When I was a kid, fascinated with the Occult and spirituality, my friends and teachers often referred to me as "mystical" as if it were a handicap—something I needed to "grow out of."
I suppose I did grow out of it to some extent because, I was interested in everything: science (especially astronomy), radios (no TV back in those days), rocks, chemistry, and so on. As I grew older, I remained interested in the Occult with mysticism in particular, although I also studied magick, astrology, Kabbalah, and yoga, and vociferously read all the Theosophical and Anthroposophical books I could get my hands on, by authors like Manly Palmer Hall, Dion Fortune, Aleister Crowley, and more.
I practiced magick, followed Kabbalist meditation paths, and did yoga, but I guess I have remained a mystic at heart. It's a direct path without the intermediation of priest, minister, mullah, church, temple, mosque, lodge, ritual, ceremony, etc.
Yes, there have been and are support groups in monasteries, sanctuaries, retreat centers, and other forms of community providing the economic base for individuals to practice their mysticism through shared work, and even the added support of group rituals—but mysticism remains a personal, solitary, and direct endeavor to reach toward the Ultimate Source, by whatever name or image.
Still, not only do most religious functionaries frown on mysticism or dismiss it as undisciplined and amateurish, but many occultists do also. Some consider it dangerous, without the safeguards of established tradition and the protection of groups, and it is therefore dangerous because it is outside the control of those intermediaries.
What makes it work?
What I have learned in three quarters of a century is that there is a common denominator to all occult practices, and indeed to all endeavors in general. It matters not if we are discussing magick, ritual, accounting, baseball, boxing, or anything else. The same is true of mysticism. The common denominator of all successful activity—the "foundation"—is intent.
Intent is the controlling factor; all else are techniques like paths through the wilderness. Paths are helpful to some, but anyone can make a new path, and many times there are necessary detours to even the most ancient and established paths. The point is to be able to move from the present position to a defined goal.
Ultimately, for all spiritual work there is recognition and acceptance of a common link between the individual and the Ultimate Source. The path of the mystic is to activate that link and follow it to the goal of union.
Of course, there is great value in utilizing the proven "maps" for this connection, and the Kabbalah is one of the best for the modern mind. The mystic's path is a straight arrow up the Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life. Or, as one desires or needs, the path can reach the same goal through all ten of the "worlds" on the Tree.
Kabbalah Provides a Universal Map
While the Kabbalah is attributed to the Judaic tradition, it has long been used in the Christian tradition as well, and indeed works without regard to any tradition. It is as fundamental as a highway map showing the route from Chicago to New York City. Such a map can have other features added, showing topography, attractions along the way, geological resources, rest stops and more to meet individual needs. As a mystic, you can travel at your own pace.
No matter what your background may be, the Kabbalah offers the Keys to the Kingdom, as the title of Migene González-Wippler's book suggests. No matter your starting point, you can learn the Gnosis of the Cosmic Christ, another Llewellyn title.
Why Are We Here?
Isn't that the most universal question of all? Or, perhaps, "What's it all about?" In this world, some questions may never have definitive answers because the Source is not in this world, but within and without all worlds and all planes of being.
But I do have one observation that I think gives at least a clue to the answers. When you extend your awareness to encompass as much as you can, not only do you find life everywhere, in some form often invisible to our eyes, but you find life growing, changing, adapting, evolvingáeven in places previously thought sterile and hostile to any life at all. And when you are truly aware, you find that all life is conscious and intelligent!
Just last week the news reported on a study showing how intelligent birds are, even how they are capable of abstract thinking. Prior to fifty years ago or so, it was believed that such intelligence distinguished human life from all other life forms. Now we learn differently.
The only answer to questions like, "What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What's it all about?" from this perspective is, "to grow, to evolve, to become more conscious, to expand our awareness, to fulfill (for lack of any better words) the Divine Program within our heart and being." Or, as the wise ancients of the past expressed itáto become more than we are!
Created in the image of our Creator, we must become more like our Creator and fulfill our destiny as "co-creators" in a continuing process that can only cease at the end of time.
Thus, mysticism and all other magical, occult, esoteric, spiritual techniques are the path to the greatest adventure there is, the ultimate fulfillment.
— Carl Llewellyn Weschcke, Publisher