Occult systems of correspondences as a base of magical practice
Written by Baal-Hiram
With the advent of the internet and social media, a lot of hidden information concerning various occult sciences and mysticism have now made their way into the mainstream, thus creating a whole new wave of internet occultists who show disdain towards traditional sources of knowledge. There seems to be a tendency among such people to regard these traditions and practices as interpretative, and claim that they do not require an in-depth study and understanding of the philosophy, systems of symbolic correspondences and the soteriology. These individuals, who may claim to study traditional esoteric systems such as the Kabbalah, Astrology, Alchemy, Geomancy et cetera, usually represent themselves as mystics who are ‘following their heart’, but in reality, they are simply too lazy to 'waste' their time and energy in studying the theory. In truth, such self proclaimed mystics are just creating their own fantasy about occult practices.
Finding myriad ways to justify their ignorance, such people simply give into their indulgences while wearing a facade of an occultist. Instead of accepting their laziness and superficiality and trying to fight these vices and mental afflictions, these people create their own web of a pseudo-occult system — a so-called ‘inner spiritual path’ for which they don’t need any traditional knowledge and understanding of occult systems. Indeed, it is much easier to say that there is no need to study anything at all in order to carve a successful spiritual path rather than actually putting the required time and effort into the occult studies.
Usual victims of this pseudo occult trap are people who have started to study spirituality and/or magic quite recently. Very often, after facing some difficulties in studying the systems of the occult correspondences, and also being confused with a big variety of the systems themselves (which might differ from each other quite strongly), and instead of making some efforts and trying to get into these systems, they retreat in panic and hide under an arrogant decisions of creating ‘their own system’. Ironically, because of the same inability to fight their own laziness, which stopped them from studying traditional occult systems in the first place, they are also not able to create their own system which they dreamt about. As a result, they become a ‘dedicated mystic’ who ‘follows the voice of his heart’. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Moreover, many such pseudo occultists also tend to harbour sectarian biases; they sincerely believe, consciously and unconsciously, that there must be some ‘the only true’ system of correspondences in the occult traditions. However, when they come face to face with the myriads of schools that exist in the larger Western traditions, they are shocked and dismayed. That eventually leads them to a quasi-Nietzschean outlook, wherein they retract from their earlier notion of finding a 'one true system' to believing that there is no 'correct' system! It triggers them further to take liberty and proclaim that since there is no correct system, they are free to create an individual system by conveniently eschewing traditional wisdom traditions. Such a fallacious reasoning only leads one to create immense misery and suffering for the prospective adepts.
One must possess the intellect to discern that different systems were created by different schools and they describe completely different models, sometimes using similar symbols and terminology, to suit the needs of different practitioners. Each individual is endowed with certain traits and characteristics; hence, there naturally arose the need to develop unique paths for adepts possessing different capacities and interests.
For example, the English system of correspondences of Tarot to the literas (check this please) of the Tree of Life describes the construction of the Universe while in the French system it describes the path of the Initiate. Both the systems are absolutely correct for the model which they describe and each of them is quite elegant in its own way. Correspondences of the planets to the stones and plants by the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and correspondences of the different medieval grimoires could also be different and contradictory. But it doesn’t mean that this or that system is wrong. The system which was created by S.L. MacGregor Mathers is quite extensive and universal while the medieval grimoires are like a separate entity — a unique system of symbolic correspondences which are correct only for some special practices. In order to truly gain a deeper understanding of all these nuances, one must train in patience and humility. Instead of dismissing everything that one doesn't particularly like, one should at least try to experiment and try to assess which system an individual finds connection with.
This is how the path of serious and dedicated occult practitioner should be like — to study the theory and to examine it in practice. However, without sufficient knowledge about western occult traditions, it wouldn’t be possible to understand this basic fact. For example, the spells which are given in the Heptameron are just corrupted spells from the Lemegeton Clavicula Salomonis, so intelligent and well informed occult practitioners must have the knowledge and wit to fix such errors for magical praxis. Moreover, even if we are talking about ‘the inner path’, then for the person who is not educated in the traditional occultism, it is not possible to follow this path as well.
Without the knowledge of the occult systems of correspondences, a person is lacking the system of coordination at the spiritual level and, as a result, he is lacking criterion of verification of any magical or seemingly otherworldly phenomenon, which one might face. In the end because of one's ignorance, one begins to confuse what he wants to see with the reality by falling into mental fantasies, which, in Hesychast scripts, is called ‘seduction’. Some people can argue here and mention some famous mystics of the past like Swedenborg, Jakob Bohme and Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, but it is incorrect to bring them to the discussion. With all due respect, Swedenborg, besides having some interesting insights, has written a lot of confusing material, which brings us to the thought that he communicated not with angels but with the dead people, particularly souls of the dead passing the stages of consistent dissolution of their esoteric shells, or maybe even with larvae – empty shells which were left behind by the dead that didn’t have any spiritual element left anymore. These obscured entities were arguably giving him some pieces of their own fantasies and hopes, which they themselves were confusing with the reality of phenomenon. Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, before getting into the practice of the inner path, properly checked the massive theurgic system of Martinez de Pasqually and he never ignored operative ceremonial methods whenever necessary. Jakob Bohme is one among a million and to think that every lazy, armchair occultist would get deep magical insights like him is too farfetched an idea. This hardworking shoemaker had previously studied books written by a plethora of different German mystics and alchemists including Paracelsus and also learned a lot about natural philosophy, religious mysticism and Kabbalah. So, to think that one can be like him without engaging in proper self-study and a thorough understanding of traditional occult knowledge is simply fooling oneself. Returning to Swedenborg, who among these three examples is the biggest example of what shouldn’t be followed on the path, I must say that he might have escaped falling into fantasies and receiving some doubtful messages from the netherworld if he had studied and investigated occult systems of correspondences more properly.
Nearing the end of this essay about the importance of the traditional occult knowledge, I want to mention an analogy which naturally comes due to its obviousness. No matter what stream of knowledge one pursues, whether it is physics, chemistry or any modern sciences, a layman who hasn’t received sufficient amount of knowledge which makes him a professional in their chosen field wouldn’t take a risk of doing something serious connected to this sphere of science until and unless he loses his sanity. Even if he is not in his mind and even if he would take a risk, the result is most likely going to be a failure, or worse, a fiasco. A person who has studied physics only in the school wouldn’t make a project of the nuclear reactor and nobody in their senses would even allow that. Similarly, in chemistry a basic course is not sufficient to create toxic substances or drugs. And in biology, a school course is not enough even for a simple appendectomy. Nevertheless, some people think that they can achieve success in the occult without studying anything, using just their fantasies and feeding their egos. Thankfully, or shall I say unfortunately, the results of such reckless choices is not so quick as in case with natural sciences and nobody gets hurt because of wrong mix of the chemicals, except a few cases where certain individuals start losing their sanity after experimenting with doubtful alchemical methods which they obtained from dubious internet pages.
As a practicing traditional occultist, my advice to anyone who seriously wants to enter the enticing yet risk-laden path of occult sciences should properly investigate and study these systems, ideally under the guidance of an initiated master. Life is too short to play along with our delusions; let's make it meaningful while we still have a chance.
Autor of the article © Baal-Hiram 330/660/900 Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraïm, 2018.
Translated into English from Russian by © Viktoria Polikarpova & Ankit Sinha, 10.07.2019