dedicated to restoring Atlantean Democracy
“Occult Magic: For Prophecy Or Profit; For Neither And / Or Both.”
an essay by: Jonathan Barlow Gee,
on behalf of: The Pythagorean Order of Death.
(Tallahassee, Florida, January 27, 2017)
for: “Denver Witch Quarterly;” Beltane / Litha (March 21) edition, 2017.
1. Origins For The Term “Occult”
The adjective “occult” originated in the 1530’s from the Middle French “occulte” and directly from Latin “occultus” (the past participle of “occulere” - from the assimilated form of “ob” meaning “over” and “celare” meaning “to hide,” in turn deriving from the Phoenician root “kel” meaning “to conceal”).  The association of this term with meaning “not apprehended by the mind, beyond the range of understanding,” stems from the 1540’s, presumably from the publication in that year of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s Beringos italic edition of “Operum Pars Posterios” - the second part of his collected works.  It was not until the 1870’s, with the writing of, and in particular 1888, with the first publication of, HP Blavatsky’s work “The Secret Doctrine,” that the term “occultism” entered the popular English vernacular,  the same year in which “occlude” became the term for a certain condition in modern medical dentistry.  Although apparently introduced into Latin only as recently as the early 15th century AD, the term “occultation” (from Latin “occultatio” - the noun of action from the past participle stem of “occultare,” frequentative of “occulere”) meaning “disguising one’s identity,”  has attached itself to additional meaning by being used as the modern translation of the Arabic word, “ghaybah,” a term that has had an important role in the religious beliefs of Shia Islam since at least 874.  From around this time, the vanishing of the 12th Imam, Muḥammad al-Mahdī al-Ḥujjah,  began being referred to by Sheikh Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Ibraheem bin Ja'far al-Katib an-Numani  by the noun “gayb” and the form 1, active participle verb “ga’ib,” both of which terms derive from the Arabic root term “gyb” relating to absence.  This Arabic term “G-Y-B” maybe derived from the earlier, Hebrew word “gabar,” (G-B-R), a verb meaning “to become mighty,”  from whence the modern Hebrew term, “gibbor” - an adjective meaning “strong” - derives,  although it is also likely both “gabar” and “gibbor” derive from the earlier term, “gab,” translated “eminent,”  but relating also to “gibah” - the Hebrew proper locative noun for the word “hill.”  In its utmost of arcane origins, the notion of “occultism” should be directly corresponded to the 21st century BC Egyptian deity of the Theban Triad,  “Amun,” whose name, written “I-M-N” means “invisible” or “hidden one,” which word is, even today, recited as the Greek “Ammon”  at the end of every Christian prayer, where it has come to mean, “so be it.” 
The distinction between superior “religion” and inferior “occultism” dates back to at least the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (c. 2000 BC). At that time, the Baru-priest and Ashipu-priest were sanctioned to recite the incantations of magical formularies (the “shurpu” - a burnt offering spell; the “maklu” - banishing spells by witches and wizards; the “utukki limmuti” - sixteen formulae to ward off ghosts and demons; the “asaski marsuti” - a series of 12 spells against fever and sickness; the nine “ti’i” tablets to cure headaches; and the “labartu” incantations - repeated over a wax figure symbolizing the patient to drive away ogres and witches from children); but there were also unsanctioned practitioners of these arts who were called “Kashshapi.”  In the second law of Hammurabi’s Code, the “ordeal of water” is prescribed for any accuser and accused party [in cases wherein there is no material evidence available for proof] - the accused was sentenced to drown, and their property to go to their accuser, but if the accused survived the ordeal, their accuser was put to death, and all their property went to the accused.  In the concurrent events described in the Book of Deuteronomy, in the Hebrew “Torah” or Christian “Old Testament,” chapter 18, verses 10-11, the wandering Hebrew nation following the Exodus out of Egypt are exhorted against the “abominable ways” and “evil doings” of the contemporary inhabitants of Canaan - the land the Hebrews planned to next invade and conquer. This passage of the holy scriptures reads, “there shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or [is] an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.”  Thus, the distinction between sanctioned “religion” and unsanctioned “occultism” originally pivoted around their shared use of superstitious “magic” - which, although nowadays defined by Catholic theologians as “the art of performing actions beyond the power of man with the aid of powers other than the Divine,”  has as equally well been defined by actual practitioner of ancient “magick” in modern times, Aleister Crowley, as simply enough “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” 
So, if we take the common English usage for the term “occult” as referring to “secret” or “esoteric” knowledge of the “paranormal” and “supernatural,”  and consider the content of this knowledge to be in regards to all extent literature describing the superstitions of “magic” (inclusive from ancient to modern times), then we may truly “unveil” and “denude” the role of the modern “occultist” as like a latter-day “Magus” - one of those “Magi” wizards of the Persian Zoroastrians not less than 2000 years ago - or even as a living embodiment of the most ancient role of shamanic “medicine man” - a healer and elder advisor to the earliest hominid tribes. Although, the role of the first shaman was arguably simpler than the work of the modern occultist, which is likewise relatively more complex, considering there has been by now much more information accumulated that one is required to study and learn to be considered a “Master” in this field. So to understand what constitutes today’s “occult,” we must study the history of “magic.”
