Will Occult Groups Succeed?
Occult groups that incorporate new ideas with old ones are most likely to succeed. For example, early Christianity placed Christmas on December 25th, an important Pagan holiday to ensure the survival of Christian mythologies. Mormonism asks Christians to accept a new third testament, not to reject the Old and New Testaments. Those belief systems that ask adherents to reject, rather than combine beliefs have a greater chance of failure.
New belief systems must maintain a balance between conformity and deviance. It is not surprising that recruits tend to be urban white youth, well-educated families. Beliefs that appeal to a limited segment of the population will never become a dominant faith. In other words, a movement that appeals to a narrow social base will have difficulty maintaining itself. The beliefs of any group need to form internal attachments to followers, which binds people to a larger group. Any group made up of casual acquaintances will lack commitment and salience.
New belief systems will not flourish where the conventional religious organization is effectively meeting the needs of the people. For new beliefs to take hold in a community, they must be presented at the right time such as during a crisis, like a plague, natural disaster or conquest, and social disorganization; social problems disrupt social ties. New religious movements usually originate in periods of great social stress, societal frustration, or transition. Symbols of the prevailing culture are used but are rearranged to take on new meanings.
Activist vs Passivist Model of Conversion
The activist model of conversion is a negotiation and process of understanding a new interpretation of reality. Contrarily, the passivist model of conversion is when the subject has little control over their own behavior. When people remain repressed for so long, God becomes remote and impersonal. As a result, people begin to look more closely within themselves. Old gods must be replaced with psychologically fulfilling ones as people, society, and cultures change. It is important to note that the demand for a particular type of history corresponds to the mood and intellectual influences of the time.
There are two possibilities of the future of occult groups and New Age movements:
- The first is that members of these groups will not consolidate and simply be absorbed into the larger culture. Examples of this are noticeable in practices of Feng Shui, alternative healing available through health insurance policies, organic food, and the proliferation of local farmer’s markets.
- The second view is these groups will continue because they change to meet the needs of their adherents, largely driven through commodities and services; the groups will continue to adapt to meet the needs of the users. (The New Age market emerged as a semi-religious option for spiritual consumers).