Thursday, 11 December 2014

Penetrating the Occult

I know an elderly gent who is into the supernatural in a big way. He lives in a four-storey house on the next street and rarely goes out. He has a large library of books on mysticism, the occult and the black arts. He’s an expert on the subject. His shelves bristle with tomes on the I Ching, Tibetan sutras, Sufism and the Kabala.

He only lives nearby, but when I've been round to see him, it’s like entering another world, or perhaps another dimension. He's retired and lives a simple life, eating porridge for breakfast and very often the same thing for dinner night after night.

As a young man, he and his brother worked in the navy and travelled to every corner of the world, arguing with each other as to who had been to the most remote island. Later on he married and worked in a laboratory, but was forced to retire after narrowly surviving an accident, which left him walking with a limp. Afterwards he became interested in property, renting out rooms in houses.

But these days, his world has shrunk to the ground floor of his own home and he spends most of his time reading the Bible in Hebrew and has an armchair in a corner of his vast lounge where he ensconces himself for most of the day. The interior of the house is painted in very dark colours – navy blue and mahogany. He takes snuff and always has his snuff box by the side of his armchair.

The first time I visited him, he started talking about the Devil. Somehow or other we were talking about gambling and he informed me that he had special powers which allowed him to win at gambling, but he didn’t like to use them. He said he was in a casino once and he saw the Devil standing behind him, but he decided not to invoke his powers.

Whereas many of us live in a world governed by issues such as the performance of the economy or technological change, to this retiree the chief thing is the eternal battle with the Masons. It's the Masons who have all the power, he tells me, but only a very few understand the mysteries of their organization. None of the lower-ranking Masons have an insight into the huge power of those at the top – you have to go very, very high up before you can break into their inner sanctum, he says.

He views the Masons as the agents of world evil and himself as a great anti-Masonic force. He tells me that the Masons know who he is and can instantly sense his powers when they are in his presence. Once he showed me a very secret sign that must be used with great care. He suddenly stood up out of his armchair and bent his chest forward while raising a couple of fingers into a strange crooked shape as if doing shadow art on the wall. This represents the horns of the evil one, he said, and the Masons were terrified by it. If you were to make this sign towards one of them, you had virtually signed his death warrant. It must be used with great care.

Sometimes he will talk to me as a complete novice and once lent me an introductory book on the dark arts. But another time when I was seated opposite him on the sofa he looked at me suspiciously and said,

‘You pretend not to know much about these things, but it’s easy to see that you too have some powers. Are you sure you’re not a Mason?’

Looked at from one point of view, it might be said that this person is at best a little eccentric. Yet on the other hand, talking to him is quite fascinating. It offers a way of looking at the world from an entirely different perspective, of offering access to a dark chamber of knowledge I have never entered.

The more you listen to him, the more you begin to think he might have a point. After all, a visit to the Freemasons’ Temple in London (pictured left, image courtesy Eluveitie) is a salutary experience. It is an enormously sumptuous building worth several hundred million pounds. It is adorned with all the weird paraphernalia of Freemasonry – the all-seeing eye, the bizarre juxtaposition of Greek mathematicians and Biblical prophets, of men dressed in aprons and giving secret handshakes, and has details of the Masonic lodges spread out in their hundreds across the world.

But it is not just the Masons. I know so little of the mysteries of the Kabala, of Sufism, of Tibetan sutras – you could spend an entire lifetime looking into such things. Clearly some people find an awful lot of truth in such esoteric mysticism.

There seems to me nothing odder in this than an attachment to any of the mainstream religions. After all, if you believe in the Bible, you can hardly object to there being anything strange about seeing the Devil. The Bible is full of stories about the Devil’s appearance and his taking possession of people.

Of course personally I don’t believe any of it. I don’t believe in God, never mind all the paraphernalia of religion and mystical sects. But I do think there is much of interest to be discovered about some of the very odd societies in the world and that these things all connect in quite intriguing ways.

If I had the time, I would love to look into the subject more and have promised to one day write a book with the old man as hero, pitted in a grand battle against the dark Masonic forces. You never know, it could just be that everything he has been telling me is the absolute truth.

After all, his favourite phrase when explaining these matters to me is to say,

‘And these things are in no way imaginary. They are very real.’

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