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This page is copyright © 2000 Hermetic Fellowship.

First posted 13 November 2000 CE.

United Communities of Spirit
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The Class
Practical Occultism is designed to introduce beginners and newcomers to the rich and varied traditions of Hermetic mysticism. The class explores these mystical traditions through the eyes of history, classical and renaissance literature, archetypal psychology, and most importantly of all, through participation in individual and group ritual and magical experiences. Our objective is to provide a solid foundation for further work and study, whether as a solitary or in the context of Portland’s many Hermetic and magical groups.
Practical Occultism meets once a month for thirteen months, starting in January 2001. The class meets on the first Sunday morning of each month. Each session is divided into an approximately three hour informal lecture and discussion, followed by an hour of ritual and/or magical practice. (And yes: we break for a few minutes at the top of each hour!)
The atmosphere is relaxed, fun, and questions are very welcome.
Click here or scroll down to see a detailed syllabus of the thirteen sessions of Practical Occultism.
Former Students Speak
“My experience of this class was a very rewarding one. I received a good basic understanding of Western Occultism which prepared me to explore and delve deeper into areas of personal interest. I highly recommend this class.”
— Carrie Teerman ('96)

“Informative, humorous, and well-prepared, John Obendorfer is unquestionably an excellent teacher. Taking this class greatly enhanced my understanding not just of Paganism, but also history, literature, and psychology. Most of my college classes weren’t this worthwhile!”
— Susan Stillhawk (‘94)

About the Instructor
John Obendorfer is a long-time student, practitioner, and teacher of the Hermetic arts. He has extensive experience in neo-Hellenic Paganism, Ceremonial Magick, and English Traditional Wicca. John draws on a dual professional background in software engineering and counseling psychology to balance a very hands-on, nuts-and-bolts-practical approach with mythical and psychological insights. John’s current passion is researching and creating reconstructions of Apollonian and Dionysian initiatory mysteries. This year marks the third time he has taught Practical Occultism for the Hermetic Fellowship.
To Register
Contact the Hermetic Fellowship at 503-555-5555.


MEETING 1: An Introduction to the Western Mystery Traditions

Date: Sunday, January 7, 2001, 10:00am
Theory: The legacy of materialism and the body-spirit dualism; Hermetic consciousness as a middle path; the Mundus Imaginalis and the language of images; the Hermetic mystical worldview and its implications; overview of the Western Mystery Traditions.
Practice: Relaxation exercises; rhythmic breathing; grounding and centering techniques.

MEETING 2: Seven Stars in Sight

Date: Sunday, February 5, 2001, 10:00am
Theory: Dramatic readings from classical & renaissance sources that illuminate mystical and mythological conceptions of the seven magical planets. Sources include: The Descent of Inanna, The Book of Coming Forth By Day, the Arbatel of Magick, and others. A brief overview of surviving classical & medieval literature relevant to the Western Mystery Traditions.
Practice: The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.

MEETING 3: A Brief History of the Modern Occult Revival

Date: Sunday, March 5, 2001, 10:00am
Theory: John Dee. Henry Cornelius Agrippa. Paracelsus. Eliphas Levi. Freemasonry. Rosicrucianism. Theosophy. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Aleister Crowley and the O.T.O. Dion Fortune and the Servants of the Light. Gerald Gardner and English Traditional Wicca. The Neo-Pagan Revival.
Practice: The Middle Pillar.

MEETING 4: The Inner Realms

Date: Sunday, April 1, 2001, 10:00am
Theory: The Qabalistic Creation Myth. The Tree of Life. The Four Worlds. Angels and Angelic Orders. Intermediary Beings (ascended masters, secret chiefs, spirit guides, daimones). The Holy Guardian Angel. An overview of Archetypal Psychology. Perspectives on Human Experience of Angelic and Divine Contact.
Practice: Advanced Middle Pillar Formula.

MEETING 5: Views of Magick

Date: Sunday, May 6, 2001, 10:00am
Theory: Magick Defined. Magick as a means of entering an altered state of consciousness. Magick as a means of exploring the Mundus Imaginalis. Magick as a means of communion with the divine. Pathworking. The Limits of Human Perceptivity. Pitfalls of the Inner Realms.
Practice: Rite of Purification and Consecration.

MEETING 6: Magical Cycles, Temples, & Magical Tools

Date: Sunday, June 3, 2001, 10:00am
Theory: The Wheel of the Year. The Eight Sabbats. The Lunar Cycle. Planetary Hours. A Tour of a Typical Temple: altars, pillars, shrines, etc. Magical Tools: Wands, Swords, Pentacles, Chalices, Censers, Brooms, Athames, etc.
Practice: Rite of Communion in the Element of Earth.

MEETING 7: Group Structures & Dynamics

Date: Sunday, July 1, 2001, 10:00am
Theory: Group Structures: Lodges, Covens, Circles. Styles of Leadership. Fit between individual and group styles. Effects of individuation and magical currents on group dynamics. Interpersonal boundaries. Dues and money issues. The Bonewits Evaluation Frame.
Practice: Rite of Communion in the Element of Air.

MEETING 8: A Full Moon Ritual

Date: Saturday, August 4, 2001, 8:00pm (NOTE: shift of day & time)
Practice: A working of the Gardnerian/Alexandrian Full Moon Rite.
Potluck Celebration to Follow.

MEETING 9: Alchemy

Date: Sunday, September 9, 2001, 10:00am
(NOTE: 1-week shift to avoid the Labor Day weekend)
Theory: Brief History of Alchemy. Alchemy as an imagistic language. Basic Alchemical Concepts: Unity, Duality, Triplicity, Quadruplicity. Alchemical Elements. The Stages of Alchemical Transformations. Practical Alchemy. Psychology and Alchemy. Alchemical mandalas.
Practice: Rite of Communion in the Element of Water.

MEETING 10: Divination & Active Imagination

Date: Sunday, October 7, 2001, 10:00am
Theory: Classical & Medieval conceptions of Divination. Modern/humanistic view of Divination. Methods of Divination. Divination as a means of contact with the Higher Self. A Psychological Parallel: Active Imagination. Influence of Shadow and Anima on the process of Divination and Active Imagination. In-Class Experimentation with divinatory methods.
Practice: Rite of Communion in the Element of Fire.

MEETING 11: Astrology

Date: Sunday, November 4, 2001, 10:00am
Theory: Planets, Signs, and Houses. The structure of an astrological chart. Basic interpretations. Basic aspects and their interpretation.
Practice: An imaginal journey.

MEETING 12: The Tarot

Date: Sunday, December 2, 2001, 10:00am
Theory: Brief History of the Tarot. The Major Arcana. The Four Suits. Attributions to the Tree of Life. Attuning with the cards. Divinatory Spreads: 7-card spread, weekly spread.
Practice: Divinatory technique for attuning with the higher self.

MEETING 13: A Rite of Initiation

Date: Saturday, January 5, 2002, 7:00pm (Note: Shift of day & time)
An Initiatory Rite.
Potluck Celebration to Follow.
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