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Glossary

Quick reference to a variety of terms commonly used in association with alternative religions.

Abrahamic Religions
Glossary definition of the term Abrahamic religions.

Alchemy
Alchemy is a term applied in many different contexts. In the West, it has a strong theological and philosophical component and is commonly labeled as occult. It is a metaphysical understanding of the world, interweaving the study of the physical world with understanding the spiritual one.

Anthropomorphism
Glossary definition of the term anthropomorphism.

Ceremonial Magic
Ceremonial magic is one of several types of magic, one based on complicated rituals and correspondences.

Clear
Glossary definition of the term Clear as used in Scientology.

Conspiracy Theory
Many alternative religions are forced to deal with a variety of negative stereotypes, some of which rise to the level of conspiracy theories.

Cult
Glossary definition of the word cult.

Daemon
Glossary definition of the term daemon, particularly how it is applied within the Western Occult Tradition.

Divination
Glossary definition of the term divination.

Engram
Glossary definition of the word engram as used in Scientology.

Eschatology
Glossary definition of the term eschatology.

Syncretism - What is Syncretism?
Syncretism is the process of combining multiple beliefs into one system. Sometimes the result is a completely new religion. Sometimes the result is one religion embracing new ideas or practices from another religion or the surrounding culture. All religions experience some degree of syncretism, but some religions intrinsically depend upon it...

Hermeticism And Hermetic Beliefs
Glossary definition of the term Hermeticism as used in religious and occult studies.

Mythology
Glossary definition of the term mythology.

Neo-Paganism
Glossary definition of the term "neo-paganism."

Neoplatonism
Glossary definition of the term Neoplatonism.

New Religious Movement
Glossary definition of the term new religious movement.

Occult
Glossary definition of the word occult.

Orthopraxy vs. Orthodoxy
Religions generally focus on one of two things, orthodoxy (correct belief) or orthopraxy (correct behavior). While both are frequently present, one is usually considered more important than the other, leading to very different ways different people can approach religion.

Operating Thetan
Glossary definition of the term Operating Thetan.

Parody Religions
While most religions attempt to teach spiritual truth, parody religions deliberately embrace falsehoods, often to the point of ridiculous. The goal is not to fool listeners into believing that nonsense is truth, but rather it is to satirically criticize other religions or ideologies.

Personal Development Movement
Glossary definition of the term personal development movement.

Pre-Clear
Glossary definition of the term pre-Clear as used in Scientology.

Qiblih - Point of Adoration
Glossary definition of the term Qiblih as used in the Baha'i Faith.

Revealed Religion
Revealed religion is any religion dependent upon the revelations of a few to inform the many of spiritual truths. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all revealed religions, but they are certainly not the only ones. Revealed religions generally accept the validity of prophets and the mediums through which revelations are communicated.

Supernatural / Paranormal
Glossary definition of the terms supernatural and paranormal.

Suppressive Person
Glossary definition of the term "Suppressive Person" or "SP" as used in Scientology.

Thetan
According to Scientology, the thetan is the defining characteristic of a person. Rather than a person having a soul, and being of both soul and body, in Scientology a person is a thetan and that thetan has a body.

Unverifiable Personal Gnosis
Unverifiable Personal Gnosis, or UPG, is an important part of understanding personal religious understandings, experiences, and revelations. This is particularly important to esoteric forms of religion, where the focus is on internal learning and experience rather than instruction via scripture or other authority.

Left-Hand and Right-Hand Paths
Occult and religious paths are sometimes divided into two categories: the left-hand and right-hand paths. The left-hand path is about the elevation and centrality of the self as well as the rejection of religious authority and societal taboos. The left-hand path focuses on the strength and will of the practitioner, downplaying the need for...

White Magic and Black Magic
Some people, when speaking of magic, divide its uses into two categories: white magic and black magic. The definition of these terms, however, is highly subjective, varying from location to location, across time periods, and even person to person. Essentially, white magic is magic that the speaker considers to be acceptable magic, while black...

Witchcraft
The term "witchcraft" has been used in two distinctly different contexts in history. The older definition was quite negative, while current definitions are often more neutral. This has led to substantial confusion.

Belief Types
Religions can be broken down into a number of broad categories based on general purposes and views of divinity. Here is a brief overview of some of these categories and how they are used in other articles on the Alternative Religion Guide Site.

Magic and Magick
Understand the use of the term "magick" in place of "magic," as well as a working definition of magic, its relationship with miracles, psychic experiences and other related phenomena, and how all of this does or does not relate to religion.

Folk Magic
Today, many people speak of magical and religious beliefs as intertwined. In order to sort out what is what, here is an overview of one particular type of magic: folk magic. This is traditionally the magic of the common folk, and it is primarily a practical rather than spiritual practice, although it can certainly include religious components.

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