The word "occult" means hidden. So to study the occult is to study the hidden dimensions of human experience, the "soul dimension." After 46 years of experience working with the mushroom, I feel confident that I am in a position to speak more clearly on the subject of "what is the soul." We could trace the etymology of the English word soul from the Old English word sawel, taken from the Wikipedia entry:
"The Modern English word "soul", derived from Old English sáwol, sáwel, was first attested in the 8th century poem Beowulf and in the Vespasian Psalter. It is cognate with other German and Baltic terms for the same idea, including Gothic saiwala, Old High German sêula, sêla, Old Saxon sêola, Old Low Franconian sêla, sîla, Old Norse sála and Lithuanian siela. Deeper etymology of the Germanic word is unclear.
The original concept behind the Germanic root is thought to mean “coming from or belonging to the sea (or lake)”, because of the Germanic and pre-Celtic belief in souls emerging from and returning to sacred lakes, Old Saxon sêola (soul) compared to Old Saxon sêo (sea)."
So the idea of that in us which returns to the source, the "sea," would be one way to conceptualize it. Water, of course, is the source of life, from which it comes, is made, and to which if returns. The air is another kind of "ocean" and the "breath" is the root of the Greek word psyche and the Hebrew and Arabic word, Ruah (breath). Thus, the spirit, the breath, is the animating principal. Hence the age-old practice of observing the breath to grow awareness of the soul dimension, the dimension of qualities/values.
This area of human experience, like consciousness itself (the "hard problem"), cannot be presented as a null hypothesis subject to the scientific method for verification or rejection. It is a lived reality, an experience, that opens awareness to the perception of what we call the realm of values. Like the mystical experience, it is intangible and does not lend itself to quantification but is certainly perceptible to those sensitive to the qualities of Being. We can recognize those in whom it is a lived reality by their presence. The mystical experience itself often proves to be profoundly life-altering as it opens awareness to the realm of values. Just like scientific training, rationally based, peer-reviewed discussion of this realm of human experience can be found in the Greek philosophical literature of Plato, Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, etc. It is also present in the language used by J. R. R. Tolkein in his magnum opus, The Lord of the Rings. I often tell my young clients, that the LOTR is not fiction, it is a careful description of the states of the human soul, including the landscapes the soul inhabits. Utilizing this approach, we can even state that the lack of belief in the soul dimension is, itself, a state of the human soul (Mordor/Sauron).
The mushroom opens awareness to the depths of this dimension and reveals it clearly. No words are needed, just attentive, open awareness. In fact, communicting about this at all to others often requires that format of expression we call the "fairy tale," which is an attempt to direct awareness toward perceiving this potential level of Reality which we are all capable of growing into.
I would not deign to waste a listener's time trying to convince them of the Reality of the Soul dimension. Instead, one must speak directly, from soul to soul, to rouse within another their potential to awaken. This is essentially what the spirit in the mushroom effects when approached in an open-heared manner, make of it what you will.