“You’re evil! Devil worshipper! You’re going to hell!” These are just a few statements one may hear when identifying as an occultist. There is a fear that a person who studies the occult is into ‘black magic’ and hurting others, though for the majority this is not true. A large percentage of people don’t know and understand what the occult is. Many are basing their beliefs from religions that preach anything connected to magic and having faith in your own abilities and powers is wrong. Others have been swayed and misguided by the media. However, there are some people may have had certain experiences with spirits, haunted houses, and other paranormal activity that have caused them to stay away and be against the occult. The occult is not a topic and study of choice for everyone, but it’s important to at least have a general idea of what it actually is.
What Is The Occult
The word occult means ‘hidden’, coming from the Latin term occultis. It represents what’s beyond the visible world and consciousness; what presides on the other side of the veil where spirits and other aspects beyond our day-to-day experiences exist.
Throughout history it has been said that the secrets of the world, man, and the “supernatural” were hidden away in books, or that one needed training in the studies of the occult. This was because it was thought that only few would be able to master and handle the techniques learned, and as time went on, different religions and faiths begin persecuting those who were occultist. This led to them studying and practicing in secret.
Purpose of Studying The Occult
There are a variety of reasons the occult is a subject of interest. Some people want to communicate with the dead and spirits while others want to see into the past and/or future. There are those who want to learn how to heal themselves and others while other people may just want to say they can read minds. Not one person’s answer will be the same and there are plenty more reasons why someone is interested in the occult. One key aspect is that there are a plethora of methods used to connect with the world beyond ours, such as tarot cards, astrology, rituals and seances. These resources will be explained more in the next section.
A major reason the occult is explored is due to its helping one grow spiritually from human to divine being. The methods and elements involved promote self-growth and ways for one to reach higher levels of consciousness.
Elements of the Occult
According toThe Occult Book by John Michael Greer, there are 5 core elements of occultism. These elements are initiation, magic, occult philosophy, divination, and alchemy.
Initiation into the occult occurs when a person decides to make a lifelong commitment to studying and working within themselves to master the art of magic and divination, which helps the initiator grow and transform into a powerful being. An initiation can be on a large scale with grand ceremonies or one can initiate themselves alone using their own alter or whatever it is they choose.
Magic is considered an art and science in the occult world. Art because of the various ways you can create what it is you desire, and science when transforming from one state to another, whether yourself or your surroundings. When performing magic, one is focusing their will and effort into the universe to shift their surroundings. By mastering this technique, an occultist will be able to shift their consciousness at will and manifest their desires. The more feeling, emotion, and focused used helps with faster results.
The philosophical element is used for explaining how and why occultism works. There have been different schools throughout time that one could study and learn about occult teachings. Each and every person who studies the occult has their own theories and philosophy pertaining to the subject.
This art consists of using methods to learn about hidden forces during the present and insight into the future, as discussed previously. Popular methods include palmistry, tea leaf readings, tarot cards, scrying, and star gazing. These also help to develop your intuition and help it become stronger. Another term for divination is fortune telling.
The word alchemy is often thought of as turning lead into gold which was popular during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. For the spiritual occultist, alchemy is a metaphor for spiritual transformation: transforming oneself from human to divine being. The goal is to achieve balance within and to reach the highest level of spiritual awareness. In doing so, one will have infinite knowledge of oneself and the universe.
Future of the Occult
The occult has been around since the beginning of time and will continue to be a topic of study and practice. The subject has helped many people to transform their lives for the better, understand who they are in this world, and know that there is more than seen with the eyes. It’s a practice that is clouded with mystery and those who are willing to go beyond the veil will always find their way to it.
Sources and Further Reading
Christopher Dell, The Occult, Witchcraft & Magic (London: Thames&Hudson, 2016)
John Michael Greer, The Occult Book, (New York: Sterling, 2017)