For 20 years I worked as an outdoor sports brand marketer. One of the keys to doing that kind of work well was always talking and writing in the lingo of the audience. That’s common sense, right? You don’t send a Wall Street Journal-style press release to editors who write on the heartstrings of people who sleep in their vans, cook on their camp stoves, and pee on the sagebrush.
When I purposefully hung my marketing career on the hook by the door and set off to become an energy worker and regression therapist, I found myself in a completely different setting, but feeling exactly the same way about words. When you use words or tone or style that people don’t understand or can’t relate to, you’re not communicating. And every word you say becomes a brick in their hand that they don’t know what else to do with but to stack up on that invisible wall of annoyance and frustration between you.
The last thing we want as spiritual people is to be the constructors of more figurative walls. That’s contrary to who we are and what we’re aspiring to do. So I thought I’d do all of us a favor by clarifying some frequently used spiritual terms that those in the know use into a sweet and simple Spiritualist Glossary for Non-native Speakers.
If you’re new to the language, great. Here’s a start on some of the words and terms you might be hearing that are leaving you a little dizzy. If you are a native speaker, that’s awesome. You dream in this language, so a glossary is remedial. But you probably know someone who has no clue what you’re talking about 90 percent of the time and would like to. This is for them. Give it as a gift.
And please know that this glossary is by no means comprehensive. It’s just a start. Let’s just consider this a little leg up on the lingo.
Life after death. A continuation of spiritual existence after a physical body dies. (This one isn’t super tough.)
Between Life (noun)
Soul life in the Spirit Realm between incarnations. (See “Spirit Realm” below.)
An energy center in the human body. There are many, though there are seven primary ones, like giant energetic buttons inside the body from the top of the head to the crotch. They are the crown, third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacrum, and base chakras. They are energetic power conductors and channels.
There are also Earth chakras, which are the energetic centers of our planet, but you will hear the word in relation to the human body far more often.
To allow spirits or a greater vibratory force (like the Earth or the universe, for example) to speak or act directly through one’s voice or body. The movie makers have turned this into a weird possession type thing, but it’s not freaky. It’s simply the ability to hear/understand energetic communication and to relay the message. (See “Medium” below. They are similar.)
A connection or passageway between two entities or energies.
An event that will happen in the course of your life, based on your agreeing to it before you were born. Destiny is different than karma. We all plan our lives before we incarnate. This includes making contracts (see “Soul Contract” below) with the people in them and with your guides. Destiny is contractual.
Someone who is very aware of the presence and intensity of someone else’s emotion, thought or situation, without experiencing it as his or her own.
Life Force. It’s not just the life force of one being or another. It is that and more. It is all of everything around us and through us, connecting us with Source and uniting us with it, each other, every living thing, and all of creation. Everything is energy. Energy is everything.
Energy Work (noun)
The channeling, transfusion, transmutation, and focusing of energy to heal, strengthen, empower, create, unleash, and free. I think of this as a purely positive vocation, though there can be use of energy to harm.
Flower of Life (noun)
A sacred geometrical shape composed of multiple evenly spaced, overlapping circles arranged in a flower like pattern with hexagonal symmetry. It is the fundamental geometric code of space, form and time, and the visual expression of the connections of life that run through all beings. Archeologists have found this same geometric design engraved in ancient rock (temples and caves) in different parts of the world whose ancient people would have had no way of communicating with one another.
A spirit remaining on the Earth plane that is drawn or connected to a place or space (not a person). A spirit drawn or connected to a person is a Spirit Attachment (see Spirit Attachment below). All ghosts are spirits. Not all spirits are ghosts.
A spiritual teacher. A friend of mine once suggested that I take the word apart to understand it better. “Gu” means darkness and “ru” means light. In another translation, “gu” means ignorance and “ru” is that which dispels it. So a guru is anything that brings light to dark or illuminates knowledge. It doesn’t have to be a person. A guru can be a skipping stone, a sunset, a howl in the night, a bite of ice cream, the smell of lilacs, a song. It can be anything.
The “I Am” movement is all about identifying yourself with the universe and all that is real. And by real, I mean really real, universal real, not just tangible and all-for-yourself-in-the-here-and-now real. The term “I Am” is a reference to the ancient Hindu/Sanskrit mantra So Ham, which means “I Am That” or “I am that I am.” It is a recognition of self as Source, and vice versa. We are all Source, in Source, and of Source. (See “Source” below.) This was key to the Ascended Master Teachings of the early 1930s and set the groundwork for the New Age movement and what has developed into the spiritualism of today.
Inner Peace (noun)
A state of understanding and self-awareness resulting in mental and spiritual peace. This is a veritable superpower when shit hits the fan.
The personal responsibility cycle of cause and effect. The belief that what you do really does matter because you’ll either pay or reap rewards later in life or in a life to come.
Light Worker (noun)
Someone who teaches, heals, and/or inspires others to spiritual empowerment and awareness.
Intense self-focus, with various outcomes depending on intention: calm, connection, insight, spiritual communion and communication. Some tout the lotus position and stillness to do this “right” but there is no one right way. Running, knitting, painting, swimming, coloring in your adult coloring book…all that and more is exactly right if it works for you. Find what you like and do it, and don’t give a second thought to any naysayers that instruct you otherwise. They’re probably ultra-spiritual anyway. (See “ultra-spiritual” below.)
