30 January 2014

Pop Culture Magick for Geeks - Who's Your Doctor?

In my last post I talked about some of the general ideas involved in working with pop culture characters as part of your magickal practice.  Any level of thought can create a link between yourself and the astral version of a character, but it really helps to dig a little deeper.  Before you begin working with a character it's important to decide which version of the character you want to work with.

Say you want to work with The Doctor (like I do).  The first thing you have to ask yourself is which Doctor?  Not only are there thirteen different regenerations to choose from, you've also got to look at the different versions of the Doctor that you find in things like comics, novels, and video games.  No, fanfiction versions do not count - unless you're crazy - and it's totally cool if you are. The older and more popular the character the more versions you're likely to come across; how many versions of Batman can you think of off the top of your head? 
You also need to decide if you want to work with a living character or a static one.  When I say a living character I mean a character whose canon is still evolving - particularly characters in active series where new material is constantly being put out into the world.  Living characters are still evolving and changing, so you have to keep potential changes to their natures in mind when you work with them.  It's slightly easier to work with a static character, like one from a completed series or a standalone film or book.  The character of Gandalf isn't going to be changing much, if at all, (even with new movies being produced) because the canon of his character is firmly etched in the works of Tolkien.  You know exactly what you're getting with a static character, thus making it easier to know who they might behave magickally.  Either way, know the version of the character you want to work with as thoroughly as possible so you know what you're getting yourself into.

What about characters you've created yourself?  We're working with popular characters because of the enormous amounts of energy that have been poured into them over the years by thousands of fellow geeks.  However, working with a character that we've created ourselves is essentially working with a thought form we've created and endowed with extra personality.  Oh yes my friends, chances are your half-orc barbarian in a five year Dungeons & Dragons campaign has had more thought and energy put into it than your average servitor.  Gaming characters (particularly pen and paper RPGs) also have the added bonus of available, customizable, figurines that make great simulacrums.

Many of us have put more energy into our gaming personae's thoughts, abilities, and actions than the average person would strictly consider healthy. Like when World of Warcraft has to remind us to log off and talk to our families - you know what I'm talking about *gives you a good stare*.  Gaming characters have the advantage of being malleable; we can turn them into just about anything we want them to be.  This means that we can purposely create characters with the aim of eventually using them in magickal workings.  Need a familiar to help with healing magicks - create a healer character; need help with protection - how about building a paladin?  But, of course, working with gaming characters has a unique problem: they occasionally die.  This can put a damper on things.  It's not so bad with MMORPG characters, they're designed to be resurrected ad nauseum, but sometimes when a pen and paper RPG character dies they're pretty much gone forever.  There's no rule saying you can't still work with the astral energy of a "dead" character, but the energy is different.  Just something to think about.

Basically, know what you're getting yourself into before working with a character. It's the same rule as with working with any power outside yourself - if it's got the ability to think it's got the ability to do something unexpected, so do your homework and be prepared.

22 January 2014

Pop Culture Magick for Geeks - The Things With The Stuff

This year at Pantheacon I'll be presenting a workshop on Pop Culture Magick for Geeks. Over the next few weeks I'll be doing a series of posts on that topic both for folks who won't be able to make it to the live presentation and to provide a little more info than I can reasonably give in a 90 minute presentation. 

There's something wonderful about being a magickal geek.  You see geeks, by their very nature, don't do things by halves.  Geeks don't "like" the things they do, they "obsess."  If a geek doesn't obsess over what they're doing with an all consuming passion (e.g. working on the same bit of code for five straight hours with nothing but a gallon of Code Red for fuel), they usually won't bother.  We see this in our fandoms (Doctor Who obsession anyone?), our gaming (World of Warcraft nearly destroyed my life and don't even get me started on DnD), and, of course, our magick (we can take daily practice to a whole new level).  The beauty of being a magickal geek is that we can actually harness the hundreds of hours of obsession with stories, the years of intense energy fixation into characters, into our magick.  

The Things With the Stuff!

One of my favorite ways to incorporate my geekery with my magick is to work with characters.  Like many inveterate nerds, I often find myself involved in deeper relationships with the characters of my favorite stories (books, tvs, movies, comics, etc.) and games than with other people; and certainly deeper than my relationships with many spirits or unapproachable deities.  I cannot count the number of hours or the amount of energy I've put into my favorite characters.  I can honestly say that I know more about The Doctor and Buffy as "people" than my own sister.  So, I've learned how to harness my obsessions and make them useful to my magick. There are two main ways of using a beloved character in magick: as a familiar or guide, or as a representation of a natural force or deity.

