What are occult sciences

Occultism versus Enlightenment

Monday, May 24th, 2021

From the charm of the dark forces

Matthias Eckoldt

The seemingly inexplicable fascinates many people. (Stock.XCHNG / Michal Dobrotka)

It was not until the middle of the 19th century that occultism emerged as a counter-movement to the enlightenment and the mechanistic and materialistic natural science associated with it. He relied on the hidden forces that should be inaccessible to "normal" science. And he hit the sciences at the sore spots, namely where they themselves looked in vain for answers.

So it was speculated again and again that everything in the world could be traced back to just one occult force. Explained so simply and "effortlessly", the poltergeists and miracle healers, the vibrating tables and symbolic crop circles had a steep career. Until today, when esoteric titles reach millions of copies.

Card reader: "I'll shuffle the cards and you say stop, please! The first thing I can see here is that you are a person who learns for life. Who likes to learn, likes to help people. Is that correct?"

The world is bigger, richer and at the same time more contradictory than the modern, enlightened, scientific age suggests. This thesis stands behind all occult endeavors that work on the - above all occidental - rationality.

At the same time, occult practices have a great comfort factor in times when church institutions can no longer vouch for the salvation of the soul. You don't learn anything shockingly negative from the fortune-teller. And you can embark on one of the greatest adventures with ease: looking into your own future.

Fortune teller: "But I also see that your head is a bit blocked. But this blockage, I mean, it will soon go away. ... That means, there are problems that arise, caused by thoughts. The owls are also standing for the thoughts. That is your inner attitude. And you have all the potential that it can be positive. ... The worries are moving away. You have turned the luck side to you. The dark thunderclouds are just moving away. "

Occultism is derived from the Latin occultus, which means something like:

"hidden, covered, secret"

In the Middle Ages, those powers and properties are called occult that are not immediately perceptible. In other words, those phenomena that work below the sensual, such as magnetism or non-substance-related healing powers.

This classification goes back to the ancient Greeks, especially to Aristotle. The real career of the term occult, however, begins in Europe with the rise of the natural sciences and the triumph of the enlightenment.

"Occultism would be ... the ideological interpretation that assumes that there is a spiritual and a material world, and that this world is pervaded by mysterious forces that can be harnessed and used accordingly."

The theologian Matthias Pöhlmann works as an employee of the Protestant Central Office for Weltanschauung issues with the theory and practice of occultism.

"The term occultism already expresses that it is about a uniform worldview - that is, the ending 'ism'. ... In the 19th century it plays a role in that the term appears for the first time - occultism. And occultism is of course made up of various building blocks that have always existed in human history: The subject of magic. The hope of humans to influence certain objects, certain magic formulas, to achieve effects. ... You have to do that, of course the 19th century ... Some also speak of the dark side of the enlightenment, which means that, due to the overemphasis on belief in reason, there was also a counter-movement, a protest movement that assumed that there must still be secrets in this world to which humans initially have no access, but that there are ways and means to develop them. "

Sabine Doering-Manteuffel, Professor of European Folklore at the University of Augsburg, sees the emergence of occultism in connection with the great media revolution of the printing press:

"The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. Of course, you only understand that when you look for the connection with letterpress printing. Letterpress printing ... is a striving towards the light of knowledge. One normally associates this early printing history with the outcome of the People from his self-inflicted immaturity - as Kant put it in the 18th century. ... That means, striving for light naturally also means education for everyone. And you get that from books. Before that, education was so broad, yes My thesis is that, especially in the 18th century - the so-called ink-splattering seculum - ... a lot was printed, and not just scholarship, ... but actually a whole range of other genres as well For example magic books, pamphlets, fairgrounds, fate predictions, planetary books, astrology, medical treatises, house books with magical appendices and so on.

Such a pamphlet of anonymous provenance from the first half of the 18th century, for example, deals with the question of the best way to get the crown of frogs ...

"... and what this crown is for."

"The frogs also have a king, whose crown is black and white. You should be able to achieve this in the following way: In August you throw a tube into a puddle where the crowd of frogs usually is. This is how all the frogs gather around the same and the king with the crown on top of all others. Then one should have a good crossbow with a subtle arrow, and shoot the king with it. His crown is supposed to serve to discover the treasures, to recognize the witches , and that To resist poison. "

That with such texts and practices even after Kant's great Sapere aude - in German: "Dare to be sensible!" - is not the end, is perhaps due to the peculiar dialectic of repression and the return of the repressed.

