This text is an excerpt from the forthcoming book “High Magic in the Western Mystery Tradition” by Salomo Baal-Shem. Salomo Baal-Shem asserts his moral right to be indentified as the only author of this work. Including the right of reproduction in whole or part in any form. The text of this publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form of by any means, electronic or otherwise be lent, resold, hired out or circulated without the consent of the Author/Publisher in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on any subsequent purchaser.
Any complete and serious system of occult training must include and consider all parts of the soul.1 This should not only be theoretical lip service, rather should it manifest itself in all aspects of the practical work. (For example in the meditative work of the Inner Temple which is the basis of this course, each part of the soul corresponds to one section of the temple.)
Devotion (or love), wisdom and power are the three foundation pillars of the magical personality and they should also be the basis of magical training. These three principles correspond to the three main parts of the human soul.
Foundation Pillars of the Magical Personality
Parts of the Human Soul
Devotion (or love)
Higher Self (Neshamah)
Connection to the higher planes, character training and ethics
Conscious Self or mental soul (Ruach)
Attaining a deep understanding of the universe and the human soul
Lower Self or emotional / unconscious Soul (Nefesh)
Development of occult skills
Devotion corresponds to the occult cardinal virtue2 to will, that is the Magical Will to serve the Light. The most essential goal of magical training is to attain the conscious connection to the Higher Self which is called Neshamah in the Qabbalah and which is our most direct connection to the Divine Source. To make this possible intensive training of character is necessary that enables our mortal personality to become an appropriate recipient for the higher influences, for we can only attract such forces our soul is ready for. All great occult teachers have always agreed since time immemorial that the higher forces reveal themselves only to the one who has purified and appropriately prepared his soul previously, which is why training of the character is a necessary foundation of the occult path. (In traditional texts this is often described as "purification from sin" which in many old texts is considered as a requirement for magical practice. The term "purification from sin" may seem a bit outdated to us but it is all about the purification of the soul from its unethical characteristics.) Ethics are an important part of occult character training because a human being does not have a good character unless he or she is a good person and does act in an ethical way in everyday life. At this point it also becomes clear why the first foundation pillar of the magical personality is sometimes called "love" instead of "devotion".3 (The "Codex of the Magician" describes the fundamental principles on which occult ethics are based.)
True occult training has to teach the student of the mysteries ways and means how he may overcome his weaknesses of character and transform them into strengths. In the Western Mystery Tradition the Qabbalistic Tree of Life4 is the foundation and the guidepost that shows us the way on which we can achieve the conscious connection with the higher world. Our devotion has to be aroused and strengthened time and time again. (Thedaily candle exercise is an excellent means to kindle the flame of devotion and to keep it strong.) However the pious hope of eventually striving for the higher is not enough, but this strive must be an integral part of our occult practice to which the necessary attention is given in the form of substantial and profound work along these principles. Only in the intensive spiritual work in which the higher principles (which - on the western path - are represented by the Qabbalistic Tree of Life) are applied together with practical ethical character training, the alchemical transformation can take place by which the common and raw but worthy human being becomes a true adept.
Wisdom corresponds to the occult cardinal virtue to know,that is the attainment of self knowledge and insight into the essence of all things. To be successful our devotion, that is our will to serve the highest, must be illuminated by the knowledge of how to achieve this. Of what avail is power to us when we lack the wisdom to apply it well? On the level of our conscious self which is called Ruach in the Qabbalah and which is our mental soul, occult work mainly is about the attainment of a deep understanding of the universe and the human soul, especially our own soul. The latter is the core of all self knowledge and personal development.5
In the Western Mystery Tradition an intensive study of the Holy Qabbalah is the most important prerequisite to attain wisdom. The student of the mysteries does however not only need theoretical booklore as is regrettably all too often the case, but lively experience of the Qabbalistic principles is required, from which true knowledge of the nature of things may evolve. (A true student of the mysteries however should also be an educated person in mundane matters and should have an extensive general knowledge. Apart from occult wisdom he should also have the necessary knowledge to master his life with mundane means. Mental one-sidedness is not an attribute of a true student of the mysteries.
Power corresponds to the occult cardinal virtue to dare, that is the ability to turn the magical will into action by the application of knowledge. The true student of the mysteries should have the occult and mundane abilities to master his spiritual and worldly tasks. Our lower self, which is called Nefesh in the Qabbalah, and which is our emotional or unconscious soul, is the true magician within us. Our subconscious mind can make us ill or healthy, it can bring us good or bad luck in love, career and in every condition of life, by attracting that which is within it. This process mostly takes place without conscious control. Through the development of his occult abilities the magician learns to control the powers of his subconscious mind, which he uses to get into contact with other powers (e.g. elementals, planetary spirits, angels and archangels) and to call upon them in order to achieve his goals. These higher powers will however only put themselves into the service of the magician if he knows how to call upon them and if his soul is filled with devotion to the Divine Light whom all powers serve. (Therefore, devotion and wisdom are the prerequisites of true magical power.)
