Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Open discussion about how our beliefs have been affected by popular culture.
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Xiao Rong
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Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Post by Xiao Rong »

So on the pagan blogosphere, there's this big discussion about whether or not it's "okay" (or perhaps I should say, "useful") to incorporate pop culture into spellwork. I thought I'd bring the discussion to this forum, because I'm curious to know what you guys think ; )

It's fairly accepted to use, say, Athena or Odin in your workings, but what about newer role models and icons? For example, in the article that started it all (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/2013 ... /#comments), the author muses on how one can incorporate Captain America or Iron Man into rituals and spellworks, since they are meaningful and significant to kids today, even if they're clearly made up. Or for example, this blogger (http://worksofliterata.org/2011/09/03/c ... -buffy-do/) some time ago mentions that she likes to use characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to call the quarters (I must admit, I am a HUUUGEE fan of Buffy, so this really appeals to me).

And of course, the flipside is that maybe it demeans the worship of "real" gods when we worship things that are clearly made up. Or we're just fooling ourselves if we start copying spells from Charmed or The Craft.

As for myself, I don't "worship" anyone but the Goddess, but I find that certain metaphors and stories that I can identify with help me in my practice. For example, the best way I can think of to visualize the rune Algiz :elkrune: , the rune of the elk, is by thinking of the white stag Patronus in Harry Potter.

So yeah, what do you guys think? I'd be very interested to hear your opinions.

(Oh, and I'm certain that this ties in plenty with chaos magic, with I'm not too familiar with)
~ Xiao Rong ~ 小蓉 ~ Little Lotus ~

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Re: Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Post by -Dark-Moon- »

The entities of The Necronomicon are a good example of entities that started out as thought forms. If you subscribe to the thought form theory, that free-willed and conscious entities can be created on the astral plane by the thought forms of large groups of people, then you can of course evoke such entities.

Kaos magicians believe that human minds create deities. Baphomet is a good example. Carl Jungs archetypal theory also explores the notion that deities are projections of the human mind. However, It might be said that a comic book hero like Superman might be the best protector for someone who can feel no affinity with a classic warrior god such as Mars.

Kaos Magick is not a new or different kind of Magick. It is a set of working principles - some new, some ancient, - which the individual practitioner can creatively reinterpret to suit his own needs.

These questions are easily solved by asking yourself what system of magic you follow. For example, Classical magicians see ritual as a perfect performance that pleases the Divine so much that the path of the cosmos is changed...Wiccans value the intention of the ritual over perfection, Kaos magicians take it one step further, believing that the ritual is theater and cannot succeed unless the obsession or wish is discharged from conscious awareness.

...a quote from Kaos Magician Adrian Savage.....

"At worse, it may prove to be just another slogan spewed by Mohawk-headed morons who, being too stupid to see the true Chaos within the order of everyday life, invoke Chaos by breaking beer bottles on the sidewalk and vomiting in other people's hallways. Even this ugly possibility is tolerable, however, if Chaos Magick will silence the man-hating mouthings of the maxi matriarchal Wiccans, end the need to authenticate ancient traditions that were created the day after tomorrow by ethnically minded Witches, and stop the endless debate indulged in by rival occult factions over how many planes reality has and which is the one true color scheme to work Magick with - all of which presently dominate American occultism. If Chaos Magick can stop American Ceremonialists from licking the toes of their Aleister Crowley statues. . . , perhaps some things are too much to wish for."

Regarding belief, some would say that belief in a curse leaves you open and vulnerable. Others believe lack of belief makes one invulnerable. Therefore there are many factors to consider.

I hope those of you evoking these beings are doing divinations before following the advice of these entities.
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Re: Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Post by Xiao Rong »

Hmm, that's very interesting, Dark Moon. I'm going to have to think about this one.
-Dark-Moon- wrote:Wiccans value the intention of the ritual over perfection, Kaos magicians take it one step further, believing that the ritual is theater and cannot succeed unless the obsession or wish is discharged from conscious awareness.
Can you clarify what you mean by "discharged from conscious awareness"? Is this similar to the idea that rituals are primarily designed to appeal to "The Younger Self" (to borrow from Starhawk's The Spiral Dance, who in turn borrowed that from Feri tradition?)
-Dark-Moon- wrote:I hope those of you evoking these beings are doing divinations before following the advice of these entities.
I'm pretty sure I subscribe more to the Jungian archetype theory than to the thought-form theory ... but do you think there's generally danger in appealing to "newer" thought-forms than to more traditional gods and goddesses? Does historicity matter?
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Re: Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Post by firebirdflys »

