What Draws People to the Occult?

THE answer to that question may depend to a large extent on where a person lives, as well as his or her religious beliefs and cultural background. In your area, what attracts people to the occult? Perhaps they are enticed by one of the following.

Curiosity Humans are innately curious, and the occult smacks of mystery. So some wonder if a hidden power is behind the occult. Others might experiment with a Ouija board or read a horoscope to see if what it says comes true. Still others might attend a séance or consult a psychic.

Entertainment Recent years have seen a surge in entertainment​—books, movies, and computer games—​based on occult themes and ancient pagan religious superstitions. Some of this entertainment also contains graphic violence and sex.

Anxiety about tomorrow The Bible foretold: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here.” (2 Timothy 3:1) Difficult times are indeed upon us, and many people are consulting occult practitioners​—such as astrologers, clairvoyants, palm readers, and psychics—​for guidance. “It’s one of the few businesses that is recession-proof,” said one psychic. “People don’t usually come to see you when they’re happy.” A clairvoyant in Canada stated: “All of a sudden I’m hearing from business professionals calling on their private office lines or on their cellphones in the hall whispering.” She added: “These are people who, in the past, were usually skeptical and not really comfortable consulting a psychic.”

Physical sickness In some lands people who are seriously ill often give up on medical doctors and revert to traditional healers who use occult methods. Their sicknesses may be blamed on a curse or a spell. In order to lift the spell, friends or relatives of the ailing one may seek help from a fetishist, or an occult practitioner, who may demand a large payment.

Desire for protection and good luck In some regions of Africa, villagers hire a “prophet” from a charismatic church to exorcise bad spirits from the community. Rituals involve drinking potions and “holy water.” Elsewhere, people consult spirit mediums in order to invoke good luck on a new house or a grave.

Threats to children In Papua New Guinea, a mother may refuse to go outside with her newborn at night. Why? She fears that evil spirits might harm the infant. In Uganda, mothers routinely tie strings, sometimes with beads and shells, to the wrists and ankles of their babies to shield them from harm.

Loss of a loved one British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle lost his son, brother, brother-in-law, and a nephew in World War I. Distraught and desperate, Doyle and his wife attended séances, hoping to speak with their dead son. Today, too, many consult spirit mediums in an effort to speak with dead loved ones. In some lands, traditional religions and so-called Christian churches teach that death is the result of a malevolent act by angry spirits. Several compulsory, expensive rituals  may be performed in order to ward off a chain of deaths in a community.

Fear of the dead Beliefs regarding death and the dead have profoundly influenced humankind. Hence, in many lands people perform all kinds of rituals, including self-injury, to appease the dead or to “prove” their love for them. Among some peoples of the Pacific islands, widows or widowers are forced to wear black clothing and go into mourning for months, locked up in a house where they must refrain from eating the deceased person’s favorite foods. Individuals who practice this custom can become depressed or sick from hunger or even die.

Clearly, there are many enticements luring people into the occult. How important, then, that we understand the true source of occult teachings! To that end, let us examine the Bible, the only book that gives us the full picture.