Mystic Definitions & Terminology
Mysticism, considered "vague" by its very definition, is an alternative language. The language of mysticism is allegorical and used for the expressing of eternal realities that are, by design, only knowable through their experience.
Below you will find common terms that are often tossed about carelessly and word types that express ideas of contemplation. Learning the language of the soul is paramount in the mystical journey!
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ACTUAL´ITY, n. Reality. Haweis.
AL´LEGORY, n. [Gr. αλληγορια of αλλος, other, and αγορευω, speak, from αγορα, a forum, an oration.]
A figurative sentence or discourse, in which the principal subject is described by another subject resembling it in its properties and circumstances. The principal subject is thus kept out of view, and we are left to collect the intentions of the writer or speaker, by the resemblance of the secondary to the primary subject. Allegory is in words what hieroglyphics are in painting. We have a fine example of an allegory in the eightieth psalm, in which God´s chosen people are represented by a vineyard. The distinction in scripture between a parable and an allegory, is said to be that a parable is a supposed history, and an allegory, a figurative description of real facts. An allegory is called a continued metaphor. The following line in Virgil is an example of an allegory.
Claudite jam rivos, pueri, sat prata biberunt.
Stop the currents, young men, the meadows have drank sufficiently; that is, let your music cease, our ears have been sufficiently delighted. Encyc.
ALLEGOR´IC, ALLEGOR´ICAL, a. In the manner of allegory; figurative; describing by resemblances.
EPHEM´ERAL, EPHEM´ERIC, a. Diurnal; beginning and ending in a day; continuing or existing one day only.
2. Short-lived; existing or continuing for a short time only. [Ephemeral is generally used. Ephemerous is not analogically formed.]
ESOT´ERIC, a. [Gr. εσωτερος, interior, from εσω, within.]
Private; an epithet applied to the private instructions and doctrines of Pythagoras; opposed to exoteric, or public. Enfield.
EXOT´ERIC, a. [Gr. εξωτερος, exterior.] External; public; opposed to esoteric or secret. The exoteric doctrines of the ancient philosophers were those which were openly professed and taught. The esoteric were secret, or taught only to a few chosen disciples. Enfield. Encyc.
FA´BLE, n. [L. fabula; Fr. fable; It. favola; Ir. fabhal; Sp. fabula, from the Latin, but the native Spanish word is habla, speech. Qu. W. hebu, to speak; Gr. The radical sense is that which is spoken or told.]
1. A feigned story or tale, intended to instruct or amuse; a fictitious narration intended to enforce some useful truth or precept.
Jotham’s fable of the trees is the oldest extant, and as beautiful as any made since. Addison.
2. Fiction in general; as, the story is all a fable.
3. An idle story; vicious or vulgar fictions.
But refuse profane and old wives’ fables. 1 Tim. 4.
4. The plot, or connected series of events, in an epic or dramatic poem.
The moral is the first business of the poet; this being formed, he contrives such a design or fable as may be most suitable to the moral. Dryden.
5. Falsehood; a softer term for a lie. Addison.
FA´BLE, v. i. To feign; to write fiction.
Vain now the tales which fabling poets tell. Prior.
2. To tell falsehoods; as, he fables not. Shak.
FA´BLE, v. t. To feign; to invent; to devise and speak of, as true or real.
The hell thou fablest. Milton.
FA´BLED, pp. Feigned; invented, as stories.
2. a. Told or celebrated in fables.
Hail, fabled grotto. Tickel.
FA´BLER, n. A writer of fables or fictions; a dealer in feigned stories. Johnson.
FA´BLING, ppr. Feigning; devising, as stories; writing or uttering false stories.
FE̱IGN, v. t. fane. [Fr. feindre; Sp. fingir; It. fingere, or fignere; L. fingo; D. veinzen; Arm. feinta, fincha. The Latin forms fictum, fictus, whence figura, figure. Hence it agrees with W. fugiaw, to feign or dissemble; fug, feint, disguise; also L. fucus.]
1. To invent or imagine; to form an idea or conception of something not real.
There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart. Neh. 6.
2. To make a show of; to pretend; to assume a false appearance; to counterfeit.
I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner. 2 Sam. 14.
She feigns a laugh. Pope.
3. To represent falsely; to pretend; to form and relate a fictitious tale.
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones, and floods. Shak.
4. To dissemble; to conceal. Obs. Spenser.
FE̱IGNED, pp. Invented; devised; imagined; assumed.
HYPER´BOLE, n. hyper´boly. [Fr. hyperbole; Gr. υπερθολη, excess, from υπερθαλλω, to throw beyond, to exceed.]
