The fantastic creatures of myths and legends, astral entities and even what have been called monsters, are a subject which will inevitably be explored by the practicing occultist. Although there is a lot of embellishment and exaggeration, they exist. The addition of fictional details over time as people played telephone with oral tradition and later edited the written versions is not a reason to throw out the baby with the bathwater or attribute them to children’s fairy tales because there always remains a grain of truth. Alternative theories of these creatures currently attribute them to racism or xenophobia of foreign peoples like the pygmies, but this is a dismissive and insufficient explanation since myths and legends are still had by tribes which are isolated from contact with other peoples.
In the same vein, the alternate takes on the creatures or completely made-up ones of tv shows like True Blood, Hemlock Grove and so on are not a reason to disregard them and are in fact a mainstay demonstrating our fascination with them. They appeal to our collective imagination, for whatever reasons – one of them being is that they (especially the monsters) are anti-heroes, or both the cause (when provoked) and the solution to destruction and chaos against the social order in which humans believe themselves to be the gods at the top of everything (including the spiritual realm) and have no predators in the food chain (unless you include each other). In an animistic view the spirits are helpers, and our modern glorification of totally independent and self-sufficient hero myths, and warring, raping-and-pillaging conqueror myths (hello, Western imperialism!), are antagonistic to this.
These myths and legends originate with ancient and indigenous peoples, and since they were closer to nature it was said they were commonly bestowed with the second sight. These creatures took on varying names and characteristics depending on their surrounding culture. However, that does not mean we do not have myths and legends today in the “civilized” world of the West, or that we do not have any relics of those of the ancients. The gods of old are recycled into the name brands and images of corporations. A well-known one is the Starbucks logo. It is Tanit, “…the symbol of a female with both hands raised are derived from Tanit, goddess of the moon. Phoenician. This symbol form evolves into many forms such as Ishtar as well as Siren (two tailed mermaid).” The average consumer thinks nothing of it, but then again the advertisements and public relations are incredibly skilled at thought-stopping, using emotional appeal, and getting more people to buy. More obvious is the materialism of Christianity with its mega-churches and the opulence of the Catholic Pope. Both use the exploitation of the appeal to spirits (and people’s fascination with them) for greedy, powermongering aims.
(Why do all other religions besides the Abrahamic ones get classed as “myth”? Hello, capitalism!)
“Spirits,” on the other hand, have remained the same as their old definition of alcohol, or of ghosts (i.e. the holy spirit or the holy ghost for Christians, or just plain ghosts for everyone else). Money may be power, but spirits are power, too.
As some of you may know or may have guessed, these spirits and creatures are usually only seen or experienced in the astral realm. However, they can be brought to visible manifestation – this is not the same as physical or material manifestation which requires a blood sacrifice, vessel or medium. I have been told that elementals, for example, should only be seen in the astral (with your eyes closed); I take it to mean that if they are visible to the naked eye, that someone or something must have brought them to visibility and that means something has gone wrong or out of whack, much the same as with seeing ghosts.
The popular stance among Thelemites and some pagans is that of the psychological model – and Crowley agreed with this – that spirits are metaphors and have no independent, literal or objective existence outside of our psyches. Jungian psychologists and Joseph Campbell talk a lot about mythology as metaphor as well, providing a powerful means for us to interpret our dreams and lives. But what’s stopping someone from taking this a step further and saying that all the people we interact with, and all of our experiences, are merely reflections of our mind – in other words, solipsism? Or science-worshipping hardcore skeptics and disbelievers from saying everything about religion and the so-called paranormal or supernatural are merely superstition and a “myth” always mean a “lie”? So I think it’s a good starting point but nobody has to limit themselves and stop there if they feel so inclined to see for themselves. In fact, the stories about mythological creatures come from people who were either born with or suddenly had the “second sight” (clairvoyance) and hence could see the “thinning of the veil” between the astral and material planes and so see the creatures. Anybody can develop this ability.
