*pokes the group* Geez, this place is dead.
These watered down texts become the light posts for new seekers after the mysteries and they attract the kind of person that would be drawn to comic book covers which advertise mediocre and surface treatments of esotericism as genuine occult practice.
Speaking as someone who started out with nary a clue, bought at least one crappy book, and later realized that said book was indeed crappy: so what? The people who are intelligent enough to actually effectively practice the art aren't going to be taken by such trash. The people who will forever dabble, whatever their motivation, usually aren't practiced enough to do any harm with their misbegotten 'knowledge'.
Now, do said books cheapen the art? Yes. Look at the pop-culture idealizations of American Indian culture. Despite careful and respectful research by anthropologists in the past 50 years, the American public knows jack squat about the concept of Native American religion being so tied in with their culture that the two are nigh inseperable. The international public knows even less. But, like the idealizations of AI culture, the fluffy books on occultism aren't likely to disappear anytime soon.
Pop-occult groups are full of graphic novel magicians - these texts and the people duped by them only attract more ADD-arm chair magicians who misrepresent and even further an occult culture vastly different from more traditional lines.
Two things here: first and foremost, I resent the cheap use of ADD. It's a disease, it's real, I suffer from it, and I've worked like hell to be able to overcome and make use of my different thought patterns in the art. To imply that all pop-culture occultists have ADD is about as bad as saying they're all mentally retarded, and quite frankly, is rude.
Secondly - yes, the pop-culture occultists have created and furthered the fluffy bunny new age movement that sometimes has very little to do with what we know of the roots of the art. I look at it this way - obviously it fulfills some function in these people's lives, or there wouldn't be a movement. Would you rather they be somehow denied this path, and instead possibly end up as fundamentalists of whatever religion instead? Because the unmindful who want some kind of spirituality in their lives to answer the question of purpose *will* choose a path.. and I'd rather that this alternative to fundies of various sorts be open to them, however much they may cast erronous light on those of us who are serious students.
All that being said...
Do I have respect for the fluffy new-age occultists' beliefs? Not really. I end up biting my tongue in a lot of casual conversations. I've heard people claim to influence the weather to the point of ending droughts, without the aid of an external source of power; I chortle silently to myself, half-wishing I could somehow convey to them the sheer amount of energy needed to accomplish such a feat.
Occasionally I feel the need to drop a few solid theories, or try to get people thinking about why they believe what they believe. But, by and large, I am not going to go on a crusade against these people. They aren't the ones trying to convert me, they aren't the people using government money to put Ten Commandments monuments on government land, and they aren't the people who want to legislate questionable morals on us just because 'their god says so.' From an activist standpoint, I have bigger fish to fry.
Sure everyone has to learn for themselves how to discriminate between the wheat and the chaff and many may say 'to each their own' but I choose to speak my mind about it not only to blow off steam but to light a fire. Sure I can and often do ignore the pop-occultism out there, though one is faced with it constantly if any communication in occult circles is to be had.
You are correct regarding my use of ADD - it is perhaps out of line to be used in such a sweeping manner. Though to clarify, I use the term abusively because it has become a crutch and an excuse for many who do not have the bonafide disease. Since I am no medical professional I will not speculate out loud as to what the cause of ADD in our society is - but the 'pretenders to the throne' I refer to as armchair magicians certainly fit the bill disease or no.
I understand and to some degree agree with your point about people being able to 'fulfill some function' in their lives, but this hardly supports a notion that the tradition should be compromised because people are unwilling to approach the labor necessary to endeavor therein.
My original post is indeed a rant regarding someting that I have strong feelings about, but I am hardly on a crusade against anyone - merely giving voice against something that I feel is too bad.
Thanks for the well-thought-out response. It made me think, and in thinking I realized that pop occultism can have a pertinent negative effect on the art - given that some of what we do is based on logic, even though science cannot address it, the pop occultists would ignore centuries of study, instead simply believing in what suits them. Making a religion out of our almost-science, as it were.
The effect is analogus to luddites hampering the progress of science and knowledge, which has happened innumerable times in human history.
I'm not going to go around lighting a fire under people's asses.. but perhaps I will be a little more likely to challenge silly claims.
Well as I said in the original post:
"One does not become an occultist in order to be accepted by the herd"
So why should you care?
Personally I think the folks at Disinformation are approaching things much better that Llewellyn, sure they fall into what may be considered pop-culture, but they do so in a tongue in cheek fashion. They have the veneer of pop-culture but they are actually providing a service by giving old ideas a contemporary look. Personally I feel its different than proliferation of the same texts with different 'keywords' to attract the credulous.
In re: to the profligacy of pop occulture I have 3 thoughts:
1. Sturgeon's Law, i.e., 90% of everything is shit, deal with it.
2. Jewels are sometimes hidden by trash.
3. And, to quote one greater than myself, Do What Thou Wilt. If it it somebody's thing to read Llewellyn books and advance no further, then it is their will and I cannot judge beyond that. There is no law but do what thou wilt.