Articles/Essays From Pagans
March 9th. 2014 ...
Healing the Witch Within
Discovering Wicca as a Young Child
March Pisces Energy: Pre-natal Memories and Standing Upright
March 2nd. 2014 ...
Lessons of Ostara: Six Ways to Move Forward
The Wiccan Priest - The Misunderstood Role
Which is Which? Am I a Warlock or a Witch?
The Secret Teaching: Selected Aspects
February 23rd. 2014 ...
Wicca or Traditional Witchcraft: Some Differences
Everything is Not Under Your Control: Making Sense of the Senseless
The Wonders and Gifts of Paganism and Community
What Makes Us What We Are
February 16th. 2014 ...
Death, Grief, and Psychopomp Work in Shamanic Healing
The Stones of Fear: Anxiety Relief
Spiritual Traveler: Form To Essence
Alternative Medicine – What Is It?
February 9th. 2014 ...
Words of Power!
The Allure of Glamour in the Apocolypse
Lunar Insight Planetary Preponderances: Year of the Horse, Imbolc and Mercury Grazings
February 2nd. 2014 ...
The Magick of Jewelry and Metals
Building a Magick Mirror
The Golden Bough: a Study Guide (Part 2)
January 26th. 2014 ...
Love of Self: The Hardest Thing To Do
The Golden Bough as a Seminal Work in the Neo Pagan Movement (Part 1)
13 Keys: The Mercy of Chesed
Lightworking In The Screen Age: Staying Connected
January 19th. 2014 ...
Open Letter to the Goddess
A Southern Girl's Guide to Hospitality
Social Conventions and the Pagan World
January 12th. 2014 ...
Never Once Was There a An Athame Near My Chalice: My Very Sheltered Occultist Upbringing
One Wiccan's Journey Through Depression
January 5th. 2014 ...
Religion vs Practice: Defining Witchcraft in a Modern Age
Traditional Apprenticeships: Training in the Modern Pagan Abbey
2014's Magickal Magnificent Manifestations!
Lunar Insight Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances: Wise and Wild
December 29th. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 3)
13 Keys: The Might of Geburah
Beyond The Season of Greed
December 22nd. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 2)
December 15th. 2013 ...
The Hex Murder of 1928
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 1)
Lady of the Forest Mist (A Story of the Woods)
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Hunting, Fires and Parting Shots
December 8th. 2013 ...
Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey
Using Your Wand in Reverse
Leaving a Group - Part 2: Leaving, Healing and Moving Forward
The Cry of the Soul
December 1st. 2013 ...
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
The Celtic Tree Calendar
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
The Role of Contemporary Culture in Magic
Article ID: 15310
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 400
Times Read: 2,025
RSS Views: 8,971
Author: Taylor Ellwood
Posted: February 3rd. 2013
Times Viewed: 2,025
Since I first started practicing magic in the early 90's, I've always been fascinated by the idea of applying contemporary culture to magical practices. That fascination has resulted in a couple of books such as Pop Culture Magick, but when I think of contemporary culture I don't just think of cartoons, comics, and T.V. shows, and all the other viscera of pop culture. Certainly they are artifacts of contemporary culture, but they are just one perspective of contemporary culture, albeit a rich perspective.
I see contemporary culture in the fields of study that all of us have access to. I see it in books on stage magic and neuroscience, communication studies and literacy, financial advice and business strategies, to a name few areas of study. All of these different fields of study, these disciplines, also offer a perspective of contemporary culture that can be applied to your spiritual work, if it's something that you find relevant.
Many of the spiritual traditions in Paganism are focused on reclaiming a spiritual tradition from the past. You see this in the reconstructionist movements, Wicca, and most other spiritual traditions. There's nothing wrong with looking to the past to seek your spirituality or discover your connection to Deity but I sometimes think that the focus on the path is also a rejection of contemporary culture, as if to say "There's nothing spiritual here, nothing that can inform my magical work." It could be argued that such a rejection is really just a rejection of mainstream culture with its mainstream religious beliefs, but I think the rejection can go deeper than that and ultimately be a rejection of any perspective we could uncover in the various trappings of contemporary culture.
What contemporary culture has to offer can actually be beneficial to the various magical practices a person could get involved in. Contemporary culture provides a multitude of perspectives about the universe we live in and the magician as part of their magical work can employ those perspectives. Contemporary culture also provides a glimpse of what the world could be, for better or worse. We shouldn't turn our backs on what we've been gifted, but rather look at how we can make it part of our spiritual work.
The integration of contemporary culture into my own spiritual work involves recognizing that the fundamental principles of magic remain the same regardless of what paradigm you apply to them. Thus, when I look at Neuroscience as a discipline, I consider how I can take the information and apply it to magical principles in order to incorporate that into my spiritual work. As a result, I work with neurotransmitters, stomach bacteria, and a variety of other microbial life as spiritual entities that can be contacted in the pursuit of establishing a better relationship with my body. It's not very different from working with elemental spirits, angels, daimons, or other types of spiritual entities. The main difference is that I'm working with my body and the various entities that inhabit it. I could only do that because of the advances of contemporary culture, which provided a way to learn about the body, beyond what is visually apparent.
In a similar fashion, my work with space and time as elements of magic could draw on some elements of classic cultures and their own dealings with space and time, but was much enhanced by how relevant space and time are to contemporary culture. I drew on the obvious discipline of Physics, since there is a lot of focus on space and time, but there was just as much to learn from anthropological and cultural studies of space and time, and disciplines such as interior and city design. The choice to explore what these various disciplines had to offer about space and time has proven helpful in understanding and integrating those concepts into magical work.
One more example is warranted. I'm currently writing a book on wealth magic. A lot of the research for that book involved reading others book on wealth magic, but just as much research has gone into reading books on personal finance, job hunting, and business management because those various disciplines also inform what wealth is and how it is manifested. The book and its techniques wouldn't be effective if I didn't factor in the context of contemporary culture and what it has to offer on the subject at hand. That information is invaluable for pulling off effective wealth magic, in my opinion, because it provides the magician multiple vectors for bringing wealth into his/her life. When you are going to do an act of magic pulling on all of the available resources at your disposal is wise because it allows you to create a path of least resistance for the magic to work.
I could draw on other examples to illustrate further, but I think my point is clear. While it is good to value what came before and learn from it in order to understand how it effects your spiritual practices, it’s equally as important to understand and explore contemporary culture and what it can offer us as well. We live in this culture, and rejecting it because it's not ‘traditional’ or ‘classical’ is really a presumption on the part of people who romanticize past culture, traditions, and disciplines without considering the context of what life was like in previous times. We have it good in this contemporary culture we live in, and we have access to so much more information about the world and the universe as well. The choice to apply it to our spiritual work is recognition that what we have access to has value and can enhance our spiritual work.
If we ignore that value because it isn't old or doesn't come from a tradition or grimoire, what we are really shutting the door to is the context of our lives. That seems a bit hypocritical when we continue to rely on all the modern comforts that our contemporary culture provides us. So look around at what you have access to and then take it and make it part of your life and spiritual work. Its value is found in your own applications and in how you make it your own.
Copyright: Taylor Ellwood 2013
Location: Portland, Oregon
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