Archive for January, 2012


Ask Black Witch

It’s Ask Black Witch! Where readers send in questions and I answer them. Or derp about them, depends on the content. Before we go to that, have you seen the updates about the Black Witch vol. 1 book? Watch it here on the BW Ustream and stay in the know. Expect some serious details and updates next Friday.

I have two questions for ya!

As a Black witch, I’m contemplating starting a blog to share my experiences, and to hopefully reach out to other Black Pagans. How would you suggest that a new blogger get started?

Also, if you’ve experienced any negative backlash because of your blog how have you dealt with that (or how would you suggest a blogger deal with that)? I hope to achieve a some sort of public recognition for a band I am in, and I’m deciding how open I should be about my personal beliefs so as not to draw negative attention to the band as a whole.

Thanks! 

- S.

I’m being asked for blogging tips! I feel like I’ve become officially poignant! Yay!

I would suggest figuring out having a smart layout before doing anything official. Things like what would you like your blog to focus on (and what are the boundaries of that scope), the name, what blogging platform you would like to use, what distance would you like from the reader and things of that nature.

To break it down: A name is quite important. Have a name that can match the length of a Panic! At The Disco song title? It’s probably too long. The name Black Witch simply struck me in its simplicity and I just stuck with it. It probably would be smart to have a name that holds some reference to what you’re going to talk about but that’s up to you.

Figure out a posting schedule and stick to it. Weekly works for me because it’s frequent enough I can feel like I’m being constant (and will remember) but sparse enough I won’t run out of topics too fast nor feel compelled to post a billion times a week just to look active. Instead I can focus on a post (or several) at a time and not get frazzled. Quality over quantity. Scheduling is your friend. Schedule posts and avoid overload. And have a bank of already or mostly prepared posts before you make the blog so should you be tired/suffer Writer’s Block/lazy/low on time, there’s already something there. At least three months’ worth should be fine.

What blogging platform do you use? I prefer WordPress over Blogspot because there seemed to be more freedom for me in micromanaging things and I like the layout better. My friend Kristen of Princessly Living uses Blogspot and it works for her. A reader/feature of mine AngelBopByeYa uses Tumblr and it works for her. There’s lots more out there so it depends on your personal needs and limitations. Don’t try to force to work around your blog, let it work around you or it’s going to be tiresome fast.

What social media are you willing to use? Spread yourself too thin and you’ll feel the strain. Keep it too central and risk losing out on potential readers. I just use twitter and FB because I can reliably keep up with them – although I’m not really much of a social media person. And keep it professional! Don’t use your blog’s twitter to post your distraught feelings about a recent breakup if that’s not at all reflected in the blog. Have boundaries so you still have a private life, regardless of what happens to your blog – that’s also good advice for being in a band, too. Have an email as well, you want to be accessible, no matter what.

I seem to not have bad commenters – quite the opposite, actually. But I’m still a moderated blog. That’s a WordPress default but this is blog about being Black and Pagan, it’s not a bad idea. I make it clear on my About Me/Contact Me page that I won’t censor but if someone is going to be stupid, I’m going to make fodder out of them. And I have, mainly on Afro-Punk and I think once or twice here. It seems to keep people sticking with intellectual discussion. And respond to the best of your abilities, it sucks to post on someone’s blog and not get a response from the writer back. It’s like “Did they even see that or even care?” And if you’re in a band, it could stem off some of the crazier sort who will do or say pretty drastic things to get you to respond. Look at Mike Shinoda’s comment section.

Be honest with what you write but don’t fly off the handle. Do your research, be as balanced as you can and don’t try to make a blog that only serves the fans. If you write what everyone wants to hear, the blog will get boring fast and it’ll feel so much like work. Plus, what’s the point if the blog is just going to have lip service just to make sure readers stick around?

Don’t worry too much about the band, you being Pagan won’t murder their image – in fact, it may bolster the image because having a Black Pagan in the band can be perceived as original and you’ll wind up with the success that other bands may not have: you’ll tap into a niche. Notice how Lupe Fiasco has a stunning amount of Muslim fans? And how those fans appreciate him because he is Muslim? Good thing to have. Nothing is wrong with having a faithful bout of Black Pagan fans, either. Look at Godsmack, too. They’re a band full of Wiccans. You’re a new band (in comparison to the veterans such as System of a Down and 311), you have room to make your image and your blog can easily provide an outlet to inform people of your faith. So don’t worry about how your religion will hurt your band’s image, it may not be as damaging as you think.

As for typing, start your posts in Microsoft Word. It’ll catch most of your basic errors and misspellings. Black Witch, I’ll admit, ain’t perfect 100% grammatically always but typing out your posts in a word processor with spell and grammar check keeps your posts from looking as if you hit your head on the keyboard for a straight hour and then clicked “upload”.

Have I experience negative backlash for Black Witch? Not really. I’m lucky since I have not seen a single bit of hate mail, with exception to that really crazy person in the Afro-Punk Black Pagans group who was so unstable I couldn’t take him or her seriously…they called me an illiterate nerd. You lose any potential sting right there. I have dealt with annoying Christians thinking this is a phase (after nearly ten years), White Pagans who thought that I was creating problems where there weren’t any and stuff like that. The best way to deal with that is with intellect. Listen to what they have to say since not all criticism is bad crit and if it is, pick it apart. Works for me. Sometimes when you make people think twice about what they say, they back off. I know I can be a biiiit viper-like in some of my replies but I don’t really care if the person came to me thinking I would be some airheaded bimbo or hot-blooded stereotype cursing at everyone.

