One of the most exciting fields of research at present is Thought-controlled Computing—but beyond the obvious advantage of controlling a PC, game console, or handheld device through willful manipulation of brainwaves and facial gestures, it opens up the possibility to the general public of directly observing and recording one’s own brainwave activity, giving instant feedback on the workings of the mind under any stimulus the individual can imagine.
As a practicing occultist, there are many situations where I could make use of a Brain–Computer Interface. During or after meditation, I would be able to observe the changes in my brainwaves directly, no longer having to rely solely on my subjective perception of success and/or failure; I could compare various meditation sessions, and chart out my progress towards deeper and deeper trance states. I could observe the changes in my brainwave patterns that arise during energy workings, chakra manipulations, spell-casting, scrying, divination, and astral projections/OBEs—just to name a few of the most common occult practices. And that’s really just the rawest beginnings of a whole new approach to the Occult.
I have long felt, and stated firmly on many occasions, that Occultism is to Psychology and Cognitive Science what Alchemy is to Chemistry, Molecular Biology, and Quantum Mechanics—the mystical precursors of rigorous, empirical disciplines that have each changed the world in their own way. In that sense, the most accurate understanding of Occultism, whether you are a Practitioner or an external observer, is as an active, participatory psychological model developed prior to the academic/secular recognition of the Self as an entity separate from the religious connotations of “the Soul,” and the rich tapestry of archetypes and unconscious phenomenon that make up its self-reflective landscape. It is in this context that Occultism is at its most beautiful, and in many ways, still surpasses the psychological disciplines.
Occultism is, most importantly, an Active system—it demands participation of its students, a dedication far surpassing any professional trade or artistic medium. Those students who slack off on their path to mystical advancement quickly find themselves falling back to the very beginning, with bruised egos and an impatience spawned from familiarity that are sure to stumble them up again, and again, until they either give up on their path, or get over themselves like they were told to do in the very beginning. And while it may be tempting to ascribe the apparent punishments and struggles of the failing Novice to some higher power or mythological entity, the whole situation makes a lot more sense when you understand a little something about the human mind—an understanding which, I might add, seems to have been borrowed into psychology from the occult almost verbatim.
The Mind is not a singular, unified abstraction of Self. There is, at the very least, two major divisions of consciousness, the Self/Analog I, and the Unconscious. In Freudian psychology, the Mind is divided very specifically into the Ego, the Id, and the Superego, with the Ego living in the Conscious and the Id and Superego living in the Subconscious; but the Mind is not that concrete. I prefer more fluid and organic models of psychology, such as those presented by Carl Jung or Julian Jaynes, as they appear to more accurately reflect the nebulosity and chaos that lies beneath the deceptively calm surface of Consciousness.
This metaphor is highly present across mystical paths of all cultures, and is perhaps even more obvious in the mythologies of ancient cultures. The Seeker, whether they be Shaman, Witch, Sorcerer, Theurgic Magician, Monk, Gnostic, or an everyday, average Christian, is expected to go through the Crucible and be purified by the journey, the battling of their temptations and demons, the mastery of themselves, the dedication to a singular purpose; this is a reflection of the trials of the ancient gods, a living retelling of ancient myth. And this self-actualization serves as the centrepiece of every Occult school—ritualized, self-guided psychotherapy.
Obviously, the Mind is unwieldy and dangerous when left to its own devices—and, much like an abused or neglected pet, is only too quick to turn on its owner. Conversely, a mastered Mind is a thing of great beauty, endlessly creative and powerful. But according to mystical learning, no one reaches such an elevated state of mind without first going through the trials of initiation.
For better or worse, religion, mysticism, and occultism have lost their edge in our culture. Their purpose and place in society has become completely separated from their original function, while the psychological disciplines have not yet stepped up to become proper replacements. Granted, Academia has come a long way in guiding students to become masters of their chosen specialization, but there is still that mysterious gap between knowledge and creative genius, as if only a very small minority see the mystical path hidden beneath their education.
This path might not be so hidden were it not for some deep-seated misconceptions. In popular culture, psychology is generally portrayed as dealing exclusively with abnormal psychology (which is actually the specialized medical field of psychiatry), completely ignoring the benefits that can be achieved by the average individual taking their own mental development into their own hands, instead of relying on others to define them. Thus, instead of taking an active role in their own development when given the invitation to, students submit to their fear of psychological abnormality and do no more than suppress it. This kind of behaviour is also reinforced by academic institutions, when they make the assumption that students want to study psychology solely for the treatment or counselling of individuals with abnormal psychologies, instead of the field’s intrinsic value.
Only the field of Neuroscience appears to academically consider the average, correct functioning of the Mind, as an abstraction of the central nervous system; and again, only the field of Neuroscience has returned to the exploration of Active Psychology. Branching together a wide diversity of disciplines, Neuroscience led to the invention of the EEG, which has in turn spawned the first commercial attempts at Brain–Computer Interfaces. And in turn, Neuroscience has led to the first real advancement in Occultism since the opening of the Secret Societies to the general public, through such vehicles as Thelema, Wicca, and a return to European Paganism.
I call this new approach to the mystical arts Neuro-Occultism. It is everything Transmodernism promised and more, and could very well become the defining philosophy of the new aeon. And as the technology evolves, bringing us each closer to our own minds, so will the value of this system.
- You may also want to read:
- On Neuro-Occultism: Assumptions
- On Neuro-Occultism: The Language of the Unconscious
- Meditations on Lisp