Website Development

For the last few years, the website hasn’t been anything other than a place for retail stores to order oils. The Quadrivium social media accounts haven’t been too active, either (except for Twitter, where I talk about politics a lot).

But!

As it turns out, the pandemic lockdown has left some graphic/website designers looking for work. The main Quadrivium Supplies website is being redesigned by one of these generous geniuses, and the Instagram and FB accounts are slooooowly turning into a place where followers can see pictures of oils. And quotes from magicians and philosophers and astrologers that are important to me.

Also.

Due to the pandemic, a few stores have closed or changed up their stock. Both Artes & Craft and Draconis Arcanum just placed large orders that have recently been shipped, and a new store called Carpe Diem Nursing will be carrying a selection of Quadrivium Oils shortly.

Magical Teachers

After an online blowup about a teacher who was predatory and abusive, but who’d also all but announced I AM PREDATORY AND ABUSIVE prior to taking on students, a new essay was spawned.

Just because you’ve found a teacher doesn’t mean they’re the right teacher for you. Or that they’re a good teacher. Or that they’re qualified to teach you. Cheaters, frauds, hucksters and predators abound in the occult and spiritual seeker community. Do your research before you decide to join an order, take an initiation, or find a teacher.

Why You Should Do At Least As Much Background Research On Your Teacher As You Would On A Computer

A Ridiculously Long Essay 
On How To Minimize Your Chances 
Of Being Screwed Over, Abused, Or Cheated

As with everyone else on Magical Basics, it’s a draft, but it’s a pretty solid one.

You Should Read This

FireLyte (of the Inciting A Riot blog and podcast) wrote a painfully true essay about the overwhelming whiteness of American Paganism and magical publishing. Even the authors who write about ATRs, Santa Muerte, Brujería,  Santería, Hoodoo, Haitian Voodoo, and other traditions SPECIFIC TO BIPOC CULTURE are overwhelmingly white – despite the fact that some of them have taken on pseudonyms that sound vaguely Latinx or indigenous.

Read it on the blog:
Yes, This Is Our Paganism: Llewellyn, Weiser, & White Supremacy

Two Things

Thing 1: I have been contacted by a few people asking where to buy my oils. The sites listed to the right are the stores that carry them, but as things are a bit weird in retail right now, I can’t guarantee that they HAVE the oils. Your best bet is to contact the store. The one that is probably best stocked is Draconis Arcanum. Dark Lady has temporarily closed – New Orleans retail got socked pretty hard, financially – but will reopen with it’s usual fine selection of Quadrivium Oils. I haven’t removed them from the list, since they’ll be back before too long. I hope.

Thing 2: I am going to be interviewed on TalkGnosis, a weekly talk show on YouTube, to discuss rituals. Rituals in magic, rituals not in magic, why we practice rituals, what we get out of rituals, what we should look for in rituals, etc. I will post a link when the show is available, which will likely be the last week of June.

I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe and healthy. Chicago is opening back up, much to my trepidation. I don’t go out much to begin with, but I admit the idea of getting my nails done is appealing.

Promoting Black-owned businesses

My project has fallen by the wayside as I, like most people, have been watching protests and listening to Black Americans talking about their experiences and generally being horrified all over again at the brutal, systemic racism that exists in this country.

As somebody who’s stuck at home due to being somewhat light on the white blood cells after chemo and not able to GO anywhere during the pandemic, I’m putting together lists of Black-owned and women-owned businesses that sell products that magical practitioners might have on a shopping list – candles, incense, accessories. At the moment, one full list exists (on the magicalbasics.net site), which is Scented Candle Sources. More to come.

It’s A Start

To a new site – after trying to sort out how to fit together the Suggested Rituals and the basic magical practice info, I decided they weren’t destined to fit together and that the info about magical practice needed to be separate from Quadrivium Supplies. The suggested rituals and the info on the history and practice of oil use will live at Ritual Oils and the intro to lots of things will live at Magical Basics.

We used to learn magic from books, and orders, and individual teachers. Basic info – how to prepare a candle for burning, how to ensure it burned correctly, how to use resin incense, how to use a table of correspondence – was taught before the more advanced ideas. There’s less of a path now, it seems. Information on magic is available from any number of sources, but it’s easy to jump into the middle without learning practical fundamentals.

