The writing is on the wall for Public Occultism. Its glory days are over and even those who are trying to keep the lights on are finding it hard to pay for the power bill.
I have been quiet lately because I have had a few breakthroughs that have provided me with all the answers I needed to make magic work and why it doesn’t. This is pretty big, but unlike the other revelations which I have tended to share with the wider occult community, I don’t have much impulse to share any of this outside my own magical order. It is the sort of thing I will hint at if I write my books, but I don’t really feel like doing that at the moment either.
The reason is that like many people who followed the occultism during the last century I have worked out that the days of large scale public occultism are over. The “real stuff” might continue but it is going to be even more exclusive than it has been. The great experiment in semi-public occultism which the Order of the Golden Dawn started has been a failure. The idea that if we put information out there humanity will work at it and watch it develop is a fallacy. It turns out, that the magic which is so freely available, is not the real thing at all. All a book, or a webpage can present is a fact, or opinion – a shadow on the wall. It does not make us the singers of the woven words than owning a cookbook makes us a great chef.
Sure, some ideas and techniques of occultism can be found on the internet, or in books, but the knowledge is scattered, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. It takes years of research and dedication to bring them together and even with the help of a good teacher or an occult order we must assemble it blindfolded and wearing oven gloves.
Historically occultism has appeared and then disappeared and the brief flowering which took place in the 20th century is fading. I think it will be gone in two generations. The material might be there, but fewer will be interested, they will be followers of whatever religious movements emerge in the next 20 years.
It is not that occultism is useless, or has nothing to say, it just cannot be popular enough to stay in the forefront of popular fashion. It is too intellectual to be popular, it is too practical to be an intellectual exercise. The fall of occultism will be exactly like it was in the 5th century when philosophical paganism, the mystery schools and theurgists were replaced by a better organised and simpler Christianity.
In the spirit of dumbing down these ideas I have made a list of ten reasons why this is so. They are not in any order:
TOP TEN REASONS WHY PUBLIC OCCULTISM IS DYING
1. The contamination of occultism by dumbed down “New Age” systems, fantasy and fraud. Occultism and magic cannot be boiled down to seven basic laws or principles or simplified. New Thought, the Secret, NLP, Chaos magic, New Age have all given a completely false impression of what magic is. However rather than resist this, the various occult movements have adopted some or all of these principles. Eastern ideas, such as karma, have been repackaged and placed inside Western occultism to fit New Age thinking. This dumbing down of occultism has made it acceptable to spiritual tourists. They provide a common language between many different shallow occult groups which are about show rather than serious work.
2. Contamination by Intellect. This might appear to be a contradiction to the “dumbing down argument above, but actually is part of the polarity we are seeing within occultism which is killing it off. On one hand we have the new age approach and the other we have those who take teaching and intellectualise it. Some are proud of being armchair occultists who sit, read and pontificate without actually doing. Intellect however is incredibly logical and if you start with one idea it is possible to carry it to a point of absurdity. Instead of practicing to touch the hem of the One Thing, you end up arguing about the correct cabbalistic pronunciation of YHVH. Within the Golden Dawn tradition, this is a major issue.
3. Contamination by Psychology. Psychology coincided with the rise of occultism in the 20th century and both occultism and psychologists borrowed each other’s ideas. However by the 1960s, psychology started to claim that magical (and religious ideas) were all in the mind. To make this work, psychologists dismissed important parts of the magical system as being “extensions of the magician’s unconscious.” This was a shame because psychology was a useful tool to weed out objective from subjective experiences. Now, at its extreme, it declares everything as being subjective. Psychology as an academic discipline requires no occult ability, or understanding. Personally I would like an NLP “expert” to try to explain a real Daemon as an extension of their unconscious as it strangles him or her with his own intestines.
4. Contamination by fundamentalism. The 20th century was crippled by a rise in fundamentalism – a move to purify a religious tradition by a literal interpretation of written teaching. Occultism has been no different and we see people looking for security in written occult teachings. Like the religious fundamentalist movement, occult fundamentalists are selective about what they choose to be literal about. The goal is to freeze a movement within a perceived Golden Dawn (pun intended) often interpreting material using anachronisms, but always taking the writings literally.
