Blogs from Taylor Ellwood - PaganSquare - Join the conversation! Mon, 22 May 2017 16:37:15 -0700 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Political pop culture power or how to counteract the pop culture power of Trump

Last March, I wrote about the pop culture magic of Donald Trump and how he was trumping American politics. When Trump won the election, I wasn't surprised. He had the momentum of emotion as well as his celebrity status behind him and that was enough to push him toward victory. 

The question that we currently face is: What now? What do we do now that Trump is in office for the next 4 years?

While some people hold onto the hope of impeachment, what should be remembered is that no impeached president has ever left office. Impeachment is just a formal method for bringing charges against someone in office for breaking laws, through the use of their office. And while I have no doubt Trump will be impeached, I don't think that we should hold out hope for it and what it will accomplish (or not).

Instead I think a more nuanced approach is called for, one that employs magic, but also recognizes the pop culture presence of Trump and accounts for it. Until its accounted for magical work will not be successful, because you're dealing not just with the person, but also the persona that's been built up over the years and currently has a momentum fueled by all the emotions being directed toward him. 

We have an added complication, which is the fusion of Trump with the role of President, which brings its own pop culture symbolism with it, and yet is now being trumped by the presence of the Trump persona. Trump has stepped into a role where he embodies "American values" on the surface, if not in the actual reality of his being, so that too must be considered.


As I mentioned in my previous article, everything Trump does is calculated to feed his pop culture persona. The more people respond to Trump, the more his pop culture persona is fed. It doesn't matter what attention it is, and if anything negative attention spurs the persona on to even greater heights, because that's what Trump is all about. 

So how do we really respond to that?

Do we focus on the pop culture persona of Trump, the Tweets, and every headline that features him...or do we do something else? In this video I share some thoughts on that topic.

My solution is that we stop focusing on the distraction of Trump the persona, and start focusing on the Actions of not just Trump, but also the Republicans in general. Instead of feeding the pop culture persona of Trump by paying attention to his every word and action lets look at where the real actions are occurring, some of which Trump is part of, but some of which is being done by the very people elected into office. 

And as pop culture magicians lets recognize that in this case the pop culture around Trump is toxic and so if we want to counteract it, lets explore magical options that limit or negate the pop culture influence of Trump and instead recast him as a person who needs to be held accountable for his actions.

Until we do that, all we're really doing is feeding the very beast we're seeking to defeat. Trump's pop culture persona thrives on negativity and fear, so we must be careful of feeding the beast. We must stay informed, but let's stay informed about what really matters and call attention to the actual choices and actions that are occurring. They are otherwise masked by the distraction of Trump, and that distraction doesn't serve us in any useful form or manner. It only serves Trump and the people who support him. 

So how do we use pop culture magic to counteract the distraction of Trump?

The way to magically counteract the distraction of Trump is to call on the relevant pop culture symbols that represent values that are against what Trump stands for. Now there's a caveat to that. What you call on genuinely needs to be against what Trump stands for. I wouldn't, for example, suggest calling on Uncle Sam because he represents American Imperialism and Isolation.

Likewise I'm not even sure I would call on Captain America, because while he is a hero, he also embodies specific American values, some of which may fall in lie with what Trump espouses or seeks to represent in his role as President. 

Instead I suggest calling on what truly speaks to your own values and what you want to promote in the world. For example, one of my students has chosen to go to a protest in a way that embodies her values, "instead of carrying a sign, I'm just going to deck myself out in all my rainbowy Pride gear, because it's a symbol of gay rights, of inclusivity and diversity, which is more an affirmation of the kind of world I *want,* rather than marching in protest against what I don't want."

The best pop culture magic we can do involves bringing our values to the table, to represent the world we want to manifest, and to show that such a world can still exist, despite the short term victory of fear and hate. It may not be easy to bring those values to the table or represent them, but now more than ever is when we must do just that. So what is the pop culture around your values? Bring that pop culture out into whatever magic your doing and whatever activities your doing and use that to counteract the pop culture presence of Trump.

And let's continue to build the world we want instead of giving into the hate and fear.

Taylor Ellwood is the mad scientist and magical experimenter at magical experiments.

*Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Read more]]> (Taylor Ellwood) Studies Blogs Thu, 19 Jan 2017 16:57:25 -0800
The Myth of Pagan Enlightenment

When I first began practicing magic, I had this naive belief that every pagan and occultist I would meet would somehow be more enlightened. Part of me wanted to believe that the people I would meet would have their acts together, be living a better life than everyone else. And perhaps I also hoped that some of it would rub off on me...that since I was now practicing magic I too would become a more enlightened person.

