Revealing the Secret Life of the 23 Most Famous Occult People
Throughout history, famous and infamous figures have been linked the spiritualism through both their own actions and their associations with controversial figures.Among the most famous occult people are both leaders and celebrities such as Nancy Reagan, Elvis Presley, and Jack Parsons. As you can imagine, these famous occult people share a fascinating correlation between their secret life of occult practices and public success, with many linking back to the infamous first person on this list, Aleister Crowley.
#1 Aleister Crowley
As an influential figure in modern occultism, Aleister Crowley's shocking lifestyle made him a controversial figure both during his lifetime and continuing into today. His nicknames, "The Great Beast" and "the wickedest man in the world" offer insight to his notoriety formed from his eclectic practice of the magical arts. Although he had previously dabbled in esoteric practices, his fever peaked after his honeymoon.
At that time, he claimed contact with a supernatural messenger, Aiwass. Crowley believed Aiwass to be an ancient Egyptian deity, who existed separate from Crowley and provided him with supernatural knowledge. Aiwass provided him with “The Book of the Law,” a formative, sacred text of Thelema.
From that time, Crowley became an influential prophet of Thelema, or modern paganism, guiding society into the Æon of Horus. His life became devoted to expressing the religion’s core belief “Do What Thou Wilt.” So, his behaviors contrasted the era with open bisexuality, extramarital affairs, hashish use, and practice of dark arts. That shocking, yet influential, life landed him spot seventy-three on the 2002 BBC poll “100 Greatest Britons.”
#2 Alice Bailey
Born to a middle class British family, Alice Bailey was raised in the Anglican church and the Christian faith. However, she experienced an encounter with a visitor at the age of 15 that forever changed her life. The visitor gave her a glimpse into her future, admonishing her to prepare for her future great work.
As a young adult, she joined the Theosophical Society for the purpose of unity and improving self. Although she spent some time with the society, Bailey eventually rejected the society and founded her own order the Lucis Trust.
Part of this society included a quarterly magazine and publishing house, for which Bailey frequently wrote. Her writings included the term “New Age,” influencing the term’s spread throughout the western world. Often, writers credit her as the founder of the New Age Movement and neopaganism.Her philosophy, found in those writings and practiced by her followers included esoteric astrology, esoteric healing, and a new age view of consciousness. Generally regarded as a prolific writer during her lifetime, Bailey is now considered an instrumental paranormal teacher.
#3 Arthur Conan Doyle
The well-known author of the Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, engaged in spiritualism throughout his lifetime. During his childhood, he was raised in the catholic faith but, rejected those beliefs in his youth for agnosticism. Later, he became interested in spiritual mysticism, which shaped his worldview.
Conan Doyle was drawn to well-known mystics. For example, he met Harry Houdini, befriending him and believing in his supernatural powers. Also, Conan Doyle was one of the many people who believed in “The Coming of the Fairies” photographic hoax, where two young cousins staged images of fairy photographs as a prank.Although the writer is best known for his rational and scientific Holmes character, Conan Doyle’s works delved into mysticism and fantasy in later years. In fact, twenty of his books focus on spiritualism. Throughout his life, Conan Doyle explored writings and teachings related to spiritualism often participating in seances and other psychic experiments.
#4 Daryl Hall
The co-founder and lead vocalist of Hall & Oates, Daryl Hall became interested in mysticism and studied the teachings of Aleister Crowley for a time. In a Pitchfork interview he explained, “A lot of people go through that kind of thing. And I went through it, and I retained a lot of it, and I discarded a lot of it.”
Hall believed it was a way to analyze himself and explore the boundaries of reality, which contributed to his solo album “Sacred Songs.”
Although Hall is less specific about his current beliefs and practices, he has confirmed his interest in magic persists to this day.
That album most definitively explores Hall’s view of the supernatural and his interest in supernatural topics. For example, the lyrics discuss esoteric magic and hint at Hall’s personal philosophy. Notably, the song, “Without Tears” alludes to Aleister Crowley’s book “Magick without Tears.”
#5 David Bowie
David Bowie, born as David Robert Jones, is best known for his unusual performing career as songwriter, singer and actor. From the beginning, his work has included spiritual references, as he showed an interest in many religions and higher powers. This has impacted his work, most notably in his song lyrics like in “Blackstar.”
The song also mentions “the villa of Ormen,” “Ormen” being a creature mentioned in Aleister Crowley’s work. Bowie’s links to Crowley actually began much earlier, as Bowie studied the mysticism in the 1970s. He read books by Aleister Crowley, Louis Pauwel, Jacques Bergier,Israel Regardie, Trevor Ravenscroft, and Dion Fortune.
