AN ILLUSTRATED DICTIONARY OF THELEMA & THE OCCULT

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S
Sabaoth See IAO.
Sabbat The witches' Sabbath was a superstition in medieval times, when it was believed that witches and warlocks would gather to worship the devil in a perversion of the Catholic Mass.  Like all religions, the Wiccan religion celebrates holidays with rituals and traditions.  Eight such holidays (called Sabbats and known collectively as the Wheel of the Year) are celebrated throughout the year, some fixed and some variable depending upon the length of sunlight on a particular day.  Each holiday represents a turning of a season or some change within a season.  See also Esbat.
Sacred Alphabet Kabbalists believed that the written word of God was a direct result of His inspiration and as a consequence Scripture contained within itself the fundamental nature of His being.  By the same token they believed that since God is hidden, so too was there a hidden meaning beneath the divine words of Scripture with the truth waiting to be discovered.
Sagittarius Sagittarius, the Archer, is a fire sign and the ninth sign of the zodiac.  Sagittarius is ruled by the planet Jupiter.
Sahasrara The seventh chakra, the thousand-petalled spiritual energy centre at the crown of the head (the cranial chamber of the soul body), where one experiences the highest states of consciousness.
Salamanders In Alchemical tradition, these are the elemental spirits of Fire.
Samadhi In Buddhism, samadhi is traditionally developed by contemplating one of forty different objects, such as mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati) and loving kindness (metta).  Upon development of samadhi, one's mind becomes purified of defilements, calm, tranquil, and luminous.  Once the person meditating achieves a strong and powerful concentration, his mind is ready to penetrate and see into the ultimate nature of reality, eventually obtaining release from all suffering.
Samekh The fifteenth letter of the Sacred Alphabet.  It literally means prop, has the phonetic value of S, and has a numerical value of 60.  It is further attributed to the Zodiacal sign of Sagittarius and the Tarot Trump Temperance.
Samhain In Wicca and other Neo-pagan traditions, Samhain is a Sabbat held on the Wiccan New Year, October 31st, to honour the dead.  This is the time during which Wiccans believe that life and death walk hand in hand, i.e. the veil that separates the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest, making it the ideal time to contact their ancestors.
Sammasati A Buddhist term for ‘magical memory’ involving training the mind to ‘think backwards’ to discover the purpose of one’s life, or studying the present to determine what caused it to be as it was.  In effect, becoming aware of one’s True Will.
Santeria See Lukumi.
Santero A priest of Santeria.
Satan From the Hebrew word for adversary, Satan is a fallen angel, demon, or minor god in many religions, playing various roles in the Koran, the Hebrew Bible, the Apocrypha and the New Testament, a personification of the powers of evil.  Alternative names for Satan include the Devil, Lucifer, Bilial, Beelzebub, the Prince of Darkness and the Serpent.
Satanic Cross The Satanic Cross is the Holy Cross with an inverted question mark attached to its base.  The question mark is there to question the actual Deity of God.  Within the occult it represents the three crown princes, Satan, Belial and Leviathan, and, as such, symbolises complete power under Lucifer.
Satanic 'S' The symbol known as the Satanic 'S' represents a lightning bolt, implying 'Destroyer'.  In Greek mythology, it was the weapon of Zeus, the supreme ruler of Mount Olympus and thus the Pantheon of the gods who resided there.  His attributes include thunder, the sceptre, the eagle, and the lightning bolt.  As the son of Cronus (who was the son of Uranus and Gaia and the youngest of the twelve Titans) and Rhea (the mother of the gods and sister of her husband), he was the youngest of his other siblings Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon.  The Satanic 'S' is worn to command power over others.  The symbol was worn prolifically during WWII, and could clearly be seen on the uniforms of the much feared SS troops of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany.
Satanism This is a term that is often misused, referring to a religious, semi-religious, and/or philosophical movement.  The term is normally applied by non-Satanists to those individuals or groups who worship an entity called 'Satan', advocating the triumph of evil forces over good in the universe.  The Church of Satan was founded by Anton Szandor LaVey in 1966.
Satanist One who practices Satanism.
