Monday, November 17, 2008

Are Occultists Lame?


I hang around a forum called the Catholic Answers Forum. This happened because I discovered an article there called 'Anti-Neo-Pagan Apologetics ( http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2003/0305bt.asp ).
I wrote an extended answer to the article (available in ADF list archives, maybe here if folks want to see it) and posted it in the 'Non-Catholic Religions' forum, sparking a long, interesting discussion. I have since hung around as a hopefully-rational voice for Neopaganism and the occult. Lately a thread arose called "A Warning Against Satanism, Neopaganism Occultism, etc..." one poster, 'Soterion', wrote a pretty good critique of the typical Christian anti-occult nonsense. However, when he described his notion of the 'real dangers' of the occult, I took exception to a couple of his assertions. here's what I just posted. It's an interesting topic - how does being a member of a marginal spiritual system that pushes us into unusual beliefs and practices affect our relationship with the common social world, jobs, family, etc? Why would we bother? Big questions - I'll start here:

Soterion in italic, about the biggest danger of occultism:
1) Escape into Fantasy:Now Atheists out there might say, "Well, Christians escape into fantasy also. They believe in fantastical figures like Yahweh, Saints, Jesus and angels". But, there is a HUGE difference. Christians do not actually believe that they ARE Yahweh, or Jesus, or reincarnated angels. Well, maybe some do, but it's very atypical of Christians as a group.
On the other hand, Christianity regularly produces men who believe they carry the consecrating power of Jesus Christ in their hands, are able to bind and loose sin by their word, and administer divine things to more 'ordinary' mortals. Occult systems offer no means of regular recognition of a spiritual vocation, and almost everyone who seriously pursues occultism is responding to a sense of calling. Perhaps it's the lack of institutional structure that allows some occultists (and they do exist) to arrive at truly unusual beliefs about themselves. Not that there's anything very 'normal' about what a Roman priest is taught to believe about himself...

On the other hand, with one exception, I have yet to meet a so-called 'occultist' who did believe himself to be a reincarnated god, demon, messiah, anti-messiah, mythological creature or "Adept" (occult version of a Saint, more or less).
This is outgareously false, and amounts to mere bigotry. Either the poster has never bothered to look very deeply into the occult community, or is simply exaggerating or fabricating for emphasis. I have been a working occultist for 30 years, and have worked in several circles of neopagan occultism, and have seldom encountered any beliefs about the self that seem more 'delusional' than, say, holding that one is protected by angels or saints. I have maintained a normal working life, owned homes, etc, married helped to raise children, etc. This has been the case with the vast majority of Pagans and occultists I have known, and is the case across the US with the Neopagan and occult movement.

The typical Christian, even if you believe him to be delusional, can still function in day to day society. The typical occultist, however, cannot.
Again, this is merely false. Any look at the numbers from surveys of neopagan and occult systems will prove it.
Now, I will say that the sense of vocation that many occultists feel may cause them to value their spiritual practice above their common labor. I suspect that if Catholic Christianity were counter-cultural, without well-established instituions that can provide a living for those who wish to devote themselves to spiritual practice, we'd see more folks holding marginal jobs that give them plenty of time for prayers and devotions at their home shrines. Instead, these folks can become monks and nuns, live in community, not worry about 'fitting' in modern commercial culture, and live a life of devotion. Nice for them.
Ian

3 comments:

Patchshorts said...

"I wrote an extended answer to the article (available in ADF list archives, maybe here if folks want to see it."

Yes, it might be more prudent to post it as a comment but I'd like you to share.

Slán go fóill,
Chris Godwin
GO Live Oaks, ADF

DruidLinda said...

LOL! This cracks me up!

I have considered myself an occultist since the mid 1970's and I have always held a regular job of sorts - in fact, as an accountant for most of the years between then and now. I am also an investor, and involved with real estate. How much more mundane and "normal" can a person get?

And you know what? I USE my magical knowledge to aid in my success in the physical world. Does this person not realize that his prayers to his Savior are actually a form of magic? (of course he doesn't)

In any case, it always amazes me, the things people say about magic when they really know naught of which they speak.

Yewtree said...

Sigh... and I thought it was just evangelicals who came out with this sort of nonsense.

Personally I think society is pretty dysfunctional (destruction of the rainforests and other ecosystems; collapse of capitalism, aka the credit crunch; etc etc) so it's hardly surprising if people who have been wounded by it seek something less dysfunctional, like Pagan lifeways.