I love technology. Technology has revolutionized the way that police solve crimes through forensic science. It has saved countless lives through advances in medicine. It has completely changed everything from entertainment to warfare, and from astronomy to zoology. It’s given us new ways to communicate, share ideas, and learn about pretty much anything we want.
Recently, I’ve discovered there’s an unexpected group who’s found unique ways of using technology: modern day witches.
And no, I don’t mean the stereo-typical pointy-hat, flying around on a broomstick with her black cat witch, the ginger-bread house witch, the bubble, bubble, toil and trouble witch, or the witch who turns princes into frogs – and I’m not really talking about Harry Potter fans either.
I’m talking about real, actual witches.
There’s an entire online culture revolving around witchcraft that most of us know nothing about. For example, you might’ve been on tumblr, but have you ever seen all the witchcraft blogs on there? There are countless blogs devoted to witchcraft, and some are even set up specifically to help beginners learn the craft and let them ask questions. Some users also practice divination and will give out readings online (using tarot, pendulums, runes, etc.).
One tumblr blog’s purpose is actually to teach free witchcraft classes. Experienced witches volunteer each lunar month to teach classes on moon-phases, witches in the media, how to make a coven, the uses of crystals, and many more. But remember, as a student you aren’t only there to listen, you’ll have to do some work as well! Students are given assignments and deadlines, just like a real school – a real school that happens to teach witchcraft instead of math or geography…
In addition to tumblr, there are tons of other places where witches can share ideas and connect with one another. There are youtube channels where practitioners demonstrate spells, explain how to harvest and dry herbs, and give other witchy tips. Some witchcraft blogs will also create videos on youtube to answer questions sent to their blog.
There are also websites where you can search for meetups near you or for nearby stores selling all your magickal needs. The Witch’s Voice (aka Witchvox) for example, helps you contact other witches in your area and find stores too, plus covers a lot of news about current or upcoming events in the community.
Plus, many radio stations exist for witches such as Wyldwood Radio (a Pagan radio station in the UK playing Pagan, folk, neo-folk and mediaeval music), Sagittarian Sun (a “BlogTalk Radio Show sponsored by True Psychics Network”), Positive Perspectives Radio (an “Online Radio Show featuring Pagan, Magical, Metaphysical & Holistic topics and interviews”), and many more.
Many stations are accessible online, but you can also access them through apps on your phone which stream radio stations. Some of them may only stream a single radio station, such as Wicca Radio, but there are also apps like Pagan Radio Stations, which streams multiple Wiccan, Pagan, and Celtic stations.
Radio aside, phone apps in general can be extremely helpful for witches. There are tons of apps available that will tell you what phase the moon is in, or you can find Wiccan calendar apps that make sure you don’t forget important days such as Samhain or Yule. There are divination apps for tarot card reading, or number generators if that’s more your style. You’ll also see apps for herbs and crystals that tell you how to identify them and what their magical correspondences are.
Not to mention, there are apps specifically designed for general witchcraft help. One such app is called Witch Digest. This is a pretty great app for beginners, since it covers many of the basics by defining what witchcraft is, what a Book of Shadows is, what different tools are used for, etc. It also includes a calendar of moon phases and important dates, a list of correspondences (colors, herbs, stones, and planets), and a brief guide to crafting spells. Additionally, there is a Witch Digest website and a link to the website on the app.
With the digital world making learning about and practicing witchcraft easier, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of practitioners online and a lot of different ways witches have adapted their craft to use technology. You may want to take a look at these three types of witches whose craft relies heavily on modern technology:
First, we have the Techno-witch. Electronics and the digital world play a huge role in the Techno-witch’s craft, and the ways they can be used are near endless. Techno-witches might create a digital or online Book Of Shadows instead of a hand-written copy – or if they still want a hand-written look they can create a font for their computer out of their own hand-writing. Phone apps offer many possibilities as well (ex: a tarot app instead of physical tarot cards), and it is not uncommon for Techno-witches to have virtual altars or shrines.
Technology also helps with sigils, which are symbols created with an intent in mind (ex: protecting your home) and charged with your will. Techno-witches can charge sigils by playing video games, activate sigils through coding, or use their phones’ keyboard to create sigils. It is even possible to place a sigil in an image to create a positive feeling for anyone who sees it.
