Occult studies and meditation
Hints and tips for sincere seekers after Truth
In this, the penultimate article in our occult studies course we discuss the vital importance of consistent, serious study and meditation if we sincerely wish to make spiritual progress.
You can find full details about our occult studies course by clicking the link above.
Pick 'n' mix
It is of no use whatsoever to pick up this or that occult or mystical book in a desultory manner and skim its contents in the hope of discovering Truth. Nor is it any use to indiscriminately mix up the often contradictory teachings of the various lesser occult groups and teachers, hoping in that way to acquire occult knowledge. We have known, and DO know, very many seekers, who join dozens of such groups, on what we might call the 'pick and mix' principle, hoping that each will 'complement' the various bits and pieces they have previously acquired in their association with psychics, spiritualists, New Age 'druids', shamans, wiccans, channelers and other assorted mystery-mongers. All that they generally acquire is a rag-bag of occult hand-me-downs, half-truths and useless rites and rituals, leading to mental indigestion, confusion and disillusionment. The world of occultism is filled with such inept, lazy and gullible seekers as we discussed in the second of these articles on the occult jungle.
These may seem harsh words, but we assure you they are true. One cannot walk ten different paths at the same time and hope to arrive at any worthwhile destination. Whatever your personal beliefs may be, if you genuinely feel you have found the right path and teaching or teacher for YOU, stick to it and you will obtain the benefits it is meant to convey. But if you try to combine various different teachings and practises the only result will be chaos. If you have any experience of occult teachings and studies you will know this is true; if you do not, please take our word for it, for we know what we are talking about, having been just such inept, lazy and gullible seekers in the past.
Patience, faith and determination
When the typical seeker learns or is told that it takes (on average) several YEARS of daily study, spiritual exercises and meditation to master the basic laws and principles of Occult Science, they generally run a mile. Perhaps this is just as well, for those who think they can become great Adepts and Magicians wielding what they imagine are occult 'powers' in a few short months are unlikely to have the stamina, faith and determination needed to master the TRUE arcanum of Occult Science. No, REAL progress requires consistent effort, continuity and dedication, both in our occult studies, exercises, and in our meditations upon them. We may liken study to perspiration and meditation to inspiration, and the two complete one another in what we might call a "virtuous" circle—the one augmenting the other. For it is quite useless to study the occult sciences unless we put the knowledge we gain to practical use in our everyday lives in true service to our fellow men and women, and spiritual meditation is the tool to dig it out, as you can read in our afterword in the sidebar on your right.
To make real progress it is essential that you concentrate upon your spiritual studies in a serious and devout spirit. Imagine that you are linking up with the very spirit of God Himself—for, in fact, that is just what you are doing when you study the sacred texts and inspired words of the great Teachers and Messengers. It is the attitude of Mind and the Spirit of devotion that you adopt which matters here. Ask God for His blessing and His divine guidance before you begin, and sit for a few moments in silent meditation on the work before you. In this way you will attune with the minds of the great hierarchy of the positive powers of the Universe under God and with your own Higher Self.
Occult books and sacred texts for serious study
We review several classics of occult, mystical and philosophical literature in the OCCULT BOOKS SECTIONS of our website. Whilst some of these titles are aimed at the advanced occult student, many of them will be of benefit to beginners too. Foremost among these is The Golden Star by J.Michaud PhD. Aptly described as 'A BOOK FOR INITIATES', it expounds the most advanced occult teachings, yet in such a fascinating manner as to hold and extend the interest of the novice. We would also recommend The Quest of Ruru by the same author and Franz Hartmann's With the Adepts: An Adventure among the Rosicrucians. Hartmann's book, first published in 1910, provides (mostly) accurate information on subjects such as alchemy, reincarnation, the elemental kingdoms, astral projection and the right (and wrong) ways to acquire magical powers.
We also review H. P. Blavatsky's master-works which should form part of any serious student's occult library. We may add that we know of no other occultist who has revealed more Truth in the last few centuries than Blavatsky. The fact that she was mostly surrounded by a host of half-baked idiots who barely comprehended her greatness in no way detracts from the sublimity of her revelations. Nor should our regard for her be taken as an endorsement of the Theosophical Society. For, with a few notable exceptions, such as Geoffrey Hodson and G. R. S. Mead, many of her followers and imitators, both past and present, have largely distorted, misrepresented and misinterpreted the ancient Wisdom she laboured so hard to reveal in favour of their own, fanciful speculations. One modern exception is David Pratt, whose excellent website of Theosophical teachings and illuminating articles we recommend on our Wisdom on the Web page. We don't know Mr Pratt personally, but heartily respect and support his obvious dedication to the wider dissemination of the Ancient Wisdom.
