Category: Pagan Life


White Gaze and Race Problems

I had a chance to read the Cracked article “Ferguson, Eric Garner and Why Death Should Outrage Us”. I was hesitant because usually Cracked, albeit a fairly funny publication, tends to show in more ways than it thinks that its target audience is White and middle class (and usually male. Only recently have they started featuring pieces that acknowledge women exist as people and not walking trophies). Then I thought, “Eh, I might as well read this article so I can figure out if I need to delete the app and reject the site rather than play yet another game of Schrodinger’s Racist.”

The article wasn’t thaaaaaaaat bad (it was penned by a White author, I’m not expecting greatness when they write on race. I’m relatively placated if they just avoid using the n-word and don’t try to validate stereotypes since that seems such so herculean a task, humanizing people as people) but the part that struck me was “Until this month, I had no idea that black moms teach their sons how to survive police encounters. It’s called ‘The Talk,’ and black boys get it as soon as they start hitting puberty….” It only struck me because A) Black kids of both genders start getting the Race talk when they’re usually in elementary school, no need to play it off like Black women and girls are so safe in the hands of cops and society. At least Black boys don’t have to worry about rape and murder at the hands of law enforcement. Or from White individuals in general. B) Boys do get more of the “how to act around cops” talk because they are targeted by officers more but both genders are reminded heavily that people are going to treat them differently, and for the worse, just because of their skintone and absolutely nothing else. You’re explained to that you’ll be followed in stores, passed up for jobs, pulled over a lot more, treated unnecessarily meaner and instantly distrusted the second you’re seen all because of your skin color. And that even if the person says, “I don’t see color”, it really means, “I don’t see you  as a person, acknowledging your different heritage makes me uncomfortable so I’ll blatantly ignore it.”  And that despite all this special behavior just to avoid death, White folks are supposed to tell us whenever it suits them that “racism is over” and then act surprised when they find it isn’t and start squawking to everyone else… who already knew and forever said so. Come to think of it, it shouldn’t be too surprising that now Cracked saw race and current events as relevant and therefore want to hyper focus on it.

In the race talk, you’re also taught how to navigate those experiences so you can at least reduce your chances of turning up missing and/or dead: What neighborhoods you can be in and which are sundown towns, who to trust, how to dress, what and how to eat, what speed to run at, how to never wear a hoodie (I have walked through rain with my head uncovered despite having a hood on both my shirt and coat since I was younger, kinda don’t want to end up dead. My umbrella collection is bananas, though), how to talk (and be reminded that you could talk better than the person judging you, you’re still subjected to JAN* syndrome), how to tell when the White folks are going from “Normal, level-headed” to “you scare me, you’re going to die” or “We’re not letting you leave. Not effortlessly breathing, anyway”.

When I was a kid, my mom showed me this picture from the Civil Rights movement from a dark blue textbook to help illustrate her point:

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White feminists, you’re probably staring at your auntie, grandmother and/or mom. So nice most of y’all kept up the tradition and with persistence! #AllWomenMatter, amiright? Or nah?

I remember being confused by the picture because I didn’t know why the lady in the back was so upset at the lady holding the schoolbooks and looking like a fellow student. This was the during the “Little Rock Nine” integration and the White woman was screaming “B*TCH!” at the Elizabeth Eckford. Kinda like what happens now, but on Twitter and Tumblr. And the foul screaming chick would probably have on a “This is what a Feminist looks like” shirt on in her selfies and avi. Mom took this moment to explain how racism works and that the woman in the back was yelling because she didn’t want Eckford going to her school purely because she was Black and nothing else. This was her springboard into explaining how we don’t live in a society that is very fair and that I could be treated really badly – even though I was an elementary school child – because I’m Black. She explained that nothing was wrong with me, this is just how White people are and always have been, seemingly. She framed it as, “They’re just mean because they think they’re better than us.” Of course, she also mentioned how sometimes other minorities who aren’t Black may treat us bad but that’s learned behavior from Whiteness being seen as value and we’re the opposite of Whiteness. She continued that while not all of them are bad, you have to be cautious of the majority of them because they could hurt you and even the ones who say they’re the “good guys” will just let it happen.

