The Magickal Tools of the Tech Pagan
We are all familiar with the tools of the traditional Magician: The Cup or Chalice, the Wand or Staff, the Athame or Sword, and the Pentacle, and the Book of Shadows and the clothing. We see them on the Tarot cards, altars, and in the possession of Pagans, Witches, and Magicians everywhere. Shops that cater to Pagans have a mind-boggling variety of incredibly beautiful items to sell, and some people collect these tools and clothes.
The TechPagan probably has the Traditional Tools in his or her possession, too. After all, they too practice the arts and rites of the Wheel of the Year. But TechPagans are 21st Century People, too, and they have Tools that are adapted for both Magickal and practical use. We must remember that the ancients used and wore the items that we now consider sacred in everyday situations. Modern TechPagans are no different.
So, what sort of modern tools would be analogous to the ancient elemental Tools? As a TechPagan and a technician myself, I have a handy-dandy set of tools I am never without when I go on a call, or have a machine on the bench.
Air: The Wand
Probably the most vital tool in a TechPagan's arsenal is a good screwdriver. I carry several sizes- all reversible from standard to Phillips. But the vital tool in my kit is the Torx driver. Its end has a unique shape, and it is vital for getting into the innards of Compaq computers. It wouldn't be difficult to scratch a runestave for Good Order onto the handles of your screwdrivers- every little bit of Help counts!
Although not a Tool in the truest sense of the word, no TechPagan should be without some Canned Air in their Little Black Bag.
Fire: The Sword
Face it, swords are way cool, and I know lots of TechPagans who have Katanas and other fancy cutlery in their homes. But for practical uses in tight spaces like wiring closets and circuitboards, swords -er, just don't cut it. Being the 21st century and all, miniaturization is the word. TechPagans still need to cut things, and a nice set of dikes and a good pocketknife for stripping wires are a must. After all, the electronic 'fires' of data and electricity need to run unimpeded, so good wiring is a must.
The Soldering Iron needs a mention here- again, although not strictly traditional, no good workbench or toolkit should be without one.
Water: The Cup
Well, one thing that hasn't changed over the millennia is the need for refreshment. TechPagans have a large variety of cups, and mugs gleaned from numerous tech and trade shows. A TechPagan's Cup will most likely have the logo of a hardware or software company on it. Instead of wine or a magickal brew, this cup will most likely contain a caffienated beverage of one sort or another. Coffee is common, and soda or Jolt is the choice of the Coder Cultist. No office worth its salt will be without a shrine to the Goddess Caffeine. Extra points if a TechPagan has posted a Poem of Homage to Her nearby.
Earth: The Pentacle.
In traditional use, the Pentacle is basically a fancy plate for putting the offertory bread on. Most plates in a TechPagan's environment are of the disposable sort. And there are some extremist sects who eschew plates entirely- preferring to replace their keyboards every few months because of crumb buildup. The ubiquitous pizza box is the closest analogue to the Pentacle in a TechPagan's environment, closely followed by various loose printed circuit boards, old motherboards, and daughterboard cards. Any Temple of Tech that has been in operation for more than a year or so probably has a small collection of cards that have been replaced by Faster Cards, but not thrown away. (Why throw out a Perfectly Good Card?) It is possible that something like an old 286 motherboard could be used in a ceremonial fashion, although I wouldn't put food on it.
The Book of Shadows.
The problem with the Book of Shadows is that it is singular in the traditional sense. Most ancients really needed only one Book to put their rites into. In a Temple of Tech, books are like potato chips: you can't have just one. Most TechPagans have dozens- if not hundreds of books. And most of them are quite thick. (Computer writers must be paid by the pound.) Like old circuit boards, older technical manuals are rarely thrown away, and often have a second life under monitors, desks, or bowing bookshelves made for small paperbacks. They'll have arcane titles like SED, AWK, Unix, and VB Script in a Nutshell. They'll often be dog-eared and bristling with bookmarks. If a TechPagan writes, you'll most likely find their actual BOS on a disk or CD-ROM. Handwritten stuff is rare, and because of the time spent keyboarding instead of handwriting, handwritten stuff is fairly illegible. But the TechPagan makes up for that with a huge collection of fancy fonts, often designed by them.
Ceremonial garb for TechPagans doing group workings can range from old bedsheets to fancy robes to Little Bare Skins, depending on the creativity, mood, and company they keep. Most often, a practicing TechPagan can be found in casual clothes: jeans and a T-shirt. The T-shirt often has the corporate logo of a hardware or software company on it, or a pithy phrase like "/. Me". Remember- the robes the Ancients wore were just fancier versions of the everyday clothing of the period: and the TechPagan's analogue would be a clean T-shirt and jeans. You'll probably find them in a baseball cap instead of a witches or wizard's hat or circlet.
TechPagans can be hard to pry out of their cubicles. Some do attend actual Face-to-Face events, but many enjoy the fun of doing rites across the Internet. Some include their computers in the rites, and others use them strictly as another communications source. The best part about doing online rituals- especially over ICQ, is that someone can save the chat buffer and print it out for later use, or comb out the bugs for a better ceremony next time.
TechPagans are unique creatures. They walk the boundary between science and magick, and are happiest when they have a new gadget or theory to play with. If anyone makes Clarke's quote about 'any sufficiently advanced technology will be indistinguishable from Magic' a truism, it will be the TechPagan. They are on the cutting edge of both science and Magick, and do much to advance both causes. If you're fortunate enough to know a TechPagan or WebWizard, don't forget to thank them for a job well done. And good food is never a bad idea.
May Your System Never Crash.