Notes Toward a System of 'Punk Magick'

One thing I haven’t talked about much on this blog is my spirituality. I was raised Catholic, but I didn’t stay that way. I bounced around a lot of different religious currents before settling under the neopagan umbrella and specifically becoming a Heathen. I started out primarily worshipping Odin, then Freya, and now I’m beginning to work with Loki. I practice magick as well, divining using runestones, creating runic talismans, and using meditation and pathworking to commune with the Gods. But the way I go about it is a bit different than most.

I’m a witch, and a heathen, but a very different kind of witch and heathen. I write bindrunes and sigils on popsicle sticks with gel pens to make talismans. I use led candles so as not to start a fire accidentally while meditating. And speaking of meditating, one of the ways I induce “gnosis” is by putting on my headphones and listening to some dark ambient electronic music.

There is an assumption that magick is old and that it comes from the “natural world.” But the truth is that you don’t have to be naked under the moonlight in a peaceful glade to do anything magickally related. And the “natural world” is a misnomer, anyway, because nature is all around us, even in massive urban centers. From the pigeons pooping on the sidewalk to the cockroaches scurrying through your pantry, the so-called “natural world” is constantly intruding on our so-called “civilization.” Likewise, magick can be found all around us. You don’t need to leave to seek it out, its already here. Just open your mind to the possibility.

Practicing magick has lead to a better understanding of myself and my place in the universe. It has alos lead to more self-confidence, and a feeling of being in control of my own destiny. I want to share those feelings with others, and I don’t just mean the green neo-hippie crowd. I want everyone to have access to magick that works for them.

What is ‘Punk Magick’?

Let me be clear here: Punk is not simly an aesthetic. As the Dead Kennedys say (in the aptly titled “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”), you ain’t hardcore if you spike your hair when a jock still lives inside your head. Punk is about raging against the constraints that bind you. Its about rejecting conventional authority, or really all authority, and striving for true autonomy. But it is not individualist, either. Real punks practice radical compassion and empathy and seek to make their communities a better place. They know that it is all of us against The Man for the good of everyone.

Punk Magick is magick by the people and for the people, no matter where they are. It takes many forms, but it is as much about the goals of using magick as the techniques and style of practice. Like alchemists trying to turn lead into gold, punk mages try to change the world around them into something that smells less like shit. They use magic to help their community and resist their oppressors.

Here’s what Punk Magick is, in a nutshell:

  • Punk Magick is transformative. The point of magick is to transform yourself and your surroundings. It helps you reclaim agency when you feel stuck. It helps you know yourself when you feel lost. It is not omnipotent, but it is a transformative tool.
  • Punk Magic is diverse and accessible. You don’t need to be descended from a witch burned at Salem to master magick. You definitely don’t need any overpriced crap from an exploitative online retailer. Magick doesn’t care about the color of your skin, your gender(s) or lack thereof, your sexual identity, whether your able bodied or neurotypical, or even what religion you are. Anybody can do it. All you need is belief and will.
  • Punk Magick is intersectional. Punk mages practice radical empathy and care about their communities. They’re not just philosophically against racism, sexism, ableism, heteronormativity and the like - they actively oppose those forces whenever and however they can. There is no freedom until all of us are free.
  • Punk Magick is antifascist. There is nothing “Punk” about white supremacy in any of its modern incarnations. There is nothing “Punk” about letting the government get away with atrocities. Punk mages ally themselves against fascist movements and engage in active resistance if possible. (Diversity of tactics plays a role here - not everyone can attend a protest or throw a milkshake at a fascist).
  • Punk Magick is anti-dogmatic. Arguing about what kind of things are and are not “real” magick is not Punk. If it works for someone and isn’t appropriative or otherwise harmful to the oppressed, leave it be.
  • Punk Magick is creative. By all means, read whatever magical treatise and grimoires you connect with, but trust your inventiveness. Experiment. Try new things. Sow sigils on patches. Make runestones from discarded bottle caps. Create a shrine to a deity that didn’t exist until you thought them up. Magick is not a dusty old thing. Magick is creativity and will given form in the universe.

Notice that in no place have I descirbed a formal system of magick. Formal systems constrain and lead to dogmatism and infighting. I have, unfortunately, learned this lesson the hard way. So I’m hoping that I can paint a way forward for any potential mage regardless of their particular style. Consider this as being similar to “Chaos Magick,” except more politically oriented and hopefully more inclusive. (By the way, the flag at the top of the post is free to use, without attribution).

I expect that as my magickal practice continues to evolve that I will write more about my experiments and discoveries. I may even publish a grimoire at some point. In any case, this feels like a starting point towards a wider journey. I hope you will join me on it.