The enlightenment sets the light of reason against the dark, superstitious, pious and authoritarian Middle Ages. The human being is seen again as the rational being, as he operated under the Greek sun of the pre-Christian centuries. For Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, man moves in the midst of the Logos. You think he is surrounded by rationality.

At that time, humans were not yet considered to be ruled by drives, unacknowledged desires and obsessions, but were seen as being oriented towards reason. The logos is stronger than the passions. Accordingly, for the Hellenes, the unfortunate also suffers from too high a degree of ignorance. Happiness, on the other hand, is the criterion for a transformed knowledge, for the degree of stripping away from deception and appearance.

The concept of enlightenment is just as bright. Both the church's interpretative sovereignty and absolutist power have been dismantled since the 17th century. The sole ruler should now be reason. Kant writes

"that in the case of nocturnal shadows, madness often deceived the senses and created illusions out of ambiguous figures, which were in accordance with the previous opinion, from which the philosophers finally took the opportunity to think up the rational idea of ​​spirits and bring them into a doctrinal state. "

The model of the epoch is natural science. Causality, precise terms and definitions should rule the world. Reality is assumed, as it were, that it corresponds to the criteria of scientific research. The times of superstition and magic should be over.

But after two centuries of enlightenment at the latest, what has been repressed returns with power. The diagnosis of the time is contrary to that of the Enlightenment: Reality shows its chaotic rather than its rational features, and people feel more dominated by irrational drives than enlightened ideas.

The oppressed night side of man breaks through in the 19th century. And there is swing, glasses are moved, contact is made with the deceased, divining rods are used, astrology is experiencing a boom as are ghosts, witches and all kinds of spooks. Not to forget, of course, card reading.

It is above all the upper classes who are interested in the occult. When the spiritualist Anna Rothe was on trial in 56 cases for fraud in March 1903, the list of witnesses reads like a how-is-how of the time:

"An illustrious group of former customers had put adventurous things on the record: for example, Mrs. Solbrig, the owner of the manor, who had appeared to her brother-in-law, Kommerzienrat Rösler, from the afterlife and said that he now lives in the coldest polar region and urgently needs an overcoat, then a Princess Karachka, a Countess Moltke, the magnetographer Carl Groll, master tailor Toron, the Reichstag deputy and court preacher aD Stöcker as well as Lieutenant General von Zastrow with several officers. "

After the Second World War, the popularity of the occult became more democratic. The interest in supernatural phenomena extends across all social classes. The popularity in our day is enormous. For example, according to a statistical study, every second citizen of the Federal Republic today believes that the stars influence fate in some way.

Card reader: "Furthermore, I see here that you have a very stable relationship, that you have a woman with whom you are bound for life. It is natural that there are problems everywhere, but because this is the way things are here, it is simply an institution: The sun is above this partnership! "

In the course of the enlightenment and the associated dismantling of ecclesiastical authority, the question of what happens to the dead after their departure is also gaining in importance. The answer from science is as simple as it is unsatisfactory:

The spirit is understood as the integration of the body function and thus the soul also dies when the cells quit their service.

It's gone and gone is gone.

Even against this cold shrug of the shoulders at what is most valuable that a person possesses, occultism lures against the sting.

Pöhlmann: "The decisive year 1848 ... In the USA this year there is a strange knocking noise in the house of the farmer John Fox. The daughters are convinced that they are dealing with a ghost of a deceased, a murdered person in the house And they go over to getting in contact with this deceased. And within a short time something like a spiritistic awakening develops in the USA in the 1850s. And, of course, it came to Germany with a time lag. "

The medium sits on the edge of a closed circle, at the forehead point. After a mostly casual conversation with one another, the medium closes its eyes, leans back and breathes in and out deeply. It moves into a spectral sphere, which is equivalent to a trance-like state. After a short time, changes in gestures, facial expressions and voice become noticeable. As soon as contact is made with a spirit, it greets the group. It is not uncommon for him to start talking. Sometimes you don't even get to look in the prepared questionnaire because - without having asked for it - you often just get an answer to a written question.

