Much like the history of the witches of Salem, Instagram appears to be drowning witches and making sure they can’t float.
Over the past six months or more, various witchcraft related accounts have been prey to hundreds, if not thousands of fake accounts replicating their content and stealing money by offering to do fake spells, tarot readings, or astrology readings. Who exactly is behind these fake accounts is unclear. It could be that because we are living in a worldwide pandemic economy, there are a lot of people who are financially desperate right now. It could also be others who would like to see witchcraft removed from Instagram all together. Regardless, the consequences for witches, spiritual workers, psychics, and mediums across the platform has been dire.
In addition to this, the spiritual community has been experiencing a significant drop in engagement on posts, be it those with a few hundred followers, a few thousand, or over twenty-thousand followers. It doesn’t seem to matter but the ratio to average post-like in comparison to the amount of followers per account seems to be roughly the same — an abysmal 1% of followers engage on the account they follow, and while perhaps some followers do not ”like” all content, it begs to question whether said followers are even seeing these posts on their main feed.
For Example: Claire Goodchild who owns @blackandthemoon has roughly 80K followers on Instagram and averages at about 800 (+or—) for every post, not seeming to exceed more than 2,000 likes on a really good day.
In comparison with my account, @3ofstones, has just under 7,000 followers and I average at about 75 likes per post, give or take. Additionally, my account has been stuck at under 8,000 followers for over six months.
So in addition to followers of spiritual accounts not seeing or liking the content from the account that they follow, hashtags seem to be generating very little exposure to the outer communities of Instagram which begs to question if Instagram is no longer ”pushing” our content across the algorithm.
Over the past few days, I have spent some time reaching out to spiritual accounts to see if they were experiencing the same drop in engagement that I have been and here is what I found.
Alicia Vamvoukakis who owns @the_embroidered_forest (32.1K Followers)where she embroiders and prints unique tarot and oracle decks. When asking her about her experiences, here is what she had to say:
“Oh, yeah. They [the engagement] dropped during that time. The fake account finally got taken down, so I am doing an experiment to see if my account goes back to normal. The lack of responsibility from Instagram/Meta is shocking and I can easily see this becoming a new way of tarring us all with the same brush. It’s such a mess, honestly. Instagram wants us to work harder for them to earn more money (advertisers pay for our attention).”
Casey Mintle and herbalist who owns @Moonsmaven (10.7K Followers) and specializes in curated apothecary items. ”I’ve experienced a drop in engagement for the last couple of months, if not more. Less and Less followers, likes, and saves. I decided to do a paid ad recently just to see if it would make a difference; after 6 days of a paid ad, I got way less engagement than I used to get with a regular post. Disheartening.”
Claire Goodchild owns @blackandthemoon (80.4K Followers) is an award winning artist, author, and publisher of unique collage-art styled tarot, Lenormand, and oracle decks. When speaking with her regarding this subject, she confirmed that her engagement has been lower and because of it, she is focusing her attention elsewhere.
Joseph who owns @groundedbythemoon (14.3K Followers) where he offers tarot and oracle readings, and published oracle decks for purchase has confirmed that he has also had a decrease in engagement and due to it, he is focusing on his Patreon account. He questions whether he should focus his energy on a newsletter and isn’t sure how to create content on another platform and convince his followers to join him there.
Athene who owns @athene_arcana (44.7k Followers) is an artist who has published various different oracle decks, where she is currently developing a tarot deck. When speaking with her, she confirmed that she has also seen a decrease in engagement which she attributes to Instagram’s suppression in keywords. ”It’s really quite ridiculous how rubbish this app has become. I keep thinking I need to try a different platform but just the thought of it exhausts me.”
Now, in contrast, I have also visited other accounts unrelated to the occult community; mainly artists. What I see is a range of likes per posts anywhere from 70-5,000 regardless of how many followers each account has. So what I’m saying here, is that the accounts posting content that is not related to the occult, seem to be receiving likes based mostly on the subject of their content and likability — a fair and equal market. So one has to wonder if they are not experiencing engagement issues because they have never used #witchesofinstagram or the like, or have been associated with the occult in anyway, and have never had another account from their same phone that was an occult related account.
