Hmm, so I pop over to Fantastic Planet today and this, literally, is the first page I go to. Any search will load, in time, the entry page or the archive for the month, and this seems to a larger initiative in the online occult community as of recent: the need to make money to sustain oneself.
I'm not directly picking on FP, it's is a good and often popular resource for Gnostic thought, but it's made me think. The only time I see this many ads is on porn sites. But that is just it, the brand and consequent relation I make mentally from ads to porn, to irrelevant or wishy-washy. Not that FP's content is, but in an age of .3-second site interpretation from new readers, how many click-throughs is FP losing because of his presentation. And no, it's never the fault of the user. Everything that happens in life, particularly in magical circles, is the responsibility of the individual interpreting the events. Always.
And as for business models, there's witchy self-help publisher Llewellyn at the forefront of the business (imagine Oprah and your local Native American shaman make a baby that is raised by Wiccan hippies and starts a company), and others like Disinformation (the equivalent of a gay pride parade for the counterculture), New Falcon (whose lack of spell-check makes me question the care they put into their own work, however the books are often fabulous and some of my favourites), and now the online movement. Pop Occulture is doing a remarkable job organising efforts to communicate the message of the occult to the masses, and I've read numerous comments from fans of Tim's that have thanked him for helping them find him. (Oh, and congratulations to Tim on joining the 9rules Network!) There is a market of people looking to be exposed to a message that will helm them answer their questions. That is how any market works today. Key 23, too, brings about articles and essays, which are about a third of the time relevant and not too stereotypical of what I've come to expect from a fringe counterculture. But they've got the good will and brains to bring all the particulars of proper essays to one location to make for an easy find for n00bs.
Further, the geek I am, I'm reading Pursuasive Business Proposals, by Tom Sant, and in it he points something out:
What are "professionals," anyway? Are they merely people who do for money what amateurs do for fun? That may be true to sports and romance, but not in the business world. No, being a professional means something more, something rooted in the origins of the word. […]
A professional is someone who has mastered a complex body of knowledge and who can therefore guide, advise, and tutor others in that area. A professional is somebody who can and does profess.
In as such, I do give kudos to those at Key 23, Pop Occulture, and Disinfo.com, as well as the host of other bloggers out there doing their bit. The effort seems to be in re-interpretation of the esoteric into analogies and parables understanding by a contemporary audience. This is really all the occult is, and the hardest part about it: sharing information that, until now, was really fucking hard to communicate to others. Perhaps all occultists should be putting down their books and checking out information architecture, semiotics, and the study of ontology instead. It's the same thing, but people are actually making a living in those fields. But to profess, in today's age, communication must be precise, it really has to be concise and to the point. Of course, me being me, I am not the best example of this on this site. However, this site is just my mental diarrhea outlet and I have some other stuff in the works.
It's really not so different from the modern business world, particularly a business world readily rooting itself in communications. The new focus is on innovation, better business models, and, ultimately, in providing the best service possible for one's market. The power really does lie with the people now. Like many occultists, businesses seek to iterate new labels, new interpretations, in order to survive. Often, those drawn to the occult fall into it in the first place because the current system of labels aren't currently floating their boat to begin with. So, to survive (spiritually? intellectually? fashionably?) people turn to alternative viewpoints. Dogmatic vehemence in any practise will result in spiritual suicide, but the business world is not so different and with the way things are going, I'd be surprised if the business world didn't begin to find use in occult ideas sooner than later.
But will they find innovators, designers, and artists to create and utilise these methods and insights, rendering the current occult community someewhat moot in the social order of things. Or will occultists say Fuck that and, like the shaman, put their feet back into society and immerse… to emerge as the new innovators? To help others? To help themselves?
As Ramsey Dukes posits in Thundersqueak, what is everyone so afraid of? If you don't try out the enemy it's either your afraid that they're right and you're wrong, or if you're right all along you can learn their spirit and perspectives and bring it back with you to where you started: stronger and wiser because of such.
I just watched this presentation on entrepreneurship by Guy Kawasaki, any occultists out there may want to do the same. In comparison, if you're letting the money soak through the presentation of what it is we all enjoy, it'll tarnish the whole kit-n-kaboodle. But if you set out to change the world, as Kawasaki proclaims good start-ups should focus on, we might learn a thing or two.
Because, really, all the counterculture and occultism is, is simply another approach to trying to understand the world. Whether it's the best one is very much debateable in my opinion, but at the end of the day there are a lot of people that want to be successful, make enough to get by, and help others. While occultists may be focusing on problems too deep to be adequately acted upon by their current capacity for social interaction, many brilliant thinkers out there are innovating new ways (thinking magically and manifesting intent) and aiding their communities.
And if there's one thing I was told as a malevolent youth, it was that you can't help anyone else until you've helped yourself. Ponder this, and it might show us a side of occult spirituality that many aren't willing to acknowledge. I'm not saying everyone, but I'm throwing it out there from personal observation…
Watch the Guy Kawasaki video.