gathering place with rings of stones beside a forest in fall colors

The Pitfalls of Occult Capitalism

Social media gives everyone a platform and it highlights niche and obscure groups, turning them into trendsetters. This is happening in the occult/esoteric/witch/metaphysical/new-age world. With trends flooding people’s social media pages of shiny crystals and multiple tarot decks and the trendiest clothes, the culturally ingrained need to acquire and to fit in creates a sort of strange occult capitalism. rustic door hidden in a rock outcroppingInstead of drowning in the feelings of, if only I had that $300 hand dyed caftan or that giant quartz or this tarot deck or this one (fill in the blank) I could really have a better spiritual practice. Not. You have all that you need! You create the magic. Collecting lots of shiny objects can be fun but it can also confuse your practice and continue cycles of harm and waste. Having too many decks can lead to not really feeling connected to any of them. Did you buy it on Amazon or from an independent shop owner or artist? Sage bundles are all the rage but the plant is being over harvested. Crystal healing is trending all over social media to the point where people who made fun of your rock collection a few years ago are now apart of mineral collecting mania too. But how did that crystal that helps you to tune into the earth’s energy find its way to you? Was the earth blown open and funneled with underpaid slave laborers in Brazil? Next time ask the rock shop how they acquire their stones. Are they ethically harvested? And remember that a stone from the closest river can hold just as much power as a shiny polished amethyst from Brazil, maybe even more!

“…the culturally ingrained need to acquire and to fit in creates a sort of strange occult capitalism.”

It is okay to own many decks (personally I am a collector and shapeshifter. I dress depending on my mood — over the top patterns and chunky jewelry one day and a vintage prairie dress another. A dark moody deck on the new moon, a bright earthy deck for the summer solstice). Next time you go to purchase a deck really meditate on it and see if you can find it locally or buy direct from the artist. Maybe you can support a LGBT+ run business or a BIPOC (black indigenous, person of color) artist. It’s okay to work with crystals and to love sage bundles. It’s okay to feel connected to the Deities from other lands, but being respectful of the cultures that revere them is so important. Everything in balance. Holding these things in our hearts and considering them is important.

Terms, myths and deities are circled and recycled with no thought to where they come from or if they are even ours to use. Navigating cultural appropriation can be a tricky business, but it is a very important one. Indigenous, black and brown people were and are oppressed, robbed of their culture, homelands and sacred practices. Now the very practices that were once considered “savage” or ” uncivilized” are cool and trendy for white folks. This is a form of colonization. Being inclusive means recognizing your privilege and listening to the voices of others. Why do white folks feel the need to “borrow” from other cultures? Because we too have been robbed and culturally conditioned to fear and forget our ancestral traditions. (You’ve heard of witch burnings right?) These practices and myths are our birthrights, but we too have been displaced. So how do we reconnect with them? wagner grotto sparta wisconsin folk art stonesWe trace back our ancestral roots to find our indigenous lands. Because when we know where we come from, we can dive deep into the old ways of that culture. Your culture. Though myth, folklore, art, food, and herbs we can discover practices that are our own. We find our spiritual practices reflected across the globe. The Irish are famous for the wee folk but there are all kinds of wee folk myths around the globe in Africa and in indigenous Mexico. Native Americans are well known for spirit animals but many old cultures used animal guides for spiritual learning. People “borrow” from other spiritualities, without realizing it is harmful to BIPOC who can only now begin to dismantle internalized racism and misogyny and try to pick up the pieces of their culture. I think they are trapped in the mindset that their cultures aren’t rooted in shamanism or esoteric spirituality. People borrow from other spiritual/esoteric/shamanic ways of knowing because they are experiencing something called hiraeth ( pronounced HEER-eyth). Hiraeth is a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which may never have been yours, the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past. This feeling is where cultural appropriation stems from. The cure to this longing and grief is to find your lost places. Your ancestors. Your birthright practices from long ago, your ancestors buried them in the earth for safe keeping hoping that one day you would find them to repair the splintering red threads of your lineage by connecting to the old ways. The old ways that were stomped out and labeled weird, evil, deviant, savage and so forth but really they were just the folk traditions of our elders. The traditions that brought people together to share in peace and abundance. The traditions that brought them joy. The traditions that empowered. Because we all know what empowers us as individuals and as a collective threatens the status quo, the patriarchy and the government. They lose control. Control of the land, of our bodies, and of our minds. So let’s find soft power and strength in the wisdom of our ancestors. Their stories live inside of us. It is time to awaken them in our souls.

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love, it will not lead you astray” -Rumi

*What I talk about in this post are things I am struggling with, and working hard to understand, and learning ways to combat them. This work is always unfolding and it’s easier when we work together.



  • Tiana

    Tiana writes about a wide range of esoteric practices, including earth-based spirituality, ritual and tarot.

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