Saturn The second largest planet in the solar system after Jupiter, and the sixth from the sun.  It was named after the Roman god Saturn, the counterpart of Cronus in Greek mythology.  Astrologically, Saturn rules Capricorn.
Scarab Beetle It is now a well-known fact that a Scarab beetle rolls dung into balls and pushes the balls into a burrow where the female lays her eggs in them.  Upon hatching, the larvae use the balls of dung for food, eventually emerging from the burrow in the prime of life.  It apparently appeared to the ancient Egyptians that the young scarab beetles emerged spontaneously from the burrow in which they were born, for they were worshipped as Khepera, the god representing regeneration, new life, virility and resurrection.  This creative aspect of the scarab beetle was associated with the creator god Atum.  In the creation myths, Atum is the primal creator, and is even considered to have created himself.  From his spittle he subsequently created the first gods, Shu and Tefnut.
Scarlet Woman, The See Babalon.
Scorpio Scorpio, the Scorpion, is a water sign and the eighth sign of the zodiac.  Scorpio is ruled by the 'planet' Pluto.
Scrying A form of divination which involves gazing into a crystal, a bowl of water, a black mirror, or similar surface to obtain 'visions'.  Nostradamus (1503-1566) used scrying as his method of foretelling the future, gazing into a scrying bowl.
Seal of Babalon The seven-pointed Seal of Babalon is the feminine counterpart of the Mark of the Beast.
Séance A gathering of spiritualists hoping to receive messages from the spirit world.  The participants sit quietly in a circle, usually in dimly lit surroundings.  During the séance, lights may appear, raps and other sounds may be heard, and the movement of objects such as tables, chairs, curtains, glasses etc. may occur without physical contact, or even with it, but contact insufficient to explain the movement.  Objects could levitate, a trumpet could convey a message from 'the other side,' spirits may materialise etc.
Secret Chiefs The Secret Chiefs are reputed to be transcendent cosmic authorities, a Spiritual Hierarchy responsible for the operation and moral calibre of the cosmos, or for overseeing the operations of an esoteric organisation that manifests outwardly in the form of a magical order or lodge system.  Their names and descriptions have varied through time, dependent upon those who reflect their experience of contact with them.  They are variously held to exist on higher planes of being or to be incarnate; if incarnate, they may be described as being gathered at some special location, or scattered through the world working anonymously.
Sefer Yetzirah The speculative branch of Kabbalah had its origins in Babylonia, but what really set it in motion was the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation).  It was probably written in the third century AD, and develops the doctrine of the Sephiroth (the powers which emanate from God through which the universe is created and its order sustained), supposedly delivered by Abraham, using the primordial numbers of the later Pythagoreans in a system of numerical interpretation.
Sefer Zohar The Sefer Zohar consists of mystical commentaries and homilies on the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible).  It was written by Moses de Leon (thirteenth century AD) but attributed by him to Simon ben Yohai, the great scholar of the second century AD.  See also Torah.
Sensitive See Psychic.
Sephirah In the doctrine of the Kabbalah, a Sephirah, or sphere, is a divine emanation of God.  There are ten Sephiroth (plural of Sephirah), each with its own unique properties.  Divine Energy travels through these ten Sephiroth, from Kether, the crown, to Malkuth, the kingdom, resulting in the manifestation of the material plane.  These emanations form the Tree of Life, and symbolise the image of the body of God in Adam Kadmon.
Sephiroth Plural form of Sephirah.
Set / Seth Set is an ancient god, originally the god of the desert, and was associated with sandstorms, and caravans.  Due to the developments in the Egyptian language over the 3,000 years during which Set was worshiped, by the time of the Greek period, the t in Set was pronounced so indistinguishably from th that the Greeks spelled it as Seth.  Set/Seth is the Egyptian god of chaos, evil, drought, thunder and storm, and destruction, embodying the principle of hostility, even outright evil.  Seth tore himself from his mother's womb in his hurry to be born, and is associated with the murder of his brother, Osiris.
Seven Principles, The The philosophy of Spiritualism is in Seven Principles upon which all Spiritualists would agree.
