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Can There Be Paganism Without the Occult?

By Jason Mankey

I think the word “occult” gets a bad rap. I think when a lot of people use it today they think of the Illuminati, triangles on dollar bills, Satanism, and perhaps high magic in the vein of The Key of Solomon. At its core occult simply means “hidden,” as the word is derived from the Latin occultus. I’ll admit to being a fan of the occult, and my favorite section of the school library was the “New Age & The Occult” from a very early age. (At least once I got over my obsession with dinosaurs.)

I bring up the word occult because I read a response* to John Halstead’s terrific Church is No Substitute For Religion series that sort of rattled me. That comment in regard’s to Halstead’s article condemned and ridiculed anything having to do with the occult:

“Why aren’t people flocking to paganism? Because of all the occult nonsense. As long as paganism has any association with the occult, with magic, with witchcraft*, not many people are going to go with it. I’d say that most people outside of pagan communities regard paganism as a kind of mental illness.”

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