had been fasting for nearly two months) and rulership of the world, and, according to the great film The Last Temptation of Christ, a normal mortal life.

To keep track of where you are in the series, simply move your fingers to the next bead. Click here to download a large diagram of the rosary beads.

1
  Lord's Prayer
1
  O My Jesus
10
  Hail Mary (Ave Maria)
1
  Gloria Patri (Glory to God)
     

Before beginning the decades, it is customary to say the Apostle's Creed, the verbalize the mystery of the BVM by saying a Hail Mary for each of the virtues Faith, Hope and Charity, and add any personal prayers you have to offer. Then say a Gloria Patri and an O My Jesus. The Creed is spoken 'on' the Crucifix. There are beads for each Lord's Prayer and Hail Mary. The Gloria Patri and the O My Jesus are spoken in the spaces before and after the Lord's Prayer bead.

During the decades, one allows the repetitive prayers to create an altered state where one verbally announces then meditates on the sequence of twenty events in Our Lord and Our Lady's lives. (No, I didn't add the "Our Lord and Our Lady"! That's what Catholics call Jesus and Mary - honest!)

The Joyful Mysteries 1st Decade The Annuncation (when Gabriel told Mary she carried a divine child)
  2nd The Visitation (when the pregnant Mary visted Elizabeth, the menopausal mother of John the Baptist)
  3rd The Nativity (Mary gives birth to Jesus)
  4th The Presentation in the Temple (Jesus' "time of purification")
  5th The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple (when Jesus walked off from his parents and started questioning and debating with the rabbis)
The Luminous Mysteries 6th Christ's Baptism in the Jordan (the Spirit/Powers of God descended on Jesus)
 
7th The Miracle at Cana (Jesus turns water to wine)
Rev. Su has an opinion about this event.
  8th Jesus Proclaims the Kingdom (it's here and now, so be good for goodness' sake!)
  9th The Transfiguration (Peter and the Zebedees woke up to see Jesus glowing and talking to Moses and Elijah)
  10th The First Eucharist (the seder before his crucifixion)
The Sorrowful Mysteries 11th The Agony in the Garden (Judas points out Jesus to the Roman police)
  12th The Scouring at the Pillar (Jesus was whipped 39 times)
  13th The Crowning with Thorns (um...)
  14th The Carrying of the Cross (Jesus carried the 6-foot crossbar and staggered the half-mile to Golgatha on winding streets filled with aggressive bystanders with the help of Simon of Cyrene.)
  15th The Crucifixion (Jesus is stripped, then tied and nailed to the post and crossbar and left to suffocate)
The Glorious Mysteries 16th The Resurrection (The tomb is empty)
  17th The Ascension (After 40 days of living and teaching, Jesus is lifted up on a cloud) I would interpret this as Jesus leaving the planet in a space ship to go live on Nibiru.
  18th The Descent of the Holy Spirit (Jesus asked the roughly one hundred twenty disciples to witness to the world. This is NOT the Pentacost)
  19th The Assumption (A pregnant woman in a flying boat is defended by Michael and other angels from a dragon seeking to kill the boy she bears, who is the prognitor of a nation of Christians) I don't get how this is Mary... I would interpret this as the planet Nibiru destorying Tiamat durihortly after the formation of the Sol system.
  20th The Coronation of the BVM (the pregnant woman was wearing a crown of twelve stars) I would interpret this as being one of the Nibiru surrogate mothers of humanity, the kinswomen of Eve/Anu.

 

After completing the decades, reciting one of the following prayers is customary:

O God, Whose only-begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech You, that, meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin May, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.

"Hail, Holy Queen"
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee we do send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in the valley of tears. Turn then, O most gracious advocate, thine mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement! O loving! O sweet Virgin Mary!
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

It is interesting to note that this last prayer has a Gnostic tinge to it in the phrase "this our exile".

It is also interesting to note that among the Fifteen Promises of Mary to Christians Who Recite the Rosary is the promise that devotion to the rosary is a great sign of predestination. Predestination? That sounds pretty Calvinist to me!

