Communities and Social Media

How witches use Facebook as a third space to form communities and networks to share their experiences and practices


This paper aimed to explore the way Witches use Facebook as a social venue to form communities which may not have existed within a localised or physical setting. This is done by first discussing Facebook as a social venue and a few definitions and criteria on what is required to form a ‘community’. We then move on to discuss the practice of Witchcraft, how it has evolved with the introduction of social media and the internet, and how Witches utilise Facebook to connect with one another and share their advice and practice. It is noted that while these groups do not interact with each other in a traditional scope of community, mainly by not forming attachments to one another outside of the group, that the practice of Witchcraft is quite personal and taxing on an individual so there is a sense of togetherness and sacrifice. The question is then posed that these groups may function as more of a ‘network’ than a ‘community’.

When we think about witches and witchcraft, the notion may conjure up visons of women with long, crooked noses, huddled over a pot stirring a potion in a dank little cottage in the middle of the woods. Or perhaps teenage girls in the late 90s, dressing in the Gothic aesthetic and rummaging through old bookshops or the one alternative living store in town, looking for dusty spell books and candles. However, the reality of modern-day witchcraft, sometimes referred to as ‘neo-Paganism’, is that of women and men from many varied backgrounds coming together and sharing their experiences and practices with one another in many different ways. Often these people will come together online, connecting with one another on forums and blogs, websites and even social media accounts, and forming their own communities and networks that they may not have found in their locations and face-to-face.

This paper aims to explore how witches use Facebook as a social venue to connect with one another and share ideas and practices within communities that may not exist in a localised setting. This will be done by first discussing how social media and networking websites, like Facebook, have provided a third place for individuals to come together to form many different communities, then going on to discuss the practice of Witchcraft and how the affordances of Facebook, along with the evolution of the internet, have evolved the practice into an eclectic practice, as well as how these two things have been brought together and expanded the practice of modern Witchcraft or neo-Paganism.

Papacharissi (2010) claims that the development of social networking websites has provided individuals with platforms which serve as “social venues in which many different communities may form” (p.105). These communities are usually made up of a diverse population of individuals and offers them a range of options to “express and address their personal interests”, with a structure that facilitates communication and “relational formation among members” (Papacharissi, 2010, p.118). Papacharissi (2010) claims that communities are also formed by the ritualized sharing of information, and that for them to be sustained, a community must engage in this on a regular basis (p.108).

Although the definition and what criteria is actually required to make up a “community” is often debated among scholars, Carroll, Jiang and Zhang (2010) argue that it at least provides a “mediating social mechanism” that relates an individual to a larger society and helps to satisfy the need of each (p.65).

Papacharissi (2010) quotes Jensen as saying that “communities are defined as shared, close, and intimate”, and agrees that while emotional bonds may not be shared or experienced toward every member of a particular community, it could be argued that a majority of members may have personal attachments to at least some other members (p.109). However, it should be noted that this definition may not always be the case with online communities, where personal attachments to individuals may never arise.

Some scholars suggest that the advancement in technology and the introduction of social websites has destroyed what ‘community’ is, whereas others argue that instead of withering it, these websites and apps are actually reshaping the structure of ‘community’ (Hampton & Wellman, 2018, p.649).

Paracharissi (2010) argues that there are three types of ‘social affordances’ which are needed when forming virtual communities on social network sites. These are affordances of membership, expression, and connection” (p.109). Affordance of membership in most cases of Facebook groups require members to first click to join the group to which they are then prompted to answer some questions, the answers to which will be run past a group or page administrator. These questions can range from location, to asking for a reason as to why the person may wish to join the group, to if they have read the “rules” of the group and whether or not they agree to abide by them. Personal expression is usually encouraged in these groups, with the group rules often stating that there will be no judgment of another’s beliefs or interests and that ‘bullying’ will not be tolerated. Members often post personal photos, artistic works or other forms of self-expression for their particular interests with the hope of engaging with their peers within that group. For example, a member may share a photo and text description of a personal ‘jar spell’ they have created with the group, and other members may comment on the post with suggestions to make it ‘better’ or give general words of encouragement. Connection is a fundamental concept to the sense of community, fostering a sense of “purpose, belonging, and attachment” (Papacharissi, 2010, p.114). However, it should be noted that some groups discourage unsolicited private messages between members of the group.

