About the conference
Modern technological development has allowed for the emergence of an unprecedented variety of revolutionary channels. These have vehicled the diffusion of traditional and new religious movements. The internet, has wired itself into our lives to the point of being almost indispensable. It offers previously unprecedented ways to reach ancient grimoires, as well as contemporary literature on magic and religions at the click of a mouse. However, with the acceleration of the internet age the convergence between religion, spirituality and technology has reached its own entanglement. Sacred spaces, rituals and magical practices are slowly adapting to cyberspace. In the virtual environment we can become priests, heroes, or even gods. Digital spaces are moreover, slowly absorbing the language as well as the aesthetics of what was previously strictly religious, spiritual, or mystical. These are in turn incorporated into their conceptualization of reality. Terms such as “avatar” and “mana” have by now entered mainstream subcultures and are used by people unbeknownst of their origin. Cyberculture has played a significant role in the creation of highly imaginative realities. It amalgamated the fictional with traditional magical knowledge and practice as in the cases of Ubik by Philip Dick. Gaming worlds are becoming more complex, even adapting to the behavior of the player. The experience offered is almost life-like. Is the virtual reality just a harmless entertainment phenomenon, or could it be a parallel to an astral realm travel, influencing the subsequent feelings, opinions, and behavior of the traveler? What about the objectives of transcendence in transhumanism?
Similarly influenced by the emergence of cyberculture, the concepts of “life-hacking”, accessing unsuspected parts of our lives through technological means, has seeped into the general awareness. Increasingly, the language and discourse on electronics and mysticism has begun to overlap. Discussions about the nature of being human or the connections between the brain and its function as the general computer. The possibility to upload consciousness into a virtual space to transcend the limitations of the body. These concepts are starting to resonate within academia and public alike. The advancement of social technologies has established not only the ground for interpersonal communication among peers, but also the foundation of groups which would have under different circumstances never been formed. The approach to new technologies allowed for countercultural movements to interact with each other. It even allowed isolated individuals to create online spaces to share their passions and interests.
The internet can be seen as a lively, buzzing hive-mind, a collective consciousness built by billions of users endlessly exchanging information. It forms new realities where a person can easily get lost, unable to differentiate fact from fiction. The endless amount of knowledge, true or false, is reaching almost mythological proportions, where the only limitation is becoming the ability to use it correctly. We can probably see the parallels with legends and magical practices. A hero ascends or descends to a different realm in search of answers, only to be mortified by the things he learns. In this wake, the incorporation of the electronic into our world, movements have emerged and adapted by fusing the technological with the spiritual. As an example, the Temple of the Vampire, an online new religious movement dedicated to exploring the positive effects of the vampire mythos, was officially established already in 1989. Discussion groups have incentivized the diffusion of ideas relating to the sphere of the esoteric secretive and mystical. (Most recently QAnon, conspiracy theory groups, Anonymous, supernatural sightings groups, or the spreading of fake news). Was Robert Anton Wilson, the American author, futurist, and a self-described agnostic mystic, right in his predictions of the fabrication of reality through language?