There are many different forms of mysticism in the world, and with the advent of the Internet and the ease of modern global travel, every hopeful seeker has the benefit of “shopping around” for the system which sings most to him. So long as the clear goal of the system is to reach God, and there is evidence that others pursuing that path have achieved as much, then it is a safe system. In that respect, no path is “better” than any other. No matter how old or new its founding, how large or small its following, or which country it hails from, if it can successfully produce adepts then all is well. A path that may be longer for one kind of person could be the quickest for another. So long as universal law is upheld by the system, there is no real difference in the end. It is only the details of the trip itself which are different.
It is these details which the browsing Seeker winds up deciding upon. They do not make the system better or worse in the long-run; they simply set the atmosphere. The student, then, can decide what kind of atmosphere he would rather progress in. We will provide a few of the reasons that people who choose to practice theurgy may prefer it to a different approach.
Theurgy has its strongest appeal to the so-called “Western World.” Many believe that the West lacks its own distinct form of spirituality, and therefore wind up pursuing oriental forms of mysticism for no better reason than that. In reality, the theurgic path is a living tradition which has breathed life into almost all western mythologies, and was the driving force behind many of the West’s best thinkers. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Francis Bacon, and Isaac Newton, are just a few of the more well-known western students of theurgy or its branches. As formative as such figures as they have been in the creation and shaping of our modern world, there are also champions of theurgy further back in antiquity, who were equally formative of western culture. Pythagoras, Plato, Socrates, Anaxagoras, Proclus, Damascius, Aristotle, Virgil, Cicero, Homer, Orpheus, and many other famous classical figures were directly connected to theurgic mystery schools in their own time. The famous Medici family practiced it, as did the founder of the British Secret Service and expounder of Algebra, John Dee. Christian Rosencruetz encountered it in the fabled “Book M.,” which profoundly influenced himself and Paracelsus, and therefore steered the course of European mystery schools and medicine alike. The famous philosopher-physician Descartes was initiated into its practices, as was the thinker who proposed the idea of universal educational standards upon which modern schooling was based, Johann Comenius. These are simply a few examples of how theurgy, as a current and living tradition, has been present all along.
Seeing this, and realizing how rooted in the foundations of western culture theurgy is, one can begin to understand the reason that many people feel a special affinity for it. It is, one could say, in our blood. The western cultural upbringing has nurtured it. Few people, without special study, can visualize Kwan Yin or Kwan Di if commanded to, or name out the articles in the hands of Ganesha. Few can say affirmatively how many heads Brahma has, what Virabhadra’s face looks like, or even who, with any detail, Shiva or Vishnu are. Avalokteshwar is unknown to most people outside the orient, though quite famous within. The life of the Buddha, and other important things, are not inherently known in the occident.
Yet, if asked, most could imagine what Zeus looks like. Without having apparently studied it anywhere, just from growing up in the West, the average person could tell you whether Poseidon is the god of the sea or of the mountains. They could, if pressed, tell you who Hades is. Many could even give a general idea of what the Titans were, who cast them off of what mountain, and the name of the chamber in which they were encased. Basic descriptions of Hercules and Odysseus, both important in theurgy, could be provided by almost any occidental person. Even details like the Trials of Hercules and the Trojan Horse can be at least touched upon by many.
In fact until quite recently, one was only considered cultured if he had at least a cursory knowledge of the Greek myths, poets, and philosophers. Because of that, even if they do not quite know who is who, or can not give many details, almost everyone reading this will at least recognize the names of Zeus, Poseidon, Hera, Athena, Artemis, Cupid, Kronos, Gaia, Ares, Hades, Hermes, Apollo, Achilles, Hercules, Agamemnon, Hector, Paris, Helen of Troy, and Odysseus, all of which play some manner of role in either practical or cosmological considerations within theurgy. The reader can probably imagine a centaur, minotaur, pegasus, or nymph. All of this subtle cultural information, stored in the far reaches of the mind somewhere, makes traveling the theurgic path a little easier than some others. It is a language which, if only vaguely, you have been acquainted with.