We've used "He-man" in ritual before!
Image

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Re: Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Post by -Dark-Moon- »

By discharged from conscious awareness, I mean that during ritual, the magician has aroused his emotion to such a state that he has experienced catharsis, and the desire for that outcome has left him. Kaos Magicians believe that Magick cannot do its work so long as the magician consciously wishes the operation to succeed. In order to get the wish, it must no longer be your wish.

I guess Buffy just does not have much of a track record as an entity or deity so I would be wary of trusting that, as with any unknown entity, when compared to working with other beings which appear to have had consistent characteristics over a very long period of time.
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Re: Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Post by Xiao Rong »

-Dark-Moon- wrote:By discharged from conscious awareness, I mean that during ritual, the magician has aroused his emotion to such a state that he has experienced catharsis, and the desire for that outcome has left him. Kaos Magicians believe that Magick cannot do its work so long as the magician consciously wishes the operation to succeed. In order to get the wish, it must no longer be your wish.
That's really interesting. Is it possible to stop wishing for something when you know that it's in the works?
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Re: Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Post by -Dark-Moon- »

Well, this is the whole idea behind the 'mind hack' that is sigil magick.

I can't answer whether this technique will work for you, Xiao.

I'm afraid will have to get your hands dirty. :flyingwitch:
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Re: Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Post by Xiao Rong »

I'll have to read up more about it. This is my first time really looking into chaos magic and the like.

Thanks, Dark Moon!
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Re: Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Post by scaravich »

This is actually a topic I recently discussed myself.

I believe that 'real' gods, as we know them, are human realizations of the divine. They are manifestations of the divine within human consciousness, then shared through the storytelling of man.

For example: Odin, the 'character' as we know him, is an archetype for certain things people saw in the deities, and his stories are the lessons people learned from him and passed on. The visualization we have of Odin is something in our head -- when we connect to him in ritual or otherwise, we are using this 'character' we have in our heads as a catalyst to speak to the divine.

So I believe that deities are the Lord and Lady's way of speaking to us. In the same way, I believe that the Lord and Lady are a part of all peoples' minds, even those who chose not to believe in them at any shape or form.

In a way, this is similar to the Kaos theory described above... But I think that that gods and goddesses we revere do indeed 'exist' before they are created in the minds of humans. I think their manifestations as those exact gods and goddesses do not exactly exist prior, though.

This is a little different from what was described above of course.

Anyway, the other day I was in a store and saw two candles side-by-side. Their appearance was not too elaborate or anything, but for some reason they really spoke to me, and I was drawn to them. But what I saw in them, despite them being fairly basic-looking, was not the gods and goddesss of old, but rather Reshiram and Zekrom (god-like beings from the Pokemon games that represent balance, much like the concept of yin & yang, or the Lord and Lady). I still feel that this energy I felt was something divine (certainly not mundane).

I feel that characters in fiction (and really most of creativity!) are an expression of the divine. While it's true that these characters may have been created by somebody because its their job, the actual expression and manifestation in the end was a result of that person's creativity and feeling. (Let's remember that people also perform divination and other forms of magic for money/job as well!)

Anyway, I feel that if a modern/pop-culture fictional character speaks to you or represents an aspect of the divine to you, this is not any different than a 'classic' or 'old' god or goddess doing the same.

I'm not referring to magic, craft, or ritual at all, but rather divinity itself. How these theories are used in craft is not really related to what I've said so far, and of course would be used (or not) depending on your own view of spellwork yourself.

In short: I think there's no problem with using pop-culture iconography in spellwork. But it has to mean something to you.

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Re: Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Post by -Dark-Moon- »

People need to find their own magical system and then explore what works. 'If it works, use it' is a Kaos dictum.

A true seeker will experiment to see what works, and will actually develop or adopt his or her own magical system over many years. Does one ever stop learning? Probably not for many lives yet. If we do not try these techniques (meaning the techniques in the direction of our interest), rather than being Initiates, we are armchair occultists.

