You are here: Paranormal and Metaphysical Glossary

Paranormal and Metaphysical Glossary

Altered States of Consciousness
Any state which is significantly different from a normative waking beta wave state. The expression was coined by Charles Tart and describes induced changes in one's mental state, almost always temporary. A synonymous phrase is "altered states of awareness".
Angels
An angel is a supernatural being found in many religions. In scripture, they typically act as messengers, as held by the three prominent monotheistic faiths, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Apparition
An apparition is an appearance to a human of a ghost.
Astral
Relating to a subtle body and plane of existence that coexist with and survive the death of the human physical body.
Astral body
The astral body refers to the concept of a subtle body which exists alongside the physical body, as a vehicle of the soul or consciousness. It is usually understood as being of an emotional nature and, as such, it is equated to the desire body or emotional body.
Astral plane
The astral plane, also called the astral world or desire world, is a plane of existence according to esoteric philosophies, some religious teachings and New Age thought.
Astral Projection
Out-of-body experiences (OBEs) achieved either awake or via lucid dreaming, deep meditation, or use of psychotropics. The consciousness or soul has transferred into an astral body which moves in the astral plane.
Aura
Energy field emanating from the surface of a person or object. This emanation is visualized as an outline of cascading color and may be held to represent soul vibrations, chakric emergence, or a reflection of surrounding energy fields.
Automatic Writing
Automatic writing is the process of writing material that does not come from the conscious thoughts of the writer. The writer's hand forms the message, and the person is unaware of what will be written. It is sometimes done in a trance state. Other times the writer is aware (not in a trance) of their surroundings but not of the actions of their writing hand.
Chakra
Nexus of biophysical energy residing in the human body, aligned in an ascending column from the base of the spine to the top of the head. In various traditions chakras are associated with multiple physiological functions, an aspect of consciousness, a classical element, and other distinguishing characteristics.
Channeling
Process of receiving messages or inspiration from invisible beings or spirits.
Christ
The word is often misunderstood to be the surname of Jesus due to the numerous mentions of Jesus Christ in the Christian Bible. The word is in fact a title, hence its common reciprocal use Christ Jesus, meaning The Anointed One, Jesus. Followers of Jesus became known as Christians because they believed that Jesus was the Christ, or Messiah, prophesied about in the Tanakh (which Christians term the Old Testament).
Clairvoyance
Extra-sensory perception whereas a person perceives distant objects, persons, or events, including perceiving an image hidden behind opaque objects and the detection of types of energy not normally perceptible to humans. Typically, such perception is reported in visual terms, but may also include auditory impressions (sometimes called clairaudience) or kinesthetic impressions.
Demon
In religion, folklore, and mythology a demon (or daemon) is a supernatural being that has generally been described as a malevolent spirit, and in Christian terms it generally understood as an angel not following God.
Demonology
Demonology is the systematic study of demons or beliefs about demons. Insofar as it involves exegesis, demonology is an orthodox branch of theology.
Devil
The Devil is a title given to the supernatural entity, who, in Christianity, Islam, and other religions, is a powerful, evil entity and the tempter of humankind. The Devil commands a force of lesser evil spirits, commonly known as demons.
Ectoplasm
Form of dense bio-energy liberated by the materialisation of ghosts. Also, a substance supposed to emanate from the body of the medium during a trance.
EMF (Electro-magnetic Field)
Classically, the electromagnetic field is a physical influence (a field) that permeates through all of space, and which arises from electrically charged objects and describes one of the four fundamental forces of nature - electromagnetism. Ghosts activities can sometimes causes changes in the electro-magnetic field and measured with an EMF meter.
Empath
Possesses the ability to sense the emotions of other sentient life forms.
Entity
An entity is something that has a distinct, separate existence.
Esoteric (Esotericism)
The term Esotericism refers to the doctrines or practices of esoteric knowledge, or otherwise the quality or state of being described as esoteric, or obscure. Esoteric knowledge is that which is specialised or advanced in nature, available only to a narrow circle of "enlightened", "initiated", or highly educated people. In contrast, exoteric knowledge is knowledge that is well-known or public.
