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Glossary of Incarnational Spirituality Terms

What follows is a set of terms that David Spangler frequently uses in his writing and work and the meanings that he gives to them. In some cases, they are just extensions of the ordinary meanings the word has, perhaps applied in an unusual setting; in other cases, they are deliberate attempts to use a word in a new way to trigger new thoughts and insights. He writes:

The key is that this is a “personal” glossary, all very idiosyncratic. And it is a changing one. A year from now, it’s possible I may have altered how I use some of the words as I’ve grown and learned and experimented with language. Unlike a real dictionary, these are not meanings cast in stone—and even in real dictionaries, word meanings change and evolve over time as language changes.

My goal in offering this glossary is to facilitate communication. At the same time, I realize that I have set forth here a good deal of my own cosmology and perspective on things. In reading it through, you will undoubtedly gain a sense not only of how I use certain words but how I see the cosmos we all share.

AREA: A particular part of an expanse, surface, or condition having some specific characteristic or function and often bounded and defined in some way. I use it in sentences like “A space is an area of activity.”

ALLIANCES: In addition to the usual meaning referring to cooperative relationships between people, I use this word to mean a particular kind of relationship with non-physical spiritual forces and beings. An alliance in this context is a co-creative partnership between two or more beings characterized by mutual honoring and respect. The participants do not have to be equal in any way other than that both are part of the Sacred life that permeates and sustains the Cosmos. However in an alliance, no participant is dominant over another; the sovereignty of each participant is honored and sustained. None is superior to another, though they may indeed be very different energetically. Thus an angel and a human in an alliance are in a co-creative partnership of mutual respect and love that serves the highest good of each; neither is subservient to or master of the other.

ALLY: A member of an alliance. Specifically, I use this word to refer to non-physical, spiritual forces and beings who are in a cooperative, partnering relationship with a physical, incarnate individual. Thus, I have my allies on the inner planes.

BODY: An organizing and integrating principle giving expression to a creative space or consciousness. We have many “bodies,” and each one is a particular way of holding, organizing, integrating, and expressing information and energy appropriate to the level or environment on which it is functioning. We often think of a body as a container for a consciousness, as if the body were a vehicle and the consciousness were a driver directing it here and there. It’s a lovely metaphor as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far! Body and consciousness are too closely interwoven and interdependent. I think of a body as a form given to a particular way of holding and engaging energy. It is the form of an incarnation, or one of them at any rate. And on the inner worlds, in my experience, many beings and Intelligences don’t have forms or bodies that we would recognize as such, but they do occupy spiritual, energetic, and psychological space in a particular way. They are “spaces” surrounded by that which differentiates them from everything else; that something is the particular way they inhabit, embody, organize, transform, and communicate energy of one kind or another. To my inner vision, they often look simply like flashes and presences of Light.

BOUNDARY: The edge of something; the threshold where one identity, domain, space, area, or field ends and another begins. A boundary can be hard like a wall or soft and permeable like a membrane. It can simply be a line of differentiation where one thing fades into something else. In Incarnational Spirituality, a boundary is a dynamic interface, a place of meeting, connection, and engagement. It is where co-creativity can occur. A boundary protects but it also reveals and communicates. A boundary is the edge of a specific act of holding, marking the limit between what is held and what is not—or at least is not held in the same way. Boundaries create particularity, form, specificity, shape, focus. The first creative act may be seen as the creation of a boundary that in some mysterious fashion marked the difference between the Manifest and the Unmanifest; anytime we create a boundary, we are replicating that primal act. Boundaries exist in a symbiotic and synergic relationship with Sovereignty (see below).

COHERENCY: My online American Heritage dictionary defines this as “a logical, orderly, and aesthetically consistent relationship of parts.” I see it as the ability of all the elements of a large whole to work together, and the state of wholeness that results from such collaboration and cooperation. Maintaining coherency can be a challenge in the Incarnate Realm. The power of the Soul and of our Sovereignty is to enable this coherence, promoting within our various parts the power to cohere. Many, if not most, of the challenges and problems we face or create in the Incarnate Realm come from lack of coherency, in my estimation. An incoherent state in our personal self or personality can produce raggedness of energy (see below).

COSMOS: The incarnation of the Generative Mystery in the form of the universe. It is the manifested presence, Life, and field of energy from which everything emerges.

COSMIC REALM(S): I mean by this everything that is beyond the scope and influence of this world, beyond the planetary field of the Earth and its associated inner realms. Sometimes I call this the “Stellar Field” or the “Stellar Realms.” There is interaction with the world, for sure, and there are beings, including human beings, both embodied and not, whose function is to connect to and engage certain energies, Beings, and forces situated in the Cosmic Realms. (I am not here talking about UFOs or anything out of science fiction!) The whole Planetary Realm is nested in the Cosmic Realms or, put another way, we are part of the ecology of cosmic relationships and spiritual energies. But most of us do not deal with cosmic forces directly but only through their mediation by planetary forces into forms that are more accessible to us. (As a metaphor, most of us don’t eat sunlight directly either but we do eat it in a form mediated to us by plants, who convert sunlight into sugars or food that animals can digest and use.)

COSMIC SELF: That mysterious and vast part of us that occupies the space between pure individuality and the “Ur-Self” emerging as individuated Sacredness from that Individuality and the Soul. In effect, this is who we are before our Soul comes into being through association with the earth (see below).

DIFFERENCE: I use this word in its normal sense but with the added concept that difference is a creative force in the Cosmos. Difference is not a condition to be overcome in the quest for unity but a condition that promotes flow and exchange, relationship and creativity. It is the flip side of the idea of boundary, that boundary is a creative force not only because it creates a space within which something can be held but it also creates difference between what is inside and outside that boundary, thus stimulating an energy of relationship and exchange between them that would not have been there otherwise.

DIFFERENTIAL: The threshold between different spaces or conditions; this is a dynamic condition that sets up a flow of energy between such spaces or conditions, such as the movement of wind from high to low pressure systems or the flow of air or water from warmer to cooler areas. In effect, a differential sets up a state of imbalance and disequilibrium that then seeks to come into balance and equilibrium, generating energy in the process. From a mystical standpoint, the differential between the Unmanifest and the Manifest generates the energy or information from which the Cosmos emerges. From my experiences with inner beings and forces, I see differentials as a major creative element. Individuality is a manifestation of a differential that generates the creative energy that creates and sustains incarnation..

DOMAIN: A particular environment, condition, or situation; this may be an area over which some distinct form of consciousness, life or energy exerts influence, governance and/or control. I use this term synonymously with “Field,” “Area,” and “Space.” It might also be thought of as a “niche” (see below). Often when I enter a “domain” on the inner realms, I am actually entering into a field generated by a distinct being and consciousness and thus entering into a relationship with it.

