The occult is a set of practices associated with diverse beliefs listed in Deuteronomy 18:10-12. The New Age and the occult are two separate categories, though they overlap in practice. However, they should not be confused as being the same thing.


DEUTERONOMY 18: 10-12: There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you.


See these verses as well: Lev. 19: 26,31, 20:6; 2 Kings 17:17; I Chron. 10:13, Is. 8:19, 47:12-15; Ez. 13: 20, 21; Acts 7:41-44; Gal. 5:20; Rev. 21:8.


The occult can be divided into the categories of sorcery/magick, divination, and spiritism. Categories can overlap.



Sorcery involves calling on spirits for power; practicing techniques or doing rituals to gain unseen power(s) and/or to manipulate energy, gods, or spirits in order to bring about a desired result. Occultists may consider these powers to be natural forces in the universe, not supernatural. The concept is that it is one’s belief, vision and/or spiritual status which enables one to access and use these forces.


It is common in both the New Age and the occult, as well in shamanistic cultures, to use sorcery for healing although the term “sorcery” is not used. All varieties of energy healing are sorcery.



Divination is using a tool or method to access information or advice beyond the five senses about the past, present and/or future; and/or reading hidden meanings into numbers, symbols, shapes, or pictures such as the use of tarot cards; crystal balls; astrology; psychic techniques; numbers (numerology); tea leaf reading; geomancy (natural shapes in nature); automatic writing; geomancy; reading the symbols of Runes or the I Ching; looking for omens. See CANA article on Divination.


Many practices overlap between the categories. Dowsing, for example, is a combination of divination and sorcery.



Attempting to contact spirit beings such as angels, demons, the dead, ascended masters, or others thought to be in a disembodied non-physical form is spiritism. Tools and techniques include the Ouija Board, channeling, meditation, visualization, drugs, or automatic writing. Channeling is when a person allows a spirit to speak through him/her. Automatic writing is when one allows a spirit to control one’s hand while writing (or typing).


Methods and Groups Associated with the Occult

A self-induced hypnosis or trance state: Considered desirable or necessary for many occult practices. This trance state, also called an altered state of consciousness, is often achieved through meditation, drugs, chanting, yoga body positions, breathing techniques, repetitive motions or words, or focus on a divination tool.


Energy Healing: Summoning, manipulating, or channeling non-physical energy for healing overlaps with both sorcery and spiritism. Energy healers have spirit guides (fallen angels whom they believe to be benevolent). Some forms of energy healing include Reiki, Healing Touch, and Therapeutic Touch. See CANA article on Reiki.


Drugs: Drugs, especially hallucinogens, are used to bring about an altered state of consciousness or hypnotic trance desired in many occult practices as a way to enhance supposed vision and paranormal ability, or as a way to contact spirits or gods. This state is perceived as a higher spiritual awareness than normal daily awareness.


Witchcraft/Wicca and Neopaganism: Neopaganism or paganism is an umbrella term for a variety of contemporary belief systems, including witchcraft & Wicca, that revere nature and which practice goddess worship and/or polytheism. Nature is viewed as sacred and the earth is a living organism. All living things and people are linked by one unseen life force, sometimes interpreted to be the goddess. Rituals are performed to harmonize one’s self with nature by observing seasonal changes and moon phases, and occult practices such as divination and casting spells are common. There is no belief in sin or Satan, and the goddess is sometimes considered symbolic.

The experiential, subjective aspect has a very strong appeal. The “moral code” of witchcraft/Wicca is: “If it harms none, do what you will,” (Scott Cunningham, The Truth About Witchcraft, [Llewellyn, 1994], p. 46; Teresa Moorey, Witchcraft, A Beginner’s Guide, [Hodder & Stoughton,1996], p. 6). Neopagan religions are sometimes called earth religions. There are many variations in practices among the followers of these beliefs, and the structure varies from very loose to a more traditional hierarchy of leaders teaching and initiating novices. Beliefs might incorporate Eastern religions, Native American beliefs, or Celtic paganism. Beliefs and practices tend to be fluid. Some followers are lone practitioners, not affiliated with any group. While Neopaganism is a distinct category from the occult, occult practices are popular among Neopagans/Witches/Wiccans.


Satanism: Contemporary Satanism is mostly atheistic, having been influenced by Anton La Vey (founder of the Church of Satan in San Francisco, 1966) and his Satanic Bible, although there are Satanists who worship Satan or honor him. Satanists who see Satan as symbolic distinguish themselves from those who worship Satan, whom they may call “devil worshipers.” To atheistic Satanists, Satan represents serving the self and the rejection of rules or morals imposed from without. Individualism is extolled. Rock star Marilyn Manson said that Lucifer was cast out of heaven because “he chose to be an individual instead of mindlessly following the herd….Be your own leader; think for yourself,” (Propaganda, Issue No. 24, p. 40), an attitude that fits the posttruth age of no absolute truth or moral standards.

Some Satanists are involved in ritual magick (sorcery), drugs, and occult divination. Modern Satanists who practice ritual magick often follow the teachings of occultist/magician Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) whose most significant work, The Book of the Law, contains the Law of Thelema: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,” (Rosemary Ellen Guiley, The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, [New York: Facts on File, 1989], p.76). Satanism is a distinct category from the occult but some Satanists use occult practices.

To sum up Satanic views: (1) Satan is real and evil but worthy of worship because of his rebellion against God; (2) Satan is (or represents) an enlightened, misunderstood angel of wisdom, unfairly maligned; (3) Satan is not real, but is a symbol of man’s strength and wisdom, and of man’s right to determine his own values and fate. See Satanism in CANA article Occult Terms. 


Luciferians: Luciferians believe that Satan, as the angel Lucifer, brought wisdom and enlightenment to man, or represents a state of enlightenment that one can achieve. This attitude was a popular Romantic view of Lucifer as a misunderstood hero or rebel against the status quo. See Luciferianism in CANA article Occult Terms.


Common beliefs in the occult:

Monism: Man and the universe are part of the same universal energy or life force.


Pantheism: God(dess) or a divine energy pervades the universe. We are all part of this divine force; there is no or little differentiation between humans & nature.


Panentheism: Creation is part of God(dess); God(dess) is contained in creation.


Polytheism: There are many gods/many manifestations of the one God/Goddess.


Syncretism: Sometimes Christianity is mixed with occult, New Age or Eastern beliefs. The occult often (mis)uses Christian prayer, phrases, or concepts.


Animism: The earth and objects are pervaded by spirits and/or energies/forces.


There is no absolute reality, truth, or morality; truth is in subjective experience.



“I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:18