Pop Culture Spells Are Real Spells

I’m sure you’ve heard it before. “That’s not a real spell” or “You can’t use that spell from Charmed” or my personal favorite “You need to use a spell from a real spell book not one that you made up or stole from TV.”

Some of my followers are laughing. You should be. The sad part is I’ve actually been told these things by other witches. I’ve heard them from actual people actually saying and believing this.

So I’m going to say this straight: this kind of thinking is illogical, infuriating, and bullshit.

Candle Smoke

Someone had to write those spells. Even in your precious “real spell book” (whatever that means because what separates a spell book from other books except intent and instructions?). I’m not even going to touch the fact that some actually people believe you shouldn’t write your own spells (or that you need a particular skill level or talent for it). Nope, I’m not going there. But I will go to that place where I can rant about the other stuff.

I’ve used spells from all sorts of places. TV shows, movies, books, poetry, video games, songs, instrumental music, even humming. I’ve used it all. None of the spells have failed because they were written for a video game. None. If they failed it was because a) Turning into a dragon is a bit out of reach at the moment (but who knows in the future?) b) I didn’t actually put effort into the spell and/or was just fooling around c) I didn’t power or empower the spell properly (look, unicorn horn and dragon teeth are kind of hard to come by, OK?) d) spells sometimes fail.

Let me give some examples of the cool shit I’ve done with spells from media forms:

  • Hair support spell – TV, slightly altered to turn from a curse into something more useable on myself
  • Attraction spell – a mix up of two songs with selected and slightly altered verses.
  • Short-term construct (created familiar) – song, verbatim
  • Mirror scrying spell – children’s book
  • Curse – based on a curse from a spell book, re-adapted for my novel, then re-adapted to be less vicious and used in real life.
  • Protection spells – general idea used by thousands of media forms AND witches
  • Harvesting spell – humming
  • Blessing for the dead – movie
  • Water boiling – a play
  • Annual festival ritual opening – poems
  • Annual festival ritual closing – anime / manga
  • Healing spell – Disney movie
  • Faerie conversation opener / spell – video game

All of these, by the way, worked as they were intended to. All of these were used in the same year.

Spell and Herb Candle by This Crooked Crown

Why is a spell written for a video game is less… whatever than one written by a magical practitioner from a hundred years ago? Why are words of a dead person considered more valid? They aren’t casting the damn spell. You are. So it doesn’t really matter where the spell came from because you’re casting it. You. You can turn anything into a spell. Even humming.

(The only exception I’ll make is if the spell itself is a living spell that gains power the more you use it. But that’s the only exception and I’ve never actually seen a spell like that in any books or ever used as an argument so we’ll put that exception aside.)

I really don’t understand the logic of a person who says “that’s not a real spell”. When they are asked to explain why that example isn’t a real spell they never say “because there’s no vocalizations, so it’s really just a working” (which, in my opinion, would be a valid argument and then the word choices would change for the rest of the discussion appropriately). They never say that. They just say “you can’t use a spell from Final Fantasy! You just can’t.” When asked to further explain, they’ll simply keep saying “Because it’s not a real spell.” It’s a circle of fallacy.

What people mean when they say something’s not a real spell is that it was not written by a practitioner for a practitioner to be used as a spell. That’s what they’re saying. And that’s bullshit. It’s also poisonous thinking.

No spell is valid until you do the spell and verify it for yourself. I don’t care that Sparkly Pony Butt the Greatest Witch There Is says the spell works. You. Didn’t. Do. The. Spell. If you didn’t test it, then there’s no it’ll work just because Sparkly Pony Butt says so. If you do the spell and it does work? Great! Even if the spell doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean the spell still isn’t valid just because it didn’t work for you. You are one person. You can’t invalidate an entire body of work just because it didn’t work for you. You might not like Game of Thrones but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid entertainment to other people, right?

