The notion is pure Hollywood, or perfectly fitting for a Grimm tale: The dominant leaders, using magic and the occult for the purposes of taking over the world. We'd almost expect a hero or knight to swoop in and save the day from another villainous plan. But the notion of political leaders using magic isn't always fiction - in fact, it's truth; incredibly farfetched, but truth nonetheless. Of course, not all powerful groups that used magic were evil, but we can't help but view anything to do with magic or the occult as at least a little dark.
In early societies it was not uncommon for civilizations to consult with oracles, witches, warlocks, and more. But as Christianity swiftly swept the globe, religious leaders were finding that pagan practices, magic, and the occult did not line up properly with the doctrine of the Church. So, anyone accused of being a witch or partaking in Satanic rituals (what exactly defined acts of the devil seemed to be subjective rather than objective), was in potential danger of being shunned, or worse.
Although such niche occult practices have become more widely accepted in recent times, the stigma still exists - so learning that groups of influence and power dabbled in magic and the occult can be startling. Yet, there have been several powerful groups that have done so throughout history - many of whose occult activities weren't exposed until a significant amount of time has passed. We can't help but wonder which major groups of influence and power today might be using magic and the occult to further - perhaps time will tell...
4 British Parliament
Many of us might know about Winston Churchill and his occult advisers. Churchill was aware of Hitler’s occult activities and wanted to be able to counter any mystical work being performed on the enemy's side. It was even speculated that well known occultist Aleister Crowley was one of Churchill’s advisers.
But British rulers had previous experience in magic and the occult dating back to the time of Elizabeth I. The story goes that Queen Elizabeth I had an occult “secret service” so to speak - a team of psychics, clairvoyants, oracles, and more who spied on her enemies and suspected traitors and would report back to her. During times of political turmoil, Elizabeth I was said to have consulted with magician John Dee to chart and map out her future, which helped in her decision making. It was also rumored that Dr. Dee was asked to perform spells for the betterment of Britain and the crown.
This particular category may be surprising given Christianity’s rejection of the occult. But, dabbling in magic was referenced in the Old Testament: Saul consulted the Witch of Endor, and King Solomon was given the power to control demons, spirits, and perform magic to further his reign and expand his kingdom.
Later, the Catholic Church was (very loosely...) accused of occult-type practices due to the attire, use of holy water, reciting lines similar to incantations, and having one ordained person who connects directly to a deity. There have, of course, been several accusations - more like conspiracy theories - that senior members of the Catholic church have been involved in cult-like dark magic practices, but these rumours remain unfounded.
2 The Russians
For centuries, Russia has had a fascination with magic, the occult, and mysticism. One of the most well known cases of Russian leaders dabbling in magic and the occult was the Romanov family and their involvement with Grigori Rasputin. Tsar Nicholas II had Rasputin - who was a proclaimed healer and mystic - care for the young child Alexei, who had hemophilia B. This made Rasputin a household name; Russian aristocrats and political leaders consulted with him often.
The Russian government was later known to work with Wolf Messing, a hypnotist, allegedly using him to gather money from banks and to manipulate people. Rumor also has it that the type of tobacco Josef Stalin smoked was purported to have magical qualities that would protect his spirit...
1 The Nazis
The History Channel has aired numerous documentaries exploring the Nazi party’s occult practices during Hitler’s rule in Germany. It's been a hot topic since 1959 when certain bizarre theories emerged that Hitler was possessed: It was said that the Pope even tried to perform an exorcism from a distance, but failed.
From dabbling in magic to seeking out the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, it is rumored that Hitler looked for spiritual and magical objects to strengthen the power of the Nazi party and eventually take over the world.