Blog Post

UK University Offers Masters Degree in Occultism and Magic

The University of Exeter is offering the UK’s first graduate degree program in the study of occultism and magic, an offering that one exorcist calls “dangerous stuff.”

The Catholic News Agency (CNA) is reporting on the course, called magic and occult science, which will study topics including “magic in Greece and Rome, occult texts in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the history of witchcraft, magic in literature and folklore, deception and illusion, and the history of science and medicine,” among other topics, according to the program description.

Prospective students are told that due to a “recent surge in interest around topics pertaining to magic and occultism” many professions such as teaching, counseling, publishing, social justice, spiritual and wellbeing guidance, “have experienced a similar surge in demand for this expertise.”

The course will be combined with practical experiences such as field trips and monthly meetings with the university’s Centre for Magic and Esotericism. The Centre is described as dedicated to “exploring topics relating to the history of magic, occult and esoteric literatures using a ground-breaking approach by studying many different cultures and languages all in dialogue with each other.”

The instructor of the course, Dr. Emily Selove, is an Associate Professor in Medieval Arabic Language and Literature at the University of Exeter and also serves as the convener of the Centre. Among her many qualifications, she is currently serving as the principal investigator of a Trust funded project, “The Sorcerer’s Handbook,” which is intended to produce a translation of the magic handbook of the 13th century scholar of language and magic, Sirāj al-Dīn al-Sakkākī.

Al-Sakkaki’s grimoire (a book containing a magicians “recipes” for spells and rituals to invoke demons) is described as “a mixed collection of magical recipes and rituals. It includes instructions for creating talismans, for contacting both jinn and devils, for causing hatred and sickness, for curing such magically caused afflictions, and for calling upon the power of each of the planets.”

Hundreds of students have indicated an interest in the course.

Needless to say, this course in magic, which is being not-so-cleverly disguised as a scholarly pursuit, has Catholic exorcist Monsignor Stephen Rossetti, giving a stern warning about the contents.

“I can understand studying these sorts of things, but the question is, do people realize the reality is that this is dangerous stuff,” Rossetti told CAN. “The problem with these courses is that people say, ‘Well, we’re studying this. There’s nothing wrong with it.’ And then the course encourages people to get into it” out of curiosity.

“So I think it’s a dangerous thing when you just sort of dabble in these things with no awareness of what you’re really getting into,” he said.

Even though the school has included these alternative spiritualities in the name of diversity, “…Diversity does not mean promoting evil … and witchcraft is by its nature very evil,” he said.

“And frankly, the way one protects oneself from the evil one is by living a holy and a good Christian, Catholic life,” he continued. “And I’m sure one of the screening factors for entering the course is not whether you’re living a holy life. So, if you got a bunch of people who are not living a holy life, and they’re starting to dabble and look into the occult and evil, it will have a special ability to hurt you,” he said.

But this isn’t the way Dr. Selove sees it. As she told The New York Times, “If we are looking for truly new and creative solutions to the problems that we as a society face, then we need to be honest and courageous about the fact that some of our tried and true methodologies do have a limit. Let’s cautiously and responsibly try some new or some old ideas that we’ve thrown out.”

Only those people who are unfamiliar with the power and abilities of the devil would think that the cause of the ills of mankind could possibly serve as a solution. This reasoning is the equivalent of letting the wolf guard the henhouse.

Nor can anyone “cautiously and responsibly” try out ideas that involve evil because he is beyond human control. In the final analysis, the only person who controls the devil is Jesus Christ, not academics and students regardless of how well-meaning they might be.

Let us keep tall those associated with this ill-fated program in our prayers.

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