EARTH REALM: By this I mean the entire field of the World Soul (see below), including all its non-physical and physical aspects, dimensions, levels, niches, and so forth. The Earth Realm is much larger and vaster than we may usually think. We may accept that it contains a physical level and then attendant and related non-physical and spiritual levels rising above that in a kind of ascending hierarchy of vibration and consciousness, perhaps like a layered wedding cake. But my understanding of the Earth Realm is that it is more like a cluster of grapes on a stem. The whole cluster is the Earth Realm, and the stem is the World Soul whose life embraces, connects, and nourishes all the grapes. But each grape is a complete holism in itself. Each grape is a separate kind of incarnate realm (not all of which are physical by our standards) with its attendant “inner worlds” that complement it. There can be interaction between the grapes, largely through the stem, and beings may be able to pass from one grape to another under certain circumstances, but largely the worlds within the grapes remain separated, even though they are all part of the Earth Realm. An example of a parallel but related evolutionary stream would be those beings who in Celtic mythology are called the Sidhe or more popularly known as the Fairy Kingdom (but not fairies as nature spirits—the Sidhe are not nature spirits but a whole parallel evolution calling themselves “cousins” to humanity). Now isn’t that a lot more esoteric material than you expected to find in a glossary!

EMPERSONAL SPIRIT: This is a word I coined to mean “that spirit (or spiritual energy) that emerges from the personal and through the personal.” I contrast it with spiritual energy descending from the transpersonal. The empersonal spirit is created as we first engage with the Incarnate Realm (see below), much like a spark is struck when flint strikes steel. It is an emergence from the interaction of the spiritual energies of the Incarnate Soul (see below) with the energies of the Incarnate Realm. This empersonal spirit grows with us through our lifetime, fed by our learning, our efforts to gain wisdom, our accomplishments, all the positive actions that we undertake, our attunements, and so forth. It is a spiritual source within us in addition to and complementary to the spiritual energies that can come from transpersonal levels of our being. It manifests through our personal identity and is a gift of spirit, an energy of spirit, unique to this realm, like local currency.

ENERGY: In physics this is the capacity to do work. In a spiritual context, this word is often used more loosely to mean a force or influence of some nature, often the extension into expression and action of the nature and characteristics of some consciousness or living being. I usually use it to mean a moving force that has “vectors” such as direction, intensity, and quality (or identity), which can transmit or impart those vectors to something else, enabling work to be done or change to take place. Sometimes I think of it as a “piece of moving identity,” as in “I send my energy to you,” which means I’m sending something of myself, something of my being, to you. All energy carries information of some nature and has the capacity to impart that information. Energy may be seen as an expression of information, and vice versa.

EVERYDAY SELF: My ordinary, customary self-image and consciousness; the part of me that expresses my will and awareness on a daily basis in ordinary engagement with the world around me. I may use this synonymously with “personal self.”

FALSE SELF: This is the idea that some part of us is false or illusory. The complement to this is that there is a True Self (see below). The accuracy of this depends on how one is defining “false” and “true,” of course. Certainly parts of us are more integrated than others and more in touch with the reality of things than others. But the idea of a false self can be problematic in two ways. It is a divisive concept which can lead to assigning blame in ways that create internal conflict (as in “my false self made me do it!”) and that split us up into “good parts” and “bad parts.” And it suggest the wrong solution to the problem, promoting elimination (“I’ll be OK if I can just get rid of my false, bad self.”) rather than responsibility and integration (“I am behaving in ways that are false to my ideals and my wholeness and to the well being of others, and I can and will change that behavior.”) Just as in the investigative professions, a detective is counseled to “follow the money trail,” so in spirituality I find it best if we follow the holism. That is, use explanations and images that see ourselves as a wholeness—a holism—for which we can take overall responsibility and action. This helps reduce “raggedness” (see below) and promotes integration and coherency. To sum up, we don’t have a false self, but we can take actions and behave in ways that are false to our own greatest good and the greatest good of the world around us.

FELT SENSE: A capacity grounded in our bodies and felt as a physical sensation as well as a mental and/or an emotional one to identify and experience subtle forces, energies and beings. I use it in sentences like, “What is the felt sense of this experienced?” or “What is the felt sense of this presence or being?” It is a form of discernment and perception, but one that is solidly based in the body. It draws on the wisdom and awareness of our bodies, which communicates to us through physical sensation rather than words or images. This body sensing can then be combined with intuition and other, mental, emotional or subtle senses, to give an overall, holistic awareness that is not cognitive (that could come, too) but sensate. It is a vital skill in working with subtle forces or with non-physical beings, as our bodies can tune in and pick things up—gather information—that our minds or feelings may not, at least not in the moment. In this context, it’s related to the familiar idea of a “gut feeling” or a “physical hunch.” This can be developed with practice and attention to what our bodies have to say about the world around us.

FIELD: An area in which a specific influence is exerted. I usually use this to mean an area or space created by and formed around a particular identity and the volume within which that identity is the organizing principle and exerts a shaping influence of some nature. I often use this word synchronously with “Area,” “Space,” and “Domain.”

FLOW: This word is used in psychology these days to indicate a state of optimal performance, as well as in its customary usage as a fluid in motion. For me, flow is the energetic state of the Cosmos: everything is in motion. There are fixed, fluid, and flexible conditions that exist relative to each other, but one system’s fixed state could be another system’s fluid state. For instance, we see our bodies and the things around us as solid and fixed, but a consciousness looking at us from an atomic level would see us as energy in motion. Spirit is a word we give to the flow of the Sacred throughout the Cosmos. An incarnation, for me, is basically a flow state with fixed and fluid elements within it. When I learn to see it as such, I become aware of the spiritual energy that is available from within (and as part of) the incarnate state.

FRACTAL: This word has all kinds of mathematical meanings and descriptions. Basically, it means a replicating, self-similar identity or relationship. I use it to mean something that is the same as something else, but not quite. To be a fractal of something is to maintain the same or very similar characteristics and relationships to a larger whole, while being individual and different at the same time. If you’d like a more precise definition, Google this word and the Internet will provide! But I use it to express the idea that the part contains and  expresses the qualities of the larger whole. Thus, I see each of us as fractals of the Sacred, which means that we have the capacities for loving, creating, generating, blessing, and so forth, which are found in the Sacred, but not in exactly the same way. We possess them in ways that are appropriate for who we are as parts of creation, not as the whole of creation itself.