ESP (Extra Sensory Perception)
Perception that involves awareness of information about something (such as a person or event) not gained through the senses and not deducible from previous experience. Classic forms of ESP include telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition.
Etheric plane
In Theosophy, the etheric plane is related to the Prana principle and is understood as the vital, life-sustaining force of living beings and the vital energy in all natural processes of the universe.
Etheric body
The etheric body, or vital body is one of the subtle bodies in esoteric philosophies, in some religious teachings and in New Age thought. It is understood as a sort of life force body or aura that constitutes the "blueprint" of the physical body, and which sustains the physical body.
Evil
In religion and ethics, evil refers to the morally or ethically objectionable behaviour or thought; behavior or thought which is hateful, cruel, excessively sexual, or violent, devoid of conscience.
EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena)
Electronic voice phenomena (EVP) is the communication by spirits through radios, tape recorders, or other electronic audio devices. Also, when anomalous voices of supernatural origin, are heard on audio recordings.
Exorcism
The practice of evicting demons or other evil spiritual entities which have possessed a person or object. The practice is quite ancient and still part of the belief system of many religions. The person performing the exorcism, known as an exorcist, is often a priest, or an individual thought to be graced with special powers or skills. The exorcist may use religious material, such as prayers and set formulas, gestures, symbols, icons, amulets, etc. The exorcist often invokes some supernatural power to actually perform the task.
Ghost
A ghost is a non-corporeal manifestation of the spirit or soul of a dead person which has remained on Earth after death.
Ghost Hunting
Ghost hunting is the process of investigating an alleged haunting. Typically, a 'hunting party' will involve 4-8 individuals who work as a team to collect evidence of paranormal activity. Each team member performs duties that are related to their particular field of expertise or interest. It is common practice for ghost hunters to behave in a scientific manner as they observe and record data using a variety of electronic gadgets, such as; EMF Meters, digital thermometers, infrared and night vision cameras, handheld video cameras, digital audio recorders, and computers.
God
The name God refers to the deity held by monotheists to be the supreme reality. God is generally regarded as the sole creator of the universe. Theologians have ascribed certain attributes to God, including omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, perfect goodness, divine simplicity, and eternal and necessary existence.
Guardian Spirit (Guardian Angel)
A guardian angel is a spirit who protects and guides a particular person.
Haunting
To inhabit, visit, or appear to in the form of a ghost or other supernatural being.
Heaven
Heaven is a plane of existence in religions and spiritual philosophies, typically described as the holiest possible place, accessible by people according to various standards of divinity (goodness, piety, etc.) Christians generally hold that it is the afterlife destination of those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.
Hell
Hell, according to many religious beliefs, is an afterlife of suffering where the wicked or unrighteous dead are punished. Hells are almost always depicted as underground. Christianity and Islam traditionally depict hell as fiery, Hells from other traditions, however, are sometimes cold and gloomy. Alternatively, Hell would not be a place or locality but a state of being, where one is seperated of God - thought to be held back by unrepented sin and/or corruption of spirit.
Hypnagogia (Hypnogogic)
Hypnagogia are the experiences a person can go through in the hypnagogic (or hypnogogic) state, the period of falling asleep. Hypnagogic sensations collectively describe the vivid dream-like auditory, visual, or tactile sensations that can be experienced in a hypnagogic or hypnopompic state.
Hypnosis
Psychological condition of altered state of consciousness in which some people may be induced to show various differences in behaviour and thinking, like heightened suggestibility and receptivity to direction.
Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy is therapy that is undertaken with a subject in hypnosis. A person who is hypnotized displays certain unusual characteristics and propensities, compared with a non-hypnotized subject, most notably hyper-suggestibility, which some authorities have considered a sine qua non of hypnosis.
Incarnation
Incarnation, which literally means enfleshment, refers to the conception, and live birth of a sentient creature (generally human being) who is the material manifestation of an entity or force whose original nature is immaterial.
