Ah, the holiday season: time of joyous family togetherness, or, if you’re like me, a time for anxiety and generally trying to hide and become one with the wallpaper. I love my family but they make my brain revert into a horribly awkward teenager for some reason. Consequently, I feel the need to gird myself a bit in order to face them and being the nerd I am I often turn to pop culture magick for a boost. A few weeks ago I became the proud owner of a Deadpool ugly xmas sweatshirt and joked over on facebook that I’d use it in a spell to help me make it through the holidays. Of course that got me thinking about how I might do just that.
In previous writings I’ve advised people not to try and work with characters like Deadpool due to their incredibly unpredictable nature. For most pop culture workings it is easiest to work with characters that are relatively straightforward and predictable. You can pretty much always rely on a character like Spock to help you find a logical solution to a problem or for a character like Steve Rogers help you stand up to bullies. No brainers, really. It’s far more challenging to work with a character whose actions are difficult to predict. You never really know what chaotic characters like the Joker, Delirium, or Deadpool are going to do. Sometimes they’re pretty decent people, other times they kill or maim everyone in the room - you just never know. While it’s difficult to work with unpredictable, chaotic characters, it is possible. There are two keys to working with unpredictable characters: version control and guidelines they will actually follow.
Regular readers of mine will recognize that version control is something I talk about a lot in regards to pop culture magick. In this context, version control is simply figuring out which of the many existing iterations of a character you want to work with in this instance. There are a lot of different versions of Deadpool out there in the world and their behavior can be radically different. For example, the Deadpool you get in the Posehn/Duggan era comics is rather different than the one in the Ultimate Spiderman cartoon series (much less murder in the latter than the former). For a straightforward character I recommend finding whatever version of that character’s personality best suits the working you’re trying to do and using it. For a less predictable character I have to amend that to: find the version of the character that you know best and that you think might actually listen to you. In order to work with an unpredictable character sanely you have to know it very well; well enough to understand their motivations and use those motivations in order to get it to do what you want and nothing you don’t want. That is easier said than done. For all that I know the Deadpool of saturday morning cartoons is likely to be easier to work with than the comic Deadpool, I don’t watch those cartoons and thus don’t know that Deadpool well enough to hope to predict his actions. Thus, even though he’s a lot more dangerous, I could only ever work with the comic Deadpool because he’s the one I know best (though I’ve got several years worth of comic Deadpools to choose from, oy vey).
The second key to working with unpredictable characters is by far the most difficult to figure out: guidelines they will actually follow. By their very nature, chaotic characters don’t like rules. This is where really understanding the version of the character you’re working with is invaluable. The only way to figure out how to phrase your working guidelines in a way the character will actually follow is to know that character inside and out. I can’t see successfully working with this type of character if you’ve only got a casual connection with them. To get a chaotic character to walk the path you want them to you need to phrase your goals in a way that will make them the character’s goals as well. Use the thoughts and motivations you know the character already has in order to make them want your goals to happen in the way you want them to happen. In my “Holidays with Deadpool” thought experiment my guidelines would have to include things like no harming anyone and keeping all snark non-verbal and confined astrally to not spill over onto my hapless relatives. In order to get his compliance I need to figure out why Deadpool would ever want to be confined to those rules? I know from the comics that Deadpool has a fairly well developed sense of morality and is pretty big on protecting the innocent, particularly children; he may be insane but Deadpool is a good guy at heart. He is also incredibly playful, so I know that if I can make fulfilling my goals a game that he can win, Deadpool will toe the line. Therefore, in order to get Deadpool to help me navigate the holidays while keeping to my rules I have to explain my goal is to maintain the happiness of my family and to make sure that strife doesn’t make my adorable little nieces cry. As a bonus, he would get points for each time he prevents me from feeling bad without alerting my relatives to his presence or making them think I’m nuts. If he gets enough points by the end of the night he’ll get an extra offering. Use your knowledge of unpredictable characters’ thoughts, motives, and backstory in order to get them to want what you want and you should be ok.
Working with unpredictable characters is a calculated risk because you cannot guarantee they’ll behave themselves. I would only recommend doing so if you really, really know the character well and have a deep enough connection with them that you feel comfortable with what you know they might do in a given situation. With a firm grasp of the version of the character you want to work with and confidence in guidelines you believe the character will actually follow even someone like Deadpool can help make your holidays a bit brighter. Do your spellwork safely. Happy Holidays!