My favorite way to work with a character I obsess over is as a familiar or guide.  Popular characters, think Batman or Aragorn, have a life of their own.  They have tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people pouring energy into them over many years; shaping them and bringing them into our collective unconscious.  Many of these characters are more universally beloved than a lot of deities these days (just look at the crowds at the premier of any Marvel movie).  All of the love and devotion poured into these characters creates a thoughtform of them in the astral plane.  As we individually strengthen our relationships with these characters (by engaging with their stories, talking about them, getting their merchandise, and generally making them a part of our lives) we connect to the energy of that character in the astral.  It's just like strengthening the potential power of a ritual through repetition - the more energy we engage in with a character the more energy we can get back out of them when we need it.  

Once you've got a relationship with a character you can work with that character in the same ways you would with just about any other sentient entity.  I once had a rather difficult encounter with some vampiric spirits and called on the character of Van Helsing to assist my divination in finding a way to deal with the problem.  The character of Van Helsing has more than a century's worth of energy of people believing him to be the absolute authority on vampires - his expertise did not disappoint me.  I've also called on the occasional superhero to escort me home when taking the bus late at night or walking through sketchy parts of town.
And, of course, The Doctor is my spirit guide.  He's a character that embodies pretty much every quality I want in my spirit guide - intelligent, cunning, empathetic, wise, and kind.  He gives fantastic advice and is an excellent intermediary between myself and otherwise less understandable forces.  

I basically work with familiar characters from my favorite geeky obsessions the way other folks work with fae, spirits, daemons, or minor deities.  

Some people also use pop culture characters as representations of deity.  It can be difficult for the modern mind to feel strong connections with antique deities.  Ancient mythology is filled with references to what was once everyday life, but really how much empathetic connection can an office worker have with tales of hunting wild boar afoot or the growing of barley?  It can be easier to look at modern characters as intermediaries or embodiments of the deities of our ancestors.  It can be easier to use a Wonder Woman action figure on your altar to represent Diana than a museum replica (not to mention astronomically less expensive).  I'm rather partial to using Captain Jack Harkness as a representation of Eros (just think about it, it totally fits).  If your brain as an easier time connecting to a modern character that can symbolize a deity you want to work with, go for it.

I have also heard of folks actually worshiping pop culture characters as deities in their own right.  Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about that.  It's not something I would do, but I can understand the inclination.  I'm very comfortable with ancient mythology and have no problem forming relationships with antique deities, but I can understand how that might be difficult for some.  Why wouldn't an avid comic book reader make an offering to Superman?  I vastly prefer to think of modern characters as spirits or advanced thoughtforms because I'm not sure they've been around long enough to have the power I feel like a deity should have, but that's just me.  If it works for you, more power to ya. 

Next up in Pop Culture Magick for Geeks - Who's Your Doctor? 
 Pop Culture Magick for Geeks - Bag of Holding

09 January 2014

Correspondence Courses - Magickal Defense

As much as I have enjoyed having a full month off of teaching, I'm starting to get that itch again folks.  Some of you probably had suspicions that this might happen when I left the Grey School, but yes I am going to start offering correspondence courses in a few subjects in the coming year, beginning with a full course series on Magickal Defense.  My plan with these courses is to offer in-depth information with a goodly dose of personal attention.  The lessons themselves will be downloadable pdfs with a goodly number of images and videos as is appropriate to the subject.  All of the courses will include a certain number of either google hangout or skype sessions so all students will have some real one-on-one time with me.  Of course, this is all a work in progress so things are still very fluid.

For those of you who have read my book or saw my Grey School course offerings, you know that magickal defense is one of my specialties.  It was the first magickal practice that I obsessed over and I've created A LOT of materials in it over the years.  I'm planning to create a three course series in practical magickal defense running from pure beginner into the quite advanced. 

I'm hoping to have the beginner course ready for its first students by Ostara at the latest and Pantheacon at the earliest.  The beginner course will cover shielding and filters, energetic awareness, magickal camouflage, the materia magica of defense and protection, creating simple protective charms, and clearing space.  Are there any topics you'd like to see me cover in this first course that I didn't mention?  Leave me a comment or shoot me an email - I'd love to hear from you!

The intermediate and advanced courses are in the pipeline and should follow a few months after the basic course is up. Further down the road I will be creating a course series on shadow magick, and possibly one on magickal pests, to go with my book.

So what do you folks this of this idea?  This is your chance to have some input on how these courses form so speak up!  Leave a comment or shoot me an email emily (at) e-carlin.com.