“Dr. Brierre de Boismont, in his volume on Hallucinations, reviews a wonderful variety of visions, apparitions, and ecstasies, generally termed hallucinations. “We cannot deny,” he says, “that in certain diseases we see developed a great surexcitation of sensibility, which lends to the senses a prodigious acuteness of perception. Thus, some individuals will perceive at considerable distances, others will announce the approach of persons who are really on their way, although those present can neither hear nor see them coming.” * A lucid patient, lying in his bed, announces the arrival of persons to see whom he must possess transmural vision, and this faculty is termed by Brierre de Boismont–hallucination. In our ignorance, we have hitherto innocently supposed that in order to be rightly termed a hallucination, a vision must be subjective. It must have an existence only in the delirious brain of the patient. But if the latter announces the visit of a person, miles away, and this person arrives at the very moment predicted by the seer, then his vision was no more subjective, but on the contrary perfectly objective, for he saw that person in the act of coming. And how could the patient see, through solid bodies and space, an object shut out from the reach of our mortal sight, if he had not exercised his spiritual eyes on that occasion? Coincidence?”
— Isis Unveiled by H.P. Blavatsky
And if we are to believe all the stories surrounding heaven and hell or Hades or whatever then (if true) people collectively imagined those “places” into existence in the astral realm. (If only I could remember who said this). Gods, on the other hand, are said to be egregores:
“A sub-variant of the artificial elemental is the egregore. This is an artificial elemental that, projected in the astral, is adopted by other magicians (or other human beings in general) as a focus of imagination and of will, and grows in power from generation to generation. The astral images of the “gods” of men are always egregores. They are the egregores that are manifested in that mystical experience which the Hindus call Dhyana. Egregores are always connected to the religion we grew up in, or with the culture into whose values we were conditioned. Mystics that are left blind by these images come to dynamize them with their energy. Many egregores, reaching a certain level of concentration of force, become vampires.
Such cases should be differentiated from true vampirism: the egregore does not “intend” to vampirize, because the egregore does not have its own will. When we are vampirized by an egregore, we become victims of our own psychic immaturity, of our own desire for a “secure refuge” for our existence. The case is similar to that of the fabled cat that licked lime only to enjoy feeling the pleasure of its own blood. No cat is so stupid in real life! But many human beings are. Masturbation (masculine as well as feminine) is not provoked by egregores, that are normally fed by our devotional energy; but if the masturbatory act takes an egregore as a center of concentration of the mind, this energy can also be absorbed by the automaton, that thus expands its existence into other planes, and becomes even more dangerous. Ritual sacrifices of animals or human beings have exactly the same effect. In this sense, especially, all mankind has the religion that it deserves, and its “god” is made in its own image.”
– Marcelo Motta, Astral Attack & Defense
Below is a brief summary of some of the creatures.
Vampires are the astral bodies of the living or the deceased which rise from the physical body (or remains) to drain the life-force from people at night while they are sleeping. This is either done consciously or unconsciously, and while we all at times draw or drain energy from the people around us (i.e. when depressed or sick), psychic vampirism is referring to attack which can induce disease. To kill a vampire you must either sever the parasitic relationship or destroy the physical remains of the dead. Vampires of the deceased remain in order to continue living and not pass on to the otherworld. Motta writes of an account in which a mother and son were living together and even sleeping in the same bed into his thirties and whenever he got into a relationship with a woman, eventually it would break up. It turns out the mother was praying to an image of the Virgin Mary to keep her son and as soon as he broke the image she got cancer and died; unfortunately, he became vampiric in turn since that was all he knew to do. So care must be taken to avoid becoming the “monster” you destroy.
Werewolves were ultimately attributed to a mental illness causing insanity and hallucinations but Dion Fortune writes she accidentally created one by using her own life-force from the astral menstruum and brought it to visible manifestation after concentrating on her anger and hatred towards someone and desiring revenge.
Shapeshifters are the astral bodies of living people which they have consciously shifted into an animal form. The Appalachian sightings of booger dogs are a form of this.
Zombies are living people who have been lured to ingest a poison (said to be that of the puffer fish) which for a while lowers their respiration and higher thinking skills to appear deadlike so they can be used to serve the voodoo priest, often against their will as a revenge for some wrong they had done. Another explanation says they are reanimated corposes. Yet another is a conspiracy theory which proposes there are virus strains or there will be virus strains which can cause zombie states.
