The Bible and the Occult

by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA

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There are many sacred or holy books and teachings throughout the world. All are held to be “the” holy book or the “only” holy book by their particular believers or practitioners. In our western culture, which is heavily Christian in nature, the holy book taught, studied and used is the Holy Bible. If you follow Jewish heritage and teachings, that means the Old Testament. If you follow Christian heritage and teachings, it means the Old and the New Testaments collectively. Under each of those broad categories are millions to billions of followers, with too many sub-categories to mention – from broad strokes such as Christian Catholics, Protestants, Amish, Mormons, etc. to Jewish Orthodoxy, Reformed, Hassidic, etc. There is even a sect called Jews for Jesus that crosses traditional lines. It is not possible to study all the “holy” books at this time, so we will center on the western Holy Bible, and of that, only a tiny sliver as it relates specifically to occult references.

It would be so much easier if there were only one book called the Bible, but there are so many renditions, all of which are held forward as the “right” rendition. Originally there was no written language. Language itself emerged from primitive sounds into understandable speech, predating formal records. Some humans could draw pictures and did so; human records such as cave drawings and relics date back around 30,000 years. Counting tokens appeared around 9,000 years ago, a rudimentary way of keeping track of numbers, but still no standardized writing. Writing in any form developed through many stages, starting with uniform pictoids, and gradually becoming cuneiform in shape in middle-eastern countries around 3000 BC. Up to that point, belief systems, history and society’s records were passed verbally from mouth to ear. Any written book, holy or not, surfaced much later.

This archeological record conflicts with many religious beliefs. For example, science currently defines the universe as just under 14 billion years old and earth as 4.5 billion years old. Fossil records and scientific techniques support this evolutionary system. Christianity believes creation itself occurred about 6000 or so years ago depending upon which hypothesis you follow. The Hebrew Year for 2009 equals 5770. The Bible is thought by some to be the history of the Jews, an historical textbook. To other beliefs, the Bible is dictated by God, true in every letter and word, inviolate, the absolute Word of God.

The next question to answer is which version do you read / believe / use? The Old Testament was recorded by Hebrews, for Hebrews, about Hebrews, originally a verbal tradition which became a written tradition. There is a strong distinction between what is expected of the “people of the book” and any outside that category who are considered by whatever label used as “outsiders” to be avoided. As you read, notice a strong concern with contamination of the tribe and the beliefs, with strong condemnation of the religious beliefs and practices of those outsiders. The God of the Old Testament, originally a militant tribal deity called Yahweh (Jehovah), declared that He was a jealous God and would not tolerate any gods before Him. My question… is “before” Him “in front of” or “preceding” the one true God?

If you are a believer in original intent, then the original language (Aramaic) version (Peshitta text) is for you. The Greeks were the learned group during ancient centuries, so translation went to the Greek. In fact, the most popular versions of the New Testament are translated from Greek. The need to translate to other languages grew and a plethora of versions occurred, to the point where we have translations of translations of translations. Which is the version that supports your belief? I use the Lamsa Bible, translated into English from the original Peshitta text by a Bible scholar who spoke both the original language and English, George Lamsa. It took him forty years, a life’s work. I saw him in person around

1970 and he said he had found 60,000 errors in traditional translation. I prefer my “inviolate” Bible with 60,000 fewer errors. I want to believe that each translation was made by educated, careful, honorable humans with no personal axe to grind, that all was preserved perfectly to this very moment, but that is too much of a stretch of my imagination. Most people are way too human.

