Oh, Internet, you mighty realm, bound only by memory and bandwidth. It’s a crazy world out there. From its humble(?) origins as a military tool to connect bases in case of a nuclear attack, to its propagation to and across universities to help in the academic spread of knowledge, to youths sharing ASCII arts and porns, to the modern phenomenon of Netflix, 4chan, and bringing down regimes via Twitter, it’s gotten kinda big, and it’s almost developed a life and world of its own. And, as any student of classics or religious history would know, complex almost-self-determining systems tend to get their own deity, cult, and backstories (cf. endless jokes involving Al Gore).
With that in mind, here’s a small and no doubt incomplete list of patron deities of the Internet.
- Any Mercurial deity: Mercurius, Hermes, Budha (not to be confused with the Buddha), Odin, Thoth, Seshat, Saraswati, etc. Gods of communication, information, intelligence, calculation, language, science, knowledge, speed, etc. Pretty straightfoward here. Also, the number associated with Mercury and its sphere, 8, is also the same as the number of bits in a byte, one of the most important units used in computers. Nifty!
- Arachne, the mortal maiden who challenged Athena to a weaving contest and won and whom was then turned into a spider by an enraged goddess. Though not technically a goddess, appearing more in immortal myth than in cult, Arachne can be seen as a connector of webs and networks, as well as generation of content and beauty.
- Iris, the ancient Greek goddess of the rainbow and one of the primary messengers of the gods. She was known to travel from one end of the world to the other and from the heavens to the hells with the speed of the wind. Known for her role in relaying information and communication.
- XaTuring, the Great Worm. I’ve written about him before, but to refresh your memories, he’s the personification of the Internet itself, “a great Worm in all systems to eat that data which would oppress us, to plant that data which will empower us, and to cloud that data which does not amuse us”. Definitely one for Chaotes, Lovecraftians, or LHP practitioners, and definitely an entity to have on your side (especially in this day and age of SOPA/PIPA/ACTA nonsense).
- St. Isidore of Seville, known primarily for his encyclopedic work Etymologiae. Based on that and his other works, he was canonized as the patron saint of the Internet, computer users, computer technicians, computer programmers, and students.
So, given all these guys, gals, and…I guess, things, to honor and venerate, how would we go about doing just that?
- Make a small tribute website or blog to the deity of your choice. Hell, the Digital Ambler once started out as a tributary blog to XaTuring. If you have a site to set up, why not set up a digital or electronic shrine to the deity? You know, pictures or stories or works dedicated to the deity in question. A small Internet temple for the dude, if you will.
- Based on the ideas of Tibetan prayer wheels, set up a hidden directory on the machines you work on (at home, at the office, etc., so long as it’s not forbidden) with a simple text file containing a prayer or hymn to the deity. As the hard disk containing the consecrated files spins around at thousands of RPMs, you’re generating energy for the prayer to be released in all directions. Plus, if you can get the file to propagate across user directories or networks, you can also spread the files electronically to increase the virtue or karma generated by them. (This is not an invitation to write a worm or virus, y’all.)
- Get a cheap secondhand computer from a thrift store or something and dedicate it to any of the above. Etch, write, label, or otherwise decorate the chassis of the machine itself (symbols of Mercury, the inverted heptagram, holy names or heiroglyphs, etc.). Set it up as a server for filesharing of holy, consecrated, or other files (especially if you’re part of the Missionary Church of Kopimism). If it’s a desktop or server box, use it as an altar and light a candle or incense on it, or use a USB peripheral as an eternal torch of one kind or another.
- Consecrate your ethernet, coaxial, or other cables in your house under the powers and blessings of the patron of your choice to secure and sanctify the data flowing through it as an offering to the god. Ditto for routers or base stations, and especially smartphones and other mobile devices. Can’t forget those too, nowadays.
And finally, a tribute song to the Internet, by the lovely Hannah Hart:
Do you know of any other deities that might find a good home in the Internet, or of any good ways to construct rites or shrines for them?