Tag Archives: David Bowie

David Bowie: Closet Occultist!

Q: “So were you involved in actual devil worship?”
A: “Not devil worship, no, it was pure straightforward, old-fashioned magic.”
Q: “The Aleister Crowley variety?”
A: “No, I always thought Crowley was a charlatan. But there was a guy called [Arthur] Edward Waite who was terribly important to me at the time. And another called Dion Fortune who wrote a book called ‘Psychic Self-Defense‘. You had to run around the room getting bits of string and old crayons and draw funny things on the wall, and I took it all most seriously, ha ha ha ! I drew gateways into different dimensions, and I’m quite sure that, for myself, I really walked into other worlds. I drew things on walls and just walked through them, and saw what was on the other side!”

David Bowie, interviewed in NME, 1997

It being 2021, this year will inevitably see many five year anniversaries marked, none more keenly felt than that of the great David Bowie, who together with the passing of Lemmy marked the start of the second worst year of recent memory, to wit – the dreaded 2016. The tragedy was so great that it had the effect of drawing the Occult community, which is normally riven by fractious arguments, together to an unprecedented degree. Ironically, this post which I wrote at the time became the most read article ever on my blog.

So the news this week has been dominated by the passing of David Bowie, and when I consider how much attention was paid to the untimely death of Freddie Mercury – the last pop star of comparable status to leave us – it is almost certain that this event will remain in public consciousness for years to come. Anywho: amongst the magical community, it has been widely noted that Bowie was interested in the occult, as witness his interview with NME quoted at the top of this page, and the back cover over the Station to Station LP, below left:

Photo used for the back cover of Station To Station (1976)

Photo used for the back cover of Station To Station (1976)

Video for Lazarus (2015)

Video for Lazarus (2015)

NB: given the amount of Charlie he was packing away at the time, his precise allegiance might well be pinned to the Holy Order of the Sun! Interestingly, Bowie resurrected the costume covered with, ahem, “white lines,” for his almost-certainly-not final music video “Lazarus” (above right). Might not this video be suggesting that David Bowie did not just keep this costume but this persona hanging up in the closet all this time?

But I digress.

There is an image in the Lazarus video on which a number of bloggers have already commented: where Bowie sits frantically writing at a desk, on which rests a skull. Now the obvious interpretation is that it was a reference to Bowie’s own impending mortality, but when I saw it, it stirred the Sumner Family Brain Cell to life, and got me thinking, where have I seen that before?

See: 3minutes 38seconds.

The answer is: it comes from the first degree (Apprentice) ritual of the Ancient & Primitive Rite of Memphis and Misraim – a particularly esoteric form of Freemasonry. Assuming the candidate for initiation passes the ballot, just before the ceremony of his initiation,

…[t]he Expert (i.e. Junior Deacon) then takes possession of the Candidate in the Parvis, carefully binds his eyes and leads him to the Chamber of Reflection. He has him sit before a table, sparingly furnished with a real human Skull; a lit wax Candle, half-consumed; a sheet of white paper, pen and ink. The seat is a stool without a back. He lights a little Myrrh, the traditional funereal perfume, in a corner of the room, in a Censer containing lit coals.

Expert: – Sir, alone, left to yourself, before an image of termination of terrestrial Life, I invite you to write your Philosophical Testament.

The “Philosophical Testament” consists of the candidate’s reflections on his duties to God, the World, and himself: but more especially, like its name suggests, how the candidate would answer these questions if his words were the final legacy which he leaves on Earth. However, the code-word “philosophical” indicates that one is meant to interpret it alchemically. In other words, Death is not the end for the candidate – i.e. for David Bowie – but is the first step on the path to spiritual transmutation.

So, there you have it – Bowie indulging in esoteric symbolism right up until the last!


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David Bowie, seen here trying (and failing) to give the Hailing Sign of a Fellowcraft Freemason ("Heroes," 1978)

David Bowie, seen here trying to give the Hailing Sign of a Fellowcraft Freemason!
(“Heroes,” 1978)

This is a follow-up to the article I posted on Thursday concerning David Bowie, in which I made the point that he incorporated esoteric symbolism even into the last video he released before his death.

