Thea's Inbox: Questions from Beginners
Wiccan essentials for beginning your path or getting back to basics.
How do I find other Pagans in my area?
When you write something—a book, a blog post, a song, a tweet—and release it into the world, whatever you wrote is no longer really yours, in a sense. Other people read it, think about it, use it, interpret it, and comment on it, and it becomes something more than what you created. And sometimes people respond in ways you never anticipated.
Maybe I’m a little thick, but when I wrote Wicca for Beginners a few years ago, I had no idea how many emails, letters, and Facebook and instant messages I’d get from beginning Wiccans and Pagans looking for a little help. Many are from teens and prisoners, and there are messages from adult seekers from all over the world too. If my inbox is any way to judge the state of Pagandom, there are a lot of beginners out there, and they have a lot of the same questions.
So in this blog I’m going to answer questions from my inbox—or questions inspired by questions in my inbox. And I’m going to start with the one I get most often:
How do I find Wiccans or Pagans in my area?
(I’ll write about finding a teacher—as opposed to just finding other Wiccans or Pagans—in a later post.)
Back in the not-so-good old days (aka the ‘60s, ‘70s, and early ‘80s), many people in the U.S. looking for Wiccans and Pagans had a rough time of it. You had to know someone or be introduced in person or by mail, or maybe you found someone though word of mouth, a listing in the back of one of the few witchy books available, or through magazines like Green Egg or Fate.
If you were extra lucky you might live near an occult bookstore, such as Herman Slater’s Magickal Childe in New York, where you could find like-minded others. If you were less lucky, you had to get creative. There’s a semi-legendary story of a man who looked for Wiccans by posting notices in Theban (a Wiccan alphabet) on index cards in laudromats throughout California’s Central Valley, and I personally know several Wiccans who regularly traveled miles—out of state in some cases—to find others to work with.
The good news is since then Paganism has grown exponentially, and it’s much easier to find people now than it once was. Although many of us are still in larger metropolitan areas, there are more and more Wiccans and Pagans in rural areas too. The bad news is that it’s possible there are still no Pagans or Wiccans in your area. This is where that magical Internet thing comes in handy. Whether you live in an area where you suspect there are other Pagans or one where you’re pretty sure there aren’t, your best bet for finding others, Grasshopper, is to exercise your Google fu skills.
The first website you visit should probably be the Witches’ Voice. The Witches’ Voice has tons of articles and information about Wicca, and a huge directory of Wiccan stores, groups, organizations, and individuals. Start with the Covens, Groups, and Organizations page and search for groups in your city and/or state. There’s also a directory of Pagan clergy and one for individuals, including teens and military Pagans.
Other good places to hunt for Pagans online are social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. There are a lot of Pagan groups on Facebook—I get invites to join new ones all the time—and there’s nothing to stop you from starting your own. There are Pagan “hangouts” on Google+, including an occasional one run by Star Foster, manager of the Pagan portal at multifaith website Patheos. There are also Pagan social networking sites, such as Wiccan Together
Email isn’t as popular as it once was, but there are still a lot of Wiccan and Pagan email groups thriving on Yahoo Groups. You can search on “Wicca,” “Pagan,” or any sub-group of those two groups and find email lists to fit your interests, and maybe even one for Pagans in your area. You could also try just Googling “Pagan email list” and the name of your town or city and see if any lists turn up that are privately run and not on Yahoo.
While you’re Googling, try looking for things like these:
- · Blogs or websites of Pagans in your area
- · Pagan Pride events in your area
- · Pagan meetups (there’s even a Pagan meetup site)
- · “Official” (or semi-official) websites for specific Pagan or Wiccan traditions
There are definitely some places Pagans tend to congregate, so check them out if you want to meet Pagans in person instead of online. Some of these might sound silly, but I have encountered Pagans or known Pagans who hang out in all of these places. Common habitats for homo sapiens paganus are (in no particular order):
- · Occult or new age bookstores (“regular” and used bookstores too)
- · College campuses (check to see if there’s a Pagan student group)
- · The occult section of your library (especially university libraries)
- · Pagan conventions, such as Pantheacon, and camping events, such as Dragonfest and Pagan Spirit Gathering
- · Science fiction and fantasy conventions
- · Historical reenactment groups, such as the Society for Creative Anachronism
- · Renaissance fairs (I met my first Pagan at a Ren fair!)
- · Co-ops, natural foods stores, and “artsy” farmer’s markets
- · Comic book shops
- · Unitarian churches and/or the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans
- · Irish pubs and gift shops and performances by Irish musicians (many Pagans are drawn to Celtic history)
- · Masonic groups (sounds like a long shot, but where I come from a large percentage of the Masons are Pagan)
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