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The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the laws of nature. This term is attributed to non-physical entities, such as
angel An angel is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abilities embodied in or provided by such ...

angel
s,
demon A demon is a supernatural being, typically associated with evil, prevalent historically in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology, and folklore; as well as in Media (communication), media such as comics, video games, movies, an ...

demon
s,
gods A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abilities embodied in or provided by suc ...

gods
, and
spirits Spirit may refer to: *Spirit (animating force) In folk belief, spirit is the vitalism , vital principle or animating force within all life , living things. As recently as 1628 and 1633 respectively, both William Harvey and René Descartes st ...

spirits
. It also includes claimed abilities embodied in or provided by such beings, including
magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Chaos magic {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from miscapitalization {{R unprintworthy ..., a contemporary magical practic ...
,
telekinesis Psychokinesis (from Ancient Greek, Greek ψυχή "soul" and κίνησις "movement"), or telekinesis (from τηλε- "far off" and κίνησις "movement"), is a claimed psychic ability allowing a person to influence a physical system wit ...
,
levitation levitating over a superconducting material (known as the Meissner effect Diagram of the Meissner effect. Magnetic field lines, represented as arrows, are excluded from a superconductor when it is below its critical temperature. The Meissner eff ...
,
precognition Precognition (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of t ...
, and
extrasensory perception Extrasensory perception or ESP, also called sixth sense, includes claimed reception of information not gained through the recognized physical sense A sense is a biological system A biological system is a complex biological network, network ...
. Though the corollary term "nature", has had multiple meanings since the ancient world, the term "supernatural" emerged in the medieval period and did not exist in the ancient world. The supernatural is featured in
folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psycholog ...

folklore
and
religious Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. Different religions may or may not contain v ...

religious
contexts, but can also feature as an explanation in more secular contexts, as in the cases of
superstition A superstition is any belief or practice considered by non-practitioners to be irrational or supernatural, attributed to fate or magic (supernatural), magic, perceived supernatural influence, or fear of that which is unknown. It is commonly ap ...
s or belief in the
paranormal Paranormal events are purported phenomena described in popular culture, Folk culture, folk, and other non-scientific bodies of knowledge, whose existence within these contexts is described as beyond the scope of normal scientific understandin ...
. The philosophy of naturalism contends that nothing exists beyond the natural world, and as such approaches supernatural claims with
skepticism Skepticism (American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U. ...

skepticism
.


Etymology and history of the concept

Occurring as both an
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
and a
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...

noun
, descendants of the modern English
compound Compound may refer to: Architecture and built environments * Compound (enclosure), a cluster of buildings having a shared purpose, usually inside a fence or wall ** Compound (fortification), a version of the above fortified with defensive structu ...
''supernatural'' enter the language from two sources: via
Middle French Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the French language French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured ...
(''supernaturel'') and directly from the Middle French's term's ancestor, post-
Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestur ...
(''supernaturalis''). Post-classical Latin ''supernaturalis'' first occurs in the 6th century, composed of the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
prefix A prefix is an affix In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) ...
''super-'' and ''nātūrālis'' (see
nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...

nature
). The earliest known appearance of the word in the English language occurs in a Middle English translation of
Catherine of Siena Catherine of Siena (25 March 1347 – 29 April 1380), a lay member of the Dominican Order (English: 'To praise, to bless and to preach') , leader_title = Master of the Order of Preachers, Master , leader_name = Gerard Timone ...

Catherine of Siena
's ''
Dialogue Dialogue (sometimes spelled dialog in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. ...
'' (''orcherd of Syon'', around 1425; ''Þei haue not þanne þe supernaturel lyȝt ne þe liȝt of kunnynge, bycause þei vndirstoden it not''). The semantic value of the term has shifted over the history of its use. Originally the term referred exclusively 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; attributed to or thought to reveal some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature; occult, paranormal" or "more than what is natural or ordinary; unnaturally or extraordinarily great; abnormal, extraordinary". Obsolete uses include "of, relating to, or dealing with metaphysics". As a noun, the term can mean "a supernatural being", with a particularly strong history of employment in relation to entities from the
mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Americas Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually gods, demigods, or supernatural The supernatural encompas ...
.


History of the concept

The ancient world had no word that resembled "supernatural". Dialogues from Neoplatonic philosophy in the third century AD contributed the development of the concept the supernatural via
Christian theology #REDIRECT Christian theology #REDIRECT Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Christianity, Christian belief and practice. * help them better understand Christian tenets * make comparative religion, comparisons between Christia ...
in later centuries. The term ''nature'' had existed since antiquity with Latin authors like using the word and its cognates at least 600 times in ''
City of GodThe term City of God may refer to the unity between the Holy Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. The term may also refer to: Places *Cidade de Deus (Osasco), the Banco Bradesco headquarters in Osasco, São Paulo, Brazil *C ...
''. In the medieval period, "nature" had ten different meanings and "natural" had eleven different meanings.
Peter Lombard Peter Lombard (also Peter the Lombard, Pierre Lombard or Petrus Lombardus; 1096, Novara – 21/22 July 1160, Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of F ...
, a medieval scholastic in the 12th century, asked about causes that are beyond nature, in that how there could be causes that were God's alone. He used the term ''praeter naturam'' in his writings. In the scholastic period,
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino, Italy, Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Order, Dominican friar, Philosophy, philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. An immensely influential ...

