Category Archives: Opinion

Mystic Magic: The Grand Finale

A planchette for a Ouija Board. Photo retrieved from https://www.freepik.com/premium-vector/ouija-board-goodbye-monoline-design_8543934.htm.

Grace Cavanaugh ~ Editor in Chief

     I am getting a little emotional writing this.

     I have been writing Mystic Magic for…three years now. It all started when I wrote my first article on Tarot cards and common misconceptions, and it has been a wild time since.

     As I am graduating later this month, this will be my last opinion article. I have learned so much writing Mystic Magic, and I have had such a good time over the years. I wanted to leave some witchy tips for my last article, so here you go!

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Nerd Factor: Grateful Nerd

Wanda and Vision from the Disney+ show, Wandavision. Photo retrieved from https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2020/12/the-biggest-nerdy-tv-shows-and-movies-coming-your-way-in-2021/.

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

     This year reminded me how happy and grateful I was to be a nerd. 

     Most of the time while writing this column, I avoided writing about the coronavirus. Oh, COVID-19 slipped into my thinking here and there. I did start the year talking about how some superhero masks gave a certain advantage against disease transmission. I did decide against seeing New Mutants in the theater, calculating that it was safer to stay at home. Overall, I just stayed away from the topic. 

     That felt like instinct, but in life that usually means my brain is doing some kind of math that I have not understood. Part of this stance was a concern about the seriousness of the topic. This column bounces between joyful celebration and snarky irreverence. Neither mode seemed quite right for so terrible a pandemic. Another, and certainly larger, part was the desire to avoid the topic. I wanted a distraction. I wanted an escape. 

     Thinking about those motivations caused my renewed appreciation for my nerdiness. I needed a lot of escapes this year. 

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Mystic Magic: Some Light Reading

On the left, Plain Bad Heriones; on the right, Gideon the Ninth. Photo taken by Grace Cavanaugh.

Grace Cavanaugh ~ Editor in Chief

     Taking a break from my general witchcraft commentary, I wanted to talk about a couple of books I have read recently.

     As a college student, I do not normally have time to read for fun, because I am already reading a lot for class. In the past few months, however, I have been participating in an extra-curricular book club that changes genres every month.

     In January, we chose a gothic horror genre, and the book was “Plain Bad Heroines” by Emily Danforth. Without going into spoiler territory, the book follows the past and present exploits of queer women who deal with ghosts, curses, and a real-life book, “The Story of Mary MacLane,” published in 1902.

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Nerd Factor: The Five Stages of Flash Grief

A poster for the new season of CW’s “The Flash.” Photo retrieved from https://twitter.com/cw_theflash/status/1359200652895879177.

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

     In 1969, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what we often refer to as the five stages of grief. These stages represented a process through which people coping with terminal illness or conditions progressed. Over time, the model has become a kind of common wisdom. Applied, or misapplied as critics argue, to a variety of experiences, the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, may serve as a way to organize experience. 

     Here, the five stages of grief will be used to organize a problem I have been having with The Flash, now in its seventh season on the CW network. So yeah, probably another misapplication of the theory. Still, it helps. 

     1. Denial – As another bit of common wisdom suggests, the first step to resolving a problem is admitting that there is a problem. For many years, I have been in complete denial about the decreasing quality of The Flash. While many of my readers have grown up in a time of abundant superhero stories, I grew up in an era of relative metahuman poverty. Oh sure, there were plenty of comic books, but I always felt like I had to support most movies, television shows, and games. If I did not, what would happen to the genre? 

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Mystic Magic: White and Black Magic

A pair of hands casting a shadow. Photo retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/white-magic-and-black-magic-95829.

Grace Cavanaugh ~ Editor in Chief

     I know I have probably talked about it before, but the terms white and black magic have pretty racist connotations.

     For the most part, white magic is considered pure, good, the ‘love and light’ kind of deal. Wicca, general witchcraft, and new-age spiritualism are considered white magic.

     As for black magic, it is the flip side of the coin to white magic. Curses, hexes, anything having to do with the ‘darker’ side of magic.

     So where does racism fall into play?

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Mystic Magic: New Moon in Taurus

A waning moon and a bull. Photo retrieved from https://www.tillamookcountypioneer.net/astrology-the-new-moon-in-taurus-april-22-2020/.

