Alternative Paths Vocab

Alliance
--> In Cao Dai, one of three periods of special divine revelation 
Anthroposophy 
--> "Human wisdom" (Greek); a movement that grew out of Theosophy and emphasizes education and other practical means for spiritual development
Auditor
--> In Scientology, a counselor who, through a series of questions, works to guide a person to greater self-understanding
Bab
--> "Door," "Gate"; a prophet who was the forerunner of Baha'u'llah, the founder of Baha'i
Baha'i
--> A modern monotheistic religion that grew out of Islam and emphasizes unity and equality of individuals, cultures, and religions; a follower of the Baha'i religion 
Baha'u'llah
--> "Glory of Allah" (Arabic); the founder of Baha'i
Bard
--> A first-level initiate in Druidism; also, a follower of a path in Druidism
Bridge
--> In Scientology, a diagram of the stages toward personal liberation
Candomblé
--> The syncretic religion of Brazil that blends elements of Portuguese Catholicism and African religions
Cao Dai
--> "High palace"; a syncretic religion that began in Vietnam that blends Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and Catholic Christianity
Church Universal and Triumphant
--> A religion that unites elements from Theosophy and Christianity; also referred to as CUT 
Clear
--> In Scientology, the state of mental liberation; the person who has achieved mental liberation; also referred to as operating thetan, or OT
Contemporary Paganism
--> A general name for several movements that attempt to reestablish a pre-Christian European nature religion; also called Neo-Paganism
Dreadlocks
--> The long coiled hair worn by some Rastafarians
Druid
--> "Oak-tree wisdom"; a Celtic priest of two thousand years ago; a follower of the modern recreation of Druidism
E-meter
--> In Scientology, an electronic machine that reads galvanic skin response; sometimes used to assist the auditing process 
Engram
--> In Scientology, an experience of earlier suffering (even from a past life) that keeps a person from relating healthily to the present
Equinox
--> "Equal night"(Latin); the two days of the year, in the spring and autumn, when the hours of daylight and nighttime are equal 
Esbat
--> In Wicca, the time of the full moon, often marked by a meeting or ceremony 
Eurhythmy
--> "Good rhythm" (Greek); a type of interpretive dance utilized in Anthroposophy as a technique for spiritual growth
Falun
--> "Law wheel" (Chinese); an invisible spiritual wheel, believed by followers of Falun Gong to spin in the abdominal region, distilling and spreading energy from the universe
Falun Gong
--> "Law-wheel energy" (Chinese); a modern Chinese religion that uses meditation and physical exercises in its practice
Loa
--> A deity in Voodoo
MEST
--> In Scientology, an acronym for matter, energy, space, and time; the world of time and space, the world in which spirits must live
Ocha
--> In Santería, any deity
Operating Thetan
--> In Scientology, a fully liberated person; also referred to as OT and clear 
Orisha
--> A general name for a deity in the Yoruba-tradition religions
Ovate
--> A second-level initiate in Druidism; also, a follower of a path of Druidism
Pre-clear
--> In Scientology, a person who is not yet spiritually liberated and who is just beginning to undergo the auditing process
Qigong 
--> "Energy force" (Chinese); a type of martial art that is thought to increase health and strength
Ras Tafari
--> The original name of Emperor Haile Selassie, often used by Rastafarians to emphasize his religious significance
Rastafarianism 
--> A religion that began in Jamaica in the 1920's to emphasize African pride; it considers Haile Selassie (Ras Tafari) to be divine
Rede
--> "Advice," "cousel"; a term used in Wicca to describe its maxim that an act is allowable if it does no harm: "An [if] it harm none, do what you will"
Sabbat
--> One of eight seasonal turning points marked by Wiccans and Druids
Santera
--> A preistess of Santería
Santería
--> "Saint-thing" or "saint-way" (Spanish); a Yoruba-based religion that developed in Cuba and was influenced by Spanish Catholicism
Santero
--> A priest of Santería
Scientology
--> "Knowledge-study" (Latin and Greek); a modern religion that promotes as process of focusing thought and clarifying life goals
Solstice
--> "Sun-stands" (Latin); the two days of the year, at midwinter and midsummer, when the season begins to reverse itself
Theosophy
--> "Divine wisdom" (Greek); an eclectic movement, particularly influenced by Hinduism, that focuses on the mystical elements of all religions
Thetan
--> In Scientology, the human soul
Voodoo
--> A religion that developed in Haiti that blends elements from French Catholicism and African religions
Wicca
--> A Contemporary Pagan movement that seeks harmony with the forces of nature and worships both the female and male aspects of the divine
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Islam Vocab

