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 Pop Culture Introduced me to Magic

I read my first fantasy book when I was 7 or 8. It was The Hobbit and it conjured up a magical world of adventure that I was fascinated by. I didn't stop at The Hobbit. I read the Greek Myths and then I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and later the Dragonlance sagas. Inevitably my favorite characters were the magicians or the people who somehow or another got some magical object that gave them an advantage in the adventure. As I grew up, I never got over my fascination with magic or fantasy books for that matter. And as I read each book, I thought about magic a lot and wondered if it was real or just some element of fantasy. Yet it was because of fantasy books that I discovered that magic was real.

When I was 16, a fellow student in my high school sat me down and told me about his experiences on the astral plane. He later admitted that he told me his experiences because he noticed I liked to read fantasy books and he was hoping to freak me out. The last thing he expected was for me to ask, with baited breath, if I could learn myself and if there were books on the topic. The next day he brought me a couple books and I eagerly read them and did the exercises, to see what would happen. At last, I had found out magic was real and more importantly that I could do it myself. It wasn't the same magic as what I read about in fantasy books, but it was something and I took that to heart. I read every book I could find and talked with whoever else was interested in the same topics. I tested everything I read, eager to see what I could do and how far I could take it.

Pop culture introduced me to magic. I suspect it has been the gateway for many Pagans and occultists. And pop culture has continued to be an inspiration for my magical practice. I still read fantasy books now and sometimes I get ideas from reading those books that I then try to apply to magic. Most times it works, albeit in a way that is adapted to the principles of magic, and occasionally it doesn't, which indicated either that the idea wasn't feasible or I need to refine it further.

In pop culture, there lies a sense of imagination and wonder about magic. You see it in the various depictions of magic in books and shows. It seems to me that what pop culture really demonstrates is the desire people have for some magic to come into their lives. We read about it, watch it, listen to songs about it...magic is a theme that pervades our consciousness...something we yearn for and call for. I see pop culture as a kind of consciousness for magic, which reminds people that they can't get away from it. Even if they never practice magic, it's still there in pop culture, in admittedly a form that's more fantastic than real, but such imagination is to be celebrated because it inspires a sense of wonder.

Without pop culture I might not have found my way to magic. Many times, pop culture was my escape from unhappy moments in my life. When I read stories about magicians, it gave me something else to focus on, to hope for, and to escape to.  I suppose it was only natural that when I found out magic was real I'd jump on it and devote myself to it as I've never devoted myself to anything else, other than my writing. Pop culture presented me with a rose tinted perspective on magic...ironically that rose tint has never come off in regards to magic itself...and so I continue to practice. Pop culture introduced me to magic and gave me a spirituality, a way of life, and a sense of fulfillment. Better yet, its continued to inspire my magical work both directly and indirectly.

How has pop culture contributed to your relationship with magic?

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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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