So pretty much, just be as open as you like about your faith but don’t turn it into a focal point of the band. You’re you, not the band itself so write like that. And don’t expect it to be a big hit immediately. A readership is going to take time.

Hi!

I was reading Meadmuse’s blog and she mentioned yours at the end of a post. First of all, let me introduce myself- I go by Swan and I’m sort of a wandering pagan, I suppose you could say. The thing is, I feel drawn to paganism as a whole, but I have no idea what ‘tradition,’ if any, is for me. It’s really a bit frustrating.

My question is, do you have an advice for someone that has learned bookloads (new unit of measure!) of information regarding paganism but in actual fact is a complete, for lack of a better word, noob in the field? How did you go about finding your pantheon? What traditions interest you and why? How should one going about personalizing this way of life that is essentially customizable? (I’m assuming you’re Wiccan, but correct me of I’m wrong!)

I don’t know if Wicca is for me exactly, but I’m willing to do some more reading if you feel like convincing me otherwise. :P

Anyhow, thanks for your time and blessed be!

- Swan

Sup. When I started on my Pagan path somewhere in my mid-teens, I was Christian. Then I was Christian Witch…Then Christian Pagan (Pagan with strong emphasis on Christian rhetoric)…then simply Pagan Witch. (Note I haven’t said “Wiccan” once there) This was over the course of a few years as I transitioned from Christianity into Paganism, I would say about 2 or 3 years. You’re not going to exactly know what you want to do always. Some people, it’s as bright as day what path they should choose and for others it takes a while because it’s difficult transitioning from the norm (Christian culture, which Black culture is deeply infused with) to something new and strange and making sure it’s the right choice. It’s going to take time, in other words.

I’m pretty general in my practices with divinity unless something needs to be specified. Why, I work more with nature spirits and elements than actual divinity, that’s for the bigger spells and rituals. So I just say God and Goddess like any ol’ Pagan but I start going into different pantheons or different deities when needed for whatever I’m practicing. It differs with every Pagan. I don’t practice any tradition but I have friends who do. Again, it differs with every Pagan. Research is useful here so you don’t think you like a particular deity or entity but you actually know what you’re doing and why.

Wicca wasn’t for me, I didn’t like how rigid (to me) it was and Paganism was more free flowing as it is more spread out than Wicca. It’s like opting to be a non-denominational Christian in opposed to choosing a mold and forcing yourself into it. You don’t need to be told what to do (with exception to “if you meet creepy people on the internet, call the FBI or run” and “know how to notice a scam”), just do your research and you’ll figure it out sooner or later. Paganism and Christianity are very opposite here: Christians have a rigid rulebook/guidelines to go by (and occasionally they actually do) whereas Pagans are more play-by-ear. You’re going to make mistakes and even sometimes bark up the wrong tree but that’s part of being Pagan. It’s about living and connecting with the universe on your own level, so do just that.

The very first The Arts! of the year, spiffy! To hit things off, I would like to say that the little kitty I was talking about at the end of my last post, Little Mouserat, is going to be okay after all! More than enough money was donated to help out this adorable little guy so he can have normal vision just like any other kitty. Thank you for your help and spreading the word. Read about his update here. Yay! Now hopefully he’ll be going to a good home.

Alright, continuing on!

Before I continue on with The Arts!, I gotta chit chat about this BW book that’s supposed to come out next month and the snags it has run into.

Okay, here’s the thing: the book is nearly done, just needs some formatting and off to a publisher it goes… or so I thought. Instead, therein lies the snag. I want the book to be posted in color, just like how it is here on the site. That’s part of the issue, though. It jacks up the price like no other and even if I opt for the black and white, still the fact that the book is going to be slightly smaller than a piece of paper instead of slightly bigger than a post-it note and is over 100 pages also drives up the end price. Should I stick with no color and squeeze down the book, then the book will be about $32 per paperback copy. If I say “screw it” and go with what I want, the book is going to be about $64 a paperback copy. Totally not expecting that, the math was much kinder the last go around and could get to a more feasible price of $20, which I much preferred. That price is affordable to all readers and doesn’t feel like overkill.

So that leads to this: I’m going to have to handmake the books. Y’see, when I was younger, I did bookbinding. Hardback and Japanese stab bind are particularly what I know. I’m pricing folios now so this is probably what’s going to happen. Be warned, this may revamp the price some because everything will be handmade but thanks to material costs not being too crazy, the book should not get any further than $30 in price since you’re buying content and a handmade product. So the potential price range is $20-$30 in opposed to $32-$64, big difference. I will definitely keep everyone updated given this changes pretty much everything now. If it does go down this route, it won’t delay the book by much (it’ll still be coming out in Feb, just perhaps mid or late Feb) but there shall be weirdness ahead. Still the preorders will be $18 altogether so there’s that. The BW vol 1 will be in hardback and it is a strong possiblity that with the next BW vol., there will be an extra booklet for the Black Witch Top Search WTFs and that will be Japanese stab bind. I’ll worry about that in June, though, and focus on this now.

Please let me know your opinions on this in the comments, on the BW fan page, twitter or email me, especially if you have preordered.

Update: Ustream chat tonight at 8 PM EST about the Black Witch Vol. 1 Book update. Be there!

