Digital Altars

Digital Altars

by Artwitch in Residence Brenda Roswess 

This article is accessible to you thanks to technology: you’re reading on an electronic device, probably a smartphone. As I sit typing this on google docs and streaming Normani via bluetooth earbuds, it’s impossible not to notice the tech magick that I’m experiencing. Every minute whatever I’ve typed is saved, and a detailed history of every edit is being created. The World Wide Web is an actual marvel! Anyone who’s done any amount of coding knows how crazy impressive it is to have all of the incredible digital structures that we do, structures that manage to be so fluid that we’re all able to contribute our own byte sized creations (see what I did there). So why are we creating so much stress and anxiety around our devices, instead of getting excited about carrying a magical tool around with us pretty much everywhere?

Ok ok ok, I get it. There’s nothing magical about doom-scrolling on instagram, or getting distracted from important stuff by tik tok. That can be frustrating, exhausting, and a little scary (real 10 of swords stuff). It can definitely feel like your mind isn’t under your own control. Pretty much everything on the web (web is such a witchy word, isn’t it?) is made to keep you on it for longer and get you to engage. It’s a portal, that’s why it’s so easy to slip away, but it’s possible to use these portals to our benefit.

Beginning With Chaos Magic
Before getting too deep into the fun, let's take a look at some principles from Phil Hine, one of the prominent chaos magicians of the 70s. Chaos magic is postmodern magic, its leaders got down to the essentials of magical workings. The most vital piece is the belief of the practitioner regardless of their belief system, and in fact encouraging the shifting of belief systems as needed in support of the spellwork being done. I find his words to be super helpful when getting experimental with witchcraft:

Your belief shapes your reality. A belief system can be seen as a matrix of information into which we can pour emotional energy—we do as much, when we become so engrossed in watching a play, film, or TV programme that for a moment, it becomes real for us, and invokes appropriate emotions. 

Veracity of belief is a cornerstone to ritual magic. This has several levels to it. The core belief that Magic Works can only become embedded through experience. Another level—how far, and how much magic can work very much depends on one’s dominant explanation of how magic works. 

The 5 Belief Paradigms
There are five general belief paradigms that most magical practitioners find themselves working within:

1. In the spirit model all entities (Gods, Goddesses, demons, elementals, angels, servitors etc.) are real and have a separate existence from those of us who work with or acknowledge them. 

2. In the energy model, entities that may have been considered real in the spirit model are explained as subtle energies viewed by our limited human senses. So in this model, entities aren’t separate beings with their own existence, but energies that we’ve given a form to that we can work with. 

3. In the psychological model entities have no existence outside of the human mind. They’re symbols or archetypes of deep parts of the psyche. This is generally the dominant belief paradigm today. 

4. Particularly helpful to us here is the cybernetics model, if you’ve heard witches use the word downloads to refer to channeled information this is where it came from. In this model entities are information systems that have the capacity to be self organizing systems. It’s a little harder to grasp than the others, and part of that is because Phil Hine wrote about this in 1993 (I was freshly born). We had nowhere near the relationship with tech that we do now, so let’s work on expanding this together!

5. The last belief paradigm is the meta model, which is simply using whichever belief paradigm (or hybrid of them) helps you with the magical working.

How to Work With the 5 Belief Paradigms
The meta model (which is the core of chaos magic) is so expansive, while also providing a safe container for magic. For example, when one of my guides decided to make themselves known through tons of breakthroughs and inspiration, there was a part of me that was overwhelmed by it and a bit freaked out. In that case I was settled into beliefs that aligned with the spirit and energy model, but with so much big magic happening it helped me a ton in that situation to shift into the psychological model. I didn’t have to worry quite as much about being crazy because I realized I’d been hearing “voices” since I was 13. I could just accept that I’d figured out how to segment my ego a bit to give myself extra support that I (as myself) couldn’t give myself. 

But eventually the psychological model got a bit stale for me because it didn’t feel magical to identify my guide as a part of my consciousness. So back to the energy model I went, because I’d established a sense of safety. Your entire life is shaped by your beliefs, but there really is no “correct” set of beliefs. That’s why folks can have radically different belief systems and get similar results when it comes to manifestation.

When I’m working with digital altars the energy model and cybernetics model make the most sense to me. It’s all about putting intention and energy into my devices from the inside out. If something else helps you feel your phone as a magic wand of sorts, believe it!

Your Phone Is A Magic Wand

Now that we understand how important our beliefs are, it should be obvious that believing our phones are a dangerous distraction isn’t helping any of us form a more magical relationship with them. Within chaos magick philosophy there is something called a “chaos mine”, which is a localized area of aetheric energy. Think about the places that give you very strong vibes each time you visit, or objects that have a particular energy to them. We know that these places and things develop that energy whether there was intention put behind it or not. Well I'd hypothesize that the negative energy we assign to our phones for being distracting, or just the bearer of bad news in some cases, creates its own little chaos mine smartphone. 

What if we believed that we could use these digital portals to find our way back to our magick? What if you used it to support your magick instead of situating it as an opponent to it or an obstacle? A pretty simple and fun way to do that is with digital altars. 

Digital Altars

Digital altars could take any form in tech but in this case we're talking about images that can be used to craft magick, a helpful trigger if you're trying to stay focused on an intention, or an anchor to a new timeline you've jumped into. It’s kind of like a sigil. So what does it entail…honestly anything, just be intentional believe in its magic! You can make videos, get creative with fun weird instagram filters. Jessica Lanyadoo does a great job of that with her reels where she embodies a planetary body to give us the haps on what’s going on up in the sky… sometimes advice for navigating a mercury retrograde sinks in a bit deeper when it comes straight from the planetary source. And that’s only possible because of the tech magic of insta filters. 

