Understanding the Occult (Interview)

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The following interview was heard on Coast to Coast AM with George Noory(www.coasttocoastam.com) on April 7th, 2005.

Understanding the Occult

An Interview on Coast to Coast AM

C2C:   Tonight, a very special three-hour discussion about this history of the occult, with our guest Mitch Horowitz. Mitch is an editor and writer of many years of experience, with a lifelong interest in man’s search for meaning. He’s the executive editor of the metaphysical publisher Tarcher/Penguin in New York, and a frequent contributor to magazines including Science of Mind, Venture Inward, Atlantis Rising, and Lapis. He’s one of the leading publishers and writers on occult and esoteric themes – and he’s our special guest tonight on Coast to Coast. Mitch, welcome to the show.

Mitch Horowitz:    Thank you so much, very glad to be here.

C2C:   First-time guest, too.

MH:    Yes, sir.

Why Is the Occult Frightening?

C2C:   You know, when I hear the word “occult” – and this is true for so many other people, as well – it sounds scary. Is that accurate, or is it not?

MH:    I don’t think it’s accurate at all. We have been trained to be frightened of that word, and I think the reasons for that go back many, many centuries. The fact is, people who get involved with the practices that we call occult, which might be divination – such as palmistry, astrology, or Tarot cards – in general, their experiences are extremely positive. They cultivate intuition, they learn a lot about themselves and about the world around them – but you have to participate to realize all that.

C2C:   When people dabble in the occult, what are they really trying to do?

MH:    I think they’re trying to learn about themselves. We have a hunger for self-knowledge, and we pursue that in different ways. Some people pursue it through therapy, some through the mainstream religions, some through the study of philosophy – and some people want to look to crafts that come out of folklore, that come out of the ancient traditions, that come out of the hearts of the traditional religious faiths, and that really help us understand something about ourselves and the natural world. It’s all about the pursuit of self-knowledge. The ancients believed in an expression that goes, As Above, So Below. They believed that the natural world reflected man’s inner state. So, if you could learn something, for example, about the configuration of the cosmos at the time of your birth, you could learn something about your innermost state.

C2C:   Did mainstream religion really start getting people to back away from this word, occult?

MH:    Absolutely. In fact, the word pagan, which we take to mean a pre-Christian believer in a pantheon of gods, was originally a derogatory term from early Latin that meant something like a country bumpkin. When Christianity began to rise to a place of prominence in the Roman Empire, the news tended to travel slowly to the more outer lying villages and hamlets. People in the more rural parts of the empire still tended to practice the old ways, that is to say the nature-based religions. And these people were called pagans, or villagers. The Church authorities at that time were in a tremendous struggle for the hearts and minds of the populace, and they began to associate the old earth-based religions with something called Satanism, which had never existed for the worshippers of the pre-Christian gods. It was, to a very great extent, an invention of the early Church. It was an attempt to associate the old, nature-based religions with something sinister.

And that continues to this day. Just a few weeks ago, I was in the town of Salem, Massachusetts. Everybody knows Salem, which was the site of America’s own infamous witch trials. Now, it so happens that today Salem is a lovely town with a lot of new age shops up and down its main street. There was a mom with her daughter in one of these new age shops, and the daughter wanted to buy a necklace with the symbol of the pentagram, the five-pointed star. And the mom, being completely well intentioned, said to her daughter: “No, that’s an evil symbol, and I’m not going to buy that for you.” Now, I wouldn’t tell anybody what to bring into their home; that’s a private matter. But, the fact is, this pentagram, this five-pointed star, is symbol of tremendous power and magnetism. There’s a reason, I think, why this young girl was attracted to it. It’s intended to be a symbol of natural man: the five points symbolize our head, our two arms, and our two legs. And yet that symbol, which was really just meant as a representation of the human form, was associated with something malevolent in the early days of the Church, and we’ve never been able to shake that. However, we’ve also never been able to shake the symbol – because there is something in that symbol that draws us back to it again and again and again.

C2C:   You know it’s the same thing, Mitch, with the symbol of the swastika, which is at least 3,000 years old.

MH:    Yes, sir.

C2C:   But nowadays, for all of us, when you look at it, it looks evil. You think of Hitler, you think of the Nazis, and prior to that, prior to Hitler and the Nazi party using it as their emblem or logo, the swastika was a positive symbol.

MH:    Absolutely. It’s a symbol of rebirth, it’s a symbol of regeneration. Here in my apartment I have a statue of the Hindu god Ganesh, and he is outstretching his palm and on his palm is the image of a swastika. This is an ancient image that symbolized rebirth. You find it an ancient Hinduism, you also find similarities to it in certain Native American traditions. It was a symbol of fertility, it was a symbol of regeneration – and the Nazis twisted it into something obscene, and because of that I think it’s been lost to us forever.

C2C:   I think so, too. I don’t think anybody will ever be able to turn it around to what it was really meant for. It’s gone.

MH:    Yes, it’s gone. There’s so much tragedy attached to it, that I think it’s impossible to revive it. But this is what we do with some of these ancient symbols: We take them and we attach something to them that they were never associated with throughout centuries, if not millennia.

C2C:   It’s probably one of the reasons, too, why the word occult is associated with these feelings of darkness, similar to voodoo, by the way. When I hear the word occult, even me, I think of the black mass, of Satan worshippers, all of which is probably nuts. I think of bad witches – not wiccans – but evil witches. And I can’t get that out of my mind now. I think of kids who have gone bad and do evil things. That’s what I think of when I hear the word occult, and I can’t get it out of my head.

MH:    You know, honestly, I don’t think in the Western tradition there even is any such thing as Satanism or Satan worship. I think it is something that was entirely invented by the early institutional Church. It had nothing to do with the direct teachings of Christ. I think it is something that was invented as a method of institutional warfare to associate the so-called pagan religions with something malevolent, to scare people, to deter people from those traditions.

Now, for example, we associate the idea of horns – horns protruding from a figure’s head – with Satanism. It had no such association in antiquity. No such association whatever. Horns appeared on the heads of ancient gods as symbols of wisdom and enlightenment. In some cases, you will see figures represented with horns coming from their heads, in other cases you will see figures represented with rays of light coming from their heads – the association was the same. But the early Church, which was engaged in a kind of cultural warfare with the traditions of paganism, tended to associate all these images with some kind of malice or evil.

I don’t think there’s any concrete evidence for there being an actual tradition of Satanism in the West. I do think that in the 19th century, some people got the idea that being Satan worshippers would be a good way to tweak the nose of the mainstream religion, and they began to adopt and invent things, like the black mass, which I don’t think really had an authentic history in the West. Now, we can talk about witchcraft later in our conversation, but there are some people who believe that even witchcraft was more or less an invention of the periods of inquisition.

C2C:   Yet I believe, and I’m sure you do, that there are some people in society, in Western society as well, who practice the black mass,

MH:    Yes.

C2C:   I think some of them could be these elitists we hear so much about, and they have a very strange, morbid outlook of things. And I think they get together once in a while, Mitch, and do this stuff.

MH:    You know, there was a terrific showman in the late 60s and early 70s named Anton LaVey, who ran something called the Church of Satan, which you’ve probably heard of. And this guy was a bona fide celebrity for many years, and the Church of Satan was supposed to be the primary place where you could go and practice the black mass and where you could tap into Satanic powers for selfish ends, and so forth. I think Anton LaVey, while he may have had some sincere ideas, was, to a great extent, a showman. And, if you take a look at his books, which are still in print today – he has a book called The Satanic Bible, which you can find in any large book store, a lot of it is – oh, I just know I’m going to get angry emails for this – but a lot of it is…

C2C:   I’m not sure I want to read that book…

MH:    Well, you’d be surprised how tame it is, actually. A lot of it is warmed-over stuff from Aleister Crowley, and some people have identified ideas in it that you’ll find within the writings of people like Ayn Rand, or others who are into libertarianism. It’s really just a fairly mild anti-Church manifesto, and it tries to bring a kind of philosophical sophistication to selfishness. But the fact is, he was an impresario, a brilliant impresario, and he was making up a lot of this stuff. I don’t think it has deep roots. He and his followers may have been involved in some unsavory things, but I don’t think they had roots much deeper than Anton’s own life.