Racist Political Ads
It’s 2012. You know what that means: election time! Here in America that means there will a buttload of political ads and as this year is more circus-y than ever, that means some ads will pull out all the stops to get any voter. Usually Republicans are guilty of this and they’re full force this year. Usually I wait for the Democrats to mess up somewhere down the line (I’m Independent, I think both parties have too much derp) but it seems they’re laying cool with Obama whereas the G.O.P. have cherry picked any loon who doesn’t seem to take running for the highest seat in the nation very seriously. This means, my dear readers, we’re going to be in the crosshairs of sheer WTF-ery. This includes the international crowd too because a running theme this year is crapping on other nations hardcore. This is how the tumblr, Racist political ads came to existence.

On Racist Political Ads you will always know this basic run down:

- The organization/person who paid for it
– The consulting firm that produced it
– What campaign cycle it was used in
– Where it was aired
– Who is it bigoted against

Here’s a starter, the classic “Oooooh, Black people!” with a mix of “Ooooh Muslim name!” about Kevin Boyce:

But look! You can elect a Marine – a dedicated Marine! Who’s White and has a family and stuff! And he’s tested and trusted – like a Duracell battery! According to the run down, this vid was bought and paid for by Josh Mandel (R-OH (Republican, Ohio)) in his bid for state treasurer. The people of RPA don’t know the consulting firm who made this but if you do, let ‘em know. The campaign cycle was in 2010, aired in Ohio and bigoted against Arab-Americans (they forgot to mention Muslim since not every Muslim is Arab-American and vice versa) and African-Americans. And there’s even a link in their “Read More” that takes you to the source. 

And because this country likes to crap on my race all the time like it’s a hobby: here’s a political ad about abortion and how being the uterus of a Black mother is more dangerous than being Black and simply living in a country where you can be shot 41 times just for pulling out your wallet to identify yourself to a group of officers or the healthcare is 40% worse because the doctors have prejudices that stem from stereotypes banged into this nation’s cultural mentality like a hammer on an anvil that comes through in their practice or unless you’re White and preferably middle class, no one cares if you’re aimlessly maced and/or beaten by a cop.

image

According to the rundown, someone from Texas thought this was smart to throw up in NYC. The organization was Life Always (should rename it to “Not Thinking Always”), the consulting firm is unknown, the issue is (obviously) abortion, shown in the Big Apple and racist towards African-Americans.

The tumblr is just starting out, but seeing how things are going (read: Romney vs. the rightly pissed Chinese-American woman, Ron Paul and his ample bigotry, to name a few), this tumblr is going to have a lively year.

Racist Political Ads

DisOccupy
I’ve been keeping my eye on Occupy Wall St. since I first heard about it from Lupe Fiasco on his twitter. I’m fairly political and I think it’s about time for people to stand up and talk about what’s really going on in the United States but I also had my reservations. Y’see being Black and political in this nation, you’re more than painfully aware that if the crowd isn’t White, there won’t be much national traction (more like national demonization) but if the crowd is White, expect the same old nonsense. Just because some White kid in the suburbs is finally feeling the pinch that some families in the hood have been feeling for generations in total jabs and want to do something, don’t assume that they’re going to automatically be absent of racism, sexism, homophobia and other equally irritating things. If anything, they’ll be teeming with it because if they consider themselves a “cultural revolutionary”, chances are their privileged ego shields them from acknowledging their wack behavior. Occupy is great as an idea but in application, there is so much fail. They wonder why they can’t get minorities to come along then get caught dissing a civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis. Try to say that Occupy is safe for everyone but there have been rapes and blatant cases of misogyny. That minorities who are not perfect packaged as the yuppies and hipsters of Occupy have imagined them are “scary” (actual word used). Yep. Sounds less like a utopia and more like Woodstock 2011: Let’s Modernize. Why am I not surprised? Why, shoot, if it weren’t for Lupe Fiasco, I would have brushed off Occupy as “White folks complaining about how good they had it and how they feel a teensy unprivileged, slow news day” and if it weren’t for Occupy The Hood, it would still seem that way.

DisOccupy is to keep track of the race and gender fail at Occupy and why is it considered as such. The name stems from the notion that this country is already occupied, just ask anyone who’s Native American. Why be occupied twice over? So it is named DisOccupy to reflect such. To recognize that the financial issues that trouble our nation is more than just money matters but something to do with the culture of this nation as well. This country was built on the backs of occupation and still is going onwards through cultural domination. If the face of Occupy should be any race, it definitely should not be White – it should be any race but. So keep up with DisOccupy, even submit your piece if you have something to say.

Here are a couple noteworthy pieces to read:

“Occupy Where? What’s In It For Black and Brown People?” by Bruce Dixon
“Occupy Wall Street’s Race Problem” by Kenyon Farrow
“What UC Davis Pepper Spraying Tells Me about the Racialized Politics of Sentimentality” by Occupy White Supremacy

Visit the site and submit!
Disoccupy

Sh*t ___ Girls Say
I’m sure these video memes have been making their rounds but I had to share them here. I usually don’t pay attention to memes, especially meme directed at a particular race or gender because I know that it’s probably going to be a frothy mess. Then I saw Chescaleigh’s video “Sh*t White Girls Say to Black Girls”

I have to honestly say, I think I heard about 60%-80% of what she has said in this video. I think it was utterly fantastic. Especially the part about “Ghetto” Dear. God/dess. Almighty. I was raised in the ghetto so I find it heavily offensive because it’s clear that the things they’re calling ghetto and thinking it means “poorly done” or “ugly” should be called just that because the reality is, it isn’t ghetto, just poorly done or ugly. Usually, my response is, “Yeah, that is so White Trash. I think it would match you perfect.” Instead of calling something ghetto, how about at least faking some tact and class and brains and just say, “Ew, I don’t like the way this looks. It’s icky.” See, your douchebag loser points drop significantly and you look less like the poster girl of why abortion should be legal and free everywhere.