A few decades ago, the practice of Witchcraft may have seemed like something that very few people engaged in, let alone actively seeking out like-minded people in which to share their practice with. In her book, Witch. A personal journey, Fiona Horne (1998) talks about how some idealists believe that witchcraft was originally very secretive and considered a ‘successive religion’. Passed down in an unbroken lineage, generation to generation, often handing down a ‘book of shadows’ or personal spell book to your daughter or granddaughter, with varying forms of exposure (p.1). Resner and Tiidenberg (2020) tend to agree that while having access to information has “always been crucial” to learning about Witchcraft practices, it has historically been “restricted by the availability of media, geographical constraints, and literacy” (p.4).

While older forms of Witchcraft may still be practiced within covens, the practice of modern Witchcraft generally has a sense of freedom, is playful and whimsical, holds a holistic worldview and has a theology of openness. It is considered an ‘everyday, living religion’. Because of this, modern witchcraft “does not have a centralized institution that defines correct practice or theology”, and the actual practices of Witches can vary depending on the individual (Berger & Ezzy, 2009, p.503). In fact, Berger and Ezzy (2009) suggest that Witchcraft has become much more individualistic since the mid-1990s, with the majority of practitioners tending to practice on their own as ‘solitaries’ (p.503). And more notably, men have been more open about practicing witchcraft and referring to themselves as ‘Witches’.

With advancements in technology and the internet, the practice of modern Witchcraft has arguably become more accessible, with information and resources more easily attainable and shared. A ‘book of shadows’ may be a blog post, or even an entire website for an individual, and there are even moon phase tracking and herb information apps which can be downloaded straight to your mobile phone.

The introduction of social media and social networking websites has also opened doors for Witches who may be living in areas where other Witches or Witchcraft resources may have been scarce or non-existent, and so belonging to a ‘coven’ or local community is unattainable.

There are a number of witchcraft groups that ultise Facebook as a social venue, some gathering witches from specific locations (for example, New Zealand and Australia) and others allowing witches from all over the world to join. The option for Southern Hemisphere Witches to be able to communicate with each other is particularly useful considering it could be argued that the majority of Witchcraft books and resources cater to Northern Hemisphere practice. The option to communicate with one another provides the Southern Hemisphere Witches with a more localised, and therefore more personalised, form of practice.

Often these groups will usually refer to themselves a ‘community’ and also consider themselves non-denominational, combining facets of many other religions and snippets of older, structured Witchcraft traditions to form their own personal practices. The use of social networking sites allows the practitioners to “gather, interpret, combine, and share information from different sources” giving them a chance to “create a highly personal blend of eclectic neo-Paganism” (Resner & Tiidenberg, 2020, p.4).

These groups use the same discussion thread structure as most, if not all, Facebook pages and groups use, where a question or topic is posed and the members of that group respond (Procaci, Siqueira, & Vasconcelos de Andrade, 2014, p.11). In these groups, questions and topics vary from “which crystals will help me with abundance?” to “what spell should I use to hex my ex?”, and usually when a member poses a question or topic a notification will be sent out to the rest of the group. As the witchcraft groups tend to have a policy of free speech and beliefs, it is often encouraged not to direct someone off their ‘chosen path’ or ‘shame’ them for their practices and beliefs, and there are rules in place for such. If a member breaks the rules, an administrator for the page will step in and delete the member from the group. In this way, freedom of speech is encouraged but also policed.  