In rhetoric, a figure of speech which expresses much more or less than the truth, or which represents things much greater or less, better or worse than they really are. An object uncommon in size, either great or small, strikes us with surprise, and this emotion produces a momentary conviction that the object is greater or less than it is in reality. The same effect attends figurative grandeur or littleness; and hence the use of the hyperbole, which expresses this momentary conviction. The following are instances of the use of this figure.
He was owner of a piece of ground not larger than a Lacedemonian letter. Longinus.
If a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Gen. 13.
Ipse arduus, alta que pulsat
He was so gaunt, the case of a flagellet was a mansion for him. Shak.
IN´TERCŌURSE, n. [L. intercursus, intercurro; inter and curro, to run.] Literally, a running or passing between. Hence,
1. Communication; commerce; connection by reciprocal dealings between persons or nations, either in common affairs and civilities, in trade, or correspondence by letters. We have an intercourse with neighbors and friends in mutual visits and in social concerns; nations and individuals have intercourse with foreign nations or individuals by an interchange of commodities, by purchase and sale, by treaties, contracts, &c.
2. Silent communication or exchange.
This sweet intercourse
Of looks and smiles. Milton.
MET´APHOR, n. [Gr. μεταφορα, from μεταφερω, to transfer; μετα over, and φερω, to carry.]
A short similitude; a similitude reduced to a single word; or a word expressing similitude without the signs of comparison. Thus “that man is a fox”, is a metaphor; but “that man is like a fox,” is a similitude or comparison. So when I say, “the soldiers were lions in combat,” I use a metaphor; but when I say “the soldiers fought like lions,” I use a similitude. In metaphor, the similitude is contained in the name; a man is a fox, means, a man is as crafty as a fox. So we say, a man bridles his anger, that is, restrains it as a bridle restrains a horse. Beauty awakens love or tender passions; opposition fires courage.
METAPHOR´IC, METAPHOR´ICAL, a. Pertaining to metaphor; comprising a metaphor; not literal; as a metaphorical use of words; a metaphorical expression; a metaphorical sense.
METAPHOR´ICALLY, adv. In a metaphorical manner; not literally.
METAPHYS´ICS, n. s as z. [Gr. μετα, after, and φυσικη, physics. It is said that this name was given to the science by Aristotle or his followers, who considered the science of natural bodies, physics, as the first in the order of studies, and the science of mind or intelligence to be the second.]
The science of the principles and causes of all things existing; hence, the science of mind or intelligence. This science comprehends ontology, or the science which treats of the nature, essence, and qualities or attributes of being; cosmology, the science of the world, which treats of the nature and laws of matter and of motion; anthroposophy, which treats of the powers of man, and the motions by which life is produced; psychology, which treats of the intellectual soul; pneumatology, or the science of spirits or angels, &c. Metaphysical theology, called by Leibnitz and others theodicy, treats of the existence of God, his essence and attributes. These divisions of the science of metaphysics, which prevailed in the ancient schools, are now not much regarded. The natural division of things that exist is into body and mind, things material and immaterial. The former belong to physics, and the latter to the science of metaphysics. Encyc.
METAPHYS´IC, METAPHYS´ICAL, a. s as z. [See Metaphysics.]
1. Pertaining or relating to metaphysics.
2. According to rules or principles of metaphysics; as metaphysical reasoning.
3. Preternatural or supernatural. [Not used.] Shak.
METAPHYS´ICALLY, adv. In the manner of metaphysical science.
METAPHYSI´´CIAN, n. s as z. One who is versed in the science of metaphysics.
MYS´TIC, MYS´TICAL, a. [L. mysticus; Gr. μυζικος.] Obscure; hid; secret. Dryden.
2. Sacredly obscure or secret; remote from human comprehension.
God hath revealed a way mystical and supernatural. Hooker.
3. Involving some secret meaning; allegorical; emblematical; as mystic dance; mystic Babylon. Milton. Burnet.
MYS´TICALLY, adv. In a manner or by an act implying a secret meaning. Donne.
MYS´TICALNESS, n. The quality of being mystical, or of involving some secret meaning.
MYS´TICISM, n. Obscurity of doctrine.
2. The doctrine of the Mystics, who profess a pure, sublime and perfect devotion, wholly is disinterested, and maintain that they hold immediate intercourse with the divine Spirit.
MYS´TICS, n. A religious sect who profess to have direct intercourse with the Spirit of God.
PAR´ABLE, n. [Fr. parabole, from L. parabola; Gr. παραθολη, from παραθαλλω, to throw forward or against, to compare; παρα, to or against, and θαλλω, to throw; as in confero, collatum, to set together, or one thing with another.]
A fable or allegorical relation or representation of something real in life or nature, from which a moral is drawn for instruction; such as the parable of the trees choosing a king, Judges 9.; the parable of the poor man and his lamb, 2 Sam 12.; the parable of the ten virgins, Matt. 25.
PAR´ABLE, v. t. To represent by fiction or fable. Milton.
