As a minority community, many American Pagans met the beginning of 2017 with trepidation, with the inauguration of a new president who seemed hostile to values that many Pagans hold dear. Between the new president’s recorded admissions of sexual assault and misogyny, and the evangelical Christian movement had propelled him to power, there was fear that the new administration would roll back gains made in social issues such as women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, and freedom from religious persecution. In this environment, one day after the inauguration of President Trump, the Women’s March on Washington burst onto the international scene. In a well-coordinated protest effort, millions of women and men in iconic pink “pussy” hats flooded cities all over the world to stand up for what they saw is inalienable human rights that were under threat. The Washington, D.C. march famously attracted more attendees than the inauguration itself, and that pattern repeated itself in cities across the U.S. and, indeed, all over the world.
In an article posted May 31, Kari Paul at the Broadly channel on Vice pitted Wiccans and professional tarot card readers against popular smartphone apps that purport to offer divination to any user at the tap of an icon. To Paul’s credit, her piece was not the sort of exploitation piece you often see when mainstream journalists cross paths with Witchcraft and Paganism. Her tone comes off as that of a sincere investigator trying to discuss a real tension between two different types of people. At the same time, Paul presents a relatively black and white world where the battle lines are clearly drawn: Witches have a bone (or a card, or a rune) to pick with programmers who think they can mathematically create the randomness and relationships necessary for accurate divination to occur. For example, she quotes one professional reader named Tea Cake who calls divination apps “extremely gimmicky and next to useless.” Tea Cake goes on to question the tarot skills of app programmers, stating that their unknown credentials make it “difficult to sort out what is bullshit.”
Another Witch in the article, Maria Palma-Drexler, tells Paul that “technology has its place in witchcraft, but only as an aide,” while another, known as Blue June, states emphatically that “practices like divination are better carried out the way they have been traditionally: by humans, not apps.” She stresses that “there is no need to add technology.” While Paul does quote author Mary K. Greer in support of apps toward the end of her piece, the overall picture is one of Witches and readers distrusting the skills and sincerity of software developers.