Theosophical Encyclopedia


The practice of magical rituals to attain communion with the gods or beneficent spirits. Thomas Taylor called it “the art of divine works.” It comes from two Greek words, theoi, gods, and ergein, work, thus implying work of a divine nature or “work of the gods.”

Helena P. Blavatsky states that it was one of the three divisions of Eclectic Theosophy of Ammonius Saccas, the founder of Neoplatonism. The Neo-Platonists Iamblichus wrote of it extensively in his work, On the Mysteries. He states that the theurgist, “through the power of arcane signatures,” is able to command “mundane natures,” no longer as a human being, but like gods (p. 281, Thomas Taylor translation).

Read more: Theurgy


Jews who have consecrated themselves to the service of GOD. Their qualifications are mentioned in the Old Testament (Num 30:1-8; 6:1-21; etc.). Examples of Nazirites are Joseph, Samson and Samuel. They can be either male or female.

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Mystical Union

TE 8 Mystical Union

The state of oneness between the soul and the Absolute or God. The term is used more commonly among Christian mystics such as Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. It is the highest state of spiritual perfection attainable, and is equivalent to the NIRVANA of Buddhists and FANA among the Muslim Sufis.

In mystical Christianity, mystical union is preceded by three identifiable states in the spiritual life of the aspirant. The first is the awakening where the soul feels a divine discontent that cannot be quenched by material, social or psychological objects. Then follows a period of purification, where the attachments of the soul to objects are gradually cleansed and dissipated. This is the first “dark night” of John of the Cross – the “dark night of the senses.” Among those who successfully overcome the obstacles to spiritual growth, there may come a time when the state of illumination is experienced.

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TE 6 Anta Old Mysterious Bridges1 880

A Sanskrit word literally meaning “internal instrument,” wrongly spelt as Antaskarana by early theosophical writers. Explanations of this term vary somewhat according to the system of belief involved. In ADVAITA it is comprised of the intellect, the mind, the ego and the consciousness. Using the Sanskrit terms these would be named the buddhi, manas, ahankara, and cit; all these terms are explained in some detail elsewhere.

The Sankhya school teaches that antahkarana comprises only the intellect, mind and ego. In Helena P. BLAVATSKY’s The Voice of the Silence (p. 243) she defines its function as, “Antaskarana is the lower Manas, the Path of communication or communion between the personality and the higher Manas or human Soul. At death it is destroyed as a Path or medium of communication, and its remains survive in a form as the Kamarupa – the ‘shell.’”

Read more: Antaḥkaraṇa


TE 4 yin yang

An ancient Chinese doctrine which teaches that all things in the cosmos are the products of two elements, principles, or forces. Yin is the female principle and a negative energy which includes earth, moon, water and winter; yang is the positive male energy which includes heaven, sun, fire and summer. These should not be likened to the Pythagorean duality of opposites – evil and good, forever in conflict – but are complementary parts of a single cosmic harmony which merge and interact with one another.

Read more: Yin-Yang


TE 2 Alchoholismo Header

Since the ancient times, the drinking of alcohol or wine has been connected with certain religious rituals, while in some it is prohibited. The Dionysian festival for example involved drinking, while the Orphic mysteries required abstinence not only from wine but also from meat and sexual activities. In the Christian tradition, wine has been associated with the blood of Christ and has become a part of the Eucharistic ritual. Judaism regards it positively, although among the NAZIRITES it is prohibited. In Islam and Buddhism alcohol is expressly prohibited.

Theosophical literature explicitly disapproves of alcoholic drinks due to its claimed effect on the person. In The Key to Theosophy (Sec. 13), Helena P. BLAVATSKY wrote about the effects of alcohol:
They are worse for his moral and spiritual growth than meat, for alcohol in all its forms has a direct, marked, and very deleterious influence on man’s psychic condition. Wine and spirit drinking is only less destructive to the development of the inner powers, than the habitual use of hashish, opium, and similar drugs. The use of alcohol, she says, has a “directly pernicious action upon the brain,” particularly the pineal gland and the pituitary gland. Alcohol prevents the development of the “third eye” (CW XII:496, 698).

Read more: Alcohol

Charles Bradlaugh 1833-1891)

English free-thinker and political radical who was closely associated with Annie Besant, second President of the Theosophical Society (TS), before the latter became a theosophist. He was born at Hoxton in London, England, on September 26, 1833, the son of a poor solicitor’s clerk. Bradlaugh edited the National Reformer, a left-wing English periodical, from 1860 for many years and also was prominent as a public speaker. In 1874 he met Annie Besant who joined him on the staff of the National Reformer as co-editor.

Read more: Charles Bradlaugh 1833-1891)

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