With the fall of the Roman Empire and the onset of the Dark Ages, and despite Church and State’s severe prosecution against magicians and wizards, magic and interest in the occult continued to be practiced by those who longed to empower themselves through will and desire to gain unsurpassable wisdom. These conjurers and alchemists hoped that their works would allow them a new perspective of the deepest depths of the divine reality and provide a means of traversing the spiritual realms of angels and demons. However, they had to practice their art in a way that the Church wouldn’t object to, so they came up with Natural Magic (or white magic that was ‘good’ and existent in all things natural), as opposed to Black Magic, which was the Devil’s work, and as such they would never do.
Magical texts called Grimoires were used to conjure demons to do a wizard’s bidding. We have already seen in the earlier chapters how ritual magic was used to gain power over spiritual forces, thus the Grimoires were continuing the ancient tradition of empowerment through incantation. The Grimoires flourished between the 13th and 17th centuries, and were famous for containing spells that were devoted to achieving magical powers, health or the love of women. The Medieval Grimoires were crude and confusing books compared to the Classical Grimoires of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. But luckily there existed more advanced Grimoires, thanks to the Arabian, Moorish and Hebrew mystery traditions. These Grimoires gave instructions on how to make magic circles, talismans, conjuring spirits and so on.
The Qabbalah is the esoteric teaching of Jewish mystical interpretation of the Bible, first transmitted orally and then published in books. The Qabbalah is said to have first been given to the Angels by God before the Creation of the world. It was then given to Adam after the expulsion from Eden, then to Abraham, and finally to Moses who received the Qabbalah on Mount Sinai. In the 14th century, Moses de Leon presented the Zohar, Book of Radiance, which became very popular in Qabbalistic circles. The word Qabbalah means “to give or receive.”
It reached the height of its influence in the later Middle Ages and remains significant in Hasidism. The purpose of studying the Qabbalah is spiritual development, orienting the human being towards God. Again, the use of magical rituals, incantation, amulets and talismans are used to influence events or acquiring power through appealing for God’s intervention. The Qabbalah speak a lot about manipulating energy, angels, demons, soul levels and multiple universes.
A quote from the Qabalah that Law of Attraction teachers find useful is: “Three are the dwellings of the sons and daughters of Man. Thought, feeling and body. When the three become one, you will say to this mountain “move” and the mountain will move.”
The seeking of spiritual development, attaining higher consciousness and connecting to other realities, are some of the fields of study for the Qabalists, which tie in nicely with the general bent of modern New Age metaphysics.
One of the principal Qabalists of the Medieval era was John Dee, a 16th century English mathematician, philosopher and alchemist who practiced what Dee called, Angel Magic.
Dee was obsessed with acquiring knowledge of the Divine, and began attempts to contact spirits. Dee’s activities were mysterious, and no doubt led to a brief spell in prison accused of sorcery against Queen Mary. Dee was eventually acquitted and was rumored to work as a spy for Queen Elizabeth. Dee began to experience visions and dreams, and wrote in his diary that he finally managed to contact angels in 1581.
With the help of a crystal and the seer Edward Kelley, who was rumored to have dug up a corpse to practice necromancy as well as being a charlatan, Dee was able to write down in his diary what Kelley said the angels were telling him. Dee and Kelley were given information by the angels about conjurations, words of power, the Names of God and language of the angels, which the angels called ‘Enochian.’ The angels promised Dee that they would grant him the Ultimate knowledge of the Divine, and soon Dee and Kelley traveled Europe conducting experimental angel magic amidst rumors that the pair were excellent alchemists who possessed the ability to transmute base metal into gold.
The angels gave to Dee the revelation of a complex system of Enochian Magic, a version later used by Aleister Crowley and modern occultists to this day. But the promise of the angels to grant Dee divine knowledge of the Divine Plan remained unfulfilled. Dee’s alchemical and angelic adventures eventually rendered him penniless, and he died in poverty, a disappointed man
The Divine Man
In the earlier report we observed the cosmological beliefs seen through the eyes of the Classical Greek philosophers who believed that the prime mover of the universe was a Divine Mind that had a Divine Plan for existence, that human beings were powerless to stop.
