As to the Why
We previously covered the ‘what’ aspects of the Occult: defining what it is or what it can mean, along with a wide variety of its applications. Now, we’ll tackle the ‘why’ as in, why does it matter? Isn’t it something to be avoided at all costs?
If so, no one told St. Irenaeus while refuting the Gnostics. There’s also key passages in Scripture that relay the point, such as: “Be ye…wise as serpents and simple as doves,” especially when out as sheep among the wolves (Mt 10:16). These days, the wolves are everywhere. They are much more sophisticated and well-hidden than ever before; and if Pope Benedict asked for prayers that he himself “may not flee for fear of the wolves,” it’s probably best to take Matthew 10:16 more seriously. If we completely close our eyes to darkness, we might not be able to anticipate the threats to our families.
However, an understanding of esoteric literature depends on the situation. Personally (i.e. a lay opinion), an avid understanding is not necessary for most people. Avoiding it altogether is likely a wise choice for a number of individuals as well. That being said, there are indeed some good reasons as to why understanding esoteric topics can be important. We’ll start with two prime examples.
The first is related to distinctions we made in our previous article. More specifically, the differences between conventional applications of the Occult––psychic mediums, fortune-tellers and soothsayers––in contrast to lesser known types––those built upon natural principles, psychology, and that typically shun the existence of preternatural forces––for the latter is much easier to integrate into so-called ‘secular’ society, and it generally disguises itself as objective science.
The second is that people who dive deeply into Western Esotericism are not likely to be pulled out unless someone understands the depths of its abyss…without falling into it themselves of course. Easier said than done, but when the abyss is opening up more and more with each passing day, we might as well be prepared.
Modern Iconoclasm and Occult Fascination
As society continues to break down, many will be (and have been) turning to some form of Occult spirituality, and Yoga studios are practically the new Masonic Lodge (not quite as fancy or sophisticated though). It doesn’t help either when rebukes against Occultism mainly come from a place of ‘Satanic Panic,’ one typified in Bible-thumping Evangelicals, however fair or unfair the caricature may be.
One of the Occult’s biggest attractions––especially for those disillusioned with Protestantism and/or Western materialism––is its mysterious use of symbolism, art, and rituals. It also provides in-depth exegesis of ancient texts and expansive systems of typology that are far more interesting (to them at least) than the average Bible-study based on Scripture alone.
The ‘iconoclasm’ of the Vatican II era due to Protestant concessions left a vacuum to be filled. The Occult certainly fills this vacuum. Especially for those who would otherwise appreciate the depth of Catholic Tradition.
It offers all the ‘allures’ but with an objective standard by which to judge along with a historical grounding, all working on myriad of layers. Sadly, this has become lost amongst the typical Novus Ordo community (excluding the much-sought after ‘unicorn’ parish). This is not to disparage such well-meaning communities, but to be honest; for many people, something more is needed.
Much of what the New Age or Occult minded folks dislike about Christianity usually relates to a Protestant paradigm (e.g. the ‘Bible-alone’ or ‘believe-in-Jesus-alone’ types). Yet, they also tend to operate under an Enlightenment view of history, one that rails against the Catholic Church trapping us in 1,000 years of ‘Dark Ages.’
Ironically (or perhaps by design), the New Agers and Occultists rebel against a generic Christianity, while maintaining the same anti-Catholicism of the very Protestant traditions they are reacting against (i.e. Satan’s dialectical attack against the Church).
This is why a Protestant culture heavily influencing the Church is doubly-problematic. It fuels the Occult flame for those finding guitar Masses or comic relief hour at the pulpit unsatisfying, whilst driving them further into the realms of esoterica. All the while they believe that Traditional Catholicism is nothing more than an Inquisitional torture chamber designed specifically to accuse innocent Pagan-women of witchcraft. Ironically, the institution pitied those caught up in the witchcraft delusions more often than not, while the bulk of the European witch hunts occurred in areas where the Inquisition was not in operation (dialectics at play again…).
All of this makes the Occult far more attractive than it otherwise would be if only the Catholic Tradition were allowed to be properly taught and understood; and, more importantly, absorbed and seen (e.g. Latin Mass, Baroque art, etc.). Especially without the ‘Dark Ages’ veil that the Enlightenment tossed over it. Sadly, this veil is often propped up by those inside the Church, and promulgated by those who’ve taken little effort to suppress Novus Ordo abuses while making great efforts to suppress the Latin Mass successes.
Exorcists and the Occult
If one absorbs even just a modicum of the vast amounts of material provided by Catholic exorcists, a common trend becomes readily apparent: that exorcism cases involving the Occult are almost always confined to overt preternatural practices; which (as we know) is just one side of the Occult coin. Usually, the individual is involved in some kind of active magic (e.g. drawing pentagrams or sigils in a circle, invoking spirits and the like). Or, they’re involved in another form of overt preternaturalism akin to ghost-hunting or divination via soothsaying (e.g. using Ouija boards to contact grandma, asking psychic mediums for roulette numbers, etc.). It’s pretty easy to identify these practices, as they are overtly condemned in the Holy Bible. Passages like Leviticus 20:6 come to mind.
There’s also many stories by exorcists (or those assisting them) that speak to their dealings with witches or ‘Satanists.’ These are the types who overtly hate the Church and boast of some kind of allegiance to dark forces. They might attempt to steal the Blessed Sacrament from a Mass, only to perform sacrilege with it later (something Communion in the hand certainly enables), or they may cast hexes against a priest or a particular individual. There’s also various movements and cults that operate in a similar fashion and are diametrically opposed to Catholicism (e.g. Santa Muerte). Priests like Fr. Ripperger call these strands “Satanic” due to the participants willful allegiance to dark forces (whatever their conceptions of them may be).
