Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition
No. 14, Vol. 2. Vernal Equinox 2008
by Samuel Scarborough
In the English Occult Revival of the late nineteenth century, there are a few people that are credited with influencing its development. One of those is Frederick Hockley, who is something of a conundrum to both historians and occult scholars. While Hockley is often widely credited with influencing the people that brought the Occult Revival to England in the 1870s and 1880s, very little is actually known about his personal life. What is known is that he was very interested in occultism, especially Rosicrucianism, alchemy, and scrying with both the crystal and mirror. What I hope to do with this article is tell a little of Frederick Hockley’s life story (at least what is known), and show some of the influence that he had on those that he knew and who came after him in the English Occult Revival of the nineteenth century.
The Early Life
of Frederick Hockley
According to a letter written by Frederick Hockley to Herbert Irwin, Hockley states that he was educated up to the age of eight at the school of Captain Webb at Hoxton. Hoxton is now a part of London which has latitude of 51 30N that would indicate that Hockley was born a bit further north of London.
Beyond this reference, Hockley’s life is more mystery. According to two sources, Hockley worked for John Denley, a well known occult bookseller in Catherine Street, Covent Garden, and from later correspondence between Hockley and Herbert Irwin, he was apparently employed in copying occult manuscripts for customers of Denley. Hamill, surmises that Hockley may have even manufactured occult manuscripts for John Denley to sell.
Obviously, Hockley had an interest in occult matters at an early age. He stated in verbal evidence to the London Dialectical Society in a special Committee of Spiritualism on Tuesday 8 June 1869: "I have been a spiritualist for 45 years, and have considerable experience."
This would mean that he was actively practicing occult work as early as 1824. If the date listed in Hockley’s copy of Uranoscopia of 1808 is correct for his birth, then he would have started practicing occultism at around the age of sixteen. The evidence that Hockley offered to the London Dialectical Society showed that he had a great deal of practical experience as a scrier with a crystal and magick mirror.
From his beginning occult work in 1824, the next major event is Hockley’s marriage. According to Hamill, who wrote the history of Frederick Hockley, the details for Hockley’s wife proved elusive. Apparently there is a comment in one of the correspondences with Herbert Irwin that indicate that she died in the 1850s. It appears that she shared her husband’s interest in occultism, and may have possessed some powers of her own. The Reverend C. M. Davies in his book, The Great Secret and its unfoldment in Occultism…by a Church of England Clergyman, published in 1895, gives the following interesting story about Mrs. Hockley:
All of a sudden he would feel an uncomfortable desire to go home. Whatever the hour of night or day might be, he must set off at once. He felt sure that his wife was working the spell, and afterwards found out that such was the case.
Frederick Hockley enjoyed horse racing and would often over-stay at the racetrack. He possessed an ancient spell by which means it was possible to summon anyone to his presence, regardless of the distance. Hockley’s wife discovered the spell and often used it to summon her husband as illustrated in the quote from C. M. Davies’ book above.
In the intervening thirty or so years between the death of his wife and his own death, Hockley spent considerable time trying to contact her through the spirit world. Evidently he was successful a least once, because on one of his last visits to William Eglington, a noted Spiritualist medium that specialized in physical manifestations, notably the appearance of messages on slates, Hockley received a communication from his cherished departed wife.
After the death of his wife in the 1850s Hockley became very involved with Spiritualism, coming in contact with many prominent Spiritualists of the day. The list of his contacts include such people as Lord Stanhope, the Social Reformer Robert Owen, D. D. Home, Mr. and Mrs. Everitt, whom remained lifelong friends, the Reverend Stainton Moses and many others. Hockley was convinced of authenticity of many Spiritualists, he also knew that there were many charlatans, misguided enthusiasts, and simple publicity seekers in the Spiritualist movement.
Hockley was very giving of his time, as well as his library with those that shared his interests in occultism. He often shared his knowledge and lent books of his library to those that he knew. The only material that appears to have not been shared was his personal notebooks that contained his experiences scrying in both a crystal and a mirror. It is uncertain as to whether or not Hockley had any occult students, but at least two prominent occultists of the day considered him their first mentor or master in occult matters, the Reverend C. M. Davies, and Kenneth R. H. MacKenzie. In fact, MacKenzie who had gone to Paris to meet Eliphas Lévi immediately hurried to Hockley to report what had taken place as soon as he was back in England.
