Western esotericism called esotericism and sometimes the Western mystery tradition, is a term under which scholars have categorised a wide range of loosely related ideas and movements which have developed within Western society. These ideas and currents are united by the fact that they are distinct both from orthodox Judeo-Christian religion and from Enlightenment rationalism. Esotericism has pervaded various forms of Western philosophy, pseudoscience, art and music, continuing to affect intellectual ideas and popular culture; the idea of grouping a wide range of Western traditions and philosophies together under the category, now termed esotericism developed in Europe during the late seventeenth century. Various academics have debated how to define Western esotericism, with a number of different options proposed. One scholarly model adopts its definition of "esotericism" from certain esotericist schools of thought themselves, treating "esotericism" as a perennialist hidden, inner tradition.
A second perspective sees esotericism as a category that encompasses movements which embrace an "enchanted" world-view in the face of increasing disenchantment. A third views Western esotericism as a category encompassing all of Western culture's "rejected knowledge", accepted neither by the scientific establishment nor by orthodox religious authorities; the earliest traditions which analysis would label as forms of Western esotericism emerged in the Eastern Mediterranean during Late Antiquity, where Hermetism and Neoplatonism developed as schools of thought distinct from what became mainstream Christianity. Renaissance Europe saw increasing interest in many of these older ideas, with various intellectuals combining "pagan" philosophies with the Kabbalah and Christian philosophy, resulting in the emergence of esoteric movements like Christian theosophy; the seventeenth century saw the development of initiatory societies professing esoteric knowledge such as Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry, while the Age of Enlightenment of the eighteenth century led to the development of new forms of esoteric thought.
The nineteenth century saw the emergence of new trends of esoteric thought that have come to be known as occultism. Prominent groups in this century included the Theosophical Society and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Modern Paganism developed within occultism, includes religious movements such as Wicca. Esoteric ideas permeated the counterculture of the 1960s and cultural tendencies, from which emerged the New Age phenomenon in the 1970s. Although the idea that these varying movements could be categorised together under the rubric of "Western esotericism" developed in the late eighteenth century, these esoteric currents were ignored as a subject of academic enquiry; the academic study of Western esotericism only emerged in the late twentieth-century, pioneered by scholars like Frances Yates and Antoine Faivre. Esoteric ideas have meanwhile exerted an influence in popular culture, appearing in art, literature and music; the concept of the "esoteric" originated in the second century AD with the coining of the Ancient Greek adjective esôterikós.
The term "esotericism" thus came into use in the wake of the Age of Enlightenment and of its critique of institutionalised religion, during which time alternative religious groups began to disassociate themselves from the dominant Christianity in Western Europe. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the term "esotericism" came to be seen as something, distinct from Christianity, which had formed a subculture, at odds with the Christian mainstream from at least the time of the Renaissance; the French occultist and ceremonial magician Eliphas Lévi popularized the term in the 1850s, Theosophist Alfred Percy Sinnett introduced it into the English language in his book Esoteric Buddhism. Lévi introduced the term l'occultisme, a notion that he developed against the background of contemporary socialist and Catholic discourses. "Esotericism" and "occultism" were employed as synonyms until scholars distinguished the concepts. The concept of "Western esotericism" is a modern scholarly construct rather than a pre-existing, self-defined tradition of thought.
In the late seventeenth century, several European Christian thinkers presented the argument that certain traditions of Western philosophy and thought could be categorised together, thus establishing the category, now called "Western esotericism". The first to do so was de: Ehregott Daniel Colberg, a German Lutheran who wrote Platonisch-Hermetisches Christianity. A hostile critic of various currents of Western thought that had emerged since the Renaissance—among them Paracelsianism and Christian theosophy—in his book he labelled all of these traditions under the category of "Platonic–Hermetic Christianity", arguing that they were heretical to what he saw as true Christianity. Despite his hostile attitude toward these traditions of thought, he was the first to connect these disparate philosophies and study them under one rubric recognising that these ideas linked back to earlier philosophies from late antiquity. In Europe during the eighteenth century, amid the Age of Enlightenment, these esoteric traditions came to be categorised under the labels of "superstition", "magic", "the occult", terms which were used interchangeably.
