Between Synchromysticism and Paganism
Journal Article, 2013

Kirby, D. “Between Synchromysticism and Paganism: Tracing some metaphysical uses of popular fictions” Culture and Religion vol. 13, no. 4. 2013. Pp 396 – 410

The article was reprinted in The Problem of Invented Religions Sutcliffe & Cusack (eds.) New York: Routledge, 2016

Beliefs that directly draw on fictional material constitute a small but notable element of contemporary ‘occulture’. Interestingly, the utilisation of popular source material in the formation of personal idiosyncratic beliefs and practices seems to be increasing in its presence. This paper explores the role of popular narratives in relation to a number of contemporary alternative beliefs, articulating a spectrum of distinct relationships between belief and text. Five particular characterisations of the role of texts are proposed as a loose framework for further observation, exploring the function of texts variously as catalyst, ideal type, reality, practice and proof. Popular texts can function as a catalyst, providing impetus for emergent beliefs in a formative capacity. When used as ideal types, texts can help to support sustained engagement with narratives sympathetic and evocative to the particular metaphysic. Narrative can also provide source material for the assertion of the reality of entities and worlds beyond the bounds of the text. When treated instrumentally rather than aesthetically, texts can become a site of ritual performance, becoming intentional tools of the practitioner. And through various reading strategies, texts can also function as both evidence and revelation, demonstrating alternative knowledges and ways of reading the world.