Ten Must-See Films for Serious Students of the Occult

James R. Coffey By James R. Coffey, 23rd Aug 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1lp_8iti/
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Film & TV>Thriller

If you're a serious student of the occult, metaphysics, ritual, the supernatural, or the practice of magic(k), these are the films you owe it to yourself to see--and more than once!

1. Serpent and the Rainbow

In this outstanding 1988 Wes Craven adaptation of Wade Davis's Voodoo-horror novel of the same name, Harvard researcher (Bill Pullman) travels to Haiti to procure an alleged secret "zombie" powder said to place people in a state of simulated death. His investigation, however, takes him much deeper into the world of Haitian Voodoo and black magic than he’d ever anticipated, finally leading him to the critical point in the film where he gasps the well-known movie tag: "Don't bury me . . . I'm not dead!" What makes this film especially worthwhile is the attention to detail Craven pays to portraying Haitian society, (filming in Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and to depicting the all-pervasive role Voodoo plays in Haitian culture. This is an excellent primer for anyone who has never witnessed the process of alchemy or the practice of Voodoo ritual, and is a pretty damn exciting thriller even if you have.

2. The Ninth Gate

In this 1999 mystery-thriller directed by Roman Polanski, a rare book broker named Dean Corso (Johnny Depp), who makes his living tracking down valuable books for wealthy collectors, is hired by Boris Balkan (Frank Langella), a New York millionaire with a vast collection of occult literature. Balkan wants Corso to locate and authenticate the two remaining copies of a book called, The Nine Gates to the Kingdom of Shadows, a book said to have been co-written by Satan himself in the 17th century. As Corso goes in search of the remaining copies, facing a half dozen close calls and supernatural encounters, he learns that the books contain clues to a puzzle that when pieced together formulate a ritual that can summon the Devil. While this film provides plenty of the suspense and supernatural drama classic-horror lovers relish, it's the attention to the age-old practice of conveying esoteric knowledge in writing and engravings involving encryption and cipher systems that is the most important element for the student of the occult. Additionally, the final scenes where Balkan gets his ultimate wish--to summon Satan--the ritual enactment is among the most authentic ever presented on film. Pay close attention!

3. Altered States

Inspired by the true-life experiments of Dr. John Lilly, a scientist who placed human subjects in total immersion tanks in the 1960s while under the influence of psychoactive drugs to test the limits of sanity, this 1980 film follows Harvard Professor Edward Jessup (William Hurt) as he subjects himself to extreme experiments in order to reach the inner depths of his unconscious mind. Seeking methods to produce even greater effects, Jessup ingests a concoction made from Native American sacred mushrooms and discovers that everyone who takes it has the same hallucinatory vision, which he concludes are recollections of man’s creation embedded in human cellular memory (ala Jung’s “collective unconscious”). Pushing the limits of his experiments further and further, Jessup manages to alter his mind to the point of altering his physiology, effectively regressing into a more primitive, ape-like version of himself. In a highly climactic and thought-provoking scene, Altered States hurls its characters (along with viewers) back billions of years to the moment of creation and finds nothing there except an anguished scream of "No!" as the primal life force protests its birth. Aside from the dazzling, hallucinogenic special effects (which alone make the film worth seeing), it’s the voyage into the conscious and unconscious mind (where ritualism and perceptions of the supernatural are conceived) that makes this a must-see for students of the occult. As a bonus, you get to witness a pretty authentic reenactment of Native American ritual as well. This now-forgotten film deserves "Cult Classic" status and is really much too cool on several levels to just ignore.

4. Angel Heart

Set in Harlem and New Orleans in 1955, this supernatural thriller is the story of private detective Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) who is ostensibly hired by Louis Cyphre (Lucifer), played quite convincingly by Robert De Niro, to find a long-lost big-band crooner. Angel’s investigation leads him into a nightmarish world of drugs, crime, murder, and the secret realm of Haitian Voodoo. While the main story is certainly worth the price of admission--especially Lisa Bonet’s convincing portrayal of both a sexually-promiscuous seductress, and of a powerful Voudon Mambo (priestess)--it’s the unfiltered look into Voodoo practices that makes this film special. Throughout this movie, viewers are provided little glimpses into the secret realm of Voodoo that when put together, paint an accurate picture of the African/Island perspective of the occult.

