Reality Sandwich is running a Kickstarter campaign to revamp the website into a real time digital think tank. When they mentioned this thing was starting it hit a brain overflowing with Santa Muerte research, and, as you might imagine, La Nina Blanca is an odd prelude to considerations of the digital economy and interactive web platforms.
The concepts met in an strange and awkward dance until reading sociologist Bernardo Barranco I was reminded that She is the patron saint of the marginal economy and black market. This struck a chord with me when ruminating on digital culture turned to an abstract personal reverie. Back in the 90’s interacting with websites like Disinfo.com, GreyLodge.org, and other forerunners to Reality Sandwich, felt like accessing digital gates to the black market of ideas. William S. Burroughs, Kathy Acker, Robert Anton Wilson, and a whole host of others were just a contact away if you were chatting on the message boards.
Illicit Intellectual Economy
These platforms, like Santa Muerte, emerge as entities from an unorthodox and at times illicit intellectual economy. They act as meeting places for minds geographically distributed, but linked through ideological bonds unbounded by language or distance. A communal shrines to digital gnosis, at their best, they act with the same neutrality found at Santa Muerte’s shrines where every strata of society can come to commune under the protection of La Senora Poderosa.
Now working with Reality Sandwich and Evolver Learning Labs on webinar development I’m thinking of these kinds of meetings in a more active digital sense. With so many diverse people showing up for the conversation it can lead to great friendships and creative possibilities that wouldn’t occur any other way. Mind to mind in a webinar you’re given the opportunity to develop deeper relationships and explore ideas in a dynamic way that writing and reading an article just doesn’t express. Why not extend this to the every day?
21st Century Mail-Order Mysticism
Another aspect of the Santa Muerte tradition that I’m interested in is Her connections to the work of New Thought and Mail-Order Mystics like William Walker Atkinson and Lauren de Laurence. From somewhat liminal publishing ventures in Chicago during the early 20th century they were able to effect change in cultures as far away as Uganda. Their works live on in mass market Spanish reprints published by the some of the same companies putting out La Rosa Blanca’s devotional and ritual manuals.
One of de Laurence’s claim to fame is that his works are still outlawed in Jamaica for fostering charismatic leaders capable of influencing entire communities. The law is written under the auspices of witchcraft, which based on the list of publications that de Laurence, Scott & Co. put out includes a hearty regime of mental training, meditation, physical fitness, practical psychology and leadership skills. While much of it is couched in questionable veracity, the practical end of this training, if properly employed, would put any erstwhile magus ahead of their peers in terms of self discipline, understanding human motives, and having the basic set of skills to manipulate situations to their advantage.
It’s rather telling that the first Jamaican laws put in place against Obeah (the tradition which de Laurence influence in the 19th century) were based on unregulated meetings of slaves, in other words the officials were using claims of witchcraft as an excuse to curtail revolution when popular faith traditions started allowing people to organize effectively outside of colonial control. Independent platforms like Disinfo.com and Reality Sandwich, maintained at a level on par with corporate media groups, have the ability to publish print material, centralize administration of projects, host webinars and podcasts and intersect both established experts and new talent, acting as an invaluable space for social experimentation.
If de Laurence and Atkinson could change the face of culture from small offices in Chicago with a catalog and some practical magic manuals, what can we do with advances in the digital domain and access to leading figures in the field? Within this unique cognitive ecosystem we are directly connected to each other in an atemporal imaginal field.Whether writing articles, commenting or reading, we’re only limited by our ability to manipulate word and image to communicate our ideas.
An Art Project Guided by Intuition
In a recent article on the changes he’s seen in the culture since the website first launched, Ken Jordan describes Reality Sandwich as an “art project guided by intuition“. It truly is a sort of digital exquisite corpse for the consciousness culture, an open source collage of ideas created by those who participate in it. The benefits offered by the Reality Sandwich Kickstarter campaign involve getting to know folks like Gary Lachman, Graham Hancock, StarHawk, and Robert Waggoner through e-learning opportunities.
As an communal art project Reality Sandwich can effect change through an active network of communication and creativity, providing an open opportunity to create a culture that fits the needs of the community. I know this from their support of the Psi in the News column that I run regularly on the site. All it took was pitching a resonant idea, and I’ve been given the opportunity to provide a salient resource during a time when the conversation has become more open around topics that have often relegated to the tabloid press, despite their importance in understanding our place in reality.
This Kickstarter campaign offers an opportunity to expand these kind of timely offerings. If you have a spare dollar or two, and feel like contributing head over to the campaign webpage to find out how you can help bring Reality Sandwich into the 21st century.