"Pagan spirituality... combines the decentralizing force that characterizes the current stage in human development, the revitalizing power of spiritual practice, and the evolutionary potential of technology." ~ Brenda Laure
Many pagans choose to not make a distinction between the holy and mundane worlds. We do not believe that the world nor ourselves are fallen and are something that must be overcome to attain salvation or enlightenment. We see a reflection of the divine in the tree, the sea, the mountain, the forest, the stream and even our homes, and in the friendships and love we share with the world.
In nearly every religious tradition which I have been a part of over the years a common phrase is repeated. Something along the lines of "it is so nice to just get away from everything". In many ways I understand this sentiment. It is nice for a short time to get away from the problems and stresses of everyday life and share in worship and blessing with others. I get it. But one of my personal goals is to attempt to see the reflection of the divine in all people and all of the world and not just those people who show up for ritual. This to some people, I know, sounds naive. It is not. Accepting the divine in humanity does not mean that everyone is sparkley and perfect, or that the world cannot be a hurtful and dangerous place.
It is this understanding of humanity, that we are part of the divine whole of the Earth, that fuels my understanding of Technopagan thought. It is a mistake, from my point of view, when we describe the creations of human kind (buildings, technology, society etc.) as cold and bereft of spirit. In an article from 1995, Erik Davis of Wired Magazine describes Technopagnaism as this "to honor technology as part of the circle of human life, a life that for Pagans is already divine. Pagans refuse to draw sharp boundaries between the sacred and the profane, and their religion is a frank celebration of the total flux of experience." This article, written during the burgeoning days of the internet and world wide web, focused deeply on the cyberspace understanding of Technopagan thought but I believe reflects a more inclusive understanding.
We cannot know precisely how the ancients felt about technological advancements. We do know that many Indo-European cultures would hold religious practices in wild areas and sacred groves. But we also know that temple sites, megaliths, and monuments were created with what to them was cutting edge technology. Technology in fact that we have a difficult time recreating in our modern culture. We know pottery making advanced and changed throughout time and that often a design or art work motif would become more than a simple vessel but a marker of the very people who used it. In the ancient north, common iron tool and weapon designs were recast in bronze apparently for spiritual or ritual reasons. We see throughout the ancient past that not only did the people see a reflection of the divine in the world around them, naming and equating mountains and rivers and the very land as their deities but they, by the time, pride, and importance they placed on them, also saw a reflection of spirit in the tools they used every day.
It is easy for us as modern people to also see that reflection in earthen ware jars and iron blades. But for the people who used these tools they would not have been a thing only used on special occasions. Even those tools used everyday were made with patience and deliberate action and treated as treasures. In our modern world much of our every day tools, for better or worse, are mass produced. We never see time and effort that goes into them and they are designed to be appreciated by the greatest swath of the target audience as possible. This makes it more difficult to see the reflection of spirit but not impossible. And I would argue that in these times when so many refuse to understand or see the connections and interdependence of all things all that more important.
Take for instance the computer on which I type this message. It is your standard Toshiba lap-top neither top end nor low. In it, if I but choose to see, is the skill of the workers who compiled it, the talents of those who programed it, the imagination of those who designed it, the sweat of those who molded its parts, the ethic of those who mined for the raw materials, and the fingerprints and smell of myself, my husband, and mother-in-law. This does not even include the world it opens up to me. The art and intelligence, the beauty and frustration, the reconnection with old friends and the creation of new. While it certainly is what it is, a collection of plastic and metal and glass, with the number of hands that handled it, and the number of minds that created it, the meaning it holds for my family, and the world it opens up... how can it not have a reflection of spirit? How can it not be more than a collection of things? How can I not but acknowledge it as something deeper and more resonate?
I am not sure at this point in my life what that acknowledgment looks like. It starts with treating it with respect and care. In simply naming the import it holds. Part of my reasoning in creating the Techopagan SIG was in attempting to understand what is appropriate and honest, and how to best reflect that in my religious life. In all of our lives.