In this episode, we strap on our VR goggles and take a look at both kinds of virtual reality – the one you make with technology, and the one you make with magic. By the keystrokes of visionary techno-pagan and software pioneer, Brenda Laurel, we learn to bridge the gap between computer, theatre, nature, and reality.
As podcasting witches we find our people on the instagrams and in facebook groups, we are lovers of forests and lakes AND city-scapes, ukuleles and wawa pedals. Digital AND analogue, and these tiny super computers we get to carry around with us all the time. So we wanted to find a techno pagan to bridge the gap, and maybe question if the gap exists at all. A cyber witch to round out our first season of Missing Witches, and remind us that the word technology at its root, means “science of craft”.
Maybe like me the term technopagan makes you picture WIllow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer – flying past firewalls to dip deep in archives, her black eyes crackling and cd-roms at the ready. Late 90s writing and representations about techopagans offer good clues about what the early internet meant to a witch stretching her powers out into the gender-fluid, world-making possibilities of those secret codes.
But as much as Willow is life goals, we wanted to find someone real, and if possible a witch who bridged the cyber witch worlds of then – CD ROMS and MUDs and wysiwyg – and now. A new wave techo pagan playing with the exponentially empowered tools of today. And after falling down a rabbit hole of Wikipedia and googling and links in blogs, we found a woman who synchronized witchcraft and technology to pioneer the magical landscape of virtual reality: Brenda Laurel.
Brenda Laurel Resources
Computers As Theatre by Brenda Laurel, Addison-Wesley Professional; Reprint edition, 1993
Utopian Entrepreneur by Brenda Laurel, MIT Press, 2001
Praise for her book Utopian Entrepreneur