Dictionary of Paranormal Definitions

Dictionary of Paranormal Definitions

Compiled by Craig Hamilton-Parker – a Dictionary of Paranormal Definitions. Throughout this website, we use a number of terms and definitions. Below is our glossary of commonly used psychic terms and paranormal definitions and in some instances, a more detailed definition is supplied.

I have tried to keep this comparatively simple so as to cover the topics and definitions most used on this site. Some of the psychic and paranormal definitions are highlighted and will take you to more information about that topic.




Of all the ancient ‘occult’ sciences, alchemy seems by far the most irrelevant.  It is based upon a proposition now known to be false. Base elements can be changed into gold purely by chemical reactions. Alchemy is called the “hermetic art”. A secret or occult practice names after the founder of alchemy, Hermes Trismegistus. (The “Thrice-greatest Hermes.”) The psychologist Carl Jung recognized that Alchemy is a symbolic system for the transformation of the human spirit.  The personality is changed from its lead like a state of ignorance into the gold of enlightenment.

Jung was the first to make alchemy psychologically accessible to the 20th century. He showed how alchemical symbols were similar to archetypal dream images. Jung recognized that the alchemical work parallels the individuation process. Originally, alchemy was an ancient tradition of sacred chemistry used to discern the spiritual and temporal nature of reality. It represented structure, laws, and functions. Today Alchemy can be used as a system of symbols to help us with our spiritual progress.


Atlantis, in the tradition of antiquity, a large island in the Western Ocean (the ocean to the west of the known world), near the Pillars of Hercules. The first recorded accounts of Atlantis, which is said to have been engulfed by the ocean as the result of an earthquake, appear in Timaeus and Critias. These are two dialogues by Plato. According to the account in Timaeus, the island was described to the Athenian statesman Solon by an Egyptian priest. He maintained that Atlantis was larger than Asia Minor and Libya combined.


An Augury is the general term for the art of divination and is usually applied to interpretations of signs and omens found in Nature. Roman augurers made prophecies by observing birds in flight. In ancient Rome, divination was the responsibility of the college of augers, – priests who consulted omens to ascertain the will of the gods. In particular, birds were considered significant auguries.

The flight of eagles and vultures, for example, was considered particularly significant as was the call of a crow, the hoot of an owl or the cry of a raven. The number of birds seen, their direction of flight, whether they shed feathers and so on all contributed to the divination message.




A biorhythm (or biological rhythm) is a hypothetical cyclic (Circular) pattern of alterations in physiology, emotions, and/or intellect. “Bio” pertains to life and “rhythm” pertains to the flow with regular movement. The theory of biorhythms claims one’s lifecycle is affected by rhythmic cycles and makes approximate predictions of cycles of physical, mental and emotional characteristics.


These centers are referred to as chakras (“wheels”) because the concentrated energy in each one is like a hub from which radiate rays of life-giving light and energy. In ascending order, these chakras are muladhara (the coccygeal, at the base of the spine); svadhisthana (the sacral, two inches above muladhara); manipura (the lumber, opposite the navel); anahata (the dorsal, opposite the heart); vishuddha (the cervical, at the base of the neck); ajna (traditionally located between the eyebrows; in actuality, directly connected by polarity with the medulla) and sahasrara (in the uppermost part of the cerebrum).



The word channeling (also known as trance mediumship) has been introduced into the occult and Spiritualist language over the past 10 to 15 years. People are often confused as to what it actually means. Channeling is the ability to obtain information from personalities who do not live on earth. Mediums do this when they use their sensitivity to link into spirit vibrations. They will use either clairvoyance, clairaudience or clairsentience, or a combination of all three.  They bring forward evidence from a spirit communicator which is relevant to the recipient of such a communication.

Channeling describes trance mediumship. The state of trance is an altered state of consciousness. It can vary from a very slight overshadowing of the medium’s mind by a spirit operator to a very deep level of control. This is where the medium’s consciousness is suppressed to such a degree that the medium has no memory of any occurrences while the control was taking place. A Medium who enters the trance state allows the spirit operator, usually one of his/her guides, to take control of his/her body. This includes the voice box, thereby enabling the spirit control to speak to sitters. The spirit will give spiritual teachings or evidence of survival.