Using images that feel magical as your phone background can be an easy and effective place to start crafting and intention-setting. It’s a lovely way to tap into the energy of crystals and herbs that might not be available to you, all that rare magick suddenly becomes accessible. I tend to view photos as a portal into the actual energy of the physical object, so a photo can work just as well as the thing if you're willing to pour equal belief into it. If you already have belief in the power of modalities like: distance reiki, remote viewing, or astral projection, this isn’t a huge leap to make belief wise, and it’s pretty damn useful. 

Other things you can think about adding are representations of the elements, sigils and magical symbols. Pictures of your own magical tools can also be a great addition if you want to enchant them with digital magic, or just continue your special real world relationship with them in the digital space. 

You can also add text to your images if setting intentions that way helps you, but I find that my brain ignores stuff like that after it’s seen it a few times. I generally stick with images that give me a positive feeling with what I want to manifest in mind. 

The main thing for me is to change wallpapers often. It feels more powerful to put my energy and intention into it regularly to keep the magic going and reinforce my beliefs about tech magic.  My energy stops responding once my brain stops being stimulated by an image. Considering how much information we all encounter, it doesn’t take long for me to stop feeling activated by an image. I also feel that it’s an easy way to connect my energy to my phone in a magical way because I’m regularly including it in my magical practice, and it’s changing along with me as I keep shifting energy and timelines. 

Holisticism has some awesome wallpaper freebies on their site, like this one for abundance. Nicole Pivirotto, author of Color, Form, and Magic has some gorgeous color magic wallpapers on her instagram

Level Up

If you want to make your own extra-bewitched wallpaper, just download any photo editing software to your phone and start playing with the images mentioned above. There are plenty of apps that work pretty well and are free if you can tolerate a 30 second ad. I use Adobe photoshop mix. It makes adding layers and moving them around pretty easy. Explore the tools that are there, I find that it's better to go through trial and error and see what you can do and what effects you get. I mostly use it to layer images and to cut out assets for digital collages. 

*The apps mentioned in the upcoming paragraph with some technical tips are android only, feel free to skip- sorry iphone users, but y’all got the chani app so let’s call it even*
Glitchlab is one of my favorites, it makes it pretty easy to produce magical effects, and randomize a lot of color pallet options. Some easy and effective tools to start with are color, streak, corrupt, and distort. If you dig into the options there you can do a lot of fun stuff. Definitely play with the random seed and mode sliders where you find them. That’s an easy way to get lots of different color pallets. Which means more and more precise color magick for you. The save button is definitely your friend, when you see something you like, save it. There’s plenty of digital image alchemy to capture. I also recommend the Mirrorlab app. Some fun tools there are: complex (the quadratic options are litty), polar, and fractal. If you have access to these apps, dive in because they’re pretty incredible.   

No matter what software you’re using, tech savvy witch or not, have patience with yourself and the process. It’s much more enjoyable if you go in with the energy of being curious about what you can make and the effects you can get. I much prefer being surprised by the end results then fighting with software to get it to become an image I’m holding in my third eye. This is a practice of ease. Bringing more ease and lightness into the relationship with your phone will do a world of good. It’s also just a fun creative activity that you can do on your phone in what could easily have been some instagram scrolling time. 

Worship At The Altar Of Yourself
Last but not least, one of the best things you can add to your digital altar is yourself! Edit yourself into spaces you want to occupy or energies you want to embody. These end up being some of my favorites because the resulting image feels like a sort of energetic magick mirror allowing you to physically view your chosen self.  

I’ve got a few examples of my own, 3 that I like to use for when I’m just beginning to shift timelines and need to feel extra layered and expansive.

There’s also a self-care spell that I made by editing myself doing a clay face mask into the Spolia tarot deck’s page of pentacles:

And there is this one that I made for my Saturn Return:

I like images that are a bit more glitchy and inherently digital looking, because it makes the energy of the device feel a bit more accessible magically.  I think that because we're used to our tech now, it can become a bit invisible to us. They’re sort of mysterious rectangles and being reminded of its complex inner workings reminds me of their magic and helps me keep the matrix open so to speak. Otherwise I might think about the type of energy I need for the magic I’m trying to make. So if I’m in the middle of transforming something (like my Saturn Return!) I’ll use an image that is more fluid or appears to be shifting. 

Now that you’ve got some ideas, go off and make your own, or find your own! We are the witches of the digital age and I want us all to be part of creating magic online, and charging up the world wide web. Our witch ancestors want us to be making magic with what is available to us right now, and not to limit our magic. Your magic is available and works in every single space you inhabit, from earth to the astral to the digital realm. Get intentional about your digital spaces and be proud that you’re one of the lucky witches that gets to experiment with digital energy pretty early on.

In 100 years tech magic will be such a normal part of a witches practice, like herbalism, tarot, and astrology. It seems far-fetched because so much of witchcraft has been around for so long in history, but the digital age has really sped things up and when we look at how much our ability to quickly share information has changed society, it seems pretty possible to me. We spend too much time on the web to exclude our magic from it. There are lots of unintentional digital altars already out there, you just need to activate them with your intention and energy.



The days of the week carry just as much energy and symbolism as the months of the year or the phases of the moon, and that can be helpful for witches who like to time their spells with the vibe of the moment!Inside you'll find practices, associations and allies for each day of the week to help you infuse every day with magic.