Tag Archives: KYBALION

It is not your fault

There is a harrowing feature of New Age thinking which is a spin-off of the idea that you design your universe in your head. The concept touted in the Kybalion is that if the universe is mind and you are mind, then you create your universe with your thoughts.  You can be anything you want to be if you visualise and think positively.

But the converse of this is also true – if there is something wrong in your universe New Age thought is that it is because you put it there.

A psychologist friend of mine once said that while he rather liked New Age people, he did notice that there was a strong element of self-blame amongst them. When trauma counselling he had to overcome the belief that they were somehow responsible for the terrible things that happened to them.

No-one wants to be raped

One woman, who had been raped by her boyfriend, could not accept that she did not cause the problem by unconsciously choosing such a person in the first place.

She told him: “If I am the author of my own story, I must have chosen him to be in my life.  It is my negative thinking that created him.”

New Agers will apply that concept to other people and turn themselves into victim shamers. A poor person is only that way because they are not positive. They could leave that situation if they choose – they do not desire it enough.

Westcott appeared to be visualising everyone around him dying – including himself

This concept manifests in the judgement of some significant magicians who died in poverty or terrible illnesses. The idea is that they could not have been good magicians if they had such terrible lives. Had Wynn Westcott been better at visualising his family would not have killed themselves and he would not have died of Bright’s Disease. If Samuel Mathers had been a good magician, he would not have always been poor and survived the Spanish flu epidemic.

Like many things New Age, it is all propped up by a little bit of truth surrounded by overly simplistic thinking which ultimately drags down the whole idea. It is true that some people are so limited in their thinking that they cannot escape the patterns they have created for themselves. People do pick the wrong people in relations (normally due to a poor relationship with their parents). While it is true that visualisation is part of magic it is NOT the main game, but one of many limited techniques.

Bloody Kybalion

One of my first problems with the Kybalion, which annoyed my BOTA seniors, was the system depends on it all being about you. If my universe is the creation of my thinking, then other people are not involved.

If a murderer enters my life, it is due to MY visualisation and not his. This narcissistic view of the universe encourages you to only care for yourself. Other people, if they exist, are just bit players, but they are centre stage. But if everyone is visualising then somehow all these narcissistic worldviews must mesh together into a model which provides everyone with what they want.

But it doesn’t. If there is a lottery for a million dollars, there will only be one winner and many hopeful, positive thinkers. What is more, the winner is unlikely to be a positive person who knew they were going to win.

No-one asks to be raped, wants to be murdered, shot by police or die in a fire.

So what goes wrong?

The universe is not an expression of one human mind but that of the One Thing. The objectives of the One Thing are to learn about itself. Within its big created universe it built a humanity program in which it could experiment with stories involving more abstract qualities within itself like love, hate, war, online-shopping etc.

Each human has been given a story to live out with specific events which must happen for the One Thing to understand that point.

What is important to understand here is that the One Thing is doing this to itself. There is not a single thing you have experienced in your life which is not the One Thing experiencing it. Equally, there is nothing which could bring about these experiences in your life without some coordination from the One Thing. Since you are part of the One Thing, you are doing this to yourself to learn something. Once you have learnt that lesson, you may, or may not move on from it.

The easiest way for this story to happen is to be born into a family, country or social group. No New Age visualiser can claim that they were visualising on the astral and were responsible for their family.  Your first acts as a child are to adapt to that environment. So, a poor person’s attitudes are not negative thinking, but an evolution, or adaption to the situation they find themselves. It enables them to survive the terrible circumstances in which they find themselves.

That family will arrive with all the psychological baggage and genetic illnesses and pre-dispositions of its ancestors.  Something else that the child can do nothing about other than live through it and adapt.

Stories are not entirely written by you

On top of this, the child must resolve the story that the One Thing wants to learn in that life.

However, that does not mean that a person cannot use magic or visualisation to escape that life. There are many “rags to riches” stories where that happens. All of them require a person to fight their way out of their social status and DNA. But such stories are not for everyone. Some stories involve making the best of a bad situation; other stories include living your life no matter what it throws at you.

