The occult is a category that involves the studying of the supernatural which cannot be described using the scientific method, and is not technically a religion, although cults have been born from studying the occult. Occultism cover a wide range of subjects including sorcery and witchcraft, alchemy, mysticism, astrology, demonology, clairvoyance, Ouija and séances, vampirism, lycanthropy, palmistry, tarot reading, or spiritual mediums, and anything else in the Metaphysical domain.

The word occult, as you’d expect, is derived from Latin, and is taken from the word occultare, which means secret, or clandestine, and occulere which means conceal. The occult has taken on a dark undertone due to some of the subjects related to it, and some of the people in history that have studied the dark arts to gain an advantage over others. Many religions frown upon the occult as they consider in direct opposition to their gods, and the Torah commands anyone who selves in sorcery to be executed, and the Qur’an treats it as treason, and the accused will most certainly face the death penalty in Islamic theocracies.

‪Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” – Exodus 22:18‬

Occultism and Nazism

One of the most notable figures in history to have obsessed over the Grenzwissenschaft (pseudosciences of the occult) was the Nazi leader, ‘Adolf Hitler‘, and he yearned to discover some demonic force that would allow him to defeat the Allied armies. One quote by ‘Ernst Schertel‘ inspired both Hitler and his devout senior officials to study the dark arts extensively.

“He who does not carry demonic seeds within him will never give birth to a new world” – Dr. Ernst Schertel

Heinrich Himmler‘, the Reichsführer-SS, was just as obsessed, if not more so, and the SS even had a witchcraft division where they hunted for evidence of wizardry and witchcraft. Their aim was to turn the Aryan race into Übermensch (superior beings). He was also obsessed with devil worship, and was convinced, as were many other top Nazi officials that Jesus wasn’t a Jew, but was the first true Aryan, and his blood was the first of the master race.

‪The World Ice Theory, or Welteislehre, was a key belief in the Nazi party, which was a theory put forward by‬ ‘Hanns Hörbiger‘, in which he claimed the ice was the basic cosmic element, and it helped form the universe and all within it. The idea was two stars collided, and one was dead and frozen, and that created a massive amount of energy that propelled into empty space creating all of the stars and planets. This became the antithesis to the Jewish ways of thinking, and especially Einstein’s theory of relativity. Hitler and Himmler believed that it was significant enough to replace Jewish religions.

“…the word occult, despite conjuring images of devil worship, actually means ‘hidden’ or ‘obscured.’ In times of religious oppression, knowledge that was counterdoctrinal had to be kept hidden or ‘occult,’ and because the church felt threatened by this, they redefined anything ‘occult’ as evil, and the prejudice survived.” – Dan Brown

Occult scientists

‪It’s hardly surprising that science has entertained areas of the occult, as science has its limits within the physical world, but the people involved is rather surprising, and consist of non other then one of the most famous theist scientists, ‘Sir Isaac Newton‘, and the extremely eccentric genius that was ‘Nikola Tesla‘. Tesla was obsessed with attempting to contact the paranormal, and Newton was obsessed with alchemy. In the field of psychology and neuroscience, both ‘Carl Jung‘, and ‘Sigmund Freud‘ were fascinated with telepathic and psychic phenomena. ‘Pierre and Marie Curie‘, were both also keen believers of the paranormal and often organised séances. Both contributed heavily into scientific research, but they were unable to explain how the paranormal worked.‬

Thomas Edison‘, who invented the phonograph, movie camera, and the controversial light bulb, also worked on a device that he wished to communicate with the dead through. ‘Alfred Russel Wallace‘, who was one of the co-developers of the theory of evolutionary natural selection along with ‘Charles Darwin‘ was heavily into spiritualism and the paranormal and many people in the scientific community distanced themselves from him as he had a habit of bringing it up at inappropriate venues and science seminars.

“I have been at work for some time building an apparatus to see if it is possible for personalities which have left this earth to communicate with us” – Thomas Edison

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

‪In 1866 a group of Freemasons set up the ‘Societas Rosicruciana‘, who were fascinated by 15th century doctor called ‘Christian Rosenkreutz’, who studied the occult and was associated with a number of occult authors, and this started the Rosicrucianism movement. In 1888 three members broke away and formed the ‘The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn‘, who were dedicated to studying the occult, mysticism and metaphysics. Their aim was to promote and encourage the teachings of Hermetic Kaballah, Astrology, Tarot, Geomancy, and Alchemy, whose rituals became known as ‘Rosae Rubae et Aureae Crucis‘ (Ruby Rose and Golden Cross) and they created the Isis-Urania Temple in London. Several years later the society had grown in numbers and was in the hundreds, and ranged from doctors, lawyers and other high ranking Masonic members. One of the most famous was a certain ‘Aleister Crowley’. By the turn of the century, however, the movement splintered and the now two temples, Amen-Ra and Isis-Urania, separated.‬

Aleister Crowley and Thelema

‪Aleister Crowley was a self declared prophet who founded the Thelema occultist movement, which literally meant ‘to will‘ in Ancient Greek ‘θέλημα’. Due to an alleged spiritual encounter in Egypt, Crowley believed himself to be the ‘Æon of Horus’. Thelemites were known as ‘one who does their will‘, they use magick and study of the occult for self-exploration, and follow the guidelines written in Crowley’s book ‘Liber Legis’ (book of law), which he claimed was dictated to him by an angel named ‘Aiwass‘, who critics believe was the image of ‘Satan‘.

