Hey, friends! This is a long and wordy post – but it’s exciting! It’s about the closing down of the much-neglected Alternative Tarot Network (and the reasons we need to start over) and it’s about what we’re gonna create in its place: something better, more fun, more inclusive, more radical, and more useful.
TL;DR: If you are into this idea, please take our community survey and sign up for updates!
Thank you for being here and for reading! – Beth xx
Three years ago, deeply excited by the conversations that were happening in the comments of LRT blog posts – which was at that point was still my own personal blog, with no other writers, and just a few thousand readers – I decided on impulse to build a social network.
(Like you do.)
It was so clear that these conversations needed their own space. That there was a need to move beyond the top-down dynamic of blogger and commenter (or newsletter writer and recipient) towards something more networked, more like a real community, where conversations could happen in multiple directions, where there wasn’t that kind of hierarchy. I could see that folks needed to be able to talk to each other and make friends and start their own conversations and ask their own questions.
We needed a community space where we could meet, hang out, and geek about tarot.
So I built the Alternative Tarot Network!
It wasn’t all that hard (at least, not for a WordPress nerd as I was at the time). I’d found a piece of affordable forum software that looked okay-ish, and I just kinda cracked on, built the thing, and then launched, all guns blazing. It was fun and exhilarating seeing people sign up, seeing folks connecting, seeing the space take on its own life and become something really magical – a space that was really actually driven by members. (And I loved participating too!)
So many great conversations and connections happened in that space in the first nine months. Truly, I loved it, knowing that ‘content’ didn’t depend on me any more, that members – including lots of the folks reading this – could just get on and help themselves to the conversations they wanted to have. It felt really, really good.
But over time, I lost the buzz.
Why? Not because the network wasn’t fabulous – it really was. I lost the buzz because it needed leadership, and maintenance, and moderation, and light-handed facilitation, and a person or whole team of people to keep an eye on it. I was overwhelmed, it was clear I couldn’t provide what this thing needed in order to reach its potential – or even safely exist as it was. I lost the buzz because its foundations weren’t strong and I hadn’t built in or even thought through how I was going to keep it going. I didn’t have the capacity, skills or resources to do it myself at that point, and I sure as heck didn’t have the resources to employ other folks either.
So I let it dwindle. I stopped checking in. And the more I did that, the more guilty I felt about not showing up for this magical thing I’d started without thinking… so the less motivated I was to return.
I stuck my head in the sand and pretended it wasn’t there. I focused on what was new and what was working and what was nourishing in my business.
And I’m embarrassed to say that that went on for another two years.
Well, my friends, the time has come to address this!
I’ve spent the past couple of months dreaming up a reiteration of the network, really digging into my vision – both the one I had back then, and the one that has developed since then. I’ve begun the initial process of figuring out what this is for, the purpose, the vision, the values. I’ve invested in a fantastic class that has gotten me thinking about all of those foundations I neglected in the Alternative Tarot Network. I’ve even begun to reach out to colleagues who can help get this going, who can help me with the groundwork to make it a really awesome, welcoming space.
I can’t wait to share this vision with you, get your feedback and views, and tell you more about what I’m hoping to create here, for all of us!
But before any of that…
…I need to deal with what’s already in existence.
As I said, the Alternative Tarot Network simply hasn’t received received the love, care and attention it deserves. As a result, it’s grown very ‘buggy’ and I don’t have the skills or capacity to fix it. It’s been infiltrated by lots of spam accounts (now removed), and it hasn’t been moderated or maintained for a long (long) time. Though a group of wonderful people are still using the network, there is not a sense of ‘thriving’ here, the space does not feel lively and there are no ‘leaders’ who take responsibility for helping it to thrive and run smoothly, or welcoming folks and helping them find their feet. There has never been a smooth process for folks to join, and honestly, the whole thing has felt kinda sad to me, in that I could see how fabulous it could be… yet at that time I didn’t have the capacity to facilitate that development, nor the resources to employ others to do so. (I did briefly experiment with charging for the network at one point… but that wasn’t the right thing either.)
All of these issues boil down to a lack of planning/skills/resources/care on my part. I’ve learned a lot from this experience (not least regarding my tendency to hide from problems I can’t immediately solve!)
I’ve learned a lot about the importance of collaboration, and of setting a clear vision and strategy for projects like these, that have the potential to be so radical and so useful and so genuinely, mutually supportive to those of us who value sharing our tarot and witchy and healing journeys.
And all of this learning will be put to use in ‘take two’.
So where does that leave us?
- It’s clearer now more than ever that we need this kind of radical community space – a social network for folks who are interested in alternative conversations about tarot, spirituality, ritual, wellbeing, healing, and more. The conversations about queering tarot, decolonising our magic, diversifying our covens and radicalising our self-care and spiritual practices have never been louder. I know from so many sources that folks are longing for a space to come together and have these conversations in one place.
- At the same time, it feels clear that I/we can’t move forwards with creation of this community space without first putting the ATN to rest.
So I’m winding it down.
In two months’ time, on 25th May, the Alternative Tarot Network will be ‘switched off’.
So that we can start over, together. With stronger foundations, and a clearer vision, and an actual structure in place that can hold and support all of us to really create a valuable, radical and magical community space.
I’ve shared a few questions and answers further down this post. If you have any concerns at all about the closing down of the network, please take a read of these first, before getting in touch. And if you do need to get in touch, please use firstname.lastname@example.org, to ensure you get the best possible response.
I’m so glad you asked!
Firstly, I’m getting in contact with everyone who has ever been a member of the ATN. If that’s you, you received an email from me last week. I’m accountable to you, to the promise I made when I built and promoted that first network, and I’m here to answer your questions – just reply to my email.
Secondly, I want to hear your views! Sure, I have a vision, I’ve written out my values and my purpose for this thing… but that’s just me, right? That’s just me getting the ball rolling. You guys are the folks who have used this thing, or might use the next iteration. I want to know what you’re craving, what you want, what you need this thing to do!
Want to contribute?
(And yes, there is a rather wonderful tarot/oracle goodie box prize draw – I’ve just spent a delightful hour curating boxes of loveliness for three lucky survey respondents.)
Because I wanna hear from all of you.
Those of you who are/were part of the original Alternative Tarot Network. Those of you who’ve never heard of it. Those who drifted away. Those who are still active there.
If you relate in any way to this need for a rad community space for alternative tarot (and beyond) conversations, for meeting and collaborating and asking and answering and getting real about our self-discovery, our healing, our magic and our tarot cards… please, take just a few minutes to share your thoughts with me.
Thank you! Thank you thank you thank you. I’m so determined to do this right this time. Slowly, with intention, with values and purpose, and most importantly, with you.
Questions and answers
When is the ATN closing down?
Friday 25th May 2018. This should give everyone who wants to plenty of time to log in, fish out and save anything they find valuable that is currently stored within the network.
What about my profile, contacts, and saved threads?
Unfortunately, it will not be possible for me to ‘move over’ the existing network. One reason I have delayed sending this email and making this decision for so long is that I have been seeking a way to import the old network forums into the new one (I didn’t want anybody to lose anything they value!) I’m sorry – without the services of a very expensive web developer, this simply can’t be done. This changeover will take the form of a clean break, and starting over – so yes, each member will
ve forgotten how to log in!
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Feature photo by delfi de la Rua via Unsplash.