Go Back

Sane Occultism



  "Both astrology and the art of making talismans were the guarded secrets of the Mysteries; they were a part of a Sacred Science which was never permitted to be abused by the profane."  




  The Use and Abuse of Astrology
Let me say by way of preface that I write neither as an astrologer nor as a sceptic, but as an occultist who recognises astrology as necessary to the practice of occultism. A deep knowledge of astrology can only be the fruit of lifelong study and experience, but everyone who aspires to the practice of the occult arts needs to know the. principles of astrological science, although. if he be unable to give time to the detailed study that it requires for its proper mastery, he may be wise to consult an astrologer for guidance rather than trust to a half knowledge which is no less misleading in astrology than in other technical matters. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we are all the time reacting t the zodiacal and planetary influences which are playing upon the earth; and our reaction being determined by the relative proportions of the different elements in our psychic constitution, we need to know not only the general influences affecting mundane conditions, but how we ourselves are likely to be affected by them. For this purpose both a natal and progressed horoscope are necessary, but these horoscopes must be drawn. up, not by the average professional astrologer, but by one who approaches the subject from its esoteric aspect and gives the information which is. needed by a follower of the Path, instead of the usual advice concerning mundane affairs, useful as this may be if accurate.
If we consider, as Solomon bade us, the way of a ship in the sea, we shall obtain enlightenment concerning the problem of astrological influence upon our lives. In the most primitive type of sailing vessel a mat was hoisted on a pole to enable it to take advantage of the force of the wind.iA craft so rigged could only drive before the wind; it could not avail itself of a side wind or tack against a head wind. So it is with the unenlightened man, he is at the mercy of the cosmic forces playing about him. The enlightened man, however, is like a boat in which the sails can be trimmed and made to co-operate with the rudder. Between the two, such a craft can avail itself of any breeze in order to make progress towards its destination, and the sailing' qualities of a ship are judged in large measure by the closeness with which she can lie to the wind. A clumsy boat has to have the wind pretty nearly astern before she can make much speed, but a well designed boat will tack almost into the eye of an opposing wind.
So it is with the enlightened man, he will make use, of the opposing forces of the stars in order to advance his evolution, and by his skilful sailing turn an opposing influence into a co-operating one. If be knows that there is a strong destructive influence abroad at a certain time he will not, if he can help it, start any constructive work. If, on the other hand, he has before him the task of exposing and clearing up evil, he will choose that particular season for his operations. Thus he will have the cosmic influences with him, instead of against him.
The occultist needs to know the set of the cosmic tides in order that he may lay his course accordingly, and it is in this that the astrologer can help him. He does not, however, abandon himself to the drift of the tides, but takes them into his calculation and allows for their influence.
The planetary forces do not operate in the sphere of external circumstances alone, but affect our lives by stimulating or neutralising the different traits in OUf natures. If we consider our lives in the light of our horoscopes we shall see how much of our fate was brought about by our own actions and reactions. Our rashness mayhave precipitated quarrels attributable to the influence of Mars; our emotions may have stirred up certain happenings of the sphere of Venus. We ourselves were the instruments of the stars. From these observations we derive much illumination in our dealings with the planets. It may not be in our power to command external influences, but it is well within the power of the trained will and disciplined nature, guided by knowledge, to neutralise the greater part, if not all of their effects.
The Macrocosm of the universe is ordered by God, but of the microcosm of his own nature man should aim to make himself the deity. "Ye shall be as gods" said the Serpent, and he spoke the truth; initiation develops the God within so that he may rule the microcosm of our nature instead of leaving it the prey of "chaos and old night" -the subconscious past of the race.
The natal horoscope can be used to read the karma which a soul has to work out in its present incarnation, and we can see by. studying it that certain problems are going to be set a soul, and that certain favourable influences will aid it on its way. We know, if we are occultists, that these conditions have their roots in past actions. We therefore regard the natal horoscope as the result of forces set going in the past, and we approach the astrological problems of a life from the standpoint of karma, as forces to be neutralised by reaction and realisation.