Thomas Aquinas
classified miracles into three categories: "above nature", "beyond nature", and "against nature". In doing so, he sharpened the distinction between nature and miracles more than the early Church Fathers had done. As a result, he had created a dichotomy of sorts of the natural and supernatural. Though the phrase ''"supra naturam"'' was used since the 4th century AD, it was in the 1200s that Thomas Aquinas used the term ''"supernaturalis"'' and despite this, the term had to wait until the end of the medieval period before it became more popularly used. The discussions on "nature" from the scholastic period were diverse and unsettled with some postulating that even miracles are natural and that natural magic was a natural part of the world.


Epistemology and metaphysics

The
metaphysical Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity and possibility. It includes questions about the nature of consciousness and the relationship between ...

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 Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and ...
, will ultimately 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 closely related to concepts in
religious Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. Different religions may or may not contain v ...

religious
spirituality The meaning of spirituality has developed and expanded over time, and various connotations can be found alongside each other. Traditionally, spirituality referred to a Religion, religious process of re-formation which "aims to recover the origin ...

spirituality
and
occultism The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural beliefs and practices which generally fall outside the scope of organized religion, religion and science, encompassing such phenomena involving otherworldly agency as mysticism, sp ...
or
spiritualism Spiritualism is a new religious movement based on the belief that the spirits of the dead exist and have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living. The afterlife, or the "Spirit world (Spiritualism), spirit world", is s ...
. Nomological possibility is possibility under the actual laws of nature. Most philosophers since
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) Cranston, Maurice, and Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999999 or triple nine most often refers to: * 999 (emergency telephone number) 250px, A sign on a beach ...

David Hume
have held that the laws of nature are metaphysically contingent—that there could have been different natural laws than the ones that actually obtain. If so, then it would not be logically or metaphysically impossible, for example, for you to travel to
Alpha Centauri Alpha Centauri is the List of nearest stars and brown dwarfs, closest star system and closest planetary system to Earth's Solar System at 4.37 light-years (1.34 parsecs) from the Sun. The name is Latinisation of names, Latinized from ...

Alpha Centauri
in one day; it would just have to be the case that you could travel faster than the speed of light. But of course there is an important sense in which this is not nomologically possible; given that the laws of nature are what they are. In the philosophy of
natural science Natural science is a branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or ph ...

natural science
, impossibility assertions come to be widely accepted as overwhelmingly probable rather than considered proved to the point of being unchallengeable. The basis for this strong acceptance is a combination of extensive evidence of something not occurring, combined with an underlying
scientific theory A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural science, natural world and universe that has been reproducibility, repeatedly tested and verified in accordance with the scientific method, using accepted protocol (science), protoc ...
, very successful in making predictions, whose assumptions lead logically to the conclusion that something is impossible. While an impossibility assertion in natural science can never be absolutely proved, it could be refuted by the
observation Observation is the active acquisition of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature of its characteristics. Th ...

observation
of a single
counterexample In logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, label=none, lit=possessed of reason, intellectual, dialectical, argumentative, translit=logikḗ)Also related to (''logos''), "word, thought, idea, argument, a ...
. Such a counterexample would require that the assumptions underlying the theory that implied the impossibility be re-examined. Some philosophers, such as
Sydney Shoemaker Sydney S. Shoemaker (born 29 September 1931) is an American philosopher. He is the Emeritus Susan Linn Sage Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University and is well known for his contributions to philosophy of mind and metaphysics Metaph ...
, have argued that the laws of nature are in fact necessary, not contingent; if so, then nomological possibility is equivalent to metaphysical possibility. The term ''supernatural'' is often used interchangeably with
paranormal Paranormal events are purported phenomena described in popular culture, Folk culture, folk, and other non-scientific bodies of knowledge, whose existence within these contexts is described as beyond the scope of normal scientific understandin ...
or
preternatural The preternatural (or praeternatural) is that which appears outside or beside (Latin: '' præter'') the natural Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all ...

preternatural
—the latter typically limited to an adjective for describing abilities which appear to exceed what is possible within the boundaries of the laws of physics.
Epistemologically Epistemology (; ) is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, ...