In Genesis, the structure and process of the beginning of our universe and the development of society takes precedence. In Exodus, the journeying phase as the “people of the book” were segregated from the rest of the society, are the first rumblings of the one true God having a real problem with the practices of the “outsiders” and their effects on the emerging “people of the book.”  Exodus 22:18 is the passage that indicates you should not “suffer a witch to live.” Deuteronomy 18:10 is the reference to witchcraft as an abomination. These are the two passages that are most often quoted or used to condemn any occult practitioner (outsider). Bible references to witchcraft or words associated with witchcraft include “occult” practices including astrology, prophecy, particularly in the Old Testament, with fewer passages that condemn astrology than other occult passages, but they do exist. Yet there are just as many references to prophecy as necessary for instruction, dream, disembodied hands writing on a wall, interpretation of dreams and symbols, trumpet voices, trance states, spirit voices, levitation, testing, miracles, and most of all, healing. Contradiction, paradox, and confusion exist within the pages I must trust.

Should I or shouldn’t I is the real question. Should I assume that because one Bible passage conveys that I should not, that passage takes precedence over a passage that conveys, yes I should? This question perplexed me forty years ago as spontaneous experiences threatened to overwhelm my religious conditioning. I had been taught that I could trust my Bible for any answer to any dilemma I encountered. All I had to do was prepare myself in prayer and open the Bible at random. The first passage my eyes fell on would be my spiritually-guided answer. So I did that and opened to 1 John 1. In that long ago scenario, my Bible advised “Test ye the spirits. Do not believe every spirit, but ask…” I sat there in stunned silence. You could not get more specific a response than that passage. What did it mean? My thought process interpreted it as, “Why would the Bible give a test for spirit if it did not expect me to encounter spirit?” That single passage relieved my fears and I have explored the possibilities over the years.

I Cor 12 and 14 enumerate and explain the gifts of spirit. More? When asked how we would know about the second coming of Jesus, Jesus himself directed our attention to signs in the heavens; we are to look to the heavens for our answer. The book of Revelation (in Protestant Bibles –  again, personal choice) is all about prophecy and symbolism. How are we supposed to understand, interpret and put into personal practice that which we are forbidden to know. Miracles abound in the Bible. In several references, we humans are referred to as the sons and daughters of God (King) and as the temples of the living God. If I am the heir to the spiritual kingdom as the daughter of the living God, why am I shackled by the interpretation of others in exploring my inheritance? Occult simply means hidden or darkened, not vile or blasphemous. “Should we or shouldn’t we?” is the real question and the answer is personal choice.

Bible References

Astrology numerous: Gen 1:14-16, 15:5, 37:9; Num 24:17, Ecc 1:9, 3: 1-4; Psa 148:3-6; Matt 24:29

Astrology condemned: Isa 47:13, Lev 19:26, Deu 18:9-14

Dreams: Genesis 28:12, 31:24, 37:5, 41: 1-8, Job 33:14-16; Joel 2:28; 1 King 3:5

Fire Mediumship: 1 KI 18:30-40; Num 16:15-35

Healing OT numerous: Num 21:8-9; 2 King 5:6-14; Gen 20:18

Healing NT numerous: Matt 8:5-13; Luke 14:2-4, Matt 12:10-13, 22, 17:14

Healing, Disciples: Matt 10:8; Luke 9:2, 10:9

Materialization: Gen 3:8; Luke 9:28-36; Gen 3:24; Exo 3:2; Matt 28:9

Prophecy, Warnings (numerous): Amos 3:8, Matt 10:16-20, Revelation

Spiritual Gifts: 1 Cor 12:9-28; 1 Cor 14:

Spirit Levitation: 1 Kin 18:12, Eze 3:12-14, 8:3; Acts 8:39, Matt 4:1

Spirit Test: Gen 24:14, 19; Exo 4:14, 31; Jud 6:30-40; 1 Sam 1:10-1, 17, 26, 27, 10:2, 6, 9, 10; 1 Thes 5:17-22; 1 Joh 4:1-3, 1 Kin 18:21-39

Spirit Voice: Deu 5:2, 9:12-13; 1 Sam 3:2-15; Eze 1:28; Matt 17:5, Luke 9:35; John 12:28-30, Acts 7:30-1, 9:4, 7; 11:7-9

Spirit Writing: Exo 31:18, Dan 5:5, 24-31, II Chro 21:12, Exo 24:11, 31:18, 32:16, 34:1, Deu 9:10

