The occult and occultism are not the same as religion and religious practices, though there certainly are some similarities. The best way to separate the two is to define them. Religion is defined as the belief and worship of a controlling power or a system of faith and worship. Occult is defined as supernatural beliefs, practices and phenomena beyond the range of ordinary knowledge or experience. To put it simply, religion is a set of rules to live by with a mythology to explain the world and terminology to define the spirituality of the self with. Conversely, the occult is tools with which to change ones life. It's not a set of rules to explain the world, but the tools with which to find your own explanations. The two are not, however, mutually exclusive. One can certainly be a practitioner of the occult while belonging to a religion and belong to a religion while practicing the occult. The occult is merely a way of moving beyond the rules and restrictions of religion to find your own 'line' to the divine.
What is the Occult?The word occult is defined as hidden. It is used even by the scientific world to describe something that is too small or occluded to see. It is not Satanism or black magic. It is the study of the hidden knowledge of the world. Many people will lump occultism with esotericism and mysticism because they are considered less threatening by the main stream. Occultism tends to seek three different types of hidden knowledge: knowledge that is kept from the wider population and only available to those who are initiated into a group, knowledge hidden by the divine that only a few may comprehend, and knowledge of realms or energies and abilities that the main stream population will not recognize. This is often narrowly defined as the practice of magic, but actually can include anything supernatural or paranormal.
Occult SymbolismThere are different types of symbols commonly used in occultism. Many have been in existence for almost as long as there have been people on the earth.
- All-Seeing Eye: A symbol that represents spiritual sight, inner vision, and higher knowledge
- Ankh: Recognized as the ancient Egyptian symbol for eternal life
- Circle: The ancient, universal symbol of unity and wholeness
- Circumpunct: Ancient symbol representing the sun and sun gods
- Quartered Circle: The symbol representing the elements and cardinal directions
- Infinity Sign: Represents perfection, dualism, and unity.
- Scarab: A symbol of protection from evil
- Swastika: An ancient Hindu symbol representing movement and change in harmony