In the Western Mystery Tradition meditation and ritual are used to train occult abilities. In this training it is important to receive personal guidance and assistance by an experienced occultist on a regular basis.
The Actualisation of these three Principles
To the fourth occult cardinal virtue to be silent corresponds to the actualisation of these three principles in the material world under the protective mantle of occult secrecy (arcane discipline), which protects the mysteries from defilement by the profane world.
In the fellowship of the occult lodge or fraternity, concealed and protected from the public eye, the student of the mysteries receives guidance and support from the individual fraters and sorors of the lodge as well as from the Egregore itself, that is the group mind which is ensouled by a higher power. Through this connection on the inner planes, the student of the mysteries will be supported and promoted even in his individual work by the group mind, which unites all members of the specific occult community the student of the mysteries belongs to.
The benefit of an occult community for the individual student of the mysteries is often underestimated by those who have never experienced it or who have only made the unfortunate experience of having gotten into undistinguished or even bad company. On the other hand it cannot be stressed too much that it is still much better to not belong to any occult community at all, than to be a member of a bad, dubious or ethically suspect community.
Without devotion we cannot reach the higher world. Without wisdom our endeavours are nothing but wrong tracks and follies. Without power we cannot accomplish anything. And if we do not actualise and integrate these principles in our life the results of our occult work will not be permanent. Training of character, wisdom and personal abilities should manifest visibly by the outcomes in the life of the student of the mysteries. Nobody may raise this claim unless he is living an ethical, balanced and successful life.
Every student of the mysteries should every once in a while take the time to critically examine his own occult training and to scrutinise whether he has neglected one or the other aspect. Is your spiritual work imbued with deep devotion and does it include the intensive ethical character training necessary for higher work? Is this character training not only assumed theoretically, but integrated into the practical work of your training? Does your occult training include a profound study of the human soul, a serious striving for self-knowledge and an intensive and lively study of the cosmic principles and the teachings of the Holy Qabbalah helping you to truly achieve a deeper understanding of the nature of things? Does your practical work involve effective meditative and ritual techniques that bring you into contact with the higher forces and train you to develop your hidden powers and potentials? And are you able to actualise all this within a protected environment in which you receive the necessary support and mentoring from an experienced teacher (and a fraternal community), and are you able to successfully implement your occult development in your mundane life as well, to the effect that you are living a successful and fulfilled life?
If you have to answer one or more questions in the negative your occult work probably lacks an important component. Only if we devote the appropriate attention to each one of these aspects we may become true adepts of the occult path.
1The Qabbalah distinguishes the following three parts of the soul: Neshamah, the spiritual soul, Ruach, the conscious soul and Nefesh, the sentient soul, as well as Guf, the physical body. (Simplified description.)
2 There are four occult cardinal virtues. These are: to will, to know, to dare and to be silent. They are also known as the "Four Powers of the Sphinx" or the "Four Words of the Magi".
3 Also Aleister Crowley considered Love in harmony with the Magical Will to be the highest principle of the occult path. (This principle however had often been misused for egoistical purposes by supporters of his teachings.)
4 The Tree of Life is a meditation picture that could be described as the "central mandala" of the Qabbalah and the Western Mystery Tradition.
5 Even this introductory text is based on the knowledge of the nature of the soul. Without this knowledge, any magical work is like groping in the dark. If you have neglected this part of your occult training until now, you lack a very important basic aspect of the training in the mysteries.
We are an internationally recognized mystery school and magical lodge and offer serious magical training based on the principles of the mystical Qabbalah (Kabbalah, Kabbala, Kabala), Hermetic magic and the Western Mysteries. Magical training in an authentic mystery school (or magic school, and/or magical order) of the Western Mystery Tradition is the spiritual and mystical preparation for initiation of the student of the mysteries. Like every true magical lodge or magic school and every true Hermetic order we take training in magic very seriously. We stand in the spriritual tradition of the Rosicrucians and do not only teach the ancient ritual magic (or ceremonial magic), the Egyptian magic, the Celtic magic and the Greek Mysteries, but also the classical pillars of the Hermetik Tradition such as astrology and Tarot.