Black Mirror


"

The screen’s the altar, I’m the one they sacrifice to — then ’til now, Golden Age to Golden Age. They sit side by side, ignore each other and give it up to me. Now they hold a smaller screen in their lap or the palm of their hand so they don’t get bored watching the big one. Time and attention: better than lamb’s blood." - Neil Gaiman, American Gods


In Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (first a graphic novel, later an incredible TV show), the “new god” Media (played by Gillian Anderson of X Files fame) starts talking to the protagonist through a TV screen at a CostCo big box store. The gist of her pitch? That she is powerful because so many humans sacrifice their time and attention to her, instead of using their finite time on earth working on projects and relationships that give back in meaningful ways.


When I heard this line of dialogue, it really resonated with me. I have always been social media-resistant, having finally joined Instagram only last year to get ready to launch our TOTEM Tarot Deck. And while I love interacting with all of you and seeing your updates, I increasingly come away from my time on social media- or media, more broadly- feeling measurably emptier, sadder, and totally drained and cranky.


If you’ve ever been in my physical space for a reading, you may have noticed that my television is housed within a wooden cabinet, putting it literally and energetically “out of sight, out of mind” by enclosing it when out of use. I avoid being photographed and despise having my image out on the web.


Why is this? Am I just a Boomer trapped in a Millennial’s body?


Well, the best way to describe this aversion is through the metaphor of the Black Mirror. The very popular, super-bingable Netflix show Black Mirror is a dystopian vision of the high-tech, near-future where humanity's greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide. But what many don’t realize is that the term “black mirror” has been with us for thousands of years, and it has a spiritual application.


A black mirror is a scrying mirror, made or painted a literal shade of black, and it enables a practitioner to “scry” by staring into it to gain insights from the spirit world, from the future, or from past lives. Scrying with a black mirror is a cornerstone of witchcraft, wicca, and the new age and spiritual movements. Think of it as a visual version of the Ouija Board.


And this is where the metaphor takes flight. As a spiritual practitioner, I need to cultivate incredible amounts of discernment when navigating the spirit realm. Sure, something can come to me claiming to be the spirit of a 12 year old boy, but how can I know that? Boundaries, skepticism and years and years of practice need to be brought to bear, or I could be manipulated and taken advantage of by a malevolent spirit looking to drain my energy or lead me astray.


The same is true of the black mirror of the internet, particularly social media. Someone could be presenting a particular image to you, but it’s not necessarily a reflection of their true nature or their real motivations. Multiply that by the billions of individuals and bots and algorithms interacting in this new black mirror, and you get a murky spiritual soup that can be almost impossible to navigate without paying a price.


What’s more, there are many old fairy tales and stories of people becoming addicted to their scrying mirrors, unable to pull themselves away from the real-time insights, interaction and power that comes from such a powerful tool of divination. Some were driven to insanity or despair or even death by their contact with the beings in the black mirror.


Sound familiar?


Besides, what are the motivations of the spirits coming through in the scrying mirror? What kind of entity would give you its time and insight on command? Do you think this is what honorable spirits would spend their time doing? What are they getting out of the bargain? And, likewise, what is social media really about? How is your data and time and energy being used? Is it for your benefit? Or for the benefit of others? And are those “others” on your side, or do they seek your destruction?


Remember: if something is free, you are the product.


This was true thousands of years ago as witches stared into scrying mirrors, and it’s true for those of us staring into our phones now.


As William Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth, concerning the three witches that gave Macbeth the prophecy that set off a violent, horrific chain of events: “And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray us In deepest consequence."


Did you know that the computer processor and battery and circuit board in your devices are made out of the same crystals and minerals we use for spiritual energy? Are you aware that the gentleman who “invented” jet propulsion technology was a member of Aleister Crowley’s cult and claimed to be given the design by a multidimensional being after a séance? Did you know that the scientists at CERN- where they use particle colliders to access and play with other dimensions- decorated their facility with a giant statue of Shiva, the Hindu God? What does Shiva do, you ask? Oh, he’s just the creator and destroyer of worlds…I’m sure that’s all just a coincidence, right?


The bottom line is that technology and the darker side of spirituality are very much hand in glove, and always have been. In many ways, magic is just technology we don’t yet understand, and it’s crucial to not get taken in by this opaque black box.


