According to Merriam-Webster, the occult is defined as “matters regarded as involving the action or influence of supernatural or supernormal powers or some secret knowledge of them” (1). But the occult can more simply be defined as ”knowledge of the hidden”(2). So how did religious institutions such as Christianity come to the conclusion that the occult was their enemy, when the opposing side of the occult seems to be “knowledge of the measureable”, namely science (3)? It is interesting that Christians would have an “enemy” (opposing force) in common with science, when these days it seem that science and religion are constantly at odds. It is plausible that Christians, and religious people in general, find their beliefs to be a form of measureable information that is as solid and concrete to them as a table is to another. Maybe Christians do see the occult as their polar opposite, because to them their religion is fact, and not a belief, which according to Asad comes with some element of doubt, as others may see it (4). If this is the case, it is perhaps understandable that Christians see the occult as an opposing force to their good works (5). Today, the occult is often synonymous with “Satanism”, as with the ideas of Patricia Pulling (6). Pulling began a crusade against Dungeons and Dragons, as a satanic game that was taking over it’s player’s minds and warping them, after her son Bink, who played the game, killed himself in 1982 (6). From then on, she became an “occult investigator”, teaching parents, teachers and law enforcement agencies how to find and apprehend people who were involved in occult rituals and games (6). Pulling essentially espoused everything that was not part of her religion or her understanding of the world, as a sign of Satanism that needed to be eradicated. She aligned herself with Fundamentalist Christians who believe that the devil is real and has real power, making them “predisposed to seeing Satanism and declaring it evil. From there it is a simple step to link anything [they] perceive as evil backward with Satanism” (6). She and her group of galvanized Christians saw demons and the occult in everything that was not their own customs or traditions and did everything within her power to destabilize and discredit perfectly normal children and adults who just wanted to play a game. To me it seems as thought he occult is anything that causes fear. The term is hate-speak for anyone who wishes to vilify another person or group, and the occult only exists to those who fear something. People who have faith in their God, or even in their lack of God, truly have nothing to fear, and so do not take stock in the occult. To me, “the occult” is simply an invention of the weak-minded to discredit a challenging theory. 1. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occult?show=2&t=1291962971
2. Crabb, George. English synonyms explained in alphabetical order. With copious illustrations and examples drawn from the best writers. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co, 1927.
3. Underhill, E. Mysticism. New York: Meridian, 1974.
4. Asad, Talal. “The Construction of Religion as an Anthropological Category”. Genealogies of Religion. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.
6. Stackpole, Michael. “The Pulling Report”. 1990. (http://www.rpgstudies.net/stackpole/pulling_report.html)