The Book of Secrets: Esoteric Societies and Holy Orders, Luminaries and Seers, Symbols and Rituals, and the Key Concepts of Occult Sciences through the Ages and Around the World


From the strange symbols on a-dollar bill, to the Knights Templer, Freemasons, animal symbols, invisible societies, and the world of magic and alchemy, This book is a comprehensive introduction to the world of secrets and esoteric knowledge throughout history.

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The Book of Secrets: Esoteric Societies and Holy Orders, Luminaries and Seers, Symbols and Rituals, and the Key Concepts of Occult Sciences through the Ages and Around the World

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From the strange symbols on a-dollar bill, to the Knights Templer, Freemasons, animal symbols, invisible societies, and the world of magic and alchemy, This book is a comprehensive introduction to the world of secrets and esoteric knowledge throughout history.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578634859
  • Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Pages: 166
  • Sales rank: 1,433,356
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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The Book of Secrets

By Daniel Pineda

Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

Copyright © 2011 Daniel Pineda
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60925-338-7


The Great Work

There is, however, one form of miracle which certainly happens, the influence of the genius.

—Magick, Liber ABA: Book Four by Aleister Crowley

The path of spiritual attainment is called the Great Work. In alchemy its completion is the creation of the philosopher's stone, and in magic it is called the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. It is the manifestation of genius, which can lead the world on its next great adventure. The Holy Scriptures and sayings recorded by the saints are all utterances of the genius.

Success in this quest is the raison d'être of the Western mystery tradition and all sincere religious faiths. The ambiguity with which they describe the Lord is intentional and practical, as are the injunctions against idolatry. The unknown must remain so until we experience it directly. Any conjecture may color our view and defile the holiest and most pivotal moment in our lives. This principle is also the foundation of science, being the proper method of all exploration—spiritual or otherwise. It is through this experience that the religious reformers of the past have been prepared to overturn the table of culture when the food set upon it had become rotten and poisonous.

The execution of the Great Work is the fulfillment of prophecy, and the continuation of an ancient dialogue between Man and God. Establishing a society where this undertaking can be pursued by any who are called to do so is the true jihad, dharma, via dolorosa, and path of the wise.

The Universal Force, the Tao, Polarity, and the Four Elements

All things are concealed in all.

—Coelum Philosophorum by Paracelsus

The Universal Force

According to initiated wisdom, prana, chi, astral fluid, and the ophidian vibrations are all terms for a universal life force that permeates and connects all things. The qabalistic texts call it ChAI, which means "life." Because of the transcendental nature of this force, also called correspondence or matter, our thoughts can take the form of actions, shaping our world.

Today especially, we are constantly reminded that there are various kinds of energy such as solar, wind, natural gas, coal, bio-electrical, etc. These seemingly different forms of energy are all actually variants of the same phenomenon we call movement. Matter at its most fundamental level is composed of pure energy. That is, it is moving. Science affirms that everything is energy, or can at least be said to have an energetic component. The goal of the ancient philosopher was to learn how to manipulate and experience matter at this fundamental level. In doing so, they began to read energy as movement.

When we observe movement, what we see are the effects of energy. The process of harvesting energy for electricity is that of converting movements into electromagnetic pulses. A good example of how this works can be found in how we harvest wind energy. The wind moves a turbine that turns a shaft. This shaft goes into a gearbox, increasing the rotation speed, while the generator uses magnetic fields, converting the rotational energy into electrical energy. The mystics suggest we use this same process of energy conversion—except in our power plant we are the turbine, shaft, gearbox, and generator used to capture the electromagnetic "winds," in this case being the universal force. The various occult sciences are all methods of harnessing and directing this force toward spiritual light and the development of a civil society.

The Tao

Many volumes have been and will continue to be written about the Tao, which translates as "The Way," and its unlimited manifestations. Of the eternal Tao, however, we must remain silent in the manner of true silence. That is, there is nothing that can be said. Yet in our temporal existence may be found ways that are straighter and paths shorter, that our work may be done in harmony with the magnificent mystery. The Tao that may be spoken of—though limited in scope and virtue in comparison with that of which it is a shadow—remains to the eyes of man a brilliant star lighting his sojourn toward enlightenment. Of this Tao we say that it follows the path of least resistance and bows lowest, for it wears the greatest crown. All rivers flow to the ocean because it is below them, yet were it not for the falling rains, both would be dried up and forgotten. This mystery of the source, path and end of power, life, and liberty has been called the Tao by many a wise fool, seeking to name the mother and father of names.


From the One Universal Life Force arises the polarity of positive and negative. It is one movement in two directions. This first movement is normally recanted in the Holy Scriptures as the initial step in the creation of the world, being the separation of light and darkness or of the heavens and the earth. In the secret traditions, these eternal twins have been known by names such as yin and yang, mercy and severity, right and left, and allegorically as Cain and Abel. It is the work of the Adepti to absorb and harmonize these forces. These two poles are the same in essence; their apparent difference arises from our assumption that our nervous system perceives the fullness of reality rather than only one side on the multifaceted diamond of existence.

