ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
of Nous and emanations. These lines of thought contributed much to esoteric and occult philosophy.
Spiritualism, or communication with the dead through mediums, preoccupied many occultists during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This practise began with the Fox sisters of upstate New York who claimed to receive spirit rappings they interpreted as messages from souls of the departed. Other mediums elaborated on these practices which were employed in séances (Fr. “sittings”) in which participants sat around a table establishing soul energy by holding hands. The medium goes into a trance, during which stage, a “control” or spirit from “the other side” enters her psyche and speaks through her vocal chords. The control conveys messages from particular persons who have died, usually family members. Some mediums elaborated further by conjuring up floating objects such as trumpets and materializations in which ghostly forms would float about the room, and staging levitations in which the table would rise. All of the latter phenomena have been discredited as fakes.
Spiritualism flourished during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with much interest in séances as a means of proving life after death. Interest waned during the 1920s, by which time, virtually all mediums had been exposed as frauds.
Astrology originated in ancient Sumeria. However, the Mesopotamian priests who studied the movement of heavenly bodies were concerned only with their supposed effects on society as a whole. During the Hellenistic Age, individual horoscopes were cast for the first time. Astrologers subscribed to the monistic theology, and maintained that the movements of the sun, moon, and the five visible planets were indicators of the divine will. According to Jung, astrology was still valid as a symbolic system for determining cosmic cycles. He did not regard it as a precusor to astronomy, but rather as a system of psychological analysis. Jung tested case histories astrologically and concluded that horoscopes were a useful indicator of personality factors.
Numerology is also a psychological determinant according to Jung, having chiefly to do with cycles. In ancient languages such as Greek and Hebrew, letters are used as numbers so that the signs therefore have double meaning. During medieval times, Jewish rabbis devised a system called Kabbala meaning “tradition,” based on Torah, the first five books of the Bible, which Jews regard as the most sacred texts of the Scriptures. Numbers, according to this system of Jewish mysticism, have hidden meaning. The doctrines involved appear to have been influenced by Gnosticism. Many Christian esotericists, as well as Jews, are students of Kabbala, though usually in superficial and inadequate ways
Alchemy, which was also of Hellenistic origin, is a system of transmutation. It is usually identified as a magical technique of transmuting base