The Universe is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars and all other forms of matter and energy. While the spatial size of the entire Universe is unknown, it is possible to measure the size of the observable universe, estimated to be 93 billion light years in diameter. In various multiverse hypotheses, a universe is one of many causally disconnected constituent parts of a larger multiverse, which itself comprises all of space and time and its contents; the earliest scientific models of the Universe were developed by ancient Greek and Indian philosophers and were geocentric, placing Earth at the center of the Universe. Over the centuries, more precise astronomical observations led Nicolaus Copernicus to develop the heliocentric model with the Sun at the center of the Solar System. In developing the law of universal gravitation, Isaac Newton built upon Copernicus' work as well as observations by Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler's laws of planetary motion. Further observational improvements led to the realization that the Sun is one of hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way, one of at least hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe.
Many of the stars in our galaxy have planets. At the largest scale galaxies are distributed uniformly and the same in all directions, meaning that the Universe has neither an edge nor a center. At smaller scales, galaxies are distributed in clusters and superclusters which form immense filaments and voids in space, creating a vast foam-like structure. Discoveries in the early 20th century have suggested that the Universe had a beginning and that space has been expanding since and is still expanding at an increasing rate; the Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development of the Universe. Under this theory and time emerged together 13.799±0.021 billion years ago and the energy and matter present have become less dense as the Universe expanded. After an initial accelerated expansion called the inflationary epoch at around 10−32 seconds, the separation of the four known fundamental forces, the Universe cooled and continued to expand, allowing the first subatomic particles and simple atoms to form.
Dark matter gathered forming a foam-like structure of filaments and voids under the influence of gravity. Giant clouds of hydrogen and helium were drawn to the places where dark matter was most dense, forming the first galaxies and everything else seen today, it is possible to see objects that are now further away than 13.799 billion light-years because space itself has expanded, it is still expanding today. This means that objects which are now up to 46.5 billion light-years away can still be seen in their distant past, because in the past when their light was emitted, they were much closer to the Earth. From studying the movement of galaxies, it has been discovered that the universe contains much more matter than is accounted for by visible objects; this unseen matter is known as dark matter. The ΛCDM model is the most accepted model of our universe, it suggests that about 69.2%±1.2% of the mass and energy in the universe is a cosmological constant, responsible for the current expansion of space, about 25.8%±1.1% is dark matter.
Ordinary matter is therefore only 4.9% of the physical universe. Stars and visible gas clouds only form about 6% of ordinary matter, or about 0.3% of the entire universe. There are many competing hypotheses about the ultimate fate of the universe and about what, if anything, preceded the Big Bang, while other physicists and philosophers refuse to speculate, doubting that information about prior states will be accessible; some physicists have suggested various multiverse hypotheses, in which our universe might be one among many universes that exist. The physical Universe is defined as all of their contents; such contents comprise all of energy in its various forms, including electromagnetic radiation and matter, therefore planets, stars and the contents of intergalactic space. The Universe includes the physical laws that influence energy and matter, such as conservation laws, classical mechanics, relativity; the Universe is defined as "the totality of existence", or everything that exists, everything that has existed, everything that will exist.
In fact, some philosophers and scientists support the inclusion of ideas and abstract concepts – such as mathematics and logic – in the definition of the Universe. The word universe may refer to concepts such as the cosmos, the world, nature; the word universe derives from the Old French word univers, which in turn derives from the Latin word universum. The Latin word was used by Cicero and Latin authors in many of the same senses as the modern English word is used. A term for "universe" among the ancient Greek philosophers from Pythagoras onwards was τὸ πᾶν, tò pân, defined as all matter and all space, τὸ ὅλον, tò hólon, which did not include the void. Another synonym was ho kósmos. Synonyms are found in Latin authors and survive in modern languages, e.g. the German words Das All and Natur for Universe. The same synonyms are found in English, such as everything, the cosmos, the world (as in the many-worlds interpr
In the Platonic, Middle Platonic, Neoplatonic schools of philosophy, the demiurge is an artisan-like figure responsible for fashioning and maintaining the physical universe. The Gnostics adopted the term "demiurge". Although a fashioner, the demiurge is not the same as the creator figure in the monotheistic sense, because the demiurge itself and the material from which the demiurge fashions the universe are both considered to be consequences of something else. Depending on the system, they may be considered to be either uncreated and eternal or the product of some other entity; the word "demiurge" is an English word derived from demiurgus, a Latinized form of the Greek δημιουργός or dēmiourgos. It was a common noun meaning "craftsman" or "artisan", but came to mean "producer", "creator"; the philosophical usage and the proper noun derive from Plato's Timaeus, written c. 360 BC, where the demiurge is presented as the creator of the universe. The demiurge is described as a creator in the Platonic and Middle Platonic philosophical traditions.
