I believe it was Michael Herkes, the GLAM Witch, who has coined this phrase and deserves all the credit. Read his books. We all need Lilith to liberate us from the Karenization of the occult.
Sometimes I feel like I should soften my stance on organized religion, usually because of coming across people who have never had organized religion weaponized against them, who have not had it used to keep them from reaching out for help, have not had organized religion used by their abusers and oppressors, often knowing full well that those who wield the power don’t even believe their own bullshit. Those people can’t really imagine why someone would be openly hostile to organized religion, especially since organized religion has helped them.
I also think a lot people can’t see how I might be openly hostile to commercial woo, Karencraft, and the Karenization of astrology or Karenology, which is not quite an organized religion (yet), but has all the hallmarks of the things I hated about organized religion, particularly that it’s really just the prosperity gospel made even more sinister by taking out the wild card of a God that works in mysterious ways and replacing it with your own privilege. Especially now that many will be facing a new economic crisis, making it our own faults from a cosmic perspective is not only untrue and irresponsible, but heartless and unevolved.
What is Karencraft?
Karencraft is all over social media. It’s a lot of clothes and jewelry, a lot of shallow talk about astrology and tarot but nothing in depth. It’s the reason crystals cost a lot of money, the reason why people think positive vibes only is even possible and why some people mistakenly call themselves empaths when what they actually mean is that they have pathologically poor boundaries. It’s a lot of talking without substance, a lot of maxims without direction, a lot of reward for no work.
It’s thinking your sun sign makes you superior or that simply knowing your own planetary placements has made you wise, or that everyone should walk around wearing their birth charts so we never have to go through the strange business of actually getting to know each other first.
It’s in the shaming of people who show their humanity because it makes Karen uncomfortable with her own inescapable humanity: it’s all white light, all the time, and none of the darkness; even when they speak of “shadow work,” it’s all mostly a love letter to themselves and rarely getting into their own shit. Do not ever, ever talk about any of the realness, the grittiness, and the dirtiness of being a human around a Karencrafter or a Karenologer or you’ll find yourself being shamed for being human and having the audacity to admit it in public.
Karencraft is the commercialization of witchcraft to make it sterile, sparkly, user-friendly, and utterly transactional, as if all you have to do is show up, give it your credit card, and the universe gives to you in abundance with no bill at the end of the month, and there is no such thing as difference, institutional problems, and that if you’re not getting all the same things they’re getting so easily, it’s all your fault.
Karencaft is, at its core, a method of New Age thought policing, because it’s a grotesque twisting of the concept of manifestation that allows people no room to have a thought that might be negative, even though darkness is the precursor to light, and we are all just human. Just like when middle-aged white women on the Internet are calling people racist because they insist that race as a construct actually exists (all Karens are “colorblind,” you know), Karencrafters commandeer other people’s pain, experiences, and forums to show off how special and sparkly they think they are in contrast. After all – if the universe gives you everything you want and you think you earned it all with pOsItIvE ViBeS, why would the universe deny you what you want to take from others?
And I say this as a cis-gendered heterosexual white woman who pulled her way up to the middle class:
It’s actually relatively pretty easy from here to get what you want, to “manifest” things, if you’re me, that is. The hard part? That was getting to this spot in the first place, because growing up poor in a family haunted by alcoholism and mental illness means not only lacking the material means, but also lacking the psychological, emotional, social, and geographic means to better one’s life…but the rest of the boxes I ticked off, and now I’m here. I tell you: it’s actually pretty easy now to be optimistic because I have agency like I never had before. I just needed to tick off that particular box, which I did as soon as found out I passed the bar exam.
Even if I make less money (and why doesn’t public interest makes ballers of all of us?), I’m still middle class.
But I’m not willing to go back to the Catholicism of my youth because I remember too well how it was instrumental in keeping me in my place, with the way it whitewashed all the bad things that happened at home and the way it fetishizes poverty and oppression.