Also Ms. Chescaleigh has made a part 2 which is equally as enjoyable!

And to not be missed, I spotted this on Angry Asian Man: “Sh*t White Girls… Say to Brown Girls”. This was so awesome, it had to be shared.  I knew I would see more, these are for Desi (Indian) girls.

And not to be missed, there’s Sh*t Natural Hair Girls say. There’s two I like and are so outstanding!

From AShotofJenn

From TheAmberCreation

Here’s also one for natural haired girls when facing permed haired girls:

“Sh*t Relaxed Girls Say to Natural Girls”

This is The Arts! for January, yay! Next week is Ask Black Witch so send in your questions!

I’m sure that some of you guys have heard of this bill called SOPA and PIPA and how it’s going to censor the internet. That by itself should perk some ears but let me go a little deeper.

Y’see, SOPA stands for: Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill (H.R. 3261) that was introduced by Congressman Lamar S. Smith (R-TX) back in October. The bill, at face value, is supposed to prevent piracy and theft via blacklisting. Now, fighting knock-offs and pirates sound really good right? I mean, no more downloading movies and music. Recording lab- I mean artists can be sure to make every proper dime on their music. Hollywood is safe from people ripping them off and everyone gets a free halo in the mail. Otherwise, prepare to get slammed. Anyone who pirates or participates in any other form of copyright infringement could have the whole site shut down. Yep. A court order could be made to make sure online advertising people don’t do business with the infringing website, search engines such as Google to pretend the site never existed and barring it from showing up in search returns ever, even have internet service providers to block access to such sites. Now if you, dear reader, get caught, you could get hit with up to five years in prison for ten infringements (Ten songs, ten movies, etc.) within six months. The only sites that are immune are those who voluntarily scope through their site and alienate any links, poster or comments on there. If you want to know how such internet censorship works out, ask China.

Then you have PIPA (S. 968), which stands for: PROTECT IP Act, which stands for: Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011, which stands for “someone is trying to break the internets through teh butthurts with sheer wtf and lack of lolz.” In seriousness, it is a bill that is kind of the sister of SOPA and a reincarnation of another bill smacked down in congress back in 2010 called COICA (Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act). This bill was introduced by Patrick Leahy (D-VT) back in May and it is supposed to fight distribution of illegal (read: bootleg or downloaded) copies, counterfeit goods and anti-digital rights management. This bill is supposed to “enhance enforcement against rogue websites operated and registered overseas” and gives servers right to block it. The site could still be reached by its IP address (think of it like a social security card for websites and computers) but not its domain name. Search engines would have to disable access or remove it altogether to the site associated with the domain name in the court order. Or just no hypertext link to the site. Poof, it’s gone.

This vid raises great points on PIPA

To further illustrate:

Black Witch is a site that I made to make sure that Black Pagans would get awesome content to read, listen to and enjoy. Why The Arts! alone would get this site shut down because oh noes! I can’t always get direct blessings from the artists I feature (this is legal under the copyright act of fair use – or should be but SOPA and PIPA don’t feel the same way I do) but even the fact that I do credit – the feature is about them – would make SOPA and PIPA tell WordPress to tell me, “Hey, Black Witch. Cut that out!” or face penalties, even taken off the net. Now this is me but what about my readers? What if one of you guys caught me on a mistake and linked me to a correcting piece, which happened to be copyrighted? Dude, then I’m responsible for you because WordPress is responsible for me and no one wants to be erased from the internets. Then again, WordPress could become hyper vigilant and just take my blog down should they see me post a music video from youtube or feel a twinge of anxiety from the fact I said that Playing Card Divination for Beginners is gouging the price for a book that was originally $10 so, regardless of whether or not I have the okays from the publisher or author, I may digitize it for my readers to use. (That’s piracy, folks). With these laws, you know that instead of fixing the problem with fine-tuned precision, it’s going to be the story of Henny Penny magnified. Even if I play by the rules, not every blogger will and still WordPress could be taken off the internet as if it never existed, taking my site (and Mike Shinoda’s site and Nastassia Davis’ site and the Wondaland wordpress site and countless other sites) with it. Ouch. And this also goes for your email because now that I, Mike Shinoda, Wondaland and others are all apparently digital evil doers out to harm through copyright violations some other guy did – judged by the company you keep, folks – if you so much as link to our content, your provider has to fish it out and rip it out or suffer the same fate as WordPress did.

If it seems a lil’ pointless to the average person still, here’s a really good demonstration using our favorite android, Janelle Monae.

Alrightie, if my twitter and my site and search terms to my site are any indication, I got a lot of fandroids for readers. I even featured one, AngelBopByeYa, since I thought her tumblr was spiffy – but wait! Did AngelBopByeYa ask Janelle Monae if she could have all those JM pictures decorated on her Tumblr? And what about The Audition, Janelle Monae’s EP from waaaaaay back in the early 2000’s? Y’know, the one that can’t be found in stores so either you download (and become a pirate, matey) or just happily go without or wait to spring on Janelle Monae herself and ask for her blessing to have her music in your Mp3 player. And what about those pictures from the last three (four?) times she posed in Vogue? Aw, man, I’m sure no fandroid was asking Vogue to use copies. If AngelBopByeYa so much as even performs “BopByeYa” through singing it or playing it and posting it to youtube, she could get hit with up to five years in non-Cybertronic Purgatory if anyone from Janelle Monae’s crew think that’s not cool and AngelBopByeYa is stealing content. Now, we’re sure Janelle Monae would find this lovely, she loves when her fandroids are doing their thing – Atlantic Records, however, feels otherwise and as her distributor, would be ultra pissed at AngelBopByeYa. Either she better stop posting that Janelle Monae content now (and lose Monae potential new fans and supporters who haven’t heard her music while at the same time locking out fans who may not always have the money to support) or get that tumblr – or Tumblr itself – taken off the air. Now, technically all this would be considered okay under the Fair Use act given that AngelBopByeYa is commenting, criticizing, and reviewing on her tumblr and giving credit. But, SOPA and PIPA is written so loosely that you might as well chuck that out of the window because if Atlantic Records think she’s stealing nonetheless, it’s gone.

