This blog post is something of a note to myself as I continue editing Nine Keys of Abyssal Darkness. It pertains to the place of meditation in occult praxis. Do occultists “need” meditation? What are the benefits versus the drawbacks of putting too much or too little emphasis on meditation? Though close to finishing the book, I’m still refining nuances and emphases in a few places. What I’ll put down here are thus some things on my mind as I move toward editing the final version of the Fifth Key in particular.
My background in meditation
To first clarify where I’m coming from, the following are my foremost influences re: meditation:
- Consistent (i.e. near-daily) practice of Falun-Gong-derived exercises. These resemble a combination of yoga and tai chi. To be clear, I have never subscribed to Falun Gong as a religion or known any practitioners in real life. Rather, I learned the exercises in isolation from an eclectically-spiritual Buddhist friend. I’ve found them effective at positively altering mental & emotional state, and enabling me to feel energy flow I couldn’t before. I’ve thus been doing this practice on my own for over a decade. Noticing concrete results from it set the stage for all subsequent serious exploration of meditation I’ve entered into.
- Experimentation with various methods of “energy manipulation” along the way to trying to learn astral projection. This began around 2018, and I admit I have yet to succeed at my ultimate goal. However, I’ve attempted the majority of exercises in this book along the way. I’ve thereby become more aware of what “energy blocks” feel like, how to clear them, etc.
- Familiarity with basic principles of various kinds of Buddhist (e.g. mindfulness) and New Age (e.g. visualization) meditation methods. An example of a book I read fairly recently that had lots of useful stuff in it was Mat Auryn’s The Psychic Witch.
(Note: Amazon links above are not affiliate – I’m just trying to be helpful.)
Meditation in Nine Keys of Abyssal Darkness
Through my experience of these various methods, and input from certain Nekalah, I’ve devised distinctive meditation practices for Tenebrous Satanism. The four methods presented in the Fifth Key are respectively aimed at:
- Mental-emotional purification so as to rid oneself of distractions
- Energy-raising as a precursor to occult activity or for enhanced vigor generally
- Focusing to increase awareness of one’s own will and control of one’s center of attention
- Enhanced acausal receptivity via the lowering of default psychic defenses
I have no doubt whatsoever re: such activities make one a more effective occultist. The question, though, is about the potential impact of presenting meditation as obligatory for occultists. Does such framing help people advance in occult skill and competence? Or does it actually wind up discouraging or hindering such advancement in some cases?
How meditation facilitates occult development
My tendency in Nine Keys of Abyssal Darkness has been to frame meditation as an inherent requirement of occult development. On this front, I write:
The reality, however, is that self-awareness and self-discipline are prerequisites of occult success. Those who grasp this and train their minds accordingly are sure to achieve great things. Those unwilling to apply themselves, on the other hand, are bound to be disappointed.
Consciousness, I go on to say, tends to fret about solving problems, instead of staying focused in the present moment. If that happens in the midst of trying to do a ritual, it’s sure to detract from the ritual’s efficacy. Therefore, it’s in one’s best interest to first develop mental and emotional discipline. Meditation is simply an effective means toward this end.
I emphasize this angle in part as a reaction against an insufficiently-serious approach to magick. Absent mental and emotional discipline, I think many novices wind up doing one or more of the following:
- Saying cutesy rhymes and expecting something to happen just because the words were said
- Treating certain materials or ingredients as “magickal” in themselves, and thereby failing to “charge” them
- Going through the motions of a ritual whilst one’s mind wanders among mundane preoccupations
- Lacking self-awareness enough to introspect before a ritual re: do you really want what you say you want?
- Spoiling of ritual results via subsequent fretting, ruminating, and so on
None of these are conducive to magickal success. Moreover, all ultimately stem from lack of self-awareness and self-control re: one’s own mental processes.
Regular meditation tends to enhance such awareness and control. Hence, I recommend it.
How too much emphasis on meditation can hinder occult development
I have, however, encountered counter-points to the position I’ve just presented, via conversations on “occult Twitter.” Participants in said conversations have alluded to the following issues:
- Some beginners suffer from a kind of self-doubt that could be cured by going straight to attempting ritual. Making such people feel they “have to” master meditation tends then to aggravate their self-doubt instead of alleviating it.
- Some people have an innate talent for the occult, but have personal or psychological issues that contraindicate meditation. For example, perhaps trying to meditate triggers anxiety attacks, dissociation, or etc. Setting meditation as an obstacle in the path of such people can then lead to wasted potential.
