Some people say that technology has no place in witchcraft. Other people – and that’d include me – think that technology is a tool, and it can fit just fine, when it’s the appropriate tool. This article talks about some ways to both incorporate technology into your magic and ritual practice, and how to incorporate magic and ritual into your regular technology use.
Different views on technology
Before we get into the practical ideas, it’s worth looking at some of the different views on this.
Some people feel that technology won’t work in circle – that the things that make our phones or tablets or computers work (electricity, electronic circuits, things like powerful magnets in some hard drives, the radio waves used for wi-fi and Bluetooth connections) will interfere with or interact with magic in unpredictable or undesireable ways.
Some people feel that technology is a distraction – that if we have a phone or tablet with us, if we’re using our computer for music – we’ll be tempted to do something else, rather than focus on the ritual. (Or that we’ll forget to turn notifications off, or our phone ringer, or whatever.) This can be a good point, but there are ways around it.
Some people feel technology just isn’t very witchy and want a more historical feel to their craft: parchment and aged paper and gorgeous ink colours and candlelight.
But some of us figure that any tool can be useful, and that’s as true of our computer or phone as candles or an athame or a cauldron. Some ritual techniques and some magics won’t work well with a candle, and some won’t work well with a computer – but that’s true of any tool we might pick.
Some people take another step, and actively use their technology for magical workings. They might consecrate a computer or another device for magical work, or weave protections that work with the wiring and electronic circuits of the device they want to use.
Technology in circle
Some circles and groups have strict requirements about technology – even watches. (The idea is that ritual takes as long as it takes: if you are looking at your watch, you may get knocked out of the timeless nature of the circle and that affects the workings you’re doing together.) Groups may also cover visible clocks. Some groups will use only candles, lamps, or lanterns, rather than overhead lights (or only small indoor lights, like holiday lights)
If this is true for the group you’re part of, then follow their guidelines (or discuss them outside of ritual.) The group I trained in worked like this, with the only usual technology being a CD player when needed for meditation music or other things we couldn’t sing ourselves.
If you are working on your own, however, you have a lot more flexibility. As a general rule, I’d suggest the following guidelines, at least to start with.
Disconnect when you can
Since so many of us have trouble disconnecting from technology, make ritual a time when you do that if it’s possible. Bring technology into your ritual only when you have a specific clear reason for using it, and take steps to make it as minimally interfering as possible.
Do at least as many rituals without modern tech as you do with it
It can be awfully convenient to have a great and moving playlist on our phone and use it for ritual – but you should also try out singing, chanting, drumming, and other techniques yourself. (Even if you’re sure you can’t sing.) All of these have resonances in your physical body that just listening doesn’t.
Build all the ritual skills you can – someday you may really want to be able to ignore all your technology for a bit, or be somewhere where chanting is the perfect tool
Be careful to reduce distractions
Turn off your ringer, all notifications, and if you can set things up so you don’t see the time easily, that’s even better. If you’re resenting doing this, or it’s a pain in the neck, take that as a sign you should rethink using that tool.
I have a computer, a tablet, and a phone. I usually use my tablet in ritual, because it is the one I get least distracted by. I can dim the light easily without interfering with things, and I can easily set things up so I don’t have notifications, the only thing open is the music app I’m using, or the ritual text.
I also use my tablet when I have very long specific ritual texts (one particular ritual I do every year), I have a playlist I want to listen to while doing things like meditation, divination, dance to raise energy, or something else like that.
I occasionally use my phone as well, usually if I’ve got headphones on and am using it for a music playlist while doing divination or reflection or ritual art, because a lot more music lives on my phone. I make sure to have everything set to go before I start ritual. This is more complicated, because my phone has some sets of scheduled notifications (medication, some tasks.)
Technology that may be useful
Desktop or phone background
Pick a background for your computer, phone, or tablet that is spiritually or magically meaningful for you. (This goes at work, too – it doesn’t need to be something obvious to others.) If you have the option, consider having several images rotate. Some options include:
- Nature scenes. Consider changing images every Sabbat or at other suitable ritual points. Maybe for Winter Solstice you have a bunch of pictures of sunrises, and for Lammas, a field of grain or loaves of bread.
- Deity related images. If you honour Athena, you could do images of owls, or olive trees, or looms – all things that have to do with Athena, without being obviously about a specific deity. Deities will usually have a significant variety of possible symbols to select from.
- On a phone or computer other people won’t see (or only people who know about your religious practices) you could do photos of statuary of a particular deity, or design praise images of some kind.
- Do you have an ongoing magical goal? Figure out an image that represents it, and use it as a background. If you want a new job, maybe that’s a photo of the kind of thing you’d like to be doing. Maybe it’s a city you want to move to, or colours that suit the magical working that’s taking your time.
- You can even design images that incorporate words, images, colours, symbols, or sigils into a unique background for your devices. (You’ll need some image editing software to do this, but there are a number of options out there.)
