Whenever the word “occult” or “occultism” is mentioned, for the most part, the reaction is one of fear or sarcasm. This is due to either ignorance, false ideas based on the media/Hollywood or an erroneous interpretation on the the subject. The word occult comes from the Latin word “occultus” which means hidden; in other words, it is there to be discovered, nothing more and nothing less. Those who don’t know what occultism is and fear it, believe all occult practices should be abolished or punished; however, occultism concerns itself mostly with Esoteric practices vs. Exoteric (The first is about looking in. The second is about looking out).
It seems anything that is to empower humanity has always been considered dangerous, simply because its understanding demands more from us than exoteric teachings and practices. Some consider occultism fraudulent or pseudo-science, yet various disciplines of the occult are what have impacted, developed and expanded our knowledge on modern scientific methods and many of the disciplines we now use, including psychology. I will not deny there are charlatans or people who have no compass whenever studying the material, and simply interpret it to whatever fits their needs, but to say those people are the purest representations for the occult would be a mistake.
Those seriously familiar with the subject, consider occultism a great reservoir of knowledge about ourselves, divinity, the universe, cosmos and the pure fabric or our reality. Both Occultism and Esotericism are words which describe disciplines, theoretical practices and philosophies that have a long and solid historical foundation–the occult was there way before any other philosophy/belief.
To talk about the occult is to refer to practices such as pure magick, tarot (the correlation between humans and the cosmos), astronomy, alchemy (which involves mostly science) and philosophies such as Neoplatonism, Hermeticism and Kabbalah. Aside from those, philosophies such as Phytagoreanism and Gnosticism are also considered important due to their historical importance on the developing of subjects regarding occultism.
All the above disciplines and philosophies shared a very important thing in common, the belief on a universal conscience which interacts and affects our reality. In other words, everything and everyone is connected by this divine force. God then, was not a deity, but the very foundation of the fabric of reality and that which is unknown to our senses. It is the primordial force that was and always will be, which does not judge or condemn the way we have been taught a deity does.
These disciplines or philosophies also shared another thing in common, that is the belief that we have full access to that pure force through the activation and development of our conscious; for consciousness is not the same as simply being of mind–it is something that needs to be developed. To be conscious was never equated to being dogmatic, for dogma kills consciousness and robotizes the mind and soul–the very opposite of what consciousness is about.
To develop consciousness requires the desire and discipline to dive into the waters of the subconscious or shadow work, as well to build on our knowledge of subjects meant to teach us about the maya illusion and how to navigate it–in doing both things, a person can start to develop consciousness, and the compass he or she will need to navigate and experience the pure force that makes us and everything else.
The discipline and philosophy of occultism and esotericism, also believe in the existence of disembodied or spiritual entities (what later religions would interpret as angels and demons). Within occultism and esotericism, it is believed one can develop access to these entities who reside in another plane of existence. However; because everything is energy and energy expresses itself in various forms, we are warned to first develop a strong foundation before attempting to build a connection with these spiritual entities, for just as it happens with people, these energies can be healing or damaging–as such strong discernment is needed.
Unlike movies would have us believe; the study of the occult is not for those who want to “play” with the ethereal force or whom erroneously believe they will develop their “dark” force (one can only give and express what one is). To study the occult requires a strong mind and body….in other words a strong center. That is why, in ancient times the study of the occult was reserved for only a few; this was not based on the desire to maintain people ignorant nor controlled (like many modern societies do)–it was not a “club” but a serious endeavor–to be part of it, meant one had to first prove his or herself and the pure motivation behind the desire to study the occult.
This is also why why in Egypt, they believed the heart had to weigh less than a feather; nothing to do with rigid beliefs, dogmas or false moralistic ideas; everything to do with the motivation behind one’s actions. It also explains why in times of Aristotle, they believed the study of Esoteric disciplines were reserved for those who were strong willed and had the capacity to think outside the box, to question vs just following. Exoteric teachings (compartmentalized popular education) was left for the rest of the population for they were simpler to understand and practice.
Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Japanese Shinto and pure yoga, are disciplines full of Esoteric knowledge and practices; these were never to be religions but philosophies. Once a philosophy is caged within the rigid box of a religion, it loses its power and simply becomes dogma–robotic practices without knowledge nor experience to compliment them.
How then, so many esoteric practices fell under the clutches and judgement of religions? It happened during the sixth century, when Greek philosophy decided to start focusing on pure “matter” or the physicality of our world. They wanted to understand it better; as such, they pushed aside the spiritual to focus on the material–something that was supposed to be temporary became permanent. This gave those willing to manipulate and control, the opportunity needed to rise; “religious” leaders promoted division between the “spiritual” realm and the “physical realm”. This gap between them, only intensified with the rise of Christianism, which more or less became a system in which one needed mediators to commune with the divine. This is not to say the teachings of Jesus Christ; like many other prophets; were wrong, rather their teachings were manipulated to fit the agenda of the time. Let us not forget, that nothing that we have been taught about Jesus and his teachings were ever written by him.
Everything about the divine spark within, universal consciousness, connection with nature and other senses, were eradicated by the new teachings that were on the rise. Their concern was more about control and political expansion, than it was about personal expansion and development of consciousness. Anything these so called leaders could not understand or which seemed to threatened their “power”, was considered sinful or heretic.
The cruel power that the Church had over the so called heretics, lasted for many centuries, claiming countless lives through tortures and death which included the burning of people while alive. This explains why Esoteric teachings were kept hidden; the more they were kept hidden, the more the Church demonized them.
It was on the 15th century, when there was an attempt for the rebirth of the old knowledge through the discovery of the Hermetic teachings, but the cruelty and oppression of the Church, once more silenced the Esoteric rising.
It was on the 17th century; when Science started to get stronger; that it renewed its “deal” with the church to respect leaving the “spiritual” under its control. However, the scientists of the time understood quite well that occultism is not just about disembodied entities or other realms, but it manly focuses on mathematics, physics, chemistry among others. As such, “occult” knowledge was used to develop what is known as Science and the scientific method.
It was thanks to the birth of “Science”, that the old knowledge, history, teachings and practices of the occult, once more came to light. Even though in many ways, modern science is now acting as the Church did; separates itself and tries not to give credit to where it got most of its knowledge; the fact remains that in current times the disciplines of the occult have come to light, and are there to be studied and integrated by anyone willing to dive into the unconscious. Anyone willing to develop his or her own consciousness (uniqueness while connected), getting in touch with our own divinity and understanding the visible and invisible world that surrounds us.