Good morning, everyone! I’ve had my chai latte and am fully awake now, so I’d like to talk a little bit about an interest of mine. I’d love to hear your takes on the topic down in the comments!
When people hear the word ‘occult’ there’s a certain image that most conjure: candles and altars, secret societies, witches and demons and malicious things. There’s a lot to be said for that case, as it’s what is portrayed to us in the media and is, in part, what that word can define. I thought there must be more to it than that, so I did a little research.
Let’s define it.
According to Wikipedia, the word occult refers to knowledge of the hidden or paranormal in direct opposition to facts and science. (I’m a huge fan of science, but it doesn’t capture my imagination in quite the same way as magic!) Throughout history the term has been used to refer to several things including: esoteric and arcane teachings, ‘occult sciences’ (astrology, alchemy, natural magic), spiritualism, new age, and the paranormal. In writing, often anything that doesn’t fit into the categories of ‘religion’ or ‘science’ ends up being labelled as occult.
What does that mean for me, a writer who is super interested in the occult? Honestly, I love the image most come up with–the candles, witches, demons, and the works. I’m fascinated by magic. I’ve been writing stories since I was 8, and every single story since I was 12 had some type of magic in it. I’m fairly certain that trend will continue, because I can’t get enough of it. Even most of the books I read are like that–although I love a good Dystopian or Victorian novel as well. Let’s face it. Without magic and fantasy in my life, I would be struggs to func.
Wait, there’s more to it than that.
You’re right. Another aspect of the occult is secret societies. Most people scoff or wave it off as a conspiracy theory that there could be secret societies in the modern digital age, but they exist. I personally know people who have been involved with secret societies in one form or another.. and not all those experiences are beneficial. I have one friend who refuses to speak of the atrocities they endured outside of therapy sessions. I also know others who had a more positive experience.
I don’t normally share this information, but I actually knew people who were involved in a group when I was younger. They had beliefs about the existence of demons, angels, and magic. They insisted on secrecy. They believed themselves separate and better than normal people. In short, they were a cult. A not-so-serious one, but they still had all the makings of one. This group, called The Circle, actually inspired the Order of the Hunt that appears in my upcoming novel The Wraith. (Pssst… Order of the Hunt was the working title for the novel!)
What is considered occult has changed over time, including a definition proposed in the 90’s that had to do with people’s disenchantment with a secular world. While I can sort of agree with that definition, I know that it’s an ever changing term that won’t really be able to be pinned down. And it shouldn’t be. The nature of the occult is shifting and ethereal. It’s mystic energy, foggy nights, full moons, and tarot cards. It’s Wiccans lighting candles in the woods at night, setting out crystals, praying to the goddess. It’s the spiritual feeling college students experience after a long night of partying or studying. It’s the unseen forces of good and evil, of demons and angels and werewolves and other unexplained creatures.
In short, it’s everything not measured by science. It’s where we live.