The Nation's Pulse

There’s No Nicer Witch Collection

Adventures in the catolog counterculture.

By 3.6.06

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I guess it is fair to say that I was a member of a counterculture when I was a teenager. My hero was Milton Friedman. I didn't care for Punk Rock, never spiked my hair, and never pierced any part of my body. My period of rebelliousness was rather staid. In fact, my college years were spent battling the counterculture (which dominates most universities) as an editor of a conservative student publication. Then, unlike a college friend who went on to get her Ph.D. in sociology, doing field work studying young homosexual males, I went on to business school, and then into the conventional workaday world. Fortunately, however, I can still tap in and sample the counter currents of modern American society in the comfort of my living room, via shopping catalogues.

I have been on the mailing list for a while of one catalog (I don't recall how I got on the list) that seems to specialize in household items offering a sort of "Lord of the Rings" theme. And a few months ago I ordered a few items with knight motifs as Christmas gifts for some of my nephews. That order, I can only imagine, is the explanation for the appearance in my mailbox a few days ago of a catalog entitled "The Pyramid Collection: A Catalog of Personal Growth & Exploration." I knew this was a special catalog by a few of the items highlighted on the cover: a "Faerie Dewdrop" -- something featuring a crystal and purple feathers with some unknown purpose, a bracelet inscribed with "I do believe in fairies," and the eye-catching "Lace-Up Thigh-High Stockings."

It seems that the Pyramid Collection supplies goods to the ever-growing witch community. Well, perhaps not real witches. Probably a lot of people who are just "spiritual."

By watching a bit of television, I have noticed that things witchy have been "in" the last few years. I actually quite enjoyed the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series. (Buffy wasn't technically a witch, but she had witch friends). Though it had most of the faults you would expect to find in any television program, it was exceptionally well-written and quite (intentionally) hilarious, with, most surprising of all, an often high-brow humor that, no doubt, usually flew right over the heads of most of the targeted teen audience. The show did have a few problems, especially when it introduced a lesbian character and occasionally tried its bit at social commentary (not a smart move for a show called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"). But most of the time it was good entertainment. I have also seen bits of another show called "Charmed" (appropriately set in San Francisco) that features three female witches who battle all sorts of evil. I have only watched this a few times, but from what I have seen this show has very little going for it. It has been on the air for several years, though, so I guess there is an audience for it -- the same people, I suppose, who wait longingly for their next Pyramid Collection catalog to come in the mail.

Aside from the fetching "Lace-Up Thigh-High Stockings," you can get a lot of interesting stuff from the Pyramid Collection. You can get a hooded robe that would come in handy at your next Druid potluck. There is an assortment of interesting knickknacks with supposed "Celtic" symbolism, Feng Shui Candles, and even "Witching Stones" ("Learn to cast spells on the go -- anytime, anywhere!...Includes 35 stones, velveteen pouch, and Symbols of the Craft companion guidebook, with descriptions and interpretations of each stone and instructions for using the stones as ritual tools to cast and perform a number of spells. Made in USA."). I was even tempted myself to order the video on "Nude Tai Chi" but thought I should spare my neighbors.

Nude Tai Chi aside, clothing is important to the witch counterculture and the Pyramid Collection offers a number of interesting witching outfits -- for good witches, of course, though there are a few selections that appear aimed at somewhat naughty witches, such as those that would order the video "Advanced Sexual Techniques" by "Linda Banner, PhD" produced by the esteemed "Sinclair Intimacy Institute." Well, witching isn't just all work, is it?

Now, as critical as one might want to be about witching society, you just can't judge these movements in the abstract. Sure, it's a bit weird, even inane. But when compared to other countercultural movements, it's not all that bad. After all, if you were at a gathering and had a choice of talking to someone wearing a tired beret and a Che Guevara T-shirt, or someone (preferably female) wearing a "Velvet Dragons" dress ("You'll love the fit and feel of lush purple and black stretch velvet -- printed with a motif of glittering golden dragons, with lace-up bodice, flared bell sleeves with black velvet insets"), which would you choose?

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About the Author
Brandon Crocker is the chief financial officer of a commercial real estate development and management company in San Diego.