When I first wrote the Invoking Buffy article for Newwitch Magazine I got a lot of flak from the occult and Pagan communities. I was accused of being flaky, a fluffy bunny, and a variety of other labels. When I wrote Pop Culture Magick these criticism increased ten fold. Once, when I was talking with a Celtic Reconstructionist friend, she pointed out that her Gods had been around thousands of years, which seemed to automatically confer more validity to her spiritual practices, compared to my own. When I pointed out that the stories around her Deities were the pop culture for the people who had told the stories, I was told that such a perspective was blasphemous and that because her Deities had been around for millennia they were automatically more powerful than any pop culture Deity. And when I was interviewed by Pagan Centered Podcast it was a hostile interview, with their goal being focused on trying to disprove what I practiced. I could probably tell you a few more stories along these lines, but I think you get the idea: Pop Culture Magic, and any associated beliefs, spiritual practices, etc. are considered to be the bastard child of Paganism and Occultism by a good number of people who inevitably seem intent on proving why their beliefs are more valid, more spiritual, more anything than pop culture magic is.  And if you, like me, are associated with practicing pop culture magic you'll be told what a flake you are and how your spiritual practices aren't as good as the person to your left or right who believes in more traditional deities. You'll be told it's fiction and that you're wrong and they're right.

Some of this bias comes from a tendency to revere something that is older or more traditional (older is better), and perhaps even purportedly rooted in nature. While I think its important to maintain a connection to nature, I am skeptical as to how older religious systems automatically ensure that particular connection. If anything, I have found that developing a genuine connection with nature is much more primal and based on your willingness to spend time and effort in nature. For example, choosing to deweed your yard and really put your hands in the dirt to take care of the land is an action that is very connective to nature, with no Deity required to facilitate said interaction. A long hike can also be just as connecting, allowing you to become part of the land by choosing to be in it, instead of merely observing it. The smell of the land, the feeling as you walk it is a spiritual experience that again needs no Deity in order to facilitate it. All that is really needed is you and your willingness to connect with the land and learn from it, as a result of the connection.

Going back to the older is better argument, I'd argue that this tendency to revere what is older is based in part on a desire to reconnect with the traditions of the past that have been lost or obscured due to Christianity or other mainstream religions. There's nothing wrong with wanting to connect to the past, but I don't think that makes the past better. It just makes it a valid area of research to explore. At the same time, no reconstructionist will ever live in the original culture that his/her Deities of originated from or speak the language as it was spoken in those times or live the way the people lived in the past. Those cultures are gone, and we have no way of fully knowing how those people interacted with the deities in question. We can do research and we can speculate and we can reconstruct, but nonetheless any reconstructionist is still a child of modern culture, and none that I've known have forsaken all the modern amenities that we have to live like the ancient people did. So this valuation that older is better seems suspect, especially if they are going to continue to rely upon the trappings of contemporary culture in other aspects of their lives (such as posting blogs).

One argument about why traditional is better is that there is historical basis. In particular Galina argues that heroes such as Achilles, Heracles, etc. were living and that this makes them worthy of veneration, but we don't really know that they actually lived.  For all we know they were just fictional pop culture characters of that era used as stories to demonstrate how a hero should behave. Myths are pop culture, the pop culture of past eras used to instruct people in the norms of a given culture, much as stories are used to day for similar purpose. And just because those myths were written down doesn't automatically mean they are true. There may be a historical basis to the story, but even if there is, well history does get distorted doesn't it? And just because someone lived doesn't mean anything. Lots of people have lived and died. What makes them meaningful is how people choose to imbue meaning into them, and oddly enough you can also imbue a lot of meaning into a fictional character and form a connection as a result.

Another way detractors of pop culture magic try to prove that their beliefs are automatically more valid is the argument that pop culture entities aren't real and don't have power. Sannion claims that pop culture entities can't heal the plague, haven't shown up on the battlefield (twenty feet tall at that!) to drive off the Persians or shown people where to find buried treasure. But you know there's something funny with that claim. Because you know neither have the traditional gods (at least not in living memory). In fact the only way we can determine that they've done what they've done is by stories, by myths. And do you know how those myths come alive? They come alive because of the meaning people imbue them. That's what makes them important to people. Without that meaning, without that belief, the gods would fade away. Belief is an integral source of power for them and while I'd agree that they have a separate existence it doesn't change the fact that their existence is symbiotically linked to the people who worship and believe in them (That might be why their followers are so harsh on pop culture magic...people who direct their belief elsewhere are taking vital resources away from the old Gods).

