A Study of Thaumaturgy: Thaumaturgy, Theotechnology, and Theurgy

By Professor Giovanni Risona

Greetings, reader! In the following essay, I will attempt to clarify any confusion between thaumaturgy, theotechnology, and theurgy. Now, let us start with a simple question. What is thaumaturgy? Thaumaturgy, as defined in the University of Berlin's Encyclopedia of Thaumechanics is defined as "violations of the law of thermodynamics dependant on an individual's actions and psychological state." Thaumaturgy, simply put, allows certain loopholes in the law of thermodynamics. Energy and matter can be created or destroyed with thaumaturgy. Things can go away from entropy. There are countless uses, schools, and methods of thaumaturgy, but they generally have one thing in common. Thaumaturgy primarily alters the "realms of physics," from microscopic organisms (such as the case of biomancy) to creation of massive items from nothing (in the case of conjuration) to powering machines or constructs without an engine or motor (as is the case in thaumechanics).

Theurgy is a term that refers to any ritual or supernatural means of invoking gods (in the case of polytheism), angels (in the case of monotheists), or other sorts of supernatural deity-like entities. Theurgy, however, is not merely opening portals to different universes or planes. In the cosmology of many Western theurgists (as well as a number of Buddhists and Eastern thaumaturges), matter is the lowest emanation in the universe. Theurgy, then, is contacting entities from the levels "above" our own, and asking them to do favors. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism all have theurgists, of a sort. The Eastern religions have also produced their own theurgists, as well as many of the Native sects of the New World. A good bit of theurgy overlaps with thaumaturgy, as many thaumaturges want "physical results" from the entities they contact. One is advised to watch what these entities may ask for. After all, who is not familiar with the case of Doctor Faustus?

Theotechnology is a type of thaumaturgy that utilizes a type of theurgy as a source of energy. In particular, most theotechnology is of the thaumechanical variety. Everything from a Jewish rabbi animating a golem to a Spaniard's prayer-driven armor to a Turkish djinn-bound carriage are examples of theotechnology. The most famous example today is the Papist-prayer motor that is powered when the user says a number of Catholic Christian prayers. The motor responds to prayers, independent of the user's own faith. Even the Papists admit that Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and even non-religious can all use their machines simply by stating the proper prayers.

Theotechnology can be recalibrated to function for different religions or prayers. An account from the Byzantine Empire around 1050 AD shows a famous (or infamous) example of this. Sigurd Ragnason was one of the Varangian Guards, a unit of Norseman that acted as bodyguards for the Byzantine Emperor. Each of the Varangians would be given a suit of theomechanical armor that responded only to Orthodox Christian prayers. After being hung for killing his commanding officer in a fight, the Norseman was alleged to have received a vision from the old Norse gods. Afterwards, Ragnason began to worship the Aesir, and recalibrated his armor to respond to prayers to the All-Father, Odin. The fact that the beliefs are independent of the mechanism's functionality is arguably the strongest argument against any faith that claims they are universal due to their prayers causing a machine they built to work. This process is a manner akin to playing a rigged lottery. That is one reason I am glad to be a deist.

But, I digress. I hope to have clarified some issues regarding any confusion that might arise from these very different terms. -Professor Giovanni Risona, University of Berlin