Oh, geez. This sucks rocks. It would be totally crappy if a site like FYeahJanelleMonae would get linked here or if I post, like, a picture of Janelle Monae being awesome…like this pic right here where she’s running from a sixteenth note:

image

Or show a youtube with her song in it, like Salvador Dali’s Disney short film Destino.

Because according to SOPA and PIPA, I just committed a crime on several counts. Sorry, WordPress. My bad it wasn’t a more looked-over crime such as what student loan lenders are doing, and what former president Bush did to Iraq. I guess that’s the pirate’s life for me.

And to make people feel better, here’s a funky PSA on net neutrality: The Internet You Need

Now go out there and tell your Congressman about the internet you need.

Ethics are very important in divination and witchery. Every new Pagan is going to have their run ins with ethics but they are necessary. Every Pagan is different and all Pagans are going to think differently as well as could perceive the same situation differently. As for ethics and divination, I have a strict set of rules to go by. Always have ever since I started at 17. These rules are to keep everyone involved safe and are only broken under the most severe situations.

Never make people pay ~ I don’t charge at all for divination. As a diviner, my job is to give you advice on what to do next, that’s it. I’m not drawing up haunting ghouls and ghosts to do my bidding, it’s purely me and what I can gather from the universe. I often tell people I don’t charge because they’re going to find out in about three months what their future is going to be anyways. I know some of my divination friends differ in opinion because they believe a service is given but for me personally, I never would pay for a reading and never have, why would I enforce something different? Plus, not everyone has the money to dole out but could use the help all the same. Besides, what would I do with the money? Nothing noble most likely, just squander it on food and lolita, not donate it somewhere or be useful with it. I am a very fortunate person and I am extremely aware of this. I feel that what I have is a gift to share and help people with, not take money from. I also feel that money can corrupt even the best of diviners because it’s very easy to get greedy and to take advantage of people in need. I will take snacks (I love me some red bean mochi and if you can spot me some good okonomiyaki joints in Maryland/DC, you can have any reading you want, as many as you like!) in exchange for readings if the person offered but no money whatsoever. Besides, I already have a job. I work at my university’s library so it’s not like I’m suffering. I feel best when I’m being selfless and helping someone because they need it, not because I want something in exchange. The only time I ever broke that was for the Divination Days held by my school’s Pagan Student Union and it was to raise money for our group, not a dime went into my pocket. We didn’t charge more than $3 (I controlled the prices) and I made sure all the diviners knew that their primary goal besides raising money is to help people. While I am perfectly fine with fleecing the rich kids, I don’t want anyone undeserving getting mixed up in it. Besides, I’ve gotten so much back in good fortune from helping people and I rather have that than money any day. In addition, nothing reeks “Potential phony” like a $15 price tag for a quick palm reading.

Keep it confidential ~ That’s right, I don’t say a word about another person’s reading because it’s no one’s business but their own. To be loose lipped can bite me in the derriere in ways I don’t think I need to explain. Often time I am sought out in confidante by people who are embarrassed or frustrated by their problems, concerned that they are breaking from their religious beliefs or worried that someone else may find out what’s going on. I understand keeping a secret if a secret has to be kept. I don’t break that unless the person exudes suicidal tendencies or may harm themselves in another way. Then I gotta start talking, usually to someone who cares deeply for them or refer them to a trusted professional. I know when people are feeling suicidal or want to indulge in self-injury, they don’t want to tell someone who they think is going to snitch but guess what, I have to. There’s no special oath a diviner takes before dealing with other people’s problems but we do have a conscience to contend with. I would much rather keep Jiminy Cricket quiet rather than grieving me all day about how I should have said something when there was a chance. I too have wanted to kill myself (and I’m not afraid to say that I still gripe with that a little now, I have issues just like everyone else*) and I know about self-injury from personal experience* so it’s not like the person is talking to some apathetic psychologist who knows only what the textbook tells them. However, I have to bring it to light that the person I’m reading for is in dire need of attention.

I’ve had the awesome luck to read for one of my favorite bands evar! My goodness gracious, I was doing natal charts (astrology) for two of the members. They happened to be the most popular members so of course people wanted to know what I found on them. I never said anything once that would discuss their personal lives or cause them harm from a crazy fan. Granted, I found out stuff about my favorites that, to be honest, I could have gone my whole life and about three more others not knowing about. *shudders* Talk about the saying about meeting your heroes. I wrote nearly twenty pages for each member (something else I’m not doing again unless I am working super close with the person, the fact checking and the checking-fact-checking was tedious!) so there was some pretty sensitive information but they were for those band members eyes only. I still feel wacktacular that I gave them such a rushed copy and never had the chance to share the refreshed and worked-through copy of their natal charts. I never got their responses back (it was a quick meet) and it still gives me chills sometimes wondering what they are.

