Reading the comment section of another blog, I realized that I did not make a certain point clear in my last blog post. (I was bored, and stuck on a plot point in the science fiction mystery that I am writing...if it matters about why I was surfing the internet and not writing this morning.) I also realized that some people consider everything about them...and a two years ago, it would have been all about someone else that they hated--would someone please pass the "center of the universe" stick to the right because not everything is about what a great gift you are to the universe.
(And seriously, when do I get my turn to hold that sacred stick of importance?!)
Anyway, the point I failed to make clear in my secrecy as a business model post was the fact that it is the membership that is the overpriced product that underlies the accusation that secret societies are nothing more than money making scams for their leaders.
The membership in the secret society is the product.
You do not need to sell anything else to be accused of running a scam. Just collect membership dues and you too can be called a slimy con-artist. Selling unicorn wands, fairy success dust, and thistle poppets just adds fuel to the fuel of the toasty bonfire roasting your reputation, but the collection of membership dues is the match that sets off the blaze in the first place.
And this is not just something that came out of our "all secrets and techniques should be freely given" New Age culture--no, this has been true for three hundred years at least. Don't believe me? Consider this. In 1717, the Freemasons binded together in their first Grand Lodge, so that they could separate the legit members from the false members; it turns out that some pub owners were selling Freemason memberships to their customers along with watered-down ale. Shortly after that, we start to see the first accusations and publication of the Freemasonic rituals and secrets. And there is not a pixie chalice anywhere in sight for sale.
The simple fact that you are collecting membership dues is enourgh to cause someone to scream bloody murder that you are taking advantage of people. This is why all esoteric Orders have been accused of this at one time or another (normally by upset ex-members or their rivals)--in fact, being accused of being a con-artist is almost a badge of honour; it shows that one has grown big enourgh to annoy someone else.
And for the curious, yes, I am going to be running a summer special on fairy success dust (or fairy sh** as I like to call it) and thistle poppets (bumper crop this spring)--everything will be sold at bonfire prices, so get your money ready because Mad Uncle Morgan is selling it all!