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Author Topic: The word 'occult'  (Read 7954 times)
Waldfrau
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« Topic Start: April 25, 2009, 02:59:38 pm »

For many people outside the pagan umbrella the word 'occult' has darker associations to it than the word 'magic'. You know, Harry Potter visits a school of magic, not of 'occult studies'. But why is that? According to wiki the word just refers to 'hidden' or 'secret' knowledge.

How do you use the word in pagan settings? How in non-pagan ones? If you practice magic or other arts considered to be occult do you see yourself as 'occultist'? Do you like/dislike the term?



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« Reply #1: April 25, 2009, 05:18:23 pm »

How do you use the word in pagan settings? How in non-pagan ones? If you practice magic or other arts considered to be occult do you see yourself as 'occultist'? Do you like/dislike the term?

I'm pretty neutral to the term.  I don't use it much because the term is very broad. "I'm an occultist" can mean anything from "I read the horoscope column in the newspaper" to "I summon demons."  The "occult" is a huge area of study.
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« Reply #2: April 25, 2009, 07:46:57 pm »

How do you use the word in pagan settings? How in non-pagan ones?

"Occult" is not a term that I use very often and then only when someone else brings up the term.  It seems that nearly every instance when I've had to use the word, it's been to explain to someone that occult does not mean satanic or evil.   Roll Eyes  I tend to use "esoteric" instead.

If you practice magic or other arts considered to be occult do you see yourself as 'occultist'?

While I could be considered an "occultist",  it's not a label I've ever used for myself.  It's too broad to meaningfully describe my practice. 
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« Reply #3: April 25, 2009, 08:30:34 pm »





I've used the word in the past, before I declared myself to be a Pagan. Back then I used it to mean that I was interested in the esoteric stuff, like divination, ghosts, magick, etc. As Randall says, "occult" covers a lot of territory. I stopped using the word later on, because I began to associate the word with Crowley and his ilk, people who were more into ceremonial magick, more serious stuff than I was. That was simply my use of the word. Other people use the word to describe their own interests, when it might mean nothing more than reading their horoscope or taking a visit to their local "spiritual advisor" or calling one of those psychic hotlines.
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« Reply #4: April 26, 2009, 08:43:12 pm »

How do you use the word in pagan settings? How in non-pagan ones? If you practice magic or other arts considered to be occult do you see yourself as 'occultist'? Do you like/dislike the term?

I'll refer to a store that exclusively sells magical and divination supplies as an "occult shop" but that's really the only context in which I use the word occult.  I don't have strong feelings about it one way or the other, it's just not a word I use very much.

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« Reply #5: May 10, 2009, 12:24:00 am »


It's just one of the many words dubbed dark by society as you said. In my mind it relates to anything 'out of the ordinary.' If I'm speaking with one unknown of my interests and abilities I steer away from the word.
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« Reply #6: May 10, 2009, 03:21:07 am »

How do you use the word in pagan settings? How in non-pagan ones? If you practice magic or other arts considered to be occult do you see yourself as 'occultist'? Do you like/dislike the term?

I donīt identify myself as occultist. It simply donīt resonate with the feeling about myself. I think thereīs some consepts that I assosiate strongly with the word occult. I have the same assosiation with occult and ceremonial magic as already mentioned here.
Yes, I know the word is not their private property but it fit them well I think. The word occult have kind of sound of great halls and dusty librarys and dark arts, you know Wink. Iīm simply too folk for that.

I think the word also have some assosiations with non-pagans that I wouldnīt use the word when talking with my family or non-pagan friends. This might be just on my head but yes, Iīm bit cautious with that word.
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« Reply #7: May 10, 2009, 03:45:46 am »

How do you use the word in pagan settings? How in non-pagan ones? If you practice magic or other arts considered to be occult do you see yourself as 'occultist'? Do you like/dislike the term?

I have no emotional response to the word and I tend to use it fairly strictly to mean hidden or secret knowledge. I don't use it to refer to things that were once occult, but are no longer (i.e. they are not secret or hidden now). I usually use esoteric to refer to the many things that are often called occult because they used to be.

