I spent my holidays reading a lot of esoteric literature. After polishing off Louis Bergier’s The Morning of the Magicians, I moved on to a cache of Rosicrucian literature in my collection, and then a book on Jungian symbolism. To top it all off, I started reading Manly P. Hall’s The Secret Teachings of All Ages.
Fantasy and Fantastic Reality
This isn’t a new habit for me, mind you: I’ve always enjoyed reading philosophical, magical and mystical texts. I’ve half-joked with friends that I’m some kind of amphibian: I need to spend a least part of my day submerged in the fantastic. This isn’t necessarily a healthy way to live, but to quote Shirley Jackson, “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.”
There are rewards, too, though: Learning to safely entertain multiple contradictory ideas is one of them; developing a sense for symbolism and correspondences is another.
Angels and Daemons
I’ve been considering the practice and philosophy of magick as largely being a process of psychological development. I’ve seen some parallels between the Rosicrucian “God of Your Heart“, Aleister’s Crowley’s “Holy Guardian Angel“, and the daemons and muses spoken of by the Classic philosophers.
“Tell me about your Holy Mother”
All of these occult practices can be easily paralleled with Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow’s psychological concept of “Self-Actualization” and C.G. Jung’s “Individuation”. Crowley’s “Do What Thou Wilt” seems to me to suggest discovering what you true will is – essentially who you are inside – and acting on it. It’s not a license for licentiousness, but rather a mandate for self-discovery.
The outer lodge and Presbyterian Ladies’ Pot-Luck
Religions are rife with this kind of symbolism, but it seems that many people are happy when they’re not aware of it. They’re comfortable with the edicts of organized religion… the comfort of canon. Many of the religiously minded will live and serve and grow and die within this structure. That’s okay, I guess, but what if the process of spiritual (or psychological) growth is structured like a secret society? The Golden Dawn, perhaps the most famous magickal lodge in the Western tradition, famously had an inner order and an outer order. Only the most promising students ever learned that the inner order existed. Could the mainstream religions serve as that outer order, and the pure experience of mysticism something most people never even discover?
“Chances are you’re a member of a secret society and don’t even know it”
Lately, the concept of “The Invisible College” has been of great interest: What of those brothers and sisters in esoteric belief united in the effort to find and share enlightenment? Does this shared goal make them a secret society of sorts? Could the most secretive secret society be the one that doesn’t know it exists?