The dictionary defines “religion” as, “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, specifically when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs”
By that definition then certainly any of the broad spectrum of occult practices, including Wicca, Voodoo, Santeria, Obeah, High Magick et al, certainly are “religions.”
All occult and magical practices involve the invocation of a Deity or Deities. So in that respect, there is a “religious” aspect to all metaphysical rights. All Occult doctrines also have as part of their practice regular Magic Rituals and ceremonies, which also parallel traditional “religions”. Certainly, true Shamans or medicine men of various indigenous peoples worldwide are as much the healers and magicians of their tribes and villages, as they are its religious or spiritual leaders.
The line between magic and the occult and more traditional Judeo-Christian religions of the western world begins to blur however in the question of worship. Magic or the occult in practice is less about worshiping a specific God or Supreme Being, as it is about connecting with the fundamental forces of the universe to enact specific change. So in that respect “Occultism” resembles more of a “science” like quantum mechanics.
Other Differences Between True Religion and Occult Practices
Traditional religion is less about spiritual methodologies to evoke change in the physical world, as it is about a specific way of life and adherence to a belief system. But the distinctions between “Religion” and “The Occult” are not as black and white as some would like us to believe. It is an age-old debate and to this day some would say that one man’s “religion” is another mans “cult.” It is true that there are obvious religious and allegorical overtones to any magic or occult practice, and that is how Satanists and others try to elevate themselves to the status of more traditional religions.
Those who see a difference between magic and the occult and other religious customs point out that most esoteric and metaphysical practices do not require belonging to a community or congregation. Many witches and assorted other mages are solitaries. Most Magical practices have far less official doctrine than organized religion. If one chooses to awaken spiritually and explore the realms of the paranormal it requires no official conversion or renouncement of former beliefs, for the most part. Also accepting a life of magic requires no supplication or repentance. The practitioner of magic may worship, but he is likely to see himself as summoning the gods or evoking spirits through actions rather than through any purity of heart or righteousness of prayer.
Occultists Are More Organized Than You Think
In the eyes of many there is no debate. From a scholarly standpoint belief in the Occult represents the world’s oldest religion. Surely the belief in the “Old Gods” and elemental spirits pre-dates Judaism and Christianity by thousands of years.
And as far as a lack of “organization” among believers in magic and the Occult, today, there seems to be an explosion of occultism in the world. In America alone, there are over10, 000 Astrologers, and 40 million people who consult their daily horoscope, according to McCall’s Magazine.
San Francisco is home to the Satanic Church with over 10,000 members. There are over 20,000 “Santeria priests” in Miami and New York. In England and France, there are more than 70,000 witches, and witchcraft is a burgeoning business raking in over $200 million per year.
In Latin America there are too many witches, brujos, santeros, mediums and other psychics to count.
What can rightfully be labeled as “The Occult” is practiced by many so-called “accepted religions” including Theosophists, Free Masons, Scientologists, Cabbalism, Mormonism, and the Rosicrucian’s.
As we move further and further away from God as a country, as statues of Satan are given equality to be displayed as the Nativity, as prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance have been barred from our schools in the name of political correctness, a lost nation turns to other forms of “religion” — and Satan laughs with delight!