Spirit Guides and Channeling

This does not mean that the spirit guide enters the medium’s body – control can be exerted from quite a distance. Some Channelers claim to bring through beings from other planets and alien universes. Claims of this kind should be considered in the light of any accompanying evidence. Without such evidence, these claims will never be given serious consideration by investigating scientists who are earnestly seeking evidence of survival of humans after the change called death.

They are also very interested in information regarding other life forms but again, validation would be required. It is apparent, therefore, that all Trance Mediums and Channelers should be very careful who they allow to control and speak through them as there is a very real danger that they could inadvertently be instrumental in bringing discredit to the very people they purport to represent.


In parapsychology, Clairvoyance is the word used for a form of ESP (extra-sensory perception) in which a psychic gets knowledge about an object or situation, without the use of the five senses i.e. by paranormal means. It literally means “Clear Seeing” which is taken from late 17th-century French clair (clear) & voyant (seeing) A Clairvoyant is a person who practices Clairvoyance. (On the web you will see adverts for CLAIRVOYANT READINGS – this is a psychic reading with a Clairvoyant)

Strictly speaking, Clairvoyance is the paranormal ability to obtain information about an object or an event without the use of the know senses. However, the term in general usage is used as an umbrella term to refer to many psychic gifts such as telepathy, mediumship, second sight, prophetic visions and psychic dreams. Clairvoyance literally means ‘clear seeing’ so is often used to refer to visionary psychic experiences.

For example, a medium will describe the pictures he sees given to him by a spirit as clairvoyance. The words he may ‘hear’ from spirit -such as names – come from clairaudience (clear hearing) and the sensations -such as bodily ailments at the time of the spirits death – are described as clairsentience (clear sensing).


An example of dream clairvoyance would be if you were to dream about something that is not known by anyone else so that it could not be received from another person’s mind by telepathy. Visiting a location in a dream and spotting something unusual that later proves to be true is an example of clairvoyance.

Clairvoyance is closely linked to ‘remote viewing’ and was used during the Cold War to spy on Soviet military bases. In some instances, the psychics working with the CIA were asked to spy on Soviet military bases in their dreams. They had many remarkable successes and were able to provide verifiable information about the chosen targets.

Remote viewing is a comparatively easy clairvoyant skill to learn and you may already show signs of having this ability. Your dreams may already spontaneously reveal clairvoyant knowledge about distant locations.

Remote Viewing

Remote viewing skills can be improved through practice. At my website classes, we set up a number of experiments in which I placed a target object on the top of my television set in my home office. Visitors to my classroom area of the site were asked to note their dreams and report back to the online class if they dreamed about visiting the target. For example, I in one instance I placed a statue of a fairy on the TV and four people (out of a class of 15) had dreamed about a fairy.

You can set up similar experiments with your friends. You can take turns at setting up an object at a specific location. Write down your dreams every night to see if the target object is featured in the dream. Compare notes once a week. You may find that your subconscious may distort the image: if, for example, your friend chose a child’s toy you may that night have dreamed of children, or if it was a cereal packet you may have dreamed of eating. Keep trying the experiments, and the pictures that come to you will become more specific.



The word Divination comes from the Latin ‘divinare’ which means “to foresee or to be inspired by a god” Ancient diviners read signs, events, or omens, – often from Nature such as by watching clouds, observing the flight of birds or the images seen in burning coals. Divination is a form of fortune telling but usually also includes an element of ritual and a call to the divine.



Fortean phenomena are naturally occurring phenomena that science cannot yet define or explain. (see coincidence example)  It is named after Charles Forte, the man who first documented paranormal occurrences and oddities in a coherent way. He also compiled a number of Paranormal Definitions.



Halloween is a pagan festival held on the evening of 31st October when the spirits of the dead are supposed to return to haunt their former homes. Witches and demons are believed to roam the world of the living on this dreaded night.

Halloween was the last day of the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon year. Many Halloween costumes and games have their origin in these ancient pagan ceremonies. Halloween celebrations are held on the evening before All Saints’ Day. This is a Christian Feast that honors and remembers all Christian saints, known and unknown. The word Halloween itself has its origins in a corruption of All Hallows Eve which falls on November 1st. (“All Hollows Day” or “All Saints Day”).

