Pagan Tea House

Pagan Tea HouseI was doing my occasional web searches today and, for some reason, looked up the phrase “Pagan Tea House”. Anyone who knows me is aware of my involvement in the Pagan Tea House on AOL back in the ancient days of the Web. But just for reference, I should say that Pagan Tea House was a private member room on AOL, started by a fella named Falc, and which was largely reserved for discussing Pagan issues and hanging out. It became quite popular and eventually was codified by AOL as a public chat room (which essentially meant that AOL stole it from us). Those original members wandered away to various parts of the Web and their individual lives, and then a curious thing happened. A lot of the later members took the Pagan Tea House banner and spread it to various places on the Web. First on Internet Relay Chat, and then eventually to various discussion groups in various places scattered about the Web.

At one point I tried to tie all those different places  together by creating an online organization called the Pagan Tea House Group, hoping to provide a central resource for all the various PTHs, which I’d thought might possibly help us create a larger Pagan community. What I discovered was that most of these people didn’t give a shit about Paganism or any sense of community, to put it bluntly. “Pagan Tea House” was a cool phrase that they all laid claim to, and none of them were interested in networking with other groups calling themselves “Pagan Tea Hosue”. These people didn’t give a damn where the original Pagan Tea House came from or who started it or who the original members were. It was something they’d appropriated, and each group had its own reason for keeping the others at a distance.

I once registered the domain paganteahouse.com to use with the PTH Group. I tried to provide resources for different PTHs  to use, offering space for web pages and links to IRC chat rooms. No one really took me up on anything. Which I found frustrating and confounding. Eventually as I started getting interested in more political issues and started The Watch, I let myself be browbeat into putting the PTH Group to rest. There were some folks in the EFnet IRC PTH who were third or fourth generation members of the original PTH and felt that they somehow had ancestral rights to the name. I finally got tired of banging my head against the wall and washed my hands of all of it. I turned the paganteahouse.com domain over to someone I thought I could trust with it, only to find myself frustrated when she didn’t do a damned thing with it but sit on her ass and hold it so that no one else could use it.

I shrugged it off and moved on. Through the years I’ve noticed that there has been no shortage of people looking to cash in on the popularity of the Pagan Tea House name, whether that be in establishing a chat room or a discussion group. It’s a catchy name, so who can blame them? But it’s always bugged the hell out of me that not one of the people involved in these groups has ever acknowledged the lineage or paid honor to that humble chat room that started it all. To make matters worse, I haven’t been able to find a single instance where a sense of community has sprang up around the name that in any way pays honor to the original Pagan Tea House.

All this came from that Web search that I did. Should it bother me that so many people are using the name “Pagan Tea House”? Do I have any right to feel a sense of ownership about it? Well, actually, that’s a bad choice of words. I don’t feel like I own the name, or that anyone should, really. But it does offend me somewhat that so many people feel free to use it, without ever wondering where the name came from or what it might have once meant to people.

You know, one of the reasons I had for creating the PTH Group was that I wanted to codify the name in some permanent fashion before someone got the bright idea to incorporate a business and start a chain of coffee shops under the name. I wanted to lock it down so that it would continue to belong to the entirety of the Pagan and PTH community, so no one could swoop in and lay claim to the name, like AOL had done when they stole the original chat room from us and made it a public room. But I let myself be shouted down by a bunch of people who had no right to an opinion on the matter, and I let them browbeat me into turning over the proverbial keys to the kingdom, which they promptly put in a proverbial box to sit on a proverbial shelf somewhere, gathering proverbial dust.

Well, I’m sort of thinking that it might be time for the PTH to raise its head again. Not that I’m thinking of trying to start some kind of community. There are certainly enough PTHs running around. But I think there needs to be at least one history page. Every one of the fluff bunnies might wrap themselves in Paganism and pretend that using the phrase “Pagan Tea House” was somehow an original thought, but there are still Ancient Ones (as someone once called me and the other original PTH members) such as myself floating around out there in the ether on the Web who know better. I don’t want to disabuse anyone of the right to use the name, but I want people to know where it came from.

