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By Witchipedia, Magical Religions and Spiritual Paths

Who is an Occultist: Studying Metaphysical Subjects

Updated on:

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

While the practices and traditions that we now refer to as ‘occult’ have their roots back in the mists of time, the invention of the printing press allowed this knowledge to be widely disseminated. Before this time, manuscripts were meticulously written by hand and passed around.

From around the mid-thirteenth century, a series of treatises on occult knowledge appeared that were translated into Latin and a variety of European languages. In this way, occult wisdom began to spread throughout Renaissance Europe.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

An occultist is an individual who engages in the study and practice of metaphysical subjects and hidden or esoteric knowledge.

These seekers explore areas beyond conventional understanding, including topics like astrology, divination, alchemy, magic, and the paranormal.

They often employ symbolism, rituals, and ceremonial magic in their practices to access hidden insights and communicate with otherworldly entities.

Occultism has a rich historical tradition with prominent figures like Aleister Crowley and Helena Blavatsky, and it continues to be a presence in contemporary spiritual movements.

Occultists seek personal enlightenment, spiritual growth, and a deeper understanding of the universe, although their pursuits can be met with both fascination and skepticism.

Grimoires – books of magic – were created and designed to teach the reader the theories and practices of the occult, with these volumes often credited to famous men of esoteric learning as their authors.

Interestingly, while the medieval world was rife with rumors about the existence of these grimoires – and the unsettling rituals they detailed – the actual content of the books, which was often relatively bland, remained obscure.

The printing press brought the grimoires to a wider audience than ever before. But rather than occultists themselves, it was frequently skeptics who published these books. They hoped that bringing their content to the world at large would generate ridicule and expose them as fraudulent.

Following a slew of such volumes appearing in the sixteenth century, the future looked grim for occultist beliefs.

Who is an Occultist by magickal spot
Copyright: Tina Caro

The Resurgence of Occultist Beliefs

Occultist beliefs and practices once more caught widespread public attention in the nineteenth century. Prominent figures emerged who were keen to explore and promote their esoteric knowledge, driven by a desire to delve into the mysteries of the Universe and experience the unknown.

Astrology, alchemy, and spiritualism were key areas in which the new breed of occultists was eager to get to grips with. 

Aleister Crowley, known as ‘The Great Beast’ was, and continues to be, a towering figure in the occult world. A master of ceremonial magic, his esoteric writings still influence and inspire occultists around the world today.

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Distancing from Christian Beliefs

Unlike earlier esoterics, later occultists often openly distanced themselves from Christian beliefs. Blatantly anti-Christian stances were even adopted by some, including Crowley.

Pre-Christian belief systems were sometimes embraced instead, including Paganism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The spiritual potential – or realization – of an individual was also something that was and continues to be, a key element of modern occult beliefs and practices.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, non-Western-derived practices, such as yoga, were also collected under the umbrella term ‘occult sciences.’

Getting Started with Occultism

If there’s a field of the occult that interests or inspires you, or you’d simply like to find out more about esoteric practices in general, use the guide below to get started.

Choosing a Path

For those interested in getting started with occultism, it may be helpful to initially concentrate on one area of the field before, in time, branching out. In Western occult tradition, the most well-known and regarded practices include Astrology, Spiritualism, Numeracy, Wicca, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Kabbalah, Neoplatonism, Alchemy, Thelema, and Chaos Magick.

Yoga, tarot, and other forms of divination all come under the heading ‘occult practices’ too.

There are many more traditions, both derived from Western practices and around the world, and you may wish to research some of these, too, to get an idea of what is the best ‘fit’ for you.

Learn to Meditate and Visualize

No matter what form of practice you wish to explore, learning to meditate – and doing so regularly –  is key.

Meditation, with its emphasis on mindfulness, and keeping our focus on the breath, without distractions, is the perfect way to get into the kind of calm state that can allow for the ascent into other spiritual planes.

Effective visualization is also a vital foundation tool for any occult practice. It’s a great way to develop your powers of manifestation and forms an important part of many rituals and spells.

Boost Mental Clarity

This is a crucial part of developing your knowledge and skills in an occult practice. There are lots of things you can do to enhance mental clarity. Leading a healthy lifestyle, eating well, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep will all work wonders.

Being mindful of the amount of time we spend on devices, reducing stress in our lives as much as possible, and, of course, keeping up that meditation habit are all important in boosting mental clarity, too.

Gathering Materials

The materials you may wish to gather will largely depend on the practice itself. For example, you could purchase a deck of tarot cards, and spend time daily with these cards, getting to know their images and the feelings each evokes.

Many esoteric practices incorporate crystals, and these are great for the beginner occultist. Enjoy creating a crystal collection, learning about the stones, and connecting with each one.

Candles and materials from the natural world form part of many Wiccan and witchcraft practices; you may wish to have a go at creating an altar using these things, to get started.

Get Reading and Connecting

Now it’s time to start reading up more on your chosen field of the occult. Delve into books and check out online articles about the history of, for example, the tarot, astrology, or Wiccan beliefs, and how they are practiced today.

This background knowledge will help you better understand the practice and the core beliefs that underpin it.

You may wish to join a group of like-minded people, who are also keen to extend their esoteric knowledge. This can be a good way to make new connections, develop your knowledge and skills, and discover the practice that best fits with your beliefs, personality, and sense of spiritualism.

Occultism: A Means to Find Your Own Spiritual Path

The umbrella term ‘occultism’ covers many diverse practices and beliefs. If you’re interested in exploring a new spiritual path -or perhaps find one that better fits your views – one of the many fields of occultist practice could be a great fit.

Pay attention to your intuition. If you’re drawn to a particular practice, explore further, to find out whether it could be an important part of your spiritual journey.

About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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