mystical


mystical
mystical, mystic, anagogic, cabalistic are comparable when they denote having a meaning or character hidden from all except those who enjoy profound spiritual insight or are spiritually initiated. Mystical and mystic, though often interchangeable, can be distinguished in use.
In general, mystical suggests comprehension of something beyond the range of the perceptive or ratiocinative powers; its use therefore often implies belief in the possibility of such comprehension and the word variously connotes penetration into sacred mysteries, holiness of life, idealism, detachment from material concerns, ecstatic contemplation, or spiritual rapture
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the mystical philosophy of Plotinus

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mystical religions such as Buddhism

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the mystical poetry of William Blake

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there is something mystical in this doctrine, this faith, as of Keats, that "what the Imagination seizes as Beauty must be Truth"— L. P. Smith

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Mystic is appropriately used when one wishes to avoid these special implications of mystical or to suggest others more in keeping with a rationalistic or skeptical point of view. Therefore mystic often imputes to the thing it describes:
(1) an occult, esoteric, or visionary character
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mystic ceremonies

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the mystic symbolism of Blake's poetry

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(2) a mysterious, enigmatic, or sometimes nebulous quality
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words of mystic import— Shelley

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[Guérin's] expression has . . ., more than Keats's, something mystic, inward, and profound— Arnoldy}

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(3) a connection with magic or the arts of magic
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mystic numbers

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each silver vase in mystic order laid— Pope

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Often its basic denotation is completely obscured and it means merely unintelligible, unfathomable, or incomprehensible
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the mystic gulf from God to man— Emerson

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Anagogic refers basically to an ultimate underlying meaning, especially in the Bible, perceptible only to those of profound spiritual insight
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when Dante . . . describes his poetry as polysemous, with literal, allegorical, moral, and anagogic meaning levels, he at the same time insists that the literal meaning comes first in comprehension— Burnham

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looming in the distance, there was the final or anagogic meaning that transformed the symbolic object into a spiritual truth— Malcolm Cowley

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Cabalistic in its primary meaning applies to a secret interpretation of Scriptures (Cabala) held to have been revealed to Moses and handed down orally through a line of chosen Jewish rabbis. The system came to be used by medieval magicians and sorcerers. Both aspects color the extended use of cabalistic so that it sometimes comes close to mystic in its connotations
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the power of the theurgic rite or cabalistic word, understood only by the gods— H. O. Taylory

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self- conscious artists, working for the admiration of small followings and often requiring cabalistic analysis before they could be fully understood— Time

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but commonly it is closer to occult or magic
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by describing with the hands certain cabalistic patterns on the air and uttering at the same time the proper Sanskrit formulas it was believed that goblins and demons . . . could be exorcised— Noss

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Analogous words: profound, *deep, abysmal: *ultimate, absolute, categorical: spiritual, divine, sacred, *holy: *supernatural, supranatural, miraculous

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • mystical — (adj.) late 15c., enigmatic, obscure, symbolic, from MYSTIC (Cf. mystic) + AL (Cf. al) (1). Related: Mystically. Meaning having spiritual significance is from 1520s …   Etymology dictionary

  • mystical — ► ADJECTIVE 1) relating to mystics or mysticism. 2) having a spiritual significance that transcends human understanding. 3) inspiring a sense of spiritual mystery, awe, and fascination. DERIVATIVES mystically adverb …   English terms dictionary

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