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.
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.
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.
Anyhow, thanks for your time and blessed be!
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.