The Internet is an interesting place to learn about something, especially religion. With all that is available it should be a great source of information. Many times it isn’t. There are diamonds in the rough, though; authors, bloggers, sites and forums that truly provide a rich learning experience for new and old Pagans alike.
Like many new Pagans in the Internet era, I started my research online. I used the same search terms as probably any other looking into this for the first time – “Wicca”, “Pagan”, “Witch”, “Druid”, etc. And again, like many others, I found plenty of places – from “Wicca 101” and Celtic Reconstructionist sites to blogs and news forums. Nearly all of them seemed to claim to have the “right” information even when it conflicted with others.
Even in those cases there were commonalities between them. Wiccan sites may have had different things to say about some areas, such as the “true age” of Wicca and it’s roots, but shared commonalities in other areas, like honoring the Sabbats. I was quickly reminded how personal this path is for so many of us and how we make it our own.
Going through these sites I started to focus on what they had in common while acknowledging the differences, wading through places to find information that spoke to me. This took time and patience. Eventually I found some like Pagan Pages that I not only learn from but enjoy following and occasionally contribute to. For example:
- Patheos.com is a web site with several blog “channels”, each focusing on a different religious system, including Paganism. Although not all of the Pagan channel’s blogs and columns speak to me, I’ve learned something from many of them.
- Wildhunt.org is a news and blog site that follows and reports on Pagan news, essays, and authors from around the Internet.
- Patti Wigington’s Pagan/Wiccan About.com page has updated information about the Sabbats, including rituals and customs to help celebrate them. I found this site really helpful as I started paying more attention to the seasons and the Wheel of the Year.
- In addition to the famous “Belief-o-Matic” quiz, the Pagan and Earth-based religion section of Beliefnet.com has several nice prayers and basic information on holidays and the Sabbats. I’m not sure it’s still updated, however, as the bloggers seem to have left for other sites (like Patheos).
Discussion forums can also be good place to learn. Forums are a mixed bag – sometimes the discussions are helpful but many discussions devolve into arguments. One discussion forum I find interesting, however, is religiousforums.com. They have several forums dedicated to different Pagan paths and it’s forums are well moderated – most petty arguments are squashed or removed, while good discussions are encouraged.
Research can be done quickly, but good research takes time. Research into religion can take a lifetime. It should – we live our lives based on our expanding understanding of the Goddesses, Gods, spirits and forces around us. The signpost for me is to keep looking, to find the resources that I trust – blogs, sites and authors that not only speak to me or share my beliefs, but those that expand my understanding of Paganism and my role in it.
What sites helped you as a new Pagan? Which ones do you still follow?