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. Views on the "supernatural" vary, for example it may be seen as: * indistinct from nature. From this perspective, some events occur according to the laws of nature, and others occur according to a separate set of principles external to known nature. For example, in Scholasticism, it was believed that God was capable of performing any miracle so long as it didn't lead to a logical
contradiction In traditional logicIn philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Phil ...

contradiction
. Some religions posit immanent deities, however, and do not have a tradition analogous to the supernatural; some believe that everything anyone experiences occurs by the will (
occasionalism Occasionalism is a philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality Reality is the sum ...

occasionalism
), in the mind (
neoplatonism Neoplatonism is a strand of Platonic philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, m ...
), or as a part (
nondualism In spirituality, nondualism, also called nonduality and interconnectedness; and nondual awareness, is a fuzzy conceptA fuzzy concept is a concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas or general notions that occur in the mind, in speec ...
) of a more fundamental divine reality (
platonism Platonism is the philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of ...
). * incorrect human attribution. In this view all events have natural and only natural causes. They believe that human beings ascribe supernatural attributes to purely natural events, such as
lightning Lightning is a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the sudden flow of electricity Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion Image:Leaving Yongsan ...

lightning
,
rainbow A rainbow is a meteorological Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences which includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric physics, with a major focus on weather forecasting Weather forecasting is the application of sc ...

rainbow
s,
flood A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land that is usually dry. In the sense of "flowing water", the word may also be applied to the inflow of the tide Tides are the rise and fall of sea level Mean sea level (MSL) (often ...

flood
s, and the
origin of life In evolutionary biology Evolutionary biology is the subfield of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molec ...
.


Anthropological studies

Anthropological studies across cultures indicate that people do not hold or use natural and supernatural explanations in a mutually exclusive or dichotomous fashion. Instead, the reconciliation of natural and supernatural explanations is normal and pervasive across cultures. Cross cultural studies indicate that there is coexistence of natural and supernatural explanations in both adults and children for explaining numerous things about the world such as illness, death, and origins. Context and cultural input play a large role in determining when and how individuals incorporate natural and supernatural explanations. The coexistence of natural and supernatural explanations in individuals may be the outcomes two distinct cognitive domains: one concerned with the physical-mechanical relations and another with social relations. Studies on indigenous groups have allowed for insights on how such coexistence of explanations may function.


Supernatural concepts


Deity

A ''deity'' ( or ) is a supernatural being considered
divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://ww ...

divine
or
sacred Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity; is considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion; or inspires awe or Reverence (emotion), reverence among believers. The property is often as ...

sacred
. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as "a god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion)", or anything revered as divine. C. Scott Littleton defines a deity as "a being with powers greater than those of ordinary humans, but who interacts with humans, positively or negatively, in ways that carry humans to new levels of consciousness, beyond the grounded preoccupations of ordinary life." A male deity is a
god In monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the ...
, while a female deity is a
goddess A goddess is a female Female (symbol: ♀) is the sex Sex is either of two divisions, typically male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, ...

goddess
. Religions can be categorized by how many deities they worship.
Monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousn ...
religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...

religion
s accept only one deity (predominantly referred to as God),
polytheistic Polytheism is the worship of or belief in multiple deities A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/supernatura ...
religions accept multiple deities. Henotheistic religions accept one supreme deity without denying other deities, considering them as equivalent aspects of the same divine principle; and
nontheistic religion Nontheistic religions are traditions of thought Thought (or thinking) encompasses an "aim-oriented flow of ideas and associations that can lead to a reality-oriented conclusion". Although thinking is an activity of an existential value fo ...
s deny any supreme eternal
creator deity A creator deity or creator god (often called the Creator) is a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionar ...
but accept a
pantheon Pantheon may refer to: * Pantheon (religion), the set of gods belonging to a particular religion, mythology or tradition * Pantheon (mythical creature), a mythical or imaginary creature used in heraldry, particularly in Britain Computing *Pant ...
of deities which live, die, and are reborn just like any other being. Various cultures have conceptualized a deity differently than a . A deity need not be
omnipotent '' Michelangelo.html"_;"title="Separation_of_Light_from_Darkness''_by_Michelangelo">Separation_of_Light_from_Darkness''_by_Michelangelo_ Omnipotence_is_the_quality_of_having_unlimited_power_and_potential._Monotheism.html" ;"title="Michelangelo_.ht ...
,
omnipresent Omnipresence or ubiquity is the property of being present anywhere and everywhere. The term omnipresence is most often used in a religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and ...
,
omniscient Omniscience () is the capacity to know everything. In monotheistic religions, such as Sikhism and the Abrahamic religions, this is an God#Specific attributes, attribute of God. In Jainism, omniscience is an attribute that any individual can ev ...