As early as the 1840s, Hockley was occasionally publishing reports of his experiments in scrying. These reports took the form of letters to the editor for such publications as The Zoist and The New Existence of Man upon Earth. The latter was owned by Robert Owen. Why Hockley did not publish more of his letters and experiences in the mainstream journals of occultism and Spiritualism of the day, of whom he knew many of the editors, is not known.
Frederick Hockley was rather older when he decided to join the Freemasons at the age of fifty-six. The Everitts had placed Hockley and Herbert Irwin, a Freemason, in contact with each other on Spiritualist matters and interests. It is most likely through Irwin, and perhaps a lesser degree MacKenzie, that Hockley decided to join the Masons in 1864, and it is the correspondence between Hockley and Irwin that show what sort of man Hockley was. In Hamill’s The Rosicrucian Seer: Magical Writings of Frederick Hockley, he describes these correspondences as:
They reveal him as a kindly man ever willing to share his knowledge and library and possessing the knowledge and kindness to take time to advise other on the forming of their own collections. They also show that, despite his involvement in Spiritualism and his knowledge of and belief in the occult, he maintained a healthy sense of proportion and perspective, as well as a sense of humour with regard to Spiritualism, occultism, and their practioners.
His love of books and his early training with John Denley was still in evidence by the above comments about Hockley’s character. This intimate knowledge of occult literature gave him the ability to know when an occult writer was summarizing or blatantly plagiarizing from a little known occult work. In one case, Hockley made very dismissive comments about H. P. Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled to Irwin because of this intimate knowledge of occult material.
Also during his last years, Hockley seems to have moved a lot from place to place without taking up residence for a very long time. Why he did this and in increasingly poor health is unknown. But every time that he moved, he took his extensive library with him.
Frederick Hockley died on 10 November 1885 at the age of seventy-seven. The cause of his death, according to a cousin that was present was "natural decay and exhaustion". His will was neat, short and precise. He left a little over £3,500 in monies, household goods, his books and manuscripts, and crystals and mirrors. His library was to be sold, and the proceeds along with any remainder, except for a few personal bequests, were to be divided amongst his distant relatives. According to Hamill, Hockley’s mirrors and crystals were bought by James Burns and Company, but their ultimate fate is unknown. Arthur E. Waite lists that Irwin bought Hockley’s library, but there is a catalog circa 1887 that was compiled by Arthur Machen, the famous horror writer, for the book dealer George Redway that was titled List of Books chiefly from the Library of the late Frederick Hockley. This later catalog seem to indicate that Hockley’s books were at that time not in the possession of Irwin, though Irwin certainly could have purchased some if not all of Hockley’s books from George Redway at a later date. There were apparently books still available from Hockley’s library as late as the latter part of 1900 and early 1901 as a letter written by the Reverend W. A. Ayton dated 29 January 1901 suggests, “It is most likely the very thing advertised in Hockley’s Cat:, but Cats: necessarily give too picturesque a description of things.” Of Hockley’s thirty or more notebooks that record his scrying experiments, few, if any, can be traced at all. What we do have are some transcribed excerpts copied down and in the collection of F. G. Irwin in the 1870s.
The late Fredk. Hockley was about the only man doing anything in that line, and his was only with a Magic Mirror and a Clairvoyant. He has told me that often he has had Noblemen come to him to work with him and his Magic Mirror. If there had been anything higher than that going, Hockley would have been in it, and it the conversations I have had with him, he would have told me of what was going on in that way.
It seems that Hockley, like the famed earlier English magician John Dee, was not that gifted in his ability to see things in either a crystal or mirror, and had to employ someone more gifted as a seer. Hockley liked to use young girls to act as seer for him. Hockley used the term ‘speculatrix’, Latin for “a female observer or watcher” to describe these young women that performed the actual scrying. As a side note, the Latin for mirror is “speculum”, so the connection to a female viewer scrying in a mirror (or even a crystal) as ‘speculatrix’ fits very well from an occult perspective. The practice of using a young or pre-pubescent boy or girl for divination or scrying was an ancient occult practice. Donald Tyson in his edited version of Henry Cornelius Agrippa’s widely influential Three Books of Occult Philosophy has the following to say about the use of young children in the occult arts: “The use of pre-pubescent boys as an undefiled medium for the communications of the gods is very old. It began in Babylonia and was carried to Egypt, where it still exists today.”