Rosary Prayer (Neopagan)

 

This is the rosary prayer I wrote as a starter to those in the Pagan community who would like to pray with beads. Being the individualists Pagans tend to be, it has of course been rewritten many times, and will continue to be, I am sure ;-)

Sacrifice

This is the giving of a gift to Deity, usually a living gift. Throughout history, gifts of animals to Deity were common, especially for divination, or at certain holidays. They were slaughtered either on the altar, or on holy ground. A sacrificial gift is also usually valuable, the "fattest calf".

Modern interpretations of a sacrifice are of praise and thanksgiving in prayer and song, and of conscious obedience to Deity's will.

Sacrifice in the form of abstinence is also part of the Christian season of Lent, and often is reflected in the tradition of making a New Year's Resolution.

Spell (compare with sacrament)

A ritual of varying length that incorporates visualization of desire, a focus of will, and a method of transmission to the physical universe and/or Deity. 

The inherent power, timing and duration of a spell can be supplemented by various correspondences to seasons, days, planets, elements, Zodiac signs, and through the use of relics or tools.

Submersion (see baptism)

 

Theurgy

A sacramental rite or mystery which allows the performance of miracles with supernatural assistance

Veneration

Veneration is the act of seeking goodwill from someone or something in order to get what you desire. The word is directly relatd to Venus, the goddess of love, friendship and desire.

Synonyms are worship, exalt and hallow.

As early as 5500 BCE, the Chinese were venerating their ancestors through including useful grave goods, erecting a home altar for 49 days, then keeping a commeorative tablet in a family shrine. It is still common in areas that were not heavily affected by Mao's crackdowns on religion, such as in rural areas of China, and in Taiwan.

The Wiccan Rede - (Full Version attributed to Doreen Valiente)

Bide within the Law you must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust.
Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.

For tread the Circle thrice about to keep unwelcome spirits out.
To bind the spell well every time, let the spell be said in rhyme.

Light of eye and soft of touch, speak you little, listen much.
Honor the Old Ones in deed and name, let love and light be our guides again.

Deosil go by the waxing moon, chanting out the joyful tune.
Widdershins go when the moon doth wane, and the werewolf howls by the dread wolfsbane

When the Lady's moon is new, kiss the hand to Her times two.
When the moon rides at Her peak then your heart's desire seek.

Heed the North wind's mighty gale, lock the door and trim the sail.
When the Wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.

When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss you on the mouth.
When the wind whispers from the West, all hearts will find peace and rest.

Nine woods in the Cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.
Birch in the fire goes to represent what the Lady knows.

Oak in the forest towers with might, in the fire it brings the God's insight. 
Rowan is a tree of power causing life and magick to flower.

Willows at the waterside stand ready to help us to the Summerland.
Hawthorn is burned to purify and to draw faerie to your eye.

Hazel-the tree of wisdom and learning adds its strength to the bright fire burning.
White are the flowers of Apple tree that brings us fruits of fertility.

Grapes grow upon the vine giving us both joy and wine.
Fir does mark the evergreen to represent immortality seen.

Elder is the Lady's tree burn it not or cursed you'll be.
Four times the Major Sabbats mark in the light and in the dark.

As the old year starts to wane the new begins, it's now Samhain.
When the time for Imbolc shows watch for flowers through the snows.

When the wheel begins to turn soon the Beltane fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lamas night power is brought to magick rite.

Four times the Minor Sabbats fall use the Sun to mark them all.
When the wheel has turned to Yule light the log the Horned One rules.

In the spring, when night equals day time for Ostara to come our way.
When the Sun has reached it's height time for Oak and Holly to fight.

Harvesting comes to one and all when the Autumn Equinox does fall.
Heed the flower, bush, and tree by the Lady blessed you'll be.

Where the rippling waters go cast a stone, the truth you'll know.
When you have and hold a need, harken not to others greed.

With a fool no season spend or be counted as his friend.
Merry Meet and Merry Part bright the cheeks and warm the heart.

Mind the Three-fold Laws you should three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow wear the star upon your brow.