You know the real irony though? The Greek Gods and Norse Gods in particular have really benefited as a result of modern pop culture. Marvel comics has told new stories about Thor and the Norse Gods and as a result introduced them to people who might otherwise never learn about them because of the mainstream religion. The same applies to the Greek Gods and I think that it's because those deities recognize that the pop culture of today is an effective way to reach out and connect with the people of this time and culture. So pop culture has retold their stories and even told new ones and the traditional Deities have benefited as a result (The detractors never write about that...guess they don't want to acknowledge that pop culture has actually benefited their deities of choice).

As for the fictional characters...are they really fictional? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe we are tapping into an alternate reality where they do exist. Even if we aren't, I think that what makes the pop culture entities meaningful is the meaning imbued into them by people. In other words, just like traditional deities they need some belief in order to have any real presence in a person's life.  Jason notes that pop culture entities achieve solid results when it comes to helping people change habits and behaviors, whereas more traditional spirits are better at effecting events. And perhaps the reason for that is that people can relate to the pop culture entities better than they can to the more traditional deities. Maybe Peter Parker isn't a god, but I bet a lot more people can relate to him and his trials than to Heracles and his trials. Some of that is due to the simple fact that Peter Parker is more contemporary, more modern, more or less a part of THIS culture, with all of its problems and all of its triumphs. Heracles is part of a different culture, a different time, with different problems...not someone you'd want to emulate as Sannion points out...not that you'd necessarily want to emulate Peter Parker, Bruce Wayne, or Clark Kent either.

I've actually had some solid results occur with Pop Culture Magic entities that weren't just psychological changes. And I disagree with the notion that "fictional" characters are automatically not real (Which Sannion, Galina and others advocate for). I have a 16 plus year relationship with Thiede, a "fictional" character that says otherwise, and that relationship has had a profound effect on my life and magical work (he has played a significant role in the development of space/time magic techniques I've written about and that many people use to make real changes to events in their lives). Similar interactions with other pop cultures has inspired practical magical techniques based off information they provided me, which hasn't merely been a change in behavior, but has instead involved more practical effects. While said entities weren't directly responsible for said changes, they gave me ideas to work with that in turn became practical magic techniques. And there are a couple of examples of pop culture work that focused on shaping events such as working with Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series to find lost items and working with with Potterverse to stimulate interest the occult (especially around the time the first movie came out). 

That said, as I cite in Pop Culture Magick, and Jason mentions in his post they are also quite helpful with behavior modification. Jack offers his own perspective, which I like, which ultimately boils down to the fact that compilation of various magical practices into a new magical practice is nothing new, and that from a magician's perspective is that you get results (which I wholeheartedly agree with). The fact is I've gotten solid results with pop culture magic, and I've had interactions with pop culture entities that are and have been meaningful and aren't mere flights of fancy or fantasy. I consider the pop culture entities I work to be real entities by virtue of the relationships that I've developed with them. And I'm not alone in feeling this way like I was in 2004. And interestingly enough, Gus diZerga shares a bit of pop culture magic history in this article which seems to demonstrate that there is some reality to pop culture entities, wherein he shares how people encountered Darth Vader as an entity. Having actually done some in-depth internal work with the Emperor from the Star wars mythos I can tell you there is something more to the characters than just some fiction. The Emperor never seemed fictional to me, and having had a taste of the dark side via his teachings I found it to be extremely relevant to the work I was doing with the element of emptiness.

At the same time it is also heartening to see that more people are supportive of exploring pop culture and its integration into magical and spiritual work. Such support wasn't something you saw as much of a decade ago, and yet now more people are supportive of pop culture magic and recognize that it can be spiritually and magically valid for people to draw upon. Perhaps the best evidence of this can be found on Tumblr, where people share their pop culture magic ideas and workings. The point is you're not alone anymore. There will always be nay sayers who feel threatened by the idea of pop culture magic for whatever reason. My advice? Don't spend too much time focused on them. Focus on doing your magical work and let that speak for itself. Certainly I've never let the nay sayers discourage me and as I see the continued rise of pop culture magic I feel some pride in playing a part in its development (with more coming down the line). Pop culture magic is here to stay, and it is part of the evolution of magic and spirituality.