In America, there are two Roman Catholicisms: there is the Roman Catholicism of the middle and upper class Catholics, which is more like Protestantism in values and behaviors, and the Roman Catholicism of the poor, which is more like paganism and feudalism. I have only observed the rational, calm Protestantized Roman Catholicism of the middle class and well-off from the outside looking in; I do not know what it is like to be Catholic and to also have agency and any certainty that one can actually navigate the world and be a part of it without being consumed and killed by it. I do not know what it is like to live in a family where births are deliberate and parents only have the number of children they are willing and able to care for, or to not wait for the god to simply end this world so everyone is equal and we get our share of paradise for enduring all this suffering for him, suffering you did not willingly take on and play the lottery, smoke, drink, and engage in other vices in order to get a little escape or deliverance from…
…or through divination. Because divination and folk craft is the province of the poor, not those who do not need to fear an uncertain future.
My grandmother read tea leaves. My cousin did astrology and got me into it. Two of my sisters absolutely believe they can see and speak to the ghosts in the house we grew up in. Santa Muerte, Santeria, Marian Apparitions, the power of the rosary, relics, saints: all of these syncretic things that become our imaginary agency, all of these relics of our pagan past I carry with me that were second nature, and even though I am just not biologically wired for belief in a god, I still love and fear the strange carnival of poor Catholicism. For example, my mother believed in all the prophecies of all the Marian apparitions, approved or unapproved. During one particularly nutty episode, my mother gathered up all the baptismal candles and blessed candles in the dining room hutch so we’d know where they all were in case of the Three Days of Darkness. She also created a code word for us to use in case we weren’t home and we needed to get in the house and 1) could find the house in the absolute pitch dark, and 2) didn’t immediately die as the prophecy said we would. We needed the code word so that in case any demons posed as any of us, we wouldn’t let them in because they didn’t know the code word. I guess demons could shapeshift and change their voices, but could not guess code words or break locks.
The code word was parachute, I believe, in case anyone reading this needs somewhere to stay during the Three Days of Darkness and happens to be in Auburn, NY on one of those three days.
And yes, it is traumatic to grow up being told the world could be utterly destroyed at any time because of some thing some old French lady from 200 years ago said the Virgin Mary said.
But now I don’t need this stuff, because I have agency now, and I want to live life. I don’t want to see the entire world destroyed because I am able to live in it, and I was lucky because my hurdles were pretty easy to surmount, and no one has to know that I grew up poor in a dysfunctional family with little idea of how to make things right for myself…unless I just come right out and tell you.
What does this have to do with Karencraft, Miriam?
You may say that if my mother had more faith, she wouldn’t have been afraid of her kids dying if they happened to be walking home from school when any number of possible Doomsday/Chastisement/Punishment scenarios could occur. You may say this without contemplating the irony of such a statement.
But now I give you the prosperity gospel: the bizarre, utterly American belief that Jesus came to Earth, suffered and died and rose again so you could have a McMansion and an in-ground pool, despite all the stuff Jesus said about eschewing material riches, despite the fact that he took a whip and destroyed the money changers tables outside the temple, despite the fact that he was born poor, remained poor, convinced rich people to give up their riches and follow him (St. Matthew), and allowed himself to be torn apart sadistically and then separated completely from the god by being forsaken and condemned to Hell. Despite all this, if you equate material goods with happiness and blessings from the god, then material goods you shall have as a sign that the god loves you because you have faith that the god will love you.
Prosperity gospel is a form of the law of attraction, and I think both are responsible in some way for the housing bubble burst that caused the Great Recession.
Karencraft is simply the woo form of prosperity gospel. Prosperity gospel is sold from the top down, just like Karencraft. Both steal from the poor: prosperity gospel steals money, Karencraft steals our customs and traditions. Prosperity gospel tells you that the value of your soul can be determined in dollars and cents; Karencraft tells you that your spiritual evolution is evident by your material success. Prosperity gospel tells you that desire to change your life means getting more stuff dropped in your lap. Karencraft tells you that your desire to change your life can be manifested physically in stuff dropped in your lap. Prosperity gospel deters you from looking at the underlying problems causing the lack of money. Karencraft deters you from questioning whether you’re actually the sparkly empathetic snow rose you say you are when you’re going around snapping at people who question any part of your belief system.
