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How the Occult Brought Cremation to America

Cremation has become so popular in America that if current trends continue it will be the funerary choice of half of Americans within four years. Time Magazine reported this surprising fact in a recent cover story on the rise of cremation — yet the otherwise probing story omitted, as do many studies of cremation, how the ancient and Eastern practice got its start in America. To understand this requires uncovering a leaf from occult history.

Cremation was introduced to America in the 1870s by a retired Civil War colonel, Henry Steel Olcott. As a Union Army staff colonel and military investigator, Olcott had amassed a distinguished record, which included routing out fraud among defense contractors and making some of the first arrests in the Lincoln assassination. In his post-military life as a lawyer and journalist, Olcott developed a deep interest in the esoteric and paranormal — which drove his fascination with the then-exotic rite of burning the dead.

While cremation possessed ancient roots, it was little known among Victorian-age Americans. Indeed, to most late nineteenth-century Westerners, the concept of cremation seemed otherworldly and even un-Christian. Americans associated funeral pyres and crematoriums with pagan antiquity or the mists of the Far East. Modern people buried their dead, and that was that.

But Olcott saw cremation (mostly) as a commonsensical social reform: He considered it more sanitary than burial, a deterrent to disease, and a help in freeing up land and labor from inefficient burials. And then there was the deterrence of vampirism, which Olcott took seriously. “If any [further reason] were needed by thoughtful persons,” he wrote, “…there are no vampires save countries where the dead are buried.” In Olcott’s eyes the practice had produced such benefits in India, where “we do not hear of Hindu vampires.”

To promote the practice, Olcott organized the nation’s first public cremation service — or “pagan funeral,” as the press called it — at New York’s Masonic Hall on the westside of Manhattan. So controversial was the idea of cremation, that the proceedings on May 28, 1876, caused a near riot and raised cries that the colonel was spreading heathen rites in the city.

But Olcott was accustomed to courting controversy when exposing the public to new ideas. Since leaving the military, he had become an investigator of ghostly phenomena and a globetrotting advocate for the rights of Hindus and Buddhists, whose numbers had been shrinking under colonial missionary campaigns in India and Sri Lanka. Olcott became best known, however, for cofounding, with Russian noblewoman Madame H.P. Blavatsky, the Theosophical Society in New York in 1875. His aim was to seek out and promote occult and esoteric teachings — including the rite of cremation.

In spring of 1876, Olcott found a subject on which to demonstrate the benefits of this ancient funerary rite. A recently deceased member of the Theosophical Society — a penniless Bavarian nobleman named Joseph Henry Louis Charles, Baron de Palm — had willed his body to be cremated. Olcott and his fellow Theosophists rented out the Masonic Hall and offered tickets for nearly 2,000 New Yorkers to witness America’s first public cremation ceremony.

Although the Masonic headquarters featured an impressive auditorium (since gutted when a new Masonic Hall was built on the spot in 1910), it had no crematorium. Nor did any such facility exist in the city. Olcott’s plan was to hold the service and then deliver the body to the newly formed New York Cremation Society, which had agreed to handle the incineration. But the arrangement didn’t quite go as intended.

The day of the service began with an air of tension. A crush of onlookers assembled early at the gates of Masonic Hall, drawn by press reports that promised “a genuine pagan funeral.” Inside the hall, the service turned into a combination of occult pageant and public exposition for the nascent Theosophical Society. Olcott, playing the role of high priest, bestrode a stage that displayed the Baron’s body in a rosewood casket, at the head of which stood a cross with a serpent wrapped around it, spelling out TS, the initials of the society. Seven men draped in long black robes and holding palms surrounded the coffin, while the atmosphere in the hall was filled with Orphic hymns, the smell of burning incense, the flickering of colored candles, and the chanting of mystical incantations.

Olcott attempted to deliver a discourse on reincarnation and the cosmic origins of creation, but his elegy was interupted by shouts from audience members who detected heathenism and heresy. An elderly man rushed the stage and was led away by police. The protestor turned out to be the father of the hall’s organist, thus curtailing the musical portion of the program when his daughter left with him.

Disdainful of stoking controversy, the cremation society that had promised to burn the Baron’s body backed out of the deal. Olcott was left for months with the cost and forensic difficulties of storing a decaying corpse — a task he handled rather deftly by having it encased in dried clay, which minimized odor and decomposition.

Brooding on the problem for months, Olcott finally learned of a private crematorium being constructed in western Pennsylvania. After securing the owner’s cooperation, he personally delivered the Baron’s body there on December 5, 1876. The following morning, at the start of a gray and wintry day, the incineration was performed before Olcott, Madame Blavatsky, several fellow Theosophists and friends of the Baron, plus a contingent of journalists and public health officials. Echoing the scene from New York, a local crowd — this time uninvited — gathered outside the crematorium, heckling and hollering while Olcott tried to maintain the decorum of a funeral inside. At 11:12 a.m. the body was proclaimed fully incinerated, at a passage of more than six months from the original ceremony.

