DICTIONARY - K
The Egyptian 'ka' is usually translated as 'soul' or 'spirit'. The ka comes into existence when an individual is born, and it was believed that the ram-headed god Khnum crafted the ka on his potter's wheel at the time of a person's birth. It was thought that when someone died they 'met their ka', although a person's ka would live on after their body had died. Some tombs included model houses as the ka needed a place to live. As an example, read Dennis Wheatley's The Ka of Gifford Hillary.
Ka, in ancient Egyptian religion, along with the Ba and the akh, is a principal aspect of the soul of a human being or a god. The exact significance of the ka remains a matter of controversy, chiefly for lack of an Egyptian definition; the translation, 'double', is incorrect. Written by a hieroglyph of uplifted arms, it seemed originally to have designated the protecting divine spirit of a person. The ka, having survived the death of the body, could reside in a picture or statue of a person.
Kabbalah, meaning 'received tradition', is an esoteric method, discipline, and school of thought that originated in Judaism. Kabbalah's definition varies according to the tradition and aims of those following it, from its religious origin as an integral part of Judaism, to its later Christian, New Age, and occultist/western esoteric syncretic adaptations.
Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal, and mysterious Ain Soph/En Sof and the mortal and finite universe (God's creation). While it is heavily used by some denominations it is not a religion in itself, but forms the foundations of mystical religious interpretation. Kabbalah seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of its concepts and thereby attain spiritual realisation.
Kabbalah originally developed within the realm of Jewish tradition, and Kabbalists often use classical Jewish sources to explain and demonstrate its esoteric teachings. These teachings are held by followers in Judaism to define the inner meaning of both the Hebrew Bible and traditional Rabbinic literature and their formerly concealed transmitted dimension, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.
Kachinas are spirits or personifications of 'things' in the real world. These spirits are believed to visit the Hopi villages during the first half of the year -- the Hopi is a Native American tribe, the members of which live primarily on the Hopi Reservation in north-eastern Arizona in the USA. A kachina can represent anything in the natural world or cosmos, from a revered ancestor to an element, a location, a quality, a natural phenomenon, or a concept. The local pantheon of kachinas varies in each pueblo community; there may be kachinas for the Sun, stars, thunderstorms, wind, corn, insects, and any number of other concepts.
Kachinas are understood to have human-like relationships; they may have uncles, sisters, and grandmothers, and may marry and have children. Although not worshipped as a deity, each is viewed as a powerful being who, if given veneration and respect, can use its particular power for human good, bringing rainfall, healing, fertility, or protection, for example. One observer has written:
"The central theme of the kachina (religion) is the presence of life in all objects that fill the universe. Everything has an essence or a life force, and humans must interact with these or fail to survive."
The Kalachakra is a term used in Vajrayana Buddhism meaning 'wheel of time' or 'time-cycles'. It is usually used to refer to a very complex teaching and practice in Tibetan Buddhism. Despite the teaching being very advanced and esoteric, there is a tradition of offering it to large public audiences.
The Kalachakra tradition revolves around the concept of time (kala) and cycles (Chakra): from the cycles of the planets, to the cycles of human breathing, it teaches the practice of working with the subtlest energies within one's body on the path to enlightenment. Kalachakra refers to many different traditions: for example, it is related to Hindu Shaiva, Samkhya, Vaishnava, Vedic, Upanishadic and Puranic traditions as well as Jainism. The Kalachakra mandala includes deities which are equally accepted by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists.
The Kalachakra deity represents a Buddhahood and thus omniscience. Since Kalachakra is time and everything is under the influence of time, Kalachakra knows all. Kalacakri, his spiritual consort and complement, is aware of everything that is timeless, not time-bound or out of the realm of time. In Yab-yum, they are temporality and a-temporality conjoined. Similarly, the wheel is without beginning or end.
The Kalachakra deity resides in the centre of the Mandala in his palace consisting of four mandalas, one within the other: the mandalas of body, speech, and mind, and in the very centre, wisdom and great bliss. The Kalachakra sand mandala is dedicated to both individual and world peace and physical balance. The Dalai Lama explains:
"It is a way of planting a seed, and the seed will have karmic effect. One doesn't need to be present at the Kalachakra ceremony in order to receive its benefits."
|Kalasha / Kalasa||
This symbol, depicting a vase covered with leaves, represents a Hindu/Jainism ritual implement. The Kalasha (also Kalasa) is a metal (brass, copper, silver or gold) pot with a large base and small mouth, but large enough to hold a coconut. Sometimes the Kalasha is filled with coins, grain, gems, gold, or a combination of these items instead of water. The coronet of 5, 7, or 11 mango leaves is placed such that the tips of the leaves touch water in the Kalasha. The coconut is sometimes wrapped with a red cloth and red thread, although the top of the coconut is kept uncovered.