So how can we avoid the pitfalls of the black mirror? As we approach the January 2nd New Moon in Capricorn- the sign of time and structure and accountability- we have a great opportunity to release old habits and reframe our relationship with technology:

  • Digital Detox. Humans have finite resources in 3D time/ space. We may not want to accept that as fact, but it doesn’t make it any less true. This is the paradigm that forces us to make decisions and prioritize, specifically around how we spend our time and our energy. I’ve found it critical to take substantive breaks from social media and, if you can swing it, computers and screens altogether. Many experts recommend at least one day a week for a formal digital detox, as it gives us our neural networks time to reset, and enables our mood-altering brain chemicals to move back into balance. I have personally found myself less anxious, more grounded, and more connected to my body, my loved ones and the foundational elements in my real life when I take multi-day digital detoxes. If you’ve seen The Social Dilemma (also on Netflix), you know that social media platforms were built to be chemically-addictive and to polarize us as much as possible- all in the name of “engagement”. As connected as we are online, we have never been lonelier, and much of that is because we go to social media for what can only be provided in real life. Perhaps consider taking a digital detox on the New Moon, ritualizing this new behavior with intention and helping to sustain you in your new practice through the year. Or, you can pick another day every week or every other week that you can plan to walk away and reconnect with life.

  • Touch Grass. This is something my grandmother used to say to me if I didn’t feel good, either physically or emotionally. It took me about 30 years to figure out she wasn’t just being a smartass- she was onto something. We discharge negative energy and absorb positive, grounding energy when we make contact with grass, dirt, trees, plants and flowers. One of the key reasons TOTEM is greatly expanding our Flower Essence program is that it’s an excuse, every day, to spend time in a garden, growing things and making things and just generally reconnecting with the real world. If you’re in a climate with a harsh winter climate, think about taking off your shoes and socks and connecting barefoot with a wooden floor. Prep root vegetables for a meal. Or maybe go to a spa and get a detoxifying mud treatment. Be creative- you can absolutely connect with nature and release the currents of tech with just about anything from the natural world.

  • Set Boundaries. Perhaps consider giving yourself a limited amount of time every day to “do social media”. Whether 10 or 30 minutes, this time limit forces prioritization of your goals and prevents you from doom-scrolling or getting lost for hours at a time without even realizing it. In this framework, you can get the benefit of social media- letting clients know about crucial updates or sharing good news- without falling victim to the negative aspects of it. Much like mindless eating, you can lose hours (and, over the course of a year, days) without even realizing it. By entering social media with intention and ritualizing your brief time on it, you can create new behaviors that leave your energy body with a full tank. We set similar boundaries with psychic work, ritualizing our time in psychic space such that when we end it, it’s officially done and cannot follow us or drain us for the rest of the day.

  • Protect Yourself. A great way to protect your energy body from psychic, technological and literal pollution is to leverage Yarrow Flower Essences. Flower Essence Services makes “Yarrow Environmental Solutions”, a blend of Pink, Yellow and White Yarrow that is optimal for mitigating human, environmental and technological toxins. You can also use a crystal called shungite, which is 99% carbon and loves to absorb all kinds of toxic sludge in and around us. And, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, our devices are little portals, so regular sage-ing in your space and proper storing of tools is as crucial as if you had just done a séance. If you know you’re going to have a big day on Zoom or Instagram, consider planning a ritual salt bath for immediately afterwards, helping you cut energy cords with anyone you came into “contact” with and removing any negative energy from your energy field.

This New Moon in Capricorn is all about reconnecting with objective reality, with concrete things and people and relationships, ultimately stabilizing our inner state. I am going to continue my weekly digital detox which, when combined with all of my coaching appointments and flower essence work, means you’re probably going to see a lot less of me online. And it’s not because something is wrong or things with TOTEM aren’t going well- rather, it’s because things are going great and I’m busy in the doing of them;)


Please make sure you’ve added this email address to your favorites to keep receiving direct updates, and please continue to check out our TOTEM websitefor critical updates. We’re working to give you a lot more information about our 2022 Flower Essence program, as we’re actively germinating and planting seeds here in Austin for the next batch of more than 40 new tinctures.


And, while I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions, I do believe in resetting and reframing old, outdated behaviors and mindless habits. Capricorn, the sign of Cronos and time and limitation and structure, is the perfect excuse to use the New Moon to establish critical parameters. As humans, we might be limitless beings on a soul level, but we don’t have infinite time. We don’t have infinite energy. And, while we’re here in 3D time/space, we need to be strategic about how we use our limited resources in the pursuit of our goals.


We can get lost in the looking glass- the Black Mirror- and forget our intentions or dreams. We can lose track of our quality of life, state of mind, and the condition of our energy body.


Remember: real life is happening all the time, even when you’re not recording or documenting or sharing it. And there is a record of all of it- one kept by divine beings charged with maintaining our collective archives.


You don’t need to document your life. You need to live it.


Happy New Year!


-Rachel