I've been thinking about belief and what it is and how it shows up in magical practice over the last couple weeks. I've asked members of the Pop Culture Magick and Magical Experiments Facebook groups to share their own thoughts and I've gotten some great answers with a range of perspectives. Naturally considering belief and its role in magic has also gotten me to consider attention and its role in magic.
Attention and belief are not the same.
Let me use some examples from pop culture magic to demonstrate the difference between attention and belief and also show why it is possible to believe in a pop culture spirit and develop a sacred connection as a result. In pop culture, its fair to say that attention plays a prevalent role. When you watch a T.V. show, play a game, or listen to your favorite band you are giving attention to what you are focused on. That attention, in and of itself, does have some power to it.
Nonetheless I can give attention to something without giving it much in the way of belief. For example, I've enjoyed watching the Marvel Universe movies. I've given attention to the characters by watching the movies and reading the comics. I've even given attention in the form of one shot magical workings designed to achieve a specific result. Yet I wouldn't say that I have a deep and intimate relationship with characters from the Marvel universe. I don't believe in them beyond the time I watch the movie or read the comic book and suspend my disbelief long enough to enjoy what I'm doing. What I give them is attention.
This isn't to say I can't do some effective magical workings with them, as I can, but it's not the same as developing an intimate, deep, long term relationship. And that's where I think belief comes into play. Belief is a commitment, that goes beyond the surface level of attention and really allows you and the pop culture spirit to develop something for the long term.
My work with Thiede from the Wraeththu series is a good example. I first encountered Thiede when I read the Wraeththu series, but my relationship with him wasn't just for the duration of reading the books (though I've read them many times). I started doing magical workings with him, but it wasn't a one-shot deal. It was a relationship that developed because I chose to believe in him. The workings I've done with him have happened over the past 18 years and will more than likely continue to occur because he plays a significant role in my cosmology. There is an element of the sacred in my relationship with him and so I don't think that what I give him is just attention. It is belief...belief in the relationship, belief that he is real, belief that my relationship with him has significance and that it has changed my life.
To write that relationship off as if it was just attention, merely because Thiede is pop culture is to ignore the intention of creating and cultivating a relationship that lasts over an extended period of time. And my relationship isn't just with Thiede, but also the other Dehara I've discovered and worked with. I've deliberately built those relationships, cultivated in part by my intentional choice to believe in the Dehara. I've helped develop a system of magic around these beings and I make them a part of my daily life. This isn't attention...this is belief.
And it could happen with any other pop culture.
It depends on what type of relationship you want to develop with the pop culture spirits you want to work with. If you choose to make them part of your daily life, then its more than just attention at work and don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.