I eventually discovered that the enlightened Pagan/occultist was a myth. My fellow Pagans and occultists weren't any more enlightened than anyone else was, and neither was I. We are just like any other person, with our own faults, reactions, and everything else that comes with it. 

My initial belief about Pagan enlightenment was that every Pagan I met would be open-minded, curious and wanting to discover what magic could do. Really I was projecting my own traits on other people, mainly because I wanted to meet people who had the same curiosity and drive to experiment that I had. The first few years I was Pagan, I didn't really know anyone else who shared my beliefs because I lived in a small town, so when I moved to a college town and actually encountered other magicians and Pagans, I also discovered that most of them weren't insatiably curious or driven to experiment or all that open-minded.

The first time I realized this, my heart felt crushed. I felt a terrible sense of disillusionment. These people I met weren't measuring up to this idea I had in my head about how they should behave. They weren't acting enlightened. The truth is I was doing every person I met a terrible disservice. I was projecting who I wanted them to be instead of actually discovering who they were. I wanted my myth of Pagan enlightenment to be real, so badly, that I let it control my experiences.

It certainly didn't make me any friends. 

I eventually realized that expecting a group of people to be enlightened (my version of enlightenment) was unfair and unrealistic. I also realized that Pagan enlightenment, in general, was a myth. There was no group of people who automatically got it, or were more special and shiny than anyone else. I also realized none of that enlightenment was going to rub off on me automatically. The only way I was going to achieve it was to work for it. And now some 20 odd years since I first started down this spiritual path, I'm still working for it everyday, because enlightenment (whatever it is) isn't a result. It's a journey.

And I still haven't found an enlightened Pagan or really any other spiritual category you want to apply. What I've found, with myself and others, is that we are human beings with virtues and faults, triumphs and mistakes, successes and failures. And what each of us makes of that journey is up to the individual. I let go of the myth of Pagan enlightenment and instead embraced my spiritual journey. Where it will take me...I don't know, but I'm enjoying the path I'm on and every experience I have along the way.

*Cover Image courtesy of Pixabay

If you found this article helpful, please become my patron.

Taylor Ellwood is the mad scientist and magical experimenter of magical experiments. He recently published his latest book Grimoire Ulani and is currently writing Pop Culture Magic Systems. When he's not writing his next book or experimenting with magic, Taylor enjoys the wonders of the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two kids. 


Read more]]> (Taylor Ellwood) Studies Blogs Sat, 17 Sep 2016 17:13:21 -0700
How my Ancestors Liberated me

On a recent trip to South Dakota, I met my ancestors. I walked among their gravestones, walked in the places they lived, looked at pictures of them and heard stories about them that brought them to life for me. And although I didn't speak with them directly, I still felt like I had a dialogue. Since that trip I've continued to meditate on the presence of my ancestors.

In the title of this article I claim they liberated me and really they did, because what I learned about them put my own life and experiences into a different context. Instead of just focusing on the singular I experience of my life, I stepped back and looked at the generations that came before me and asked the question, "What were their experiences and how did those experiences convey themselves to my life?"

The other night, I took the stories I heard, the experiences of their presence, and the memory of the pictures and I used all of that to enter into a meditative experience where I could connect with their lives. I was stepping out of linear time and into a space and time where their lives could unfurl before me I could step in and observe the experience. And I didn't just travel back to the ancestors I heard about. My consciousness took me further back to the ancestors I could only guess at.

What I experienced was this realization that ALL of these different people had made choices that lead up to this culmination and expression of me.

It was humbling.

So often, I haven't really thought about my ancestors. They aren't in my life, and I've only physically encountered people related to me two generations back and those encounters were brief. It's all too easy to get caught up in your own experience and think that's the only experience that really matters. But your life is just the latest iteration (and for some of you not even that) of all the people who came before you. And when you recognize that, it pushes you our of the limited experience of your life as the moment, and into the realization that you are comprised of the choices and biology of hundreds, if not thousands of people that came before you. They lived their lives, made their choices, and although they wouldn't necessarily recognize it, everything they did went beyond the moment of their lives into the lives of their descendants.

And then you could have the same affect and not just on your genetic descendants (if you have any), but on whoever finds your life to be meaningful, to speak them in such a way that they pass it on to the other people in their lives.

Our ancestors aren't just the genetic family that comes before us, but also the spiritual and intellectual ancestors that inspire us.

That realization liberated me.