Someone who can connect with the soul energy of another, living or deceased, to communicate information about the past, present, or future of that person or being. Mediums are channels, but tend to focus on communication with or about individual people or souls. (See “Channel” above.)
New Age (noun)
The modern spiritual exploration movement of spiritual seekers, teachers, healers and others.
The term associated with the words and wares targeted at people who seek spiritual enlightenment.
On the path (adjective)
An insider’s term used to describe someone who is seeking and finding spiritual guidance and this-life spiritual inspiration. Also a term used to describe someone who is actually on a path.
In the spiritual sense, a tool used for direct communication with Spirit. It’s a weight suspended by chain or cord from a pivot point so it can swing freely. Proper use can provide a yes or no answer to well-composed, direct questions. It’s important to set intentions for clear, true communication from Source when using pendulums because they can be influenced by outside energies. They should be cleaned and cleared often. And please, when you use a pendulum, don’t give up your own free will and intuition. It’s a reference tool, not something to help you decide which brand of organic coconut water to buy.
Sensitivity to the supernatural. Pertaining to abilities or phenomena outside the usual human senses and natural laws, including clairvoyance (the ability to sense things that will happen in the future) and telepathy (the ability to communicate through unspoken thoughts).
A person with psychic ability.
The rebirth of one’s soul in a new body after a previous physical death.
The releasing of spirit attachments, ghosts, spirits and dark energy from a person or place and directing those spirits back to Source. You could call this exorcism on muscle relaxers. It’s a far gentler and more loving way of setting spirits free than forcing them out. “Releasement” also sounds a whole lot less intimidating then “exorcism” and tends not to scare the pants off people who need it.
Sacred Geometry (noun)
Certain geometric shapes and proportions with symbolic and sacred spiritual meaning. The geometric forms in which energy is stored. This is a huge topic. To learn more, I recommend reading Drunvalo Melchizadek’s “The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life” volumes one and two.
The non-physical, immortal essence of a living being. The true home of emotion and character.
Soul Contract (noun)
The pre-life agreement made between two souls during life planning in the Spirit Realm between lives to help each other learn valuable lessons. When souls agree and form a contract, they invoke and become subject to destiny. Karma does come into play in pre-life planning. Souls make decisions on how they will fulfill their karmic obligations when incarnating. Karma does not always play out as destiny.
The cause. The eternal. God. All that is.
Soul plus. (See “Soul” above.) The term spirit is commonly used when referring to out-of-body souls. This can be fragments of spirits stuck on the earth plane after physical death (we only incarnate with a percentage of our entire soul self) or whole and complete spirits of Spirit Realm.
Spirit Attachment (noun)
A post-incarnation, post-death soul that has not returned to Source for any number of reasons, that connects with and attaches to the energy of a living person. (See “Ghost” above.)
Spirit Guide (noun)
Your spirit teacher. Your own personal guardian angel. This is the spirit assigned to you at your inception to guide you through all soul life lessons for eternity. We all have one primary teacher that is always with us. We can have guides that work with and under the direction of this guide as well. Our guides are loving, supportive, constructive teachers. They never harm us, and we never let them down. Ever.
Spirit Realm (noun)
The realm of spirit. This is home. This is where we as spirits live, work, play and learn. It is Source and of the Source. Here there is only love, no judgment.
A connection to a higher-than-physical existence. The acknowledgment, embrace, and study of all that is related to ourselves as eternal, energetic beings, one with each other and everything around us.
Over-the-top spiritual. The term used to describe the guy that makes everyone uncomfortable by striking mid-meeting yoga poses, oming loudly in public restrooms and incessantly trying to get you to read his blog, dedicated to the virtues of life on his urban wheatgrass farm (a basement apartment with a window planter).
Unity Consciousness (noun)
Also known as Christ Consciousness. The conscious understanding that all is one. We are all Source and it is us. (See “Source” below.) This consciousness exists as an electro-magnetic field around Earth. To many, struggle comes in not understanding, tapping into, and honoring this consciousness. And, you know what? That is okay. Life is a learning process. We’ll get there.
A swirling center of energy coming from a body or mass. There are hundreds of vortices on Earth. Some people believe they are intersection points of the energy fields that make up the Earth’s electro-magnetic grid. Some people believe they are energy channels from other worlds in other galaxies. Who’s to say they’re not both… and more? There are many of them and different vortices are channels for different energies.
A term used by some to describe the spiritual or ultra-spiritual. Perjorative? You decide. But I’ve heard people describe themselves this way. I have to admit, it is still a word in the lingo that leaves me staring blankly, shaking my head and saying, (telepathically of course), “What in the hell are you people talking about?”
If this is Spiritualist Glossary 101, we can all agree that there is so much more to know. Please feel free to add more terms and definitions in the comments below and let’s keep working together toward the kind of collaborative peace and understanding that can only come when we actually understand what it is that we are trying to say to each other.
Author: Marit Fischer
Editor: Travis May
Image: Flickr/Keoni Cabral