Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Pony Marks Divination System

Scroll down to the first picture if you don't want to read a bunch of magical mumbo-jumbo.

Towards The Study of Pony Magic

Recently, I've been working on a side project to look into creating a magical system based on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (MLP:FiM). Why? Pretty much just because it's a fun exercise and I consider myself to be a fan of the show. The show itself has great amount of well built mythos and systems within it starting from the opening myth of the battle between the sister goddesses of the sun and the moon which happened a thousand years before the setting of the show. The show features a good deal of elements in its story and setting that are reflected in many mythical systems (see my article on mythology and the opening 2 part episode) and is a fertile ground for use as a magical paradigm.

Magic, Shmagic!

In the recent era postmodern systems have been en vogue. Modern magic is no exception, noticing that very different magical systems with very different assumptions tended to work and what seems to be key is belief in the system. A number of modern magi have begun applying postmodern ideas to magic seeing the useful systems as internally consistent symbol sets.

For an example of how this works, let's look at the concept of Khaos – in the context of works like Hesiod's Theogony this describes the seething undifferentiated 'no thing' that is the primal state of the universe – from it all things in universe (both spiritual and material) arose. It is still there, on the deepest level everything still exists as Khaos, and all is connected like Indra's Net of Jewels. It is said of Indra's Net that when one looked into one jewel one also saw the refection of all the others in the net illustrating that within all pieces there was a reflection of the whole (a Holographic Universe).

Thus we have the Hermetic axiom 'as above, so below', the magical idea that the macrocosm (the universe at large) is reflected in the microcosm (our selves/minds), and thus we can make changes upon the microcosmic scale to get results within the large macrocosm provided that one is in right mode of consciousness.

What we do by using different symbol sets is that we are using different interfaces to understand and work with this Khaos (which is far beyond our limited understandings in any case). Now as long as they are internally consistent, it has been shown that the choice of symbol set matters little and results have been gotten even through use of fictional systems using pop culture (in fact I'd like to recommend Taylor Ellwood's great book on using magic based on fiction and Pop Culture: Pop Culture Magic).

Alternatively, of course, one may view this and other Divination systems through the lens of the physiological model in that one is contacting just contacting and working with one's own individual subconscious.

How would Ponies divine?

My first real work here has been a divination system after having seen a MLP:FiM Tarot spread and some people making pony tarot cards. But obviously this might not be a divination system which would exist within the show's world itself.

Let's say we lived in the world that the land of Equestrian inhabits... What would be used for divination? Horary Astrology would probably be of importance given the high amount of attention given the study of the heavens in MLP:FiM as seen in the large telescope in the capitol of Equestria Canterlot, the appearance of several ponies with astronomy related cutie marks seen in Canterlot (S01:E26 – The Best Night Ever), The stars aligning to allow the escape of Nightmare Moon from being sealed in the moon (S01:E01 – The Mare in the Moon), and Twilight Sparkle's special interest in the study of the skies.

Another possibility is scrying but this and horary astrology lack pony flair and require more than good bit of preparation, study, and practice before becoming very useable. But what other systems? Well when we look at the text in one of the books that Twilight is reading in S01:E01 – The Mare in the Moon we see that the writing system is composed of hieroglyphic signs and here we find a good basis for creating a divination system as historically writing systems such as the Runes, the Ogham, and the Greek Alphabet have been used as divination systems – the fact that this writing system contains a limited symbol set with easily understandable pictures makes it even easier to create a usable divination system especially if we augment it with a few extra symbols related to the show's mythos.

Below is a picture of my current 'beta' version of Pony Marks after playing with it for over a month (large size):

Meanings (left to right top to Bottom)

The Writing Marks:

The Foal or the Ass/mule – Ignorance, Foolishness, Stubbornness
(Lacking a visible mane or tail and large ears this is probably a foal or an Ass both of which are treated as foolish and/or ignorant in Equestria)

The Unicorn Horn – Power, Strength, Willpower
(The Magical powers of the Unicorn in MLP:FiM radiate from their horns)

The Tail – Retreat, Defeat
(As the expression turn tail and run!)

The Crystal Ball – Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom, Vision, Clear Seeing
(Crystal Balls – are used primarily as scrying implements to gain knowledge)

The Spiral – Growth, Returning to the Center
(In the series part of Zacora's Cutie mark is a spiral and she is a hermit who apparently spends a good bit of time meditating)

The Star – Time, External Influences
(Stars of the same style were shown in the drawing converging to free Nightmare Moon)

The Horseshoe – Protection, a Journey, Good Fortune
(Horseshoes protect a horse's hooves and are indicative of travel – we also see horseshoes as good fortune)

The Lightning Bolt – A Quick & Sudden Change.
(Lighting appears and disappears quickly bring changes through it's power)

The Crescent Moon – The Mind, Mental States, Imagination, Magic
(The moon is traditionally connected with the mind (especially the subconscious mind) and magic).