For All Sorts of Money Powder by This Crooked Crown

On that idea, you can’t invalidate a spell from some media form just because it was written for a character. The character used it, didn’t they? The spell most likely worked for them too. So… why can’t it work for you? What? Because magic is different from their fictional world? The results might be less flashy and different but you’ll probably still get results. Using media forms for spells is brilliant. I’ll give you some example:

You broke up with your now ex-lover. You really still hate that asshole. They cheated on you, kicked your dog, shit in your cornflakes, called your art ugly, whatever. You want to curse them. Your ex-lover once charmed you by reading their favorite poem to you. Use that poem against them. Curse them by turning that poem into a weapon. Don’t change the words, change the intent of the words. Make it so every time that ex-lover utters a line from that poem they become entangled further in the curse. Make it so their shoelaces are never tied, their bread will always spoil, they’ll develop an uncontrollable bladder, or they’ll feel your heartbreak every time they read that poem. Every. Time.

Another example: You ran across an amazing healing spell in a video game. It is literally the most beautiful thing you’ve read and it strikes you in ways you can’t quite articulate. Use it. You feel a connection to it. That person you’re healing doesn’t care where you’re getting that spell from. All they care about is their flu going elsewhere.

Example Three: You’re watching Doctor Who and the Doctor said something that struck a cord. After thinking about it a little, you realize you can make it a spell. You’re excited and tell your Whovian friend who says you can’t use it (the the snarkiest way possible). The Doctor doesn’t believe in magic and blah blah blah. Now you’re a little heartbroken. Re-watch a couple of your favorite episodes (I’d avoid Doomsday) and do it anyway. Also yes, your Sonic Screwdriver can be your wand. Ignore anyone who says otherwise.

Example Four: Harry Potter. Use it. Love it. Ignore assholes who make snide comments. They aren’t on the Quidditch team and they’re just jealous. Seriously though, Harry Potter is often cited as an inspiration for many. Some of you probably came to magical practices from Harry Potter. Why shouldn’t a spell from the series be used as well? You might not be able to make something float as well as Hermoine, but you could probably use Wingardium Leviosa to lighten a heavy bag or box.

Pop Culture Spells Are REAL Spells by This Crooked Crown

Words are just words until they are given meaning. Given intent. We are the ones that ascribe emotional meaning and intent to words. Because words are just words, you can give them any intent you want. Turn that blessing into a curse, if you want to. It doesn’t matter what others say. Your spells are valid for you. They don’t need to work for anyone else. They just need to work for you. Tweak that song verse to fit your desires. Make it your own. And use it.

You’re a witch. Manipulating shit to our wishes is what we do.


Adapted from my original tumblr post here.

Fire Protection Spell

Fir e protection and fire safety is huge for me during this season. There’s tons of forest fires right now and there’s increased household fires due to people cooking more and Christmas light issues. Heaters can go wrong, fireplaces can be blocked, and people can put items too close to fire and heat sources. Essentially, fire safety and protection is really impotant during the winter months because we rely on it so much.

This spell is not about preventing fires. It’s not about fire safety. It is about protecting items from being on fire. So this spell is ideal for the rug that’s nearby the fireplace or the chair closest to the room heater. Use this spell in conjunction with fire safety and fire prevention spells to really shine.

What you’ll need:

  • Paper
  • Paintbrush
  • Ash or lampblack
  • Water
  • Colorants (optional)

First cut a piece of paper down to five inches by five inches or less. You cna make the shape or size whatever you want by five by five is a good size.

Next, lightly brush water over the paper on both sides and let air dry. The paper shouldn’t be soaked or sopping by rather lightly damp. Make sure it is dry completely before moving onto the next step.

Take your ash or lampblack and mix it with a little water so it’s a paste with paint-like thickness. Do a little at a time so you can control the consistency.

With the paintbrush, paint the following sigil or your own sigil style for fire protection. Let the sigil dry in between if there’s multiple layers to the sigil (like the X over the fire, for example).

My sigil is based loosely the Gylph of Warding from Dragon Age: Origins. I do many different styles of sigils so feel free to alternate to a sigil design that you prefer. Your sigil will not have color unless you add colorants like paint, mica, dried herbs, or other coloring ingredients.

Once the sigil is drawn, let it dry completely. When dry, place the sigil under, on, or near the item you want to protect. If you want to protect the rug from the fireplace, for example, then place this sigil under the rug.

Notes:

  • You can use a fixant spray, if you like, or put the sigil in a plastic bag to keep the sigil from damage.

