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Occultism and the Source of Magical Knowledge


Occultism and Theology

I had explained in Six Points on “Magic”: Theosophy rejects Supernaturalism and Miracle the source of Magic in Occult Philosophy. Theology attributes miracles simply to God, Angels and Saints, through the power of God. The occultist is the explorer intent on discovering the real cause of various hidden phenomena and the display of phenomenal abilities, which cannot in science merely be answered with “God,” demons, or energy.

The term, occult dates to the 1530s from the Middle French, occulte (“secret, not divulged”), and the Latin occultus (“hidden, concealed, secret). The term occult, in the 1540s is used to mean, “not apprehended by the mind, beyond the range of ordinary understanding, or senses.” It is associated with astrology, magic, alchemy, etc., in the 1630s. Despite this, the term in its basic sense is a perfect term to use, and therefore it is stupid that it became associated with immorality and negative connotation in the minds of the people.

In the 17th c., Agrippa began The Occult Philosophy with this poem:

“Pragmatick Schoolmen, men made up of pride, And rayling Arguments, who truth deride, And scorn all else but what your selves devise, And think these high-learned Tracts to be but lies, Do not presume, unless with hallowed hand, To touch these books who with the world shall stand; They are indeed mysterious, rare and rich, And far transcend the ordinary pitch.”
Io. Booker,  The Epigraph from the 1651 English Translation of Cornelius Agrippa’s De Occulta Philosophia)

Agrippa demonstrates, that the people were as skeptical then, as now; and Christianity regarded magic, except its own “miracles” as superstition or even satanic. The occultists maintain, that intelligence is a fundamental property in nature, and that the divine essence can be interacted with through metaphysical and alchemical processes.

Occultism in Western Dictionaries refer to super-naturalism and psychic manipulation of forces. Occultists argued that their knowledge proceeds from an understanding of the natural laws, and the correlation of forces in nature and man.

They describe the different types of practitioners who utilize variant methods in producing results.

“The thaumaturgists of all periods, schools, and countries, produced their wonders, because they were perfectly familiar with the imponderable — in their effects — but otherwise perfectly tangible waves of the astral light. They controlled the currents by guiding them with their will-power. The wonders were both of physical and psychological character; the former embracing effects produced upon material objects, the latter the mental phenomena of Mesmer and his successors. This class has been represented in our time by two illustrious men, Du Potet and Regazzoni, whose wonderful powers were well attested in France and other countries. Mesmerism is the most important branch of magic; and its phenomena are the effects of the universal agent which underlies all magic and has produced at all ages the so-called miracles. The ancients called it Chaos; Plato and the Pythagoreans named it the Soul of the World. According to the Hindus, the Deity in the shape of Æther pervades all things. It is the invisible, but, as we have said before, too tangible Fluid. Among other names this universal Proteus — or “the nebulous Almighty,” as de Mirville calls it in derision — was termed by the theurgists “the living fire,” the “Spirit of Light,” and Magnes. This last appellation indicates its magnetic properties and shows its magical nature. For, as truly expressed by one of its enemies — [[magos]] and [[magnes]] are two branches growing from the same trunk, and shooting forth the same resultants.” (H.P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. 1, pg. 129)

Therefore, a real knowledge of forces stems from a thorough knowledge of the latent and potent powers in matter, and their correlations in nature. The highest science of Occultism, or Gnosis is Divine Knowledge, Self-Knowledge, and is most commonly expressed in the Delphic inscription: MAN KNOW THYSELF.

As we shall explain it, “spiritual” phenomena is rooted in Motion, but the term, Occultism is too much equated even beyond the Medieval periods into our day with sorcery and demons. Blavatsky stated in her Studies in Occultism, that the rejection of much of the words in the English there were to define the reality of the occult presented a problem in the language, but the same could not be said in other languages. Due to this, one would not be able to define and shade the difference between those abnormal powers, or sciences that lead to the acquisition of them if they were to be discovered.

“…a magical performance based on Knowledge of the forces of Nature and their correlation is simply “Knowledge of the Soul,” true Wisdom…but which means far more. This last is the only kind of Occultism that any theosophist (…) who would be wise and unselfish, ought to strive after.”

(1) Occultism is a term that is used synonymous with the secret doctrine, or esoteric philosophy, though not used as it once was due to the stigma of occult as signifying “evil” and heterodox “superstitions.” (2) occultism is “the science that deals with things hidden in nature.” The Mahatma Letters are subtitled, e.g., an “Exposition of Occult Philosophy.”

In Agrippa’s time in 1650, there still existed many minds who were against any subject under the title of Occult Philosophy, or Magic, because it was regarded as the arts of the forbidden, of dark things and heresies, or a signifier of sorcery and superstition. 

R. Laurence Moore states on conspiratorial notions used as a tactic against esotericists, that:

“writers in the nineteenth century who were alarmed by the popularity of Eddy’s [Mary Baker] doctrines frequently summed up their feat using the word “occult”, the same word that had been used earlier to attack Mormons and spiritualists. It was meant to draw into question the allegiance of those movements to sound democratic and Christian principles. Opponents of Christian Science wanted to link Eddy’s church to an anti-Christian tradition that they said was trackable, despite the shrouded secrecy that had cloaked many of its activities, back to Mesmerism and the Illuminati Conspiracy, back to the renaissance of Paracelsus and the devoted students of Hermes Trismegistus, back to the Gnostic and Neo-Platonic cults of the early Christian era.” (R. Laurence Moore, Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans, New York/Oxford, 1986, pg. 106).

The same can be said for theology. Theology is a term dating to the mid 14th c., “meaning the science of religion, study of God, and his relationship to humanity.” It comes from the old French, theologie, or “philosophical study of the Christian doctrine; scripture.” 

From the Latin, theologia and the Greek theologia, meaning “an account of the gods.” A theologos is “one discoursing on the gods,” from theos a “god,” not just meaning God as in the Abrahamic conception. Theo-LOGIA therefore does not mean the study of the God of the Bible alone, but that is what it has come to mean.

Today, theology merely operates as apologetics for a special religion. Theology is really in a greater sense, “the study of the Gods,” the super-sensible Elements, of the Divine Nous, of Mind, of MONAS (God as the supreme monad), associated with Ethics, the mysteries of Sound, Language, and Numbers.

“Theology moves back and forth between two poles, the eternal truth of its foundations and the temporal situation in which the eternal truth must be received.” (Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology)

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