I’m sure everyone is tired of reading about the Google acquisition of YouTube by now. So lets talk about how YouTube is affecting modern Paganism instead. For those who don’t know much about YouTube, the service is basically a quick and easy way to upload, share, and watch video on the Internet. Since its debut it has spawned endless clones, and created controversy over copyrighted material being illegally shared. But the service has also allowed people with a minimum of resources and money to show instead of tell. The modern Paganism movement with its emphasis on ritual and visuals is now finding a way to move beyond text and static pictures.
Pagan contributions to YouTube can be summed up in three basic categories, instruction, celebration, and propaganda.
Perhaps the best example of this is one of the most recent. Chas Clifton on his blog pointed out a simple ADF instructional video presented by Ian Corrigan, Archdruid Emeritus of the Druidic group. The video has received a high ranking and several positive comments since it was posted last week.
Videos like these are a sort of heir to the VHS videos made by people like Ray Buckland and Scott Cunningham in the 80s. The biggest booster of YouTube as instructional tool has been the Correllian Nativist Church and their Witch School in Hoopeston, IL. Their “MagickTV” has posted nearly two hundred videos, most of them instructional. In addition to this you can find small DIY efforts from individuals not associated with any group. It seems like only a matter of time before more Pagan authors and teachers start utilizing YouTube as a natural extension of ongoing efforts to transmit teachings over the Internet.
This next category of videos focus on attempts to capture the live experience of modern Paganism. Scenes from public rituals, festivals, and even musical concerts all try to share the thrill of “being there”. It also gives a peek into how modern Paganism is practiced in different parts of the world.
Thanks to YouTube you can watch a Druidic ritual in Dendermonde (embedded above), an Asatru festival in Germany, a full moon Esbat in Albany NY, scenes from the Earth Spirit Festival in the UK, and even a live performance from Pagan Latvian metal band Skyforger (recently reviewed on Pitchfork). Now instead of wondering what events are like, viewers can sample them in advance. As production quality becomes better, videos of Pagan events will no doubt start to blend into the next category of Paganism on YouTube.
The last category is all about spreading positive portrayals of modern Paganism. Interviews, snippets from the mainstream media, and home-made odes to their Pagan faith(s) all factor in here.
So you can see an interview with a Alexandrian High Priestess (embedded above), or an interview with Selena Fox on the military Pagan headstone campaign. But you don’t have to be famous, regular Pagans get interviewed by family members, and organizers of Pagan Pride days get interviewed by indie filmmakers. In addition to this you can find all sorts of home-grown slideshows (often with musical backing) promoting Pagan faiths.
So as YouTube gets even bigger (as it is sure to do under Google) you can be sure it will become the de facto method of spreading viral videos (of all sorts) relating to modern Paganism (and other faiths no doubt). Will the future of modern Paganism be televised? More importantly, will modern Paganism change to become more “video friendly”?