There is a running joke among serious occultists about the so-called internet kids, an eclectic and fantasy prone group of younger magickians with strong ties to pop culture. Suffering from some form of retroactive amnesia these wizards seem to forget that a good chunk of Generation Hex cut their teeth on Dungeons and Dragons or Vampire the Masquerade, as if such an admission might in some way invalidate all the hard work they put into mastering their stubby little wands by candlelight. Interestingly, the origins of this new wave of occultism has its roots in a conjunction of attitude and technology, and starts with an all too familiar rebellion.
Unlike other mystical systems chaos magick carries a lot of political baggage. While there are many stories to explain its sudden emergence, most concede that the movement was a byproduct of working class unemployment during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. It embodies the anger and frustration of those pioneers, and was less about mystical anarchy than a kneejerk reaction to a world where the common man lacked the funds to approach the occult in a 19th Century sense. A preserve of the few, loose groups and cliques would emerge to explore this current even though it was never supposed to be anything more than a gateway to other things.
And then the internet happened. In no time all the secrets of the unseen world were on display for free in one format or another as long as you knew where to look. At first the burgeoning builtin board culture offered enlightenment in dial up doses to anyone with a university library card, and while much of this proved to be little more than direct quotes from existing texts original ideas still seeped in from time to time. Soon hosting services such as Angelfire and Geocities blinked dully into life, allowing those magickians with an understanding of HTML to share their insights free from the censure of the mass market publishing houses who once ran the show.
By the time MySpace and Vampire Freaks lumbered into view Generation Hex was well on the way to solidifying its hold on the counter cultural vision of what the occult should actually become. PDF became the file of choice for those taking part in the numerous Digimobs that grew out of the proto-torrent scene, and everyone involved set to work scanning and sharing the contents of their bookshelves. For a while at least the internet was the new Wild West, a space where copyright was irrelevant and the excesses of acid driven rave consciousness had given way to a more sober cultural view wherein magick itself became the panacea for a dying zeitgeist.
Of course, this was not the way the story ended. Anarchic online occultism was eventually ground under the wheels of the Facebook and Reddit revolution. Dedicated corporatization of the internet saw both torrents and file sharing rendered illegal, while those who once took part in such activities closed ranks to protect what little knowledge they had amassed in the good old days before service providers decided to self censor. Companies such as Google then realised just how much money could be made by selling our attention to the highest bidder, and doubled down on curating the results they presented to further spread their monotone view of reality too.
Ultimately, despite the wide eyed optimism of technopagan prophets such as Eric Davis the revolution faltered. Yet even though the direct assault on mainstream culture which personified late 20th Century occultism never took hold, there was much to be harvested from the ruins of its ponderous war machine. And here we find the internet kids digging for truth in the ersatz scraps of information left over from the last great blossoming of occult thought in Western society. Masterless, creative and unique, many do not even realise that they are the latest carriers of a Promethean fire that stretches all the way back to antiquity.
Generation Hex has been and gone, their sneering derision of the next wave of younger magickians betraying a deep rooted desire to fight for a counterculture that is no longer required. People openly discuss their once hidden beliefs at coffee shops, within workplaces and even in the street. Television is awash with witches and warlocks, while YouTube groans under the weight of top ten lists which rehash the same old monsters for increasingly younger audiences. We may have lost the war but our children did what we could not and made the unreal acceptable. As such, if the internet kids are the new face of this post-millennial mysticism then I for one wish them well.