In fact, his 1976 persona, “the thin white duke” relates to the line from “White Stains”, by Crowley, referencing, “The return of the thin white duke making sure white stains.”
#6 Elvis Presley
The “King of Rock and Roll”, Elvis Presley typically invokes images of gospel, rock, and Americana. However, his wide-ranging interests and open-minded means of exploring the world led him to experiment with mysticism. During the height of his fame, he was struggling with an addiction to prescription drugs, which contrasted his public image as an American idol.
His wife, Priscilla Presley, explains that this dark time led him to search for a way to find higher levels of consciousness. In her book, “Elvis and Me” Priscilla Presley recounts his spiritual quest to understand metaphysical phenomena.
During this period, he also became celibate and attempted to break his drug habit. In fact, he was reported to have predicted his own death by Jody Ghanam, the wife of one of Elvis’ doctors. However, this interest in the supernatural was outlived by his drug addiction, with his friends and family reporting that his final days as consumed by health and sobriety issues.
#7 Heinrich Himmler
Links between the Nazi party and the Satanic worship have been discussed over the years, with many ties to Heinrich Himmler. Upon Hitler’s order, Himmler set up and controlled the Nazi concentration camps, making him a feared figure of the Nazi movement. Although he was raised Catholic, Himmler rejected the beliefs. His devotion to the mysticism was one that he found compatible to nationalism, anti-semitism and the Nazi Party.
While some believe spiritualism ultimately led to the Nazi Party’s downfall, others attribute the supernatural to their quick rise and domination in Europe.
During his lifetime, Himmler was known to perform rituals, often in the German castle Wewelsburg. These acts were meant to give him power and influence. Additionally, he was reported to hold seances and contact spirits for political advice. Although some of his practices have mixed reality with myth and legend, Himmler’s beliefs included spiritualism, witchcraft and other esoteric beliefs.
#8 Jack Parsons
A rocket engineer, John Whiteside “Jack” Parsons, worked at the California institute of Technology during the height of his career. He pioneered both liquid-fuel and solid-fuel rockets, pushing space travel into a new era. In 1939, Parsons converted to Thelema, making him one of may Crowley apologists.
Thus, he joined the Agape Lodge, a branch of the Thelemite Ordo Templi Orientis. Eventually, he became a leader of that branch, gaining power and influence over the group.
His paranormal practices eventually started to conflict with his scientific work, and he struggled to find acceptance in the scientific community. Later in life, he became better known for his esoteric profile, rather than his contributions to rocketry and space science.
#9 Jim Morrison
The eccentric singer, songwriter, and poet, Jim Morrison fronted the Doors as they made rock music history. In fact, he is regarded as one of the most influential frontmen in rock music history. As seen in his song lyrics, Morrison appreciated many philosophies and engaged in eclectic interests, including spiritualism.
As a Crowley apologist, Jim Morrison was reported to be a Satanist during his lifetime. At times, his references to his alternate persona of the “Lizard King” made people wonder if the singer had become possessed. Regardless, his wild lifestyle included voodoo dolls, pentagrams, and inverted crosses that both shocked and amazed the public.
#10 Jimmy Page
As both the guitarist and found of the rock band, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page has enjoyed a prolific and successful music career. Like many musicians during his time, Page was reported to have studied the works of Aleister Crowley. This led the public to speculate that he may have agreed to a devil’s bargain in exchange for his talent and fame. Although Page did study Crowley’s teachings, and has since affirmed that philosophy, no one knows for sure whether he used supernatural power for personal success.
Over time, his lyrics seem to indicate a certain mystical aura that has raised questions for both his fans and critics. Recently, Page has remained vague about his beliefs and his involvement with magic, preferring that people focus on his music and find fulfillment in their own exploration of spiritualism.
#11 Margot Adler
Known for her work as a correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR), Margot Adler led a double life as a Wiccan Priestess. She grew up in New York City, as the granddaughter of the well-known psychotherapist, Alfred Adler. As a young adult she studied at the University of California, Berkeley and continued to the Columbia University Graduate school of Journalism.This launched her active career as a radio journalist, typically as a general assignment reporter. Her personal interests often influenced her work with topics such as computer gaming, geek culture, the death penalty and the drug ecstasy. Adler spoke on top programs for NPR including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered” bringing an esoteric point of view to the programs. She was an elder in the Covenant of the Goddess, as a Wiccan priestess until her death from cancer.
