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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in pop culture magic

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It’s that time of year again when the air is crisp, the sidewalks are damp, and every food item you can buy comes in “pumpkin spice.”  Oh yes, it’s almost Samhain.  This season is a gift for pop culture practitioners, as the trappings of magick are just about everywhere hidden in plain sight in friendly pop culture packages.  Everywhere you look things are draped in spiders, bats, witches, cauldrons, and cobwebs.  Every television show has a Halloween special and spooky movies play on every channel; at least one channel seems to be playing nothing but Tim Burton movies.  I am so very ok with this.  One of my all time favorite movies that plays non-stop this time of year is The Nightmare Before Christmas.b2ap3_thumbnail_Photo-Oct-25-1-58-20-PM.jpg

In case you’ve been either living under a rock or on some kind of crazed media fast for the last decade or two (in which case, what on earth are you doing reading this?), The Nightmare Before Christmas is an animated movie about the Pumpkin King having an identity crisis and trying to steal Christmas.  Much adventure, spooky ennui, and singing ensues as a result.  It’s very fun and you should really see it if you haven’t.  I like many things about this movie, but what I really love is the message of self-acceptance that comes through it.  As with all Tim Burton movies the main characters in The Nightmare Before Christmas, Sally and Jack, are off-beat and a little strange.  They go through times where they doubt who they are and try to conform themselves to someone else’s ideals to varying degrees of success.  Ultimately the two find strength, fulfillment, happiness, and love once they fully embrace the individuals they really are inside, instead of trying to be someone they’re not.  There’s a similar message of self-acceptance and embracing of one’s inner and outer weirdness in most of Tim Burton’s movies.

In homage to our patron saint of eccentricity, here is a spell for self-acceptance.

Burtonesque Spell for Self-Acceptance

Choose your favorite Tim Burton character that has a journey of self-acceptance in their movie.  I recommend Jack Skellington or Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas, Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice, Ichabod Crane from Sleepy Hollow, or Victor Van Dort or the Bride from The Corpse Bride.  Find a good track of Danny Elfman music to play in the background (e.g. The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack or the title theme from Beetlejuice

Play some appropriate music (or run a movie) quietly in the background.  If you normally cast a circle before doing spellwork do so now. 

Light a candle in your favorite color (a tea light or chime candle would be ideal) and either burn your favorite incense or anoint yourself with your favorite essential oil or hydrosol (or do both).

Take a moment to think about the character you’ve chosen and their journey.  Did they begin as awkward and unsure of themselves and find confidence?  Did they begin lost and adrift to emerge and find purpose?  Think of the qualities of their character and their journey that particularly speak to you.  What aspects of their journey do you need in your life? 

In your own words either speak aloud or write out 2-3 characteristics of the character’s journey to self-acceptance and empowerment that you need in your life.  Say why you need them and what you hope to accomplish by incorporating their power into your life.  Finish by either making a small offering appropriate to the character you’re drawing from or making a specific pledge to do so in the near future.

Let the candle burn while the music plays.  Dispel your circle if you cast one.

Once you’re finished it’s a great time to rewatch the movie your character came from and release any excess energy.

Moving forward you might choose to carry around a picture or toy of your character to remind you of your working.  Wearing a t-shirt, hoodie, costume, etc., of your character is also a great way to strengthen your working.  I’m a fan of using nail art as a reminder of this type of working.  (I’m a big fan of Espionage Cosmetics’ geeky decals)

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  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Great post! I just bought Nightmare Before Christmas a few weeks ago. We're going to watch it before Halloween! Just watched Corp
How to Build a Pop Culture Magic System part 4

In part onetwo, and three of this series I covered how spaces, characters, and symbols could be used to create a pop culture magic system. In this part of the series, we'll explore the role of pop culture tools and how they can enhance your pop culture magic workings. One of the benefits of pop culture is that you have a plethora of tools you can draw upon. These tools don't need to be conventional magical tools either, but can be specific to the pop culture you are working with, and you'll usually find that you can draw some type of correspondence between a traditional tool and a pop culture tool, though you may also find it more interesting to come up with your own specific purposes for using a tool as it relates to the pop culture you are working with.

