Book Review: Pop Culture Magick, 2nd Edition
Pop Culture Magick
Megalithica Books; 2nd edition (August 14, 2008)
When I first heard that somebody was seriously considering writing a book on media magick (specifically pop culture), I was both thrilled and terrified. As a longtime lurker on many boards, I have encountered so many terrible ideas using new media that I was doubtful when opening this book.
With this one book, my impression of pop culture magick has completely changed. I commend Ellwood for identifying the importance of previous (and current) belief systems, rather than simply disregarding them, as so many authors are prone to do. The first few chapters of this book are devoted to what exactly “pop culture” is, why it is important in our lives, and how powerful it can be. The idea that simply exposing people to something can give it power isn’t a new idea; however, Ellwood emphasizes exactly how important this factor is in one’s life from commercials (merchandise identification) to news (celebrities). With such a wellspring of options and power available in every day situations, it seems that using pop culture is an obvious choice for creating magick.
Ellwood emphasizes the importance of keeping one’s magick current to one’s living situation and personality. Finding a story or character that one identifies with can completely change the enthusiasm for magick; thus, a more powerful magick is made available to the magician. This concept is no different than when a magician may go searching in older religions for a god/dess that matches his or her needs.
According to Ellwood, a plethora of media is available for a creative magician to use. This includes: comics, cartoons, anime, books, movies, video games, card games, and even commercials! And why not? Many people follow characters or celebrities so closely that they know them better than family, friends, or even themselves; additionally, many books or movies provide clear rules and structure for their worlds that could easily be adapted for one’s own rituals. He generously shares examples from his own attempts and successes at using pop culture, as well as those of fellow magicians. If a reader is feeling up to the challenge, exercises are provided at the end of each chapter that can easily be used just as they are or adapted for one’s own ideas.
Like a responsible mentor, Ellwood not only emphasizes the positive in using these new techniques, but also reminds the reader of the risks associated with the practice. Just like every day people, characters from many sources have positive strengths that are just as strong as their flaws. While working with entities one may get the benefit of better strategy; however, that same character may have a splash of arrogance that can easily rub off on the magician.
Another useful thing Ellwood offers the reader is appendices with the various media he references throughout the text, as well as further explanations on some of the techniques he mentions. He also provides a bibliography of the texts he references, which could be useful to the reader.
The only problems I had with this book are completely technical. The font appeared small to me, and I’m not sure whether or not this has to do with the particular font or the actual font size. Also, while I understand the use of “hir” is a generous attempt at being gender-conscious, I find it’s usage to be hideous, especially in a book.
Using pop culture for one’s practices is certainly not a new idea, but many people are afraid of moving beyond the safe boundaries of known magical techniques. Ellwood invites readers to join him and others in, at the very least, giving these new techniques a chance. While the book is small, it provides a variety of examples to open the mind of the reader to the possibilities. Whether one is just curious about pop culture magick or seriously considering using it, I recommend this book.
4 and a half stars out of 5.
Review ©2009 RainSingingWolf
Edited by Sheta Kaey