Many people have heard of the occult. Upon hearing the word, many people immediately think of mysterious rituals, secret societies, and dark secrets. Those terms, in reality, are actually great examples of “the occult,” but it is true that the term “occult” refers to much more in the paranormal world.
Let’s start with the etymology of the word, “occult.” The word comes from occultus, a Latin word meaning secret and hidden. The word itself, “occult,” refers to the knowledge of the hidden. In fact, occult even extends to meaning the “knowledge of the paranormal,” “hidden knowledge,” and more.
Many magical and spiritual orders and organizations have been labelled as occult. These organizations’ practices include alchemy, ESP (extra-sensory perception), spiritualism, divination, astrology, philosophy, and more. Additionally, concepts of the occult and occultism can be found throughout many religions and cultures of the world. The religions and cultures most greatly based around occultism include Hermeticism, Wicca, Gnosticism, Thelema, and even Satanism.
The “occult” directly contrasts with science. Science, which can be called “knowledge of the measurable,” directly contradicts with the occult, which could analogously be called “knowledge of the paranormal.” The occult is the belief that things have an inner nature and characteristics, as opposed to the exterior appearance and characteristics explored by science. Arthur Schopenhauer, the renowned German philosopher, illustrated a distinct boundary between the worlds of science and the occult: he suggested that there was no way for conventional science to penetrate and obtain information about the inner nature of things.
The occult is often viewed as something malevolent that is done by the supernatural or paranormal, against God, in many religions. This is not entirely always the case, but this idea is extremely prominent in both Judaism as well as Christianity. However, in certain other cultures of the world, such as Hinduism, occult concepts are actually a part of the elaborate rituals in the religion.
- The New Encyclopedia of the Occult
- Initiation of the Soul : Esoteric & Occult Philosophy, Consciousness and Realization of Truth
- Outline of Occult Science (Cambridge Library Collection – Spiritualism and Esoteric Knowledge)