Psychic DefinitionsYou can read more definitions in Craig’s Books


The I Ching is Chinese oracle used for life guidance and to a lesser extent for predicting the future. Yarrow stalks or coins are cast in order to select one of 64 hexagrams. It developed from the turtle shell oracles and eventually was written into a book. It is one of the five foundation books of Confucianism.

In the I Ching the ancient sages studied the interaction of yin and yang in nature and devised an Oracle system that could be applied to all situations. In the written form, they represented yang with a straight line and yin with a broken one. Groups of three of any of these lines are called trigrams groups of six lines are called hexagrams. From these lines, the person consulting the I Ching can draw upon the Chinese wisdom. The I Chind shows the best way towards a fortunate future.

The I Ching is a book of wisdom that illustrates equanimity in a multitude of situations. It is a study of changes. The basis of the I Ching philosophy is that nothing is static and everything is subject to change. Our task is to adjust to the flow of change. We can, therefore, consult the I Ching to find out the best way to deal with our problems or the way ahead. By allowing our intuition to absorb and understand the words of the oracle we gain a special insight into or circumstances and the best way forward.


Metaphysics is the study of events beyond our understanding of traditional physics. A Metaphysical Psychic is a term used – mainly in the USA – to describe a psychic or medium with extrasensory abilities. Metaphysical Psychic’ is also often used to describe someone who uses the art of divination to foresee the future or a person with supernatural or paranormal abilities.


Metoposcopy is the art of reading the character and destiny of an individual by the lines in the human forehead. The term originates from the Greek metopon. It was developed by the renown physician, mathematician and astrologer Jerome Cardano (1501-1576).


Moleoscopy is the study of moles and indicators of a person’s character and future indications. Reading moles is known as maculomancy, moleomancy, and moleosophy. Moleoscopy is believed to originate with the ancient Greeks and reached its height in popularity in the sixteenth century. Moleoscopy links the relative position of moles with the horoscope in a complex analysis of the nature and destiny of their owner.


Necromancy is divination by raising the spirits of the dead. The word derives from the Greek necros “dead” and manteia “divination”. It has a subsidiary meaning reflected in an alternative and archaic form of the word, nigromancy, (a folk etymology using Latin niger, “black”) in which the magical force of “dark powers” is gained from or by acting upon corpses. A practitioner of necromancy is a necromancer. (See other listings above in the section titled ‘Paranormal Definitions’)

The word Necromancy implies a demonic art is not to be confused with conjuring devils or demons for help. Necromancy is the seeking of the spirits of the dead. In the past, necromancy was associated with reanimating a dead body and forcing it to answer questions of the living. It is a word that has often been used to wrongly by Christians to deliberately associate Spiritualism with the demonic arts. For a long time, the BBC would not show mediumship on television as it was deemed as necromancy and part of the black arts. Therefore the word should be dropped from the BBC rulings.



Omens or portents are signs encountered fortuitously that are believed to foretell the future. Their interpretation is a form of divination. The augur and haruspex of ancient Rome were professional readers of omens. The augurs tried to read the future in the flight of birds. The haruspex sought omens in the entrails of sacrificed animals.


The practice of predicting the future by interpreting dreams. From Greek oneiros (dream) + -mancy (divination). The ancient Egyptians believed that certain places were conducive to the recall of dreams. They were one of the first societies to interpret the meaning of dreams and to develop oneiromancy, or dream divination.



Ouija boards (pronounced wee-ja) are used as a method to contact the spirit world using the letters of the alphabet and a glass or planchette They are also known as Talking Boards or Isis Boards. The word Ouija is taken from the French word Oui meaning ‘yes’, and the German word Ja also meaning ‘yes’. Nobody knows for certain how or where Ouija Boards originated. It is thought that Ouija Boards was invented in Ancient Egypt or Ancient Greece. It spread through Europe during Medieval times.

In the late 19th Century Ouija was marketed as a game by Parker Brothers and became widespread. In the hands of a properly trained medium, an Ouija board is a useful tool for spirit communication. It can be very frightening if used improperly.



Palmistry, also known as chiromancy, is the psychic interpretative art of telling fortunes or predicting the future from the lines, marks, mounts, and patterns on the hands, particularly the palms. It was practiced in many ancient cultures, such as India, China, and Egypt. The first book on the subject was Michael Scotts De Philsiognomia published in 1477 on the physiognomy of the human body – which included the hand. The term chiromancy comes from the Greek word for hand (cheir). A palmist is sometimes called a chiromancer.


