NOTE: this is all my own personal understanding from my personal experience and study. I would not be at all surprised if your thoughts differed from mine, in fact, I expect that to be the case.
Many authors attempt to convey their concept of what the “occult” is, and what “magic” entails. Unfortunately, many of them do not possess the great number of years of study in the Western Mysteries, to qualify them to write intelligently on the subject (of course, they do it anyway). In addition to that, many are writing from a strong religious bias, which prevents them from making any real or substantial contribution to the understanding of “that which cannot be understood”. The final “kicker” to all this, is that the masses of readers who are ignorant of such things, readily take the misguided writings of such authors as truth, with not even a meager attempt at verification of the veracity of such writings. No understanding of real magic, or any real knowledge of the occult can come through research of the myriads of unenlightened expositions on the subject. It is only through many years of concentrated effort, and through the guidance of some reputable “Mystery School” or wise teacher (there are many who claim to be wise, but do not have real wisdom), that even a superficial appreciation of the enigmatic symbolism begins to dawn upon the aspirant.
I wish to do my part to dispel (dis-spell) the misinformation that is rampantly promulgated as truth in this area.
The simplest description i can come up with, of what the occult (and magic, sort of) IS, is the journey to “consciously rediscover the divine spark which already exists, and has always existed, within each and every person – AND thing, in the Universe”.
Occult – “hidden”, secret – refers to the “oral tradition” which was historically transmitted from teacher to student within the religious priesthood, alongside the “written tradition”, which presented divine wisdom in a somewhat obscured and concealed way, for more general consumption. Without clearly revealing specific information which was considered “dangerous” for the common, uneducated, illiterate, and ignorant person to know, they (whoever “they” are, in any time, context, or society) supposedly “protected” their subjects from this “dangerous” knowledge (sound familiar?). Most likely, they were protecting their own (asses and) “authority” over the ruled, subjugated, and enslaved masses. With these texts, some basic “laws” for behavior, and punishments, were presented in whatever “sacred” book existed in any given authoritarian “religion”, or government. The goal of such was (is) to control, contain, and subjugate the masses to the will of the <insert your own self-proclaimed authority here> government or “church” and its political hierarchy (the names change, but the hegemony, sovereignty, or supremacy remain the same). These “authorities” used it as a method to keep their subjects pacified and minimally “happy” (and it works exceptionally well). The “powers that be” did not want the common folk to rebel when they took exception to being enslaved to the “elite”, or bent to their “will”. This situation has existed throughout all of known history, and still exists today. There is always someone who wants to be “boss”, and “fear” of the unknown, or the nonexistent, or of the threatening “other”, is one of many psychological tools used to establish and perpetuate this assumed “authority”. <insert audible sigh here>. Many times, this “tool” takes the form of a sacred religious text. Don’t you know, if it is “sacred”, how dare anyone question it or take exception to the direct word of (some contrived, fictional) god!
This most “dangerous” information was partially this: the knowledge that each individual was created equal to any other. Each person, and thing, in the Universe is a unique and special divine “Spark” of the Whole, of the Unity. No one “thing”, or “being”, is better, or more valuable than any other. ALL is sacred. Also, each person is given the SAME (spiritual) potentialities and powers as any other. Also, each person is free to do anything of which they can conceive and desire, without any consequences in any kind of “afterlife”. There is no “hell” after death, it is a contrived fiction born in the minds of the power-obsessed. The only consequences for our actions, are those imposed by others, or by “society”, in THIS life, in the physical realm. This is (part of) the occult knowledge which is considered to be the most “dangerous” (possibly) to each individual; if they knew or even thought they could do anything without eternal consequence. They might choose to do things which carry the risk of death or maiming to themselves , or to others, or, more importantly, to the “governing” authorities, or to society itself. I am not saying that this is not a serious concern for those who present this information to others – in fact it IS. There have been periods throughout history where this knowledge was studied widely, and generally accepted. In fact, there was a time when you were not considered properly “educated” without this knowledge, especially in the “elite” circles of society (especially during the early Renaissance ). However, there have also been times where the “elite” considered this knowledge dangerous to their rulership. As a result, for example, the “church” waged a campaign to stamp it out, and branded it as “evil” (except, of course, for themselves). Remember the crusades, and the inquisition? (I refuse to capitalize such abominations)
This is why certain things were kept “hidden”. The fact is, that there are some who choose to follow the left-hand path of chaos, destruction, and domination by force and will (mostly the “elite”), but the majority (I sincerely hope) who are knowledgeable in the “occult” look within to find the power to change those things about themselves which need improvement, or which are standing in the way of further spiritual growth. Such people understand that we are ALL part of the SAME being, and that to harm any part of that whole, is to harm oneself. They learn the responsibility of having this greater understanding (“noblesse oblige” among the truly “blessed”), and take their responsibility to the Whole seriously. Most learn to value and love all of creation, developing great tolerance and compassion towards all. This greater understanding probably exists naturally to the child who has not yet been indoctrinated, but the same understanding is otherwise not a natural part of the “little” self, or ego, but needs to be relearned and re-experienced. This knowledge is dangerous in the hands of those who are foolish, seek to enslave and subjugate, or who are not mentally or, more importantly, emotionally entirely stable. Those on the left-hand path either: do not realize the responsibility which naturally accompanies this greater knowledge, or actively reject and denounce that responsibility. They make a conscious decision to reject responsibility to others, and to the Whole (and, in turn, reject that responsibility towards THEMSELVES as well, since they are part of that Whole – whether they realize it, or not).
