A Magician’s Digital Toolkit

A Magician’s Digital Toolkit

When I think about the all the tools and implements the classical or medieval sorcerer would fill his or her lab with, something occurs to me.

There are no inherent magical advantages in any of them.

Vellum, astrolabes, telescopes… These were the MacBook Pro’s and Blackberries of their day.

An ideal classical sorcerer’s lab was the Google office of Ancient Greece.

Then I read this article in the New York Times about the data-driven life and my mind starts whirring. (May have something to do with those three coffees, as well.)

What digital tools provide the best advantage in magical experimentation? Is there a set of digital services and products out there That mirror the astrolabes and star charts of the Classical Age?

The answer is yes… Assuming we set a goal or two.

Digital goalsetting

  • A digital toolkit should be portable yet permanent. You should be able to access it anywhere -or restore it in the event that something happens to your computer.
  • It should get better over time.
  • It should make you smarter.
  • It should be easy to use.

Digital tools: Software

A digital passport

A Google account is your passport to the internet. I’m assuming I won’t get too much resistance to this idea from the magical community seeing as 98.9999% of you appear to have Blogger accounts.

But there are some strategic ways of using Google accounts that apply directly to the magician’s digital toolkit.

  • Use your ‘core’ Google account to sign up for everything. That way you will always know where your passwords are so you only need to worry about remembering (and safekeeping) the one.
  • Set up multiple accounts by ‘category': I have a personal one, one for magical stuff, one for media/career stuff.
  • Use these multiple accounts to create ‘digital wire rooms‘: I setup news alerts, docs, youtube subscriptions, feeds, etc in totally separate modules. That way I can get a holistic view of each category simply by logging in and out. It means feeds and logins don’t get too confused and categories stay small enough to manage.

Sidebar: I used to teach journalists all over the world how to do this. It’s an awesome hack. Strategic use of Google accounts makes you king of the internet.


Sorry, but you need it. Using twitter makes you smarter.

  • Only use one twitter account. (Preferably something resembling your real name, or at least, SFW.) Bigger is better. So it’s the reverse of the Google account advice.
  • Google for some free ebooks on how best to use twitter. (There are hundreds.)
  • Based on Rune Soup’s audience data, a healthy chunk of you are using Firefox. (Which is good.) Twitterfox is the least intrusive twitter client. It’s the one I use.

Do you think Foursquare, etc should be on the list? Well, it shouldn’t. Who are you, Paris Hilton or something? Foursquare is a dead end because both Facebook and Twitter will offer the exact same service by the end of the year and they already have a scalable user base.

So Foursquare is out of the magical toolkit. Besides, manually checking in is retarded.


I’m really surprised this service isn’t more widely used. It may actually be the last social media service I would ever give up.

Basically, a delicious account allows you to save all manner of junk you find on the internet by tag somewhere online. None of this ‘browser-based’ bookmarks anymore.

Drag the bookmarklet into your toolbar and its one-button bookmarking that doesn’t interrupt your web flow.

The real benefit is that it allows you to access your growing pool of resources from any computer (and most smartphones) in the world. It has metaphorically saved my life more than once when I have been away on business.

Again, one core account is fine. And save everything. Be a hoarder. Mine is mostly just recipes and holiday ideas but that’s because those are two of my favourite things. The more you save, the better the collection becomes.


Unless you want one, you really don’t need a magic blog.

But everyone should have a shareblog as a “home for all my shit” on the internet. Posterous is better than tumblr. Its one-button publishing that can also link up with your phone for on-the-fly photography. Once you have a shareblog, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

Here’s mine as an example.

Flickr Pro

Better than Picasa in my opinion but whatever you do, don’t just leave your photos on Facebook… Which technically has the copyright to all your precious memories. Flickr makes it super-easy to share and embed photos in other sites, as well.

Don’t even think twice about its value. A Pro account is absolutely worth it.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, you can’t use your Google account to set up a Flickr account.

Photo editing

I was really impressed with Aviary. My Photoshop skills are okay at best but sometimes (usually when composing blog posts) you need to perform some really simple photo editing that doesn’t require firing up an expensive memory hog. Aviary is perfect for this. Another one to sign up to with your Google account.

File sharing

Of course, I mean legal file sharing: As in moving large files around safely and anonymously… Videos and things that are too big for email attachments. Gigasize is your go to. It’s the fastest/most reliable and you don’t even have to log in with anything.

I use this all the time for work.


Not a magical tool, per se, but essential if you’re serious about success magic.

Because there is quite simply no avoiding Linkedin if you want to grow in your career. A prospective employer will look for you here. (As well as on Google, of course.)

Just take the 20 minutes to get an account set-up and make sure you add your personal gmail address to the account… NOT just your work address. (What happens if you leave abruptly and the workmail account is cancelled? This actually happened to me.)

Digital tools: Hardware

Your phone

I swear, I don’t work for Google but I am totally recommending you use their Nexus One. Slightly less evil than Apple, a better camera, doesn’t unreasonably hate Adobe Flash so it will be better for shooting and watching video.

Also, it plugs in better with your gmail account and will be much easier to post with if you’re on Blogger. (Think of the in-ritual possibilities!)

