Magic The Gathering. As someone who dips in and out of the hobby every so often I remain intrigued by what options a collectable card game format might present for those with an interest in creating novel ritual tools. After all, if there are occultists among us who claim success when working with blatantly fictional entities such as Cthulhu or Nurgle, then looking to other fantasy worlds for inspiration becomes a viable exercise. When these realms are some twenty five years in the making, and have spawned well over nineteen thousand individual playing pieces, it becomes even easier to bend them towards a specific goal as and when required.
The rules are deceptively simple at first glance. You are a Plainswalker, a magickian of unrivalled power who battles others of your kind for fame, recognition, or simply shits and giggles. Every game requires at least two custom decks of cards, each representing a different creature, sorcery or piece of equipment. The overall idea is to kill your opponent and anything else they control that gets in the way while you artfully do so, but victory at any cost is not the be all and end all of the wider hobby. As is to be expected having access to such an extended pool of cardboard spells brings a large collecting aspect to the table, with some of the rarer examples selling for hundreds, if not thousands of pounds.
The cards themselves are sold in blind booster packs, with only a single rare guaranteed per purchase. The fact that many of these are considered to be next to worthless in competitive play leads to some intriguing cards being resold for strikingly reasonable prices, a fact that will make the following occult techniques all the more cost effective for the non player to try out if they are on a tighter budget. Monetary considerations aside, even the most common playing pieces remain useful to those looking to perform some real magick while in the shuffle.
Small and easy to carry, entire stacks of unwanted cards can be used as a colourful alternative to regular sigil paper. For those of you who have an interest in creating tulpas, but lack the obvious artistic and visualisation skills to coalesce your mental effort into something workable, the artwork showcased on the numerous creature cards can be a massive help. It is far easier to birth such an entity when the psychic energy of hundreds of thousands of individual players has already seeded the collective unconscious with its existence, after all.
And if you find yourself drawn to actually start playing then that is even better, as this inevitably leads to many more options for the aspiring magus to explore. For example, those with a working knowledge of the game system can further expand upon the sigil paper idea above by hunting down specific cards that are related to the desired outcome through flavour text or backstory. Once enough of these are charged they become a form of ultra-sigil, creating a whole deck of handy visual spells for use as and when the need arises. Whether the cards are empowered through ritualistic means or simply used to trigger memetic thought patterns already encoded within the subconscious mind is purely down to personal taste.
And it need not stop with simple memetics. Entire thought experiments designed to create elaborate ritual spaces within the magickian’s subconscious, in a way not dissimilar to the the Cthonos Rite, can be fuelled by the land cards that form the backbone of the game system. This creates a network of associated locations for use on the internal imaginative plane, each a carefully constructed tulpa in its own right. Even better, the majority of these pieces are printed in such abundance that they resell for a few pennies at most and can be bought in bulk on eBay for the price of a brand new booster pack should you ever run low.
While the purists among you may baulk at the idea of utilising mass market card games for ritualistic purposes, at their most basic they are no different to any other common tool of chance, such as regular playing cards or six sided dice. These have been accepted as a divination focus for centuries, and entire schools of mysticism have grown up around their use. No matter how many people have used such items in an occult context many more have played Magic The Gathering over the years, and when reality is reduced to a numbers game the bigger team always wins. This is a point that bares remembering, especially for those who wish to dabble in the information model while using the willpower of others as a source of power.