In the various branches of the Neoplatonic school, the demiurge is the fashioner of the real, perceptible world after the model of the Ideas, but is still not itself "the One". In the arch-dualist ideology of the various Gnostic systems, the material universe is evil, while the non-material world is good. According to some strains of Gnosticism, the demiurge is malevolent, as it is linked to the material world. In others, including the teaching of Valentinus, the demiurge is ignorant or misguided. Plato, as the speaker Timaeus, refers to the Demiurge in the Socratic dialogue Timaeus, c. 360 BC. The main character refers to the Demiurge as the entity who "fashioned and shaped" the material world. Timaeus describes the Demiurge as unreservedly benevolent, so it desires a world as good as possible; the world remains imperfect, because the Demiurge created the world out of a chaotic, indeterminate non-being. Plato's work Timaeus is a philosophical reconciliation of Hesiod's cosmology in his Theogony, syncretically reconciling Hesiod to Homer.
In Numenius's Neo-Pythagorean and Middle Platonist cosmogony, the Demiurge is second God as the nous or thought of intelligibles and sensibles. Plotinus and the Platonists worked to clarify the Demiurge. To Plotinus, the second emanation represents an uncreated second cause. Plotinus sought to reconcile Aristotle's energeia with Plato's Demiurge, which, as Demiurge and mind, is a critical component in the ontological construct of human consciousness used to explain and clarify substance theory within Platonic realism. In order to reconcile Aristotelian with Platonian philosophy, Plotinus metaphorically identified the demiurge within the pantheon of the Greek Gods as Zeus; the first and highest aspect of God is described by Plato as the source, or the Monad. This is the God above the Demiurge, manifests through the actions of the Demiurge; the Monad emanated the demiurge or Nous from its "indeterminate" vitality due to the monad being so abundant that it overflowed back onto itself, causing self-reflection.
This self-reflection of the indeterminate vitality was referred to by Plotinus as the "Demiurge" or creator. The second principle is organization in its reflection of the nonsentient force or dynamis called the one or the Monad; the dyad is energeia emanated by the one, the work, process or activity called nous, mind, consciousness that organizes the indeterminate vitality into the experience called the material world, cosmos. Plotinus elucidates the equation of matter with nothing or non-being in The Enneads which more is to express the concept of idealism or that there is not anything or anywhere outside of the "mind" or nous. Plotinus' form of Platonic idealism is to treat the Demiurge, nous as the contemplative faculty within man which orders the force into conscious reality. In this, he claimed to reveal Plato's true meaning: a doctrine he learned from Platonic tradition that did not appear outside the academy or in Plato's text; this tradition of creator God as nous, can be validated in the works of pre-Plotinus philosophers such as Numenius, as well as a connection between Hebrew and Platonic cosmology.
