What Is the Occult?
The term occult is used in many cultures around the world; this often blurs the meaning of the word. Even the origins of the occult are unclear, so we decided to create a detailed overview of information on the occult, its origins, and its meaning. If you wish to learn more, please read the info provided below.
Where Does the Word ‘Occult’ Originally Come from?
The first mention of the word occult can be traced to the sixteenth century, where the term ‘occult sciences’ originated. Occult sciences were used to describe three fields of study, more specifically astrology, alchemy, and natural magic.
Over time, additional fields of study were added under the umbrella of ‘occult sciences’. To classify as an occult science, the field of study must relate to nature or natural processes.
When the Enlightenment occurred, the word science was permanently separated from the word occult. Science was a big deal in those days, so anything that was unfounded could not be reunited with that term; this is how the term occult became separated. However, there are still a few references to “occult science” after the sixteenth century; this includes a reference in the book Primitive Culture from 1871.
Another term relating to the occult that has been coined over the years is “occult qualities”; this term is used to refer to qualities that have no rational explanation, which means its stands in stark contrast with its original science meaning. However, some things that were referred to as an occult quality ended up being quite scientific, including Newton’s claim that gravity was affected through action at a distance.
How Did the Term Occultism Come to Fruition?
There are some variants that stem from the word “occult”. One of the variants is occultism, which has been used in many different ways over the years.
One of the meanings of occultism finds its origin in esotericism, which was developed in the nineteenth century. Esoterism is western mystery tradition, which describes ideas and movements developed within the western society. Prime examples of this are western philosophy, art, literature, music, and pseudoscience.
Despite its widespread definition, most followers of occultism distance themselves from the Christian religion. Due to this distancing, most occultists began to align themselves with Paganism, Hinduism, and Buddhism; this is where the mistaken belief that all occultists are so-called Wiccans and Pagans comes from. However, the actual meaning of occult and occultism is quite different.
Looking at the meaning of occult over the years, there is a big link between “occult” and “science”. Even though the terms were separated from one another in the sixteenth century, the connection between science and occult cannot be denied.
Of course, the occult and science often stand in contrast too. Many undiscovered scientific phenomena were often referred to as “occult qualities” in the past, leaving a blurred line between the occult as a scientific term and the occult as a belief or modern-day religion.