The Occult and Spiritual Growth

By Frater Yeheshuah

Occult wisdom and practice attracts many but is given time by very few.  For instance, the Thelemic community does not even represent a rounding error in the census of the US population; the name of Aleister Crowley and his story of an order of magical illuminati, however, permeates our culture.  Magical thinking certainly has a death grip on American society.  The spiritual paths of the occult, I believe, can lead to growth and enlightenment.  The Incomprehensible One, after all, stands above the heavens and bows beneath the hells.  Magick often proves to be a dead end with nothing of value to live in or explore in the cul-de-sac, though.

It occurs to me that the problem is not just with magick and the occult.  Religion, my own chosen path of Christianity, is almost universally an intellectually empty, spiritually valueless enterprise.  Religion, I include the occult in this category, is largely lived out at a very low, unreflective level… as is the case with politics and education and ethics and whatever other categories of action we might come up with.  When it comes to magick, this lack of insight turns into love spells and pretend access to secret knowledge, fortune-telling and healing potions.

I have found… or, I think I have found… that the occult can be translated into wisdom by the alchemy of honesty and devotion.  I do not know why it is I have such a strong attraction to the study and practice of religion.  It is more than likely a personality quirk, a matter of my history and neurochemistry.  That set of material facts has made me a devoted practitioner of magick and mysticism over the years.  In my attempts at honesty with myself, and I do not claim to be the most successful in this arena, I have noted peace and joy and love develop within me.  What I have not once witnessed is an unexplainable event or otherworldly apparition.  Spirit and body, as far as I can tell, are one.  Magick does not grant one spiritual control over the material world.

Based on my experience and experiments as well as the witness of history and science and the demonstrable inability of witches and warlocks to exercise even the slightest control over nature, magick as it is generally understood is a useless endeavor.  Using the language of the mystic rather than the magician, the world is a place of grace.  There is magick at work, which is seen by a transformed mind and heart made new by devotion and honesty.  The wisdom that is gained is rather simple as I have it, which is that we find the world a place of deep value and life, even with its suffering, worth the trip, and we are given the resources to make it through our journey.

The real difficulty that creeps in the background is how to share that grace with those who cannot see grace anywhere and who lack the privilege I have been born into.

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Secrecy in the Spiritual Life

By Frater Yeheshuah

In my experience, there are no mystical secrets or hermetically sealed spiritual truths… none, at least, that ought to be secret.  Great care needs to be taken at times to heal a sister with my own bit of insight rather than damage her more severely than has already been done.  But, it seems to me, those insights are not to be protected by secrecy, but need to be handed over with attention to the sister who receives them.  People who are familiar with the OTO and related magical and mystical societies will know that oaths of silence on certain matters are extracted from those who would pass through the initiations and receive an order’s teachings.  Freemasonry’s highest secret truth is that of the need for each of us to love our brothers and sisters.  OTO’s highest bit of gnosis, the 9th degree secret teachings, is, in part, that Jesus Christ is God made flesh, the Second Person of the Triune God.  These are not secrets.  Rather, that they were imparted to the seeker at all is the secret.  (And since I have received these truths without the obligation to secrecy, given the way I became aware of the secrets, I am able to share their content with you.)

In 1917, the founder of the OTO, Theodore Reuss, wrote an introduction to Crowley’s Gnostic Mass wherein it is explained that the purpose of the order, in its form as the Ecclesia Gnostica Cattolica, is to establish a purified Christianity.  If that statement was being made openly, why does the order work so hard to keep such secrets hidden.  “Why?” is not for me to determine.  This I do know: if I had smelled Christianity around the OTO almost 20 years ago, I would never have approached them or worried at all about their teachings.  My heart and mind needed to be renewed.  I needed to die and rise again.  And I did.

So, I am a Christian now, although I am still a member of the OTO.  Magick has fallen away in favor of the deeply healing personal experience of the Incomprehensible One who is Love, mysticism.  Magick itself is a sort of smoke screen, confusing the seeker.  There is no occult mastery of nature.  Spirits never convey Nobel prize-winning scientific insights.  The miraculous is a means of keeping the secrets hidden.  Mysticism, however, is ordinary and breaks through the screen.  Or, mysticism is the ordinary experience of the Son leading us through the smoke.

May the Spirit which is poured into us at Baptism give us new hearts.