June 14, 2017

Why I'm not an occultist


My rejection of and disdain for occultniks is not based so much on ideological or philosophical grounds as it is on personal boredom.
-Anton LaVey
(Satan Speaks!)
You may find this difficult to believe, but I don't consider myself an occultist. Before I tell you why, let me start with a definition of the term: Generally, I consider occultism to be hidden knowledge. Specifically, "occult" does not in my mind automatically imply either "valuable" or "powerful." Surely, it can be argued that engineers of nuclear warheads or spymasters of national intelligence organizations are occultists because the kind of knowledge they possess is deliberately hidden, deeply powerful, and can pose vast danger to the world if exposed to the unworthy. 

But I think more often that knowledge is "hidden" because it was discarded as rubbish or proven by the progression of time to be irrelevant. In the contemporary sense, the occult - which would include all manner of esotericism and spiritualism - is a fascinating reservoir of hidden, forgotten, and simply discarded information because it is either composed of early attempts to describe natural phenomena which are now properly understood through science, or are personal or cultural fantasies which attempt to either perform or explain both the unknowable and the impossible.

Because I am a Satanist, I am not bound to cultural paradigms which would obligate me religious or spiritual norms and mores. Nor am I bound to counter-productive pride which would lock me into my own personal deceits. Because I am a Satanist, I stand in the place where I am able to acknowledge the passage of history and objectively see that every variety of occult woo-woo that has ever been is frequently an echo of something that came before it, and sooner or later is invariably forced into the burning rubbish pile of Gehenna by the steady march of scientific advancement. 

Stephen Roberts, a person who in his words had the good fortune to say something rather profound in the right place at the right time in the development of the Internet, made the following argument to theists who wanted him to accept Jesus: "I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." Likewise, I believe that neither you who read this nor I are occultists; I just follow one less occult paradigm than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all other occultisms, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

I am not an occultist because I truthfully have little interest in forgotten, discarded, or hidden knowledge in the sense of contemporary occultism. Instead, my interest lays in dramatic, stimulating, and just plain useful knowledge. Fortune-telling is steeped in occultism, and while I enjoy its dramatic and alluring qualities, I don't believe in so much of the spiritual underpinnings. Past and future lives; spirit guides; ascended masters; summoning demons; angel communication; secret numerology; natal charts; channeled languages; and more - it may contain some attraction to me for the way I can use it as a tool to substantively enhance my life or the lives of those I care about, but I have yet to be convinced of the metaphysical realities or spiritual philosophies which attempt to address things which I think are either unknowable or impossible.

Because I have no use for the elaborate spiritual or metaphysical fantasies which inform so much of occultism, I find little difference between people who summon demons and people who summon Pokemon; people who quote from the Bible and people who quote from Star Wars; or people who collect haunted relics and people who collect sports memorabilia. For all these reasons, so much of the occult is simply boring to me.

But I won't stop calling myself an occultist - it's a useful word, after all.