I haven’t decided yet. I mean, I already have plenty of stuff on my plate. Do I really need yet another project? But I do so want there to be some kind of heritage page. I feel like I owe the memory of the original PTH that much. In many ways, I feel like I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not met those wonderful people at a time when I desperately needed their fellowship and guidance. They deserve a monument of some sort.

If I decide to put up a PTH page again, I defy anyone to challenge my right to do so. I was one of the original members of the original Pagan Tea House. No one who came later has a right to tell me anything, or to have an opinion on how the name should be used. Almost a decade ago, I wrote Falc and asked him how he felt about the PTH Group. He gave his blessing. That’s the only acknowledgement I’ve ever needed.

I guess what I’m saying is that anyone who doesn’t like the fact that some old fart like me sets up a corner of the Internet and puts out a sign that reads “Pagan Tea House”, they can go take a flying leap. Where the PTH is concerned, that’s about like a priest from Boston trying to explain to one of the original Apostles what Christianity is all about.

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About Wicasta

Depending upon whom you ask, Wicasta Lovelace is an author, musician, artist, web designer and/or delusional lunatic (which one he is at any given moment depends upon the day of the week, really). You can find him on Google+, Twitter and Facebook. Wicasta is working on several novels and recording music with his band, Windhaven. He is the principle editor of the Malleus Maleficarum project, lead author at PaganCentric, curator at Mama Peggy, and systems engineer at Floozees Doozees.

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16 Responses to Pagan Tea House

  1. Ellie Henry December 5, 2016 at 5:01 am #

    I realize that this is a very old post, but I was looking for Uncle Ron’s website, and cam across it. Inwad a reg around 2002isj gor a few years, ElysiaRainMirala or NephriteMizuno you might remember me as. I am no longer “pagan” yet still subscribe to many of their idealologies. I wouldn’t mind to reconnect to old friends.

  2. lstsanlty January 4, 2016 at 2:16 am #

    :)

  3. John March 8, 2015 at 5:26 am #

    Mystic I remember how pth was too, and you are correct in your observations. It’s downfall began when the service went unlimited. We do have our gud memories to sustain us, yes?

    Blessed be sweet bird ;)

  4. Bmajac January 11, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    Wow…talking about memories…I miss the PTH. I too, found PTH back in 1994 I was studying
    Wicca and was lonely, just got my first computer and downloaded AOL back then, when searching all the chatrooms I was elated to find PTH, when I first came in, I sat and listened and watched, the Elders all helped me, I loved going to PTH, it was a 2nd home to me, matter of fact, when my husband (who came later into PTH, and yes we are stilled married) I needed the strength of the members there, I was at a low place in my personal life, and PTH give me my life back, I too, felt that after it was public and Bunny my little fluffly, chocolate loving friend passed it was the last of the threads that held PTH together, sad, I miss so many I talked with and loved, Foxi, Reep, Blackhat, Bunny (RIP), Dan7878787, Trinity, Storm, etc the list is long, and the love I still have for all of these remind in my heart forever, I still stay in touch with a few, Tannie (we knew each other forever, even be4 computers, lol) but then Rogue came and a few others and tore it all up, and stalked Tannie and then it went south, but still I wonder, maybe since it was been so long, maybe, we can take it back, never say never. I loved PTH, and I still love all of you, whom I had one of the best times in my life with, and to those who helped me and talked and took time to know me, I will always love you all..PTH forever…Bright Blessing..Love Bmajac, yes I am still with AOL, old habits never die..

  5. ShadowTiger August 10, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

    I know this post is old, but I couldn’t leave without saying something. I too spent way too many days and nights in PTH chatting with LadyMyst13, LtlWitch, Jnkydquen, FireAkasha, and too many more to list. I’ve thought about those days every so often. Too bad that place isn’t still around.

  6. Mysticbird August 11, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    Necro,

    I have a pretty vivid memory myself, and I certainly do remember you, Mosaic, Madam Maya, and a few others who mocked other people that came into the room seeking guidance. I remember the people who used programs to punt others and create chaos. The room was destroyed by those who wanted it to be destroyed. It went from being a peaceful haven, to a battle ground with everyone fighting, personal dramas, and stupid programs.