No longer would I look at my life at this singular continuum or this momentary blip in the background of the universe. There is context to this person who is me and yet ultimately I have to decide what patterns of belief, behavior, and action I will carry forward to other people. What message will I leave encoded in whoever finds what I share meaningful?

To embark on the future, it's a good idea to learn about the past. When you know where you've been, and where the ones who came before have been, you know what needs to be changed or addressed, and what can be left behind as you move forward into the future. Inevitably your future becomes someone else's past, and what we learn with that is that we are also part of the pattern of life, with our choices and messages having influence. Whether the people who come after will continue to carry or discard those choices and messages is up to them, but what is up to us is to decide what legacy we really, intentionally want to leave.

Taylor Ellwood is the mad scientist and magical experimenter of magical experiments. He recently published his latest book Grimoire Ulani and is currently writing Pop Culture Magic Systems. When he's not writing his next book or experimenting with magic, Taylor enjoys the wonders of the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two kids.

*Picture copyright Taylor Ellwood 2016

Read more]]> (Taylor Ellwood) Studies Blogs Thu, 25 Aug 2016 14:24:40 -0700
How to unlock hidden universes

I recently visited Disneyland for five days. During those 5 days all I did was go on rides, and experience the magic and wonder of Disney. It was a liminal experience. I wasn't engaged in my usual routine and in some ways it very much felt like I had entered a pocket universe. When my trip was over it took me several days to get back into my regular routine.

If you've ever attended a Pagan conference or festival, you've undoubtedly had a similar experience. Once you go into the conference, you enter a different space and you encounter a difference sense of time. It is a space and time that is sacred in its own way, created by the intentional consciousness of the people participating in that space, similar to a ritual, but different as well, because you participating in this group consciousness, but it may or may not have required an overt ritual to occur.

What stood about out my Disney Land experience was that all these different people with different backgrounds, experiences, etc., were coming together to have fun. We were and weren't interacting with each other. There were several times I was on rides with people I didn't know and for the most part we ignored each other, yet at the same time all of us were caught up in and engaged in experiencing Disney Land. I saw adults become kids in their experience of Disney Land. They and I got caught up in the experience of the place, in the magic and liminal space of that pocket universe and in meeting the characters that have become pop culture gods in their own right.

I think of Disney as a permanent autonomous zone, a space and time outside of conventional time and space. The typical linear experience doesn't precisely apply because you are entering into this group consciousness and as a result your experience of time changes. I didn't think about linear time very much while at Disney. It only became a factor when it applied to fast passes and waiting for rides and even then it wasn't about a specific time so much as waiting for a stretch of time to pass so you could go on a ride.

The magic of a place like Disney Land is found in how the imagination of the people. The imagination is engaged by the rides, the characters, and the mythology of the place, which for the time someone is visiting, becomes larger than life.

Your imagination is the key to unlocking the magic of any place. Without your participation, the magic is sealed away, but whether you're stepping into Disney Land or going to a Pagan Convention, what brings that space to life is your whole hearted willingness to be fully engaged and present with that space, to accept it as your reality for the time you are in it.

When I stepped into Disney Land, the joy of my inner child took over and that's what allowed me to step into the magic of Disney Land. I think, with any such pocket universe, there is an emotion that is the key to unlocking the magic of the place and the magic within you so that you become part of that place. Maybe it's a child's joy or a sense of awe, or wonderment. Whatever it is, you know it, when you feel the reality around you subtly shift and reveal the secrets of the liminal space you are in.

You don't have to go to a place like Disney Land to discover this. Disney Land is an obvious place and it hums with the belief and the joy of all the people who have attended it. But you can unlock any space that is significant to people (whether its permanent or temporary) to discover the hidden universe within it, if you are willing to. Simply allow yourself to be present in that space and to feel the emotion that corresponds with it. Then let that emotion guide you to becoming part of the space. What is happening is that you connect to the consciousness of the space, and the other people who are part of it, past, present and future. You become part of the pocket universe because you've merged your awareness with it and with the experience it embodies. This isn't even something you have to consciously try to do (unless you want to). Simply go to any event and open yourself up to the experience and the emotions it brings up and then let it carry you while you are there.

*Picture copyright Taylor Ellwood 2016

Taylor Ellwood is the mad scientist and magical experimenter of magical experiments. When he's not experimenting with magic or writing his latest book, Taylor enjoy gaming and exploring the Pacific Northwest with his family. 

