The Occult and our continued fascination with dark fiction!
Originally taken from the Latin root word ‘occultus’, can broadly be described as ‘knowledge of the hidden’. Is this why many are so drawn to its intrigue and are fascinated by the elusive mystery of the occult? Or could it be that where science or religion fail to satisfy, the tantalisingly unexplained and somewhat whimsical qualities of the occult pander to our natural curiosity- in this case not killing the cat but captivating its many followers. Whatever the reason it seems certain that all things Occult and our continued fascination with dark fiction is here to stay!
While the occult is a broad umbrella, hiding its many forms under its silky black folds, its concepts and our fascination the Occult have endured through time, enjoying many a resurgence through the ages. The term ‘occultism’, is relatively new, not used in French or English fiction, for instance, until the 19th Century, although the term ‘occult sciences’ was commonly used in the 16th Century to describe practices such as astrology, alchemy, mysticism, and natural magic.
However, these practices reach their fingers far back into distant centuries. Magical priests, astrologers, and foretellers of events, practicing their arts way before our Common Era, are referred to in one of the most ancients books, the Bible. Clairvoyants, witches, druids, seers, and soothsayers are synonymous with the middle ages. And modern times are no different. Horoscopes and star signs are some of the most common forms of the occult today, while the genre is unfailing popular in both children and adults literature and films. From ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (F. Baum, 1900, Film, IMDb) to ‘Harry Potter’ (J. K. Rowling), along with the plethora of adult occult-based offerings, we can’t seem to get enough. Why could this be?
The Occult & connecting with something larger than ourselves.
Perhaps we still yearn to be something we are not, to know or reach the unknowable, to connect with something larger than ourselves. After all does not our efforts in invention and technology reflect just this desire? We want to fly but we have no wings. We want to travel faster and quicker, but we are tiny creatures with weak legs and an inability to swim across the oceans. We want to create bigger and better things and more of them. We strive to know everything, how everything works, why it works, and what forces are at play.
Revealing the hidden secrets of the Occult!
Organized religion followed by the scientific revolution have to some extent satisfied this hunger. But we have become disillusioned with religion and science; despite its leaps and bounds it is not fast enough for us. Perhaps this is why we allow our children to live in a world of Superheroes and unrealistic video games. As technology chokes the world, we long for a spiritual connection with our earth and its hidden secrets; those we have not yet exposed and plundered. In a world where we know so much, what we don’t know is ever more important and fascinating.
Or perhaps we are so weary of the humdrum of life that we seek an alternative version of reality, with the occult representing the antithesis of legitimate and socially accepted ways of feeling, thinking and believing (The Social Quarterly, Vol 23), or maybe we seek to ‘know’ the mysteries of others through their birth sign, or personality type.
Whatever the reason for our fascination, the public interest does not wane, despite seeming strangely out of place in societies grounded in traditional religion, scientific rationality, and economic and political dogmatism. And I for one, find myself picking up a books time and time again that transport me to the magical half-life of the ‘knowledge of the hidden’!