Finally, we recommend the study of the Bible (in the King James version), the Apocrypha and the sacred books of the East such as the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the classical writings of ancient China. It is a sad fact that many seekers have little or no idea of the occult knowledge and ancient wisdom concealed in the Bible and other sacred texts. We say 'concealed' for none of this knowledge is openly stated, but always under the cloak of allegory, symbolism and parable, as you can read in John Temple's article on the hidden wisdom in the Bible. A literal reading of the Bible can reveal nothing but the dead letter and has given rise to a host of nonsensical interpretations which would shame a child of four. That the Fathers of the early Christian Church were well aware of this is shown by the testimony of the 2nd Century theologian, Origen, who wrote:
"What man of sense will agree with the statement that the first, second and third days in which the evening and the morning are named, were without sun, moon and stars, and the first day without a heaven? What man is found such an idiot as to suppose that God planted trees in Paradise like a common gardener? I believe that every man must hold these things for images, under which the hidden sense lies concealed."
You may say that this is all very well, but how can we learn to recognise and understand the images that conceal the hidden sense Origen refers to? This would be a good question and the simple answer is by study! To enlarge on that, there are several good books that provide a grounding in what we may call the language of symbolism. We have already mentioned two, The Golden Star and The Secret Doctrine. In addition to these, we recommend the books of Gerald Massey, who was the first Western scholar to recognise that ancient Egypt was the source of the Christian religion. In his books, Massey traces the parables and teachings of the NT Gospels back to their Egyptian roots, at the same time revealing some of the hidden meaning concealed in the Bible. We review his master-work, Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World on our Hermetic Books page. From the foregoing you will realise that if we wish to understand fully the meaning of any occult books, then a large amount of deep study, combined with wide reading, as well as inner guidance by way of inspiration, intuition and meditation, are vitally necessary. But the rewards of all this are very great. Moreover, this applies even more to the study of sacred and holy books such as the Bible, for how can we ever hope to understand their hidden meanings if we just skim their contents, not knowing in the least what lies behind it all? Yet there are millions of 'idiots', as alluded to above, who cling to a literal interpretation of the Bible.
Too many books spoil the broth
Countless books on occult, magical and mystical subjects are now pouring off the presses. The vast majority of them, as we point out in our Books Section and in our article on losing your way in this sea of confusion, are chaotic and contradictory, fanciful and nonsensical, or copies of what has been said better by others before. Such are the many books on channeling 'angels' and extraterrestrials, so-called 'healing' and the coming 'golden age' predicted by New Age 'prophets.' Added to this melting pot of mystical mumbo-jumbo is the fascination with vampires, so-called 'dark spirituality', black magic rituals and other similarly inane and inept fantasies peddled by the multitude of would-be 'adepts' who have climbed aboard the occult bandwagon in recent years in search of a fast buck and their fifteen minutes of fame. Whilst there is generally little harm in reading such books for amusement, all they can teach the sincere seeker on the path to the Light is what NOT to believe. There are such things as 'vampires', but nothing worthwhile can be discovered about them in ANY books.
We said just now that there is not much harm in such books. This is true...up to a point, and we ourselves, in our younger days read many colourful books on magic, witches, warlocks and spells...and discarded them as entertaining fiction when we learned better! The danger lies in taking such fantasies seriously, for then we run the risk of attuning with the dark side of Life and drawing evil men and women or evil conditions, toward us, and these can do real harm. Only the other day we saw a book with the title Advanced Magic for Beginners. Two seconds thought will show what a preposterous paradox this is! How can a beginner in anything practise advanced methods? If the book had been called "advanced brain surgery for beginners" it would have elicited the derisory laughter such an inane title deserves. The sad fact is that fantasies and fiction sell like hot cakes whilst the great masterpieces of Occult Truth, such as Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine mentioned above, remain largely unknown and unread. It makes one weep...or it would do, if one did not know that it is only by being exposed to such trash that the sincere seeker learns to distinguish truth from fiction, wisdom from ignorance and half-truths from downright falsehoods.