Don’t read everyone ~ Every diviner, whether they make you pay or not, has the right to refuse a reading. I know I’ve done it before. It’s an added perk in not making people pay because it’s easier to refuse readings, yay for me! Just like I have the right to refuse readings, people have the automatic right in not being read. I can read hands/palms, faces, handwriting and auras but just because I can doesn’t mean that I should. It’s simply wrong. I wouldn’t want someone doing that to me, I’m not going to do it to someone else. While I can easily sneak a glance at someone’s hand to figure out some of their more basic life story, I don’t with everyone. I don’t do it to my parents, I don’t do it to those I look up to or appreciate. I see it like this, if my parents wanted me to know about a part of their life so much, they would tell me. I’m not going to pry about and wind up getting my feelings hurt because I decided to be snoopy. It may not be time for me to know or some things are simply better not knowing.

 As for those I appreciate [caution: fangirling ahead], it goes back to the “meeting your heroes” saying, you never know what you’re going to get and you really don’t know if you’re going to like what you find. In the entertainment industry, often there is a stage persona that is shown to the crowd and the presses, keeping the real person a secret. They go by other names, gimmicks and/or amiable personalities. We think we know everything about our idols and their lives but there are still some things that they (rightfully) keep under wraps for the sake of privacy. Everyone needs their privacy. For example, I love Janelle Monae. I could talk about her for hours on end; she’s such an awesome person in my eyes. I appreciate her style and she really means a lot to me as a Black girl growing up very different from the crowds. I would be devastated completely if anything were to happen to her. Though I find her to be an adorable little ball of energy, cute and with vibrant imagination, I love The ArchAndroid and bought The Chase Suite twice (a digital and physical copy), I’m not going to scan her hand in her photo ops. Firstly, that’s creepy. Secondly, I rather let her tell me her story rather than me find out for myself. How can I say that I care (in the way that a fan cares about a performer) about her well-being by being sneaky? I am confident she’ll speak for herself on whatever topic she has to. She’s a performer and I’m just a fan, nothing more. Plus, what if I find something I may not like that could bust my perception of her wide open? Ignorance can be bliss and I’m stickin to it.

Simply put, I don’t read others unless they would like me to, regardless of person. Unless it’s dream interpretation. That’s so fun and usually people want to understand the dreams they have so rarely does anyone mind me giving some input. It’s so fun to me! I used to have a dream thread back at Fortminor.com but that’s gone now (and I’m still grieving over it, 50+ pages gone, dang).

Can’t save everyone ~ This is the one that gets diviners with big hearts such as myself. Some people simply can’t be saved. No matter how many reading you give or how much advice you offer, some folks are too far gone. Not everyone takes advice when given and some people have terrible misfortune. All a diviner can do is to do the best that they can do and not guilt themselves when things still go wrong. I know I have moments where I still wonder if I did the right thing or made the right choice in helping someone but I can’t dwell in the past and I can’t save everyone. Not everyone wants to be saved and there are times where you have to save yourself. They’re very scary times but they do happen. All a diviner can do really is just guide best they can. At the end of the day, the person I’m reading for has to figure out what to do with their life, not me.

Don’t rope a person into doing witchcraft ~ You won’t believe how often I hear people who have met shady diviners and had to do some form of magick to make the bad thing go away. If it is against your beliefs to do magick, it’s against your beliefs to do magick. Be firm in your ideals. If the person says that you have to do it, know that you don’t. More often than not, a person is not jinxed* but with a case of bad luck (or a negative perception on life). Often these people are roped into doing dangerous things that doesn’t make sense like laying in a bath of lye for a month or foolish things like buying a $400 pair of leather shoes from Nordstrom (why Nordstrom, I dunno but that’s usually what I hear) to spit at or whatever have you. I never would tell a person to do witchcraft to solve their problems, often times that’s not what’s needed. If they needed magickal assistance, I would explain everything piece by piece so they fully understand everything and it’s usually small. Like smudging (cleansing) a house with sage if they think they really need it or anointing a dollar with bayberry oil for money (and a copy of the employment section with a red sharpie. Where d’you think the money’s coming from?). If a person is happening on bad times, I usually tell that person to solve the problem the way their religion sees fit. If that means they are to pray to their god for an answer, that’s what they’re supposed to do. I’m not going to drag someone waaaaaay out of their comfort zone and possibly get them hurt or mistakenly kill them. 

It’s up to the Pagan to decide what their ethics are, just know that it is important to have them and they’ll carve themselves out sooner or later. Books and teachings can only go so far, it’s up to the Pagan to live, learn and make mistakes. What’s the point of being Pagan if you’re living inside the velvet ropes of life anyway? Make mistakes but don’t be reckless, though. And don’t be afraid to learn from the mistakes of others.

That’s the BW column for this week! Next week is The Arts! Who’s being featured:

- Racist Political Ads
– Disoccupy
– Sh*t Girls Say (for Black girls)

And the week after that is Ask Black Witch! Get it goin’ and send in your questions!

And don’t forget to read my interview from Black Pagan

Also, please help this little kitty from the Charm City Animal Shelter named Little Mouserat. He was born with no eyelids and needs surgery. Without surgery, his fur will constantly rub against his corneas until his eyed are damaged to the point that they need removed (vet says 2-3 years). His eyes gets very dry from not being able to blink, too! Any donation will help, this poor kitty has already been through enough. Click here to donate and learn more. Thank you!

Awwww yeeeaaahh. A topic I’ve been meaning to get at for a long ol’ time. Don’t like it? Check the name of the blog and move on somewhere else.