One of the things I have noticed about magicians is that all the good ones have had interesting lives. Even those who have had successful muggle lives (family, job, mortgage) have interesting stories beneath the surface.  Mathers might not have been that successful as a human or as a money maker, but he certainly lived. Aleister Crowley was a spendthrift, sexist, racist, bastard but no-one can deny that he had a life packed with exciting events and stories.

The sort of life I am describing is not entirely deterministic. Your response to those situations are what interests the One Thing.  A bad thing might happen to you which you choose to handle in a way that resolves it better. A person who deals with her rapist by facing him in court might lose, but her choice to take him on might help her deal with the pain and prevent her attacker doing it to someone else.

However, it does mean that the Kybalion is wrong. Bad things do happen to good people because the evolution of humanity and the divine spirit depend on it.

The One Thing is doing it to itself

But there is also an important social side to all this. If harming others is the One Thing inflicting pain on itself, doing “good” is also the One Thing helping itself.  When you help another person with their story, you are effectively helping yourself.  When you receive help from another, you are receiving it from the Universe.

If you don’t receive support from the One Thing, then chances are your story is to sort it out on your own and you have the ability and resources to fix the situation. For the same reason, you cannot judge another person for resolving their story in a way or failing.

The Magician is a specialist

The other question then is what is the role of the magician in this story? A magician is a specialist who uses spiritual forces and rules to create a change in the pattern or the story. They are there for when all else “rational” has failed. When the doctor or police can’t or will not help, when a situation needs to see the bigger picture or to call in gods and spirits.

A magician is no more important than anyone else in the story they are just the One Thing brings in more specialised functions. Not every story needs a Gandalf any more than it needs an Achilles. In Lord of the Rings, Gandalf was vital, in the Iliad he would have been useless.

A magician has their own story. It generally starts with initiation, balancing, contact with higher forces, testing and then service. During that process, a lot of shit will get thrown at them because it is part of their training. If nothing happened, then there would be no magic rituals to try out and nothing to learn.

Either way, the stuff which gets thrown at you, it may not be your fault.


An Egyptian Paprii has turned up in the British Museum which proves the historical veracity of the  Hermetic Book the Kybalion.

According to the Guardian In 1962 an antiques dealer sold a large fragment of papyrus to the British Museum.  Written in Demotic it was in a state of extraordinary preservation.  The age of the papyrus was dated to the late Middle Kingdom or the every early New Kingdom 1600 BCE.

It has only recently been translated and what fascinated the British Museum was ancient Hebrew text קַבָּלָn (Kybalion) which is the first historical reference to the ancient Hermetic text.

The rest of the text appears to be an Ancient platonic text explaining how each object in the universe has sexual characteristics or polarity. It explains how it is possible to duplicate precious metals by invoking a the deity Nut-Rn who was the spirit of a particular stream which flowed  near Hermopolis. There are a few references to the goddess Rn, in the Middle Kingdom and it is believed that the cult merged with Nut’s at the beginning of the New Kingdom.

The text reads surprisingly similar to some of the lines of the later Kybalion which suggests that it might be rooted in a much early Hermopoltic text. Indeed it would appear that book itself was alive.

“For the Kybalion [of] ḏḥwty spake and said: He [who would have] gold, needs gold.  Let [him] invoke Nut-Rn. For he who can [Cast back?] the polarity of the Nut-Ron flow shalt have mastery [of all] all metals.

Have you read this far yet? The above is the sort of text that sometimes appears on the Internet.  It is usually circulated across Facebook and is later seen as true.  It is easily refutable by anyone with a basic knowledge of Ancient History.