‪”If one were to take the bible seriously one would go mad. But to take the bible seriously, one must be already mad” – Aleister Crowley ‬

‪Thelemite doctrines:‬

‪• “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”‬

‪• “Every Man and Every Woman Is a Star”‬

‪• “Love Is the law. Law Under will”‬

“The three most commonly discussed deities in Thelema are Nuit, Hadit, and Ra Hoor Khuit, commonly equated to the Egyptian deities Isis, Osiris and Horus.” – Source

Crowley was accused of being a Satanist in the sense that he admired Satan, and freely adopted Satanic images, and he’s been quoted as wishing to be his public relations officer. He adopted the status of being the ‘wickedest man in the world, due to his anti-Christian views and his admiration for the Book of Revelations. Even after his death, his spirit is considered to be one of the most influential in modern paganism, and Thelema is steadily growing around the world, and he was particularly admired by ‘Anton LaVey‘, who formed the atheist movement, ‘The Church of Satan‘, who was also extremely interested in the occult

What is Life?

To put it as simply as I can, life is what distinguishes organic matter from nonorganic matter, and there are five kingdoms of life on Earth, and they are:

• Prokaryotae – (unicellular ie: Bacteria)

• Protoctista – (eukaryotic ie: Algae)

• Fungi – (Multicellular ie: mould)

• Plantae – (photosynthetic ie: flowers)

• Animalia -(Multicellular ie: vertebrates and invertebrates

A wider way of describing life is cell based matter that’s capable of adapting to its environment, thus evolving, the ability to reproduce, a metabolism, response to stimuli, and growth. Yet biochemist ‘Gerald Joyce‘ who works for NASA in their astrobiology department suggests that life can be defined as; ‘self-sustaining‘. All organisms are comprised of cells that carry DNA, which is genetic material that maps out functions and is passed on through reproduction to future generations.

There are two families of cells, humans and all other mammals, birds, plants, insects and reptiles are eukaryote, which contain an outer membrane with a nucleus within, and the other family is prokaryote, which is unicellular like bacteria. Everything that has what we determine as life, will do anything it can to preserve itself. Life is purely about survival, and being able to continue the species.

Earlier today I had a rather unpleasant encounter with a religious individual who claimed a foetus was alive. A foetus that’s younger than 21 weeks cannot survive if taken away from the womb, and even at 21 weeks, survival is extremely unlikely, yet not impossible. Even with the wonders of modern medical science, it’s a difficult task to replicate a mother and provide a foetus with the nutrients it needs. To put it bluntly, a foetus is essentially a parasite who lives of its host, and if taken away from its host, it’s survival isn’t guaranteed. A foetus cannot self sustain, is without true consciousness, and isn’t affected by stimuli until quite far into the pregnancy.

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” – Genesis 2.7

Correct me if I’m wrong, but does Genesis 2.7 say that upon the first breath, man becomes a living soul? So does the Bible suggest that life begins after birth when the baby takes its first breath? It sure seems that way to me, but I’m sure a Christian would accuse me of taking it out of context for the purpose of confirmation bias.

So what would you say defined life?

A retrospective: John Locke

John Locke was a philosopher and physician who was born in Somerset, England in the 17th century, and is credited as the Father of Political Liberalism, and is without a doubt one of the most influential figures in the Age of Enlightenment. He was a strong advocate for the scientific revolution, where the scientific method evolved, and he was a medical researcher, who was concerned with the evidence being gathered empirically. As well as being a researcher in the sciences, he was also a political critique and believed that humans have three basic rights; life, liberty and estate, and he was a keen advocate for the separation of the church and the state; secularism, and heavily influenced the United States of America’s founding documents, especially the first amendment, and the Declaration of Independence.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

In 1689 he published his book, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which became an instant hit amongst enlightenment thinkers, where he studied that understanding the human consciousness, and knowledge, including moral knowledge, comes from sensory experiences. One of his greatest admirers was Voltaire, who was heavily influenced by his political and ethical philosophy, as well as Sir Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton, and just like Thomas Jefferson claimed, Voltaire believed them to be the three most important thinkers in history.

“All mankind… being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” – John Locke

Locke’s political theory cantered around reason and tolerance, and he claimed that no leader, or monarch had a divine right to rule, and should be removed from power if they failed in their duties, and advocated revolution if the need arose, and scholars claim his ideas had a profound influence on America’s decision of independence. The term liberalism’s origins come from the Latin word Liber, which means free, but it became a very popular philosophy in the 17th century when the focus of equality became a serious subject. Laws were reformed where fair trials were eventually witnessed by juries, speech became freer, as did religious freedom, and freedom from religion.

“The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others.” – John Locke

Despite these things, the subject of ethical rights and freedom were discussed thousands of years before in classical Greece by a wide range of philosophers, including the Stoics, Sophists and the Cynics, who believed virtue was the only path to a great life, as did the Peripatetics, who Aristotle was part of. He clearly had a positive influence and contributed towards liberalism, but as for being the father, I disagree completely, but his scientific works, and his views on how to gain knowledge are still influential to this day.