    For me, it was a refuge, a safe place to go to when I felt alone, needed like minded friends, or just a place to kick back and learn from others. The room used to be like my second home. I met so many good people in there. Everyone left one by one.

    PTH was ruined right after AOL went to unlimited. This is when all of the disrespectful trouble makers moved in. That’s all I know, including who ruined the room.

    I will never forget the people I met in there, the people who were like my family, some I still keep in touch with these days. We mourn that bit of the past we can’t get back, and are thankful how blessed each of us was to have it.

    But it’s gone now, so I guess it doesn’t really matter. It just hurt my heart to see it ruined. That is all I need to say on this.

  7. Dan8787878 April 18, 2013 at 12:16 am #

    Memories! Wow. I’m touched that people remember me (fondly even!).
    I was 15 when I first found the PTH and made many friends, sadly I’ve lost touch with all but one (and she was never really a regular, but we’ve been friends for almost 20 years now). I was a late comer to the original PTH as it was only a month or two later when it went public. There was a very tight-knit core group of 20-30 people that were wonderful, but there was also another 10 or so that were completely insane drama queens.
    The trolling was epic and I’m not talking about the God Squad one-timers that would threaten us with eternal damnation. Faked deaths actually did happen, which was sad when Bunny died because there were plenty who had lived through it, so initial skepticism was natural. Then there were the twisted relationships that sometimes went into meatspace. Weddings, divorces, child-custody battles, identity theft, and more happened all the time. The PTH was a spectator sport with real life violence!
    I still don’t know why people liked me, I was, and still am, an abrasive know-it-all with very strong opinions That Shall Not Be Questioned.
    After five years or so of the drama, an ever dwindling number of people that I actually knew (I eschewed the cliques and their private rooms) and having something to do with myself other than spending all night long on bullshitting on AOL, and the fact that using AOL circa 1999 was totally uncool, I just stopped.
    Sometime around 2001/2002 I installed the AOL software on my laptop to take a peak at the PTH and it was a desolate wasteland. What was at one time an impossible room to get into (I remember using a script to automatically retry over and over again until I could get in so I wasn’t relegated to one of the alternate PTH’s) I found a room of 12 people who were obviously just IMing each other and didn’t give two shits about who if anyone came by.

    -Dan-o

  8. Necro December 28, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

    Mysticbird,

    Unfortunately it was brought to my attention that I was mentioned in your post as being “cruel” and that I supposedly told you while looking to remember the good old days that “I didn’t care” and to “get out.” That is simply not true. Let me start by giving my credentials, since it seems so important, I was in the Tea house in 96 a few times before it went unlimited, then full time in January 97 after it went unlimited, I was not some newer generation ass hat that didn’t know the history of the room or who the elders were, I was friends with many of the elders, and respected them greatly for creating a chat room like the tea house. After just about all the elders left because of the influx of children, drug addicts, pedophiles and drama queens, there were a few of us left (what would you call us, second generation?) to stand ground and defend against the silly, insulting and inane.

    I was often over looked because I was quiet and respectful, only spoke when I had something worth while to add to the conversation, and then I came to the defense of my best friend Foximodo one night and made myself a target. A target for Rogue, who was also a guide for AOL and termed my account and it took both Reaperette and myself calling AOL to get my account back and Rogue fired from being a guide. Were there times I was less than welcoming? Yes, but when you’re under constant attack from known and unknown screen names you tend to become skeptical and less accommodating. It was a war zone in there, and there were a handful of us standing in a line guarding against the demise of the tea house, Pat was there, he knows what it was like, nights were hell, Reap, Dan7878787, Roulinn, Vampure, and Uncle Ron were all still around, mostly in our instant messages because they couldn’t stand to come into the room and deal with the fighting!

