Most people apply the word occult to the ritual magic practices of esoteric groups, such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or the Ordo Templi Orientis started by Aleister Crowley. If we refer to the Merriam-Webster definition of the word occult, there are 3 entries and a total of 7 definitions, as follows:
: matters regarded as involving the action or influence of supernatural or supernormal powers or some secret knowledge of them —used with the
Clearly, we are talking about definition 4 in the 2nd entry, "of or relating to the occult arts."
A friend and former student of mine, Richard Kaczynski, wrote what is probably the most definitive and thorough biography of Aleister Crowley:
Richard is also has amazing expertise on occult practices in general. We have had long conversations about the so-called "occult" and the use of ritual magic in secret societies, including Ordo Templi Orientis, the Masons, the Rosicrucians, etc. Both Richard and I graduated from the same university in the same psychology department. We both have expertises in research design and methodology and are professional scientists. He works for the federal government. I have worked as a research design and methodology consultant for several university programs. Richard is a high level member of the Ordo Templi Orientis. I am a longtime practitioner of the Fourth Way, since 1974, as well as a high level member of the AMORC. Neither of us see any need to cross reference the epistemological assumptions of either orientation with the other.
That being said, I would assert that the current model of the scientific method is currently employed by most scientists in a fairly narrow manner. There re some notable exceptions. Rupert Sheldrake has successfully employed the scientific method to empirically demonstrate the validity of constructs typically associated with the occult, including clairvoyance, precognition and telepathy. The morphogenetic field theorem appears to account best for much of the experiential reports of people utilizing psychedelics and having contact with the greater field of Mind, such as is exemplified in jungle plant telepathy with ayahuasca, etc.
The so-called "scientific materialist" stance, such as is represented by Michael Shermer, (https://www.skeptic.com) represents a fairly narrow band of what many scientists I know would accept as experientially valid in their personal lives. I view this point of view as analogous to fundamentalist Christianity and, at its worst, Religious Nationalism, both of which are fairly block-headed. There is really no point in debating with these folks as their opinions are set and they can always refute any evidence that brings their point of view into question by reverting to their cherished assumptions and fervently and with total devotion stubbornly hold on to the supposed inviolability of their own logical constructs. When I talk with these folks it always reminds me of talking with fundamentalist Christians, Hindus or Muslims. Their firm belief in the veracity of their own rational cognition is repeated as an axiomatic theorem that will brook no contradiction. Reason can only grasp what lies on its boundaries. Beyond that, it is useless.
For these folks, I always suggest that they eat a modest 5g of mushrooms on a weekly basis, say every Friday night, for about 6 months to a year and then tell me if they still hold to this point of view. Of course, not many people, even those who believe in the fruits of serious engagement with a sacred plant, such as the Psilocybe mushrooms, will hold to this level of commitment. What I have heard from some whom I have invited to participate in this level of work with me personally is "I only need to take it once every year or two to know what it is all about" or "I already have received what it is capable of giving me" and maybe that is absolutely true. But I will insist, as one person on this forum already understands, that serial commitment and regular work with the sacred mushrooms for a longer period of time can be profoundly life transforming.