Pagan Studies

Focusing on the Arte Magical as a practice and profession, we study various facets of magic through the lens of both classical and modern perspective. From ancient myth to urban legend to fiction and philosophy, all viewed through the eyes of a very practical magician.

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So, I wanted to take this moment to remind you guys that I have a Tumblr acct where I'm posting various kinds of geeky magical articles.  Primarily, I'm going to use the Tumblr for my weird divination spreads and odd little slices of my own magical practice, and I plan on using this blog to bring up subjects I find valuable and discuss them.  It's far easier to have discussions on here than on Tumblr, I find.  I'm not sure why- I'm thinking I haven't mastered all the Tumblr magicks yet.  *chuckles*

Anyway, here's that link:

Feel free to browse it as you like.  I've been posting a few spreads and such, and I'll probably post actual readings there too.

That being said, I actually have a subject for today, I think.

Specifically, the use of magic from strange sources.


Lately, I've been working with the mythos from Homestuck, which is surprisingly all-encompassing of various other mythos (European folklore, Greek and Roman gods and demigods, astrology, Japanese and other Eastern mythology, and so on).  I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, it's an American webcomic, and we Americans tend to appropriate cultures and smoosh them together, much like ancient Rome did.

In any case, the creater Andrew Hussie is now working on a Kickstarter-funded video game based on his story.  It's been funded far beyond its original goal, so well done for him.  The reason I bring it up at all is because one of his Kickstarter tiers for backers included a deck of tarot cards.

Homestuck tarot cards.

For me, this was like Christmas and my birthday all at once, with one small problem: the Kickstarter finished nearly a year ago.  I wasn't a fan at that point, so I had no idea it even existed.

So when I discovered the Kickstarter and learned of the tarot deck that was now sadly unavailable anywhere ever, it was like someone had canceled Christmas and my birthday and also had stepped on my puppy with a steel toed boot.

Luckily for me, I'm not limited to normal means when I want to acquire something.

A few spells and very lucky breaks later, and I am now the proud owner of the SEERPAK, the official Homestuck Tarot deck.  I won't tell you what it cost me, but rest assured it isn't money so much as time and effort, and the sacrifice is well worth it.

Now, seeing as I am a big fan of using one's fandoms for magical purposes, I happen to be a collector of what some might call "novelty" tarot and oracle sets.  I've got quite a few now, including the Lord of the Rings Tarot, the Mage the Awakening Tarot (used to have the Ascension deck but I passed it on to someone else who read better with it), the Clow Cards from CardCaptor Sakura (a magical girl anime with surprisingly adult/risque themes, and I got the really good reproduction deck, not the crappy one released in America), and a one-of-a-kind specially printed deck of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic playing cards (108 cards in all, 8 suits and four jokers, and don't judge me).

Being a member of an initiatory witchcraft tradition, and having a fairly eclectic collection of lineages, I've learned one thing that has proven very important to my practice- contemporary myth and fiction are no less valid than classical myth or fairy tales.  If you believe in and can work with the Goetia of classical grimoire lore, or if you can work with Titania and Puck of faery literature, you can work with Death from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics, and you can summon elemental spirits like the ones described in modern Shadowrun roleplaying books.  A Pokemon named Charmander is no less potent a familiar than a dryad from Greek lore or a fire-wight named Kenaz, or an imp called Pyewacket or Sack 'n Sugar for that matter.

The thing which makes these spiritual forces powerful isn't your belief in their reality- your belief merely makes a good motivator for you to work with them, and there are a number of other equally valid motives which function as viable imperatives.  The mistake I find in that argument is in my opinion obvious: magic is intended to affect not only oneself but also one's environment and others who dwell within said environment.  If they don't believe in magic, why are they not protected by the influence of one's spells?


To date, the most dramatically effective magicks I've ever done were:

  • a weather spell which made it snow in July, done with a broom and according to my coven tradition
  • an invocation of a comic-book character which still affords me various abilities to this day
  • a money spell which used a chaos magic sigilization method and an autoerotic ritual
  • the use of a Harry Potter roleplay to summon an ancient goddess from sleep, with results which are very much present in my life now
  • the use of a cartoon to heal someone magically

I say they were dramatically effective because they were not only effective, they were surprisingly so, in that the use of fictional icons carried a stigma of "this crap isn't real, this won't work".

It is my strong opinion that the world's magic is objective (and no, I'm not talking about the "energy" idea everyone tosses around), and that it merely needs a medium to be conducted.  Some of us conduct best through old traditional methods, some through newer more whimsical practices, and some a mixture of both, or perhaps other options I've not yet considered.

What say you?

In the comments below, feel free to share any experiences you've had with surprising magic linked to unorthodox practices.  We've touched on some of these topics in previous posts, but I'm always interested to hear about magic in "odd" places.  I think geeks tap into magic on a level that is relatively unique and intrinsic to the practice of magic.

So, let's hear from all of you!

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S. Rune Emerson has been practicing witchcraft and sorcery since the early 90's, and has been teaching since 2004. He is the founder of the Risting Tradition of American Witchcraft, which is a large title for a small local tradition based in Northern Nevada. He also heads a coven tradition called the Cabal of Nocturne, and works as a diviner at Pathways Spirit, a metaphysical shop in Reno. He likes to describe his life as "extraordinarily simple." He is fond of observing that magic as a profession is the somewhat honest alternative to those of the same mindset as criminals- smart, lazy, and prone towards thinking outside the box, often in areas of questionable morality. He believes in a strong standard of accountability in magical practice, and has very strict ethics. He's also very opinionated about nearly everything.


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