Blessings to you, Black Witch. I am always searching for information as I have only been a seeker and practicing as as solitary for a little over a year. I want to ask you what the best way is to deal with my fear of the spirit world. When I was in high school and several years after, I had some very frightening experiences after playing with a Ouija board with some friends. Bad decision. Every since then my perspective of the spirit realm scares the hell out of me and I don’t know how to get past it especially because there is no way I can walk the path of a witch, yet be afraid of the spirit world. It is because of my bad experiences that I consider any spirits bad and out to get to me. It’s really becoming a serious problem that I need some advice on how to cope and release the fear. My fear is hindering my practice.

-Maria J.

Oooooh, I know this feeling, it can be really scary working with the spirit world! I understand wholeheartedly about wanting to get past the spooks of interacting with the spirit

world to feel like you’re a well-rounded witch, it really does feel like there’s no way around it. I also understand from personal experience how interacting with spirits and it goes awry can really leave you completely halted.

Best thing I can suggest is research. Research on magickal self-defense (things like amulets, herbal mixes, wards, etc etc) and research on spirits. Now I’m sure with the latter, you’re going “Wat? Lol, no,” but researching various entities and what they’re really like may help you. Most likely, what you summoned was some random spirit that felt like trolling humans (and this letter is why I usually tell people don’t diddle around with Ouija boards) and since it was your initial experiences with spirits, it left you scarred. First impressions really are everything, especially in magick. Knowledge is probably going to be your best bet here since there’s no other way around it unless you want to buy all the shrine bells, iron, holy water and blessing powders in the world to make you feel a teensy bit safe, which will fade over time. It’s best to research to allay your fears. And don’t research the scary spirits first, just get some basic knowledge on spirits and the spirit world (preferably in books and most preferably written by people who aren’t loopy new-age type folks). I think the book The Encyclopedia of Spirits by Judika Stiles is a good suggestion. Try not to be freaked out by it and know that just because you have a book on spirits in your home or you reading an entry on spirits ever does not mean the spirits you’re reading about will come crashing in. It will not automatically summon anything, trust me on that. I had the same fear with spirits due to bad experiences and being really knowledgeable on the subject really helped. I think it’s that not-knowing that ramps a person up because it leaves you feeling helpless and helplessness is a terrible feeling.

Also, you don’t have to be a pro with spirits to be good at magick. You can work strictly with energy until you get past the jitters about spirits. You can study alchemy, improve your herbal knowledge (which I would recommend because it would make you feel better and less defenseless), there’s plenty to do until you fully work out your phobia so you can continually progress while working on yourself, which is very important.

Do you ever have trouble finding others like yourself? I’m a black woman inclined towards esoteric teaching and occultism. Sigil magic is a part of my focus, though I’m new to the path. I’d love some advice. :-) Peace

- Venicia

Even with Tumblr and being on African American Wiccan Society’s group, I still have trouble finding other Black Pagans. A lot really don’t want to be out with their work and some are not really Pagans, just completely nuts and somehow floated over to Paganism. Or are just Afriboos that just so desperately want to remove any iota of Western influence (besides internalized racism, homophobia annnnnnnd Western-stemmed misogyny). It’s pretty difficult, especially if you want to interact with them physically, in the real world because they’re either scared someone is going to find out they’re Pagan/practice witchcraft/occultism or they don’t feel like dealing with White Pagans who think now that a Black person has arrived, it’s time to try out all their best racist jokes and passive-aggressive complaints about Black people in general. Or a combo. Even I have sat out of plenty of Pagan events because I get tired very frequently of being the only Black person there and for White Pagans to assume I’m somehow the Ambassador of Negroes. Yeah, for folks who claim to be colorblind (which is a big and harmful myth that actually upholds Whiteness, not dispel it), they seem to notice it pretty well.

Your best chance would just to be on Tumblr and wrack up Black Pagan friends that way. I would recommend following idanceitarotiart, who is pretty nice, and go from there. Also, check out the sigil tag on Tumblr, it’s really nice and you’ll learn lots of new stuff.

And that’s all the Ask Black Witch for not only this month but this year! W00t!