 However, considering the size of some of these groups, one in particular boasting over 100k members, there aren’t many of their members posting or commenting on questions or topics, with most threads only receiving a few hundred responses. This raises the question, are the other members ‘lurking’ in these groups, possibly reading the responses of the group and taking the advice on in their own practice, considered to be part of the community even if they do not actively engage in it themselves?

It should also be noted that usually that members of these kinds of groups do not often contact each other outside of this social venue, with some group rules even stating not to send unsolicited private messages to other members. Some of the threads may include a sad personal story in which the other members may express their support and offer to band together to “do a spell” or some other ritual for this person, but they do not contact the original poster outside of this exchange. However, performing a spell or a ritual for another person (especially a stranger) does require a certain amount of time, herbs and other ‘magical items’, and energy, and is considered quite a sacrifice on an individual’s behalf. With this in mind, there is a sense of community, belonging and togetherness, without actually having to make a commitment to one another outside of that post, which directly opposes Paracharissi’s statement that communities need to have personal attachment (2010, p.109). In this way, these communities are acting outside of this ideology though still being helpful and supportive of one another. Though one could question how close in personal attachment does a group need to be in order to be considered a ‘community’? Perhaps it could be argued that while these types of groups call themselves a ‘community’, that they function more as a ‘network’ because of the lack of attachment to one another and the solidarity of their practice.

Modern witches, sometimes referred to as Neo-Pagans, have utilised social networking platforms such as Facebook in order to connect and communicate with each other and form communities that they may not have been a part of in a localised or physical setting. Here practitioners can communicate with like-minded people, share their practice and advice, and offer some support to one another. However, as many practitioners of Witchcraft often practice in solitary, these communities are still localised to one online social venue. While a fixed definition of what qualifies a group of people as a ‘community’ is still in debate among scholars, some believe that at its core a community connects an individual to a larger society, and this is where Witchcraft Facebook groups and pages serve as a social venue for individuals to form communities. However, due to their engagement, perhaps these groups function as more of a ‘network’ for one another to evolve their practice.


Berger, H.A., and Ezzy, D. (2009).Mass Media and Religious Identity: A Case Study of Young Witches. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 48(3).

Carroll, J.M., Jiang, H., and Zhang, S. (2010). Social Identity in Facebook Community Life. International journal of virtual communities and social networking 2(4).

Hampton, K.N, Wellman, B. (2018) Lost and Saved . . . Again: The Moral Panic about the Loss of Community Takes Hold of Social Media. Contemporary Sociology 47(6). doi:10.1177/0094306118805415

Horne, F. (1998). Witch: a personal journey. Milsons Point, NSW. Random House Australia.

Resner, B., and Tiidenberg, K. (2020). Witches on Facebook: Mediatization of Neo-Paganism. Social Media and Society. SAGE Publications.

Papacharissi, Z. (2010). A Networked Self : Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites : Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites. Taylor & Francis Group. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Procaci, T.B., Siqueira, S.W.M., and Vasconcelos de Andrade, L. C. (2014). Finding Experts on Facebook Communities: Who Knows More? International journal of knowledge society research 5(2).

18 thoughts on “How witches use Facebook as a third space to form communities and networks to share their experiences and practices

  1. Hello Lauren!

    Thank you for your paper, I found it highly engaging and not a subject that I am very familiar with! I had no idea that there was such a big online community of witches on Facebook, and have only recently seen a few ‘witchlike creators on my for you page on TikTok! I was wondering if within this community there were influencers with mass followings and if you had any you would recommend looking at! Again very interesting and insightful paper so thank you!


  2. Hi Lauren,

    This was an incredibly interesting paper! I have only recently become aware of the Witch community, being exposed to media such as TikTok’s, under the hashtag, #Witchtok. It is a practice that really interests me, and I learnt a lot from this paper.

