The Occult, in its broadest sense, refers to a set of Exotic Supernatural beliefs and practices that typically operate outside the purview of organized religion and Science and include phenomena involving extraterrestrial power, including magic and mysticism and the various spells that fall under these categories.
It can also describe Supernatural concepts like parapsychology and extra-sensory perception. In the 16th century, astrology, Alchemy, and natural magic were called occult Sciences in Europe. Occultism was first recognised in 19th century France among individuals like Antoine Court De’Gebelin.
It became associated with various French esoteric movements linked to Eliphas Levi & Papus and esotericist Helena Blavatsky, who introduced it into English in 1875.
Various authors idiosyncratically used the term across the 20th century. Still, it was widely used by academic esotericism scholars by the 21st century to refer to multiple esoteric currents that emerged in the middle of the 19th century and their offspring.
Thus, First esoteric traditions like spiritualism, theosophy, anthroposophy, wicca, the hermetic order of Golden Don, and new age are frequently lumped together under the umbrella term of Occultism.
1. WESTERN INFLUENCE
Occultism is a term that refers to a variety of theories and practices that involve knowledge of, belief in, or use of supernatural forces or creatures. Every Civilization throughout recorded history has held such beliefs and practices, which are primarily magical or divinatory. However, there have been significant differences in their nature and how societies view them.
In the West, “Occultism” has taken on derogatory intellectual and moral connotations that do not exist in other cultural contexts where the relevant practices and beliefs do not conflict with the dominant worldview.
Occult practices are centred on the presumption that the practitioner may alter natural laws for oneself or another; these practices are typically only viewed as if they also involve transgressing moral laws. Magic is a critical element of occultism, and some anthropologists have argued that it is impossible to distinguish it from religion clearly.
This may indeed be true of the religious systems of some non-literate societies. However, none of the major religions, which hold that both natural and moral law are unchangeable, accept the argument’s validity.
2. HISTORICAL ANTECEDENTS
According to popular belief, the Western tradition of occultism is based on an old ‘secret philosophy’ that underlies all occult practices. This covert philosophy ultimately derives from Jewish mysticism and the magic alchemy of the Hellenistic period.
The Corpus Hermeticism, a collection of works attributed to Hermes Trismegistos, which deal with astrology alongside other occult sciences and spiritual regeneration, is the primary Hellenistic source.
The Kabbala, or doctrine of secret mystical comprehension of the Torah, known to European scholars since the Middle Ages and associated with the Hermetic texts during the Renaissance, provides the Jewish component.
Hermeticism, the resulting Hermetic-Kabbalistic tradition, combined theory and magical practice. The latter was presented as natural, and thus good, magic in contrast to the wicked practice of sorcery or witchcraft.
Alchemy was also incorporated into hermeticism, and this connection became more pronounced in the first decades of the 17th century via the rise of Rosicrucianism.
This purported secret brotherhood employed alchemical symbolism and imported secret knowledge to its adherents. This development created a spiritual Alchemy that withstood the development of Empirical science and allowed hermeticism to survive into the Age of Enlightenment.
Esoterically inclined freemasons who could not find an occult philosophy within freemasonry in the 18th century adopted the tradition. In the 19th century, when religious scepticism increased and educated people’s rejection of traditional religion, their search for salvation through other paths- including criticism, persisted within continental Europe as a group of occult practitioners.
3. THE VIEW THROUGH THE LENS OF INDIAN CONTEXT
Sadhguru quoted the difference between Occult and Spirituality. He suggested how occult practices are often misinterpreted as spiritual practices around the world. He added that we refer to something as spiritual while transcending the physical self and bringing about an experience inside the self that is not physical.
Although it uses the most subtle manifestations of the physical world, it is still physical. Occult is simply technology that, regrettably, has been misapplied. However, if we start torturing and killing people with technology, it will eventually appear that technology is a bad thing. That is what happened to the occult because too many people mishandled it for their gain. Therefore, on a spiritual path, the occult is generally wholly avoided.
4. THE OCCULT- FACT OR FICTION?
In 1951, the 1735 Witchcraft Act was repealed. Membership In occult covens, as well as the free practice of witchcraft, became legal due to the legislative action. The sheer amount of coverage by the press and literature on the occult available attests to the phenomenal increase of interest in the supernatural in Europe.
There are, in fact, identical and diametrically opposite misconceptions about evils into which humanity can fall, according to C.S. Lewis, Who stated this in his book. One is to deny the fact that they even exist. The alternative is to think they live and harbour an unhealthy fascination with them.
They delight in both errors equally and praise either materialism or the occultist with equal glee! Occult refers to things that are hidden, secret, or related to the supernatural, mystical or magical. This description is an inclusive umbrella term that refers to various practices and beliefs that neither emphasize Christ nor the Bible.
Whether a practice is regarded as occult, cultic, or religious can frequently be viewed as a philosophical question. Astrology, Ouija boards, voodoo, black or white magic, levitation, Halloween, spiritualism (contacting the dead through mediums or channels), crystal gazing, fortune telling, and psychic healing are examples of practices that are frequently regarded as belonging to the occult. Occult elements can also be found in certain religions, superstitions, new age, martial arts and alternative medical practices.
5. SURVIVAL OF OCCULT PRACTICES & IDEAS IN MODERN COMMON SENSE
Rationalism and materialism were the two major ideological currents that shaped the Western world for a very long time. They have influenced the period of logic and rationale ever since the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century.
Over the last few decades, strong counter-movements against the so-called new age movement have given rise to various unique world views. They should be viewed as extending in different directions from the broad field of occultism. A desire to transcend and a look for higher powers that keep an eye on each person can be seen in the belief in angels, the force of fate, communicating with the dead, and the conviction that there is life after death.
6. IS OCCULT REAL?
Some seekers are drawn to an ideology that does not contest the apparent veracity of their occult experiences because they have had such experiences. Occultism, mysticism, and spiritualism and spirituality have distinct differences, and failure to recognize their full significance will only confuse them. It is necessary to consider that this world of paranormal, occult, miraculous, and magic has no spiritual meaning in and of itself.
People may be amused, amazed, or overpowered by occult phenomena. However, they cannot bring about spiritual healing or upliftment, which matters. The spiritual journey becomes more effortless if we cultivate the proper attitude towards occult practices by having a balanced attitude, which is challenging to maintain.
7. DIGGIN A LIL’ MORE
Occultism is a recognized global religious phenomenon, according to scholars. A wide range of occultic practices are thought to be practised by people from all socioeconomic, religious, and cultural backgrounds (Kraft). When we refer to the “occult,” we mean a supernatural or supra-human force that is not emanating from God.
We frequently link the occult with things that have demonic influence. When we refer to forbidden knowledge, we merely refer to knowledge acquired independently of God or the typical methods by which people accept knowledge. No one can predict the future, but we can all predict what might happen based on our specific circumstances.
However, what forbidden knowledge means is to seek knowledge of the future or intimate knowledge about another person apart from God and with the aid of divination of spirits. A type of magical power known as forbidden power works independently of God and in unattainable ways by ordinary human means.
Effects beyond man’s capabilities are produced using witchcraft or superstitious magic. The use of magical gestures, words, objects, and particular herbs, powders, liquids, or other items can have positive or adverse effects. The devil is frequently invoked in a specific way. Others physically harm people out of jealousy or hatred.