TWH – Witchblr, the Tumblr fan community dedicated to Witchcraft, found itself in the site’s top rankings for 2017. Every year, Tumblr produces fandommetrics to illustrate what subjects, communities and memes were most popular with its users over the past year. Witchblr appeared for the first time in the rankings, coming in at the number 11 spot for Tumblr communities.
Tumblr is a social media and micro-blogging platform that was launched in 2007 by David Karpe. It is predominantly populated by younger users, with nearly 50% ranging from 16-24 years of age. According to Business Insider, “Unlike networks that encourage quick messaging and brief glances at the feed, Tumblr’s emphasis on multimedia blog posts means users spend a fair amount of time creating and digesting what’s on the site. More total time is spent on Tumblr than on bigger social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest,”
As a result the Tumblr communities are closer in nature to true communities than, for example, the Twitter experience. Witchblr is no exception to this idea, and it supports a large group of people who either practice or are interested in all things witchy.
Witchblr members post everything from advice and spells, to art and poetry, to personal experience and political rants, and of course the ever-popular meme.
Over the past few years, Witchcraft and other occult-related practices have experienced a general bump in popularity; they’ve become trendy, so to speak. While mainstream media has focused on this point, it might be best proven by the fact that the national chain store Target was selling a t-shirt that said, “Don’t be a Basic Witch.” The phrase ‘basic witch’ was borrowed from the popularity trend, as we reported in October.
Historically speaking, Witchcraft tends to peak in mainstream popularity during periods of social unrest or other forms of cultural change. Pop culture interests in the occult spiked in the late 1970s, after the cultural revolution and civil rights movement. It did again in the 1990s, as society shifted through war, political swings, and the coming digital revolution.
As was the case in all three periods, Witchcraft tends to attract young people, more specifically young women. It offers these seekers a path to find and to embrace a personal agency that they might otherwise lack. Sometimes these explorations into the occult serve as way to rebel against the status quo and parents, or serve as a way to find oneself. In many cases, the journey leads to a religious or spiritual awakening, as it has for many of the Wild Hunt‘s regular readers.
Unlike in past decades, the search and exposure to occult practices have come to many people chiefly through digital avenues. This is where Witchblr comes in.
In 2016, Tumblr user Abby told the Pacific Standard that she identifies as a digital witch. The article reads:
Instead of unloading her fears and frustrations into a wordy diatribe, Abby carefully crafts a string of emoji: books, sparkles, a pen, the sun — which she then works backward so the line mirrors itself. Beneath this, she adds the caption ‘Spell for success on all of your tests! Likes charge it, and reblogs cast it.’
In several hours, Abby could earn “over 400 likes and reblogs.” After one such case, she told the reporter that, “[the spell’s] getting powerful.”
Spells, which many Witches might do using paper and pen or purely with sound and voice, are now being done and shared using only pixels and electricity. For example, one of the more popular spell types involves using emojis, those cute little pictures found in nearly all contemporary communication platforms.
Just as Abby said, liking the emoji post charges the spell, and reblogging the post casts it.
This is the world of modern digital Witchcraft, and it appears to be growing as Tumblr now reports that Witchcraft is officially trending and the Witchblr community made the rankings for the first time.
It is important to note that digital Witch communities are not new. There was a time when young computer-oriented Witches and the curious might have shared community over Usenet and other earlier digital forums; Witchblr is the contemporary version.
Unlike those early forums and the more contemporary versions in Facebook and other social media sites, Tumblr allows for a greater display of personal expression and visual media sharing, which appeals to the younger, internet-savvy generation. It is a multimedia extravaganza of the witchy kind.
For many Pagans, digital Witchcraft might seem ridiculous and even unsound; there is a similar distrust of digital Tarot applications. However, the market is growing as the population becomes more dependent on computers, generally speaking, and more computer literate. This is a reality that is not going away.
At the same time, traditional practice is still going strong. Not all Witchblr posts concern digital spells and clever memes. Since many of the users are college students, there are serious requests for assistance on academic projects, specially related to occult practice. For example, in 2016, the user “meticulous maker” performed a survey of Witchblr users for a religion 101 project.
Meticulous maker wrote, “I’m doing a research project on contemporary Witchcraft and Neopaganism, specifically on how the internet and modern technology have shaped this religious practice in unique ways.”
Witchblr users are sharing their recommended books on various occult topics, and discussing more traditional craft information such as herbal properties, stone work, and their favorite tarot spreads. Users will post photos of their altars, tarot readings, and workings that they do “IRL” (in real life.)
While there is much flash and flair, Tumblr’s Witch community is not all fun and spells; users are also getting political, including discussions on the controversial topics such as the repeated hexing of the president.
One user named Pastor Witch wrote, “I think what I am struggling with most is how much magick so many witches worked to prevent Trump and how none of it seems to have come to fruition. Where did we go wrong? I have a friend who felt we were repaid for our hexes . . . . I think part of it is of course that we did not do as much in the real world to prevent him. Or perhaps we were not strong enough. Thoughts?”
While most Tumblr users, across communities, include some of the youngest people on the internet, older people are reportedly showing an increased interest in the platform, according to Business Insider. However, it is not clear whether these people are actually from older generations who are just now discovering Tumblr, or whether they are aging Tumblr users who remain with their beloved social media platform after passing out of the main age demongraphic.
Either way, the community still remains on the cutting edge of pop culture as a whole, and that includes Witchcraft. Tumblr hosts a magical community that is diverse in its practice, from more traditional Wicca to various conjure crafts and more, and strong in its engagement. And, this community of digital Witches is growing, and dare we even say trending.
To experience Witchblr, go to the main Tumblr site, and type Witchblr into the search bar. It is a whole new witchy world. While you are there, try an emoji spell, and let us know how it went!