The Worldview and Practices of the Occult – Rituals

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2002
All occult rituals center around the theme of summoning supernatural power to effect a cause. The authors show some of the methods people use to access this power.


The Worldview and Practices of the Occult – Rituals

The Means to Power: The Use of Radical Practices

The hallmark of occultism is spirit contact in numerous forms, be it with alleged gods, nature spirits, “luminous ones,” astral beings, “angels,” visualized deities, etc. Usually, contact with the spirits is achieved under whatever guise the person feels most comfortable with, whether personal entity (angels, astral forms), psychological phenomena (higher self, archetypes), or impersonal concept (Akashic records, energy transference) or enlighten­ment, etc. Initially, such contact becomes the means to power and as in shamanism, mediumism, etc., dependence on the spirits is a natural result.

Occult Ritual

All occult rituals center around the theme of summoning supernatural power to effect a cause. As one witch told us, “During rituals we raise power and send power to do whatever we wish done, whether it is good or evil.” In occult magic, proper ritual is needed in order to secure the magical intention successfully and safely. Lifelong occultist David Conway explains:

Rituals are conducted in two stages: first, the worshipper attunes himself to the sacred mystery being performed and then, usually as the climax, the presence of a particular deity is invoked…. The adept’s slightest gesture can thus extend through all the worlds of being into the depths of the Godhead, and any words he whispers will echo throughout the length and breadth of the universe…. The climax to all magical ritual occurs when the adept draws into himself the astral force he has evoked so as to project it towards a chosen object. To do this he must surrender his complete being to the astral force which is waiting to possess it, and this he does by cultivating a state of mind or, rather, madness, akin to the divine frenzy of the Bacchantes. There are various ways of doing this, and the adept must choose the one that suits him personally…. It demands, above all, a very close rapport with certain astral entities known as Group Forms. These are immensely powerful beings who on occasion can assume human shape, when they will cooperate with the other participants in a ceremony that combines the spiritually elevated with the wildest dreams of wantonness. [1]

In magic ritual, every object is carefully chosen for its symbolic reality and/or effect upon the mind of the occultist. Proper objects are necessary for particular goals and proper sounds with required vibrations are expected to successfully influence the astral planes. [2] Absolute precision is vital unless one wishes to court disaster:

All the world is like an enormous container of nitroglycerine. It must be handled with ritually exact care when it is being manipulated, and at all other times the magician must be devious, fluid, totally unpredictable, in order to escape the manipulations of others. This is the animists’ world, where living, malevolent beings strike out and trap the ritually negligent. Perfection is a matter of precise ritual. The magician must content himself with subduing only minute portions of his world on a piecemeal basis…. In order to subdue portions of the world, the magician must link himself to mysterious powers that threaten his very existence…. The problem with power is always the same: the user is simultaneously subjected to it…. Similarly, if a magician uses the power of an ally or demon to produce certain effects, he inevitably places himself under the power of the ally. At the very least, he is subjected to a rigorous series of rituals that must be used when calling forth occult power. To command power—any power—is to acknowledge the sovereignty of the source of that power, whether God, demons, natural law, random variation, or whatever. Men will serve that which they believe to be sovereign. [3]

Thus, as Conway warns, “But even the cleverest and most knowledgeable magician realizes that the demons of the pit are waiting for the one false step that will deliver him to them.” [4]

Drugs and Sex

Drugs and sex (typically perverted sex) are rampant in the occult. Conway observes in Magic: An Occult Primer:

Apart from all the material means to induce the required states of consciousness, some occultists also advocate the use of sex and drugs…. Although sex does play a part in magic, it is not indispensable. Like drugs and mantric recitation it is one of several ways of achieving that complete involvement which is the climax of all ritual…. Sex also releases its own form of power which can then be used in magic to reinforce or propel the elemental power [e.g., spirit or demon] evoked by ritual. [5]

In The Dust of Death British scholar Os Guinness also supports the correlations between drugs and spirit possession. In essence, drugs place the mind in an altered state which can open the door to the world of the occult:

For those of our generation who stumble on the spirit world accidentally, the two most common paths are LSD and misapplied meditation techniques…. Many who take acid regularly or who practice yoga or Zen meditation have found they have opened their minds to blackness and spiritism, seeing themselves as mediums and describing themselves as possessed. [6]

Along with a number of other commentators he observes that ritualistic “Satanism is often related to heroin. A tragically high proportion of those involved in the Satan groups are also junkies.” [7] Psychiatrist R. Kenneth McAll reveals that “it is common for addicts, especially for those addicted to heroin and alcohol, to become involved in black magic and visa versa.” [8]