Despite the controversies — and perhaps because of them — the cremation affair proved a victory for Olcott: He achieved his goal of publicizing what he saw as a nobler, more efficient funerary rite. And, in time, many Americans came to agree. While New York’s “pagan funeral” is long forgotten, cremations today account for about 40 percent of all American passages. This represents just one way in which ideas introduced by occult movements have transformed American life — and death.


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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Initiations

Initiation is just one of these things either discussed in silent, mysterious tones or off-handedly in a way which indicates that absolutely, positively everybody is aware of what initiation is and if you do not understand, you must be…well, not one of the initiated.

It’s really not all that mysterious, and there are lots of secular examples of initiation. Passing your driver’s test and receiving your license, graduating from college, turning twenty-one and ordering your first legal drink, any and all of those are excellent illustrations of initiation. Any rite of passage is an initiation.

All initiation means, is to begin. In the circumstance of mystery schools and traditions, it means to be brought to that group and made a member via some type of ritual or action. When you consider this in the context of, say, obtaining your license, you passed an examination and have been brought to a group of men and women who knew how to drive, could prove this, and therefore could lawfully do so.

Naturally in a more esoteric or religious context there is more going on than a ritual and being brought to a group. The initiation itself is often meant to have an effect on a individual spiritually and change their very lives from the inside out, a process of transformation that is frequently known as spiritual alchemy. Some classes have several levels of initiation, each having a different intended purpose and impact, and these initiations are meant to be had in stages of development so you’re brought from one stage in your life to another.

The Eleusinian Mysteries is a really famous example of one of these types of mystery schools and initiations, and people know that it had at least two tiers: the Lesser Mysteries and the Greater Mysteries. Also in ancient times among the Greeks were the Orphic and Dionysian Mysteries and among the Egyptians, the Osirian Mysteries. Sometimes people were initiates of more than one mystery tradition, yet another famous example being Plutarch who was initiated to the Dionysian Mysteries along with the Osirian. He remarks on both Osiris and Dionysos being in the same in his article Isis and Osiris.

In the modern world, there are many mystery schools: the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, OTO, the various initiatory witchcraft traditions that inherit from either Alex Sanders’ or Gerald Gardner’s groups, Aurum Solis, Freemasonry, and many others. All of them have their own philosophies, traditions, and intention behind their initiations, but they all owe a great deal to the ancients and their own initiatory traditions for their existence and their ultimate influence.

Can you be initiated without even attending a mystery school? Most certainly; anybody may have a transformative encounter which brings them into a new phase of their life and affects them on a fundamental level, however subtle. After all, in the end the gods are the initiators, not the individuals. Spiritual alchemy is intended to alter you on deep levels, and who better to alter you spiritually than the gods.

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20,000 Historical Occult Books Have Been Added To This Digital Archive

Are you more interested in learning about the ancient magic traditions of Hermeticism than about the newest New York Times bestseller? Than you are in luck, since thanks to the Dutch Ritman Library along with a generous contribution from author and self-proclaimed occult-lover Dan Brown, you can read a massive collection of historical occult books online right now at no cost. That is, if you are able to read Dutch.

One of the world’s biggest set of occult texts, the Dutch Ritman Library has over 20,000 works on philosophy, mysticism, religion, alchemy, astrology, and magic which are between 100 and 600 years old. Now, a few of them are finally be available on the internet. As part of the Hermetically Open Project, the library is working to digitize its massive collection. Currently, there are already 1,617 of the 4,600 core texts available online. The only difficulty? The present offerings are only in Dutch and Latin, but additional texts in French, German, and English will be added as the project continues.

The Ritman Library on YouTube

Digitizing a collection this large is a massive and expensive undertaking which requires a great deal of time, effort, experience, and above all, money. In addition to Brown’s generous donation, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, a foundation that supports the preservation of art and culture in the Netherlands, contributed an additional €15,000 (around $18,713) to the important project.

Although the whole collection isn’t yet available online, interested readers and occult-lovers could navigate the official “Guide to the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica” online to find out what unique texts the library has to offer you. Among the uncommon texts are volumes on alchemy, “the science of change and is concerned with the question of processes, in nature and in man,” mysticism and magic, Hermetica, or the works linked to ancient philosopher Hermes Trismegistus, and much more. Several significant works have already been digitized and put online, such as texts about Nicholas Flamel, the renowned alchemist of Harry Potter fame, but the process has been anything but stress-free.

Since January, subscribers from all over the world have been thrilled at the chance to get into the Ritman Library’s incredible collection in the comfort of their own computers, but a lot of them have already pointed their disappointment at the site’s presentation. Several unhappy patrons took to The Ritman Library Facebook page to air out their grievances, which contained complaints regarding the language limitation (the interface is Dutch only right now), the confusing navigation, and also limited access. The library, however, is accepting every single criticism. “Thanks for your feedback and suggestions, much appreciated,” a response on Facebook reads. “We have only recently uploaded these files, and couldn’t wait to share them with you all already. So we are still improving the whole presentation and will keep you posted about any updates!”