Demonic possession (or obsession) is certainly real no matter what you call it, and there have been several witnesses to one occurrence earlier this year. I must disagree with the Abrahamists however that demons are evil, and I think that attempting to exorcise the “demons” (root word being the Greek daimonos which means “messenger”) only makes the situation worse because the Abrahamic religions encourage sexual and psychic repression. So too is reducing the situation to mental illness alone harmful. I do not know of any mental illness that induces levitation, but (per Muldoon) the state of catalepsy can, as a result of weightlessness; and (per Crowley; see also here) the practice of Pranayama (obviously not the case with children) can as well. It is interesting to note that there has never been a case of demonic possession of anyone who has been an atheist since birth, so I suspect it has to do with the indoctrination of religion (including baptism and other rites after birth) upon the vulnerable and still-developing which children are.
Giants are said to be a race made from the “sons of God” (lesser gods or angels) with the “daughters of men.” Similar stories exist in many other cultures.
Ghosts are memories of the deceased which remain on earth instead of passing on with the other forms of what we know as the soul which break up upon death with the exception of those rare individuals who have congealed their souls into immortality where their consciousness survives death (some say they can break the cycle of reincarnation). Grief by loved ones can prevent the deceased from passing and there are countless tales of practices done to avoid ghosts which are seen as curses drawing the living to bad luck and death. But sometimes they have messages or remain because they require something to be done or resolved before they can pass on. The willingness of the dying or the deceased to remain is powerful as can be attested by the dying who remain alive until their loved ones visit and then they feel enough at peace to go.
Shades are the psychic impressions or emotions that remain after someone has died.
Fortune writes that highly charged environments can seem like psychic attacks or hauntings but are in fact due to the collective force of certain emotions from people (such as the nervousness on a podium or stage) and there is no specific name for this from what I can tell. What is important to keep in mind is that all other possible causes (psychological, physical) must be ruled out in a process of elimination. It is true that people can consciously or unconsciously psychically attack others and judging from internet discussions the threats are abundant, but at the same time attributing every malady to a psychic attack is ridiculous and plenty of charlatans prey on the superstitions of the gullible, while the skeptics use the fraudulent occurrences to claim that all miracles and psychic phenomena are hoaxes.
Finally, here is a list of texts which may interest you on the subject; most are also my works cited. Where they are not listed as free online they may be found for cheap or sample texts on Amazon Kindle:
Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune
Dion Fortune’s Book of the Dead
The Astral Plane: Its Scenery, Inhabitants, and Phenomena by C.W. Leadbeater
Astral Attack and Defense by Marcelo Ramos Motta
Vampires: The Occult Truth by Konstantinos
Werewolves: The Occult Truth by Konstantinos
The Rape of the Lock (a poem about elementals)
Anything on Greek and Roman mythology (I can’t really recommend just one here; there are many and I don’t know which one is the best of them)
Native American Myths and Legends
I am a big fan of Dion Fortune and Annie Besant, among others, so I think I can vouch for other texts by them. Here are more texts on this subject; some aren’t books if you’re like me and trying to trim down on your library and make things concise and to the point:
Folklore As An Historical Science (free on Amazon Kindle)
Sane Occultism by Dion Fortune
The Golden Bough: A Study In Comparative Religion
The Desire Body by Max Heindel
The Astral Body and Other Astral Phenomena by Arthur A. Powell
The Book of Were-Wolves
The Book of Nature Myths
Folklore of Europe Anthology
Folk-lore and Legends: Scandinavian
Folk-lore and Legends: Oriental
Folk-lore and Legends: North American Indian
Folk-lore and Legends: German
British Goblins, Welsh Folk-lore, Fairy Mythology, Legends and Traditions
A Book of Myths
- The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries – W.Y. Evans-Wentz
- The Secret Commonwealth: Of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies – Robert Kirk
- Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry – Yeats
- Treasury of Irish Myth, Legend, and Folklore – Yeats
- The Fairies in Tradition and Literature – Katherine Briggs
- An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, & Other Supernatural Creatures – Katherine Briggs
- The Vanishing People: Fairy Lore and Legends – Katherine Briggs
- The Sidhe: Wisdom from the Celtic Otherworld – John Matthews
“The Fairy Doctor” – Lady Wilde