some thoughts on occult culture appropriation

Posted on July 26, 2009
Filed Under occult culture | 10 Comments

In thinking about it further, I think that part of what bothers me about the video series by “college girl” is that this looks like just another case of someone who’s dabbling in the occult who’s decided to set herself up as an expert, or someone’s who decided to capitalize off of being in the occulture, even if s/he doesn’t really practice magic and in fact identifies as an ex-occultist. At times what I think I see in the occult community is a lot of people who want to slap on the label of being an occultist, but not put in the work. It’s one thing to talk about something, but are you actually doing it, is another thing altogether. I see a lot of talk, but not a lot of walk. I see a lot of hype, and what I think of as an attempt to appear different, cool, elite, and whatever else, but I don’t see how these people are really integrating any of the actual practice into their lives.

I was talking with Bill W about this today and he said that the majority of people who identify as occultists don’t really practice, so much as talk about it. Maybe’s he right. Certainly I’ve seen that often enough. I know some occultists who practice, and a few who I’d actually work with.

What I dislike seeing, and I see it more is an appropriation of the occult, and occult culture by people who don’t practice it, and are mainly using it for a social purpose and as a way of somehow distinguishing themselves from other people. Looking as it were to an outside source as a way of validating themselves, when instead perhaps they should look inward to validate themselves and focus less on trying to appear different, and focus more on contributing something of value that goes deeper than just appropriating a subculture to capitalize on it for the sake of promoting themselves.

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9 comments
khephret
khephret

erm, all i have to say is this. anyone who says up front, before any shots are fired, that "Magic has everything to do with Sociology And Anthropology" has no idea what they're talking about. It's a waste of time to even begin to engage with someone like this, 'cos they've made up their mind.

Anyone who's closed their mind to this degree is, to me, not only not worth debating, but not worth engaging with. I'd rather spend my time gaining knowledge that's worth the effort to gather, or actually doing rituals to achieve concrete results....like putting my foot on the shadow of the person whose attempt to define magic has failed to such a degree, and simultaneously working to draw my peers to me.

you know who you're going to contact already.
-k.

khephret
khephret

erm, all i have to say is this. anyone who says up front, before any shots are fired, that "Magic has everything to do with Sociology And Anthropology" has no idea what they're talking about. It's a waste of time to even begin to engage with someone like this, 'cos they've made up their mind.

Anyone who's closed their mind to this degree is, to me, not only not worth debating, but not worth engaging with. I'd rather spend my time gaining knowledge that's worth the effort to gather, or actually doing rituals to achieve concrete results....like putting my foot on the shadow of the person whose attempt to define magic has failed to such a degree, and simultaneously working to draw my peers to me.

you know who you're going to contact already.
-k.

imagineyourreality
imagineyourreality

That's rather interesting that people set u systems of magic to fail. Seems counter-productive to empowering one's self, but I would also agree, because I've seen it in action quite a bit. If there's not a component of internal work, where a person figures out what s/he is really after, s/he usually will sabotage whatever is being done, because on some level they will feel they don't deserve it.

Colleen
Colleen

I agree with your post. But I have little desire to rant about subjects like college girl. There will always be people who screw up the first-impression of subcultures such as the occult and even the LGBT community. What really bothers me is that I seldom see the media interview people who truly do practice magic(k). This problem, I believe, exists because it's difficult for the masses to understand what we're trying to do. Let's face it, we practice very abstract ideas that either frighten people due to their upbringing, or confound others because they were brought up being told that none of what we do is real. Thus, we are either terrifying or a pile of quacks. It's easier for people outside of the subculture to see something like college girl and view occulture (I like that term by the way, haha) as something fashionable and superficial.

I also read somewhere, and I whole-heartedly agree with this, that sometimes people set up magical systems/rituals for failure on purpose because they're afraid that what they do might actually work.

Colleen
Colleen

I agree with your post. But I have little desire to rant about subjects like college girl. There will always be people who screw up the first-impression of subcultures such as the occult and even the LGBT community. What really bothers me is that I seldom see the media interview people who truly do practice magic(k). This problem, I believe, exists because it's difficult for the masses to understand what we're trying to do. Let's face it, we practice very abstract ideas that either frighten people due to their upbringing, or confound others because they were brought up being told that none of what we do is real. Thus, we are either terrifying or a pile of quacks. It's easier for people outside of the subculture to see something like college girl and view occulture (I like that term by the way, haha) as something fashionable and superficial.

