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Magickal Elements of the Gothic Subculture

This article was written by Raven Digitalis
posted under Pagan Spirituality

People who are drawn to magickal spirituality are talented at turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Things that can seem mundane to others can, in fact, be powerfully transformative for the magickally inclined. Even the simplest of acts can be turned into magickal acts. For example, why simply eat food when it can be blessed and enchanted before being consumed? Why overlook an eye-catching rock on the ground when it can be put on the Northern quadrant of an altar and be used to align with the earth elementals? Why discard the end of a sliced onion when it can be hung on string to absorb adverse energy? The list goes on! Our immediate reality can present us with countless opportunities to harness magickal energy and make magick our own.

In my new book, Goth Craft: The Magickal Side of Dark Culture, one of the more fun and lighthearted things I discuss is the magickal use of makeup, clothing, hair, piercings, tattoos, and other forms of personalized artistic expression. Makeup and clothing in particular are rife with magickal power and uses.

Makeup has been used since the dawn of time. In addition to the practice of body modification by many cultures, numerous tribes that hold onto their indigenous roots still decorate their bodies and faces in ash, blood, plant matter, and other paints, to signify important ritual transitions like Rites of Passage, initiations, and shamanic journeys.

Quite possibly the most notable culture who practiced the ritual use of makeup were the ancient Egyptians. The Egyptian empire was one of the first "civilized" (which means "city-dwelling") nations in the world, so much of their practices have been accurately and historically documented; both their ritual and common use of makeup has gone down in history.

Wearing makeup of any type transforms a person on many levels. This works energetically, in terms of adhering a certain pattern or design to one's energy field, as well as psychologically, in terms of the perceptions of the makeup that both the wearer and viewers can hold. If someone looks at another person, immediate perceptions form about the person being seen, which in turn create an energetic exchange between the viewed and the viewer. A person's psychological take on another person or a situation influences them to behave in certain ways, both noticeable and subtle. Wearing makeup, or looking out of the ordinary in any regard, is cause for extreme psychological and energetic exchange.

In a ritual setting, looking out of the ordinary puts both oneself and others in a particular frame of mind. This is part of the glamour of ritual. Looking different transforms energies and psyches. Adorning oneself in unordinary ways is perfect for ceremonies of any type. Additionally, wearing makeup in one's everyday life can evoke similar psychological responses and energetic exchanges as would a ritual. Dressing up in the "ordinary world" can aid in magickally setting oneself out from the rest, and can often help empower a person as a living work of art and expression.

Makeup itself can be magickally charged for specific purposes. Ritualistically enchanting eyeliner, lipstick, eyeshadow, and other utensils as magickal tools can help adhere spiritual vibrations to the wearer. The specific designs that the drawn makeup creates can imbue the wearer with certain metaphysical qualities. Perhaps some glitter can attune the wearer to the faerie realm, or a spiral drawn with liquid eyeliner can metaphorically represent dancing with the "spirals of life" throughout the day. Even a simple smudge of eyeshadow can be used to increase spiritual "vision" and psychic clarity. The possibilities are endless; makeup is versatile, both physically and magickally.

Clothing can also be seen as a magickally transformative tool. What do you choose to wear each day? Whether casual or eccentric, clothing helps get a person in a particular frame of mind. The color of the clothing, first and foremost, is the most important thing to pay attention to. Every color has specific magickal correlations. Every culture associates certain colors with certain things, and modern magickal color correspondences can be drawn from sources shamanic, folkloric, Qabalistic, and so on. In the Gothic subculture, the most predominantly-worn color is black, which some cultures view as a very sacred, cosmic, and earthen color. Others associate it with mourning, death, and decay. It is entirely relative and depends on interpretation.

The materials used in clothing can have magickal significance as well. Certain patterns and textures can take on metaphysical correspondences. In Goth Craft, I mention that fishnet can be used to "trap" or "capture" certain energies and adhere them to the wearer. Just the same, lace or crushed velvet can be used to evoke a romantic or sensual vibration, shiny clothing can be used to "reflect" unwanted energies, and so forth. Accessories can also be used with metaphysical properties in mind. Belts and bracelets can help affix intended energies to oneself, hats and shoes can be used for grounding or keeping one’s own energy secured to their person, and jewelry with certain symbols can be worn to tap into the energy that the symbols themselves represent.

Sewing and creating clothing can also be acts of magick. Simply stitching a hole or sewing a patch, zippers, or other materials onto clothing can become magickal if the process itself becomes a meditation. Witches who create their own clothing will often come up with a rhyme to chant when sewing, pinning, buttoning, etc. Intentionally projecting consciousness into an "ordinary" act transforms it instantly, which, again, works both energetically and psychologically.

How we choose to present ourselves to the world can seem insignificant, but in actuality, it greatly helps make us who we are; that which is visual is the most noticeable, and is thus a major factor in perception both in ourselves and others. By using clothing, makeup, and other art forms, we can better tap into our inherent and vast magickal abilities and funnel them into our experience. Magick doesn't have to be reserved for ritual alone—life itself is the grandest ritual of them all.


Photos: Model Eden Wolf.

Raven DigitalisRaven Digitalis
Raven Digitalis (Missoula, MT) is the author of Shadow Magick Compendium, Planetary Spells & Rituals, Goth Craft, and the forthcoming Esoteric Empathy. He is a Neopagan Priest and cofounder of an “Eastern Hellenistic”...  Read more


Planetary Spells & Rituals
Planetary Spells & Rituals
Practicing Dark & Light Magick Aligned with the Cosmic Bodies
Raven Digitalis
$19.95 US,  $22.95 CAN | Add to Cart
Shadow Magick Compendium
Shadow Magick Compendium
Exploring Darker Aspects of Magickal Spirituality
Raven Digitalis
$20.99 US | Add to Cart

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