Social Media, Technology and Magic

Recently Jason from the Wild Hunt reported that Scarlet Imprint is leaving Facebook. Scarlet Imprint offered their own explanation of leaving Facebook as well as a critique of technology. Finally here is a report on how Facebook's changes in terms of reach have affected people and businesses, specifically in terms of cost involved in order to reach your entire fan base. I don't care for how Facebook has changed the ability of a given business or person to reach his/her followers, which is why I think its important to use multiple social media, but I'm also not going to write FB off just yet.

Scarlet Imprint decries technology and social media as a dumbing down of magic and claim they wouldn't be online if it wasn't for the press. Perhaps they wouldn't be. They go on to argue that people who discuss their magical work online are diminishing their work. That's the gist of their message. It's ironic then how much modern technology they do use, but they likely have realized that a business that isn't online is less likely to be discovered.

They'd no doubt be appalled that I take a different tact. I'm one of those magicians who likes incorporating technology and pop culture into magic. I'm one of those "low" magicians. I think Facebook and other social media can be useful for sharing information and I think its good to get the information out there to people who might otherwise never be exposed to it. I even think its possible to apply magic to social media (a subject for a book). I don't think its wise to write off social media and while I think they make some valid points it all comes off as elitist. That may be a compliment for them.

I'd definitely like it if Facebook went back to letting businesses reach their fans without charging for it, but I'm still going to post on Facebook and on social media in general. After all, its thanks to social media that I have really found my fan base. Pre-social media, I honestly wondered who was reading my work and/or what they were doing with it. Social media showed me what people are doing and gave me a chance to answer their questions and comment on their work. I don't see that as a diminishing return, but rather as a chance connect with people who appreciate my work and want to stay dialed into what I am doing.






Contemporary Technology as Ritual Tools

One of the ways I like to experiment with magic involves integrating contemporary technology into magical practice, including making technology into ritual tools. This can be something as simple as turning your toothbrush and toothpaste into a tool that you use for a ritual of banishment (not only does it fight tooth decay, but it also cleans out lingering psychic plaque!) or using a video game character to charge and fire a sigil. It could be as complex as using static on your TV screen for scrying purposes (ala TOPY) or treating your cell phone as an evoking tool for working with specific entities (think Jozef Karika on this one). For many magicians, these ideas may seem foreign or blasphemous, but that's only due to a lack of imagination on their part. Any type of technology could be a ritual tool. The coding language you use to create a program can also be used to inject a magical working into that same program or into what the program is supposed to interact with. A paint brush can become a wand when its used to paint the seal of an entity, summoning that entity into an evocation that the painting itself activates by the choice of the magician.

It is the use technology is put to that defines if it becomes a ritual tool. There is nothing inherent within any tool that makes it magical. What makes anything magical is the intention of the magician, and specifically how s/he uses a given tool to convey that intention to the world around him/her. A tool is a physical expression of a concept the magician is expressing as part of the magical work s/he is doing. If that concept is better expressed through modern technology then use modern technology in you're workings. If we assume that modern technology can't be used because its modern, what we are really doing is limiting the ability to evolve magic, as well as adapt to situations that our contemporary to our time and space.

This isn't to say we should discard the athame or other traditional tools, but why not also look at how you could use your toothbrush in a magical working? As I said above there is nothing inherently magical in any of our tools. What makes the magic happen is the magician and his/her ability to turn possibilities into realities.

Magic as a technology

I tend to approach aspects of magic as a technology and/or a process. I don't think magic as a whole can be boiled down to a set of tools or processes, but I think the actions can be examined as a process and form of technology, and that there is benefit in doing this. The benefit is the ability to personalize your approach to magic, based off understanding it as a process, and knowing what can be manipulated in that process. It interests me that I find what I consider to be a willful ignorance on the part of some occultists. There's this tendency to argue that you don't need to know how magic works and that examining magic as a technology debases the if somehow it's better to not really know or ask how it works. I think such ignorance is wasteful, and of no real value to someone practicing magic.

I don't think of magic as a science, but I do find value in the process and in understanding what factors will lead to a consistent result. And not surprisingly this has resulted in what I'd consider to be consistent results. Viewing magic as a process and technology doesn't necessarily take the magic out of magic or the mystical experiences away from it. But what it does do is provide structure for your experiences, as well as a way of recording them. And it is odd that the same proponents that argue that you don't need to know how magic works, also argue that you need to keep a journal in order to review the magical work you've done. If that isn't examining how magic works, I'm not sure what is, but I will say that knowing how magic works makes your practice a lot more focused.

technology and magic

My apprentice recently told me that wanted to learn technomagic and I asked her to tell me what that is. Now before any of you leap in with an answer, I'll tell you that I asked her because I wanted to find out what she thought technomagic was, and also what she thought technology itself was. I've noticed that when most people think of technology, they usually think of computers or some other form of I. T., or perhaps mobile phones with mobile applications. In fact, it seems for something to qualify as technology it has to has operate on batteries or electrical power and do some kind of computational activity. Now I know that actually technology doesn't have to be a computer or mobile phone or even need to have electrical power to qualify as technology, but it seems to me that when people about technology the focus is on the electronic as opposed to anything else.

My definition of technology is that technology is any tool that makes a task easier to do than would occur if a person was only utilizing his/her hands, or feet. For example, a shovel is technology according to my definition. I could dig at the Earth with my hands, but they would get sore quickly, and I probably wouldn't be able to dig very far. A shovel, on the other hand, is technology that enables me to dig the Earth much more easily than just using my hands. The shovel is a tool, but its also technology.

Any tool that can be used to make a task easier is technology. And technology is important, if only because it makes our lives easier. And if we look at the process of magic, we will find that there is generally some kind of tool that is used to aid in the realization of that process. The tool could be a sigil, a staff, an athame, or it could be a form of contemporary technology, such as a computer or a mobile phone. But a tool is only effective when you actually know what you using it for. Just having technology doesn't mean anything, unless you can actually meaningfully integrate it into your process.

Technology is an aide, but its not the magic itself. Technomagic, which could be argued to integrate the latest forms of technology into magic is only useful if you actually understand what you will use that technology for and how that technology will interact with the process you use to work your magic. In and of itself technology isn't inherently magical. What makes it work as a magical tool is two things: 1. The meaning invested in utilizing it as a magical tool. 2. The understanding of how the tool will actually be used in your process to make the process work. These two factors need to be considered with any kind of technology, in order to make the technology an effective part of your magical process.