Be true in love this you must do unless your love is false to you.
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill: "An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will"

 

 

Sources: Religious Tolerance.org, www.angelfire.com/folk/greenwitch/sacred.html, Dictionary.com, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Catholic Prayers in Latin, Edward F. Markquart's Sermons from Seattle, Domestic Church, Ken Palmer's Life of Christ, Religion Facts, The Wiccan Rede

 



SACRED PLACES

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Church

Cloister

Hades (place)

Heaven

Hell, Gehenna, Sheol

House Church

Geniza

Ghetto

Jordan River

Kingdom of God

Lilydale

Limbo

Monastery

Priory

Promised Land, The

Purgatory

 

Salem

Seminary

A theological college. It literally means 'place for seeds', as in a seed plot or nursery.

Isn't that a wonderful description of place where you explore your faith and cosmology?

Summerland

A Pagan afterlife. I say "a" because there are lots of flavors of Paganism, and some of them have their own concept of the realm of the afterlife, such as the Heathen (Norse) Valhalla.

Summerland is pretty much like some Christian visions of Heaven. It's a comfortable temperature, you are whole and happy. Whether or not you commune with Deity is up to you. You stay as long as you want or need.

What comes to mind for me is the heaven described by Buffy when she was forcibly brought back from the dead by Tara, Xander and Willow in season six. To paraphrase, she described it as a place of deep peace with soft light and a certainty that all was right with self and loved ones, a place devoid of form but not self.

Sounds nice.

Valhalla

 

Sources: Dictionary.com, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Religioustolerance.org



SACRED, RITUAL & OTHER THINGS

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Altar, Mizbe'ah

The physical focus of worship or ritual. It comes from a combination of a number of Latin words and basically means 'high place for burnt offerings.' The Hebrew word for altar, mizbe'ah, means 'to slay'.

Originally, altars were placed along the east wall of the gathering place. Nowadays a more centrally located altar is common. In most Jewish and Christian rituals, the altar is in front of the congregation. In most Pagan rituals, the altar is surrounded by all participants, who traditionally enter from the east.

In Chrsitianity, the altar is the place where the 'sacrifice' known as the Eucharist is performed, and many churches still have rails to protect the altar from defilement by contact with the lowly parishioners during the serving on Communion. IMHO having altar rails seems to denegrate humanity and elevate the ordained as more than human.

Amulet (contrast with talisman)

A natural, physical object, usually used to repel something from you or protect the bearer. 

Protection magic of this kind is the oldest known magic in the world.  Amulets are usually in the form of a part of a plant or animal, such as a rabbit's foot, a four-leaf clover, or a bit of twisted horn. 

Athame

The Eastern Orthodox 'lance' is a ceremonial knife used to cut the Eucharistic bread at the Proskomide.

The Bible

The Holy Bible is actually a holy book in three religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The RC Bible has more OT books, the Jewish holy book is just the first five book of the OT and is called the Torah or the Pentateuch. Islam accepts Abraham and many of his descendents as important holy figures and prophets, including Jesus of Nazareth.

The Pentateuch was compiled from four different sources: J-Jahwist, E-Elohist, P-Priestly, and D-Deuteronomist. The remaining OT books were written by at least a dozen writers across hundreds of years. Many copies and fragments of canonical and apochryphal books were discovered in the desert near Qumran, Israel in 1947 to 1956.

The New Testament was also written by a number of authors, many of whom - like the OT authors - borrowed, redacted, and paraphrased each other. NT authors also modeled some of their content on the OT.

The first English translation, and I believe the best, is Wycliffe's New Testament translation from a scholarly examination of the Aramaic and Greek. It's not perfect

I wrote a nifty commentary on my personal beliefs about the Bible.

Brief, Papal

Bull, Papal

Ceremony (contrast with rite)

Chalice

Commentary

Concordance

This is a type of reference book about the Bible or another text, sometimes in the same binding as an appendix.

A concordance is a list of words with cross-references (or quotations) of where they are located in the text.

According to Elizabeth Livingstone, the most famous English language concordance was compiled by a debatably insane man named Alexander Cruden from the King James' Version in 1736 to 1737. (Can you say 'OCD'? I knew you could.) He presented it to King George II's wife, Queen Caroline, and it has never been out of print since. Never. His two later editions of the A Complete Concordance to the Holy Scriptures garnered him quite an income, including a handsome bonus from King George III. (You remember him, right? He had a little bit of real estate called the American Colonies.)