Caliph 
--> (Arabic: khalifa) "successor"; a religious and political leader
Dhikr
--> A devotional remembrance of Allah through the recitation of his ninety-nine names and through other devotional practices
Fana
--> "Extinction"; the sense of loss of self in mystical experience
Hadith
--> "Recollection"; a r--emembrance of an act or saying of Muhammad (The plural is spelled hadiths or ahadith)
Hajj
--> Pilgrimage to Mecca
Hijra
--> "Flight"; Muhammad's escape from Mecca to Yathrib (Medina)
Id al-Adha/Eid al-Adha
--> The Day of Sacrifice during the month of the Hajj when an animal is sacrificed to recall the submission of Abraham
Id al-Fitr/Eid al-Fitr
--> The festival at the end of the month of Ramadan during which people feast and visit friends and often the graves of ancestors 
Imam
--> When capitalized, the word refers to one of the hereditary successors of Muhammad,who are venerated in Shiite Islam (When the word imam is not capitalized, it refers to a religious leader or to a leader of prayer
Islam
--> "Submission"; the Muslim religion and the community of believers who have submitted themselves to Allah
Jihad
--> "Struggle"; the ideals of (1) spreading Islamic belief and (2) heroic self-sacrifice
Kaaba/Kabah
--> "Cube"; the square shrine at the center of the Grand Mosque of Mecca
Khadijah
--> First wife of Muhammad
Mihrab
--> The decorated niche inside a mosque that indicates the direction of Mecca
Minaret
--> A tower used by a chanter to call people to prayer
Mosque
--> a Muslim place of worship
Muezzin
--> A chanter who calls people to prayer
Muslim
--> A person who submits to Allah
Qiblah
--> The direction toward Mecca; the direction toward which Muslims pray
Qur'an
--> "Recitation"; God's words as revealed to and recited by Muhammad; an authorized edition of the written words that appeared after Muhammad's death
Ramadan
--> The month of fasting; the ninth month of the Muslim calendar
Sharia/Shariah
--> "Path"; the whole body of Islamic laws that guides a Muslim's life
Shiite
--> A minority branch of Islam, which holds that Muhammad's genuine successors descended from his son-in-law Ali
Sufism
--> A group of devotional movements in Islam
Sunni
--> The majority branch of Islam; It holds that genuine succession from Muhammad did not depend on hereditary descent from his son-in-law Ali
Sura
--> A chapter of the Qur'an

Christianity Vocab

Apocalypticism:

The belief that the world will soon come to and end; this belief usually includes the notion of a great battle, final judgement, and reward of the good.

Apostle:

One of Jesus’s twelve disciples; also, any early preacher of Christianity.

Baptism:

The Christian rite of initiation, involving immersion in water or sprinkling with water.

Bible:

The scriptures sacred to Christians, consisting of the books of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.

Bishop:

“Overseer” (Greek); a priest and church leader who is in charge of a large geographical area called a diocese.

Canon:

“Measure,” “rule” (Greek); a list of authoritative books or documents.

Ecumenism:

“Good gift” (Greek); the Lord’s Supper.

Evangelical:

Emphasizing the authority of scripture; an adjective used to identify certain Protestant groups.

Evangelist:

“Good news person” (Greek); one of the four “authors of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).

Filioque:

“And from the Son”; a Latin word added to the Nicene Creed in the Western Church to state that only the Holy Spirit proceeds from both Father and Son. The notion, which was not accepted by Orthodox Christianity, contributed to the separation between the Western and Eastern churches.

Gospel:

“Good news” (Middle English); an account of the life of Jesus.

Icon:

“Image” (Greek); religious painting on wood, as used in the Orthodox Church; also spelled ikon.

Incarnation:

“In flesh” (Latin); a belief that God became visible in Jesus.

Indulgence:

“Kindness-toward” (Latin); remission of the period spent in purgatory (a state of temporary punishment in the afterlife); this is part of the Catholic belief and practice.

Lent:

“Lengthening day,” “spring” (Old English); the preparatory period before Easter, lasting for days.

Messiah:

“Anointed” (Hebrew); a special messenger sent by God, foretold in the Hebrew scriptures and believed by Christians to be Jesus.

Original Sin:

An inclination toward evil, inherited by human beings as a result of Adam’s disobedience.

Orthodox:

“Straight opinion” (Greek); correct belief.

Orthodoxy:

The major Eastern branch of Christianity.

