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Musings for the Modern Mystic

Our world is built on an architecture of language. Here's 17 fascinating Greek words you've (probably) never heard before, and their beautiful meanings...

17 Beautiful Greek Words and Their Fascinating Meanings

Words. The building blocks of reality. How writers paint and how speakers cast spells. Capable of creating entire worlds (whether they’re ‘beautiful Greek words’ or not), of climbing across millennia to fall into our minds, of making us laugh so hard that tears run down our faces, and, of course, waxing poetic with enough power that we shed tears for an altogether different reason. Without them, we could accomplish nothing. We live in a world made of words.

We didn’t always. Far back in prehistory there was no language, only guttural sounds that eventually formed themselves into such. And if you think on it deeply enough, we will most likely pass into a future that transcends language altogether-if we survive.  

While we’re here, however, the sounds we weave together remain one of the most capable vehicles for the creation of artistic beauty. And, as with so many things both artistic and beautiful, many of those sounds are of Greek provenance (anyone familiar with the language knows this to be true; while any kind of verbalization can indeed be colored with less-than-beautiful slang, only certain ones carry the ability to achieve the genuine efflorescence the following beautiful Greek words do).

Here are 17 beautiful Greek words (mostly) that you may be unfamiliar with yet are capable of capturing some of the most vivid, intriguing and undeniable human experiences we are able to share. Enjoy.

Yugen

Japanese. An Awareness of the universe that triggers an emotional response too deep and powerful for words.

Crepuscular

Latin. Of, relating to, or resembling twilight; dim; indistinct. Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight (i.e., dawn and dusk).

Hiraeth

Welsh. A homesickness for a home you cannot return to, or that never was.

Paracosm

"Paracosm" | 17 Beautiful Greek Words and Their Fascinating Meanings | stilldrops.com

Greek. A detailed imaginary world created inside one’s mind. This fantasy world may involve humans, animals, and things that exist in reality; or it may also contain entities that are entirely imaginary, alien, and otherworldly.

Petrichor

"Petrichor" | 17 Beautiful Greek Words and Their Fascinating Meanings | stilldrops.com

Greek. The smell of the earth after it rains.

Yonic

Sanskrit. A stylized representation of the female genitalia that in Hinduism is a sign of generative power and that symbolizes the goddess Shakti.

Ataraxia

"Ataraxia" | 17 Beautiful Greek Words and Their Fascinating Meanings | stilldrops.com

Greek. The only true happiness possible for a person. It signifies the state of robust tranquility that derives from eschewing faith in an afterlife, not fearing the gods because they are distant and unconcerned with us, avoiding politics and vexatious people, surrounding oneself with trustworthy and affectionate friends and, most importantly, being an affectionate, virtuous person, worthy of trust.

Sambhogakāya

Buddhist term. A being made entirely of light. A ‘body of pure luminosity’.

Chthonic

"Chthonic" | 17 Beautiful Greek Words and Their Fascinating Meanings | stilldrops.com

Greek. Pronounced “THON-ik”. khthon is one of several words for “earth”; it typically refers to the interior of the soil, rather than the living surface of the land (as Gaia or Ge does) or the land as territory (as khora (χώρα) does. It evokes at once abundance and the grave.

Palimpsest

"Palimpsest" | 17 Beautiful Greek Words and Their Fascinating Meanings | stilldrops.com

Greek. A manuscript page, either from a scroll or a book, from which the text has been either scraped or washed off so that the page can be reused, for another document. Image: The Archimedes Palimpsest (wikipedia).

Empyrean

"Empyrean" | 17 Beautiful Greek Words and Their Fascinating Meanings | stilldrops.com

Greek.The highest part of the (supposedly spherical) heavens, thought in ancient times to contain the pure element of fire and by early Christians to be the abode of God and the angels. The visible heavens; the firmament. Image: “Empyrean”, Gustav Dore’s engraved depiction of Dante’s Paradiso, Canto 31.

Hypnagogia

"Hypnagogia" | 17 Beautiful Greek Words and Their Fascinating Meanings | stilldrops.com

Greek. The transitional state from wakefulness to sleep: the hypnagogic state of consciousness, during the onset of sleep. In opposition, hypnopompia denotes the onset of wakefulness. Related: Hypnagogic hallucinations — the tetris effect, visual and auditory hallucinations, sleep paralysis, hypnic jerks, etc. Also related to creative insight; August Kekule, Beethoven, Tesla, Newton, Dali, Blake, Jung, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and more claiming benefits.

Oneiromancy

"Oneiromancy" | 17 Beautiful Greek Words and Their Fascinating Meanings | stilldrops.com

Greek. Pronounced oh-NIGH-ruh-mancy. Divination through dreams, The practice of predicting the future through interpretation of dreams.

Sipapu

Hopi term meaning “a small tunnel or inter dimensional passage”.

Hierosgamos (Heiros Gamos)

"Hierosgamos" (Heiros Gamos) | 17 Beautiful Greek Words and Their Fascinating Meanings | stilldrops.com

Greek.”Holy Marriage”. Refers to marriage between a god and a goddess, especially when enacted in a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities. It is the harmonization of opposites. The notion of hieros gamos does not presuppose actual performance in ritual, but is also used in purely symbolic or mythological context, notably in alchemy and hence in Jungian psychology.

Mythopoeic

"Mythopoeic" | 17 Beautiful Greek Words and Their Fascinating Meanings | stilldrops.com

Greek. Pronounced ‘mith-UH-peeik’. Of, or pertaining to, the making of myths; causing, producing, or giving rise to myths. Also, ‘mythopoetic’.

Psychopomp

"Psychopomp" | 17 Beautiful Greek Words and Their Fascinating Meanings | stilldrops.com

Greek. From psuchopompos, literally meaning the “guide of souls”. A person who conducts spirits or souls to the other world, as Hermes or Charon. In Jungian psychology, the psychopomp is a mediator between the unconscious and conscious realms. It is symbolically personified in dreams as a wise man (or woman), or sometimes as a helpful animal.

In many cultures, the shaman also fulfills the role of the psychopomp. This may include not only accompanying the soul of the dead, but also vice versa: to help at birth, to introduce the newborn child’s soul to the world. This also accounts for the contemporary title of “midwife to the dying,” …which is another form of psychopomp work.

And there you have it. A plethora of truly beautiful Greek words for you to roll around on your palette and savor for a while before finally swallowing them down. If, after this, you find yourself not entirely satiated, however, you can always peruse even more beautiful languages, or, if you really want to take a deep dive, read about how the vibratory patterns of spoken Sanskrit and Hebrew are “equivalent to types of rotation of your primary material particles” and “have power before time and space and represent configurations of light which built all that there is [!]”.

Kyle McMillan
Kyle McMillan

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