“Occult” means hidden. Occult knowledge is shared only by a select few and the majority know nothing about it. And when a few people know something that others don’t, they have an advantage.
Think of a typical office. A few people get copies of all the memos and are invited to all the meetings. They are the ones whose opinions count, who can make or break a project, who influence who gets promoted and who gets fired. The surest way to take away somebody’s power is to isolate them by cutting them out of the information loop.
Knowledge within cults is very tightly regulated. A lot of effort goes into keeping the people on the bottom of the hierarchy ignorant and deceived and bullying them into not speaking to each other. Alone, each person is powerless, unable to challenge the people on the top and unable to question and defy the cult’s teachings. They are prisoners of the cult and one of the biggest bars in their prison walls is the lack of access to information.
But knowledge can be a means of liberation as well as imprisonment. The more we know about the way cults operate, the stronger and safer we become. The more we know about our own past, the better able we are to handle flashbacks and to protect ourselves against the cult’s threats. When the lies, threats, and “occult” knowledge are brought into the open they lose their power over us.
Take, for example, the calendar. Before I knew I was an RA survivor, I had no idea why waves of suicidality or floods of horrible images periodically came over me. I had no idea that I was having anniversary reactions. Even after I realized that RA was part of my past, I still didn’t know which days were setting things off inside me.
When I discovered Survivorship’s ritual calendar back in 1989, things made much more sense. I could prepare myself for hard days. I could warn my family and friends when I was going to become difficult to live with. The content of the images made sense for the very first time. Sick sense, but sense. Life instantly became more predictable and more manageable.
The more I learned about RA through books, friends, and exploring my internal world, the stronger my grip on my own life became. My feelings of craziness diminished and my self-esteem grew. As triggers became conscious, more of my behavior came under conscious control. There was more room for “me” in my life, and less room for the cult’s influence.
What’s true on an individual level is also true on a societal level. If nobody believes cults exist, they are free to operate with impunity. They can do pretty much what they want, because society’s denial effectively makes them invisible.
But when survivors start to speak out, bit by bit society becomes aware of the existence of cults. The perpetrators have to start being more careful. The signs of ritual abuse in children are more often recognized and the chance of rescuing those children grows. Adult survivors are strengthened by being believed and respected, which enables them to speak our more often. We will all become safer. Knowledge is power!