In 2005, Robert Francis P. Rubin founded Mysterium Magazine as a free Webzine that gave quality writings from various esoteric/New Age authorities and practitioners from all over the Philippines. By 2008, though, it was “reformed into Mysterium Philippines…when we started offering trainings/workshops and certification courses for interested students across Metro Manila,” recalled Rubin, who now serves as the president of the group.
“It was started with a vision – a vision that esoteric/New Age/occult topics and be learned professionally and in a qualified manner. We heard many nightmare stories of con artists and fake teachers offering hoakey courses with the aim of only fooling people out of their money,” Rubin said. “Mysterium Philippines aimed to remedy that. We wanted to formalize trainings and teachings of many popular topics like psychic development, tarot, magick and Reiki and make these more professional. We also wanted to start a culture of honorable practitioners of these arts, and we figured that one of the best way would be to start offering these trainings ourselves.”
Added Rommel John Panal, the group’s VP for external affairs: “We found that despite the deluge of books on the esoteric coming into the Philippines, there is a lack of responsible handling and teaching of the esoteric arts. We encountered ‘masters’ and ‘enlightened ones’ left and right, claiming to provide wisdom and knowledge while doing nothing more than give feel-good phrases or watered-down, armchair esoteric lessons. On the other hand, because of the Internet, a lot of interested students acquired access to what used to be hard-to-find esoteric information. Unfortunately, the lessons are not always given in a manner that encourages practice or exercise. And not all are quality information; as with a lot of things on the Internet, you have to go through a lot of rubble before you find the gem. Unfortunately, people who are new to the esoteric arts usually cannot tell the difference. Our aim is to give a practical foundation from which people can make sense of the other information out there.”
With Mysterium Philippines, eventually, a community was formed where “people who have these gifts feel welcome without the fear of being judged or discriminated for their beliefs, practices and ways of life,” Rubin said.
STARTING WITH RESPECT
One of Mysterium Philippines’ goals is to “unite, empower and develop genuine esoteric potential all around the nation”. How does the group intend to do this?
“It all starts with respect. We respect all forms of practice and beliefs that everyone holds. And it is within our by-laws that all walks of life, beliefs and religions are to be respected and honored by the members of Mysterium Philippines,” Rubin said.
For Panal, the group unites, empowers and develops esoteric potential “by being an example of what constitutes a uniting and empowering esoteric group. Although we are mainly an academy for the esoteric arts, students who successfully graduated from a course are welcomed into a community of practitioners who are also doing their own explorations of various subjects. This allows us to empower one another to exercise our own potential to the fullest, especially in a country that looks with suspicion at anyone who does not conform to the standard religions, thoughts and practices.”
Rubin added: “As Ghandi said, ‘Better to light a candle than complain about the darkness’. We aim to be a change for good. For starters, we offer Affordable yet comprehensive trainings for all who are interested in topics of the esoteric. We aim to give people a genuine place to learn more about these practices and offer regular trainings to constantly open the doors to all new blood that ‘awakens’ within the esoteric community. By increasing the understanding of others, we in effect dispel many of the negative beliefs that people who follow said practices experience on a regular basis.”
Mysterium Philippines currently offers basic courses in Tarot, psychic development and Reiki; as well as many advanced courses, including magick and manifestation, astral dynamics, paranormal investigation, and spirit communication. For corporate clients, on offer are: one to two-day workshops in corporate meditation for stress relief, and the newest workshop called “Intuition for Money Managers”. There are also professional services, including psychic “entertainers” like tarot card readers for parties, paranormal investigations, home cleansing, spirit communications and scrying, and feng shui for homes and offices.
Asked what makes Mysterium Philippines different from other groups already existing in the community, Rubin said: “I like to say we are alike, but different. We all have similar beliefs. But in the end it boils down to the delivery and the advocacy. Our organization prides itself in the fact that we love to teach others. We are professionalizing our courses so that in the future the things that are learned from our courses and empower their recipients to bettering their lives.”
Mysterium Philippines is also registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The group continues to face challenges. For instance, there are misunderstandings with other groups and individuals. “We offer a more formalized quality esoteric curriculum than most in the country, and this sometimes bring us into conflict with some who feel the information should be completely free. While we’d love nothing better than that, our lectures are done in conducive spaces that require finances. At the same time, while in the age of information a person no longer needs a teacher, it is still very helpful to have someone guide a person’s studies; this guide or teacher also require appropriate compensation, just as in any other field,” Panal said.
Mysterium Philippines remains pro-active in its dealings with challenges. “We don’t sit around waiting for the change to happen, we make the changes ourselves. We pride ourselves with the fact that those who come to us learn, learn, period. Politics, beliefs, religions will always play roles in the challenges we face, but so long as we continue to live up to our vision of affordable yet qualified instruction, then the rest of the naysayers will eventually silence themselves,” Rubin said.
“We also aim to make ambassadors of our students in educating others about the esoteric arts. We have many who join our courses who have little to no understanding of esoteric practices (which mainstream media sometimes distort) who end up having a clearer understanding, enough to correct other people’s misconceptions,” Panal said.
Mysterium Philippines is a staunch advocate of the Pride March.
For Rubin, the LGBT support goes without saying. “If LGBT rights are having a difficult time in this nation, what more occult rights? We were all very happy when the party-list system began to recognize an LGBT party-list group since it’s a step forward in progressive thinking. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being part of the LGBT (community), and the same can be said about being a practitioner of the occult, follower of the new age, or being a believer of the esoteric. In other words, we honor the courage of the LGBT community to stand up against discrimination.”
For Panal, “the esoteric community, being also a minority like the LGBT, relates with the challenges faced by the LGBT community. We believe that a person can only grow if it is allowed to, and the potential of LGBT and esoteric communities have been stifled in this country. We hope that by elevating our LGBT brothers and sisters, we also elevate the minds of our society, which will bring much good to other minorities in our country.”
Already, Mysterium Philippines is looking into the possibility of offering trainings in other countries “so that the Mysterium advocacy will continue (with the) spread of ‘honorable and responsible esoteric service’,” said Rubin. There are also plans for more books and publications to be released in the years to come to help contribute to the esoteric growth in the Philippines. Similarly, “we plan a school tour in the various colleges in Metro Manila to create Mysterium chapters… to give interested people from all over the metro somewhere to go to indulge into their esoteric yearnings.”
Anyone can join Mysterium Philippines by graduating from one of the courses offered. These courses are offered every month in Quezon City.