10 occult sites worth exploring

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Admittedly, I haven’t been online active in the Pagan web since the heyday of Medea’s Chariot, and that site is the now dead-from-neglect child of divorce. I’ve grown up a lot since then, so while my religion is still the same, my spiritual perspectives have changed quite a bit. This also means it’s much more difficult for me to find a conversation online or in-person that I want to engage in: it’s not a judgment of right or wrong, it’s simply a disparity between my own values and thematic outwardly-shared values of my neopagan brethren that makes it a little hard to get a satisfying conversation rolling. There’s also the issue that the same subjects keep coming up over and over again, little controversies (robed or unrobed? 9 foot circle with a rope or with energy direction? Is fluffly a familiar?) that aren’t intended to have resolution. And there’s also the matters of time, and reputation. I have interests expanding far beyond the occult and Wicca, but if that’s all people ever want to talk to me about it, I feel like I’ve fallen culturally short.

Still, sometimes I just need a fix, or a few perspectives. I go to these sites because I usually get something out of them, although my extended periods of silence on a few of these sites often causes people to take me for a noob and engage in some really patronizing shenanigans. But, like in all things: the negative is what grabs your attention, but for the most part, they’re all pretty good.

1. Wild Hunt – arguably the best and most comprehensive coverage of Pagan interest at the moment. I don’t much listen to podcasts, but the blog itself is extremely satisfying and well done.

2. Facing North. Lisa McSherry has gathered some of the more thoughtful book and material reviewers to write for this site, and it gives sincere and deep perspective on what’s out there, more than the walk-too-lightly approach many publications take for fear of hurting feelings. These are thoughtful evaluations, sometimes as much intended for the author of the work as they are for readers determining whether to buy, and it does gather and observe all paths. (Full disclosure: I am a contributor to this site.)

3. Letters from Hardscrabble Creek, Chas Clifton’s blog, turns up some academic and Paganism as we’re relearning it points that always give me some food for thought.

4. Barbelith forums. This isn’t a place (usually) for daily chatter, but it is a collection of really thoughtful, mostly sane people who explore with seriousness concepts in magical practice – along with thousands of other topics. You do have to apply for admittance to the forum, but once you’re in, it’s well worth the efforts.

5. Twitter. That’s right, you read that. If you download Tweetdeck and use the search feature to highlight discussions about the occult, Wicca, and so on you will sooner or later find conversations you want to pursue. I use Twitter for multiple venues and interests, and it’s been useful for me in meeting people and getting to know them better.

6. PaganSpace. Part of Ning network’s confusing “diy” social networks, it is reasonably well-run, although it can take some time to develop a little savvy about how to make it work for you. While this site does have a user-fluff factor, it also has a series of private groups and plenty of ways you can go and make your own conversation in the groups section.
Children/teenagers were recently banned from the network, and while that has created some upset, I consider it a favorable and responsible act on the part of management. The entire situation with parents and their children is a messy legal minefield, and until there’s a major corporation setting it up, there’s just no safe way to guarantee a kid-friendly Pagan network without close person to person networking and vetting.

7. Witch’s Voice. Not so much a community these days, but more an information portal, it’s now the “old school” way of connecting to Pagans locally, using their considerable listing pages. While some essays are interesting and Wren’s nest continues to find news and information of interest to all pagans on what might be considered the first Pagan news blog, the fall off in managed content has made the site a little bit scattershot. It is still, however, probably the one place everyone entering the Pagan community needs to go first – but where they need to go after that remains a little vague.

8. The Magical Buffet looks to need a little help with coming to for with technology, but is an interesting buffet of politics, magic and esoteric thought.

9. Occult Corpus is a pan- occultism discussion forum that I sometimes lurk on. While the conversations can be maddening, the links to general information are very interesting reading. You could arguably get a full electronic library of classic occult texts in your head if you took the time to read every single link in their stickies.

10. Occultforums is very similar in spirit and style to the above forums, but sometimes gives you a different perspective.

I’m sure I’m missing great big chunks of excellent out in the Pagan sphere. If I were in my 20s I would be spending hours a day building an encyclopedic knowledge of what resources are available to me. This is my 30s – I’d like there to be more to me than my religion.

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