At a later period, the use of pre-pubescent girls made its way into the repertory of the magician, and Hockley would have been familiar with this from his years of copying occult texts in his youth and from his library of occult books and documents.
Hockley’s greatest success in scrying came with the aid of Emma Louisa Leigh, whom he came into contact with in the early 1850s in Croydon, where she lived with her father Edwin Wavell Leigh. She was about thirteen years old when Hockley met her and started working with her as his seer, and it is through her that he received from the Crowned Angel the magnum opus, Metaphysical and Spiritual Philosophy; or the connection with and influence over material bodies by Spirits. This particular manuscript was listed by the book merchant George Redway in a catalog of the library of Walter Moseley as late as circa 1889.
Hockley approached scrying with both a spiritual amazement and a scrupulous attention to detail worthy of the best scientists. Those parts of his notebooks which have survived show the amount of detail in which Hockley copied down what he was told by his “speculatrix” and the copious amounts of consecrations of the mirror or crystal and prayers that had to be dedicated to the service of God. Along with these consecrations and prayers, Hockley used consecrated prayers, invoking the name of Christ, three times to summon whatever spirit guide was essential to the operation. After the spirit guide gave its message, and Hockley copied down verbatim what his “speculatrix” reported seeing in either the mirror or crystal, he then used a special discharge, again giving the name of Christ, along with prayers of thanks to end the magickal operation. Even with all the precaution taken by Hockley to not summon up evil spirits, they did occasionally make an appearance and had to be quickly discharged. An example of Hockley dealing with an evil spirit was originally published in the Spiritualist on 2 July 1880, and was later republished on 15 March 1890 in the Lucifer, Vol. 6, No. 31, of which the following is an excerpt of his experiment:
Hamill contends that Hockley’s experiments had a profound effect on his own religious beliefs, turning him from a Unitarian to a Trinitarian Christian with a firm belief in the mystery of the Virgin birth. The above experience of Hockley’s, as well as the positive experiences of working with good spirits or angels, including the Crowned Angel, contributed to the change in his religious beliefs.
Not all of Hockley’s experiments were as fantastic as the one he describes above. Most were more in line with traditional magickal operations when using the crystal and mirror. He describes in some detail what takes place when using a crystal for scrying:
…This is a crystal encircled with a silver ring, as a proper crystal should be. It was formerly the custom to engrave the four names of God in Hebrew on this ring. I knew a lady who was an admirable seeress, and obtained some splendid answers by means of crystals. The person who has the power of seeing, notices first a kind of mist in the centre of the crystal and then the message or answer appears in a kind of printed character. There was no hesitation, and she spoke it all off as though she was reading a book, and as soon as she had uttered the words she saw, they melted away and fresh ones took their place. I have 30 volumns [sic], containing upwards of 12,000 answers received this way, which I keep carefully under lock and key. A crystal, if properly used, should be dedicated to a spirit.
In addition to the above, Francis George Irwin preserved much of Hockley’s material on performing crystal gazing. The information and invocations that Irwin copied from Hockley’s notebooks reads like any of the well known classical grimoires such as the Lemegeton, The Key of Solomon the King, the Goetia: the Lesser Key of Solomon the King, and even the darker Grimoirium Verum. F. G. Irwin captures this very clearly in the samples below:
“Now all those who wish to obtain the assistance of the Good Spirits in the Crystal must lead a Religious Life. Keeping themselves as it were apart from the world. The Invocant must make himself clean and pure, making frequent ablutions and prayers for at least three days before he begins his operations, and let the Moon be increasing. The Invocant may if he choose have one or two wise and discreet persons as companions to assist him in his operations, but he or they must conform to all the rules and forms necessary to be observed in the practise of this Art. He must be true, patient, courageous and have great confidence, taking great care that no part of the Forms, Ceremonies &c. be omitted if he wish to succeed in his operations. For upon the exactness with which these operations are performed depends the accomplishment of his desires. The Invocant may perform at any time of the year if he find the Luminaries in fortunate aspect with fortunate Planets, when the Sun has reached his greatest Northern Declination, is said to be the best time.
In addition to these general instructions Irwin also copies the accompanying diagrams that illustrate the tools to be used in conjunction with the specific instructions for each of the tools. In the transcript of Hockley’s notes, the several consecrations and blessings, along with the invocation are listed. The following is the Consecration of the Instruments:
O Great God who art the God of Strength and greatly to be feared. Bless O Lord these Instruments that they may be a terror unto the Enemy and therewith I may overcome all phantasms and oppositions of the Devil through thy influence and help of thy Holy and mighty Names. On Agla, Tetragrammaton, and in the Cross of Christ our only Lord, Amen.
