Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Interview on Always Record

It's been a while since I've been on The Sync Book's Always Record so we had a lot to discuss. We used the recent X-Files revival as a launching point for several different topics. From the show notes:
Christopher Knowles returns to Always Record for a conversation that circles the satellite topics in orbit around the Secret Sun. Such nodes include the Stairway to Sirius, David Bowie, Meta Filmmaking, Quatermass and the Pit, Twin Peaks, Richard Kelly's The Box, Syria and ISIS, Hollywood Babylon, Serpent Cults, and the Oscars. All of these tangential spokes eternally return to an ongoing look at the recent X-Files relaunch.

There are two parts to this interview, both well over an hour long.

Go to the AR site here and download away. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sync Log: Signals from the Sky

Well, last week began with The Secret Sun delving into bird symbolism and UFO themes in the context of precognition, and ended with two major Presidential candidates inserting bird symbolism and UFO themes into the headlines all across the major media.

How about that?

The bird symbolism showed how easily impressed- and maybe even desperate for signs- people who don't immerse themselves in the study of these kinds of subjects really are. 

I wrote- and provided video- of a massive invasion of birds in our yard for nearly a week, an invasion of a species that wasn't supposed to be in the area for another month.

The invasion began the day after the X-Files finale, itself front-loaded with apocalyptic portent. The X-Files have always been a major sync generator for me (at one point I even emailed an XF producer a list of them- shockingly, no restraining order was issued) and this was no exception.

It kicked off a massive syncstorm that lasted well over a month. This storm was so potent it leeched over to Gordon's blog, which is only fair given how much mental real estate of mine the man's taken up during that period. But in all truth I think a lot of what I was processing was meant for him as well, not so much as a scryer than as a synchronistic notary public. That's how this kind of thing tends to work in the real world.

Conversely, the news media positively exploded when a common house finch landed on the podium for a few seconds during a Bernie Sanders rally at a sports arena in Portland, Oregon. Almost immediately there was widespread discussion of this being, well, a sign and a portent.

Even the candidate, normally a dyed-in-the-wool rationalist, couldn't resist commenting on the appearance of this common little bird during his speech:

“I think…I think there may be some symbolism here. I know it doesn’t look like it, but that bird is actually a dove asking us for world peace. No more war!”
The campaign even made an instant graphic of the 'event', one which wouldn't raise an eyebrow not even a century ago, giving the moment great metaphysical import, as if the Miracle of the Sun had somehow replayed itself and the Great Finch God himself had anointed the Vermont Senator as his chosen oracle.

We are a culture starving for miracles.

I see finches in the supermarket from time to time. They're adorable little birds with mischievous streaks who like to fly in when the doors are open and gleefully buzz around the aisles. My wife and I used to keep them as pets, before we realized keeping birds and cats in the same household is not a happy admixture. But I've never given them any particular metaphysical significance. 

But their general happy-hippy vibe seemed to bleed over for Sanders, as he won the three primary contests on Friday. Will it make a difference? Probably not. The entire establishment is dedicated to keeping the Clinton Titanic afloat and will reach out and crush him as soon as he gets in their way.

Hillary was in the news on Friday as well, and for a similarly Secret Sun-adjacent reason. UFO-mole Jimmy Kimmel did what he always does and pressed Clinton on aliens and Area 51. It didn't work out so great when he pulled this schtick with her husband, since ol' Bubba acted very much like a man who didn't want to talk about the issue on TV. Obama handled it somewhat better, since like his immediate predecessor he's almost certainly completely out of the loop.

And right on cue the media avalanche fell on Hillary's head as soon as the credits rolled. The mainstream media is in full aggressive-debunker mode lately (witness this demo-reel of psyop techniques FoxNews pulled out at the UFO Congress), putting the lie to speculation that we're all being conditioned for some false flag alien invasion.