Just to pause for a moment: For White allies that are probably whinging right now and sobbing into their Stephen Colbert books, this is why White allies are – and should always be until vastly proven otherwise – under intense scrutiny. You may not have thrown a slur at a Black person for just existing but making excuses for the person who did or keeping quiet while it happens is no better. Also, you don’t have to be a card carrying member of the Klan to crack an Ebola, “That’s so ghetto” or welfare queen joke. Notice you don’t have one. Alright, moving on.

Mom continued teaching about slavery and how our family traveled up the South and rested in Maryland as well as what job folks in my family had, such as dayworkers**. Also, she talked about the many successes of Black individuals such as Benjamin Banneker and Rosa Parks as well as what it was like growing up in during the Civil Rights movement (My mom was 10 when Dr. King was shot). She explained to me how the riots and protests happened and how, pretty much, everything repeats itself.

So, yeah, it must be nice to be so oblivious to the “A whole group of people wanna ruin or kill you so bad for something so superficial, you feel like you live in a disturbing version of The Twilight Zone,” up until a month ago.  I wish I could say that. And remember, I’m not a boy. Nor was I close to even being a tween, I think I was around the second grade or so. I had to have this talk because if you didn’t have the talk, you could act wrong in a future encounter and wind up dead because you didn’t know that being Black meant “walking threat”. None of my White friends know what having the Race Talk was, I discovered that in college from talking to a group of my friends. All the minority kids – the Indian kids, the Black kids, the Mid-East kids, we were all talking about when we got the Race talk and all my White friends were looking around, completely lost but wanting to participate. They had no clue that we gotta get the “So, this is what it means when a White person follows you in a store or on the street and/or start saying crazy things out of the clear blue and how to navigate” chat. They were surprised because they thought, “But, Dr. King,” and how his actions (which resulted in him getting shot in the throat on a second story balcony in a murder supported by the US government) should have magically solved everything. Newp. Or else I wouldn’t have been stopped by that cop who defensively stood behind his open car door with a hand on his pistol when he stopped me while I was waiting for the bus on college campus, heavy bookbag in tow because “I might try to case that warehouse over there.” All this, despite being dressed in casual cybergoth, complete with the red and white hairfalls.

These exact same falls. Yep. I totes look like a criminal, blending in effortlessly.

These exact same falls. Yep. I totes look like a criminal, blending in effortlessly.

They don’t get told “Here’s how you act so a group of people don’t see you as a threat, regardless of how much you accomplish, your clothes, mannerism or your cultural status.” The kicker: they don’t even mind mouthing off to cops or reciting various amendments because no one had to tell them that their skintone made all that Constitutional stuff null and void.  Some still couldn’t buy into the fact that the government would actively hurt American people. Talk about living in a fantasy world.

I get the Cracked post is supposed to be a “For White People, By White People” type post, which is nice in some respects because White folks are supposed to some heavy lifting in dismantling their own prejudices and the institutions they framed around them but it still is irritating. Part of me wants to go, “Oh, c’mon, no1currs. Can you go back to your other funny stuffs?” It’s like this stuff is inescapable. Again, on one hand, this is good because everyone needs to know that racism has never left, they just stopped being willfully and actively oblivious. On the other hand, I just want a break. White folks may love to discuss this stuff like it’s NFL fantasy football but that’s because they’re not at all affected. They don’t get reports of White people being murdered after being harassed by cops, complete with HD pictures and video, and people telling them that they’re delusional for thinking there may be a trend. There’s no loss in hyper examining things, even if they get it super wrong. Nothing in these string of deaths is scary to them, just fascinating and something else they can go Kony 2012 about. It’s like watching a new soldier dumped in a warzone, completely enthused and alert because he’s played so much Call of Duty and Modern Warfare, he still thinks he’s still inside a video game.

