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Occult Darshan: soul making of a Witch

Updated: Mar 1

Defining terms: Occult Darshan

Occult Darshan is the terminology I started using in the mid-1980s to describe the psychic experiences I was encountering. All fields of Witchcraft, Magick and Shamanism open us to explore direct and personal experiences of the psychic reality, and this phenomenon I call occult darshan.

The words occult and darshan are drawn from Latin and Sanskrit, respectively. Occult means secret and hidden, and darshan means an auspicious sight. I intentionally devised this blended terminology, occult darshan, to describe my magickal and psychic experiences so that it would reflect something of the cultural background to my work that draws upon both the Western Magickal Traditions and Eastern disciplines. Examples from the Western would be Wicca and Thelema, while the Eastern include Yoga and Tantra.

In a literal sense, Occult Darshan means having a direct and personal experience of psychic reality. This is a far cry from spell-casting and regular forms of the Witch's craft, such as sympathetic magick.

As some of you may know, when I returned to Sydney in the 1980s, I helped form a coven called Dark Circle, and later, as we accommodated others into our ritual practices, we became the Dark Circle Collective. You probably also know that the dark circle was what we also called the NOX ritual, which is from the Latin word for 'night'. All the many parts that comprise the NOX, its ritual, the dances, the symbols, its mythology and qabalah are the poetic tools that support us in undertaking metaphysical journeys.

The NOX meditation rite's principal aim is to explore personal myth and vision. The practice provides a method of bringing about direct and personal visionary experiences, which I term occult darshan. Such experiences are not always immediately understood, but they may reveal personal myths and sometimes visions or epiphany in time. They may bring you face-to-face with your soul stories, which reveal the soul-making of a Witch.


For some time leading up to the creation of the Dark Circle coven, I had been exposed to the writings of Kenneth Grant. He had been the last personal secretary of the master magician Aleister Crowley. His interesting books are challenging to read, but despite this, I'd encourage you to dip into the first three volumes of his Typhonian Trilogy.

I mention all of this by explaining that throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s I experienced a fertile period of many powerful psychic adventures. Part of my development through these experiences came through my exposure to the writings of Kenneth Grant and the integration of the psychological language of Carl Gustav Jung's Depth Psychology.

I had only a smattering of understanding about soul-making and the work of Jung. But later, I was led to the writings of James Hillman, the American Psychologist who's best known for his book "The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling".

What is Soul-making?

In simple terms, soul-making in Jungian psychology is about understanding and integrating the different, often hidden, parts of your mind and personality that may help you to develop a more complete and mature self.

Think of it like this: You have different sides to your personality, some of which you're aware of (like how you act around friends) and some parts of the Self you are not fully aware of (like hidden fears or unconscious desires). In Jungian terms, these hidden parts can be called the Shadow. These are generally the parts of the Self we don't like to acknowledge. The Self also has many positive sides that we draw upon, such as the Anima and Animus. Soul-making is the process of getting to know these hidden and less conscious parts of the Self, and one of these parts I postulated is the Witch-within.

It's like having a conversation between the different sides of your personality. This can happen through experiences like dreams, where your unconscious mind speaks, or through self-reflection and exploring your feelings and thoughts.

James Hillman focused on this idea a lot. He said soul-making is about moving beyond just trying to understand ourselves as individuals. It's more about developing the different 'personalities' inside us and diving deep into our experiences and feelings to understand why we see the world the way we do.

It's also about letting yourself imagine and dream, not just sticking to the literal facts of life. Doing this lets you know the deeper parts of your psychological or soulful experience. For Witches, this is akin to stages of learning the myth (that is, your personal story), which will lead you to walking or actually practising the myth, and ultimately, this will lead to you living your myth and truly understanding the path of the Witch.

Ultimately, soul-making is about finding deeper meaning in life, discovering mysteries about the psychic reality, and recognising that there's something bigger and more complex within ourselves—the Witch-within. It's a journey of personal growth where we can understand involvement with Witchcraft on a much deeper level. And such practices are transformative. It's what it means, in my estimation, by Initiation.

Initiation and the Witch-within

The Witch-within, as postulated in Jungian psychology and modern Witchcraft, represents an integral aspect of the psyche that embodies both positive and negative qualities. In Jungian terms, the Witch archetype manifests from the Collective Unconscious, inherited from our earliest human ancestors. Traditionally depicted as an older wise woman living alone, surrounded by animals and nature and practising magick, the Witch archetype symbolises a connection to the natural world, intuition, creativity, and mysterious forces governing our lives. The Witch can be positive or negative, reflecting the complexity of human nature and the duality of archetypes.

The role of the Witch-within can be understood as a powerful figure challenging dominant power structures in society. The Witch archetype is often associated with empowerment, subversion of norms, alternative spirituality, healing practices, and a deep understanding of nature's power for transformation and healing. While historically marginalised and ostracised by society, the modern interpretation of the Witch archetype emphasises empowerment, self-discovery, and embracing innate abilities to create positive change in one's life and the world.

In modern witchcraft practices, embodying the Witch archetype involves developing psychic abilities, learning herbalism, understanding lunar and seasonal rituals, creating magickal tools, and tapping into nature's energy for magick. This spiritual path is a personal journey focused on establishing a profound relationship with nature and the divine through rituals, magick, plant-based healing, and more. Embracing the Witch archetype explores themes of power, femininity, connection to the natural world, intuition, and creativity.

Overall, the Witch-within represents a multifaceted aspect of the psyche that embraces light and shadow qualities. Accepting this archetype involves delving into one's hidden depths to uncover the psychic reality, challenge societal norms, to harness personal power for positive change, and connect with the mysteries of Nature and spirituality.

Defining Personal Experience

How do you define occult darshan in your own spiritual journey? How does this personal experience differ from traditional religious practices?

My response: It's a direct and personal experience of the psychic reality. Integrating the concept of occult darshan into the awakening of the Witch-within through initiation involves a profound exploration of personal spirituality and the mystical realms. Awakening the Witch-within is an occult darshan that can be seen as a transformative encounter with the hidden aspects of the psyche and the Mysteries.

This practice delves into the depths of psychic reality, connecting individuals with their inner power, intuition, and spiritual essence. Initiation rituals that embrace experiences of occult darshan serve as gateways to unlocking the Witch archetype within oneself. Through these rites of passage, individuals undergo a process of self-discovery, empowerment, and spiritual awakening. This type of initiation into occult darshan can be likened to a journey into the shadows of one's unconsciousness, where hidden fears, desires, and potentials are brought to light. This transformative experience sets the stage for embracing the Witch-within and integrating its wisdom and transformative power into one's being.

Unlike traditional religious practices that often follow established dogmas and external structures, occult darshan offers a more personal and direct connection to the mystical realms. It provides a unique path for individuals to explore their spirituality beyond conventional boundaries, tapping into esoteric knowledge, psychic abilities, and occult practices. Through occult darshan, practitioners can delve deep into the mysteries of existence, forging a profound relationship with the unseen forces that shape reality.

In conclusion, integrating occult darshan into the awakening of the Witch-within offers a transformative journey of self-discovery, empowerment, and spiritual growth, an authentic self-initiation. This practice provides a direct and personal experience of psychic reality, allowing individuals to embrace their inner Witch archetype and unlock their hidden potential in alignment with genuine mystical traditions and esoteric practices.

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