The Demiurge of Neoplatonism is the Nous, is one of the three ordering principles: Arche – the source of all things, Logos – the underlying order, hidden beneath appearances, Harmonia – numerical ratios in mathematics. Before Numenius of Apamea and Plotinus' Enneads, no Platonic works ontologically clarified the Demiurge from the allegory in Plato's Timaeus; the idea of Demiurge was, addressed before Plotinus in the works of Christian writer Justin Martyr who built his understanding of the Demiurge on the works of Numenius. The Neoplatonist Iamblichus changed the role of the "One" altering the role of the Demiurge as second cause or dyad, one of the reasons that Iamblichus and his teacher Porphyry came into conflict; the figure of the Demiurge emerges in the theoretic of Iamblichus, which conjoins the transcendent, incommunicable “One,” or Source. Here, at the summit of this system, the Source and Demiurge coexist via the process of henosis. Iamblichus describes the One as a monad whose first principle or emanation is intellect, while among "the many" that follow it there is a second, super-existent "One", the
Indian religions, sometimes termed as Dharmic faiths or religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions are all classified as Eastern religions. Although Indian religions are connected through the history of India, they constitute a wide range of religious communities, are not confined to the Indian subcontinent. Evidence attesting to prehistoric religion in the Indian subcontinent derives from scattered Mesolithic rock paintings; the Harappan people of the Indus Valley Civilisation, which lasted from 3300 to 1300 BCE, had an early urbanized culture which predates the Vedic religion. The documented history of Indian religions begins with the historical Vedic religion, the religious practices of the early Indo-Iranians, which were collected and redacted into the Vedas; the period of the composition and commentary of these texts is known as the Vedic period, which lasted from 1750–500 BCE. The philosophical portions of the Vedas were summarized in Upanishads, which are referred to as Vedānta, variously interpreted to mean either the "last chapters, parts of the Veda" or "the object, the highest purpose of the Veda".
The early Upanishads all predate the Common Era, five of the eleven principal Upanishads were composed in all likelihood before 6th century BCE, contain the earliest mentions of Yoga and Moksha. The Reform or Shramanic Period between 800–200 BCE marks a "turning point between the Vedic Hinduism and Puranic Hinduism"; the Shramana movement, an ancient Indian religious movement parallel to but separate from Vedic tradition defied many of the Vedic and Upanishadic concepts of soul and the ultimate reality. In 6th century BCE, the Shramnic movement matured into Jainism and Buddhism and was responsible for the schism of Indian religions into two main philosophical branches of astika, which venerates Veda and nastika. However, both branches shared the related concepts of saṃsāra and moksha; the Puranic Period and Early Medieval period gave rise to new configurations of Hinduism bhakti and Shaivism, Vaishnavism and much smaller groups like the conservative Shrauta. The early Islamic period gave rise to new movements.
Sikhism was founded in the 15th century on the teachings of Guru Nanak and the nine successive Sikh Gurus in Northern India. The vast majority of its adherents originate in the Punjab region. With the colonial dominance of the British a reinterpretation and synthesis of Hinduism arose, which aided the Indian independence movement. James Mill, in his The History of British India, distinguished three phases in the history of India, namely Hindu and British civilisations; this periodisation has been criticised, for the misconceptions. Another periodisation is the division into "ancient, classical and modern periods", although this periodization has received criticism. Romila Thapar notes that the division of Hindu-Muslim-British periods of Indian history gives too much weight to "ruling dynasties and foreign invasions," neglecting the social-economic history which showed a strong continuity; the division in Ancient-Medieval-Modern overlooks the fact that the Muslim-conquests took place between the eight and the fourteenth century, while the south was never conquered.
According to Thapar, a periodisation could be based on "significant social and economic changes," which are not related to a change of ruling powers. Smart and Michaels seem to follow Mill's periodisation, while Flood and Muesse follow the "ancient, classical and modern periods" periodisation. An elaborate periodisation may be as follows: Indian pre-history including Indus Valley Civilisation. Evidence attesting to prehistoric religion in the Indian subcontinent derives from scattered Mesolithic rock paintings such as at Bhimbetka, depicting dances and rituals. Neolithic agriculturalists inhabiting the Indus River Valley buried their dead in a manner suggestive of spiritual practices that incorporated notions of an afterlife and belief in magic. Other South Asian Stone Age sites, such as the Bhimbetka rock shelters in central Madhya Pradesh and the Kupgal petroglyphs of eastern Karnataka, contain rock art portraying religious rites and evidence of possible ritualised music; the religion and belief system of the Indus valley people have received considerable attention from the view of identifying precursors to deities and religious practices of Indian religions that developed in the area.
