Is the internet one big book of shadows? The rise of witchcraft online
What a time. To be alive. Technology has rewired just about everything — looking at you, media distribution, functional memory, self esteem.
Magick and witchcraft are no exception.
Traditional folk mystics are still out there, and they’ve definitely helped bring us, as a culture, to peak mysticore. But some of us are ready for that analog mystical moment to be replaced with something a little more 2019.
Here’s what you need to know about witchcraft on the internet.
Over the last twenty years, witchcraft has started to adopt a more digital flavor, and it’s hallmarked by some of our newest life forces — like the urge to share our thoughts and creations on the internet, and the performative characteristics we’ve come to crave from our rich lives online.
Many wonder if this new brand of digital witchcraft is real, or if it even works. That’s personal, and it goes back to where you stand on magick and witchcraft in general.
As far as I’m concerned, it feels pretty right, and I invite you to join me in ushering in the new.
Is witchcraft real in 2019?
Witchcraft is real in 2019 and it exists pretty much the way we do — inextricably linked with its online representation.
It’s radically DIY, a little sexual, sometimes political, and pretty fucking chill in its lack of boundaries. It’s way less concerned with carrying out the exact instructions left behind in a book of shadows, or a magical diary from the latest incarnation of Aleister Crowley.
It’s really not an amalgamation of all the practices before it.
The way I see it is more like a daily philosophy for using key resources like social media — or any other technology you may have a strong command over — to help materialize your intentions and manifest your deepest desires.
Think Adobe Creative Suite, souped up render engines, Macbook Pros, coding and dev environments, Wacoms, antivirus software, AR consoles, 3D printers, artificial intelligence.
Never forget: thoughts become things.
Beginners tools for internet witchcraft
Maybe you’re not some trained digital artist, or maybe you don’t have access to the tools listed above.
There are other digital tools for us that require little skill or knowledge, including a number of mystical apps to help us find meaning in horrible shit that pops up in everyday life. Some even go so far as to spell out a greater purpose or cosmic identity for us to connect to. Pisces sun, Libra moon, Taurus rising.
But do these tools set us up to actually achieve anything, or provide any kind of new platform to cast energy out into the world? Maybe, and if not, hopefully they will start to. I don’t think I’ve found one yet.
Most mystical apps are flawed, and they’re a little topical. They’re certainly passive. There’s a limit to the proclaimed hyper-personalization of apps like Co-Star and The Pattern, but we love them anyway. We take them for what they are, because some understanding of the forces that guide us is better than nothing.
But there are still a ton of proactive digital practices out there that an aspiring cyber witch can use to take life to the next level. And if anyone is capable of this, it’s people who grew up on the internet.
Societies will, of course, wish to exercise prudence in deciding which technologies, that is, which applications of science are to be pursued and which not.
But without funding basic research, without supporting the acquisition of knowledge for its own sake, our options become dangerously limited.
- Carl Sagan
Millennials and digital natives are the future of witchcraft
I’ve spent the past 5 years making cyber mystical art and posting about these high level ideas, albeit thinly veiled by hip hop lyrics, on Instagram.
Shadowban me for this, but it seems like the general consensus is that cyber witchcraft is pretty funny, and pretty limited to nsfw performance art, trashion films bumping witchhouse, and satire around Emoji spells.
My answer to that? This is the language of the times. Tumblr might very well be the most potent book of shadows in contemporary witchcraft, and I will not apologize for that.
I will concede that digital natives don’t exactly seem like the genuinely spiritual types — nor do those of us who remember straddling the worlds of pre and post America Online.
So, why then are today’s young people the true heirs to all that is witchcraft?
Because we’re scarily capable of leaving our mark on the world, if by no other way than making our message catch on online, and using the internet to start shit.
But the question remains: why would we want to do that?
Could it be — that all modern creators are witches?
We fucking love content, and we understand all of the references. We’re an excellent audience, but even better creators. We’re impatient and we’re genuinely driven by digital performance metrics. There’s a fuck ton of new information out there, and we’re good at keeping up with it, so we’re good at contributing to these social systems.
