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Technopaganism Reloaded: Disk Two

Technopaganism is both intimately tied to the workings of, and mostly disregarded by, modern occulture.

3 months ago

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Technopaganism is both intimately tied to the workings of, and mostly disregarded by, modern occulture.

Yet as a movement, it boasts a nebulous internal cosmology that has more to do with free form chaos magick than the stoic and earthen roots of witchcraft. This leads to a certain level of derision from practitioners of reconstructionist Neo-paganism, who refuse to allow anything modern to have a seat by their pseudo-ancient fireside.

It is little wonder then that many a chaote sees allies among the digital magickians who still man the forgotten trenches in cyberspace, or that there is a significant crossover between the two distinctly postmodernist camps.

By far, the most recognisable difference between technopaganism and its real-world counterpart is the acceptance of non-locality as a fundamental tool for spiritual exploration. Far from being tied to the cycles of the land, it instead exists partly in an online world which is as inherently magickal and transient as the astral spaces of Crowley or Blavatsky.

Alan Moore stated that all sorcery has its roots in language itself.

Recognising that grammar and grimoire are interrelated concepts because of their shared etymological roots, he would point a bony and nicotine-stained finger at forces which use words to manipulate others for capitalist gain.

Yet from the earliest days of the internet, those who sought to find a truer reflection of their inner spirit happily wove paragraphs around themselves for far more cathartic reasons.

In the time before graphical interfaces, those sentences were glamour spells that could only ever exist within the imaginations of all involved.

Witches, Magickians, Vampires. Fairies, Furries, Therianthropes and Otherkin. Marginalised but not alone, these creative and, at times, controversial voices were free to explore their personal part of the collective unconscious clothed in a skin of their own choosing.

Hastily typed words became incantations, thriving on group experience, and every time these individuals dove into cyberspace to network with others who shared their interests, they became shamanic travellers in all but name.

Sadly, cyberculture has shifted away from self expression in favour of homogenised corporate experiences in the last ten years, but there are still a few dogged digital nomads who keep the idea alive.

They realise that if all magick is language, then a secondary digital reality that has its foundations rooted firmly within that very thing must be considered a vast and sprawling hypersigil, albeit one that does not have a goal in mind.

But then, neither did the Technopagan movement itself. Looking back some three decades later, it is easy to see that there never was one well-defined path to walk, nor structured cosmology to support it.

As a result, those who would claim the title post Millennium may be a truer expression of what it stands for than the handful of New Age philosophers, raver kids and Bay Area programmers who originally struck out into the digital frontier right at the beginning.

Indeed, if Erik Davis had not liberally sprinkled the term throughout his now foundational Wired article, it would have faded into obscurity along with many other BBS buzzwords from that period, likely replaced in the alternative consciousness by something else without the Neopagan associations.

In hindsight, this would have been a far better outcome.

While he is not responsible for the creation of either the term or the movement it describes, he wrote the apocrypha that many have built upon to give that nebulous thought experiment life in the long years since.

Yet as a philosophy, technopaganism is almost unique in that it actually has no founding fathers or even well defined past before the mid-1990s.

Many cultural streams feed into digital occultism. Though inevitably, humankind would seek to give a spiritual dimension to the cold and uncaring tools which they create, claiming to walk this path is a decidedly recent consideration.

Even the term itself is an anachronism, perhaps betraying the arbitrary nature of its selection.

Originally coined by the Christianised Romans to describe the feral country folk who lived outside of polite urban society, the term Paganus soon became slang for anyone who eschewed the military lifestyle.

These farmers and labourers were not the most technologically advanced or even well-educated members of the European world. They did not need to be. Their equivalent in the modern era would likely utilise tools only in so far as it was convenient, and neglect to seek any deeper philosophical meaning while doing so.

Language actually becomes the enemy here. Critics of any Neopagan path which accepts and even resonates with modern technology will point to the admittedly earthen roots of their movement and use it as an excuse to exclude those voices wholesale.

That said, most who dwell in the thorny spaces between old Aeon religion and bleeding edge cyberculture pay little attention to this marginalisation.

Much like the chaotes with which they share so much, their thoughts are on bigger questions.

It is not now, nor has it ever been, a single spiritual path.

Ultimately Technopagan, cyber-shaman, these terms are but inconvenient labels which limit what those frontier magickians hope to ultimately achieve. While they may show respect to the earth, upon which its digital foundations were laid, this can only ever be a backwards glance.

To reboot these ideas may well require moving away from the old terminology completely.

And should those ever questioning technomagi ultimately find Neo-paganism unwelcoming, the chaos current will gladly give them a home.


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Gavin Fox

Published 3 months ago

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