How to Create a Deity (Pop Culture Paganism)

How to Create a Deity by This Crooked Crown

 

A few years ago there was quite a kerfuffle about pop culture paganism. Okay, I’m totally downplaying it. It was pretty much a knock-out drag-down fight where people from all over were weighing in on their private blogs and tumblrs. It was a thing for at least a week.

It’s a weird thing to debate to me because I’ve always been using pop culture and non-magical media as inspiration for my magic. I developed my system of energy manipulation through a children’s fantasy book when I was ten. I taught myself scrying from an adult fantasy book not long after that. There is a book series that I’m fairly confident I wouldn’t have survived high school or college without. I read it daily and it helped shaped me in troubled times. I always had a few copies of the books on me, and it got to the point where a friend had copies in her bag in case I forgot mine.

People find hope and faith in all sorts of places. It seems really weird to me that people would disparage anything that others find faith in. Who cares who or what someone else worships? Their worship doesn’t disgrace your deity or deities. If you feel that it does, then it’s something that’s off in your thinking, not the other way around. I mean, there are plenty of faiths that want to have one deity above them all but… uh, that deity’s existence doesn’t necessarily mean other deities don’t exist?

Plus, historically, there are a lot of deities we recognize now that were sort of adapted or merged from other deities. Some of this is due to our historical understanding and some of it was due to regionalism. This is basic, Wikipedia-level knowledge.

Creating deities isn’t new. And worshiping non-deities isn’t new either. It just isn’t. After all, some traditions invoke the elements into their circles, and they aren’t typically considered deities. Sacred, yes, but not deities. Ancestor worship is a world-wide phenomenon and those ancestors aren’t considered gods. Pop culture paganism isn’t just interested in pop culture based pantheons but all aspects of paganism. So pop culture based spells, sacred entities, and so on.

And why not now? Why not now when there’s so much else in the world then there was back then? Who cares if someone you know online worships a god of coffee or a goddess of procrastination? Who cares if they are following the Outsider from Dishonored or are serious about the Elven pantheon from Dragon Age? Who cares if Link and the Legend of Zelda is their source material? What difference does it make if they live by the Jedi codes? So what if they have a shrine to the deity of quantum mechanics? That entity gives them hope, faith, courage, and strength. It makes them stronger. It’s one of the major reasons why people become involved in religions to begin with.

Anyway, there is no proper list of requirements or a checkbox one must fill in to become a deity. There is no list. There is absolutely no such thing as a proper deity because any deity is a proper deity. This is a personal thing. You’re going to have to make up your rules or what is and isn’t a deity yourself.

I could tell you each deity needs attributes or associations, but that’s not strictly true. What each deity usually has is a sphere of influence.

A sphere of influence is the things the deity influences around them. Let’s take Hermes. Hermes is the god of boundaries and thresholds; doorways. This means he crosses between worlds. In fact, except for a few rare occasions, he’s the only deity that can cross between the realm of the dead (as he’s conductor of the dead and an emissary), the mortal realm, and the realm of the gods. This means he has influence in all three locations. Let’s go further. He’s a god of traveling, of journeys (since he’s a god of doorways). He’s also a god of transition, movement: again, traveling, change, etc. This means he’s key and ideal for anyone who’s livelihood relies on traveling. He’s a messenger, right? An emissary. He passes knowledge and information onto others, especially the masses. This means he’s key for any knowledge, wisdom, speechcrafting, or works of art or literature. He’s passing that information on, giving up that culture to others. He’s even a bit of a trickster in some myths, which plays well with his cleverness and previously discussed influences. These are the things he is: we know this because of the source material, the literature we have on him.

So, Hermes is a god of herdsman (travelers), heraldry (messenger), omens (messenger), trade (travelers, messengers and bringing things to the home), travel, luck (because you’d bloody well need it with traveling and hoping someone doesn’t kill the messenger), the dead (again, emissary of the dead), thievery (literally within his mythos), language, education, the arts, literature (again, communication via messenger), athletics (you do that much traveling and you’d be in shape too), and finally the home.

Now the home is interesting here isn’t it? He’s a god of travel but he’s also a god of doorways. Your doorways. To your home. Why the hell wouldn’t you ask such a god to guard your doorways from trespassers? Why wouldn’t you ask for luck and grace as you pass under his doorway each and everyday? You return the same way as well.