In the 1997 interview quoted at the top of the article, Bowie revealed that he was influenced by Arthur Edward Waite and Dion Fortune, and briefly described the kind of occult practices in which he indulged. Now, it’s obvious to me that he was simplifying it for a non-magical audience, but from what he said it is clear to me that he was practising what I would call proper occultism – specifically the kind of Clairvoyant experiments undertaken by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

In Golden Dawn terms, Clairvoyance does not involve somehow seeing what is occurring elsewhere in the normal, physical world, beyond the range of ordinary sight: this instead is nowadays known as “remote viewing.” Instead, Clairvoyance, of the type Bowie described in his interview, involves seeing magical phenomena on the Astral Plane. The Astral Plane is a nebulous continuum which, in its lower reaches, is nothing more than the world of dreams which we all experience, but in its upper realms is where magical and spiritual forces manifest as phenomena which one can observe and with which one can interact.

This would imply Bowie would have had to have spent a lot of time studying the Qabalah, in order to gain the requisite background knowledge, but most of all, it would have meant learning to master the art of Astral Projection.

A typical Clairvoyant exercise would be what is known as a Tattva-journey. A “Tattva” is a symbol derived from Tantric art representing one of the metaphysical Elements. These symbols the Golden Dawn appropriated for itself to express the Elements known to western occultism. For example, this symbol represents Fire:

"Tejas," i.e. the Fire Tattva.

“Tejas,” i.e. the Fire Tattva.

So, the kind of thing that Bowie would have done would go like this:

Firstly: stare intently at the tattva-symbol chosen for that particular Tattva-journey.

Secondly: suddenly transfer your gaze to looking at a plain white surface, e.g. the wall. If you have been staring intently enough, you will see a negative image of the symbol appear on the wall. Thoroughly familiarise yourself with this image so you can visualise it before your mind’s eye.

Thirdly: astrally project, imagining that the image you are visualising is a doorway to the astral plane, and you are projecting yourself through it.

Fourthly: you should now find yourself in a magical realm – it is the astral equivalent of the force whose symbol you have just been visualising. At this stage, remain perfectly still – do not attempt to move about on the astral plane, but instead start chanting (or “vibrating” as it is termed in Golden Dawn literature) the Divine and Angelic names associated with your chosen Tattva-symbol. This is where prior knowledge of the Qabalah is essential. One should also make the appropriate grade-sign at this point. Technically, these would have only been taught to you if you had gone through the corresponding Golden Dawn initation ceremony, although they have been published for getting on for over 80 years now.

Fifthly: a creature or being should appear, and respond well to your chanting (if it doesn’t respond well, banish it, and wait for one that does). This is your Spirit Guide for this realm, and with its assistance you can now go exploring and find out all about the magical and spiritual implications of the realm you are visiting.

Sixthly: once you have finished exploring, return to the point of entry, thank your guide, and come back out of the Astral Doorway, back to the physical plane, your body, and to normal consciousness.

Speaking from personal experience, the Spirit Guides that one meets when going on these Clairvoyant-excursions can become valuable allies for performing magical operations in the future. For example, if one were to venture into the Fire tattva, pictured above, and made contact with a Fiery spirit-guide, and returned on subsequent occasions so as to build up a relationship with it, one could get to the point where one could call on this spirit-guide to help you with some other ritual involving the element of Fire, such as consecrating a talisman, or something similar.

Or, depending on which symbol or symbols you chose to work with, you could ask the spirit guides you meet for help with various aspects of your life – such as deriving inspiration for creating a new work of art – or even for composing a new song.

In the Stella Matutina, which was a magical order which succeeded the original Golden Dawn, papers were circulated amongst members who attained the grade of Adeptus Major and higher, which made the point that the same Tattva-journeys which the members had already learnt to make could be extended in scope for advanced magical projects – such as attaining knowledge of one’s past lives, learning the occult history of this planet, and making contact with discarnate spiritual masters.

In conclusion, this is basically what Bowie would have done. I presume this must have been in the earlier part of the seventies, before his excessive cocaine use started making paranoid about witches, and Jimmy Page, and so forth. NB: Bowie was afraid that witches were trying to steal his semen. I rather suspect that any witches that were, were not doing so for some nefarious purpose, but because they simply wanted to have sex with him! 🙂



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