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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Why I Go Geek

Not too long ago, I worked a booth at a local anime convention, where we sold magically useful things for people who practice geekomancy.  I also read cards and dice from my various geek-centric magical traditions, and actually did really well.  I could wish every gig was that successful (although really I've had pretty great luck with events, to be honest).

Anyway, I was chatting with a friend of mine about it, and he brought up a question that I think he'd been meaning to ask me for a while.  We've been friends for a long time, studied quite a bit in the same vein, and he never really "got it."

The geekomancy, that is.

The question he asked me was "why?"

"Why do you do it, Rune?  You know more about witchcraft and traditional folk magic and mystery traditions than anyone I know.  Why do you play around with video game spirits and spells from Charmed and Harry Potter?"

Now, first off, let me point out three things:

1. He knows that the magic I gather from my various fandoms works, because he's experienced some of what I've done.  He's been in magical RPG sessions with me, and seen some of the crazy results that come from magicians playing themselves with superpowers.  He's also seen me cast spells by singing Disney songs, change traffic problems by "Defying Gravity," and a whole number of little tricks I've picked up through my years as a magician with a ton of obsessive hobbies.  So, there wasn't any disrespect intended.

2. He himself is a huge geek too.  He loves gaming, and he loves to read, and I guess it just never occurred to him to use his fandoms for spellwork.  He seemed genuinely curious.

3. I don't know more about witchcraft and traditional folk magic and mystery traditions than anyone he knows.  I actually only know about as much as he does, if I think about it.  He was exaggerating.  However, his point was made- I've been researching those subjects since I was in middle school, obsessively.


So, I answered him frankly.  I did what I tend to do as a teacher trying to break things down for someone- I made a list of reasons why I practice geekomancy.  And now, I'm sharing that list with you.

Rune's Top Ten Reasons to Go Geek

  1. Practicality.  Being a geek is time consuming.  Same with studying magic- both eat up major chunks of your time if you want to do them right.  Magic isn't something to dabble in, not if you want results.

    So, if I want to be able to have enough time to work on my spellcraft and my enchanting, and also want to wax obsessive about my favorite TV show... well, it behooves me to find a way to do both at the same time.  It's simple time and resource management.  Sort of like starting a business based around your passion- buying things you love to use also ends up to be a tax writeoff or business expense, which lets you do what you love and make money while you're at it.

  2. Gnosis.  As in, that source of inspiration that keeps your creative juices flowing.  My creativity, my sense of being connected to the Divine, comes through interacting with things which fill me with wonder.  Stories about heroic triumph aside, it's the little moments and victories that make my life better.  When I read about a character who comes up with an innovative spell, I get inspired.  I relax and suspend my disbelief naturally when reading, so it puts me in just the right state of mind to listen to the whispers of the spiritual.

    And when the spiritual and the fantastical blend, like in urban fantasy novels where the gods walk the earth?  That is the best.  I cannot tell you how many times I've had a deity or spirit say hello simply because I read about them doing something in a story.  Remember, stories were the first way we communicated with the spirits in the old days.

  3. Edge.  In the realm of "pro" witches and shamans and sorcerers, you need to have an edge, something that sets you apart from the competition.  Make no mistake, the world of magic is no less sordid than any other subculture.  People and politics live here too.  And when people have the power to mess with your spirit, to snarl your fate, or to whisper compelling words into your mind from far away... you need every trick you can get.  Most magicians are just people, but I'm a big fan of reasonable precaution.

    Knowing a kind of magic that others don't understand can be a huge bonus if you know how to use it right.  Weaving a protection spell found in an old little-known fairy tale is a handy trick; the fewer people who know about it, the less likely anyone will figure it out.

  4. Mischief.  I am a huge troll.  I love playing harmless tricks upon my friends, usually to bring wonder, but occasionally to just surprise people.  Nothing is more entertaining than watching people roll their eyes at my "antics" and then watching their smug expressions transform into dumb awe and disbelief, as I use My Little Pony to banish a nasty spirit or a 1950's movie to change someone's mind.

