The Magickal, Shamanic, Imperial, Ethical, and Tan...

by Daniel Ingram

The Magickal, Shamanic, Imperial, Ethical, and Tantric Implications of Pokémon Go

Pokémon GO involves millions of people suddenly running around trying to capture, possess, train, evolve, and then send into combat some 700 various types of mythical, digital creatures who possess various Magickal and personality attributes, and have various elemental associations. The parallel with various Magickal traditions and Western Magickal practitioners, who may be working with bound servitors, sandestins, daemons, or other entities, by capturing them, cultivating relationships with them, training them, evolving them, and then sending them out to perform various tasks, including combat, is obvious. The Animist implications, those of believing in, perceiving, and interacting with various spirit entities, are also obvious. So, we have a huge number of people suddenly exploring their neighborhoods and worlds and having the cyber equivalents of the experiences of these more traditional practitioners. They are, basically by default, adopting their paradigms in some way, though many will think of those paradigms as purely play and nothing more "real" than that.

However, just as children learn various interactive and paradigmatic patterns through play, so do adults. Numerous psychological studies show that you can profoundly influence the behavior, emotions, interactions, subjective world views, and even walking patterns, heart rate, biology, and other factors through very simple psychological manipulations. It struck me that the paradigms that people were learning when it comes to dealing with non-human creatures, spirit beings, and mythical entities is squarely grounded in the colonial paradigms of Europe, as well as previous civilizations and cultures that involved regional warlords and conquest. By gathering slave-warriors to be sent into combat, we find resonances that go deep into human history. Unfortunately, these paradigms, from spiritual and ethical perspectives, are clearly suboptimal at best and straight up black Magick at worst. They basically scream patriarchy, imperial dominance, hegemony, and slavery; in short, some of the worst shadow sides of our contemporary world reanimating dark aspects of the ancient world.

I myself have barely played video games since I was about 15 years old. This may skew my viewpoint on this contemporary phenomenon. Plenty of my peers, who consider themselves totally moral, good, skillful, excellent people, routinely play games in which they kill more virtual beings per second than any person in real life could with an automatic weapon, and yet, in the rest of their lives, they feel this is left behind and has no lasting or malignant influence on their loving, kind, peaceful relationships to themselves, their families, their communities, and the world. In short, they would likely believe, perhaps rightly, that I am totally overthinking this and running amok in the worst politically correct way possible.

That said, I had a dream. In the dream, there were Pokémon showing up. They were very bright, with cartoon-like coloring, pixels, and seemed superimposed on my vivid dreamscape in very much the way that Pokemon would be if you were looking through a smartphone at them. A disembodied female announcer voice with a posh British accent calmly described the individual positive spiritual qualities of the various Pokemon. I attempted to roll a Pokeball to capture one, but, not only did it not work, there was an instant sense of moral revulsion, like this was some reflexive action that was totally wrong, inappropriate, and karmically unskillful. I awoke suddenly from the dream filled with the following ideas:

* That Pokémon, having a vast range of personalities, spiritual, elemental, and Magickal qualities, basically represented a ready-made tantric palate for our time.

* That, as tantric entities, Pokémon should be related to skillfully, ethically, properly, respectfully, as one would with a tantric deity, dakini, bodhisattva, or Buddha.

* That this form of interaction would likely be vastly more karmically skillful on this side and much more appreciated on that side than the capture, collect, train, and forced fighting that would be typical in the treatment of Pokémon.

* That, by radically transforming the relationship to the Pokémon, this would build and reinforce this set of interaction patterns within myself and other similarly-minded practitioners with all entities, in particular dream and spiritual entities, but also living entities such as those people, animals, and plants that we interact with daily.

* Further, as this sort of skillfully cultivated relationship of respect with the various Pokémon would form Magickal links, or relationships, and, as these links are now distributed widely in the population, one wishing to try to perform skillful Magick could use these links to then spread the various positive Pokémon qualities to the population of Pokémon GO players and their general environs by choosing the correct Pokemon whose resonance and traits are appropriate to the spell in question, imploring, revering, and cultivating a positive relationship with that Pokemon, and then sending out that energy and intent to the linked millions.

* One could even use the Pokémon for higher insight purposes, seeing our true nature in their true nature, attaining awakening, and then adopting their positive qualities in ourselves, as well as even arising as the highest evolution of the various Pokemon to interact with the world from that place.

In short, I propose a new branch of cyber-shamanic, Magickal practice as a counterbalancing force to the slavery-based, essentially colonialist/imperialist, violent, greedy, black-Magick paradigm currently being spread by Pokémon GO.