Trance: Gen 14:12, 17; Dan 8:18, 10:9, Acts 9:3, 9, 22:17, 2 Cor 12:1-4; Gen 15:12-17; Revelations (all)

Trumpet Speaking: Exo 19:13, 16, 19, 20:18; Judg 6:34; Revelation 1:10

Witch(craft): Exo 22:18; Deu 18:10; 1 Sam 15:23; 2 Chr 33:06; Gal 5:20; 2 Kin 9:22; Mic 5:12


The New International Webster’s Student Dictionary

is used unless otherwise stated.

angel: n Theological: 1.a One of an order of spiritual beings attendant upon the Deity; a heavenly messenger. b. A fallen spiritual being. 2. A conventional representation of an angel usually a youthful winged human figure in white robes with a halo. 3. A person thought of as being angelically beautiful, pure, kind. 4. A guardian spirit or attendant.

astrology: n 1. Originally the practical application of astronomy to human uses. 2. The study professing to interpret the influence of the heavenly bodies upon the destinies and behavior of men (Greek, astron: star, logy: study).

astronomy: n The science that studies stars, planets, and other bodies in space and the phenomena that involves them (Greek, astron: star, nomos: law).

bible: any authoritative text or writing.

Bible: 1. The sacred writings of Christianity, the Old Testament and the New Testament. 2. The Holy Scriptures of Judaism; the Old Testament. 3. The sacred text or writings of any religion.

heaven: n 1. In Christian theology, the abode of God, the angels and of deserving souls after death. 2. A similar state or concept in other religions. 3. A place or condition of supreme happiness. 4. plural: Divine providence. 5. The region above and surrounding the earth; the sky (Old English: heofan).

incarnate: 1. To give bodily form to. 2. To give concrete shape or form to; actualized. 3. To be the embodiment of, typify. Invested with flesh. 4. Embodied, personified, flesh colored.

  • incarnation: n 1. The condition of being incarnate, especially the embodiment of a god or spirit in human form such as an avatar. 2. The assumption of human nature by Jesus Christ. 3. The embodiment of a quality, idea, principle, etc.
  • reincarnation: n 1. The rebirth of a soul in a new body. 2. The Hindu doctrine that the soul, upon the death of the body, returns to the earth in another body or a new form.
  • reincarnate: to cause to undergo reincarnation. See also rebirth.

levitate: To rise or cause to rise and float in the air.

  • levitation: n 1. The act of levitating or the state of being levitated. 2. The illusion of suspending heavy objects or the human body in the air without support.

miracle: n 1. An act or event that seems to transcend or contradict all known natural or scientific laws and is usually thought to be supernatural in origin. 2. Any wonderful or amazing thing, fact, or event; a wonder (Latin mirus: wonderful).

  • miraculous: adj 1. Of the nature of a miracle, supernatural. 2. Surpassingly strange, wonderful. 3. Possessing the power to work miracles.
  • mirage: an optical illusion (from the Latin mirary: wonder at).

mystic: adj 1. Of or pertaining to mystics or mysticism. 2. Of or designating an occult or esoteric rite, practice, belief, etc. 3. Mysterious, enigmatic. n One who practices mysticism or has mystical experiences (Greek mystikos pertaining to secret rites).

  • mystical: adj 1. Characteristic of, relating to, or involving mysticism or mystics. 2. Believing in or practicing mysticism. 3. Inscrutable, inexplicable.
  • mysticism: n 1. Any of various disciplines, usually involving meditation and asceticism, by which one can supposedly attain intuitive knowledge of or direct union with God or some ultimate reality. 2. The experience of such knowledge or union. 3. Any theory or belief which states that it is possible to have immediate, intuitive experience of realities beyond man’s senses or rational faculties. 4. Vague or obscure thinking.
  • mystify: vt 1. To confuse or perplex, especially deliberately. 2. To make obscure or mysterious.
  • mystique: n A kind of legendary or superhuman quality or aura with which certain persons, things, or occupations are invested, making them objects of awe, curiosity or veneration.

myth: n 1. A traditional story presented as historical, often purporting to explain some natural phenomenon, as the creation of life, and expressive of the character of a people, their gods, culture, heroes, religious beliefs, etc. 2. Any real or imaginary story, theme, or character that excites the interest or imagination of a people. 3. Myths collectively. 4. Any imaginary person or thing. 5. A false belief or opinion (Greek mythos: word, speech, story).

