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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How to Build a Pop Culture System of Magic Part 3

In part one and two of this series I covered how spaces and characters could be used to create a pop culture magic system. In this part of the series, we'll explore the role of symbols in the creation of a pop culture magic system. What I find fascinating is how symbols are interwoven into characters, in such a way that sometimes characters are simultaneously personalities and symbols that represent something else. For example, in comics, the color schemes of a character's outfit make the character a symbol, as well as the ore overt display of a specific. The character is an extension of the overt character, automatically associated with the meanings attached to a symbol. Red, Blue, and Yellow call Superman to mind, along with the S in the geometrical figure. Black, Gray, Yellow, and a Bat symbol call to mind Batman, as much as the bat symbol itself. The symbol embodies a connection to the character, much like a goetic sigil embodies a connection to a Goetic Daimon. But the symbol is also evocative of what the character stands for and the values and skills the character embodies (again not different from the Goetic demon).

This melding of symbol with character doesn't just occur with comics. It also occurs with Fantasy and SF books and other forms of media. For example, the lightning bolt scar is a symbol associated with Harry Potter, and the Chaostar is as much associated with the character of Elric as it is with chaos magic. The melding of symbols with characters is a way to make those characters impressionable to the people who are into. The symbols evoke the characters.

Of course not all symbols in pop culture are so clear cut. Corporate logos (another form of pop culture) aren't matched to a character. Nonetheless, your average person knows what the corporate logo represents, in part because of all the advertising, but also because we match logos to products. The Nike swoosh represents athletic wear and shoes, while the Pepsi logo evokes soft drinks.

In building a pop culture magic system, the practitioner should consider what symbols in the pop culture will be most effective for creating associations as well as being used for invocation and evocation. You may not end up using every symbol associated with a given pop culture, especially if the symbol doesn't meaningfully allow you to establish a deeper connection to the pop culture you are working with. A symbol should be worked with because it establishes a deeper sense of meaning to the pop culture you want to develop a system around. At the same time, you need to be willing to do the necessary work with the symbol to make it part of your system. What that means is that the symbol needs to be communed with, meditated on and you must allow yourself to develop your own experiences with it that allows you to understand the symbol in a manner that embodies the meaning and allows you to call it forth in your magical work.

An effective system of pop culture magic fully utilizes the symbols of pop culture as a medium of expression. The symbols are the gates to pop culture, the means by which a magical system can be constructed around pop culture. To make that happen you need to develop a relationship with the symbols, much as you would do with any other system of magic.

Not: the Graphic is courtesy of Wikimedia

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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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