Is it possible that occult accounts across Instagram are having a target put on their back for every occult/witchy/pagan hashtag used, and further harmed if someone creates a fake version of their account? While none of these suggestions can be proven or investigated authentically, they are still questions that I believe are worth raising. If we are being subjected to suppression of our accounts, regardless of personal or business nature, based wholly on our spiritual beliefs, this not only is discriminatory, but it goes against The Constitution of The United States where Meta resides.
Now, the accounts that I have included above are businesses which means that due to the way Instagram is operating, whether actually a witch hunt or not, does not negate the fact that daily, we are losing potential sales, because potential customers are not seeing our posts. Personally, I have had a huge drop in tarot reading sales and specifically from new customers. In the past 30 days, I have only had two readings and those were for repeat clients. Now, you might be saying, ”Well why don’t you pay for advertising?” but here’s the thing:
1. Some of us have paid for Instagram Ads already and seen very little difference.
2. Some of us are small businesses who cannot afford advertising.
3. Should we be forced into paying for advertising in a free-market to a company that does not have a customer service phone number, email, or live chat? Yeah, Instagram would take my money but would not give me any ability to contact them directly should something go wrong with my account.
4. Recently, Meta announced that it was changing targeted ad options to remove potentially upsetting targets such as ”Astrology”, ”Tarot”, and ”LGBTQ+” options. So when creating an ad, the only target option for witches that even resembles the work that we do may only be ”personal development”.
Fact of the matter is, creators and small businesses related to occult content are being worn thin and losing sales because of Instagram. We are being forced into a panicked state of how to stay above water; looking at alternatives like Patreon and newsletters, or other social media platforms that are few and far between, often with significantly less users than Instagram. Patreon functions as subscriber only content and this does not seem like a viable option for all spiritual businesses. It also seems hugely unfair to push our followers into a corner and pay $1-$20 a month just to see content from one creator that we love. The Average person cannot afford $10 a month let alone more if they want to follow more than one person’s content. Having said that, if someone is really interested in extra content from a specific creator they love, a fee to view said content is perfectly justified.
Tiktok has been deemed a good alternative to Instagram due to the surge of users but this also means that creators who have previously focused on writing, now have to try to become video content creators which doesn’t always translate and can be significantly less meaningful than standard picture/caption formatting.
Now, if we completely overlook how detrimental this is for small businesses, we have to at the very least recognize that if spiritual related content across Instagram is being suppressed, then that means that our connection to each other is being severed during a time in history where connection is so important to all of us. Things are hard for all of us right now and sometimes it is one post about a tarot reading that gives us a little more encouragement to keep going. Many of us in this community have created strong bonds with eachother around our spiritual practices but if I died tomorrow and my Husband posted about it on my account on Instagram, only 1% of my followers would know. If my dear friend @moonsmaven got into a car accident and could use some free healing reiki, only 1% of her followers would know and they probably wouldn’t see the post until a few days later. If there was a call-to-action for a widespread community spell to help in healing the planet, only 1% of other witches and spiritual workers would see the post which would significantly reduce the amount of impact said spell could have achieved. So this isn’t just about us small businesses trying to survive, this is about the survival of our spiritual community and connection in a world where our options for connection and communication are limited, and our virtual modalities for connection are limited do to monopolizing corporations like Meta who threaten new app developers and try to buy out every competitor making waves in the social media industry.
We have become so dependent on Meta for our community connection and our businesses, without the thought of what would happen if Instagram was shut down tomorrow. Just this week, Meta has threatened to do this in Europe over data transfer disputes.
Plain and simple, Meta does not and has never had it’s users best interest at heart and they could actually care less if we are connected. It is not safe to stay here or depend on them for connection or business profitability. Someone has gotten too big for their bootstraps but the higher up you go, the longer the fall is and I can feel them teetering. The problem is, we have to connect with each other elsewhere so that if/when Meta falls, we don’t lose touch with each other and we don’t have to close the virtual doors to our businesses; something I have had to contemplate in the past few months. Luckily for me, I have a secondary non-witchy business that has supplemented the income that I have lost due to the loss of engagement on my Instagram.