The practical stuff is often skipped over because so many of us consider it instinctive – but it’s not. At some point, everybody had to learn how to prepare a candle for a first burn that wouldn’t result in tunneling. We had to figure out that the charcoal used for resin incense isn’t the charcoal used in the grill, and that it’s often available in smoke shops. We just don’t remember that we had to learn all these things. The Magical Basics site is supposed to be where you can find answers to basic questions. Fundamentals like how to prepare a candle, what’s behind the idea of sympathetic magic, why we use a table of correspondence in magic, and how to burn resin incense.

Everything on MagicalBasics is a draft, at this point. Questions and suggestions welcome.

Learning The Basics

Writing about ritual oil basics has reminded me that things I find “instinctive” about magical practice aren’t instinct at all. I had to learn it, at some point, but enough time has passed for me to forget that someone had to teach me.

On Twitter, I asked people about what very basic information they wish someone would have taught them about when they begin practicing. Thorn Mooney made a short YouTube video in response to the question, talking about the blind spots we have regarding information we’ve forgotten that we learned.

MLMs Are Recruiting – Don’t Get Sucked In!

I keep seeing things posted on social media about being your own boss! Working from home! Setting your own hours! FREE STUFF! Take your stimulus money and invest in a home-based business, you’ll be glad you did!

Weirdly, this seems to be a popular time for MLM recruiters. Not something I’d have expected, but people are hurting for cash and that means some of them might jump at something that seems like it would make money.

It won’t. Multi-level marketing companies hide behind catchphrases and catchy slogans about being your own boss and making your own hours and starting a business. They will not make you money. They will take your money, stress you out, and force you to exploit every relationship you have in an attempt to break even. The first season of the podcast The Dream is entirely about MLMs and has a huge amount of information about where they come from, how people end up in them, how hard it is to get out, how deeply the MLM companies like Amway and Herbalife have sunk their claws into the government, and why these MLMs don’t get prosecuted as the scams they are.

“Why is a ritual oil business so mad at MLMs?” you (or someone) ask. Because ritual oils are made from essential oils. And essential oils are the product of two huge MLM scams: Young Living and DoTerra. These companies train “consultants” who don’t know how to use oils safely, who make insane claims, and who charge outlandish amounts of money for cheap, domestically produced essential oils. Anyone who works with essential oils has a beef with DT and YL, because these companies make us all look bad.

Doterra and Young Living are absolutely 100% pyramid schemes hiding under the “multilevel marketing” guise. The FTC has a good (if overly technical) explanation of why MLMs don’t work as a business model here.

One of the best introductions to the whole business is this New Yorker article from 2017 on the essential oil MLMs – it includes a bio of Gary Young that mentions his conviction for practicing medicine without a license (he delivered his own daughter underwater and she drowned), his involvement in a “medical clinic” in Mexico that was exposed as a fraud by the LA Times, and his other moneymaking schemes. Since then, Young Living has made lots of claims about lots of cures and treatments and cures and it’s all about as genuine as Gary Young’s medical degree. Utah Stories has a good series on the scam of Young Living.

DoTerra is an offshoot of Young Living. They like to claim that they have “certified pure therapeutic grade oils,” but that’s a trademark. Nobody is grading oils. Science Based Medicine has an entry on DoTerra that’s very eye-opening. This blog post has a good outline of the sneaky way DoTerra convinces customers that their oils have certifications and approvals that don’t actually exist. The blog is defunct, but the links still work and the information is still accurate. Lazyman And Money has a good explanation of why essential oil MLMs and DoTerra in particular are a scam.

You can buy oils at the grocery store, at the drug store, and a dozen other places. Well, you’ll be able to when we’re able to go out, anyway. Do not get scammed. The NOW branded oils at Walgreens and Target are the same thing as DoTerra and Young Living oils. There is no difference except in price. Look to see that the Latin name for the plant is on the bottle, and that it’s 100% essential oil of that plant, and you’ll get the same thing you’d get from one of the MLMs. You’ll just pay less, and not be supporting a pyramid scheme.

Note: if you’re going to comment that OMG YL/DT IS NOT A SCAM, don’t bother. I’ve been working with essential oils a long time and I can assure you of this: if you are using DT or YL oils, you are being ripped off. If you want to spend your money that way, fine, but do not try to pretend that those oils are in any way superior to the oils sold cheaper in other places.