Manteufel: "The table back is known above all. In the 19th century there was a real table back mania, a real epidemic. From 1860 in the big cities such seances occur everywhere where people come together who try to do something with theirs There is , for example, a technique called Ecriture Automatique - automatic writing ... These spiritualists then do it like this: There is a ghost spelling board, an alphabet, and the knocking noises that come on the table caused by a medium somehow, they are translated into letters. And something invisible then leads a pen and the pen then taps on this ghost spelling board and then gives the correct answer letter by letter. ... People are very enthusiastic about this possibility, to get in touch with their deceased relatives . It's a kind of national sport. "

One might think that the occultist has a rather distant relationship to science and technology. But this is not the case. Even if his spirit condemns the apparative and enlightened reason, he still makes use of the most modern technology.

Occultism keeps pace with technical developments. He is up to date. It also happens that in the beginning of the age of telegraphy, radio and tape, contact is becoming more and more effective.

Even today there is an association for tape vocal research in Germany. The members describe their work as transcommunication research. Transcommunication is understood as a collective term for all methods of establishing contact with other areas of consciousness. However, the focus here is on technical processes.

The association describes its objectives on the homepage as follows:

"Transcommunication research is not an end in itself. Rather, it wants to open up new perspectives for ideological, philosophical and psychological research by demonstrating survival after death."

According to the operator, no special media skills are required to establish electromagnetic contact with the dead. Just a commercially available device and a little patience.

Interestingly, these voices are often intelligent and referential utterances, for example to previously asked questions. All the accompanying phenomena, the content of the statements, the voice character of the speaker, etc. suggest that these are the utterances of the deceased. So here a scientifically sound proof for the survival of the soul after death could be found.

Occultism at the time of the control of electromagnetic waves expresses the unconditional need to re-enchant the world that has been demystified by the natural sciences.

One wants to hear the calls of the shadow realm - as irrefutable proof that the world is more contradictory and more profound than the Enlightenment represents.

Pöhlmann: "First of all, one can say that Spiritism is an anti-modern modernism. That is perhaps now an obvious contradiction. In principle, it is about an ideological interpretation that also contains a protest against the rationality of science. It works So basically about an anti-materialistic objective. That means, one would like to make an afterlife provable. And for this one now uses new media and technical devices and tries to ultimately want to prove that there is an afterlife and a spirit world. "

In the first half of the 20th century, radio provided researchers with a new field of activity. The occultists of those years focused their main attention on the frequencies between the transmitters.

The crackling noise is defined as the mysterious place of the dead and ghosts. The dead pay special attention to their willing listeners in extreme weather conditions.

Pöhlmann: "You look for areas where the so-called white noise can be heard, where as few or no stations as possible can be heard. In these areas you record and evaluate it in the end so that you want to find clues, and Of course you can also interpret that through overlays. But convinced spiritualists ... are convinced that this is where deceased beings from the hereafter report themselves to deliver messages to us.

The conventional medium as in the 19th century is thus superfluous. So you use the new medium - that is, the radio, to somehow pick up these messages. This is of course also the ideal projection surface for individual requests and for the hope that there will be ghost investigations. And if you hear something, you have to say that these messages are relatively flat and banal. Critics call this a little bit the Aunt Emmi Spiritism. So the question: are you all right in the hereafter? And the flat answer is then: Yes! "

While the tape vocal researchers among the occultists deal with the spirits in the hereafter, the chiromancers take care of the present and near future of earthly souls.

Chiromancy - composed of the Greek "cheir" for hand and "manteia" for prophecy - describes the art of palm reading. This occult practice is also being driven into the fair booths by the enlightenment and is making a strong return.

Palm reader: "So please both hands briefly to take a look. On the left is what is going on, on the right what you make of it in your life. Yes, so the lines are now from the left to Relatively equal on the right, which means that you are someone who is not necessarily so torn through life.

Yes, that's the career line here, it starts here and yet it's pretty determined and so clearly oriented.So you don't want to let yourself down, you want to do your thing in your professional life. And now living as a family is not really to be seen that way. When you've done that, you've done a little bit of something against yourself. "

Occultism is also synonymous with the terms esotericism and spiritualism - all three have one thing in common: the endeavor to seek the true truths of being beyond natural science and enlightenment. All occult practices are embedded in a metaphysics. The Secret Doctrine of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky is a kind of primer of occultism. Their doctrine of theosophy - later further developed by Rudolf Steiner, among others - combines occult ideas with those of the Eastern religions. The aim is to develop a kind of original religion.