omniscient
,
omnibenevolent Omnibenevolence (from Latin ''omni-'' meaning "all", ''bene-'' meaning "good" and ''volens'' meaning "willing") is defined by the '' Oxford English Dictionary'' as "unlimited or infinite wikt:benevolence, benevolence". Some philosophers have argue ...
or
eternal Eternal(s) or The Eternal may refer to: * Eternity, an infinite amount of time, or a timeless state * Immortality or eternal life * God, the supreme being, creator deity, and principal object of faith in monotheism Comics, film and television * ...
,John Murdoch, , pages 141–142; Quote: "We onotheistsfind by reason and revelation that God is omniscient, omnipotent, most holy, etc, but the Hindu deities possess none of those attributes. It is mentioned in their
Shastra ''Shastra'' (, IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientifi ...
s that their deities were all vanquished by the Asurs, while they fought in the heavens, and for fear of whom they left their abodes. This plainly shows that they are not omnipotent."
The monotheistic God, however, does have these
attributes Attribute may refer to: * Attribute (philosophy) In logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, label=none, lit=possessed of reason, intellectual, dialectical, argumentative, translit=logikḗ)Also relate ...
. Monotheistic religions typically refer to God in masculine terms, while other religions refer to their deities in a variety of ways – masculine, feminine, androgynous and gender neutral. Historically, many ancient cultures – such as
Ancient India According to consensus in modern genetics, anatomically modern humans first arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa between 73,000 and 55,000 years ago. Quote: "Y-Chromosome and Mt-DNA data support the colonization of South Asia by mod ...

Ancient India
Ancient Egyptian Ancient Egypt was a civilization of Ancient history, ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile, Nile River, situated in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistori ...
,
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
,
Ancient Roman In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom (753 BC ...
,
Nordic Nordic most commonly refers to: * Nordic countries, written in plural as Nordics, the northwestern European countries, including Scandinavia, Fennoscandia and the List of islands in the Atlantic Ocean#North, North Atlantic * Scandinavia, a cultural ...
and
Asian culture The culture of Asia encompasses the collective and diverse customs and traditions of art, architecture, music, literature, lifestyle, philosophy, politics and religion that have been practiced and maintained by the numerous ethnic group ...
– personified
natural phenomena Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and ...
, variously as either their conscious causes or simply their effects, respectively. Some
Avesta The Avesta () is the primary collection of religious text Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred, or of central importance to ...

Avesta
n and
Vedic upright=1.2, The Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. Above: A page from the ''Atharvaveda''. The Vedas (, , ) are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the ol ...

Vedic
deities were viewed as ethical concepts. In
Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered soci ...
, deities have been envisioned as manifesting within the temple of every living being's body, as sensory organs and mind. Deities have also been envisioned as a form of existence (
Saṃsāra ''Saṃsāra'' is a Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European ...

Saṃsāra
) after
rebirth Rebirth may refer to: Religion * Reincarnation, the migration of a deceased person's spirit or consciousness to a newborn body ** Rebirth (Buddhism), Rebirth in Buddhism ** Reincarnation#Hinduism, Rebirth in Hinduism * Regeneration (theology), a ...
, for human beings who gain merit through an ethical life, where they become guardian deities and live blissfully in
heaven Heaven or the heavens, is a common religious cosmological or transcendent supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also ...

heaven
, but are also subject to death when their merit runs out.


Angel

An angel is generally a supernatural being found in various
religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...

religion
s and
mythologies Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as Narrative, tales, p ...

mythologies
. In
Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family ...

Abrahamic religions
and
Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an Iranian religions, Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian peoples, Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster (also known as ''Za ...
, angels are often depicted as benevolent celestial beings who act as intermediaries between
God In monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the ...

God
or
Heaven Heaven or the heavens, is a common religious cosmological or transcendent supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also ...

Heaven
and
Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% is Water distribution on Earth, covered wi ...

Earth
."Angels in Christianity." Religion Facts. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2014
/ref> Other roles of angels include protecting and guiding human beings, and carrying out God's tasks. Within Abrahamic religions, angels are often organized into hierarchies, although such rankings may vary between sects in each religion, and are given specific names or titles, such as
Gabriel In the Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of -originated s that claim descent from the of the ancient and the worship of the . The Ab ...

Gabriel
or "
Destroying angel The name destroying angel applies to several similar, closely related species of deadly all-white mushroom A mushroom or toadstool is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus A fungus (plural: fungi or funguses) is any membe ...
". The term "angel" has also been expanded to various notions of spirits or figures found in other religious traditions. The theological study of angels is known as "angelology". In fine art, angels are usually depicted as having the shape of human beings of extraordinary beauty; they are often identified using the
symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), m ...

symbol
s of bird wings,
halos Halos ( grc, Ἅλος, also appearing as ὁ Ἅλος or ἡ Ἅλος) or Halus, also Latinised as Alos and Alus, was a town and polis in the region of Achaea Phthiotis in ancient Thessaly, on the west side of the Pagasetic Gulf. It is located ...
, and
light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400–700 nan ...

light
.


Prophecy

Prophecy involves a process in which messages are communicated by a god to a
prophet In religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involu ...
. Such messages typically involve inspiration, interpretation, or
revelation In religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involu ...

revelation
of divine will concerning the prophet's social world and events to come (compare divine knowledge). Prophecy is not limited to any one culture. It is a common property to all known ancient societies around the world, some more than others. Many systems and rules about prophecy have been proposed over several millennia.


