Looking at Pop Culture Paganism

August 15, 2014 at 3:42 am 11 comments

After writing about how non-traditional deities and spirits may or may not fit within my concept of polytheism, I was curious to learn more about the ways it manifests. Plus as I confront the truth, that really I am not all that culturally Celtic, I need to ask the question what is my culture, and how might I draw from it? 

Myriad Ways of Pop Culture Paganism– Answers from Vanaheim blog-

Pop Culture Paganism may include any of the following:

(I’ve bolded items that I feel open to exploring)

  • Using words and phrases from pop culture in ritual (for instance, “So say we all” instead of “So mote it be”, calling the quarters using Hogwarts Houses, etc.)
  • Using a picture or other representation of a character to represent a traditional deity (ie. using a picture of Yue from CardCaptor Sakura to represent Mani or another moon god, in this case, it was because the character looked like how I pictured Mani)
  • Using fairy tales, Arthurian legends or participating in the Hail Columbia! project in ritual and/or magic (all of these examples are examples of popular culture that is very old being used by modern people)
  • Related to the first, but practicing pop culture magick (as in Taylor Ellwood’s book on the subject, Pop Culture Magick)
  • Creating tools based on pop culture artifacts for use in ritual and/or magick (designing a tarot spread based on a character in a book)
  • Participating in and creating religious organizations/ritual and/or a sacred calendar based on works of fiction (Church of All Worlds, Storm Constantine’s Grimoire Dehara)
  • Traditional deities using pop culture entities in order to communicate with followers
  • Seeing a pop culture entity as an aspect of a traditional deity
  • Working with pop culture entities as archetypes
  • Working with pop culture spirits as egregori or constructs
  • Honouring pop culture entities as deities and/or spirits in their own right (this includes from one’s own work, although some prefer the term “modern culture Paganism” for this practice (Jack of Dreams uses “fictional reconstructionism” for this)

This feels silly but also fun. I feel like I’m taking off the corset of reconstructionism, and I can finally breathe. One of the things I love about paganism is the role that imagination can play in our faith.  

Ideas to explore:

*Jack from English folklore, the Fool as archetype in general (I see Fool distinct from Trickster) Robin Hood (I see him as a folkloric cousin to Fionn Mac Cumhal)

*Finding depictions of deity in pop culture- either explicit or ones that I associate- one idea I saw suggested (in a Llewellyn Witches’ Calendar from the earlier 2000s that I haven’t been able to find since) was Brighid linked with Rosie the Riveter in her blacksmith aspect, and I also thought of Betty Crocker as the hearth aspect. Any ideas for the poet?

*Using a story (from modern fiction, fairy tale, film etc) as a ritual narrative, psychological healing tool (particularly “Girls Underground” stories)

*Research local folklore/history (I’ve been talking about doing that for how long?)

Problems/Issues of Consideration:

*If it’s a live action TV show/movie, I have trouble mentally separating the character from the actor. Not as much of a problem with animation, unless it’s a celebrity voice actor whose character essentially embodies the celebrity. I was thinking about this in relation to Jareth, the Goblin King from Labyrinth, whom I’ve heard is popular with PCPs. Very cool character, easy to connect him up with older faerie lore, but yeah can’t separate him from David Bowie. 

*I’m more comfortable with older things that are out of copyright. It’s not so much concern for getting in trouble for infringement, though depending on what a person did (such as a public ritual) it could be a problem. It’s more that it’s something that exists primarily so some corporation can make money and it will change it as it sees fit.  So one’s personal vision will get screwed with. But with King Arthur & Robin Hood for example, people can do endless new creative things with, and there’s no one actor or depiction that necessarily sticks out in your mind in a way that’s distracting. 

*With stuff that is more recent, I’m more comfortable with things in books or static images than in TV/film. It’s easier to imagine it yourself rather than having the TV/movie version stuck in your head. 

