Hacking Magical Links

You play with blood and hair and sweat and ends of fingernails,
The very things to do the deeds the Brotherhood demands.
// Black Widow, “Way to Power”

Sorcery has a long tradition of acquiring the physical likeness of a person or an object they had physical contact with, in order to confer magical influence over that person or their affairs. I have been wondering about the digital equivalent of that.

I tend to think of magical links like Elvis paraphernalia. At the very bottom of the spectrum are all of the mass-produced merchandise that pretty much anyone can get their hands on. Further up the ladder are goods of rarer quality, such as limited-edition collectibles. Next, objects associated with someone’s actual experience of Elvis — ticket stubs etc. Then, objects that belonged to Elvis, or that he physically interacted with. Finally, at the top of the hierarchy — appropriately — is the experience of having met the King himself. I suspect that any difficulty overcome or weirdness involved in obtaining the artifact amplifies its magical efficacy.

(I also suppose there are at least two types of magical links: those connecting the magician to her target, and those connecting her to a source of occult power to influence said target. The Elvis analogy applies to both.)

In today’s connected (pun intended) world, it is often pretty easy to find someone’s photograph online. What about hacking their computer or phone or one of their online accounts, in order to get at something more personal — and more rare? Would that be like going through their trash for discarded hair or fingernail clippings, or breaking into their house to take something in their possession? Is someone’s password or private blog entry a “good” magical link in the same way that their house key or diary might be? Would the thrill of the hack or the degree of effort involved in pulling it off affect the efficacy of the magic following it?

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