C2C:   You know, you’re going to be accused of being a devil’s agent – I’ll bet you’re going to get emails on that.

MH:    I’m sure I am. I would only ask people to go back to the gospels, look at what Christ’s message really was. He was not someone who went around pointing fingers, but he was someone who asked people to look into their own hearts.

Tarot and Astrology – Where Do They Come From?

C2C:   You mentioned Tarot cards and the reading of palms and things like that. Is that associated also then with the occult, or is it in its own little arena?

MH:    I see it as associated with the occult. When I talk about the occult what I really mean is hidden knowledge that requires some kind of direct experience in order to be known. It’s very hard for people to appreciate the validity of some of these ideas unless they’ve participated in them. Tarot cards are a terrific example of this. Tarot cards have been with us more or less since the Middle Ages. There’s some controversy about how old they are; some people will tell you they go back to Egyptian antiquity, but I don’t think we have any evidence for that, and I’ve looked very hard. Essentially, Tarot cards are images that were popular in the Middle Ages, they are images that we’ll recognize: the figure of death, that is, the grim reaper; the figure of the Pope; the figure of a magician. These are archetypal images that have existed in Western culture for a long time. If one gets comfortable with the images of the Tarot cards, and begins to use them as a part of a daily practice, interesting coincidences begin to occur. These images are very powerful and, like the pentagram, they are things that we are drawn to again and again. My experience has been that if you use Tarot cards in a way that involves putting open-ended questions out there, that involves using them with a wish to understand something about yourself or something about your motivations in a given situation, interesting things occur.

C2C:   You know, you’re right about that. And here’s the question: Is it the person who reads the cards who has the ability or is it the person who’s receiving the information?

MH:    I think it’s a mixture of both. First of all, I think people should learn to read Tarot cards for themselves, I don’t think you need a medium or an intermediary in order to do so. Tarot cards are so widely available in our society, that if somebody is interested in them, I would encourage them to go out and get a good deck of Tarot cards, get a couple of good books on the subject, and begin to experiment themselves, because I don’t think that you need an intermediary. However, if you do have an intermediary, you may encounter people who have a very good, very strong sense of intuition, who have a good heart, who bring an open heart and a real sense of inquiry to the use of the cards, and they can be of help to you.

C2C:   I have some friends who practice astrology, I have some friends who are into numerology – they swear this works. I know some psychics, we’ll talk later about Edgar Cayce, and there are things that are out there in the universe, Mitch, I guess, that work; I can’t explain it, but they’re there, aren’t they?

MH:    They are indeed there. And some of these things come to us from very deep in antiquity. Astrology is something that has been practiced since the dawn of recorded time. Now, one thing that everyone will agree upon is that the ancient civilizations had a tremendous power of observation of the natural world. We marvel at the ability of the Egyptians and the Maya and other cultures to have created calendars that are very close in accuracy to our own, and they knew a lot besides. Their ability to observe the natural world and the ways in which its states corresponded to states in man is something that we should not take lightly. We read about the ancient Greeks, for example, consulting the oracle at Delphi.  We often skip past that in the literature. We celebrate the Greeks for their philosophy, for their agriculture, for their celestial knowledge, for their ability at reasoning – but we skip past those things that don’t fit into our contemporary paradigm.

Divinatory arts have been with us since the beginning of recorded history, and probably the oldest among them is astrology. Now, what we call astrology today has gotten very watered down, and it’s not easy to figure out how much of what we have and we use today can really be attributed to antiquity. It’s passed through a lot of filters and a lot of changes. But nonetheless, in my experience, something is there. And I think most people who experiment with astrology and do so carefully, skeptically, with their eyes open – they tend to find something.

C2C:   Why is there a fascination with the occult, an absolute fascination?

MH:    I would say, because it contains a piece of the truth. Ideas that tend to endure, tend to endure for a reason. I don’t think it’s superstition and irrationality. For heaven’s sake, we live in the most rationalistic society in the world, and that’s brought us many, many good things – and in this rationalistic society people continue to be fascinated with some of the ancient arts. I think the fascination endures because a critical mass of people has found a piece of the truth in these ideas. The cynics will tell you that people are softheaded and are given over to believing in nonsense. Well, that’s always going to be true of a certain fraction of the population – people believe all kinds of things. But the reason that these ideas have survived, is because they contain a spark of truth.

C2C:    Mitch Horowitz’s website, of course, is linked up withwww.coasttocoastam.com. When we come back, we’ll chat about Ouija boards and witchcraft.

The Rebirth of Witchcraft

C2C:   And welcome back to Coast to Coast with our guest Mitch Horowitz. Mitch, let’s talk about witchcraft for a little bit.

MH:    Yes, sir.

C2C:   Is there a difference between witchcraft and wiccans, or are we talking about the same thing?

MH:    We’re primarily talking about the same thing – some practitioners prefer one term or the other, but essentially it’s the same.

C2C:   I have always been told – and I’ve interviewed those who practice the wiccan faith – that these are lovely people, that they believe in a male-female God, that they’re spiritual, that they don’t perform evil spells or anything like that. Why have people gotten this so confused? What do they associate them with evil?

MH:    In a word: paranoia. I think it’s paranoia that dates back to the periods of inquisition, in which people who may have been suffering from epilepsy or mental disorders were ostracized by their communities, were targeted, were imprisoned, in many cases were killed in brutal ways that were Church-sanctioned, such as hanging or burning at the stake. And there’s a tremendous amount of tragedy in the history of witchcraft. Obviously that’s true in our own country; we were talking about the Salem witch trails earlier in our conversation. And I think that there was a fear of outsiders and of the unknown, and these fears in previous generations were stoked by the institutional Church or by people who had designs on political power and found it easy to point fingers at somebody and say, that person is behaving in ways that frighten us, we’ve had a bad corn crop this year, it must be their fault – that’s a witch. And these labels stick. In my experience, people who practice wicca and witchcraft today are some of the loveliest, most gentle, most thoughtful souls I have ever met. It is a fast-growing religion. According to the numbers I’ve seen, there are between 750,000 and one million practitioners of wicca or witchcraft here in the United States, and in Australia, it is considered the fastest growing religion.

It’s a religious tradition that really belongs to our times. Because, while there are practitioners of wicca who will claim ancient roots, I think it really is a nature-based religion that draws on some ancient ritual, that seeks to reconstruct some of the pagan seasonal traditions, and that has a real consciousness toward ecology and equality between the sexes, and things of that nature. It’s a contemporary faith, and I think it’s a positive one.

C2C:   I think so, too. And it’s unfortunate that they’ve gotten such a bad rap for what they practice.

MH:    Yes. There was an historian who was researching the Salem witch trails, and she came to the conclusion that the young women who were singled out and eventually murdered by the community of Salem may have been suffering from a form of food poisoning that caused dementia. And the community of Salem at that time was a very isolated community, it had just passed through a very tough winter, the crops were poor – there was a lot of fear in the air and it was very easy to go around pointing fingers, and the results were tragic.

C2C:   And very puritanical, too, were they not?

MH:    Oh, very much so. It’s the guardians of all that is right and good who are the quickest to point figures. That has been true from the beginning of history.

C2C:   Hollywood has done a lot of this, too. You think of the witch in the Wizard of Oz. Even when you’re a kid and you read the story of Hansel and Gretel. I think that contributed to a lot of this.

