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SWPACA: EOM 2023 : Esotericism, Occultism, and Magic at Southwest Popular/American Culture Association annual conference, Feb 22-25, 2023, Albuquerque, New Mexico


When Feb 22, 2023 - Feb 25, 2023
Where Albuquerque, New Mexico
Submission Deadline Nov 14, 2022
Categories    esotericism   occultism   magic   consciousness

Call For Papers

Call for Papers
Southwest Popular / American Culture Association (SWPACA)

44th Annual Conference, February 22-25, 2023
Marriott Albuquerque
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Extended proposal submission deadline: November 14, 2022

Proposals for papers and panels are now being accepted for the 44th annual SWPACA conference. One of the nation’s largest interdisciplinary academic conferences, SWPACA offers nearly 70 subject areas, each typically featuring multiple panels. For a full list of subject areas, area descriptions, and Area Chairs, please visit

Esotericism, Occultism, and Magic invites proposals relating to magical worldviews, practices, and representations, as well as consciousness transformation, hidden meanings, the power of transmutation, and related phenomena. Characteristic beliefs and practices include: arcane symbolism, imagery, and aesthetics; unseen forces and spiritual intermediaries; synchronous patterns, non-ordinary causation, and anomalous processes. Examples of concepts and systems include Theosophy, Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Sufism, Satanism, Tantra, witchcraft, sorcery, demonology, astrology, alchemy, shamanism, yoga, parapsychology, and psychic and paranormal phenomena, along with beliefs and practices relating to altered states of consciousness, overlapping with the study of mysticism as well as New Age spirituality, channeling, positive thinking, manifest intention, guardian angels, and Ascended Masters. Esoteric, occult, and magical ideas, beliefs, and practices appear in every culture and civilization; contemporary media and popular culture have embraced them enthusiastically, yet at times have reacted against them. The impact of esotericism, occultism, and magic on genre formation/content and popular cultural perceptions has been profound.

Individual papers, organized panels, and roundtable discussions welcomed. Please contact the area chair with questions/suggestions. Special themes discussed for 2023 may include the following, but all proposals suitable to the Area will be considered:
EOM and altered states of consciousness, ecstatic trance, sadomasochism, and initiatory ordeals; ritual and sacrifice; EOM and rationality, logic, puzzles, and paradoxes; theurgy, theosis, deification, alchemy, transmutation, the transpersonal, and the transhuman; EOM and augmented reality, virtual reality, metacognition, metanarrative, artifice, and the uncanny (valley); Gnostic metafiction and mythology; ontological pressure, self-similarity, meta-textuality and fourth-wall-breaking as technique and representation in EOM; the (anti)cosmic weird; the inhuman, the unhuman, the abhuman, the monstrous, and the abject; conception, creation, conjuration, and animation of artificial life, unlife, the undead, spirits, servitors, familiars, elementals, homunculi, and constructs; EOM and the paranormal; EOM representations in alternative media; EOM, tradition, traditionalism, and metapolitics; EOM and sectarianism, radicalism, deviance, reactionary movements, extremisms, “extremes” and “the extreme”; crime, violence, and transgression; the demonic, the diabolic, and EOM anti-religion; cross-cultural intersections and syncretisms; Islamic esotericism and magic in reception and representation; reconstructed/speculated historical practices in popular culture and fiction; scientistic representations in esotericism, occultism, and magic; the crossroads and the in-between; the symbolic significance and function of place, location, and locality; the mainstreaming of EOM; the intersection of EOM with popular spirituality, including popular numerology and astrology, angel beliefs, self-help, popular witchcraft and spellcasting; EOM across, within, between, and as genre; archives, archaicism, and nostalgia; canonicity in representations and transmissions; fantasy and escapism in worldview, practice, and representation; scrying, divination, surveillance, the “seer” and conceptions/representations of the “watchers”; eroticism, love, romance, and romanticism; EOM and aesthetics; EOM as transdisciplinary

Sample Ideas for topics categorized by media:

Literature: Fiction by practitioners, such as Philip K. Dick, William S. Burroughs, C. S. Friedman. Books by practitioners (for example, Evola, Gurdjieff, Crowley, Anton LaVey, Gerald Gardner, Peter Carroll, Edgar Cayce). Influences and themes in magical realism, speculative fiction, gothic fiction, weird fiction, historical fiction, urban fantasy, paranormal romance and adventure. Fiction influential on practitioners, such as Zanoni, Goethe’s Faust, The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Historical representations of magicians, witches, and wizards, including stylized and mythic figures (Merlin, Morgan La Fey, Circe, Medea, Kostchie the Deathless, etc.), in genre fiction (contemporary Arthurian adaptations) or modernizations (Neil Gaiman, Tim Powers, Jim Butcher), indigenous futurism and fantasy (Octavia Butler, Rebecca Roanhorse). New Age and/or popular manifestation guides, such as The Secret. Conspiracist and/or extra-terrestrial cosmologies related to esoteric concepts (David Icke, the Seth transmissions to Jane Roberts, the Michael channelings, etc.).

Visual Art: Examples: Hilma af Klint, Wassily Kandinsky, Austin Spare, Rosaleen Norton, Michael Bertiaux.