The New York Post and NY Daily News, two tabloids who subsist on a diet of rank sensationalism, showed how the agenda has bled down to the gutter press:

Conspiracy theorists, you have your candidate — Hillary Clinton wants to end the mystery behind the secret government site known as Area 51. The Democratic front-runner expressed her far-out wish in a Thursday night appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show. 
“I would like us to go into those files and hopefully make as much of that public as possible,” Clinton said on the ABC talk show. “If there’s nothing there, let’s tell people there’s nothing there.”

I haven't seen the media be so uniformly hostile to the UFO topic since the early 1980s and that hostility is bleeding over into the, who pretend that they're sticking it to the Man by parroting the Establishment line on the issue.

The New York Post might think Area 51 is a joke but you know who doesn't? The family of tourists who were held at gunpoint when they crossed the warning signs, 20 miles outside the base proper.

That story went up on Friday as well.

You can read it over at Open Minds and watch the video, which another family happened to catch. It's effin' terrifying, and shows how The X-Files is now our reality. And I mean the too-many-mushrooms-and-too-much-Red-Bull reality of Season 10 X-Files, not the comparatively reassuring reality of the original series.

Hillary's interest with Area 51 is chalked up to her manager, long-time Washington power player John Podesta, being a "UFO buff." But the story has many more layers to it and may add weight to the Breakaway Civilization thesis put forth by Richard Dolan and Joseph Farrell, among others.

In other words, the real story here isn't necessarily little grey men but big black budgets (not that I believe the two are mutually exclusive, mind you), projects so arcane and classified even the Rockefellers can't get at them. Read more here

CODA: 93
Last year I reported how my family and I had our own UFO sighting on Interstate 93, an event that we were too dumbstruck to record or photograph. That still drives me crazy because I have a mania for recording as much of this parawhatever as I can, because I have major OCD like that.

But I also think evidence-gathering is vitally important when swimming in these waters because it's all too easy to get caught in the sex-crazed Martian walk-in undertow if you're not sufficiently grounded.

As it happens, I needn't have worried: southern New Hampshire has been in the middle of a flap of sorts lately, smack dab where we had our sighting. From The Patch
More residents from around the Granite State are reporting seeing strange lights in the skies during the past few months, including two sightings caught on camera during the past three weeks in Concord and Manchester, according to reports online. 
According to the National UFO Reporting Center, since January, unidentifiable lights have been reported in Bow, Milford, and Salem, with flying triangles and circles have been reported in New Hampton and Seabrook.
People are taking videos and photographs and most are pretty much like all the other videos and photographs you see: crap.

As I've said before, phone cameras and the like are almost useless when it comes to do filming distant objects in the sky, especially when it's something you weren't expecting to see.

The story came out in the middle of the syncstorm, which seems to be how it goes. UFOs aren't so much woven throughout all of this as they are tangled, like old SCSI and Ethernet cables in a cardboard box in the crawlspace. Tangled in that the syncs wind in and out of fiction and fact and all points in-between, seemingly regardless of the distinctions.

I can't seem to lift up a metaphorical rock in my life without spotting a crudely-etched alien "Kilroy was Here" graffiti lurking somewhere. 
It's all too characteristic of a phenomenon that gives not a whit about petty trifles like the distinction between the 'real' and the 'imaginal'.

Monday, March 21, 2016

"Bad Things Happen When the Birds Gather"

I began writing Our Gods Wear Spandex on September 11, 2001. For some reason I can only ascribe to my Holy Guardian Angel, I wasn't in the WTC PATH station around 9 AM that morning. I actually had been for most of the summer, working in-house for a production studio on Lafayette Street (attn: Loren Coleman) in Lower Manhattan, doing storyboard work.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Star*Ships Have Landed: Interview with Gordon White

Gordon White has written a foundational text for the new millennium. Star*Ships is nothing less than a long-overdue door kicking in the halls of academic history and anthropology. But what is this book about and how did it come to be, you may ask?

To answer your questions I badgered the man incessantly until he finally gave in and told us what Star*Ships is all about and why you need to rush on over to Scarlet Imprint's website and pick up a copy... 

Gordon, give us a bit a your background as a media maven, bon vivant and all-around international man of mystery.