MH:    No question about it, although I think we are starting to see a turnaround. There are positive portrayals of witchcraft on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and there are other shows that give positive representations of witches. So, I think that the culture is slowly starting to turn around. There’s always going to be a segment of the culture that’s going to point fingers and to associate witchcraft with evil, but I think in movies and television a breakthrough is occurring.

C2C:   Yet there are some people out there – I’m sure you’ll agree there is evil out there, right?

MH:    Indeed there is.

C2C:   Some people, maybe under the guise of witchcraft, think that they’re performing these things. I’m sure there are some people out there, Mitch, who are performing evil spells on people to hurt them.

MH:    Absolutely. People are good and bad, and we bring that into every practice. I think there are people who are bad-intentioned and who will bring those bad intentions into the occult, into the new age, and they will try to use these things for selfish ends or to hurt their neighbor. And, unfortunately, what they’re going to discover is that they just isolate themselves, cut themselves off from others, and hurt themselves. That’s just a fact of human nature. But there’s good and bad, and it exists in every facet of our society and within every belief system.

Ouija Boards: Caveat Emptor?

C2C:   What do you think of the Ouija board?

MH:    Well, I possess three Ouija boards and my wife will not allow me to bring them into the house.

C2C:   She’s a smart woman, Mitch…[laughter]

MH:    Yes, I think she is! I’m often told that! And everything goes on in this house – there is nothing off-limits in this house – but I am not permitted to bring the Ouija boards into the house. The fact is, most people I have spoken with who have experimented with Ouija boards have had some negative experiences. I don’t know why that is, I don’t know whether it’s a coincidence, I’m sure there are people for whom the opposite is true, but there are a lot of frightening stories out there. It may be that when people who are open to suggestion are put together with a Ouija board, for some reason coincidence goes wrong. I have heard a lot of frightening stories from people in connection with Ouija boards, and I think that everybody who went through a stage as a kid of playing around with a Ouija board got creeped out at a certain point. Look, I’m not going to make a blanket statement – I think there are probably people who use them and have terrific experiences, but I do know it’s the one thing where I’ve heard of predominantly negative ones.

C2C:   I think so, too. I’ve got a few stories personally of bad experiences with these things. And I’ve heard maybe in three years of talking about it on this program, maybe one story where someone said it worked well for them.

MH:    The funny thing, in a sense, is that the Ouija board should be the most innocent thing in the world. The name Ouija, first of all, is patented name that today belongs to the toy company, Parker Brothers – it’s a brand name like Frisbee, Band-Aid, or Xerox. The real name for these boards is talking boards or spirit boards. They came into popularity here in the U.S. in the early 20th century – and they became enormously popular as we moved into the teens and the 1920s. In fact, Norman Rockwell himself, the artist of the American heartland, did a humorous cover for the Saturday Evening Post of a man and a woman playing with a Ouija board. I think there was probably a time in this country’s history in which a substantial fraction of the households had Ouija boards. They’ve declined in popularity, but at one time everyone had one of these things – they were like Hula-Hoops. And there was something very American and very innocent about this – and yet the negative stories abound, and there’s a tremendous urban mythology around Ouija boards that is frightening. I don’t know why this would be, but I have never heard so many negative things about another divinatory art form.

C2C:   You’re absolutely right. And then the stories, Mitch, of how people have gotten rid of this stuff are incredible. Some people will burn them and they’ll see ghostly figures rising from the flames. It’s really, really incredible stuff.

MH:    There’s an urban legend making its way around the Internet that somebody burned a Ouija board and heard screams coming from the Ouija board – now, I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but I really don’t want to know! [laughter] You hear a lot of stories like that. Later in our conversation, we’ll talk about the American mystic Edgar Cayce, but I’ll just mention this as an aside in connection with Ouija boards. Edgar’s son, Hugh Lynn Cayce, who was a lovely man, wrote a book called Venture Inward, in which he tells stories of people who had written to him in connection with Ouija boards – and the stories are bloodcurdling. They involve housewives who started playing around with Ouija boards and suddenly they felt like they were being assaulted by malevolent figures who they could get out of their house. And I look at Hugh Lynn Cayce – he’s passed on now – as a highly responsible figure and I don’t think that he would repeat these kinds of stories lightly. 

C2C:   So, the question is: Is it the board that creates the portal for these evil entities to come through, or is the person by the mere fact that they’re starting to do this? Maybe they open up this portal somehow just by their thought process. The board probably is nothing; it’s the individual. 

MH:    I think you’re right, I think it probably is the individual. Look, Ouija boards at one time were so widespread in this country that it may have been the case that people who were in states of depression, or states of anxiety, or who were suffering in one way or another, turned to these things in mass number because they just proliferated. So, it may have been that people who were suffering in one form or another got their hands on these things and – call it the power of suggestion, call it unfortunate coincidence, whatever the case may have been – a lot of unhappy episodes seem to have followed.

Pray for me Mama, I’m a Gypsy Now

C2C:   My mother is listening to this show in Detroit, and every time she hears the words witches or witchcraft, I’m sure she says another prayer. If she’s listening now, she’s probably cringing…[laughter]

MH:    Well, saying a prayer never hurts. First of all, I’m glad your mother’s listening. She’s up very late at night, and that shows that…

C2C:   She supports it all the way…

MH:    Wonderful, wonderful. I’m making a tape for my mother who goes to bed early.

C2C:   What would your mom say about – I don’t want to call it your endorsement of the occult, because you don’t really think it’s bad – but you do tend to favor occult-type things more than most, is that correct?

MH:    Yes, I think that’s right.

C2C:   What would your mom say?

MH:    Well, she’s always been very supportive. Ours was a household where you could always find books in every room. There was always a willingness to approach all kinds of different subject matter, provided you did it intelligently. And when I say intelligently, I mean you don’t go out and buy a car from somebody who you’ve never met; you don’t go out and buy a used car that you’ve never test-driven; you have to bring skepticism and critical thinking to these things. My feeling is, virtually nothing is off limits in terms of inquiry, provided that inquiry is done intelligently: do it with people you know, go slowly, don’t abandon commonsense, use critical thinking, be skeptical. I don’t like to talk in terms of being open-minded, because everybody thinks they’re open-mind. You’ll never meet a soul who doesn’t identify him or herself as open-minded. So, it’s not about being open-minded. It’s about being critical – and when you’re critical and when you use good sense, you can approach all kinds of subject matter and learn things and not go off the deep edge.

C2C:   How did you then get kind of pushed into this field? How did this happen?        

MH:    Well, there were many different ways, I suppose, but if I had to identify a couple of significant ones, I read a book by a very lovely man named Ernest Holmes called The Science of Mind – it’s basically a book about positive thinking. Ernest Holmes was a metaphysical and religious thinker who went a little bit deeper down the rabbit hole than someone like Norman Vincent Peale. When I read Holmes’s book, The Science of Mind, I came to believe that there is a mystical dimension to everyday life, that our thoughts do have some degree of control over our life circumstances, and it began to suggest to me that there were ideas and information in the world we live in that I hadn’t learned about in school. There were other instances in which I encountered what might be called occult systems, like Tarot or astrology or other methods, and I found that they revealed to me things about my character that were more penetrating and more personal in some cases than things I could have admitted to myself. And when I began to discover these things, I started to believe that there is a current of information in this world that goes beyond the traditional scholastic subjects we grow up with, and that’s where my inquiry began.

C2C:   And it continued to grow and grow, which led you to the career you’re in now.

MH:    It continued to grow and grow, and I came into contact with groups of like-minded people, with different ideas, and different thinkers – some of which I discarded. There were things that I took a look at – we were just talking about Ouija boards, for example – and I thought: You know what? This is not really a place to go. There are other ideas that I have not really gotten into yet. My rule is, you don’t take up everything, you sift through and you see what seems to resonate, what seems to be verifiable in terms of your own experience.