It is all too easy for the beginner in occult studies to amass a small mountain of books to the limit of their purse or shelf-room, or to borrow or read them online...skipping from one to the other like a startled rabbit caught in the headlights of a car. This can only breed mental indigestion, confusion, and the eventual painful realization that the Truth we are seeking is as far away from us as ever. We ourselves once threw out over three hundred 'occult' books which we had spent the better part of twenty years acquiring!! So here is YOUR chance to profit from our experience and NOT repeat the same stupid mistake we made all those years ago!
The trick, if we may call it such, is to know internally, as part of oneself, a very few books which contain the greatest amount of truth and the least errors, such as we have mentioned in this article and review on this website. Half-a-dozen books like these are worth a library full of recycled rubbish and regurgitated New Age nonsense. And having read and studied them with full attention and devotion, use the knowledge you have obtained to acquire that INNER understanding which should be the real goal of every sincere seeker after Truth.
What Dreams really are
Our second hint or suggestion is in regard to dreams. As we all know, there are many kinds of dreams. Leaving aside the well-known 'digestion dream' (after eating too much cheese!), we may briefly say that there are brain dreams, memory dreams and dreams of warning and premonition, and dreams which are the distorted recollections of the experiences of the Higher Self during the sleep of the physical body. It is these latter dreams which are of interest to us as students of occult science.
"Man's first initiation is in TRANCE. In dreams commences all human knowledge; in dreams hovers over measureless space the first faint bridge between spirit and spirit—this world and the worlds beyond!"
The 'bridge' that Bulwer-Lytton refers to has been called 'Antahkarana' in Hindu and Theosophical teachings. It refers to an imaginary bridge, or link between the Higher and lower selves; that is to say between our immortal, spiritual Ego and our physical brain and senses. In the degree that our thinking is directed toward spiritual rather than material concerns and ideas, so will we strengthen this 'faint bridge'. We may also liken Antahkarana to the communication between two separate radio sets. Unless one set is tuned in to the other, communication between them will be haphazard at best and non-existent at worst.
H. P. Blavatsky divides dreams into seven separate classes:
- Prophetic dreams. These are impressed on our memory by the Higher Self, and are generally plain and clear: either a voice heard or the coming event foreseen.
- Allegorical dreams, or hazy glimpses of realities caught by the brain and distorted by our fancy. These are generally only half true.
- Dreams sent by adepts, good or bad, by mesmerizers, or by the thoughts of very powerful minds bent on making us do their will.
- Retrospective; dreams of events belonging to past incarnations.
- Warning dreams for others who are unable to be impressed themselves.
- Confused dreams, the causes of which are many.
- Dreams which are mere fancies and chaotic pictures, owing to digestion, some mental trouble, or such-like external cause.
We broadly agree with this division, although as Blavatsky herself said, one could divide these seven classes into many more sub-classes, assigning different aspects of consciousness to each. But the only classes which interest us are the first 5, and especially classes 1, 2 and 4, for allegorical and prophetic dreams, and dreams belonging to our past incarnations can be of real benefit to our spiritual progress.
Allegorical dreams are very common, but because most people no longer think in terms of symbols and have little or no understanding of what symbolism or allegory are, such dreams are usually dismissed upon awakening as idle fancies. Or the dreamer may turn to 'dream interpretation' books and read therein all manner of sensible and many more completely nonsensical 'interpretations' of what specific symbols, such as a house, doors, dogs, fish, or even the postman, may or may not mean! We may say at once that no one can possibly interpret your dreams for you, no matter how many 'authoritative' books and famous 'psychics' claim to do so! The reason for this is that we each have our own inner life which no one else can share, much less interpret, and those who claim to do so are imposters of the first water, whether knowingly or not.
What we can say is that allegorical dreams which deeply impress us, either by the nature of the surroundings we find ourselves in, or the powerful emotions they arouse in us, often have an important message for us. But we must seek it out ourselves. When such dreams, or variations of them, are repeated whether after a few days, or even months, we may be sure that they contain something of importance, for this is one of the ways in which the teachers in the Higher Realms of Light communicate with receptive minds on earth.
H. P. Blavatsky explains the processes at work during classes 1 and 4 (Prophetic dreams and dreams of past incarnations) with the following excellent analogy: "We might well compare the real Ego (our Higher Self) to a prisoner, and the physical personality (our lower self) to the gaoler of his prison. If the gaoler falls asleep, the prisoner escapes, or, at least, passes outside the walls of his prison (the physical body). The gaoler is half asleep, and looks nodding all the time out of a window, through which he can catch only occasional glimpses of his prisoner, as he would a kind of shadow moving in front of it. But what can he perceive, and what can he know of the real actions, and especially the thoughts, of his charge?" The answer is nothing, or very little so far as the average human being is concerned, and we may say, the average student of occultism too.