Well, I’m born and raised Australian, although with strong family connections to Melanesia and Polynesia on my father’s side, so much of my holidays growing up were spent in and around the Pacific. After graduating with an extremely useful film degree (ha!), I helped set up Sydney’s first Virgin Megastore… back in the days when people actually bought CDs and DVDs. (My interest in ancient history runs deep.)

Then it was off to New Zealand for about six years, then I arrived in London about seven or eight years ago. Across both countries I’ve worked for companies such as MySpace (ancient history!), Discovery Channel, BBC Worldwide, Yelp, Time Out and so on. Completely by accident, this has meant I have seen a lot more of Europe than I had hoped or dreamed to. It’s also freed up my leave to go crawling around in its Neolithic corners, as minibreaks to Hamburg or Paris began to feel a bit too much like work.

Tell us what Star*Ships is and why we need to read it now. I mean tell us now.

Star*Ships traces the origins of the western magical tradition back to where I suspect they first arose. The findings suggest western magic is both far older and far odder than is commonly understood. 

As to why it should be read now, the crisis in materialist readings of history has led to an algal bloom of alternate historical narratives that are built on exceedingly naive interpretations of the data. The materialist reading is clearly wrong and Star*Ships is my attempt to correct or reset alternative readings so that we can begin further explorations. If you haven’t glanced at early human prehistory since high school then you are probably unaware it is a Brand New Day, the implications of which for how we view ourselves are pretty astounding.

Who are the Spirits and what is their history?

The ‘Spirits’ are a catch all term commonly used among grimoiric practitioners as gods, angels, faeries, demons, hobgoblins, elementals, elves, puckel-men, banshees, intelligences, kings and presumably pokemon becomes quite a mouthful when said a few times over. Especially when liquor is involved, which it usually is.

So ‘the Spirits’ is the term I use for whatever the ecosystem of being(s) behind the one-way mirror of observable reality is called. As to their history, an examination of the star lore, artistic expression and archaeology of our palaeolithic ancestors presents some pretty compelling alignments to the practices, beliefs and ‘allies’ that coalesced into a western magic in Alexandria and the eastern Mediterranean during the last days of the Classical Age.

This not only suggests that we have been dealing with a similar constellation of spirit allies for similar purposes for millennia longer than we previously believed, but that this constellation was represented by actual constellations that would be recognisable to modern day astronomers and astrologers.

As to why these spirits would be associated with, or present themselves as, the stars is hugely intriguing given the great, stonking question marks around human origins.

This book has been gestating for quite some time. When did it first arise in your absinthe-fueled brain and what drove you to pursue such an idiosyncratic vision?

No fucking idea is the most honest answer. I’ve always been a history nerd, even as a kid. But I guess I probably realised there is something important here while shooting a documentary on the megalithic city of Nan Madol in Micronesia, while still at university. It’s a prismatic basalt city of enormous size built out on a reef and mangrove swamp off the island of Pohnpei. There aren’t cranes on the island today that can lift some of the largest basalt logs, which all came from the other side of a very mountainous island.

It was then that I knew a materialist view of history is nothing but a wish, stapled to a frisbee, flung over a rainbow. Like, I am embarrassed for them at this point.

You've done a lot of actual research on this book, rather than all-night Red Bull 'n' Google sessions. Tell us about some of the legwork you've put into this book, you post-postmodern gumshoe.

Well, there’s that documentary I just mentioned. There is also the days and weeks I have spent dragging my long-suffering partner through muddy fields, into barrows, around various western European megalithic sites, waving my astronomy-app-enabled phone around like a lunatic.

Then there is the cracking open of actual books. I’m fortunate to have the British Library a mere tube ride away, although it didn’t fill like fortune as I sat in their reading rooms for days and days, pouring my savings into their absurdly expensive photocopiers.

Unfortunately there is no getting around this. Academic publishing makes the Freemasons or the Vatican appear like beacons of openness and rational communication. It is expensive, cliquey and cultish for the most part. Both the good and the bad are to be found there, and it never makes it onto the wider internet because it is all behind paywalls or in $300 books that nobody reads. So if you want to say something new, and I did, then the mountain goes to Mohammed. And comes back very poor.

