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Organized Religion Vs The Study of the Occult - Which is more Spiritually beneficial?

Is one area of Spiritual practice better for you? Can both be practiced together for an improved Spiritual experience?

I am writing this post two days before Christmas Eve. A day that for most of my life has been celebrated with family attending an evening service of worship at our local Catholic church. A mass I loved going to as a child and still do to this day. I look forward to the communal singing of well known songs, and the insightful, contemplative and uplifting sermon delivered by the Priest. But most importantly I look forward to seeing a large group of diverse and unique individuals come together to share in a communal moment of love, joy and service to others.

However, over the past few years I’ve found myself plagued by feelings of guilt when I attended mass because of my growing relationship with alternative Spiritual practices.

I’ve found myself at different times hiding both sides of my Spiritual practice from the other. Not wanting to share openly with practitioners of the Christian faith that I also practice the Tarot and have a deep understanding and respect for both the systems of Astrology and Numerology. At other times I've found myself hiding the fact that I enjoy going to a shared Christian service and deeply believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Do I believe 100 percent in the tenants espoused by the Catholic Church or other Christian branch of faith? I can say without hesitation, no. And I bet if I spoke to every individual attending the same Christian service, I would not be the only one to answer in this way. Why? Because our beliefs are as unique as we are. Truly singular to each individual. Shouldn’t our Spiritual practices then be just as unique? This leads me to the following questions:

Can organized Religion and practices of the Occult co-exist to prove a common Spiritual point: that the makeup of our physical reality is one of divine design?

Or better put, can an individual use both the practices of a specific Religion in addition to the practices of the Occult to grow, unlock and illuminate their own Spiritual gifts, meaning and purpose?

And can they use both without feeling guilty or that they must hide one practice from the other? I think the answer to all of these above questions is a resounding yes.

So then, to pose yet another question - can someone who doesn’t believe 100 percent in every tennant of a specific Religion, still choose to participate in its practices because on some level it helps to improve their Spiritual experience? Meaning that it helps them connect to a larger sense of purpose and meaning? Many might say no. But just as many would say yes, because on some level they fit in with this category of Religious practitioners.

In fact, I have a feeling that many of the people who will attend the same Christmas Eve mass as myself this year, also checked their astrological horoscopes earlier that morning.

And it is here where we begin to see the overlap of what I like to call the practice of personal Spiritual Study (Occult) with the practice of community-based Spiritual Study (Religion). Or more simply put in today’s wording, looking up your astrological birth chart at home to gain more insight into yourself and going to Church or Religious service regularly with others to foster a sense of community.

“No two people’s idea of heaven are the same.” A phrase you’ll hear me use often in my online or in person Tarot Readings. Meaning that no two people’s needs, hopes, and dreams are ever or can ever be the same. When I speak of “heaven” I mean the individual’s ability to conjure up a moment of perfection. The ultimate life experience. Think about it for yourself? What would your “heaven” on earth look like? Some might say that they would love for themselves and everyone to live in a large mansion with the ability to travel wherever they might want to. Another might hear this vision of heaven and scoff, because they would never want to live in a mansion and traveling to them is exhausting. They would much rather have a small cabin in the middle of a forest where they can quietly commune with nature for all of eternity. Some would rather share their perfect life experience living with others, while some would prefer to be alone. Some might want to be in the spotlight, while others would prefer to be left alone. The point is that our idea of what we would need to feel ultimately fulfilled in our perfect life experience is truly unique to us.

So if every single person both past, present and future is a truly singular being, with a truly singular perspective, can the tenants of one specific Religion ever truly fit everyone?

Probably not. This is why there are so many different Religions around the world today. Many different forms of trying to prove the same idea - that there is meaning and purpose to our physical life as humans because we are part of something greater than ourselves. We are just one piece in the greater tapestry of an existence that appears to be designed by a higher power and wisdom.

This is the main point of organized Religion; that it helps provide the individual with a routine composed of the practice of self-governing tenants which can then be used to connect their unique self with the lives of others in a way that is generally peaceful, loving and supportive. This is the Spiritually beneficial quality of organized Religion.

It is a place to foster and grow a sense of shared community around higher shared values and ideals. This is why I refer to organized Religion as community-based Spiritual Study. A study that focuses on how we can ideally interact with others for the benefit of all.

How then does integrating practices of the Occult, or what I refer to as personal Spiritual Study, also help the individual foster a similar sense of meaning, purpose and an awareness of a divine design? First let me define what “Occult” means.

For many, it conjures up something dark or demonic, or maybe even something magical or witch-like. “Occult” simply means “what is hidden”.

So those who practice the studies of the “Occult” are simply taking a personal journey into uncovering hidden truths of the mysterious quality to our life experience. Similar to what practitioners of an organized Religion would do, but in a way that is geared towards unlocking truths about themself and less about their connection to a shared community. Astrology and Numerology specifically help illuminate truths about what makes an individual truly unique. They can unlock the powerful awareness of how truly singular they are, by showing them their own universal fingerprint. That the time and physical location of their birth only happens once. A singular moment, which no other person shares with them. We must consider that even twins are not born at the very same second. So the practices of Astrology and Numerology provides an energetic snapshot of this singular moment and how this energetic alignment continues to affect the individual throughout their lifetime.

Astrology and Numerology, as well as Tarot, Sound Healing and Reiki help us to better connect with and become aware of this singular energetic fingerprint, its potential and divine purpose.

Both personal Spiritual Study, and community-based Spiritual Study are equally important and integral to the overall Spiritual health of the individual. We must know ourselves first to fully understand how and where we fit into the larger Spiritual community. And we must also understand that no person lives on an island and the shared successes of the community are the shared successes of all. We can integrate both to experience purpose and meaning. We must understand what uniquely makes us, us. But we will not experience that sense of purpose and meaning we as humans long for, until we see and understand our own role and its importance through the sharing of our divine uniqueness with the community.

Both areas of Spiritual Study help us to dive deeper into uncovering and experiencing the divinity, beauty and grander design to our experience and that which lies beyond it. This is why I believe that there is an important role for each to play in supporting our Spiritual journey, and why I hope that it becomes more commonplace for both to be practiced together with mutual understanding and respect.

We can look to many in Indian culture as an example of the spiritual attunement and growth that comes when you utilize both aspects of Spiritual Study. They have long blended shared religious practice with individual Spiritual study through the use of Vedic Astrology and other similar Spiritual systems of practice.

To end, I’ll share one small fragment of my larger personal dream of “heaven” on Earth. My vision includes the practice and teaching of personal Spiritual Study starting at a young age for all children as part of their basic education. That an emphasis on personal understanding and importance is taught simultaneously with the importance of community knowledge and engagement. And that this understanding and respect for what makes each person uniquely important, is then extended through awareness to all others equally. I am a big believer that through empowered action we are given the ability to experience a little of our dream of heaven on Earth in each of our lifetimes. This is what I see as the truest expression of our individual Spiritual potential. The beautiful gilded thread our life weaves into the divinely inspired tapestry of existence.

So this Christmas Eve, as I pull a few Tarot cards for contemplation before sitting without guilt in a church service of my choosing, I will send up a silent prayer to The Designer. That we might all get a chance to bring down a small piece of our heaven to Earth in the upcoming New Year.

With love on your Spiritual Journey,

L.A. Hickman

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