Ancient Hebrew block text did not come about until the Jewish people were in Babylon. In any event the word Kybalion is not Hebrew  Plato was born in 428 BCE so this could not be a platonic text. The Demotic script was not used in Egypt until 600 BCE so this fake is nearly 1000 years old  Rn never existed and there was no river which past Hermopolis (other than the Nile). Of course the Kybalion is not ancient at all but was an early 20th century forgery which took in a large number of people who should have known better.

My point in posting this is to call for a better standard of historical and occult research.  The Kybalion itself was one 20th century fraud.  There are lots of other ones.  Such historical frauds are not always deliberate. Paul Case appears to have fallen for the Kybalion, and some quite famous names fell for the “ancient” lineage claims of Madaline Montalban’s Angel Magic course.

Sometimes teachers make the mistake of calling up a dubious version of history to push their Orders, schools or ideas. For example many people believe that Wynn Westcott quit the Golden Dawn because Mathers planted some papers in a taxi cab with his name on it and got him in trouble with his employers.  However this story was made up by Crowley, who may or may not have believed it.

The only way we are ever going to work out what is going on in magic is if we get some better standards of historical research.  If we start actually carrying out proper historical research looking at serious academic texts.

This has a practical effect.  Some of the sort of work carried out by Jake Stratton-Kent has had a direct impact on practical magic.

Otherwise we start to believe crap.

Because everyone knows that only one person can reverse the polarity on the Nut-Rn Flow





The Kybalion is a “must have” occult text for beginners for many years and it was a big influence on me and other members of Builders of the Adytum thanks to a myth that Paul Foster Case was one of the anonymous writers.

This is the version I grew up with.
This is the version I grew up with.

More recently, one of its ideas “the Law of Attraction” was hijacked in the New Age Marketing phenomenon which was the “The Secret.”

As I have progressed along the path, the Kybalion ideas have become less important to me, mostly because they do not do what is claimed.

The Seven Principles or Laws

For those who came in late the Kybalion said that there are seven principles or laws by which the universe works. These are:

The Principle of Mentalism: All is Mind.

Principle of Correspondence: There is always a correspondence between the laws of phenomena of the various “planes” of being and life. There is a harmony, agreement and correspondence between these planes, “The Physical Plane,” “The Mental Plane” and the “Spiritual Plane.”

Principle of Vibration: Motion is manifest in everything in the Universe, that nothing rests, and everything moves, vibrates, and circles. To change one’s mental state is to change vibration. One may do this by an effort of Will, by means of deliberately “fixing the attention” upon a more desirable state.

Principle of Polarity: Everything is dual, everything has two poles, and everything has its opposite. These extremes meet, and all paradoxes may be reconciled.

Principle of Rhythm: Everything there is manifested a measured motion backward and forward in a pendulum-like movement.

Principle of Cause and Effect: There is a cause for every effect, and an effect for every cause. There is no such thing as chance, that chance is merely a term indicating extant causes not recognized or perceived.

Principle of Gender: Gender is manifested in everything as the Masculine and Feminine principles, and manifests itself on all planes. The Masculine principle is always in the direction of giving out or expressing, and contents itself with the “Will” in its varied phases. The Feminine principle is always in the direction of receiving impressions, and has a much more varied field of operation than the Masculine.

There is a lot here  that makes sense, but the danger in the Kybalion is taking them at face value and assuming they are absolute laws that apply to magic.  They don’t.

William WalkerAtkinson (Wikipedia)
William WalkerAtkinson (Wikipedia)

William Walker Atkinson

Firstly the book itself was written by William Walker Atkinson by himself, the Kybalion which the book quotes never existed.  Now I am not going to sound off about the book being a fraud. It does not really matter who wrote it if the information was valid.

Atkinson was a proponent of the new Thought Movement, something which was a big influence on Paul Case. He was also a big fan of writing anonymous works normally under the name Theron Q. Dumont and Yogi Ramacharaka. New Thought had the idea that God, is everywhere, spirit is the totality of real things, true human selfhood is divine, divine thought is a force for good, sickness originates in the mind, and “right thinking” has a healing effect. It also says that all disease is mental in origin. So in otherwords if you sit and visualise what you want with enough emotional power you will get it. This was the basis behind Paul Case’s Seven Steps and he claimed that it was the keys to magic; he applied to psychology and claimed that visualisation altered the unconscious thinking and as a result transformed your existence.