Revelation

In
religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...

religion
and
theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed ...
, revelation is the revealing or disclosing of some form of
truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In ...
or
knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is whether it can be demonstrated to correspond to e ...
through communication with a
deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as a God (male deity), god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion), or anything revered as divine. C. Scott Littleto ...

deity
or other supernatural entity or entities. Some religions have
religious texts Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of ...

religious texts
which they view as divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired. For instance,
Orthodox Jews Orthodox Judaism is the collective term for the traditionalist branches of contemporary Judaism. Theologically, it is chiefly defined by regarding the Torah, both Written and Oral, as literally revealed by God to Moses Moses he, מֹש ...

Orthodox Jews
,
Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of ...

Christians
and
Muslims Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", ...
believe that the ''
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Heb ...

Torah
'' was received from
Yahweh Yahweh was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. His origins reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age. In the oldest biblical literature, he is a Weather ...
on
biblical Mount Sinai In the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, Jews, Samaritans, Rastafari and others. It appears in the form of an antholo ...
. Most Christians believe that both the
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon A biblical canon or canon of scripture is a set of texts (or "books") which a particular Jewish or Christian religious community regards as aut ...
and the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as ...

New Testament
were
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by God. Muslims believe the
Quran The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن , "the recitation"), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious t ...

Quran
was revealed by God to
Muhammad Muhammad ibn AbdullahHe is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mohammed, ...

Muhammad
word by word through the angel
Gabriel In the Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of -originated s that claim descent from the of the ancient and the worship of the . The Ab ...

Gabriel
(''Jibril''). In
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, ...

Hinduism
, some
Vedas upright=1.2, The Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. Above: A page from the '' Atharvaveda''. The Vedas (, , ) are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the o ...

Vedas
are considered '' '', "not human compositions", and are supposed to have been directly revealed, and thus are called ''
śruti ''Shruti'' ( sa, श्रुति, , ) in Sanskrit means "that which is heard" and refers to the body of most authoritative, ancient religious text Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the text ...
'', "what is heard". The 15,000 handwritten pages produced by the mystic
Maria Valtorta Maria Valtorta (14 March 1897 – 12 October 1961) was a Roman Catholic Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ...
were represented as direct dictations from
Jesus Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...

Jesus
, while she attributed ''
The Book of Azariah The ''Book of Azariah'' is a book by the Italian author and RCTerm, Roman Catholic mystic Maria Valtorta. It was written in 1946 and 1947 in Viareggio, Italy, where Valtorta was bedridden for several decades. The text is based on a series of "dicta ...
'' to her
guardian angel A guardian angel is a type of angel An angel is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed a ...

guardian angel
.
Aleister Crowley Aleister Crowley (; born Edward Alexander Crowley; 12 October 1875 – 1 December 1947) was an English occultist The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entit ...
stated that ''
The Book of the Law ''Liber AL vel Legis'' (), commonly known as ''The Book of the Law'', is the central sacred text of Thelema Image:Crowley unicursal hexagram.svg, upAleister Crowley's rendition of the unicursal hexagram, perhaps the best known symbol of, a ...
'' had been revealed to him through a higher being that called itself ''
Aiwass Aiwass is the name given to a voice that English occultist Aleister Crowley Aleister Crowley (; born Edward Alexander Crowley; 12 October 1875 – 1 December 1947) was an English occultist The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category ...
''. A revelation communicated by a supernatural entity reported as being present during the event is called a
vision Vision or The Vision may refer to: Perception Optical perception * Visual perception Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment (biophysical), environment through photopic vision (daytime vision), color visio ...
. Direct conversations between the recipient and the supernatural entity, or physical marks such as
stigmata Stigmata ( grc, στίγματα, plural of , 'mark, spot, brand'), in Christianity, are the appearance of bodily wounds, scars and pain in locations corresponding to the Crucifixion of Jesus, crucifixion Five Holy Wounds, wounds of Jesus in C ...

stigmata
, have been reported. In rare cases, such as that of Saint
Juan Diego Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, also known as Juan Diego (; 1474–1548), was a Chichimec peasant A peasant is a pre-industrial agricultural laborer or a farmer with limited land-ownership, especially one living in the Middle Ages under feudal ...

Juan Diego
, physical artifacts accompany the revelation. The
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...

Roman Catholic
concept of
interior locution An interior locution is a mystical concept used by various religions. An interior locution is a form of private revelation, but is distinct from an apparition, or religious vision. An interior locution may be defined as "A supernatural communicat ...
includes just an inner voice heard by the recipient. In the
Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family ...

Abrahamic religions
, the term is used to refer to the process by which
God In monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the ...

