COLIN WILSON

To complete our list of thirteen occult philosophers with the name of Colin Wilson may seem to some a stretch, Colin Wilson is known more for quiet scholarship, a departure from the flamboyant tales of the ancient practitioners of the so-called black and white magik already considered. However, Wilson is a prolific contemporary Englishman who has spent a lifetime in research and writing on all things occult, and whose work we owe a debt of gratitude.

A sophisticated scholar who nevertheless believes strongly in the existence of an innate human trait, or mental property, he has labeled "Faculty X", Colin Wilson writes insightfully and without unwarranted prejudice about his subject matter. He does not blink when pointing out the obvious charades and bamboozles of some of his occult predecessors, and seems bemused by the sad gullibility of the magicians' more pathetic marks. At times Wilson seems to agree with of the hard-boiled skeptics who disregard all the fantastic tales of the occultists as hogwash. As long ago as 1957, Wilson commented to a friend that he was sure "man will [develop] a sixth sense, a sense of the purpose of life, quite direct and uninferred."

In all his work, Wilson refers time and time again to the natural freedom inherent in the back rooms of the mind. As analytical man has evolved a civilized form of existence he has lost some of the powerful strokes the primitive mind was capable of writing across the intuitive landscape of survival, now replaced with an abiding sense of comfort free from the rigors of exposure to hazards. But his yearning is not for a return to the chaos and provocative dangers of jungle life, but forward to a new period of awakening when the stretching or strengthening of the mind's untapped powers is as normal an exercise as is a jog around the park.

Wilson has argued brilliantly for the existence of the unseen forces of ancient man while sourly noting that scientific rationalism has made modern man a thinking pygmy. Charting the rise and fall of ancient mythologies and their purposes within the context of man's ascendant nature, he leaves no historical individual or collective psychical evidence unchallenged.

He places equal emphasis on all terminologies, or jargons, past and present. There is no greater weight placed upon the claims of self-admitted charlatans and authentic mystery seekers than to the insightful measures of a noted psychologist, literary genius, religious leader, or decadent miracle worker.

William James, Goethe, Rasputin, Graves, Agrippa, the origin of taboos, the Essenes, Mann, spiritism: all belong to the body of evidence wonderfully charged with guttural significance. Wilson himself seeks to inform us that psychic powers are as normal to man's intelligence as learning the multiplication tables in grammar school.

He stresses that civilization cannot evolve further until the occult is taken for reality on the same grounds and level as atomic energy. Yet he does not go as far as calling for the establishment of great schools of psychic sciences, but rather believes that the individual must learn to seize the moment to expand inward until the true equilibrium of man is reestablished.

Nor does he pretend to understand the full context of these natural resources lodged deep into man's own being, but except for obvious cases which need no explanation, he does not judge these phenomena bad, or evil, as some might in referring to the dark sciences, but merely points out that great things throughout history have been achieved by people who have tapped into these unseen forces, regardless of one's assessment of where these powers originate.

Who is to say that great inventors like Edison and painters like Dali do not tap into a flowing well of psychological powers far beyond the limits of current knowledge in much the same way as did Madame Blavatsky or Pythagoras?

Wilson is equally certain that this new age of cybernetics is ushering in a wellspring period of tumultuous inspiration, a time of great upheaval where the mechanical laws of survival and communication will be shown clearly with the aid of technological advances to be generated within the same psychological spectrum as telepathy, faith healing, prophecy, or second sight.

Teleology, long since discounted in this supposed age of reason, makes a comeback in Wilson's approach. Wave theory, chaos theory, binary systems, and DNA science are among the most prominent in the rich deposits of contemporary human knowledge, and all seem to point to the need to reassess our systems of knowledge, suggests Wilson.

The question is framed simply as one dedicated to understanding not only the fundamental reality of freedom, but the fundamental freedom of reality as it is distorted by the narrowness of human consciousness. Man in his perpetual state of psychical drowsiness can never achieve his full potential, unless a change of perspective is encouraged, and finally embraced by the many instead of the few.

Only then perhaps, will civilization survive its own patterns of self-destruction.