While I had no plans to incorporate pop culture magick into my Beltane celebrations this year, the powers that be had other plans. Apparently, when you get a group of Seattle Pagans together and ask them how to come up with a way to clear blocks to abundance and build foundations of prosperity what they come up with is magickal scrubbing bubbles and the nanobots from Big Hero Six. How you ask? Well, let me tell you.
For those of you who don’t know, I am part of a duo of facilitators that puts on public rituals in Seattle. We call ourselves Illustris and do most of our rituals at Edge of the Circle Books near the University of Washington. Instead of having a large team performing scripted rituals, we co-create our ritual with the participants just minutes before performing it. This means we never really know what our rituals are going to look like until we’re in the middle of them. It’s quite exciting and our attendees come up amazing things sometimes.
For each ritual we establish a magickal purpose for the working to be designed. This time around we had two: 1) working with the energies of Mercury retrograde to remove blocks to wealth and abundance (whatever that looked like for each participant), and 2) building a sturdy foundation to grow true prosperity. My brain was totally fogged by allergy medicine, so I was utterly dependent on attendees coming up with good ideas because I had nothing. I looked around the room and saw one of our regulars snort and say, “Well, the image that immediately comes to mind is a foaming toilet cleaner bomb. It gets rid of anything.” Immediately everyone in the room smiled and knew exactly what she was talking about. Oh yes, we would clear energetic blocks with magickal scrubbing bubbles! Whoever said commercials were useless? They get stuck in our heads so well that they make shockingly good common imagery and vocabulary. We decided we would collectively create an energy ball that we would essentially detonate in the middle of the group to foam away blocking energies. It worked shockingly well.
For the second part of the ritual one of our new participants suggested using the energetic equivalent of the nanobots in Big Hero Six to build a foundation for prosperity. I loved the idea and about half the room immediately nodded their heads in agreement. The other half of the room went, “What’s Big Hero Six and what do the nanobots do in it?” So, we spent a few minutes explaining the reference and got sidetracked talking about carbon nanotubes (it was awesome!). Then a gal brought up the issue that she’d only seen nanobots portrayed negatively in sci-fi and asked for an example of nanobots doing something positive. Thankfully she was a Doctor Who fan so all I had to say was, “just this once Rose Tyler, just this once everybody lives,” and we were good to go. (If you have no idea what that means watch the episodes “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances” from the 2005 run of Doctor Who - some of the best television ever made. This clip shows the scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhklrve5xmw)
The whole situation really highlighted one of the most common problems in doing group pop culture magick - common culture. People of different demographics have different things in their pop culture baskets. Hell, people of the exact same demographic are likely to have different things in their lexicons. We all like different things and thus remember and attach importance to different bits and pieces of pop culture. The more diverse a group of people is the less likely they are to have a lot of common pop culture (though there’s almost always something there - think blockbuster fandoms like Star Wars or Mad Max). I don’t generally bring pop culture magick into big public rituals for just this reason, but this time it happened organically and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. A little explanation to make sure we were all on the same page and we created the common imagery we need to make the magick work.
Through no intention of my own, I ended up having a Beltane ritual that was filled to the brim with pop culture magick. The ubiquity of commercials gave us our first working and a combination of Disney and Doctor Who gave us our second working. What a great time to be a pop culture practitioner!