And that’s a terrible thing to be told that the fact that you don’t have x,y, or z right now is because there is something lacking in your soul, and that those who have x,y, or z have better souls. Because it would be really, really easy for me to tell all of you that if you don’t have everything you wanted, it’s because you don’t manifest what you really want, you’re not self-aware enough because you don’t know your astrological chart well enough, because you’re actually manifesting the oppression you see because you think you’re oppressed when in reality, we are all free (even though I see every day this is damned well not true at all in this country), manifesting the poverty in your life because you think you’re poor, or manifesting the disease in your body because you think you’re ill. All of this I could say to you when even the most Neptunian of us can’t imagine ourselves into centuries of institutionalized racism and sexism and homophobia, can’t imagine an entire capitalist economy built upon never paying laborers what their labor is actually worth, can’t imagine an entire normative culture in which only one race rules and all you have to do is profess a belief in a god if you’re of that race and then you’re able to do whatever you want.
No one, no matter how long they’ve been practicing Karencraft, even if they’re the High Priestess of the International Karen Order of the Karen Entitlement Coven, has that kind of magickal power.
Karencraft will burst.
All those people who took out subprime loans couldn’t pay those loans, and when they couldn’t pay the loans, the banks took the houses, but no one wanted to buy the houses because the economy was tanking and not the time to buy a slapped-together, too-big, too-expensive home in a development with nothing else to offer.
But why did they take those loans? I think many of them took those loans because they thought that these predatory loans were manna from heaven, because, as I’ve said: people suck at being objective when it comes to themselves. If you’ve been praying to your god for a new home and then one day, you get offered a mortgage when you were certain no one else would, you may take this as an answer to your prayer, regardless of the fine print. Hey – the god brought it to you, so the god will make a way. The law of attraction brought it to you, so the universe will make a way.
And then reality sets in because you can’t pay the bills. You struggle, but you figure it out and do your best to make ends meet. And then the burst causes a recession and one or both of you lose your jobs and suddenly, god isn’t making a way anymore. The universe isn’t making a way anymore. Now you’re worse off than you were before there was divine intervention.
Saturn is at home in Aquarius, and it’s here that it creates new establishments based on what is sound for the people (or seems that way on paper). We saw the rise of Karencraft when it was in hierarchal Capricorn, with the haves suddenly putting themselves out in the world as “lifestyle” experts as a legitimate role in society. while they’ve been around for a while, it wasn’t until a few years ago that influencer became an actual vocation, but not for those who have yet to enter the gate and go on the other side. I mean — haven’t you noticed that influencers almost always have to start off ahead in life to be able to establish their lifestyle brand before they can get sponsors? These kids have to already live in the kind of home and come from the kind of family where they can have the space and the equipment to make videos all day that people would find appealing. They also need to be healthy and in shape, and that’s tougher to do when you’re poor. They’ve become a sort of nobility for us. Most of them actually do nothing worthwhile or meaningful with their lives as far as we can see; they just maintain a certain social position by showing us what being in their position gets them, whether it’s accumulating covetable stuff, dancing around for fifteen seconds multiple times a day, or the supposedly amusing inability to do the most humble things for themselves, like repair a hem on their own clothes or make a sandwich.
The French killed off their noble class in the revolution, you know. Just sayin’. Just sharing a fact, that’s all, you know, when Saturn (severing) is in the sign of revolution.
But if we actually see a socio-political shift away from hierarchy, we will have to see the end of Karencraft, because in a society with a living minimum wage, universal healthcare, fair housing prices, inexpensive college, and clean air and clean water for all (stuff Jesus actually likes), then there’s no need to “manifest” your basic needs. Then, we can all be like Karen and have a shot at manifesting the bodies we want, the love lives we want, the home decor we want, the new job we want, etc., etc.
The true end to Karencraft is everyone just not giving a shit about Karen. Stop following their social media. Stop humoring them even if you want to sleep with them. Antagonize them when they swagger in. Or, just simply figure out what they hold so sacred and dear and shrug it off. For me, coming from a different magickal tradition where nothing is real and everything is permitted, you could theoretically manifest everything want through “bad vibrations” and negative thinking if that’s what you truly want. So when they come to shame us and impose their single-vision on us, we can just ignore it or we could just blow it up until it makes them so mad they call the Woo Police.