So, you can see the possible danger of everyone knowing and realizing the simple truth that all are equal, that all are free (within the limits and bounds of the physical laws, like gravity) to think, plan, say, or do, anything they want, without fear of punishment in the hereafter. ALSO, the knowledge that there is NO authority separating any individual from direct unity with God, or the Whole of the Universe. There is just the individual, and then God, with no “earthly” authority in between. (Matthew 23:9,King James Version (KJV): “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven”. The “mediator” between God and humanity, as described in the Bible (1 Timothy 2:5), contrary to surface appearances, is a “spiritual” reality, which does not actually “separate”, but rather provides the BRIDGE, or spiritual mechanism, for any aspirant to attain the conscious experience of unity with the Whole. It is a means of connection, rather than separation.
The occult knowledge also includes the idea that we can each reclaim, and experience personally, oneness with that Unity. The fact is, that all things ARE constantly in a state of unity with the ALL, but because of individuation (individualization), we have lost, forgotten, or simply cannot perceive, the CONSCIOUS knowledge and experience of that unity. The process of taking on a physical form, and the total immersion in the overwhelming sensory experience, which is physical life on the physical plane of existence, hides our conscious connection with the Divine within the overwhelming sensory “noise” of life. The goal of both the mystic, and the occultist alike, is to regain that CONSCIOUS experience and knowledge of the oneness with the Divine, which each and every “thing” in the Universe already, and continually, possesses.
Yet another piece of the occult knowledge, is also the very basis of every major religion of humanity. That is the full knowledge of BOTH the Immanence AND Transcendence of the Divine. God lives both “through” and “within”, each and every part of creation, and is unified with ALL of that creation – AND, is also One with all that does NOT exist within creation. We can think of God as being Unified with Spirit and Soul… and with No-thing (that which does NOT exist), and with infinity, eternity, immortality etc. This thought includes ALL the potentialities and possibilities which COULD exist, but maybe, do not exist in “reality” (whatever that is, who knows!?). The ideas of any and all possible “alternate” universes, exist within the Mind of God, whether, or not, they actually physically exist in some reality parallel to our own. The bottom line IS: that God is everything that exists (signified by the Divine name “Ehyeh”, or “Eheieh”, in the Bible), AND everything which does NOT exist, except as possibility, except in thought. I will throw in here the concept that everything which we THINK exists, is also nothing but thought in the Mind of God. Physical existence only “appears” to be substantial, because we THINK of it that way. It is all based on our mind’s interpretation of sensory impressions. There is nothing which is NOT God, and there is nothing that can ever possibly exist outside of God, including nothingness itself! There is no possible idea or reality which can exist, except WITHIN the Mind (and Being) of God. How’s that for a mind-blowing supposition. I will leave you to work out all of the possible implications.
The preceding includes a good bit of the basis of the occult doctrine. It is “said” that an adept, one who has achieved conscious unity with the Divine, has complete power and control over all the natural forces of the physical Universe. The only individual who is capable of reaching this level, is, by definition, also one who realizes, and fully, faithfully accepts, the huge responsibility which accompanies this level of Oneness with the ALL (and the No-thing), and the power that derives from this conscious Unity. No person of “evil” intent (“evil” and “good” are only relative to OUR perceived physical state of being, but have no meaning from the perspective of the Unity) is capable of ever attaining to this adept level, because its attainment requires serious acquiescence to the Divine Will, and complete acceptance of, the great responsibility of, wielding this power in perfect agreement with the Will of the Divine. Only an aspirant of “pure” heart can attain it, because of the very nature of what is required for such a quest to be successful. It cannot be a quest for selfish ends, but rather a release of all personal goals, in pursuit of “God’s Will” (whatever that may entail).
