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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How to Build a Pop Culture Magic System part 4

In part onetwo, and three of this series I covered how spaces, characters, and symbols could be used to create a pop culture magic system. In this part of the series, we'll explore the role of pop culture tools and how they can enhance your pop culture magic workings. One of the benefits of pop culture is that you have a plethora of tools you can draw upon. These tools don't need to be conventional magical tools either, but can be specific to the pop culture you are working with, and you'll usually find that you can draw some type of correspondence between a traditional tool and a pop culture tool, though you may also find it more interesting to come up with your own specific purposes for using a tool as it relates to the pop culture you are working with.

With your given pop culture, you can usually find pop culture tools in toy stores, comic book stores, as well as conventions. And if you can't find it in those places, you can usually either find someone making and selling pop culture tools for your fandom, or you can get crafty and make your own tools. For example if you work with Dr. Who, you can easily order a sonic screw driver or create your own variant and have that stand in as a wand. In the case of Batman, you might have multiple gadgets you utilize for various purposes. Part of this comes down to your creativity and your ability to recognize if there is an actual magical purpose for the tool. For example, I might use the batarang as an athame or sword. Alternately if I don't want to rely on a traditional correspondence, I still need to determine what purpose the Batarang would serve as a magical tool in my pop culture magic system. If the tool has no purpose, it becomes a distraction to the actual work.

Costumes in pop culture can also be magical tools in their own right. You can use the costume to invoke the character, but also as ritual garb that helps you to create the pop culture magic space. The act of putting on the costume is a ritual act in and of itself, a preparation that allows you to switch your focus from everyday life to doing pop culture magic. The accompaniment of pop culture ritual tools further emphasizes the space you are entering into and the work you are doing.

The tools you buy or build shouldn't be thought of as toys or collectibles per se. While some people might consider them just that, for you, as the pop culture magician, they are much more. They are part of the sacred connection you have to the pop culture you are working with. As such its important to treat those tools the same way you would any other magical tool. Make sure you have a dedicated space, an altar for them that they are placed at when you aren't using them. Make sure that people visiting know that they aren't to be played with. You might explain they are on display (if its someone who doesn't practice magic) or explain that they are your magical tools.

Speaking of altars, your pop culture magic altar is another pop culture tool you can use, not just as the repository of your other pop culture tools, but as the physical home for the pop culture spirits you work with as well as a way to honor those spirits. Your altar could include action figures or dolls of the spirits, as well as posters, books, and other media which depict the spirits you are working with. It is a shrine and well-spring of pop culture devotion.

Your pop culture tools don't make the magical system, but they can provide context and grounding for the system. When you know why you are using certain tools, it helps you figure out some of the workings you are going to do and how those workings will fit into your life as well as the system you are creating around your favorite pop culture.

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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.


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