A magician’s modern toolkit

Over at Blood and Bone, there’s an article today about resources for Technomancers.  He (she?) is writing for a magical/occult audience, but there’s a powerful list of tools that make a huge difference it keeping yourself organized as the very model of a modern magic practitioner.  It’s an interesting list of tools, and I’ll be downloading some of the suggestions. As I’ve noted here, I find the ability to use the tools of magic and magical mindset to be very useful in thinking about alternate ways to be a teacher, and a teacher of design thinking. Not all of these tools are going to be useful to all my teacher friends, but I can’t recommend the first few from Blood and Bone enough:

General Software

  • Evernote is becoming absolutely critical to my process.  I drop all kinds of things into it: photographs I admire, graphs and charts, design process diagrams by other authors and other schools, scripts and lesson plans, to-do lists and materials-acquisitions list (for the DLab).  The ability to access ANYTHING in Evernote, almost anywhere – phone, web, iPad, desktop computer, is a godsend.
  • Paper by fiftythree.com is becoming my go-to drawing program.  Drawing and diagramming is becoming so critical to my creative process that I can’t imagine trying to be a teacher, or a design thinker, without drawing. If you’re not drawing, you’re losing half your audience. If you’re not encouraging your students to draw — on paper, on computer, wherever — you are failing to be an effective teacher (Side note: if you don’t know Dave Gray’s “Forms, fields and flows” yet, if you haven’t COMMITTED THAT LESSON TO MEMORY, so you can give it to anyone, anywhere in the world, in 10 minutes or less, you are failing to be a 21st century teacher.  In my opinion, not humble at all.
  • DayOne Journal app for iPhone, iPad, and desktop machine is my go-to journal application.  I should use Evernote, I know, but I find the process of starting a new document in EverNote for a journal entry to be clunky and difficult.  It’s probably the case that all of us teachers should be journaling a lot more than we do — which kid said what, on what day, and when, and to whom.  It’s difficult; we have other things going on; we have plenty of other demands on our time.  But we live in a digitally connected world, and we have to be prepared to justify grades, more and more,
  • Gradekeeper is my tool of choice for keeping a grade book.  The fact that I can have it on my desktop and my iPad is a godsend; if I could get both versions to work from a common iCloud file, or from a server cloud storage area like Evernote, that would be awesome. For now, I work files back and forth between two places.  Brilliant and useful, though I wish the reporting features were more robust. What magicians would use this eminently teacher-centric software for, I don’t know, but it’s tremendously useful nonetheless.
  • I also use the To-Do list program on my phone, as well as the voice recorder, for making recordings of things I’m trying to memorize, or to make audio notes while driving (and today I used to to record another chant, which I’ll post over at Tumblr shortly, as I did with the first [Hey, WordPress… Tumblr doesn’t charge me a fee to post or present audio files… you do.  What are you going to do about that?]).

Magical Tools

I use Astrolgo (http://www.gandreas.com/iphone/astrolgo/) as my astrological tutor and charting tool. It’s a little more expensive than using astro.com, which is free, but I find it very helpful, and it’s easier to set up for someone like me who’s trying to learn more traditional astrology.

I’m using Sleep Cycle (http://www.sleepcycle.com/) as a way of tracking how many hours I’m sleeping, and how close I am to dream state, and how frequently, each night. I’ve had a REALLY irregular sleep schedule for more than a decade, and I’ve found that I need to fix my sleep schedule in order to get good habits for dreams.

I use the Mindfulness Bell by Spotlight Six Software for timing meditations.

I use TouchTarot for iPhone so I don’t have to carry around a Tarot deck with me all the time. I find that it gives me just as many reversed cards (A LOT … more than anyone else ever seems to get) as a regular deck does, which suggests strongly that I’ve got some things to fix in my life, or in my relationship with Tarot, or both.

I use Brian Browne Walker’s version of the iChing for consulting the Book of Changes. I don’t like it as much as my casual paperback book, but it’s not bad.

What’s the point?

There’s a couple of occultists reading who are already thinking, how am I going to use a grade book program? Or even just a grade book? and not in an ironic or self-conscious way. That’s just the kind of people occultists are. They think through the implications of questions like that, and even if they never come up with an answer, they will have thought about it.

But I imagine that the teachers are hard-pressed to think of something they would do with any of the digital/magical tools I mentioned. What would I use a Tarot program for?  I can hear several of my teaching colleagues asking that question. Why do I need to know what planetary hour it is, or what a horoscope is?

Leaving aside the question of whether or not these things are useful because they work (because our scientific material philosophy argues emphatically that they don’t work), I’d argue that these magical tools are all useful ways of slowing our brains down. We teachers are asked to do more and more, often with less and less, and we’re rarely cultivating the kind of mindset that allows us to understand the data we’re collecting or seeing the big picture in a kid’s understanding.  The information provided by occult tools is not exactly random, and not exactly freeform.  It opens up new paths of comprehension and new ways of seeing things. A magical mindset, practiced well enough, fits together odd data points collected by the unconscious as well as the conscious mind, with a set collection of perceived wisdom consulted in a selective way, and the result is…



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