Last night after I shared an excerpt of my forthcoming novel, a fellow magick practitioner decided to rip me a new one for my Ascending Darkness cover. First, you should probably know the cover depicts a pentacle of Mercury atop the Chaote symbol. So the critic basically told me that my cover artist was horrific because my cover showed ignorance of occult symbolism. Then she berated me by telling me that I, as the author, was just as guilty of ignorance for allowing it. I responded by telling her that I understood the symbolism perfectly well. I explained that I work closely with my cover artists and choose each element of every cover rather deliberately. She immediately deleted her comment. Guess I wasn’t the easy target she was hoping for.
This leads me to the why of this post. I really dislike our occulture and the haters it produces. I find it fascinating this person’s first inclination was to be critical and berating. She wasn’t supportive. She didn’t bother reading the excerpt. She didn’t ask why the two symbols were on the cover together. No – she immediately chose to chew my ass and assume I didn’t know shit. Had she merely asked about the symbolism on the cover I could have explained that the plot of the book entails chaos magick and that particular pentacle of Mercury plays a role in the story. But apparently jumping to conclusions was much easier.
And this little situation describes so much of the online “occult culture” perfectly.
But Steph, you say, the entire Internet is like that. Sure it is. However, I can tell you with certainty that, as a writer, I rarely get this kind of shit from romance readers or fantasy readers. Even non-magicians who read my occult thrillers aren’t dicks. Sure, they may have their little tiffs, or caveats with authors over this or that. Like some BDSM readers expect that their personal relationship dynamic is the only type of dynamic that’s acceptable, and flip out when a book doesn’t match it. Or a Christian will get ahold of an OTS mystery and freak out. However, reader flip-outs like this are far and few between. Pagans/Magicians, on the other hand, seem to thrive on hating and derive some type of sadistic pleasure from mocking others, berating their ideas and techniques, and creating drama. Some of these people do nothing else.
People like that make me want to remove myself from the online scene completely. Supportive friends and readers are the reason I stay. It’s my opinion this occulture is crippling to creators. It’s poison. Which is ironic since so many of them claim to be magicians, and magicians by their very nature are creators. That’s what they do – they create. And by create I don’t mean creating drama, havoc, conflict, discontent, and anger, which are all counterproductive to manifesting one’s will unless it’s your will to be a giant prick.
We choose what we create, and when a magician chooses to use their power to create drama and negativity – that’s generally a bad sign. I stay away from those people. They bring down themselves and everyone around them. We are who we surround ourselves with.
While I have a pretty tough skin and will keep creating whatever the hell I want despite criticism, what about younger creators who might be discouraged by this negative environment? How many techniques, ideas, and grimoires is the world being deprived of because young, modern, innovative magicians are having their unconventional ideas slammed at every turn?
But Steph, you say, we don’t have any shortage of occult books! True, and it’s true that there is a lot of shit out there. But shit is subjective – just like magickal techniques and individual perceptions of spirits. It’s ALL subjective folks. One man’s crap is another man’s treasure. I’m not saying you can’t say to yourself, “This is the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever seen.” But who are you to judge what’s worthy and what isn’t for everyone else? You can only judge what’s worthy for YOU. Which pretty much renders your approval unnecessary when it comes to policing the esoteric on behalf of others. That’s not your job. The rest of us have brains and the ability to choose what resonates with us and what doesn’t without your help.
I have no illusions that this is going to change. It’s been this way since 1997 when I first encountered the online scene, and I suspect it will continue long after I’m dead. For such an allegedly “enlightened” group of people, it’s kind of funny if you think about it. Nonetheless – I do have some questions for all the magicians out there. Something to make you think (hopefully).
What is it you are hoping to create when you publicly attack someone because you think they’re wrong? You are a magician. A person who creates – who MANIFESTS his/her own reality. You do this through your words, thoughts, and actions. When you run around online like a know-it-all, critical jerk — that’s what you manifest. Is that really what you want to manifest? Or would all that creative energy be put to better use on something else? Like actually practicing magick or creating the life you want?
If you must correct people for the sake of “education” of the masses, there are polite ways of telling someone they are mistaken without being an asshole. You can also share your disagreement with a piece of art, an idea, technique, or viewpoint without name calling. And if you really have nothing nice to say – just keep it to yourself, because being an asshat isn’t helpful – to anyone, including yourself. (And yes, I speak from experience.)
**ADDED** Because someone on my S. Connolly page immediately jumped to the conclusion that I was saying there was no room for critical discourse of ideas… (He immediately deleted his post, too.) I’m not saying one cannot publicly criticize ideas, images, or techniques they disagree with, or share why they disagree with something. What I’m saying is there is a positive, civil, non-berating way to do it. You can share your viewpoint and disagreement without being negative toward the other person. What I’m talking about in this post is the immediate jump to name-calling and berating other people’s intelligence because you disagree with them, as opposed to treating them with respect, asking questions, and seeking to understand their point of view. This doesn’t mean you have to agree, it means you can disagree and remain civil about it.