The relationship between modern ceremonial magicians and professional purveyors of mystical services has long been a fraught one, and also not a little bit muddled. While many of the latter decry charging for such services, the highly influential magician Pascal Beverly Randolph started out as a Spiritist medium and Aleister Crowley ghost-wrote a pair of books for celebrity astrologer Evangeline Adams. Meanwhile the line between legitimate spiritual services rendered and chicanery can often be hard to discern until one is in the latter up to their neck. Here’s an excerpt from a recent New York Times story on one of the more locally notorious psychics, “Keano.”
“The spiritual entrepreneur has long thrived in the American city, tapping into that enduring impulse toward enchantment: do-it-yourself salvation, the therapeutic life-hack, mail-order enlightenment, the key to life one toll-free call away.
“But storefront fortunetellers aren’t just some holdover from a credulous past. They are actually a product of the modern city and its peculiar anxieties. New York swelled with newcomers in the 19th century and novel forms of spirituality were on the rise. Through the 20th century, a sprawling market of urban soothsayers grew. Broadsheets of the era carried listings for spirit boards, erotic elixirs and an endless parade of enterprising metaphysicians.”
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