The Computer Goddesses

by Barbara Ardinger

 

Our Found Goddesses are the ones we make up. Sure, we can appeal to Aphrodite for love and Ops when our bank account is running dry and Frigga to get our house in order, but which of the traditional goddesses is in charge of computers? We Find new goddesses to deal with modern issues.

The guys on the Y2K Project used to laugh at me when I explained how computers work. It’s gerbils. With flashcards. See for yourself if I’m not right. Turn on your computer and listen to the noises the CPU makes as it boots up. Watch the screens. When Windows comes up, that’s the signal that the gerbils have gone back to sleep and the various computer goddesses are now assuming control of your system. But the faithful and industrious gerbils were there when we needed them.

I have heard somewhere that there are two kinds of computer people. Geraldine is one kind. A computer consultant, she has every whiz-bang, bell, and whistle you can imagine on her system, and she is forever upgrading. She’s got equipment I can neither imagine nor pronounce.

I am the other kind of computer person. To me, it’s a machine, a tool. I write books with it. I don’t trust it to balance my checkbook, I don’t keep my credit or solstice card lists on it, and my organizer is a leather book I carry in my hands. Sure, I’ve got a modem and a “soundblaster” and about two million fonts, but I’m not ensorceled by the computer.

Geraldine’s Found Computer Goddess is Nerdix. Mine is Compuquia.

Nerdix is the Goddess of Serious Computing. She is the Mother of All Motherboards, ruler of servers, stacks, hubs, routers, multiplexers, modems, comm ports, packet analyzers, CD ROMs, ergonomic keyboards, and connectors and cables. Under Her watchful eyes we create our spreadsheets and databases, in the shadow of Her hands we put together our power presentations and multimedia extravaganzas. Those who worship Nerdix are able to read the technical manuals on the arcane, cutting-edge topics and actually understand them. And when their systems crash, they can do a lot more than just press ALT+CTRL+DEL. Nerdix’s people don’t really need an invocation—and wouldn’t take the time to pronounce it anyway—but here’s one just the same. Maybe it’ll come in handy some time.

Yo! Bright Nerdix, hey, Ruggedized Lady,
Bump up my hardware this minute.
Tower and port, MUX, server, and drive—
Hey, Lady—put more power in it!

Compuquia (pronounced com-PUKE-ee-a), on the other hand, is my kind of computer Goddess. Modest and benevolent, She stays out of the way, merely whispering, “Call someone who knows,” when I press or click and suffer unexpected consequences. Compuquia is not insulted by the dozens of glittery stickers around the frame of my monitor and on my mouse and the two foot-high stacks of books on the CPU. (She knows that that’s what horizontal surfaces are for: stacking books.) Our Blessed Virgin Compuquia works invisibly, refreshing our monitors and saving our files before we press any fatal buttons. It is She who entices the bugs to feed somewhere else and has made Mouse (see below) our friend. She is the generous Goddess Who inspires the “for Dummies” series of computer books.

Compuquia’s invocation is, accordingly, brief and simple:

Hail, Compuquia, You’re the boss.
Open my Windows and manage my DOS.

She Who has specific care of our disk drives, both hard and portable, is the Queen of Disks, lovely dark-haired, red-robed lady Whom we can usually find sitting on a throne under a bower of roses and tenderly holding the Archetypal Disk in Her lap. The Queen of Disks is open and receptive, with a serious cast of intelligence and greatness of soul, and She is well known for her vast collections that forever spill out of their little plastic boxes and spread across desks everywhere.

Reader, I must confess that I am worried about the Queen’s long-time companion, Mr. Floppy. Twenty-odd years ago, when I first met him, Mr. Floppy encompassed eight inches. Within a few years, however, he had shrunk to about five inches, and now he is even further diminished. At three and a quarter inches, he’s not even floppy anymore. Poor Mr. Floppy! What is technology doing to him?

Taking orders from any idiot who can click up a print dialog box, Fontine, Goddess of the Printer, is probably the hardest working of the computer goddesses. She accepts all input, spools everything away, queues everything up, buffers everything into shape, and—when the proper time arrives—delivers page after page of Her perfect product, making our pathetic efforts come out as gorgeous documents.

But She’s not as young as She looks, and She’s gone through many changes of life. In the olden days, people scorned Her and called Her Dot. Back then She slaved for us at a ferocious rate, and when we ordered Her to produce in “letter quality,” She had to do everything three times over to meet our exalted standards. Sometimes Fontine spits ink on paper, sometimes She mysteriously uses bubbles in Her work, sometimes She bursts into Technicolor radiance. We know Her best, however, in Her speediest Aspect, wherein She works Her mighty laser magic and puts out the best show in the world.

