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Esotericism, occultism, mysticism and magic

23.05.2018 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

There are many different occult movements and religions in the world. At different times, people, pursuing their goals have created them and urged others to join.

Esoteric Christianity 

Esoteric Christianity 

Followers of this group of occult teachings believe that they have comprehended the “hidden” and “true” meaning of Christianity, which is available only to a small circle of initiated and highly educated people. The teachings of this cult is known as Esoteric Christianity.

From the point of view of its adherents, Christianity is a religion containing many great sacraments. Followers of Esoteric Christianity claim that they possess esoteric skills that will help to understand them completely.

Mainstream Christians believe that Esoteric Christianity is a pseudoscience.

Modern esoteric christianity

The movements of this doctrine adhere to the idea of reincarnation and believe that the human body has a complex energy system (etheric body, astral body, mental body and causal body). Followers believe that inner spiritual work is necessary and that with the help of exercises, techniques and meditations, it will lead a person to ‘zeroing’ in Pavlov’s sense.

Russian philosopher, mystic, spiritual teacher and writer George Gurdjieff founded the doctrine ‘The Fourth Way’. This is an example of such teaching. He considered his method to be a way through which a person will learn to work out the negative aspects of consciousness and suffering, transform them and reach true life.

Esoteric scientists believe that all these methods will help an individual to save his/her soul and be reborn. Some modern followers of Esoteric Christianity have introduced techniques from various magical practices into their faith, for example, Kabbalah, Theurgy, Goethia, Alchemy, Astrology and Hermeticism.

Christian mysticism

Christian mysticism

Christian mysticism is a movement within Christianity. Its followers practice deep prayer (contemplation) relating to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The main distinguishing goal of the believers is to achieve a sense of unity with God.

Christian mysticism has three characteristics: personality, freedom, and love.

Many religious movements believe that man has lost connection with God, yet the human soul seeks to revive it and to truly know God. According to Christian tradition, communication can be restored through the blood of Jesus. Christian traditional mysticism considers Christ to be the Only Mediator through whom God can be comprehended. The Bible is the main book of Christian mysticism, in which the doctrine finds proof of its practices and philosophy. Some offshoots of mysticism that have been influenced by the religions of the new age do not attach much importance to the blood of Jesus. However, they are not supported by Protestant, Orthodox, or Catholic Christian mysticism.

Practices of christian mysticism

Human egoism is the main object of transformation in Christian mysticism. The purpose of this transformation is a realization of life in harmony with oneself, God, the Church, other people and all things around.

Since ancient times, Christian mystics have followed three aspects in achieving holiness, although in different traditions they are named differently. In general, they can be described as purification, enlightenment and unity, that is, body, soul (or mind) and spirit, respectively.

A follower of Christian mysticism begins his/her journey with purification. During purification, one needs to be disciplined. This includes praying at certain times in a certain position (most often on your knees), independently or in a group, to also fast, perform alms and help those in need.

Holy Communion is an integral part of Christian mysticism.


This is a movement of mystical and esoteric Christianity. The doctrine of Martinism shows how man was cast down from heaven into the material world, and it also describes his ascension back. It preaches that it is possible to return to the divine world with the help of spiritual enlightenment, which a person attains through heartfelt prayer.

Around the year 1740 in France, Martínez de Pasqually established a system of higher degrees, to which Martinism initially belonged. Subsequently it became divided into two movements, which were founded by de Pasquallie’s disciples Louis Claude de Saint-Martin and Jean-Baptiste Willermoz.

Three traditions of martinism

Martinism is chronologically divided into three traditions:

  1. The Order of Knight-Masons Elect Priests of the Universe (Chosen Cohens). This is an esoteric and theurgical system of the High Degrees of Freemasonry. It was created by the mastic and kabbalist Martínez de Pasqually who was Saint Martin’s mentor. It suggested an original and exclusively magical path to spiritual enlightenment. The Order still exists today.
  2. The Rectified Scottish Rite or Knights Benefactor of the Holy City. This is a Christian Masonic rite. The philosophy is based on Martinism and the practice of the Chosen Cohens. The Knights of the Holy City were founded by Jean-Baptiste Willermoz in 1778 and still exists today.
  3. Martinism of Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin. This is a mystical movement focused on meditation and spiritual alchemy. Saint Martin’s method of achieving spiritual enlightenment was different from others. He chose the silent “Way of the Heart.” His legacy became transformed in 1886 by Augustin Chaboseau and Gérard Encausse (Papus) into the Martinist Order.

