From the Greek aduton, which means 'not to be entered', this term defines the holy of holies and denotes the holiest part of a temple, into which the public is not admitted. In ancient temples it was also a secret chamber, a private altar, a sacred compartment, a shrine built into the basement level of a temple, or a place of retirement. None but the officiating priests were permitted to enter. Generally, any sanctum, the innermost sanctuary in a temple.
Sometimes the adytum was the place where oracles were given.
In occultism it refers to the holiest area of an initiation center. According to some occult traditions and secret societies accounts such as the Freemasons in the adytum was usually kept a Tafov, or tomb, and sometimes also sacred relics and/or images of the god to whom the temple was consecrated. In some cases the Adytum was completely walled in, with no doors or windows, suggesting the practitioners believed in soul or spirit projection, the only vehicle through which to enter.
In Christian architecture it sometimes signifies the chancel, or altar end of a church. Among the Jews it means the Kodesh Hakodashim, the Holy of Holies, the Sanctum Sanctorum at the temple in Jerusalem, where the light never shined.
In Egypt, the Adyta, usually consisting of three blocks or pillars, answering to those of wisdom, strength, and beauty; also representing the mysterious Triad of the Deity; the Secos as described by Strabo were the same thing.
The adytum of the small temple of Pompeii is still in excellent preservation. It is carried some steps above the level of the main building, and, like the Jewish sanctuary, is without light. The most famous adytum in Greece was in the temple of Apollo at Delphi.
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Sources: (1) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (2) The Catholic Encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia Press; (3) The Encyclopaedia Britannica Eleventh Edition Handy Volume Edition, Oxford University Press; (4) Mackey, Albert G., and Clegg, Robert I., Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, The Masonic History Company.
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