However, due to the sparsity of evidence, open to varying interpretations, the fact that the Indus script remains undeciphered, the conclusions are speculative and based on a retrospective view from a much Hindu perspective. An early and influential work in the area that set the trend for Hindu interpretations of archaeological evidence from the Harrapan sites was that of John Marshall, who in 1931 identified the following as prominent features of the Indus religion: a Great Male God and a Mother Goddess.
In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic particles, in everyday as well as scientific usage, "matter" includes atoms and anything made up of them, any particles that act as if they have both rest mass and volume; however it does not include massless particles such as photons, or other energy phenomena or waves such as light or sound. Matter exists in various states; these include classical everyday phases such as solid and gas – for example water exists as ice, liquid water, gaseous steam – but other states are possible, including plasma, Bose–Einstein condensates, fermionic condensates, quark–gluon plasma. Atoms can be imagined as a nucleus of protons and neutrons, a surrounding "cloud" of orbiting electrons which "take up space"; however this is only somewhat correct, because subatomic particles and their properties are governed by their quantum nature, which means they do not act as everyday objects appear to act – they can act like waves as well as particles and they do not have well-defined sizes or positions.
In the Standard Model of particle physics, matter is not a fundamental concept because the elementary constituents of atoms are quantum entities which do not have an inherent "size" or "volume" in any everyday sense of the word. Due to the exclusion principle and other fundamental interactions, some "point particles" known as fermions, many composites and atoms, are forced to keep a distance from other particles under everyday conditions. For much of the history of the natural sciences people have contemplated the exact nature of matter; the idea that matter was built of discrete building blocks, the so-called particulate theory of matter, was first put forward by the Greek philosophers Leucippus and Democritus. Matter should not be confused with mass. Matter is a general term describing any'physical substance'. By contrast, mass is not a substance but rather a quantitative property of matter and other substances or systems. While there are different views on what should be considered matter, the mass of a substance has exact scientific definitions.
Another difference is that matter has an "opposite" called antimatter, but mass has no opposite—there is no such thing as "anti-mass" or negative mass, so far as is known, although scientists do discuss the concept. Antimatter has the same mass property as its normal matter counterpart. Different fields of science use the term matter in different, sometimes incompatible, ways; some of these ways are based on loose historical meanings, from a time when there was no reason to distinguish mass from a quantity of matter. As such, there is no single universally agreed scientific meaning of the word "matter". Scientifically, the term "mass" is well-defined. Sometimes in the field of physics "matter" is equated with particles that exhibit rest mass, such as quarks and leptons. However, in both physics and chemistry, matter exhibits both wave-like and particle-like properties, the so-called wave–particle duality. A definition of "matter" based on its physical and chemical structure is: matter is made up of atoms.
Such atomic matter is sometimes termed ordinary matter. As an example, deoxyribonucleic acid molecules are matter under this definition because they are made of atoms; this definition can be extended to include charged atoms and molecules, so as to include plasmas and electrolytes, which are not included in the atoms definition. Alternatively, one can adopt the protons and electrons definition. A definition of "matter" more fine-scale than the atoms and molecules definition is: matter is made up of what atoms and molecules are made of, meaning anything made of positively charged protons, neutral neutrons, negatively charged electrons; this definition goes beyond atoms and molecules, however, to include substances made from these building blocks that are not atoms or molecules, for example electron beams in an old cathode ray tube television, or white dwarf matter—typically and oxygen nuclei in a sea of degenerate electrons. At a microscopic level, the constituent "particles" of matter such as protons and electrons obey the laws of quantum mechanics and exhibit wave–particle duality.