May the Lord bless all the exorcists dealing with such forms, but this still mostly neglects the philosophic and psychological side to Western Esotericism. This particular head of the Dragon is much more subtle and difficult to discern. Fr. Ripperger uses the term “Luciferian” (in contrast to “Satanic”) to describe the underlying philosophical tenet of becoming “your own god.” These two distinctions are quite helpful. Yet, it may be confusing when people or groups use ‘Satanic’ imagery (upside-down pentagrams and the like) but operate under the mindset that it’s purely for shock-value to incite a reaction. They don’t believe in any such dark entities other than perhaps them being parts of the psyche (e.g. Crowley). Thus, they are actually ‘Luciferian’ because they have a will to power mindset or just believe in vague ‘forces of nature’ that they may harness for use however they choose to define them.
To them, it’s more about the psychology of the symbols and the powers of emotion they invoke, rather than the notion of any distinct supernatural deity associated with them. This is magic of a different sort, and it is found in advertising, media and politics. We witness it every day without hearing a single ‘WITCHCRAFT!’ accusation being alleged by Christians of any denomination.
The Confusion of Demons
The point is this: If someone is involved or interested in anything termed ‘Occult,’ and you’re trying to combat said ‘Occultism’ (or at least pull them out of it), simply throwing a ‘SATANIC!’ accusation-blanket over all things esoteric––Madame Blavatsky, Albert Pike, Carl Jung, or even Aleister Crowley––is quite problematic; especially if the enamored person happens to be well-versed in their ideas. In fact, such doctrines, writings and philosophies are specifically designed to make ‘Satanic Panic’ reactions look foolish. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, for that is exactly how you will appear to someone caught in the depths of these forms of esotericism. There’s not a chance in hell (pardon the pun) that they’ll take you seriously if you misrepresent their views in any mortal (vs. venial) fashion, or accuse Aleister Crowley of literally sacrificing children on altars fashioned for Beelzebub.
But alas, the wisdom coming from Catholic exorcists derived from their encounters with psychic mediums and Eucharist-stealing hex-happy-witches still applies to the other side of the Occult coin. First and foremost, the fundamental solutions are the same: Sacraments, Sacramentals, prayer life, working towards a state of grace, etc. This applies to any situation, but getting someone there may involve very different paths. The second is that what is true of demons in the realms of active Occultism (i.e. more overt) is true in the realms of what we might call passive Occultism (i.e. more hidden). More on this shortly.
Regardless of which side of the Occult coin you are dealing with, I highly recommend listening to exorcists like Fr. Chad Ripperger, who is able to masterfully combine both worlds of psychological warfare and demonology. I’d also recommend the book Slaying Dragons by Charles Fraune (also available in Spanish as Matando Dragones). He compiles many of Fr. Ripperger’s observations and teachings in his book along with many other respected and prominent exorcists in the Catholic Church. It’s easy to read, not too lengthy, yet quite detailed and thorough.
I would argue that the personalities of demons––as described by various exorcists––can even be seen in the pages of Occult literature, or what we’ve so dramatically termed ‘Satan’s Magisterium.’ But they come to the surface infrequently; they prefer to remain hidden if they can. However, certain topics (e.g. the Jesuits) or certain people (e.g. St. Cyril of Alexandria) tend to ‘trigger’ an overt reaction that quickly spills out onto the pages. Immediately, their enmity is brought up front and center to the surface, much like how exorcists determine if there’s a demon inside a person or not. Sometimes you just need to look for a particular trigger that is unique to the individual, though, often times they are unanimous. Here is a passage from Fraune’s work to better illustrate the point,
Demons seek to erode our faith, hope, and charity and steal us away from a state of grace. These temptations are typically subtle but are always crafty and coordinated with the [goal] expressly in the mind of the demon… This subtlety is reflected in how Fr. Fortea describes temptation. He says, ‘Demons tempt us by infusing thoughts into our minds. In other words, a demon introduces into our reason, memory, and imagination intellectual objects proper to our understanding that cannot be distinguished from our own thoughts.’ One of the keys here is that the temptation ‘cannot be distinguished’ from what we perceive to be our own thinking about an idea. If we cannot make that distinction, we are much more likely to follow the temptation (p. 35).
These concepts, although broad in scope, work on a myriad of layers, and stretch far beyond the ‘personalities’ that may influence Occult writers. When an 18-year-old coming from the ‘better sort’ of society ventures off to an expensive university and has all their ‘faith, hope, and charity’ stolen by Marxist-U––which teaches them there’s no such thing as sexual morality, that abortion is a right, and that their parents are inherently racist––what sort of demonic ideas are then introduced into the intellectual sphere with this rising crop of soon-to-be leaders? If their entire lives are oriented towards breaking Commandments as a ‘dogma’ (e.g. 6th, 5th, and 4th, respectively), how much more so does that open them up (legally speaking) to demonic influence (obsession, oppression, or even possession) that “cannot be distinguished” by most people? How do we distinguish what is typically understood as ‘religiously neutral’ science, business, politics, entertainment and media if the demons insert an Occult religion (i.e. Satan’s Magisterium) into such minds? Especially when these minds all tell us, ‘this is what experts say.’ For who are we to question ‘the experts’; that is to say, the gods of this world that will rule whenever Christ is dethroned from society.
These are the very things we’ll be addressing in Christ vs. the Occult as we move forward. Hopefully the reasons as to the ‘why’ will become more apparent as we do. In our next installment, we’ll begin dissecting the passive Occultism found in radical Communism, and see how the so-called ‘godless’ system is far more religious than most perceive it to be.
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 There are many books that diffuse such assertions. See Kamen’s Spanish Inquisition for example.