Tristram Burden - Hermeneutics of The Left-Hand Path: Viewing Modern Occultism as a Sontemporary Spirituality
In current popular terminology, the term Occult maintains sinister overtones, at once signifying something dark and unknown, and something dangerous that threatens the integrity of the mind. The terms relations in the popular mind with Satanism, Dennis Wheatley and a heavy-metal oeuvre, serve to heighten the reputation for the occult as having something to do with breaking inherent social norms and values. But the term, particularly in academic usage, is vague and nebulous - like the terms 'religion', 'spirituality' and 'mystical', they mean different things to different people. What we can say about the word 'occult', is not necessarily the same as what we can say about the world-views and practices which can be loosely defined as 'occult'. The word itself means 'hidden', and scholarly discussion of the occult takes the researcher into the territory of the Western Esoteric Tradition, sometimes called the Western Mystery Tradition or simply the Western Mysteries, a body of knowledge and practices reputed to be an historical undercurrent to exoteric forms of religiosity like Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Pearson gives a definition of this as “a vast field encompassing a body of material gathered together in the West since the end of the 15th Century, including the kabbalah, hermeticism, gnosticism and the occult sciences of astrology, alchemy and magic.