Psychics, crystals, candles and cauldrons: alternative spiritualities and the question of their esoteric economies

Bartolini, Nadia; Chris, Robert; MacKian, Sara and Pile, Steve (2013). Psychics, crystals, candles and cauldrons: alternative spiritualities and the question of their esoteric economies. Social & Cultural Geography, 14(4) pp. 367–388.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14649365.2013.772224

Abstract

Studies of alternative and ‘New Age’ spiritualities and of the paranormal in popular culture hint at the existence of underlying economic relationships that are, though small in size by some measures, both significant and influential. This paper seeks to foreground the economic relationships underpinning the beliefs, practices and activities associated with alternative spiritualities. For, as we argue, these have either been marginalised in most studies of alternative spirituality or been understood in very limited terms, as a narrow reflection of contemporary capitalist consumer culture. This paper consequently asks how we might bring to view the economic relationships that necessarily accompany alternative spiritualities by exploring their size, shape and reach. Here, we draw on UK-based case studies of Manchester and London. Our exploration of alternative spiritualities and their economic relationships concludes that even while alternative spiritualities are woven into, and out of, ordinary economic relationships, there remains an intriguing sense that there is something distinctively esoteric about their economies. This, we believe, warrants further investigation (in the UK and beyond) into this too often marginalised aspect of contemporary culture and modern economic life.

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