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The Return of the Occult

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Calling all witches, wizards, sorcerers, and psychics! Our fiction needs you! Oh wait…indie publishing and network TV already called. Occult topics and themes in fiction are back in pop culture, like a dark wizard hellbent on revenge. For the past decade, every medium from the written word to prime-time TV, has been exploring the study of what was once considered “too taboo” for audiences. So make a circle of salt, grab your holy water, and load up those silver bullets as we delve into the world of occult pop culture.

For Generation X, the fascination with the occult began to hit the mainstream with the release of movies such as 1994’s The Crow and 1996’s The Craft. What followed was a dalliance by television and film with what might be considered “occult lite” in the late 90s, with Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series and the wildly popular “X-Files”. Novels such J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files, Anne Rice’ The Vampire Chronicles, and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga paved the way in the new millennium, for dozens of television shows to bring the occult into the forefront of pop culture once again. Shows like “The Vampire Diaries” bit a little deeper into the forbidden fruit, along with MTV’s “Teen Wolf”, and the 800 lb. gorilla of occult shows, the CWs “Supernatural.” Throw in the plethora of horror films such as The Ring, The Grudge, Drag Me to Hell, and Cabin in The Woods, and our love of all things occult becomes undeniable. With all the money currently being poured into occult intellectual properties such as DC Comics’ Hellboy franchise and Marvel’s Doctor Strange, the occult is clearly a popular topic with viewers and readers of all ages. So what gives? Why is the world so fascinated with the occult?

The explanation for our fascination with the dark unknown is quite plain: the occult is the study of all things that are considered secret or forbidden, and everyone wants a taste of that forbidden truth. Many of us long to look at the darker side of reality where science does not venture and religion outright bars the way. Our Victorian-era ancestors were just as obsessed with it as we are now, when they broke away from their long-standing traditions and religious strictures. We need these occult stories for a very simple reason: when most of what is known, is unraveled, explained, and revealed, it’s the world’s few remaining secrets, that will drive us to craft the tales and stories of tomorrow.

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