Conway also discusses the use of magical power in order to attain one’s goals. This is characteristically accompanied by temporary loss of sanity and spirit possession. His dis­cussion typifies the essence of the common, if more radical, forms of occult practice (whether East or West), and so we cite this revealing if startling passage at length:

By now the adept has visualized the required forms and, it is hoped, contacted their astral equivalents. In addition, the force behind these forms will have been admitted into the circle. At this point we come to the most important part of the ritual. Everything that has gone before was merely a preparation for the impending moment when, to revive our earlier comparison with electricity, we shall flick the switch that lets in the cosmic power.
This is something no book can teach; the assembled correspondences, the visualization and all the other ritual details can do no more than help the adept find the switch, and as that switch is situated inside himself, he alone can turn it on. To do so he must temporarily lose his reason, for it is reason which bars the doors of the conscious mind where the astral world lies waiting. The way to open these doors is to assume a state of unreason similar to the divine frenzy of the Bacchantes. Like their delirium the aim of such unreason will be to receive the deity that is being invoked. …
There is no doubt that alcohol—and drugs too for that matter—are the surest means of breaking down mental barriers, but, as we have said, they do tend to weaken the will while they are about it. This is why drugs, though often used in group ritual, are not something to be tried in magical work where inadequate supervision is available.
Some magicians cultivate the sweet madness by reciting one word over and over again.The adept begins by heaping incense on the charcoal and then, kneeling before the altar, he starts his verbal repetition or mantra…. While engaged in this, the adept imagines that the god-form or the most congenial of the planetary or sefirothic forms is materializing behind his back. He visualizes this in as much detail as possible. Slowly, as the altar candles flicker, he will sense with a sureness which precludes all doubt that the visualized form is in fact towering inside the circle behind him. On no account must he turn his head to look at whatever is there; nay, temptation to do so must be sternly resisted: the form may be unbearably hideous or else possess a beauty that may literally be fatal.
In the meantime the adept should endeavor to continue his mantra, although by now his heart will no doubt be beating furiously. Whatever else happens he must not move, even when he senses that the form is so close as to be almost touching him. Above all he must not panic, but should comfort himself with the thought that he is safe enough provided he stays where he is. At last—and he will certainly know when—the god-form will take control of him. To begin with, the adept will feel an exquisite giddiness somewhere at the base of his skull and quickly convulsing the whole of his body. As this happens, and while the power is surging into him, he forces himself to visualize the thing he wants his magic to accomplish, and wills its success. He must put all he has into this and, like our friends the Bacchantes, must whip himself into a veritable frenzy. It is at this point that the force evoked will be expelled to realize the ritual intention.
As he feels the force overflowing inside him the adept, while still visualizing the realized magical intention, bids it go forth to fulfil his wishes….
For some magicians the dislocation of reason coincides with the moment of sacrifice. Others perform this sacrifice before proceeding to the climax of the rite, arguing that the vital energy discharged by the victim’s blood assists the possessing entity to appear inside the circle.
Traditionally the victim’s throat is cut and the warm blood allowed to gush into a chalice of the appropriate planetary metal. Those for whom the oblation coincides with the climax to the rite generally visualize the god-form behind them in the usual way, but possession then occurs as the magician drinks from the chalice or, if he is squeamish, plunges his hands into the blood it contains. At the same time the intention is visualized and willed in the normal manner.
Sacrificial acts are cruel, messy and, above all, unnecessary. More common, fortunately, is the use of sex to attain the desired climax. The outburst of power is effected at the same time as orgasm is reached, with possession occurring a few seconds before. [9]

As should be obvious from the above reading, occult philosophy and practice involve another world entirely. Literally millions of people today are risking everything to seek this world and its alluring powers. Yet a mere generation ago, the occult hardly even existed in America. The question is, how did we get here from there?


  1. David Conway, Magic: An Occult Primer (New York: Bantam, 1973), pp. 70, 78, 120.
  2. Ibid., Chapter 5.
  3. Gary North, Unholy Spirits: Occultism and New Age Humanism (Fort Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1986), pp. 75, 79.
  4. Conway, Magic: An Occult Primer, p. 197.
  5. Ibid., pp. 70, 81.
  6. Os Guinness, The Dust of Death (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973), pp. 298, 300.
  7. Ibid., p. 307.
  8. R. K. McAll, “Taste and See,” in John Warwick Montgomery, ed., Demon Possession (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany, 1976), p. 274.
  9. Conway, Magic: An Occult Primer, pp. 129-32.

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