GATHERING: This is a coming together of two or more into a relationship that generates a field (or space or domain) within which or from which something may emerge which is greater than any of the participants could have manifested on their own. I mainly use this term as a phrase: the “Gathering Principle,” an image based on Jesus’ words that “where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst.” For me this suggests the emergence of a spiritual presence from the cooperative and loving gathering of people sharing a common focus, spirit or intent. It represents for me the principle through which emergence happens, the principle of synergy in action. An alliance (see above) is, for me, an expression of this Gathering Principle, that is, it is a form of Gathering.

GENERATIVE MYSTERY: My term for That from Which Everything Comes, the Source of all creation. It generates all that is and it is a mystery, hence the name. I often use this synonymously with “God” and “The Sacred.”

HIGHER SELF: This is a term I don’t use much, but when I do, I usually mean what I call the Incarnate Soul. If not, then I make explicit in the context just what I am describing as the “higher self.” Generally, I don’t like this term because in my cosmology I don’t separate things into “highers” and “lowers,” but instead into “niches” and “differences.” Not that there aren’t higher and lower energy frequencies, vibrations, and the like, but usually when we say “higher” or “lower” we include a sense of privileging, judgment, and the like, so that these two words also come to mean “better” and “not as good,” or “worse.”

HOLISM: Something which is more than just the sum of its parts. To me, each of us is a holism. We have physical and non-physical aspects: body, mind, emotions, soul. Drawing all our parts together into coherency with integrity enables us to express our wholeness or our holism. One of the objectives of Incarnational Spirituality is to manifest our holism in action. We cannot do so if parts of us are in conflict or seen as being in conflict (such as personal vs transpersonal, or mind vs heart); bringing about a felt sense of wholeness is part of the practice of Incarnational Spirituality, as indeed it is of many other forms of spiritual practice and teaching. Our holism is not a thing, however, but an expansive condition. So, for example, one level of holism is the unity, coherency, and integration of mind, body, emotions, energy, and spirit in our incarnate identity. But another holism that is larger and deeper than that is the coherency and integration between the our “I”, our individuality, our cosmic self, our soul, our incarnate soul, and our earthly personal self. A third is simply the holism between our selves and the Sacred.

HUMANITY: This is the human species in all its variations, of course. But I also use the word to refer to an evolving spiritual Being for whom the human species is the collective body of its incarnation. Sometimes I refer to this as the Soul of Humanity. It is a spiritual presence that overlights and embraces all human beings, physical and non-physical, in a common field of purpose, beingness, vibration, community, and consciousness.

HUMANITY SELF: This awkward construction refers to that part of us that connects us to and makes us part of Humanity. It is that portion of the collective Self or Soul of Humanity that we carry within ourselves as part of our individual incarnations; it is our portion of the collective incarnation of Humanity as a whole (and Humanity as a Being). This is part of an ecology of inner connections that we possess that includes as well our Nature Self and our World Self (see below).

HYPERDIMENSIONAL: As physical, incarnate beings, we live in a world of three special dimensions and one temporal dimension. So we could say we are 4D people. But many inner beings occupy more than four dimensions; their consciousnesses and “bodies” or incarnate spaces spread out into more directions than ours do in our particular incarnate space. In a heightened state of awareness (or an altered state of consciousness, if you prefer), I can at times sense and feel these extra dimensions. But I cannot grasp them and have no way of describing them. I lump them all together and say they are “ hyperdimensional.” This is the way I experience the Soul. It is hyperdimensional. When I say the Soul is “vast,” for instance, or that an inner, spiritual being is vast or a particular realm is vast, I don’t necessarily mean that it’s big but that it extends into a greater number of dimensions than does my incarnate, physical self, and occupies space and time differently than I do. This usually translates for me into an experience of spaciousness.

“I”: This is the principle of Identity within us, manifested in a unique way in each of us. I use this term synonymously with Self. It is our “Ur-Self” or primal Self, the basis of our individuality. It is our individuated sacredness, or put another way, it is the Sacred or the Generative Mystery manifesting in an act of individuation that creates our unique individuality. It is the root of our Sovereignty (see below). If we have an absolute core essence, apart from the Sacred itself, this is it.

IDENTITY: The “isness” of something: its fundamental nature and condition of being; it’s what distinguishes it from anything else. It is also a capacity for being. Identity for me is a quality of the Generative Mystery which is imparted to the Cosmos and to everything in it, so that all creation is a manifestation of the Identity of the Sacred. But what is imparted is also the capacity for Identity, and that capacity in us manifests as “I,” individuality, soul, and personality.

INCARNATE REALM: In my cosmology, one of the three Realms of planetary being, the others being the Spiritual Realm and the Inner Realms. The Incarnate Realm is the overall spiritual, psychological, energetic, and physical environments in which incarnation takes place (particularly as seen from the point of view of a physical human being). Specifically, it is a combination of non-physical and physical realms and levels all sharing certain common characteristics, the most prominent of which is the manifestation of distinct boundaries of being, giving a heightened experience of particularity and separation, an “inside” and an “outside,” a subjective and an objective reality. Metaphorically, it’s akin to saying the “English Language Realm” or the “Chinese Language Realm” designating broad areas of geography, culture, and society where English or Chinese is commonly spoken. Generally speaking, this Incarnate Realm combines the realms of mind, feeling, vitality, and physical matter (or as they are called in esoteric traditions like Theosophy, the mental, astral, etheric, and physical realms). My own experiences suggest that the defining element of the Incarnate Realm is a shift in the orientation and “stickiness” of energy as it flows and organizes itself around our consciousnesses. The boundaries this energy creates around us support a more inward focus, heightening the sense of a separate, subjective, personal self. Perhaps one metaphor for this is that when we engage with the Incarnate Realm, we become surrounded with mirrors and glue!

INCARNATE SOUL: This is that part of the Soul of each of us that “enters” into incarnation within the Incarnate Realm. Some spiritual traditions might call it our “High Self” or our Inner Guardian Angel. It is our immediate spiritual or transpersonal self. In metaphor, it’s like the part of our mind that focuses upon and organizes a specific task; it is still part of our overall consciousness, yet it is distinct as well. In my case as a writer, this would be a part of me that is focused on writing a particular book, for instance. I see it as a “space” within the soul that is defined by whatever particular intention is manifesting the impulse to enter the Incarnate Realm in the first place. The Incarnate Soul becomes the space that holds the energy, the identity, the intent, and the boundaries that define the incarnation. It is the space within which the subsequent “space” of consciousness we call our personal selves is nested and takes form.