Basically, it is not to questionable to wonder if White people are talking about these grievances mainly because of either White saviorism (which is what fueled Kony 2012 and currently many universities’ Alternative Spring Break and trips to Africa and Asia) or because right now it’s the hip thing to walk around with a #BlackLivesMatter placard, possibly because nothing better is on TV. It’s reasonable to wonder if it will be a “Won’t someone please think of the White people,” moment because for actual change to occur, everyone has to be on board and that includes White folks actually taking a critical eye to the systems they uphold, the privileges, how it all functions in overt and subvert ways (usually subvert, such as micro-aggressions and “playful” jokes)  annnnnnd that is probably never going to happen. At least not for the longest of times. It’s like telling a rich person to give up their Bugatti for a Ford, simply out of the goodness of their own heart. Not happening. It’s hard to want to give up a system that actively benefits and rewards  you…but being really kumbayah and whingy about that system is good enough because feel-good lip service. That doesn’t require any mental heavy lifting or even a real sense of caring. It’s like that aforementioned rich man,  he won’t want to give up his Bugatti but he’ll fuss about how it’s so terrible that economic inequality is awful and how everyone should be able to own a Bugatti and how brands like Ford and Chevy are so humble and the icons of the hard working American…while getting into his Bugatti and driving away. After all is said and done, White folks tend to resume business as usual because, again, this is probably horseplay for them until the weather finally warms up and then the conversation can move to beach-related subjects.

At least the writer for the Cracked article, Kristi Harrison, didn’t act like the Covenant of the Goddess  because they made a pretty bad statement that is much more predictable of what White folks say in racial issues.

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I don’t care of doing a close reading since what they wrote is totally expected. I had a feeling they would pull this, so glad I never joined. However, you guys can and here’s the Culture Bingo Board so you can play at home. Great for outings, parties and single players, ages 5 and up:

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CoG most likely will backpedal like crazy so just keep this handy when they start with the fake apologies and the flame wars that will most assuredly be in their Facebook fan page’s comments.

Next week is The Arts!: Language!
– Hello Talk
– Live Mocha
– Talking translator
– and more! (that will be language specific)

After that is Ask Black Witch, send in your questions. Good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated.

*JAN syndrome: “Just Another N***er” syndrome is when you could be greatly accomplished and even be as non-stereotypical as possible but you’re still seen as just another porch-monkey, you just know how to talk better than the rest, therefore, must be ultimately distrusted and taken down a few pegs at all cost.

** Day workers are Black (or just any minority woman) who work as mammies/nannies/maids in White women homes to help them take care of their kids…y’know, while White women were clamoring about how they are treated so poorly because they have to stay at home and raise kids because women don’t have the right to work. They were half right. White women had to stay home, but Black women always had to work…usually in their homes.

How New

Such a spike in followers and readers! I know partly this is from the PACO event I did, which you can view the video below, it’s an hour and a half long (for younger readers, I swear twice by mistake, that is a no-no):

However, I think this is a good time to remind everyone the basics of Black Witch. Believe it or not, I get skeptical when I get spikes in followers and readers (except on Tumblr, I’m on there pretty regularly so it doesn’t surprise me). Especially when I get too many new White readers – history shows that usually for minority/people o’ pigment* (PoP), this is a bad sign of the calm before a sh*tstorm. So, let’s review:

Black Pagan blog, strictly
This blog is open to be viewed by all but that is the exact target audience. PoP but Pagan (or not Pagan)? Feel free to stick around and interact, but remember, this is mainly going to reflect upon the Black/Pagan intersection of identity. Black and Christian? You can stick around but this is not your blog to throw your weight around. White and Pagan? Really not your blog to throw your weight around, go bug Pagan Soccer Mom. None of those? Then it’s best to keep quiet unless you have a really good question that serves the blog and primary readership than it does yourself. Otherwise, use google.

Black blog
This blog is primarily for Black readers. Not a slice-of-life blog for clueless White folks who want to know the mind of the Negro…besides, it’s not like the extreme vast majority** of you guys are that interested in the more humanizing aspects of Blackness or Black people anywhere, ever. That means I’ll use lingo and references that are deep in Black culture. Feel like an outsider? Go to practically any other media form ever and you’ll be fine. This is not your space and you will be reminded of that at every twist and turn. So you can hang about but don’t get upset if you feel hanged. So that means no: “But I’m a White ally! Why won’t you be nice to White people? Not all of us are bad.” You’re partially right but you might want to raise the question to your fellow White person why they act in a way that makes everyone else see them as a walking problem, not to me.

