Arising from the Underground: Ciphers, Spirits, and Prophecies

[Intro] The constant drive towards “progress”, a requirement for capitalist modernity, has left an ever-growing catastrophe in its wake. When we stop thinking that capitalist “development” will solve our problems, we face a new promise, that of darkness, ancestors, and ruins.

[Action->underground] Our proposed roundtable discussion will make connections between speculative histories, witchcraft, and the underground. We go beneath, into the roots and the darkness of hidden forests, into the swamps, into the night. We are multiplicity, a coven, an ever-expanding network as wide as the dead.

[Network] Gathered around the witch, we draw together multiple subjects to find camaraderies in the margins of colonization. We enter the web that binds us. We, the preter-human entanglement. A rhizome weaving its own spells, secreting the excesses of colonizing thought in order to revive visions that predicted a time beyond the crises of today.

[Signs] We look for signs, messages from the past foretelling the revolution to come, understanding necromancy as enabling certain pasts to be present, certain futures to look back on us. Signs emerge as guideposts, turning to ciphers and sigils, prophecies of incredible beings ere hidden — plant allies, future guardians, survivors, and algorithms that revolt, against their masters, against their circuits.

[Future] The future is open to us again. Horizon. Revolution. Sprout. Dawn.


The Coven Intelligence Program

The Coven Intelligence Program (efrén cruz cortés and Margaretha Haughwout) makes connections between the persecution of witches and other radical groups, the surveillance technologies continually employed against them, the destruction of multi-species commons, and the rise of racial, heteropatriarchal capitalism. The Coven Intelligence Program cultivates revolutionary ecologies between witches, plants, and machines.

Sandra Huber

Sandra Huber is a PhD candidate in Interdisciplinary Humanities at Concordia University, where she focuses on communication with the dead in contemporary witchcraft and ceremonial magic. She collaborates with bots, spirits, and artists to produce divinatory situations, with a focus on spirit writing and poetics.

Nat Mengist

Nat Mengist is an independent scholar who has presented research on plants, alchemy, and injustice while simultaneously coaching undergraduates and executives in anti-racist governance. He has published in Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, and is an organizer of the Symposium on Metaphysical Enterprises, which seeks to counter settler colonialism and late capitalism by opening portals for other-worldly entities to break into this one.

Collage image of the four panelists