Patriarch:

“Father source” (Greek); the bishop of one of the major early sites of Christianity (Jerusalem, Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Moscow).

Pope:

“Father” (Latin and Greek); the bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church; the term is also used for the Coptic patriarch of Alexandria.

Predestination:

The belief that because God is all-powerful and all-knowing, a human being’s ultimate reward or punishment is already decreed by God; a notion emphasized in Calvinism.

Protestant Principle:

The right of each believer to radically rethink and interpret the ideas and values of Christianity, apart from any church authority.

Redemption:

“Buy again,” “buy back” (Latin); the belief that the death of Jesus has paid the price of justice for all human wrongdoing.

Righteousness:

Being sinless in the sight of God; also called justification.

Sacrament:

“Sacred action” (Latin); one of the essential rituals of Christianity.

Sin:

Wrongdoing, seen as disobedience to God.

Testament:

“Contract”; the Old Testament and New Testament constitute the Christian scriptures.

Trinity:

The three “Persons” in God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

Judaism Vocab

Ashkenazim:

Jews who lived in or came from central Europe.

Bar (Bat) Mitzvah:

“Son (daughter) of the commandment” (Aramaic); the coming-of-age ceremony that marks the time when a young person is considered a legal adult within the Jewish community.

Biblical Judaism:

Judaism before the destruction of the second temple (70 CE).

Canaan:

An ancient name for the land of Israel.

Conservative Judaism:

A branch of Judaism that attempts to blend the best of old and new Judaism.

Covenant:

A contract; the contract between the Hebrews and their God, Yahweh.

Diaspora:

The dispersion of Jews beyond Israel, particularly to Persia, Egypt, and the Mediterranean region.

Essenes:

A reclusive semimonastic Jewish group that flourished from c. 150 BCE to 68 CE.

Hanukkah:

An early-winter festival recalling the rededication of the Second Temple, celebrated with the lighting of candles for eight days.

Holocaust:

The destruction of European Judaism by the Nazis; also known as Shoah (Hebrew: “extermination”).

Kabbalah:

“Received,” “handed down”; the whole body of Jewish mystical literature.

Ketuvim:

“Writings”; the third section of the Hebrew scriptures, consisting primarily of poetry, proverbs, and literary works.

Kosher:

“Ritually correct”; refers particularly to food preparation and food consumption.

Menorah:

A candelabrum usually containing seven (and occasionally nine) branches, used for religious celebrations.

Messiah:

A savior figure to be sent by God, awaited by the Jews (see Dan. 7:13-14).

Midrash:

“Search”; rabbinical commentary on the scriptures and oral laws.

Nevi’im:

“Prophets”; the second section of the Hebrew scriptures, made up of historical and prophetic books.

Orthodox Judaism:

The most traditional branch of Judaism.

Passover:

A joyful spring festival that recalls the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt and freedom from oppression.

Pharisees:

A faction during the Second Temple period that emphasized the observance of biblical rules.

Prophet:

A person inspired by God to speak for him.

Purim:

A joyous festival in early spring that recalls the Jews’ being saved from destruction, as told in the Book of Esther.

Rabbi:

A religious teacher; a Jewish minister.

Rabbinical Judaism:

Judaism that developed after the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE).

Reconstructionism:

A modern liberal branch of Judaism that emphasizes the cultural aspects of Judaism.

Reform:

A movement beginning in the nineteenth century that questioned  and modernized Judaism; a liberal branch of Judaism.

Rosh Hashanah:

“Beginning of the year”; the celebration of the Jewish New Year, occurring in the seventh lunar month.

Sabbath:

“Rest”; the seventh day of the week (Saturday), a day of prayer and rest from work.

Sadducees:

A priestly faction, influential during the Second Temple period.

Seder:

“Order”; a special ritual meal at Passover, recalling the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt.

Sephardim:

Jews of Spain, Morocco, and the Mediterranean region.

Sukkot:

“Booths”; a festival in the late autumn that recalls the Jews’ period of wandering in the desert after their exodus from Egypt.

Tallit:

A prayer shawl worn by devout males during morning prayer.

Talmud:

An encyclopedic commentary on the Hebrew scriptures.

Tanakh:

The complete Hebrew scriptures, made up of the Torah, Prophets (Nevi’im), and Writings (Ketuvim).

Tefillin:

Phylacteries; two small boxes containing biblical passages, which are worn by Orthodox males on the head and left arm at morning prayer during the week.

Theophany:

A revelation or appearance of God.

