Esoteric Tuesday – Sacred Places & Dark Portals

Many many moons ago, this young, idealistic Ankh spent most of a summer studying in Greece – traipsing from sacred site to sacred site, fueled by an academic ambition that burned brightly in my (once flat) belly. Armed with a student visa and a short-term association with a highly respected institution, I had access to places and materials that the average tourist never imagines. 

Heady times – and occasionally transcendent.

There was the evening I arrived in Athens, alone, with only a smattering of Greek – exhausted,  freaked out (I could not find a single person who spoke English and made my way to a dank, buggy hotel with the help of a cab driver whose spoke the same combination of terrible German and sign language that I did)  and wandered through the crepuscular streets to have my very first sight of the Acropolis, glowing crimson in the setting sun. It left me, quite literally, breathless.

But what surprised me most were not the famous sites –  not Delphi (although it was spectacular) or the throne room at Knossos – but the places that I had never read or even heard about, overgrown with weeds, hidden down dusty roads, forgotten by all but a few fanatical historians and goat herds. One ridiculously hot afternoon, the group I was traveling with stopped to stretch our legs at an Bronze age fortification wall. We had been driving through the mountains all morning. The site was, at first glance, unimpressive. A broken defense,  sacred to no one. It was military, and functional. Not sexy. But as I wandered atop the massive stones a cool wind from the mountains pushed through me, and for the first and only time in my life I felt what it is to have a soul. It was profound in a way that I am (still) hard-pressed to define. It wasn’t beautiful. It was primal, and a little terrifying.  It was the place itself, the air, the silence, the fragrance of warm stone, wild thyme and something cold and metallic – a memory that did not belong to me then, but does now. I can only describe the experience as sacred, although I worry that even that word – as potent as it is – somehow diminishes it.

The power of place is something that every occultist must consider…carefully.

So to that end I offer the following excerpt, from the always informative Aspects of Occultism by Dion Fortune:

Sacred Centres

“…For lead and tin are not produced from the earth … It is a fountain that produces them, and an angel stands therein.” – Book of Enoch

I don’t think that it will be disputed that certain places exert a powerful influence on human beings…

In every country there are these centres, but unfortunately, since the Christian era, they have been appropriated by the Church; and some of the most vital have been prefixed by the title of “Saint”, when perhaps the influence exerted might not be at all of saintly character. Thus the old name, that might have given a clue to the particular influence, is submerged, and in this way much of the ancient lore is lost, because the Church recognizes only one kind of experience – that of pure religious ecstasy, which is the most emotional and primitive, and therefore to the ordinary mind, the most wonderful, for it is a state of intoxication, and is therefore a purely selfish and personal experience, entirely to do with individual development along a particular line, and from the physical point of view is nearly always abortive because undirected. I emphasize the physical effect, because what its mysteries are on another plane, or state of consciousness, one can only dimly sense, or understand on the journeyings of the soul.

There is little, if any, guidance given by the Church to those who open these doors, for it is not given to all to experience a higher religious emotion; and instead of a readjustment of values – a further vision or extension of consciousness and a breaking through some of the veils of matter – the effect is, as I have said, abortive, for the experience is so shattering to the untrained and unprepared mind, that it disturbs the normal outlook on life.

There is also another side to these experiences, and of this we hear but little. Those who enter the dark portals which lead to dread subterranean palaces of the Qlippoth, and whose way is no longer that of the normal individual, return from this journey with their bias toward evil intensified.

In the Mystery Schools each initiate was carefully watched and guided, so that the experience should not be lost or allowed to destroy instead of reconstruct. We go to these places, and are not told what kind of experience to expect, beyond that it will be of a religious order, or contact with nature, (a vague term) and therefore we go in a negative condition of mind, with will and intellect unprepared, and so the real value is completely lost in an emotional storm.

As I have said before, I believe that in the old names lie the secret if the influence exerted, and these have to do with the physical, or rather the contact that lies deep in the earth.


The mineral and metallic world is the oldest and the densest, and in it must lie many secrets; could we contact its consciousness much might be recovered for the benefit of mankind.


“Other sheep have I that are not of this fold.”John X.16.

There are many planes interpenetrating our world, inhabited by beings like, and yet unlike ourselves, invisible and unknown to each other and to man. This is due to their different rates of vibration. I will give a very crude example – that of the electric fan. When revolving slowly, its propellers are seen distinctly, increase its rate and nothing is seen but a blur.

This example only holds with regard to one sense, namely that of sight, but intensify and extend to all senses in an ascending and descending scale, and we could imagine how several cycles of life could, at the same time. occupy the same space, unknown to each other.

That will also show the reason why different people have such diverse experiences at the same place, and in psychometry, with the same object.

We all have our own particular rate of vibration, so that every one of us must be in close tune with one at least of these elemental ratios, and it is possible that the day may come, indeed, may not be so very far distant, when by an act of will we shall be able to change our own ratio to that of whatever cycle of life we wish to contact…

So that in the future we may actually, and with all our senses be aware of these denizens of a hitherto unknown and invisible world.


There are in this world many tides of varying length, which are called in Eastern terminology “Tatwas”, and these range in length from thousands of years to a few minutes. The greater ones we are only aware of by looking back on the rise and fall of civilizations and the changes on the face of the globe. These are under the dominion of one of the great Northern Constellations, but there are many lesser ones, and to these we can attribute the falling into disuse of some of our centres, and the gradual reopening of others. In the last hundred years or so there has been the uncovering of many buried cities and even great civilizations with their many Gods and creeds.

Whenever a place has had prayers and concentrated desires directed towards it, it forms an electrical vortex that gathers to itself a force, and it is for a time a coherent body that can be felt and used by man. It is round these bodies of force that shrines, temples, and in later days churches are built; they are the Cups that receive the Cosmic downpouring focused on each particular place.

There is very little teaching on these matters, and I think it advisable now to speak of the dangers that may be encountered from the lesser known and more primitive psychic centres. That there was a danger was recognized by the Druids and the Romans, for they raised altars and offered sacrifices to these woodland peoples, and it was an act of propitiation, for if you don’t give, they take, and what they take is unfortunately something that you cannot spare. It is life-force, for they seek ever to come closer to man, to mingle with him and to take on his ratio, for it is said therein lies their hope for immortality.

Should we wish to help these “Sheep of another fold” we can do so by a wish to understand their needs and by bringing to them a knowledge of the finer ideals of our later times, and in that way the sacrifice need not be one that is hurtful to our health and sanity.

We must remember, however, that they are of an older and more elemental race, that they belong to another country, and that their laws are quite different, so that we might be seriously injured in mind and body by such encounters…

from Aspects of Occultism by Dion Fortune

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