The word "occult" means: "hidden from view; secret; mysterious..." (The
1. Secret, hidden except from those with more than ordinary knowledge.
2. Involving the supernatural, occult powers. The occult [involves] the world of the supernatural, mystical or magical. (The
"A person...who studies or practices any form of the "occult sciences" (such as divination, magic, mysticism, spiritualism, and so forth) is called an "occultist". (Gerina Dunwitch, A-Z of Wicca, p. 95).
Although many occult groups do tend to share in common elements of secrecy and exclusivism among themselves, it is useful to understand that not all groups which may be classed as "occult" are the same. This article will therefore seek to briefly identify and examine some of the main occult groups in existence today and highlight some of their primary beliefs.
Paganism - Contrary to popular belief, it must be stressed that Pagans do not worship the Devil*. Indeed, Pagans will normally throw their arms up in horror if a Christian accuses them of Devil worship.
Pagans tend to be folk who have a leaning towards nature and seek to harness the power of nature through various magical rites. Some, who may have had nominal Christian upbringings, rather than a life changing experience with Christ, may have become disillusioned with 'established religion' and as a result, have seen Paganism, or Witchcraft, as an attractive alternative.
Some of the Pagan groups in existence today include: Druids and Wiccans. Some groups tend to worship a female deity whereas others will worship a male deity of some description.
Wiccan's will normally class themselves as practicing 'white' witchcraft, and say that they do good. However, it must be stressed that white witchcraft can certainly lead a person down the slippery slope towards its black counterpart. The Bible does not draw a line between white or black witchcraft, but simply warns against practicing "witchcraft" (e.g. Deut. 18:9-14; Micha ; Gal. ).
Spiritualism (Spiritism) - The main practice, and attraction, for many people to the practice of Spiritualism, is the professed ability to contact the dead. Many Spiritualists are normally acting out of genuine motives, and feel that they are doing well by helping those who are grieving by putting them in touch with their departed loved ones.
Again, as with Pagans, Spiritualists do not worship the Devil*. In fact, many Christians are surprised when they encounter spiritualists who profess to be Christians themselves. This branch of Spiritualism labels itself "Christian" by meeting in a "
However, although some Spiritualist churches are covered in a veneer of Christian trappings, this does not make Spiritualism compatible with the Christian faith. On the contrary, the Bible explicitly forbids attempted contact with the dead (Deuteronomy ).
The Bible states that the dead do not have contact with the living (Luke 16:19-31), and that the messages which are meant to come from the dead are actually from deceiving spirit's who are familiar with the departed. Indeed, Isaiah 29:4 calls such a spirit a "familiar spirit" (KJV).
Satanism - It could well be said that Satanist's fall into three
Typical of the dabbler Satanist is the young white male who has become bitter against established religion and authority. Many will be into various rock band's and Gothic groups like Marilyn Manson and Cradle of Filth.
This category of Satanist will openly confess his or her interest in Satanism with the intent to shock others. Some in this category will establish a group of others around themselves. This was the case with the teenage gang "The Trench coat Mafia", who held to a brand of Satanism, and sadly took the lives of many other teenagers in their school. However, more often than not, most of those who dabble in Satanism tend to be loners.
Those who fall into the category of what I would call "The Theatrical Satanist" are those who hold to the teachings of the late Anton La Vey, who founded the First Church of Satan, in 1966 in
Many photographs of La Vey show him as wearing a black costume complete with horns. La Vey's followers are equally as open about their attachment to Satanism and are often heard giving the cry of "Hail Satan!" Surprisingly though, La Vey's brand of Satanism declares that it does not believe in Satan, nor God, as personal beings (although a few individual's in the movement may view Satan and God differently). Rather, La Vey taught that Satan stood for a symbol of man's darker carnal nature and believed that this nature should be harnessed and encouraged to grow. To La Vey, Christianity is an establishment of great bondage which seeks to enslave humanity into another system.
The most dangerous types of Satanists, however, are what I would call "The Professional Satanists." This particular group, unlike, those who merely dabble, and in contrast to La Vey's brand of Satanism, is a highly organized and secretive network of people.
Many will meet in Satanist temples which require absolute obedience from those who attend. Also, in contrast to La vey's church, those who fall into this category, do believe that the Devil really exists as a personal entity. For example, Former Satanist, Doreen Irvine was crowned as "Queen of the Black Witches" of all of
In conclusion it can be said that, Christians who want to communicate effectively about Christ to those who are engaged in occult practices, should understand the different categories of occult groups in existence. Doing so enables the Christian to be better equipped and prepared to speak more effectively and have more of a chance of gaining a hearing.
*It must be said, however, that Christians would point out that while Pagan and Spiritualist groups do not profess to worship the Devil as a personal entity, many of these groups are unknowingly getting involved with deceptive and harmful spiritual forces which stand in opposition to Jesus Christ.