Contemporary Esotericism

II. Popular Culture

6. Occulture is Ordinary

Christopher Partridge


7. From Book to Bit

Jesper Aagaard Petersen


8. Accessing the Astral

John L. Crow


9. Secrets of Scientology

Hugh B. Urban


10. Hidden Powers

Asbjo,rn Dyrendal




II. Popular Culture

6. Occulture is Ordinary

Christopher Partridge


p. 113 shift from state-government-imposed religions to religions based on personal experience

"The well-documented shift from "religion" to "spirituality" [Woodhead & Heelas 2005; Heelas 2008], ... the change of focus from external authority to inner experience[,] has significantly increased the appeal and respectability of esotericism."

Linda Woodhead & Paul Heelas 2005 = The Spiritual Revolution. Oxford : Blackwell.

Heelas 2008 = Paul Heelas : Spiritualities of Life. Oxford : Blackwell.

p. 130 occultural organizations

"Central to P-Orridge's ... use of magick was his band Psychic TV and the related esoteric organization TOPY,

fn. 74 "See Keenan [1997].

founded with ... David Tibet ..., also, significantly,

On Tibet ..., see Fava [2012]".

The Process Church of the Final Judgement ...,

fn. 75 "see Bainbridge [1978]".

having had a formative influence on the development on his [P-Orridge's] occult thought. ... That is to say, ...

fn. 76: "See P-Orridge [2009]."

numerous small occultural organizations ... coalesced ... within the vampire community (e.g. the House of Kheperu and the Order of the Vampyre, the latter being a part of the Temple of Set) or

fn. 77 "Keyworth [2003]; Keyworth [2002]".

the UFO subcultures (e.g. the Aetherius Society, Unarius, and the Raelian Movement)".

fn. 78 "See ... Lewis [2003]."

Keenan 1997 = David Keenan : "Childhood's End". THE WIRE 163:34-7.

Fava 2012 = Sergio Fava : "When Rome Falls, Falls the World". In :- Christopher Partridge (ed.) : Anthems of Apocalypse. Sheffield : Phoenix Pr. pp. 72-89.

Bainbridge 1978 = William S. Bainbridge : ... A Deviant Psychotherapy Cult. Berkeley : Univ of CA Pr.

P-Orridge 2009 = Genesis P-Orridge : "Processean Influence on thee Temple ov Psychick Youth". In :- Timothy Wyllie (ed. by Adam Parfray) : Love, Sex, Fear, Death : the Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgement. Port Townsend (WA) : Feral House. pp. 173-84.

Keyworth 2003 = David Keyworth : "Occultism and the Contemporary Vampire Subculture". KHTHONIOS 1.1:5-13.

Keyworth 2002 = David Keyworth : "Religious Beliefs and Nature of the Contemporary Vampire Subculture". J OF CONTEMPORARY RELIGION 17:335-70.

Lewis 2003 = James R. Lewis (ed.) : Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO Religions. Amherst (NY) : Prometheus Bks.


II. Popular Culture

7. From Book to Bit

Jesper Aagaard Petersen


p. 135, fn. 3 -- books on modern esotericism

"Hanegraaf, New Age Religion and Western Culture;

Jorgensen, The Esoteric Scene".

Wouter J. Hanegraaf : New Age Religion and Western Culture. Leiden : Brill, 1996.

Danny L. Jorgensen : The Esoteric Scene, Cultic Milieu, and Occult Tarot. NY : Garland, 1992.

p. 135, fn. 5 cyber-paganism & techno-paganism

"Cowan, Cyberhenge ...;

Erik Davis, Techgnosis".

Douglas E. Cowan : Cyberhenge. NY : Routledge, 2005.

Erik Davis : Techgnosis. NY : Three Rivers Pr, 1998.

pp. 137-40 Luciferian/daimonic cult-literature

p. 137

"the print-on-demand site offers ...

Michael Ford's Luciferian Witchcraft and

Tsirk Susej's The Demonic Bible".

p. 138

"a strategy of resistance-through-inversion ... has had a lot of success in ... "deviant" subculture : vampire groups, modern primitives and Goths listening to post-punk ... regularly tap into material provided by ... the Left-Hand Path."

[p. 138, fn. 20 "For examples, see

Baddeley, Lucifer Rising;

Laycock, Vampires Today".

p. 139

"they blend into the wider assemblage of Thelemites, Chaos Magicians, and followers of the Left-Hand Path that are active online. This feeling of connection ... is confirmed by Corvis Nocturnum -- reiki practitioner, psychometrist, ... and author of Embracing the Darkness :

p. 140

... Goth, dark spirituality, ... Vampirism and BDSM are "dark subcultures" which cohere in shared ideals, philosophies and values."