5. Contamination of training systems by “non-occult” leaders. The late 20th century saw the rise of those who saw occultism as a means to make money or get laid. Few managed it, but they did manage to establish groups with poor training and useless students. In doing so they damaged the trust that an order system/and teaching system needs. Students assume that because these people exist ALL orders and teachers must be corrupt scammers.
6. The failure of modern students to study or give the work priority. Modern occultism students are like Google, they collect a lot of facts, teachings and (sometimes) groups. Occultism though requires regular daily practice. It takes a while to develop this as a habit (the lower self will move heaven and earth to stop it happening) and yet at the same time students do not make this practice a priority. There is always something more important to do. Students will not even join a good occult order if it requires them to drive across down or miss initiations because they feel they need to buy a new appliance. Even the idea of buying a book is slipping. Sales of occult books has dropped from tens of thousands (which was always small for the rest of the publishing world) to hundreds.
7. Failure to financially support teachers, writers, or orders. Throughout the 20th century occult orders were supported by their members. The Golden Dawn, Inner Light, BOTA, White Eagle, Theosophy, SOL, AMORC all received rich donations from their members and survived. Their teachers could all write and teach. That stopped in the 1970s and teachers went on a circuit and did ok writing and running workshops. Now that has dried up. Teachers have a choice they either dumb down their message until they are just teaching New Age morons, or “satanise” the message so you are talking to gothic morons who want to scare their parents. Normally the teachers just never teach anyone. Orders find it difficult to get a enough money for candles and are meeting in people’s houses. Those who can meet a rent bill usually have large numbers who pay a tiny amount. Most of them rely on the cash and work of the leaders. Even the idea of buying a teacher’s book is considered an oddity. The numbers of people who have contacted me looking for a free pdf of my titles is legion. What I find is that people who do that never actually read the book anyway – it is just stored in the tablet providing useful information to no-one.
8. The collapse of the Order and Teaching system. Orders and teachers used to be the balance. They provided information, performed magic that assisted a person’s development and forced a student past. For the reasons above that has become difficult as students no longer respect their orders or teachers (or do not even reliably attend meetings). A group collapses if the leader leaves. Orders that survive are too frightened of losing members to actually stand in the way of their student’s poor behaviour as a result the order system crashes and loses effectiveness. Out of fear of being seen as autocratic, teachers allow themselves to be bullied by their ignorant students. It is now possible for a teacher to be told off for daring to point out that a student’s cherished New Age belief is wrong. I have been told online that it is better for a person to be allowed to distribute their ignorant ideas than for me to challenge them.
9. The Internet has made occultism too accessible. If you want information from an occult “personality” you can find them and send them an email. Most of the time they are good people who do reply. However that has given students the concept that they are important and that information from a valued source is just a badly worded SMS away. Some of the questions I get could be found on Google or even by searching this blog. Asking me about the lesser “banishing” ritual of the pentagram, for example, is a waste of my time. Despite what you might read online there is such a thing as a stupid question and in occultism the asking of the “right” question is really important. For example if you had the chance to talk to Mathers or Westcott you would not ask them about the Middle Pillar (for a start they would not know as it was invented after their time).
10. The quality of occult information has become less and not more. It is rare that I buy an occult book these days. Most of the information is dumbed down, stupid, rehashes of older material or just made up. For every Jake Stratton-Kent there are a thousand Necronomicons, for every Cicero book there are tons of GD pastiches, for every Aaron Lietch there are libraries of Dark Fluff. Instead I have been reading about actual historical magical techniques and methods. Some of this has been academic papers and heavy intellectual, but it is from them I found the answers I was looking for.
All of these things have created a slide where the voices of the stupid have the power to shout down those who know what they are talking about. A universe where good occult orders are destroyed because they are unsupported by their increasingly lazier and spoilt students.
The result is that the good orders and schools are smaller and incredibly more selective. They are refusing to allow accelerated or fake grades to allow rapid expansion. They are researching and keeping this generation of occult information to themselves. Perhaps they are writing the odd interesting book to hook in the right sort of people. They will make learners jump through hoops to show their commitment before they initiate them.
As a result the public information on real occultism will slowly disappear. Initially there will be a rise of those with no occult experience who will fill the gap, until they fail to meet the expectations of even more arrogant students. Then the whole thing will fade, with occultism being part of the shadows again. It was a great time in the 80s and 90s and I was lucky to have good teachers and great esoteric experiences. We will not see their like again in our lifetime.