Language is, itself, another reason why pursuing theurgy may be preferable for some people. If you speak a language based on Latin, then you likely studied Greek root-words at some point in time, even if just as a child. Since Greek is a primary influence on Latin, and Latin a primary influence on the major occidental languages, nearly everyone will be familiar with some of the words used. Pronunciation will come more naturally, and memorization of important terminology will therefore be easier. As an example, spiritual practice is called “askesis.” Clearly, askesis is the root of the word ascetic, and from this an idea of its meaning can be glimpsed without any special education being needed. Another important word in our tradition is “hypostasis,” and again, many people can figure out its basic likely meaning by looking at it: “hypo” means below, and “stasis” refers to a state of being. It becomes relatively easy to remember, then, that hypostasis refers to a state of being where the student is experiencing “what is under” all things. There are many examples like this to be had, and it all serves to illustrate why theurgy may feel more natural to some people than other systems.
Pursuing this linguistic familiarity is the likely ability of the western student to be able to properly pronounce the god names, words of power, and other relevant intonations or recitations. This makes practicing the “things recited” within theurgy safer for the student, who can stand on surer ground. The spoken magical formulae utilized in theurgy are primarily vowel compositions, pronounced in ways that most occidental people will be at least loosely familiar with, and easily enough learned under proper direction. They were given by the gods to the seers of this tradition, to provide them with powerful formulae suitable for their ears and tongues.
Somewhat oppositional to this, there is a sort of obsession growing amongst spiritual seekers in the west, particularly amongst the youth, with yogic mantras. People like to try and learn them, to practice japa, to sing them, clean the house to them playing in the background, get tatooes of them written in sanskrit on their arms, and drive their cars with them playing on a CD. It is especially trendy to recite them during meditation and the likes. These mantras, which have leaked into the general public and have there been suitably abused, are extremely ancient and inherently sacred, despite how easily they may be found on the internet. They should never be used without mantra diksha, under the direct instruction of a guru. To mispronounce them even slightly can have devastating results for the well-meaning student. For an occidental person, their proper pronunciation is nearly impossible without years of training, studying sanskrit, and learning from a guru who gives mantras. The details and complexities of the sanskrit language are very difficult to grasp for someone who did not grow up around it, able to distinguish between the many subtle variations of consonants which, to an untrained ear, can often sound like the same letter; yet to a trained ear, they are inarguably different. It is not spiritual to sit around chanting mantras you have no idea how to pronounce; it is dangerous, and to Hindus and yogis who may overhear you, it is often insulting.
Theurgy is Universal
A good final reason why some prefer theurgy is that, as a student, you will not be pressured to act like someone you are not. Your likelihood of being accepted by your theurgic peers does not change based on how Asian, Indian, Native American, African, Egyptian, European, American, etc, you may look or actually be. You don’t need to where a toga or carry a staff to fit in better. We don’t require you to grow your hair, stop shaving, eat certain things, or pray to certain gods, since theurgy is and has always been a universal system. You’re not “cooler” if you know some Greek or Latin, and attempting to learn some Egyptian will likely only make a fool of you, not earn favor in your teachers’ eyes. You are fine just the way you are. If you know some other system, you won’t be lectured on how it was influenced by theurgy, or how theurgy is so ancient, the best, the most, etc. This makes theurgy a smoother addition to daily life than some other systems may be. Though highly demanding of your attention, it is not demanding of your appearance.
Seeing this to be the case, we might also mention that though much of this article was focused on why occidental people may find a good home in theurgy as opposed to more foreign systems, this certainly does not mean that theurgy is exclusively occidental. The core practices of theurgy can be found spread throughout the entire world. Masters from Persia, Egypt, India, and China have, for example, all contributed something to the tradition over the millenia, through common exposure to one another. There are also, in all corners of the world, magical systems of mysticism, which may be seen as the same approach to spirituality that theurgy takes. Though “theurgy” itself specifically refers to the Greco-Egyptian form of mysticism, there are many ancient systems throughout the world which virtually mirror it. Thus the people of all nations and cultures are suitable for its practice, and both can and have taken this path all the way, uniting them to their Father in heaven.
Fraternally in the Light,