By uncovering universal principles in the living as well as in the cosmic, theosophy strives for a reconciliation of spirituality and modern rationality. Madame Blavatsky starts from the immortality of the soul and develops the idea of ​​the so-called astral body, which is supposed to outlast the earthly incarnation of the soul.

Pöhlmann: "Helena Petrovna Blavatzky, a German-Russian who started her career in a spiritualist circle, is said to have made extensive trips to Tibet to bring knowledge of other religions to the West. And she has one of them developed a kind of synthesis ... theosophy ... This of course leads to a universal religious claim. I believe that the claim to knowledge that is decisive here arises from a need to re-enchant the world Securities. And these certainties are sought above all in the communications of ascended masters, as the theosophists say, in the communications of higher consciousnesses and intelligences. "

Such speculations are linked to an elitist genesis, according to which humanity developed from seven so-called "root races". Sabine Doering-Manteufel writes about this in her book "The Occult":

"What remained of this world model were, among other things, the connection between race and electedness, the speculative age of mankind and the idea of ​​the existence of ethereal ancient peoples in a different state of consciousness, which only myths report. Man is the starting point of all life Other living beings are said to have branched off from his tribe. Since the post-Atlantean age, the Aryans represented the most valuable race among humans.

These ideas are gratefully received by the Nazi ideologues, which is why occultism is said to have a certain proximity to National Socialism on this day.

In our day the occult has a tremendous appeal.This is evident not least in the run on esoteric books, astrological information services, parapsychological contact points and so-called spiritual healings.

According to statistical surveys, almost three million people in Germany visit spiritual healers of all stripes every year and spend up to six billion euros on the discussion of symptoms, the laying on of hands and the resolution of black magic attacks, such as trance work and energetic healing.

The extensive destruction of natural resources and habitats in our day certainly plays into the individual's longing for a return to a peaceful wholeness and an acceptance of a cosmic order.

Occult knowledge and the corresponding practices suggest in such times that a whole arsenal of important keys to the hidden world laws is in hand. Carried by the deep belief, hostile to science and the enlightenment, that what one can see and prove is only the surface of a basically enigmatic world.

While Christianity continues to lose its authority, occultism is also unbroken as a patchwork faith in a situation of need for higher values:

Manteufel: "Christianity is based on a Holy Scripture. ... There seem to have been problems ... in answering open questions that have generated this technical-rational worldview and industrial modernity. As if one were to get out of it Holy Scripture could not necessarily generate more answers that convey hope. We are also experiencing ... globalization. That means that world society can no longer be so isolated. ... And the whole thing is also something atomized. Today you take out particles and building blocks. We live in a world where world views are made up of different building blocks ... in order to make declarations for yourself as an individual. "

Today, the individual is largely left alone with his need to explain. This opens the door for occultists, black magicians and conspiracy theorists to the disoriented individual soul.

Recently a mythical date has been circulating in occult, esoteric circles again and again: The old Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world for the axis day! If the Maya counting method is applied to our Gregorian calendar, the end of the world threatens on December 21, 2012.

There is widespread disagreement about what the end will look like. Is there a threat of a solar tsunami this day, which will drive high-energy X-rays towards the earth, or is another global economic crisis enough?

The modern apocalyptic is interestingly based on the Christian figure of thought. In the Bible, the apocalypse does not simply mean destruction and destruction, but rather revelation. For the revelation of the wonderful. Similar in modern occultism:

"According to the Mayan calendar, we live in an end times today. According to the Maya concept of cycles and time transitions, this end also means a new beginning. In fact, this transition was viewed by the ancient Maya as the emergence of a new world age. At the end of each age stands a new birth ","

This is what the philosopher, born in Hungary in 1948 and chairman of the "Swiss Metaphysical Society", Tibor Zelikovic, wrote in his book "Zeitenwende 2012". For occultism the new birth proclaimed by it consists in the victory of the magical over the causal, the cosmic over the materialistic, the riddle over the certainty, the shadow over the light - in short, the victory of the occult over the enlightenment.

Looking back over the last two centuries, however, it can be assumed that neither occultism nor the Enlightenment will win, but that these two poles of human appropriation of the world will remain as adversaries. Every light casts its shadow - but without light there is no shadow either.

Palmist: "" Then let's look further. Then your lifeline: Wow! It goes around really far. Did your grandparents get very, very old? With you it can go up to a hundred! That's pretty neat! "

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