I work with technology a lot, including virtual reality, and it made me wonder what or how it could pose as some good use for magick and witchcraft.

At the start of being Pagan, many things I did were very offline. I read physical books, went to physical locations such as the library and metaphysical shop, wrote in my physical B.O.S., things like that. If anything, I preferred it that way, things were very much in reach and given the history of magick is very much more so on paper than in bytes, it made better sense to me.

But eventually, technology got better and easier. More and more resources were online, and reliable resources at that. Granted, there is still a lot of bunk and dribble on the internet. Why people like to pick up spells from random corners of the internet is beyond me. If they are easy to get and plain out there for the world to see and, even worse, come with a price tag, it is probably fake. Some witches do indeed do paid spellwork/pay for pray but not to the excessive number that exists on the internet. More on that later, but basically, tech made witchy info collecting easier. It has probably been a while since I have penned in my B.O.S. but, if anything, I have more of a Disk of Shadows (D.O.S.) now. I have particular tumblrs and tags that I follow or curate on my own that are informative and helpful to my works and endeavors. They’re sometimes really hard to find, and sometimes they are not (if you know what to look for). There are more digital groups for Black Pagans and other minorities/poc now than when I started over a decade ago. Due to the internet, there is better access to much better information about non-European cultures that is not filtered through the perspective of a random White academic slathering on a layer of their own personal bias to the details and calling it “correct, accurate and objective information”. People can do their own research and not be blocked by institutions or paywalls.

But there’s still a lot of bunk on the internet. Due to the pop culture sensation of “witchiness” (basically think of anything American Horror Story, The Craft and the Sabrina reboot has pumped out, add some culture-vulturing via “I am a bruerja” and you got it), it makes decent info still rather hard to find. Since books and old texts that may or may not be translated well or correctly are not that popular, it is easier to find people who, frankly, don’t really know much of what they are doing, they just really like sage, cultural appropriation, gothic clothing and perhaps nursing a drug habit. They’re all over Instagram with their filter-laden pictures, offering to cast spells and do divination (usually tarot, because, what else are they going to learn? Cartomancy? Numerology? I Ching? Elective Astrology? Not as popular) but don’t seem to really know much about ethics and the other boring stuff of learning actual, proper witchcraft. It’s easy to blame just about everything on Mercury retrogrades but if that person has never heard of an ephemera before, they probably are also dead wrong about anything retrograde as well. Spells are cool and mysterious (not really), reading and research is … well, how many pop culture witch characters have you seen buzzing around countless books going “I thiiiiiiiiink this is definitely super old school Congolese – liiiiike, way, way, before colonialization. And of course, it’s a half-page passage in an out-of-print book and features a next-to-dead language. So we should either pick a different spell, or start bothering really old people who may or may not remember such a language – assuming the invading White folks did not torch or steal their cultural history – oh wait, it’s sitting in the British museum, with an incorrect placard and everything. Great, now may we have to talk to stuck up, myopic, well-dressed thieves that think they’re not stuck up, narcissistically stupid, or sticky fingered because ‘I have a degree and institutional prejudice is on my side’. You know what? Killmonger had some good ideas. Someone grab some coffee, that is probably the easier option”? Outside of Hermione Granger, not really anyone in witchy pop culture is very “research is good, research is great, research keeps random entities you summoned and can’t get rid of out of your home and life.” So it can make good info hard to break through the ether. Nothing is wrong with liking pop culture depictions of magic – I get a kick out of Doom Patrol’s magnificent depiction of chaos magick – but it is a bit of a problem when people try to base their practice on movie magic. Yes, psionics is real, yes, magic is real but no, it doesn’t look exactly like the tv and movies. If anything, they can be a lot more stressful and annoying.

I think being a technology-based witch, for me, is simply involving technology in your practice. I have thought of the idea of making a virtual space for spellwork and personal practice but then I think about my track record with magick, energy movement and electrical items. VR systems are pricy and I have made electrical items go ka-put. And, again, VR systems are pricy. But others could benefit, especially those who may not have the space or safety to comfortably practice in the real world. You can make whatever you want in the virtual world and it can be your own spot. A digital altar, a digital casting circle, the list goes on and on.

At first, I wasn’t too sure of these things because, well, they are new. No one was using computers for such practices – or any practices – centuries ago. But all technology, no matter how rudimentary, was considered new at one point. All creations were considered new at one point. From the typewriter, to the wheel, to fire itself. Certainly the deities can be understanding of some of these changes. As long as the changes are relatively seamless, especially for some deities. For example, some sun gods probably would not be too keen on the use of cell phone flashlights vs. actual natural light sources, like a flame made from the sun’s rays. I imagine working with water deities would be stress-inducing unless you are very confident in the IP rating of your technology and trickster deities + internet is probably literal trouble if you do not know what you are doing.

Has all my practices gone digital? I don’t think so but I do think a vast majority of it has. It has been the easier option for me but I always bear in mind that it is good to at least have back ups and that not everything worthwhile is on a computer. There is still always going to be a need for physical things. Links die, computers break and sometime technology can over-complicate simple processes. That and not everything is on the internet, not everything has been digitized and some things are simply harder to find digitally because the metadata is not up to snuff or it is plain incorrect. Thus it is good to find a decent balance, even if that balance is majority tech with analog supports.