Film: Content as in Hellraiser, The Color Out of Space, The Witch, Hereditary, Midsommar, Apostle, The Endless, A Dark Song, Kill List, Drag Me To Hell, The Skeleton Key, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Ninth Gate, The Conjuring series, The Wicker Man; Gnostic allegories such as The Matrix, Dark City, The Truman Show; explorations of consciousness such as eXistenZ, Altered States, 2001 Space Odyssey, Dune; representations of occult aesthetic, such as Eyes Wide Shut, occult conspiracy, such as Starry Eyes, or traumatic initiation, such as the Saw series; stylized depictions of magicians, wizards, and witches (Dr. Strange, Shazam, Maleficent, Oz, Warlock, Thulsa Doom of Conan, Jafar of Aladdin) ; esoteric/occult films such those by Kenneth Anger and Alejandro Jodorowsky; pseudo- and crypto-history in fiction (Tomb Raider, National Treasure); New Age documentaries, such as The Secret; conspiracist receptions of esoteric and occult history, such as Zeitgeist.

Television: Theme and/or content examples Westworld, Stranger Things, Brand New Cherry Flavor, Yellowjackets, Sandman, Wandavision, Game of Thrones/House of the Dragon, The Witcher, The Magicians, A Discovery of Witches, Midnight Mass, The Devil In Ohio, The Order, Dark, Shadowhunters, The Man in the High Castle, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Twin Peaks, Penny Dreadful, DaVinci’s Demons, American Horror Story, American Gods, Lucifer, True Detective (season one), Strange Angel (fictionalized biography of occultist/magician Jack Parsons.) Significant protagonists and anti-heroes; fourth-wall-breaking or uncanny figures, presented with esoteric, occult, or quasi-ritualistic aesthetics (Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Frank Underwood of House of Cards).

Comics / Graphic Novels: Contain esoteric, occult, and magical motifs and tropes. Some are actively esoteric; Grant Morrison claims The Invisibles and Promethea as personal magical workings; the graphic novels of Neil Gaiman embrace esoteric, occult, magical themes and characters.

Music: Specific artists (e.g.,Genesis P-Orridge, David Bowie, Coil, Marilyn Manson, Ghost, Watain, Dissection, Behemoth, Wardruna, Tori Amos, Loreena McKennitt, Gustav Holst), genres (dark ambient, dungeon synth, black metal, viking/Nordic ambient, apocalyptic folk, witch house).

Video Games: Theme and content, e.g., A Plague Tale, Cult of the Lamb, Hunt: Showdown, Medium, Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator, Dead Synchronicity, The Witcher, Silent Hill, Darkest Dungeon, Cultist Simulator, The Shadow Government Simulator, Secret Government, The Council, Eldritch, SOMA, Deus Ex, Dark Souls, Xenogears, Devil May Cry, Curious Expedition, Murdered: Soul Suspect, Arcana, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, Shadow Hearts, Arx Fatalis; pseudo-history Assassin’s Creed, Tomb Raider; historical worldviews, Civilization VI (secret societies), Crusader Kings (cults, witchcraft, demonolatry); State of Mind (transhumanism); methodology (Nevermind, when utilizing biofeedback)

Tabletop Roleplaying Games: The Esoterrorists and Yellow King (Pelgrane Press), Esoterica (Fire Ruby Designs), Kult: Divinity Lost (rebooted by Modiphius Games), Liminal (Modiphius), Sigil & Shadow (Osprey Games), Esoteric Enterprises (Dying Stylishly Games), White Wolf’s Mage (classic World of Darkness) and Demon: The Descent (Chronicles of Darkness), World of Darkness generally, Atlas Games Unknown Armies, Monte Cook’s Invisible Sun, Kevin Crawford's Silent Legions. RPGs have influenced the conception of magic in popular culture across media, and present extensive representation of magical figures. Esoteric and gnostic themes intersect with transhumanism in examples such as Eclipse Phase.

Other possible topics:
Influence of esoteric/occult/magical/New Age beliefs, practices, symbols on popular culture and aesthetics (e.g., memes, clothing, tattoos, jewelry).
Influence of popular culture on esoteric/occult/magical beliefs, practices, and practitioners (e.g., Lovecraft mythos as actual magical practice, fictional gods of chaos in Chaos Magic, and real vampire communities using concepts from Vampire:The Masquerade).
Popular beliefs about esotericism/occultism/magic: fads, trends, moral panics, witch-hunts, witch-crazes, conspiracy theories (e.g., anti-occult-conspiracism in QAnon; Illuminati paranoia, bloodline of the Holy Grail beliefs, Satanic Ritual Abuse scandals).
Reactions and polemics against esoteric/occult/magical beliefs and practices

All proposals must be submitted through the conference’s database at

For details on using the submission database and on the application process in general, please see the Proposal Submission FAQs and Tips page at

Individual proposals for 15-minute papers must include an abstract of approximately 200-500 words. Including a brief bio in the body of the proposal form is encouraged, but not required.

For information on how to submit a proposal for a roundtable or a multi-paper panel, please view the above FAQs and Tips page.

The deadline for submissions is now November 14, 2022.

SWPACA offers monetary awards for the best graduate student papers in a variety of categories. Submissions of accepted, full papers are due January 1, 2023. SWPACA also offers travel fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students. For more information, visit

Registration and travel information for the conference will be available at
For 2023, we are excited to be at a new venue, the Marriott Albuquerque (2101 Louisiana Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110), which boasts free parking and close proximity to dining, shopping, and other delights.

In addition, please check out the organization’s peer-reviewed, scholarly journal, Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, at

If you have any questions about the Esotericism, Occultism, and Magic area, please contact its Area Chair, Dr. George J. Sieg, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, at If you have general questions about the conference, please contact us at, and a member of the executive team will get back to you.

We look forward to receiving your submissions!

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