    In the end, I'm a teacher.  I enjoy broadening people's perceptions, and opening their minds to new ideas.

  5. Outreach.  Let's face it- religion isn't the dominant mental paradigm anymore.  If it were, Jedi would never have become a legitimate entry on the census in England.  So many people out there are seeking help, and religious doctrine can't provide it, either because they outright reject it for some reason, or because it doesn't understand what they are seeking.

    That's where geekomancy and modern magical paradigms excel.  A simple truth about one's magic is this- spell for yourself all you want, but the true mark of a magician is how their magic and philosophy interacts with others.  For those of us determined to be "good," it means we have to get off our duff and extend our helping hand (or wand) on occasion.

    Most people believe in the beneficence of their heroes- Thor and Doctor Who, Twilight Sparkle and Link.  That openness is exactly what a savvy witch needs to work some very helpful magic free of obstructions.

  6. Subtlety.  My friend is right- I'm a really traditional kind of witch.  That means I value subtlety and attention to detail.  Most of my trad-craft talismans and charms are a bit "potpourri" looking (or otherwise they're kinda creepy).  But if I buy someone a (very subtly and carefully enchanted) comic book, who would look sideways at that?

  7. Relevance.  Magic doesn't have to be all "Hekas Hekas Este Bebeloi" and Lesser Banishing Rituals and dragon's blood incense.  Those things are important, yes.  But they aren't irreplaceable, or people who didn't have access to the Lesser Key of Solomon wouldn't be able to do magic.  And ask yourself- what did people do before Qabalah or voodoo were created?

    Traditional hoodoo sachets and mojo hands were made from red flannel and yellow silk in the old days.  This became a mark of hoodoo, but in the old days it was because that was what they had on hand.

    People read tarot cards because that's what they had.  History indicates that they had absolutely no esoteric tradition associated with them until the 15th century.  Does that make them less magical?  And are tea leaves less magical because they're made from tea bought at Whole Foods?  We use what we have.

  8. Versatility.  Fiction is an absolutely diverse and rich realm full of many ideas and concepts.  Better still, new concepts and new twists on old ideas are developed every day.  Read a novel about demon hunters, and you'll find a trick they use to bind spirits to a physical object.  Watch a Pixar movie, and you'll learn a healing chant (yes, you know which one I'm talking about).  Play a video game and learn a quick way to put together a potion or philtre.  The creators may never have imagined that we might adapt their art to the use of a different Art entirely, but that shouldn't hinder us.

    After all, we've been appropriating other people's work for centuries for our spells and remedies.  Why stop now?

  9. Serendipity.  As in, literally I didn't plan to do this.  It sort of fell into my lap, and I'm curious to see how far the rabbit hole goes.  Sometimes I think that there are Geek Gods (don't even get me started about Hekate and Her agenda here), and they want this stuff to come out.  If it wasn't possible, if it wasn't wanted or intended... why is it so thrice-blessed easy to put together?  I mean seriously- this year alone, geek magic has practically been HANDED to me.  I'm not so arrogant as to think that this stuff is all my own brain-child, especially when I see other people crafting the same things independent of my input.

    Maybe the gods got tired of the history books, and decided to go back to their epic fantasy roots.

  10. Fun. Because I'm a witch, and a geek.  And I love both.  And why the hell wouldn't you have X-men powers if you could??  I mean, why wouldn't you use your magic like a friggin' superhero if you could?

    I take it back- there's one thing more entertaining than making other people's jaws drop when I do my thing.

    Making my OWN jaw drop.

Hopefully this list inspires you all to your own innovations in the realm of pop culture magic and geekomancy.  Let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

Last modified on
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.


  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood Friday, 29 November 2013

    All the reasons you mentioned are true for me as well.

  • S. Rune Emerson
    S. Rune Emerson Friday, 29 November 2013


  • Victoria
    Victoria Wednesday, 04 December 2013

    I'm a big time geek (heck my company makes video games) and I have thought about the idea of getting more geek in my magic. Now .. I think I need to think more about it.

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