5. The Seventh Seal

Referring to a passage from the Book of Revelation, this 1957 classic directed by Ingmar Bergman, tells the story of a 14th century knight named Antonius Block who has just returned home to Sweden after ten years fighting in the Crusades. Upon arrival, he’s met by the Grim Reaper, the personification of the Black Plague that is ravaging the countryside, who has come to claim his soul. Rather than willingly forfeit his life, Block proposes a game of chess deciding whether he will live or die. With the game continuing throughout the film, Block investigates the countryside where he discovers that the Plague has spawned extreme behavior among the villagers: a group of flagellants files past, some carrying heavy crosses, others whipping themselves in penance; group of men pass with a girl in a cage who is on her way to be burned at the stake for sleeping with the Devil--and bringing the curse of the Plague. By the end of the film, Block is confronted with having to contemplate the true meaning of life. But the beauty of this film for students of the occult is the insight it provides into mankind’s general perception of where the division lies between the natural and supernatural, and how sacred texts like the Bible reflect this understanding. (A quick review of the Book of Revelation may be called for prior to viewing.)

6. The Exorcist

Considered one most shocking and terrifying horror films ever made (the first to make movie-goers vomit in the aisles), The Exorcist is also one of the first films to actually depict ritual exorcism. (Though once common in the Church, exorcism was banned and reinstated several times throughout the 20th century.) Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, this 1973 film tells the story of a 12-year-old girl named Regan, (Linda Blair), who becomes possessed by the devil. When doctors rule out psychological and physiological causes for her erratic and increasingly violent behavior, a priest is called in to provide spiritual solace. But when he becomes convinced that the girl’s needs far exceed the powers of the natural, an exorcist is called in to evoke the forces of the supernatural--which is the most valuable element of this film for serious students of the occult. Setting aside (the exorcism takes place in the girl’s bedroom), all the essential elements of High Ritual are presented here--down to the letter. Beyond the stunning special effects and heart-pounding fear-ride this film takes viewers on, this film is a lesson in magic and how the elements of ritual--whether Christian, Pagan, or something in between--are universal. It’s a virtual (fill in the belief system) template.

7. What the #$*! Do We Know!?

This 2004 film that combines documentary-style interviews, computer-animated graphics, and a narrative that presupposes a spiritual connection between quantum physics and consciousness, What the Bleep Do We Know? is one of the most valuable films an occultist could possibly ask for: Occultism 101 and 102. While the storyline follows a deaf photographer named Amanda (Marlee Matlin) as events in her life force her to consider the idea that individual and group consciousness could influence the material world, the plot is actually just a clever vehicle to explain the science of quantum mechanics, and perhaps more importantly, the multi-dimensional realities of metaphysics (the realm where the human “will” can cause physical change). This film puts into common, understandable language the mechanics of magic and the principles of ritual.

8. The Witches of Eastwick

This 1987 comic-horror film based on John Updike's novel of the same name, which was billed as "a blend of gothic horror and screwball comedy,” is much more than light entertainment for the serious student of the occult. The plot focuses on Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie (Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer), three sexually-repressed women who resort to witchcraft to summon forth the perfect man. Enter Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson), the Devil personified, a suave, refined, and sexually alluring dream-man who brings them the sexual attention they need and crave. Though superficially this film offers a rather nice vehicle for the four Hollywood stars to display their considerable acting talents, played against Updike’s foray into the realm of metaphysics, it’s the ritual methodology demonstrated by the witches that makes The Witches of Eastwick worth the price of admission (or movie rental, as the case may be). Hidden almost incidentally behind the film’s off-beat quirkiness, the “witches'” demonstration of sympathetic spellwork makes one wonder what exactly John Updike knows first-hand about occult practices.

9. The Da Vinci Code.

Despite all the hype concerning the literary license Dan Brown may or may not have taken in writing the book on which The Da Vinci Code is based, what is insignificant about this 2006 mystery-thriller is the attention this Ron Howard film gives to the subject of occult symbolism and how it relates to the practice of magic. While the plot follows symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) as he becomes enmeshed in a complex web of religious intrigue, ancient mythology, multi-level deceit, and the symbolism said to be hidden in Da Vinci's master work The Last Supper (regarding the true nature of the Holy Grail), it’s actually the inseparable relationship between symbolism and the occult that is the valuable lesson here. Watch this one once for the plot, then again for the academic, arcane knowledge.

10.Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

In this one hour and fifty-five minute thrill-a-minute joyride, Dr. “Indiana” Jones (Harrison Ford) races across Europe to reach Egypt in time to procure the lost Ark of the Covenant (believed to house the Ten Commandments) before Hitler’s Nazis can get their hands on it. Based in part on Hitler’s historic search for Biblical relics which he believed would grant him supernatural power in his bid to establish world domination, The Raiders of the Lost Ark focuses on the ark’s legendary inherent powers said to make any army victorious who carried it before them into battle. Pulling out all the technical sophistication available--and then some--this 1980 award-winning picture is a classic among adventure classics, and well worth watching--whether it’s your first of fiftieth time. But next time you watch it, take special note of the sub-plot background information regarding the ark in its historic and Biblical context, as well as the climactic scene where the ark is finally opened. This was one of the first films ever to depict High Magic in a popular film--and using ritual method even Aleister Crowley would probably endorse!

