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Who Am I?
I am a theologian whose work explores ancient Egyptian religion, magic, and religion in cyberspace. While I am intrigued and curious about all kinds of religion, my main expertise is in what has come to be known as the Western Esoteric Tradition. I contend that this tradition has threads that go at least as far back as ancient Egypt.
Being a scholar it seems only fit that I have a devotional relationship with Djhuty, who is more commonly known by the name the Greeks gave him, ⲑⲱⲑ – Thoth. He is the ancient Egyptian god of writing, the moon – and thus time – magic, medicine and being a totally cool dude who created himself. But also I’m out there talking to trees and recognising the personhood of non human beings.
I’m so into this stuff that I spent a billion years at uni studying it. I looked into things like, if you are a practitioner in the Hermetic tradition in the Southern Hemisphere which way do you do your circle rituals? Who were some of the main players in bringing the Hermetic current to the Southern hemisphere? And can you do magic in cyberspace? Ultimately I wrote a PhD about the latter topic.
Why Am I doing this?
I had entered study with the goal of teaching at university, however by the time I graduated with my PhD I had become aware that universities are neo liberal hellscapes. Endless bureaucratic nightmares are the main occupation of present day academics, who spend most of their time applying for funding (which they almost never get) instead of doing actual research or, god forbid, teaching.
When they do get grants to do research most academics give their work for nothing to commercial publishers, people who are in the business of making information hard to get. These publishers then get other academics to peer review this work, without paying them, and then they sell the papers and books back to the universities. The end result is universities spending huge amounts of money to buy back the work of academics.
Not wishing to be part of this scam, nor to be a part of its end game, where all the good information is locked behind paywalls, but paradoxically a lot of the information behind paywalls is shit, I published all my work as open access. It seems only fair seeing my PhD was funded by the Australian Government.
Things are most definitely not as they should be in universityland, and academia did not work out well for me. But it is my own fault really. I made the mistake of believing the oft repeated assertion that cross disciplinary studies are welcome and supported by universities. I mean, they say it all the time so I perhaps could be forgiven for believing them. But they are in fact not at all well equipped to support such studies. My thesis suffered from this lack. There is a lot of stuff about ancient Egyptian religion in my thesis. Yet none of my supervisors or the markers of my thesis had a clue about it. Somehow they still decided it was all fine and they should give me a PhD. I am 90% self taught on this topic (I did a couple of undergraduate units on egyptology) and I am 100% sure that there will be stuff I haven’t got right. Not having an informed supervisor or marker denied me an opportunity of learning, plus now it is out there in the world as Truth(TM).
This is just one example (I’ve got more, so many more) of why I abandoned my dreams of a university career and devoted myself instead to improving my farm and doing research for fun, but not profit. Now that I have had some time to decompress from the madness of nearly a decade at university I want to not only have my work available freely but to work collaboratively with others to improve it. Hence this blog.
What is this collaborative editing project?
There are two sections to this site, one contains various bits of my research along with rants and musings, the other contains my PhD thesis. The thesis bit is an experiment in open editing. I’m not putting it up here as a fixed work. Rather I’d like to see how much better it can be made with the input of more people. For stupid reasons universities don’t let people cooperate on PhD projects. It has to be 100% one’s own work. This is not the best way to produce a knowledge resource. Combine this with the aforementioned lack of adequate supervision or marking and I am sure this work can be made a lot better with wider input. So I invite you all to participate in making this resource better.
So what is it about? Basically it is an autoethnographic account of my search for the sacred in cyberspace. The research was conducted in the virtual world Second Life, and in particular in two role play communities set in Ancient Egypt. In these communities we built replicas of ancient Egyptian temples and cities and did what (we thought) the ancient Egyptians would do.
It starts out with a history of video games and virtual worlds followed by explanations of the technical aspects of how Second Life works. Then it moves on to looking at how communities form in online spaces, what the particular features of those kinds of communities are, with in depth looks at identity creation and the psychology of being an avatar person.
Then I get into the really interesting bits. I recount my experiences with ritual in cyberspace, describing sacred virtual space, and its relationship to sacred meatspace from a Pagan perspective. I compare two initiation rituals, and describe how one produced the perception of sacred space, in both meatspace and the virtual world, while the other remained only a role play.
This is the story of how I became one with my avatar, despite my best efforts not to do so. I hope you will enjoy reading it and, if you can, helping me to make it even better.
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