INCARNATION: Basically, this means the taking on of a form (the etymology of the word itself means to “take on flesh”), but I define it as the creation of a particular space that allows Identity to connect, engage, and have a co-creative relationship with a particular environment. Thus, physical incarnation is the connection and engagement of our Identities with the physical environment. This usually means taking on a “body of engagement,” a form that is resonant and compatible with the environment with which we are relating in order that connection can be made and engagement can actually take place. For this physical realm, this is our physical body. For a mental realm, it would be a mental body, and so forth. By emphasizing the idea of relationship, I stress that the environment we enter also helps to shape and determine the nature of our incarnation, Incarnation for me is less like an actor strutting onto a stage to do his or her thing and more like entering into a marriage or partnership out of which something new emerges. Part of that emergence is the phenomenon we call our personal self. Everything is incarnated from the Sacred on down to a blade of grass, but specifically, unless I make it clear otherwise, when I use this word, I mean connection and engagement with the Incarnate Realm.

INCARNATIONAL ROUND: This is a generic description of the process that a specific incarnation may go through from the moment of its inception as an intentionality within the Soul to the moment when that intention is realized and fulfilled, also within the Soul. In practice this can include the following steps: Soul intent; creation of Incarnate Soul; Connection to Inner World; Connecting to planetary forces and to Nature; connection to Humanity; Connection to Incarnate Realm; connection to specific allies and companions; formation of proto-persona, entry into etheric or vital realm and conception; entry into physical realm and birth; physical life; death and entry into post-mortem levels of Incarnate Realm; healing, transformation, and integration within the post-mortem worlds; entry into Inner worlds; assimilation and service within the Inner Worlds, entry into Spiritual worlds and return to the Soul for full and final assimilation. Whew! Not every incarnation follows this exact pattern, but elements of it are present in all incarnations

INCARNATIONAL SPIRITUALITY: A study of the energies and spirit surrounding and informing the process of incarnation, and a practice of deepening into our incarnations for the purpose of more fully expressing our sacredness and our capacities for blessing, service, and co-creativity.

INDIVIDUALITY: This is a particular expression of the spirit and function of Self, one that uses distinct boundaries to give expression to unique, individuations of the Generative Mystery. It is the quality of possessing an “I”. More than just a condition, it is a spiritual force expressing the “will-to-be” of the Generative Mystery in a specific way, enhancing the creative potential and expression within the Cosmos by generating difference and differentials and thus information and energy flow and exchange.

INFORMATION: Besides all the usual meanings of this word, I use it interchangeably with “energy.” All energy carries information; all information is a form of energy. I can see the cosmos as a field of energy or as a field of information. I can talk about “spiritual energies” or “spiritual information.” Sometimes by doing so, I can see something or understand something that was hidden from me before. Information informs and makes a difference. It is generative. (In cybernetics, information is defined as the “difference that makes a difference.)

INNER REALMS: In my cosmology, one of the three planetary realms that make up the energy field of this world. It is the middle layer, the intermediary between the Spiritual Realms and the Incarnate Realms. Of course, this word can be and often is used to mean any and all non-physical realms and is used synonymously with “Other Worlds,” “Non-Physical Worlds,” and so forth. The Inner Realms is vaster than the Incarnate Realm and in effect encloses it (that is, the Incarnate Realm is nested within and is a particular expression of the Inner Realms). In my experience, there is a threshold or differential between these three Realms, but it is difficult to explain the nature of this threshold in words, particularly because all three are also part of a shared metaspace or metarealm. (see below). The simplest description is that it is a threshold of hyperdimensionality, which is to say that on the Spiritual Realms, entities occupy in their beingness a larger number of dimensions than in the Inner Realms, which in turn express through more dimensions than we do in the Physical Realm, where we are generally limited to three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. I also see the Inner Realms generically as the home of those beings who help nourish and sustain the world energetically without the limitation of working through the limitations of physical form. Thus entities like fairies and nature spirits have their incarnations and work on the Inner Realms.

LEVELS: I experience the non-physical realms as possessing strata, different environments each conducive to a particular condition or state of consciousness. I call these strata or conditions “levels.” However they are not necessarily arranged in a hierarchical fashion, with one above the other (though traditional esoteric and religious teachings often present them as such), at least not in my experience. For me they are more like parts of a larger ecology, so I could just as easily think of them as “niches.” The differences between them are largely vibrational and energetic. Beings on one level may or may not be aware of beings on another. We exist on the physical level and we are often unaware of beings who share this world with us but who inhabit different levels of consciousness and energy.

LIFE: We all know what life is…or do we? For me, everything is living. Life is a manifestation of sacred presence and energy that fills everything, certainly as far as this world is concerned. Life is a condition of awareness and presence and the capacity to respond. Even minerals have this condition, though their awareness is very different from our own. One could distinguish between bio-life, which only organisms have on our world, and spiritual life, which everything possesses. A mountain or a river does not have bio-life but it is aware of its surroundings and can respond energetically in some way to what happens around it.

LOWER SELF: In my cosmology there is no “lower self.” This term is widely used in spiritual, metaphysical, and esoteric literature to mean the personality or the personal self. In the best sense, it simply means a condition or expression of self manifesting through a lower vibrational frequency, but it is often used pejoratively to mean a “lesser” or “bad” self or a “subservient” self. Since all manifestations of Self express sacredness and are equally close to the Sacred itself, I don’t feel they can be separated into categories of “higher” or “lower.” They are simply different phenomena, different manifestations. I certainly acknowledge that our personality, our personal self, our everyday self—the face and actions we show to the world—can be negative, destructive, hostile, unpleasant, stuck, toxic, ignorant, and all the rest. But I don’t lump all these characteristics and behaviors together and lay them in the lap of a particular self and call it the “lower” self because it’s acting badly. We are a holism, a single self, and we have challenges with coherency as we seek to embrace and integrate an awesome variety of energies, experiences, forces, impulses, and the like coming to us from many directions and many different levels of consciousness and engagement. If we have negative manifestations, we have them as a whole self, not just as a part of us; if we have holy manifestations, we have them as a whole self, not just as a part of us. This is not to say that certain parts of our holism and overall consciousness might not be less coherent, less integrated, and more negative than others, but we need to deal with that condition from our wholeness, not from a position of turning one part of us against another part.

METASPACE or METAREALM: Any space or realm that includes within itself other distinct and separate spaces or realms. For instance, what I call the Earth Realm or the Planetary Realm encompasses the whole world on all its levels, physical and non-physical, including what I call the Spiritual Realms, Inner Worlds, and Incarnate Realm. So it is “meta” to all these other realms. No matter where I am in any of these specific realms, I am still part of the Earth and can attune to it. Likewise, the Soul is the metaspace for our entire incarnation, which itself can spawn specific different “spaces,” such as our personal self, our mind, our emotions, our vital or etheric body, our memory, the Incarnate Soul, and so forth. All these things take place within the energy field of the Soul which does not so much “enter” into a body as it contains it, exudes it, organizes it, and co-creates it from the substance of its own nature and the substance of the Incarnate Realm.

