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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Harry Potter
Pagan News Beagle: Airy Monday, June 5 2017

The world goes wild for Wonder Woman. J.K. Rowling's official Harry Potter sequel comes to Broadway. And a look back on the acclaimed show The Leftovers as it ends. It's Airy Monday, our news segment on magic and religion in popular culture! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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In “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” J.K. Rowling presents the familiar wizarding world she originated with Harry Potter, but turns it on its head.  Instead of Britain, the film takes place in the United States.  Different laws apply to the witches and wizards of America, a fact which becomes a source of both humor and tension.  Our main characters are not children, but adults.  Instead of spending multiple installments worldbuilding and introducing a magical system, the new series is able to jump us right into a fully fleshed out world where we all know the rules, allowing more focus on storytelling.

But more importantly, our new hero is very different.  Newt Scamander is nothing like the Boy Who Lived.  Where Harry knows from the day he enters Hogwarts that he is marked out as the savior of the wizarding world, Scamander is really nothing more than a dedicated animal lover who seeks only to rescue and preserve the world’s most misunderstood creatures.  He’s a conservationist, not a warrior.

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Pagan News Beagle: Airy Monday, June 27

J.K. Rowling reacts to fans' reactions about the casting of Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Jason Mankey makes some interesting suggestions for "witchy" shows on TV. And one writer takes a look at how The Witcher series' approach to magic and monsters is different from that of other fantasy settings. It's Airy Monday, our weekly segment on magic and religion in popular culture! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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Using Fictional Magic in Real Magick

Lately I’ve seen a lot of questions online about using fictional spells and magical techniques in real magick.  Things like trying to use “expecto patronum” from Harry Potter or “forzare” from the Dresden Files in actual protection spells.  While this type of pop culture magick seems like a no brainer, there’s actually a lot you need to think about before trying to twist fictional magick into your real magick.

The best argument (in my opinion at least) for using fictional spells and magical techniques in your actual magick is that it allows you to build off of ideas that already exist both in your own mind and in the minds of others.  Why reinvent the metaphysical wheel if there’s already something suitable at hand?  Magick is all about delivering energy charged with intention to an intended target in order to manifest a desired result.  Our spells and rituals are the mechanisms we use to raise energy, charge it, and deliver it to its intended target.  We can do that most efficiently, and thus get the best results, when our minds have clear, easy paths to do so.  Forging those smooth paths takes practice, lots of practice.  However, we can shortcut things a bit by using spells that lots of other people use (getting the advantage of some of their energetic work) or by using words and techniques our brain already associates with the results we’re working towards - this is where fictional spells come in.

To get the most energetic benefit from using a fictional spell or technique it has to be something you know really well.  The fiction we know and love, that we see or read over and over again, has a special place in our hearts and minds.  The fiction we truly love becomes a part of our very being; there is no mental path smoother than those which flow to the things we love.  I’m confident that I can recite the entirety of The Princess Bride at any given moment, plus a good chunk of Harry Potter, and probably several seasons worth of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  These mental paths aren’t just smooth, they’re greased to almost frictionless.  Using the magic from the fiction that you love allows you take advantage of these frictionless paths and send all your energy directly where you intend it, none wasted forging the path.  Sure, you can use that amazing spell you saw once in that one episode of whatever, but unless it made an indelible mark on your very being it won’t be anymore effective than that really well written spell you found on the internet.  While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, you won’t be getting the best bang for your energetic buck.

There are some downsides to using fictional magic as part of real magick.  No matter how much you love it something that your mind identifies as fiction will take some time and effort to switch to non-fiction, though the benefit is usually worth the small energetic cost.  Let’s look at the “alohamora” spell from Harry Potter.  This is a spell used numerous times in the books and movies to unlock doors.  In the Harry Potter ‘verse you just wave your wand, say “alohamora” with conviction, and the previously locked door pops right open.  Sadly, our reality doesn’t work that way so we have to look at intent of the fictional spell to figure out how to translate it into something that works here.  A real spell based on this fictional one might be to inscribe the word “alohamora” onto a candle, charge it with the intent of unlocking a particular path or removing an obstacle to a goal, and then burning the candle to release the energy into the world.  Alternatively, a locksmith who happens to be a practitioner might use the word “alohamora” as a mantra to recite while picking an actual lock to help focus their will and guide their hands.  Both of these real spells use the fictional spell to enhance the real energetic work being done.  I personally prefer to add a few objects or techniques with magickal correspondence to my goal to help add a little “oomph” to my spellwork whenever possible.  However, one could simply focus on their intent and say the word “alohamora” while projecting their intent towards their target, just as the characters in Harry Potter do and it would be a valid spell as long as you truly believe it to be. 