2. A Brief History Of “Superstitious Magic”
Superstitious “magic” - as an act of fetishistic “transference”  and “psychological projection”  alike - exteriorly displaces the “locus of control” and responsibility for outcomes and consequences in one’s own life. Again, when sanctioned, this process of “surrender” to a “higher power” is called “religion” and considered to imbue one with an improved moral sensibility. However, when practiced independently or “clandestinely” and not sanctioned by the proper authorities, the same acts, however beneficently intended, maybe seen as being “occult.” The earliest practices of what we can consider today to be such “superstitious magic” most likely included: cave-paintings - such as those found in Lascaux, France  and elsewhere across neolithic-era Europe; ritualized disposal of their dead - possibly learned from cohabitation with neanderthals in Kebera cave  in modern Israel / occupied Palestine; and early agrarian seasonal festivals - which may explain the petroglyphs of Gobekli Tepe  as early astronomical observation markers. It is widely considered plausible in current academia that England’s “stonehenge,” known to have been built from 3,000 to 2,000 BC,  served as an ancient astronomical observatory for measuring exact changes to the skyline throughout the years, decades, centuries and millennia, etc.  Subsequent geo-glyphic and megalithic monuments (from the Giza necropolis in Egypt, built about 4,500 years ago,  to Teotihuacan, Mexico, built 2,000 years ago ) can clearly be compared to certain astronomical features (such as, in both these cases, to the “three king” stars of the constellation Orion’s “belt” ).
The development of “magic” throughout the “old world” or “pre-Christian” times was related to the rise and fall of empires based around such megalithic building projects and tied to the superstitious displacement of consequences for one’s own actions onto fetishized objects in the form of (at first human, although eventually mostly animal) ritualistic sacrificial slaughter. The efficacy of such “superstitious magic” as a means of hypnotic mass mind-control contoured seamlessly with the pantheism of the era - when the climate was mild, philosophers found “leisure time,” and “in vino, veritas.” 
However, during the European “Dark Ages” - that “mini ice age” of the so-called “Maudner” sunspot minimum  - the impetus toward monumental works programs was waning; wars, plagues and famines swept the land and the dissatisfaction with contemporary ethics finally culminated in 1517, with German theology professor Martin Luther  nailing a list of his “95 Theses” - or moral complaints against the Roman Catholic Papal church of his day - to the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenburg. 
So, this monotheistic trend of “ethics” and “morality” gradually encroaching on previously pantheist, “hedonic” and even “thelemic,” ritual magic ceremonies that was evident from the lifetime of Jesus, the so-called “Christ” - put to human sacrifice on the crucifix (according to the Roman legends) - continuing on through the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) - who was also hounded in his time by “unbelievers” and jealous sheiks , but whom escaped their clutches to write the glorious Quran and rightly establish the 5 Pillars of Islam  - through even Martin Luther’s “Reformation era” - when the newly invented “movable block-type” printing press ushered in a new age of literacy for the masses - until finally it swept westward across the Atlantic Ocean to establish a “New Atlantis”  - as envisioned for America by Sir Francis Bacon  - through “triangular trade”  (slavery), genocide of the indigenous native tribespeople , and ultimately by using counterfeit currency  to fund an “industrial revolution” (from the 1820’s onward)  using the labor of “wage slaves.” 