That’s all in his sphere of influence. And it goes further. Hermes is associated with rams, due to mythology. So rams are in his sphere of influence. So are certain types of trees, symbols (winged hat, shoes, and staff anyone?). Hermai are a specific symbol that appear over doorways, crossroads, and regular roads as a mini shrine to Hermes himself. And that’s just off the top of my head. I’m sure someone out there has a whole huge list of what he’s associated with, all information gathered through mythology and historical, cultural research.

That’s his sphere of influence. Now, how does this relate?

Hearth by This Crooked Crown

Each deity there is can be broken into spheres of influence. Anything from the smallest fae to the greatest deity. All can be broken down into their associations, into their spheres of influence. As a creator of your own deities, you have to create your own mythology and spheres of influence for each of your deities. How detailed they are is up to you. You’ll find it’ll grow through associations humans make with objects.

I’ll take an example from one of my fictional novels-in-progress.

Deandr is a god of death, luck, intoxicants, war, and madness. He shares madness with two other godesses, the goddess of love and passion and the goddess of music, tricksters, and inspiration. Because Deandr’s a god of death and war, he’s worshiped by warriors. He’s a god of fighting (see: death)  and intoxicants so he’d be popular among brawlers and drunkards. He’s a god of luck so gamblers and thieves would find him irresistible. He’s also a god of madness – madness from drinking, from the throes of winning and losing, of adrenaline, blood lust, grief, despair, death, etc. He’s a god of a lot of things. Carrion birds, flesh-eating animals, animals used in combat (like horses), animals considered lucky (rare animals, like albinos, or two headed snakes) would all be part of his sphere of influence. Any plan used to make alcohol or intoxicants would be in his sphere of influence. Lesser attached but still considered would be children born of illicit drunken affairs, prizes from war, money and commerce, crafting, brewing, games. These are things that are attached to him simply by association, even if they strictly aren’t in his sphere of influence.

Now, obviously, spheres of influence can overlap with deities – this is true of all mythology, again, using Hermes as an example, he shares his status as a god of messengers with Iris and he shares his status as a god of the home with Hera and Hestia, depending on the home.

Spell and Herb Candle by This Crooked Crown

 

So the answer is there is no list. You have to decide what each god is in control of and from there let the associations grow. What does that god influence?

I’ll use a pop culture example. Let’s go with Cecil from Welcome to Night Vale. He’s the Voice of Night Vale – so speaking is his thing. But he’s also a messenger of news and plays music residents might not otherwise hear. So he’s the the bringing of new things, changes. He’s ruler of words, carefully crafted. But it goes deeper than that. He’s charismatic. He has influence and can dominate over people. He can sway public opinion, for good or bad. It goes, again, further. He’d also be great at self-deception, love at first sight, and living or creating his own world. He’s a big part of his community and clearly loves it so he’d be great for worship within a community.

For our purposes, this means he’s skilled with all chants and word spells, he’s mesmerizing so he’d be great with influencing and dominating others. As a radio host he’d had a radio personality – meaning he’s partially an illusion. He’d definitely be the entity you’d want to call upon if you had to make a public speech, need to convince someone to do something for you, or send a secret message. Associations would be music, words, voice recordings, any type of broadcasting equipment, broadcasting towers, cats, Carlos, and various other things he’s mentioned as a personal interest. All that from a character who’s physical appearance and off-radio personality we don’t even know.

Bonfire by This Crooked Crown

 

So when you create your deities, sit and really think about them. If they’re a god of water then what does water effect? Well, there’s animals living within it, there’s atmospheres of the sea, there’s darkness and light. There’s stillness and movement. It creates life and can kill. It’s literally a whole world. It can partially suspend gravity (as shit can float on water). And that’s just the beginning. That doesn’t even get into the composition of the water itself or how humans use it. It doesn’t get into that we’re made up of water. Water comes from the sky as well, can be both solid, semi-solid, and liquid (transforming much?). And it goes a ton further than that.

All of that before you get to the setting up of the altar, shrines, or holy spaces. All of that before offerings, rituals, and invocations. Can you skip those steps, sure. But you’ll find that you’ll connect much easier on a rational level when you have things laid out. You’ll find people will take you more seriously (and you’ll take yourself more seriously) when you have it all laid out.