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible was compiled under the direction of Dr. James Strong and first published in 1890, four years before his death. It is "exhaustive" because it includes every English word and hundreds of Hebrew and Greek word roots used in the King James Version. The trouble is that these word roots generally do not take into consideration the cultural context and linguistics of the time period, so an amateur should NOT use Strong's to delve into the meanings of individual words and passages. It is available online, although the copyright licensure is unclear.

Robert Young's Analytical Concordanc eof the Bible, also of the King James Version, was first published in 1879 when he was 57. A self-taught Biblical and oriental languages scholar, he also wrote a literal translation of the Bible, called eponymously enough, Young's Literal Translation, had three editions, the last of which by his publisher several months after his death in the fall of 1888. He was rabid about keeping the original verb tenses, so his Genesis I is unique in its use of the present tense. Hmm, that has interesting theological implications. The 3rd edition (spell-checked) is available online at Bible Gateway.

There is a multi-version Bible concordance available online at Bible Tab. I have not used this resource extensively, so I cannot vouch for its usefulness at this time.

Counsel (see moral theology)

Crucifix

Encyclical, Papal

Gloria Patri (see Rosary Prayer)

This is a quotation from ____________ .

Glory to God in the highest
And peace to His people on Earth

Hail Mary(see Rosary Prayer)

A Christian prayer to the Blessed Vrgin Mary, the mother of Jesus of Nazareth. It is a combination of several passages in the NT.

Latin

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Domini nostri, ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
Nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae.
Amen.

English

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

Host

Any sacrifical victim, whether animate (goat, person) or inanimate (wafer, piece of bread)

Icons, Images (compare to talisman)

Icons are images of saints, the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Christ. Typical materials include egg tempera paintings, and mosaic and ivory bas relief sculptures. Icons are made in various sizes.

Veneration of images are forbidden in Islam (by exo-Koranic writings), Islamism (by ex-Koranic writings), Judaism (by Mosaic law) and Presbyterianism.

In the Greek Orthodox Church, icons are venerated. It is believed that the saint (or Christ or BVM) can use their magical power through the physical object of the icon to act on behalf of the petitioner or owner.

Liturgy

Lord's Prayer (see Rosary Prayer)

Christian prayer taught by Jesus to his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount in the NT Book of Matthew 6:9-13. *In the Bible the prayer stops earlier than the versions below.

King James Version

Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done
On Earth as it is in [on] Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil*
For thine is the kingdom, the glory, and the power
Forever and ever. Amen.

Modern Version

Our Father in heaven
Holy is your name
Your kingdom come, your will be done
On Earth as in Heaven
Give us today our daily bread
And forgive us our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil*
For yours is the kingdom, the glory and the power
Forever. Amen.

SPECIAL NOTE: This prayer, and all others, was suggested by Jesus to be said alone in private. He eschewed public, demonstrative, verbose prayer.

Massoretic Text

Midrash, Midrashim (contrast with Mishnah)

Miracle

Mishnah (contrast with Midrash)

Nimbus

Oath

Order

Parable

Paten

Pentacle (compare with pentagram)

A five-pointed star within a circle, it is the symbol of most Neopagan traditions, including Wicca.  It is a symbol of peace and  positive energy.  It is variously interpreted as representing the four Elements plus Spirit, or the figure of a human with arms and legs outstretched. 

Satanists often use this symbol upside down in the same manner as they use the upside down Christian cross - to show that they want to turn all peace and goodness on its head, or as a general insult to such groups.

Pentagram (compare with pentacle)

A five-pointed star. These are often used as talismans, and in Wicca and Ceremonial Magic, by drawing a pentagram in the air beginning from different points with a wand, hand or finger to invoke various elements.

Plainsong

Precept (see moral theology)

Pulpit

Relic

The material remains of a dead saint, or an object that has been in contact with his or her body.

Veneration of martyrs' remains has been common practice since the 2nd century, at least. The Second Council of Nicaea in 787 actually decreed that Roman Catholics must venerate relics, and that no church can be consecrated without having its own relic!

