Movie Magick - Using Modern Media as a Magickal Medium
We may live in a modern world of technology and doubtful convenience, in a defective system that insulates most people from the facts, but magick has never died. Some of us know this, and use it to our advantage and the advantage of our fellow men. Here, we'll be taking a look at how to use a few of the omnipresent modern conveniences in our lives - film, TV, music and multimedia - for some rather interesting spellcraft. I've found it loads of fun, as well.
Mastering the Fundamentals
We'll be applying principal elements of Chaos Magick for this, so it's good to make sure we have the basics down first. So a quick review of chaos magickal theory is probably in order, for a general audience. Advanced practitioners can feel free to skip on to the next section.
Chaos magick asserts that the reason magick works is due to belief - anyone's belief. To a certain extent, this plays out in some of the less mainstream areas of science - morphic fields for example. Rupert Sheldrake postulated the existence of nonlocalized fields of influence - patterns - behind the causation of what we see around us in the world. It's similar to Jung's postulate of an archetypal collective unconscious. For example, if you told a group of people to envision a door, they would probably each come up with their own unique imagery of what that door would look like. But they would probably all have some things in common - a handle, hinges, and so on - and they would probably be on the same sides of their door-imagery. Jung suggested that while we encounter different instances of, say, doors in our lives, there was an underlying image somewhere in our collective unconscious of the one, perfect door, and that every physical instance of doors we encounter were only doors to the extent that they posessed those door-like qualities of the perfect door. Jung postulated that we do this with everything - what a good teacher is or should be, what a good politician is or should be, and so on. Sheldrake posulated that these weren't just psychological concepts, but rather patterns that existed somewhere in the Unmanifest, subtly influencing how the material world manifests itself. He also theorized that these morphic fields had an intensity of influence that increased or decreased depending upon how often they were mentally invoked in the world by people thinking about them. Sort of the way planets have gravitational fields that increase as they accumulate more matter, and particularly more density. For morphic fields and archetypes, this density corresponds with Will, belief, and use. This is basic Chaos Magick.
Chaos Magick goes on to suggest that, for an occult practitioner, one needn't personally believe in something in order to apply it to their magickal workings. So long as it has accumulated enough psychic momentum and inertia - as long as someone believes in it and uses it, or enough people, it would be usable magickally. Thus, a mage who believes this is perfectly free to mix and match with different magickal systems and ideologies with complete freedom, grabbing something from Judaic folklore, then perhaps something from Germanic mythology, and even smatterings of pop culture if they like - after all, mass media has allowed recent ideas to reach audiences of millions, and far more quickly than older morphic fields in past civilizations with far fewer people. Imagine the untapped psychic inertia inherent there. Consider your average Disney movie, for example. How many times have characters like Pinnochio or Jimminy Cricket been instilled with the awe, wonder, and very often belief of generations of children? The morphic fields of those characters would be quite strong indeed. Though they may be fictional characters, writers have often described how their characters can "take on a life of their own", and authors very often report how their books often seem to "write themselves" and that it can be very difficult to maintain control of the direction of their work - and sometimes, to kill off a character or stop writing them. At that point the character, though a creation of man, has taken on enough psychic inertia to have become an egregore - and it is a perfectly valid metaphysical agent and archetype to invoke and work with.
The Screen as a Portal
In addition to using imbued momentum behind pop culture symbolism for magickal workings by applying principles of chaos magick, the modern media provides quite another extremely useful magickal opportunity as well. It is possible to use the screen as a sort of magickal gate or portal, sending magickal energies and even spirit entities through the screen to arrive at the filming location, at the point in time that the television show, movie or news report was filmed.
Why does it work? Because the filming process is a sort of technologically-based magickal ritual in and of itself! When you think of a TV show, for example, there's an entire process behind it all. Writers must envision the scripting, the actors must be cast in their roles and learn them well, directors orchestrate, producers channel the funding for the project, make-up, hair and costume people apply themselves to making the characters look realistic, set designers and prop people work to establish a realistic setting for the fictional work, and people behind the camera work to bring the fantasy to you on your screen. It has all the elaborate ceremonial preparation of a traditional magickal ceremonial ritual, and all to the end of bringing it to you on your screen. The amount of time and devotion spent in the Choice to manifest that on your screen has also resulted in a metaphysical momentum to bring it to you - and when you watch the show, to a certain extent you invoke that Working and allow it to manifest in your living room or on your computer. What we're not used to doing is thinking about it in magickal terms. When we do, we can consciously Work to invoke it in more than just the sense that it appears on your screen. The screen becomes a medium or conduit, like a window - but that window can be opened, and metaphysical energies and even spirits can be directed through it.
