The Occult and Cults revolve around illusion, delusion and ultimately despair. Cults have existed since time began; Christianity was once thought of as a Cult before morphing into one of the world's most popular Religion's. The Occult encompasses such things as following a doctrine that often cannot be verified, worshipping supernatural entities and trying to engage in psychic phenomena. On the surface the Occult and Cults appear very different, but their practices and dangers often overlap with catastrophic implications.
Famous Cults include such name's as Heaven's Gate, The People's Temple and Charles Manson's Family. Heaven's Gate a Cult started by Marshall Applewhite (1931-1997), was created when Marshall suffered a near death experience and began to believe that we as human's could enter a different dimension. Convincing his then Nurse Bonnie Nettles, (1928-1985), of his alternate reality, the two set about across the USA preaching their own version of the Bible to anyone who would listen. Ultimately, their Cult was to have some commonalities with the Occult; they believed that the Comet Hale-Bop would help members enter a new dimension and on March 26, 1997 thirty nine members committed suicide when the comet was at its brightest.
The People's Temple started by Jim Jones, aka James Warren was one of the first interracial Cults in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jim Jones made it a smooth sell for the lost and dispossessed and gained 900 members from that city. Starting out as a religious man, Jones became a fanatic and began distorting the Bible. Over time his religious fanaticism spilled over with Occult like delusions. Among other things Jim claimed to have found a cure for Cancer, and when Government officials could not find proof he felt persecuted and began moving his followers around the USA, only to ultimately end up in Jonestown, Guyana. In 1978 one of the biggest mass suicides occured with over 900 deaths believed to have come from drinking Kool-Aid with Cyanide and taking Valium and Chloral Hydrate amongst others. Jones also was convinced there was another dimension or Earth only attainable through suicide.
Dangers of the Occult and Cults
The Occult and Cults prey on the weak and the lost. C.S. Lewis once wrote, "Life is meaningless unless we assume a God", and followers of Cult leaders and Coven's (as the Occult refers to them) give members a misguided sense of loyalty. Leaders are often very charming and charismatic, chameleon like displaying love, affection and a parental figure. Acquiring people with low self-esteem, people with abandonment issues, the lost and those with possible psychological and emotional problems, and manipulating them to follow an earthly leader in search of a distorted promised land while giving a sense of belonging, becomes an easy sell.
Covens as part of the Occult rarely actively recruit members. Spiritual seekers looking for answers on-line, through message boards, in new age gatherings and bookstores often end up hooking up with like minded seekers. Sensing a feeling of belonging and that supernatural skills are within their reach, they look to the leader, (often a High Priestess) to teach and install supernatural powers.
Joining a Cult or the Occult means the begins of a separation from normal day to day life. While members of the Occult often hold normal jobs and live in normal places, Cult followers are often recruited to live communally with other members and the leader. Cult Leaders encourage members or followers to cut all ties with the outside world including employers, family and friends, give their possessions to the needy, or more usually the Cult family, along with all their savings. Cults encourage members to see their community as the only one that matters, and that everything is to be shared equally amongst all.
In the past Cult's have gone to large amounts of trouble to keep the outside world out. Now, in the 21st century they are going hi-tech; using the Internet to get their message out, websites exist on how to start your own cult. Yet these groups seek to actively keep members from participating in the outside world.
The prelude to obsession is social isolation. Once a person is isolated from their peers and surroundings it is easy to begin the 'break down' or brain washing of prior beliefs to the Cults beliefs. Individual thought is not expected or celebrated, everyone must conform to group thinking, often referred to in these circumstances as group hysteria. Cult propaganda becomes belief which becomes an obsession to please, especially the leader.
In the Occult, things work a little differently; many who become addicted to the Occult never formally enter a Coven, but become obsessed by psychic chat lines, occult books promising special powers, talismans, spell packages etc. Complaints of spending thousands of dollars on fake spell casters exist right across the Internet and in 2007 the FBI had over 500 reported cases of people who had lost over $50,000 on spell scams due to loneliness and often outright desperation. They estimate this represents less than 1% of people who were actually scammed as most are too afraid and embarrassed to come forward.
Nervous breakdown and Death
The first is far more prevalent around both Cults and the Occults. The Cults see far more physical harm come to members who wish to leave the environment or 'family', and those who do succeed in leaving often spend a lengthy time in therapy often with the help of a Cult de-programmer. Spiritual seekers often go bankrupt or severely into debt from fake Psychics, Mediums and Casters and often experience a breakdown of work and family life. In extreme cases in both groups, voluntary suicide takes place, while mass planned suicide is more common in Cults.
The Occult and Cults overlap in many ways, and are often seen as an escape from existing problems, and answers to life's unanswered questions. The problems and expectancies created when anyone joins either group far need to be weighed carefully before a decision to join either is reached.