NATURE SELF: This refers to that part of us that connects us to and makes us part of Nature. It is that portion of the collective Self or Soul of the biosphere that we carry within ourselves as part of our individual incarnations; it is our innate connection to the physical and spiritual life and wellbeing of the plants and animals around us. It is also our individual portion of the collective incarnation of Life as a whole on this world. This is part of an ecology of inner connections that we possess that includes as well our Humanity Self and our World Self.

NICHE: As I use this term, it is essentially synonymous with “level,” as defined above. It is a term from ecology, and I use it to emphasize the ecological nature and relationships of the non-physical realms that make up the world (and I believe the Cosmos as well). Traditional esotericists talk about “traveling up the planes (another term for levels, see below)” but I talk about moving between the niches. I also like this term because a niche is not so much a place as it is a set of interconnected relationships between an organism and the world. My experience of the inner worlds is that they are made up of such interrelationships. Indeed, thinking of them as “places” the way we might think of Germany or Britain or the game store down the street, can be very misleading. There are such places on the inner in that sense of the word, but more often than not, a “place” is really a condition of relationships, like an association. In fact, I find relationships to be more of an organizing principle and force upon the inner than purely energy factors such as rates of vibration and the like. Thus a person could look at my neighborhood and define it in terms of houses and streets, but someone living in the neighborhood might define it in terms of families and friendships that form fields of interaction and engagement— relationships—that link houses and streets in wholly non-linear ways. The term “Niche,” to me, helps me capture some of this relational flavor of the way in the Inner Realms are structured.

NONPHYSICAL REALMS: This means just what it says: all the realms, dimensions, worlds, niches, areas, spaces, and so on that are not physical. When I began my public work, the operative phrase for such places was “the spiritual worlds,” as in “this being comes from the spiritual worlds,” or “these are energies from the spiritual worlds.” The word “spiritual” has two distinct meanings: that which is not physical and that which is holy and thus possessing special truth, value, meaning, and so forth. This dual usage led to misconceptions, such as “if it’s a spiritual being [meaning non-physical], it must be holy and worth listening to and obeying.” But the fact that a being is not incarnating in physical substance does not make it more holy, better than, closer to truth, more real, wiser, more loving, or in possession of any of the many other attributes we ascribe to the Sacred and to holiness in general. In fact, that being could be confused, deceptive, angry, mischievous, malicious, or just plain ignorant. In order to keep these two meanings separate, I began calling beings and realms that were not physical “non-physical.” It keeps things straight and cuts down on the glamour quotient, which in any kind of spiritual and esoteric work can get quite high.

NO-SELF: The complement of Self, not necessarily its opposite. Both Self and No-Self are aspects of the Generative Mystery and, as I think of them and experience them, are mysteries in their own right. They form the Cup and Space that allows for the function of holding, a function essential to the existence of all things. No-Self is an experience of, well, not having a self (at least as we usually think of having a self). It is an experience of an unqualified unity, a oneness. Actually, it goes beyond even those definitions. It is beyond all definition. My point in Incarnational Spirituality is that it is not the ultimate goal, the real truth behind all things. It is a particular manifestation of the Mystery, but so is Self. There is a tropism in the Sacred that seeks to be the Many as much as there is a tropism that seeks to be the One; there is an impulse towards Self and an impulse towards No-Self. We need to honor both and not privilege one over the other or say one is truer than the other. Both are true, and, in the presence of Mystery, both are untrue. To experience No Self, though, is to me, an important complement to experiencing Self, and both are important to experiencing, holding and expressing the function of Self and Identity that is at the core of an incarnational spirituality.

PARTICULARITY: Well, basically this is the condition of being a particle (as contrasted with being a wave). It’s the state of having clear and definite boundaries, of possessing distinction and differentiation and of having an identity separate from other things. For me, this is a spiritual quality that distinguishes the Incarnate Realm (especially its physical dimension); it is the objectification of Identity and Individuality in a very specific and distinct manner. Of course, to some extent, our perception of each other and of the things around us as separate particles, things, objects, and people is just that, a perception based on the limitations of our physical senses; psychic or supersensible perceptions can observe fields of flowing energy that create interconnections and intermingling between us. But the felt sense of our particularity is, well, a particular characteristic of this earthly dimension and brings with it both the challenges and the creative potentials of specificity and differences.

PERSONAL SELF: This concept can be interchangeable with that of our everyday self (see above) and sometimes I use the two terms synonymously. But for me, it is also something more. I definitely use it to mean more than just the personality. The personal self is that unique field of consciousness and being that emerges from the particularizing forces and conditions of the Incarnate Realm. It is a space of consciousness within which and for which uniqueness is a vital characteristic for the learning and creative experience such uniqueness can provide. It is the sense of “I” as separate from other “I”s, which is complemented by the sense held by the Transpersonal Self of the connectedness and unity of all “I”s within the universal field and experience of Identity. It is “me” as distinct from “you,” which is often an important distinction to make. It is the locus of a particular point of view, the Sacred acting through the lens of particularity and difference. It carries a creative power embedded in the quality of being different and being separate. It is one half of our Holism, the other half being the Transpersonal. In my cosmology, Transpersonal is neither “higher” nor “better” than Personal, nor is it actually the source of the Personal, though the latter may be drawn from the substance of the former and be nested within it. Personal and Transpersonal selves are different manifestations of a deeper and more comprehensive or basic phenomenon which is “Self.” They are both nested spaces within the larger metaspace of Self. (As a metaphorical example of what I mean here, our children are formed from the substance of the bodies of my wife and myself and emerge from my wife’s womb, but once born, they are sovereign beings in their own right and are not simply “lower” extensions of us.) The Personal Self may be seen as embodied Soul, the Soul-as-a-body.