There’s a metaphysical thinker named Neville Goddard, who was a wonderful man who died in 1972, and he was also a purveyor of positive thought. I took a very strong interest in his ideas in the last couple of years – and, in fact, in the month of June there is a book coming out to which I have written the introduction called The Neville Reader. He wrote under the solitary penname Neville. He’s a metaphysician whose thought made practical sense to me. Again, he’s a figure of the positive thinking variety, but his thought goes in many different directions. So, you sample different things, you see what works for you, and you be critical.

If It Harm None

C2C:   I’ve noticed that people are fascinated by this kind of subject matter, not only on this radio show, obviously, but in books as well. People sometimes look for positive techniques, just to help themselves. As you dabbled in the practices of the occult, did you ever stumble across voodoo? Because I talked to an old guy from Haiti about a year ago, and he says voodoo is not bad at all, and that was never the intent. 

MH:    I couldn’t agree more. I have not had direct contact with voodoo in terms of its core source. But there is a practice that comes from the Caribbean and goes on in this country called Santeria. It is, in some respects, a mixture of Catholicism and voodoo traditions, and it’s practiced with great passion and for the most part with good intent. Here in New York City where I live you can walk into many corner stores and buy candles and other supplies that are related to Santeria. Many of the people who practice it regard themselves as good Catholics, and they are in fact good Catholics. But they have imported into the tradition some of the voodoo practices from the Caribbean. I have not had direct contact with voodoo, but I think it’s another one of these practices that has been given a bad rap by Hollywood and by certain institutional religions. I think it’s a very beautiful tradition with deep roots.

C2C:   The man I spoke to told me about the sticking of the pin in a doll, but he told me that the doll represented the user, so he would pin his own name on the doll. Hollywood took it and said if you stick a pin in somebody it means you want them to die of a heart attack or something like that.

MH:    Something that you’ll find in most occult traditions is the idea that you should never wish a thing upon another person that you wouldn’t want visited upon yourself, that nature has a way of taking whatever you put out there and swinging it directly back towards you. And this is something that is recognized in most traditions. You could call it by different names, you could call it karma, you could call it “love thy neighbor,” you could call it the Golden Rule, but it exists in all religions, in all cultures, and in all practices. That is, I think, the core tenet of all occult practice. There is a saying in wicca, “If it harm none, do what you will.”

The Eye and the Pyramid

C2C:   Mitch, is Freemasonry an occult-based brotherhood?

MH:    Yes, I would say it is. I think that the Freemasons use occult symbols to promote ethical development. In Freemasonry you will find all kinds of symbols, like pentagrams, astrological symbols, alchemical symbols, symbols that we associate with the pantheon of pagan gods, and these symbols are used in ceremonies that are intended to promote good civics, charity, responsible citizenship, and brotherhood. The Freemasons also draw on a lot of symbols that go back to ancient Egypt, like pyramids and obelisks. And, of course, we find these things on our currency and we find them all over Washington, DC. If you want to get a lesson in the occult, go to the Library of Congress and just look up, look around – you will see that some of the greatest architecture in Washington is just filled with Masonic symbolism, which hearkens back to pre-Christian spirituality and pagan traditions.

C2C:   And the same with the back of money.

MH:    Absolutely. In fact, the eye and pyramid on the back of our dollar bill is a tremendously magnetic symbol. If you take a look at the back of the dollar bill, there is a Latin phrase on there that translates roughly: “God smiles on our new order of the ages.” It’s a beautiful expression. Freemasonry did a lot to promote the institutions of liberty and religious tolerance that we have in this country. And anybody who loves religious tolerance and the free pursuit of worship owes thanks to the Freemasons. Because, when they came to this country – and it is true that many of our founding fathers such as George Washington and Ben Franklin were Freemasons – when the founders began to shape the documents that would support the society that we live in, specifically regarding religious tolerance, they were taking those ideas from Freemasonry. Freemasonry – and there have been some lapses in this – but Freemasonry, for the most part, is an ecumenical tradition that has accepted people of all races and religions. Again, there have been some lapses in this, but, for the most part, Freemasonry has promoted a sense of civic brotherhood, and it inspired, in part, the founders of this country to create a society with freedom of worship as its cornerstone. As you can see from the back of our dollar bill, our founders – many of whom were Freemasons and who drew upon Masonic imagery – were very well aware of what they were doing. That expression, “God smiles on our new order of the ages,” and the eye on the top of the pyramid communicates that you cannot have material progress without a sense of relating to something higher. There was a sense in this country, at its founding, of trying to wed material progress with provenance. I think that most people would agree that the founders created a society of religious freedom from which countries all over the world would take inspiration – and we owe that to Freemasonry.

C2C:   Isn’t Dan Brown, who wrote The Da Vinci Code, working on something on Freemasonry?

MH:    He is, indeed. His new novel is supposed to be called The Solomon Key, and the last I heard it was coming out in the fall of 2005. Although there have been different pieces of information saying it has been postponed from that date. But the word is that Dan Brown is writing a novel that is based on Freemasonic themes and that that novel is going to deal with the role of Freemasonry in the founding of this country.

C2C:   Well, it’s interesting, because I get more and more calls to this program, Mitch, on Freemasonry, where several years ago I didn’t get any.

MH:    Really?

C2C:   Now it’s just starting to grow and grow and grow. And there are two camps to this, by the way. There are those Masons today who are out there to do benevolent things for people, such building hospitals and everything else; and then there’s a camp out there that believes that the Freemasons from way back really had developed some things that might not have been in everybody’s best interests. So there are two camps out there.

MH:    Yes. One of the interesting things about Freemasonry is that nobody can agree on its history. And I believe today that the people who practice Freemasonry, including at the upper echelons, themselves do not know the history of their own organization. I think it is shrouded in mystery and no consensus exists. In fact, Freemasonry appeared in England in the early 1700s with no identifiable antecedent. We don’t know where it came from. Anybody who tells you that he knows where it comes from, is talking out of his hat. There are theories, and nothing but theories. Now, one of the prevailing theories involves the Knights Templar, which was a militia that was loyal to the Church in the Middle Ages and that created its own institutions relating to currency and travel. The Knights Templar was an organization that protected travelers, that exchanged currency, and that had an early banking system. So the theory goes that the papacy felt threatened by the power of the Knights Templar and suppressed it quite brutally, and eventually the remnants of the Knights Templar reemerged in guise of Freemasonry in England in the early 1700s. That is simply a theory. Right now, it’s the most popular theory and it may have some truth to it, but the fact is we haven’t any idea where Freemasonry really came from.

Some of the more conservative figures within Freemasonry will tell you, “No, no, it has nothing to do with Knights Templar or anything of that sort. We stretch back to ancient Masonic guilds.” But, again, that’s just a theory – we don’t have a paper trail or any trail of evidence that connects Freemasonry to ancient Masonic guilds. Another theory is that Freemasonry goes back to an order of masons who participated in the construction of the pyramids. Again, these are just theories. It is very peculiar that in this day and age, where we have documented – or like to tell ourselves that we have documented – all facets of history, that we don’t have a consensus as to where this relatively recent phenomenon came from. I mean, we’re only going back a few hundred years here. So, the most peculiar thing to me about Masonry is that its origins continue to be shrouded in mystery.

Edgar Cayce: American Prophet

C2C:   Let’s discuss Edgar Cayce. We call him the American Prophet – you’ve done some work with him.

