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Occult Power – It’s Use & Abuse

November 20, 2012

Initiation and the Tarot

The Ring Of Power

Is it wrong to use occult power for oneself?

by Madeline Montalban

In the many letters from readers about this series, two questions are continually being asked: “Isn’t it wrong to use occult power for oneself or for acquiring worldly things?” and “Can those with power use it against me or other innocent people?”

There can be no better answer to those questions than to consider No. 5 in the Tarot, the High Priest, or Pope, who represents power (strength and wisdom), inspiration, intelligence and discrimination. When reversed, he represents, in divination, the opposite of those qualities, on the part of others or the inquirer.

[Miss Monalban’s source book of tarot card meanings says that a reversed Trump 5 “counsels the inquirer to be on his guard against craftiness and guile.” Although she does not use those words to describe the High Priest in reverse, Miss Montalban keeps the quote in mind and in the next paragraph craftiness and guile both put in an appearance. T.W.]

In ancient Egyptian teachings the High Priest had “attained to the Ring of Power”, and was credited with the ability to perform all kinds of magic. So it would seem that one with such powers would need to be saintly indeed not to use magic for his own purposes. He would also need to be more than human not to descend to craftiness and guile at times, for then, as now, the priesthood was a temporal as well as a spiritual power.

To condense the arcana of No. 5 into the type of article you like best, I shall tell you how I discovered some of the arcana of No. 5. It happened at the early age of thirteen. Then I was very lonely, for I had to drag myself about in hip-high leg irons, the result of my having been stricken with polio. (The first Tower, or initiatory ordeal, in my life.) When the other children wanted to play rough-and-tumble games, I was only a hindrance to them, and with the honesty of childhood they made it clear that they did not want me.

This made me self-sufficient. I developed determination to compensate me for my physical disabilities. Feeling myself outside the herd, I decided to make the best of it. Instead of play, I began to study. One day I discovered that I could “make things happen” by willing them hard enough. Curiosity about this strange ability turned me to the study of Occultism; and so, from the Tower, came my Chariot, or divine help.

My father was a good but unimaginative man, who was appalled at my “queer interests”, but who nobly suppressed his own fears and bought me every book on Occultism he could find. Most of these turned out to be useless, but one or two set me on the right road.

My family, having by now discovered that I could “make things happen”, saw to it that I used this power correctly. So instead of resenting my crippled state, I accepted it as necessary to the development of my compensating powers (healers please note!) and set to work to discover how I could get out of those confining leg-irons and be as other children.

Fighting along with me was a doctor at a local hospital. One day I said to him: “If I will it hard enough, I think I can walk without these things.”

He looked at me oddly, and replied quietly: “That’s perfectly right. You need be only as crippled as you choose to be.”

That was the end of any coddling of me they wanted to do at home. Within a few years I walked erect and without leg-irons.

I have never resented having polio, for through it I discovered the power of will.

I found later that I could “inject” this will into other crippled folk – and I had found my vocation. Not as a healer – I cannot claim to be that – but as a developer of hope and will in others – the Magician of the Tarot. That was my Ring of Power.

It is this same power of determination and true will that causes magic, and which prevents the initiated from hurting others. Initiation in itself means a series of Towers (No. 16), a series of mortal hurts. Nobody who has really suffered would think of inflicting suffering upon others. Nobody who has not suffered has the power to do it!

So much for the question of “people of power hurting others”. Now for that ever recurrent: “Isn’t it wrong to use occult powers for oneself, etc.?” I cannot see that it is. The powers are there to help us; we are here to help one another. How can we relieve the real miseries of others if we ourselves need help? Also, nobody, by magic or occult practice, can get more out of life than they put into it.

Within each of us are the seeds of occult power, but only very few have the necessary determination to study, and sacrifice. For every book that is of value there are a hundred useless ones, but all must be bought. That means sacrificing things like holidays, amusements, and luxuries. To test out occult formulae needs time and patience – yes, and courage too, and the acceptance of disasters that have been self-invoked.

There is no comfortable or safe road to occult knowledge. One “spell” (or bit of knowledge) may be useless clap-trap, another may turn out to be one that tears up your life by the roots, or brings upon you the dread Tower of Ordeal.

Above all, no real initiations take place upon the dream plane. Each piece of knowledge is bought by sacrifice and personal pain. Each step up in the scale of knowledge is marked by the Tower. But you, too, can attain to your Ring of Power – the full development of the particular occult abilities that are within you.

And you must find your own way. You are like the Hermit who searches for truth with the lantern of faith. It is not a bit of good asking me: “What kind of Occultism should I study?” Either you know, inside yourself, what interests you, or you don’t. In the latter case you are just not interested enough to become a successful practitioner.

For those who lack the means, determination, ability, or knowledge, people of occult power do exist, to give help and to guide one along the way. True Occultism can be said to be a vocation practised within the Temple of the World by self-dedicated individuals.

Do not be afraid to use the occult powers to help yourself. This is not evil, only sensible.

[Published in Prediction, August, 1957]

  1. Auntie,

    The card meanings handed out by Miss Montalban are largely in agreement, I notice, with the recognizable flavor of a card. The Chariot is victory, Death is transition or hope extinguished, the Moon is illusion and delusion, and so on. Similar to what we would say about those cards today.

    But her meaning for the Hierophant or High Priest doesn’t follow this pattern. The modern meanings I am used to are education, the status quo, social convention, a conservative viewpoint, tradition, traditional belief systems, and group identification. The meaning quoted by Miss Montalban is, according to Tony Willis, strength, wisdom, inspiration, intelligence, and asceticism. And in reverse it warns of craftiness and guile.

    I’m wondering how one mutated into the other. The Hierophant is one of the few cards to which this happens. I’m puzzled as to why (as well as how). Do you know the answer, Auntie, or can you point me in the direction of an answer?

    All good wishes,


    • An interesting point, Shona, deserving of a longer response than the comments section allows.

      I intend to write more on this point once the current run covering the Trumps has ended, slipping my observations in before the second part of the series on Initiation and the Tarot begins.

      Best wishes,

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