Grace Cavanaugh ~ Editor in Chief

     This week hosted the new moon in Taurus.

     So, what exactly does a new moon, and especially one in Taurus, mean? Well, new moons are all about starting something new. New beginnings, new foundations, new directions… It is a time to set goals and prepare to see them through. You can establish a general intention for the upcoming lunar cycle, clean your ritual area, and meditate on wishes, desires, doubts, and fears.

     As for the new moon in Taurus, your focus should be on what is real. If you are starting a new project or focusing on a specific goal, make it something with substance. Since it is the spring, you could attach some intentions to seeds and plant them under the new moon, or something else that is equally as tangible.

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Nerd Factor: A Close Shave

Superman with a beard.

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

     Shaving is a daily ritual for many people, but for the superhero population this basic routine of personal grooming offers exceptional challenges. The implied goal of the superhero’s costume is to hide the identity of its wearer, thus protecting their friends and loved ones from attack by supervillains. This adds additional pressure to the task of maintaining facial hair. 

     Fully masked superheroes have a certain advantage here. Although his identity is publicly known, Tony Stark’s visage is fully covered by his Iron Man armor. As with many other choices in his life, Stark grooms for vanity’s sake. Likewise, Peter Parker does not really have to shave every day thanks to his mask. His tendency to do so regularly was no doubt instilled in him by Uncle Ben, whom we can imagine taught his nephew that a regular routine of daily grooming was a matter of great responsibility. 

     Ironically, it is the superheroes that have superhuman physiologies who face the greatest challenges in this regard. While their metahuman natures may offer them protection from harm, these enhanced protections complicate the maintenance of the old mustache and beard. 

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Mystic Magic: Closed Practices

White sage belongs to closed practices. Photo retrieved from https://www.sagegoddess.com/product/white-sage-smudge-bundles/.

Grace Cavanaugh ~ Editor in Chief

     Continuing the conversation of decolonizing your paganism and witchcraft this week, I wanted to discuss closed practices.

     Closed practices are those that you can only be a part of if you were born into the community, or if you have been initiated into it.

     Jewish witchcraft is closed, for example. If you are not Jewish, you cannot be or use parts of Kabbalah, which is the word for Jewish mysticism.

     This is the reason for doing your research, especially concerning eclectic witchcraft and Wicca, because both pull from multiple practices. Well, most neopagan practices pull from many different places since they have become very convoluted over the years.

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Nerd Factor: And Now, Starro, the Conqueror!

Starro from the New Earth comics. Photo retrieved from https://dc.fandom.com/wiki/Starro_(New_Earth).

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

     There is a moment in the red-band trailer for The Suicide Squad that some may not have reacted too. That is understandable. There is a lot to process. There are tons of new characters and a lot of fan favorite actors showing up (what is the deal with Nathan Fillion’s arms? Etc.) And there is the wonderful joy in knowing that director James Gunn is about to play in a sandbox built on characters designed to be wiped out with reckless abandon. 

     Still, towards the end of the trailer, some unknown functionary observing the superheroic action on a monitor shouts “Oh my God! We have got a freakin’ kaiju up in this sh*t!” But that is not just any kaiju, that is the one and only Starro the Conqueror!

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Watch With Me: Twin Peaks Season 1

Alyson Draper ~ Web Editor

CW: Mild Spoilers, Abuse

     I am sure any fan of cult classic TV shows is familiar with Twin Peaks, the TV debut of David Lynch. 

     David Lynch was already well known for his surrealist approach to filmmaking, especially with his flagship film “Eraserhead” (1977). So seeing Lynch take a stab at a prime time TV show was a bit strange for people familiar with his work. 

     The show is supposed to be a parody of the prime time soap operas that were popular at the time, but with that signature Lynchian twist. “Twin Peaks” follows Special Agent Dale Cooper as he enters the small Washington town of Twin Peaks to investigate the mysterious murder of the primaddona Laura Palmer. 

     As Cooper and the police force of Twin Peaks begin to uncover the mystery behind Laura’s death, it is clear that something dark is happening behind the scenes. But despite its rather dreary premise, the show still keeps an air of comedy about it with Cooper’s endless positivity and love of coffee mixed with the strange and endearing characters that populate the town. 

