One of the reasons that I am welcome as a plague in certain circles is the simple fact that I became a magician to keep the wolf away from the door. I am not in the esoteric arts for spiritual development or to be a service to mankind; I am here merely because I was looking for a big enough stick to smack the wolf on the nose and survive the crisis of being a poor kid and young adult.
Now, there are some that will roll their eyes, and ask how poor could I have been when I entered the field. Let's see, my father lost everything that he owned; I am the oldest of eight kids; and I grew up constantly wondering if I would have a roof over my head tomorrow. Plus, where my next meal was coming from was always a concern. I wore whatever could be brought at yard sales for a quarter. When I left home, I joined the military...because I was poor. I was a high school dropout that got bad grades because my folks could not afford a real babysitter. And I worked twenty years in food service making minimum (or just above) wages.
And if you still don't believe that I know what it is like to be poor, just remember that I have done Tarot readings and practical spells for the payment of government surplus cheese and peanut butter--because all I had to offer was my skill as a magician, and all my clients had to offer was some food (which I was very glad to eat).
Just admitting this stuff bars me from entry to certain select circles. Part of it is simply misunderstandings of what magic is. [If you want to know why I started to think about these matters today, go read this entry on Aaron's blog.]
Talk to most people in the Golden Dawn/Western Mystery Tradition community (and this includes Thelema and Wicca) and you will hear that the purpose of the mysteries is spiritual development and service to mankind. In fact, there are groups that will bar you from entering if you say anything other than those two reasons for wanting to join. Anything else, especially practical magic, is viewed as black magic and power seeking.
But this is what the documented record of Western magic is all about--weather magic, power magic, legal magic, treasure magic, health magic, love magic--all about fulfilling basic needs in a hostile wolf at the door world. Even alchemy was about the practical nine times out of ten. Yet we in the modern world are not allowed to have these needs or desires.
Why? Because H. P. Blavatsky tells us that it is wrong. Yes, the modern view that the only acceptable uses of magic are spiritual development and service to mankind comes straight out of the writings of Blavatsky, the mother of Theosophy. And the modern Orders have embraced this fact, rejecting anyone who admits that they actually need to practice practical magic. Blavatsky made the esoteric Orders into the mystic dreamlands they are today. You can mediate all you want on the glories of the divine, just don't attempt to better your life conditions with practical workings.
Therefore, we do not find truly poor magicians in the ranks of the Orders (unless they lied to get in). The members of a Law of Attraction group are always living above the poverty level. The members of your typical esoteric Order can always pay their annual dues, no matter how much they are. And people can charge hundreds of dollars to do workshops, to teach magic that does not actually work, because everyone who attends can afford for magic not to work. It is all theory and no practice because anything other than spiritual development and service is considered black magic.
In the meantime, people like myself tend to remain outside the Halls of the "True Mysteries" working our small low practical spells, hoping to keep the wolf from the door for one more day. We are simply too poor to be worthy of proper training. And Heaven forbid that we ever decide to retake the mysteries back; after all, we are the unwashed, unsaved, impure masses.