The Magickal Tools of the TechMage
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 TechMage probably has the Traditional Tools in his or her possession, too. After all, they also practice the arts and rites of the Wheel of the Year. But TechMages are 21st Century People, 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 TechMages are no different.
So, what sort of modern tools would be analogous to the ancient elemental Tools? As a TechMage and a computer support 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 TechMage'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 TechMage should be without some Canned Air in their Little Black Bag. (You do have a Little Black Bag, dont you? Or a nice schwag bag from a great trade show?)
Invocation to the Element of Air
Take your Canned Air, and before using it the first time, say this invocation over it:
I Invoke Thee, O Container of Air
May thy contents not freeze my hand when I use thee
May I not lose the little straw that extends thee
And may thy little tab not break off until thy contents are spent.
So mote it be.
Fire: The Sword
Face it, swords are way cool, and I know lots of TechMages who have Katanas and other fancy cutlery in their homes. But for practical uses in tight spaces like wiring closets and inside computers, swords -er, just don't cut it. Being the 21st century and all, miniaturization is the word. TechMages 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.
Prayer to the Soldering Iron God
O powerful One who makes the soldier flow freely
Let thy lamp be lit so I may see it clearly
And not pick thee up by the wrong end.
And remind me to turn thee off
Before I leave this place.
So mote it be.
Water: The Cup
Well, one thing that hasn't changed over the millennia is the need for refreshment. TechMages have a large variety of cups, and mugs gleaned from numerous tech and trade shows. A TechMage'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 TechMage has posted a Poem of Homage to Her nearby.
Invocation of the Goddess Caffeine (short version)
Hail to Thee, O great one of the Dark Drink
I down thy heady brew with bleary eyes.
Long hours of work are ahead of me
And sharp my mind must be to make techmagick error-free.
I feel the rush of your elixir within me
The mental fog clears Lo! I am buzzed!
So Mote it be
Earth: The Pentacle
In traditional use, the Pentacle is basically a fancy plate for putting the offertory bread upon. Most plates in a TechMage's environment are of the disposable sort. And there are some extremist sorts 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 TechMage's environment, closely followed by various loose printed circuit boards, old motherboards, and abandoned side panels of obsolete PCs.. And of course, any Temple of Tech that has been in operation for more than a few months has probably amassed a substantial collection of old AOL CD-ROMs. Just draw a Pentagram on the shiny side, and Voila! Instant Pentacle! Properly decorated CD-ROMS can also serve as candle-wax catchers, Yule Tree decorations, and drink coasters. Use your imagination. Youre not going to run out of them any time soon.
Blessing the Pentacle
I conjure thee, O creature of commerce
To willingly give up thy old ways
So thou may be used for far better things.
Accept the Mark of the Sharpie
Hold fast the crumbs of the feast
Thou art now a Tool of Tech Magick
It is done! So Mote it be!
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 TechMages 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 TechMage writes, you'll most likely find their actual BOS on a Zip disk or CD-ROM. Handwritten stuff is rare, and because of the time spent keyboarding instead of handwriting, handwritten stuff done by TechMages can be fairly illegible. But the TechMage makes up for that with a huge collection of fancy fonts, often designed by them.
Ceremonial garb for TechMages 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 TechMage 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" or "UberGeek", or arcane acronyms like "RTFM". Remember- the robes the Ancients wore were just fancier versions of the everyday clothing of the period, and the TechMage'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.
TechMages 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. Yes, we do spell-check our spells (our own spelling is often awful).
Ops-Testing Fresh Meat
So, you have a newbie that wants to join your group. Thats fine. Theres always room for another. But how do you know hes legit, besides quizzing him on MCSE questions? Does he have both the magickal and technical chops to make it? He may walk the walk, but can he talk the talk?
Heres a simple test that you can give to a newbie. Youll know in seconds if hes got the right stuff, or if he needs some more tech or magickal training. Simply create a page that is a mixture of astrological, alchemical, and electronic symbols, and have your candidate sort them out. Extra credit if he can cross-reference the planets with various transistor symbols. Double extra credit if he knows the Ancient Secret of the Captain Crunch whistle.
Warning: Whatever you do, if you are privileged enough to be permitted into a TechMages Inner Sanctum, DO NOT touch any computer that appears to be off. It may actually be on and running, with the monitor switched off, and compiling code or rendering animation. Should you do something like turning the computer off in the middle of such a delicate procedure, you may not survive the consequences.
TechMages 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 TechMage. 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 TechMage or WebWizard, don't forget to thank them for a job well done. And bribing a TechMage with good food is never a bad idea.
May Your System Never Crash.
ã 2000 by Lorie A. Johnson