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Glossary of Wiccan, Neo-Pagan and Occult Terminology


This is a term that designates disorientation in time in which a person feels that he has been to an unknown place before, or has previously experienced a situation, or met a person before.   Deja vu is an unexpected sensation of familiarity that applies to events, experiences, sensory impressions, dreams, thoughts, statements, desires, emotions, dreams, visits, the act of reading, the state of knowing, and, in general, the circumstances of living.   The term is French for "already seen," and was first used to give a description to such experiences in 1876 by E. Letter Boirac, who called it "le sensation du deja vu".   In 1896, F. L. Arnaud introduced it to science.   There is no adequate English equivalent for the term "Deja vu."

The sensation of Deja vu has been found to be a common psychological experience.   According to a poll conducted in 1986 by the National Opinion Research Council of the University of Chicago, 67% of Americans reported instances of deja vu, up from 58% in 1973.   In other studies the phenomenon has been reported experienced more among women than men, and more among younger people than older people.

There is a wide variance in theories explaining Deja vu.   Some psychologists refer to it as "double cerebration".   As early as 1884, theories were advanced suggesting that one hemisphere of the brain received information a split second earlier that the other half.   In 1895, the English psychical researcher Frederic W. H. Myers theorized that the subconscious mind registered information sooner than the conscious mind.   The speculation of a biological process for Deja vu, if there is any, has not been proven.

Those believing in reincarnation theorize that Deja vu is caused by fragments of past-life memories being jarred to the surface of the mind by familiar surroundings or people.   Others theorize that the phenomenon is caused by astral projection, or out-of-body experiences (OBEs), where it is possible that individuals have visited places while in their astral bodies during sleep.   The sensation may be also connected to the fulfillment of a condition as seen of felt in a premonition.   Other possible explanations are clairvoyance and telepathy.

Others say Deja vu is a product of the collective unconscious as theorized by psychiatrist Carl G.   Jung.   They speculate that Deja vu occurs when one draws on the collective memories of humankind.   Jung himself had an intense Deja vu experience during his first trip to Africa.   While looking out a train window he felt as if he was returning to the land of his youth of five thousand years earlier.   He described it in Memories, Dreams, Reflections as "recognition of immemorially known."

However, many researchers are cautious when dealing with instances of Deja vu because of the chance the person who experienced the sensation may have read or seen something that is now in his unconsciousness that triggers the impression.

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One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.

Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans.   Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.

Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church.   Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.

- Jean-Luc
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