    I have an eidetic memory, it is what I’m known for, I used to make Thranduil awe struck, because no matter what name he would try to slip into the tea house under, I always knew it was him just by how he said things, or the things he would say, so trust me when I say, I never told anyone I didn’t care about the old days, I cared very deeply for the old days and the elders and quite frankly Foximodo, Mosaic227 and I were usually the only ones in the room that did, and since we still talked to the elders quite regularly at the time it’s ludicrous. I remember the night you came in the room and it didn’t go quite like you explained it, you were looking for supplication for your connection to the room from the old days and when you didn’t get the response you were looking for you became very condescending and insulting, with that provocation I laid into you, but it was not unprovoked and as simple as you state.The elders didn’t even expect the reaction you were looking for when they came into the room, but they received it anyway, you however were not an elder. :::shrugs::: Get over it, seriously, but how dare you for trying to blame me for the demise of a room I stayed and fought for until it’s last breath.

    The Pagan Tea House on AOL died with BunnyAngll. It was the last straw and those of us fighting couldn’t take it anymore. The hateful, abhorrent behavior and lies of Toka and Just1Dee and their whole group of nasty over Bunny’s death was beyond disgusting. To not believe that she had passed away and was trolling the room and accusing Foxi and myself of helping her do it was the end for me. For the record Bunny’s death was confirmed by both Tania and Reap and passed onto Foxi and I, that’s how we knew it was true. It came down from the elders, who had personal relationships with her family and trusted Foxi and I with her true identity and linked us to her obit in her town’s paper, so for everyone reading this that had a hand in all that shit, there’s your truth after all these years. I hope it helps you sleep at night, because it truly brought it home what despicable humans you are!!

    Wicasta, I’m sorry for bringing all of this up, but I will not be accused of something I didn’t do in a room you helped create that I fought to keep alive for years because I loved that room, I met some wonderful people in there and gained two of the best friends I have ever had and am lucky to say still have 17 years later. I will always be indebted to you and the others for that!!!

    Much Love and Light,
    Necro.

  9. Mysticbird June 6, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    When I came into PTH in late 1995, early 96′ before AOL went unlimited, I met Roulinn, Lady Mimosa, Archaeoalan, Kyoki (rip), Dumbpunk, Dan878787, Lady Tegan, LordLeif, Trinitydwn, Reaperette, Vampure, Uncle Ron, Suzy3D and a few others. I don’t remember for sure, but I thought Raoulinn was one of the oldbies who started out with the beginning of the AOL pagan tea house. I remember how PTH was before the unlimited plan hit. It was a good place to go and chat, and no one wasted time with ridiculous or abusive behavior because they wanted to make the most out of the time they were paying for. When the unlimited plan hit, the room became inundated with trolls, trouble makers, and fighting. It stopped being a fun and safe place to chat. So some of us went over to “Pagan Tea Attic” where trolls and the like were not invited. That was truly the last of what was left of the original PTH and then it faded too. The room was taken over by people like Teiwaz, Bodhi, and RogueGenX who brought in their “toys” or the stupid punters where they singled out people to kick offline. I stopped going in there around that time. When I tried to come back, it was Necro, Foximodo, and other people who were downright cruel to every person coming in there. I remember stopping in one night to talk about the old days and they told me they didn’t care and to get out. That’s what that room came to. I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to be part of something that was once a really good place to be on the net. It’s no more though. It’s just a memory and you can’t ever go back and recreate something like that.

  10. Patrick W February 1, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    I was one of the later additions to the room. I first went there in late 1996 as PatBalloon. I had heard about the origins of the room (which you described) from the old timers who were still in the room when I first visited. It was a wonderful place where we could gather and chat. When people had unlimited internet, the quality of interaction became diluted. The conversation became much more informal.

    The people who were always in the room became “Regs” and people who belonged in the room were often pushed away because the people preferred conversing with their friends who were also “Regs”. They weren’t bad people, but to exclude people who belonged in the room was against the original intention of the room. As time went on, different people were the “regs” and the environment kept changing. Eventually enough people were disappointed in the way the room became that it lost popularity.

    Apparently even after the people I used to chat with quit AOL and moved on with their lives, there would be people who thought they discovered the room and claimed it. Much like any good thing, over time it becomes distorted from the original, but the people who believe in it claim it as their own, even if it wasn’t as the creators intended. Look at the Constitution, look at the Internet itsself… I am just glad that the PTH was there in the time I needed it and that I was able to meet the people I met through chatting in the room.