MH:    I’ve done some work with students of Edgar Cayce’s ideas, and I’ve had some association with the organization that he founded, the Association for Research and Enlightenment. The chairman of that organization is a man named Charles Thomas Cayce, who is Edgar Cayce’s grandson. Edgar Cayce is, I think, the most important figure in the development of the occult in America. And I feel that his persona did more to create an American occult than that of any other figure.

He was born in 1877 in rural Kentucky, and Edgar Cayce was a Sunday school teacher – this was a man who was a pillar of his community, who knew the Bible backwards and forwards. He had very little formal education but he was someone deeply versed in the teachings of Christ, he was looked up to as a religious lay figure in his community, and he had a remarkable gift – which is that he could go into a trance-like state and could diagnose people’s medical illnesses and offer prescriptions for their healing. He gave over 14,000 readings and there exist thousands upon thousands of anecdotal examples of the legitimacy and the effectiveness of his readings. The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. It points to the fact that Edgar Cayce did have a remarkable gift for medical clairvoyance. He was able to go into sleeping trance-like states, he was able to diagnose an ailment of a person who may have been thousands of miles away at the time the reading was given, he was able to prescribe a cure – some of these cures prefigured practices in alternative or natural medicine today – and, again, the anecdotal evidence of his gift is simply overwhelming.

He also gave lots of other kinds of readings. Some of his readings had to do with ideas about Atlantis, some of his readings had to do with predictions of Earth changes, some of them involved political predictions, and some of them were simply lessons in good living. The reason why I regard Cayce as the most seminal figure in the American occult is that he brought a degree of popularity to certain ideas – like astrology, which is something that he explicitly endorsed – and he always did so with an eye on helping one’s neighbor, loving one’s neighbor, and with a sense of fellowship. When we think of the European occult, for example, the chief figure that comes to mind is Aleister Crowley, the “Great Beast,” a man who was thought to have used these methods for selfish ends, and I think there’s some truth to that. In America, the counterpart to Crowley is a man like Edgar Cayce, who was a Sunday school teacher, who was a devoted father and husband, who was a person who never used his gift for personal enrichment, and who did many readings several times a day for people who were in need, who did readings for people not based on their ability to pay but simply on their need, and he died in a near-state of impoverishment. One would think: well, couldn’t he have used his gift to get rich, couldn’t he have used his gift to set aside a nest egg? In fact, he was a very simple man who enjoyed reading Scripture, fishing, spending time with his family, and – many, many times a day to the point of exhaustion – he gave these medical readings, regardless of someone’s ability to pay. I think that it’s almost impossible to avoid using the word good when you’re talking about Edgar Cayce. This was a man who had a good heart, this was a man of good intentions, this was a man who took occult ideas and he remade them in the American image. He Americanized the occult.

C2C:   Didn’t being in this trance-state eventually kill him? He kept going and going and going in doing these readings.

MH:    Well, he died at a relatively young age. I think he was in his late sixties when he passed on. And most people felt that he worked himself to the point of exhaustion. Nowadays when we hear someone dies in their late sixties, we think, my goodness, that’s virtual middle age. It’s a young age at which to die. And most eyewitnesses say the man frequently worked himself to exhaustion. 

C2C:   That’s sad. I’ve got a book on some of his medical treatments, and I must tell you it’s just uncanny how some of mainstream medicine has now tried to come up with some of those formulas synthetically; it’s almost as if they’ve got his playbook.  

MH:    He is considered the father of alternative medicine. There are many people who practice alternative medicine today – they include doctors like Norm Shealy and a bestselling author named Christiane Northrup – who were influenced by Cayce. I think Cayce put forth the idea that there were treatments outside of the standard paradigm that could be effective. He created an anecdotal body of evidence to support this. And he really did inspire, not just one, but at this point two or three generations of medical practitioners. So, he’s the father of alternative medicine, among other things.

C2C:   He has always talked about something at the foot of the Sphinx. I had a guest on a few days ago who talked about the possibility that the Sphinx was built on top of another structure, which is underground – and that could be the Hall of Records. If he was so accurate in some of this health readings, you would think that he would be very accurate about these other ones, as well. He talked about how in the future the coast of the United States would be inland by several hundred miles. When you hear that, Mitch, you have to think, what did he know that just hasn’t come true yet? 

MH:    Well, there are questions about Cayce’s earth-change prophecies. He did predict some things that have flat-out not come true.

C2C:   Not yet, or was he wrong?

MH:    That is the question. People who are interested in the Cayce readings like to point out that there is a difference between prediction and prophecy. Prediction is considered something that will absolutely come to pass; prophecy is considered something that may come to pass unless certain changes or adjustments are made. For example, the Old Testament prophet Jonah saw some of his prophecies averted because the people who were being communicated with managed to make changes in order to deter the punitive things that were supposed to befall them according to Jonah’s prophecies. So, if one looks at Cayce’s readings as prophecy rather than prediction, there’s a possibility that some of them were averted, there’s a possibility that some of them haven’t come true yet, and there’s a possibility that they were a matter of suggestion rather than concrete fact. I do think that if we look at Cayce’s earth-change prophecies as rock-solid prediction, we would have to say that they failed. But I think we have to try and look at them differently and ask whether there was another message being imparted. Because certainly we have tremendous anecdotal evidence for the validity of his medical readings.

Now, he also did a number of readings that touched upon the topic of Atlantis. And he created an entire mythology associated with Atlantis that is as fantastic as anything that you will read in Greek or Native American mythology, and people often don’t know what do to with that aspect of his readings. But some of what Cayce spoke about in his Atlantean and Ancient Egyptian readings is starting to gain relevance. Cayce talked about the idea that the Great Sphinx was constructed approximately 10,500 B.C., as opposed to the customary date of 2,500 B.C. Now, up until recent years, that was dismissed as nothing other than a myth. But the fact is, people like the independent Egyptologist John Anthony West and the geologist Robert Schoch and colleagues of theirs have been doing fascinating work testing for the presence of water erosion on the Sphinx – and it is pointing to construction date for the oldest portions of the Sphinx that may go back to 5,000 or 7,500 B.C., and possibly 10,500 B.C. The question of water erosion on the Sphinx is a very serious one. No one with a committed interest in Egyptology ought to dismiss that question. It is a very, very rich area of inquiry. And some of the inspiration for that comes from the Cayce readings.

C2C:   I think you’re absolutely right. Of everything you have looked at in the field of the occult, what fascinates you the most? 

MH:    I think what fascinates me the most are probably the correspondences between the natural world and man’s inner state. Is there some correspondence between the configuration of the planets and the moment of a man’s birth? A lot of people have looked at this and come away with the conclusion that there is absolutely something there. And as my friend Robert Schoch likes to point out, something only has to be “a little bit true” to break open a whole new paradigm. If you find, for example, a correspondence between a person’s personality traits, between a person’s character, and the nature of the cosmos at their time of birth – or if you can prove even just “a little bit” that there is some evidence of telekinesis in a laboratory, you’ve broken open everything that we understand about ourselves. I think that’s what primarily fascinates me about the occult: this question of whether there’s a correspondence between the natural world and man’s inner world.

Things That Go Bump…

C2C:   In addition to some of the things you’ve looked at, Mitch, you’ve also looked at ghosts, poltergeists, and the like. Now, those are things that a lot of people believe in – I believe in them. I haven’t seen a ghost, either – but I think they’re there. Your take?

MH:    I agree. I think the anecdotal evidence is compelling. I have heard too many different people from too many different walks of life talk about these things, and although I’ve never witnessed it myself, the people I’ve spoken to I find absolutely convincing. There is a lot out there that we don’t know about. And the whole question of ghosts also touches on séances and the question of talking to the dead, and so forth, and that is a tradition that has very deep roots in this country. You know, in the mid-19th century, about 10% of the population of this country was involved in way one or another with spiritualism, which is to say, talking to the dead. And that is a tradition that has very deep and serious roots in this country.