God
reveals knowledge of himself, his
will Will may refer to: Common meanings * Will and testament A will or testament is a legal document that expresses a person's ( testator) wishes as to how their property (estate (law), estate) is to be distributed after their death and as to which ...
, and his
divine providence In theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity.
to the world of human beings. In secondary usage, revelation refers to the resulting human knowledge about God,
prophecy A prophecy is a message that is claimed by a person (typically a prophet In religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whethe ...
, and other
divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://ww ...

divine
things. Revelation from a supernatural source plays a less important role in some other religious traditions such as
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
,
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC ...
and
Taoism Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of c ...
.


Reincarnation

Reincarnation is the
philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real o ...

philosophical
or
religious Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...

religious
concept that an aspect of a living
being In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, la ...

being
starts a new
life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities A bubble of exhaled gas in water In common usage and classical mechanics, a physical object or physical body (or simply an object or body) is a collection of matter within a ...

life
in a different
physical body In common usage and classical mechanics, a physical object or physical body (or simply an object or body) is a collection of matter within a defined contiguous boundary in three-dimensional space Three-dimensional space (also: 3-space or, ...
or form after each biological death. It is also called rebirth or transmigration, and is a part of the
Saṃsāra ''Saṃsāra'' is a Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European ...

Saṃsāra
doctrine of cyclic existence. It is a central tenet of all major
Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered soci ...
, namely Jainism,
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, ...

Hinduism
,
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
, and Sikhism. The idea of reincarnation is found in many ancient cultures, and a belief in rebirth/metempsychosis was held by Greek historic figures, such as Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato. It is also a common belief of various ancient and modern religions such as Spiritism, Theosophy (Blavatskian), Theosophy, and Eckankar, and as an esoteric belief in many streams of Orthodox Judaism. It is found as well in many tribal societies around the world, in places such as Australia, East Asia, Siberia, and South America. Although the majority of denominations within Christianity and Islam do not believe that individuals reincarnate, particular groups within these religions do refer to reincarnation; these groups include the mainstream historical and contemporary followers of Catharism, Cathars, Alawites, the Druze, and the Rosicrucians. The historical relations between these sects and the beliefs about reincarnation that were characteristic of Neoplatonism, Orphism (religion), Orphism, Hermeticism, Manicheanism, and Gnosticism of the Roman era as well as the Indian religions have been the subject of recent scholarly research. Unity Church and its founder Charles Fillmore (Unity Church), Charles Fillmore teaches reincarnation. In recent decades, many Europeans and North Americans have developed an interest in reincarnation,  and Reincarnation in popular culture, many contemporary works mention it.


Karma

Karma (; sa, कर्म, karma, ; pi, kamma, italic=yes) means action, work or deed; it also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect). Good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and future suffering.Halbfass, Wilhelm (2000), Karma und Wiedergeburt im indischen Denken, Diederichs, München, Germany With origins in History of India, ancient India's Vedic civilization, the philosophy of karma is closely associated with the idea of Reincarnation, rebirth in many schools of
Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered soci ...
(particularly Karma in Hinduism, Hinduism, Karma in Buddhism, Buddhism, Karma in Jainism, Jainism and Sikhism) as well as
Taoism Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of c ...
.Eva Wong, Taoism, Shambhala Publications, , pp. 193 In these schools, karma in the present affects one's future in the current life, as well as the nature and quality of future lives – one's ''saṃsāra''."Karma" in: John Bowker (1997), The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, Oxford University Press.James Lochtefeld (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Rosen Publishing, New York, , pp 351–352


Christian theology

In Catholic theology, the supernatural order is, according to New Advent, defined as "the ensemble of effects exceeding the powers of the created universe and gratuitously produced by God for the purpose of raising the rational creature above its native sphere to a God-like life and destiny." The ''Modern Catholic Dictionary'' defines it as "the sum total of heavenly destiny and all the divinely established means of reaching that destiny, which surpass the mere powers and capacities of human nature."


Process theology

Process theology is a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) and further developed by Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000).


Heaven

''Heaven'', or ''the heavens'', is a common Religious cosmology, religious, cosmological, or transcendence (philosophy), transcendent place where beings such as Deity, gods,
angel An angel is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abilities embodied in or provided by such ...

angel
s, spirits, saints, or Veneration of the dead, venerated ancestors are said to originate, be throne, enthroned, or live. According to the beliefs of some religions, heavenly beings can descend to Earth or Incarnation, incarnate, and earthly beings can ascend to heaven in the afterlife, or in exceptional cases Entering heaven alive, enter heaven alive. Heaven is often described as a "higher place", the Sacred, holiest place, a Paradise, in contrast to hell or the Underworld or the "low places", and Universal reconciliation, universally or conditionally accessible by earthly beings according to various standards of divinity, good and evil, goodness, piety, faith, or other virtues or orthodoxy, right beliefs or simply the will of God. Some believe in the possibility of a heaven on Earth in a ''world to come''. Another belief is in an axis mundi or world tree which connects the heavens, the terrestrial world, and the underworld. In
Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered soci ...
, heaven is considered as ''Svarga, Svarga loka'', and the soul is again subjected to Reincarnation, rebirth in different living forms according to its ''karma''. This cycle can be broken after a soul achieves ''Moksha'' or ''Nirvana''. Any place of existence, either of humans, souls or deities, outside the tangible world (Heaven, Hell, or other) is referred to as ''otherworld.''