Tags

Black Arts, Esoteric, Gothic, Horror, Magic, Magick, Metaphysical, Occult, Quantum Mechanics, Ritual, Supernatural, Witchcraft

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author avatar James R. Coffey
I am founder and head writer for James R. Coffey Writing Services and Resource Center @ http://james-r-coffey-writing-services.blogspot.com/ where I offer a variety of writing and research services including article composition, ghostwriting, editing...(more)

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Comments

author avatar Natasha Head
6th Sep 2010 (#)

What the Bleep Do we Know has to be my favorite of the bunch. After seeing the original release, I was compelled to go deeper down the rabbit hole and purchased the delux addition...all are well worth watching, but I think What the Bleep has a better chance of pulling others to the "dark side"! In the famous words of Napolean Hill "...What the human mind can believe...the human mind can achieve." Still quite haven't masters lead into gold but I do have faith :) Great write...appreciated it!

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author avatar Shamael
17th Aug 2012 (#)

If you knew the symbolism, you would not speak about turning lead into gold. Only the philosopher's stone can do that and you have that stone, being a woman. There are 2 stones, and Moses shows you them, they are the stones of the law. The first one is the chief corner stone, the Alpha, the second one is the head-stone, the pinnacle, or philosopher's stone, the Omega. The connection between the head and the foot will build the church, the holly kingdom of god. For that you need Copper, female, tin, male, and mercury, the fire of Kundalini that makes the thermometer inside your spine climb and will make you solvent. In man it will coagulate, stiffen, Once the chief corner stone, male connects to the head stone, female, you will produce gold. For that you neeed lead, the symbol of Saturn or Scorpio, your intellectual functions of the body. Once you have behind you the 7 days of creation, ST John will baptize you in the flux of life as a mortal being. Mortal is patmos in Greek, that is why the Scorpion, St John or Headstone is the Eagle of Patmos. That is the first age in which you get born in the outer world, after the Christ life inside the stone. You have lived that Golden Baby age until 6, then you died and got reborn in the age of silver, as a child, until 12, when you discovered sexuality and menstruation. Here you died and turned to to the age of Bronze, the ability to mix copper and tin to create Bronze or shine-gold. At, 24 you die and turn to the age of Iron, and you stay there until 72, then starts the age of stone and you will end you cycle of the ages. Once you reach the 360 degree, you will enter the world beyond and come back trough the same gate, the chief corner stone, male sexual organ. Tin is the gardener, copper is the garden of God, Shaddai El Shai. Learn the profound meaning of the Kabbalah, and you will understand the Gates of rebirth and cycles. All in our universe is symbolism, it is geometry, the geometry of the divine, the great architect of the universe. And, he creates all with 2 values, + and - , a binary system. The geometry uses only 2 figures, circles who form all and triangle who fill the fields inside. Look at it closer and you will discover what the common blind man can't see.

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author avatar MIchael
9th Mar 2013 (#)

Your knowledge of the arts is indeed high, though this is no the 2 methods to creating the stone you originally spoke of

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author avatar I
16th Apr 2013 (#)

The "holly" kingdom?

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author avatar Enigma
10th Mar 2014 (#)

1 real eyes, 2 realize, 3 real lies.

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author avatar James R. Coffey
6th Sep 2010 (#)

My pleasure! Yes, the whole timeless premise of occult beliefs is based on the idea that "what you can believe is achievable."
But remember, flying machines, medicine, mathematics, and astronomy were all once considered occult.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
6th Sep 2010 (#)

Nice work James, even if Im not a student of the occult.

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author avatar James R. Coffey
6th Sep 2010 (#)

Thanks for the support, Jerry. (There are some pretty cool films among them!)

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author avatar Jerry Walch
6th Sep 2010 (#)

Yes there are some good films among them. I've seen The Exorcist many times. I have also seen the Da Vinci Code, The Witches of Eastwick, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. What I meant was that I'm not a serious student of the film genre nor of the occult itself.

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author avatar kaylar
6th Sep 2010 (#)

This is a very good list, and I also noted the authenticity in Angelheart

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author avatar siboiss
9th Sep 2010 (#)

While I realize that there are bad people and things out there, I have made a conscious effort to avoid them. Thanks for the article!

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author avatar N Osrepa
3rd Sep 2011 (#)

I find it offensive that The Da Vinci Code made it on here and your stereo typical occult films did not.
...Dracula anyone?

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author avatar Mike
8th Dec 2011 (#)

I am a bit suprised to out that you have not included Eyes Wide Shut in your list. The film is practicaly bursting with occult symbols and rituals.

