I don’t know if any of you noticed, but I haven’t been posting about any controversial topics, or the pagan community, or any of that since the big blow-up last summer. I just got completely burned out on arguing on the internet, since it never really leads anywhere. Since then, I’ve been quietly posting here and there about things I’m interested in (like mumming), about some developments in my own spiritual life and the broader issues they bring up, sharing photos and descriptions of a few of my ritual activities, etc. And during this period, I have received much fewer hits, hardly any comments (even though I have over 450 followers, according to WordPress), and – it seemed – very little interest.
When I posted about the struggle of ceasing cultus for a deity – something I have never seen addressed in modern polytheism to my recollection – there were crickets. When I shared photos of the many offerings and rites I was doing, nothing. When I broke my usual privacy about my personal life and mentioned the end of an 8-year relationship and related drastic changes I was experiencing, one comment.
So yesterday when I happened across a couple blog posts that really resonated with me, but whose potential for controversy and the usual pagan/polytheist drama would normally make me avoid posting them, I decided to do a little experiment and post them anyway along with my thoughts. And look! More comments on that post than I have received in the past six months on anything else, and 393 hits yesterday, higher than I can remember in ages.
What does this tell us about the online pagan/polytheist community(ies)? Maybe it’s just a fluke, just about me or the sorts of people who read me or whatever, but I suspect it’s more than that. People love to argue on the internet, it’s become a serious pastime, everywhere from Youtube to religious communities. People love controversy, they love to be offended, they love to form factions. But having deeper discussions about serious theological and practical religious issues, sharing our actual religious lives and inspiring each other to do more for our gods…. eh, not so much. That’s not nearly as exciting.
We can hardly be surprised, then, that we are failing in large part to form long-term, healthy religious groups amongst the various polytheist strains. We can hardly blame those serious about their devotion when they leave the internet to focus on real-life worship, when this is all we have to offer here. I’m not pointing fingers here, I’ve been plenty guilty of this myself. But I simply wanted to draw attention to it for those who might be ready to notice, and even to change. And this will also serve as an explanation for why my online presence in the pagan/polytheist world continues to dwindle, and why I find myself not really disappointed at all when the projects my gods and spirits are giving me now look to be taking me outside the “communities” altogether.