You based a lot of your theories on a landmark study on mythology that argues that there are Ur-myths that date back tens of thousands of years. Tell us about this and how you incorporated it into your own theorizing.

A few years ago, a Harvard Indologist, Dr Michael Witzel, published a book called The Origins of the World’s Mythologies in which, after a lifetime in the field, he suggests that the similarities found across the planet’s stories and belief systems are best explained by their having common origin(s).

It’s important to realise that the academic use of comparison was not abandoned because it was wrong, but because it came under assault from poststructuralism, postcolonialism and so on. It became unfashionable. But it not only works, it is the most parsimonious explanation for the shared motifs across time and space.

Of course, it’s not only unfashionable now, it’s downright dangerous, because Witzel’s work winds the clock back tens of thousands of years before Sumeria. This accords well with recent archaeological evidence from places such as Gunung Padang in Indonesia and implies that many of our legends to do with a culture from a time before The Flood may have some basis in reality. Again, this has been taken as fact for most of recorded history and was only declared wrong by fiat in the last century or so. It appears that declaration itself was wrong.

Myths tend to morph and/or die over time. How can we know with confidence exactly how old myths are if they aren't written down?

I’m not convinced that they do. Mythology is highly conserved across time and space, at least at a deep structural level. The idea that mythology cannot represent actual history arose at the same time as the fiat declaration that there was no Flood.

But the smoking gun for the notion that indigenous mythologies can accurately record real historic and climatic effects was found recently in Australia, following an examination of the native Tasmanians’ stories of when their island was cut off from the mainland at the end of the Ice Age. When the story was first recorded by British colonialists, there was no conception of an Ice Age or a global sea level flood. The University of New South Wales is currently doing amazing work in matching Australia’s First Nations stories to other ancient astronomical events such as meteor impacts.

Early cultures had a much more nuanced understanding of narrative and identity. Very often these stories were performatively recorded in songs and or dances which are scientifically acknowledged aides-mémoire. We are basically left with casual racism as the only reason not to take indigenous cultures at their word… at least as starting points. All claims require additional supporting data.

You talk about the migration out of Africa by what for the time was a rather large group of people. Why do we think they left Africa, given there's a devil of a lot of Africa to leave?

It’s anybody’s guess. The research in Star*Ships shows -indeed this is the whole point- that our early ancestors had the same inner or mental capacities that we have today. So a simple answer would be the human interest in exploration. A less simple answer would be where that inspiration comes from. I surmise ‘the Spirits’ were involved in this in some way.

Given that many premodern cultures tend to settle for very, very long periods of time, what drove these ancient peoples to wander so afield?

This is location dependent. In the Pacific for instance, the biosphere doesn’t support that many humans as there isn’t much land and it’s not great for growing things. So you end up with family groups -one brother and his wives- heading off for points unknown once the other brother inherits from his father. I will bet actual money that the very common ‘two warring brothers’ motif -as is found in the story of Cain and Abel- is a cultural memory of incidents like these…. Probably a very old one given the Cain and Abel story appears to be about the conflict between hunter gatherers (Cain) and farmers (Abel).

Some Chinese scientists are challenging the out of Africa thesis. How would you respond?

China gonna China. This is a country that demolishes its own pyramids by growing pine trees all over them until the root systems collapse the structure, then pretends they aren’t there. They also refuse to acknowledge the entirely verified reality that Taiwan and Southeast Asia are the homes of the earliest rice cultivation. History is political, especially with regimes as absurd as the PRC.

The Out of Africa hypothesis is fairly well corroborated. Millions of dollars have been spent on tens of thousands of mtDNA samples. That said, it’s just the story of our last 70,000 - 90,000 years. A question mark still hangs over where modern humans first arose. It could just as easily have been somewhere in Eurasia at this point.

Orthodox history has Sumer just kind of pop out of the ether, as is. But you argue there were equally sophisticated cultures before it. Who were they and what evidence do we have of them today?

