Stories about magic, involving magical worlds or people who could wield power some of us only wish we could access have always been popular in our modern media. Ursula K Le Guinn may have been the first author to construct the magic school narrative, focusing on the students of magic facing off against the dark forces they are ill-equipped to deal with. Tales from Earthsea may have been one of the most influential series in the magical genre, becoming so popular that many other books built off of her original magic school narrative, creating their own worlds and students to pit against the forces of evil.
Harry Potter became an unstoppable phenomena, and I think we wound up feeling rippling effects throughout the literary world, especially in the young adult genre. Young wizards and witches are always entertaining characters to read about, especially as we see them learning how to use their powers and discovering just what and who they are.
But magic schools aren’t the only popular stories. Modern witchcraft and neo-paganism has been on the rise for years, starting in the age of spirituality in the early 30s when people started believing in seances and traveling psychics took to the road to entertain thousands of people. In the 60s was the next wave, as people broke out of the harshly rigid society of the post-war period and explored new ideas and concepts, ushering in the age of free love. The 70s and the Reagan era of politics put an almost stop to it, but neo-paganism had made an impression on society in the US for good. In the current couple of decades, I think we’re seeing a resurgence of pagan and neo-pagan beliefs as people slowly turn away from conventional Christianity and Abrahamic religions, turning to atheism or just plain agnosticism.
I started my own journey with neo-paganism, specifically Wicca, when I was in high school. A group of friends and I would gather a couple times a week and learn the most that we could, forming a makeshift coven. We didn’t entirely know what we were doing at the time, and were prone to theatrics and drama (as teenagers are), but it cemented in me a belief and way of thinking that I couldn’t escape from. Moving on to college found me in a paganism and interfaith club that gave me the knowledge and confidence to really explore what I wanted to believe in. But the struggles of life after college and financial difficulties meant I slowly became a non-practicing Wiccan for a long time. It’s only recently that I’ve picked it up again and started back on my religious journey.
I’d like you to join me on that journey as I puzzle through the intricacies of religion, belief, and magic to try and figure out my own path. We’ll delve into the media that we all love, looking at their influences in the metaphysical and mythological worlds as well, pulling out books, TV series, and movies into the light.
Welcome to Media and Magic.