This week's topic: the occult, and why I've decided to use this as part of the label for my fiction works rather than the now generic and -in my opinion- highly overused "Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/Supernatural" heading. Will I still list my work as "paranormal" also? Certainly. The word "occult" tends to drum up the wrong impression for most folks. Think about it. First thought that comes to your mind when you hear "occult." I'll give you a minute to mull it over.
First thing I know came to most of your heads was something along the lines of black magick, Satanism, ritual sacrifice, cults, and all other manner of things that are generally deemed as scary and not good.
Here's what Wikipedia has to say on the subject: The occult (from the Latin word occultus "clandestine, hidden, secret") is "knowledge of the hidden". In common English usage, occult refers to "knowledge of the paranormal", as opposed to "knowledge of the measurable", usually referred to as science. The term is sometimes taken to mean knowledge that "is meant only for certain people" or 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 have very similar meanings, and the three terms are interchangeable.
It also describes 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 also includes many things arcane, or esoteric (and this is certainly not an all-encompassing list): magick, alchemy, extra-sensory perception, astrology, divination, Hermeticism, Theosophy, Wicca, neopaganism, Gnosticism, etc. Things with occult properties are also anything that doesn't have a "rational" explanation. Many things that were considered magick, or occult, once upon a time are now considered to be pure science by society at large.
What I'm trying to get at is that I feel the word "occult" has been given unnecessarily negative connotations. It's gotten a bad reputation, and I'm taking it back.