I think Sumeria is probably a lot older than the earliest current archaeological dates suggest, as there would have been settlements along the river that is now the Arabian Gulf. So an earlier culture than Sumeria is probably also just more Sumeria.

As for the Indus Valley, once again politics rears its head, particularly around Partition and the current state of Pakistan. There is a whole lot of land in between island Southeast Asia -where we find the earliest examples of ‘high palaeolithic art’ alongside a veritable zoo of near-human relatives, alongside what is probably an early form of pyramid building- and the cultures of the Indus and Sumer. I think there were a number of very complex cultures in Eurasia prior to the rise of the Sumerians, and the climate shock that was the end of the Ice Age bounced them around like billiard balls. The multicultural nature of the skeletons in the earliest Sumerian tombs suggests a polyglot urban culture, which would be expected.

Just as we find in Egypt, the physical evidence for these cultures is probably underneath the physical evidence for later cultures and either we have not dug down far enough or the original structures have been entirely replaced. It’s important to realise just how difficult and expensive it is to date stonework.

Göbekli Tepi is nice and all, but looks to me of a piece with Stonehenge and such. The stonework and art don't strike me as particularly sophisticated. Why is there such excitement about it today?

Göbekli Tepe was built before we learned to farm, before we even lived in permanent housing. It was built by a collection of hunter gatherer tribes who presumably came together at regular intervals for religious celebration, trade and to arrange marriages. 

The site itself has no water nearby as was not lived in. So Göbekli Tepe’s importance lies not in its physical structure -although I would argue it is more beautiful than stonehenge- but in the inner life it represents. It is the physical proof needed to overturn the absurd materialist idea that religion or philosophy were simply farmers’ hobbies; fictions told to each other once the grain harvest had been brought in. It shows that the quest for meaning, for a richer engagement with what it is to be a human, to be on this earth and generally just alive, is the human story. It also suggests that the inner life of our palaeolithic ancestors was widespread… else why would one tribe build a temple for another tribe’s god?

Now, as to why it is specifically a star temple built on a hill, one that vibrates and appears to encode the descent of two ‘heavenly beings’ in amongst the gathered tribes, in the exact part of the world that gave us every single strain of modern wheat we use today… again, that is a more interesting story. This would presumably have something to do with those ‘Spirits’ we discussed. 

If all the stories of creatures flying around in glowing and/or metal craft and yanking poor slobs into space aren't evidence of alien contact, what do you think they are?

Well, some of them still might be. But a physical ETH solution is inadequate to describe the full range of effects, encounters and responses found throughout history.  A wider phenomenological spectrum is required to account for, at one end, the purely nonphysical: dream visitations, inspiration… through observed psi effects and paranormal capacities… right up the physical components such as levitation, radiation effects, missing time, ‘alien’ implants and so on. It’s important not to shy away from the physical components as not only is there a mountain of evidence for them, but these are entirely predicted in an animist description of the universe: indeed, indigenous societies will flat-out say so.

AAT needs a reboot. Its core mythology has not really been updated for forty years and has not incorporated things we now actually know about human history. The ‘mystery’ has been kicked back quite a bit further, but still remains.

But as to what these things ‘are’... well what’s the difference between a 20 million year old, time-travelling, telepathic alien who can assume physical form if it wants to, and an actual god? The universe is old and even our tiny little neighbourhood looks extremely weird. We should have these discussions based on the best available data, with the awareness that these phenomena are often quite deliberately deceptive. 

This book was written for everyone interested in a deeper understanding of history but especially for those involved in magic and the occult. What do you want them to take away from this book?

For the magically operant, there is something about realising both the practices and the forms that underpin the western tradition go back millennia rather than centuries that just makes the universe taste better. Too often, magicians lurch from new thing to new thing, but Star.Ships is a call to deepen one’s engagement with the existing thing. The goal is not to recreate the cosmology of the builders of Göbekli Tepe, but to recognise the continuity between them and the rituals and enchantments of the Greek Magical Papyri, for instance. Context is king.