It has many symbolic meanings, for example, it is the primordial waters of creation, the soul filled with love and compassion, abundance, and hospitality.
The coconut is a symbol of the godhead -- the three eyes symbolic of the eyes of Vishnu. The Kalash is present in all important Hindu and Jain rituals, and is the basis for the 'treasure vase' of Tibetan Buddhism.
Kemetic Orthodoxy is a modern religious sect based on Kemeticism, a reconstruction of Egyptian polytheism. It claims to derive a spiritual lineage from the Ancient Egyptian religion. It was founded in 1988 CE by Tamara Siuda (born 1969), who remains its current Nisut or 'The One in Authority'. The main temple is in Joliet, Illinois, with a variety of state shrines maintained by priests throughout the world.
Kemetic Orthodoxy does not follow a single scripture, but rather a fluid understanding of balance, justice and truth. Worship often takes place in shrines, which exist in both public and personal forms.
Five basic tenets guide the faith of members: belief in upholding Ma'at; belief in Netjer (the supreme being); Akhu (Ancestor) veneration; participation in and respect for the community; acknowledgment of Siuda as the Nisut. Members of the faith are known as 'Shemsu'.
|Keys of St Peter||
The image to the right represents the Keys of St Peter, an emblem of the Roman Catholic Church which characterises the divine authority invested in the apostle Peter before the death of Christ. As such, they are emblems of papal authority in the Catholic Church.
A symbol that appears frequently in Christian art and in the arms of the Popes, the crossed keys were formerly an emblem of the Roman God Janus and the Mithraic Zurvan, both gods of time and keepers of doorways, and removers of obstacles. It is this symbolism that led to the folk legend of St Peter as the bureaucratic keeper of the 'pearly gates' of heaven.
The Khanda is the most recognisable emblem of Sikhism, representing the four pillars of Sikh belief. It consists of four symbolic weapons. In the centre is the double-edged sword, or Khanda, from which the symbol derives its name. The Khanda represents knowledge of divinity and the creative power of god.
Surrounding the Khanda is a circular quoit, called a Chakkar (or chakka), meaning 'wheel', a mediaeval weapon which symbolises the unity of god. On either side, crossed daggers, or Kirpans, called Piri and Miri (after the personal weapons of Guru Hargobind), symbolise spiritual and temporal (earthly) power in balance. Another important device incorporating this symbol is the Nishan Sahib, or Saffron banner, which adorns Sikh Gurudwaras (temples).
Khepri (Kepher) means 'He Who is Coming into Being'. He appears as a man with the head of a Scarab Beetle. Khepri was an Egyptian god of creation, the movement of the Sun, and rebirth. In certain creation stories, Khepri is associated with the god Atum. He is also associated with the Sun god Ra who pushed the Sun through the sky every day.
The Scarab Beetle lays its eggs in a ball of dung, after which it rolls the ball into a hole in the ground. When the young beetles are ready, they crawl out of the ball of dung and survive by eating it, after which they emerge from their hole. The ancient Egyptians believed that the beetles appeared from nowhere, just as they believed their creator god had appeared from nowhere. Consequently, they considered the scarab beetle to be special.
Besides dung, the scarab beetle also lays its eggs in carrion, leading the ancient Egyptians to speculate that those scarab beetles were created from dead matter. As a result, Khepri was strongly associated with rebirth, renewal, and resurrection.
One myth suggested that Khepri pushed the Sun across the sky (rather than the Sun travelling on the back of a bovine goddess like Nut or Hathor or travelling on a boat). Khepri was often depicted pushing the Sun ahead of him and it was thought that this movement was constant. Every night, Khepri would push the Sun down into the Underworld, and every morning it would emerge from that world and travel across the sky again.
He was given a central role in the Book of the Dead (The Book of Coming Forth by Day). Scarab amulets were placed over the heart of the deceased during the mummification ritual. These 'heart scarabs' were meant to be weighed against the feather of Ma'at (truth) during the final judgement. Scarabs were often inscribed with a spell from the Book of the Dead which instructed their heart, "Do not stand as a witness against me."
The Kirpan is the ceremonial dagger or sword carried by Khalsa Sikhs (those who have undergone the sacred Amrit Ceremony initiated by the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh), as a reminder to fight for justice and against oppression. Kirpans range in size from large ceremonial swords, to tiny knives worn around the neck. It is a requirement that all Khalsa Sikhs wear the kirpan.
The Kirpan is never used as a weapon; it is a religious symbol. Nevertheless, the requirement that baptised Sikhs wear the Kirpan has caused problems for believers in many areas, especially where the custom clashes with local ordinances against the carrying of weapons.
|Knights Bachelor||See Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor.|
The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, also known as the Order of Saint John, Order of Hospitallers, Knights Hospitaller, Knights Hospitalier or Hospitallers, is the mediaeval Roman Catholic military order that continued into the contemporary Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which remains a sovereign subject of international law. It was headquartered variously in Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta, and is now in Rome.