Eclectic witches are often criticised for flitting from system to system in a superficial fluffy way, in this way avoiding the profound shamanic initiatiatory spiritual engagement with the path on a deeper level. This idea is not espoused in Kaos magic, and this is why IMO Kaos magic appeals to many eclectic witches. Having said that though, Kaos groups do deliberately induce spiritual crisis in their initiates as part of the process of learning. I would argue that most of us joined the pagan path as a byproduct of reconciliation of some internal crisis....

Even though I think it's great to explore new ways of doing things... I'm not really sure of the usefulness of popular icons. So I don't think I'll be putting Ken on top of Barbie on my altar anytime soon. :mrgreen: :flyingwitch:
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Re: Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Post by raynelae »

I'm not saying that you all are wrong...this is a personal opinion, but wouldn't that be a little disrespectful to the gods?
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Re: Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Post by scaravich »

raynelae wrote:I'm not saying that you all are wrong...this is a personal opinion, but wouldn't that be a little disrespectful to the gods?
Did you even read all the posts? They would easily explain why it may not be, depending on your personal theory/thought.

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Re: Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Post by -Dark-Moon- »

If ken and barbie were your pop icon representations of male and female aspects, and you were seeking to perform the great rite, or sex magic, or a lust spell using sympathetic magic, you might very well put ken on top of barbie ....... loveface halfsm
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Re: Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Post by Vervain »

My understanding of deity is that specific gods and goddesses are facets of the larger force within all things created in the collective conscious to encompass certain concepts, themes, ideas, and Platonic "forms."

I certainly list people (real people, legendary people, and fictional characters) among my deities, because to me they are a very good personification of concepts I feel (and/or need to feel) connected to. For example, I list Tom Waits, Scheherazade, and Sherlock Holmes among my deities. They are all people I look up to almost more as concepts than as people, but are well-embodied in the people they are for connecting to those concepts, at least for me.

Examples like Scheherazade tend to be easy for people to accept, because she's a lot like, say, Arachne--a mortal character, may have existed or may not have, no one really knows, connected to very important stories and themes. She's the sort of character who could have been a goddess in the right pantheon.

Examples like Sherlock Holmes are less easy for people to accept because he is much more modern than Scheherazade, we know who created him, and he's been written about in too much detail to be properly considered mysterious. Moreover he is riddled with faults despite his wit and ability, and to some people this makes him inappropriate for deity status. Note, I don't say I consider Sherlock Holmes a god, but I do consider him one of my deities. It's a very thin line between the two, but a very important one.

Examples like Tom Waits are even harder for people to accept because Tom is a real person, is even still alive, and is very much in the public eye. Those people don't have to list him among their deities, but I do, because I think he's a fantastic embodiment of Awen, of listening to the spirit that calls YOU from among the crowd, and of fatherhood.

All of these people came from Spirit and have Spirit in them. They are all in the Infinite Library, and I think that makes them legitimate. But, regardless of whether they are legitimate, relating to them helps me relate to what I think are some of the most important (to me) aspects of Spirit, of the God and Goddess, of the Force Within All Things--and if they help me, who am I to refuse that help?

I say do what makes you feel comfortable. Especially if you are a solitary witch, there is no one who is going to be staring over your shoulder telling you you're doing Wicca (or any other Pagan religion) wrong. That's one of the best things about Neo-Paganism, is that you're not pretending that you're following some book to the letter. You acknowledge that some is old and some is new but all of it is right for you, and that's what really matters. And if you can live your Spirituality in a way that makes you a better person, then who's to complain?

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Re: Pop Culture & Spellwork - Opinions?

Post by scaravich »

I just thought of something related to this. I often play music in ritual and other spiritual workings, sometimes just as prayer, etc. ... and I have used music that has been created for fiction/pop-culture. For example, to celebrate rain or even to call spirits during a storm or rain, I'll play Song of Storms from Ocarina of Time. Because I played this game when it was new and I was 13 or something, and I've continued to replay it, the song has a lot of meaning to me. And it's well understood by many people as a tune of summoning spirits related to storms and rainfall, so I'm sure this knowledge and energy has reached the divine and they know it as well (if it didn't already come from them, as I assume anyway).

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