The occult is a set of practices associated with many diverse beliefs often based on monism (all is one; there is a life force uniting all creation) & pantheism (all is God; the life force is God). The occult normally involves the following:
1. Techniques to manipulate reality or to gain secret information: Sorcery/magick: calling on spirits for power; special rituals, spells or techniques to manipulate forces to bring about a desired result. There is no such thing as white magick, a term for magic used with good intentions. Although occultists make a distinction between black & white magick, God does not, as He clearly condemns all sorcery/magick.
Divination (also called fortunetelling): a practice designed to gain hidden or secret information about the past, present, or future, such as tarot cards, crystal balls, astrology, psychic techniques, palm reading, numerology, tea leaf reading, automatic writing, reading the symbols of runes or the I Ching, or looking for omens as advice.
2. Attempts to contact spirit beings (spiritism) such as angels, demons, departed souls, or those believed to be in other planes or dimensions. This is done using the Ouija Board, channeling, meditation, visualization, drugs or automatic writing. Some words in the Old Testament describing occult practices translate as "having a familiar spirit."
3. Drugs (especially hallucinogens such as LSD and mescaline) are often used to reach an altered state or hypnotic trance, a state desirable by occultists for visions, enhanced abilities, & spirit contact. Some words for sorcery in the Bible come from words for the use of drugs and potions.
4. Occult practices are strongly condemned by God; such practices lead away from God toward deception, danger and even destruction. DEUTERONOMY 18: 10-12: There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you. Check out these verses as well: Lev. 19: 26,31, 20:6; 2 Kings 17:17; I Chron. 10:13, Is. 8:19, 47:12-15; Ez. 13: 20, 21; Acts 7:41-44; Gal. 5:20; Rev. 21:8. JESUS SAID: I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Revelation 1:18
The occult includes many diverse beliefs and practices:
1.Techniques to access or manipulate unseen forces/energy:
Sorcery/magick: Calling on spirits for power; practicing techniques or doing rituals to gain unseen power(s) and/or to manipulate energy in order to bring about a desired result. Occultists generally consider these powers to be natural forces in the universe, not supernatural. The concept is that it is one's belief, vision and/or spiritual status which enables one to access & use these forces.
Divination: Using an esoteric tool or method to access information about the past, present & future, and/or reading hidden meanings into symbols or pictures such as tarot cards; crystal balls; astrology; psychic techniques; numerology; tea leaf reading; automatic writing; reading the symbols of Runes or the I Ching; looking for omens.
Spiritism: Attempting to contact spirit beings such as angels, demons, the dead, ascended masters, or others thought to be in a non-physical form. Tools and techniques include the Ouija Board, channeling, meditation, visualization, drugs or automatic writing. Some words used in the Old Testament to describe occult practices translate as "having a familiar spirit."
2. A self-induced hypnosis or trance state: Considered desirable or necessary for many occult practices. This trance state, also called an altered state of consciousness, is often achieved through meditation, drugs, chanting, yoga body positions, breathing techniques, repetitive motions or words, or focus on a divination tool.
3. There is a close connection between drugs (especially hallucinogens such as LSD) and the occult. Drugs can bring about an altered state of consciousness or hypnotic trance which is desired in many occult practices as a way to enhance vision and paranormal ability or as a way to contact spirits. This state is perceived as a higher spiritual awareness than normal daily awareness.
4. Sex magick, the use of sexual acts to attain or access power is found in teachings such as Tantra, an Eastern practice taught as a spiritual and occult technique. These techniques can easily devolve into sexual perversion & the proliferation of pornographic images. Pornography is often found in conjunction with the occult because it misuses and degrades the human body designed by God.