I’m actually thinking some of you are here visiting right now and reading this because someone called the Woo Police on me. Again.
Okay, but what is this Karenology you’re talking about?
That’s Karen astrology. It’s a little different from Karencraft, but not by much. This is when Karen comes around to tell us all that we’re doing it wrong, and that we’re bad because we’re not doing it her way. Her way is usually a commercial two-dimensional journey into fellating yourself by using your astrological chart to justify and rationalize various aspects of your personality while patting yourself on the back for shit you didn’t actually do, like being born.
Regardless of what you may have chosen to do in this life, you didn’t actually choose all the stuff in your birth chart, and I’m getting tired of seeing accounts on Twitter and Instagram of people bragging about their planetary placements. I don’t mean letting people know your planetary placements; I mean identifying with them as if they’re your high school football team: you’re an adult now and no else but you gives a shit anymore.
Karenology is like all of those Instagram accounts that are nothing but astrology memes or simply sun sign accounts with sun sign memes: high on volume, low on substance.
Karenology is the belief that astrology is a sacred cow to be worshipped rather than a tool, a science, or an art that doesn’t make you more or less intelligent or spiritual or evolved just because you use it. You can literally do horary astrology to find lost socks all day long if you want. Karenologists come around here and get plenty mad that I’m not treating astrology as if it were the Ark of the Covenant (why? It doesn’t belong in a museum.)
But why should I? Astrology is not spiritual, or holy, or sacred: people are spiritual, holy, and sacred. People are not simply the sums of their astrological charts, which is a concept that has no place in Karenology, because that’s exactly what you are: a collection of symbols on a circle with lines connecting them, not a person, and Karen has you all figured out. And she has me figured out, too. I’m not allowed to let 20 years of this inform me that I’m the best astrologer I can be when I am me.
You are so much more than a chart. You are so much more than any one astrologer, or all of the astrologers in the world, can see for you. The chart is a blueprint; you are made of stardust.
Karenologists are always looking for something astrology-related to piss them off so they can go on rants about how fucking superior they are to the rest of the world. It could be anything from someone having the gall of not knowing their birth time when Karen wants to know, to someone simply having a different opinion on a subject, or even using a different method to get the answer, or people actually going about their lives without checking the stars first.
It can often be — as I have discovered a lot lately — someone failing to act as a hierophant when being an astrologer, because one astrologer failing to maintain the mystique means that Karen can’t maintain the mystique. The reality is that most of us who have been studying astrology quietly before it blew up just did this quietly at home with books and a few friends in a network, or met in an in-person class, or through correspondence with a published astrologer. Not everyone had the opportunity to be part of any sort of astrological community so there was no sense of duty to an astrological community.
But again, alas: astrology doesn’t have mystique. People have mystique, and I tell you some of the best astrologers I know do not actually identify as astrologers.
God forbid a Karenologist sees you come down and talk about yourself as you’re a real person, growing and changing like everyone else. If you’re not perfect right now, enlightened and almighty, you haven’t studied your astrology chart long enough, apparently. Mine actually says to flee from woo and be practical, accessible, and helpful even when you’re being abrasive and direct about it, always have a sense of humor about you, and never take anything so seriously that an idea can give you hemorrhoids, but what the fuck do I know about my own chart, right?
Karenology intentionally excludes and sidesteps the fact that humans are not capable of complete objectively, especially when it comes to themselves, especially when it comes to those they love. You can and will struggle with your own chart and your own growth. You can and will intentionally misread a chart because you want it to read something else because you’ll do the same thing with people when you wish reality was different. You will do this to varying degrees, but you will do this because this is how people are sometimes, and astrology does not shield you from idealism, falling in love, or making mistakes.
