The word occult comes from Latin occultus (hidden), referring to supposed secret or hidden knowledge usually of the supernatural. Sometimes the knowledge does not consist of access to particular facts, but is arrived through the mind being taken through a process triggered by a text, image or performance. See occultism.
Many (especially orthodox Christians) use it to refer many practices which they disapprove of but which those who participate in it may not consider occult (Dungeons & Dragons;, heavy metal music, even sometimes Catholicism).
The beliefs and practices of those who consider their activities "occult" or part of "the occult" (e.g. ceremonial magicianss, Satanists, etc.) are generally far from being secret or hidden, being found very easily (in books or on the Internet). This ready availability is historically recent and corresponds to a reduced interest in traditional religion.
To Occult is also an astronomy term describing an event where one celestial body passes in front of another, thereby obscuring it from view (i.e. The Moon occults Venus on May 21, 2004). This is different from an eclipse in that the object being occulted is so small (from the perspective of an earthly viewer) that it is completely blocked from view by the closer, larger object.
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