Gavin Baddeley : Lucifer Rising : ... Devil Worship and Rock 'n' Roll. London : Plexus, 2000.

Corvis Nocturnum {cf. nycticorax 'night-raven'} : Embracing the Darkness : Understanding Dark Subcultures. Fort Wayne (IN) : Dark Moon Pr, 2005.


II. Popular Culture

8. Accessing the Astral

John L. Crow


p. 159 astral travel to the Moon

"During the new moon every month ..., a worldwide group of occultists astrally meet at Moonbase Temple located under the surface at the centre of the visible part of the moon. Here each participant performs individual rituals in the astral temple, while working with the agreed-upon word of power and sigil." (Ingalls 2008, p. 181)

Ingalls 2008 = Margaret Ingalls : "The Evolution of Maat Magick". STARFIRE 2.3:175-89.

p. 161 antiquity of awareness of the astral plane

"The idea of an astral plane as a distinct realm emerge during the late nineteenth century."

{In actuality, regular travel to the astral plane hath been a major feature of traditional shamanism in Siberia and elsewhere for more an a millennim.}

p. 162 Dee & Kelly; Swedenborg

"John Dee (1527-c. 1609) and Edward Kelly (1555-97) used a crystal ball, prayers and magic to contact angels in higher realms ... . [Harkness 1999]

... Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) ... repeatedly travelled to other worlds through visions, and described the inhabitants and scenery".

Harkness 1999 = Deborah Harkness : John Dee's Conversations with Angels. Cambridge Univ Pr.

p. 162, fn. 11 praeternatural interaction of European-descended spirit-mediumship with AmerIndian Otherworld

"McGarry [2008] ... documents how Spiritualist mediums saw Native Americans in the other world as retaining their race and .. the hunting {in the "Happy Hunting Grounds"} and gathering {of strawberries and other berries eaten by souls of the dead in the Otherworld, according to AmerIndian religions} practices of Indians in the other world, and of the need to convert {actually, to help European-descended spirit-media to convert the general populace of European descent to a belief in spirit-mediumship} and civilize them {teach reading, writing, and printing to AmerIndians, so that such AmerIndians themselves could publish accounts (to be read by both other AmerIndians and European believers in soul-travel) of their own visitations to the divine spirit-worlds}."

{Shaker (Shaking-Quaker) spirit-mediumship often involved becoming possessed by AmerIndian spirits speaking in unknown tongues and therewith imparting spirit-songs of praeternatural power in AmerIndian languages.}

McGarry 2008 = Molly McGarry : Ghosts of Futures Past. Berkeley : Univ of CA Pr.

p. 163 Theosophical Society synthesis : systematization of scheme of subtle bodies

Though the material-body be divided from the soul, yet "Bridging this divide is what Wouter Hanegraaf describes [1996, pp. 221-3] as "subtle bodies". ...

Historian Julie Hall traces [2007, pp. 11-24 {cf. "ST"; "S7FM"}] ... Neoplatonism, Egyptian cosmologies, {Qabbalah}, Paracelsianism, Spiritualism ... that contributed to the synthesis which manifested in Theosophical understandings of the self and world.

Hanegraaf 1996 = Wouter J. Hanegraaf : New Age Religion and Western Culture. Leiden : Brill.

Hall 2007 = Julie Hall : "The Saptaparna : ... the Theosophical Septenary Constitution of Man". THEOSOPHICAL HISTORY 13.4:5-38.

"ST" = "Saptaparna Translation". deriving from the "universal soul" (Secret Doctrine 2:574) is the "seven-principled human constitution".

"S7FM" = "Saptaparna - the seven fold man". consisting of a "higher triad" (1. atman; 2. buddhi; 3. manas) plus a "lower quaternary" (4. kama; 5. pran.a; 6. linga-s`arira; 7. sthula-s`arira).

But the saptaparn.a as a "man-plant" (SD, vol. 1, p. 236) is the caitya-vr.ks.a of (JI, p. 51, Table II) Ajita-natha, the 2nd Tirtha-ankara of 24.

SD = Helena Petrovna Blavatsky : The Secret Doctrine. 2 voll. London : Theosophical Publ Co, 1888. Vol. 1 : Cosmogenesis.

