AgnosticismLiterally meaning "not know"; a position asserting that the existence of God cannot be proven.
AnimismFrom the Latin anima, meaning "spirit," "soul," "life force"; a worldview common among oral religions (religions with no written scriptures) that sees all elements of nature as being filled with spirit or spirits.
AtheismLiterally meaning "not God"; a position asserting that there is no God or gods.
DeconstructionA technique, pioneered by Jacques Derrida, that sets aside ordinary categories of analysis and makes use, instead, of unexpected perspectives on cultural elements; it can be used for finding underlying values in a text, film, artwork, cultural practice, or religious phenomenon.
DualismThe belief that reality is made of two different principles (spirit and matter); the belief in two gods (good and evil) in conflict.
ImmanentExisting and operating within nature.
MonotheismThe belief in one God.
NontheismA position that is unconcerned with the supernatural, not asserting or denying the existence of any deity.
PantheismThe belief that everything in the universe is divine.
PolytheismThe belief in many gods.
Post-structuralismAn analytical approach that does not seek to find universal structures that might underlie language, religion, art, or other such significant areas, but focuses instead on observing carefully the individual elements in cultural phenomena
StructuralismAn analytical approach that looks for universal structures that underlie language, mental processes, mythology, kinship, and religions; this approach sees human activity as largely determined by such underlying structures.
Transcendent"Climbing beyond" (Latin); beyond time and space.
CalumetA long-stemmed sacred pipe used primarily by many native peoples of North America; it is smoked as a token of peace.
DivinationA foretelling of the future or a look into the past; a discovery of the unknown by magic means.
HolisticOrganic, integrated; indicating a complete system, greater than the sum of its parts; here, refers to a culture whose various elements (art, music, social behavior) may all have religious meanings.
LibationThe act of pouring a liquid as an offering to a god.
ShamanA human being who contacts and attempts to manipulate the power of spirits for the tribe or group.
Sympathetic magicAn attempt to influence the outcome of an event through an action that has an apparent similarity to the desired result - for example, throwing water into the air to produce rain, or burning an enemy's fingernail clippings to bring sickness to that enemy.
TabooA strong social prohibition (Tongan: tabu; Hawaiian: kapu).
TotemAn animal (or image of an animal) that is considered to be related by blood to a family or clan and is its guardian or symbol.
AshramA spiritual community
AtmanThe spiritual essence of all individual human beings
AvatarAn earthly embodiment of a deity.
Bhagavad GitaA religious literary work about Krishna
BhaktiDevotion to a deity or guru.
Bhakti yogaThe spiritual discipline of devotion to a deity or guru.
BrahmaGod of creation.
BrahmanThe spiritual essence of the universe.
BrahminMember of the priestly caste.
CasteOne of the major social classes sanctioned by Hinduism
Devi"Goddess"; the Divine Feminine, also called the Great Mother.
Durga"Awe-inspiring," "distant"; a mother-goddess, a form of Devi.
GuruA spiritual teacher.
Hatha yogaThe spiritual discipline of postures and bodily exercises.
Jnana yogaThe spiritual discipline of knowledge and insight.
Kali"Dark," a form of Devi; a goddess associated with destruction and rebirth.
KarmaThe moral law of cause and effect that determines the direction of rebirth
Karma yogaThe spiritual discipline of selfless action.
KrishnaA god associated with divine playfulness;...