What do want the average reader to take away from Star*Ships?

I don’t have average readers. They are all amazing and I love them. But I want the amazing reader to take away an understanding that he or she is playing a much bigger, much older game. And that game is still afoot.

Well, what are you waiting for? Order your copy of Star*Ships today!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rune Soup Sees the Suns

Well, the Singularity may never arrive but the Secret Sun Singularity approaches: Gordon White and Raj Sisodia, two of the Sun's closest allies, meet on the Rune Soup podcast. Listen here or there or download for devices. From the show description:
Raj and I have a good ol’ chat about narrative, psychology, spirit contact, London, the role of art and plenty move. Plus I got to nerd out about the X-Files with someone far more knowledgeable than me. 
It was coincidental timing that we recorded the morning after a lengthy Rune Soup post about the whole art/consciousness/magic continuum, so the conversation was good and sprightly.
Longtime readers will know Raj's work well, but if not check out his blog Amid Night Suns. Check out Raj's X-Files Secret Sun jams here, here and here

This is an AMAZING conversation that will really light up your neurons. My goal in life is now to get these two to produce a magical documentary of London. I have utter and complete confidence that it could be definitive. There's also a deep exploration of the creative process and magic that will resonate with those use art in their workings...

Friday, March 04, 2016

Have You Heard the News? Occultism is Dying. Again.

When I began actively blogging again I wrote a piece on the insidious, Borg-like power of the New Age movement, a movement that seemed both ubiquitous and invisible.
The New Age's power seemed to partly reside in its formlessness but also in its ability to invade, subvert and assimilate a host body from within. I don't know how seriously people took me at the time. They may have taken me more seriously when I pointed out that the memberships of some New Age groups on Facebook are larger than most Christian denominations in the US at present.

The New Age has apparently assimilated yet another target; the most recent Occult Revival, which seemed poised to present a credible alternative to the New Age just a few years ago. The Occult Revival was being fed by many streams, the neopagan movement, the popularity of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, the mystique created by occult symbolism in fashion and pop and the growing disenchantment with both organized religion and secular rationalism. 

But what I'm hearing now is that this latest occult revival is dying, perhaps an inevitability given the promises made by the popular misconceptions of the occult and the boredom that has always lurked beneath the glamour and promise of occultism (or Ceremonial Magic, more accurately). At the feet of the best of teachers Ceremonial Magic is work, at the worst it's pure drudgery with nary a miracle or wonder in sight.

But this list got my attention, I'm sure you'll see why. From "10 Reasons Why Public Occultism is Dying":
1. The contamination of occultism by dumbed down “New Age” systems, fantasy and fraud.
2. Contamination by Intellect.
3. Contamination by Psychology.
4. Contamination by fundamentalism.
5. Contamination of training systems by “non-occult” leaders.
6. The failure of modern students to study or give the work priority.
7. Failure to financially support teachers, writers, or orders.
8. The collapse of the Order and Teaching system.
9. The Internet has made occultism too accessible.
10. The quality of occult information has become less and not more.
Now I don't mean to be facetious here but it seems the author is claiming that the occult (by which I think he means "Ceremonial Magic") is dying because it's the occult. Is there a reason it isn't dying? I'm reading all this from a distance so I'm not one to judge, but from my outsider's perspective I'd have to say no. But look more carefully at the first reason, since it speaks directly to what I've been saying all along:
1. The contamination of occultism by dumbed down “New Age” systems, fantasy and fraud. Occultism and magic cannot be boiled down to seven basic laws or principles or simplified. New Thought, the Secret, NLP, Chaos magic, New Age have all given a completely false impression of what magic is. However rather than resist this, the various occult movements have adopted some or all of these principles. Eastern ideas, such as karma, have been repackaged and placed inside Western occultism to fit New Age thinking. This dumbing down of occultism has made it acceptable to spiritual tourists. They provide a common language between many different shallow occult groups which are about show rather than serious work.
Well, yeah. But New Age grows in popularity because it fills a need in its followers. And the author surely isn't earning a lot of good will by throwing chaos magic into the mix, since as far as I can see it's the chaos magicians (like our Gordon and his Scarlets) who are forcibly injecting pop occultism with a much needed dose of scholarship. Or is that the dreaded "intellect" the author speaks of?