For Black readers, I’m going to deconstruct the not-so-fun parts of our culture. Blackness shouldn’t equate: “poor, happily stupid, forever struggling, accomplishes nothing”. I participate in alternative culture so if that isn’t your vibe, get lost. I’m sure Steve Harvey and Michael Baisden don’t mind new readers. I’m not bending over backwards for a mainstream Black culture that made sure to express it didn’t like me or anyone else “too” different. Nor am I going to lowkey uphold the very false value of Whiteness as if that’s a ticket card I can redeem later to avoid greater acts of life-threatening racism. I’d like for y’all to know that don’t work. Ever. Doesn’t exist. You could play all the respectability politics and push all the internalized racism all you want, it won’t buy you out of racism’s wrath. Go ask President Obama and Wayne Brady if you don’t believe me. Blackness is dynamic and non-monolithic, go pick up a book and get over it. I’m no nicer to Black folks that seriously don’t know their own history but wanna race police.

Pagan blog
Don’t like that I’m not super pro-Abrahamic and focus a lot on “heathen” stuff? I really don’t care. This Black faith blog has no desire to project Christian ideals since, y’know, I’m not Christian. At all. Go find one if that’s what you want. They’re eeeeeeeeverywhere. Like, everywhere. I don’t mind discussing how Christian privilege works in the West or things of that nature, but there’s not going to be reams of scripture here or lack of deconstruction here. This is a Pagan blog so it is centered on the Pagan experience in and of itself, not simply how it relates to Abrahamic beliefs.

Black Feminist/womanist blog
Yeah, not interested in Afriboo nonsense or supporting sexist ideas, especially internalized racist versions of sexist ideals. So no, “All Black men are kings, all Black women are queen” crap here. It’s nice to have high self esteem but frankly, we’re not all kings and queens, just people with a dynamic history that is forever downplayed and copied. And usually folks who think within the slave/Nubian royalty dichotomy are also misogynistic (particularly misogynoir), homophobic and transphobic so I really don’t care for any of that. We’re people, even kingdoms needed more than just kings and queens to be a kingdom. Think you’ve been laid low by the matriarchy or that only certain types of women deserve protection and validation of existence while others don’t? Go onto another blog, it is possible you can find friendship in the comment section of Until I Get Married. I prefer to deconstruct male privilege and gender roles with the delicate sensitivity of a White kid on Halloween. Basically, if you think Steve Harvey is a great relationship expert and/or that cat calling is just women taking undue offensive to “complements”***, this is not the site for you.

White feminists, this ain’t much your site either. It just wouldn’t be anti-Black enough. I like Ida B. Wells, not Susan B. Anthony. And if you don’t know who Wells is but you know about Anthony, just drop out of Feminism altogether. Being racist is divisive, not being inclusive. You can’t say you fight for all of a group when you demonize the majority of it to make yourself look better.

So, that’s the basics. My website is faaaar from perfect, that is for sure, but it is important to know where this site stands. Yeah, as this site (and I) get older, some parts may change but this is pretty much the core of the website that is Black Witch. I don’t run this site so that White people, Pagan or not, can wreak havoc in the comments. I don’t run this site so that Christians – particularly homophobic and bigoted ones – can roll into the comments about how this is all devilish by their standards and why don’t I adhere to their religion’s ideas of faith…despite the fact I follow a perfectly different one. I don’t run this site so that Afriboos and “conscious” Black folks can pop up in the comments about how Black women this and Black women that or Black people this and Black people that but know extremely little about their own heritage’s history outside of Boondocks episodes, Egypt and Christianity/Islam. This site is much like other sites but still unique in its own way and I would like to retain what makes the site effective.

Ohh! I should add, albeit post-script, what to do and what not to do when writing to me. I reaaaaaaally don’t like bad questions so don’t ask for:

Spells – I don’t do pay-for-pray/paid spellwork. I don’t do spellwork for free. I actually don’t do spellwork for others. At all. Ever. This site is a witchcraft service. If you want to turn into another person, get revenge on someone or simply are too crappy a person to get a relationship on your own (not at all there) merits, use the mundane ways for those. Bothering me just mean you’ll get insulted and possibly made fun of because you should have read first or you would have known I don’t do spellwork for others.