C2C:   The thing that really amazes me lately have been these reports of shadow people. Have you heard about that on this program?

MH:    I have heard about it, but just in passing.

C2C:   Shadow people, whatever they may be, people are seeing shadows of people. They’re all over the place. I have seen shadow rodents. But they look strange – they look like possums, they’re all dark, they look like shadows, but they have antennae, and pointy ears – very weird creatures. I’m beginning to think, Mitch, we might be somehow involved with either parallel universes or some kind of time warp in another dimension.

MH:    That’s very interesting, and in a sense my heart goes out to the people who have witnessed these things because science makes no room for us to talk about this kind of thing. In the same way that mainstream science doesn’t make room for us to talk about UFOs, science doesn’t let in personal anecdote. So, if you have a thousand people who say that they’ve seen something, or say that they’ve experienced something, more often than not, an academic scientist will send them to a therapist, rather than sit down, listen to their accounts, and start to ask whether there’s something there that ought to be looked at. So, the problem is that when people encounter these things, they often have no way to have these matters investigated.

C2C:   Let’s go to the phones. We’ll pick it up by going to our Wild Card line. Welcome to Coast to Coast. You are on the air with us.

Caller: I’m calling from Pennsylvania. Being raised in the Pennsylvania Dutch area, I wondered have you ever heard of the Seventh Book of Moses?

MH:    No sir, I haven’t.

Caller: When I was growing up, the Pennsylvania Dutch people used to do things to enrich their crops, cast spells and stuff, and they used to talk about the Seventh Book of Moses being the devil’s bible.  

MH:    Well, I will tell you this, I don’t know anything about a devil’s bible, but there are people in this country today who practice wicca or witchcraft, and they base it on what they call “family traditions,” or for short they call it “fam trads.” And these are people who have very deep roots in this country, very frequently in agricultural communities, where there were ceremonies associated with the seasons and associated with promoting a bumper crop, and they have passed on these traditions down through their families. There are a lot of family traditions in the country that have to do with agriculture, with worshipping the seasons, so it may be a variant of that.

C2C:   Very well could be. Next up, let’s go to our first-time caller line. You’re on Coast to Coast.

Caller:  I’ve got a question for your guest. I was wondering if he had any thoughts about the temporal and spiritual worlds coming together as one on the planet now?

MH:    There are people I know, including a good friend of mine Daniel Pinchbeck who was a guest on the show a few nights ago, who feel that crop circles are a sign of something temporal and cosmological coming together in our world. The question of shadow figures also opens up onto that. I think that the temporal and the cosmological are separated by a very thin veil, and that veil gets pierced. People have these experiences, and they call them mystical experiences, some quarters of rationalist science call them delusions – but I think that is going on all the time. I think any time a person has an experience that goes beyond that of the tactile, physical world – even if it involves just going into a state of very deep relaxation while meditating – they may be piercing some kind of veil.

Caller: That’s incredible, thank you very much.

C2C:   Okay, appreciate your being part of the program. What’s new, Mitch, in the field of occult investigations? There are groups out there who record EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), there are groups out there who try to take pictures of orbs – anything out there with new technology that interests you? Matter of fact, I did see where the Japanese have a piece of software with which they think you can communicate with ghosts.

MH:    Is that so?

C2C:   Yeah – so there’s a lot of things happening with technology. Anything you’re aware of?

MH:    I think something to watch is the field of remote viewing. Remote viewing is the capacity to psychically see people or events or places or objects through some kind of mental prowess that we don’t currently understand. This has been the subject of documented experiments by the US Navy in connection with submarine warfare. Other governments and military institutions around the world, including in the former Soviet Union, have experimented with remote viewing. This is an area that is developing as a field of study, and documented cases are emerging. So, I would start paying attention to remote viewing. You can find a lot of information about it on the Web; if you go to Google and put in remote viewing, you won’t know where to begin. It’s a very exciting field and, I think, a fruitful one.

C2C:   Would you say the study of ufology is also occult?

MH:    That’s a tough question. I do believe the occult encompasses all forms of hidden or not readily accepted knowledge. So, I would the say the occult has something in common with ufology; but I think they are two different things. The occult seeks to peer into ancient traditions, initiatory practices, rites, and methods of self-knowledge. Ufology, while it has some correspondences with that, is a field of a different order. I do think occultists and ufologists ought to be good friends.

The Little People

C2C:   When I was a kid one of my favorite movies was a Disney movie calledDarby O’Gill and the Little People about Leprechauns, and it was just a great movie. And then I began to really study up on Leprechauns, Mitch, and I found that the myth and folklore in Ireland is extremely strong. Those people believe in Leprechauns, they’ve reported seeing Leprechauns, and I’m just wondering what the heck these critters might be.

MH:    Well, I’ll tell you something incredible. Every culture speaks of Leprechauns: Africans, Polynesians, East Europeans, the Celts, the Irish – there is not a culture amongst us that does not talk about some kind of mythical little people. And I’ll share a quick personal anecdote. Several years ago, my wife and I were on vacation in the country of Belize in Latin America. In Belize they have their own tradition with regard to Leprechauns or little people, and they call themaluxes. We were staying at a hotel that was very remote, located way up in the hills. And there was a cab driver who was taking us over this very bumpy road, and he began to tell us that as soon as he dropped us off, he was going to gun the engine and get out there as quickly as possible. I asked why, and he said there were little men who occupy these hills, and if you encounter one you’ll be so frightened that your voice will get caught in your throat and you won’t even be able to scream. There are a lot of strange things in these hills, he said, and as soon as I drop you off, I’m going to get out of here. And I didn’t appreciate this because I thought the guy was just trying to give us the creeps. So, the next day my wife and I are canoeing along a remote section of river – and it is absolutely silent, you don’t even hear birds in the air. It’s dead silent. And I am saying to her, you know, I didn’t appreciate that cab driver yesterday telling us these stories; I think he was just trying to frighten us, and that all this stuff about little men is a bunch of nonsense – and then suddenly, completely out of the blue, this enormous rock – not quite a boulder – comes rolling down a hill at us and crashes into the water near where we’re canoeing. And I shut up immediately and I was silent about the matter for the rest of the trip! [laughter] I will tell you: I met people in Belize who were absolutely articulate and they could look you dead straight in the eye and say, this is true, there are little men who live in these hills. You hear about this in every culture.

As a matter of fact, in Ireland in 1999 – and you can go to The New York Timesonline and read a story about this – a major highway was rerouted because people thought it fell too close to a fairy bush, or a lair of Leprechauns, and they believed that if this highway got too close to a den a Leprechauns, bad things would happen: accidents could occur, cars could go off the road, mischief and dangerous things could ensue. And sure enough, local officials rerouted that highway. They weren’t taking any chances.

C2C:   Was there an uproar when they were planning it originally?

MH:    Well, I’ll tell you this, there are a lot authorities in Ireland today who are embarrassed by this kind of stuff, who consider it a part of the past. The interesting thing is, they may not want to talk about it, they may find it a little embarrassing, but they very quietly take action, and they avoid tempting fate, we’ll put it that way.

Ouija Revisited 

C2C:   Let’s go east of the Rockies. You’re on Coast to Coast.

Caller:  I’m calling from Pittsburgh. I would like to ask your guest if he has ever heard of or read any of the Seth material by Jane Roberts.

MH:    That’s interesting, you’re the second person today who has asked me about the Seth material. I have not read the Seth material; I do have a lot of friends who speak highly of it. And I should add the following: We were talking about Ouija boards earlier, and we made Ouija boards sound like something frightening, but my understanding is that the woman who channeled the Seth material initially did so through a Ouija board, which seems to me a very positive use of the medium.