Then there are Urban Witches. Instead of looking at what tools are used traditionally, an Urban Witch uses modern items that fit their purpose. For instance: matches and candles are replaced by lighters and flashlights, coffee becomes a pick-me-up potion, and credit-cards are used in money-spells.
Lastly, there is a growing number of Pop Culture Witches, who might practice Pop Culture Paganism as well. These are the witches whose fandoms become the inspiration and source of their magick. They might use movie lines for spells, refer to their familiar as a Patronus, name their spells after Pokemon, or use sigils from Supernatural.
Pop Culture Witches are often patronized because many people dismiss their practice as being “fake”. However, it is important to consider that like all religions this practice draws its strength through belief. If pop culture happens to be what brings people in, is what gives them something to relate to and channels their belief, are their spells any less effective? Are their rituals any less valid?
These are only three different types of practices out of countless others, and if you look around online you’re sure to see many other ways witchcraft has adapted to technology.
And we’re not just talking about computer technology here – any modern tech can come in handy for today’s practitioners. For example, techno-warlock Sam Stevens, on a website called “Everything Under the Moon” talks about using vacuum cleaners instead of brooms for your cleansing spells, and using kitchen appliances from the toaster to the blender for magical purposes.
Of course, we tend to think of paganism and witchcraft as being closely connected to nature, not technology. Many traditional practitioners insist that physical tools, not virtual ones, are required, and some believe that technology should have a limited or non-existent role in witchcraft.
But those who have embraced technology don’t see it that way. Urban witch Ariadne Woods, on her Cauldron and Brew blog, disagrees with those who say paganism requires a direct connection with nature. Her argument is that not everyone is cut out for a rural lifestyle, and those who follow their faith in a city park instead of a forest shouldn’t be judged for it.
On her Tumblr site, the woman who calls herself Lazy TechnoWitch argues that she’s still following a natural path. “The electrical energy that powers our technology is something that we obtained from nature,” she says. “It’s really just an innovative way to use power that we already had, with tools we’re lucky enough to be provided.”
And pop culture paganists point out that what they’re doing isn’t really new, since folk magic has used common symbols and items from everyday life for centuries. Something made in a factory or written by a Hollywood screenwriter can be used to access the infinite just as easily as a tree growing in the wild. It all depends on your personal faith and an effective spell or ritual.
This is far from the first time that technology has revolutionized the way that a faith is practiced.
When Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, the first thing he did was to start printing Christian Bibles. Most Christian people had never actually read a Bible because each one had to be copied out and illustrated by hand, and so were incredibly rare and expensive. Suddenly, Bibles became a lot more affordable and common. More people read them, had questions or ideas, and changed the future of their religion.
The same kind of thing happened when radio gave preachers of all religions the power to reach larger audiences than ever before. It happened again with television and satellite communications and home computers.
Just like every other aspect of human society, religion has been transformed by advances in technology. And, just like all other religions, witchcraft and paganism are being deeply affected.
What happens next? How will traditional belief systems be changed by the next generation of technology?
Ah … if only I had a crystal ball!
“Am I The Only One.” Lazy Technowitch. Tumblr, 12 November 2015. Web. 13 November 2015.
Little Urban Witch. “Urban Witchcraft – A Definition”. Little Urban Witch. Tumblr, 16 August, 2013. Web.
Rae. “Rebloggable by Request”. There’s No Such Thing As Fiction. Tumblr. Web. < http://nosuchthingasfiction.tumblr.com/post/33756384313/rebloggable-by-request >
Stevens, Sam. “The Techno-Witch and Magickal Appliances”. *Everything Under The Moon*. Everything Under The Moon, 2015. Web.
“The City Witch.” Cauldron and Brew. Wordpress, 19 October 2013. Web. 13 November 2015.
The Witch’s Voice. The Witch’s Voice Inc., 2015. Web.
Tiara, Creatrix. “The Pop Culture Pagans Who Draw Power From Tumblr”. Motherboard. Vice Media LLC, 5 June, 2015. Web.
Wanderings. “Pop Culture Paganism: And Introduction”. *The Pagan Study Group*. Tumblr, 4 February, 2014. Web.