Question: I get confused between cults and occults and can never remember the difference between them. Could you please explain it for me? |

TBC Staff

Question: I get confused between cults and occults and can never remember the difference between them. Could you please explain it for me?

Response: There is no such word as “occults.” According to Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, the word “occult” is an adjective which means “1. hidden; concealed. 2. secret; esoteric. 3. beyond human understanding; mysterious. 4. designating or of certain mystic arts or studies, such as magic, alchemy, astrology, etc.” While admittedly an adjective, “occult” is often used as a noun to designate the body of occultism in general. Some cults are involved to varying degrees in the occult (Science of Mind, Religious Science, Unity, Mormonism, Masonry, etc.)—others are not.

The central purpose in occultism is to develop paranormal powers and knowledge leading to mastery over the laws of nature and even death, and ultimately to some brand of eternal paradise and/or union with the gods or the universe. This is done through techniques such as Eastern meditation, yoga, drumming and dancing, hypnosis, visualization, positive thinking, positive speaking (called “positive confession” by certain charismatic leaders), ingesting psychedelic drugs or plants such as peyote or the sacred mushroom, or other methods for achieving what is called an “altered state of consciousness” (ASC).

Yogis and witchdoctors (now called shamans) have been practicing the occult for thousands of years, achieving what anthropologists call the shamanic state of consciousness (SSC). In this state, through visualization (the most powerful occult technique), they take what is known as “the shamanic journey” to the upper or nether worlds, into the future or the past, in order to contact a spirit guide (such as Jung’s Philemon), be it animal or human, as the vehicle through which this magic power is channeled through them.

Anthropologists have studied these techniques and powers around the world, from the witch doctors of the Tungus tribe in Siberia (where the word “shaman” originates), to those in Africa; and from the whirling dervishes of Islam and North American medicine men or voodoo priests of Haiti, to the yogis of India and occult magicians of all varieties virtually every- where. Modern scientists have been studying the occult in laboratory experiments in our universities from Berkeley and Stanford to Princeton and Duke, where the occult powers have been given new benign names, such as extrasensory perception (ESP), telekinesis (ability allegedly to move physical objects with the mind), future vision (ability to foretell the future), remote viewing (ability to see what is occurring hundreds and even thousands of miles away), etc. Bam Price, an associate of former astronaut and now psychic researcher Edgar Mitchell, has noted that

The powers described by the mystics through the ages are now being described by scientists, proof that underlying the material world is a vast nonsubstantial world. The priests of old were also the scientists. Today the priest and the scientist are coming back together again. (Los Angeles Times, 7/28/75, Part 1, p 125).

For thousands of years it was understood that these magic powers came from spirits with whom one had to make a pact called “the magician’s bargain,” such as that which the demon, Mephistopheles, made with Dr. Faust in the famous drama of that name. This remains the conviction of most occultists in the Third World and many practicing occultists in the West. However, largely through the influence of psychology (a new branch, parapsychology, devotes itself entirely to this study), these powers are now being attributed to an infinite and ordinarily untapped potential residing within all mankind, a potential that can only be awakened through the shamanic techniques mentioned above.

That belief led to what became known as the Human Potential Movement, whose origins can be traced to Esalen in the Big Sur south of San Francisco and to a number of humanistic psychologists (Fritz Perls, Abraham Maslow, et al.), who visited and lectured there. Eventually the practice of these techniques and development (or hope thereof) of these shamanistic powers became known as the New Age Movement. We have written about this in detail in The New Spirituality.

Man does not have supernatural powers residing within which can be tuned into and utilized through occult techniques. If man does indeed have an infinite potential, then he is a god. That was the lie of the serpent to Eve; and today’s alleged development of so-called psychic powers comes only through demons in an attempt to make modern man believe the same lie.