Caller: That’s correct. She was doing a research project, actually, to write a book on ESP and she channeled this Seth entity. It’s just some of the most interesting material you’ll ever read, his talks go into depth and detail about the nature of physical reality, and his basic premise is that thoughts form matter. That everything you see in the physical universe is basically made up of your mind and projected outward.

MH:    Let me bring the topic back to Ouija boards for a moment. We were talking about Ouija boards earlier in the conversation in a rather fearsome way, but there have been positive uses. The Seth material, which is a channeled message that extols positive thought and the idea of mind over matter, was accessed initially through a Ouija board. There is a celebrated poet named James Merrill who wrote an epic poem called The Changing Light at Sandover, which was composed using a homemade Ouija board. In this country, there was a bestselling author who used a Ouija board – the woman’s name was Pearl Curran and she channeled an entity named Patience Worth. This was around 1913. And Patience Worth, who was a female entity who came through a Ouija board, dictated several bestselling novels in this country in the early part of the 20th century. So, there have been positive things that have entered our culture by way of Ouija boards.

C2C:   There are some who say that the Seth material is very similar to some of Edgar Cayce’s work, and they think it might be the same entity that is channeled.

MH:    That’s very interesting, because Cayce’s key idea is: “mind is the builder.” Cayce believed that everything starts with a thought, that your ideas give birth to your circumstances, and not the other way around. That is a central idea to the American occult. Anybody who is writing in the area of metaphysics in the American tradition, usually comes around to that idea.

Finding a School

C2C:   Are there people out there who practice and teach the occult in a positive way?

MH:    Absolutely – there are a number of terrific groups out there. One of those I’m most fond of is the Philosophical Research Society. They are an organization that was founded in the 1930s by a man named Manly P. Hall who wrote The Secret Teachings of All Ages, and they’re on the web at www.prs.org. There’s another organization called Builders of the Adytum – adytum is Greek for inner temple. They’re known by the initials BOTA and they are online at www.bota.org. They are a mail-order school that gives lessons in Tarot and kabala and I think they do very good work. So, if people want to hook up with two legitimate organizations, those are good places to start. Another outstanding organization is the Association for Research and Enlightenment, or ARE, which is the organization that Edgar Cayce founded, and you can visit them atwww.edgarcayce.org. They do everything from astrological readings to alternative-health workshops, they provide Edgar Cayce’s readings on line, they have a very good magazine called Venture Inward, which I’ve written for, and they do all kinds of good work. So, there are a lot of good schools out there.

C2C:   ARE is a great organization to belong to, it doesn’t cost a lot of money, and they give you access to all of Edgar Cayce’s medical readings and everything else.

MH:    It gives you access to Cayce’s medical readings, it gives you a subscription to a very good magazine, and I must tell you, ARE, which is based in Virginia Beach, is run by just the nicest group of people I’ve ever met. It is my favorite growth center in the United States. I have visited it frequently, it’s a wonderful place to visit, and you can really just feel the spirit and the goodwill of Edgar Cayce permeating that place. 

The Question of Numerology

C2C:   Let’s go back to the phones. Picking it up, you’re on our wild card line.

Caller: I’m calling from Glendale, Arizona. Let’s talk a little bit about numerology, if we could. Mitch, how knowledgeable are you about numerology?

MH:    Fairly knowledgeable – it’s not something I’ve worked with extensively, and I do have some serious questions about it, but I know some people who swear by it.

Caller: I’ve just recently learned that John Lennon was big into numerology and the number nine ruled his life. And I’m a little bit freaked out right now because I just started doing some research on myself and everything from the day I was born, through all the major events in my life, has been tied into the number nine. As I’ve been trying to research what the number nine actually means, all I’ve been getting are a lot of websites that will tell me what the number nine means, if I pay $20.

MH:    Well, I think we’ll do a little better than that. First of all, it’s interesting what you mentioned about John Lennon feeling that his life was ruled by the number nine, because John Lennon lived in Manhattan on 72nd street, seven and two being nine. Now, there are a number of books out there on numerology that go through the meaning of the different numbers. But I want to make a more general comment about numerology. It is one of the divinatory arts about which I have some questions because the fact is that in the Hebrew and Greek alphabets, the characters, the letters themselves, correspond directly to numbers. We don’t have that in our English alphabet. We have an Arabic set of numbers, and then we have a set of script English letters. So, what we’re trying to do with numerology to begin with is to import a Hebrew and Greek system into our culture. Now, people have a lot of different methods for doing that and I’m not going to into all of them here, but I’ve always kind of had a funny itch about numerology because it doesn’t exactly correspond from the ancient cultures into ours. That’s number one. Number two, I wouldn’t look at any single number as being deterministic of anything. I think you have to look at these things using your own intuition. Now, John Lennon led a wonderful life and I don’t know that the tragic end he met with had to do with the number nine or anything else. I think there are all kinds of laws that we live under – there are accidents that happen to us, there’s happenstance. I don’t view any number or anything else in the divinatory arts as a conclusive sentence that one thing or another is going to happen to you. I wouldn’t give $20 to anybody over the Internet or somebody who hasn’t been referred to me by a friend. I think the best way to find someone to help you read and understand some of the divinatory methods is through word of mouth, I wouldn’t just turn around and use anybody that you find on the Internet. If I were you, I would go looking for some basic books on numerology – there are many of them out there – and I think that’s a way to begin your own search. Because what you’re going to find, and what you are going to be able to learn from your own intuition, is going to be more important than what any third-party is going to be able to tell you.

C2C:   And also at www.numberslady.com, you can find some free information. 

Secret Fraternities

C2C:   Let’s go east of the Rockies, you’re on Coast to Coast.

Caller: I looked up occult in the dictionary and it means secret knowledge.

MH:    Yes, it comes from the Latin word occultum.

Caller: Isn’t it strange how all of our lives we’re told to stay away from the occult, our government tells us to stay away from the occult, but when it comes right down to it our government is the biggest occult society on the planet. Isn’t that strange?

MH:    Well, I’ll tell you what, if we want to understand the true nature of the word occult, substitute the word experiential for secret. Because the idea of the occult being secret does not mean that this information or that these concepts are concealed or kept away from people – but that they have to be searched out. That’s the true nature of the occult. What the occult demands is that we become seekers. So, substitute the word experiential for secret and I think we get closer to what the heart of the occult really is. People who keep secrets as a means of wielding power, I would say, have nothing to do with the authentic tradition of the occult.

C2C:   What you call a group like Skull and Bones? Would you call them an occult group?

MH:    I would probably call them a bunch of spoiled sissies if they were in the room [laughter], but, no, I would not call them an occult group – I would call them an exclusive fraternity, and I don’t think they have anything to do with the occult. The occult welcomes everybody regardless of their sex, their background, their religion, their race, whatever walk of life they come from. The true tradition welcomes them in, it doesn’t make boundaries or distinctions between people. Fraternal organizations that are limited to a certain economic group or gender or class of people – that’s just elitism, it’s not occultism.

C2C:   If a certain group of people got together and practice the black mass, how would you characterize them?

MH:    Well, if I wanted to be charitable I would probably say they were free thinkers; I tend to take a live and let live attitude about these things. I would want to know how they characterize themselves, to begin with. If someone calls himself a Satanist and that’s how he wants to be known, that’s what I’ll call him and I’ll still regard him as my neighbor. I don’t really want to put labels on people, I’m more interested in how people conceive of themselves – and after that I’m interested in whether their own actions live up to the label that they claim.

C2C:   I had a guest on about a year ago who calls himself a Luciferian. He believes it, he practices it, and that’s what he does.