Reader, if you have any conscience at all, give thanks to Fontine every day for Her thankless hard work. And at the end of the day, when She’s not hard at labor, allow Her to rest in peace. Let Fontine dream Her dreams of days gone by when She knew true love and didn’t have to work so hard. Let Her rest, secure in Her knowledge that She is a veritable earth angel without Whose blessed touch we would remain unprinted, undocumented, and invisible. And remember—it is Fontine Who makes us look good on paper. Give Her praise with the following words:

Sweet Fontine, office goddess without attitude,
we give You big-time gratitude
for printers always on, never in desuetude.
Generous Fontine, bless us with your happy promptitude.

The Found Goddess of the Internet and the World Wide Web is Whizziwig (pronounced WYSIWYG). She is the true Great Cosmic Mother, and Her domain is the High AltaVista, where She tends the Great Green Fields of Baud, planting and tending Her vast crops of kilobytes and gigabytes and coaxing each golden url and pixel to bloom. She cultivates Her ever-flowering dotcom and dotorg gardens, and in the proper season broadcasts Her ripe applet seeds across the ethernet. Whizziwig ties the knots in the warp and woof that support the Net and the Web, and it is She who spins every cyberworld into being. Every spring, when the newbies are born, She midwives them and provides instruction in music, geometry, grammar, and courtesy.

Whizziwig’s Consort is the Silicon Man, the Beneficent One Whose image is carved upon the gateways of all the Temples of the Web. We recognize Him by the vegetative energy flowing from His mouth: 1010101010101010101010101010. . . . It is the Silicon Man’s ever-ready energy that makes the netscape grow and enables us poor, foolish mortals to safely explore the mists and mysteries of the World Wide Web.

Whizziwig also has twenty-seven fierce Daughters, the Flaming Amazon.coms, who gallop forth on their winged steeds from the High AltaVista to do battle against the Rapacious Billygates and tame the Swift Yahoos.

Here is an invocation to Whizziwig to pronounce before you go on-line:

Whizziwig, Great WebMother, I prithee,
Touch my moving pointer, connect me.
Scan for each virus, banish all spam.
Your Child of the Network—I Am What I Am.

Whizziwig’s Three Eldest Daughters live in an airy castle on a cliff and rule the boundless realm of electronic mail. It is these Three Sisters under Whose aegis we are able to communicate with far-off friends and people we’ll probably never meet in person. The First is Bright Prolixity (pronounced pro-LIX-ity), She Who Is Effusive. Devotees of Prolixity type very fast and maintain correspondences with the multitudes. Second is Rotund Celerity (sell-AIR-ity), She Who Moves With Great Speed. Oddly enough, Heisenberg’s Law seems not to apply to Celerity: we do know both how fast and where She is going. Third is the Dark One, Mendacity (men-DASS-ity), She Who Lies. We’ve all encountered the thugs who worship this dark Goddess—dirty old men who pretend to be virtuous housewives. And vice versa.

Prolixity, Celerity, Mendacity—
I’m new at this, please pity me.
Celerity, Mendacity, Prolixity—
Watch me surf, I’m fancy free!
Mendacity, Prolixity, Celerity—
A villain lurks, take care of me.
Prolixity, Celerity, Mendacity—
I’m having fun now, play with me.

When our friends (and their friends and friends of their friends) become tired of thinking for themselves, they follow that devilish ol’ path of least resistance and forward stuff to everyone in their address book. This is how we worship Annoya, goddess of jokes, rants, urban legends passed on as gospel truths, homely personal philosophies, appeals to political action, and assorted games people play.

All hail Annoya, Whose words are our daily substitute for creative thought, Whose appeals for our signatures go around and around and around and (hopefully, eventually) aground. Hail, Annoya, faster than a speeding DSL, stronger than a mighty modem, able to leap good sense with a single icon on the toolbar. All hail unstoppable Annoya, Who is the true goddess of recycling.

Who doesn’t get spammed now and then? How impolite. How untidy. How vexing. To whom do we turn when our e-mail becomes bloated and turgid? Dot Compost, that’s who. It’s Dot Compost to the rescue! Visualize Her as a Pythonesque goddess, bothersome (and effective) as all get-out. “Spam spam spam spam spam,” She chants, dancing merrily upon the offending messages. “Spam spam spam spam spam,” She shouts, stomping them into oblivion. “Spam spam spam spam spam,” She yodels, turning every bit of spam into what it really is. Merde. Excrement. Fertilizer. Sing along with Dot Compost. Let your fingers do the dancing. “Spam delete spam delete spam delete spam delete spam spam SPAM!”