    I quite like the idea of this practice being very individualised, with the people involved not having to conform to a particular ‘institution’. It seems like a very encouraging and accepting community. It’s fascinating that knowledge can be shared through these online communities, allowing Witches to further expand and grow their own, individual practice.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and thoughts on these online groups! You’ve encouraged me to go do further research on the topic.

    1. Hey Asha,

      Thanks for reading my paper. I quite enjoy #witchtok and have thought about doing some videos myself but I’m still a little hesitant to share my personal practice. I have found that the witch groups and communities I belong to online have been very informative and helpful in developing my practices and rituals.
      But for the most part, it is a very welcoming and accepting community and we’d love to have you join us!

  3. Hi Lauren,
    Wow, this was so interesting! I’ve never heard of this community before so this was very insightful!
    What I found most interesting apart from the witch community itself is the fact that some groups discourage unsolicited private messages between members of the group. You also defined connection as a concept to the sense of community, fostering a sense of ‘purpose, belonging and attachment’, and correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the discouragement of private messages within groups contradict the idea of forming connections?
    Does this community live within Facebook itself or are the witch communities prevalent on other social media platforms as well.

    1. Hey Saranya,

      Thanks for reading my paper and for your comments!

      I do believe that the discouragement of private messaging between members does directly oppose Paracharissi’s statement that communities need to foster a sense of “purpose, belonging, and attachment” (2010, p.109). I think this is discouraged for many reasons, such as to stop bullying and attacks, and to stop unsolicited and inappropriate messages being sent. Although while it is discouraged I know it still happens.

      As far as I’ve seen, these groups mostly operate in this capacity on Facebook, but I have seen one or two I belong to also move to Instagram. I think with Facebook groups you just get the ‘whole package’. You can post, share photos and links, make comments and sometimes there are posts asking about everyone’s location and attempts to meet up in person.

      Thanks again for your comments!


      Papacharissi, Z. (2010). A Networked Self : Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites : Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites. Taylor & Francis Group. ProQuest Ebook Central,

  4. Hello Lauren!
    This was a really unique and interesting paper. I have learnt so much from this read about a topic I had never read about before.
    You mentioned that some groups discourage private messaging between members of the group. I found this intriguing as I have never considered that connections can be formed without the need for one on one connections occurring within larger community groups. If we consider McMillan and Chavis’ (1986) argument that a community has to provide membership, influence, integration, fulfilment of needs, and shared emotional connection, then these groups may not allow for this shared emotional connection without the one on one communication. Do you believe that some groups who actively discourage witches from privately messaging each other can have a negative effect on the group’s overall sense of community and connection?
    – Grace.

    McMillan, D., Chavis, D. (1986). Sense of community: A definition and theory. Journal of Community Psychology, 14(1), 6-23.;2-I?casa_token=xRTclrtprWIAAAAA:39WJMZw3IaX7YltMlJYRJ13HNB7rLZl887m69v30lLowphpVCvMLxQdjVcJwS-0_qRvM6M9oxfZ8NIo1

    1. Hey Grace,

      Thanks for reading my paper and for your comments and question!

      I think that perhaps groups discouraging its members to privately message each other can have a negative effect on the group’s overall sense of community and connection but I also think it depends on what kind of community it is. For example, I am part of these groups and I’m often just a lurker. But these practices and rituals that are being shared are so personal and so connected to whoever is posting them that I can get a sense of who they are. My personal practice is solitary, but I do get ideas and advice from these groups to develop my own rituals, and I feel connected to these people somehow, perhaps on a spiritual level.

      I think private messaging is discouraged to stop bullying and unsolicited, inappropriate messages from being sent. I have seen people be banned from the comments for bullying, and while everyone’s practice is different and personal to them, there are a few people out there who like to argue and tell you that you’re “doing it wrong”. I feel that if someone from the group private messaged me out of the blue I would be hesitant to engage in case it was something like this.

      Thanks again for your comments and question!


