Writing About Metaphysics and Esotericism
Writing About Metaphysics
WRITING, EDITING AND RESEARCH IN METAPHYSICS
My writing, research and editing interests and expertise lie in the area of spirituality and metaphysics, ancient and modern. In fact, these areas of study are my passion, and I’d love to share some information with you—maybe the spirit of metaphysics and arcane spirituality is waiting to enchant you as it did me so many years ago! Read on, esotericists, read on…
What is metaphysical science?
Metaphysical science is the study and practice of the interface between human beings and the divine and includes myriad areas of study … mystical theology, psychic phenomena, paranormal experience and so-called “new age” spirituality, to name a few. The chain of wisdom that forms modern metaphysics links the distant past to our immediate present – indeed, our modern metaphysicians and the ancient philosophers speak the same language. What was old is new again!
My specific subject interests, in research, editing and freelance writing, fall into the metaphysical science topic category of “metaphysical parapsychology.”
What is parapsychology?
Parapsychology is “…concerned with what appear to be paranormal experiences, i.e., interactions between individuals, or between an individual and the environment, which seem to be inexplicable in terms of current scientific understanding.” (1) A number of supra-natural phenomena can be grouped under the rubric of parapsychology, including remote viewing, psychokinesis, clairvoyance and telepathy.
Another great definition of metaphysical parapsychology states that it is “… the scientific study of psi experiences relating specifically to the human mind … normally encompassing the study of unusual mental phenomenon such as … astral projection, out of body experiences and ESP. Para means ‘beyond’ in Greek and parapsychological phenomena indicate the operation of factors currently unknown or unrecognized by orthodox science, popularly referred to as paranormal factors.” (2)
Why study metaphysics and spirituality?
Those of us who study spiritual and metaphysical topics seek to find out what it means to be human and to discover answers to timeless, fundamental questions about life: Who are we? Why we are here? Writers in the field of spirituality are “…concerned with the study of first principles and being…(that)…all things are part of one main source (intelligence and energy) … each thing, animate or inanimate … is dependent upon every other thing and all are contributing to the main source.” (3) The study of metaphysics shows us that we are all connected; we are all parts of one Whole Being.
There are so many distinguished scholars of metaphysics with compelling views on the topic, it is worthwhile to mention some of them here.
Philosopher C.H. Whiteley takes a ‘scientific’ tack, saying that “…metaphysics…has the tasks of speculating on questions not yet soluble, of co-ordinating knowledge and of criticizing assumptions.” (4)
Metaphysician R. J. Collingwood points out that contrary to the common belief that so-called metaphysical science was founded by Aristotle, in fact, when translated directly from the Greek, the term ‘metaphysics’ actually means “‘the books [next] after the physics’.” So, the term was coined by Aristotle’s editors, not to define a science per se, but to categorize certain of Aristotle’s works.
For us, however, Collingwood states, metaphysics has become a science, “a body of systematic or orderly thinking about a determinate subject matter,” that is, the science of the soul. (5)
Psychiatrist Dr. Raymond Moody, the grandfather of the so-called Near Death movement, has an historical affinity with metaphysics. He calls metaphysics a “philosophical discipline …the ultimate physics behind reality” and asserts that philosophical beliefs as far back as Plato are related to the metaphysics of today. He speaks of Plato’s belief about the soul as being, “We are our soul, which is an immaterial, conscious entity which inhabits the body.” (6)
Steven Sadleir names a wide-ranging number of teachings that fall into so-called metaphysics, among them such disparate spiritual practices as Religious Science, Scientology, the Ascended Masters, Eckankar, psycho-technologies, crystals, channeling (Ramtha, Seth, Lazaris), yoga and spiritual masters including Satya Sai Baba, Paramahansa Yogananda and Ram Dass. His extensive list, while not comprehensive, is far-reaching and reminds us just how active we in modern society have become in our ‘metaphysical’ and ‘paranormal’ pursuits and how deep our thirst for metaphysical knowledge has become. (7)
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While I delve into a variety of modern metaphysical disciplines, my personal research interests are historical. I delight in trying to find a central link between our present metaphysical paradigms and past philosophical traditions and hopes one day to discover the truth about supra-sensible abilities such as psychic phenomena, remote viewing skills, astral travel abilities, bi-location, etc.
Of course, to investigate all of the parapsychological, mystical and metaphysical phenomena of history would take more than a lifetime and would involve in-depth study of modern and antique literature from across the world and across centuries. It is a vast topic. So, I narrow my focus of study to the history of the western spiritual traditions in the ancient Near East and, specifically, to the ancient Greek mystery schools.
There, in that curious world of magical rite, pagan ritual and nether-worldly interaction, one can, perhaps, name a focal point in the emerging beliefs which spawned a trajectory of common spiritual attitudes from ancient to modern metaphysical thought – especially where the connection between this natural world and the other-world of spirit are concerned.
In the late centuries BCE and early centuries CE, many disparate spiritual philosophies flourished. Such ancient texts as the Nag Hammadi Library, the Corpus Hermeticum and the Egyptian Magical Papyri, among others, come immediately to mind as conveying mystical, hermetic and esoteric philosophies of those days long past. It would be a challenging exercise indeed to define with any certainty a trajectory of metaphysical thought from the antique world, to the classical Greek period, to today. Without a doubt, there are countless possible streams of connection, but one possible path would follow from the ancient Babylonians through to Zoroaster, to Pythagoras of Samos, to Hermes Trismegistus and down through the ages via various philosophers, mystics and thinkers to the Hellenistic period of ancient Greece.
Two principal works seem to me to stand above all of the extant ancient texts that comprise the corpus of “ancient Greek metaphysical thought.” I believe that the ideas propounded in that greatest of metaphysical tomes, the Chaldean Oracles, and in Iamblichus of Chalcis’ de Mysteriis Aegyptiorum best articulate the correspondences between this world and the next that are key to modern metaphysics. These writings, too, had their antecedents deep in the antique past, and, in fact, their metaphysical doctrines can be traced from before the seventh century BCE directly to today. Did you know that if you are an adherent of any ‘new age’ paranormal pursuit or metaphysical practice, you are probably an Iamblichean theurgist? It’s true!
So, for me, to study modern metaphysical science is to study ancient theurgic knowledge and to follow the long chain of ancient wisdom called the prisca theologia which leads from the Oracles of old to the visionaries of today. What we know now as metaphysical parapsychology – such phenomena as psychic abilities, spiritual healing, remote viewing, astral travel, communion with spirits and myriad other modern day esoteric practices – all find their roots in the magical pagan rituals of the ancients.
When it comes to metaphysics, what was old truly is new again!
1. Chambers Dictionary of the Unexplained
2. Element Encyclopedia of the Psychic World
3. Element Encyclopedia
4. An Introduction to Metaphysics
5. Essay on Metaphysics
6. Soul Talk
7. The Spiritual Seeker’s Guide
About the Author:
Michael Ireland is a writer, editor and wellness practitioner. She specializes in metaphysics, spirituality and self-development. You can connect with her at:
or visit www.transitionsunlimited.ca