Meghan Elizabeth Trainor
A speculative witchcraft of electric sigils.
Witancraeftlic inhabits a feverdream in which the use of electricity in folk healing predated the Age of Enlightenment and led to the burning of witches. These works act as historical and contemporary artifacts of a hidden witchcraft, referencing bog rituals, the Apollo Space Mission, and computational language. A place where the first witch bottles were leyden jars, sigils were expressed as circuits, and magical familiars became mechanized.
"By imaginatively inhabiting a timeline in which the science of robotics was never stolen from the witches, Trainor illuminates possibilities for a radical reassessment of our relationship to technology."
“Witchcraft and electricity unite in Trainhor's sculptural portrayal of folk healing, magic, and technology, an eerie installation of bones, jars, sigils, and "familiars." The result is an unsettling yet weirdly optimistic vision of hidden feminine occult power.”
The drawing of a circle is the most sacred movement in the practice we now term witchcraft, an open system that reveres nature, healing and ritual. By centering a simple electrical circuit as a kind of circle imbued with by the movement of electronics, aspects of technology begin to occupy a space of sacred intention. Here relics of electrical processes are displayed as artifacts of a speculative history of healing weaving a relationship to the flow of electrons centuries before it’s discovery by men of the Enlightenment.
occupy a space in which language, electronics and logic overlap. Each of the seven logic gates are an elementary building block of a digital circuit. They are a subset of the sixteen logic gates expressed in boolean algebra, but can also be expressed as truth tables, venn diagrams or simple phrases. Spellcraft or conjuring uses the power of words and phrases to invoke action, while sigils are circles drawn up for protection. Here these concepts intersect in logic gates constructed with conductive materials.
A Sigil for Our Intersection
evokes the early celtic language of Ogham, and alphabet system used primarily for memorials written in Old Irish.
Dual Ogham Circuit
how might a sigil alphabet have evolved in between language used for memorials and languages use to store memory?
A Sigil for Reproduction
The goddesses of ancient Ireland are as associated with war and textiles as fertility.
To hold the breath of the moon.
I was briefly delirious with a fiery nerve pain, in it the lava intelligences came to me and told be the story of how they kissed the ocean and this was the beginning of life on earth. The first genders are fire and salt water. I began to weave baskets out of palm and copper in this fever. Centuries of weaving technology prepared us for computing. What does the dreamstate have to reveal to us? What manner of force is intuition?
Core Memory Veil
reminds of us the liminal space between beading, weaving and the mechanical of early computer memory. Core memory uses donut shaped magnets, or toroids, woven between copper wire that can be set as high or low to encode information.
Sky Cradle [My power comes from the earth.]
inverts the myth of the sky gods, the gods of thunder and lightning. Is electricity generated from Mother Earth distinct for that powered by Father Sky? How do we understand our relationship to the land and what is grown upon it in the last 500 years?
Medicine Circuits No. 1 & 2
Rosemary has been used in ritual for thousands of years, its’ known as the poor man’s incense and was used to purify hospitals up until WWII. Here the use of electricity in a sigil conflates various healing rituals.
imagines the ritual process of continuing the relationship with animal familiars after their execution by the Church during the witch burning era. It further imagines that the hysterical reaction to the community members burned as witches may have not been practicing witchcraft so much as working with technologies that emerged publicly during the age of Enlightenment. Were the healers of the period conducting mysterious rituals with forces that we now name electricity, programming or robotics? What if robotics emerged from a desire for spiritual companionship rather than from an ideology of exploitation? And how might those secret technologies to extend the relationship with these creatures? Is this a form of Necromancy? Magic? Is a Leyden Jar a kind of Witch Bottle? Here the core rope memory we see in the physical computers used in the Apollo mission echoed in the copper wire coiled over bone. As little old ladies wove the memory for the space mission is it so impossible to imagine a few of them were witches, backpacking the rocket control programming language with a few spells that would make it all the way to the moon? It’s not such a stretch when you realize there were references to the Black Power movements in the ignition code.
I built a circuit [a sigil, a circle, a spell] with the tears I cried for you.
Witchcraft embraces the use of ritual to process emotion while also wondering how our relationship to the earth would change if we could draw our power from salt water rather than oil.
The Bog, A Power
Earth battery technologies are found frequently in the patent applications of the late 19th century, but if we consider the bog as a space of power and ritual in celtic areas, might there have been something electric in the sacrifice of bodies and the storage of butter?
To Ground, A Spell
for T. P. Flanagan
We have no prairies
To slice a big sun at evening—
Everywhere the eye concedes to
Is wooed into the cyclops’ eye
Of a tarn. Our unfenced country
Is bog that keeps crusting
Between the sights of the sun.
They’ve taken the skeleton
Of the Great Irish Elk
Out of the peat, set it up
An astounding crate full of air.
Butter sunk under
More than a hundred years
Was recovered salty and white.
The ground itself is kind, black butter
Melting and opening underfoot,
Missing its last definition
By millions of years.
They’ll never dig coal here,
Only the waterlogged trunks
Of great firs, soft as pulp.
Our pioneers keep striking
Inwards and downwards,
Every layer they strip
Seems camped on before.
The bogholes might be Atlantic seepage.
The wet centre is bottomless.