on mysticism, mediums and mindspace
Perhaps the most striking thing about a recent cultural deep dive in Lancashire was the chance, but prolific, meetings with mysticism. You can’t help but stumble across stories about the Pendle Witches, the 12 women hanged in 1612 for supposed dabbling in the dark arts on Pendle Hill. And like Hilda Ogden reading tea leaves, you can’t help but notice the kitsch tarot card readers like Gyspy Petulengro on Blackpool North Pier. You might even bump into a medium, or two, now putting their spirit-channelling powers to good use in the health & wellbeing space. Lancashire, it seems, is looking for orientation; a brighter read on the future like many Brits in uncertain times.
And at first you might think this was just an interesting case of happenstance, but on digging a little deeper, you discover that a new aesthetic for magic, mysticism and spirituality is fast moving through Western cultures. According to the future innovation gurus TRENDONE, a rising number of millennial women now regard themselves as part of a self-empowering feminist movement that the consultancy describes as ‘a counter concept to organised religions; a new commercial spirituality–in a way, the hipsterization of esotericism’.
The signs of this trend have been observed awhile now: from the Moon Cup to meditation and mind-space. Even Gwynnie’s Goop is in on the mystic scene. Cosmic Health is a growing business; from beautifully illustrated modern tarot cards to help you ‘cultivate daily affirmations’ to therapeutic quartz crystals and ‘Psychic Vampire Repellent’–a protective mist designed to shield you from negative energy and safeguard your aura.
Further afield in the States, Brooklyn’s ‘Mood Ring’ bar now shakes up cocktails designed to influence the mood of those born under different star constellations. And La-La Land’s fashion scene has run head first into metaphysical, and shamanic healing, according to Johanna Thomas-Corr in the FT. “Today, there are at least four crystal shops to every bookshop in LA. And at the city’s Natural History Museum, visitors often meditate in front of the rocks.” In the same article, Ruby Warrington, author of ‘Material Girl, Mystical World: The Now Age Guide to a High Vibe Life' highlights how tech has left us feeling disconnected from nature and thus “given these ancient human technologies a newfound allure.”
Warrington is also founder of The Numinous. The word numinous means “that which is unknown, or unknowable” and–in a world where our smartphones have become our talismans–Ruby is committed to exploring the mysteries that will help us reconnect to this undefinable part of being human. This she predicts is a global shift in consciousness that’s about experiencing life—and each other—on a whole new meaningful level. The Numinati are by definition stylish, modern women exploring their spirituality through astrology, sexual healing, their careers, as they mix magic with moon cycles.
One step deeper and you will read that Witches and witchcraft are also burgeoning. Note ‘La Dame Blanche’, Claire Fraser, in Starz mega-hit, Outlander, who’s not short of an herb potion, or two, in her capacity as time-travelling female medic and Jacobite love goddess. And Sabat, the gloriously sumptuous B&W magazine that merges witchcraft and feminism, ancient archetypes and instant art. In this world, Disney princesses are quite simply ‘idealised versions of femaleness completely lacking in discord or grit’. Read it. I’d hate to do its complexity a disservice. It’s a whole other world.
So from crystals to covens, what does the new mysticism mean? Maybe it simply marks a cyclical return to the pagan. But certainly this spirituality harks towards a more natural way of living, and brings a glorious form of assured femininity to the fore that has probably lain in wait for centuries. And for our brands it represents materialism with a guaranteed dose of absolution in the form of beliefs, aesthetic and experience design.
Published by The Marketing Society, January 2018