Read more]]> (Taylor Ellwood) Studies Blogs Mon, 18 Jul 2016 16:45:09 -0700
Symmetry and Magic: an example of a pop culture magic rule

I've been rereading The Dresden Files lately and as I've been reading the books I've been paying attention to the rules of magic that are part of that pop culture magic universe. When you practice pop culture magic, its important to pay close attention to the rules of magic within the given pop culture you're working with because those rules apply to the pop culture characters you work with and how they'll help you magically. It may seem odd that different pop culture universes have different rules of magic, or that those rules should even matter.

However they do matter because you're working in a specific context generated in part by the pop culture you work with. And if you want the aid of the characters you work with, you need to respect the context that is part of the mythology you're working in. Let me share an example to illustrate this.

In The Dresden Files, one of the rules of magic is about symmetry. Symmetry is important to that universe because its a restoration of order, but also a balancing of scales. It's also tied to debt, because in that universe, if you're in debt to someone else then you haven't balanced the scales and that person has power over you.

If you're going to use the pop culture universe of The Dresden Files for your pop culture magic, that's a rule you'll need to consider because it plays such an intricate role in that universe. Trying to work pop culture magic in that universe, without that rule, won't work because the characters need that rule. It's written into who and what they are.

When you do a working to one of those characters, what they are looking for from you is symmetry. They want balance, no debt owed, everything in order. Understanding that about that particular pop culture universe helps you to recognize how the pop culture magic will be affected by that rule. And that is important because if you're going to work pop culture magic, you should know what potential limits you're walking into.

One could argue that such rules are arbitrary. After all isn't pop culture just made up, something that someone came up with? Yes it's true that someone took the time to write a book or create a T.V. show or whatever else. But the act of creation is a magical act, and when that person wrote the book or T.V. show or whatever else, they also constructed that universe with specific ideas as to how things would work. And that universe was reinforced by all the people who paid attention to it and gave it some belief, even if just for the time it took to read a book or watch a show. The pop culture magician is working in someone else's sandbox.

If you choose to work with characters from The Dresden Files, then symmetry becomes a rule you need to factor in, for doing that work. Now it can also be said that symmetry is important outside of The Dresden Files and its true that it is, but in that particular pop culture universe it's that much more important.

So the key lesson here is to make sure you've done your research so that when you're practicing pop culture magic, you know what rules of magic you're dealing with. When you've done some research along those lines it helps you decide if you'll work with that pop culture. You'll know what limits and consequences you're potentially dealing with and how to prepare for them to get the most out of your pop culture magic work.

Taylor Ellwood is the Mad Scientist and Magical Experimenter of Magical Experiments. When he's not working on his latest book or experimenting with magic, Taylor enjoys gaming and exploring the pacific northwest.

*Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

Read more]]> (Taylor Ellwood) Studies Blogs Mon, 13 Jun 2016 14:28:13 -0700
What do you do when your magic is in a slump?

The other day, in the Magical Experiments Facebook group, I asked the members of the group to share with me what challenges they are experiencing in their magical practice. One of the people shared that they were experiencing a slump in their magical practice. It just didn't feel exciting or shiny or magical like it had before. When I read what the person was experiencing, I really resonated with it because sometimes I've felt the same way about my magical practice. 

The first time I experienced a slump in my magical practice, I was really surprised at how hard it was to motivate myself to do the daily magical work I'd committed myself to doing. It wasn't just an off day. It stretched into days and then weeks. I was seriously worried that I'd lost touch with the magic.

What I didn't realize was that this experience was actually a growing pain in my spiritual relationship with magic.

There will be times, in your magical journey, where you have a similar experience. You won't feel motivated to do magic and what you do just won't seem very magical. And at that time you'll have a few choices:

  • You can stop practicing magic.
  • You can keep doing what you're doing and see if anything changes.
  • You can change your routine.

I've made two of those choices in my magical journey. I've never stopped practicing magic, because it seems to me that the way through a slump isn't to give up what you practice. Occasionally someone does stop practicing magic because of the slump. They may think its all in their head or not real, or whatever else, and so they walk away.

I've never made that choice because I've always known magic is real and what the slump has indicated isn't that the magic has gone away, but rather that I need to make change in my practice of magic. The slump is an indicator that your relationship with magic needs to change. The question is what change needs to occur?

Keep doing it and see if anything changes

If you take the option of continuing to do what you've already done, then I have a recommendation for you. Approach every exercise you are doing like you were doing it the very first time. Don't rush through the practices, because when you do, you are probably taking it fro granted and not fully committing yourself to the working. By doing the workings as if you were learning it for the first time, you will pay closer attention to what you are doing and commit yourself to it in a way that will help you appreciate the practice differently.

