We begin, as is expected, at the beginning. Or rather, my beginning.
I have studied the occult since my freshman year of high school. At the time, we called it 'Wicca,' and it bore so little resemblance to actual occult practices that one wonders how the terms ever became connected (that's a rant for another day). But I found like minded individuals, folks who felt there was 'something more' (or whatever dribble newbie counter culture pagans say to justify waiving wands and chanting poorly written rhymes), and we began jumping over Beltane fires, blessing each other, and whatever else young sexy witches do (oh to be young and carefree again). Soon we became a part of the larger 'pagan community.' We joined Pagan acting groups, and Pagan discussion groups, and Pagan study circles, and Pagan pride day organizers, and Pagan celebrations, and Pagan orgies (if only). We were no longer 'Wiccans,' as it wasn't cool to call yourself a "witch" anymore, we were now 'Pagans.'
But even among our small group I was the odd one. My library on books about magick (we used to add a 'k' without even knowing why, for more information about why talk to Crowley) was all ready tipple the size of my fellow teenaged practitioners and almost the equal of several adult pagans I had met. Oh I had the requisite crap: Silver Ravenwolf, Douglas Monroe, Raven Grimassi; but my library now included Gardner, Waite, and even a Crowley. I had begun studying the deeper meanings of what we were doing. Why do we cast circles? Who decides what elements are in what corner? Where did the pentagram originate? And other questions my so-called pagan "elders" explained away with half-assed excuses. "Because that's how I was taught," "why does it matter," etc. Only one of my fellow pagans shared my thirst for knowledge. But I will not write about that one here in respect for the privacy of my peers.
My studies began to include resources on Demonology, Kaballah, Medieval ritual grimoires, and even Alchemy. These subjects were looked at by other pagans as 'excessive' or 'wrong' "You don't need all those sigils, drawn circles and proper incenses. Just imagine a circle around you, draw the pentacle in the air, and burn lots of dragon's blood. After all, the Goddess hears us." At times I was even told that studying books that professed to speak on such topics as "High Magic" or "Black Magic" was anti-pagan, because all pagans want good magic and peace to prevail. But these protests only seemed to further my need to ask "why."
It became obvious to me, that what my contemporaries and 'elders' were doing was not 'magic.' They had no idea the roots of their practices, and so had edited and modified them so beyond the point of recognition that one wonders how they beleived them to be effective in the first place. Gods and Goddesses were discarded for a faceless Goddess. Measured and labeled Magic Circles had been cast aside and instead imagined and drawn in the head alone. Spirits and demons were no longer understood and commanded and were instead ignored, or worse, invited into 'sacred space' with little to no knowledge of the new 'guests.' And I became concerned, even afraid for them. You would not operate a vehicle or a firearm without proper training. You would not cook, or carve, or build, without blueprints or recipes. So why then were these so-called 'informed and experienced' pagans practicing 'magick' without even a cursory glance at what their forefathers had to teach on the subject? They could hurt themselves for Gods' sakes.
So I broke away. I was not going to be lured into an open circle which might be dedicated to Sekhmet the Destroyer yet caller her a Goddess of Love (actually happened once) or a ritual invoking spirits but ignoring all precautions. I began real study of the occult. Medieval grimoires became my teachers and my lessons included proper evocation of spirits, planetary squares and pentacles, symbols and sigils, magic circles, and even the names and proper control of demonic intruders.
You see, The Occult is not a religion. You don't get points for prayer. You don't get to ask Goddess (or whoever) to magically fix your problems. You don't get to water your practices down to get more converts.
Real Magic is structured. There are right ways to do things, and wrong ways. There are formulas to be followed, names to be pronounced correctly, scripts to be memorized, concepts to understand, and spirits to invoke.
So this is how I became an Occultist. No longer practicing "Wicca," no longer practicing "Paganism" (though my religious faith is indeed pagan in that I worship in the fashion of the ancient druids, but paganism is not a magical practice it is a group of faiths exclusive of practice), but now an Occultist.
I thirst for knowledge. I find truth. I practice the arts magical (no 'k') with boldness, experience, and academic study. I do not apologize for showing others the truth, and I will not placate those who are aggressively ignorant for the sake of their feelings. Wrong is wrong. Understand that. Embrace it. Not everyone can be right. Not every opinion matters. And just because you beleive it does not make it true.
I am an Occultist.