History’s Most Formidable Occult Figures

Pentacle

“To know, to dare, to will, to keep silence—such are the four words of the magus…”

The Doctrine and the Ritual of Magic, Eliphas Levi

The earliest use of the term “occult” emerged in the 16th century when studies such as astrology and natural magic were catalogued under the occult sciences. Fast forward to the 19th century and the word picked up momentum with the French associating it with esoteric groups. It’s believed that the phrase “occult” finally made its debut in the English language circa 1875 when esoterist Helena Blavatsky (more on her later) began using it in her works. Although the mention of the occult seems quite recent, I believe traces of it have existed for much longer, into the far reaches of centuries past.

The dark arts, black magic, Satanism, witchcraft, paganism, mysticism—these are just a few of the practices commonly connected to occultism. All the greater are the number of individuals throughout the ages to have been linked to the practice of it. In his book “The Black Arts,” Richard Cavendish says, “The magician sets out to conquer the universe. To succeed he must make himself master of everything in it—evil as well as good, cruelty as well as mercy, pain as well as pleasure.” Perhaps this is the mission to unite the souls I’m about to mention here; a common purpose propelling them throughout their lifetimes. Presented in chronological order, let’s have a look at some of history’s most formidable occult figures. Continue reading “History’s Most Formidable Occult Figures”

Channeling Spirits: An Evening Séance at Ipso Facto

Middle image is of a séance conducted by medium John Beattie in Bristol, England in 1872
Middle image is of a séance conducted by medium John Beattie in Bristol, England in 1872

Séances, also known as spirit circles, first gained widespread notoriety during the 19th-century Spiritualist movement in late Victorian England. They were gatherings where individuals sought to contact the “other side” to communicate with the dead. Although some were exposed as nothing but smoke and mirrors, there were devout Spiritualists that took the ritual seriously and strove to tap into a Higher Self. More than 150 years later, the practice is still alive. I recently attended a spirit circle at Ipso Facto, a goth/alternative shop in Fullerton, California, that has been hosting séances for the past two years. I’m going to share my experience, plus my Q&A with shop owner Terri Kennedy. Continue reading “Channeling Spirits: An Evening Séance at Ipso Facto”