My introduction to group ritual was through ADF Druidry, where I quickly learned that some people have a very adverse reaction towards technology mixed with spirituality, ritual, and religious practice. There were people wanted to go back to nature, grow their own food, make their own clothing. Going back to nature, I suspect to them, was just inherently more spiritual.
I was taught to remove watches during ritual, which I simply did out of politeness because I didn’t understand why–and no one really made that clear, either. It wasn’t until a watch I had next to me slowed itself down by about half an hour while doing marathon tarot readings at a psychic fair a few years later that I finally understood some of the practical applications of this habit. Sure, psychic and magical energy can mess with certain pieces of technology. It may not necessarily be “less spiritual” to have technology or be involved with it, but it can certainly be impacted by certain practices.
It’s no secret as to why this wasn’t intuitive to me from the start; I had been surrounded by technology my whole life. I grew up on computers and have been on the internet since high school. I was always the first to adopt any new piece of tech, and have from the get-go had a very good intuition on what would stand the test of time versus what was a waste of time. Being in Hellenism where we have a deity dedicated to technology (Hephaistos) makes this all the better for me. My day job and career? Software engineering. As I type this on my personal laptop I have my work laptop and cell phone next to me.
So naturally when I see new and better ways of handling day to day spiritual life through modern innovations, I’m all in favor. Battery operated tealights instead of actual flames can serve in a pinch for some rituals (depending on the ritual, of course), and my personal Book of Shadows/ritual script book is entirely on my iPad for easy reading and accessibility no matter how much light I have in that area. What moon phase is coming up? I have an app for that. Same with determining planetary hours. Occult library? While I have an entire temple room stuffed wall to wall with shelves containing books, my Kindle is my best and most immediate source for most of the books I use regularly–and contains most of my to be read and currently reading piles.
What is “natural” tends to go hand in hand with being down on technology and other scientific achievements, which I find to be disheartening. I agree that there is sacredness in nature, but I don’t think that makes what we make with our hands any less valid. We have a goddess of weaving (Athena), and why would weaving be any different than forging something in steel (Hephaistos)? I think there are far too many false dichotomies trying to embrace this sense of “the good old days”, especially in reconstructionist circles. Which is unfortunate because it makes us look more like a polytheist version of the SCA versus a living, breathing, thriving religion that is fully existing and integrated into the twenty-first century.
Nature is good and it’s always nice to unplug, but I’m always painfully aware of how much of my magical practice and study is due to technology and especially the internet. Courses I’m currently taking and have taken including Jason Miller’s Sorcery of Hekate course, for instance. My interaction with both of my covens is mostly conducted online through messenger and email, and we schedule our observances through our ritual festival calendar on Google.
Where does occultism go from here? Where would our magical practices be best assisted via technology? Aside from the obviousness of greater ease of accessing resources, materials, and discussing related topics with peers, I often wonder in what ways we can think outside of the box and have both magic and tech intertwine.