PERSONALITY: Usually this means the same as our personal self or everyday self, but I generally use the term to refer to something more specific. On the one hand, I sometimes use it to mean our outermost expression, the side of ourselves that is usually most engaged with the world and most visible to the world. In that sense, it’s our surface self. But in a deeper way, personality to me is a function. It is the sum total of the activities of those inner and outer forces that particularize us. If I think of the metaphor of a genii in a bottle, the personality is the force or activity or function that scrunches the power and vastness of the genii into the little, tiny bottle and contains it. There is a “stickiness” about these forces that enables a kind of coagulation of energy. It is this stickiness that can create the problems we usually associate with the personality and why it is often viewed as an obstacle to spiritual work or simply to spirit. The personality is that part of us that is specifically designed, so to speak, to connect, engage with and participate in a realm of particularity; if left untended, this design can at times work wonderfully and at times it creates negative or unwanted manifestations. I do not identify the personality as a “lower self” (see above). The personality is also the immediate manifestation of the organizing principle that constitutes our actual body, a principle that takes form as the physical community of smaller lives (cells) that we call our bodies (see below); by looking at the structure of the body, we can gain some insights into this organizing matrix and activity. This organizing matrix also draws in and organizes etheric, emotional, and mental substance. But these substances often carry “vectors” or “wills”—direction, qualities, energy—of their own and can become points of incoherency within us as they pull us in this direction or that direction. The personality function by itself does not seem able to settle these differences and create coherency; that is the function of what I call our “Personal Self” or more precisely of our Self as manifested through our Incarnate Soul and Personal Self. Without direction, coherency, and integration provided by the Personal Self, the personality can become incoherent, like a disk drive that is fragmented, so that the will of the individuality within us is refracted and broken up, giving us a sense of being scattered, not whole, pushed and pulled, and, as St Paul said, not doing the things we know we should do and doing the things we know we shouldn’t!

PHYSICAL BODY: This one’s pretty obvious and easy to define, but I include it because it is not entirely ours, at least not in the way that our subtle or energy or spirit bodies are. The physical body and its subtle energy counterparts are partly made up of energy and substance from outside ourselves, from the world, from the food we eat, the mental and emotional energies we find around us, the etheric energy we find around us and so forth. Also, the physical body is essentially a hive, a community made up of trillions of small but powerful life forms; we enter into a negotiated existence with this hive and call it our body. More precisely, our Soul (and Incarnate Soul) extends an organizing field which is our actual body of incarnation. Part of this field attracts and organizes physical matter and becomes an organizational matrix or identity around which other lives can gather. These other lives are our cells. Together we co-create a space that becomes us, for all intents and purposes. We possess powerful and fundamental forces that pull all this into wholeness and integration, but it’s still a collection of parts that can be fragmented and rendered incoherent, especially at energy levels, resulting in a variety of undesirable affects ranging from disease to loss of sovereignty and boundaries to acts of violence. The great gift and challenge of the physical plane (and the Incarnate Realm in general) is to give us understanding and practice in creating wholeness and synergy, beginning with ourselves.

PLANES: I use this term synonymously with “levels.” In esoteric literature, this term is widely used to designate a particular vibratory and energetic environment, as in “astral plane” or “mental plane.”

PLANETARY: I use this term with all its normal meanings as that which pertains to the whole world, the global system, the planet as an entirety. But I sometimes use it in unfamiliar contexts, such as talking about “planetary beings” or “planetary fields.” In my cosmology, there are beings—living intelligences of a non-physical nature—whose work is not with any specific part of the world or with any particular species but with all species and all the world as a whole. Such beings embody the spirit of the World Soul or the Planetary Logos. In its own way, Humanity when viewed as a single, collective Being, as I do, is a planetary being. And in a way, our souls are planetary beings as well, capable of embracing and working towards the wellbeing and unfoldment of the planet as a whole and of all the lives within and upon it. In the context of the discussion on the Earth Realm (see above) in which I metaphorically compared the Earth Realm to a cluster of grapes on a stem (the stem being the World Soul), I use “Planetary” usually to refer to our particular grape in that cluster, i.e. the planet that we know and experience and that is the home to our particular form of evolution.

POST-MORTEM: The word means “after death” and designates where we go immediately after death. Thus, we have the “post-mortem worlds” or “post-mortem realms.” This is still part of the Incarnate Realm from my point of view, albeit a non-physical part. Generally, the post-mortem realms are an ecology of levels and niches where an individual may experience whatever is necessary to complete his or her experience as a personality and move on into the wider opportunities of the Inner Worlds. These realms are generally tailored to meet the needs and the growth of the individuals who live within them. Many individuals remain within the post-mortem worlds to render service both to physical individuals and to those newly arriving through the portal of physical death. Eventually, the person will undergo what is termed the Second Death, which is the reabsorption of the energies and structure of the personal self into the Incarnate Soul, which results in moving beyond the post-mortem worlds and into the Inner Worlds proper, out of the Incarnate Realm.

PRESENCE: I use this term to mean the power and expression of our Holism. When we stand in coherency and integration between our various parts, physical and non-physical, as much as we are able, our presence emerges. I think of it as the spirit of our Holism in connection with the Holism of the world and the Holism that is the Sacred. It is what emerges when two or more are gathered together, even if it’s just two or more of our own “selves” or parts.

PSYCHIC: Generally, we use this word to mean a person who gains knowledge using extraordinary and extra-sensory powers of the mind, or to mean the kind of knowledge that is so gained. Such information, in common usage of this term, can come from anywhere and be about anything. However, I use a more narrow definition. For me, psychic refers to information gained from the Incarnate Realm or its boundary with the Inner Realms; psychic information to me is still sense-based, even if it uses non-physical or subtle senses. By contrast, what I call “supersensible perception” gains insight and information from the Inner Worlds and the Spiritual Worlds and beyond and is often more mystical in nature. For example, if I see a person’s aura, I am using psychic abilities to receive psychic information, but if I see a person’s soul, I am using supersensible perception to receive mystical or spiritual information. This may seem like an unnecessary distinction, but it has been useful to me in my own experiences to sort out different kinds and levels of information, perception, and energy. And as I said at the beginning, this is an idiosyncratic glossary of how I use and define certain words.

RAGGEDNESS: I use this term to suggest the condition within the personality (really, withinus) that leads us to behaving in non-holistic, disconnected, non-integrated, conflicting, and violent ways, resulting in the negative reputation ascribed to the personality. The image is that of a cloth doll that is ragged, torn, with bits and pieces sticking out, loose threads here and there. This can come about through internal conflict and lack of integration and assimilation of experiences or from outside influences of various kinds, particularly those that are highly energetically stimulating either through pain or pleasure (but, I think, mostly from the former—nothing creates raggedness of energy like violence of any kind on any level). When this condition exists our energy field is neither coherent nor integrated but jagged and ragged, and the bits of protruding energy can, like bits of yarn in a sweater that are coming undone, get snagged, pulled, and torn by what it contacts in the environment. The challenge of the Incarnate Realm is that it can produce this kind of raggedness, but we can deal with it by learning to be good knitters of our own experiences and energy!

REALM: I use this term to mean a significantly large and comprehensive environment, defined by a particular organizing principle and by certain common characteristics, and usually one that contains within itself a variety of lesser environments. So, I speak of the “physical realm” or the “spiritual realm” or even the “planetary realm.”

