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The word occult comes from Latin occultus (hidden), referring to the 'knowledge of the secret' or 'knowledge of the hidden' and often meaning 'knowledge of the supernatural', as opposed to 'knowledge of the visible' or 'knowledge of the measurable', usually referred to as science. The modern term's meaning is often imprecisely translated and used as a term for 'secret knowledge' or 'hidden knowledge', in the sense of meaning 'knowledge meant only for certain people' or 'knowledge that must be kept hidden'. Therefore, in the context of this term's contemporary meaning in western societies, anything referred to as occult is often regarded as superstitious. Today, the term is often known best in the context of occultism.
The ancient Greek term for occult is esoteric.
Many people, especially orthodox Christians, use the term to refer to a number of practices which they disapprove of on religious grounds but which those who participate in for the most part do not consider occult. These include the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, heavy metal music, and sometimes even Catholicism.
Large portions of this text were originally taken from: Wikipedia. (2004). Occultism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occultism). Retrieved Sept. 23, 2004.