I am a freak for divination. I love tarot decks, oracles, pendulums, runes, and talking boards of all sorts. While there are a fair number of pop culture themed tarot decks available, they never seem to be for the fandoms I want. My particular combination of fandoms and magickal practices made me realized that I needed to create my own pop culture divination tool. Here’s how I made an effective and personalized oracle using my favorite pop culture characters.

Until about a year ago, the one method of divination that I’d never really tried was bone reading. Unlike tarot, you can’t just walk into any occult shop and pick up a set. I brought this up with a friend of mine whose tradition commonly uses “throwing the bones” as a divination method. He told me that in his tradition each bone in a set actually houses a spirit associated with the meaning of the bone and that when you throw them you not only read the position of those bones in relation to the querent and each other, but also talk to the spirits housed in those bones. Of course being me I immediately thought: what if each “bone” houses a pop culture character rather than a spirit? I asked my friend what he thought of the idea and he basically told me that I was crazy but that I should call him once I’d made a set so he could get a reading. So I did.

I decided to go with a fairly traditional 13 “bone” set, so my first order of business was to come up with 13 pop culture characters that I’d want in an oracle. Now, choosing the characters was not as easy as you might think. You have to select characters that you actually want to have buzzing around you (if in thoughtform shape), that can work with each other peaceably, and that represent a balanced set of energies in order to be an effective oracle. You don’t want to find yourself with a surfeit of heroes or fighters. It’s better to have folks who can reasonably represent most of the traditional oracle energies (home, family, work, wealth, healing, strife, etc.). After some extensive thinking, revision, and chatting with the characters themselves I managed to get my 13. Thus enter the spreadsheet.

Once I had my characters I put them all into a spreadsheet and got to work mapping their potential meanings. For each character I chose a keyword that I would use as a jumping off point for interpreting them in a divination. It took a bit of jiggery pokery to come up with keywords that really worked for the character and created a balanced oracle (despite my best efforts I did have an abundance of bad asses). Then I created a more detailed description of each character and a list of more nuanced keywords that the character might represent in a reading. Finally, I chose an image for each character and simplified it into a symbol I could actually draw. Spreadsheet completed it was time to get physical and actually create my oracle.

Traditional bone oracles come in all manner of shapes and sizes, with a near infinite variety of decorations. While, of course, they’re traditionally made of small bones, they can be made of whatever collection of small tossable objects you can get your hands on - so long as they can be decorated in a way that will allow you to distinguish any one from any other. I’d made an oracle set of wooden tiles a few years back and decided that they would do this go-round as well. For this sort of thing I like the 1-½ inch wooden disk you get in the woodworking section of just about any craft store. They’re easy to find, inexpensive, and you can paint, carve, or woodburn them quite easily. I’m not the most crafty or artistic person so simple and easy is important to me. I decided to draw my symbols on the tiles in pencil and then woodburn them. At my skill level this results in workable, sturdy, if not exactly pretty oracle tiles.

Once I had my 13 tiles in hand it was time to charge them. I knew that I would be evoking each of my pop culture figures into their respective tiles, essentially using them as multi-purpose spirit houses. I decided that a formal ritual was the way to go, as I do for most things involving evocation. I set up a Spotify playlist with the theme songs for each of my characters (not as easy as you might imagine). I then formally cast a circle, called the elements, and called on my Patron deity to watch over the proceedings. I passed the tiles through sage smoke and then anointed the back of each tile with wormwood oil and lined them up on my altar. For each tile I played the character’s theme as I evoked them, calling them by name. As each character arrived I asked if they consented to being part of the oracle and to play nicely with the others. Thankfully, they all said yes. I then explained the meanings I’d assigned to them and asked them to convey those meanings truthfully in readings. Each character had their own comments and compromises to add and I noted them down. Once each character was firmly housed in their tile, I coated the tops of the tiles with varnish and thanked each character to seal the tiles. I then thanked and dismissed my Patron and the elements, and dispelled the circle. I left the tiles to dry overnight on my altar and then put them in their bag so they were ready to use.

I was terribly excited to do my first “bone” reading with my pop culture tiles. I tossed them in the traditional manner: shaking the bag while stating my query and then tossing the whole lot of them onto a cloth. I read only the face up tiles. I was not disappointed with function of my tiles. I find this oracle to be particularly chatty. While a tarot card can be interpreted many ways, it’s meaning rarely strays too far from its book definition. That is not the case with this oracle. As each tile is inhabited by a thoughtform of a living character, they each have rich personalities and lots of things to say - both on their own and to each other. My tiles contain several characters that are directly antagonistic and when they show up in the same reading they tend to bicker. It’s kind of astonishing. Consequently, I can get incredibly detailed and nuanced readings. I love my pop culture oracle.

While I’m incredibly happy with my oracle, there was one interesting unexpected consequence of their creation. It hadn't occurred to me that evoking a fictional character into a physical object would actually give that character some agency in the physical place. It probably should have occurred to me, but it didn’t. The day after creating my tiles I had Tony Stark flitting about my head all day. I work in tech and he was fascinated by what I was doing and kept making odd suggestions and lamenting my computer’s slowness. It wasn’t bad, but it was odd. I feel rather fortunate that he was the one that followed me around rather than some of the more villainous characters that live in my oracle. When I got home I made sure to have a little talk with everyone and made them promise to stay in their tiles. Healthy boundaries are everyone’s friend.

If you love pop culture magick I highly encourage you to make your own pop culture oracle. Not only is it a great divination tool, it’s also a great way to deepen your relationship with the characters you like to work with. I’ve been using my oracle for just about a year now and I use it both for divination and as an evocation tool when I’m working with any of those characters. Making the oracle can be as simple or elaborate a process as you want, you can use any characters you like, and the “bones” themselves can be just about anything. For variety, efficacy, and just plain fun a pop culture oracle is really the way to go.