Divination (outside of Samhain Pickers) – I don’t have a divination service either. I like to stem the flow of “can you read my palm/cards/chart/etc” so that is why I have Samhain Pickers, which is only on Halloween. That, I do for free. Any other time I announce it (keyword: announce, meaning “I tell you when”, not “You tell me when”), it will be a paid service and only because I spotted a new art toy or Storm statue and I’m not patient. Those are rare. Very rare.

And while I like to talk about race here, I don’t feel like being asked “Hey, some Black kid in a Southern state was found hanging from a tree recently, can you do divination to determine if it is a hate crime?” That’s really insulting because a) you must obviously be a White person, and one that decided to pretty much go “So, here’s a new dead Black kid, I just wondered if you would like to be super involved in it because I can’t tell if an obvious hate crime is a hate crime.” b) can’t tell that it’s an OBVIOUS HATE CRIME TO HANG BLACK FOLKS FROM TREES, especially in racially charged areas, you don’t have to be a Klansman/Klanswoman to hate minorities or most White folks would be card carrying members. Believe it or not, I actually don’t like to engage myself with this stuff when I don’t have to and it’s insulting to ask for divination when something is so clear, it’s an overwhelmingly redundant question. That’s like saying “I dunno, he has bullet holes and there’s a gun nearby and everyone heard pops and dude’s not breathing but can you do a tarot reading to see if he was shot? I mean, there’s footage the crime scene and all but I’m too lazy to do the work.” That’s being a sh*tty and super careless ally.

Poorly written letters – So here’s a fun fact: I have a degree in English, can communicate in several languages and work in libraries for a living. So you can probably guess from all that, that I don’t like getting messages or letters that look like you smeared your face across a keyboard and then pressed “send”. I can tell when poor writing deviates from having English as a second language and when poor writing deviates from poor literary skills, period. I really don’t like badly written letters because why would you want to present yourself like that to anyone in that fashion? It connotes stupidity and worthlessness. I don’t expect the king’s English but write like you understand how a keyboard works and how basic English sentence structures function. Plus, I can’t help if I don’t understand and I really don’t like to decipher what should be written so plainly. If it is a really poorly penned question, I’m going to be super snarky about it.

Bigoted (sexist, homophobic, racist, etc) questions: Dude, my site is not the training grounds for you to get life lessons of “don’t be a bigot”. Don’t like gay folks or are scared of them (never) attacking you? Take two cyanide pills, it’ll clear that fear right up. Don’t like to think of women as people but still somehow want to date them? A half cup of bleach, mixed with 1/4 cup of water and 2/3 cup vinegar should fix whatever loneliness woes you have. Ditto with racist folks, just dip your nose underwater until fully submerged and breath through said nose to help flush out brain of subvert and overt tendencies such as supporting gentrification and White washing or complaining that there is too much diversity. Same for wannabe allies. Go flex on Tumblr. If you have to wonder, “is my question bigoted?”, it probably is and you probably should keep it to yourself. Again, Black Witch is NOT a service to help the clueless in social matters. I’ll just make fun of you instead.

* Still not very partial to term “Person of Color” but “Person of Pigment” is a good working term until something better comes along
** To the major minority: Hi, Mark. How you is? I expect an e-card of a cactus done up like a Christmas tree. :3
*** “Complements” that if a gay guy gave you, you’d be ready to put holmes in a hospital.

Bitter Nails

So, I collect rusted nails.

I live near a funeral home so there’s a bounty of coffin nails laying around but I prefer the naturally rusted ones. Reason? I’m not really the jinxing or binding type but it is nice to have in storage in the Magick cabinet. I horde stuff, it’s a thing.