We also saw how the notion of a Divine Plan developed, which is an important plank in the platform of the Law of Attraction.
The modern form of spiritualism first appears the writings of an 18th century scientist and mystic, Emanuel Swedenborg, who claimed to possess the ability to communicate with spirits.
Swedenborg claimed to be able to converse with angels and spirits while in a conscious state, and taught that the spirit (not the body) was what made human beings human. Like Augustine and Aquinas before him, Swedenborg also claimed that the destiny of the universe is part of God’s ‘Divine Plan.’ To Swedenborg, God is a Divine Man – an entity of infinite love and wisdom. Swedenborg also taught the doctrine of Divine Humanity. Humanity, according to Swedenborg, is the recipient of Divine Love and Wisdom, due to the fact that Man is the ‘image and likeness of God.’ What is interesting here is that Swedenborg has brought the generally accepted notion of an unknowable, unchanging and wholly transcendent God into the essence of Humanity. The Logos is no longer an outside mediator between God and Humanity – Human, God and Logos are one and the same.
During the mid 1880s, political, economic and spiritual crises swept across Europe and America, causing some people to question their belief systems and turn to alternative spiritualities for relief. Swedenborg’s writings and his claims that one could make contact with beings from the spirit world, helped pave the way for Spiritualism, and the French reincarnation-based variant, Spiritism. With the help of a clairvoyant acting as the mediating agent, a person – typically for a fee – could speak with beings from the Great Beyond.
Spiritualism taught that nothing outside the mind or spirit was real – and that the physical and the spiritual exist independently of each other.
Allan Kardec collected written spirit communiques from various clairvoyants and published them in a series of very popular Spiritist books. Soon speaking to the Spirit World became all the rage in America and Europe throughout the 19th century. Séances, table rapping, levitation of furniture and automatic writing, were a just few peculiar events associated with the growing public fascination with the occult.
The New Thought Movement
The Law of Attraction as it is commonly understood by the New Age Movement, originated within the New Thought Movement which sprung up in New England during the late 1800s.
The leader of the New Thought Movement was the former mesmerist, master clockmaker and mental healer, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby.
Quimby had very little education but made up for it with a keen eye to detail and a thirst for knowledge. He was fascinated by mechanics, science and animal magnetism, which was a term for a mysterious energetic force that was thought to influence beings. He taught that sickness arose from false beliefs and fears, and that there was sufficient power in the mind to heal oneself. Faith in God, who is the only reality in existence, is what heals a being and keeps them healthy. In a letter dated March 1860, Quimby uses the phrase “Law of Attraction” in describing the properties of matter and mind, which may be the earliest appearance of this phrase.
It was only a small jump to extend that optimistic outlook of health towards wealth. The New Thought Movement held that All is God, and further, since God is Divine Mind and Intelligence, we are all a part of God’s Mind. Evil exists due to Ignorance of God’s Love and Light. Poverty exists for the same reason. Poverty and illness are always due to erroneous thinking, fears and lack of faith in God.
Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy was a frail and ailing woman who was cured by Quimby’s methods and immediately became a follower and proponent of the mental cure. Eddy became a medium who could speak with her deceased brother, Albert, and began to give lectures on the subject of Mind Cure before going on to form the Christian Science Church in 1866. After sustaining injuries from a fall, Eddy claimed that God appeared to her in bed and dictated to her the principles of Christian Science and miraculously healed her that same evening.
The Christian Science theology holds a system of belief that God is All, God is Good, Good is Mind, God is everything and the physical is not real. Of course, mental healing has a long history and is related in the stories of Jesus in the Gospels, where Jesus is recorded healing in 40 separate accounts. One of these appears in the Gospel of Matthew: – And behold, a leper came and worshipped Him, saying, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean. Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Mat 8:2-3)
Question: was Jesus the cause for the leper’s cure, or did the leper cure himself through his faith in Jesus?