This is a long-term, deeply personal project for each person. It will require quite a lot of thinking and researching the source material. It’ll require you to decide which source materials to follow when you have conflicting information. It’ll require you to think and really connect with this entity as you develop your practice. No two people approach the same entity in the same way – that’s true in any religion. It’s true in pop culture paganism too.

Good luck to those starting this endeavor. I hope this helps provide some thoughts on your path. I’m happy to be a sounding board to bounce ideas off of, if you’re stuck! Just drop me an email. Best wishes!

[Updated and adapted from my original post here.]

Lirenne’s Hex (tumblr repost) (Spell Saturday #6)

This one is firmly planted in the realm of pop culture magic, specifically the Dragon Age universe. Taken from Dragon Age: The Masked Empire. So if you haven’t read the book and/or don’t want to be spoiled, skip this post (although, this spoiler is so out place you don’t really know the context without reading it). If you’re not into practicing pop culture magic or paganism, just past this one by.

As a character, I both like and dislike Lirenne. I might have liked her more if I knew more about her but she’s kind of archetype more than a fully fleshed out character which saddens me. She’s also a mid-book entrance character, an apostate mage that specializes in entropy with a bit of creation on the side. Despite this working against uneven characterization, she does have a fantastic hex on page 338 which she uses against a varterral.

For those who don’t know or don’t remember, the varterral is a guardian of elven ruins. You fight one in DA2 and read about one in DA: The Masked Empire. It looks similar to a praying mantis, but blind, venomous, and bound by magic. In The Masked Empire, the varterral “feels our movements through the ground, like a snake, and it tastes the guilt of those who dishonor this place.” (Felassan, page 332) This should bring back memories for DA2 players and readers of The Masked Empire alike.

Onto the spell. First, to quote the book:

Lirenne smiled, even as the varterral turned to Gaspard. “Spirit born of wood and stone and air, you were created to protect those now dead. You have failed in your duty.” She raised her hand, and her staff flared with pale light. “Fail again.” (page 338)

Now, how can we recreate this fantastic little hex in real life?

To defeat an enemy that is more powerful than you, especially someone in a position of authority, this spell would be perfect. This spell would be even better if followed up with a secondary curse. Here’s what you’ll need to complete this hex:

  • A substitute for your enemy. Poppet, picture, piece of hair/skin/nail/object they own.
  • What they’ve done against you or what they do
  • String of some kind

Get your substitute and center yourself. Rage is probably the emotion you’re feeling right now but it doesn’t have to be to rock this spell. Just be absolutely dead set on destroying them.

Pointing or death glaring at the substitute, really focus on the idea that your target will stumble, that for a moment their world will pause, shift, and in that moment, you will strike (that strike could be a second curse or a more mundane method of deposing them.) If you use visualization and/or energy manipulation, visualize the moment where your target will slip up and push your energy out in a sharp flash to cut at the knees, so to speak. (If they rely on their car for example, their knees might be their car’s health).

Now say,

“Creature of spite, ignorance, and hate, you were (trained/taught/granted/born,etc) to (what they’re suppose to be doing). You have failed at this.”

Wrap the substitute with the string, binding it. Focus on the legs but don’t forget the torso. You can also cross out/sew shut the face, eyes, mouth.

Finish up by saying “Now fail again.” Really push that idea of what you want to happen. Take the substitute and bury it at a graveyard or crossroads.

Want some examples? Here you go:

Here’s one for a cop on administrative leave after being a racist dick:

“Creature born of spite, ignorance, and hate, you were trained to protect. You have failed in your duty. Now fail again.”

Another one for a teacher who goes out of their way to harass girls who do not comply to the misogynist school dress code.

“Creature born of spite, ignorance, and hate, you were suppose to educate. You have failed in your duty. Now fail again.”

A third one for an ex-friend who fucked someone over.

“Creature born of spite, ignorance, and hate, you were suppose to stay loyal at my side. You have failed. Now fail again.”

And so on. Really, the uses for this simple spell are endless, to be honest, especially if you pair it up with a curse.
Happy hexing! See the original tumblr post here.