Using magick to stop or punish wrongdoing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Keyword: “Necessarily”. It’s easy to be overruled by emotions and to think that you’re right and they’re wrong and with the aid of some black salt and rusted nails, all will be right with the world again. Even if you’re in the wrong. Face it, everyone thinks they’re the hero in their own story, even the villain so it can all be a matter of perspective. This is why I prefer more karmic magick, even if it has a bit of a punishing lean to it. And this is also why I don’t do pay-for-pray/paid spellwork, it’s really amazing what crucial info people leave out when they want to hire out revenge. I mean that in the most sarcastic way possible, seriously, you almost want to advocate people buy guns instead.

Rusted nails are useful in binding and karmic spells still because they still can represent a problem or a problem person. However, it’s best to go with “problem” in oppose to “problem person” unless you are 184% sure it is them, irrefutable proof included (as in, you saw with your own eyes, pretty much) because red herrings and fall guys exist. A lot. The rusted nail can be hammered down, isolated, bound up in twine or wire, submerged in mixture, whatever is needed as it houses the representational energy of whatever is the problem.

Now, a word for why I prefer karmic spells over hexes and jinxes (in most cases) is because the universe (or whichever judge-like deity or entity you’re summoning) becomes the judge and they see/know all. At least to an extent greater than mortals do, we still can’t get over the fact we come in darker shades and that’s a pretty basic non-problem. There is a myriad of reasons why whatever happened to you did happen, some may be more obvious than others, even if the reason is “no reason/luck ran out”. Life isn’t perfect or fair. Also, no one is 100% innocent, there’s a chance you’re getting retribution for something you did, even if it is unrelated. That’s what karmic spells are good for. So the actual bad guy can be punished, even if the bad guy is you.

Does this mean that I’m anti-hex? Nah, not entirely. Jinxing can be used as protection in terms of self defense (and being upset someone forgot to put cheese on your cheeseburger doesn’t count as self defense but jinxing a street harasser or creeper is perfectly fine, if not encouraged) but mainly in self defense. Anything else is not necessary and better for just a karmic spell because for all that bears out in reality, they may not have really wronged you, you just might see it that way. Which isn’t fair.

So, I’ll keep collecting rusted nails. Maybe one day I’ll have to use them. Y’know, again.

Ok, that’s all for the BW for today but did you know that I will participating on the online “Activism Among Pagans of Color” panel for PACO, Pagan Activism Conference Online. The panel will be on November 22nd starting at 12 PM PST. Learn more about it here. The whole online conference costs $40 but the panel is $10 and if you can’t pay, PACO can help. Click the link for more info.

Alright, I have some quick news! I will be part of PACO – the Pagan Activism Conference Online – for the “Activism Among Pagans of Color” panel. I’ll be speaking alongside Shades of Faith and Shades of Ritual author Crystal Blanton, hoodoo conjurer Khi Armand and blogger Xochiquetzal Duti Odinsdottir on November 22, 12-1:30 PM (PST). Now, as you could gather from the title, it will all be online so you can listen in. However, entry is paid:

$40 for the whole online conference
$10 per individual panel

If you still are having difficulty paying, it’s fine. Contact the Pantheon Foundation here and they’ll work with you. If you can pay, go for it – it supports the panelists! Woo!

See you there!

Pagan Dress Up

Usually when someone mentions they’re a witch or Pagan or whatever, the dress that commonly comes to mind is be raggedy black dress with striped stockings, and pointy hat or uber goth kids wearing all black and silver jewelry, or people walking about as if they’re on winter break from Hogwarts. Now while it’s cool and funky to have robes and fancy things, remember: There’s no dress code in Paganism.

We’re not like certain sects in Judaism, Islam, Christianity or Buddhism where there is an important piece of clothing to wear enable to confer your faith. You don’t have to plunder through Hot Topic or dress as if you’re going to a funeral everyday. Now, if you want to wear a particular clothing to best connect with whatever main pantheon you work with (say you work with the Islamic pantheon and entities and want to wear a head-covering as respect to the faith and beliefs) that’s fine but in general. There isn’t a particular thing you have to wear. Most Pagans looks like normal people…mainly because we are.

Take me for example. Even though I dress in alternative fashion pretty regularly, this is me on a regular day:

"Sup, brah?"

      “Sup, brah?”