Occultism in nazism

Occultism in Nazism combined occult organizations and movements associated with German Nazism and the Third Reich. The opinions of scientists on the importance of occultism in National Socialist ideology significantly differ.

Doctrine of occultism in nazism

The main goal of Nazism was the revival of a new race of demigods – Aryans. The The Southern race, natives of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana were considered enemies of the pure race of Aryans. In Occult Nazism, great importance is attached to the legends of the disappeared countries (Thule, Agharti, Shambhala).

Occult theories developed in the organization concerning Ancestral Heritage. The Lance of Longinus (the spear of the Roman warrior Longinus, which pierced the hypochondrium of the crucified Jesus Christ) and the Black Sun (an esoteric occult symbol) were the shrines of Nazism. At one stage it was believed that Nazi occultism would receive the status of the official religion of Germany. 

Occult roots of nazism

Professor Nicholas Goodrick-Clark of the Academy of Western Esotericism and Director of the Center for the Study of Esotericism at the University of Exeter wrote a monograph on The Occult Roots of Nazism.

In it, the author touches upon the topic of how various Theosophical and occult movements influenced the formation of Nazism. The narrative begins with a description of Hitler’s homeland, and its socio-political problems, which were reflected in the philosophy of Hitler’s Nazism.

Nazi support for the occult

After the National Socialist German Workers’ Party came to power, it banned occult communities and people associated with the activities of these societies were arrested. Still, the Nazis showed interest in esotericism in the pursuit of their goals and they assisted some occultists in supporting Nazi ideology.

Ceremonial magic

This is a term of Western esotericism describing long-term, thoughtful, and complex magical rites. Ceremonial magic is associated with Christian and Hermetic Kabbalah, Enochian magic, various magical grimoires (books containing magical guidance), esoteric Christianity and tarot.

In the practice of ceremonial magic, instruments consecrated and selected for a particular ritual are utilized. Some of the followers keep them in a special closet hidden from prying eyes.

The history of ceremonial magic

The concept comes from the magic that existed during the Renaissance of the 16th century. It is associated with the practices described in various grimoires and collections.

In the late 19th – early 20th century the Order of the Golden Dawn existed. It is believed that this Order had a strong influence on the Western ceremonial magic of the 20th century. Members of the Golden Dawn translated many magical treatises into English, which contributed to public education in the field of magical theory and practice.

The Russian Ancient Martinist-Martinezist Order, the International Order of the Rose-Cross, the Kabbalistic Order of the Rose-Cross of Stanislas de Guaita, the Builders of the Adytum of Paul Foster Case, the Order of Selected Cohens and other groups operating in a similar way to the Order of the Golden Dawn are the modern practitioners of ceremonial magic.

Enochian magic

This is also called angel magic and was developed by the English scientist John Dee and the medium Edward Kelley. To succeed in comprehending the mysteries of nature, Dee turned to the angels for help. Edward Kelley, a counterfeiter in the past, was his medium. Together they conducted many sessions of communication with angels during the period from 1583 to 1589.

John Dee and Edward Kelley talked about receiving instructions on how to create Enochian magic from angels. Most occultists believe this and notice similarities with the famous early Dee grimoires.

In his diaries, Dee wrote that he considered himself to be an angelic prophet and God’s chosen one. According to Kelley, it was not the angels who spoke to him at all but fallen spirits.

Modern enochian magic

From the surviving diaries, it is impossible to understand how Dee and Kelley used Enochian magic. But a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, has rediscovered Enochian magic. Modern occultists try to understand it from the original manuscripts.

Goetic magic

Goetia is a medieval magical tradition of summoning demons and making talismans. It includes a list of 72 demons and a description of the magic circle, triangle and attributes used by the Ancient king and magician Solomon. There is a legend that Solomon placed 72 demons in a jug, sealed it and threw it into the lake. But the demons were released by the Babylonian priests, who created a seal for each of them that had power over a certain spirit.

The Greek word “goethia” means lower, harmful magic.

Followers of esoteric religions and movements have turned to the occult, not finding answers to their questions in traditional religions. Sometimes they have done so to indulge their own vices.