Despite its flaws, the new digitization project remains an extremely exciting development for book-lovers all over the world. Thanks to the interest of technologically savvy readers, the difficult work of committed librarians, along with the generous contributions from bibliophiles such as Dan Brown, anyone interested in the occult, ancient philosophy, mysticism, magic, or the inspiration behind novels like The Da Vinci Code may explore their passions, at no cost, from anywhere.

Whether you’re searching for an early manual to turning matter into gold or looking for a historical copy of the Quran, you will find it online today. Check out the full collection here.

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Astrology and the Sun Signs

In the earliest times, mankind has believed the sun, moon, stars, and planets were all divinities: gods or goddesses. For many centuries, men did not separate the existence of planets and erroneously thought planets were stars that did not twinkle in the sky. And primitive men thought the stars were divine flickers of light without knowing why stars do not burn out. The celestial objects seen in the night sky formed the basis for astrology and because the sun is not seen at night, astrology is not concerned with the sun. Ancient astrologers believed the moon was a goddess whose influence to people on earth pertains feminine things as sewing clothes and child birth. But some astrologers considered the moon as a god whose influence pertains to masculine things as fighting and hunting.

Venus, originally thought if a star, radiated an occult link of beauty, sexuality, and  Mars sent an occult wave of aggression and war because of its destructiveness to people on earth. Mercury, a god who served as a messenger for the other gods and for the goddesses, radiated a sense of quickness and responsibility, but also moodiness. Mars sent an occult wave of aggression and war because of its blood red appearance: Mars the angry red planet. Jupiter, king of the Gods and hence an occult wave of extreme importance, ceremonial pomp, highest authority of man, and Saturn, a God of Harvest, planting, agriculture, farming, strength, and justice, and such virtues thereto. These planets were the only planets ancient men and medieval men knew. Uranus was discovered in 1930, Neptune discovered in 1846, and Pluto discovered in 1930.

The Sun travels throughout the sky on the ecliptic path and journeys through constellations over the course of a year. The Sun, which radiates warmth, light, and life sustaining characteristics and in astrology, always a male god, would stand for enlightenment, power, might, physical and mental warmth; and  energy.

The Constellations         Zodiac Time Frame                     Traits

Aries The Ram MarchMarch 21-April 19pushy; a fighter
Taurus The BullApril 20-May 20aggressive; a fighter, at times stubborn
Gemini The TwinsMay 21-June 20Desire to work in a pair or within a group
Cancer The CrabJune 21-July 20Biting; clawing; at times aggressive; mean


Leo The LionJuly 23-August 22Assertive; aggressive; brave
Virgo The VirginAugust 23-Sept. 22Not sensual; shy with males; withdrawn
Libra The ScalesSept, 23-Octr. 22Someone who looks at both sides; tries to balance one’s life
Scorpio The ScorpionOct. 23-Nov. 21stinging; hurting, aggressive
Sagittarius The ArcherNov. 22-Dec. 1one who will quickly use weapons
Capricorn The GoatDec.22-JaN. 19one who will try to keep bucking for success, power, love


Aquarius The Waer BearerJan.20-Feb. 18one who likes to help others in need; a savior
Pisces The FishFeb. 19-March 20passive; peaceful, gentle

Constellation  Divinity; celestial body
ScorpioPluto, Mars

Because Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were invisible planets for thousands of years, modern astrologers ascribed such traits to these planets;  Uranus-God of Usurper of Governmental Authority; one who steals; assumes power over a state, country, ruling government; can be a traitor or a liberator

Neptune-God of the Sea, rain storms, tidal waves; floods, or calm, clear waters and good weather. One who exerts extreme authority over the bodies of war.

Pluto-God of the Underworld. Occult; ghosts, spiritualism; mediumship

Astrology is considered a pseudo science by modern science. There is no proof whatsoever that the moon, sun, and planets tell personality traits unique to people born under a constellation or commonly known as a ‘sun sign’, nor can a person’s future be foretold by the influence and motion of the moon, the sun, stars, and the planets

Furthermore, in modern astrology, the personality readings and so-called future readings are so general that they apply to practically everybody in one form or another. If you read your horoscope, as well as another person’s horoscope; you will see both are so general that basically speaking, both horoscopes shall apply to you personally.

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings”. The quote from Julius Caesar act 1, scene 2, is by the character of Cassius; the play Julius Caesar was written by William Shakespeare(1564-1616), the famous English poet, playwright, and author, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon”.

When we examine the power of the moon on the earth, we know the moon’s powerful gravitational forces cause the tides to go in and out. People have theorized the moon’s gravity has to work on human beings since we are made up to about 70% water. In actuality, the moon exerts such a super low effect on humans that it is clear it is almost immeasurable. With tides, there are many, many thousands of miles of water and each drop of water follows gravity waves. If two drops of water are placed extremely close to each other; their own gravity actually pulls them together to unite and become one big drop. The natural gravity within the water of oceans and seas is attracted to the moon’s gravity to produce tides. Tides help to wash out; wash away the waters of oceans and seas.

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