Tuesday, July 15, 2008

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.

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OpenID dawa-lhamo-9 said...

Because prior to the advent of the internet, we all chose sensible and straight-forward names for everything... ;)

6:53 PM  
Blogger Peg said...

I look forward to reading the review--thanks Chas!

6:54 PM  
Blogger Peg said...

Oh and BTW are you suggesting I meant that the filtering software problem is the only reason for such elaborate names? ;) The quote clearly says "one result" in any case. But you might be surprised to see how many similar-sounding and astonishingly unoriginal names people gave their groups, website, online stores and other things in the "old days" of the pagan internet (1990s).

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Chas S. Clifton said...

I think we're on the same page. Extravagant-name-itis predates the Internet, 'tis true.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Peg said...

On a related note: I remember when Fritz was doing a lot of stat-counting for Witchvox in the early days (before it became automated) and once he decided to look at the names of registered members and users, and breaking down how many times certain names were used. This was in the days when nearly everyone had to have a compound pseudo-Native-American "Craft" name (some folks did this in a mocking way, such as "Pollyanna Flowerthighs" who was a regular contributor to the Green Egg Forum). Anyway, he was able to find out how large a percentage of such names (like RavenMoon WolfBlood or SilverEagle StarWind) were used thereby determining their popularlity. He did it so that even the compound names could be included in terms of their components. I can't quite recall the order, but the I think the top ten names included Willow, Bear, Silver, Moon, Raven, Crow, Black, and Wolf.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the shout out Peg; it's great to be remembered after all these years.

Pollyanna Flowerthighs

PS: If you ever met me, you'd know there is nothing mocking about my name.

3:35 PM  

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