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The Virtual Pagan

Lisa McSherry
Red Wheel/Weiser, 2002 $14.95 US
ISBN: 1578632536 [1]

Review by Daven

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

[1]An interesting book all around, and one that is needed by the communities (both online and off) as the Internet takes more and more of the chores of a mundane ministry off the shoulders of the High Priest and High Priestess.

The Internet is touching more and more people these days, what used to be the exclusive playground of the young and open minded is now seeing oldsters and grandparents putting up home pages, and even those who are technophobic have an e-mail address. It’s becoming almost required these days to have your business cards list your e-mail address as well as your phone number and pager number.

So how do we Pagans fit into this format? Considering that online religion and belief sharing was almost coincidental with the opening of the Internet, we fit in rather well. There are all kinds of groups getting together and sharing their stories, teaching and giving advice, researching and discovering knowledge, as well as making attachments and connections between bits of knowledge thanks to the Internet.

So, what if the next logical step is to take the lessons that the High Priestess has been sharing on to a new group of Wiccans and Pagans? What then? Take it to the Internet. Thankfully this is not the first time this has happened, and it will not be the last. However, Lisa compiles her coven’s and her personal experience with having a “cyber coven” of this sort and shares it with the reader.

It is not a simple road by any stretch, it is a task that will try the soul in a lot of ways, and ensure that the most dynamic group of people possible will find each other. What’s better is that this dynamic group of people don’t even have to be in the same country to work together. People from all over the world can come together in the online coven or community, talk about what is happening and do magickal working as well as celebratory rituals online.

This is a good book, and a needed one. Lisa shares her experiences somewhat dryly, but that is her personal style of writing. At times I found it confusing as to what she was talking about, a cyber coven or a physical coven meeting in someone’s backyard. I guess it goes to show that this advice can apply equally to either group. There is advice in there for the physical coven, and I do think that she should expand one section in her future editions, the section where she discusses the physical coven having a satellite coven or a training group in cyberspace, along with a webpage or site.

I think that this would be a good edition to the library of anyone who is considering having a group that is more than a discussion group. List moderators, teachers giving online lessons, even the prospective HPS would be advised to pick up a copy when they can. A lot of the advice can be found out through trail and error, experience and intuition, but for structured groups who will be online, or the group who will ONLY exist online this book would be well worth the price. I give this 4 stars out of 5. I would suggest that there be an “E-book” copy of this and possibly a virtual update site or document so that future editions don’t have to be printed again. But I know that there are many who want to hold the material in their hands when going through it.