PHILOS´OPHY, n. [L. philosophia; Gr. φιλοσοφια; φιλια, love; φιλεω, to love, and σοφια, wisdom.]
1. Literally, the love of wisdom. But in modern acceptation, philosophy is a general term denoting an explanation of the reasons of things; or an investigation of the causes of all phenomena both of mind and of matter. When applied to any particular department of knowledge, it denotes the collection of general laws or principles under which all the subordinate phenomena or facts relating to that subject, are comprehended. Thus, that branch of philosophy which treats of God, &c. is called theology; that which treats of nature, is called physics or natural philosophy; that which treats of man is called logic and ethics, or moral philosophy; that which treats of the mind is called intellectual or mental philosophy, or metaphysics.
The objects of philosophy are to ascertain facts or truth, and the causes of things or their phenomena; to enlarge our views of God and his works, and to render our knowledge of both practically useful and subservient to human happiness.
True religion and true philosophy must ultimately arrive at the same principle. S. S. Smith.
2. Hypothesis or system on which natural effects are explained.
We shall in vain interpret their words by the notions of our philosophy and the doctrines in our schools. Locke.
3. Reasoning; argumentation. Milton.
4. Course of sciences read in the schools. Johnson.
POTENTIAL´ITY, n. Possibility; not actuality. Taylor. Bentley.
SAINT, n. [Fr. from L. sanctus; It. Sp. santo.]
1. A person sanctified; a holy or godly person; one eminent for piety and virtue. It is particularly applied to the apostles and other holy persons mentioned in Scripture. A hypocrite may imitate a saint. Ps. 16. Addison.
2. One of the blessed in heaven. Rev. 18.
3. The holy angels are called saints, Deut. 33, Jude 14.
4. One canonized by the church of Rome. Encyc.
SAINT, v. t. To number or enroll among saints by an official act of the pope; to canonize.
Over against the church stands a large hospital, erected by a shoemaker who has been beatified, though never sainted. Addison.
SAINT, v. i. To act with a show of piety. Pope.
SIMILE, n. sim´ily. [L.] In rhetoric, similitude; a comparison of two things which, however different in other respects, have some strong point or points of resemblance; by which comparison, the character or qualities of a thing are illustrated or presented in an impressive light. Thus, the eloquence of Demosthenes was like a rapid torrent; that of Cicero, like a large stream that glides smoothly along with majestic tranquility.
SIMIL´ITUDE, n. [Fr. from L. similitudo.]
1. Likeness; resemblance; likeness in nature, qualities or appearance; as similitude of substance. Bacon.
Let us make man in our image, man
In our similitude— Milton.
Fate some future bard shall join
In sad similitude of griefs to mine. Pope.
2. Comparison; simile. [See Simile.]
Tasso, in his similitudes, never departed from the woods. Dryden.
TARAN´TULATE, v. t. To excite or govern emotions by music.
VOICE, n. [Fr. voix; L. vox; It. voce; Sp. voz; Gaelic, bagh, a word; baigham, to speak to; Ir. focal, a word; Sans. vach, to speak, L. voco. The sense of the verb is to throw, to drive out sound; and voice is that which is driven out.]
1. Sound or audible noise uttered by the mouth, either of human beings or of other animals. We say, the voice of a man is loud or clear; the voice of a woman is soft or musical; the voice of a dog is loud or harsh; the voice of a bird is sweet or melodious. The voice of human beings is articulate; that of beasts, inarticulate. The voices of men are different, and when uttered together, are often dissonant.
2. Any sound made by the breath; as the trumpet’s voice.
3. A vote; suffrage; opinion or choice expressed. Originally voice was the oral utterance of choice, but it now signifies any vote however given.
Some laws ordain, and some attend the choice
Of holy senates, and elect by voice. Dryden.
I have no words;
My voice is in my sword. Shak.
4. Language; words; expression.
Let us call on God in the voice of his church. Fell.
5. In Scripture, command; precept.
Ye would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God. Deut. 8.
After the fire, a still small voice. 1 Kings 19.
Canst thou thunder with a voice like him? Job 40.
The floods have lifted up their voice. Ps. 93.
7. Language; tone; mode of expression.
I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice. Gal. 4.
8. In grammar, a particular mode of inflecting or conjugating verbs; as the active voice; the passive voice.
VOICE, v. t. To rumor; to report.
It was voiced that the king purposed to put to death Edward Plantagenet. [Little used.] Shak.
2. To fit for producing the proper sounds; to regulate the tone of; as, to voice the pipes of an organ. Ed. Encyc.
3. To vote.
VOICE, v. i. To clamor; to exclaim. Obs. Bacon.
The Definitions above are quoted from:
Noah Webster's first edition of An American Dictionary of the English Language1828 ed.