  5. Hi Lauren,

    What an interesting community you have introduced us to in your paper.

    I have also looked at how a offline community, the global theatre community, have moved online by adapting to the unique affordances of the TikTok platform. Is the Witch community active on any other social media platforms? What particular affordances have drawn this community to the Facebook platform?

    You mention in your paper that “if a member breaks the rules, an administrator for the page will step in and delete the member from the group.” Do you think this limits certain individuals from being active participants in this online community for fear of their comment being deleted or possible removal from the community?



    1. Hey Mads,

      Thanks for your comment!

      The witch community is very active on Tiktok as well. I believe they hashtag it as “witchtok”, and you’ll find a lot of witches (male and female) providing tarot readings and talking with spirits etc.
      I also follow some witches on Instagram, and there are ‘witch shops’ and companies you can buy supplies with online.

      I think Facebook is a great place to start just because it is so user friendly and easy to connect with other people. Facebook has around 2.7 billion active users monthly, so finding like-minded (and maybe even localised) groups and people is just so much easier (Tankovska, 2021). I also think one of the bigger affordances that participants feel drawn towards is the prospect of belonging to a community even at a distance. I’m sure now there are witch communities almost everywhere, but there are probably still some places where just isn’t going to be one, and Facebook and other forms of social media provide this third space for you be gather and share.

      While I think that the admins stepping in and deleting people from the community groups does limit the freedom of speech for that group, I can understand why it is necessary. This is often the case when a member attacks or harasses another member for the way they conduct their personal practice , and a lot of these groups have the admins in place to keep the peace. For the most part, from what I have seen, these groups are lovely and supportive of one another.

      Thanks again for your comment!


      Tankovska, H. (2021). Facebook: number of monthly active users worldwide 2008-2020. Statista. Retrieved from

  6. How interesting, I had no idea about this interesting juxtaposition of ancient rituals and new media! Thank you

    1. Hey Sonia,

      It is such an interesting space isn’t it? I really love how something so traditional has adapted with technology and that now so many more people has access to those rituals and practice.

  7. Hi Lauren! This was a very interesting read!

    You mention that men have become more open about practising witchcraft in a modern setting; would this be a result of the broader access to virtual covens? I often see debate around whether online communities give people a chance to speak up on a personal level due to the certain anonymity the internet can grant (or perhaps even the freedom to move beyond social boundaries that may exist in local communities where people know one another more personally), and would be interested to know how this impacts virtual covens in particular. I’d also like to highlight the modern feminist movements that work towards removing gender norms. With the increasing visibility of such movements thanks to the internet, perhaps witchcraft among a new, male demographic can be attributed to social movements as well as community accessibility!

    You’ve also highlighted that a modern “book of shadows” can take the form of blog posts or entire websites, but previously, such items were heirlooms passed down from “daughter to granddaughter”. This act of passing knowledge from generation to generation, staying within a family, suggests a certain level of intimacy between Witches and generational knowledge. Is broader access to covens and books of shadows removing the personalised and intimate connection towards knowledge that was once unique to particular families?

    Kind regards,

    1. Hey Sierra,

      Thank you for your comments and great questions!

      I think that modern feminist and other social movements can definitely be attributed to men being more open to practice and calling themselves ‘witches’.

      I do also think that there is a certain level of anonymity in these groups (I for one am a lurker) and there are members who are more vocal about their beliefs and practices. In this particular space, the practice of witchcraft can be a very personal thing, and by posting about your practice in a group you are inviting others to comment and perhaps criticise the way in which you practice and so I can understand why some members may be hesitant to participate. Again, admins and moderators police the comments and ban anyone who ‘break the rules’ or harass other members. On the positive side of things, I have also seen posts where members ask the others where they’re all living, and some of them endeavour to meet up with each other, so I’m sure there are some in-person connections also being made.

