Here’s a blog I recently put on Druid in Training, on which I’m more active. Usually longer articles go here and shorter ones on DiT, so now I’m sharing this one here.
“The mystery religions were instituted in order to protect the marvels of the commonplace from those who would devalue them.” Peter Redgrove
“Here then, at the outset, is a potent secret which is inaccessible to the majority of people; a secret which they will never guess and which it would be useless to tell them: the secret of their own stupidity.” Eliphas Lévi [Stupidity? Bit harsh don't you think? Or maybe not... ;)]
Mysteries, esotericism, the occult: these words bring up images of secret orders, with strange rituals and sharing their secrets only to the select few. Historically this has been true, and is still true today. I’m sure most of us have heard of the Freemasons, for example. But information that was esoteric in the past isn’t so much now, and the content in many modern day “mystery schools” is out in the open. I’ve been told by a Wiccan that most, if not all the information of Alexandrian and Gardenarian traditions, is out there already, and as a member of druid order (OBOD) I can see that a lot of the information isn’t necessarily esoteric, but the structure by which it is presented is; it is meant to guide you through certain information along a certain way, instead of having to wade through the chaos trying to make sense of things by yourself (though this also has its virtues).
There are many subjects that are “esoteric” to me, and there are people with specialised knowledge in which I am not trained. Quantum physics for example, is an esoteric subject for me, though I understand or know of some ideas from it. Through the ages there have always been people with specialised knowledge and those without. I rely on the “esoteric” knowledge of builders, plumbers and electricians to fix what I can’t. School, colleges and universities are “esoteric” organisation, sharing their knowledge with the fortunate few (though in recent centuries education has become more open, not to just an elite class).
What really makes these subjects esoteric for me is my own willingness, ability and necessity to understand these things. There is nothing barring my way from understanding them except my own limits. And it is much the same for anybody. The “exoteric” information is simply data that the general public can understand, whilst “esoteric” information is what we don’t. And the boundary between exoteric and esoteric is always changing as the understanding of the general public changes.
If I want to understand something, I will. If I am able to understand it, I will. If I need to understand something, I will. And these three things, more often than not, should coincide. A year and a half ago the world of linguistics was very unknown for me, but I have since waded into the subject and understand more than I thought I would have. Though there still remain things I have a lot to learn about.
All “esoteric” information is out there, in plain sight. What “hides” or limits it, rather than secret orders (thought we might assume there are some), is simply my own need, want and ability to understand certain information. “Know thyself”, at the heart of esotericism, is something that no one can hide from you, except yourself.