A young friend recently asked what are the ‘rules’ for studying occultism.
Silence... there is power in silence. Some things simply should not be spoken of and their experience diluted with words... this applies to the deeper realisations that are uniquely personal. Silence is the inner space where we can hear the voice of the angels and our souls, listen to the messages of the Cosmos, hear the music of the spheres. Many of these things cannot be voiced for there are no words for them.
Humility is the realisation that we know very little. We may be scholars with a lifetime of study behind us, or visionaries with marvellous revelations.. but in the grand scheme of things, how much knowledge does one human heart and mind contain? Very little. We may well be absolutely certain that the truth we carry is true, but it must be remembered that it may be our own truth, or our own perception of a truth... but it is only a tiny, beautiful fragment of the Whole.
When we are granted the wonder of a personal revelation that makes sense of the whole of life, the natural reaction is to shout it from the rooftops, sharing it as a gift to all humanity, wanting to share this wonderful gift and help many we feel could benefit from this sharing. However, others may hold their own revelations, or may need to find them for themselves... or even yet carry more of the Whole than we do. Either way, the inner conviction that is faith or belief, cannot be imposed or taught, but has to be experienced.
If, for instance, I tell you that I have an old French recipe for beef in a sauce made with blood and chocolate, you will probably screw your nose up and say that is disgusting! If, however, I don't tell you what's in the dish, but let you taste it, you may find it tastes wonderful... experience has its own lessons. ( My boss in France delighted in doing this to me, knowing the English prejudices against many foods.. she cooked me steak for lunch one day, it was absolutely wonderful and i commented it was the best steak I'd ever eaten. "It was horse", said my boss. had she offered me horse meat, I would have certainly refused...) If, on the other hand, you are vegetarian or vegan, then even attempting to go contrary to your beliefs and get you to try the dish would be horrifying to you and a complete lack of respect from me. It would go completely against who you are. And probably make you physically sick.
Yet which one of us is right? The vegetarian or vegan who respects the life of his fellow creatures and will not have them needlessly slaughtered in order to eat? Or the non- vegetarian, who respects that God designed us as omnivorous animals and placed us in the food chain equally with our fellow creatures. Or the one who believes that the divine spark of life in a lettuce is equal in value to the life of a cow or a man? The Englishman who thinks eating horse is disgusting, but will sit and eat a roast beef dinner every Sunday? The vegetarians may firmly believe they are right, so may the omnivores... but who can actually state categorically that they have the answer at the Cosmic level?
Again, look at the story of Jesus. By a very young age he was discussing religion in the synagogue with the Rabbis. He obviously had, at that time, personal revelations and all the enthusiasm of youth, and the desire to share. It caused controversy and the event was significant enough to be recorded in the Bible. Yet He waited. He waited until he had undergone the life-training He needed in order to grow. However you perceive His divinity, He had been born into a human body, and had the sense to allow that body and mind to grow to maturity, to experience life, to listen and learn, to undergo training, before He commenced His ministry.
Discernment is another of the 'rules'... the ability that comes with experience, of being able to tell the difference between the valid and the vapid. The ability to choose wisely and discard that which does not make sense or have value to you and to your path. In occultism more than in perhaps any other area, there is the opportunity for improvable rubbish to be written, published and disseminated. Look at any bookstore that sells a range of esoteric books, and you are almost certain to find a whole line of volumes promising the gods know what for no effort, a quick spellcasting to gain luck, love and money, a slim volume promising all the knowledge of the tarot, access to the spirit world... and if you are very lucky, one, perhaps two books that are worth reading.
The same is true of the teachings widely available on the internet, the 'God channels' and simply in talking to people. Many may have value for the person who does actually believe in them.. if it answers the needs of their heart it is valid for them. There are many who believe absolutely in what they preach, yet to others it seems empty and 'lightweight'. There are some who have a genuine and unique faith to share, and yet these tend to walk through life quietly and teach by example. Often, not even realising how deeply they affect the lives they touch.
Which leads me to discretion. All the others point in this direction. Discretion means knowing when to speak and when to keep silent, what to share and what to hold in your heart, what to learn and what to pass by.
I remember that in my teens, when I began to really understand the value of my upbringing, discovered Dion Fortune and the Qabalah, and began to draw the diverse threads of learning together, there was a burning desire to share this 'revelation'. ( Bear in mind that I was also, quite probably, an opinionated, intellectual snob and my diaries from that era make me cringe with shame!).
Many were the debates and arguments I had in Religious Education classes with the teacher and fellow students from religions as disparate as Hindi, Islam, Judaism and the Church of the Latter Day Saints. The vast majority of the class were nominally Catholic or Church of England, but were really not interested. I was regarded by most as being weird or loopy. No matter how I argued my point that year, my classmates and my staunchly Christian teacher refused to actually listen to what I was trying to say... they heard it through the filters of what they themselves believed and what they chose to hear. Laughter and disapproval (and boredom!). The vast majority came away with the idea that I was some kind of witch, from a weird family and probably had a screw loose.
And why shouldn't they? My beliefs were not theirs, and I was, basically, 'preaching' by arguing my points... and as guilty of dismissing their beliefs as being invalid, as they were of dismissing mine.
When I was young, I was absolutely certain that I knew things. By my mid twenties, I was fairly sure I knew a few things... and it has been downhill from there. Now, at 50, I know for certain that my beliefs are right for me. I will share my beliefs when asked, or in the very few situations where I know I am speaking with people who are open to sharing personal beliefs. I have even begun to write and teach... but diffidently, as I know that my perceptions and beliefs are mine, part only of a vaster Whole, and may even be flawed. I know nothing, believe much from inner conviction, and stand open to correction and new learning.
The absolute convictions of youth have matured, evolved, changed and mutated over the decades... and are all the more beautiful for being allowed to grow with experience and lose their certainty. Being 'absolute' in anything restricts the possibilities… you cannot see farther than the barriers that mark the boundaries of belief.
There is really only one rule in occultism, and it is one rarely applied. Common sense.
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