05 February 2014

Pop Culture Magick for Geeks - A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villany

Some of my favorite characters in the geek universe aren't the clean cut heroes.  Everyone loves a good anti-hero and nobody tops are really compelling villain, but do you really want to work with them magickally?  Absolutely!  The energy stores available to a really amazing villain are incredible.  However, you need to be extremely careful about how you do it.

The whole point of working with pop culture characters in magick is to utilize the rapport you've already established with a character and to tap into the energy that you and every other fan has pumped into it.  The rapport you have with a character is the same whether it's a hero, villain, or something in between.  The energy surrounding a character, however, is extremely different when we're talking good guys and bad guys. 

Let's take a look at the energy of an anti-hero as opposed to a straight up good guy.  A black and white hero, Superman for example, embodies purely "positive" traits such as honesty, loyalty, compassion, etc. (Yes, yes, I know every hero has a dark side and that those are the best stories - just go with me on this.)  Such upstanding and forthright heroes tend to gather very strong positive energy and you can absolutely count on that energy to want to "do the right thing," making it pretty darn safe to work with.  A good anti-hero is a lot more complicated; they tend to have fairly obvious flaws (think Wolverine's anger management issues or Deadpool's insanity - seriously, I love the character but work with him at your own risk) and don't always stand on the moral high ground.  The energy surrounding an anti-hero is a lot less predictable than the energy of a more clear cut hero; sometimes it's extremely positive and other times it's quite negative, and that energy can change rapidly - particularly if the character is still evolving in the public consciousness.  That means you have to be even more careful than normal to be precise about which version of a character you want to work with (see my previous post for more info).  If the energy you want is from a character during a particular comic issue, television episode, or movie you need to explicitly say so and be totally sure of your intent before you start your working.
Deadpool and Loki - I have no idea who made this image but I love that person

And then there's the true villains - The Joker, Darth Vader, Loki, Malificent.  I adore villains and I tend to work with them a lot.  Yes, I like to play with fire, but you should know that about me by now.  Working with villains is just like working with anti-heroes, but much much hairier.  Villains have baggage, lots and lots of baggage, and that carries over into the energy that's available surrounding them.  Their energy is strong, often stronger than that of the heroes that fight them, but it's often tainted.  It's the nature of a villain (in everything but horror movies) to ultimately lose the battle and that inevitable failure can, potentially, affect your working if you're not extremely careful.  When I work with villains I tend to utilize just one or two qualities that the villain embodies.  For example, utilizing Loki's ability to talk anyone into just about anything or the Joker's ability to disrupt established patterns (no matter what the cost or consequences).  Villains also tend to have more of a mind of their own, so you must be extremely precise when outlining your intent in using them.  Give the mind of a villain an inch and it will take ever so much more than a mile.  I mean it, be careful!

*Steps down from moral high ground* And sometimes you just need to do a working that requires more moral ambiguity than Captain America can provide.  We're all our own people and can do whatever we want as long as we're willing to accept the consequences of our actions.  If what you really want is to cause a little chaos, then working with a villain will do that.  There will be a price (there's always a price), but the work will get done.  I'll leave it at that.

Other Posts on Pop Culture Magick for Geeks
The Things With The Stuff - A basic introduction to using pop culture characters in magick
Who's Your Doctor? - Thoughts on determining version of a character you want to work with
Bag of Holding -  Tools, props, and altar swag


  1. Have you worked with Maleficent?

  2. Also, how do you work with characters that antagonize themselves? I even feel dirty and hypocrite working with a Villain and the following day attempting to work with a Hero? I almost feel like the Hero is turning his/her back on me as soon as I knock in their door lol

    Wodnerful blog BTW

  3. I haven't worked with Maleficent specifically, though I've considered it. I don't really know her well enough to work with her.

    I haven't really had a problem working with villains one day and heroes the next. Then again, I avoid working with direct antagonists (I wouldn't try working with Batman one day and Poison Ivy the next) and rarely work with straight up evil villains (I prefer the morally ambiguous ones).

    I think it would also depend on what you were doing with the villains - I wouldn't try to sling a hex with Ursula one day and then call on Captain America the next because he'd probably refuse.

    I tend to limit my work with villains to very specific tasks in order to utilize their strengths without falling prey to their weaknesses or getting too much psychic sludge on me. I could certainly see working more extensively with a villain that you have a special kinship with, but you'd have to be very careful how much influence on your thoughts and actions you allow them to have - just like with any other entity. Working with villains is a lot like working with dark faeries - it's great if you're extremely careful but it's easy to get in over your head.

    1. Hello, Emily. Thanks for replying. You are a very kind.

      Well, I´m trying pop culture magick so this is how I found your blog. It´s wonderful. I feel the connection with the chracter is stronger if I derive them from pop culture. They speak to me. But as much as I like throwing myself into things I also like to step back for a moment a assess myself and what I am doing.

      I have a very strong kinship with Maleficent. It almost comes spontaneous because I love the character. I tried working with her, I got results but now I want to tread carefully on how to do it, how much and for what and why I´d like to work with her, for example. I like your observations about how one must avoid getting too much psychic sludge, or avoid if possible using direct antagonists. One thing that you said that caught my eye was your observation about working with dark faeries.

      I have never worked with faeries, let alone dark ones, so I was wondering if you could point me to resources to learn about what is it like to work with them? And/or could you elaborate on the comparison between dark faeries and villains just a little bit more and how can one be careful? I assume not be very trusting, keeping some barriers around you and the people you care, not letting them override your willpower or decisions, etc.

      Your input is much appreciated as well as your time, of course. Thank you very much. Have a nice day.

  4. Check out Edain McCoy for books on working with faeries. She's quite good. You can check out "Dark Faeiries" by Bob Curran for general information on dark fae, though not how to work with them.

    I liken working with villains to working with dark fae because they are both fundamentally dangerous and generally lack sympathy for the majority of humanity. It's rarely a "good" idea to work with either, though I feel compelled to do so anyway. Both dark fae and villains are more likely to try and trick you, twist your words, or generally make your work more difficult than it has to be. However, if you manage to actually earn their trust and mutual respect they can be incredible allies. It is much, much harder to do this with an antagonistic being than a friendly one.

    If you want to work with any particular villain, like Maleficent, I recommend developing a strong relationship of mutual respect before doing any major magickal workings. Get to know her personality and what types of tricks she may pull, then you'll now whether to trust in her aid when you need it.