This post was originally going to be about markets.
You see, I followed back from Ryan’s fantastic post about clients (I’m in a client facing career) to another post by ConjureMan Ali justifiably railing at unscrupulous and/or downright crap conjure practitioners.
It was going to be a post about markets because hoodoo -or Tarot or mediumship- is a market with a very low barrier to entry.
Markets with low barriers to entry benefit from increased competition but tend to suffer an overall reduction in quality.
- The internet removed the previously very high barrier to entry in daily news distribution. (Global bureaux, a printing press and sophisticated daily transport network.)
- The market rate for daily news is now zero dollars but much of the internet is crap. Rates currently remain unchallenged for multi-channel TV because the barrier to entry is billions of dollars of cable infrastructure. (Sidebar: Much of multi-channel is also crap but this is the fault of the programmers rather than the market.)
It is the same with occult services.
Sure, you can get qualifications but there is no governing body like there is for accountants or lawyers. As long as you’re not defrauding anyone and as long as you’re paying your taxes you are welcome to hang your shingle and fleece the public. They aren’t required. They aren’t a barrier to entry.
Hence occult services suffer from price erosion and a lot of crappy operators.
And the market post will come (ironically delayed by my being at Europe’s largest antique/junk market just outside Paris for the next couple of days) but I wanted to pick up on the broader implication I personally extracted from one part of ConjureMan Ali’s post and widen it out a little more.
Try and picture in your head:
- a fluffy bunny Wiccan
- a Thelemite who “worships the cult of Crowley’s personality”
- an armchair magician
- an unscrupulous hoodoo fraudster
Now try and picture them en masse.
I have genuinely only met the last one once and I’m not even sure I can consider her a frauster.
(She gave an amazing impromptu Tarot card reading to myself and my mother the psychonaut in a New Orleans street but she was only doing that as misdirection while she attempted to pickpocket us. I don’t actually think that’s fraud. Crime, sure, but not fraud.)
Would you say any of these allegedly common types are in the majority? Or even the large minority?
Sure, you could probably find examples that match the type but you know what? There are 1.2 billion people in China. At least one of them is bound to be sneaky.
Can we see the extremely dangerous territory we are straying into here? And straying with bleak regularity?
No good comes from allowing a minority -and quite possibly a fictional minority- to stand in for a majority. Especially if that majority is different from you.
This isn’t to say the magical community is riddled with prejudice. In fact, we’re generally extremely tolerant of everyone else. For one reason or another, we just don’t seem very good at turning that tolerance inward.
I’d speculate that it’s an inevitable side effect of any personal psychological journey. Finding your own way implies differentiation from those around you -even if you don’t have anything to sell. Because that’s the thing about magic. When we find our own little corner of the sky it’s the most precious of things. Sometimes passion and exuberance lead us to cut explanatory corners.
Thus we end up with straw man arguments -and these are inelegant and sometimes hurtful ways of putting forward our case. And I’m not talking about mid-flame here. I’m talking day-to-day natter.
It’s just possible that we’re (myself included) prone to being too lazy when it delineating our points of difference, the things that make us -all of us- magnificent extraterrestrial creatures.
My train has just popped out of the tunnel and into France. A couple of miles away is a frequently-raided tent city of refugees -economic, political and possibly even war- camped at the end of the Schengen Area, risking everything for the chance of a better life.
The world is tough enough as it is. The very least we can do is be nice to each other with our words.
Note: In Paris for at least the next five days. Sporadic internet access means there could be a delay in comment approval.