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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Taylor Ellwood

Taylor Ellwood

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. He is also the managing non-fiction editor of Immanion Press. Taylor lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and two kids, as well as 4 cats.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Role Vs. Identity in Magic

Recently I've been watching the second season of the Crown on Netflix. One of the things I've really enjoyed about the series is how the show explores the concepts of identity and role and makes clear the distinct difference between identity and role. A little further down, Ill use the show to demonstrate what these differences are, but let's take a moment and consider what each of these terms has to do with magic. 

In some magical practices, people can choose to take on a particular role that they use to embody their connection to magic. An example would be coming up with a magical name. The magical name serves the process of assuming the role that the name represents. When a person uses their magical name they are choosing to make that role prominent in the moment they are in.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Lolan ah Sine
    Lolan ah Sine says #
    I like the idea of a crown, headdress/hood, priest/monastic zucchetto or scullcap or even a Harry Potter Wizards Hat to cement th
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Roles are a way to be something you aren't temporarily, which can be useful under the right circumstance.
Right Relationship with Spirits: Knowing when to stop working with spirits
When I think about the work I do with spirits and my relationship to them, I frame that work and relationships in the context of right relationship. And what right relationship means to me is, "Is this relationship healthy for me and the spirit and is the work we're doing contributing something meaningful to the relationship between us as well as the distinct identities we inhabit?"
 
Recently, I decided to do a review of the spirits that I'm working with. I've gone back to ground zero with my magical practice and work and I felt it useful to examine my relationship with the spirits I've worked with, so that I could ask myself and them some important questions:
 
1. Is this really working for either of us anymore? I decided to take a hard look at my relationships with the spirits I've worked with and ask whether that relationship as it is, was still working for us. And I asked them to tell me if they felt the relationship as it was still working for them. I didn't want either side of the equation to feel like a relationship had to be maintained, unless the relationship was actually working.
 
2. Am I continuing to work with you out of obligation or because there's a genuine joy to the relationship? I also asked myself if I felt any sense of attachment or obligation to working with a spirit. If there was a sense of obligation or attachment, I wanted to own that and let go because then the relationship wasn't coming from a place of genuine connection and joy (and yes I know its not always easy to work with spirits, but I do feel there ought to be a joyful connection with them even when the work is hard).
 
3. Is my work with you creating more complication than anything else? I'm not a fan of needless complexity and when the work I'm doing with a spirit becomes needlessly complex it takes away from the relationship. Needless complexity comes down to doing things where it isn't clear why you're doing it and it just gets in the way of the actual work.
 
4. Is there a clear purpose for us to work together? There may not be a clear purpose for why you're continuing to work with the spirit. And if you're not clear about the work or the relationship, then why continue in it?
 
As a result of asking these questions, I decided to stop working with a few of the spirits I'd bee working with. It wasn't clear to me that was the work was beneficial or that the relationships would continue to serve a purpose that was fulfilling to either side of the relationship.
 
Coming to this decision was hard, because it meant I had to recognize that I was attached to certain spirits out of a sense of obligation. Recognizing that the relationship was no longer serving either side meant also realizing that simply sticking with a relationship with a spirit without really checking whether that relationship was healthy wasn't ideal for either party. How could I genuinely show up in my spiritual work if part of me wasn't fully engaged.
 
Yet this decision was also liberating because I gave myself permission to stop holding onto something which no longer felt right. And clearing out my spiritual house felt good, liberating and refreshing. I found myself able to focus on the spirits and work which really called me to instead of putting energy toward maintaining connections that weren't speaking to me or the spirit.
 
What about you? Do you ever stop working with spirits and why.
 
Taylor Ellwood experiments with magic and writes about his experiments at his site magical experiments.
 
Photo by Josh Marshall on Unsplash
 
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Can you work with the Internet as a spirit?

Recently, one of my readers asked me an intriguing question. She wanted to know if the internet could be a spirit in its own right, a deity that could be worked with. She had done some work on her own and that work seemed to say yes, but she was curious about my perspective on it, so I figured i'd share it through an article.

The first time I got on the internet, it was 1995. I was in my last year of high school and I got to use a computer for the first time and access the world wide web (as it was known back then). Why do I share that with you? Because I didn't grow up with the internet. I had to adapt to it. I fortunately did so, while I was still a teenager, and to be honest I took to the internet like a fish takes to water.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I tend to think of cyberspace as a biome like grasslands, deserts, and temperate forests are biomes.
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    That's anther good way to describe it.
Political pop culture power or how to counteract the pop culture power of Trump

Last March, I wrote about the pop culture magic of Donald Trump and how he was trumping American politics. When Trump won the election, I wasn't surprised. He had the momentum of emotion as well as his celebrity status behind him and that was enough to push him toward victory. 

The question that we currently face is: What now? What do we do now that Trump is in office for the next 4 years?

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Myth of Pagan Enlightenment

When I first began practicing magic, I had this naive belief that every pagan and occultist I would meet would somehow be more enlightened. Part of me wanted to believe that the people I would meet would have their acts together, be living a better life than everyone else. And perhaps I also hoped that some of it would rub off on me...that since I was now practicing magic I too would become a more enlightened person.

I eventually discovered that the enlightened Pagan/occultist was a myth. My fellow Pagans and occultists weren't any more enlightened than anyone else was, and neither was I. We are just like any other person, with our own faults, reactions, and everything else that comes with it. 

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
How my Ancestors Liberated me

On a recent trip to South Dakota, I met my ancestors. I walked among their gravestones, walked in the places they lived, looked at pictures of them and heard stories about them that brought them to life for me. And although I didn't speak with them directly, I still felt like I had a dialogue. Since that trip I've continued to meditate on the presence of my ancestors.

In the title of this article I claim they liberated me and really they did, because what I learned about them put my own life and experiences into a different context. Instead of just focusing on the singular I experience of my life, I stepped back and looked at the generations that came before me and asked the question, "What were their experiences and how did those experiences convey themselves to my life?"

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
How to unlock hidden universes

I recently visited Disneyland for five days. During those 5 days all I did was go on rides, and experience the magic and wonder of Disney. It was a liminal experience. I wasn't engaged in my usual routine and in some ways it very much felt like I had entered a pocket universe. When my trip was over it took me several days to get back into my regular routine.

If you've ever attended a Pagan conference or festival, you've undoubtedly had a similar experience. Once you go into the conference, you enter a different space and you encounter a difference sense of time. It is a space and time that is sacred in its own way, created by the intentional consciousness of the people participating in that space, similar to a ritual, but different as well, because you participating in this group consciousness, but it may or may not have required an overt ritual to occur.

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