Why the Occult is NOT growing in America

In my years of researching the Occult, I always asked myself “since we are in such a hedonistic culture, why are there not more serious students of the Occult?” The answer I have is this; the occult is seriously complicated and misunderstood. You find various alarmists and so called “occult specialists” who claim that this that or the other branch of the occult is growing. The Catholic Church has recently made it a point to have a trained exorcist in every diocese, due to the influx of occult material available on the internet. I shake my head at the fact that people take those statements seriously. Many people’s ideas of what “The Occult” is are shaped by popular culture and TV. Television shows portray occult themes for entertainment, but giving them the fictionalized Hollywood treatment. Hollywood portrays Magick as wave a wand and boom, you get whatever you want. Magick is portrayed as a means to get back the guy who dumped you, or to get back at the girls at school who make fun of you, or as a way to madness and devil worship. It says “you want this, well here you go. No work involved” It is instant gratification gone awry, playing to what many Americans have become, a nation of Veruca Salts. We have become spoiled children who have never been told “no”, and given everything we want, when we wanted it. If someone dared tell us “no”, we would find a way to get what we wanted, even if it meant a grown man throwing a temper tantrum. What’s worse is that it’s a sense of entitlement that we have passed on to a new generation. The internet has played into this as well. A few clicks and you can order a pizza, a book (or download one to your kindle and have it read to you), music, you get my point. The internet has been both a blessing and a curse for those in the Occult world. Whereas it has opened many doors and made research much easier (for those of us who know where to look), it has also taken away many of the mysteries that have been guarded for years. Gone are the old days of having to search out an occult bookstore down an alleyway in the wrong side of town to find that special grimoire, or waiting for the catalog, or some add in the back of a magazine. Teachings that had been hidden were now available to whoever was able to use a search engine. With these “hidden teachings” now available to the general public, is it still proper to refer to them as occult? The other problem with this is that the information is out there without the context behind it. Without the contexts, and other previous lessons involved in magickal workings, it leaves too much room for misinterpretation and misuse. Look at it like this, when I was in high school, you had to take Algebra 1 before you could take Chemistry. Why? Chemistry is an exact science that leaves little room for error. One small mistake and you blow yourself up. I’m not saying that the consequences are as dire, but I have had ritual work blow up in my face (and produce unintended consequences). Another Hollywood misconception is that people involved in the Occult are mentally ill, dangerous, violent, or narcissistic psychopaths who seek to inflate their own egos by becoming cult leaders. It doesn’t help when someone who does fit the above description

gets arrested and the tabloid press has a field day. Most people involved in any occult science, or teachings tend to be fiercely individual free thinkers. They use deductive reasoning and critical thinking skills when it comes to what they want to believe in. They are not blind sycophants who accept every word as dogma or gospel. In other words, they are not the brain washed zombies that Hollywood and others would portray them as. I’m not saying that cults that teach occult practices don’t exist; however what I am saying is that there are not that many of them. They wouldn’t attract many followers. The ones who do attract the blind followers don’t last long. Without new blood, new ideas to help adapt to the changing world, the movements become stagnant and outdated. They fall apart after a couple of years at most. An interesting and influential group that came about in 1981 was Thee Temple ov Psychik Youth (TOPY). It built upon many ideas that had been set down by the OTO; however there was no “leadership” or “membership” as with many traditional groups. They spread their message through their Psychic TV specials (and a musical group by the same name). TOPY is also credited with being the creators of the “acid house” rave scene and industrial music. They also were involved with body piercing and tattooing as a form of spiritual expression. Many of their ideas became adopted by the pop culture of the 90’s, and now are rather passe. According to some surveys, 25% of people 18-24 years old have tattoos, body piercing or some other form of body modification. I’m pretty sure most of them have no idea who pushed to popularize it nowadays. Still, you can find a little bit of TOPY’s DNA in many “newer” occult groups. You are more likely to find cult like behavior within more traditional conservative Christian groups where questioning scripture or the pastor/ priest/ minister is frowned upon. In fact, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center one of the scarier hate groups is the Christian Identity/ New Apostolic Pentecostal movement. They generally proselytize to teenagers (who have not yet learned those critical thinking and deductive reasoning skills), and preach that they must do “spiritual warfare” against the GLBT community, liberals, Muslims, Pagans, Feminists, ad nauseum. A spiritual mentor for VP candidate Sarah Palin once bragged about praying for a Wiccan pastor to get cancer (great way to show the love of Christ, huh?). Some are praying for the death of President Obama. Apparently they are the only ones who should use malefic Magick against others. For more information on cults and how to define weather or not a group may qualify as a cult, check our Isaac Bonewits’ Cult Evaluation frame (which can easily be found online). I could go on; however I think you get my point. Some alarmists out there would have you believe that this “big, bad, dangerous Occult” is growing and trying to target your kids. Nope, the above should answer that question. Consider who is making such statements. It’s usually some conservative, fundamentalist groups who already have an agenda to wipe out any religious beliefs other than their own. They do not recognize the rights of others to worship as they please because they do no see other paths or religions as valid. They want to convert everybody to their way of thinking. Some seem to think that if they just argue and try to convince you of the love of

Jesus, you’ll just bow down and worship. And why not? Their God is more powerful right? What happens to those of us who don’t want to convert? I’ve never gotten a straight answer from anyone on that. However, I’ve heard some mention of Sarah Palin and others advocating throwing all Pagans in concentration camps (I cannot verify this statement at this time). All I can say is that whenever you hear some crazy alarmist “The Occult is growing and wants your kids” crap, consider the source.

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