The Occult: definitionsThe word "occult" has different modern-day usages, but as it relates to spiritual matters, the word refers to any number of religious practices, which may or may not involve rituals and activities that utilize the blood of an animal or person. The English word “occult” comes from the 16th century Latin word “occulere,” which means “to hide or conceal."
It's important to know that the word "occult" isn't limited to metaphysical beliefs. It is also commonly found in the context of medical testing, referring to something that isn't visible with the naked eye (e.g. an "occult bleed" requires the use of microscope or chemical testing to confirm it).
Reasons people practice various expressions of the occult can be quite different depending on the acitivity and the individual. Generally, practitioners are attempting to discover information that is unknown to them, such as information about the future or what can be done to fascilitate physical healing. Most occult practices aren't directly associated with Satanism, but they can be. Some expresion may involve black magic, but many don't. Some expressions may involve elements of shamanism, but many don't.
Occult Chart: practices, descriptions, associations
The following chart is an attempt to introduce the reader to various occult practices. It's not intended to be an assessment of beliefs or behaviors, but give brief descriptions and serve as a starting point for further study.
The Salem Witchcraft Trials
Vampires and Vampirism
Lewis Spence. The Encyclopedia of the Occult. Bracken Books. London, England. 1988