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Glossary of Wiccan, Neo-Pagan and Occult Terminology

THEOSOPHY

A term for the synthesis of religion, philosophy and science.   It is an endeavor to combine the mutual enrichment of the Eastern and Western worlds.   Theosophy is not a religion since is has no dogma, creed, or ritual.

History:

The term theosophy is derived from the Greek theos (god) and sophia (wisdom), which denotes a philosophical-religious system that clams absolute knowledge of the existence and nature of the deity.   This system is distinctly separate from the system put forth by the founders of the Theosophical Society in 1875.

Originally this knowledge or theosophy, it was thought, could be attained through individual revelation or the use of some higher faculty.   The transcendent characteristic of a godhead is what differentiates theosophical systems from speculative or absolute philosophical systems that generally proceed deductively from the idea of God.   In the initial theosophical systems God was conceived as the transcendent source of being, from whom human beings in their natural state are far removed.   Such knowledge is divinely inspired, and is not a set of beliefs superimposed on humankind.   This knowledge or wisdom is considered to underlie the teaching of all religion.

The concepts of Theosophy have occurred in philosophic systems China, India, and Egypt, and in the works of the Gnostics, Neo-Platonists, and the Kabbalists, or the Jewish mystics.   Theosophical thought appears in the works of philosophers such as Plato, Plotinus, Apollonius of Tyana, and in works of such mystics as Jakob Boehme and Paracelsus; as well as other medieval mystics.

Theosophical principles:

The cardinal principles are:
  • There exists an "omnipresent, eternal, boundless and immutable principle" from which the visible world arises.
  • Universes come and go, and our universe is the periodical manifestation of immaterial reality.
  • The universe, with everything in it, is temporary compared with the eternal immutability of the One.
  • Everything in the universe, throughout its kingdoms, is conscious of its own nature and degree.
  • The universe, is not the product of chance, but is worked and guided from within.
  • The whole order of nature gives evidence of purposiveness.
  • Every individual is fundamentally identified with the universal Oversoul and evolves through cycles of Reincarnation in accordance with the law of cause and effect called Karma.

The process of cosmic manifestation is considered to have two phases:
  • The first is involution, during which billions of units of spiritual consciousness, called "Monads," emerge from the One undifferentiated Source.   They continually become more deeply involved in matter in the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms and, through the limitations and impacts of this condition, finally attain self-consciousness in the human kingdom.
  • The second phase is evolution, during which these self-conscious units, as humans, gradually unfold the potentials inherent in them from the beginning of the cycle, attain freedom from attachment to matter, and eventually return to the Source from which they came, but with an incalculable increase of consciousness as a result of their aeonic pilgrimage.   Theosophy denies that the human spirit can ultimately be lost, because it is intrinsically eternal and indestructible.   Through successive reembodiments in physical form, with accompanying motional, mental, and Psychic responses to experience, the spirit attains mastery over its vehicles, and man reaches the expression of his god-hood.

Theosophical tasks:

Theosophy examines the underlying of basic wisdom or thought of various religious teachings that have been important in the development of humankind.   This examination does not seek to draw away anyone from the religion that he belongs to, but to give an rational explanation and interpretation of the inner meanings of the creeds and ceremonies of religion.

Theosophical examination is conducted by observation, experimentation, organization and hypothesis.   Through the use of these techniques Theosophy may be thought to be scientific, although it makes no pretense of encompassing the indefinite number of specializations and hypotheses of the advanced sciences.

In its philosophical aspect Theosophy postulates a logical explanation for the universe and its laws, and of man's origin, evolution and destiny.   It renders various reasons for many circumstances and processes which are not touched on by dogmatic religions and codified sciences.   In summary it postulates that matter, which comes from an immutable principle, is the instrument of life, that thought is the creative and molding power, and the experience of joy and suffering is the mean to the development of character and ability and the consequent attainment of spiritual power and wisdom.

Theosophy maintains that the attainment of spiritual power and wisdom is within the reach of everyone, and there are those who have reached that goal.   Included among them are Christ and Buddha plus other great spiritual teaching Saviours.   Others are lesser known, but continue to strive toward this goal in obscurity which serves the welfare of humankind.

see also: THEOSOPICAL SOCIETY; ASTRAL WORLD; PATH, The


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PLEASE NOTE:
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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