The Hospitallers arose in the early 12th century CE, at the time of the great monastic reformation, as a group of individuals associated with an Amalfitan hospital in the Muristan district of Jerusalem dedicated to John the Baptist and founded around 1023 by Gerard Thom (the Blessed Gerard1 (1040 - 1120)) to provide care for sick, poor or injured pilgrims coming and going from and to the Holy Land. Some scholars, however, consider that the Amalfitan order and hospital were different from Gerard Thom's order and its hospital.
Following the conquest of the Holy Land by Islamic forces, the knights operated from Rhodes, over which they held sovereignty, and later from Malta, where they administered a vassal state under the Spanish viceroy of Sicily. The Hospitallers were the smallest group ever to colonise parts of the Americas; at one point in the mid-17th century they acquired four Caribbean islands, which they ceded to the French in the 1660s.
1 The Blessed Gerard was a lay brother in the Benedictine order who was appointed as rector of the hospice in Jerusalem in 1080, and who, in the wake of the success of the 1st Crusade in 1099, became the founder of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (Knights Hospitaller).
|Knights of Columbus||
Founded by Father Michael McGivney (1852 - 1890 CE) in New Haven, Connecticut, USA in 1882 and named in honour of Christopher Columbus (c. 1451 - 1506), the Knights of Columbus is the largest Catholic fraternal service organisation in the world. It served as a mutual benefit society for working class and immigrant Catholics in the USA, then developed into a fraternal benefit society dedicated to providing charitable services, including war and disaster relief, actively defending Catholicism in various nations, and promoting Catholic education.
At the last count there were 1,918,122 members. Membership is limited to practicing Catholic men aged 18 or older, and consists of four different degrees, each exemplifying a different principle of the Order. The current Supreme Knight is Carl A. Anderson (born 1951).
Pope John Paul II (born 1920) referred to the Order as the ‘strong right arm of the Church’ for their support of its doctrines and communities. In 2015, the Order donated in excess of US$175 million directly to charity. The Knight's insurance program has more than 2 million insurance contracts totalling more than US$100 billion of life insurance in force.
|Knights of Pythias||
The Knights of Pythias is a fraternal organisation and secret society founded in Washington, D.C., USA, on 19 February 1864 CE. It was the first fraternal organisation to receive a charter under an act of the United States Congress. It was founded by Justus H. Rathbone (1839 - 1889), who had been inspired by a play by the Irish poet John Banim (1798 - 1842) about the legend of Damon and Pythias, which illustrates the ideals of loyalty, honour, and friendship that are at the centre of the order.
The order has in excess of 2,000 lodges in the US and around the world, with a total membership of more than 50,000 in 2003. The order's headquarters are in Stoughton, Massachusetts
|Knights of the Round Table Club||See Honourable Society of Knights of the Round Table.|
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, better known as the Knights Templar or simply as Templars, was a Catholic military order recognised in 1139 CE by a papal bull Omne Datum Optimum of the Holy See. The order was founded in 1119 and active from about 1129 to 1312.
The order was among the wealthiest and most powerful and soon became a favoured charity throughout Christendom and grew rapidly in membership and power. Templar knights, in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades. Non-combatant members of the order managed a large economic infrastructure, developing innovative financial techniques that in reality were an early form of banking, and building fortifications across Europe and the Holy Land.
The Templars were closely tied to the Crusades, so once the Holy Land had been lost, support for the order faded. Then rumours about their secret initiation ceremony began to circulate which created distrust in the order. King Philip IV of France -- deeply in debt to the Templars -- took advantage of the situation to gain control over them. In 1307, he had many of the order's members in France arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and burned at the stake. The order was eventually disbanded by Pope Clement V in 1312 under pressure from King Philip.
The abrupt reduction in power of such a significant group in European society gave rise to speculation, legend, and legacy through the ages. The appropriation of their name by later organisations has kept the name 'Templar' alive to the present day, while helping to obscure its origin. People have speculated that Freemasonry originated from the Templars, many of whom, it is said, fled to Scotland.
|Knot of Hercules||
The marriage-knot or knot of Hercules, a strong knot created by two intertwined ropes, originated as a healing charm in ancient Egypt, but is best known for its use in ancient Greece and Rome as a protective amulet, most notably as a wedding symbol incorporated into the protective girdles worn by brides which were ceremonially untied by the new groom. This custom is the likely origin of the phrase 'tying the knot'.