Incorporeal
Incorporeal, from Latin, means without the nature of a body or substance. The idea of the incorporeal refers to the notion that there is an incorporeal realm or place, that is distinct from the corporeal or material world.
Intuition
Intuition is an immediate form of knowledge in which the knower is directly acquainted with the object of knowledge. Intuition differs from all forms of mediated knowledge, which generally involve conceptualizing the object of knowledge by means of rational/analytical thought processes.
Intuitive
A person sensitive to the feelings of other life forms, as well as signals of nature.
Jinn
Genie is the English term for the Arabic (jinn). In pre-Islamic Arabian mythology and in Islam, a jinni (also "djinni" or "djini") is a member of the jinn (or "djinn"), a race of supernatural creatures.
Karma
Karma is the concept of "action" or "deed" in Dharmic religions understood as denoting the entire cycle of cause and effect described in Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist philosophies. Karma is believed to be a sum of all that an individual has done, is currently doing and will do. The effects of all deeds actively create past, present and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one's own life, and the pain and joy it brings to others.
Kirlian photography
Kirlian photography refers to a form of contact print photography, theoretically associated with high-voltage. It is named after Semyon Kirlian, who in 1939 accidentally discovered that if an object on a photographic plate is connected to a source of high voltage, small corona discharges (created by the strong electric field at the edges of the object) create an image on the plate.
Magic
Magic and sorcery are the influencing of events, objects, people and physical phenomena by mystical, paranormal or supernatural means. The terms can also refer to the practices employed by a person to wield this influence, and to beliefs that explain various events and phenomena in such terms.
Manifestation
The materialized form of a spirit.
Medium
A person who posess the ability to communicate with spirits of deceased people (and sometimes pets). Some mediums claim to be able to channel the spirit, by allowing the deceased to speak or write messages using the medium's body.
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the ultimate nature of reality, being, and the world. More recently, the term "metaphysics" has also been used more loosely to refer to "subjects that are beyond the physical world".
Near-death experience
A near-death experience (NDE) is an experience reported by a person who nearly died, or who experienced clinical death and then revived. The experience has become more common in recent times, especially since the development of cardiac resuscitation techniques. Popular interest in near-death experiences was sparked by Raymond Moody Jr's 1975 book Life after Life and the founding of the International Association for Near-death Studies (IANDS) in 1978.
Occult
The word has many uses in the English language, popularly meaning 'knowledge of the paranormal'. For most practicing occultists it is simply the study of a deeper spiritual "reality" that extends beyond pure reason and the physical sciences.
Orb
Name given to typically circular anomalies appearing in photographs. In photography and video, orbs appear to be balls, diamonds, or smears of light with an apparent size in the image ranging from a golfball to a basketball. Orbs sometimes appear to be in motion, leaving a trail behind them.
Ouija
Ouija refers to the belief that one can receive messages during a séance by the use of a Ouija board (also called a talking board or spirit board) and planchette. The fingers of the participants are placed on the planchette which then moves about a board covered with numbers, letters and symbols so as to spell out messages. Ouija Board is a trademark for a talking board currently sold by Parker Brothers. The term "Ouija" is derived from the French "oui" (for "yes") and the German/Dutch "ja" (also for "yes").
Out-of-body experience
An out-of-body experience (OBE or sometimes OOBE) is an experience that typically involves a sensation of floating outside of one's body and, in some cases, seeing one's physical body from a place outside one's body.
Paranormal
Paranormal is an umbrella term used to describe a wide variety of reported anomalous phenomena. According to the Journal of Parapsychology, the term paranormal describes "any phenomenon that in one or more respects exceeds the limits of what is deemed physically possible according to current scientific assumptions."
Parapsychology
Parapsychology is the study of seeming mental awareness of or influence upon external objects, without any physical or energetic means of causation which scientists currently understand. Most objects of study fall within the realm of "mind-to-mind" influence (such as extra-sensory perception and telepathy), "mind-to-environment" influence (such as psychokinesis) and "environment-to-mind" (such as hauntings). Collectively, these abilities are often referred to as "psionics". Another definition of parapsychology is the scientific study of paranormal phenomena.
