Cavan McLaughlin

Cavan McLaughlin

Cavan McLaughlin

‘Another Girl, Another Planet’: An Account of Reality Shifting, Magic(k) and the Application of Many-World Ontologies.

Reality Shifting (RS) is a contemporary occultural practice and burgeoning online subculture that had a dramatic rise in prominence and popularity since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. On social media platforms, like TikTok, trending RS hashtags such as #shifttok (6.2B), #realityshifting (2.8B), and #shiftingrealities (1.8B) have collectively amassed billions of views. ‘Shifting’, as it is commonly referred to, is the ability to explore and directly experience alternative, often fictional, realities. Central to experiencing such phenomena are the conditions of plurality, disassociation, imagination, and narrativity.

Some reality shifters draw on the many-worlds interpretation (MWI) of quantum mechanics, which posits that every possible outcome of a quantum measurement occurs in a separate, non-communicating branch of the universe, believing that their techniques and methods allow them to consciously navigate or jump between these parallel multiverses or alternate realities. However, such notions are far more likely the result of the widespread adoption of multiverses and branching parallel timelines as narrative devices within popular culture—narrative tools that should not be conflated with the actual theoretical frameworks used in scientific research.

Other proponents of reality shifting, however, engage the philosophical concept of ‘possible worlds’ as it is used in narrative theory and literary theory. In this approach, reality shifters can view their experiences as a kind of hyper-immersive roleplaying, where they engage with and explore their own imaginal or socially co-constructed ‘possible worlds’. This presentation will consider the potentially transformative implications of just such a conceptualisation of reality shifting, on both a personal and cultural level, with reflections and insights gathered from the multifaceted perspective of the speaker: as a scholar of (oc)cultural studies, an active (oc)cultural producer and storyteller, and as a practitioner of magic(k).


Cavan McLaughlin is a Senior Lecturer in Media Production at the University of the West of England (UWE), with research interests related to the role and function of occulture. Editor of the volume Trans- States: The Art of Crossing Over (2019), Cavan has also published on Crowley, esotericism and narrativity, open-source occultism, and contemporary occulture. Currently undertaking a PhD entitled ‘Occultural Production as Re-visionary Mythmaking’, they remain a practicing filmmaker, artist, and all-around creative media practitioner. As a media professional of over twenty years, Cavan has been involved in almost all aspects of audiovisual production, specialising in video art, music videos, and visual poetry. Cavan is the founder and Chair of Trans- States (; co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Monad: Journal of Transformative Practice (; a trustee of the Research Network for the Study of Esoteric Practices (; and, Vice-Chair of the South-West Association for the Study of Esotericism (SWASE). Cavan has a profound affection for cows, fungi, and rainbows.