The notebook then has the crystal or mirror consecrated in a similar manner to the above example. Only after the space, instruments, and crystal or mirror had been consecrated and dedicated to the service of God, Hockley, as recorded by F. G. Irwin would use the following invocation:
I exorcise, call upon and command the Spirit Vassago by and in the Name of the Immense and Everlasting God, Jehovah, Adonay, Elohim, Agla, El, On, Tetragrammaton, and by and in the Name of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the only Son of the Eternal and True God, Creator of Heaven and Earth and all that is in them Wipius, Sother, Emanuel Primogenitus, Homonsion Bones, Via Veritas Sapientia Virtus Leof Mediator Agnus Rex Pastor Prophetas Sacerdos Athanatos Paradetus Alpha et Omega all by these High, Great, Glorious, Royal and Ineffable Names of the Omnipotent God and His only Son our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the second Essence of the Glorious Trinity. I exorcise, command, call upon and conjure the Spirit Vassago wheresoever thou art (East, West, North or South, or being bound to anyone under the compass of the Heavens) that you come immediately from the place of your private abode or residence and appear to me visibly in fair and decent form in this Crystal Stone or Glass. I do again exorcise and powerfully command thee Spirit Vassago to come and appear visibly to me in this Crystal Stone or Glass in a fair, solid and decent form. I do again strongly bind and command the Spirit Vassago to appear visibly to me in this Crystal Stone or Glass as aforesaid, by the virtue and power of these names by which I can bind all rebellious, obstinate and refractory Spirits, Alla Carital, Maribal Carion Urion Spyton Lorean, Marmos Agaiou Cados Urou, Astrou Gardeong Tetragrammaton Strallay Spignos Jah On, EI Elohim by all aforesaid I charge and command thee Spirit Vassago to make haste and come away and appear visibly to me as aforesaid without any further tarrying or delay in the Name of Him who shall come to judge the Quick and dead and the world by Fire. Amen.
What sort of results did Hockley achieve with the above mentioned methods and lengthy prayers and invocations? Again we have to turn to what was transcription by F. G. Irwin of some of Hockley’s notebooks that cataloged his experiments. Below are several samples from the papers of Irwin that demonstrate what sort of outcome Hockley was getting with his “speculatrix”.
Crystal MS Vol. 6, pp. 124-6
Hockley also did scrying for other people or at least in reference to other people:
The following excerpt shows Hockley’s interest not only with scrying, but also with alchemy:
The Influence of
From the last example given above, we see that Hockley was keenly interested in practical alchemy. To whom did he converse about alchemy? It is fairly obvious that Hockley and the Reverend W. A. Ayton, a well known English alchemist, concerning whom it is reputed that Lévi journeyed to England to see Ayton’s Elixir of Life. In correspondence from Ayton himself we see that as late as 1902, Hockley is remembered for conversing with him on occult topics, and presumably the topic of alchemy, which was dear to Ayton.
Did Ayton share any other contacts in common with Hockley? Absolutely, both men knew the author of the Royal Masonic Cyclopedia of History, Rites, Symbolism and Biography, Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie. In addition to Mackenzie, Hockley was in close contact with both Herbert and Francis George Irwin, both well known Masons, and it is through these contacts that he eventually joined the Freemasons, being initiated on 21 March 1864 in London at British Lodge No. 8.
Hockley was older than most new members to Masonry, but took an immediate liking to the workings of the Craft. Almost as soon as he had received his Third Degree at British Lodge No. 8, he became a member of the Emulation Lodge of Improvement; this is a Lodge of Instruction at which the initiation ceremonies and lectures are learned so that they can be delivered by heart from memory without error. Within a very rapid time, he became an officer in British Lodge No. 8, first serving as Junior Warden, and then Master in 1867. He had a great love of the ritual, attending the Emulation Lodge regularly, even serving on its committee from 1866 thru 1868. In 1867, Hockley was nominated and invested as Grand Steward. It is the role of the Grand Stewards to arrange a banquet for the installation of the Grand Officers. Hockley, as a new Grand Steward, was entitled to join the Grand Stewards Lodge, where he became its Junior Warden in 1875, and from 1877 until his death in 1885 he served as the Secretary for the Grand Stewards Lodge. Hockley carried out his duties so well as Secretary, that the Lodge ordered a jewel to be made for him, but he died before it was completed or presented to him, but in recognition of his tireless work, all Secretaries of the Grand Stewards Lodge since 1885 have worn this jewel made for Hockley.