As “magic’s” curious luster became dulled and moralized, and its craft evermore house-broken to social ethics, its use of materiality for the mass-manufacture of “symbolic” or “fetish” objects (usually called “toys” or “art”) has hyper-inflated, and its focus on the “supernatural” and “paranormal” has taken a passenger seat beside this agenda. Enter then, the 20th century Magus, Aleister Crowley (1875 - 1947)  whom sought to achieve “samadhi” without living a renunciant and ascetic lifestyle; whom sought to prove that, even in the hustle and bustle, the din and throngs of an urban polity, one may yet attain selfless communion within a divine rapture; whom sought to prove that gluttony, sloth, greed and guile were not disgraces enough to bar one from penetrating the depths of nature’s “great mystery.” One may take or leave Crowley’s own life as one wishes; his works will remain as stepping stones to be used however anyone wills.
This catches us up to the 21st century AD and to the “information superhighway” - the internet - on which you are probably reading these words, and using which I am writing them. The “world wide web” is certainly a culmination of many millennia of “magical” works; not the least of which include the 20th century Golden Dawn’s  “flying rolls,”  Florence Farr’s  “spherical projection” model of ha QBLH , and even SL Mathers’  work  on John Dee  and Edward Kelley’s  obtuse “Enochian” magic  system.
Now that we have provided some background for the term “occult” and for the history of “superstitious magic” up to the present moment, let us next face the moral and ethical riddle encapsulating the question: “What will the future of occult magic be?” Assuming it maybe whatever we wish it to be - given our finite resources with which to build it - then, “what do we want the future of the occult and of magic to be?”
3. Should “Occultism” Prosper?
Let’s look at this question from another angle: “should occult / magic writers and artists personally prosper for distributing their occult / magic works?” Or, put more succinctly, “who would pay to read any of this?” As once quipped by the Christian Messiah, “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s”  (Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25), as he also admonished in his Sermon on the Mount, “cast not pearls before swine”  (Matthew 7:6). So, let us flip this coin of chance, and see on which of these sides it lands: should we adhere to, as the ”Kybalion”  would claim, keeping "milk for babes; meat for strong men”?  or should we aspire to, as Martin Luther would advise us, “sin boldy, but let [our] trust in Christ be stronger”?  For surely to play at this role of “Rumpelstiltskin,” and weave a fool’s grasping at straw into philosophical gold, has been cautioned against in so many words by Christ’s admonishment of Luke the Evangelist, “cura te ipsum” (meaning, in Latin, “heal thyself’)  and again, in his parable of “the mote and the beam”  (Matthew 7:1-5, Luke 6:37-42, and cf. the Gospel of Thomas, Aphorism 26 ). Again, we are reminded of the folly of chasing that dragon, “Mammon,”  by Father Christian Rosenkreuz's  first article of constitutions for his “Fraternity of the Rose Cross”  from “Fama Fraternitatis,” : “That none of them should profess any other thing than to cure the sick, and that gratis.” Would a true doctor sell their patient medicine to save their life; or, seen differently, would a true doctor withhold medicine that would save their patient’s life if they had not yet paid for it in full? But then again, how truly “medical” are “occult magic” and related “metaphysics” as a cure for “melancholia” or an unsettled mind? In most cases it is not any deep, philosophical Truth contained in the “mumbo-jumbo” mutterings of these madding pseudo-scientists, but solely soulless “snake oil” they sell, preying on the weak minds of those who crave for any (even a false) hope. If the “summum bonum”  of the “great work”  were truly the “law of attraction,”  there would be very many more successful people than there are.
So, when is “occult magic” literature and art an inherent “good-in-itself,” and when should it be seen as being at its best “value” to the broader community? According to the “subjective theory of value,”  the activity of valuation of any object - from the newest electronic consumer commodity to a weathered pebble from some far distant rivulet - is ultimately arbitrary and left entirely up to the unpredictable impulse-control of the person who is “psychologically projecting”  their own, personal “values” onto the object. In other words, no real “value” is innate in nature, and all apparent “values” are only assigned to objects by different people for different reasons at different times; thus, the concept of “value” in general is rendered, essentially, meaningless and moot. However, according to a different school of economics, “use value”  constitutes the most efficient and beneficial measure for applying possible attachment to any object - whether this act of valuation is taken by an individual or by any group. “Use value” - or more particularly, “social use value,” that is, technology applied to modeling a demonstrably real phenomenon - maybe considered the “lesser evil” between the absolute existential exile of “subjective value” and itself as the relative security posited by the presence of other objects with “objective traits,” etc., however even this appearance of “usefulness” as a “value” maybe deceptive and prove false in time. For example, a “weapon” has “use value” to a “warrior,” but a “tool” has such to a “worker,” and so too a “toy” for a “child.” What “use” has a “warrior” for a “toy” in battle, or has a “worker” with a “weapon” when it comes time to do their job, or a “child” have for a “tool” meant for the easement of labors that their own young mind has never imagined, let alone experienced yet in their short life? Thus, ultimately, although it is an available option for a method of measuring “value,” even “usefulness” remains “subjective.”