MH:    In the original Greek, Lucifer means “light bringer;” in John Milton’sParadise Lost Lucifer is presented as a figure of some degree of texture, and there are some people, acting partly on a literary tradition, who seize upon that label, and to them it’s another way of saying that they are self-reliant, they are self-assertive, they are strong individuals. If somebody wants to put that label on himself, he’s free to, but he’s going to have to deal with a lot of prejudice and that’s going to be his burden to bear.

Abraham Lincoln: Spiritualist?

C2C :  Didn’t Abraham Lincoln dabble in the occult a little bit? 

MH:    I think there is reason to believe that he did. As a matter of fact, there has been speculation that Lincoln, through his wife, consulted with a spiritualist medium. There was a book published in this country in the late 19th century called, Was Abraham Lincoln a Spiritualist? It was written by a woman named Nettie Colburn Maynard. She was a popular medium in the mid-19th century in America, and according to the account in her book, which is very vividly written, she was ushered into the Lincolns’ private quarters just after the start of the Civil War and Lincoln, who at that time had signed but not acted to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, was given a spirit reading by her, in which he was informed that should he enforce the Emancipation Proclamation that would be the chief thing for which he would be remembered. There are accounts that on other occasions he and Mrs. Lincoln consulted with spiritualists. Now, this is not so unusual considering that, as we noted earlier in our conversation, in the mid-19thcentury in this country, about 10% of the population was involved in one way or another with spiritualism. Nancy Reagan consulted an astrologer. Hillary Clinton consulted with a friend of mine, Dr. Jean Houston, where they did some creativity exercises that some people characterized as a séance.

C2C:   I think Hillary thought she was talking to Eleanor Roosevelt.

MH:    Well, I tell you, it’s not unusual for people in powerful positions to avail themselves of metaphysical methods. So, I think there’s a very serious possibility that spiritualism played some kind of role in the Lincoln administration.

C2C:   Mitch, let me ask you this, too. In terms of the occult, do you believe in mediums?

MH:    Yes. I would approach it carefully because I think there have been a lot of frauds among people who call themselves mediums. I think there are some authentic cases. The spiritualist movement in the country attracted a lot of fraudulent activity, and it’s difficult to sort through what is authentic versus what is con artistry. I do believe that there is authentic mediumship and that there is a possibility of talking to entities on the other side, but I would advise that people approach it skeptically.

C2C:   I think so, too. I think 95% of them probably can’t do what they say.

MH:     Yes – there’s something to be said for word of mouth: talking to your friends and finding colleagues in these metaphysical pursuits can be very important. Sitting in front of the Internet and sifting through hundreds of websites and trying to figure out what is the real deal versus what’s con artistry can be difficult. When we buy a new car, we ask the advice of our friends. When we’re trying to look into the inner meaning of our lives, be at least as careful as you would be when buying a new car. Talk to friends, get advice, think over the options, and don’t act impulsively.  

Cynicism versus Skepticism

C2C: You’re on the air with us on Coast to Coast.

Caller: How would you explain these matters to somebody who views the world in black-and-white and dismisses this kind of material?

MH:    I would ask them, where is your capacity to ask questions? When I talk about skepticism I mean it in the classical sense, in which a skeptic is someone who looks, and observes, and questions. There are some people involved in the hard sciences, particularly in academia, who have really shut down and are unable to ask questions anymore. I would ask these people, how can we learn, how can we grow, how can we go outside the status quo if we don’t pursue questions for their own sake? I’m not telling anybody to buy into anything, I’m asking them to withhold judgment until they’ve tried to verify something within their own experience. There may be things that you can’t replicate in the laboratory. For example, there may be psychical experiences that occur between two people that can’t necessarily be repeated in a laboratory setting. But there are many things that you can’t replicate in that setting, like the bond of love between two individuals. So, I’m asking people to be true skeptics, not cynics. 

Cayce and the Pyramid

C2C:   Let’s move to our west of the Rockies line. You’re on Coast to Coast.

Caller: I’m calling from San Diego. First of all, I wanted to say thank you George for your work. I’ve listened to the show for years. And, Mitch, I can hear from the sound of your voice that you are such a reasonable man, and you’re such a great representative for this sort of subject.

MH:    Well, thank you.

Caller: I have a question, back around 1993 I started having an intuition about there being a connection between the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid and I latter discovered it in an Edgar Cayce book, and I wanted to know what you know about that, Mitch.

MH:    The Sphinx and the Great Pyramid are both on the Giza Plateau and there are very serious questions about whether these monuments were constructed much earlier than the traditional framework would tell us. The problem is that what we possess with regard to the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid are theories, but these theories get repeated so frequently that people take for granted that the monuments were constructed 2,500 B.C., the pyramid was intended as a Pharaoh’s tomb – end of story. We repeat these things so often that we forget that these are just theories. It takes someone like Edgar Cayce sometimes to come along and have the intuition that there’s something more than what we repeat to ourselves. Edgar Cayce identifies a date that’s much earlier than that which the traditional timeline would support. And suddenly people begin asking questions. They begin looking at this, and we find interesting things, like the question of water erosion on the Sphinx, which really warrants scrutiny. If I were a graduate student in archeology that would be the first thing that I would want to look at – but there are a lot of forces mitigating against that, and the profession doesn’t support it. So, what needs to happen is that people outside the status quo – people like Edgar Cayce, John Anthony West, and Robert Schoch – have to weigh these things seriously using the means that we have available. The wonderful thing is that a figure like Edgar Cayce provided the spark for this inquiry – there are others who did as well – but he may have provided the initial question mark, and that’s what allows us to have this discussion today.

The Power of Thought

C2C:   Let’s go to our east of the Rockies line – hi there.

Caller: I have a question for your guest. I was alone for a period of time, and one day I just asked, “Is there anybody for me out there?” and I had a very vivid dream and three months later I met a lady straight out of the dream. Is this something we do, or is this remote viewing, or is this just somebody answering our question?

MH:    I think it’s something that we do. I think that very frequently in life we get exactly what we want, the trouble is we don’t know what we want. Once we’ve engaged in a certain degree of self-observation and we have a sense of what we really want and we hold a positive image of it and we adopt the feeling that we’ve already attained that which we want, positive things can happen.

C2C:   Okay, final caller, welcome to Coast to Coast, you’re on the air.

Caller: Do you think people like Hillary Clinton and people like that could be said to be in Freemasonry or in those kinds of occult groups?

MH:    There are people in positions of power who, like anyone else, have experimented with questions of metaphysics and spirituality. There are fairly reliable accounts that President Woodrow Wilson received a reading from Edgar Cayce. As we were discussing earlier, Nancy Reagan had her own astrologer. Gerald Ford was a Freemason. Ronald Reagan was an honorary Freemason. Hillary Clinton had some unusual sessions with Dr. Jean Houston. People in positions of power are like anyone else – they follow their curiosity and that curiosity very often leads them to spiritual experimentation.

C2C:   And Jeane Dixon tried to warn John F. Kennedy that he was going to be shot in Dallas.

MH:    Yes sir, and Jeane Dixon was welcome in the living rooms of many powerful people. And Richard Nixon and his family were very interested in the “positive thinking” teachings of Norman Vincent Peale.

C2C:   Interesting. Mitch, thanks so much for being on the program. What’s next on your plate, by the way?

MH:    Next, I am introducing a book called The Neville Reader, which is being published in the month of June. I wrote the introduction and it’s a terrific exposure to a metaphysical teacher named Neville Goddard who was an advocate of positive thinking and the mystical power that it can impart. And I’m publishing lots of wonderful books on these subjects, which people can read about on my website, www.mitchhorowitz.com.

C2C:   Thank you so much, Mitch. Appreciate your being on Coast to Coast.

MH:    Thank you, it’s been a great pleasure.

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Follow Mitch On Twitter @MitchHorowitz; and on Facebook at Mitch Horowitz.

Email Mitch at :mitch.horowitz@us.penguingroup.com.