Do you have passwords you need to type regularly? It’s a great opportunity for ongoing magical work, especially around long-term goals that last a few months or more.
There are two ways to form a password for this. One is to pick a keyword that makes sense for you, and then add symbols, numbers, and capital letters as needed. So, for example, if I were searching for a new job, I might selec “new job” as my starting word or phrase, then turn it into NewJob, then into N3wJ0b (where that 0 is a number) then into N3w$J0b!, picking the $ because, well, jobs usually involve money.
This can make a less secure password, so you might want to try the following method instead.
Take a phrase that you will remember relatively easily (If you’re not doing this for magical work, this could be the first line of a poem, song, etc. that’s meaningful to you.) It should be at least 8 words (for a more secure password).
So, for example, when I was doing my last job hunt, the phrase I kept as a focus was ‘Right job, right people, right place, right circumstances.” (for what I was doing, the people I was doing it with, a place I could thrive both at and outside of work, and the other practical details like salary, finding housing that worked for me, commute, benefits, etc. working for me.)
So if we take the first letters of that, we get rjrprprc. We can then add symbols, numbers, etc. to improve it. Maybe Rjrpr@rc! Or Rjrp2rc!$! since there’s a doubled rp in there. Either of these should be pretty easy for me to remember because I know what it’s based on, but hard for computer systems to crack. You get the idea.
One final idea may make sense for those of us who can make stories out of words. You may have seen a classic geek comic strip about passwords, from the comic XKCD, that suggests using four words with spaces between them for passwords. This method is most secure when you pick four random words that have no connection between them. However, if you’re looking for passwords that don’t absolutely need to be extremely secure (like a password for an online forum, rather than something like financial accounts) you might try this.
You could base your words on a meditation that mattered to you, a ritual experience, a deity, or something else. For example, I could pick words for a password from this meditation and come up with a passphrase that says “water_doing_padlock_wall” which would probably be pretty easy for me to remember, but random words to most people. (And while not the most secure option, a lot more secure than your pet’s name, your kid’s name, your birthday, the word ‘password’, or any of the other really common passwords.)
One way a lot of people I know use their technology is music – creating playlists for different purposes. You can gather music on your computer, use a streaming service that lets you make playlists, or a combination of the above. Some kinds of playlists you might want to explore:
- Seasonal playlists (for each Sabbat, for example, or whatever holidays you celebrate)
- Elemental playlists (air, fire, water, earth, or whatever set is meaningful to you)
- Deity playlists (songs that make you think of a particular deity)
- Meditation playlist (either music you can use for quiet meditation, or playlists you can use for moving or dance meditation. Or some of both!)
- Playlists for specific rituals. For example, there’s a yearly ritual I do where I play sequences of songs at specific points in the ritual, and construct a specific playlist for that. Some people do playlists for meditation segments in rituals, or while they are working on a magical craft.
- Music to help with magical workings, by helping focus your intention. When I’ve been job hunting or something else long-term, I usually put together a playlist of music that makes me feel like I want to feel when that thing happens, and have it be my main playlist while I’m working on that goal.
- Music to help settle you down after ritual workings – music that helps you ground, come back to your normal self, and be ready for the next thing.
- Music for bad days – a pick-me-up of songs that you can’t resist smiling to, tapping your foot to, or singing along with.
One tool a lot of people use technology for is divination. Sometimes that’s accessing a divination tool – for example, there are apps that will pull Tarot cards or runes for you, or connect you to astrological information.
But you can also use a phone or tablet as a quick and easy way to keep track of readings – take a photograph of the spread, then of the individual cards, and you can edit them into easier to manage images later, highlight particular features, and otherwise store information more easily than trying to write it all down in words.
There are phone apps (and computer apps) out there for just about everything! But you may find them particularly helpful for meditation, breathing exercises, visualisation, or related uses.
You might also wish to use technology for :
- Keeping records of your ritual work – for example, a photo of your altar or magical supplies before and after, notes on the ritual itself, meditation or dream records, etc.
- Apps or other tools for learning specific things – languages relevant to your religious practice, skills, collecting recipes for ritual use, and much more.
- Meditation times – either through using timer apps, or by setting up short playlists suitable for meditation. (I find setting up music for the length of time I want to meditate and then having the music stop much less jarring than an alarm.)
- Reminder apps to help you remember to do daily ritual activities, get supplies, plan rituals, etc.
- Keeping track of books and other sources you own or have read so you don’t make duplicate purchases.
- And of course, using it for research, learning, information, and other forms of self-education, communication, and community building online.
As you can see, there are a great many ways you might choose to use technology, many of which do not directly have to be in ritual itself. While I’m a big believer in not being reliant on any given tool, I think it’s definitely worth exploring technology for all the many things it can do for you.
Last edited December 24, 2016