Occult People -
There 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
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
Fortune and Netta
Fornario. The remarkable
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
Other characters on the site are connected with what
might be called a mystic occultism. One of these is French-born Mystic and traveller
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
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
Coronet Books. 2001.
Brunton, Paul. A Search in Secret Egypt. London,
Cavendish, Richard (ed). The
Encyclopedia of the Unexplained. London & Henley. Routledge & Kegan Paul,
Cott, J. The Search for Omm Sety.
New York, Doubleday, 1987.
and Mystery in Tibet. Dover Publications Inc.,1971 (1932).
Self-Defence. London, S.I.L. (Trading)
Ltd., 1997 (1930).
and Michael. The
Secret Lives of Alexandra David-Neel.
New York, The Overlook Press, 1998.
Gilbert, R.A. Revelations of the Golden Dawn. Slough,
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.
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.