My History With The Occult

Posted: January 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

My first experiences with the Occult begin with my childhood in Chile. In Chile, and most of latin america, new age thinking is so popular that basic cable carries a full time new age channel called Infinito. My mother and step-mother both consult with witches and Shaman, who practice either indigenous shamanism or a kind of Santaria.

My childhood memories of all this stuff are basically non-existent. But I know that this environment must have done much to shape my perspective.

It would be at a pretty early age that my interest in fantasy and science fiction would lead me to try to discover if there was any truth to my fantasy. It was probably at age 11 that I became interested in psychics and that sort of thing. More than anything I wanted to be an X-man, a superhero, I wanted a taste of this so badly.

My life had been hard even at a young age. My brother has spinabifida, making him paraplegic, he went blind at the age of 5. My childhood was in the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, my family suffered much as a result of this repressive regime. It only went down hill from there, but I don’t want to waste time with a sob story. I am writing a memoir elsewhere.

I only mention this to try to create context for what seems to now be developing into a lifelong interest in the occult.

I don’t know when I picked up my first new age or occult book. But I do know by age 13 I was already reading them full throttle.

Several of these books had a profound and permanent affect on me. Life Forces by Louis Stewart is intended to be a comprehensive guide, and it certainly is a wide ranging introduction. I read the Satanic Bible by Anton Lavey, and this book has also had a profound influence on me. In addition to being a book that had me questioning the metaphysics of reality at an early age, it was also my introduction to Machiavellian thought, and Nietzschean thought. In fact it is the link between occultism and traditional philosophy which has ultimately roused my interest once again.

I read all manner of books from Llewellyn publications, which produce a plethora of manuals for wiccan magic(k) adapted to countless cultures. I read books about real life vampires, goth’s who drank blood as a ritual in order to achieve some proximity to the mythical creatures which were at an apex of popularity during these early 90s because of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.

This was perhaps my first experimentation with ritual. I wanted to be a vampire, very badly. I was a 13 year old who claimed to be a vampire to all my close friends and I drank the blood of my friends, and they drank mine. I still wear an asterisk shaped scar on my hand from these misadventures. I have no regrets, and in contrast with truly dark events that were happening in my life at this time, I think back to these experiences with great fondness.

Though I will ask the reader to please bear in mind that I was 13 when casting judgment on this chapter of my life. I am now 31, and have undergone many transformations as most people do between early adolescence and adulthood.

This path continued. I referred to myself interchangeably as a vampire or a pagan.

I dabbled briefly with Christianity at age 14, under the guidance of a lovely girl who allowed me to explore my first dabbling with sexuality. But, clearly this was insincere. At least this time.

By age 15 I had moved to Lubbock, Texas. A very small town in West Texas, of 250,000. This city was at that time very similar to the feel, and culture portrayed in the recent film Napoleon Dynamite.

I felt very oppressed and my own life had endured many mundane (though quite traumatic) problems with my own life and family. Lubbock’s ridiculous cartoonish theocratic oppressive culture was the final thrust I needed in order to consider myself a Satanist.

Though my interpretation of Satanism deviated from Lavey’s atheistic approach, and I dreamt up my own version of the left hand path, somewhat faithful to Lavey’s ethos of selfishness, but very supernaturalist and new agey.

I kept this approach secret for the most part. Though I practiced rituals in a shed we had behind our house, which included a pentegram I made on the floor from my own blood.

I add that I was 15 at the time, and contrast that I am now 31. For those who will want to criticize. You would be wasting your breath. To me it seems that was a lifetime ago.

I became very interested in divination. I had a wonderful friend named Shawn who was a big fan of psilocybin mushrooms and a more new agey approach. Shawn and I would hang out and do tarot readings, discuss esoteric philosophy, smoke pot, and I began to consider myself a neo-pagan druid.

Never really thinking much about my Satanism in the recent past. At least not until my life took a depressing tone once again, and I found that Satanism gave me a sense of power, and autonomy. Please understand, I have no criticism of Satanism to offer, at least not Lavey’s version. But for me in my adolescence whether or not I was a pagan or a Satanist seemed to depend on whether or not my emotional state was in the toilet or not.

My fondness of reading the Tarot made me a popular kid with goths, punks, and other counterculturals. This was the mid-90s, the grunge days, and before Hot Topic. I certainly enjoyed the attention and embraced this counter culture to the extreme. I felt it went very well with my occult beliefs, and now as I listen to occult podcast I am amused to find many of the musicians I have been listening to for half my life being interviewed.

When I was 16 my life exploded again and I was made to leave my house. Time to be a Satanist again. I stayed a Satanist until I was 19. I had a group of fellow teenage Satanists, we did rituals. I was still taking a more supernaturalist approach, but as I was getting older more of Lavey’s meaning was becoming apparent to me.

I experimented with LSD, and felt I had found the philosopher’s stone of the alchemists. I ate mushrooms, but after eating them when suffering from a urinary problem I ended up abstaining for nearly a decade.

I conducted rituals. I had a coven of friends. We did our magic(k) together. But my life was dark, and my problems very real and inescapable.

I ended up living in a squat where the final destination for everyone there was accepted to be prison or death. My occultism became a secret once again, none of my friends being aware of my ritual practice.

Finally at the apex of my personal problems I went native and became a Charismatic Christian. I consider my life as a Charismatic Christian which lasted from ages 19 to 25 as fully a part of my occultism in my youth. Charismatics believe that they have miraculous powers, and I did. They believe they have internal dialogue with God, that they can divine the future through prophecy, and even have their own version of biblical numerology.

They hate New Agers, but somewhat like one might hate their image in a mirror.

It was not until I was 25 or 26 and I began my college education that I abandoned my faith. Persuaded by the arguments of Richard Dawkins in the God Delusion, and I still am. I was studying science, and I consider scientific thinking to be the best gauge for calibrating reality. Faith has no role in this perspective, and is antithetical to this process.

I am defining faith in this case as belief without evidence.

But as my life has recently reminded me of my youthful love for art and counterculture I have found great source for inspiration in occultism and occult sources. I have purchased another copy of Life Forces. I have reread much of Lavey.
I have become particularly interested in Thelema and Aleister Crowley.

I don’t take my interest in these things as an atheist seeking to attract converts, but first as an artist looking for muses, and secondly as someone who is genuinely curious as to whether or not this stuff has useful psychological implications.

I have begun to learn that many who are active occultists have a more scientifically based approach, who see that their primary effects are based on a kind of psychological self-experimentation.

I also believe that many of the positive effects of meditation, which is very popular with occultists has been shown to be scientifically measurable by the neuroscientist Richie Davidson. This matter is referred to by the infamous atheist writer Sam Harris.

I also find that many occultists seem to be science buffs and many of them show a talent for out of the box thinking.

This is the inspiration for this blog, and the inspiration behind much of my current artwork and fiction writing.

I will post next time about my background as a skeptic and an atheist so that the reader can see how these two perspectives are finding a certain mean in my perspective.

But to be clear, I consider occultism as practiced within certain parameters to be a positive thing which enriches lives. I also recognize that I could be wrong about many of the things I believe about reality, so the occultists who don’t restrain with the parameters I recommend may still be onto something.

I prefer to limit my approach to a methological naturalism. I feel like I have given too much of my life to ideas that are vastly inconsistent with things empirically proven by scientists and the scientific method. But I do not condemn anyone who wants to experiment beyond this reach, as long as they don’t harm others in the process.

I believe there is a place for the kind of approach that I am experimenting with, and that I am not alone in treading it.


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