Shekhinah Shekhinah, being a feminine word in Hebrew, is held by many (particularly exponents of Lurianic Kabbalah) to represent the feminine attributes of the presence of God, based especially on readings of the Talmud.
Shem ha-meforash The 72-fold Name of God derived from Exodus Chapter 14, vs. 19-21.  72 names, each of three letters, totalling 216 letters.  These 72 names are attributed to the 72 quinances, or phase of five degrees, of the zodiac.  The names of the 72 Shem Angels are formed by adding either the suffix of "el" or "yah" to each of these names of God.  See also Tetragrammaton.
Shin The twenty-first letter of the Sacred Alphabet.  It literally means tooth, has the phonetic value of Sh or S, and has a numerical value of 300.  It is further attributed to the Element of Fire and the Tarot Trump Judgement.
Sibyl A woman who tells fortunes.  In ancient Rome it was a woman who was regarded as an oracle or prophet.  In ancient Greek mythology it was the prophetess at Apollo's oracle on Delphi.
Siddhi A Sanskrit word meaning ‘perfection’, ‘accomplishment’, ‘attainment’ or ‘success’.  It is an extraordinary human power or psychic ability, often arising spontaneously as higher stages of consciousness are reached.
Sigil Usually denotes a magical sigil, a glyph used in Ritual Magick as a focus, or for summoning angels, demons, or spirits.  There are several methods of devising sigils for this use, usually involving special arrangements of magick squares, Enochian tables, etc., of letters or numbers, and tracing the desired word over this pattern to reveal a symbol, or by reducing alphabetical characters into a single glyph (a fancy word for a shape, a component that makes up an outline font).
Sixth Sense A popular term for ESP, also known as intuition or inspiration, it is an ability to perceive things in ways which transcend the use of our traditional five senses.
Solar Cross The Solar Cross is one of the most ancient spiritual symbols in the world, appearing in American, Asian, European and Indian religious art from earliest recorded history.  In Native American traditions it forms the basic pattern of the medicine wheel playing a vital part in major spiritual rituals, while many contemporary pagans consider it their main symbol for transmitting the energy of the goddess.  It consists of the sacred circle filled with a cross, i.e., four equal lines pointing from the centre to the spirits of the north, south, east, and west, or to the basic elements earth, water, air (or wind), and fire.  It also represents the solar calendar (the movements of the sun), marked by the solstices.  Churches have used variations of the same popular shape, usually calling it the Celtic Cross.  The Swastika is also a form of the Solar Cross, emphasising movement.  The image to the right shows the cross in its most simplified form and is known in Northern Europe as Odin's cross; Odin was considered to be the Chief God in Norse mythology.
Soothsayer In olden times, a prophet, someone able to see the future, and who made a living from it.  The word is no longer in common usage.  See also Fortune Teller.
Sorcery A term normally applied to Witchcraft referring to the influencing of events and physical phenomenon through supernatural, mystical, or paranormal means, i.e. the performing of certain magical rites to gain control over the supernatural realm for the purpose of achieving specific objectives.
Sortilege Divination by the casting or drawing of lots.
Spell A magical rite directed towards the achievement of an objective.  Sometimes this refers to the verbal part of the ritual, and is similar in ways to a Christian prayer, but besides vocalisation, herbs, candles and other assorted natural objects are used to strengthen and focus the 'prayer' or spell.
Spiritism The belief that the dead can and do communicate with the living, brought about mainly by Allan Kardec, whose doctrine of reincarnation does not figure in spiritualism (see below).  These forms of communication may include rapping on objects, the lifting of a table during a séance, and the flickering or dimming of candles.
Spiritualism A belief in the existence of a spiritual (non-material) counterpart of a being.  According to this meaning, Spiritualism is the base of all religions.  Contrary to Spiritism, the Spiritualism movement does not accept reincarnation as a natural way of spirit evolution, although it has many points in common with Spiritism.