Underworld

The ''underworld'' is the supernatural world of the dead in various religious traditions, located below the world of the living. Chthonic is the technical adjective for things of the underworld. The concept of an underworld is found in almost every civilization and "may be as old as humanity itself". Common features of underworld myths are accounts of Descent to the underworld, living people making journeys to the underworld, often for some heroic purpose. Other myths reinforce traditions that entrance of souls to the underworld requires a proper observation of ceremony, such as the ancient Greek story of the recently dead Patroclus haunting Achilles until his body could be properly buried for this purpose. Persons having social status were dressed and equipped in order to better navigate the underworld. A number of mythologies incorporate the concept of the soul of the deceased making its own journey to the underworld, with the dead needing to be taken across a defining obstacle such as a lake or a river to reach this destination. Imagery of such journeys can be found in both ancient and modern art. The descent to the underworld has been described as "the single most important myth for Modernist authors".


Spirit

A ''spirit'' is a supernatural being, often but not exclusively a non-physical entity; such as a ghost, fairy, or
angel An angel is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abilities embodied in or provided by such ...

angel
.#polysemy, François 2008, p.187-197. The concepts of a person's spirit and soul, often also overlap, as both are either Mind-body dualism, contrasted with or Idealism, given ontological priority over the Human body, body and both are believed to survive bodily death in some religions, and "spirit" can also have the sense of "ghost", i.e. a manifestation of the spirit of a deceased person. In English Bibles, "the Spirit" (with a capital "S"), specifically denotes the Holy Spirit. Spirit is often used metaphysically to refer to the consciousness or personality. Historically, it was also used to refer to a "subtle" as opposed to "gross" material substance, as in the famous last paragraph of Sir Isaac Newton's ''Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Principia Mathematica''.


Demon

A ''demon'' (from Koine Greek ''daimónion'') is a supernatural and often malevolent being prevalent in
religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...

religion
,
occultism The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural beliefs and practices which generally fall outside the scope of organized religion, religion and science, encompassing such phenomena involving otherworldly agency as mysticism, sp ...
, literature, fiction, mythology and
folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psycholog ...

folklore
. In Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered a harmful spiritual entity, below the heavenly planes which may cause demonic possession, calling for an exorcism. In Western
occultism The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural beliefs and practices which generally fall outside the scope of organized religion, religion and science, encompassing such phenomena involving otherworldly agency as mysticism, sp ...
and Renaissance magic, which grew out of an amalgamation of Greco-Roman magic, Jewish Aggadah and Christian demonology, a demon is believed to be a spiritual entity that may be conjuration, conjured and controlled.


Magic

''Magic'' or ''sorcery'' is the use of rituals,
symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), m ...

symbol
s, actions, gestures, or language with the aim of utilizing supernatural forces. Belief in and practice of magic has been present since the earliest human cultures and continues to have an important spiritual, religious, and medicinal role in many cultures today. The term ''magic'' has a variety of meanings, and there is no widely agreed upon definition of what it is. Scholars of religion have defined magic in different ways. One approach, associated with the anthropology, anthropologists Edward Tylor and James G. Frazer, suggests that magic and science are opposites. An alternative approach, associated with the sociology, sociologists Marcel Mauss and Emile Durkheim, argues that magic takes place in private, while
religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...

religion
is a communal and organised activity. Many scholars of religion have rejected the utility of the term ''magic'' and it has become increasingly unpopular within scholarship since the 1990s. The term ''magic'' comes from the Old Persian ''magu'', a word that applied to a form of religious functionary about which little is known. During the late sixth and early fifth centuries BCE, this term was adopted into Ancient Greek, where it was used with negative connotations, to apply to religious rites that were regarded as fraudulent, unconventional, and dangerous. This meaning of the term was then adopted by
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
in the first century BCE. The concept was then incorporated into
Christian theology #REDIRECT Christian theology #REDIRECT Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Christianity, Christian belief and practice. * help them better understand Christian tenets * make comparative religion, comparisons between Christia ...
during the first century CE, where magic was associated with demons and thus defined against religion. This concept was pervasive throughout the Middle Ages, although in the early modern period Italian Humanism, humanists reinterpreted the term in a positive sense to establish the idea of natural magic. Both negative and positive understandings of the term were retained in Western culture over the following centuries, with the former largely influencing early academic usages of the word. Throughout history, there have been examples of individuals who practiced magic and referred to themselves as magicians. This trend has proliferated in the modern period, with a growing number of magicians appearing within the Western esotericism, esoteric milieu. British esotericist
Aleister Crowley Aleister Crowley (; born Edward Alexander Crowley; 12 October 1875 – 1 December 1947) was an English occultist The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entit ...
described magic as the art of effecting change in accordance with will.


