In most traditions of Western occult philosophy, a title or grade used for and used by advanced students of magic, alchemy, and other occult subjects.
An adept is a person who is 'skilled', particularly proficient or thoroughly clever in secret wisdom and/or magical powers, as a result of the study of various mystical techniques and philosophies; a person who has learned the secret of making the philosophers stone, but more from the perspective of spiritual, rather than physical and literal, transmutation.
The adept is an initiate that has willfully achieved the highest attainment in the mastery of the occult sciences, skills and powers.
The term adept was widely employed by medieval magicians and alchemists to denote a master of their sciences. According to these teachings, those who sincerely wished to labor for the betterment of the world could become apprentices or "chelas to adepts," in which case the latter were known as "masters;" but the apprentices had to first have accomplished self-denial and self-development in order to become sufficiently worthy. In alchemical lore there were always eleven adepts.
As maintained by occult traditions, the activities of adepts are diverse, being concern with the direction and guidance of the activities of the rest of mankind. An adept must especially avoid the pitfalls of egotism, and even spiritual egotism, which leads to self-righteousness. Their knowledge, like their powers, say theosophists, far surpass that of man, and they can control forces both in the spiritual and physical dominion, and are able to prolong their lives for centuries. They are also known as the Great White Brotherhood, Rishis, Rahats, or Mahatmas. The famous theosophist Madame Blavatsky alleged that she was the apprentice of these masters, and claimed that they dwelt in the Tibetan Mountains.
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Sources: (1) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (2) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (3) Randi, James, An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural, St. Martin's Griffin; (4) Guiley, Rosemary Ellen, The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy, Facts On File Publishing.
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