I’ve already written here about the positives and negatives of the online world for pagans in general. If you read that article, you will see that I am actually all for pagans jumping online, if that’s what they want to do.
But I tend to grow less supportive when folk begin to act like dicks.
Below is a field guide to the most dickish of behaviours for observers, though I’m sure most of you will be familiar with a few of these. These behaviours are those that seem to be cropping up more and more in online groups, forums and on social media in recent years. Please don’t do these things:
This is probably the most common. No, we really don’t care that you are a ninth degree, seventeenth generation order of the unicorn druidic high priest/ess. Decent pagans will be more interested in what you do, rather than your “title” or how many Ronald Hutton books you own. Discussing initiation, priesthood, etc somewhere like Facebook is akin to flopping your genitals out in a busy restaurant: it’s unnecessary, very rude, and will embarrass yourself and everyone around you.
The same goes for folk who use their “title”, experience or (so help me) their age as an excuse to lord it over others. Unless you are someone’s parent, you have no legitimate reason to be calling them “child” or “my son” or any of that nonsense. It’s very insulting, and you just end up sounding like an idiot/Mufasa from The Lion King.
Less common, still annoying. Here’s the thing: if you want access to certain information, groups, people, etc, the absolute worst thing you can do is to behave like a spoilt child, especially if your request is denied. You wouldn’t (I hope) burst in to the house of someone you hardly know and say things like “You WILL let me read your Book of Shadows!” What makes you think that sort of thing is going to fly in the online world?
Be polite if you must ask for things, and be respectful if they are denied to you. The internet means just about anything can be shared, but that doesn’t mean it will be.
Pushing irrelevant agendas
Before you post anything that is spruiking an agenda of any sort, think. Make sure it is relevant to where you are posting it. People in witchcraft groups get very annoyed when they see a post prefaced by “I know this isn’t always related to witchcraft, but I thought I would share it here anyway…”.
Posting about something like crochet or polyamory or bananas in a group that caters only for enthusiasts of crochet, polyamory or bananas is perfectly fine. Posting about it in a witchcraft group is not. Stay on topic, or go elsewhere.
Taboo for the sake of taboo
It has been a recent favourite for some people to start “discussions” about paganism, magic and witchcraft in relation to justifying things like murder, incest, etc… All for the sake of making waves. Just… don’t.
Seeking/offering “traditional online” training
How many times have you seen a post along the lines of “BB, my name’s Lady RavenChild SnowLeopard, I’m just looking for someone who can give me training in traditional white wicca…”? I mean, usually the punctuation isn’t as good, but you get the idea.
The only thing worse than that is the people who respond with things like “BB RavenChild, I am a fifty-first degree eclectic witch and can offer you Gardnerian and Druidic training and initiation online, for around $58 a lesson…”
First, if it’s “traditional” witchcraft you’re after, you aren’t going to find all your answers online. Second, no self-respecting witch offers training over Facebook! Third, beware of the old adage of “craft for sale” – if someone is looking to make pots and pots of money from your spiritual “journey”, you might want to look elsewhere.