Past posts that are related:

When the Gods Become Real,  Archetypes vs. “Real Gods” 

Snow Queen, Snow MaidenSpirits of WinterJack the English Trickster/Fool


Entry filed under: Concepts & Definitions, Popular Culture. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Cultural Appropriation Has Lost Its Meaning Gods of Hollywood vs. Gods of Asgard

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. caelesti  |  August 15, 2014 at 5:01 am

    Poking thru the Pop culture paganism tag on Tumblr scares me a little, though!

    • 2. Aine  |  August 15, 2014 at 7:37 am

      I’m a pop culture Pagan (I prefer polytheist, tbh), and I…do NOT go into that tag. For many, many reasons. One of which is that my theology is so different from most of the people in that tag, and they all seem to think that anyone who does pop culture stuff believes exactly the same. Noooo thank you.

      • 3. caelesti  |  August 15, 2014 at 8:13 am

        I didn’t think of you as one, since your Gods aren’t part of pop culture as such, but actually I was thinking of you and other folks when I put in the “Nontraditional deities/spirits” in the Inclusive Polytheism post. Yeah, a lot of the PCP tumblr people are very New Agey in a “create your own reality/gods/universe!” sort of way. Lots of people are basically just super-fans. But there are a few that seem to take it seriously, there are some good ethical ideas and philosophies in pop culture that can be found, and if someone finds wisdom in that and it helps them be a better person, then great. That’s kind of my general attitude about religion.

  • 4. lovemydane  |  August 15, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Actually, I think it has been a bit of a detriment to the pagan community to invite pop culture in. I’m Asatru and whilst I enjoy the Thor movies, I sometimes cringe at the butchery of our mythology. I love pop culture stuff, don’t get me wrong (I’m on a Harry Potter fan fiction binge), but for me, I just don’t like to the mix the two. Do you not find it ruins a little bit this archaic religion of my ancestors vibe/power?

    • 5. Aine  |  August 15, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      Not all Pagans practice an old religion? Not to be, well, nit-picky, but I was never ever ever drawn to Paganism for the ‘ancestor’ or ‘ancient’ stuff. (And my current religious practice…nope, not ancient, completely modern. I know I’m an exception.)

      You don’t have to incorporate anything into your religious practice, and I think we should each be able to choose what we are comfortable with, but I don’t see how /someone else/ incorporating or focusing on something else ruins your religion. If you’re okay explaining why you feel that way, I’d be up for reading!

    • 6. caelesti  |  August 15, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      I agree that it’s important to distinguish between the two- in fact many pop culture pagans would agree with you on that, I think.
      Technically the “religion of my ancestors” would more immediately be Catholicism, Presbyterianism or Quakerism. I do have an interest in connecting with my heritage, but that is not a motivation for everyone involved in Paganism. I’m mostly interested in European fairy/folk tales and legends, and I think “literary paganism” would probably be a better description for that than pop culture paganism, which I think more connotes modern multimedia.

  • 7. Jack  |  August 15, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Thanks for the link and for a solid roundup of all the different things that fall under the pop culture paganism banner. I think it’s a shame how many people get hung up on one specific example of PCP and argue with that and that alone.

    • 8. caelesti  |  August 15, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      While I can’t take credit for that list- it’s from the Answers from Vanaheim Tumblr, and there’s a link to the post. I think individuals mostly latch on to things that most resemble their religion (in the “wrong” way) like pop culture depictions of Greek or Norse gods, and get upset with people who draw on it.

  • […] Looking at Pop Culture Paganism […]

  • 10. Magic & Religion | The Lefthander's Path  |  May 17, 2015 at 4:32 am

    […] Pop Culture Magic– use of characters, concepts, symbols and phrases from popular culture (TV, films, comic books, manga, anime, video/computer games) in magical spells and rituals. This is usually an outgrowth of the ideas of chaos magic- the idea that “hey, if it works, use it”. Pop Culture Paganism or Polytheism is related, though I get the impression most people who engage in pop culture-influenced magic, don’t necessarily incorporate it into a religion. See my post on Pop Culture Paganism […]

  • 11. Lady X  |  June 24, 2016 at 5:04 am

    Reblogged this on wherever the Road takes me….


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