    I apologize for any contribution I had toward alienating those who should have been in the room, but I did try to be welcoming to people who were not “regs” when I used to spend time in the room. I didn’t always feel in the mood to “Talk shop” and usually was in there to chat with friends, which was the way things generally were. We didn’t have the patience to teach people the basics of Wicca, so we’d recommend books such as Scott Cunningham’s Guide to the Solitary Practitioner. If they actually were reading books, then we would answer questions, but people always wanting Love Spells or to use a spell as revenge on another person. It was also tiring to try having a reasonable chat with people who watched The Craft or Charmed and were roleplaying in the room. These roleplayers were often the reason why an unrecognized screenname in the chatroom was not readily accepted and the room became controlled by the “Regs”. The original room environment only happened because people were not about to waste valuable minutes in the room with roleplay and other nonsense when they were paying by the hour for their time in the room.

    Thank you for your part in PTH history and for sharing the origins of the room with those who hadn’t heard how it all started.

  11. Jenn Armpriester January 21, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    Oh WooHoo! LOL! I totally ignored the dates on the posts and damn near jumped up out of this wheelchair and did a happy little jig when I noticed the last date. I’m not sure if my last comment got posted, good grief things have changed since my old EfNet IRC days. So, just to re-iterate, I was there, at one of the old PTH’s. Not the original mind you, back then AOL was experiencing difficulty with bank accounts and therefore not something I was ready or willing to trust. However, I do remember DaffyDuck, Cub22, booda, greyhame, Hegira (RIP), Damascena (RIP), Alex_McC and a number of others. There have been many days here lately that I sit and remember and wonder where everyone got to? I know what happened to me and every now and then when I log on and look for people I knew, you always pop up, Wicasta! and it’s always a joy to see you! I’m hoping this year will bring me a few goodies, one of them being a decent internet connection all my own so I can stop borrowing from my family, which is always hit and miss. And did I mention that I was WeeOne or WeeBeeOne? Well, I was back then. I’m not sure who I am now, but… Anyway, I’ve gotta stop or before you know it I will have typed a book. LOL!

  12. Wicasta January 11, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Deb, we made a run at it. I put together a web site at paganteahouse.org, but the web site got so little interest that I dropped it when the domain came up for renewal. I move the web page over to another Pagan themed web site of mine, pth.pagancentric.org, where it got even less interest.

    But there is both a Facebook page and group. It’s much like the channels were at times, where there are a lot of people in the roster but very few contributing. If you’d like to weigh in and maybe get a conversation started (if you’re on Facebook), you can find links on the PTH page on PaganCentric.

    Walk in light and peace! ~ Wicasta

  13. Deb/Sionna/Summer Storm January 6, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    I’m wondering if you’re still around. I see this post is from 2008. I say go for it. I’d love to help you in any way. I remember the Tea House. For me it was the first time I actually saw a place where Pagans could be together and talk, teach and have alot of fun. Blessings!

  14. Caber January 12, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    I was too surprised to see this. I used to visit PTH fairly regularly back in the day after aol stole it from you. I couldnt be called a regular, however at that time I did make the aol chat room circut.

    There really shouldnt be such drama over these things. Aol always did love thier drama though, didnt they lol.

    I share your angst over how the unconcerned people just want to abuse a name that you love, and means something special to you. I say you take it and do what you want with it. There will be supporters and detractors both chiming in with thier opinions. Dont let it deter you from doing what is in your heart.

    You are the first person in a long time that seems to have a clue as to where things should be. I support your point of view and hope you do something positive with PTH.

    Keep me in the loop. Thank you for an inspiring post.

    Good luck
    Caber

  15. Replica Sunglasses June 18, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    You know, part of the reason that many haven’t given credit to its origins or its lineage is simply because they don’t know about it. I, for example, am familiar with the name, but until reading you post, I had no idea that it started out as a chat room. all you can really do about it is just spread the word.

  16. Kyra May 27, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    I had forgotten about the PTH on AOL. I used to hang out there before it was a public room and I left AOL and lost track of the people I had met there. Thanks for reminding me!

    Sorry that so many care so little for the history. And it is a shame that it did not become a place to band together and accomplish something as so often happens in actual teahouses.

    In Their Service,

    Kyra

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