Torah:

“Teaching,” “instruction”; the first five books of the Hebrew scriptures; also, the additional instructions of God, believed by many to have been transmitted orally from Moses through a succession of teachers and rabbis.

Western Wall:

The foundation stones of the western wall of the last temple of Jerusalem, today a place of prayer.

Yarmulke:

The skullcap worn by devout males.

Yom Kippur:

Day of Atonement, the most sacred day of the Jewish year.

Zealots:

An anti-Roman, nationalistic Jewish faction, active during the Roman period of control over Israel.

Zionism:

A movement that has encouraged the creation and support of the nation of Israel.

 

Shinto Vocab

Amaterasu:

“Shining in heaven”; goddess of the sun.

Bushido:

“Warrior knight way”; military devotion to a ruler, demanding loyalty, duty, and self-sacrifice; an ideal promoted by State Shinto.

Gagaku:

The stately ceremonial music of Shinto.

Ise:

Location in southeastern Honshu of a major shrine to Amaterasu.

Izanagi:

“Male who invites”; primordial male parent god.

Izanami:

“Female who invites”; primordial female parent god.

Jinja:

A Shinto shrine.

Kami:

A spirit, god, or goddess of Shinto.

Kamidana:

A shelf or home altar for the veneration of kami.

Kamikaze:

“Spirit wind”; suicide fighter pilots of World War II.

Kojiki:

The earliest chronicle of Japanese ancient myths.

Misogi:

A ritual of purification that involves standing under a waterfall.

Nihongi:

The second chronicle of Japanese myths and history.

Noh:

Dramas performed in mask and costume, associated with Shinto.

Omoto:

A New Religion, which stresses art and beauty.

Samurai:

Feudal soldier.

Shimenawa:

Twisted rope, marking a sacred spot.

Tenrikyo:

A New Religion devoted to human betterment.

Torii:

A gate-like structure that marks a Shinto sacred place.

Daoism and Confucianism Vocab

Analects:

A book of the sayings attributed to Confucius and his early disciples.

Dao:

The mysterious origin of the universe, which is present and visible in everything.

Daodejing:

The classic scripture of Daoism.

Five Classics:

The classical literature of the time preceding Confucius, including poetry, history, and divination.

Four Books:

The major Confucian books, which include the sayings of Confucius and Mencius.

Junzi:

“Noble person”; the refined human ideal of Confucianism.

Laozi:

The legendary founder of Daoism.

Legalists:

The strictest of the Chinese philosophical schools, which advocate strong laws and punishments.

Li:

Appropriate action, ritual, propriety, etiquette.

Qi:

The life force.

Ren:

Empathy, consideration for others, humaneness; a Confucian virtue.

Shu:

Reciprocity; a Confucian virtue.

Wen:

Cultural refinement; a Confucian virtue.

Wu Wei:

“No action,” “no strain,” “effortlessness”; doing only what comes spontaneously and naturally.

Xiao:

Family devotion, filial piety; a Confucian virtue.

Yang:

The active aspect of reality that expresses itself in speech, light, and heat.

Yijing:

An ancient Confucian book of divination, one of the Five Classics, still in use today.

Yin:

The receptive aspect of the universe that expresses itself in silence, darkness, coolness, and rest.

Zhuangzi:

Author of the Zhuangzi, a book of whimsical stories that express themes of early Daoist thought.

Jainism and Sikhism Vocab

Adi Granth:

“Original Collection”; the primary scripture of the Sikhs.

Ajiva:

Matter without soul or life.

Digambara:

“Clothed in sky”; a member of the Jain sect in which monks ideally do not wear clothing.

Gurdwara:

A Sikh temple.

Hylozoism:

The belief that all physical matter has life and feeling.

Japji:

A poem by Guru Nanak that begins the Adi Granth; the poem is recited daily by pious Sikhs.

Jina:

“Conqueror”; the Jain term for a perfected person who will not be reborn.

Jiva:

Spirit, soul, which enlivens matter.

Puja:

Ritual in honor of a tirthankara or deity.

Sallekhana:

“Holy death”; death by self-starvation, valued in Jainism as a noble end to a long life of virtue and detachment.

Shvetambara:

“Clothed in white”; a member of the Jain sect in which monks and nuns wear white clothing.

Sikh:

“Disciple”; a follower of the Sikh religion.

Sthanakavasi:

“Building person”; a member of a Jain sect that rejects the use of statues and temples.

Terapanthi:

“Thirteen”; a member of the newest Jain sect.

Tirthankara:

“Crossing maker”; in Jainism, one of the twenty-four ideal human beings of the past, Mahavira being the most recent.