Experimental Magic: The Evolution of Magic

Experiment with your magical practice by learning how to apply art, pop culture, neuroscience, psychology, and other disciplines to your magical work, as well as exploring fundamental underlying principles of what makes magic work. You'll never look at magic in the same way!

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4 Reasons to work with Villains in Pop Culture Magic

Sometimes, with pop culture magic, you want to work with the bad guy, the villain, or the monster. The reasons why can vary from person to person, but I think one reason that stands out to me is that the villain is a character people relate to. S/he is flawed and shows those flaws more readily than the hero might. At the same time, there villain rarely thinks of him/herself as an actual villain. S/he has reasons for taking action and those reasons are sometimes quite valid. The problem is that the action is what makes the character villainous because it isn't the right action (at least according to the mores of society). Working with a villain can be very effective because the villain isn't bound to societal standards and may come up with some creative solutions (as Emily Carlin shares in a post she wrote on the same topic).

Recently Vincent Piazza wrote a post about horror magic, where he explores the history of horror film. One point he makes is that horror films show the ills of society and what happens if we don't learn to work with the shadow within us. That's wise advice and the second reason to work with villains because sometimes what we learn from them is something about ourselves and how to avoid making the mistakes the villain has made. Of course, if we do choose to work with a villain or a monster, some caution is warranted in how we work with them, but in all honesty the same cautions apply to working with any pop culture character.

Some villains are evil. Voldemort is an excellent example. He tortures and kills people in order to have power over them and also to keep himself alive. Ironically his fear of death is his weakness because he is never able to overcome or face that fear. Instead he expresses that fear with his actions and his attempts to secure immortality ultimately condemn him to a fat far worse than dying. His inability to deal with his fear can actually be something we learn from. Working with a villain allows you to tap into and connect with the internal work you may need to do. If you find yourself identifying with a villain look at all of the characteristics and ask yourself what you can learn from that identification.

It's easy to look at the world in terms of black and white, but a villain doesn't look at the world in that way. The villain is a shades of gray kind of person and that's why people work with a villain, because sometimes life just isn't that black and white and what we need is a different perspective that falls outside societal norms. That's the third reason for working with a villain. Villains give us that perspective. They allow us to experience the shadow side of life, but they also show us the shades of gray and possibilities that exist. They don't settle for an either/or perspective of the world, accept for when it comes to dealing with their nemesis. 

The fourth reason you might want to work with a villain is because the villain doesn't hold back when it comes to testing his/her intelligence or powers or anything else. The villain goes at it full throttle and of course that can lead to burnout, but what it can also do is show you how to test your self out and learn what you can do. The villain is unrestrained and while that can be dangerous, it's also useful in the sense that it gets us to ask what it might be like to do whatever it is we can do without restraint...just for the sake of doing it. Sometimes its good to just test yourself and see what you can do. The villain can model that...just don't take it too far.

If you choose to work with a villain, treat the villain you would any other spirit. Do your research and treat the villain with respect. Honor your end of whatever agreement you make and know when to stop or back off.

Note: Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

Taylor Ellwood is the mad scientist and magical experimenter at Magical Experiments. If you enjoyed this article please contribute to his tip jar at Patreon.

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Taylor Ellwood is the author of Pop Culture Magic Systems, Space/Time Magic, Magical Identity and a number of other occult books. He posts about his latest projects at Magical Experiments.


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