At an deeper level and neutrons are made up of quarks and the force fields that bind them together, leading to the next definition. As seen in the above discussion, many early definitions of what can be called "ordinary matter" were based upon its structure or "building blocks". On the scale of elementary particles, a definition that follows this tradition can be stated as: "ordinary matter is everything, composed of quarks and leptons", or "ordinary matter is everything, composed of any elementary fermions except antiquarks and antileptons"; the connection between these formulations follows. Leptons, quarks combine to form atoms, which in turn form molecules; because atoms and molecules are said to be matter, it is natural to phrase the definition as: "ordinary matter is anything
The meaning of spirituality has developed and expanded over time, various connotations can be found alongside each other. Traditionally, spirituality referred to a religious process of re-formation which "aims to recover the original shape of man", oriented at "the image of God" as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world; the term was used within early Christianity to refer to a life oriented toward the Holy Spirit and broadened during late medieval times to include mental aspects of life. In modern times the term both spread to other religious traditions and broadened to refer to a wider range of experience, including a range of esoteric traditions and religious traditions. Modern usages tend to refer to a subjective experience of a sacred dimension and the "deepest values and meanings by which people live" in a context separate from organized religious institutions, such as a belief in a supernatural realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or sacred meaning, religious experience, or an encounter with one's own "inner dimension".
The term spirit means "animating or vital principle in man and animals". It is derived from the Old French espirit, which comes from the Latin word spiritus and is related to spirare. In the Vulgate the Latin word spiritus is used to translate the Greek pneuma and Hebrew ruah; the term "spiritual", matters "concerning the spirit", is derived from Old French spirituel, derived from Latin spiritualis, which comes from spiritus or "spirit". The term "spirituality" is derived from Middle French spiritualité, from Late Latin "spiritualitatem", derived from Latin spiritualis. There is no single agreed upon definition of spirituality. Surveys of the definition of the term, as used in scholarly research, show a broad range of definitions with limited overlap. A survey of reviews by McCarroll each dealing with the topic of spirituality gave twenty-seven explicit definitions, among which "there was little agreement." This impedes the systematic study of spirituality and the capacity to communicate findings meaningfully.
Furthermore, many of spirituality's core features are not unique to spirituality. According to Kees Waaijman, the traditional meaning of spirituality is a process of re-formation which "aims to recover the original shape of man, the image of God. To accomplish this, the re-formation is oriented at a mold, which represents the original shape: in Judaism the Torah, in Christianity there is Christ, for Buddhism, in Islam, Muhammad." Houtman and Aupers suggest that modern spirituality is a blend of humanistic psychology and esoteric traditions and Eastern religions. In modern times the emphasis is on subjective experience and the "deepest values and meanings by which people live," incorporating personal growth or transformation in a context separate from organized religious institutions. Words translatable as'spirituality' first began to arise in the 5th century and only entered common use toward the end of the Middle Ages. In a Biblical context the term means being animated by God, to be driven by the Holy Spirit, as opposed to a life which rejects this influence.
In the 11th century this meaning changed. Spirituality began to denote the mental aspect of life, as opposed to the material and sensual aspects of life, "the ecclesiastical sphere of light against the dark world of matter". In the 13th century "spirituality" acquired a psychological meaning, it denoted the territory of the clergy: "The ecclesiastical against the temporary possessions, the ecclesiastical against the secular authority, the clerical class against the secular class" Psychologically, it denoted the realm of the inner life: "The purity of motives, intentions, inner dispositions, the psychology of the spiritual life, the analysis of the feelings". In the 17th and 18th century a distinction was made between higher and lower forms of spirituality: "A spiritual man is one, Christian'more abundantly and deeper than others'." The word was associated with mysticism and quietism, acquired a negative meaning. Modern notions of spirituality developed throughout the 19th and 20th century, mixing Christian ideas with Western esoteric traditions and elements of Asian Indian, religions.
Spirituality became disconnected from traditional religious organisations and institutions. It is sometimes associated today with philosophical, social, or political movements such as liberalism, feminist theology, green politics. Ralph Waldo Emerson was a pioneer of the idea of spirituality as a distinct field, he was one of the major figures in Transcendentalism, an early 19th-century liberal Protestant movement, rooted in English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Johann Gottfried Herder and Friedrich Schleiermacher, the skepticism of Hume, Neo-Platonism. The Transcendentalists emphasised an experiential approach of religion. Following Schleiermacher, an individual's intuition of truth was taken as the criterion for truth. In the late 18th and early 19th century, the first translations of Hindu texts appeared, which were read by the Transcendentalists, influenced their thinking, they endorsed universalist and Unitarianist ideas, leading to Unitarian Universalism, the idea that there must be truth in other religions as well, since a loving God would redeem all living beings, not just Christians.