The Four Elements

From the primordial swirling of the ancient universe arose duality. Within this duality were further attraction and repulsion, existing as agents of the eventual reintegration of the Many into the One. On the side of the masculine force of propulsion can be found what the ancients called Fire and Air, the elements that they observed as seeming to move from their own internal source. These they also attributed to the will and intellect of humanity, as well as to the directions of east and south, being the source of light and heat.

Within the negative polarity, which exercises its feminine forces of vacuity, gravitation, and friction, can be found the elements of Water and Earth. These are seen as being passive, acting and being acted upon in a manner that conceals, dissipates, and absorbs. They were attributed to the directions of west and north, the sources of darkness and cold. These four elements form the cross of creation, combining to form the basis of all existence:

Fire: Hot and Dry, Summer, South

Water: Cold and Moist, Autumn, West

Air: Hot and Moist, Spring, East

Earth: Cold and Dry, Winter, North

All that is, is composed of a mixture of these four, with one element dominating, depending on its circumstance of birth. The four elements also correspond with the seasons and the four alchemical degrees of Fire.

Magick and Mysticism, or The Left and Right Eye

Whoso should wish to recount all the Arts and Operations which in our times be reputed and preached abroad as Wisdom and Magical Secrets; he should as well undertake to count the waves and the sands of the Sea

—The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, translated by S. L. MacGregor Mathers

Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.

—Magick in Theory and Practice by Aleister Crowley

The Soul, being a brilliant Fire, by the power of the Father remaineth immortal, and is Mistress of Life, and filleth up the many recesses of the bosom of the World.

—The Chaldaean Oracles of Zoroaster translated by W. Wynn Westcott


Although any intentional act may be said to be a magical act, a less general description of the common use of the term magic is "the method by which one can cause what seem to be miracles to the uninitiated." In the past, these so-called miracles have included conversing with spirits, enchanting a lover, destroying an enemy, and at its highest level of practice, becoming God. The word magick comes from the theory that the art was first practiced by the magicians of Persia. The letter k was added to the spelling of the word by Aleister Crowley to distinguish his magick from that of the illusionist or sorcerer.

The practice of magic can be divided into two general categories: evocation and invocation.

To evoke is to call forth; the magician declares his divine authority as a servant of the Almighty ordering about various spirits, elementals, angels, and demons. A perfect example of this style can be found in the grimoire (book of magical instructions) The Lesser Key of Solomon, where the entity is made to manifest within a triangle enclosed with divine names.

Invocation, on the other hand, calls in the desired entity (only the highest gods or one's own Holy Guardian Angel are invoked due to the dangers inherent in spirit possession). As the ceremony continues, the magician deepens his identification with the deity, assuming its form, power, and consciousness. In this case, the god manifests within the magical circle, and therefore floods the magician's being. The Adepti of ancient Egypt were skilled in the use of this technique, leaving us excellent instructions in their funerary papyri. This form of magic is undertaken in order to balance the magician's personality by invoking deities whose attributes he lacks or feels are underdeveloped.

Modern magicians are trained in all forms and methods of the magical arts, in the hopes that they will be able to use any means available to accomplish the Great Work, or Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. To this end, he also employs many ritual objects or magical weapons, each symbolic of a spiritual state or philosophical concept. These include the Baculum or Wand of Will, the Cup of Understanding, the Dagger of Intellect, and the Pantacle of Corporeality and Change. The most potent weapon available to them, however, is their own purity of purpose; this will sustain them in drought and guide them when abundance tempts their soul to abandon the difficult path set before them.


In regard to their theoretical and operative methods of spiritual attainment, mystics are in many ways the complete antithesis of the magician. They do not march forth unto the horizon of being, but turn inward in search of their secret center on the path of self-annihilation. Siddhartha Gautama, known to the world as the Buddha, uttered the ultimate mystical statement, "Anatman," which translates as "no self." The attainment of non-attainment, the AIN of the Qabalists, is the god whom mystics invoke. And in this way, they resemble magicians.

This path is exalted in simplicity, but beset with danger. The mystical impulse for the dissolution of the ego has driven many unfortunate men and women to become averse to life, nature, and the processes that protect and perpetuate their cycles. The very mind itself is the opponent of this work, and the mystical operation at times appears like a squall on open waters, the vessel of spirit being caught in its grip, with water both above and below, and the wind beating from all angles. Escape from this predicament is impossible. Explorers must be as hardened captains and simply wait out the storm in intense concentration. If aspirants persist in the work and continually strive for balance, then these obstacles will become the very steps by which they will mount the summit.


In the Master is the perfect seed of Omniscience.

—The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, translated by Charles Johnston

Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means "union," sharing the same etymological root as the English word yoke. There are many different methods or types of yoga, such as Kriya and Hatha. The goal of each is the dissolution of the ego and therefore spiritual union with either a particular deity or with the entire universe.

In the 2nd century BC, Pantanjali authored the Yoga Sutras, setting down the first collection of ground rules for attaining control of the mind and liberating oneself from the bondage of materiality. In his system, yoga has eight "limbs" or practices:

1. Yama: Discipline and Control; known to Semitic peoples and their philosophical descendants as the thou-shalt-not routine.

