I was studying French in Paris in preparation for beginning graduate work in religious studies, and I was miserable. Not because I was in Paris—Paris is amazing and this was a highlight of my life—but because I’d just escaped an abusive relationship with a dude who, aside from being an asshole, also thought Wicca was stupid (I believe the word most used was “childish”).
I’d spent more than three years not practicing, barely having contact with my Pagan friends, drinking unbelievably, and abusing amphetamines when I wasn’t hysterically trying to use my GPA and academic pursuits to make myself feel like a worthwhile human being. Oh yeah, and I was cutting myself.
Don’t be sorry—I’m not. We’ve all got problems, and I bet you know lots of people going through something similar who just haven’t told you about it (probably minus Paris). I’m genuinely, whole-heartedly great now (and have had looooooaaaaaaaadddddsssss of therapy). I’m just telling you this for context.
I got on YouTube because I was lonely. I wanted to connect with other Pagans and witches and feel like I was part of a community. Being alone in Paris—an ocean away from a bunch of my problems (read: abusive dude)—I finally felt safe enough to be who I was (or who I was trying to get back to). I’d been watching other people’s videos for months, but never commented, and certainly never contributed material of my own.
Mind you, I wasn’t looking for information on how to practice. I already knew plenty about witchcraft and, minus those three years, had been devoted since adolescence. I had lots of books and had grown up with Witchvox, New Witch Magazine, and lots of other resources. What I wanted were friends (and to feel normal again). So my favorite channels weren’t those with slick, edited, educational videos. I preferred (and continue to prefer) the ones with people holding shaky cameras and just talking about their personal practices, what they did for the last full moon, and what they think about the latest witch Internet drama. People whose whole shtick was just sharing their lives and connecting with others, not monetizing their videos (which is potentially fine) or padding their follower base with bots (which is not).
In Paris, I found the courage to actually make a channel and post a video saying hello. Especially since, at the time, there really weren’t many other traditional Wiccans on YouTube. I didn’t see people who practiced like me, and I wanted to be able to chime in with my own perspective.
Relative to other YouTubers, my subscriber count was very modest for a long time. But engagement was awesome. I have genuine friends in-real-life that I met on YouTube. When I’m in England this summer, I’m going to meet YouTubers who’ve been my online friends for almost a decade. The YouTube Pagan community was a major lifeline of mine for years, and for many it still is.
YouTube has changed significantly since I first joined, but it’s still a great resource. There are plenty of bigwig witches (of greater and lesser credibility) who you may already know, but I encourage you to poke around and check out the candid videos from people whose view counts don’t even come close to those first videos that come up when you search “witchcraft” or “paganism” (hint: trying searching “paganyoutube” or “youtubepagan”). People who are just there to share and find others. No matter your path or your location, I think you’ll be surprised at the variety out there. Maybe set a channel up yourself, if you’re so inclined.
Here are some YouTubers I personally enjoy. They come from different places, have different backgrounds, and practice different traditions. Got others? Please mention them in the comments! Do you have a channel? I want to know about it! And come find me at DrawingKenaz (where you can also enjoy a video of me hanging out with famed Patheos Pagan channel manager Jason Mankey, who has had whiskey).