Sacred Power Grid (Or: Spirits are Weird)

This is not about crystal energy grids or such. I’m literally talking about the power grid (power plants and transmission lines and so on) and its place in my religious practice.

I’ve always been a good tech-obsessed 90’s kid. I grew up fixing appliances, ruining reverse-engineering any VCR or phone that gave up the ghost; I inherited a Sega Genesis and became forevermore addicted to video games. A few robots and programming languages came along with time. Technology was growing up alongside me, and I needed to know how it ticked.

My first experience of the Other was therefore not with Hermes or with land spirits (although they were next). It was, in fact, with the local power transmission station.

Obligatory advisory NOT to go near a transmission station, because I don’t want you to die of high voltage and I also don’t want you to endanger a utility worker or the station. But if you’ve ever been near a station or a generation plant, you know that you can literally feel the power crackling off of the architecture. Power stations are skeletal and barren, and yet full of life – our modern world depends entirely on the reliability of the grid to transfer information and energy.

Growing up in the Caribbean and Florida, I am uncomfortably familiar with brownouts and blackouts. Thanks to an over-abundance of another kind of energy, I’ve been without power for weeks to months many times post-hurricane. I also know that squirrels are the leading cause of brownouts, and that our backyard transformer blew every few months when drooping palm fronds got to be too invasive.

transformers-547355_1920

Transformers. Stock photo, CC0 Creative Commons License.

 

So, as a kid, I picked up the habit saying hello to the local transmission station whenever we drove by. Over time I became convinced there was a spirit there – perhaps it was something old inhabiting the structure, but it’s always seemed to me that the purpose and sheer electricity running through a transmission station (and many other points on the grid) is equivalent to the concept of spirits in other physical places we’re more used to. Why would a crystal or a river have a spirit, for example, and not a power plant? Sure, one’s man-made, but how could something withstand so much energy and information and human data and not become a little alive?

I’ve found as I’ve gotten older that the best places I’ve lived have been close to transmission stations – sometimes across the street, by happy accident. I speak to them the same way I speak to bones or crystals, because in many ways, the power grid is the skeleton of the developed world. I highly doubt the stations favour me in any way – the design of the grid is fairly methodical, and blackouts happen to entire blocks of people – but I’ve sensed different spirits in the same way I do with bones.

This summer I’ve been working in sustainable energy, studying as much as I can on the fundamentals of the grid and its security. For a sector that’s often talked about with great anxiety, it’s been incredible to find out how enthusiastic energy people are (hah) and how far the industry has come all over the world.

It’s also made me think about the gods and how many of them are related to our modern ideas of energy. Barring a more fundamental discussion of the gods as energy, my practice is filled with storm-gods who use electricity as a symbol of kingship (Zeus, Hadad, Iskur), sun deities whose energy is harvested for agriculture (Ra, Heru-wer, Shapash), irrigation and flooding deities who literally represent the first stages of hydropower (Hapi, Sobek, Anuket) – the list is endless.

The grid isn’t “pretty.” It’s abstract, industrial, and still heavy in emissions. Maybe it’s not your first idea of a local spirit. And maybe you don’t think of Zeus or Set or Hadad when you see transmission lines and big transformers (although solar farms and wind turbines are pretty evocative). But chances are you live on a grid or use your own solar! So I encourage you to think about energy and the transfer of information, and give a deeper thought to the spirit(s) of the system working all around you. Give a thought to how that spirit exists solely to help us, and how quickly it is changing with us to mitigate our past energy use.

Spirits are weird and moving all around us!

 

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2 thoughts on “Sacred Power Grid (Or: Spirits are Weird)

  1. lornasmithers says:

    Fascinating stuff. I’ve always been conscious of the crackling of power lines overhead and their energy – the kind that raises all the hairs on your neck. I remember when I was young I used to be absolutely terrified of them coming to life and marching on humanity and destroying us! Yet I’ve never actually thought of connecting with and working with their spirits. Although I’m not a stranger to working with ‘man-made’ entities such as old mills, roads, roundabouts…

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