The Unicorn Head – Nobility, Purity, Grace, Honor, Integrity.
(Here we draw on how we view the unicorn).

The Cosmic Marks

The Celestial Sun – Order, Control, Righteousness, Victory
(Here we draw upon the traits of the immortal sun goddess and ruler of Equestria in her form as Princess Celestia – supreme ruler of the cosmos who in the opening myth defeated Nightmare Moon to preserve harmony and became Celestia).

The Dark of the Moon – Chaos, Destruction, Jealousy, Darkness, Hate
(Here we draw upon the dark side of the Princess Luna – who through her jealousy of her elder sister became the demonic Nightmare Moon and sought to envelop the world in everlasting night).

The Elemental Marks

(based upon the medallions each pony of the mane cast received when the powers of the elements joined with them. The meanings are based upon their elemental names and their embodiment in the mane cast)

The Element of Kindness (Butterfly) – Kindness, Gentleness, Softness, Healing, Delicate

The Element of Loyalty (Decorative Lightning Bolt) – Loyalty, Courage, Bravery, Swift Action, Fiery
(Rainbow Dash)

The Element of Honest (Apple) – Honest, Hard Work, Grounded, Earthy

The Element of Laughter (Balloon) – Laughter, Fun, Folly, Random, Light Hearted, Airy
(Pinkie Pie)

The Element of Magic (Hexagram) – Magic, Harmony, Friendship, Understanding, Wisdom, Knowledge, Power
(Twilight Sparkle)

The Element of Generosity (Diamond) – Generosity, Hospitality, Wealth, Abundance, Creativity/Fertility, Graceful.

Use of the Pony Marks
Warning: Here be more magic babble again.

In practice this systems works very much like the casting of the Runes or of the Ogham. These symbols are placed upon tokens and then placed into a bag. The Diviner then clears his mind utterly except for the question being sought and reaches into the bag to draw out the token or tokens (depending on the layout one is using) to yield an omen. One mark might be drawn for a simple question or a daily omen and for analyzing a situation multiple marks could be drawn to represent past, present, and future influences upon the situation (most Rune and Ogham layouts and methods will work).

What is most important in any use of this or any other divination system is trusting in the system and allowing your mind to be at rest so you can tap into the cosmic Khaos or to communicate with a chosen deity, spirit, or thoughtform.

An Example Three Mark Draw

As an example let's ask how Season 2 of MLP:FiM will turn out with a three mark draw for clarity:

The Element of Laughter, The Unicorn Horn, And the Unicorn Head.

Putting it all together - Season Two of Friendship is Magic will be full of fun & laughter, the show will continue to be powerful with a large fan following, and will be very well made.

A few recommended works for Pony Magic Studies:

Taylor Ellwood's Pop Culture Magic

Grant Morrison's Pop Magic!

Phil Hine's Condensed Chaos: An Introduction to Chaos Magic (Early Smaller Version viewable online)

Patrick Dunn's Postmodern Magic: The Art of Magic in the Information Age

William G. Gray's Inner Traditions of Magic (a version on Scribd)

Kitsula Tsulakala is an initiate of the Ancient, Great, and Powerful Order of Trixie which he totally did not just make up mere seconds ago. =P

Pony Painting Project for Equos Moon!

It's Equos Month (Horse Month) according to the Coligny Calender followed by my local Druid grove (Three Cranes Grove, Part of ADF) and one of the traditional things we do for the moon celebration (which was last Wednesday, the 6th of July) was decorating a horse (real or a figure) in honor of Epona the Celtic & Roman horse goddess. So I used this as an flimsy excuse to create a Great and Powerful Trixie figure on that day as well:

Starting Point for Trixie: an out of the box Rarity Figure (off point but why does she have Pipi Longstocking pigtails?).

Rarity gets a trim (hrm... maybe I should have dyed the hair green first before cutting it off... =P ).

A new base coat - and left to dry as I went to hang out with the Druids.

The Horse Figurine from the Equos Moon Rite on the altar.

The other side of the Horse Figurine from the Equos Moon Rite on the altar. Here you can see our well upon the altar (the world tree was symbolized by a close by pine, and the fire was the fire pit in the center of the nematon).

After being hit by some rainbow colored energy wave...
Cutie Mark Unlocked: Awesome!

The Otherside of the Flank

And add varnish, hair, and she's done - and on an owl for no apparent reason.

The Great and Powerful Trixie & Little Miss Stripey Hair (who will never have the show stopping abilities of the Great & Powerful Trixie!).

Trixie on a shelf in my library