Karen has studied under this program and that program and has a certificate from this online class and that online class and that means she’s better than you are. She’s a member of this club, this association, this guild, this campaign, this Pokemon gym, etc., etc. Karen thinks she’s a goddamned doctor or a lawyer with the way she demands respect for her “profession,” even though in the true sense of the word, we are not professionals. We are not licensed. We do not have legally protected privilege with our clients. We do not have certain jobs that only trained, licensed astrologers can do. We don’t even have a common body of knowledge for the entire “profession.” We do not face consequences for breaking ethical rules common to us all as if there were any. We don’t have to have any education or training to put ourselves out there as astrologers. We can act professionally, but any astrologer asking you to kiss her ass like that should be kicked in her ass instead.
In the end, it’s only our say so and our body of work that speaks for us, nothing else.
And that’s actually the main reason I’m not a member of anything astrological: there’s no discernible benefit for me other than to show off my gym badges on my trainer jacket. There’s no clubs or groups in Chicago. The money is better spent on astrology books and other business-related things because unlike the practice of law, I can be an astrologer without a license, a membership, badges, or blue check marks by my name and just focus on the work and building my own club of cool kids.
Karenology is a circle jerk. You don’t tell people something they may not like unless you’re telling them they suck because they don’t know astrology or they suck because they said something that challenged your beliefs.
Karenology predicted that 2020 was going to be a great year full of career advancements, money making, and achievement…even though the stellium was in Capricorn, and Capricorn isn’t the everyone sign. It’s the pecking order, pay-your-dues sign. Jupiter expands, Saturn contracts, and Pluto creates extremes (like plutocracy). But this makes sense if you’re writing about a group of people who would likely not be affected by a major change in the economy because they have the privilege to not be tossed into the tempest, but even if this group is your target demographic, they’re not actually “everyone,” are they?
And don’t get your hopes up for Aquarius now. It’s a fixed sign, a my-way-or-the-highway sign. Taurus stays put on the ground. Leo circles its territory. Scorpio stays put and burrows under the ground. Aquarius stays put but moves up in the air like a space shuttle, but they stay in the same place. My hope is that it’s the everybody-gets-a-turn crowd that gets to decide that we stay put where they plant us and moves up into the atmosphere so we can actually move forward after Jupiter in Pisces lands back on Earth and bobs in the sea before washing up on dry land when it enters Aries, ready to run.
Karenology, most importantly, like all other Karen things, like Karencraft, uses astrology as a gatekeeper. To know astrology is to be part of a rarified sphere that everyone should join but can’t join because for some bizarre reason, Karenology requires some sort of spiritual preparation and initiation that astrology doesn’t require. It requires an ability to access the knowledge and the time and energy to study the knowledge. It does take a lot of free time to delve into all this, and if you don’t have twenty years, and you do have a demanding job and a family to provide for, you don’t get to join the club, and that’s a personal failing of yours, rather than the consequence of living in a society without adequate support systems.
Karenology only accepts a certain type of woman and a certain type of man: it’s kind of like when some people just assume everyone in the craft believes in the three-fold law and still talk about it as if it applies to people who don’t care, Karen doesn’t want you to talk about things that make her uncomfortable, particularly the utter humanness of astrologers, because even though astrology is the study of humans, mere humans aren’t allowed to be Karenologists.
The entire reason Karen got into astrology was as a weird attempt to gain control of the forces of the universe in order to escape the confines of being human even though astrology is really all about the experience of being human.
Because we’re just people, no matter how much an astrologer may try to fool herself into thinking learning how to do this stuff is a free pass out of being human, that it’s all an upward trajectory because you can read the circle with the symbols and the lines on it. One of the worst things we do to ourselves is pretend that this is our bridge over our own darkness, because it’s still there, and you know — it’s still in the chart, too.
If I have done anything as an astrologer since hanging up my shingle, I hope it’s that I’ve been an anti-Karenologist. This belongs to everybody, because in the end, astrology itself is nothing if not for people.
And if someone shames you because a spell didn’t work out, or you couldn’t manifest something, or you didn’t understand something in your chart, let me know and I will make fun of their foolishness with you until it makes you feel better, and if doesn’t make you want to fly to the messageboards and complain about how unevolved I am, let’s talk.
For the record, I’m fine with being unevolved. It’ll give me something to do for the next forty years.