April 17, 2014

The Occult

Occult is a word we hear all the time, but most people probably don't really know what it means. Like many words, the word can mean different things to different people, meaning the definition can shift considerably. For the purpose of this post, the many aspect of the occult will be briefly explored.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "occult" comes from Latin and hints at hiding or obscuring a thing or practice. The earliest recorded usage comes from the late 15th century. Some people say that occultism originated in the eastern portion of the Mediterranean area about 2,000 years ago. Whether that is true or not is a topic of academic debate.

What constitutes the occult can vary from person to person. In general, it is used in Western culture to refer to any magical or paranormal practices. Many occultists seek enlightenment or even spiritual fulfillment outside of mainstream religion. Perhaps because of this "fringe" aspect of the occult, the term has taken on a negative meaning. There are several main areas of study for occultists: astrology, spiritualism, divination, extra-sensory perception, alchemy, and magic. 

Some argue that most religions incorporate at least some occultist practices, but most do not agree with this assessment. There are a few religions that openly embrace the occult, namely Wicca and other neopagan movements. 


Robin said...

Hiding or obscuring a practice.

I guess I tend to think of it as mysterious or not readily explained. I suppose that falls in line (somewhat with that definition). And I think that it is neither good nor bad on its own... it all depends on how it is used.

David P. King said...

Your definition is how I've always seen it, but when I bring the word up people are worried I'm talking about devil worship or something. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I tend to see it as evil, like witchcraft. Some religions aren't what I would call occultish, but they are definitely cults.

stu said...

It does seem strange that we make this rather artificial distinction between the occult and religion. It seems simply to be a case of people exempting the things that are their own from the same scrutiny.

Patricia Lynne said...

Thanks for the lesson on Occult.

~Patricia Lynne~
Story Dam
Patricia Lynne, YA Author

Lexa Cain said...

Very interesting post and good info. Whenever I think of "the occult," I think of Crowley. He was one weird dude. lol

Arlee Bird said...

I don't know about everything involved in the occult, but I don't want any personal experience with it. I like movies about the topic now and then.

Wrote By Rote
An A to Z Co-host blog

D.G. Hudson said...

I agree with what Robin said.

This is one of those words where the way people 'feel' about it can depend on their backgrounds and the associations they attach to it.

Visiting via Robin's blog. A little birdie told me to stop by here on my A to Z tour.

debi o'neille said...

to me it has always had a connection to evil, which means scary, which means not for me. :-)
Great post. I just popped over from Robin's blog, and I'm glad to be your newest follower.

Briane Pagel said...

I agree with Alex: the word definitely has a negative, if not completely evil, connotation. If someone tells me they're into "occult" practices, I'd assume something dark.

Liza said...

Hi. Met you through Robin. It's interesting that the word has taken on such a negative connotation, when it incorporates things like astrology...which is generally viewed in a (more) positive light.

Chrys Fey said...

Interesting post! When a lot of people hear the word "occult" they see evil involving killings and blood. Hollywood has definitely turned it dark. That is the way I always saw it, so thank you for explaining.

mail4rosey said...

I'm waving hello today from Robin's place (Daily Dose).

Your hurricane story was moving. The prison scene haunting. I can't even imagine. :(

Comley Charlotte said...

You really made me think. nice to meet and connect through atozchallenge