I suspect that the reaction is at least partly against the perception that to have hidden knowledge is to have power against or over others and that without such knowledge themselves they are rendered defenceless.
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« Reply #8: May 10, 2009, 04:39:14 am »

I suspect that the reaction is at least partly against the perception that to have hidden knowledge is to have power against or over others and that without such knowledge themselves they are rendered defenceless.
That's something I've pondered when dealing with non-Pagans. I'm sort of a plant-mystic/empath and I have been talking with other nature loving people about vague 'powers' I percieved in those plants when I was a naive 20 year old not knowing about paganism and the Craft. Their reactions made me realize that I percieve stuff not everyone does (or pays attention to). That time I realized what is percievable (although higly subjective) for me seems 'occult' for others. I think what freaks out many people about magic is that they can't see what happens and they don't have the knowledge to fill those gaps. I guess it's like having a computer problem and not being able to understand what goes wrong in that black box.

I don't see myself as occultist because the stuff I deal with isn't really hidden. Just everyone percieves it different or doesn't pay attention to it at all. When I close my eyes to sleep the world doesn't become hidden just because I can't see it at the moment. If that makes any sense.
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« Reply #9: May 10, 2009, 05:50:58 am »

I don't see myself as occultist because the stuff I deal with isn't really hidden. Just everyone percieves it different or doesn't pay attention to it at all. When I close my eyes to sleep the world doesn't become hidden just because I can't see it at the moment. If that makes any sense.

Smiley Yes it does, to me at least (there are those who might not see that as a good thing though YMMV Tongue) When I say hidden in reference to things occult, I mean deliberately or accidentally conceled by something or some one. I think I might be a bit caught up in the astronomical usage where you could say that the moon occulted the sun during an eclipse. I'll have to think how that applies in the case you cite. I suspect that I would consider it occult by dint of being hidden from your friends; however, I think it might make adifference to me whether or not they could develop the sensitivity you have, or not. If so, then I tend to occult; if not, then I'm less sure. I think that I always assume that the occult is hidden-but-not-unknowable. Hmmm, need to think on this (which is good - I need the distraction).
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« Reply #10: May 10, 2009, 11:50:28 am »

How do you use the word in pagan settings? How in non-pagan ones? If you practice magic or other arts considered to be occult do you see yourself as 'occultist'? Do you like/dislike the term?

I see it as neutral.  IIRC, Borders Books and Music calls its astrology/tarot/witchcraft/new age etc. section "Occult", or "Occult Studies"; the word seems fairly mainstream here.  I don't think I use it often because, as others have noted, it seems to be a catch-all word, too broad to have much meaning.

Marc beat me to it on the astronomical usage :-)  If questioned about the word, I say it simply means "hidden".

I would not call myself an occultist.  To me that sounds like someone who studies the occult - an occultologist, if you will :>
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« Reply #11: June 28, 2009, 04:49:08 pm »

For many people outside the pagan umbrella the word 'occult' has darker associations to it than the word 'magic'. You know, Harry Potter visits a school of magic, not of 'occult studies'. But why is that? According to wiki the word just refers to 'hidden' or 'secret' knowledge.

How do you use the word in pagan settings? How in non-pagan ones? If you practice magic or other arts considered to be occult do you see yourself as 'occultist'? Do you like/dislike the term?





What a great topic to bring up.  I don't think that there is any word in the world used to describe a system of beliefs that is so broad and so misunderstood.  I remember when I first joined the Freemasons, many of my Christian friends accused me of delving into the "occult" like the word "occult" was in relation to something evil or sinister.  To many Christians the Freemasons are some sort of sinister or even evil group.  But if the meaning of the word "occult" has anything to do with the hidden or unseen, then I suppose that by being a memver of the Freemasons I am one who delves into the occult.  But I do not think the word occult refers to anything sinister. 

Mystical Christians or even individuals that practice Gnostic Christianity could be considered practicing the occult because of the nature of the information that is sought within those belief systems.  I personally refer to the pratice and theory of magic as the occult because it is not something that one can understand on the surface.  It takes time and much practice for anyone to understand the "hidden" knowledge of something like magic or it's theory.  Even something like the practice of Enochian Magic which is basically a Christian system (if you consider the spiritual beings that the sorcerer or practicioner seeks to summon) that is actually a magical system which could be characterized as the "occult."