Physiognomy is the interpretation of outward bodily appearance, especially the features of the face, to reveal a person’s predominant temper and character. It is based upon the belief that a person’s physical appearance, primarily the face, reflects their character or personality.

Up until the time of King Henry VIII, its validity was widely taught in universities and was an everyday concept that had developed into a regular Middle English word spelled fisnamy or visnomy. After that time, scholastic leaders settled on the more erudite form ‘physiognomy’ and began to discourage the whole idea of ‘fisnamy’.



Runes are an ancient set of symbols used both in divination and magick. There are several types of runes with different origins including the Norse, Scandinavian and Germanic runes. Runes come from the letters in the old Celtic, Teutonic and Scandinavian alphabets; the word is based on roots meaning “secret” or “occult.”


Sixth Sense: The Sixth Sense is the colloquial term for the faculties of Extra Sensory Perception. The Sixth Sense is the ability to receive or send information beyond the realm of the five senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, or smell. The term was coined by German researcher Dr. Rudolf Tischner whose book “Telepathy and Clairvoyance” was written in German in 1920 and published in English in 1925. The first serious paranormal research was done by Dr. J.B. Rhine, Professor of Parapsychology at Duke University, North Carolina.


Cleromancy, sortilege, casting lots or casting bones is a form of divination in which an outcome is determined by random means. An example is the rolling of a die. You don’t need to have any psychic abilities to read most oracles. Even the complicated predictive arts of palmistry, astrology, and tarot can be learned by anyone prepared to read and study the subjects in detail.

Of course, it helps to have a prophetic gift but it’s not essential because this is an interpretive skill. In the Victorian times a popular method of fortune telling, that required no psychic abilities, was Sortilege which divined the future by the drawing of lots. The Sortilege tradition of aleuromancy survives today in the “fortune cookies” available in some Chinese restaurants. Other Sortilege systems involved casting bones (Astragalomancy), drawing marked arrows from a bag (Belomancy), and divination with colored pebbles (Pessomancy)


Spiritism is a philosophical doctrine. It is similar in some ways to Spiritualism because of a number of issues. Spiritists believe in reincarnation whereas most Spiritualists do not. These topics are discussed in detail in our online forums. Spiritism was established in France in the mid 19th Century, which has become a sort of religious movement. Like Spiritualists, Spiritists believe in the survival of the human personality after death. They maintain that mediums are able to communicate with the spirits and ghosts. The two movements claim to be very different otherwise and any similarity of the two terms is generally regarded as pejorative by both Spiritualists and Spiritists



Supernatural: The supernatural (Latin:super- “exceeding”+nature- the term supernatural comes from the terms “super” meaning above the average, and the term “natural” meaning the normal.) It comprises forces and phenomena that cannot be perceived by natural or empirical senses. Its understanding may be said to lie with religious, magical, or otherwise mysterious explanation. The Supernatural remains firmly outside of the realm of science. This includes phenomena that cannot be explained by the laws of nature; for example, gods and ghosts.

Spiritualism argues that so-called Supernatural Phenomena (particularly those in the séance room) are the result of Natural Law that has so far not been accepted by science. Spiritualists, therefore, rejects the term. Some psychics and mediums use the term to refer to the characteristics of the reality beyond the senses.


The Tarot is a deck of 78 divination cards. They consist of 22 trump cards, 40 cards in four colors, numbered from 1-10, and four court cards in four colors, with a “knight” card in addition to the usual “jack”, “queen” and “king” card. The earliest specimens of Tarot decks are of North Italian origin and date to the mid-15th century.

These are called carte da trionfi or “cards of the triumphs”. Soon afterward, comparable decks are used in the game of Tarocchi. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the tarot cards were popular in occult studies. They were used by famous occultists such as Etteilla and Antoine Court de Gebelin and Alistair Crowley.


Paranormal Definitions copyright Craig Hamilton-Parker

1 comment… add one
  • Craig Hamilton-Parker Jan 2, 2013, 4:00 pm

    If there is a definition you feel I should add or one here that you think needs improving then please post me a comment. You can also find psychic definitions at Dictionary.com

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