Author, P.T. Mistlberger shares some thoughts on the Western Esoteric Tradition.

Mar 25th, 2014 | By | Category: Articles, Axis Mundi Books, Esoteric
Inner Light


The Inner Light: Self-Realization via the Western Esoteric Tradition is a 600 page reference work on the history, theory, and practice of many elements of the Western esoteric tradition (along with some teachings from Eastern esotericism).

The book grew out a course manual I’ve taught on the Western esoteric tradition for a number of years. When the time came to render it into a book, I realized that many of the topics needed considerable fleshing out. The result is a book that is encyclopedic in design, covering a broad range of subject matter—everything from alchemy, Kabbalah, angelology and demonology, the history of psychotherapy, Tantra, sex magick, and the 19th century New Thought movement that grew into the 20th century New Age, as well as the relation of Western philosophy to the esoteric traditions, with emphasis on Idealism and 19th century Romanticism.

The book also includes practical sections (on meditation, manifestation work, and dream work, primarily), and three supplemental chapters on very esoteric material (the ‘Body of Light’ and its connection to classical horror fiction such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the history of Witchcraft, as well as lycanthropy and shapeshifting). Four concluding appendices touch on topics such as Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, The Kybalion, the ‘Fall of Man’, the grimoires of old magic, the Tarot, and what I call ‘experiential astrology’.

My personal interest in the Western esoteric tradition probably began in my adolescence when around 1975 I first discovered the Tarot (Rider-Waite and Crowley’s Thoth decks, as I recall). This soon led to an interest in ceremonial magic and Witchcraft, both of which I studied and participated in to varying degrees. In my early 20s I was directly involved in the Gurdjieff Work and later became a disciple of the radical Indian mystic Osho (known then as Rajneesh).

My general orientation was, as with so many young seekers of the Baby Boomer generation during the 1970s and 80s, toward Eastern disciplines, including Buddhism (I sporadically studied and practiced in Zen, Tibetan, and Theravadin traditions). I wrote about Gurdjieff (along with Osho and Crowley) in my previous book The Three Dangerous Magi (Axis Mundi Books, 2010). Shortly after Osho’s death in 1990 I traveled to India; upon returning my path began to embrace more of the Western esoteric traditions. This included founding two personal growth communities, one of which was based mostly on the teachings of A Course in Miracles, the lengthy semi-Gnostic text written down by Helen Schucman from 1965-72 (I had been trained as a teacher of the principles of this book in the late 1980s).

I was also very involved with the teachings of Advaita Vedanta in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but in general as time went on my interest in the Western paths, particularly psycho-spiritual alchemy, Kabbalah, and ceremonial magic as deriving from the Neoplatonic and Hermetic traditions, increased as I began to recognize more fully their practical benefits for the Western psyche.

My personal journey has been a somewhat wild adventure through these many realms of transformational work—a journey I’m currently writing about for a future book with the working title The Personal Growth Underground: A Journey through Group Therapy, Osho, Tantra, the Gurdjieff Work, A Course In Miracles, the Enneagram, Magic, and the Far Fringes of the Esoteric (how’s that for a mouthful?). The Inner Light is a carefully researched book, drawing on some five hundred published works (the bibliography in the book was condensed, to save space—two further chapters I’d written, on the history of dragons and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, were left out for want of space).

As a reference work, it is not the type of book that is meant to be read in one sitting, and neither is it crucial to begin at the front and work methodically to the end. It’s the kind of book that can be picked up and delved into at any particular section. Most of the chapters stand independently on their own, although all are interrelated. Western esoterica in particular is wide in scope but at times its individual elements seem to be speaking in parallel languages, often not overlapping. In truth however all lines of inner work in Western esoterica are complementary, and all point toward the same goal: the realization of our true nature as unobstructed consciousness and pure radiant light. The journey toward this realization is truly life-long and—as the ‘Q’ entity once told Captain Picard—’it is full of wonders and terrors’.

The image on the book cover, a solar eclipse, has several meanings. The eclipse, known as a ‘conjunction’ (between Sun and Moon) in astrology, is suggestive of the unio mystica or ‘mysterious conjunction’ of alchemy, representing the inner marriage of our male-female qualities. It is also symbolic of the Kabbalistic idea of ‘zimzum’, God’s contraction undertaken at the birth of the universe that enabled the creation of space. And the empty space suggests the secret of manifestation (something delved into in the book). Within this empty space or apparent pure darkness, is the infinite potential of light in extension.

The idea there is that only by extending our light to the universe—by shining it outward into what seems to be impenetrable darkness—do we truly make it real, and in so doing, truly realize who we are.

Buy here on

Buy here on 



Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Comment