This is all somewhat true. Nevertheless, it is part of the trap of with occult ideas. If a law or principle is true it can be tested. The Kybalion only shows positive proof of its ideas, it does not reveal the negatives or the numerous “get out clauses” which the universe uses apparently to by-pass these so called rules.

Therefore, you are left with the conclusion that these are ideas which sometimes work and therefore cannot be anything like laws of the universe.  Some of my objections might seem like nit-picking but you find small things that don’t work, then the law must fail.


Principle of Mentalism: While I can accept that the Universe is all mind, I can’t accept that is all there is. A mind, or consciousness, is definable. It has rules which can define it. Yet there must equally be an infinite part of god which can only be defined by what it is not – and it would NOT be mind. If Thoth is an expression of the Divine Mind, he emerged from the UNKNOWABLE darkness.

Principle of Correspondence: While it is true that anything that happens on one plan CAN manifest on another, that does not mean that it actually does. Because a person has an idea for new building does not mean that such a construction will necessarily see life on earth. A huge number of ideas never make it into manifestation, and equally a large number of rituals on the physical plane do not work.

Principle of Vibration: All things are in motion and vibrate. This is somewhat true again and that stability appears to be an illusion. But it depends on relativity. An atom is stable relative to itself, while the solar system might be moving it is held stable by gravity.  If you put a stone on a table in front of you it does not move. It is not arguable to say “it moves very slowly and you can’t detect it” in actual fact it stays still relative to everything else.

Principle of Polarity: Despite it being a separate law this has similarities to the law of gender. I have divided them out so that the law of Gender is specifically talking about sex and NOT positive and negative duality. Heaven forbid that the “Three Adepts” only saw a difference because seven is a perfect number and six would require them to make up something different.

Anyway, I am not sure that this is literally true and if it were then it would counter the first law, which says the universe is one thing and Mind. Certainly, the Physicist David Bohm did see evidence that the world was dualistic. He thought that information (mind) is just as important as substance/intensity (matter/energy). And one cannot be reduced to the other. That means our world is not One Thing.

Like I said I do not believe in the duality of extremes, I don’t believe there is pure good or evil in our world, but abstractly about 40 shades of grey. I have a feeling that it simply appears dualistic but this is not actually the case.

Principle of Rhythm: This does not always happen at all. Light for example behaves as a wave (rhythm) and a particle. It is possible to create objects which do not operate in a rhythmic way. Evolution is not rhythmic.

Principle of Cause and Effect: Again this is sort of.  It was a standard scientific belief in the past which works but is getting a kicking by modern science. This is an area for research could mean that rather than this being an occult absolute it is actually just old science.

There are also philosophical problems with the Law of Cause and Effect. If A causes B then A always has to come first. Therefore, war causes death. However, since war does not always cause death and death is not always caused by war, it is more likely you can say that A is more likely to cause B. This kills off the part of the law. If you can only generate a probability of the same effect from the same cause then it means you must have some doubt about your cause or there is an inherent randomness about the universe which can nullify cause and effect.

The Principle of Gender: Now I know that this is supposed to be a figurative thing, but the laws are supposed to be applied to all of creation. There are there numerous situations within Nature where polarity does not exist, ranging from amoebas, to yeast, to snakes. The fact that parthenogenesis is possible means that polarity does not always apply to the physical world. This means that it probably does not always apply to the mental or spiritual worlds either.


No doubt people will find fault with my logic, philosophy and science methods, but that will not really be the point.  The issue here is that there are doubts whether or not the Kybalion produces an absolute set of “laws” worthy for a magician. Given the absolute tone of the book, you have to question if its status in an occultist’s bookshelf is really worthy, or if it is just a collection of fake-science manifesting as occult truth.