Nothing unusual. I don’t look obviously Pagan nor do I look like I shop out of Diagon Alley on the regular. I look really normal. Because there’s nothing there special for me to wear. Commonly, people believe Pagans and Witches dress odd like mountain hags or as if their fashion sense never went past 1683 mainly thanks to movies (a lot of things people believe about how Pagans look and act are thanks to movies and tv shows, ergh) but the reality is, is that we are pretty incognito.

"So incognito, brah"

“So incognito, brah”

Pagans come from many backgrounds and can take on any job such as nurses, lawyers, doctors, teachers and more, there’s nothing that say you have to change your clothes to reflect your faith when it comes to Paganism. It’s appreciated but not necessary. Now granted, many Pagans also wear stone jewelry, I’m no exception because I wear a tourmalated quartz necklace that I’ve had for a loooooooooooooooong time.

"Brah."

    “Brah.”

You don’t have to go out and buy one or find one, if you don’t want to wear rocks around your neck, wrist, fingers or whatever, it’s perfectly fine and up to the practitioner of what they wanna do and how they wanna do it. Some Pagans and Witches charm their jewelry for whatever reason or another. Some don’t . Some wear it as an abstract expression of  faith, like when a Christian wears a cross necklace. I kinda of wear my stone necklace for this reason but also partly because it’s my favorite stone (that temporarily got lost for a day). But remember, not every person who wears any stone jewelry is automatically Pagan or a witch. So please, don’t approach people who are wearing a rose quartz and declare “THEY’RE A WITCH. STOOOOOOOOOOOOOONE THEM!” because you could be way off the mark – not to mention give someone a heart attack with the sudden declaration for mob assembly. That scares anyone.

"Not cool, brah"

“Not cool, brah.”

So remember, you can wear normal clothes, you don’t have to wear black every single day. Being Pagan/Witch is who you are and doesn’t require clothing expression of dedication. You’re still Pagan/Witch even if you look the furthest away from a granola-munching environmentalist or as if you stumbled off the set from The Craft. Even if you don’t have a single thing that has a pentacle or pentagram on it. Even if you don’t own a single robe or fancy (and highly flammable) ritual clothing. You’re still you and you still strongly practice, even without the visual signifiers.

It’s Ask Black Witch, time to answer some questions! However, before we do, let’s see who are the winners of Samhain Pickers! Well, winner.

- Reshena J

Also, don’t forget! Black Witch Ustream chat tonight at 9 PM EST!

Alright, let’s move on to the questions!

Hi there! I have a question for you. I have been on and off the Pagan path for years and am finally trying to take the time to really dedicate myself to it and finally find my place. I have been in the process of researching and connecting with a Patron Goddess. Just purely reading books and internet sources to find which ones I’m attracted to in general. But I’m having trouble connecting with ones of Celtic or Welsh backgrounds. I think because I am black, my mind is trying to guilt me and tell me I don’t have the historical right or heritage to try to connect with these deities….Any thoughts?

 – Danielle T.

There are thousands and thousands of deities that exist in the world. I would recommend going on MythologyDictionary so since that has the best resources on deities that I have found so far.

Now, you’re not alone when thinking “I’m Black, shouldn’t I just stick with African gods?” because some are worried they are somehow rejecting their heritage (they’re not) or that they have to stay in their own corner…or worry that White Pagans will force them to.

Speaking of White people and participating in things one has absolutely no historical right or heritage to whatsoever, look up yoga, rock music, jazz, American slang, mohawks, urban activism, graffiti, Bed-Stuy, street dancing/pop-locking, art toys, The Harlem shake, Macklemore, Miley Cyrus, The Black Keys, kale, quintoa, United States, war bonnets, life-hacking, baby hair, shamanism, dream catchers, Buddhism and Christianity. This is the very, very short list, we’re talking .243 picometer short. As long as you’re not going as far as pretty much stealing from other cultures and disenfranchising/othering the people that has created those cultures, you’re fine.