5. Witchcraft/Wicca & Neopaganism: Neopaganism or paganism is an umbrella term for a variety of contemporary belief systems, including witchcraft & Wicca, that revere nature and which practice goddess worship and/or polytheism. Nature is viewed as sacred and the earth is an organism. All living things and people are linked by one unseen life force, sometimes interpreted to be the goddess. Rituals are performed to harmonize one's self with nature by observing seasonal changes and moon phases, and occult practices such as divination and casting spells are common. There is no belief in sin or Satan, and the goddess is sometimes considered symbolic. The experiential, subjective aspect has a very strong appeal. The "moral code" of witchcraft/Wicca is: "If it harms none, do what you will," (Scott Cunningham, The Truth About Witchcraft, [Llewellyn, 1994], p. 46; Teresa Moorey, Witchcraft, A Beginner's Guide, [Hodder & Stoughton,1996], p. 6). Neopagan religions are sometimes called earth religions. There are many variations in practices among the followers of these beliefs, and the structure varies from very loose to a more traditional hierarchy of leaders teaching & initiating novices. Beliefs might incorporate Eastern religions, Native American beliefs, or Celtic paganism. Beliefs and practices tend to be fluid. Some followers are lone practitioners, not affiliated with any group.
6. Satanism: Contemporary Satanism is mostly atheistic, having been influenced by Anton La Vey (founder of the Church of Satan in San Francisco, 1966) and his Satanic Bible, although there are Satanists who worship Satan or honor him. Satanists who see Satan as symbolic distinguish themselves from those who worship Satan, whom they may call "devil worshipers." To atheistic Satanists, Satan represents serving the self and the rejection of rules or morals imposed from without. Individualism is extolled. Rock star Marilyn Manson said that Lucifer was cast out of heaven because "he chose to be an individual instead of mindlessly following the herd....Be your own leader; think for yourself," (Propaganda, Issue No. 24, p. 40), an attitude that fits the postmodern age of no absolute truth or moral standards. Black metal musicians can be Satanists & their music often expresses an intense anti-Christian hatred. There are those, sometimes called Luciferians, who believe that Satan, as the angel Lucifer, brought wisdom and enlightenment to man. This attitude was a popular Romantic view of Lucifer as a misunderstood hero or rebel against the status quo. Some Satanists are involved in ritual magick (sorcery), drugs, and occult divination. Modern Satanists who practice ritual magick often follow the teachings of occultist/magician Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) whose most significant work, The Book of the Law, contains the Law of Thelema: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law," (Rosemary Ellen Guiley, The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, [New York: Facts on File, 1989], p.76). To sum up Satanic views: (1) Satan is real and evil but worthy of worship because of his rebellion against God; (2) Satan is (or represents) an enlightened, misunderstood angel of wisdom, unfairly maligned; (3) Satan is not real, but is a symbol of man's strength & wisdom, and of man's right to determine his own values & fate.
7. The vampire underground: Influenced by a combination of vampire LARP's (live action role-playing games) such as The Masquerade, Anne Rice novels, and vampire themes in movies & books, a vampire subculture has arisen which includes those who believe they either have a genetic inheritance as a vampire, or that they become a vampire through a blood-drinking ritual or other form of initiation, often involving sex and/or the occult. These are not Dracula vampires, but people who believe they are separated from others by "something in the blood" and that they have a power and superiority over non-vampires. Clubs which cater to this group are often initial gathering places. (See Rosemary Guiley, Vampires Among Us; Jeff Guinn, Something in the Blood; Katherine Ramsland, Piercing the Darkness: Undercover with Vampires in America Today).
Common beliefs in the occult: (all do not apply to Satanism)
1. Monism: Man & the universe are part of the same universal energy or life force.
2. Pantheism: God(dess) or a divine energy pervades the universe. We are all part of this divine force; there is no or little differentiation between humans & nature.
3. Panentheism: Creation is part of God(dess); God(dess) is contained in creation.
4. Polytheism: There are many gods/many manifestations of the one God/Goddess.
5. Syncretism: Combination of beliefs. Sometimes Christianity is mixed with occult, New Age or Eastern beliefs. The occult often (mis)uses Christian phrases or concepts.
6. Animism: The earth & objects are pervaded by spirits and/or energies/forces.
7. Everything is energy; magick is the manipulation and/or alteration of energy through one?s will, the use of rituals and/or incantations. 8. There is no absolute reality, truth, or morality; truth is in subjective experience.