We do not, therefore, regard malefic planets as enemies, but as agents of karma, and we try to win from them enlightenment, realisation, and discipline. The part played by Saturn in initiations is not sufficiently understood.
The initiate is not blindly driven by his karma, he consciously co-operates with it for its working out. He knows that the planetary influences will cause his nature to react in a particalar way, and he throws his trained and disciplined will, re-enforced if possible by magical ceremonies) into the scale, and thereby counterbalances the cosmic forces "operating within his own microcosm. We cannot influence the macrocosmic influences, but discipline and knowledge can profoundly modify the micro.. cosmic reactions of our own inner world. We can so discipline the martial element in ourselves that it will not react to the stimulation of the planet Mars and lead us into quarrels and disputes. A soft answer turneth away the wrath even of a planetary spirit. On the other hand, a disciplined fighting quality, thus brought under the control of the will, is available at the bidding of the will, even when there is no stimulus forthcoming from the planet of its affinity, and it can then be used to counteract the influence of a planet of inertia, such as Saturn. Thus does the adept balance the cosmic forces one against the other and use his trained will to turn the scale.
He also knows how to re-enforce his will by linking up with the corresponding cosmic forces, and a large section of ritual magic is devoted to this process. It is for this purpose that the construction of talismans is undertaken. A talisman is a focussing point for force of a particular type, and all the processes of its manufacture are designed to that end. This is why it is so much better to make your own talismans than' to have them made for you. The effect of a talisman is not upon external fate, but upon the internal reactions of consciousness. We do not affect fate by our magical operations, we affect ourselves; we re-enforce those aspects of our nature which are in sympathy with the powers we invoke.
Both astrology and the art of making talismans were the guarded secrets of the Mysteries; they were a part of a Sacred Science which was never permitted to be abused by the profane. But knowledge, especially snchas can be used for gain, is as hard to confine as a subtle gas, and these branches of the occult art have been debased to the. uses of fortune-telling and superstition. Occultism itself bas no more to do with superstition than has medicine with the use of toads to cure warts. Superstition is the tribute paid by ignorance to knowledge of which it .recognises the value but does not understand the significance.
No one deplores more than the occultist the soul-destroying abuse of the occult arts. There is nothing so destructive of a sound judgment, or so paralysing to self-confidence and will-power as the habit of consulting fortune-tellers of whatever kind. Neither is the uninitiated soothsayer a very reliable source of information. All divination ought to be conducted under the guidance of the divinity presiding over the particular operation undertaken. This ruling genius is contacted with appropriate invocations and the drawing of the correct sigils at the head of the paper on which the calculation is worked out. These methods are never used outside the lodges of the Greater Mysteries. Therefore it will be readily seen that the rule of thumb methods of uninitiated soothsayers are not likely to penetrate very deeply into the cosmic secrets.
The divination of the future by one who is in a position to make proper use of the information thus obtained is one thing, but a similar investigation by another, unequipped in any way to profit by the task, is on a different basis and productive of far more harm than good. There are people who go to psychics and astrologers as the hypochondriac goes to doctors and patent medicine vendors. It is a very unwholesome and harmful thing to do, and productive of sickness of the soul.
The power of auto-suggestion is enormous, and unless we have the training and knowledge necessary to enable us to use astrological information as a chart that enables us to avoid rocks, it is far better for our peace of mind to be without that information. The initiate, who is the only person who really has the right to this knowledge, knows that by its means he can neutralise or deflect the forces thus revealed to him; the untrained man is very apt to think that he is the helpless victim of fate. Did the revelations of astrology stimulate him to greater efforts, they would serve a useful purpose, but how often is this the case? How much oftener do we see their findings used as an excuse for laissez-faire?
I have no love for miscellaneous divinations by irresponsible people; I think they do much more harm than good. They are on a par with the reading of medical literature by the laity. A divination should be undertaken solely in relation to spiritual development, after prayer and purification. It should be done under the instruction of the initiator responsible for the training of the pupil, who should explain to his pupil the spiritual and karmic signification of his chart and show him the methods and meditations that counterbalance adverse planetary influences and the disciplines which shall enable him to turn his fate into his initiation.