JI = Umakant Premanand Shah : Jaina Iconography. Abhinav Publ, New Delhi, 1987.

pp. 164-6 autobiographical accounts of astral travel, within the Theosophical Society

p. 164

"Theosophical literature ... astral travel travel ... experiences of prominent members are illustrative. First, William Quan Judge (1851-96) headed the US branch of the society until his death ... . The other is Charles Webster Leadbeater (1854-1934) ... . ...

p. 165

When Judge gave a lecture in 1876 about his experiments with astral projection, {it was} published in the May 1877 issue of Psychische Studien ... . [fn. 20 : "For the text of the lecture, see Deveney, "An Unpublished Lecture by W. Q. Judge"."] ...

p. 166

"In 1947, Earnest Wood (1883-1965), Leadbeater's assistant, published a small pamphlet which described the ways in which Leadbeater travelled astrally."

John Patrick Deveney : "An Unpublished Lecture by W. Q. Judge in 1876 on His Magical Progress". THEOSOPHICAL HISTORY 9(2003).3:12-20.

Wood 1947 = Earnest Wood : Clairvoyant Investigations by C. W. Leadbeater ... . Adyar : Theosophical Publ House.

p. 166, fn. 26 observing the 6th Root-Race

"Leadbeater travelled forward in time describing the upcoming sixth root-race in which humans had {read "shall have"} evolved to be very different creatures {read "creators"} than they are today. These results were published as Leadbeater & Besant ... (1931)."

{Besides this temporal explanation suitable for mythology, these "Root-Races" could be otherwise explained as divine denizens of respective subplanes (in descending vibrational-frequency sequence) of a subtle plane.}

Charles W. Leadbeater & Annie Besant 1931 = The Beginnings of the Sixth Root Race. Adyar : Theosophical Publ House.

{In a class-ruled society (such as capitalism), it is safer (for the lives of the occultists themselves) to characterize supernatural races of divine beings as having not as yet come into existence (and not yet due for millions of years), since then the ruling-class would not feel itself as possibly immediately threatenable by such allegedly temporally-remote divine races. [Any perceived threat to the ruling-class (of ploutokrats) would likely be met by sending secret murderers against the occultists involved.] If it were not for safety's sake, all the races of divine beings would be described as co-aevally contemporaneous. [written July 16th 2014]}

pp. 166-7 travel into, and among, subtle subplanes-of-existence, according to the Flying Rolls of the Golden Dawn

p. 166

"The Golden Dawn's internal organizational instructions, called "Flying Rolls", give detailed instructions as to how to interact with the astral as well as examples of what one should experience ... : Descrying in the Spirit Vision, ... and Rising on the Planes. [King 1987, 76]

This section will briefly focus on ... using a tarot card as a portal.

The narrative of this astral experience, as example Descrying in the Spirit Vision, was given in Flying Roll No. IV. In it two female Golden Dawn initiates, Soror SSDD (Florence Farr Emery, 1860-1917) and Soror Fidelis (Elaine Simpson), describe the process of entering the astral plane. {This process is more realistically described in the writings by Robert Bruce (AD, Fig. 29), who commenced his account of the subplanes of the astral plane with his already being in their praesence, in transcendent space outside of them, viewing them as a stack of shelves (instead of as a horizontal deck of cards) hovering in that space.} First, ... preliminary magical rituals are performed,

a tarot trump ... is chosen, and then the card is studied.

{Likewise, printed cards with scenes from the divine world are contemplated in both the Vajra-yana and the Bon versions of this process.}

After a while ... this ... can be continued with

{likewise in the Vajra-yana and in the Bon versions of this process}

p. 167

the eyes closed.

At the point where the member feels "a state of reverie" she steps into the tarot card and begins ... astral travel. ...

{In violation of Jaina rules of livelihood was (ShATh, p. 268) "Gosala [Maskarin], whose father as well as himself made a living by carrying around a holy picture ... . ... The power of the god enters directly into the icon, summoned by the proper spells, and is to some extent controlled by the practitioner."}

[quoted from King 1987, 72 :] The Tarot Trump ... was taken; placed before the persons and contemplated upon,


{prayerfully saluted}

heightened in coloring,

{coloring being included in (or imported into) the mental visualization}

purified in design and

{contemplated as located in the "Pure Realm", the divine world of Vajra-yana and of Bon}


{contemplated as located in the transcendent divine world of universal Platonic eidola}

In vibratory manner [the persons] pronounced Daleth.

{In order to pronounce in a vibratory manner (i.e., trillingly), the phoneme must be a sonant continuant. In the case of Dalet, this could be /N/ (which the etymological aequivalent in the Australoid languages to the /D/ of S^emitic).}

Then, in spirit, [the persons] saw a greenish blue {turquoise-hued} distant landscape,

suggestive of the mediaeval tapestry.