Another author picks up the cudgel ("Is Public Occultism Fading Out?") and also bashes the New Agers and chaos magicians with it. But first he too laments the lack of interest in Ceremonial Magic, which from an outsider's perspective often looks like a bunch of Magic the Gathering gamers LARPing out the ritually bits. Unfair, I know.

But I'm just saying it like it is.

Pagan festivals, on the other hand, actually are often a bunch of Magic the Gathering gamers LARPing out modern rewritings of rituals that, more often than not, included some kind of blood sacrifice, if not actual fucking and flagellation (while bathed in the blood of said sacrifices). And those were the socially acceptable rites:
Some have suggested that it is not magick that is fading away, so much as popular interest in Golden Dawn-style ceremonial.  And that is true to a large extent. “Western Mystery” (read Ceremonial Magick) conferences hardly ever happen these days, and if they do they are small and informal...My current Ceremonial Magick 101 class does not have a single ceremonial magician in it...But it’s not just the CM community that seems to be in a slump.  Attendance at Pagan Festivals has been down over the last couple of years.  
And here we get to the bashing of New Agers and Chaos Magicians:
 Yet the same venue has no problem filling seats for New Age classes.  In fact, my wife and I have both noticed that the shop itself has, over the years, progressed from being an occult shop where Pagans hang out to a semi-Pagan/New Age shop where New Agers hang out.  And this has been in reaction to the market, not a decision made by the owner.  You see, the biggest and fastest-growing occult fads out there today are the New Age (yes, still) and Chaos Magick – both systems of E-Z Occultism that encourage you to just make it up as you go along.  No study.  No work.  No effort.  Just play.
Again, I'm saying this as a friend but maybe the New Agers and chaos magicians are filling a need in their audience. Which is why they have one.

I don't know why Ceremonial Magic needs to be like endless algebra homework, particularly when the audience is not exactly perceiving a huge payoff in benefits from the effort.  Mostly what they see is a bunch of confusing busywork and a bunch of sects constantly at war with each other. I'm sorry to be so blunt, just trying to help.

I don't think I've ever put it quite this way but I think "the Occult" is actually the worst vehicle for the occult.  It's not only its worst vehicle it can be its worst enemy. The Occult is like an endless rulebook when people really want to play the game. And what's the game? 

Ah, the game is Magic, kids.

But Magic is not an end unto itself, it's a power tool.
You use it to build whatever it is you're building, whether that's a David Bowie album, an Alan Moore comic or a Gordon White alt.history book. It makes whatever you're building bigger and louder and more lasting. I think the record is pretty clear and consistent that that is when it works best. 

"Occult Revivals" only work so far as they inspire artists to create magic and magicians to create art. We remember the occult revival of the 60s and 70s for Rosemary's Baby and Simon, King of the Witches and Don't Look Now and The Magic Mountain and Led Zeppelin IV and Station to Station and The Norliss Tapes and The Night Stalker and the Illuminatus Trilogy and VALIS and Tomb of Dracula and Doctor Strange and the art of San Francisco poster artists and Hypgnosis and Roger Dean and so on and so forth.

"Occultism", on the other hand, usually ends up a weird power game where people fuck with each other's heads (a best-case scenario) and every one eventually goes home feeling bad. The history here is fairly unambiguous.

Jung said religion was a shield against the experience of the Divine and I'm wondering if occultism isn't a shield against the power of Magic. Occultism is the illusion that we can impose our will on powers that were ancient before we were even human. I don't think that ever ends well. I'd say it's better to enter into Magic with a profound sense of humility and gratitude. Try it and let me know how it goes.

Occultism has waxed and waned many times before, it's true. However, things do die, or become so esoteric as to be essentially invisible. But as Terence McKenna said, "If it's real it can take the pressure." If not let it die.  And go make Magic.