2. Niyama: Virtue; the active side of discipline is doing the right thing.

3. Asana: Posture; the ability to sit perfectly still for long periods of time is considered to be extremely important in training the body to obey the mind.

4. Pranayama: Literally "breath-control"; variations on breathing patterns affect the body's chemistry and therefore consciousness. This forms a bridge between the first three practices, which are predominantly somatic in nature, and the next three, which are mental.

5. Pratyahara: Withdrawing the mind from external stimuli; the result of this training is most popularly known as the ability to not feel any pain. This is the first trance most aspirants will experience. It is the mental equivalent of Yama.

6. Dharana: Single-pointed concentration; the mind seems to stay on the object of concentration without any conscious effort. It is the mental equivalent of Niyama.

7. Dhyana: Meditation; this practice involves being absorbed into the object of concentration until it no longer appears to the mind as separate from itself. It is the mental equivalent of Asana.

8. Samadhi: Attainment of union; both subject and object are annihilated, and the boundaries of identity dissolve into what has been described as infinite bliss.

Other forms of yoga that have been grouped in with these as well, such as:

Mantra: Union through the repetition of a word or sacred verse

Bhakti: Union through love and worship

Guru: Union through obedience to a Guru or teacher

Karma: Union through work or deeds

While some of these methods may seem foreign or strange to a Westerner, they all have corresponding practices within mainstream religions. Pious Catholics who recite the Lord's Prayer, for example, practice Mantra Yoga daily.

The Siddhis or Magical Gifts

Thou therefore who desirest Magical Gifts, be sure that thy soul is firm and steadfast; for it is by flattering thy weaknesses that the Weak Ones will gain power over thee.

—Liber Librae by Aleister Crowley

Once spiritual seekers begin to tread the magical or mystical path, they begin to acquire certain abilities that are classified as siddhis, or attainments. These are magical gifts that act as proof to aspirants that they are on the right path. Siddhis are, however, considered to be distractions from the one goal of union with the divine. Listed below are some of the powers and abilities that may arise from the practice of an occult discipline.

• The ability to converse with spiritual intelligences

• The acquisition of a familiar spirit

• Transmutation

• Healing

• Clairvoyance

• The preparation of tinctures and potions

• Knowledge of sciences

• The discovery of hidden treasure

• The creation of talismans

• Bilocation

• Invisibility

• Flight

• Shape–shifting

• The ability to control and converse with wild animals

The attainment of these abilities is an outgrowth of solid study and dedication to an occult regimen. The key to success in any undertaking is repetition, analysis, and keeping an open mind concerning the specific method in which a certain technique can be applied to your specific circumstance. Students must maintain courage, patience, and mental equilibrium in the quest for personal mastery.

Esoteric Anatomy, the Chakra System, and the Aura

Man has indeed all the forms of all the three worlds lying in him; for he is a complete image of God.

—Signature of All Things by Jacob Boehme

Esoteric Anatomy and the Chakra System

In the secret tradition, the human body is considered to be the ultimate symbol of the universe. Each part of the body corresponds to a spiritual ideal, a star constellation, or an alchemical element. In this way, the ancient philosophers connected themselves directly with all things, and through that connection could influence the world around them, knowing by intuition what their senses could not yet perceive. Among the most widely used systems of esoteric anatomy is that of the Yogic Chakras.

Chakras are like pools of energy connected by many flowing streams located within the body. There are seven major Chakras, or wheels, each representing a state of mental and spiritual functionality, as well as moral evolution. When one or more of the Chakras is blocked, it is due to an imbalance in the flow of energy. Through meditation and working directly with the Chakras, aspirants can clear these blockages, achieve balance, and gain greater insight into the nature of their purpose in life.

Excerpted from The Book of Secrets by Daniel Pineda. Copyright © 2011 Daniel Pineda. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction vii

Part 1 Key Concepts 1

The Great Work 5

The Universal Force, the Tao, Polarity, and the Four Elements 6

Magick and Mysticism, or The Left and Right Eye 10

The Siddhis or Magical Gifts 15

Esoteric Anatomy, the Chakra System, and the Aura 17

Qabalah 20

Alchemy 25

Astrology and the New Age 27

Divination and the Tarot 30

The Astral Plane 34

Part 2 Symbolism, The Language of Mystery 37

Animals and Spiritual Beings 40

Objects 59

The Word: Formula of the Spirit 77

Part 3 Secret Societies and Holy Orders, Gatekeepers of Hidden Wisdom 85

Freemasons 88

Magicians, Mystics, and Alchemists 92

Warriors 110

Part 4 Luminaries and Seers, Torchbearers of Secret Knowledge 119

Legends and Gods 122

Medieval and Renaissance Masters 137

Sages of the Enlightenment: The 18th Century 142

Magi of the Occult Revival: The 19th Century 146

Modern Adepti: The 20th Century 152

Conclusion 159

Further Reading 161

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