{though textured similarly to a tapestry, its color would suggest the turquoise realm of time-regent (similar to Maha-Kala) Xiuh-tecuhtli.}

Effort to ascend was then made;

rising on the planes seemed to pass through clouds

{the 9 divine layers of Megha-s (named in the Puran.a-s); the Hawai>ian heavens likewise being regarded as layers of clouds}

and then appeared a pale green landscape and in its midst a gothic temple of ghostly outlines marked with light. [The persons] Approached it and found the temple ... was concrete, and seemed a solid structure. ...

Opposite the entrance perceived a cross with three {horizontal bars

{This is the antient inscriptional form of the Hellenic letter Ksi.}

and a dove upon it;

{perhaps the pih.ta [cf.^>ab] of the Manda< (>aramaic 'Gnostic') eucharist}

and besides this, there were steps leading forwards into the dark, beside a dark passage. Here was met

a beautiful green dragon,

{The green dragon is typically Confucianist, in contrast to the typically Taoist blue dragon, and to the typically Bon turquoise-hued dragon.}

who moved aside ... . Turning a corner ... there appeared

a woman of heroic proportions, clothed in green

{Goddess Isis is repraesented as a "woman, often pregnant, sometimes loosely covered with a garment either of green or black color" (STAA, p. 46).}

with a jewelled girdle, crown of stars on her head, in her hand a sceptre of gold, having at its apex

{reminiscent, howbeit, of "a Woman clothed ..., and upon Her head a crown of twelve stars" (Apokalupsis of Ioannes 12:1); or of the starry crown Corona Borealis of heroine Ariadne (Ovidius : Metamorphoses VIII 174-182)}

a lustrously white closed lotus {pun.d.arika} flower ... . ...

{likely emblematic of the vaipulya-sutra Karun.a-Pun.d.arika}

She smiled ..., and as the human spirit sought her name, replied : I am the mighty Mother Isis ... ." {Isis, however, weareth "a crown, wholly consisting of flowers and fruits of every kind" (STAA, loc. cit), but not star-spangled. Nevertheless, her "etheric crown" is supposed to provide "full telepathic communication with Sirius and other star systems" ("WICSP").}

King 1987 = Francis King (ed.) : Astral Projections, Ritual Magic, and Alchemy : Golden Dawn Material by S. L. MacGregor Mathers and Others. Rochester (VT) : Destiny Bks.

AD = Robert Bruce : Astral Dynamics. Hampton Roads Publ Co, Charlottesville (VA), 1999.

ShATh = Thomas McEvilley : The Shape of Ancient Thought. Allworth Pr, NY, 2002.

STAA = Manly P. Hall : The Secret Teachings of All Ages. San Francisco, 1928.

"WICSP" = "Wearing the Isis Crown of Spiritual Protection, Gifted by Sirian High Council".

p. 167 effect of ritual on visitations to the astral plane

"These ... astral realms have rules and laws. Certain actions, rituals and words brought from the physical world obtain great effect in the astral. ... These limits predetermined the experience of the astral."

p. 168 esoteric function of Wicca

"Quoting from Gardner's Book of Shadows, his magical ritual book, the Farrars detail [3rd edn, II:60] Gardner's instructions "To Leave the Body". They write that the purpose of this practice is "to help bring about ... clairvoyance, expansion of consciousness, opening up the {supernatural} levels, openng the Third Eye ...; and, at a more advanced stage, astral projection"."

Janet Farrar & Stewart Farrar : A Witches' Bible. 3rd edn. Custer (WA) : Phoenix Publ, 1996.

p. 169 astral travel in various esoteric religious orders

"the Church of the Sun, which operated in the 1960s and 1970s ..., ... incorporated astral ... travel as part of its doctrine.

fn. 37 "See ... Lynch [1979]".

Similarly, ... a different church of magic, the Solar Lodge, imcorporated various astral occult practices into its organization.

fn. 38 "See Frater Shiva [2007]".

Lastly, Ordo Templi Orientis, still active today ... in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, ... incorporated astral travel ... and this is still promoted by this group."

fn. 39 "recommends Crowley's Magick in Theory and Practice which contains extensive instructions as to the use of the astral."

Lynch 1979 = Frederick R. Lynch : "Occult Establishment ...?" J FOR THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF RELIGION 18.3:281-98.

Frater Shiva 2007 = Frater Shiva : Inside Solar Lodge / Outside the Law. York Beach (ME) : Teitan Pr.

Crowley : Magick in Theory and Practice. App. III "Notes for an Astral Atlas". (The meagre 16a-b "exploring the Astral Plane" is not "extensive", nor helpful.)


Egil Asprem & Kennet Granholm (edd.): Contemporary Esotericism. Equinox Publ Ltd, Sheffield, 2013.