I also read somewhere, and I whole-heartedly agree with this, that sometimes people set up magical systems/rituals for failure on purpose because they're afraid that what they do might actually work.

lupabitch
lupabitch

What I see is a bunch of people talking about what *other* people are doing, magic-wise. It turns into a bunch of name-dropping, armchair theorizing, and one-upsmanship to see who can come up with the most obscure reference to someone else's magical practice. (And I won't even get into how occulture has been the victim of attempts to shanghai it for specific political agendas, both small-time and major.) I have nothing against people doing multidisciplinary magical practice--but you're right in that there seems to be more talk and less action. And to think that this essentially sprang out of Chaos magic, which is just about the ultimate in practicality.

lupabitch
lupabitch

What I see is a bunch of people talking about what *other* people are doing, magic-wise. It turns into a bunch of name-dropping, armchair theorizing, and one-upsmanship to see who can come up with the most obscure reference to someone else's magical practice. (And I won't even get into how occulture has been the victim of attempts to shanghai it for specific political agendas, both small-time and major.) I have nothing against people doing multidisciplinary magical practice--but you're right in that there seems to be more talk and less action. And to think that this essentially sprang out of Chaos magic, which is just about the ultimate in practicality.

DarkArckana
DarkArckana

I agree. I've never watched college girl. But how can one NOT practice? It's FUN!! To be cut off from the vastness of existence? Why would you simply want to be called an Occultist? It's not like we're in good repute with the eyes of the public. Heck, I kept secret until my business mentor (who I trust) asked me my beliefs. What happened? Another associate that was a Fundamentalist Christian got all uptight and EVERYONE found out and started accusing of being "evil", and eventually went into more subtle attacks of "you can't succeed following that path" (?) Simply attempting to identify as an Occultist is not only counter productive, but dangerous. Heck, I only use terminology to make a distinction for the sake of practice. To maintain a dynamic balance between my magickal life and my mundane life, otherwise a category is just like a hand over my face. My Magickal name, "Dark Arckana" is actually a Magickal tool and was selected very tactfully. It means "Dark One Bearing Secret Knowledge", but it also adds #11 energies from numerology into my practice and my life (which is why I added the "K"). It was designed to help me further achieve my great work. But then again, obsession is a pit in the Occult. It's not hard to talk about something that requires constant progress, and Occult practice is not a hobby it takes time. In fact, eventually through progress and "becoming" the magick, magick becomes the practitioner's way of interacting with the world. But the progress part is what's important. Simply identifying yourself as an Occultist, without the intention of practicing is not only a waste, but can also be dangerous.

DarkArckana
DarkArckana

I agree. I've never watched college girl. But how can one NOT practice? It's FUN!! To be cut off from the vastness of existence? Why would you simply want to be called an Occultist? It's not like we're in good repute with the eyes of the public. Heck, I kept secret until my business mentor (who I trust) asked me my beliefs. What happened? Another associate that was a Fundamentalist Christian got all uptight and EVERYONE found out and started accusing of being "evil", and eventually went into more subtle attacks of "you can't succeed following that path" (?) Simply attempting to identify as an Occultist is not only counter productive, but dangerous. Heck, I only use terminology to make a distinction for the sake of practice. To maintain a dynamic balance between my magickal life and my mundane life, otherwise a category is just like a hand over my face. My Magickal name, "Dark Arckana" is actually a Magickal tool and was selected very tactfully. It means "Dark One Bearing Secret Knowledge", but it also adds #11 energies from numerology into my practice and my life (which is why I added the "K"). It was designed to help me further achieve my great work. But then again, obsession is a pit in the Occult. It's not hard to talk about something that requires constant progress, and Occult practice is not a hobby it takes time. In fact, eventually through progress and "becoming" the magick, magick becomes the practitioner's way of interacting with the world. But the progress part is what's important. Simply identifying yourself as an Occultist, without the intention of practicing is not only a waste, but can also be dangerous.