With your given pop culture, you can usually find pop culture tools in toy stores, comic book stores, as well as conventions. And if you can't find it in those places, you can usually either find someone making and selling pop culture tools for your fandom, or you can get crafty and make your own tools. For example if you work with Dr. Who, you can easily order a sonic screw driver or create your own variant and have that stand in as a wand. In the case of Batman, you might have multiple gadgets you utilize for various purposes. Part of this comes down to your creativity and your ability to recognize if there is an actual magical purpose for the tool. For example, I might use the batarang as an athame or sword. Alternately if I don't want to rely on a traditional correspondence, I still need to determine what purpose the Batarang would serve as a magical tool in my pop culture magic system. If the tool has no purpose, it becomes a distraction to the actual work.

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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.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
5 Must Have Magickal Apps

The best magickal tool is the one you have on hand when you need it.  I own wands, swords, athames, censers, candles, and all the other accoutrement one might expect of a witch, but what is the tool I use most often?  My phone.  Why?  Because I always have it on me, unlike the vast array of traditional tools that live at home on my altar.  Here are my top five most frequently used magickal apps, in no particular order.

1. Kindle.  Thanks to cloud based storage I have access to my entire digital library anytime, anywhere I have cell signal.  I frequently use my Kindle app to look up references from spell books, herbal formularies, and field guides.  If you’re out and about in the world and need to look up correspondences, herbal contraindications, or who’s who in the witchy world then this app is invaluable.  Unfortunately, a lot of the best magickal books aren’t available digitally yet, so it’s no substitute for a proper library.


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How to Create Pop Culture Magic Systems part 2

In my previous post, I discussed how spaces in a pop culture mythology could be worked with as astral temples, and used to help develop a pop culture magic system. Another way that you develop a pop culture system of magic involves working with the characters of the pop culture mythology. Whether you consider these characters to be archetypes or actual spirits is up to you, but I consider them to be actual spirits that have been brought into existence by the creation of the pop culture mythology and the interest and belief of the fans. While I don't think a system of pop culture magic automatically needs characters/entities to interact with, you'll find it's a very rare system that doesn't have some type of character that people interact with.

With a pop culture system of magic, you aren't doing a one-off working, so you need to make sure that the pop culture you choose actually fits your interests. Additionally, its useful if you already have some type of relationship with the characters. What that means is that you may not have worked with them magically, but you identify with them already on an emotional and spiritual level and enjoy the mythology they are part of and are invested in exploring that mythology further as well as possibly expanding it. If you already have a connection to those characters it makes it easier for you to develop your pop culture magic system. However, you shouldn't take that connection for granted. Part of developing your system involves getting to know your characters.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
New Faces for Old Gods


What does it mean for old gods and their worshippers when the old gods are given new faces and personas in pop culture media?  The recent upswing in portrayals of old mythic figures in pop culture (think of the Marvel movies, comic books like The Wicked and the Divine, TV shows like Supernatual, books like The Gospel of Loki, etc.) has put modern practitioners, especially polytheistic pop culture practitioners like me, in a bit of a quandary.  What do you do when you’ve been working with a deity for years and suddenly a character with their name, but a whole new mythology and personality, becomes a pop culture sensation?  If you’re introduced to a mythic figure via a bit of pop culture can you work with the old god with the same name?  It can be more than a little confusing.  In this article I’ll try and clarify a few points and, hopefully, soothe a few ruffled feathers.  

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
What is Pop Culture Magic?

When the phrase pop culture magic (or magick) is thrown around, what comes to mind for you? Do you imagine doing a magical working with your favorite pop culture icon or character? Or do you think of developing a magical technique based off a TV show or book? Or do you think of pop culture magic as something else? What I've noticed is that the majority of people who practice pop culture magic tend to approach it in terms of working with pop culture characters and the mythologies around those characters. There's certainly nothing wrong with perceiving pop culture magic in that way, but I think pop culture magic can be much more than just working with your favorite pop culture character (although that can be a lot of fun!)

In Pop Culture Magick, I defined pop culture magic in terms of its resistance to mainstream culture, arguing that the reason to work with pop culture magic was as a means of subversively resisting mainstream culture. I also argued that you needed to work with whatever was popular at the time. In Pop Culture Magic 2.0 (now available for pre-order!) I've revised my definition of pop culture magic substantially, arguing that pop culture is an expression and extension of mainstream culture (as opposed to it) and that a person's pop culture interest doesn't have to be popular in order to be worked with as pop culture magic. However, I don't think pop culture is just about the characters you can work with or the mythologies created around those characters.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    There are collector card games like Magic the Gathering. I suppose that the water cards could be used in a spell to catch pollute
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Those are some excellent examples of pop culture magic and why you might do a working using pop culture mythology and the like.

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