You can of course go with an -ugh- iPhone. I’ve used one for years. It’s fine. Whatever you go with, just make sure you get something with a good app store.


The Flip is the iPod of portable HD cameras: Over-priced and well designed. Good for most uses.

But the Kodak Zi8 is better. The audio isn’t as good as Flip but it has an external mic port and optional lenses to attach (which is a goldmine). The Flip has neither of these. Same easy upload (especially with your YouTube account). Also cheaper.

Yet another device that worms its way so elegantly into your life you will wonder how you lived without it. (I have video records of ritual layouts. Very helpful.)

Summing up

I would call this a ‘baseline toolkit’ for magical folk who are thinking about web publishing or already doing so.

You will notice that the majority of services here don’t require you to actively use them. There is a dizzying, growing array of digital products and it’s often difficult to work out which ones you actually need.

A toolkit like this is designed for minimal disruption to your current web activity. You aren’t expected to use them in addition to whatever you currently do online, but on an as-needed basis.

What do you think? Are there any digital tools that you use and consider helpful in your magical life?

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  1. 2
    Cat Vincent

    Nice outline/primer!

    Mages being mages, of course I run mine a bit differently:

    The combination of Dropbox (for file sharing), Evernote (note-taking, either as text, vox or pics) and Instapaper (web links) comprise my Outboard Brain. All 3 port nicely to my iPhone (yeah, I know… but it works for me) and have free versions which suffice for most users. Add Twitter, Flickr, Google Reader for RSS feed and WordPress.com account and I’m sorted.

    I also maintain a few variant online personae, some from a Google base, others elsewhere. Keeping track of passwords is a doddle with the 1Password apps (again, free versions will do for light/medium use).

    The iPhone does for most portable tasks, but for when I need something with a real keyboard I go to a Dell Mini 9 netbook, running as a OS 10.6 Hackintosh (cheap option but needs some fiddling to set up – there’s a great mod community for it, so online help easy to find). If I need a bit of extra storage, USB thumbdrives are insanely cheap these days (I got a 128 Gig one on eBay for £16!).

    Hopefully a few more folk will drop on this thread with their technomage installs.
    .-= Cat Vincent´s last blog ..Guttershaman, “…of Jedi and jail” =-.

  2. 4

    Oh yeah. I hope so too. That’s what makes this such an awesome field:

    Everyone’s doing their own thing.

    Looks like you’ve got this locked up tightly. Good to see Flickr on the list. I just don’t understand why it’s so hard to convince people that it’s the best option for their most cherished possession: the visual record of their own life.

    I wouldn’t trust Zuckerberg with a ticking bomb… That I had set up myself.

    I’m going to investigate Instapaper. You’re the second person in as many days that has recommended it to me.

  3. 5

    Synchronicity is beautiful. I was just contracted to write an article about using your SmartPhone as a ritual tool. Combining it with Google Docs/other google services has made my life so much easier – you can pull up images, sigils, etc.

    Also, flickr does have its own in-house photo editor that I’ve found pretty useful. (I think it may be Picasa.) It can’t do all the tricks that say, Adobe does, but it does pretty well.
    .-= Diana´s last blog ..Gee, the things I learn on Metafilter =-.

  4. 6

    I have referred to myself as a “Google Whore” before. I love all things Google… well, except for Picassa. Geez, how did they let that get so clunky and unintuitive? (Obviously Microsoft or Apple is planting engineers inside Google to sabotage them!)

    I’ve recently started using Google wave with an international cabal of mages to coordinate a project. The jury is still out. I’m still learning to use it. VERY COMPLEX, but it can’t escape that because everything it’s trying to be.

    Because I am such a Google Whore, iGoogle is very useful to me. I just have to check one page to see if anything is “happening” in my on-line world. I have a gadget on there to calculate the planetary hour, and one to show me the moon phases and the moon signs. I have gadgets for my gmail and for my google reader. I even have a gadget that shows a card from the major arcana of the Tarot of the Witches that changes every time you reload the page. Cool synchronicities occur.

    But now that you and Cat Vincent have listed lots of cool alternatives, I’ll be exploring those too.

    Not bad for a dude who is old enough to be your father.
    .-= Scribbler´s last blog ..Everything Arbatel – Digest of Internet Links =-.

  5. 7

    Oh, Gordon, you may get me to throw away my wooden shoes. Is there some sort of way to ease a Luddite into technology slowly? Usually I am about a decade behind cutting edge and have a curmudgeonly gut reaction to being “forced” to use technology.

    But I am letting it go. Because it is dumb.

    I want to be a virtual adept, I really do, but the leap is a bit big for me atm. I shall start with delving into the mysteries of google. Then maybe branch out into getting my own laptop.

    Nothing to it but to do it, I suppose.
    .-= Jow´s last blog ..Hexing and A Perfect Day =-.

  6. 8
    Apel Mjausson

    Like you I use Flickr, Google and Delicious. I’m much more private than you, so my blog is on LiveJournal.

    Something new since this post was written is Readability. You install a bookmark in your browser and when you click on it on a single-article page (or a single article that spans several pages), it shows you just the article text and images. The text is the size and width that you’ve set. It’s excellent when I actually want to understand what I’m reading.

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