Sacred Space CAN Be Found Online!

Happy Tuesday everyone!  It feels like forever since I’ve had a chance to sit down and write.  The days of blogging once a day have long left me, but I hope to get back to that place sometime in the fall.  If all goes well I’ll be writing here and working on my next book in no time.  It’s just been a crazy whirlwind these last few months of business restructuring, taking classes, trying to figure out what I want to really put my heart and soul into, and all the while still trying to find time for myself.  But it looks like I’m over the hump of those things (YAY) and now I’m on the way to make thing really shine!  All of this got me thinking, thinking specifically about the time a number of years ago when I created an amazing online tribe.  And now I’m reaching out to all of you to tell me what you wish you had in an online sacred space.  But first…a story.

I don’t specifically remember the year it started…maybe in 2004 or 2005…I was feeling a need to really create a special and specific kind of online community.  Myspace was still the big online social network with Facebook not even really being on the radar yet and Friendster being the only other real social networking tool out there that people were using.  There was a thriving Pagan community on Myspace but the ads, porn, and creepiness of Myspace was growing as it reach was expanding and it was becoming less and less of a place that you wanted to spend your time.

From the Spring 2003 issue of “NewWitch” magazine, my email group GothWitch gets a nod…which surprised the crap out of my when a friend showed it to me!

Myspace did have one nice little thing though, groups.  Groups, much like the groups on Facebook today, were a way to gather people together to share and talk about real specific topics.  Probably sometime in late 2003 I started a group on Myspace that would eventually become the inspiration for me to do a large part of what I do with the Pagan community online, including Ask A Witch.  I met so many beginners in various groups and as randomly acquired Myspace friends, all with questions and looking for help and guidance, that I decided I’d create a safe space for people to come and ask those questions.  Before this I’d run a very successful eGroups email list {which eventually became a Yahoo Group when eGroups was bought by Yahoo} called Goth Witch.  It was so so awesome that it was featured in an article in NewWitch {now Witches & Pagans Magazine} as part of a review roundup about Gothic Witchcraft online.  Before that I had run another online email network for the CT Goth and Industrial scene for some time…so organizing and running online groups was something I knew, I felt I was good at, and something I really enjoyed.  So off I was to start working on some of the cat herding knowing as getting Pagans together.

My Myspace group was really successful with at least a few thousand members and at least 80 or so really active people.  It was a lot of fun!  As the charm of Myspace wore off it was clear that it was time to move on to something else.  That’s when I found Ning and decided it was time to create my own social network from the ground up.  At the time Ning was a big deal because it was basically a completely customizable Myspace site that was all yours.  Now most groups or companies that are developing their own networks run on Ning.  But at the time this was huge and opened up a world of possibilities.  That was how The Pagan Tea House was born.

The last header I ever designed and used for The Pagan Teahouse

The name came from one of the first Pagan chat room that I ever frequented regularly, a chat room on AOL called the Pagan Tea House.  {Allow me to show my age a bit.}  I had been spending time on the message boards on Prodigy at the time and a friend introduced me to a few direct dial in BB systems but I didn’t feel comfortable in those.  I discovered mIRC and didn’t like that either {at first…a few years later when I learned how to write and work scrips in IRC I was an IRC terror}.  AOL was kind of “high tech” to me at the time {and, come on, it was to you too in 1995} and I really liked the ease of using the chat rooms there, so Pagan chats on AOL {along with Goth chat rooms} became my regular hang out.

The Pagan Tea House was interesting because there was also a mix of people there and when I created my own version of a Pagan network I wanted to welcome a very diverse group of people; Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, New Age people, Occultist, seekers, and the curious.  And that happened.  Sometimes it was great and sometimes not so great.  There was a fair amount of online drama but with the help of several wonderful and dedicated members who became assistant admins, things always stayed well under wraps.  The big that was important to me though was that I had to find ways to be involved in what was happening there.  I didn’t want to create a community and put it on autopilot.

Eventually, after a few years, things started to change.  The online atmosphere was changing, Ning was getting huge and everyone had their own networks now which meant people were signed up to 3, 4, or 10 groups at a time and trying to split their time between them.  The Pagan Teahouse started to thin out, my time was not as free as it had once been, and then Ning put the final nail in the coffin.  They were going to start charging fees for their networks and stripping the features down and making many of them “premium” add-ons.  The Pagan Teahouse closed its doors probably around late 2007, despite my attempt to rebirth it on a free site again.  Few people came along, which I expected.

Then a few years ago I started a One Witch’s Way Circle, which at first was great, but again my time wasn’t there and I wasn’t focused.  I wanted to again create that safe space for people to come and share, learn, heal, and so on but again I wanted to be sure I was part of what was going on and not just doing the admin duties.  The site say collecting dust and a handful of months ago I shut it down and decided to start planning something else.  Something more focused, with real magick and intention behind it.  Something that can really grow, feel the souls of those that invest in themselves by being a member, and really create a tribe not just another website.

So this is where you come in!  I’ve put together an online survey {it’s completely anonymous} that I would love for you to fill out and give me some thoughts and feedback on what you would like to see out of something like this.  My plan right now is to launch this new, members only, very special and very sacred space in September.  I would love to hear your thoughts on what might get you interested in something like this, what would actually make you feel invested in being active in something like this, and what some of the important elements in a sacred online space would be for you.

A few things that I’d like to clarify right up front, because I realize that from the answer I’ve received already there is a preconceived notion that this is specifically a Wiccan/Witchcraft/Pagan site I’m creating…it isn’t. 

While those things are naturally going to be part of it and most certainly welcome, that is not exclusively my focus.  This would be a website aimed at all manner of magick, spirituality, and metaphysics.  It will be a space designed for soulful healing as well as magickal and spiritual development.  While it wont be all “love and light”, since most people know I don’t really fly that way, it wont be all {as one person that responded to the survey put it} “hardcore Witchcraft”.  The goal with this community, much like with all my work now, is about helping people find ways to heal, live magickally, live abundantly, stop wanting things and starting living their lives, and falling in love with their wild souls.  This will be a loving, open, safe, sacred, healing, honest place…and most certainly will not be for everyone.

Please come and take the survey, tell me what you think…what would lift you up, fill your soul, and make your magickal self sing?  What would you like to learn, heal, develop and grow through a community of like minded spirits?  What can I do to help you reach those goals? Come tell me!

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  • David Dashifen Kees
    June 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Holy Crap!  I thought I was the only person that would remember the old AOL Pagan Tea House chat room.  I used to hang out there back in the day, too. 

    • Chrys Bennett
      November 5, 2012 at 10:56 pm

      I was having a moment of longing for the days when we had the old PTH on aohell, which actually was derived from a search for the beta version of black ice defender. I was in the room for about 2 years, 97 and 98, and made tons of friends there whom were like minded and liked to play. I was new to computers,( and still am) , and people here helped. we did hold pagan standards and we did have little cliques but all in all it was an escape that i did cherish. Ha and i still can’t type for chiz.! Anyways my sn was Cextvas or Chryvast, or Vastree. any of ya old folks remember our friendship and care to chat , I would so love it, (