Hockley’s work in Masonry did not merely confine itself to the London Lodges, but also to a Lodge in Alnwick, Northumberland. Hockley had a long standing professional relationship in the Alnwick area, visiting there yearly for three or more weeks. Hockley was voted a joining member of Alnwick Lodge No. 1167 on 27 September 1870. While in Alnwick on business, he would take part in Lodge work when he was able.
In addition to his Lodge work with British Lodge No. 8, the Grand Stewards Lodge, and the Alnwick Lodge No. 1167, Hockley was brought into Royal Arch Masonry on 1 December 1865, when he became a member in the British Chapter No. 8. Hockley eventually held several minor officer positions within the British Chapter of Royal Arch Masonry.
During the period that Hockley was active in Freemasonry there was a major surge of interest in pseudo and fringe Masonic rites in England. These various rites had fascinating and colorful names such as the Rite of Memphis, the Rite of Misraim, the Fratres Lucis, The Hermetic Order of Egypt, and the Royal Orient Order of the Sat B’Hai, and drew the attention of many members of the regular Masonic Lodges. Many of these fringe Masonic bodies had just a few people to thank for their existence, Kenneth R. H. MacKenzie, F. G. Irwin, and Robert Wentworth Little. Hockley was not connected with any of these fringe Masonic rites or groups at all but according to Hamill, Hockley was a proven member of the Fratres Lucis, which was sometimes known as the Order of the Swastika, listing him as a member along with F. G. Irwin, K. R. H. MacKenzie, and Benjamin Cox. Whether the Fratres Lucis met regularly or if it merely existed on paper and in the fertile imagination of Irwin is unknown, but there is a letter from Cox to Irwin dated 15 December 1885 which suggests that there was a close fraternal bond between the members: “… I was very sorry to of the death of Bro. Hockley. There is now one member less of the Order of …”
It is interesting to note the method of the formation of the Fratres Lucis. According to Howe there are two notebooks in the hand of Irwin in which he uses a crystal to scry to contact Cagliostro to gain information about the Fratres Lucis. These scrying experiments take place in 1872-73, where between 31 October and 9 November 1873, Cagliostro dictated nearly word for word the introduction to the Fratres Lucis Ceremony which F. G. Irwin attached to the later worked up ceremony. The concept of scrying for a spiritual guide such as Cagliostro for the new rite surely was the product of discussing the scrying experiments of Hockley.
Hockley considered himself, and was considered by many of the people that knew him, to be a Rosicrucian. He at least attempted to lead a life following the Rosicrucian ideals. According to the history of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia written by W. W. Westcott, Hockley and MacKenzie assisted Robert Wentworth Little in ‘reviving’ this order in 1865. In fact Hockley did know Little, but according to his letters to Irwin Hockley did not become aware of the SRIA until six years after the order was founded, and this was through Irwin’s Bristol College, where he was elected a member in 1872. It is fascinating that Irwin inducted Hockley into the Zelator Grade of the SRIA, as well as advanced him to VII Degree of Adeptus Exemptus, all in absentia. It does not appear that Hockley ever attended a meeting in Bristol.
Three years after being elected to the Bristol College, Hockley applied and was accepted into the Metropolitan (London) College of the SRIA, but Hockley was never a regular attendee, nor did he ever give a paper there. What Hockley did do was to produce and exhibit the Rosicrucian certificate and diary of Sigismund Bacstrom, which was later in the possession of the Theosophical Society, but was destroyed in a fire in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The only surviving copies of this diary and certificate are in the form of a transcript done by Hockley in 1833.
What does stand out about Hockley is that he was a practicing spiritualist, who was highly interested in scrying methods using a crystal and magic mirror. He had an extensive library of all sorts of esoteric material, but seemed to focus on the Rosicrucian literature, considering himself to be following the ideals of the Rosicrucians of the early 17th Century. It is through these ideals of charity and helping that Hockley was able to contact so many people interested in many of the same esoteric topics as he, and through his knowledge and expertise through practice, was able to answer many of their questions, guiding them along the path to the fertile field of esotericism that blossomed in England after 1870.
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