Divination

Divination (from Latin ''divinare'' "to foresee, to be inspired by a god", related to ''divinus'',
divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://ww ...

divine
) is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic, standardized process or ritual. Used in various forms throughout history, diviners ascertain their interpretations of how a querent should proceed by reading signs, events, or omens, or through alleged contact with a supernatural agency. Divination can be seen as a systematic method with which to organize what appear to be disjointed, random facets of existence such that they provide insight into a problem at hand. If a distinction is to be made between divination and fortune-telling, divination has a more formal or ritualistic element and often contains a more social character, usually in a
religious Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. Different religions may or may not contain v ...

religious
context, as seen in traditional African medicine. Fortune-telling, on the other hand, is a more everyday practice for personal purposes. Particular divination methods vary by culture and religion. Divination is dismissed by the scientific community and skeptics as being
superstition A superstition is any belief or practice considered by non-practitioners to be irrational or supernatural, attributed to fate or magic (supernatural), magic, perceived supernatural influence, or fear of that which is unknown. It is commonly ap ...
. In the 2nd century, Lucian devoted a witty essay to the career of a charlatan, "Alexander of Abonoteichus, Alexander the false prophet", trained by "one of those who advertise enchantments, miraculous incantations, charms for your love-affairs, visitations for your enemies, disclosures of buried treasure, and successions to estates".


Witchcraft

Witchcraft or witchery broadly means the practice of and belief in magic (paranormal), magical skills and abilities exercised by solitary practitioners and groups. ''Witchcraft'' is a broad term that varies culturally and societally, and thus can be difficult to define with precision,Witchcraft in the Middle Ages
Jeffrey Russell, p.4-10.
and cross-cultural assumptions about the meaning or significance of the term should be applied with caution. Witchcraft often occupies a religious divination, divinatory or medicinal role,Bengt Ankarloo & Stuart Clark, Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: Biblical and Pagan Societies", University of Philadelphia Press, 2001 and is often present within societies and groups whose cultural framework includes a magical world view.


Miracle

A ''miracle'' is an event not explicable by natural or scientific laws. Such an event may be attributed to a supernatural being (a
deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as a God (male deity), god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion), or anything revered as divine. C. Scott Littleto ...

deity
), a Thaumaturgy, miracle worker, a saint or a religious leader. Informally, the word "miracle" is often used to characterise any beneficial event that is statistically unlikely but not contrary to the laws of nature, such as surviving a natural disaster, or simply a "wonderful" occurrence, regardless of likelihood, such as a birth. Other such miracles might be: survival of an illness diagnosed as terminal, escaping a life-threatening situation or 'beating the odds'. Some coincidences may be seen as miracles. A true miracle would, by definition, be a non-natural phenomenon, leading many rational and scientific thinkers to dismiss them as physically impossible (that is, requiring violation of established laws of physics within their domain of validity) or impossible to confirm by their nature (because all possible physical mechanisms can never be ruled out). The former position is expressed for instance by Thomas Jefferson and the latter by
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) Cranston, Maurice, and Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999999 or triple nine most often refers to: * 999 (emergency telephone number) 250px, A sign on a beach ...

David Hume
. Theologians typically say that, with
divine providence In theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity.
, God regularly works through nature yet, as a creator, is free to work without, above, or against it as well. The possibility and probability of miracles are then equal to the possibility and probability of the existence of God.Miracles
on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


Skepticism

Skepticism (American English) or scepticism (British English; American and British English spelling differences#Hard and soft "c", see spelling differences) is generally any questioning attitude or doubt towards one or more items of putative knowledge or belief. It is often directed at domains such as the supernatural, morality (moral skepticism), religion (skepticism about the existence of God), or knowledge (skepticism about the possibility of knowledge, or of certainty). Formally, skepticism as a topic occurs in the context of philosophy, particularly epistemology, although it can be applied to any topic such as politics, religion, and pseudoscience. One reason why skeptics assert that the supernatural cannot exist is that anything "supernatural" is not a part of the natural world simply by definition. Although some believers in the supernatural insist that it simply cannot be demonstrated using the existing scientific methods, skeptics assert that such methods is the best tool humans have devised for knowing what is and isn't knowable.Novella, Steven, et al. ''The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake''. Grand Central Publishing, 2018. pp. 145–146.


In fiction and popular culture

Supernatural entities and powers are common in various works of fantasy. Examples include the TV shows ''Supernatural (U.S. TV series), Supernatural'' and ''The X-Files'', the magic of the ''Harry Potter'' series, ''The Lord of the Rings series'' and the Force of ''Star Wars''.


See also

* Journal of Parapsychology * Liberal naturalism * Magical thinking * Parapsychology * Religious naturalism * Romanticism * Spirit photography


References


Further reading

* * * * * * {{Authority control Supernatural, Metaphysics Mysticism Nature Religion