The topic of discussion will be ‘acc/strology’, discussing various contemporary flavours of technomysticism and neo-divinatory rituals and practices. Mysticism – a cousin of magic – is never far from technology. The hacker ethos would not exist without the injection of Eastern esotericism and altered states into pre-Silicon Valley San Francisco half a century ago. The contemporary blockchain-art scene borrows aesthetic cues from Western occultism, from projects like Claves Angelicæ (2018), which attempts sigil magic onchain, to the lunar voting cycle of Black Swan DAO. The name for a suite of DAO tools released by a company aptly called Gnosis last year is named Zodiac. In theory, mysticism is decentralised religion, so it follows that it may become the “religion” of decentralisation.
Under the atomised conditions of neoliberalism, it’s no surprise that the spiritual flavor of the day is self-directed. In reaction to both secularism and organised religion, today’s seekers acknowledge a “spirit” and seek it on their own terms, often commissioning guidance from a booming spiritual services sector offering astrology and tarot readings, channeling, past life regression, and guided meditation. Mystics know a contradiction: through looking inward, the external world is transformed. Until now, mysticism and magic were generally practiced in isolated and rarified communities (with the exception of Natural or folk magic). That is, they were esoteric. Today the closely guarded wisdom of both Eastern and Western mystery schools is widely available for download or purchase; one can raise one’s Kundalini over Youtube or torrent the Picatrix.
Questions to consider based on a 3-card tarot reading:
5 of Pentacles — In the West, the Church was the site of community, managing both its spiritual and physical resources (the Catholic Church is probably still the largest landowner in the world). Blockchain technologies simultaneously speculate new systems for distributing resources while destabilising existing ones. Is it possible to have a community (in the resource-distribution sense) of mystics? Is there any theology of community to be salvaged from religious dogma? What spiritual lineages do we refuse, and why?
7 of Cups — When all other options for sustaining ourselves as a species are exhausted, we turn to magical thinking. Mystics also seek direct experience of the divine, or gnosis. What, if any, is the difference between speculation and divination? What relevance does divination — and direct experience of the divine, including altered states — have to the material world?
Queen of Swords — There is a long history of Western occultism and fascism (for instance, Hitler had a roster of astrologers). Many Western occult practices like astrology, tarot, and numerology rely on a mythic or archetypal lens, which can lead to stereotyping and a dangerous flattening of time. Is there any way to work with archetypes without stereotyping? Is it possible to invoke the “eternal truths” of mysticism while staying grounded in historical context and specificity?
Text written by Catherine Leigh Schmidt
Before epidemiologists began modelling disease, it was the job of astrologers - Michelle Pfeffer (article)
HEXEN2.0 - Suzanne Treister (artwork series)
Since the 60s, countercultures have subverted mainstream tech to connect and build community - Adam Killick, Nora Young, Michelle Parise, and Samraweet Yohannes (podcast)
Cleromancy - Allison Parrish (slide deck, from NYU Course ‘Electronic Rituals, Oracles and Fortune Telling’)
The guy predicting stocks with an army of app-based psychics - Tamlin Magee (article)
2013: a spoiler for the future - Bitcoin - Simon Wardley (article)
Swan Fake Preview- 0x Salon (radio play)