I don’t have all the answers right now. Most of the witches and spiritual practitioners are at a complete loss as to what to do. So I think at this point, all we can do is look at our currently available options and become involved with them even if that means we have to post to five different apps every day. If you want to stay alive, there isn’t another option at this point. The hope is something else takes off and Instagram finds itself being drowned. And who knows, maybe we will decide we like those better and leave Instagram once and for all. That’s the dream for most of us right now — for us all to leave all at once. It is the only way to send them a message since they don’t have a customer service number.
While I could include Tiktok, Twitter, Tumblr, Discord, and others as alternatives to Instagram, I feel they all fall short for content inclusivity because most are geared towards short content, video content, chat, and fall short in terms of individual representation and personality. So I’m only going to talk about one app that I think is the only fair option for everyone regardless of whether they have long things to say, photos to add, or videos to share.
Vero — True Social: “VERO’s mission is to connect people meaningfully.” Launched in 2015, and I have been patiently waiting for more people to join, Vero prides itself on organic connection without the algorithms. This is the perfect contender between Instagram and Facebook with options for text only posts, images, videos, and even book/music/movie recommendations. The feed is represented in real time, chronological order with options to like, comment, and share with additional options for following accounts as well as privacy options similar to ”close friends” on Facebook. Just recently there has been an uptick in occult creators joining, which again can be attributed to the lack of support from Instagram.
Aside from that I would encourage creators to make sure that they have websites with an email newsletter sign up and participate in other social media apps even if it pushes you outside of your comfort zone, which may not be a bad thing. If you sell physical or digital items, I would also suggest that you open an Etsy account as another way to reach customers on a larger network who are actively looking to purchase items and who can follow your account and be notified when you release new products…the fees associated seem minimal for the potential reach Etsy offers. Additionally, website hosts like Shopify do not allow businesses related to psychic services as the major banks have deemed these ”higher risk”, and currently, the only major payment processors that accept the processing of payments of these services are Paypal, Venmo, Stripe, and Etsy. Stripe only recently changed this policy after an article was published by a fellow tarot reader in our community. This means that the only two major web hosts that I know of that accept psychic services through Stripe are WordPress and Squarespace. This does not include the selling of physical spiritual goods which are allowed through other web hosting sites and payment processors.
So what this comes down to is that though we cannot prove anything, we have reasonable evidence to assume that Instagram is either burying occult related content or at the very least, not supporting its users to the fullest extent, and I think it is time that we all start focusing our attention elsewhere. Whether you create content or consume content, we all need to follow each other elsewhere, actively like and comment on our posts (although this doesn’t matter in terms of visibility on Vero), sign up for newsletters, follow Etsy accounts, stay connected in every way that we can.
Corporations often go under the radar and aren’t held accountable for the damage they cause to the individual or the economy as a whole. Instagram is the worst of them. They have brainwashed us into falling prey to an endless circus of frantic posts that only circulate if they are liked enough and feel meaningless without the attention. They have conditioned us to make sure our posts are pretty regardless of how meaningless they may be. It has become a popularity contest and it has done serious psychological and emotional damage to not just businesses but also the individual. I remember a time when social media was used because we cared about each other not because we needed attention; but that attention was a natural consequence of a virtual community that cared. Where followers didn’t feel pressured to like and comment on posts just to ensure they would keep seeing them in their feed.
We may be witnessing the beginning of another witch hunt just in a more modern way; one that is quieter and without violence but impactful nonetheless.
Remember, they have tried to silence us before but they keep forgetting that we know this game and can play it better than they can. So make your voices loud everywhere that you can and beat them at their own game. Spend more time on other apps supporting your favorite creators there. Be a creator that follows other creators. Be a small business that supports other small businesses. Above all else, lets get back to the humanity of it all because behind the facade, we are all just people; running businesses, struggling with depression, missing our friends, and starved for connection.
Lastly, because I am a witch and cartomancer, asked the cards about all of this:
What is happening to witches on Instagram? Eight of wands reversed
Our efforts are being held back by Instagram and causing a lack in momentum.
Why is this happening? Strength reversed
There is an element of weakness here, perhaps Instagram wants us to feel weak.
What can we do? Three of cups
We need to reunite the spiritual community in some way.
What is the future of Instagram?
It will face internal conflict perhaps from its users?