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 Magick, 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 7 cats.

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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Symmetry and Magic: an example of a pop culture magic rule

I've been rereading The Dresden Files lately and as I've been reading the books I've been paying attention to the rules of magic that are part of that pop culture magic universe. When you practice pop culture magic, its important to pay close attention to the rules of magic within the given pop culture you're working with because those rules apply to the pop culture characters you work with and how they'll help you magically. It may seem odd that different pop culture universes have different rules of magic, or that those rules should even matter.

However they do matter because you're working in a specific context generated in part by the pop culture you work with. And if you want the aid of the characters you work with, you need to respect the context that is part of the mythology you're working in. Let me share an example to illustrate this.

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What do you do when your magic is in a slump?

The other day, in the Magical Experiments Facebook group, I asked the members of the group to share with me what challenges they are experiencing in their magical practice. One of the people shared that they were experiencing a slump in their magical practice. It just didn't feel exciting or shiny or magical like it had before. When I read what the person was experiencing, I really resonated with it because sometimes I've felt the same way about my magical practice. 

The first time I experienced a slump in my magical practice, I was really surprised at how hard it was to motivate myself to do the daily magical work I'd committed myself to doing. It wasn't just an off day. It stretched into days and then weeks. I was seriously worried that I'd lost touch with the magic.

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