Hello, internet. Today I'm going to talk about this awesome thing my partner just showed me.
This video depicts a Virtual Temple for Ganesha. (Go watch it and come back.) The same people have a Virtual Temple for Krishna. It's made by a company called Shoonya under the website Lifescapes. Both temples can be accessed online through their website but I got them as a Google Chrome App (it just redirects to their website.)
Basically, you go on their website/use the app and you can interact with a completely virtual island that contains shrines to the Deities listed (Hindu obviously) and you can perform the typical Hindu actions that constitute interacting/communing with that deity in their virtual shrine. Which I think is rad.
Why am I writing about this for Monday? Because it's fucking cool. And because it has implications for the future of honor and worship for Pagans and non-Pagans everywhere.
You've probably seem virtual shrines before. Many Pagans seized the opportunity of the internet to put up web pages with photos, text, and information designed to honor their Deity of choice. You've probably seen some before, a lot of times they have those horrible candles .gifs. You know the ones.
I think utilizing the internet to worship/honor is an awesome idea. I believe fully in utilizing every tool we have to experiment and see what works and what doesn't (chaos magick, y'know) so I say, hell yes, worshiping a deity with a web page is the same thing as worshiping a deity in 'reality'. Virtual reality is another 'sort' of reality, but it still counts. Energy and intent work no matter the medium.
An interesting point to consider is this: What we do in virtual reality affects how we exist in 'standard' reality.
Let me explain. If you get into a fight with someone on the internet, in a virtual space, does it sometimes affect your day 'here', in any regard? If you were one of those/are one of those people who avidly participate in video games, did you ever win competitions? Did you win monetary things because of your performance in a virtual space? Did it make you feel pretty awesome (it should) ? Did you ever 'get into a relationship' with someone that had real emotions when in a virtual game setting, where you never interacted personally outside of a virtual space (messaging, game speak, etc)? All of these things technically occur in a 'virtual' setting, but when humans interact with the setting energy gets involved and shit becomes messy. We are not 'divorced' from virtual reality any longer.
Since almost everyone now makes use of technology for everything from managing finances to tracking the stars to playing games, why shouldn't we use technology to honor our Gods? Judging by the sheer amount of Bible apps on google Chrome, others have picked up on this idea already.
There are many advantages to a virtual temple. To list a few:
It's free in this case, or in another case would probably be a low one time only fee.
It's completely portable--a literal travel altar.
It can theoretically be accessed from multiple devices, wherever you are, even on a plane/train.
It theoretically has the same effect as interacting physically with that Deity's artifacts.
No travel costs! Not everyone lives close to a shrine for their Deity.
For people in the Broom Closet, it would be infinitely easier to hide your evidence.
If energy and intent are there, and obviously the world-makers in this case put time and effort into making the shrine beautiful for a deity (if how suspiciously similar the worlds look to the Astral is any indication) why can't a worshiper put in the same time and energy to worship the Deity virtually from, say, their iphone on their morning commute? Or their computer at work, on a break? I think the practice of virtualizing Shrines actually makes it easier to honor our Deities. I don't find it any less 'valid' or 'authentic' to use tools we have available to better contact our Deities. I also think virtual worlds and temples could be the next step in bridging that gap.
The implications of this are also huge: If we can re-create virtuals of existing Shrines and Temples that have fallen into disrepair (the Parthenon, or the temples of Egpyt, maybe?) for shows like the History Channel, can they be re-created, in the same manner as these temples, for the purpose of Worship in a virtual setting, where they will not be destroyed? Humans are pretty visual creatures, and I say that as an art student studying 3-D modeling and product design. I respond much better to a visual, albeit, virtual representation of a shrine like this one than to a description or maybe even the site itself.
I was talking to my partner about how we both built meditation spaces for our Sims when we played those games. I postulate our thoughts and energy in building that space, even virtually, actually created a space with those qualities. Can we "Charge" a space virtually to work for us? I think we can, and should be experimenting with this. Can we link a virtual space to its real counterpart via binding? If some, what are the implications of that? Can we utilize a virtual space like a trigger to automatically interact with the real space, like programming ourselves to go into a trance state? I think we can.
I see the Ganesha shrine above and it really does inspire feelings of peace and well-being in me, just in being well-designed. The energy inherent in the virtual space is literally present when a user interacts with it.
I don't consider this escapism, necessarily. I consider it a tool to allow for focus and to remember things in the past.
Now to convince them to make ones that look like the Shamanic worlds...
Other cool virtual shit!