I don’t mean for this to be complete; these are merely notes in one trend in Satanism in American culture. Satanic and pagan fashion. For more, see Our New Satanic Moment. I’ll also soon have another Stream piece.
Salon, a good source of our culture’s relapse into paganism, ran an article “‘Mysticore’ is the new norm: Inside the trend that’s casting its spell over the culture: Magic, mysticism and the occult are moving into the mainstream. Is it just a fad or a sign of spiritual crisis?” A bit of both, it seems.
Welcome to the season of the witch. Recently, the Brooklyn Academy of Music hosted a Witches Brew film festival, which included the acclaimed new film “The Witch.” Lately it isn’t uncommon to see glossy magazines like Nylon with headlines that start “The Witches’ Guide to…”, while new publications like Sabat, an aesthetically driven magazine that explores contemporary witchcraft, are attracting attention from readers and design snobs alike.
Stores specializing in metaphysical sundries (think ritual candles, blended oils, sacred herbs) like Spellbound Sky and House of Intuition in Los Angeles, while not brand-new, are suddenly crowded. In Brooklyn, Witches of Bushwick has evolved from a venue on the underground party circuit to a social collective that celebrates witchcraft as a feminist art and collaborates with fashion companies like Chromat. Of course, for those who prefer whipping up potions at home, several new witch- and occult-themed subscription boxes deliver the magical arts to the doorstep.
And so on. A point of curiosity is a “hip” New York fashion or “trend-setting” group called “K-Hole“, a firm which busies itself with subjects civilized peoples eschew. K-Hole is also, surely not coincidentally, according to Wikipedia, “a slang term for the subjective state of dissociation from the body commonly experienced after sufficiently high doses of the dissociative anesthetic ketamine.”
K-Hole is known for its coinage “normcore“, which was “a unisex fashion trend characterized by unpretentious, average-looking clothing. ‘Normcore’ is a portmanteau of the words ‘normal’ and ‘hardcore’.” Attitude instead of substance—or sense. Not unheard of in fashion.
Point is, the group is flogging a new “report”, which is composed (if I can use so generous a word) of dumb and incongruous pictures, and vaporous statements in large print. What interests us is its pushing of “chaos magic”. The “magic” portion of the report (as are all portions, really) is thin and platitudinous, but that’s it’s advocated at all is what startles.
Like branding, Chaos Magic is mostly concerned with inception. But where branding is about implanting ideas in the brains of an audience, Chaos Magic is about implanting ideas into your own. Both practices depend heavily on the creation of sigils + mantras. There is a tight homology here:
SIGIL = LOGO
MANTRA = SLOGAN
What follows immediately upon this is a brief recipe for using sex magic to achieve chaos magic for yourself or your “brand”. (A sigil is, of course, a symbol used in magic.)
However seriously this nonsense was meant is one thing, but it was pushed to the fashion industry, which is not known for its high moral fiber or its intellect. Clearly the K-Holes were hoping their suggestion would be taken up, and then conveyed. It bears watching how influential the group is.
It has some influence. A magazine known for manufacturing trends and celebrity tittle-tattle wrote “Is Fashion Entering a Year of Magical Thinking? A Conversation With Pop Culture’s Favorite Trend Forecasters“, by which they meant K-Hole. They say K-Hole’s “findings aren’t your run-of-the-mill witches-and-warlocks stuff—what they’re talking about is a more spiritual, self-contained magic, something akin to mental manifestations.”
Vogue summarizes chaos magic: “It’s a little bit free will, a little bit The Secret, and a little bit about championing personal choice.”
And then there’s England’s version of Salon, The Guardian: “Will chaos magic reign over your wardrobe?”
It’s complicated. It isn’t just that you believe in crystals. It’s more that you choose to believe. Soon, they predict, we will believe in ourselves. We will think positively, but not overthink. We will experience the world on a deeper level. We will say “spirituality” without snickering.
The last prediction sounds right. They say “chaos magic will remain just a pleasing little term until we look down and realise: oh, we’re wearing crystal balls on our ankles. It’s already happening.” For example:
Marina Abramovic art-directing Riccardo Tisci’s womenswear show (a woman stood under a stream of running water; a man held tree branches as a symbol of “support and life force”; there was chanting from Tibetan monks). Or the Gentlewoman magazine hosting a magic show during Paris fashion week. Or JW Anderson stitching words like “orbital” and “asteroids” into knits. The mystical does appear to be seeping into the fashion mainstream.
How far this will spread is anybody’s guess. Stay tuned. I’ll have a more detailed article soon at The Stream—in time for Halloween.