Past life regression (therapy)
Past life regression is a technique used by some hypnotherapists to try to get clients to remember their past lives. Implicit in this procedure is the spiritual belief that souls exist and come back many times, living in different times and places, experiencing different genders, races, social classes and so forth in an attempt to learn.
Prayer
Prayer is an active effort to communicate with a deity or spirit either to offer praise, to make a request, seek guidance, confess sins, or simply to express one's thoughts and emotions.
Poltergeist
Spirit or ghost that manifests by moving and influencing inanimate objects (rather than through visible presence or vocalization). Stories featuring poltergeists typically focus heavily on raps, thumps, knocks, footsteps, and bed-shaking, all without a discernable point of origin or physical reason for occurrence. Many accounts of poltergeist activity detail objects being thrown about the room, furniture being moved, and even people being levitated.
Possession
Concept of supernatural and/or superstitious belief systems whereby gods, demons or other disincarnate entities may temporarily take control of a human body, resulting in noticeable changes in behaviour. The concept of spiritual possession exists in many contemporary religions and can also be seen in the mythology and folklore of many cultures. Various forms and denominations of Christianity have developed practices for driving out spirit, most notably Roman Catholicism; there exists a Roman Catholic International Association of Exorcists.
Portal
A doorway, entrance, or gate between two worlds, the physical and the spiritual.
Psychic
person who possess extra-sensory abilities, including: clairvoyance, psychometry and precognition, who can sometimes communicate with spirits, ghosts or entities.
Quantum mechanics
Fundamental branch of physics with wide applications in experimental physics and theoretical physics that replaces classical mechanics and classical electromagnetism at the atomic and subatomic levels.
Reality
The term reality, in its widest sense, includes everything that is, whether it is observable, comprehensible, or apparently self-contradictory by science, philosophy, or any other system of analysis. Reality in this sense may include both being and nothingness, whereas existence is often restricted to being (compare with nature).
Reincarnation
Reincarnation, literally "to be made flesh again", is a doctrine or mystical belief that some essential part of a living being survives death to be reborn in a new body. According to such beliefs, a new personality is developed during each life in the physical world, but some part of the being remains constantly present throughout these successive lives as well.
Religion
A religion is a set of beliefs and practices generally held by a community, involving adherence to codified beliefs and rituals and study of ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and mystic experience.
Residual Haunting
Experiences from the living that are imprinted in a specific location and are replaying on a cyclical basis, like the playback of a movie, such as apparitions doing the same things or voices and sounds being heard at always the same time of the day. Many hauntings can be of this sort and not necessarly animated by conscious spirits.
Ritual
A ritual is actually the words of a "rite", which are said as a part of a ceremony which is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value, which is prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community.
Sacred (Holiness)
Holiness, or sanctity, is the state of being holy or sacred, that is, set apart for the worship or service of God or gods. It is most usually ascribed to people, but can be and often is ascribed to objects, times, or places. The word holy is related to the word whole.
Satan
Satan, from the Hebrew word for "adversary", is a term that originates from the Abrahamic faiths, being traditionally applied to an angel. Religious belief systems other than Judaism relate this term to a demon, a rebellious fallen angel, devil, minor god and idolatry, or as an allegory for evil
Séance
A séance is an attempt to communicate with the dead. The séance, or sitting, is led by a person known as a medium who will usually go into a trance that theoretically allows the dead to communicate through him or her. The word séance comes from the French word for 'seat', 'session', from Old French seoir, 'to sit.' In English, the word came to be used specifically for a meeting of people to receive spiritualistic messages.
Seminar
A seminar is, generally, a form of academic instruction, either at a university or offered by a commercial or professional organization. It has the function of bringing together small groups for recurring meetings, focusing each time on some particular subject, in which everyone present is requested to actively participate.
Sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis is a condition characterized by temporary paralysis of the body shortly after waking up (known as hypnopompic paralysis) or, less often, shortly before falling asleep (known as hypnagogic paralysis).
Soul
The soul, according to many religious and philosophical traditions, is the self-aware essence unique to a particular living being. In these traditions the soul is thought to incorporate the inner essence of each living being, and to be the true basis for sapience.
Smudging
A smudge stick is a bundle of dried herbs, most commonly white sage. Often other herbs or plants are used or added and the leaves are usually bound with string in a small bundle and dried. Ojibway and Cree ceremonies often use smudges of sage, sweet grass, and/or juniper to cleanse with, and to give prayers to the Creator, or Gitche Manitou.
Spirit Guides
Term used by mediums and spirituals to describe an entity that remains a disincarnate spirit in order to act as a spiritual counsellor or protector to a living incarnated human being.
Spiritism
Spiritism is a philosophical doctrine akin to Spiritualism, established in France in the mid 19th Century, which has become a sort of religious movement. Like Spiritualists, Spiritists believe in the survival of the souls after death and the importance of eventual communications received from them. Spiritism derives most of its principles from works by the French educator Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail written under the pseudonym Allan Kardec.
Spiritualism
Spiritualism is a religious movement, prominent from the 1840s to the 1920s, found primarily in English-speaking countries. The movement's distinguishing feature is the belief that the spirits of the dead can be contacted by mediums. These spirits are believed to lie on a higher spiritual plane than humans, and are therefore capable of providing guidance in both worldly and spiritual matters. Spiritualism is closely related to Spiritism, a religious movement that originated in France, and is today widespread in Brazil and other Latin countries.
Spirituality
Spirituality, in a narrow sense, concerns itself with matters of the spirit. The spiritual, involving (as it may) perceived eternal verities regarding humankind's ultimate nature, often contrasts with the temporal, with the material, or with the worldly. Spirituality often focuses on personal experience. Many spiritual traditions share a common spiritual theme: the "path", "work", practice, or tradition of perceiving and internalizing one's "true" nature and relationship to the rest of existence (God, creation (the universe), or life), and of becoming free of the lesser egoic self (or ego) in favor of being more fully one's "true" "Self".
Spiritual healing
Use of spiritual means in treating disease. Spiritual healing can also refer to the self-empowerment or self-actualization process or steps within those processes that often occurs with individuals seeking enlightenment or meaning in their lives.
Supernatural
The supernatural refers to forces and phenomena which are not observed in nature, and therefore beyond verifiable measurement.
Thanatology
Thanatology is the academic, and often scientific, study of death among human beings. It investigates the circumstances surrounding a person's death, the grief experienced by the deceased's loved ones, and larger social attitudes towards death such as ritual and memorialization.
Telepathy
Communication of information from one mind to another by means other than the known perceptual senses.
Theology
Theology finds its scholars pursuing the understanding of and providing reasoned discourse of religion, spirituality and God or the gods.
Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol)
The Bardo Thodol is a funerary text that describes the experiences of the consciousness after death during the interval known as bardo between death and rebirth. The Bardo Thodol is recited by lamas over a dying or recently deceased person, or sometimes over an effigy of the deceased.
Trance
An altered state of consciousness is any state which is significantly different from a normative waking beta wave state. A synonymous phrase is "altered states of awareness".
Wicca
Wicca is a religion found in various countries throughout the world. It was first popularised in 1954 by a retired British civil servant named Gerald Gardner after the British Witchcraft Act was repealed. He claimed that the religion, of which he was an initiate, was a modern survival of an old witchcraft religion, which had existed in secret for hundreds of years, originating in the pre-Christian Paganism of Europe.
Witchcraft
Witchcraft is the use of certain kinds of alleged supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft. While the term "witchcraft" can have positive or negative connotations depending on cultural context, most contemporary people who self-identify as witches see it as beneficent and morally positive. The term witch is typically feminine, masculine equivalents include wizard, sorcerer, warlock and magician.