First off, as an occultist I think I’m in pretty good company.
It might surprise you to know that the greatest scientist who ever lived, Sir Isaac Newton, was an occultist. So were Francis Bacon (who might the real Shakespeare), Sir Walter Raleigh, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author and creator of Sherlock Holmes), as well as poet and Nobel laureate William Butler Yeats. Popular NPR reporter and author Margot Adler, filmmaker David Lynch, and author Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) are all occultists as well.
As to the question “what’s an occultist?” an occultist is someone who studies the occult. What’s the occult? I prefer André Nataf’s definition from his Dictionary of the Occult (Wordsworth Editions, (1994), page 80):
“Occultism holds that humanity is only revealed to itself by transcendence…religious feeling is a necessary part of humanity, with the important provision that this religious feeling is the ‘raw material’ on which the initiate works in order to experience glimpses of the sacred, borne within him and all mankind. This transmutation of the religious into the sacred is the very object of the occult sciences and, especially of initiation.”
Of course, literally speaking, the occult is simply hidden knowledge. According to the 1913 Webster’s Dictionary:
Occult [L. occultus, p.p. of occulere to cover up] Hidden from the eye or the understanding; inviable; secret; concealed; unknown.
Occultists and occultism have gotten a lot of bad press. But then, so have football coaches, priests, and clowns. But we don’t let these outliers give football, religion, and carnivals a bad name, now do we?
Here are a couple of links to articles about “occultism” that you may find helpful: