I wonder, as somebody who has been involved with the Occult for quite a long time, going back to at least the mid 60s, whether you’d agree that in some ways these days it’s somehow lost it’s flavour, become too much assimilated into the mainstream and even in some ways become a bit boring?
The widespread interest in Witchcraft, Magic and the Occult in the 60s and 70s may have been sometimes salacious and sensational but because old conventions and moral orthodoxies, including the Churches, were somewhat stronger back then I think the Occult was by contrast seen as much more startling, exciting and ‘other’, much more forbidden and thus much more alluring and potent – whereas nowadays when there are few boundaries the rising tide of atheistic materialism and free-market consumerism seems to have even begun to leach the life out of the Occult. There somehow seems to be much less intensity and actual belief in it all than there used to be, particularly amongst the young.
The postwar (1950s-1970s) occult explosion and widepread upsurge of interest may have been naive and often salacious but it seems to me to have been much more colourful, vivid and exciting than todays dreary New Age blandout or Goth/Black Metal snorefest – but maybe I’m just showing my age! I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this subject
I’m not talking about our deeper spirituality which hopefully matures with age, contemplation and experience, of course – more about the role of the Occult in wider culture, in the popular sense. I reckon it’s much harder on these young pups today and that finding authentic Occult wisdom was never more difficult, despite (or perhaps because of) the information-overload of the Internet. Whereas when I was growing up esoteric knowledge was less easily procured but all the more precious and valued for that.
What do you think on the way things have gone David?
All the Best,
Well, to begin with I am going to answer this tonight, Hesselius – or should I say early morning! I will be a little occupied with things tomorrow, so am doing my reply now, while its quiet. Anyway, I’ve just learned that the clocks go back an hour today, so that gives me an extra ‘human hour’!
So, to answer your question: Firstly, I think its important to define the word ‘occult’, as there are still people who shun that word, or who wrongly assumed it is connected with Satanism and black magic.
In fact, the word ‘occult’ has absolutely no connection with these two – rather dangerous – practices. The literal meaning of the word means ’hidden’, or that which lies beyond the Known, if you like. That is the sense in which true occultists apply it, and is the sense in which it is supposed to be used. That is certainly the sense in which I use it, and why it forms part of the title of the Society’s name i.e. The British Psychic and Occult Society.
Yet whilst the word has no connection with Satanism and black magic, it nevertheless covers the whole field of mysticism; or rather, mysticism is enshrined in the title. Mysticism, as most people probably know, involves coming to understand the whole sphere of Life and coming to an understanding of God from which all Life originated.
You are right, of course, that the mid ‘60‘s saw a huge ‘explosion‘ of witchcraft as well as other occult interests. In the main, all these ‘New Age‘ groups mostly attracted the young who saw these as ‘different‘, or a ‘kind of adventure‘, I suppose. Most of this ‘witchcraft revival’ was said to be derived from the late Gerald Gardnier; but this is mostly a Christian presumption on a convenient assumption that ‘their religion was there first’.
In fact, true Wicca predated early Christianity by many thousand of years, which I have clarified many times before. Anyway, to come back to the relative present, the new ’witchcraft craze’ was certainly very colourful, if nothing else. Glossy colour mags. began to appear (such as “Witchcraft” and “New Occult”, for example) and frequently television chat shows had ‘witches’ as their guests! One of these was the late Alex Sanders, but he and myself did not exactly see ‘eye to eye’. In fact, he once said that . . . “David Farrant and his Coven couldn’t raise enough power to boil an egg”! He seemed to have overlooked the fact that I had never made such a claim in the first place! But I digress.
But there were many colourful characters in those days – even including myself, I suppose! Yet although many of these ‘Covens’ did not represent the real thing, it is fair to say that many of these kids were only really seeking some deeper meaning to life. Their sort of ‘witchcraft’ – or Wicca – just happened to be a convenient vehicle as they saw it.
No. I am not condemning anyone for this. Its just that it was all so far removed from true Wicca, that I really wanted nothing to do with this whole ‘fad’. And I said so at the time.
That is really what I think about that whole scene in general, Hesselius. I hope this answers your question. I have tried as best as possible! Although please do get back to me if you feel I have overlooked anything.