What Is Occultism?
I believe Occultism to be essentially a reincarnation of ancient paganism, a revivification of the Pythagorean philosophy; not the senseless ceremonies and spiritless forms of those ancient religions, but the Spirit of the Truth which animated those grand old systems which held the world spell-bound in awe and reverence long after the spirit had departed, and nothing was left but the dead, decaying body.
Occultism asserts the eternal individuality of the soul, the imperishable force which is the cause and sustaining power of all organization, that death is only the casting off of a worn-out garment in order to procure a new and better one.
So death, so-called, can but the form deface,
The immortal soul flies out in empty space,
To seek her fortune in another place.
Occultism, in its efforts to penetrate the arcana of dynamic forces and primordial power, sees in all things a unity, an unbroken chain extending from the lowest organic form to the highest, and concludes that this unity is based upon a uniformly ascending scale of organic forms of being, the Jacob’s ladder of spiritual organic experience, up which every soul must travel before it can again sing praises before the face of its Father. It perceives a duality in all things, a physical and spiritual nature, closely interwoven in each other’s embrace, interdependent upon each other, and yet independent of each other. And as there is in spirit-life a central individuality, the soul, so there is in the physical, the atom, each eternal, unchangeable and self-existent. These centres, physical and spiritual, are surrounded by their own respective atmospheres, the intersphering of which results in aggregation and organization. This idea is not limited to terrestrial life, but is extended to worlds and systems of worlds.
Physical existence is subservient to the spiritual, and all physical improvement and progress are only the auxiliaries of spiritual progress, without which there could be no physical progress. Physical organic progress is effected through hereditary transmission; spiritual organic progress by transmigration.
Occultism has divided spiritual progress into three divisions – the elementary, which corresponds with the lower organizations; the astral, which relates to the human; and the celestial, which is divine. “Elementary spirits,” whether they belong to “earth, water, air or fire,” are spirits not yet human, but attracted to the human by certain congenialities. As many physical diseases are due to the presence of parasites, attracted or produced by uncleanness and other causes, so parasitic spirits are attracted by immorality or spiritual uncleanness, thereby inducing spiritual diseases and consequent physical ailments. They who live on the animal plane must attract spirits of that plane, who seek for borrowed embodiments where the most congeniality exists in the highest form.
Thus the ancient doctrine of obsession challenges recognition, and the exorcism of devils is as legitimate as the expelling of a tape-worm, or the curing of the itch. It was also believed that these spiritual beings sustained their spiritual existence by certain emanations from physical bodies, especially when newly slain; thus in sacrificial offerings the priests received the physical part, and the Gods the spiritual, they being content with a “sweet-smelling savour.” It was further thought that wars were instigated by these demons, so that they might feast on the slain.
But vegetable food also held a place in spiritual estimation, for incense and fumigations were powerful instruments in the hands of the expert magician.
Above the elementary spheres were the seven planetary spheres, and as the elementary spheres were the means of progress for the lower animals, so were the planetary spheres the means of progress for spirits advanced from the elementary – for human spirits. The human spirit at death went to its associative star, till ready for a new incarnation, and its birth partook of the nature of the planet whence it came, and whose rays illumined the ascendant – the central idea of astrology. When the lessons of a planetary sphere were fully mastered, the spirit rose to the next sphere to proceed as before. The character of these spheres corresponded to the “seven ages of man.” But not always did the spirit return to the astral spheres. Suicides; those from whom life had been suddenly taken before fully ripe; those whose affections were inordinately attached to earthly things, etc., were held to the earth till certain conditions were fulfilled, and some whose lives had fitted them for such disposal were remanded to the elementary spheres, to be incarnated as lower animals, corresponding to the nature of their lives. Such were the perturbed spirits who sometimes disturbed the peace of sensitive mortals in the days gone by – perhaps now.
Transcending the planetary spheres were the three divine spheres where the process of apotheosis took place, where the spirit progressed till it reached the fulness of the Godhead bodily. From these spheres were appointed the Guardians of the inferior spheres, the Messengers of God, ministering spirits, sent to minister to them who shall receive the inheritance of salvation.
Such is a brief outline of spiritual Occult philosophy; it may seem to be inconsistent with the ideas of modern Spiritualism, yet even Spiritualism has not altogether lost sight of the seven spheres and other peculiarities of the ancient astro-spiritual faith; and as knowledge is acquired and experience gained, a better understanding of both ancient and modern mysticism will bring them nearer together and show a consistency and mutual agreement which has never been disturbed – only obscured – by human ignorance and presumption.
But Occultism has a physical aspect which I cannot afford to pass by. Man is a fourfold being.
Four things of man there are: spirit, soul, ghost, flesh;
Four places these four keep and do possess.
The earth covers flesh, the ghost hovers o’er the grave,
Orcus hath the soul, the stars the spirit crave.
When the spirit leaves the body, and is properly prepared for the stellar spheres, these are retained in the mortal remains; and the shade, which is no part of the spirit or the true man or woman, may still counterfeit them, make revelations of the past, in fact reveal more of its sensual history, and prove sensual identity better than the spirit itself could do, seeing it knows only spiritual things. The sciomancy of the past bears the same relation to modern psychometry that ancient Magic does to modern Spiritualism. Thus in haunted houses, in graveyards and places where deeds of violence have occurred, sensitives see the drama reäcted which transpired long ago, the spirit being no accessory thereto.
The spirit cannot even communicate unless through the interblending of physical and spiritual auræ, and only by coming en rapport with physical things can it know anything of them; and thus mediums are as necessary on the other side as on this; through which mediums, Guardian Spirits, we may gain a nearer apprehension of spiritual truths, if we live for them.
– BUDDHA OF CALIFORNIA.*
[From The Spiritual Scientist.]
H. P. Blavatsky
* We cannot say positively that this is H. P. B.’s, but it is either written by her, or under her inspiration.