I sometimes wonder how many people actually make a living wage in the field of divination, much less a handsome income. There are notable exceptions, of course, mostly respected authors, teachers, lecturers, artists, publishers and the occasional shop owner (although those are rapidly disappearing or diversifying in the face of crushing online sales). But I would venture to say that these heavy-hitters, at least at this point in their lives, are typically not in the habit of performing readings, unless they are doing it solely for the love of it. Which brings me to the title of this post: those of us who call ourselves professional diviners (even if that distinction yields only a paltry cash payoff) would be tickled to land squarely in the middle bucket, paying the bills and being able to afford the rare luxury with our proceeds from readings, occasional teaching and the infrequent presentation. Unfortunately, my view of the landscape at this juncture in the annals of postmodern New Age decline is that most of us live unremarkable “double lives,” doing the daily grind and filling up our evenings, week-ends and holidays with our less remunerative pastime. I chose the term “craft” for this pursuit over the more dilettantish “hobby” since no-one who is serious about it admits to being a mere dabbler (even if it looks that way from the outside).
At the other end of the spectrum are those for whom such interests are a true calling. These driven souls (among whom I number myself) don’t really care whether they make any money at it, they feel an irresistible urge to explore the metaphysical universe in unconventional ways for the pure joy of what I call “turning over rocks to see what crawls out from underneath.” I sometimes style myself “the Mad Scientist of the Tarot,” an appellation that is borne out by some of the more exotic spreads I’ve created over the years. Some who ply these waters even pay for the privilege of having a public outlet for their thoughts via online hosting services or self-publishing venues. Pardon my too-liberal use of quotation marks (it’s a literary failing of mine), but there can be a tendency toward “big-fish-in-a-small-pond syndrome” for those self-anointed “experts” who don’t (or refuse to) recognize that they are “standing on the shoulders of giants” in their rush to fill what they perceive to be a void in generally-accepted knowledge of all things occult. There is an overpowering temptation to offer something radically new, even if it means fabricating such innovations from whole cloth; there are books on the market whose authors have been justifiably accused of “making stuff up” to fit their personal vision.
It’s a sad commentary on the present state of affairs that some of these people find themselves a viable career in serving up such thinly substantiated fluff. But I’m not a total curmudgeon since I do understand that there are many credible thinkers out there who both accept the undeniable value of tradition and at the same time demonstrate a willingness to constantly put it to the “giggle test” to ensure that it doesn’t become too comfortably entrenched in less critical minds. The online signature I sometimes use on the internet forums acknowledges both sides of the picture: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” (Hamlet), coupled with “There’s a sucker born every minute” (David Gannon disparaging the gullible customers of his entrepreneurial nemesis, P. T. Barnum).