A Forest Door, Blogging, e-Pagan, Ginandjack, Internet, Pagan Blog Project, paganism, spirituality, The House of Vines, Thiscrookedcrown, walking the hedge, witch, Witch of Forest Grove, witchcraft
I’m not sure if that is the right term for this, but I’m using it anyhow.
I’m not talking about techno-paganism (a subject I know virtually nothing about, excuse the terrible pun); the new-ish branch of paganism that uses computers, technology, and programing as spiritual practice (coding a spell to work in the background of your computer. Ritual spreadsheets. It’s more than just your BoS on a floppy disk!)
What I am referring to is the culture of Pagans online.
The Pagan Blog Project itself proves that there are hundreds and hundreds of Pagans who are expressing themselves online, learning online, and creating community online.
The e-Pagan community is so varied and vast that it is almost impossible to describe; you have the bright and endearing hands-on work of Carolina at House of Eleggua, or the studied, intellectual richness of Dr. Brendan Myers at The North West Passage. You have the deep feeling of Dver at A Forest Door, the wry wit of Sannion at The House of Vines, the from-the-gut honesty of Juniper at Walking the Hedge, and the spooky and inspiring realness of Sarah Lawless’ Witch of Forest Grove. These are just a few of the ‘big name’ blogs that I frequent. You also have a growing community of Tumblr blogs like Ginandjack’s Out of the Drink, Into the Wild, or Thiscrookedcrown who have the slightly more from-the-hip flavour of micro blogging.
These are all blogs that I follow, but what is more important is that these are all Pagans and authors that I interact with. It is a community of sharp, considerate (as in ‘they thoroughly consider everything they read or write’) people that enrich my spiritual life in so many ways.
The pros of the e-Pagan community are easily spotted:
- The discussion is at your leisure; you post when you can, and you reply when you want.
- The interaction is ‘instant’; you don’t have to wait for your monthly Pagan discussion night, in town. You simply log on and it’s all happening, right there, any time.
- The points of view are endless; look at the variety of pantheons, practices personalities, and beliefs found in the links above.
- There is no distance too far for this community; House of Eleggua is in the Canary Islands, Over the Hedge is less than 2 hours away by car for me!
- Critical thinking and education are encouraged; with all of these sources, everyone knows there is no reason to be ignorant. We know why we’re all here; to learn. So get to it!
And one thing that I have recently been surprised by was the honesty and acceptance of the e-Pagan crowd. Anyone who knows anything about any group of supposedly like-minded people, knows that honesty (especially online) is the final ingredient in any recipe for disaster! But, the anonymity or disconnect of the internet brings that out in people; the bravery to speak their mind. I regularly read posts by bloggers where I roll my eyes, or I get upset, or where I am touched…all because the e-Pagan community fosters a sense of honesty amoung its members. We feel free to express ourselves honestly, as long as we do so clearly, respectfully, and maturely.
I usually try to keep myself from replying to certain kinds of posts (I am a reactionary Sagittarius, which is bad in some kinds of situation) but recently I had had my fill of a particular topic and decided to sound-off about it. I wrote a post that I had originally subtitled “Or; How to lose friends” assuming that the community at large would chew me up and spit me out for my beliefs. I braced myself for biting replies, or unfollowing, or a good, stern talking-down to. But, and I honestly gasped when I saw this, my Tumblr post was ‘liked’ by one of the very people I thought would react negatively. Not only that, but I have now discussed some of my other posts with this person (Ginandjack) and, even though we come from different points of view on occasion, the discussion is enriching and wonderful!
Obviously there are downfalls in this community, as there are with any other. But here you can pick and choose who you communicate with, who gets to influence your practice, and who gets to be blessed with your time and text. You find the people you are inspired by, or the people you gel with and you continue to interact with them.
Ginandjack, Thiscrookedcrown, and I were recently featured in a ‘Miscellanea’ post by Sannion and we all had our own respective sissy-fits (he’s a huge inspiration to the three of us), but this is exactly what I am talking about. This community potentially has no barriers, no borders, and no problem sharing and networking. It is a community based on expression, experience, knowledge and insight.
It is a community that I am proud to be part of!
ThisCrookedcrown said it beautifully when they found out they had been reblogged by The House of Vines…
“I didn’t expect anyone to read the bloody thing.
But you all do. Which amazes me something fierce…
You make me want to engage more in my arts just so I can share more with you. Thank you.”
So, for being a part of this community, really, thank you all.
