Arthur C. Clarke
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Most of us have heard the above quote a few hundred times already, but how could we not start this site with it? Those eight words invite humanity to reconsider everything they may have once held sacred.
I’ve been thinking about the confluence of technology and magic since my childhood. The occasion that stands out in my mind most prominently was when the fundamentalist Baptist pastor referenced the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. I was sitting alone in the balcony, where I’d often escape to during service to read the comic books I’d tucked inside my socks. The pastor was rambling on about how Ezekiel was “among the exiles by the Chebar canal, and the heavens were opened, and [Ezekiel] saw visions of God.”
Deus ex machina
If you’ve never read it, the so-called prophet described “a stormy wind,” “a great cloud, with brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually,” and “in the midst of the fire, las it were “gleaming metal.” From this he described four “living creatures” with “human likeness” but an otherwise otherworldly appearance: “they sparkled like burnished bronze.”
Forgetting all distractions (including what the pastor had to say about the rest of the passage) I read on, and I couldn’t help but think how a human from 500BCE or so might have described a UFO and visiting aliens. Erich von Däniken had published his famous book Chariots of the Gods? a few years before, but I doubt I’d heard of it and I’d certainly not read it. Nevertheless, there I was, a poor kid from East Lake, seeing what to me seemed obvious: dude (Ezekiel) was having a “close encounter of the third kind.”
Of course, there are many possible explanations for the story described at the beginning of the Biblical book of Ezekiel. It could simply be mythology, or the recounting of a dream. Maybe it was a mushroom-induced hallucination, or maybe Ezekiel was just a misunderstood science fiction author who was way ahead of his time. Nevertheless, I was embarking on a path that would stay with me throughout my life: an interest in the intersections between technology and “magick“.
In terms of the Arthur C. Clarke quote with which I started this post, it seems we tend to view it in one direction only. Ancient astronaut theorists like von Däniken wonder if those in the past encountering gods and so-called supernatural phenomena where in fact being exposed to advanced technology.
Magic ain’t what it used to be
What if we looked in the other direction a bit… what if we brought something magical to our technologies?
In my life, I’ve been professionally engaged with technology but I’ve spent a lot of my spare time studying spirituality in its myriad forms. I’ve learned that ancient pagans saw their gods in nature, and there was not such a hard line between that which was numinous and that which was mundane. In fact, there was no “mundane” in their world; they saw the spirit, the magic, in everything.
This site will endeavor to explore the boundaries between how we view technology today and how the ancients viewed magic and things of spirit.