An occult thing is something that is clandestine, hidden, or secret. The word comes from the Latin occultus, meaning "knowledge of the hidden". Webster's defines the verb occult thus: "To shut off from view or exposure."
In modern usage, "occult" refers to any one of a number of forbidden supernatural practices. These may include tarot cards, ouija boards, psychic powers, astrology, witchcraft, charms and spells of various forms, voodoo, pagan and cultic rituals, engaging in the study of demonology and mysticism, Satan worship, spirit communication, and divining for resources. (This list is not exhaustive.)
Concerning occult practices, the Israelites were told:
- “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire [an ancient occult practice], or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets [omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination [detestable] to the LORD…”
Many of these practices are widely regarded as superstition with no functional basis, and thus ineffective - the divination rituals will provide no insight into the future, the spells have no influence and the demons will not appear. However, the occult does have fervent believers. In 2006 the Anglican Bishop of Bolton implored retailers not to stock traditional Halloween merchandise, saying that 'occult practices should not be condoned, even if they are only being presented in a caricatured, light-hearted form.'
- Deuteronomy 18:9-12a (KJV).
- Church of England