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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What is Pop Culture Paganism?

The term Pop Culture Paganism has only shown up in the last few years. When I wrote Pop Culture Magick no one was using the term Pop Culture Pagan. Now the term is used by some people to describe their spiritual work and its distinct enough from Pop Culture Magic because not all pop culture Pagans practice magic or view it as an essential part of their spiritual work. That's not the only distinction however, between pop culture magic and pop culture Paganism. Pop Culture Paganism involves what I would consider to be a devotional approach to working with pop culture spirits. In other words, there is a recognition that the pop culture spirits are beings that the person wants to work with in a devotional manner, which could include prayers, offerings, and rituals done for purposes of honoring the spirit, as well as other activities that the pop culture spirits feel are appropriate. Given that we're dealing with a modern context those activities could include a different type of devotional behavior that's dependent on the pop culture media that the spirits show up in.

I consider myself both a pop culture Pagan and magician (in my next post I'll define what I think of as pop culture magic). In the context of being a pop culture Pagan, I find that there is a blending of magic into that Paganism, but that's because magic is an essential part of my spiritual work. In that context, let me share what my pop culture Pagan practice looks like. I work with the Dehara, which are based off Storm Constantine's Wraeththu series and are hermaphroditic deities. Each day I offer them a prayer of thanks for their presence in my life. Additionally I've integrated them into my magical work. For example, Thiede is the Dehar of Space and plays an integral role in my system of space/time magic. In addition, in Grimoire Kaimana, Storm laid out a wheel of the year associated with the Dehara, which can be worked with in terms of connecting with them. I've lately been looking into creating some correspondences around the Quabalistic Tree of life for the Dehara, as well as exploring some other alternatives to developing this particular spiritual path further. For me, this work is part of my spiritual work, a communion with spiritual beings that I feel a strong resonance with because of their nature and perspective that falls outside traditional gendered polarities. I'm not the only one to work with Dehara and what I've consistently found is that people involved in that path feel it fits them and that they fit it, which I think is an essential part of a spiritual calling.

Pop culture Paganism can take many different forms. I've known people who've worked with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Sailor Moon or Dr. Who as part of their spiritual path. In most cases, it seems that there's been a blending of Paganism and magic, but I've also encountered a few people who've strictly stuck with a Pagan approach to their spiritual work. Neither approach is better than the other. What's important is what spiritually efficacious for you.

Some people question the belief in "fictional" characters as spirituals deities and entities. I prefer to think such beings are channeled by the author and that what the author has connected with is parallel version of our universe. Regardless of whether that is or isn't the case, what I've found is that the pop culture spirits I work with have a presence and its something I can work with. At the same time, I feel quite grounded in everyday reality and am quite functional. For me and others this isn't a delusional wish fantasy exploration, but rather is a spiritual exploration of our own values and experiences in context to something we find meaningful and valuable to our sense of identity. In this we are really no different than anyone else who espouses a more traditional approach to spirituality. The only difference is that we've connected with a mythology in contemporary pop culture and allowed that to become part of our spiritual journey.

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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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