Occultism, or mystery, means the knowledge sought through magic or secret doctrines, or a religious or mystical course of study based on that knowledge.
Definition of occultism
Occult can be considered to be spiritual learning and activity whose content or methods have not been made public. The word esoteric has a similar meaning and is often used interchangeably. Occultism can refer to any magical or supernatural skill practiced in secret, while esoteric contains the idea of special salvation (gnosis) or the change within the individual (enlightenment). , such as magic, to take advantage of supernatural powers or to come into contact with another. Traditionally, occult information has been available in secret societies or as a student (i.e. adept) of a master, but today it is also possible to get acquainted with the subject through occult literature.
One theosophical definition of occultism is that it is “a worldview composed of different sources that each practitioner compiles for himself. The occultist strives to explore the world by supersensible means, once he has developed in accordance with the goals of the worldview he has created ”.
The beginning of occultism can be seen in the shamanism of early hunter-gatherer cultures, where the shaman’s knowledge and skills were passed on orally to his disciple. In ancient times, among others, Egyptian priests and Chaldean magicians have been held as holders of secret information. In ancient times, divination in particular was common. The written information was inherited to Europe during the Renaissance mainly through Arabic texts. Of these, the Corpus Hermeticum, translated into Latin in 1471 in particular, influenced the notion of the divinity of magic, as opposed to medieval black magic. In 1492, Jews were expelled from Spain and Portugal, as a result of which many esoteric ideas spread to other parts of Europe.
The Church sometimes took a very harsh approach to occultism, especially witchcraft, and this manifested itself especially after the Middle Ages as witch-hunts. Instead, astrological symbols have also been incorporated into the early church buildings, and alchemy, among others, has long remained under the protection of the rulers. The paths of science and alchemy did not finally diverge until the late 18th century.
In the 18th century, occultism made a new appearance in Europe, including in the form of the Rosicrucianism, and in the 19th century it became available to the general public, especially with the works of Eliphas Lév and H. P. Blavatsky. With the development of science, numerous conceptions based on the occult tradition also emerged, many of which were later classified as pseudosciences.
The tradition of occultism has long been in narrow subcultures such as spiritualism, anthroposophy, theosophy, and parapsychology, but in recent decades interest in it has grown. popular. Current occultism includes teachings from a fairly wide range, but much of the concepts of occultism are common to all occult tendencies. The esoteric-occult tradition of the New Age movement has been influenced by, among other things, neo-diagnostics. Well-known works that have influenced Western occultism include the Corpus Hermeticum, The Key of King Solomon, Mutus Liber, De occulta philosophia, Atalanta fugiens, and the Zohar of the Kabbalists.
Secret doctrines and methods are often considered by the occultists, for example in theosophy, to be of divine origin and