A major influence on modern spirituality was the Theosophical Society, which searched for'secret teach
The concept of the supernatural encompasses anything, inexplicable by scientific understanding of the laws of nature but argued by believers to exist. Examples include immaterial beings such as angels and spirits, claimed human abilities like magic and extrasensory perception. Supernatural entities have been invoked to explain phenomena as diverse as lightning and the human senses. Naturalists maintain that nothing beyond the physical world exists and hence maintain skeptical attitudes towards supernatural concepts; the supernatural is featured in paranormal and religious contexts, but can feature as an explanation in more secular contexts. Occurring as both an adjective and a noun, descendants of the modern English compound supernatural enters the language from two sources: via Middle French and directly from the Middle French's term's ancestor, post-Classical Latin. Post-classical Latin supernaturalis first occurs in the 6th century, composed of the Latin prefix super- and nātūrālis; the earliest known appearance of the word in the English language occurs in a Middle English translation of Catherine of Siena's Dialogue.
The semantic value of the term has shifted over the history of its use. The term referred to Christian understandings of the world. For example, as an adjective, the term can mean'belonging to a realm or system that transcends nature, as that of divine, magical, or ghostly beings. Obsolete uses include'of, relating to, or dealing with metaphysics'; as a noun, the term can mean'a supernatural being', with a strong history of employment in relation to entities from the mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. The metaphysical considerations of the existence of the supernatural can be difficult to approach as an exercise in philosophy or theology because any dependencies on its antithesis, the natural, will have to be inverted or rejected. One complicating factor is that there is disagreement about the definition of "natural" and the limits of naturalism. Concepts in the supernatural domain are related to concepts in religious spirituality and occultism or spiritualism. For sometimes we use the word nature for that Author of nature whom the schoolmen, harshly enough, call natura naturans, as when it is said that nature hath made man corporeal and immaterial.
Sometimes we mean by the nature of a thing the essence, or that which the schoolmen scruple not to call the quiddity of a thing, the attribute or attributes on whose score it is what it is, whether the thing be corporeal or not, as when we attempt to define the nature of an angle, or of a triangle, or of a fluid body, as such. Sometimes we take nature for an internal principle of motion, as when we say that a stone let fall in the air is by nature carried towards the centre of the earth, and, on the contrary, that fire or flame does move upwards toward firmament. Sometimes we understand by nature the established course of things, as when we say that nature makes the night succeed the day, nature hath made respiration necessary to the life of men. Sometimes we take nature for an aggregate of powers belonging to a body a living one, as when physicians say that nature is strong or weak or spent, or that in such or such diseases nature left to herself will do the cure. Sometimes we take nature for the universe, or system of the corporeal works of God, as when it is said of a phoenix, or a chimera, that there is no such thing in nature, i.e. in the world.
And sometimes too, that most we would express by nature a semi-deity or other strange kind of being, such as this discourse examines the notion of. And besides these more absolute acceptions, if I may so call them, of the word nature, it has divers others, as nature is wont to be set or in opposition or contradistinction to other things, as when we say of a stone when it falls downwards that it does it by a natural motion, but that if it be thrown upwards its motion that way is violent. So chemists distinguish vitriol into natural and fictitious, or made by art, i.e. by the intervention of human power or skill. We say that wicked men are still in the state of nature, but the regenerate in a state of grace; the term "supernatural" is used interchangeably with paranormal or preternatural — the latter limited to an adjective for describing abilities which appear to exceed what is possible within the boundaries of the laws of physics. Epistemologically, the relationship between the supernatural and the natural is indistinct in terms of natural phenomena that, ex hypothesi, violate the laws of nature, in so far as such laws are realistically accountable.
Parapsychologists use the term psi to refer to an assumed unitary force underlying the phenomena they study. Psi is defined in the Journal of Parapsychology as "personal factors or processes in nature which transcend accepted laws" and "which are non-physical in nature", it is used to cover both extrasensory perception, an "awareness of or response to an external event or influence not apprehended by sens