The Theosophical Forum – November 1945

OCCULTISM AND HEALING — J. W. A. Croiset van Uchelen

When we speak about occultism and healing in the same breath medical science decries us scornfully. Was it not Hippocrates who lifted the healing art to a science by divorcing medicine from religion? But, we are asked to forget that Hippocrates himself was a priest-physician and that his famous oath is directed to the gods and goddesses in the faith of his fathers. (1)

And what were the healing methods used by Hippocrates, the so-called Father of Medicine? They were: foods, water and herbs; or phrased differently dietetics, hydro-therapy and herbology. Nevertheless his diagnostic studies and observations apparently contributed to secular medicine which, from that period, started its onward way. It is significant that during the rise of the Roman empire priest-physicians were still the sole custodians of public health, while secular medicine "prospered" during its decline. Up to that time Romans had never paid a fee for medical care, but the new type physician, who had removed the superstition of divine aid, had substituted in its place the more profitable superstition that man can buy health, and that since he only appreciates that for which he pays, he should pay well!

It was then, for the first time, that it became necessary to make laws against malpractice and to devise legal methods to hold physicians responsible. (2) In the sight of these medics, man had lost his status as a son of the Gods, to become a "case history." Thus it was that Cato cried out against them, declaring that the Romans had flourished for six centuries without doctors, only, in the end, to be murdered by Greek physicians thirsting after knowledge. Wrote Pliny: "It is at the expense of our perils that they learn, and they experiment by putting us to death, a physician being the only person who can kill with sovereign impunity." Departing from the Aesculapian Mysteries medicine had left behind the exalted ethical standards of its past. And more was lost: beauty and dignity; the noble spirit which surrounded the temples of Aesculapius. The obsessing concern about utility and efficiency so-called, was to drive out every vestige of beauty, finally to make the hospital-wards the prison-like places they have become.

The body, "the temple of the most high," never since has been treated with such gentle reverent care, after commercialism entered the field of healing. When physicians were priests and priests physicians, healing was for all the sick and not alone for those who can afford it. In the temples dedicated to healing there was no discrimination between poor and rich. The physician then was not "in business," nor did the temple-grounds house the disgraceful places many of our present free and "charitable" healing institutions are.

Has medicine gained from the division from religion for which Hippocrates is blamed? Science has paid its contribution to civilization, but can it perfect it? The wisest men of all time have realized the reality of spiritual values, and have been inspired to serve human needs, not for gain or hope for profit, but by love of man. Science belongs to this world alone. Man does not. And while time moves on in its eternal cycles, we shall return closer and closer once more to the very methods employed by the physicians in the olden temples, who, like Hippocrates, taught men to find natural ways to health, using light, herbs, food and water as the principal means of alleviating human ills.


The universal disease of mankind, Buddha taught, is ignorance, and wisdom is the only remedy. (3) We have lost much that is only slowly being regained. Spirit, the root of all things, cannot be denied its own by barriers science, in its smug self-sufficiency, sought to erect.

The Pythagoreans already experimented in color-therapy and the use of incense, and other fragrances, for healing purposes. Astro-diagnosis and -therapy have been practised for thousands of years, and the medieval astrologer-physicians acted upon the authority of Hippocrates, Galen and Avicenna when they developed an elaborate system of correspondences between planets and herbs, as well as chemical and mineral remedies. Seventeenth century England produced many notable writers on this subject, as Drs. Lilly, Culpeper and Coley, who enjoyed the patronage of Sir Elias Ashmole.

The Rosicrucians, who received their original teachings from the ancient Mystery Schools, at about that same period produced such physicians as Fludd, Maier and Heydon; and herbology played an important role, among other methods which are finding a re-awakened interest. The researches of Pythagoras in the healing effect of music became revived in treating shell-shocked patients shortly after World War 1. Color-therapy is used by many naturopathic physicians today.

To those who consider the subject of astrology not worth mentioning, it must be a shock to learn that, in writing to a friend, Dr. Carl Freud confided: "I use astrology in my difficult cases." Nor did he stand alone.

Alchemy's tradition too is long and venerable. Alchemists were not gold-makers; in seeking after ultimates of chemistry they made many important discoveries along the way which have enriched the pharmacopoeia of modern medicine. Sir Isaac Newton thought the subject sufficiently worthwhile to gather a magnificent collection of alchemists' literature and upon later distribution it was found that many works contained thoughtful notes in Newton's handwriting.

The power of mind, the ancients knew so well, became a field of investigation for modern psychologists who lost their way not in mind, but in matter. Mental healing went on its independent way, seeking success by affirmations, by denials, or by decrees. But here again we shall do well to heed the wisdom of Pythagoras, he who refused to ask favors from Divinity because "all men know what they want, but only the Gods know what they need."

Faith-healing in one form or another too, is as old as man, and it is told that Dr. Alexis Carrel became a devout Catholic after witnessing "miraculous" cures at the shrine at Lourdes, France. Man, to the scientists alike, remains "Man, the Unknown."

Esoteric knowledge alone can offer the key to the spiritual laws that govern health. This was the gift of the ancients, seemingly lost. But slowly again we shall regain the wisdom of the ages the Mystery Schools promulgate today as in ages past.



1. Apropos of the Hippocratis jusjurandum — the great oath of medical ethics — there is some doubt among inquiring minds as to whether Hippocrates was its true author. Just as the Lord's Prayer was lifted bodily from the Jewish Talmud, it is quite possible that the Hippocratic Oath was part of the Aesculapian rites long before the advent of Hippocrates. (return to text)

2. It has ever been difficult to make laws against a privileged class, especially if this class organizes itself against any regulations that interfere with its complete freedom of action. The Romans found this out when they tried to regulate the practice of medicine. Present day conditions bear not less watching. Very recently the State of New York adopted a bill, instigated by medical "authorities," which permits the arrest, upon demand of a physician, of any person suspected of a certain type of disease. The one so "suspected," even if healthy, becomes a virtual prisoner under complete control of the medics, who may inject poisons and otherwise "treat" the "patient," without consent of the victim. All the medics have to do is to brand you, your wife, or child, as "suspect," and the rest follows — by law. Future ages will stand aghast at the perversity and stupidity of 20th century medical science.

Reference: Healing the Divine Art, by M. P. Hall. All footnote quotations are from this work. (return to text)

3. Nature, wise in all her ways, bestows upon her creatios the knowledge necessary for their survival. Man, in the process of becoming civilized, has dammed up his instincts and impulses, and thus has lost his psychic bond with universal life. He will blunder along, falling from one conceit into another. It is in this way, that nature, in the end, outwits the human error, for the man after long suffering will come to realize that only by listening to the voice of nature can he survive. This discovery is Wisdom. (return to text)

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