Dark Gnostics: Secrets, Mysteries, and OCCINT




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Peer reviewed



You know, when I was a kid, I wanted to grow up and find myself living in a sixties spy series. Funny how things turn out, isn’t it? King Mob, The Invisibles. The astrologer and magician John Dee worked for Sir Francis Walsingham; Dennis Wheatley worked for the London Controlling Section during World War II; Aleister Crowley may have worked for British intelligence. This should not surprise us; intelligence and espionage are by their very nature exercises in the occult, the investigation and discovery of hidden knowledge, revealed and analysed by a priestly caste of scholars seeking the truth lying behind the veil of ‘secrets and mysteries’ (specific terms in the lexicon of espionage). Spy stories are always already tales of the occult and, more than that, they are horror stories, whose protagonists are engaged in a struggle against dark powers posing an existential threat to all they believe in. This article examines the idea of secrecy and espionage as a contemporary cultural avatar of the eternal fear of the Other. The spy is an archetype embodying fears of transgression and liminality, whose shifting roles mirror our society's anxiety concerning the concept of a stable self. In an era in which we are ever more defined by our informational footprint, the revelations of Snowden, Manning et al. raise uncomfortable questions about the nature of identity observed, surveilled and interrogated through its online manifestations. As Stross has argued, we are willing participants of a ‘Participatory Panopticon’; inhabitants of the global Village, we are choosing to become Number Two, the character who, in the minatory and prophetic series The Prisoner, acted as the agent of repression of the individual through perpetual surveillance.



Spy fiction, horror fiction, espionage, occultism, cyber security


Scott, K. (2016) Dark Gnostics: Secrets, Mysteries, and OCCINT. SKEPSI, 7 (Summer 2016): pp. 15-28


Research Institute

Media and Communication Research Centre (MCRC)