Community Wellness and Social Justice in Online Spiritual Activism

Updated: Aug 21, 2020

Jaya Singh


During these tumultuous times, countless online discussions related to self-help and mental health care have become increasingly available to those seeking support and community. In my digital paper, “Digital Activism and Socially Conscious Online Entrepreneurship Amongst the #WitchesOfInstagram, I discuss a group of entrepreneurial American activists who identify as witches and foster a sense of community online as they promote their socially conscious products and services through their Instagram profiles. As a socially conscious community, these witch activists and those who support their work (e.g. customers, Instagram followers, and other witches) have a longstanding history of advocating for equity and civil rights on behalf of equity-seeking groups, regardless of whether or not they directly identify as members of these groups.

There are numerous reasons why socially conscious witches are called to advocate for civil rights movements including movements associated with Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ2S+ community, and intersectional feminism. Historical context pertaining to some of these reasons are discussed in greater detail in this section of my aforementioned digital paper.

While our world has experienced much change during the first half of 2020 with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, a resurrection in the Black American civil rights movement and, with that, impactful intersectional discussions around Black members of the LGBTQ2S+ community (with a particular emphasis on Black trans and queer communities due to the history of Pride month and the Stonewall riots), digital witch communities have been quick to contribute to these movements through a plethora of valuable online educational and self-care-related resources.

These resources inform activists while encouraging the participation of other witches, spiritual practitioners, etc. in both mundane and spiritual activist initiatives/events. Although public gathering and demonstrations have been limited due to pandemic-related measures and the overall geographical distance between community members, technosocial frameworks including online forums, Facebook, and Instagram have proven to be vital in keeping digital witch communities connected as well as informed as educational resources and remote event invitations become available. Below are examples of resources that have been shared throughout Instagram-based digital witch/spiritual practitioner communities. These posts are valuable both in educational value and in maintaining solidarity amongst community members.

Remote Spiritual Activism Event Posts



As previously noted, witch communities have a longstanding history of maintaining communal identity and solidarity through collective acts of social activism. During and shortly after the 2018 United States elections, several American news outlets published articles that explored an apparent uptick in individualized spiritual practices across the United States (1). These practices and their practitioners were discussed in these articles as witchcraft and witches respectively. Both were typically discussed in relation to self-wellness, self-making (i.e., the further cultivation of one’s identity though one’s spiritual lifestyle), and socio-politically motivated ritual practices. The latter trend is still prominent as calls for spiritual activism by ways of remote community ritual events (as one significant example) are promoted alongside other valuable resources that discuss mainstream ways to support social justice organizations like Black Lives Matters and grassroots bail fund initiatives including The Bail Project. As fundraising lists, media resources, and protest/demonstration event information are shared through technosocial frameworks such as Instagram, invitations to remote energy healing events and spiritual demonstrations (see above examples) get published alongside these mainstream posts. It is evident that activism and advocacy are significant in both profane and sacred senses, and that neither are neglected amongst witch/spiritual activists. As the time-honoured esoteric proverb goes, As above, so below.

With the incorporation of affective resonance by ways of including energetically charged materials and the creative arts (e.g. drawing sigils, singing/changing, playing musical instruments, etc.), these practices of spiritual advocacy and resistance become personalized and imbued with the individual and collective intentions of spiritual practitioners. These unique qualities of spiritual activist rituals provide deeper connection with other practitioners who are remotely working towards the same activism-related goals during these remote events. A sense of Durkheimian collective effervesce persists throughout these remote events as participants practice their personalized and/or familial rituals of spiritual activism as part of a widely dispersed collective of magic/spiritual practitioners.

Certain days or nights that coincide with spiritually significant times of lunar and solar cycles are also carefully selected by spiritual/magical communities for these remote spiritual activism events. The Wolf, Strawberry, Buck, and Sturgeon (Full) Moons of this year along with its solar and lunar eclipses are all are examples of prime times that are selected for rituals. Syncing with the world’s natural rhythms and incorporating natural materials into rituals (e.g. herbs, teas, wood, stones, crystals, metals, etc.) all work to incorporate nature into these rituals. This is especially important to spiritual practitioners completing these rituals since their spiritual traditions revolve around environmentalism and maintaining close connections with nature.

Spiritual Activism Educational Posts




Community-making and community maintenance by ways of contributing to individuals’ spiritual practices are accomplished through different types of educational posts including those seen above. Niched memes and infographics are especially useful in this sense. More information about educational posts from Instagram-based witch communities could be found here.

Socially Conscious Spiritual and/or Holistic Products and Services






These Instagram posts provide examples of socially conscious magic-related products and services that were produced by socially conscious witch entrepreneurs. These spiritual and/or holistic services and products spread awareness about social justice causes while also generating donations for related non-profit organizations. In some instances, these products and services have been offered for free to people of equity-seeking communities and advocacy groups.

If you found this blog post interesting, I welcome you to read my digital paper, which discusses various key facets of digital spiritual activism in greater detail. My paper also explores Instagram-based witch activist communities in juxtaposition to problematic algorithmic curation practices that, overall, both foster and complicate self- and community-making for a variety of smaller digital communities.

Bibliography:

1 Cresswell, Joanna. “Intimate photos of modern-day witches across America.” CNN. November 28, 2018. https://www.cnn.com/style/article/witches-in-america-frances-f-denny-refinery-29/index.html. Kopf, Dan, and Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz. “The US witch population has seen an astronomical rise.” QUARTZ. October 4, 2018. https://qz.com/quartzy/1411909/the-explosive-growth-of-witches-wiccans-and-pagans-in-the- us/. Malamut, Melissa. "Witch population doubles as millennials cast off Christianity.” New York Post. November 20, 2018. https://nypost.com/2018/11/20/witch-population-doubles-as-millennials-cast-off-christianity/. Main Image: https://www.instagram.com/p/BofqQPMnauh/

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