I was just reading a book I had recently gotten, The Magical Household: Spells & Rituals for the Home, penned by Scott Cunningham and David Harrington. I kinda wanna take it back to the store. I bought it because I just recently moved into a new apartment and I was so stoked about it that I pretty much bought practically any crap that was witchy and pertained to it. I would have purified my cat if there was some home warming spell asking for that if I didn’t check myself at least a little bit.

I don’t have many books on the Craft or on Paganism itself and The Magical Household reminded me why: It’s too White.

Yes, the book claims and actually does talk about spells from different cultures such as Chinese culture and Native American culture, even Raymond Buckland said that “[It is] a delightful compendium of bits and pieces of folklore gleaned from Europe, China, Hawaii, and other parts of the world.” That’s really nice of him and it’s a little true, I see references to Chinese goddesses and Native American rituals to keep your home clean and totally absent of astral nasties here and there. The book was made in 1983 so I guess I shouldn’t expect so much inclusivity but it still strikes me nonetheless. The mentions of different cultures are kind of glance-overs instead of in-depth looks at the spells and rituals from the culture, it is clear the book is very much western. When mentioning anything African, it relies on the go-to of Egypt as if A) It’s not a country in Africa and B) That can check Africa off the list of continents represented in the book. I’m sure part of this is ease for the reader because you can’t just post a Chinese house clearing ritual without needing something Chinese and potentially inaccessible. Plus, too much focus on any “exotic” culture and it would suck pretty fast.

It is far too common that just about any book in Paganism (or simply mainstream anything) is written from the White perspective. White, middle class (or middle-upper class), but at least the gender reflection in modern Pagan writings is a little better than the mainstream given that women have strong voices in the movement. But that’s probably where the “diversity of Paganism” culture stops.

If you’re a minority in Paganism, it is very bright and clear that unless you’re a picture on the wall, you’re probably not going to get represented in any well-rounded way and shouldn’t expect it. The common face of Paganism is White and suburban and the current expressions of it are very well rooted in White culture and most of White hegemony. For many minority Pagans, that means dealing with being thrusted into White culture whether they like it or not – or just study alone and remember that the author doesn’t mean it but they probably assume you’re White.

Just because someone is part of a different religion doesn’t mean they’re potentially any less of a douche in the race and culture department. Thanks to the invisible knapsack of White privilege, it throws an invisibility cloak over minorities. To keep from going too broad, I’m going to focus primarily on the Black Pagan issues as different minorities have different issues depending on how White culture decided to shape them in the eyes of the public and mental landscape of society. You see, I’ve learned through experience and hearing the experiences of others that Pagans love rooting for the underdog – I mean, we are one so it makes sense right? So stories of things happening to minorities anywhere in the world is terrible and tear jerking, right? Even issues that happen in their own home country such as America or the UK, there is an “Oh, some people are awful” kind of reaction. Y’know, as if racism exists in a vacuum and only shows itself when a lynching occurs and stuff like that. As long as there’s no voice from the side of the minority, it’s a one-sided show that can sometimes turn into a near circle jerk of “Well, we’re Pagans! We’re better than that. Those Christians! How dare they! Another sordid testament to the religion itself. What meanies. We would never act like that, the Goddess says love all!”

Let the minority open its mouth, even criticize Pagans and their shortcomings in the culture department and watch that cooing and sympathy drop quick. All of a sudden, it’s “We’re being attacked” and rationalizing ahoy. Talk about some of the humanitarian issues in this nation and how it disproportionally affects minorities and the working class, they’ll claim it’s from not doing enough hard work – this is America, after all. (Yeah, how that occupying working out for you?) Mention words like “institutional racism”, “tokenization” and “privilege” and up come the defenses. I’ve dealt with a stunning variety of Pagan women or Pagan men who thought they don’t benefit at all from any form of institutional anything and definitely not privilege because they’re Pagan, bigotry only benefits you if you’re Christian and Christian only. That, as Pagans, they’ve dealt with all sorts of historical bigotry that my race could not fathom such as the Burning Times, the Salem Witch Trials and the loss of some useful occult texts. Yup. I totes wouldn’t know – or maybe I would since I am Pagan. Though, I have never gotten a Walking While Pagan so maybe the jury is out on that one.

Yep. The colonization of Africa, which is still reeling from the effects to this very day, unlike Europe; the clear problems in race and police politics which are usually brutal and baseless against a minority with a bad rep that have always existed and has existed to this very day; a nearly whole cultural wipeout via systematic psychological, mental, physical and emotional destruction of a whole race that still exists to this very day cannot at all sum up to the prejudice that was incurred in Europe and the New World by those of European descent. Not trying to make this a Suffering Olympics but to be honest, it is pretty unfair to assume that what Pagans are enduring in America is worse than what other minorities have endured and not only but guess what? That assumption ignores the intersection of minorities who are Pagan. It ignores what Black Pagans have to deal with since they have a combo of two separate cultures that has to endure harsh prejudices (Black, Pagan) and how it will intersect within the cultures they reside in, the Black Pagan can easily become an outcast twice over: Blacks won’t get along with them because they “turned their back on Christ” and Pagans aren’t sure how to take them because as most Pagans are White, so will be their perceptions on the Black Pagan’s race. Oh joy.