SACRED: The Generative Mystery. God. The Unity in which all things have their being and are connected; the Holism of the Cosmos; that which holds, supports, fosters, and nourishes in all possible and appropriate ways the will-to-be within all incarnations, which are, after all, fractals and expressions of Its own will-to-be and incarnation. Any and all acts, however humble and particular, that also express (or are fractals of) this universal and primal act of holding, fostering, supporting, and nourishing the Will-to-Be—the core beingness—of another’s incarnation.

SACREDNESS: The expression of the Sacred. The manifestation of love, will, wisdom, intelligence in ways that support, foster, nourish, hold, and bless the will-to-be—the creative, unique beingness—at the heart of each incarnation. However, sacredness in my cosmology doesn’t have to just come from God or the Generative Mystery; it doesn’t have to come from an ultimate state. It can come from anywhere, anything, anyone, however humble and mundane. A smile to a stranger on a bus that is heartfelt and heart sent, with the intent of making that person feel better, have a better day, feel more connected, and so on—essentially, sent with an energy of love and compassion and mutuality of beingness—is a sacred act. To paraphrase the commercial, “Sacredness—it’s not just for God anymore!”

SELF: The Sacred or Generative Mystery manifesting as Identity. I think of Self as the capacity to hold boundary, identity, relationships, and emergent possibilities in a space of coherent and interactive wholeness. A function that focuses will, love, and intelligence through a particular lens of being, expression, and creativity. The function of Self makes possible the functions and expressions of Individuality and the “I”, which in turn make possible our own unique selves as fractal manifestations of that function in their own right.

SEPARATENESS: I include this in this Glossary in order to point out that in my cosmology and understanding of things, separation and separateness is not necessarily A Bad Thing. In spiritual circles, we often privilege such ideas and experiences as Unity and Oneness. But separateness creates differentials which in turn generate energy, flow, and creativity. Separateness to me is as much a sacred idea and experience as unity; they are complements to each other. Obviously, either one can fall into unproductive and negative extremes, with separation giving birth to conflict, disintegration, and the dispersal and waste of energy and unity giving birth to sameness, conformity, and the cessation of flow and growth. Our task is to work with separateness in ways that enhance its creative possibilities and also the ways in which it can give us the experience of working with differences and honoring and respecting, and if possible loving, that which is Not Us!

SOUL: The part of us that emerges from the initial interaction and engagement of our “I” with the Planetary field of the World Soul. It then becomes the instrument of our evolution, service, and participation in that Planetary field. One mechanism for that evolution, service, and participation is through incarnation into the levels of planetary life, including most commonly incarnate into the Incarnate Realm—which is the happening place and where all the fun is! The Soul to me is a hyperdimensional (see above) presence, not just a spiritual version of ourselves.

SOVEREIGNTY: Although this word carries connotations of autonomy and “doing my own thing in spite of everyone else,” I use it because it also means the capacity for self-governance. My inner perception is that there is a direct connection between ourselves—our personal, everyday selves—and our “I” and the Sacred; this connection is ultimately the energy of the Will-to-Be that brought us into existence and is an individuated expression or portion of the Will-to-Be that brought all Cosmos into existence. I call this connection our Sovereignty. Specifically, it generates the boundaries at every level that create the space that defines us and gives us an expression of Self at that level. Sovereignty is not so much the expression of our will into the world as it is the defining and the protection of our capacity to express our will, and to be willing. And as such, it also seeks to express in a way that will protect and empower that capacity in any one. The paradox of Sovereignty is that it is an expression of the Identity and Will-to-Be—and the creative capacity of will and choice—of the Generative Mystery itself; our Sovereignty is a fractal of that greater, ultimate Sovereignty. As such, it cannot act to destroy or diminish itself, which is to say, that Sovereignty acting through a person cannot act to limit or diminish the Sovereignty of another. Sovereignty acting through a person will act in a way that enables as much as possible and appropriate the experience and action of Sovereignty in another. Sovereignty supports itself wherever it is found; it is synergic in its action. When we do act in ways that do violence to another’s boundaries and Sovereignty, we are not acting out of our own Sovereignty, period. But to protect ourselves and to resist the encroachment of others upon our boundaries in ways that will diminish our boundaries and diminish our Sovereignty is an act of Sovereignty on our part. To damage another’s boundaries and Sovereignty is to lessen and damage their incarnation, and in the end, this damages and lessens us all.

SPACE: …the Final Frontier! No, that’s another definition! I use this most often to mean an area or condition of consciousness and being that is surrounded by a boundary of some nature, given an identity or organizing principle, usually based around an intention, and thus possessing the capacity to hold something—often an activity—so that something can transpire or emerge.

SPACE-CRAFTING: Our ability to use imagination, will, spirit, and actions to create spaces for purposes of spiritual, mystical, magical, psychological, and physical work.

SPIRIT: The etymology of this word shows that it means literally the “breath of God.” I think of it as the energy and substance of the Sacred expressing and flowing through the Cosmos as a dynamic, nourishing, supporting, shaping force. It is the impulse to be, to evolve, to become, to unfold, to manifest. Any part of creation has the capacity to access and express spirit, since in the final analysis spirit is what we all are.

SPIRITUAL: That which can directly access and express Spirit. That which can generate and enhance the flow of nourishing, creative, empowering, aligning, coherency-making, loving, holding, supportive, transforming, healing, doing-whatever-is-needed-and-appropriate-for-the-highest-good-of-all energies! It has nothing to do with being physical or non-physical.

SPIRITUAL FORCES: Primarily I mean any being or force that expresses spirit, whether it is physical or non-physical, human or non-human. Thus we are spiritual forces. But I usually use this phrase to mean non-physical forces, particularly of the kind that are mindfully expressing spirit and sacredness.

SPIRITUAL WORLDS: In my cosmology of the Planetary Realm, one of the three defining realms that make up the earth: the Incarnate Realm, the Inner Worlds, and the Spiritual Worlds. Specifically, I have in mind there realms, worlds, levels, planes, and so forth—environments, in other words—that are home to hyperdimensional beings who overlight, guard, protect, encourage, nourish, foster, guide, and otherwise concern themselves with the overall spiritual well-being and sacredness of the planet as a whole and all upon it. These are the Beings who most usually and directly oversee and develop the evolutionary course of Humanity and the Planet, in co-creative collaboration with the Soul of Humanity and the World Soul. It is Beings and forces on the Spiritual Worlds who are most likely to be the interface and mediators for engaging with other spiritual beings operating in the Cosmic Realms. Note again that the Spiritual Worlds, the Inner Worlds, and the Incarnate Realm are not necessarily in a hierarchical relationship with each other, though that is how the relationship is often described. I find it more accurate to my inner experiences to think of them as niches in an ecological relationship with each other. No one Realm is closer to the Sacred than another; but they each do align with and engage the Sacred in different ways, appropriate to how they are structured and organized. There are hierarchical relationships between these various realms and levels, but to me these are local affairs and not descriptive of the overall nature of the planetary Holism.