  • mythology: n 1. A collection of myths of a people, person, thing, event, etc. 2. The scientific collection and study of myths.
  • mythical: adj 1. Of or like a myth. 2. Existing only in a myth. 3. Imaginary, fictitious.
  • mythologize: vt To make into a myth. Glorify.

occult: adj 1. Of or designating those mystic arts involving magic, astrology, alchemy, etc. 2. Not divulged, secret. 3. Beyond human understanding, mysterious. vt 1. To hide or conceal from view. 2. Astronomy. To block the light from or view of. vi 3. To become hidden or concealed from view.

  • occultation: 1. The act of occulting or the state of being occulted. 2. Astronomy: Concealment of one celestial body by another (Latin occulere: to cover over, hide).

prophet: n One who delivers divine messages or interprets the divine will. 2. One who foretells the future. 3. A religious leader. 4. An interpreter or spokesman for any cause. Prophetess not given.

  • prophet (Unity Meta) A teacher, one who receives the inspiration of Spirit, an understanding of spiritual law, and imparts it to others. A prophet, in individual consciousness, is a thought that is in contact with Spirit, that receives revelations direct form the Holy Spirit; it knows and understands divine law and its working, therefore it warns and instructs the other thoughts. (The prophets of old seemed to stand between God and the people; it was through them that the people received divine guidance.) A prophet (Matt. 21:4) is one who states the spiritual law. The prophets of Luke 16:29 represent divine law. The prophet of John 6:14 is the promise of God.
  • prophecy n 1. A prediction made under divine influence. 2. Any prediction (Greek: pro-, before plus phanai, speak = before speak).
  • prophesy vt. 1. To utter or foretell with or as with divine inspiration. 2. To predict (a future event). 3. To point out beforehand. vi 4. To speak by diving influence. 5. To foretell the future.
  • prophetic: adj 1. Of or pertaining to a prophet or prophecy. 2. Predicting or foreshadowing a future event.

tongue(s) (physical attributes not listed): n 4. The power of speech. 5. Manner or style of speaking. 6. Utterance, talk. 7. A language or dialect. [Several cliches also not listed.]

witch: n 1. A woman who practices sorcery or has supernatural powers, especially to work evil. 2. An ugly old woman; a hag. 3. A bewitching or fascinating woman or girl. vt 1 To work an evil spell upon; effect by witchcraft. 2. To fascinate or charm. vi 3. Dowse (Old English: wicce, a witch, feminine; of wicca: a wizard).

  • witching: adj Having the power to enchant, bewitching.
  • witchcraft: n 1. Black magic; sorcery. 2. Extraordinary influence or fascination.
  • witchery: n 1. Witchcraft; black magic, sorcery. 2. Power to charm, fascination.
  • witch doctor: Among certain primitive peoples, a man skilled in counteracting evil spirits.
  • bewitch: vt 1. To gain power over by witchcraft. 2. To charm, fascinate. Synonym: Captivate, entrance, enchant, beguile.

Suggested References

Dictionary of the Sacred Language of all Scriptures and Myths (1924) by G.A. Gaskell

Metaphysical Bible Dictionary by Unity School of Christianity

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible by James Strong

The Holy Bible, Lamsa translation by George M. Lamsa

Good internet source on the background of religion:

Age of the World:

Appended: 2023 note: I searched ”Who wrote the Bible” on Youtube and found multiple sources – time to go to school!

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