#12 Marie Laveau
Made famous in modern culture by her fictional portrayal in “American Horror Story: Coven”, Marie Laveau was feared during her time as a practitioner of Voodoo. Her followers were vast and devoted, inspired by her power and influence. Magic was her main passion, although Laveau was reported to have worked many jobs including matchmaking and hairdressing.
Her powers seem to have only grown since her passing, as acolytes still venture to her hometown in New Orleans to pay their respects and discover the wonders of her work. Her crypt is still reported to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in America and people have seen her walking around the tombs casting curses on visitors.
#13 Marquis de Sade
The father of sadomasochism, the Marquis de Sade participated in many scandalous activities during his lifetime. Although he is most known for his erotic literature and debaucherous lifestyle, de Sade was rumored to perform Satanic worship during his lifetime.His preference for violence and taboo sexual behaviors may have been inspired by his esoteric beliefs. His works often portrayed heretical twists on Catholic or Christian rituals like Mass and Holy Communion, displaying his contempt for organized, traditional religions. With time, his fame was aligned with everything unholy, taboo and counter-culture of that era.
#14 Mary Todd Lincoln
The wife of one of America’s most beloved presidents, Mary Todd Lincoln delved into spiritualism for a time. Although some historians contribute her interest to a decline in mental health, Lincoln engaged in seances and tried to communicate with her son, Willie.
Following Willie’s tragic death, Lincoln struggled to engage with reality and devoted her time to the supernatural and ghosts.
#15 Nancy Reagan
Bringing the glitz and glam of Hollywood with her to the White House, Nancy Reagan also continued her New Age practices and spiritualism throughout her husband’s political career.
She consulted astrologers, including Joan Quigley, to help her divine meaning within cultural, personal, and political events. In fact, Quigley stayed as the White House astrologer in secret for many years during Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
According to Quigley, Hinckley's assassination attempt shook Nancy Reagan, causing a deeper reliance on prophecy to understand and predict the future. Although these activities were kept relatively quiet during Reagan’s term in office, the stories have only gained more notoriety with time in contrast to Reagan’s all-American, Christian persona.
With prophecies that continue to be researched to this day, Nostradamus may have been the most prolific profit in the world. His followers credit him with predicting many world events. During his lifetime, he was known as both a physician and a seer, highly regarded for his predictive power.He published many works, most notably “The Prophecies”, which are still read to this day. Most of his power, Nostradamus claimed to have gathered from a study of astrology, using the stars to chart time and space. Although he passed in 1566, his interpretations appear to predict more events that have not yet occurred at this time.
This classical Greek philosopher influenced the course of Western thinking, along with his teacher, Socrates and his student, Aristotle. As much of his work focused on the metaphysical aspect of existence, he explored reality beyond the physical world.“Platonism” is often used by scholars to explain the intellectual consequences of denying the reality of the material world. He often questioned what is knowable or actual compared to subjective truth. This exploration of existence, and the realm of supernatural cause, makes Plato an integral part of understanding the supernatural world. Believing in things that cannot be seen or measured is required to appreciate spiritualism.
As a great mathematician and scientist, Pythagoras founded the Pythagoreanism movement, which appreciated the philosophical implications of mathematics. He also considered himself to be a philosopher, having influenced Plato and thus, Western philosophy. His best known theorem, the Pythagorean theorem, is used to calculate the area of a triangle. This tactic is still taught in schools as part of core geometry curriculum.
#19 Queen Victoria
Claiming the throne in 1876, Queen Victoria ruled the United Kingdom for 63 years. Although her reign spanned a great time of industrial, cultural, and scientific change, Queen Victoria became less engaged in politics after her husband Albert’s death in 1861. To contact her late husband, Queen Victoria employed John Brown as a medium.Reportedly, he would channel messages to and from Queen Victoria and her husband. This relationship became a topic of much gossip, especially as the public became more away of the seances, psychics, and mediums that were an integral part of palace life. Although esoterism is one of the lesser known features of Victoria’s legacy, it still remains one of the most unusual and interesting practices of the monarchy to this day.
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We hope you enjoyed this article about the secret life of famous people. Intriguingly, occult people seem to share in success throughout their careers. Whether each of these figures actually believed in the occult, or simply used it as inspiration for their work will never be known. We can only believe what they tell us, in their actions, writings and performances. Let us know what you think in the comments and don’t forget to share the article.