That about sums up the essence of the “occult”. There is nothing inherently “evil” about the occult, it is simply “knowledge” of certain Truths regarding God, humanity, and the Universe. That knowledge itself is neutral: it is simply knowledge. What makes it “good” or “evil”, to our relative “human”, conscious thought , is the purpose to which each person directs that knowledge, and the motivations of any such individual. The only way to correctly judge what is good, or what is evil, is by whether or not it is in accordance with the Divine Will. This seems paradoxical to the doctrine that the Will of God is ALWAYS done no matter what, and that it is impossible for anyone to do anything which is NOT within the Divine Will. If this is so, then that Will must also include, by definition, all of the seemingly “evil” (to us) things that are done. This concept takes a very long time, and lots of serious meditation, to begin to grasp (or maybe I was just a slow learner). Keep in mind that the whole idea of “good and evil” is only a concept which WE apply at a human, “individual” level of being. On the cosmic scale of the Unity, there is no good or evil, everything simply exists, “it is what it is” – period. There does not exist any authority outside of God, let alone ABOVE God, which could render ANY kind of judgement on God, or “Its” thoughts, “Its words”, or “Its” deeds. Nothing can exist above, or outside of the totality of God, who, to us, as physical beings immersed in “reality” or “life”, is totally unknowable, and inconceivable – while we remain embodied or incarnate. Therefore, there is no human characteristic, either good, or bad, or any other, which can be placed upon, or applied to, the Transcendent. I like the saying “it’s all good” as well as the next person, but that statement, even though it attempts to illustrate the idea just presented, is, in actuality, not entirely true. This impossible idea of placing any judgement on God, whether by ourselves, or by any authority which is outside or separate from God (the likes of which cannot exist), is reflected in various theologies. It is the reason Christian theologians say that God is only good, that no evil can exist in God. However, their theology is somewhat faulty. It is just as false to say that God is “good”, as to say the opposite. God simply “IS”, and even that concept only approximates, but can never quite fully express, the reality of the Divine Essence. Everything that exists, is a Divine piece, or “Spark” of God. It is impossible for anything to exist which is NOT an integral part of God. That is the meaning conveyed by the Divine name Ehyeh (or Eheieh) in the Bible.
“and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?” 14 God said to Moshe, “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh [I am/will be what I am/will be],” and added, “Here is what to say to the people of Isra’el: ‘Ehyeh [I Am or I Will Be] has sent me to you.’” 15 God said further to Moshe, “Say this to the people of Isra’el: ‘Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh [Adonai], the God of your fathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitz’chak and the God of Ya‘akov, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered generation after generation. Exodus 3:13-15, Complete Jewish Bible (CJB).
Those who study the occult teachings, both the “light” and the “dark”, are, by definition, spiritual people who at least believe in some form of a God, even if their conception is of a totally impersonal One. It would not make sense to make the effort to get to know an entity, if you do not believe that entity exists. Even those who are seeking to know that force for the purpose of gaining power, at least believe that such a force exists. In my experience, the majority of those who study the occult Wisdom are gentle, loving, dedicated, moral, and compassionate souls who are seeking only to reach greater depths of understanding in, and in experience of, God. They are simply seeking to better their own character, and better the world around them, by periodically testing each of their beliefs in light of their whole personal experience and knowledge. It is a necessary trait of such individuals to continually learn, and to never stop seeking greater spiritual understanding. Even when that quest comes up against formidable barriers, such as the seeming paradox of “predestination versus free-will”, From personal experience, I say that if one continues to pursue understanding and wisdom in all things, and continues to “push through” the seemingly insurmountable barriers of understanding which reveal themselves in the pursuit of God, one will eventually gain the prize of multiple “revelations”, in the form of knowledge, or direct experience of the “Unknowable”.
Never stop striving for perfection, regardless of the supposed pointlessness of attempting to apprehend the difficult paradoxes intrinsic to spiritual mastery of the mysteries of Life Eternal! If you continue on, despite trials and tribulations, you will eventually reach your goal. Just maybe not in THIS incarnation.