I probably say this in all my Artist Spotlight articles, but interviewing magical or occultnik artists is one of the best aspects of being an art columnist for Spiral Nature. I had the honour of interviewing Taylor Ellwood last month, and what an experience that was! I was already a fan when I decided to feature him, and my admiration and respect only grew as I learned more about his work. Taylor is friendly, passionate, and really knows his stuff! While he may not identify as a scientist “in the traditional sense of the word”, I think of him as the Einstein or Newton of magick, because he has made magical discoveries that no one has ever thought to explore (so far as we know). Even though we only spoke over email, I could tell that he has a personality that shines as bright and clear as the summer sky. His curiosity and love of learning combined with his genuine desire to help people find fulfillment makes his one of the most incredible authors, artists, and magicians I have ever had the honour of speaking with.
Taylor has been writing since his pre-teen years. In our email correspondences he revealed to me that he started writing “bad poetry, and then I graduated to writing fiction (again most of it bad).” Taylor holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English, and went on to earn a Master’s degree as well. He told me that is was after earning his Master’s when he started writing non-fiction. He was on an “e-list [sic] where another member mentioned that he wanted to write a book about creating magical entities and wanted to see if anyone else would help him write it.” Taylor volunteered to join the project, admitting to me that he did so “despite knowing next to nothing about creating magical entities”. This was an opportunity to learn and experience new things, so of course he was all for it. He told me “Out of that experience, I learned how to create and program magical entities and co-wrote the book Creating Magical Entities.” He also learned that he loved writing about magick, and decided to pursue a career in publishing books about magick, specifically his magical career.
After helping to write that book I realized that I wanted to continue writing about magic. I had lots of experiments that I had conducted but never shared and so I decided to start writing solo books. From that decision, I ended up writing a number of books on the occult and magic, including Pop Culture Magick, Space/Time Magic and Inner Alchemy. I continue to write books to this day about my ongoing magical experimentation and interests, as well as course and blog entries.
Like most artists, Taylor expresses his creativity through a variety of mediums. He has decided to revisit writing fiction, and it was not bad this time around! He will be publishing his first fiction book soon. He is learning the guitar, not only because it’s an awesome talent to have, but to experiment with magick and sound. (How he comes up with these experiments is beyond me, but I envy his mind!). He draws with crayons and coloured pencils, and paints with watercolours. He told me that “pretty much everything creative I do has a magical application in mind, because I’m insatiably curious about what can be done with magic.”[
Taylor Ellwood started practising magick when he was only sixteen years old. His magical career has blossomed ever since to say the least. This is how pop culture magick came to be, but more on that later. Taylor has been influenced by a wide variety of occult topics and practices, telling me in our email correspondence:
I’ve been influenced by neo-shamanism, Hermeticism, chaos magic, ritual magic, Taoism and Dzogchen, all of which have helped me refine my spiritual practices and develop my own systems of magic. One particular magical tradition I work with is the Inner Temple of the Convocation and this particular tradition and the teachings of William G. Gray and R.J. Stewart have played a significant role in my ongoing magical work and in how I approach and explore how magic works.
Related: Pop Culture Magic Systems, by Taylor Ellwood, reviewed by Alanna Wright
Taylor has explored magick more than anyone I know. He looks at the world and sees “so much untapped potential and magic is one way to convert that potential into reality”. He has applied magick to art, music, even neuroscience! His development of pop culture is his most widely known work, and I will briefly explain what it is for those who aren’t familiar with it, but I’d recommend checking out Taylor’s website to see his other publications.
Pop culture magick
To fully understand the scope and potential of pop culture magick, I recommend getting Taylor’s books – at least Pop Culture Magic 2.0. In the first edition of Pop Culture Magic is defined as((Taylor Ellwood, Pop Culture Magic 2.0: The Evolution of Pop Culture Magic. Magical Experiments Publications. pg.16)):
…a form of magical practice that draws on contemporary culture, its icons, and even its depiction of spiritual practices as a valid form of magical practice…defined in part by attention and belief that people gave to a given pop culture entity.
So, in other words, the more popular the entity is, the more likely the working will be successful. Since the first pop culture magick was published, Taylor has discovered that the entity only needs to be meaningful to the practitioner to have power. I cannot help but think of Tommie Kelly’s Forty Servants (who was featured in the last Spiral Nature Artist Spotlight), in that the servitors could be breathed to life to help the practitioner. The whole concept of creating entities is quite intimidating, in my opinion. I asked Taylor if the characters or entities people work with in Pop culture magic are thoughtforms; or, if there is a whole subculture of people believing in the character, an egregore. This was his response:
It depends on what you believe or don’t believe. For some people working with pop culture entities will involve treating them as servitors/egregores. For other people a pop culture entity will be a deity/spirit in its own right. I tend to take the latter position because I’ve found that a pop culture spirit truly takes on a life of its own. But ultimately its up to each person to determine their own relationship with a given entity and what they believe/experience or don’t about it.
Related: Artist Spotlight: Tommie Kelly and the Forty Servants by MagicalMusingsWitchyWriter
I think it’s safe to say that unlike most of us adults, Taylor Ellwood has never lost the childlike wonder of the world – that wonder matured to “insatiable curiosity”, which has been the driving force behind his magical experiments. Taylor explained that “…with magic, if you understand the core principles of magic, you can do a lot with any medium…I wanted to see what I could do with magic when I integrated pop culture into magical working and I found that I could do a lot…” While most of us simply accept what is, Taylor always wants to know what could be, and has the courage to find out for himself.
Interviewing occultnik artists is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I learn not only about amazing people, but about what it means to be an artist, a magician, and successful to boot. I like to close my interviews by asking my interviewee if they would like to say or share anything with my readers, and so I feel it fitting to conclude today’s Artist Spotlight with Taylor Ellwoods’ message for you:
Although I am known for pop culture magic, I’ve also written books on space/time magic, Inner Alchemy, and the Process of Magic, which you can learn more about at my website. I will also be publishing, in the relative near future my newest book, The Inner Alchemy of Life, where I share my experiments working with neurotransmitters and the microbiota in the body as spirits that can enhance your health and well-being. I’ll also be including some of my paintings in that book.
Image credit: Taylor Ellwood