Insofar as my own personal opinion on this issue should not be seen as being any more nor any less important than that of anyone else’s, and being as it is convenient for me to do so, please allow me to, lastly, offer my own estimation of when “occult magical” literature and art is at its “best,” and when it has the greatest “value” to the community as a whole. From my perspective, “occult magical” literature and art is “best” and most “valuable” to the community when it is syncretic; that is, when it combines various, disparate religious motifs together into a harmoniously unified continuity. When Erasmus said, “concord is a mighty rampart” in April, 1519, referring to his modernizing the term “syncretism” in his “Adages,” published in the winter of 1517 - 1518, he very likely meant to attribute the significance of this term to its originator, Plutarch (1st century AD) - who wrote about the example of the “syncretism” (literally translated as “Union of Cretans”) and “fraternal love” of the people of Crete who, when faced with an exterior danger, readily set aside their dogmatisms and doctrinal differences to face the threat head-on, side-by-side  - in much the same honorific manner as Isaac Newton once stated, in a 1676 letter to Robert Hooke, “if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”  - referring, in Newton’s case, to the prior philosophers of physics, including Euclid and Democritus, of course, but no less so Galileo Galilei and Nicolaus Copernicus. Therefore, I, advocate such syncretism in the literature and art of “occult magic,” and I do so intending it as progress toward a “new age” understanding of religion, combining all past schools of thought on these matters into one holistic monism.  In this sense I posit, along with Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi on February 10, 1940, that this concept of “religion… means a belief in ordered moral government of the universe. … it harmonizes [sectarian religions] and gives them reality.” 
In the end, we are each unique and so, as well as with “magical practices,” what works best for one individual will almost certainly fail if applied identically by any other. What one person “values” another despises, and what the first person passionately hates, the other will, just as blindly, love: so it goes between all people; our external relationships form a larger fractal of cogs and gears that is, in turn, comprised of the smaller, identical fractal cogs within cogs and gears within gears of each of our own interior psychological “deus ex machinae.” As is said, “the wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.”  So let these thoughts be digested in your mind over time, and draw your own conclusions from all this the best that you are able. Should we prophets turn a profit or not off it, with students or without, a true teacher will always be teaching their most obscure and obfuscated fables.
- Jonathan Barlow Gee, 1-27-2017.
end-notes (a bibliography for further online research):
1. Origins For The Term “Occult”
2. A Brief History Of “Superstitious Magic”
3. Should “Occultism” Prosper?
a brief bio of the author:
Jonathan Barlow Gee (online monicker, “benpadiah”) is the only Tallahassee, Florida metaphysics textbook author and co-founder of the “Pythagorean Order of Death.” In 2003, Jonathan published a paperback edition of his book, “The Metaphysicians’ Desk Reference: Including the Revised Formal System of Metaphysics,” and in 2007, Jonathan co-founded the “Pythagorean Order of Death” as a study group for online esotericists with a particularly geometrical focus. From 2004 until the present (2017), Jonathan has published 58 of his own works as e-books online (all available for free download) and produced almost 500 videos, including ~150 of his own lecture videos on a very wide variety of topics. With 20 years of experience as a freelance researcher and 5 years as part-time video lecturer for Austin, Texas’ “S.O.M.A.” - the “Society of Magical Artists” - Jonathan Barlow Gee brings a unique mix of online and literary reference materials to bear in his brief, but dense, analysis of this issue’s topic for “Denver Witch Quarterly” - “Should occultists prosper from their occult works?”
You can find out more about Jonathan Barlow Gee and his work by visiting his website: www.benpadiah.com ; the website for the “POD” study-group: http://pythagoreanorderofdeath.ning.com ; his pdf e-book host: https://issuu.com/benpadiah ; and his youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/benpadiah .
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