Since I first ventured into cyberspace I have come into contact with a great many occultists and it has made me aware that far more people are interested magick than I might have imagined. In the 1980s when I first took an interest in the Dark Arts the world of occultism was generally secretive and purposefully obscure. The web has changed all of that.
Once impossible to acquire books of magick can be downloaded making the Wisdom of the Ancients freely available to anyone with internet connectivity and a PDF reader. In addition to this, modern students of magick seem to be an exceedingly literate bunch and they produce articles, books and blogs for online consumption at a rate that has never before been possible (myself among them at AnkhafnaKhonsu Esoterica– pardon my plug).
This has been a revolution is the once eremitic world of magick and it has spawned a generation of online occultists of different descriptions. The place where these post modern magi meet to swap incantations in the 21st Century is Facebook. An ardent seeker can find hundreds of open groups on the social site that have the word “magick” or “witchcraft” in their names and the variations on these make for tens of thousands of groups, some small and other with thousands of members, that are devoted to the discussion of the occult.
Of course, among these legions of occultists there are many very serious students but they are generally hidden in a crowd of less than serious magi. As a keen occultist as well as a dedicated cyber-geek I spend a considerable amount of time engaging with people through these sorts of groups and while I do find many very well informed students of magick to chat with, it is the occult personalities that really make my travels through the occult cyberspace truly enlightening and entertaining. Over time I have gotten into the habit of classifying the more entertaining occultists that I find on the interwebz into some amusing species.
This poor soul has strayed into the dark part of the web in search of guidance. As they take the place of the Enterer on the Cyber-Threshold they are confronted by an overwhelming choice of disciplines, references to obscure books and a cast of thousands who have Facebook nom de plumes like Frater Antichrist and Lady Lillith Babalon. All of this just muddies that already murky waters of the occult even further and if they manage to summon up the pluck to actually post a question to the group like “How do I do XYZ with magick?” they either receive 50 conflicting answers or an imperiously hidden master peers down his digital nose and belittles them for their ignorance.
For the Neophyte that does succeed in finding the Hidden Masters online they may evolve into the Disciple. These devoted acolytes have found the One True Path and they proceed to clog up the social newsfeed with meaninglessly obscure, cut and paste posts of quotes from their Chosen Master. Many followers of the cult of Crowleyanity fall into this class but they aren’t alone.
Cyberscholars abound on the interwebz and the occult has more than its fair share. These intrepid students have read all of the books but they never so much as waved a wand in anger. This gives them an academic opinion that is rarely matched by experience. Often indecisive (usually about what kind of magick power they want to wield first), they may lack the motivation or the courage to take the first step on the Path and so they restrict their efforts to making an informed commentary on the efforts of others.
The Keeper of the Hidden Mysteries
This is the “official” occult sphere in cyberspace. These duly authorized magi have taken on the onerous task of being the official face of various occult societies. Much of this authority is based upon their belief that they have exclusive access to the secrets of magick- you know, the stuff that has never been published and that can’t be found on the web (as if such a thing actually exists). Often the motivation behind these bastions of the last of the ancient lines of these traditional occult orders is the dissemination of those very exclusive secrets for the not inconsiderable membership fees that they charge to admit you to their very ancient and honorable lineages.
This is the uber chic, post modern student of the magick arts. These guys can take on a variety of forms from the unaffected Chaos magician who rushes in where angels fear to tread to the serious student of the Golden Dawn or the Exorcist who conjures the 72 infernal spirits of the Goetia in his garage on weekends. This serious minded mage has a laisser-aller attitude to Magick Black and White and are quick to point out the natural fallacy of the good vs. evil debate. After all, White Magick is a powerful force but Black Magick is so much more fun.
These rejectionist occultists have come to realize that Jesus doesn’t want them for a sunbeam and so they have chosen to go over to the opposition. Anton LaVey made a fortune out of appealing to this kind of anti-establishmentarian with his Satanic Bible and his acolytes are still alive and kicking today. Christian bashing is a pretty popular pastime among occultists at the best of times and it would seem that if the Dark Lord is going to begin assembling his armies for the Armageddon that he will be able to find them all in Facebook’s thriving Satanic community. At the moment they are preparing the way for the ascendancy of Lucifer by posting antichristian memes on their timelines.
These inspired Middle Earthers are the shamans of cyberspace. They are on a spiritual quest to find the most obscure ancient practices so that they can dispense their Wisdom via a snappy WordPress site that is liberally decorated with runes and ancient seals for a genuine Tolkienesque look. Fervent meme posters, when they are confronted with one of life’s difficult decisions they are wont to ask themselves; “What would Gandalf do?” (WWGD?).
The Great Mage
This is the ultimate online Magus who claims all manner of unattainable grades in obscure magickal orders and yet has no demonstrable grasp on the basics of magick whatsoever. They enter online debates just to prove that they are right about everything and that nobody knows as much about magick as they do. When they are called out for being obviously stupid they make up for this minor shortcoming by claiming that they have been trained in the true method of high magick by their Hidden Masters and the rest of us can go and fuck ourselves.
The White Witch
Sitting just inside the doorway of the great online occult emporium, swathed in clouds of fragrant patchouli scented incense and adorned with crystals and pentagrams, these purveyors of “good” magick see the internet as a marketing opportunity. They have erected their digital gypsy tent in cyberspace where they will read your Tarot cards, your palms and the bumps on your head in exchange for crossing their palm with silver. In an effort to maintain a non-threatening online profile that is designed to appeal to a target audience of bored suburban housewives, they post random spells in their timelines as proof of their natural powers over the secret energies of magick- but only nice magick. Never any of that nasty black magick. That’s the Satanists.
The Fundamentalists of the occult world invariably belong to some obscure Tradition that can date its origins back to when Moses had a job as a stenographer at God’s Mt Sinai branch. For a more organic fundamentalism there are the many species of traditional witches who, in stark contrast to the White Witch are rarely commercially minded. Either way, these hard line believers take great pains to find obscure connections to the Knights Templar or to prove that Gerald Gardner was a big wheel in European OTO in support of their claims to having the quality magick. There is a heavy accent on oral flavored teachings and an insistence that unless you are invited to join their elitist group it isn’t possible to see the Truth and a propensity to play the debate winning “if I have to explain it to you then you will never understand it” card.
Here we are at the end of the world and someone has to step up if we are to survive the Apocalypse. These intrepid souls have been called to the Light by their special mission and they see the signs of the Great Averse One in everything. It’s okay though, because they are here to redeem the world. They have usually stuck their fingers in the occult light socket and gotten a little too much juice at some point and, combined with their meth habit it has really lit up their aura. They appear in the newsfeed with strange messages connecting the arrangement at Stonehenge, the Illuminati and the latest G20 summit in a sign that the Four Horsemen are mounting up and the dead will soon be rising from their graves. It’s okay if you don’t believe them as they will either save you in spite of yourself or damn you to hell with the rest of the infidels. After all, its hard work starting your own religion and there’s no time to argue semantics.
This list is hardly comprehensive but, then again, I haven’t hunted on all seven cyber continents yet either and there may be species out there that I am yet to discover. What about you, gentle reader? What mythical creatures have you met while riding the wild unicorn in the magickal world of cyberspace?