On November 19, 2019, the staff at the Witches’ Voice website (also known as Witchvox) quietly put up a notice announcing that the site would shut down at the end of 2019. The announcement marking the end of Witchvox was understated and to the point, much like the website its self over the last 22 years:
The Witches’ Voice Inc will be retiring the witchvox.com website in late December of 2019. Its time has come. If you have any articles or poetry posted here please collect/copy them to your computer*. Over the past couple of years site traffic has dwindled down to a few dozen visitors/posters a day. In anticipation of site retirement we stopped taking any sponsorships donations on 7/1/2018. Next month we will pull ALL data offline and safely archive it. The extremely active Witches’ Voice facebook page featuring Spirit news and information will remain as an online presence.
There was a part of me that maybe saw this coming. Over the last two years I’ve had a few people ask me if I thought the Witches’ Voice would continue into the next decade. Many of its most important functions: the easy finding of other Witches/Pagans/Magickal Folk, Witch-shops, and Pagan festivals, had been superseded by social networking, especially Facebook. I’ll admit that I haven’t really perused the site in a couple of years, but I was always glad it was there.
I embraced Paganism in 1994, the Witches’ Voice launched just three years later, and has pretty much existed since I first went online. I know a great many Witches who can’t imagine their lives without certain books, as I write this, I feel the same way about Witchvox. Thirty years from now when people are writing about the Modern Pagan movement they’ll write about Wren Walker and Fritz Jung who co-founded The Witches’ Voice.
Witchvox was more than a listing of Pagan people, places, and events, it was social networking before any of us had heard of the term social networking. It helped establish friendships, bring people into covens, groves, and circles, and linked many of us to a Pagan world wider and larger than the one that seemed to exist only on our bedroom altars. Magazines were my first entry into “Pagan Community” but periodicals are limited by both their distribution and their contributors. Witchvox let me know that there were Pagans, and a lot of them, near by in Michigan.I had a friend who used to count the number of entries that existed per state on Witchvox back in the late 1990’s. For whatever reason Michigan always seemed to have a lot of entries, which was proof to my friend that Michigan must have the fourth highest number of Pagans in America! That was super exiting to us, and a point of pride.
Witchvox was always more than a networking site too. It remains home to thousands (possibly tens of thousands) of articles. It’s not wrong to suggest that the Witches’ Voice was also the first significant Pagan Blog. Before Patheos Pagan or even the Wild Hunt, The Witches’ Voice was a true window into Paganism worldwide. And make no mistake the Witches’ Voice is a world-wide site, despite my rather US-centric memories of it.
While it feels like the “world wide web” as we know it today has always been around, there are many of us who still remember its earlier days. Obviously the Witches’ Voice came after bulletin boards and other early internet experiments, but in 1997 the web was still very much the wild west. And because of The Witches’ Voice it always felt like Paganism had carved out a formidable niche within it.
I’m overjoyed to hear that the archives of Witchvox will be preserved for future historians. It truly represents twenty-plus years of our history, a history we mostly do a terrible job preserving. I’m also happy to see their Facebook page will continue on too (though I wish their Facebook page shared more articles by Pagans and less articles from larger websites and newspapers; with over 400,000 “likes” they could do a lot of good promoting writers who are a part of this community). So while the website won’t be here in 2020, at least a little piece of its legacy will live on.
To everyone who has worked at The Witches’ Voice over the last twenty years, you have my sincere thanks. You changed Pagandom for the better.