Sunday, November 10, 2013

New Goods, Old Problems.

Slowly but surely I am plowing away through Apocalyptic Witchcraft by Peter Grey. The book is making me read it slowly. Just something about how Peter writes it forces you to slow down and taste every word. Bravo Mr. Grey!

Blair Witch 2 was pivotal in my Magical practice..
because of reasons.
I admire the call to arms in the work, and the pointing out of pivotal problems. It also addresses the role of the Witch in society, which can be a hard thing to pinpoint, as Witches are totally IN right now. Lots of media coverage of Witchiness. Hell, even a Real Housewife is a Witch. What makes the Witch? Is it the doing, or the consuming of Witchy goods.

We are still in a community that is marginalized, but it is a marginalization by commerce now. Just one more thing to be bought and sold. Usually in a way that doesn't make actual Witches any money on the regular. Do we want to be respected? Do we want to be respectable? Will that hurt our practice? Will that hurt our community.

We've seen the same thing in every marginalized community. The LGBTQ community, the African American community, where culture becomes a product. And make no mistake we do have a culture. It isn't all good. It isn't all glam. It's mostly marked by a certain "otherness" of not being able to fit in. Is all this blabbing about injuring the virtue of Silence in our community a help or a hindrance? I know Mr. Grey's answer, but I honestly don't know mine yet. As someone old enough to remember the Satanic Panic, I know what being on the outer fringe can look like. It looks like being hunted. When confronted with a perceived threat it's natural first to attack, and then try to assimilate. Usually that assimilation works in favor of the majority culture who plucks out all offensive bits and leaves things sort of.. neutered.

Witchcraft is sex, drugs, and rock and roll to some extent. It's about being natural, which by default means not always being friendly. What do you give up to fit in?

It's a strange question to ask.. are you selling out or are you buying in? Is there a difference? Can you change a culture so radically out of synch with the natural word, or do you have to let it come crashing down first?

Honestly, I don't know the answers. I do know that there is much in the world that is terribly wrong, and much of it unfixable, and will just run its course. It can get depressing. Powerful depressing. But we must use that as fuel for our fires. Decay, after all, is Nature's slow burn, and the work of Saturn purging old structures in favor of a new compost.

I had a revelation recently, while watching the Rocky Horror Show in Bucks County Playhouse. I looked out over the organized chaos on the stage, the Actors all arrayed in their finest freak ensembles, with the audience doing the same.. I realized that is what I've been missing. That freakishness, that break from normality.

For a lot of folks in the 70's through the 90's Rocky Horror was THE place where you can be yourself publicly, and just have it accepted. When one person does something it's madness. When a community does it you have a culture. You might still be one of "those people", but you are still a community of those people who help, support, and accept. A place where you can take off your every day drag and just.. be natural.

The commercialization of culture is a way to neuter that cultural force by diluting it, by making it about only fashion, or food, or any other exportable thing. It exports a corpse, because the soul is gone from it.

Is that the price of acceptance, to have a homogenized soul put into a body that is now just a curiosity? No sense of struggle, no sense of history, just the outer trappings exported en mass for profit through consumption. All mysteries laid bare with no work done.

Make no mistake, Occulture is a thing. Today I almost bought a talking board t shirt. I didn't not buy it because I thought it was bringing us down as a people.. but more because I thought it wouldn't look right when put on.

 Occulture should not be a thing to be picked up and put down. It's a spiritual practice, more important than the trappings or tools of that practice. It's easy to get excited by the thought of really being accepted. But commercialization isn't acceptance. It's someone not of your folk making money off of your culture and history.

On the flip side, I remember the Goth/Witchiness of the 90's (well.. I remember the parts I remember.. some are kinda blurry), and that commercialization is part of what made me brave enough to delve head first into the subject, into the culture. My first readings were from Time/Life's Mysteries of the Unknown. Spellbooks were in Hot Topic right next to the pleather pants I would wear to my first showing of Rocky Horror at sweet sixteen. Everyone mourned Borders because that is where we would slack and discuss and stock our library if there were not occult book shop near by.

People feel that selling out means losing your soul. People don't want to buy your soul, but they do want a piece of you. They want your jacket, your book, your experience lived vicariously though trappings. And as gross as that is, it can be THE stepping stone for them onto the Path. I know it was mine, and I am better for it.

That's the thing about contagion, we both infect each other.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a good bit of thinking here.

It's always a bit weird, the process of subcultural assimilation and commodification, in my experience. On the one hand we (as occultists) have the desire to keep our 'thing' which is in essence our 'life' pure (for lack of a better word), but I for one don't want to see any more West Memphis Three incidents, either...

Interesting conversations of late!