The subject of cultural appropriation is — necessarily — an important part of the modern occult conversation. Issues around occultists and Pagans making use (or misuse) of the symbols and rites of indigenous and ancestor cultures have to be examined: though there is often a tendency for various sides of the debate to accuse the other of “doing it wrong.”
I think it might be interesting to look a sideways example of this — of the symbolism of the occult being appropriated by mainstream culture.
The symbol at the top of the page is probably familiar to most modern practitioners. It’s the unicursal hexagram, the symbol Aleister Crowley designed to represent the religion he founded, Thelema, and as a symbol of the cosmos.
Since last year, however, it has acquired another meaning: the symbol of the Men of Letters organisation of occult scholars in the TV show Supernatural, where it is called the Aquarian Star. Continue reading
I find it fascinating that, in discussions of urban fantasy as a genre, the first word of the term is so rarely mentioned.
Humanity now lives in an age where more than half the world’s population lives in an urban rather than a rural environment. It should be no surprise that this dramatic shift in how we live as a species should be reflected in both our fantasy tales about the supernatural world and our magick. And, of course, the one feeds into the other. Continue reading
I’ve written before about sexism before, particularly as it relates to contemporary occulture, but systemic sexism is something that affects all of us, pretty much all the time. Continue reading
Until February of 2014, The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, a 1895 collection of thematically linked short stories, was a little-known work. Although a favourite of horror fans, admired both for its menacing aura and its influence on HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, it was not widely read outside fan circles. In that month, however, it entered Amazon’s top 10 bestseller list. The reason was a new television show, HBO’s True Detective. Continue reading
It’s an interesting time for popular culture and the occult. Although the weird and the supernatural have always played a part in pop fiction from as far back as the first novels, the wide dissemination of mass media in the last century or so has grown and mutated such tales drastically. Magically-tinged fantasies of all kinds have been enjoyed by literally billions of people. Occulture is now part of the mainstream, and this has had a feedback effect. Continue reading