Fooling the Cyber-Censors

Yesterday I wrote a review of The New Generation Witches: Teenage Witchcraft in Contemporary Culture, a collection of papers edited by Hannah Johnston and Peg Aloi, for the upcoming issue of The Pomegranate.

Teen Witches, a fluid and constantly changing group, have been heavily dependent on the Internet, because they are often alone and either ignorant of Pagan groups or not welcome there as full-fledged members–the latter partly a result of the various satanism scares and their blowback onto contemporary Pagans.

In Aloi’s own chapter, “A Charming Spell: The Intentional and Unintentional Influence of Popular Media upon Teenage Witchcraft in America,” she writes how some of the Net-filtering programs such as Cybersitter blocked words such as “witchcraft” or “neopagan.”

Internet censorship and the use of filtering software threatened to shut down teenage pagan internet activity. So one result has been that teens got very creative with the names they gave their sites. Instead of calling it ‘Teen Witchcraft Study Group’ it would become ‘Seekers of the Emerald Moon’ or ‘Oak Grove Musings.’

Honestly, since I never have had to cope with filtering software, this problem and responses to it were not on my radar. But don’t tell me that it is the only reason for some of the extravagant group names one encounters in the Pagan world.