The Pop Culture Grimoire
An Anthology of Pop Culture Magic
Taylor Ellwood (Ed.) et al
Megalithica Books/Immanion Press
The etymology of the term ‘Grimoire’ is as interesting as its contents. Deriving from the old French term ‘grammiere’, which in turn originates from the Greek word ‘grammatikos’. These terms have later been the influence for more contemporary phrases such as ‘grammar’ and ‘glamour’. So it is no surprise, taking the latter into consideration, that the mysterious text has made its way into pop-culture. Dating back to medieval times, the Grimoire was often a way of concealing Magical text from the eyes of the Christian church, who would have made issue with its very existence. Grimoires were basically what we now know as magical texts; they would contain astrological correspondences, spells, elemental callings, talismans etc etc.
Grimoires have been highly influential in latter-day magic also. The Golden Dawn and Aliester Crowley’s O.T.O. and Argenteum Astrum, would not have been as we know them, without the influence of some very key grimoires discovered in the Renaissance periods. One such example is the Greater Key of Solomon, who’s secrets contained such conjurations as invocations, curses, and purifications spread across two books. Another, perhaps more important example, is the The Book of Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage, which had a profound effect on Crowley and his Golden Dawn tutor (and later magickal enemy) S.L. MacGregor Mathers.
So, with some interest, I dipped into this grimoire for the 21st century to see how Taylor Ellwood and his magical kin would present their own modern example of this mysterious tomb. The Pop Culture Grimoire is, put basically, a collection of different authors offering up different examples of how to practically conduct ‘Pop-Culture- Magic’. Ellwood, the editor of the book, has championed this practice in earlier texts, such as the excellently written ‘Pop Culture Magick’. But in this case, we get to meet a whole new cast of Magicians, and get their take on the subject.
As with any text that compiles different writers interpretations of a subject, I found the book to have its ups and downs. This is healthy though, as I feel it allows you to help shape your own interpretation of the subject matter, with a myriad of examples to source from. One example I didn’t resonate with particularly, was Lisa McSherry’s offering, which to me seemed more like a discussion of an iTunes playlist than any real magical instruction. However, there is some great stuff on offer here. Lupa’s interpretation of the amazing Manga series Neon Genesis Evangelion is very well considered, and I think excellently interpreted within the Pop Cultural context. Jackie Schmitt also offers a great tale of how an online vampire character took on a role in an awkward potential legal problem, to seemingly great effect.
I think what will appeal to readers is the familiarity with some of the ‘entities’ on offer. Ellwood and co really do take on a broad range of pop-cultural archetypes, and cleverly reinterpret them into tried and tested magical systems (Bill Whitcomb’s Tarot being a great example). You’re probably not going to be moved by all of the writers however, but that’s the joy of critical thought. I would also recommend getting your hands on the aforementioned ‘Pop Culture Magick’ by Taylor Ellwood, as this book seems to me to be a perfect companion, broadening the subject further. Overall then, a good read, especially when in tandem with it’s predecessor, but I would say this still stands out on its own merit as an essential text for the experimental practitioner.