The fleeting impressions we may retain of the experiences of the Higher Self during such dreams can be compared to the shadows on the canvas walls of a tent, which we see as we awaken. We think that we have dreamed it all, and feel as though we had lived through something, while in reality it is the experiences of our Higher Self that we have dimly perceived. As we become fully awake, our recollections become with every minute more distorted, and are overlaid by, and mingle with the images projected from our lower self and physical brain, which, in turn, by the power of association, set in motion various trains of thought that bear little if any relation to the actual experiences the Higher Self had whilst it was free of its prison. This, then, is the main reason why many dreams often appear confused and chaotic to our waking (or lower) self.
Lucid dreaming and how to achieve it
In order to develop what is sometimes called 'lucid dreaming' we need to strengthen the bridge between our two selves called 'Antahkarana' mentioned earlier. One way to close this gap is to keep a note-book and pen by your bedside and write down whatever you remember of your dreams immediately you wake up, however vague, fragmentary, or nonsensical it may be. We emphasise 'immediately' because unless this is done at once, the instant you awaken, much of the memory will be lost. If you try this for a few weeks you will be surprised how much more you remember of your dreams. In time, with regular and consistent practise you will not only find that your dreams become more lucid, but that you become aware of which mind was 'dreaming'. You may also receive certain messages, symbols or knowledge that will illuminate your spiritual studies and reveal their hidden meaning. It is impossible to say what form these messages might take, for as we said earlier, we each have our own inner life and no two persons think alike or are alike.
What we can say is that this technique works, as has been proved over many years by many thousands of men and women. Joan Grant, in her 'far-memory' novel of a life lived as a Pharaoh during the 1st Dynasty in ancient Egypt, gives detailed and absolutely correct accounts of such techniques in use over 6,000 years ago. That book is Winged Pharaoh—which we review and recommend on our occult fiction page. Under the guidance of her Master, Ney-se-Ra, the narrator of the story 'Sekeeta' (Joan Grant), gradually develops the ability to accurately recall every single detail of her dreams using similar methods to the one we have described above. You can read more about the mechanism of dreams and dreaming in our 9th Astral Conversations article.
The greatest book of Wisdom ever written
Our final suggestion is to seek out the beauties of Nature and immerse yourself in them. We may say that Nature, in all her infinite variety, geometrical harmonies and breathtaking beauty is the greatest book of Wisdom ever written. A Divine book which bears the signature of Her Author upon every glowing leaf, bursting bud and shining blossom, as you can read in the The Rhododendrons—a short story by J Michaud—that reveals just what secrets and wonders are hidden in plain sight of us all.
Almost everyone, wherever they may live, has the opportunity to go out and about into the woods and fields, the great parks and gardens of our cities, or even their own backyard and observe Nature at work with a seeing eye and a devout mind. But look within as well as without. By that we mean that you should try to sink your mind into the wonders that you behold, whether it is a mighty oak in full leaf, a sparkling stream, the restless ocean, or a humble wild flower, growing unloved and unsung, upon a piece of waste ground. As you identify your whole Self with the object of your contemplation ask that your inner sight might be opened and that you might be permitted to see, and hear and feel the Divine Mysteries of God that lie concealed behind and within the physical forms of beauty.
Sinking your mind in the beauties of Nature is another kind of meditation anyone can practise whenever or wherever the opportunity arises. If you do this thoroughly and reverently, you will begin to behold the secrets of the material and spiritual such as no scientist with all his instruments and test-tubes could ever hope to discover. The wisdom you gather in this way will be a thousand times more valuable to you than the words of a million books, for it is yours and will remain with you forever and no one can take it away from you. Moreover, the more you learn about Nature in this unique way, the more you will discover, for Nature is a Holy Book without beginning or end, nor can its treasures ever be exhausted, for it is the living garment of the Wisdom and Glory of God.
In our twelfth and final article in our occult studies course, we will attempt to discover what the 'soul' really is.
You can find more practical information and valuable hints and tips about occult study and meditation in our article on The Occult Student.
Published 16 August 2014 — © Copyright occult-mysteries.org — Updated 11 August 2022.