The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus (clandestine, hidden, secret), referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g. an "occult bleed" may be one detected indirectly by the presence of otherwise unexplained anaemia.
The word has many uses in the English language, popularly meaning "knowledge of the paranormal", as opposed to "knowledge of the measurable", usually referred to as science. The term is sometimes popularly taken to mean "knowledge meant only for certain people" or "knowledge that must be kept hidden", but for most practicing occultists it is simply the study of a deeper spiritual reality that extends beyond pure reason and the physical sciences. The terms esoteric and arcane can have a very similar meaning, and the three terms are often interchangeable.
The term occult is also used as a label given to a number of magical organizations or orders, the teachings and practices taught by them, and to a large body of current and historical literature and spiritual philosophy related to this subject .
Occultism is the study of occult or hidden wisdom. To the occultist it is the study of "truth", a deeper truth that exists beneath the surface: "The truth is always hidden in plain sight". It can involve such subjects as magic (alternatively spelled and defined as magick), alchemy, extra-sensory perception, astrology, spiritualism, lithomancy, and numerology. There is often a strong religious element to these studies and beliefs, and many occultists profess adherence to religions such as Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Luciferianism, Satanism, Thelema, and Neopaganism. While Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam are generally not considered occult, some of their modern interpretations can be, as the interpretation of Hinduism within Theosophy or the various occult interpretations of the Jewish Kabbalah. Orthodox members of such religions are likely to consider such interpretations false; for example, the Kabbalah Centre has been criticised by Jewish scholars.
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