When you've done a practice over and over again, there can be a tendency to not fully engage it and the reason is because you've done it so many times that you start to put less effort into it. If you take my recommendation you'll discover what I'm talking about and it will help you get out of the slump because you'll realize you weren't fully giving yourself over to the work.

Change your Routine

Sometimes doing what you've always done isn't enough to get through the slump. In that case I recommend changing your routine by learning some new practices. Every so often I change my daily practices by learning something new. I may replace existing practices with what I'm learning or complement. Either way I'm not just doing what I've always done.

What's a practice you would like to learn but have put off? When you're feeling that slump, go ahead and do the new practice. Learning that new practice will inspire you and your magical work. Add some other exercises in and see what else happens. 

What if my slump still doesn't go away?

Sometimes even if you've changed your routine and approaching the practice you know by heart from a beginner's perspective you still feel in a slump. First I want you to know this is a natural part of the spiritual journey, but secondly I would suggest perhaps just taking a bit of time away from your practices. You might just need to recharge your batteries by doing something completely different. 

Alternately stick it out because eventually it will change and you'll learn a lot of valuable lessons in the meantime. Some of the most amazing experiences I've had with magic have occurred during a slump, and I appreciated them because of the slump I was experiencing, because in that slump I really had to look for magic, instead of just taking it for granted.

Taylor Ellwood is the mad scientist and magical experimenter of Magical Experiments. When he's not working on his latest magical experiment or writing his next book, Taylor is also helping eccentric entrepreneurs with their businesses and enjoying the Northwest in Portland, Oregon with his wife, 2 kids, and 6 cats.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Read more]]> (Taylor Ellwood) Studies Blogs Mon, 09 May 2016 17:32:17 -0700
How pop culture predicts the future

I've always been fascinated in the predictive aspects of pop culture. Recently I watched the latest season of House of Cards and found that it eerily predicted some of what was happening in the current political climate. Even the actors of the show noticed those same parallels. Such predictive aspects aren't limited to the latest T.V. shows. Jules Verne wrote about submarines before the first one was invented. In various fiction books, games, and shows you end up finding that pop culture is predictive of something that shows up in our lives down the line.

I think that what pop culture really does is orient the consciousness of people toward manifesting what it shows. So it's not even so much of a predictive function so much as it plants a seed in your mind and if that seed is planted in many many minds than it makes an imprint on the superconsciousness of humanity and from there finds its way to someone who can create it.

Granted not everything comes true and for that we should be grateful, but nonetheless it's worth noting how much media influences us and how that in turn is translated into what we create. It's a reminder that we need to be careful about what we take in. For example, as fascinating as dystopic futures are, I doubt any of us really want such a future to manifest. Yet what pop culture also provides us is a way give expression to such possibilities and through that come to perhaps a better understanding of what lurks in our subconscious.

I want to make it clear I'm not trying to psychologize pop culture, but rather that the approach I'm taking is just looking at a particular layer of it and how that layer is reflective of the mass consciousness of people exposed to a particular pop culture. Of course it can be argued that we are exposed to a variety of pop culture everyday and that's true, but we also intentionally choose a lot of the pop culture we access, and in doing so we become a medium of sorts for the message of that pop culture to be expressed to the world at large. We take the message in and we amplify it, in one sense.

I'll admit I'm a fan of dystopic fiction. I love watching dystopic shows and reading dystopic fiction and plying dystopic games (thus my current obsession with Fallout 4), but I wouldn't want to live in a dystopic reality. So I sometimes ask myself if in enjoying dystopic fiction, am I also opening the door way for its manifestation? My answer to that is that I'm allowing myself to express my interest in the dystopia and enjoy it, but also reminding myself of why I don't want to manifest such a reality or help others manifest such a reality. Consequently it makes me look at my own actions carefully.

Dystopic fiction and similar expressions are an outlet for us, for the shadow within, and the truth is we can't and shouldn't deny the shadow, because when we do that's when it rears up and strikes out in force. By allowing ourselves to enjoy expressions of it, we also get a chance to examine it in relationship to our own lives and choices.

Yes pop culture is predictive in a way, but it can also serve as a reminder of what we don't want to manifest. What pop culture do you like and what has it taught you about what you don't want to manifest into the world?

Image courtesy of wikimedia

Taylor Ellwood is the mad scientist and magical experimenter of magical experiments. He is also the author of Pop Culture Magick and Pop Culture Magic 2.0. When he isn't experimenting with magic, he's helping eccentric entrepreneurs grow their business.

Read more]]> (Taylor Ellwood) Studies Blogs Sat, 16 Apr 2016 16:42:58 -0700