      While I do enjoy the sentiment of an heirloom ‘book of shadows’ being passed down generationally, I personally believe this modern form of witchcraft to be much better. I think that it perhaps depends on the form of witchcraft you’re practicing, and as an eclectic witch, my personal practice is very intuitive and free forming, and so a traditional spell or ritual might not “feel right” with me. That being said, I do know some people who practice traditional witchcraft and believe that you need to perform certain spells and rituals in certain ways and are hesitant to share their practice with people.
      I suppose you’d have to also take into account first generation witches, as they wouldn’t have access to a generational book of shadows, much like myself who comes from a Catholic household.

      Thanks again for your comments and discussion.


      1. Hi Lauren,

        Thanks for getting back to me!

        It’s interesting that you mention being a “lurker” in your virtual community. I myself am often a lurker in some of my online groups, but am more active in others, such as my online book club (for more information, please read my paper on virtual book clubs here: I’ve personally found that I get more out of a group when I actively engage; do you think the same can be said for online covens? Based on my own research in a book club context, I found that online communities are unsuccessful without active participation from group members, and sometimes, this requires active supervision and prompts from book club leaders. However, noting the difference between the two groups could be that book clubs are potentially more emotionally charged and subjective, virtual covens, from your paper, seem to be more practical. Therefore, I’d like to ask: can the same be said for virtual witch communities, in terms of a community needing active participation and prompts to thrive?

        Kind regards,

        1. Hey Sierra,

          I think there certainly needs to be some participation and prompts for a virtual community to survive, but that perhaps its easier for people to “lurk” when the groups are a certain size.

          One particular group I belong to boasts 100.5k members so you never get the same people posting each time but its enough to keep the group going. For me, there’s enough going on already to keep me engaged with the group, and I might comment on a post, but usually I just read what other people have said and there’s often someone else who has the same ideas or feelings as me and have already voiced them so I don’t feel the need to comment.

          I think just because witchcraft can be a very personal and individualistic practice that perhaps some members are more comfortable sharing their rituals and spells, while others may worry about opening themselves up to criticism. But that’s not to say that the “lurkers” aren’t benefitting from these posts, and in fact while I don’t often post in these groups, I may take away an idea or ritual from a post and tailor it to my own practice.


          1. Hi Lauren,

            I definitely agree that larger groups likely see a greater number of lurkers! I think this could be both a result of people feeling uncomfortable putting personal opinions and contributions to a wider audience as well as the potential for inactive members, such as those who rarely access social media or perhaps no longer have access to an account associated with the group. Plus, if a large group produces, as you said, enough content for members to feel engaged with the group without posting their own content, they create a safe space for those who feel less socially comfortable to learn from others’ experience.

            However, I’d like to ask; do you think it could, in some scenarios, be unfair to expect other members to uphold an online community and create content? Being a lurker in some groups myself, I sometimes feel that perhaps I’m not being fair to my community in that I don’t post original content, and instead treat the online community as more of a forum than a community. Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if the regular contributors of the group stopped sharing content, leaving those of us who benefit from a relationship that could almost be described as commensalism (Beaman et al., 2016). For example, while I’m part of many online reading groups, I only actively participate in one of these groups, and as a result, I feel more connected to the other members, and have begun to build relationships with other community members. Admittedly, this is a much smaller group (just under 500 people) than some of my other groups, which can be made up of similar numbers to the one you mentioned. While I frequent the pages and ‘like’ or comment on the content, I feel that I maybe treat those groups as public forums to discuss a particular, rather than a close-knit group of individuals where we discuss reading more in depth (for example, what tropes do we prefer? How often do we read? How does reading make us feel?). Do you think online communities would benefit from mutualism, or is commensalism between users acceptable in an online space?

            I look forward to hearing from you again!

            Kind regards,

            Beaman, A., Dobney, K., Cucchi, T., & Searle, J. (2016). An Ecological and Evolutionary Framework for Commensalism in Anthropogenic Environments. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 31(8), 633-645.

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