blockchain culture

Bitcoin Superstitions: Enigmas + Decentralized Worship

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Reading Signs from Satoshi

The crypto world might be full of mining rigs and stat analysis, but that doesn’t mean this 21st century tech isn’t full of its own flavor of witches brews and spiritual voodoo. Even the most quantitative qualities of blockchain are infused with faith-based mantras like “HODL” as crypto holders inject a tremendous amount of emotion and hope alongside their investments. This has given rise to some unique phenomena from within the new community, ranging from fun pranks to things that look like they come out of new-age Salem.

No new culture is complete without a bit of superstition, so fill up your crypto-cauldrons and let’s dive right in!

The 21e8 Bitcoin Hash

#00000000000000000021e800c1e8df51b22c1588e5a624bea17e9faa34b2dc4a

This hashtag has confused everyone in the crypto-community, a situation made worse by the flood of conjecture and speculation on Crypto Twitter. In 2007, Antony Garrett Lisi created a theory which attempts to explain the dynamics and interactions of all the forces in the universe using a straightforward mathematical structure called the E8 in his paper “An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything.” Currently, it still remains unproven, but that hasn’t stopped tinfoil hats to connect the idea to the odd 21e800 hash that appeared in late July. There is speculation that the creator of BitCoin himself, Satoshi Nakamoto, ‘placed’ this hash to appear at this time on purpose.

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The cross-analysis of the numbers can bring you down a deep rabbit hole. For instance, the ‘21’ in the number could be referencing Bitcoin’s total eventual supply, which will hit almost exactly 21 million BTC by the year 2140. The abundance of zeros is also highly unlikely and reminiscent of the hashes in the first Bitcoin block mined. Even the most innocuous strings of numbers are susceptible to some far-out interpretation.

The Satoshi Shrine

The most elusive and celebrated figure is without any doubt Satoshi Nakamoto. More so than Vitalik Buterin’s fashion sense and Charlie Shrem’s famous lockup, the anonymous creator of Bitcoin and the first-ever cryptocurrency sparks more speculative imagination. It’s only natural that this unknown being become the center and savior of blockchain spirituality.

The “Satoshi Shrine” is an interactive installation by the artist collective called Vapor Ants. They conceived this shrine project to represent the fervor that many devotees have for blockchain technology, even to the point of religion fanaticism, and wanted to create an outlet for that devotion to the technology. This art piece was shown at the Ethereal Summit NYC, the annual conference hosted by ConsenSys.

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Images courtesy of Consensys

The attendees would bend down, rest their knees on the cushion, and a tiny screen on the computer would prompt them into sending a prayer to this real Nakamoto. This is then configured into random private key algorithms which are used to guess the password for the fortune of his cryptocurrency, which is estimated to be worth over $8 billion. The shrine would be decorated with flowers, Japanese lucky cat figurines, a few picture frames about the size of a wallet, and a dozen or so candles. Its aesthetic befits the technocentric vibe of the current communal energy while adapting age-old procedures and features of spiritual thought.

Bitcoin Church

Finally, we have the ‘official’ Church of Bitcoin itself. Residents of New York City, particularly those living in Williamsburg, might have come across this call to action posted in the subways and street lamps –

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It caught the public off guard, generating a mix of emotions from piqued new interest to condemnation of gentrifying culthood. If you followed the trail of links, you would find yourself staring down this website at foot of the First Church of Crypto, complete with its own prayer.

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https://www.firstchurchofcrypto.org/
 

Turns out it was only a bit of a prank, but one sly enough to turn many heads and stir up new discussion. Maybe starting a ‘church’ isn’t such a bad idea, focusing on in-person activities and bringing street-corner passersby into the fold. BTC-gold robes would be a bit gaudy though…


No matter the type of divine energy, the diversity in projects and discourse make some simple fun that is still yet lacking in the sector. More campfire stories please!

cover image illustrated by @carrotcake

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