In conclusion, I generally view the word "occult" as one that refers to almost anything involving knowledge that is no readily available but must be sought out and studied before the information is revealed. 
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« Reply #12: June 28, 2009, 07:47:03 pm »

For many people outside the pagan umbrella the word 'occult' has darker associations to it than the word 'magic'. You know, Harry Potter visits a school of magic, not of 'occult studies'. But why is that? According to wiki the word just refers to 'hidden' or 'secret' knowledge.

How do you use the word in pagan settings? How in non-pagan ones? If you practice magic or other arts considered to be occult do you see yourself as 'occultist'? Do you like/dislike the term?

It's all in the way the people around you perceive the word.  It's all well and good that 'occult' refers only to something hidden, but that's just not how the people I interact with on a daily basis perceive it.  Honestly, I dislike words like 'witch' just as much.  I know that the origional meaning of the word is not at all bad or yucky, but that's just what the people around me think.  I'd rather use my own terms that I can explain fresh to people, rather than having to start from a word that carries a lot of negative connotations in their minds.  In other words, if I'm going to talk about religion, I want to talk about what I believe and not have to waste my time convincing people of what I don't believe just because I'm using a loaded word.  I can tell my fundie-Christian friend that I'm interested in Daoism and I use the I Ching sort of like Tarot cards, and that's much more descriptive and less loaded then saying I'm an atheist and I practice divination magic.

I totally understand why people would use words like witchcraft and magic when they run in predominantly pagan circles, but in my very Christian and close-minded corner of the Midwest, using words like that aren't going to get you anywhere except home alone on a Friday night; because everyone now thinks you're the crazy person who sacrifices babies to Satan.  A bit of an over-exaggeration, but seriously - it's just not worth the hassle.
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« Reply #13: June 28, 2009, 10:22:05 pm »

How do you use the word in pagan settings? How in non-pagan ones? If you practice magic or other arts considered to be occult do you see yourself as 'occultist'? Do you like/dislike the term?

Occult is just hidden or unseen. As a child of the '70s, though, 'occult' for me will always refer to the vast interest in psychic/psi phenomenon that swept across the U.S. during that decade. As Hal Sparks put it on I Love the '70s: "The Magic 8 Ball, much like the Ouija Board, was part of the Great Witching of America, which I fully support."

Under the blanket term of occult I lump: remote viewing, ghost hunting, Kirlian photography, UFOs, Bigfoot/Loch Ness/cryptozoology, spiritism/spiritualism, seances, transchanneling, out of body/near death experiences, parlor games like 'light as a feather, stiff as a board', the Ouija board, all those kind of fringe beliefs and concepts that today seem kind of hoky and outdated.

Aleister Crowley is not 'occult', he was a ceremonial magic(k)ian. Satanism isn't 'occult', it's Satanism.
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« Reply #14: July 16, 2009, 02:45:30 pm »

Occult is just hidden or unseen. As a child of the '70s, though, 'occult' for me will always refer to the vast interest in psychic/psi phenomenon that swept across the U.S. during that decade. As Hal Sparks put it on I Love the '70s: "The Magic 8 Ball, much like the Ouija Board, was part of the Great Witching of America, which I fully support."

Under the blanket term of occult I lump: remote viewing, ghost hunting, Kirlian photography, UFOs, Bigfoot/Loch Ness/cryptozoology, spiritism/spiritualism, seances, transchanneling, out of body/near death experiences, parlor games like 'light as a feather, stiff as a board', the Ouija board, all those kind of fringe beliefs and concepts that today seem kind of hoky and outdated.

Aleister Crowley is not 'occult', he was a ceremonial magic(k)ian. Satanism isn't 'occult', it's Satanism.

I like the term, Occult, because it means hidden.  That which is sublime in magick cannot be easily seen.  That which is sublime in magick cannot be easily read.  Sorry, folks, you won't find the sublime - that which is beautiful, profound, spirit-raising, amazing, mindblowing, heart-pulling - in most paperback books on the shelves at your local megabookstore.  Even if there are some gems in there, some things that can lead you on the correct path, if you don't seek -deeper-, for the hidden meaning in things, and just stay on the surface, accepting surface knowledge, you'll never find the beautiful, profound, mindblowing experiences that magickal studies lead you to.

Frank Zappa once said, "The mainstream comes to you, but you have to go to the underground."  Occult is that - the underground.  The hidden.  You have to look for it, and you have to look a little harder than just picking up a book or visiting a website.  But do go looking - there's amazing stuff to be found.
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