Occult People


Occult People - Introduction

Dion FortuneThere is much confusion over the word 'occult' and what exactly it involves. Due to the sensationalizing nature of media coverage of all things occult, the subject is connected in the popular imagination with Satanism, black magic and lurid ritual practices. The actual meaning of the word 'occult' comes from the Latin occultus and signifies something hidden or secret, referring to secret knowledge. For the majority of those with a profound interest in or knowledge of the occult, the subject represents a deeper spiritual reality, one that extends well beyond the material world and the physical sciences.

The people featured in this section are for the most part occultists or mystics, many of whom were ritual magicians in the sense that they used symbolism and ritual to attain their desired ends. Dion Fortune defined magic as 'the art of changing consciousness at will', and later Aleister Crowley defined 'magick' in similar terms as 'the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.'

Many of the occultists featured in this section of Mysterious People emerged from the hugely influential English occult group The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, founded by three Freemasons, Dr. William Robert Woodman, William Wynn Westcott, and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, in London in 1888. Members of this organisation and its subsequent offshoots featured here are Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune and Netta Fornario. The remarkable Anna Kingsford came from a Theosophical background, the Theosophical Society being a religio-philosophical society founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky in New York in 1875. Kingsford was President of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society but left due to divergence of beliefs. Anna Kingsford's Hermetic Society with its unique brand of  western mysticism and occult ideas was to have a profound influence on the Golden Dawn.

Other characters on the site are connected with what might be called a mystic occultism. One of these is French-born Mystic and traveller Alexandra David-Neel - one of the first westerners to visit the forbidden city of Lhasa, capital of Tibet, and whose books on the spiritual and practices of the Far East are still widely read today.  English philosopher, mystic, traveller, and guru Paul Brunton also spent time in the East among yogis, mystics, and holy men, and was extremely influential in the spread of Eastern mysticism to the West from the 1930s onwards. The fascinatingly eccentric English woman Dorothy Louise Eady, who acquired fame under the name Omm Sety, was an expert on ancient Egyptian magical practices, and revered by the local villagers at Abydos for her healing skills.

Copyright 2007 by Brian Haughton. All Rights Reserved.

Sources and Further Reading

Booth, M.  A Magick Life: The Life of Aleister Crowley. Philadelphia, PA, Coronet Books. 2001.

Brunton, Paul. A Search in Secret Egypt. London, Rider, 1969.

Cavendish, Richard (ed). The Encyclopedia of the Unexplained. London & Henley. Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974.

Cott, J. The Search for Omm Sety. New York, Doubleday, 1987.

David-Neel, Alexandra. Magic and Mystery in Tibet. Dover Publications Inc.,1971 (1932).

Fortune, Dion. Psychic Self-Defence. London, S.I.L. (Trading) Ltd., 1997 (1930).

Foster, Barbara and MichaelThe Secret Lives of Alexandra David-Neel. New York, The Overlook Press, 1998.

Gilbert, R.A. Revelations of the Golden Dawn. Slough, Foulsham, 1997.

Greer, Mary K. Women of the Golden Dawn. Rochester, Park Street Press. 1995.

Knight, Gareth. Dion Fortune and the Inner Light. Loughborough, Thoth Publications. 2000.

Regardie, Israel. The Golden Dawn: An Account of the Teachings, Rites and Ceremonies of the Order of the Golden Dawn.

St. Paul, MN, LLewellyn. 1986.

Shirley, R. Occultists & Mystics of All Ages. New York, University Books, 1972 (1920).

Spence, Lewis. The Encyclopedia of the Occult. Bracken Books, London, 1988 (1920).

Wilson, Colin. The Occult. St Albans, Mayflower Books, 1973.


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