SRIA The Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia was an exclusive lodge founded in 1867 by the noted Grand Lodge Freemason Kenneth MacKenzie, author of The Royal Masonic Encyclopaedia.  It derived from the Societas Rosicruciana in Scotia (SRIS) following the admission of William James Hughan and Robert Wentworth Little into that order.  These two were advanced quickly in Scotland and granted a warrant to form a Society in England.  The formation meeting took place on 1 June 1867 in Aldermanbury, London, with Frater Little elected Supreme Magus.  The main stipulations on being a member of this society are that you a Christian and a Mason.
Star and Crescent The Star and Crescent is representative of the moon goddess Diana and the 'son of the morning', the name of Lucifer found in Isaiah Chapter 14, verse 12.  With God placed as the moon (the goddess of love, Diana), Satan assumes the role of the star, a mockery of Jesus as the 'bright and morning star' - Revelation Chapter 22, verse 16: "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.  I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star."  Witchcraft uses the symbol as shown, whereas Satanism turns it in the opposite direction.
Stèle of Revealing The Stèle of Revealing (sometimes called Stèle 666) refers to an ancient Egyptian funerary artefact of Ankh-af-na-khonsu, which played a key role in the creation of the philosophy and religion known as Thelema.  The stèle came from Thebes, around the time of the XXVI Dynasty.  According to Crowley, his wife Rose had already reported a revelation from the god Horus, through his messenger Aiwass.  Crowley took her to the Boulaq Museum in Cairo, Egypt to see if Rose could recognise Horus, which she did as an image on a painted stèle which bore the catalogue number 666.  After receiving the Book of the Law, Crowley arranged for a copy of the stèle to be made, which accompanied him wherever he went.
Summum Bonum This term originates from the Latin of the Alchemists and relates to the completion of the alchemical process.  Its meaning is highest good in which all moral values are included or from which they are derived.  God is the first cause of everything, and the final goal, thus the end for which all things were created is the glory of God.  See also Great Work.
Sun A sun is a star at the centre of a solar system.  Our sun is usually referred to as the 'Sun', but occasionally referred to as 'Sol' to distinguish it from others.  Earth orbits the Sun, as do countless other bodies including other planets, asteroids, meteoroids, comets and dust.  Astrologically, the Sun rules Leo.
Supernal A term used to describe that which is celestial or heavenly.  It refers to the three Sephiroth highest on the Tree of Life or in Atziluth, and is often referred to as the Supernal Triad.
Supernatural A term which pertains to those phenomena above or beyond what is natural or explainable by natural law.
Swastika The word 'Swastika' comes from the Sanskrit svastika - 'sv' meaning 'good', 'asti' which means 'to be', and the suffix 'ka'.  The 'Swastika' or 'Sun Wheel' is an ancient religious symbol, a version of the Solar Cross, which had been used for several millennia before it was adopted officially by Adolf Hitler (on 7 August 1920) at the Salzburg Congress, when it became the emblem of the National Socialist German Workers' Party.  The swastika has been found in Buddhist inscriptions, on Celtic monuments as well as on Greek coins.  It is an ancient symbol which has certainly been in existence for more than 3,000 years, for artefacts such as pottery and coins from ancient Troy show it to have been a commonly used symbol as far back as 1000 BC.  As such, it pre-dates the ancient Egyptian symbol, the Ankh, which appears frequently in paintings found in Egyptian tombs and other art, often appearing at the fingertips of a god or goddess in images depicting the deities of the afterlife conferring the gift of life on the dead person's mummy.  In sun-god worship, the swastika represents the sun's course in the heavens.  There is currently a great debate as to what the swastika now stands for.  For 3,000 years it represented the Circle of Life and good luck, but because of the adoption of the symbol by the Nazis, it has assumed a new meaning of hatred, death and destruction.



Sword A magical weapon is any instrument used to bring about intentional change.  In practice, magical weapons are usually specific, consecrated items used within ceremonial ritual.  There is no hard and fast rule for what constitutes or does not constitute a magical weapon.  If a magician considers it to be a weapon, then a weapon it is.  However, there does exist a set of magical weapons with particular uses and symbolic meanings.  Some such common weapons/tools include the sword/dagger, wand/baton, cup/chalice, pentacle/disk, holy oil, lamp and bell.  See also Magical Weapons.
Sylphs In Alchemical tradition, these are the elemental spirits of Air.

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