Saturday, August 27, 2016

Magick as a Fashion Statement

Stupid fashion trends come and go all the time. Sometimes they're not even trends, but rather one reporter's idea of things that are becoming more popular based on his or her limited personal experience. According to this article from Salon, a new trend that the article dubs "mysticore" is starting to emerge. Essentially, it apparently consists of something that I have expressed contempt for on multiple occasions - the appropriation of elements from real magick as fashion statements.

Stores specializing in metaphysical sundries (think ritual candles, blended oils, sacred herbs) like Spellbound Sky and House of Intuition in Los Angeles, while not brand-new, are suddenly crowded. In Brooklyn, Witches of Bushwick has evolved from a venue on the underground party circuit to a social collective that celebrates witchcraft as a feminist art and collaborates with fashion companies like Chromat. Of course, for those who prefer whipping up potions at home, several new witch- and occult-themed subscription boxes deliver the magical arts to the doorstep.

Not just witches are enjoying a cultural renaissance, though. All manner of magic is in the air, as the New Age movement’s lighter granola-and-Zen fare has given way to the practice of a more modern mysticism, where conversations about conjuring, personal shamans and powerful potions can be intense as they are ubiquitous. While social media and feminism have brought witchcraft to the fore, the new kaleidoscopic array of spell casting, ritual observing (from pagan holidays to full moons) and crystal charging draws from traditional mysticism, magic and paganism. Served buffet style to an eager audience of open-minded converts, it’s shining a white light on everything from fashion and health to politics.

This may be the most prevalent, hidden-in-plain sight trend that you couldn’t quite put a finger on since “normcore.” Last fall the folks at trend-forecasting firm K-Hole — which coined the term “normcore” — looked into the cultural crystal ball to release a paper dubbed “A Report on Doubt.” Normcore, that infinitely hashtag-able trend that tapped into a “post-authenticity coolness that opts into sameness,” stood against style clich├ęs and aggressive street-style peacocking — it promised freedom through assimilation. After an endless stream of articles about how wearing dad jeans was indeed the ultimate hipster power move, time had come for the cultural pendulum to swing. K-Hole’s new prediction was that logic and “sameness” were becoming relics and people were about to head into the mystic.

As a point, I'm not even sure that "normcore" was a real fashion trend. I mean, how is "not bothering" fashion? It's highly possible that the firm coining the term was simply tracking the decline of fashion's relevance to the culture as a whole. So they identified that more people had stopped caring. To me, that just sounds like people wising up to the fact that going to a lot of trouble to look a certain way is basically bullshit. If you look relatively ordinary, you usually will have a lot more opportunities for success in your life.


Most of my contempt for "fashion magicians" is reserved for people who fundamentally don't get that there's more to magick than putting on eyeliner and running around dressed like a reject from a Renaissance festival. From the perspective of real magick that can get you things you want, that approach is fundamentally flawed. Whenever you meet someone, you basically identify yourself as a loser before you even open your mouth. And forget about any decent job prospects. I especially dislike it when these people assume that I must share their unserious attitude, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

Yeah, it's "alternative," but so what? If you are not a magical practitioner, putting on airs about how weird and magical you are is just dumb. Anybody can dress like a fool. Real magical work takes study, devotion, discipline, and good judgment. In fact, I would venture to say anybody who acts out to the degree I occasionally see online could not possibly be a real practitioner, because a real practitioner would know better. Most of the best magicians I know dress to get the things they want, which usually winds up looking fairly conservative.

Still, if this really is a trend, it could have the upside of bringing more people to the study of real occultism, and I can't deny that would work out well for me and other occult authors. The pool of occultists is currently far too small for any of us to make any sort of a living writing and publishing books. On the other hand, if we had the numbers (and resources) of, say, the New Age community, it would be a whole other ball game. New Agers are numerous and love to spend money, unlike a lot of occultists.

A "mysticore" trend would also be good for occult shops, many of which have struggled for years. Basically the occult is a small market, and not a very wealthy one. There's also the whole idea that anything related to magical teaching should be free, which gets in the way of writers and teachers being able to do the work full time. It would be rather ironic, and I think somewhat sad, if a bunch of posers decided that magick was cool and started subsidizing real work that at the end of the day they don't understand and don't even care about.

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2 comments:

Ms D said...

The early nineties is retro trending- and we all recall how trendy the occult was then, no? It is part of the retrospective fashion concept

Scott Stenwick said...

Sure. It would be nice this time around, though, if people delved a little deeper into the subject than they did back then.

I know, probably a vain hope on my part.