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author avatar Mike
8th Dec 2011 (#)

I am a bit suprised to out that you have not included Eyes Wide Shut in your list. The film is practicaly bursting with occult symbols and rituals.

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author avatar FILOSOFEM
28th Feb 2012 (#)

This list should be called the Intro to the Occult movies. I was truly expecting more from yourself. You left out at least 9 movies which aren't listed here which are far above your list very disappointing indeed.

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author avatar Flyhawaiian
1st Apr 2012 (#)

Filosofem
Dear friend, could you possibly send those 9 movies. Would deeply appreciate your help.
Godless

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author avatar Masave
13th Jun 2012 (#)

Close Your Eyes is a good one too. Very interesting how they mix in the knowledge with the serial killer story line.

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author avatar Shamael
17th Aug 2012 (#)

This list is ok, but do not include Indiana Jones movies in there, or any of Dan Brown's stories. No serious occultist would ever take that stuff serious. The lost ark is an adventure kitsch only. The ark of the covenant is a symbol of a very specific geometry, it has never been a shrine. And what the Da Vinci code tells us is an old told story of the St Clairs and the holly Grail, all cabbage anyway. Even those things have never existed, Baphomet, the Grail, Lucifer are just symbolic descriptions used in kabbalist texts to describe things in a concealed form and in trivial meaning. In Kabbalist writings like the Holly Scriptures, there is always a trinity that prevails, there are 3 books, Torah, NT and Qu'ran, all in them is written with 3 different meanings, in cycles. The Bible is 3x22, 3x13 for the OT, 3x9 for the NT and 6 forbidden ones, the Goetias, together 72 books or 6 and 66. It's basic name is the Sepher Ha Bab El. The third book takes the notions of the first 2 and warns us from the miss-use of specific negative forces, it is a book of warnings, the Qu'ran. The triviality is positive, neutral, negative. So, once you read those books, translate the metaphors and allegories, and decode the rhetoric meaning, in positive way, a neutral way and a negative way. Only by doing that you can read the books. And one advice, divide every word of 2 letters in 2 single symbols, divide every word of more than 3 letters in 3, a beginning, a root, and an end, read the symbolic value of every Hebrew, Greek or Arab letter, they are the same in the 3 Alphabets. Evey letter has a positive meaning, thus living world you see, a neutral meaning, the starry sky and universe, and a negative meaning, inside of you, your anatomy, your mind, your spirituality, your sexual behavior. Then, take the Alphanumeric values and find the mathematics and geometry of the whole universe in them. And, once you have decoded the books, you will be able to tell what movie has been made by an initiate or a wanabe.
The best movie in this series are; what the bleep, and here get the rabbit hole version, then the seventh seal, the 9 gates. But here it should be shown some movies like Pi, Seven, Existenz, Lord of the Rings, Starwars, The usual suspects, just to name a few you must have seen. There is a bunch of good movies that hide the kabbalist symbolism, and if you wanna read the Bible in clear with Mice, Ducks and Dogs, turn over to Mykey Mouse. It was Disney's key to the bible and he tells it to you MY KEY. He brought back 80% of the Bible, he left intentionally out of it the procreation and sexual life the Bible tells you in the stories of Moses, Jericho, or the Passion of Christ. what is the negative cycle of the whole book. Disney pushed it that far he even made the same that cult priest of Religions did, he built his Disney Land, same as the priest once built there biblical Disney Land in Palestine. There is no such thing as a secret teaching, there is a concealed one only, and if it is veiled, it is due to the simple fact the truth hurts in world that is manipulated by lies.

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author avatar Tzaddi
24th Nov 2012 (#)

Very interesting read both for your comments.

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author avatar I
16th Apr 2013 (#)

The "holly" scriptures? And the "holly" kingdom? I apologise for nitpicking, but this seems to me an unnecessary mistake to make, and in more than one place!

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author avatar Ghfhggh
2nd Sep 2012 (#)

Fucck the bullshit

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author avatar Genie
9th May 2013 (#)

Rubbish, hollywood slander! Where is the holy mountain? Lucifer Rising? None of them movies have anything to do with real symbolism. Its just dicked around with in these films

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author avatar Espartacuss
23rd Feb 2014 (#)

I'm sorry to disappoint anyone here but of all these movies only 3 can be considered occult type the rest are just for the groupies or fanatics.
It is my duty to present all of you with The One of the true occult ones, this is from a high level degree Mason himself . "Sean Connery"
In The Name Of The Rose..1986
This Film is for the serious student or apprentice, as it contains, hidden history of the mysteries and occult phraseology that is very relevant in today's secret societies. Dawn of the New Age.

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author avatar Enigma
10th Mar 2014 (#)

Are there moree?

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