Loved your post! And I agree; the pagan e-community is a great thing! I’ve learned so much in the few months that the blog project is on – not just spiritually and in terms of magical workings, but I’ve also learned when to walk away and shut up when something annoys me, or, if I so choose, to comment in a more respectful way than I usually would have (I’m a very easily angered Scorpio, so that’s saying something).
A Changing Altar said:
What you said about commenting in a more respectful way is really interesting. There was a Freshly Pressed blog about commenting last week that really cemented my views on the matter. Commenting is important, and when we are talking about something so visceral as religion, it may be even more so because we are sharing something so important to us and so meaningful; we are hoping for validation, or hoping to help someone else! Commenting builds the community and encourages worth-while expressions of faith.
And something else that this brings up is the fact that the e-Pagan community, with its sense of honesty, is more than just a cluster of blogs tittering about woo-woo spirits and junk. It is a place where people develop themselves; both spiritually and socially. You stop yourself before posting to consider all angles, to do some quick research, or, in the worst scenarios, to calm down before commenting or posting because the author deserves your respect, but you also deserve the opportunity to question what they’ve said.
I love the equal opportunity environment the e-Pagan community provides for self-expression, but also for critique and discussion, which leads to self-reflection.
I love the atmosphere here, too. I’ve found some commentors on my blog disagree with my views, or having views I’d never have considered in the first place, and I’ve been learning a great deal about dealing with different views. Thinking about how things are in my Creative Writing group, we’d most likely be at each-other’s throats by now^^
I love the e-pagan community (and that word!) for all the reasons you state here, and also because for me it is the only pagan community I have. Not all of us have the benefit of living near a pagan group and having that in-person community easily. And for those of us belonging to a specific tradition instead of being eclectic, it can be even more difficult to find people within our geographical limits who are working on the same things. I was very alone and had some difficulties when I first started studying paganism, finding some of the blogs you mentioned in this post opened up my world and helped me to make the changes and connections I needed for my spiritual practice to really take off.
I also appreciate that I can take my time with comments. In a face-to-face discussion, there is often not time to carefully think through an answer. It’s easy to get frustrated and have the conversation devolve into pointless argument when there’s disagreement in person. Online, I try to remember to take a deep breath, relax, and come back to carefully reread my response before sending it. I find it’s a much less stressful way of dealing with conflict when it does arise, but I also find that it’s easier not to have those conflicts in the first place. In a small group, there is not the same option to just ignore someone. You’re kind of stuck together. Online, the community is large enough and discussion free enough that if I read something and find I have nothing nice to say about it, it’s very easy to walk away and pretend I never saw it.
A Changing Altar said:
I completely understand how you feel about the online community being the only one you have. When i first started practicing Wicca (Waaay back in the 6th grade) until the time I moved at 20 I was essentially alone in my practice (high school had a lot of ‘witches’, but save for one important Sabbat there wasn’t much enrichment of self going on there) because I lived out in the middle of nowhere.
I found a lot of comfort in the websites I found online (spinning .gif images and repeating tile backgrounds not withstanding), and even my world’s-slowest-modem couldn’t keep me from exploring. It helped me develop a lot of critical thinking skills, as I had to wade through a lot of garbage and scary stuff (like the aforementioned spinning .gif files, one of which included a human body repeatedly being impaled on the ‘d’ in “Death to dabblers!!”)
And I completely share your appreciation for the ‘break time’ between posts to allow you to gather your thoughts and think about what needs to be said vs. what you want to say and how that is going to play out. It’s a blessing for so many of us!
Wouldn’t it be for the e-Pagan community, I would have none at all.
I highly appreciate the freedom to interact with the people I want to interact, no matter where they are located in meatspace.
And I know, that without interacting – and the occasional clash of different views – there would be no growth.
Your own mind and your own thoughts, only bring you so far. You need to communicate, to explain, to understand, to mirror, to see what your writings and opinions do with another’s view and challenge them and have them challenged to be able to really understand them yourself – and to find new things.
I’ve always been a fan of the e-pagan community because I’ve always had much better luck with it than local pagan communities. I think part of it has to do with the reading/writing aspects of it. I always find it a lot easier to deal with a major clash of views (like all the talk about P*Con and trans exclusion and race that come out of it) through writing. Mostly because, in my real life, I am often too shy to really feel comfortable bringing up something that might be unpopular. Online, when I can provide links to articles and resources, I feel more confident in expressing whatever I feel I need to say.
That being said, I am incredibly shy and always find it difficult to reply to entires. So, I hate that the e-pagan community seems to be so much more work on my part. After all, in real life I just have to show up to be known as “the chick who sits in back.” I find eventually people will talk to me if I smile enough. Online, this strategy does’t seem to work so well.
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