I BENT DOWN, rested my knees on a prayer cushion, and began typing into a small computer. In front of me were dozens of candles, flowers, Japanese lucky cat figurines, and several wallet-sized picture frames. They held photos of Vitalik Buterin, the Canadian programmer who cofounded the computing platform Ethereum, as well as of Dorian Nakamoto, a man in his 60s with the same last name as the founder of Bitcoin. He was misidentified as its creator by Newsweek in 2014; because no one knows what the actual Satoshi Nakamoto looks like, the California man's image has continued to serve as a stand-in.
At the altar, a message on a small computer screen prompted visitors to write prayers to the real Nakamoto, which were then algorithmically transformed into random private keys, which were in turn used to guess the password that unlocks the Bitcoin inventor's abandoned cryptocurrency fortune—estimated to be worth over $8 billion. I entered in a halfhearted prayer, waited a few beats, and was greeted with a message: "I'm sorry my child. You are not the chosen one. Have more faith in the HODL. Spread the good word of decentralization."