John Elder, March 4, 2007
Drew Sinton, former Grotto Master with the Australian Church of Satan, can otherwise be found selling books in his occult book shop. - Photo: Craig Sillitoe.
BEFORE you try the sea change or the tree change — have you considered the witch change? Instead of opening a gift shop or tea house with frilly curtains, a stall at the local market with a crystal ball or a set of tarot cards may well be less stressful. For one thing: no rampaging kids knocking over the knick-knacks.
And with 3.5 million Australians choosing magic and mysticism over mainstream religion, and estimates that nearly half the amateurs playing the stockmarket use astrology as their guide, there's a reasonable living to be made, right?
Indeed, despite the downside — eternal damnation — life in the service of the Dark Arts is meant to be pretty good as far as the money goes. That's how it seems in the movies, anyway.
"I used to earn six figures," says Drew Sinton, former Grotto Master with the Australian Church of Satan. "If I'd wanted to be a millionaire, I should have stuck at it."
Mr Sinton's actually talking about his 14 years as a copywriter.
Ten years ago, he abandoned the devil's playground of advertising and gave himself fully to a career in the occult: black magic, various methods of fortune-telling, vampirism and communicating with the dead. These are just some of the areas of interest — including DIY manuals — to be found in his Haunted Bookshop in the CBD. With such a wealth of knowledge at his fingertips, Mr Sinton might be expected to have conjured up a mountain of wealth.
"For the first five years my accountant said I'd have been better off on the dole," he says. "I didn't move into occult to make money. In the last couple of weeks I've sold two or three books a day. How can you get away with that? I've adjusted my life to not living off much money. More important to me is that I love books and I love the paranormal. I'm drawn to the forbidden. As far as making a living … I get by and I don't care because I'm doing what I want to do."
So there's no fortune to be made from fortune-telling?
"Name a millionaire tarot reader in Australia. I've met a lot of tarot readers and astrologers over the years and most of them are on social security. If there were only 10 in town, they'd make a fortune … but there are so many."
Pamela Rowe of the Burwood-based Australian Academy of Astrology and Cosmobiology agrees the astrology scene has become crowded — and to a sizeable extent with her own students.
"Many of today's astrologers came through our school," she says.