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Witches on Facebook: Mediatization of Neo-Paganism

TitleWitches on Facebook: Mediatization of Neo-Paganism
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsRenser, B, Tiidenberg, K
JournalSocial Media + Society

This article investigates the mediatization of neo-Paganism by analyzing how Estonian witches use Facebook groups and Messenger and how Facebook’s affordances shape the neo-Paganism practiced in those spaces. This is a small-scale exploratory study based on ethnographic interviews and observational data. To understand the mediatization of neo-Paganism, we use the communicative figurations model which suggests three layers of analysis: framing, actors, and communicative practices. For a more granular understanding of these three on social media, we rely on the framework of affordances. We found that social media neo-Paganism is (1) characterized by networked eclecticism; (2) enacted by witches who amass authority by successfully using social media affordances; and (3) consists of practices and rituals that are preferred by seekers, easily transferable to social media settings and validated by Facebook algorithms. Social media neo-Paganism thus is a negotiation between authoritative witches, seekers, and platform affordances that validate some practices over others.