What good is all this? It can be tremendously useful. Perhaps most constructively, it can be used as a conduit to direct Divine, Loving, Healing energies through the screen to the performers and creators of a show (and don't forget to send some to those working behind the scenes). Have you ever adored something on TV or film so much that you wished you could give something back to the people who created it for you? Well, now you can! Why just give applause, when you can give Love and Joy to those onscreen you cherish? Every act of Love reaffirms every other act of Love in Creation, so it can be a tremendously positive way to make the world a better place - and keep those good shows coming your way, as well. Ever watch the news and wish you could do something for the victims of man-made attrocities and natural disasters? Go for it! Try it the next time they report on hurricane victims or war wounded.
Speaking of attrocities, how many times have our politicians and occasionally our news media attempted to make us feel disempowered? How many times have they deliberately pursued a fraudulent and phony agenda in a selfish quest for personal power? Come to that, how much primetime drivel and demeaning, dehumanizing television shows and movies will we let them get away with putting on the air, in place of something with a worthwhile and meaningful agenda? How much filler, essentially, will we let them use to displace focus on stuff that is either worthwhile, something we urgently need to hear about (real news, for example), or both? Have you ever just wanted to bitchslap someone on TV for their debased antics? Well, now you can! The next time you see someone on television perpetrating fraud against an entire society, you can give them the metaphysical equivalent of a backhand. (Again, don't forget the people working behind the scenes - such as those whose interests they're representing.) Invoking their karmic debt to bring them something they've got coming is always fun - and because it's based on justice rather than malice, it's counterintuitively a form of white or grey magick, not black magick. When you can't change anything socially, economically, or through political action, working metaphysically can actually be very civic-minded.
You can also simply use the location itself as a destination for energywork. The filming ritual attempts to bring, among other things, a particular point in Space and Time to you via your screen. I've been known to watch old B-movies from the 50's, and funnel energies back into the 50's (and believe me, the 50's could use some energy to shake them out of their suburban, white-picket-fence, Leave It To Beaver psychological lethargy). What's especially nice about this is that because it ends up in the past, the energy has plenty of time to take root, influence society, burgeon and flourish between then and the time you actually Work with the energy - so you've just established a sort of temporal feedback loop. It gets stronger and stronger in the world as this happens.
Sending spirits and thoughtforms works as well. They can land in the past at the filming location, working in the world from there, and you can also target those on-screen and to some extent those behind the scenes to be the recipients of the entity - or the victims, depending on what it is you're doing. I'll leave some of the practical applications of this to your own imagination.
A Note about Altering the Timestream
"But what about the timeline?", I hear you ask. What about changing the past and creating a temporal paradox? If I change something back then, I could create a temporal paradox that would destroy everything!
Let me tell you from personal experience altering the timeline, both with movie magick and otherwise, that there is nothing particularly sacred about Time. Science tells us otherwise, that we live in a Causal place where Event A causes Event B, which in turn causes Event C. By that reckoning, taking away Event A will alter or remove Events B and C. But this scientific explanation of Time just doesn't pan out. I've seen this firsthand. You might as well have a friend halfway across the world, and worry about creating some kind of horrendous glitch in Space by sending e-mails back and forth.
Very briefly, Time is an illusion. Consciousness is nonlocalised in Space, and a constant in Time. Time is just a systematized argument for the idea that events can occur that aren't caused by Love - and that's bull. Oh sure, it sounds good, and we've grown up accepting it as real, but in spiritual and metaphysical terms it just isn't true. So consciousness is, simultaneously, projecting the events of the present, the 1950's, and the Dark Ages. One point in Time doesn't "lead" to another point further along, because the whole thing's an illusion. It's kind of like the pattern of lights thrown onto the walls and floor of a room by a disco-ball. One spot of light doesn't really cause another - they're all illusions thrown simultaneously from another cause entirely. And Spacetime quietly accepts alterations in the past and lives with it because after all the arguing and scientific rhetoric is over, at the end of the day our Will is stronger than, and displaces, the illusion of Causality. And thank God for that.
The whole notion of temporal paradoxes as seen in various time-travel science-fiction is based on a faulty model of what Time is. It cites that if you do something a certain way, the whole of Time breaks down. That's an indicator of a breakdown in the model, not of Time. Trust me, there's nothing particularly sacred about this particular timeline. Have a look. It could have been much, much better. And I think it will have been, eventually. Nobody wants this... and the past is hardly set in stone.
Film as a Model of Causal Manifestation
While we're on the subject, it's interesting to note that perhaps the best model for how the physical world of Space and Time is manifest can be found at the movie theater. Consider the Silver Screen for a moment. We see people and places on it, acting out events, but they're not really "there". It just appears that way. We'd no more expect to find Nicole Kidman stuck to the Silver Screen than we would expect a word in the English language to be the genuine article it represents. Instead, we know that light comes out from the projector bulb, pours through a strip of cellulose that has patterns of shape and color on it, and that patterned, colored, filtered light projects onto the movie screen, larger than life (and only half as real). That's probably the best analogy to how the physical world is made manifest that I've yet seen. Outside of the illusory patterns of Space and Time, the pure Light of Consciousness streams forth. At some arbitrary point, we Create artificial patterns of thought - morphic fields - that take that light and distort it according to our Choices. (Granted, our ultimately true Will would be for pure Divine perfection, but we'll set that aside for the moment.) That Light imbues the Patterns we Choose with a seeming substance of reality, and they show up around us like the images show up on the Silver Screen. Not wholly real, but to a certain extent we've Chosen them and can, if we Choose, temporarily suspend our disbelief. Or, we could go up into the projection room and alter the next reel, drawing on some of the frames with a Magic Marker, resplicing it out-of-sequence, or whatever we'd like. We wouldn't worry that altering one frame on the film would hurt the other frames to follow, and it's the same with altering the Timestream - because the Past doesn't actually create the Present. We do.
