Pop Culture Magic Systems by Taylor Ellwood – Book Review

For imaginative witches like me, pop culture magic is a breath of fresh air. I’ve always connected more with fiction than reality, and I’ve been doing magical things with it long before I called myself a witch.

First, I admire how thorough, yet accessible the author’s writing style is. I also appreciate how he kindly discourages new, inexperienced practitioners from jumping into the creation of their own pop culture system until they’re familiar enough with magic. It’s great when someone with unique ideas and a breadth of knowledge on the subject is also wise.

The book takes you through the process of creating a fiction-inspired magical practice in rigorous detail, addressing every how and why. It asks you questions that you should be asking yourself in order to craft a fully functional, effective system. It even breaks down the eleven Principles of Magic and explains the value of correspondences.

The ongoing controversy surrounding pop culture paganism still baffles me. The author spent years testing and verifying his ideas and it shows. He doesn’t bash traditional systems of magic; in fact, he advises you to study them first. If you’re one of the skeptics, give this book a chance before you knock it.

The author provides examples of magical workings that include Horizon Zero Dawn, Dragon Ball Z, Harry Potter, Batman, and more. He shows how you can incorporate any fictional characters or things from their worlds in your practice. The possibilities are endless, which is what’s so intriguing about this type of magic: although it’s relatively new, fandoms contribute sweeping amounts of energy in the form of fanart, fanfiction, headcanons, role-play, and cosplay. I dare agree with the author that the stories of today could inspire traditions in the future.

People may have practiced similar forms in the past, but fiction-inspired magic is still groundbreaking. It shows us that the imagination can be a force to be reckoned with. It reminds us that our inner worlds can pool together and create things as (spiritually) real as folklore and mythology, just as they have in ancient times.

However, nothing is perfect. There is one thing in the book that I can’t agree with.

The book says that spirits, traditional and modern, typically don’t care about romance or sex. They are said to view such things as only a means to deepening a connection, which I guess is anything but intimate. Based on my experience, at least, this doesn’t have to be true if you intend to contact a more loving spirit, and they can emerge from the same fictional universe. Perhaps not exactly the same, but identical enough. Let’s not forget that AUs (alternate universes) are a thing in the spiritual multiverse, which fanfiction writers tend to unknowingly explore.

How can you meet such a spirit? I imagine you’d dedicate a space to them like in the book, perhaps with little gifts they’d appreciate, but personally, I invoke them by daydreaming alone. Daydreaming has always been my magical gateway to other worlds, and it’s certainly manifested some very interesting experiences. Some were kind of bad (yet nonetheless validating), but I’d rather not discuss them, partially to avoid a tangent.

This is where the author and I diverge. To be honest, my practice is far less structured and more intuitive and spontaneous. I don’t believe everyone has to have a complex craft in order to be successful. The author isn’t arrogant, though. He clarifies that a system with a strong foundation is what works for him, and it’s something that would work for most magical practitioners. I’d never suggest beginners to just go with their feelings as I do. I have years of experience with the imagination and interacting with the spirits that passed through it. If you’re interested in working pop culture magic, this book is your best guide.


4 and a half full moons out of 5

Say the Magic Words