Many occultists, including myself, have had negative experiences involving established religion. For some, the negativity stems from family ties to a particular religion. If your father was bad to you and he just so happened to be a devout Catholic, this may cast a shadow on Catholicism itself, which then often translates into a hatred for God. It’s very common, I have encountered this not only in myself, in my early years, but also in others. Another scenario that often occurs is when one adheres to a religion as devoutly as possible, but for some reason, all the promises “God” made to those who believe never come to pass. This causes resentment towards the God of that particular religion and often this hatred will spread to other religions as well, and by default, to the people who adhere to those religions. And yet another source of negativity regarding religion is its alienation of all things foreign to itself.
Religion values hegemony and thus demands conformity. This works for most people. However, for some, conformity is not possible. They see things others don’t see, they like things other don’t like and they feel things others don’t feel. This causes alienation and at times inner turmoil. This turmoil is caused by the need to fit in but at the same time knowing they never will. I have certainly experienced this and have given up on trying to fit in long ago. It’s too much work and sacrificing my soul to the golden calf of societal norms is not worth it.
The one thing that made it okay for me to be myself was the occult. The occult is eclectic and egalitarian, it doesn’t care what you look like, who you have sex with, what gender you identify with nor your socioeconomic status . You can take your pick from a smorgasbord of paths and even syncretize them and it will be alright. I can chant a mantra by day to Shiva and have sex magick dedicated to Lilith by night. It allows weirdos to be weird, nerds to be nerds, crazy to be crazier and squares to be squares. Everyone is welcome. You can tell that angel sitting on your right shoulder to take a hike and you won’t go to hell. FREEDOM!!! The occult offers freedom. That’s the whole point, freedom to be who you are and shed the shackles of religion in the process.
Well, that’s the idea anyway.
Unfortunately, the occult space has become a war zone. So many have become the very religions they have fought so hard against. There is as much factionalism in the occult as there is in conventional religions. Each school of magick and occult have rivalries that border on hatred. Although I am not a big fan of Crowley and the like, I see those on both sides of that issue rip each other to shreds , belittling each others magickal path. Or the ascensionists who are just so much more enlightened than the rest of the groups. Or those who stay rigid within an occult system to the point it becomes a religion. And yet still , they decry religion for the same very thing they themselves have become.
They hated religions for telling them they were wrong to believe in what they believed or lust after what they lust for. They told them they were wrong and were going to hell and many got persecuted by the hegemony. Yet, instead of allowing the occult to transform that pain and express it in a manner conducive to inner awareness and power, it is turned around and used as a weapon, a weapon they themselves were wounded by. This is no longer about freedom, in which all can be as they choose. In order for that to work, you need to act differently from religion, not act just like them. This inner factionalism within the occult flanked by this external battle against religion is not conducive to the freedom of the occult. It sounds more like religiosity to me. If we don’t want to be like religion, we need to stop acting like religion.
Maybe I am an idealist in the end. Maybe we just can’t help but form religions around ideas, even though we vow never to do so.
Thank you for reading this rant.