You can also create your own personal system of magickal symbology to work with, or apply symbolism from any of the more formalized areas of magick you may already use. This will allow you to use concepts expressed in pop culture as a means to invoke your magick. For example, if you were an alchemist, you might use White and Red, and look for shows, movies or music that expressed or expounded upon those themes. It all depends on what your native symbolism is based in. I'm a very dynamic, Sagitarius type who uses the concept of sex as a personal metaphor for the Joy that is felt when we, as beings, act together in unity. I also use it assertively as an expression of personal and social empowerment, particularly against some of the unhealthy psychological messages we've been getting increasingly from our media and our politicians. The Dom/sub energies found in the BDSM community work particularly well for this. So it's no surprise that I use things like Adam Ant's "Manners & Physique" as ritual music when marshalling my forces against the facile, disempowering agendas we find broadcast at us in the world, particularly by some in positions of power or notoriety. Their "Human Bondage Den" works well in magickally tripping up some of the totalitarianistic moves being made recently in politics. So does The Primitives' "Noose" - it all depends on what kind of music gets you movin'. I primarily find ritual music works well in directing energies, while the screen presents a nice portal for channeling and directing it through. For example, try playing Siouxsie and the Banshees "Monitor" while watching the Fox News with the TV volume turned down a bit. Often, using pop music as ritual music allows you to direct your energies and entities without even needing to use a screen. You can just load them in your MP3 player's playlist, and reach right through Causality to deliver them directly to your intended target. With practice, you can do energywork like that all day, invoking and sending energies and entities while listening to music you like and/or watching shows and movies. And ultimately, they're just a convenience. You'll eventually find that you can do it all on your own when need be. It's a great way to learn.
As you can see, you can pretty much co-opt any media for your magickal purposes. Using ritual music for magickal purposes is almost as old as the practice of magick itself, and has a long and noble tradition. And in these modern times, it presents an excellent remedy for a megaphone of media that blankets the whole of society with messages that are usually bland, demeaning and disempowering. It's a very assertive way to talk back to a lot of the worthless agendas in society - and get results.
You can even go through film and TV shows you resonate with, take audio samples relevant to your magickal working, and use programs like GoldWave to drop those samples directly into your ritual music in MP3 format. For example, I've created this to work on some of the agendas forcing disempowering, vapid, facile, artificial messages the world is currently being bombarded with both in the media and noncausally. It's a modest edit, with samples and symbology that have meaning to me. There are programs out there that could do it a lot better than GoldWave, such as FL Studio or Reason, but it works as a proof of concept, and for my purposes.
If you start getting into it and enjoying it, you can even start making your own magickal music and selling it online. Usually what's lacking for music, other than technical skill, is a creative basis. By creating music with a magickal basis, you would have something to center it around.
While we're on the subject, it's probably worth taking a look at various internet memes, viral videos, and so forth. Like Bananaphone - was it designed for a magickal purpose? Is it magickal, or isn't it? Few ways to know, for sure - if it was designed by a chaos mage, it very well could be. The same goes for mainstream media fare - there's pretty much no way to tell, especially with mages using their own various magickal symbologies. As an increasingly totalitarian system continues to clamp down on mainstream media, restricting what it can say and talk about, and reducing most of it to meaningless drivel, it's nice to know that we have something that can sneak in under the radar - and be devastatingly effective. And it's nice to have a medium, a way to piggyback magickal workings on music and Flash videos you can make on your own.
As a few more items of interest on this:
- You can also use paintings, photos, drawings and cartoons as a gate. In the case of art, you can either choose to access the pure mental concept being expressed by the artist, or the artist himself by tuning into his creation (which was doubtless on his mind for quite a while creating it).
- When you've become practiced with this technique, there is an additional technique you can apply. If the TV or movie screen is a window, through which you can reach places and people, then Causality is like a bay window. That is, like a giant movie screen on all sides of us, seeming real but actually a projection. We can reach through it, just like a screen, and affect the forces outside of Space and Time that have brought it about - what the Bible calls "powers and principalities". Magickal experience with this technique, and karmic balance play large parts in the ability to do this successfully, because abysmal karma will only bind you more into Space and Time, making it tougher to reach past it. Just ask any Buddhist.
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