- People nowadays live busy lives. Do we agree that having more people interested in magick is a good to be sought? If so, we ought not to erect discouraging barriers. Ergo, if someone feels meditation is “a drag,” they should not “have to” do it.
In all these instances, insisting on meditation as an integral part of the occult will wind up discouraging the person.
Is it better, then, to not emphasize meditation quite so much as I do? This has been useful for me to reflect upon…
Case 1: The self-doubter just needs to jump in
I’m very sympathetic to the first case. After all, I myself first tried ritual magick about a decade before I took up meditation regularly! It’s not then hard for me to grasp that the right time for the occult to come into someone’s life, and the right time for meditation to come in, might well be different times.
Reflecting on this leaves me thinking that I should downplay the “obligatory” angle on meditation at least slightly. Amid trying to dissuade deluded-wishful-thinking type occultism, I may have lost sight of my own experience a bit.
I still see much for strongly encouraging a would-be occultist to take up meditation. But I would not want my position misconstrued as “absolutely don’t even try ritual magick before learning to meditate.” Some people do learn to swim best by just jumping right into the pool!
Case 2: Find a safer tradition!
The second case, I’m sympathetic to as well. All the more so if some trauma has left the person in this difficult position.
My honest thought, though, is that if a person cannot psychologically-manage the meditations I propose, they probably should not be messing with the Tenebrous current, period.
I want to be very clear that I am not saying such people cannot still subscribe to the philosophy of Tenebrous Satanism. It must be acknowledged, though, that Tenebrous Satanism is a participant in the same magickal current as the Order of Nine Angles (O9A). And that current is widely known to have psychologically-destabilizing effects on many people. The Fifth Key’s fourth meditation, in particular, I do not recommend to anyone who is not of sound mind and emotions. How much more strongly, then, would I discourage such a person from, say, attempting ritual communion with the Nekalah…
Some people need to deal with their personal issues before they mess around with any kind of occultism. Others may be better suited to a less-dark path than mine. There is nothing wrong with such cases. But insofar as I don’t think either is well-served by the Tenebrous current, I don’t see it as a problem if “you need to meditate” makes them go elsewhere.
Case 3: You are not our target demographic
Finally, regarding the third case: this one I have basically no sympathy for.
As I said already, Tenebrous Satanism derives from O9A’s current. And that current is pretty infamously known for “being hardcore.” In creating Tenebrous Satanism, I have eliminated only that which I considered counterproductive or prohibitively elitist. What remains still wholeheartedly embraces the O9A ethos re: Satanists should be willing to prove themselves via doing things that are intrinsically hard. Yes, that includes maintaining a reasonable level of fitness, managing outdoors with limited facilities, and other such “O9A stuff.” What, then, am I to make of someone who finds even sitting down to meditate once in awhile “too hard”?
I “get” being “busy,” as I can assure you most definitely that I am “busy” too. I still make time for the occult though, meditation included, because it is important to me. If someone is not willing or able to do that, what does that say re: how “serious” you are? Perhaps you are one of those people who wants the occult cachet of being “special” without having to actually strive? If so, fair enough. I suggest, however, that esoteric Satanism in general is not a good place for seeking such a thing…
Both my own experiences, and observation of others’ experiences in the occult, convince me that learning to meditate is invaluable. I thus don’t have misgivings about my book asserting a degree of pressure on would-be occultists to practice it. Moreover, I don’t see it as a problem if this approach drives away people of the case 2 & 3 types. I wish to attract people capable of serious occult commitment. Fetishizing “inclusiveness” too much is not something I see as conducive to this goal.
Upon reflection though, what I want to avoid is discouraging case 1: someone who has potential, but whose strengths and learning style differ from my default mental picture of “a practitioner.” This, then, is something I plan to refine further in my subsequent revisions. Do occultists need to develop discipline? I believe they do. But do they need to level it up all that much right at the start of their practice? Maybe not. Spontaneity and enthusiasm for experiment ought not to be stifled by too much rigor on this front. And definitely, it is better to try ritual before meditation, than to wind up trying neither due to discouragement!
Are you an occultist who mediates? Any thoughts to share re: what meditation “does” for an occultist, and how it has impacted you? Let me know in the comments.
This post received some very minor tweaks to wording on Aug 13/23. I also added links to a later entry in which I go into more detail re: a meditation found in my book.