Another hurdle in making fictional magic effective real magick it that the real results will never match up with the fictional results.  One of the most commonly used spells in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series (which I cannot recommend highly enough) is “fuego.”  As you might imagine if you speak spanish or any other latin based language, the fuego spell conjures a large fireball that hurls itself at the caster’s target.  This spell is used multiple times in many books; it’s probably used over 100 times in the series so far.  Both I and everyone else who’s read these books has a very clear picture cemented in their minds of what this spell looks like when it’s cast.  Unless your spellwork includes some pretty impressive professional pyrotechnics, your execution of a “fuego” spell is not going match the picture your head wants that spell to create.  That’s a problem.  Let’s say you wanted to use “fuego” to conjure a protective circle of energetic fire by visualizing the circle of fire while reciting “fuego” as an incantation.  In order to accomplish your goal your spell needs to energetically overcome the your cognitive dissonance of the results not looking the way your mind expects plus the energetic dissonance that every other reader’s idea of what the spell should be in order to manifest itself.  That really limits the ways that fictional spells with firm visual results can be used effectively in real magick.  To use “fuego” in real magick you’d really want to have some actual flame present to help mitigate the dissonance.  For this reason I really wouldn’t recommend using fictional magick with a really strong visual component unless it’s part of a big ritual that can recreate at least part of the expected visuals.

On a similar note, a good chunk of fictional magic tends to be overly theatrical, especially magic from television and movies.  Fictional magic is supposed to be entertaining and it can’t be entertaining in a visual medium unless the person casting it is doing something that we the audience can see.  In the movies witches and wizards are always doing big arm movements, gesturing with oversized tools, and shouting into the wind.  As fun as that is, it’s pretty wasteful energetically speaking unless you’re facilitating ritual for a large group that needs those visual cues.  Yes, I can hear you saying “but repeated physical movements help focus energy and smooth pathways.”  Of course they do.  Things like banishing and invoking pentagrams are particular physical movements that serve a particular energetic purpose and can enhance a magickal working in many ways.  However, there’s a line between movement used to focus energy and giant theatrical absurdities that look great and serve no purpose.  It’s a lot like the difference between martial arts in the movies and martial arts in real life.  I’d advise you to choose fictional spells that don’t expend as much energy in casting them as you’re trying to project out to your goal.

Fictional magics can be used in real magick to enhance spellwork and rituals by tapping into the pathways they’ve already forged in our minds.  To get the best results it’s important to be mindful of what shape those fictional spells and techniques already have in our minds and the minds of others.  By working with those ingrained images we can ensure that the energy we raise gets to its goal rather than being wasted forging the path to that goal.  Be mindful of what expectations a fictional spell raises both in how it’s supposed to look as its cast and its end result; be sure that really works with what you want to accomplish.  Choose the fictional magic you want to work with carefully and make sure it’s something that deeply resonates with you in order to get the best possible results.

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Pagan News Beagle: Airy Monday, March 21

We take a look at a strategy game with a witchy theme. An argument is made for how Marvel should have cast their martial arts hero "Iron Fist." And a Pagan writer considers J.K. Rowling's recent "Magical History of America." It's Airy Monday, our weekly segment on magic and religion in popular culture. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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Pagan News Beagle: Airy Monday, January 4

We take a look at novels that helped popularize Paganism. The history of Abrahamic religions' flirtation with magic is examined. And one writer explains what the popular series The Legend of Korra taught her about self-worth. It's Airy Monday, our weekly segment of magic and religion in pop culture! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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Pagan News Beagle: Airy Monday, October 5

The inspirational power of Hermione Granger is examined. We take a look at the webcomic "Witchy." And Marvel debuts a new comic series about their sorcerer supreme, Dr. Strange. It's Airy Monday, our weekly take on pop culture as it relates to magic and religion. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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