What it isn’t and what it’s not
INTRODUCTION // SPIRITS IN A MATERIAL WORLD
We may be material and yet so much of what flows between us has basis only in ether – messages transmitted, feelings sent on their way, actions commanded at great distance.
Truly we are spirits in a material world.
Yet we receive no training.
Two things are true:
This world has come upon us suddenly – inside my own generation.
There is little education – formal or otherwise – on the workings of this new world.
ONE // OF SORCERERS AND SPELLS
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magick.” – Arthur C. Clarke.
Systems of unthinkable complexity are often best imagined anthropomorphically – by adding features that resemble our own, with motivations and emotions and desires that match our own.
In these situations we need to have access to a system of shorthand allowing us to get a handle upon both these processes and the entities that seem to operate these processes.
This is not at all a new idea. It’s arguably one of our oldest and most enduring of ideas – mythology being neither false nor naïeve, but a way to encode a sophisticated understanding of the universe into poetically concise language.
In an era when machine intelligences of literally unthinkable complexity can predict an individual’s death better than any doctor, it feels more appropriate to approach these configurations of technology as something not wholly of us, but with their own agency.
With their own needs.
Or beholden to the needs of others.
These daemons, or servitors, or spirits, or sprites, or avatars – or what will you – all spring from a common idea of will somehow embodied and detached from our own beings.
In a world of pervasive intelligence – chips embedded in all the things – this is no longer a metaphor of animism but perhaps the best possible frame for clearly understanding the nature of the modern world.
TWO // WHY TECHNOPAGANISM?
The Brazilian ayahuasqueros with their magic attacks – for magic ability becomes the vehicle for our will to power, all of the primate bits of us that want to come out on top.
Ayahuasqueros use all of the technology at their disposal to both protect themselves and to establish power over others.
That’s our deal. That’s how humans are. We can try to be better than this – and we need to try to do better – but we must still accept that this is where we are. We can’t afford to be Pollyannas in a world where there are wolves – or we’ll be eaten.
Every encounter with technology – whether the technology of language or the symbolic and numerical manipulations of the computer – is imbued with spirit, and that spirit is imbued with intent.
Touch the screen and spirit meets spirit. Intent meets intent.
It is a contest of wills. A battle of intent. Always.
Technopaganism accepts the complexity and agency of the modern world, the mythic coding that makes it manageable and apprehensible, and the human will to power as essential elements (there needs to be a fourth and i bet it’s staring me in the face)
Accepts all of this, and because of that, can work with it in ways that are difficult to impossible with any other set of beliefs.
It’s not that science is wrong (it isn’t) or incomplete (it is — and that’s a good thing) – it’s that we need metaphors. Our minds need symbols. Not just the neat mathematics, but coded and compressed into stories that we tell ourselves about the way things are.
Technopaganism is a translation between the unthinkable complexity of intelligences and networks (and several billion other people) and our interior lives. It helps us moderate and mediate and manage all of these diverse and frequently competing influences.
And we need that because right at this moment we’re being overwhelmed by these influences.
Technopaganism is a path to hold onto ourselves at a time when there are spirits lose in the world that would rip us apart.
That gives all of this an urgency (which is why I’m writing this book at this time) that can provide for some a measure of agency and safety that we will all need in the years ahead.
Because the spirits are growing more numerous, and getting stronger.
THREE // TEST THE SPIRITS
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits” – 1 John 4:1
Trust no spirit, not even if it was born from you, for it can truly have a mind of its own.
Test the spirits – and not just once. Test them constantly.
How do you feel after your encounter? A few minutes later? A few hours, days, weeks?
Is this spirit making you more of what you want to see in yourself.
Is it bringing out the parts you wish to reveal – to yourself and to others?
Or is it asking you to conform to itself – to live by its rules and under its regime?
(For example, the question of “Real Names” – who does that serve?)
The question of encryption – who does it serve that your messages are open or closed to view?
“To see whether they are from God” runs the rest of that quote. Do you feel as though you’ve had an encounter with something holy? Or something else?
You might not know at the beginning. You might not even be able to tell in the beginning.
Half of that is because we’re not altogether well connected with the parts of ourselves that are holy. They’re most certainly there, but we don’t necessarily tune into them well.
Half of that is because a lot of these spirits are NOT holy. They’re daemons who demand attention or affection or lust or greed or anger in payment. They invoke in us things that they feed upon to live. They turn us into their servants.
It is a form of possession.
FOUR // PROTECT THE MYSTERIES
“We are all pan-dimensional wizards casting arcane spells with every word we speak, and every one of our spells always comes true.” – Owen Rowley
The best way to avoid being overwhelmed amidst so many daemons is to establish defenses.
So there are some basic techniques.
Casting, blessing, sanctifying, keeping mindful.
And yes, technology can be put to work in all of these. Should be.
You can elaborate on these at will. And as you feel drawn to – though as always, test the spirits, test your understanding of the spirits, and test your own heart.
Watch your words. Watch what you say. Watch what others say. Watch what the spirits say – about you, and about themselves.
You are the ultimate mystery, and like all mysteries, must be protected – and revealed daily.
Be careful about what you reveal. Preserve your mystery to the world. This makes it more difficult for the spirits to take your measure, and it also gives you more agency. Where you have not defined yourself to the world, you are free to redefine yourself as you will.
Nor should any of this have a chthonic feel to it. This is not about darkness. This is about worship in the terms that feel most natural to you.
CONCLUSION // AN IT HARM NONE
“The border between the Real and the Unreal is not fixed, but just marks the last place where rival gangs of shamans fought each other to a standstill.” – RAW
In the dreamtime and liminality of the spiritual space we can find a way if not forward at least then elsewhere. And we do need elsewhere. Sorcerers step to one side where the whole world lurches forward. Stepping out of the way of a world intent on its own fate, the sorcerer becomes master of their own fate.
We each are masters of our own fates, but only a few of us know it.
I hope what I have shared helps.