STANDING: I use this word in its ordinary sense but also to represent the basic act of Incarnational Spirituality, which is to be in one’s sovereignty as a clear line of attunement, alignment, and connection with the Sacred and with one’s Holism or wholeness. To Stand is to know and express one’s “I” to the best of one’s understanding and ability. Standing is also the capacity to be present in the world to the world in a connected, engaged way without losing coherency or integration (and integrity) but able to generate a field of blessing all around oneself, the way a magnet generates a magnetic field. It is the basic spiritual act of incarnation. It is the act of being present in one’s uniqueness, sovereignty, and power.

SUBTLE: I use this word synonymously with “non-physical.” So I may talk about “subtle energies” or “subtle senses,” and mean by this energies or senses that operate outside of or beyond the physical plane. They are “subtle” because they are not as easily discerned or used as their physical counterparts.

SUPERSENSIBLE: I borrow this term from the work of the Austrian mystic and esotericist, Rudolf Steiner who uses it, as I do, to mean “greater than the senses” or “beyond the senses.” Thus the “supersensible realms” are those realms and worlds that lie beyond the range of what our five senses can perceive; likewise, supersensible perception is any perception that can detect or perceive phenomena that our physical senses cannot. I sometimes use this word synonymously with “clairvoyance” or even “extra-sensory perception.” But the latter two words carry connotations of psychic awareness and psychic information for me, which as I defined above is a more limited kind of perception. Sometimes I use the term “metasensory” as a synonym as well, but that’s just playing with words! If supersensible was good enough for Steiner, it’s certainly good enough for me!

TRANSPERSONAL LEVELS: This can mean any level of existence and consciousness beyond the physical and the personal right up the Generative Mystery itself. But usually I use it synonymously with the “spiritual realms.”

TRANSPERSONAL SELF: In a broad sense, this is any aspect of ourselves that is beyond our personal, physical self. This can include a good many levels of being all the way up to our “I” and even to the Sacred beyond. Usually, when I use this term, I mean the Incarnate Soul. As I mentioned above, I see Transpersonal and Personal selves as complementarities rather than as “higher” and “lower,” both being expressions of the deeper or more basic phenomenon of Self.

TRUE SELF: Allegedly, this is a part of us that is more “true” or “authentic,” perhaps for being closer to God “real Reality,” or more spiritual. or “higher” in vibration and energy, than any other part of us. It implies as well that there is a “False Self” (see above). While identifying some part of us as “true” and some part of us as “false” depends on the definitions for true and false, I find this a limiting and misrepresenting concept. Like “False Self,” it divides us into two halves, one good, the other bad, which can create internal conflict, and it promotes less than optimal strategies for spiritual development based on elimination and privileging. Images that separate me into parts increase the chance I will think and act incoherently, obstructing my experience and manifestation of my own Holism (see above). More to the point, if by “true” we mean “part of the Sacred,” then all parts of us are true. A part of me that is behaving badly or creating negativity is not a “False Self;” it’s just me behaving badly and creating negativity, and I can correct that. A part of me that is loving, compassionate, insightful, wise, and attuned, is not my “True Self,” it’s just me being loving, compassionate, insightful, wise, and attuned. Esoterically, the idea of a True Self comes from the idea that reality is layered like a wedding cake, with the top layers (including where the little bride and groom figures are) being closer to God and Reality and therefore more “true” than the bottom layers (which incidentally are where most of the cake is!). My inner experiences incline me to see the non-physical worlds as an ecology, each representing a kind of niche (see above) which is different from but integral and necessary to all the others. In an ecology there are no “true” and “false” niches.

UNITS OF WILL: Just as our matter is made up of atoms and molecules and our bodies of cells, so our mental and emotional bodies can be composed of “units of will,” bits of energy and direction that incline us or shape us in certain ways. Many of these come from outside us, many from within us, but they all push and pull us. A similar idea is expressed in the idea of the “meme” or the “mental gene.” The aggregation of such units of will can express as our personalities, but such aggregates may act incoherently with respect to each other as they do not share a common will. The effect is to create “raggedness” (see above). The coherency that corrects this is found through our Sovereignty which can create a field of presence and integration that draws these aggregates into resonance.

UR-SELF: I owe this term to my good friend and fellow teacher, Dr. Lee Irwin. Ur is the name of the (allegedly) first and oldest city on earth (or at least in the Western world), the original city that set the pattern for all the others to follow. So an “Ur-anything” refers to the primal model of that thing, the original, the First. Ur-Self, then, is our First Self, the first manifestation of ourselves as a Self, an Identity, an Individuality. I use this synonymously with the term, our “I”.

WHOLENESS: I use this term to mean the integrity and coherency of any particular system such that something emerges that is more than just the sum of its parts. I sometimes use the term “Holism” synonymously.

WORLD: Usually I mean by this the earth, just as the word is commonly used. Sometimes, though, I mean any large, ecologically diverse, rich, and complex environment in which consciousnesses may incarnate and manifest, as in “the spiritual world” or the “inner worlds.”

WORLD-BUILDING: This, to me, is the true object of incarnation (and of Incarnational Spirituality). We are all participants in the unfoldment and shaping of the world—of Earth in all its aspects; we are all engaged in one way or another. To stand with stability and coherency in the midst of all the swirl and flux of energies, desires, thoughts, impulses, opportunities, challenges, substances, and so on; to be aligned with the Holism of this world through our own Holism; and from that place to radiate a spirit of support and engagement with the Will-to-Be, the Spirit, of this planet and of all of us living upon it, enabling its highest good to emerge for the good of all, that is to be an incarnational agent. That is world-building.

WORLD SELF: This refers to that part of us that connects us to and makes us part of this world, the earth. It is that portion of the collective Self or Soul of the planet that we carry within ourselves as part of our individual incarnations; it is our innate connection to the physical and spiritual life and wellbeing of the land around us. This is part of an ecology of inner connections that we possess that includes as well our Humanity Self and our Nature Self.

WORLD SOUL: The guiding, creative, evolving Intelligence and Life ensouling the planet as a single, living being. Sometimes this Being is called the Planetary Logos or Earth Logos in esoteric literature, or even the World Mother. All of our individual incarnations are in part incarnations of this Being for we participate in its energy field and life as long as we are part of this world. In the image of the Earth Realm as a cluster of grapes on a stem, the World Soul is that stem that connects and nourishes all the possible evolutionary tracks and systems connected to this world.