During the Crusades, the relic trade from the Holy Land was brisk, and often illegitimate. The veneration of relics in their ornate reliquaries led to many superstitious practices. A fully formed theological basis for the veneration of relics was developed by th 10th century under the premise that the bodies of miracle workers were "temples of the Holy Spirit" and are therefore closer to Deity than regular humans. And since God knows all this already, it must be okay. At least, that's what the Council of Trent decided when Martin Luther brought it up in the 16th century.

Rite (contrast with ceremony)

Rosary

The Roman Catholic Holy Rosary

A rosary is any string of beads or small pendants used as a focus during prayer or meditation. 

The Holy Rosary (note the caps!)  is the set of beads used by the Roman Catholic Church in its prayers to Jesus' mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM).  RC mythology claims it was given to St. Dominic by an apparition of the BVM as weapon against the heresy of Albigensianism. You can find more about the Holy Rosary prayer here.

There is a growing movement within many Neopagan communities to include prayer beads or rosaries in regular prayer or ritual practice. I wrote a Neopagan nine-bead rosary prayer.

 

Sabaoth

It is a common misconception that this word is 'the real way" to say "Sabbath" in Hebrew. Nope. Sorry to disappoint. Sabaoth is a Hebrew word that means "armies, hosts", as in "a big group arrayed before you that inspires awes and trepidation", like a sabaoth of angels.

Sabbath (see also sabbatarianism)

The seventh day of the week whereupon one rests or is at leisure, to follow the model of Deity in the Biblical Book of Genesis.

In the Jewish tradition, it begins Friday evening. In the Christian tradition is begins on Sunday morning. Some Christians begin the sabbath on Saturday evening.

Salt

Salt has many religious uses, primarily stemming from its preservative capability.

Salt with water (and the right words and will) makes holy water. Salt is offered to newly confirmed Christians. Salt is appropriate for every Christian oblation. In Pagan traditions, salt is used to represent the element of Earth. In magic, salt is used to purify objects and participants.

In earlier times, salt was also used to confirm a friendship, pact or covenant. Among Semitic people, salt was a sign of purity and incorruptibility.

Before the advent of cities and supermarkets, salt was a valued spice. If salt was available, it was often rationed. A good person was "worth his salt."

Sarcophagus

Made popular by the late 19th century discovery of King Tut's tomb, the sarcophagus is the outer coffin, usually made of stone and usually ornamented with bas-relief designs of local cultural or religious significance. It does not have to be shaped like a person; that was what the ancient Egyptians liked.

Once the Catholic Church became organized in the fourth century, Christians were restricted in the designs that could be used to decorate sarcophagi.

Shrine

Talisman (contrast with amulet)

A manmade, physical object, usually used to draw something to you or supplement a trait.  Talismans are usually in the form of jewelry, such as a bracelet, pendant, ring or headband.  A notable exception to this is the U-shaped horseshoe over one's door meant to bring luck to the household. 

Another kind of talisman is a specific drawing on paper that is carried or burned as directed by the spell that charges it.  Hermetic tradition believes that the act of drawing some symbols invokes their power.

Talmud, Halacha, Haggadah, Mosaic Law, Pentateuch

Tools

Although Gerald Gardner (see Gardnerian Wicca) required a set of nine tools for ritual use, most Eclectic Neopagans use four, which are associated with the Elements and the four suits of the Tarot cards.  

Water - Cup, Cauldron, Chalice
Earth - Pentacle, Paten (disk)
Air - Wand, Staff, Censer
Fire - Sword, Athame (dagger), Flame

Many religions have specific tools related to religious ritual, including vessels, materials and special clothing.

The psychological affect of using tools during a ritual (rite and ceremony) is profound. It helps the participant(s) enter an altered state because the tools are used only for ritual purposes, or are thought to become imbued with supernatural powers during the ritual.

Sources: www.angelfire.com/folk/greenwitch/sacred.html, Dictionary.com, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Religioustolerance.org, Old Testament Gateway, "Authors of the Bible", "Alexander Cruden", "Strong's Concordance", "Young's Literal Translation"

 


 

 


Dove of Peace

Help send a message of peace around the world!  The Dove of Peace flies from site to site, through as many countries as possible.  It does not belong to ANY belief system. 

Please help make a line around the globe by taking it with you to your site, by giving it to someone for their site, by passing it on to another continent or to the conflict areas of the world. 

May trouble and strife be vanquished in it's path.

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