I am playing the new Mad Max video game and one of the aspects of the game that really stands out to me is how some of the characters talk about their cars, treating them as spiritual entities that can be worked with and bonded with through various driving activities. Why I think this is worthy of note is because I see it as a commentary on spiritual beliefs and how spiritual beliefs are formed around need and form. In Mad Max, you're dealing with a post apocalyptic society, where every person is on the edge of survival and cars are the significant form of transportation. Consequently it makes sense that the cars are invested with a supernatural meaning and authority because those cars are a significant part of what keeps those people alive.
Now granted this is fiction, but such a commentary is invaluable in that it can get us to consider our own spiritual needs and how those needs are shaped by the forms available to us. In the universe of Mad Max the form is the car, and the need it fulfills provides the impetus to invest supernatural authority in the car. For us, so fortunate to live in a world that is not post apocalyptic, spirituality takes many different forms. What prompts a person to identify with one form or another is partially dependent on what calls to that person and to the marketing around a given spirituality. The need of the person defines the form to some degree.
One of the reasons I've focused on pop culture magic is because I think its important to be open to different forms of spirituality. Conventional, mainstream religion never worked for me, and while I do find some value in traditional approaches to magical work, I also find a lot of value in expanding outward and drawing on other resources that don't fit in the traditional frameworks of occultism. Pop culture is one of those resources. It provides a wealth of context and is something more people are identifying with in a spiritual way.
Every so often I inevitably hear from people who try and knock pop culture magic as not being magic enough, authentic enough, or whatever else. I find it odd that they need to comment on why they don't like pop culture magic. It's OK that it doesn't fit their needs, but why knock people who do find spiritual value in pop culture magic? I personally find no value in such statements made usually out of ignorance. It is, perhaps, one of the reasons I find myself pessimistic at times about magic and occultism, because too often it seems people just want to get in each other's way instead of just accepting and supporting that there can be a variety of experiences that fall outside traditional paths.
What matters most isn't how you do magic. Certainly you do need to learn the fundamentals and knowing the tradition and history has its value. But what matters most is how we make the magic our own, how we personalize it and make it a part of our lives in a way that is useful. I figure if someone wants to perceive their car as being a supernatural mystery in its own right, there's really nothing wrong with it (provided that person isn't going around and harming others). It may not be anyone else's cup of tea, but its rather boring to insist that everyone be the same when it comes to the spiritual practices or anything else. Where I choose to ascribe meaning and how I let that effect me is what's important and that I might share it with others...well that can be important to, in terms of what a person can learn from others, but to quash what someone believes or practices because it doesn't fit your own paradigm. That's just stupid and ignorant. You don't need to agree with what someone practices or believes, but you don't need to bash them either. It serves little purpose beyond validating your own egoic frailties.
And for those inclined to trot out critical thinking and critique being open-minded, let me remind you that being close minded does not involve critical thinking. You can be open-minded and still use critical thinking. What you are doing by being open-minded is accepting the possible experience, but you can be critical in your experience and use that to help you determine if you wish to proceed further. When you are close minded, you aren't even open to having an experience and so it is much harder to be able to critique something, if you've already decided to be closed to it.
Magical Experiments radio: No show this week or last week due to a guest cancellation and technical difficulties but the show is continuing.