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.
My Spiritual Pilgrimage Pt 1: Preparing for the Journey

In a bit less than a week from the time of this writing, I'll be going on a short spiritual pilgrimage in the Columbia Gorge. My partner and I will be traveling up the Columbia River Gorge to check out the Confluence sites, and learn more about this region we live in. 

One of the reasons I'm doing this journey is because I've felt a powerful connection to the spirit of the Columbia River. I feel that by traveling to these sites, walking the land and learning the lore I can develop a deeper relationship with the spirit of the river, while also honoring the past and present.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I think there was a Columbia River episode on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmer. I remember him stopping at a little fishery/marke
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    I live in the area so I am fortunate to enjoy it in general and to give thanks.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Recognition Trap

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always craved recognition. It’s not a surprise really. I grew up in a situation where the majority of attention I got was negative. I’d get grounded on the drop of a coin, or was told I was a disappointment on a regular basis and no matter what I did, it was never enough. That was the seed for my desire to be recognized.

 

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  • Jet
    Jet says #
    Greetings. Great article. I also have done many things because of recognition, and I realize now that it is because I am jealous
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    It sounds like you had a good realization. Thank you for sharing with me.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Mediation, Memory and Flow

The work I'm currently doing in my spiritual practice is a process of memorization. On the surface, it just seems like the memorization of words, but the words are a pathway to the deeper wordless truths that can only be experienced when you open yourself to what the words represent. What I'm really doing with the memorization is twofold.

First, I am connecting with the forces, spirits, etc., that are represented by the words. The words present a means to connect with those spirits in order to develop relationships and create associations that allow you to do deeper work with them. The words are the introduction to the spiritual current that is embodied and mediated by the spirits I'm working with.

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  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Taylor, do you only do memorization of words that you plan on using in chants/rituals--or to also have a deeper connection/relatio
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Hi Janet, It can be for both and I've used it for both. I figure developing a chant for a spirit can just as easily be integrated
  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Fascinating! Now, your post is called "Mediation, Memory and Flow". Is that correct...or was it supposed to be "Meditation" (as in
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Nope the word choice of Mediation was purposeful.
The wordless truth and experiential embodiment
I've lately been contemplating the phrase the wordless truth. It's a phrase that shows up in the Dune series by Frank Herbert, but its goes much deeper than amazing Science Fiction (though Dune is a deep series). The wordless truth is the experiential embodiment of the work you do. It speaks through you, but not in words, rather through the experiences you have.
 
You can read something and think you understand it. But until you do the work and have experiences you don't know it. For instance I can read a book with practices and have a conceptual understanding of those practices. It's only when I do the actual practices that I open myself to the wordless truth conveyed by the experiential embodiment of those practices.
 
Experiential embodiment is the engagement of your senses, inner and outer, in the work. When you engage your senses in the spiritual work, you incorporate your body into the work and make it part of the experience that speaks the work through you. We often take our bodies for granted, yet I would argue that your body is the most potent resource you have available to you. It allows you to have experiences and enables you to embody them into the deepest level of your being.
 
The wordless truth is the experience speaking through you, embodied in your awareness and physicality. When you come back to the book and reread the book, it becomes a different book, that reveals deeper layers of meaning and experience that must actually be experienced to continue your journey with the work. The words take on new meanings and realizations because of the work you've done. But even so it is the work, the experience of the wordless truth that gives such meaning to the words.
 
The work speaks to us and through us and brings us into something larger, if we open ourselves to the experience. But we must open ourselves to the experience and allow it to embed itself in our sensory and bodily awareness, engaging all the senses, those directed outward, those directed inward, and those directed to the passage of time and the navigation of space.
 
When I do a working, it is not something separate from me. It is an intimate connection between myself and the universe, an exchange of ideas and experiences that creates a sacred moment where reality is shifted an possibilities are manifested. And of course this can be shared in words, but it isn't truly experienced until the person does the work.
 
Doing the work is taking on the experience and letting that experience speak to you and through you. It is the choice to embody the experience, to allow it to transform your relationship with yourself, the work, and with the universe. That can't be done through words alone, though words can play an important role in introducing you to the experience and upon being reread after the experience, unlocking deeper mysteries to be explored.
 
The wordless truth is found initially through words, but only experienced when you do the work, when you make the practice part of your life and allow it to work through you...then you'll know the wordless truth and carry it with you wherever you go.
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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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  • 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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  • 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.

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