Oh, and we’re motivated. We’re also the most anxious generation yet. We’re less formally religious, we’re more demanding. We feel like we have control of what goes on online, and many of us wish that carried over a bit more offline.
I’d love to see some updated figures on young people going into internet-obsessed jobs like coding, digital marketing, professional content creation, or just steamrolling into rogue internet entrepreneurship — and by that I mean skipping college to grow a YouTube channel, or dropping out of high school for a promising SoundCloud career.
To be clear, I think these people — who many would say are truly deluded — have the right idea.
If you’re a real witch, whatever you make your life’s focus will, um, become your life. In a way, a lot of us are already accidental cyber witches.
Call it whatever you want, but by putting an intention out online and reaping any kind of result, you’re not not engaging with cyber witchcraft.
There’s never been a more opportune time to become aware of it, put some intention behind it, and manifest exactly what you want.
Manifesting your destiny online
Broadly speaking and with a few notable exceptions, the internet has proven to be a fantastic vehicle for tapping into your True Will and achieving great things. Spiritually speaking, it’s possible that we’ve been taking social media for granted by thinking our lives online are somehow less real than our in-person interactions. At least half of you probably just stopped reading, but that’s fine.
These channels are an extension of us and feed directly into our identities. If you’re still here, maybe you feel it’s naive to think cyber witchcraft is any less effective than the analog ritual magick of yesteryear.
With the joint power of all its users, social media is especially powerful for the spread of intention and energy. It’s rare for an idea today to get off the ground without being catalyzed or executed on the internet.
Just like all of the versions before it, cyber witchcraft is all about manifesting whatever the witch in question is trying to bring into the world, whether that’s a platform for being recognized artistically, a new love, a new collaboration — the possibilities are pretty staggering.
For pure will, pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.
- Aleister Crowley, The Book of the Law
A blog as a book of shadows: creating a magickal record on the internet
One of the things I find most beautiful about broader witchcraft is that the practice mutates along with the practitioner. With cyber witchcraft, we have an added bonus: limitless mediums like technology, content creation, and even our online identities help comprise the ever-evolving tools for our practice.
Having come in hot on Myspace during the early 2000s, my cyber witchcraft practice kicked off with what’s become my signature brand of lite identity-driven narcissism: in practice, honing a personality online, and using that creation to appeal to like minded-people and expand my orbit in real life.
Back in the MySpace days, I taught myself CSS and other front end web maneuvers to trick out my profile and make friends with cool art girls from sleepy parts of the country. Whether I knew it at the time is debatable, but that was a spell to attract a like-minded following (a 21st century coven), and I’ll have you know that it worked.
Until recently, I would argue that every friendship and creative development I made on MySpace was the pinnacle of cyber magick, mental transmutation, and the law of attraction.
The most magickal ability that I’ve discovered in myself to date is my instinct to use the internet to teach myself a skill, and then start a long lasting project or practice based on it. I’m not necessarily special because of this — most people born after 1990 also possess this trait. But what is magickal here is that I actually see it as such.
In the last five years, I’ve also taught myself how to 3D model on YouTube and subsequently 3D printed energetically potent crystal specimens. That’s slightly insane, but also a pretty literal form of modern alchemy. Don’t @ me?
And these days, I’m more interested in chaos magick and sigil creation, so I’ve been focusing on charging up spells through jewelry designs, using 3D printers to physically cast them, and presenting some of my more abstract ideas (that I’m not yet ready to cast out there) through 3D animation.
Join me in this exploration, and share your own
Like Aleister Crowley before me, and different schools of witches everywhere, I see the benefit of creating a magical record of these explorations, and this blog is mine.
They say that a witch is aware of their own power and puts that power into action. If this resonates with you, follow me on Instagram where I post regular updates. You can also be one of the first to join my mailing list below.
As above, so below. As the universe, so the soul.