Beloved by millions is Pornie, Goddess of Way Too Many Web Sites, Beguiler of the Unwary Doing Research on the Net, and Champion of Free Expression. Pornie stands (or lies or bounces) for the ability of every adolescent boy (no matter what his age) to be as creative as he wants to be. She is the archiver of countless pictures of gymnasty togetherness and librarian of encounters that would make Jerry Springer blush. Her motto is “Wow, ya gotta see this.” But do not tell anyone to shun Pornie. Do not chip away at Her license. Do not—above all—do not attempt to Censor Her, for Pornie Supports Our God-Given Right To Unfettered Expression, and even one tiny law against Her is the first awful step along the road to constriction, restriction, degradation, and debauchery. Oh no, my friends, tie Pornie up (or tie Her down), and we’ll have trouble, not only in River City but all the way to the front and back seat of government.

An invasive menace in this modern world is the computer virus. It seems as if there’s a new one every week. But fear not. Nerdix and Compuquia have a Sister Whose province it is to protect us and our systems. This Fearless Found Goddess is Pimpernella, the Scarlet Warrior Who shields us against snakes, poisons, wild beasts, terrors, negative spirits, the evil eye, and, yes, bugs and viruses. She also, it is said, restores lost memory. Instead of invoking Pimpernella, we cheer Her on:

Two, four, six, eight,
Who do we appreciate?
Pimpernella, Pimpernella—
Get that virus outta there!
Yay!!

From far, far away comes Cyberia, from that barren and lonely land where sites errant are exiled into cold storage until they have been examined and deemed useful comes the Goddess of the Download. Even when She comes out, however, She is ever-rebellious and full of tricks with Her clicks. Though devotees of Nerdix are comfortable with Her, She enjoys messing with the minds of the devotees of Compuquia.

Reader, are you in the habit of downloading? Do you do this alone in your room? What form(at) does your downloading take? How long does it take for you to fill up your files? Does your mother know what you’re doing?

Like another popular visitor from the colder climes, Cyberia keeps lists: She knows who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. And like that other visitor, She Brings Gifts. If you know how to download—how to properly select and click and (occasionally) drag—you can get virtually anything from Cyberia, for when She deigns to do so, this loving and generous goddess will bring you games and treats and applications to titillate your every fancy. She’ll grant your every wish and give you the Great Freebie you only ever dreamed about. Over and over and over and over and over. With all your Windows open and your menus pulled way down. Oh, joy! Oh, Goddess, yes! Yes, yes, YESSSSSSS. OhhhhhHHHHHhhhh, oh, yes, that was good. Thank you, Cyberia, for that majorly awesome download.

It happens a dozen times a day, every day: we send and receive e-mails with attachments. Sometimes they’re really important attachments, things people need to know. And half the time we cannot open them. Or they’re just not there. So we send (or receive) the usual answer: “Can’t open attachment.”

Fenestrella to the rescue! It is Her eternal task, and Her pleasure, to open things for us, to make openings in brick walls so we can look through. Can’t open that attachment? Invoke our friendly Fenestrella:

Fenestrella, hear my plea,
Scan the server, use Your key.
Damned attachment—snicker-snee!
Make it open. Let me see.*

See Scott Cunningham, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs (St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1985), pp. 176-77.

Her name comes from the Latin word for “window,” fenestra. If you get really annoyed at anyone, you can defenestrate them (that is, throw them out the window). You may be tempted to defenestrate your computer. If you do, you’ll only have to buy a new one.

I have a friend who totally igores Fenestella. She prefers Zen e-mail. No attachment.

Excerpted from Finding New Goddesses: Reclaiming Playfulness in Our Spiritual Lives (Toronto: ECW Press, 2003).

Copyright ©2003, Barbara Ardinger. All rights reserved.

 

Barbara Ardinger

Barbara Ardinger

Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (www.barbaraardinger.com), is the author of Secret Lives, a new novel about crones and other magical folks, and Pagan Every Day, a unique daybook of daily meditations. Her montly blogs appear on her website and on Feminism and Religion, where she is a regular Pagan contributor. She has been writing for the Llewellyn annuals since 2004, and her work has also been published in devotionals to Isis, Athena and Brigid.
Barbara's day job is freelance editing for people who have good ideas but don’t want to embarrass themselves in print. She lives in Long Beach, California, with her two rescued Maine coon cats, Schroedinger and Heisenberg.
Barbara Ardinger