This leaves a lot of Black Pagans in limbo about their faith. I’ve gotten letters from several readers where they said they thought they were the only ones who were Black and Pagan or said that since they found a Black Pagan publication, they are going to be a little more open-minded about the religion instead of brushing it off as “weird things White people do”. If you don’t see it, you can’t be it – this is the foundation of a lot of Black Pagans who are on the fence about their beliefs because no one wants to give up their culture for a religion – something, at face value, it appears to be when it comes to Paganism. No one wants to be the cultural ambassador, no one wants to willingly deal with racial tension, no one wants to meet subvert racism face first and be forced to deal with it. They probably do that already, why add to the pile? Here comes the assumptions of reclaiming African faith (because if you’re Black, why ever would you experience another culture?), that you’ve just hopped down from their television set and everything the tv told them about you is taken as fact (but in the same breath will bristle if you assume the same for Pagans), to be patronized about your culture (“I love Black people!”, “You’re not like other Black people”, “I wish more Bla – I mean African-Americans – were like you.”) and other thoroughly annoying nonsense, all for wanting to practice your faith as you see fit.

Then there’s the cultural swagger jacking that is very prevalent in Paganism. So many White people thinking that they can relate to Egyptians, Native Americans, Africans, Asians (preferably Chinese or Japanese) – or that if they try reeeeeeally hard enough, they’ll be one. Its official name is cultural misappropriation (it’s also “cultural appropriation” but “misappropriation” sounds more accurate to me) but you can call it being a culture vulture or cultural swagger jackers. These people love Isis like there’s no tomorrow, but can’t seem to get her skin color right. And they think all Egyptians have been the same since the pyramids. Ask them about Egyptian politics, culture and history and you’re either going to get a downpour of whitewashed bullsh*t or just naïve chatter. They feel Isis in their heart, though! No need to pay attention to what the humans (who are directly related to the culture the White, Western Pagan is trying to jack for their own needs) are doing. They may instead feel close to the earth and practice Native American rituals (*koff*incorrectly*koff*) but call Occupy Wall St “Decolonize Wall St” and prepare to be pegged a rabble rouser and told “We’re all Americans. It’s really sad what happened to them but they have casinos now! And they’re so beautiful!” Yah, maybe their spirit guide should point them to some official stats on life on a reservation and the grandest form of jacking anyone of anything ever done in American history – if not world history. What happened to Native Americans wasn’t simply swagger jacking, that was an outright, government-sanctioned heist. Then you have most Asian acknowledgement in Paganism is rife with Orientalism. Asians are supposed to have this mysterious culture that science just can’t get a hold of. Asia is this place of exotic mystery and mystique. As long as Asians don’t speak, they’re pretty and have such a calm around them. White Pagans will eat this up in a heartbeat – think of how many Pagans you have met that talk about yin and yang, Buddhism (but they only know about Buddha/Siddhartha, Kwan Yin and whatever kung fu movies mention), Chinese dragons (but suck at the different Asian lores – yep, not all Asian dragons, and lores, look and act alike), and other forms of Orientalism – but ask them about the Monkey King or even what China was going through during the 18th century and how do they feel about Japan constantly crapping on Korea throughout history, expect to be met with stares. Then there are the African adaptations (and severe Whitewashing) in mainstream Paganism. Talk about the beautiful rituals in the sub-Sahara but couldn’t tell me anything about kente cloth and doesn’t understand that African thinking, almost regardless of what diaspora it is, is going to be a little hard to grasp if you’re a cultural outsider because Africa developed differently than Europe (and had all the cool stuff before Europe pillaged it). They look at African gods and goddesses but are entirely disrespectful of the history and culture that sits behind them from the native spirits in Africa to the Orishas in the Americas to even the cultural conducts in even African-American culture. Snatch and grab of culture, pretty much.

When faced with such disdainful perspectives that on the surface are very kind and open but based on having the ability and privilege of looking at history from the colonizer’s side they’re not noticing what they’re doing and no, the White Pagan of today doesn’t own slaves, force Asians to build them railways and pay them in opium, perform a mass genocide of a native race or were the people who destroyed the nose of the Sphinx via cannon fire but blindly walking around in the privilege that every culture is – and should be – an open book for them to study and take what they want while leaving nothing behind except a pretty pissed off race is no better. Nothing is wrong with exchanging information and learning something new, but something is definitely wrong with trying to get info from another culture for one’s personal gain and then force said culture to assimilate the parts that aren’t so well liked. Asia, Africa and the Americas are treated like specimens to be examined. Isis should be Black or at least Middle Eastern, not White. (Heck, Jesus Christ should look Middle Eastern. Kinda hard to be White and living pretty much a stone’s throw away from Iraq rather than a stone’s throw from France. As in, if Rick Perry saw Him, he’d scream for Homeland Security to take away the terrorist.) Buddha isn’t a funky trinket, he’s not even a god and wouldn’t even want to be, he’s a prince that learned the truth of the world and “made right” the errors of his actions the hard way. The gods of Voudun do pick those who want to work on them but I don’t think they would pick so many people who look (and sometimes subconsciously think) like the very people who oppressed them and persecuted their followers if they didn’t pick the awfully White-looking Middle Eastern guy.

Being Pagan, it’s a lot like being an American. Anyone can be an American, regardless of race, creed, gender, sexuality or background – but there is one face of America that is often touted and if your skin is darker than your newspaper, you’re not it. Same with Paganism. Behind the “Come one, come all” lip service that is often touted, it’s got an undercurrent mentality that any minority isn’t aware of, it will take them in a riptide away from a really decent faith. In other words: Being Pagan doesn’t mean you’re infallible of making the same cultural slipies that the mainstream society makes so often. Just ask Occupy.  Simply be mindful and well-researched of other beliefs and keep respectful to them – and the people around you. Not everyone likes being invisible. Or occupied.

And must I say “Not All White Pagans Are Like That?” Lol, just read NALT.

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