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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in pop culture mythology
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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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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How to Create a Pop Culture System of Magic

In Pop Culture Magic 2.0 I discuss how to create pop culture systems of magic , but what I thought I would share here is the actual creation of such a system. I'm in the process of developing my own system around the Batman mythology. I picked Batman, because I've always liked Batman and felt a connection to that particular mythology. However instead of starting with the obvious approach of working with the characters of the mythology, I decided to take a different approach.

My initial work has been around connecting with the prominent places in the mythology Batman, starting with Gotham City, but also including places in and around it that factor significant into the Batman mythology. One of my reasons for focusing on the spaces of the Batman mythology is because of how the characters (and the writers of the comic) refer to those spaces as living beings. For example, there are numerous references to how Gotham is alive and how different characters need to be careful because of how Gotham can interact with them. Now this might be meant metaphorically, but what it creates is a mythological narrative around the actual spaces in the Batman mythology and that narrative can be worked with as well as working with the characters. I think it can actually enhance the work you do with the characters in this mythology and would suggest that you can apply this concept to any pop culture system of magic.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    LOVE THIS! What a cool idea! I'm not a fan of Batman myself, but I definitely see what you're talking about. Have a quick questio
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Batman is just an example. You ca take what I'm sharing here and apply it to a pop culture of you own choice. Pop Culture Magic 2.

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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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • 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.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
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.

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One of the pop culture magic systems I work with is Dehara, based off the Wraeththu series by Storm Constantine. We're currently doing some work on the next grimoire and as part of that work I've been immersing myself in reading the Wraeththu series, as well as fan fiction set in that universe. By immersing myself in the pop culture artifacts I attune myself to that system of magic, as well as to the characters that may show up as a result. Scientists call this type of immersion experience taking. I get caught up in the pop culture world and change my behavior and thoughts to match that of the characters. Personally I think the concept of experience taking sounds a lot like invocation.

I've been integrating my work with Dehara into my daily work, doing path workings with the various beings I'm contacting as I help to flesh out this system of magic. What's been most fascinating for me though is that my work has shown up in my dreams. I've dreamed of myself as a hara having adventures in the Wraeththu universe. Perhaps this is due to the fact that I'm doing this magical work and also re-reading the series at the same time, creating this immersive experience that effects my imagination and makes my dreams more receptive to continued interactions and work on this system of magic. In both my meditations and dreams the experiences have been lucid. In one case, in the meditation the Hara version of myself experienced a burn on his hand, and my physical hand had a similar reaction, though there was no burn on it.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Thank you for relating that experience about the burn on the hand. I had a similar experience recently while writing a novel and w
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Hi Erin, I think you can tell when you've really connected with a mythology (modern or traditional) when you have that kind of i
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thanks for this column - as a writer of fiction I was particularly pleased. I may work with my own characters at a deeper level b
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Thanks for commenting. I think this would be an excellent process for working with your characters more deeply.

I've just finished re-reading the Deathgate Cycle, a 7 book series published in the early 1990's and one of my favorite fantasy series. One of the reasons I like the series so much is the appendices, which the authors created to explain various aspects of the series, including how the magic in the series works. Although neither author is a magician, so far as I know, the detailed explanations they share provide a lot of insight into not the magic of their series, but magical work in general. For example, one of the concepts they talk about is the importance of definition in magic, and how definition shapes the raw possibilities into something that a person can understand apply to the world around him/herself.

I read the Deathgate cycle when it first came out, before I started practicing magic. It's fair to say that reading those appendices certainly had an effect on how I thought about magic, once I started to practice it in earnest. The concepts presented provided a way to understand magic that made sense to me, because what was presented was a very methodical approach to magic that made sense. That I would find some similar approaches in actual books on magic only confirmed to me the value of looking outside of strictly magical texts to find inspiration in my magical work.

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