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Glossary of Wiccan, Neo-Pagan and Occult Terminology


Literally, something which is hidden, secret or Esoteric and which may be beyond the range of the physical senses.

It is therefore in the realms of the magical, mysterious or supernatural.   From it arise various doctrines and disciplines, including Theosophy.

The occult covers a wide range of thought and activity, from the seemingly harmless to the diabolical.   Its attraction is often to those who are impatient with the conventional knowledge of their times, who feel convinced that there is a group of initiates who have access to a hidden truth and who yearn to be members of such a group.

According to the poet and mythological expert Robert Graves, one person in twenty is 'naturally' the possessor of occult powers.   These are the people who experience 'Second Sight', who are capable of entering a state of deep trance and who are naturally able to tap into the streams of invisible energy that permeate the world.

For many people, occultism today is little more than a game or a diversion.   Others still regard it as the means of attaining forms of knowledge and experience not available in any other way.   Modern occultism, with the aid of Jungian psychology and it's off-shoots as well as other developments of the 20th and 21st Centuries, has moved away from the obession with death, blood and the devil that characterised so much Esoteric study in the past.

Rather, most modern occultists are seeking to find a harmony with the forces that guide the universe and not to oppose them or seek in some theatrical way to 'control' them.

Dangers and delusions still remain, however.   Confused fragments of occult legend can still attract the ignorant or weak-minded and provide false justifications for all kinds of prejudice and persecution.   Occultism is unstructured and not governed by any generally agreed code, and this freedom is part of its appeal.   Like a lift-shaft, it promises to provides access to the so-called 'higher' and 'lower' parts of our natures.   It needs to be handled with care.

A Biblical Perspective

The occult usurps the rightful place of the Scripture in the life of the Christian.   It attempts to give direction and guidance to the individual and ultimately deliver him into bondage.   The Bible is clear on the subject.   Astrology, Divination, consulting or contacting the dead (Necromancy) and in fact the occult in general, is an abomination to God.   Some would have us believe the Bible endorses certain occultic practices as an art that offers mankind an understanding of his true self, an opportunity to create his or her own reality to suit his or her personal spiritual goals.   The following Scriptures indicate otherwise.
  • "Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God.   I am the Lord." - Leviticus 18:21
  • "Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death... I will set my face against that man and I will cut him off from his people... I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them..." - Leviticus 20:1-6
  • "And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon, and the stars - all the heavenly array - do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven." - Deuteronomy 4:19
  • "If a man or woman living among you... is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God in violation of his covenant, and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky, and this has been brought to your attention... take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death." - Deuteronomy 17:2-5
  • 'When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.   Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or Sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.' - Deuteronomy 18:9-11
  • "They forsook all the commands of the Lord their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole.   They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal." - 2 Kings 17:16
  • "He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Ashtoreth pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done.   He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them.   He built altars in the temple of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, 'In Jerusalem I will put my Name.'   In both courts of the temple of the Lord, he built altars to the starry hosts.   He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced Sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists.   He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger." - 2 Kings 21:3-6
  • "The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest... to remove from the temple of the Lord all the articles made for Baal and Ashtoreth and all the starry hosts.   He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel.   He did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense... - those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts." - 2 Kings 23:4-5
  • "Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem.   This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law..." - 2 Kings 23:24
  • "You are wearied with your many counsels; Let now the astrologers, Those who prophesy by the stars, Those who predict by the moons, Stand up and save you from what will come upon you.   Behold, they have become like stubble, Fire burns them; They cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame..." - Isaiah 47:13, 14
  • "The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven [see ISHTAR].   They pour drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger." - Jeremiah 7:18
  • "At that time, declares the Lord, the bones of the kings and officials of Judah, the bones of the priests and prophets, and the bones of the people of Jerusalem will be removed from their graves.   They will be exposed to the sun and the moon and all the stars of the heavens, which they have loved and served and which they have followed and consulted and worshiped.   They will not be gathered up and buried, but will be like refuse lying on the ground." - Jeremiah 8:1, 2
  • "The houses in Jerusalem and those of the kings of Judah will be defiled like this place, Topheth - all the houses where they burned incense on the roofs to all the starry hosts and poured out drink offerings to other gods." - Jeremiah 19:13
  • "I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all who live in Jerusalem.   I will cut off from this place every remnant of Baal, the names of the pagan and the idolatrous priests - those who bow down on the housetops to worship the starry hosts, those who bow down and swear by the Lord and who also swear by Molech, those who turn back from following the Lord and neither seek the Lord nor inquire of him." - Zephaniah 1:4-6
  • "But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies." - Acts 7:42
  • "No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons." - 1 Corinthians 10:20

The above Scriptures clearly reject the use of occultic practices and all forms of divination by God's people.   God not only cleanses his kingdom of all occultic influence, He outright condemns those who practice its arts.   Scripture also calls each of us to place our faith in Jesus Christ rather than the created universe.   The book of Colossians reminds the individual to "see to it that no one takes you captive through vain philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of man, according to the elemental principles of the universe, rather than according to Christ" (Colossians 2:8).   We are to remain vigilant and guard our hearts, for from the heart flows the living water of life.

The Occult offers us every opportunity to turn away from our Creator.   We are seduced by other gods that come to us from the heavenlies as we seek to divine our future.   The Occult claims to offer us hope, but it can only deliver our souls to be burned.   It claims to decode the mysteries of the cosmos, yet the Creator has done so in his Word.   The occult utilizes various methods and devices to inform the novice; the Lord offers the believer the Scriptures for instruction and a relationship to cement his future.

The occult attempts to displace the true God of the universe with the false gods of the ancients.   The Christian stands as the only sentinel to call forth the deception of the occult in another's life.   We must stand and rightly speak God's truth into each soul and thereby become a missionary of hope, rather than a deceiver of demonic spirits.

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DOES OCCULTISM HAVE A LIGHT AND DRK SIDE? at Ankerberg Theological Institute

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One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.

Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans.   Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.

Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church.   Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.

- Jean-Luc
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