According to Roman lore, the knot symbolised the legendary fertility of the god Hercules; it appears to relate to the legendary Girdle of Diana captured from the Amazon Queen Hippolyta. In this, the marriage-knot was probably a representation of the virginity of the bride. The symbolism of the knot survived well beyond its religious use, and was a very common symbol in mediaeval and Renaissance love tokens.
|Kotleba - People's Party - Our Slovakia||
The People's Party - Our Slovakia (L'udová strana - Nase Slovensko, L'SNS) -- since November 2015 officially known as Kotleba, is a far-right national populist neo-Nazi political party in Slovakia. The party declares that it builds on the legacy of Jozef Tiso (1887 - 1947), a Slovak politician and Roman Catholic priest who governed the Slovak Republic, a satellite state of Nazi Germany during WWII, from 1939 to 1945. After the war, he was executed in 1947 for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The party's platform includes anti-Roma rhetoric, immigration control, Christian morality, paternalism on economic issues, interest-free national loans, replacement of the euro currency with the Slovak koruna, law and order, rejection of the idea of same-sex civil unions, and criticism of the country's current leadership and foreign policy. Kotleba proposes to reduce the number of parliamentarians from 150 to 100 members, to widen freedom of speech, to establish a home guard, and to withdraw the Slovak military from missions abroad. Moreover, it wants Slovakia to leave the European Union, European Monetary Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
Kotleba is perceived by liberal politicians and part of the populace as being fascist. This is due to some members of the party being connected to extremist movements such as the Slovak Brotherhood or the fact the party and its members requested a minute's silence for Jozef Tiso who supported and actively put laws in place during the WWII that discriminated against Jews and made the country pay Nazi Germany to transfer Slovak Jews into concentration camps. Under the Jozef Tiso regime Slovakia attacked Poland in 1939. Kotleba and his party was also described by both the Slovak President Andrej Kiska (born 1963) and Czech President Milos Zeman (born 1944) as fascist. The party denies any connection to fascism.
In May 2017, the General Prosecutors Office of the Slovak Republic made a submission to the Supreme Court, requesting a dissolution of the party. The General Prosecutors Office reasoned this step by alleged pro-fascist tendencies of the party, violation of the constitution of the Slovak Republic and violation of Slovak and international laws.
|Ku Klux Klan (KKK)||
The Ku Klux Klan, commonly called the KKK or simply the Klan, comprises three distinct movements in the United States that have advocated extremist reactionary positions such as white supremacy, white nationalism, anti-immigration and, especially in later iterations, Nordicism2, anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism. Historically, the KKK used terrorism, both physical assault and murder, against groups or individuals whom they opposed. All three movements have called for the 'purification' of American society and all are considered right-wing extremist organisations.
The first Klan flourished in the Southern United States in the late 1860s CE, but died out by the early 1870s. It sought to overthrow the Republican state governments in the South during the Reconstruction Era, especially by using violence against African American leaders. With numerous chapters across the South, it was suppressed around 1871, through federal law enforcement. Members made their own, often colourful, costumes: robes, masks and conical hats, designed to be terrifying and to hide their identities.
The second group was founded in the South in 1915 -- it flourished nationwide in the early and mid-1920s, including urban areas of the Midwest and West. Taking inspiration from the film Birth of a Nation, which mythologised the founding of the first Klan, it employed marketing techniques and a popular fraternal organisational structure. Rooted in local Protestant communities, it sought to maintain white supremacy, often took a pro-prohibition stance, and opposed Catholics and Jews, while also stressing its opposition to the Catholic Church at a time of high immigration from the mostly Catholic nations of Central and Southern Europe. This second organisation adopted a standard white costume and used code words which were similar to those used by the first Klan, while adding cross burnings and mass parades to intimidate others. It rapidly declined in the latter half of the 1920s.
The third and current manifestation of the KKK emerged after World War II in the form of localised and isolated groups that use the KKK name. They have focused on opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, often using violence and murder to suppress activists. It is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC). As of 2016, the Anti-Defamation League puts total Klan membership nationwide at around 3,000, while the SPLC puts it at 6,000 members total.
Although members of the KKK swear to uphold Christian morality, virtually every Christian denomination has officially denounced the KKK.
2 Nordicism was an ideology of racial separatism which viewed Nordics as an endangered racial group, most notably in Madison Grant's book 'The Passing of the Great Race'.
'Kundalini' is an ancient Sanskrit word that literally means 'coiled snake'. In early Eastern religion (long before Buddhism and Hinduism) it was believed that each individual possessed a divine energy at the base of their spine. This energy was thought to be the sacred energy of creation.
This energy is something we are born with, but we must make an effort to 'uncoil the snake', thereby putting us in direct contact with the divine. Kundalini Yoga is the practice of awakening our Higher Self and turning potential energy into kinetic energy.
Return to top of page.