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Mystic Magic: On the Origin

The Wheel of the Year with all eight sabbats. Photo retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/357332551690476652/.

Grace Cavanaugh ~ Editor in Chief

     It has been pointed out to me via the people I follow on TikTok and Instagram that, while I have been doing extensive research into different aspects of my craft, I do not always look deeply into why they are a part of my craft, or how they came to be.

     For instance, take the term “Book of Shadows.” These days, it is common to hear a grimoire referred to as a Book of Shadows, and generally the two terms are interchangeable. Did you know, though, that the term Book of Shadows was used by a Kashmiri Palmist named Mir Bashir about a Sanskrit text that teaches you how to use shadows for divination. The article Bashir wrote was in 1949, and Gerald Gardner, the father of Wicca, saw it and added it to his practice.

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Nerd Factor: Godzilla vs. Kong

Godzilla (left) fighting King Kong (right). Photo retrieved from https://www.empireonline.com/movies/reviews/godzilla-vs-kong/.

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

     It will be the Battle of Kings, a royal rumble a whole lifetime in the waiting. But by the time you read this, we will know the outcome. Who will win, Godzilla, King of the Monsters, or King Kong?

     In one corner stands the original, the giant monster from which all other giant monsters descended, the one and only King Kong. In 1933, King Kong not only electrified movie theaters to the awesome spectacle of film, it also saved the RKO Pictures from bankruptcy. The stop motion animation used to create Kong’s adventures might look quaint to our contemporary, CGI-dazzled eyes, but when Kong climbed the Empire State Building, the film prophesied the way that blockbuster special effects extravaganzas would enrich box offices and thrill future audiences. 

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Mystic Magic: The Rule of Three

“Ever Mind the Rule of Three” is a common Wiccan phrase. Photo retrieved from https://aminoapps.com/c/wiccanss/page/item/the-rule-of-three-the-law-of-threefold-return/Z630_8VIXIQ3NakYazRrVBw72Ln34MrVWa.

Grace Cavanaugh ~ Editor in Chief

     For those that were not aware, I consider myself an eclectic witch. I draw from a number of different paths in order to practice my craft. One thing I do not subscribe to, though, is the Rule of Three.

     The Law of the Threefold Return is generally attributed to Wicca. Basically, the Rule of Three decrees that whatever you put into the universe, magically or otherwise, will return to you threefold.

     I believe that if you start slinging hexes and curses before you are ready, they might come back to bite you. If you throw something at someone who is well protected, that can also turn on you. I do not believe, though, that if I hex someone, something bad will happen to me threefold.

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Nerd Factor: Food, the Final Frontier

Captain Picard with a drink. Photo retrieved from cenblog.org.

Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor

     In the Star Trek universe, food is easy thanks to a miraculous pseudoscientific device known as the replicator. An offshoot of the transporter technology that allows an entity to be disassembled down to its component atoms and then beamed to another location for immediate reassembly, the replicator basically builds food from scratch. From special alcoves all throughout the ships and often in the personal quarters of Starfleet officers, these devices allow nourishment on demand. 

     The most famous example of which is, no doubt, Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s beverage preference. “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot,” Picard says to the device and a few special effects lights and sounds later, there the tea is, steaming and presumably perfect to his order. 

     Logically, the existence of hot, Earl Grey tea implies the possibility of tepid, Earl Grey tea or cold, not Earl Grey, Coca-Cola. The opportunities would appear to be limitless since one assumes that the devices can create just about anything that a recipe exists for from a variety of planets in any point in their history. 

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College Life: To Be A Black Student At The University of Lynchburg

3 women in graduate gowns. Image from eastern.edu.

Kelli Carter ~ Staff Writer

     When planning on where to go to college, people of color often take into consideration the diversity of the school, not just where it is located or whether or not it has athletics.  

     The University of Lynchburg has been making strides to show their commitment to diversity and inclusion. I am so appreciative of this and for them creating a space where people can learn but also voice their concerns. 

     Still, being a person of color on this campus is difficult at times because it is hard to feel like people can truly relate to how you are feeling or what you are going through. The campus is about 23 percent multicultural, but some days it feels so much less than that. 

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