If you, say, want to pray to a Shinto deity but you always consider Japan as that weird country over there because you don’t want to learn how crass imperialism from the West made it “weird” and you’re not interested in learning the history behind Shinto, the people or anything, then yeah, you’re doing it wrong. Your connections to the gods are going to change over time because you as a person will change over time. If you want to connect to the Celtic or Welsh deities, that’s fine but don’t forget to study their histories and backgrounds (this will be well outside the scope of a new age book, you’re going to have to go to a regular library if you haven’t already). However, because there’s such and overbearing amount of European deities in Paganism, I still recommend you learn about all the deities all around the world, including Africa because it’s best to have as wide a net as possible to pull from and so to feel comfortable when practicing with whatever deities you wind up with. You shouldn’t let the fact you’re Black barricade you from pursuing whatever means something to you. I usually work with spirits and entities but I really take a shining to Apollo. However, that doesn’t negate my heritage nor let me think lesser of African and African Diasporic deities. It will take a while because there’s a lot to hack through (and idiotic people, mainly White Pagans, to deal with).

As long as you don’t become the Black version of a White person wanting to learn Voodoo but only Black person she’s seen is Obama and she thinks calling random things “ghetto” and cracking ebola jokes are funny but gets really upset when called out on her racism, you’re fine.

I live in a Bible belt. There is a church on every corner! Most people around here do not understand Pagan religion. How would I go about making my beliefs public?

– Robyn H.

I live in a southern state (Maryland) so I know the feeling. The best you can do is gauge your audience and engage your audience, if that’s what you want to do.

Some people are a little more open-minded than others, try to stick around those people if you can. You may be the first out Pagan they have ever met, however, that doesn’t mean you should have to teach people about your faith when they most likely have access to internet to do research on their own. When I deal with folks who I can sort of tell are not going to be that open minded to my faith, I give them the nutshell version of Paganism, “It’s a nature based belief system.” That’s it.

Granted, since you’ll be dealing with Christians and many of them feel the active rejection of the Christian god is the passive acceptance of the Christian devil, expect idiotic questions that pretty much boil down to “But why aren’t you Christian, tho? Can’t you force yourself to like this religion for my comfort? Doesn’t matter if you believe or not (but I’ll guilt you all the same if you don’t) but can’t you fake it like everyone else I know does?” Make sure they get it through their thick head that not everyone believes the same things and that Paganism is not Christianity so you believe in different things they do but it doesn’t make you amoral. If Christians do think that being non-Christian will steer you to do bad things, bring up the Ku Klux Klan, Westboro Baptist Church, the Unabomber, most serial killers annnnnd the majority of American government and how we like wars but don’t like to help the poor. It won’t make them like you but it will get them away from you pretty fast. Knowledge, it’s very useful stupid-repellant.

You can express your faith however way you wish. I have my tourmilated quartz and my pentacle/trinity ring that I wear everyday. I take off for Pagan holidays. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get people who talk badly about a faith they don’t understand, my faith (and if they do, now would be a great time to bring up the numerous scriptures in the Bible about being accepting and how they’re angering their god with their dedication to ignorance, self-awareness freaks them out) but I also tend to stand my ground because after a decade plus of trying to walk on eggshells, eventually you get tired of trying to spare others’ feelings while yours still get wrecked. That’s not fair.

Feel free to make notecard sized sheets of “What is Paganism?”, which is in the Links of Interest on this site, to give to family and friends who ask about your faith but also know it isn’t your job to be someone’s walking life lesson. And if the Christian people keep forcing the issue that you’re not Christian, feel free to stand your ground and mention if the roles were reversed, they would be upset. As long as you’re not proselytizing or treating people badly and hiding behind religious script for it, you’re fine.

Also, if they drag race into it (“Ain’t only White people Pagan?”, “Jesus was there for us when we were slaves”), bring up that indigenous faiths existed loooooooooooooooong before Christianity came around, Africa learned about Christianity through imperialist brainwashing to make obedient but psychologically tattered slaves. This does not mean they are mindless slaves because they are Black and Christian but how Black folks met Christianity? This is actual history.

I am not really new to witchcraft, I use to study about 10 years ago but I am finding some commonalities between quantum physics and the law of attraction.
I am thinking very seriously about doing a binding spell on my 17yr daughter who recently  tried to kill herself. I am afraid for her.
I have been working with the material world for a year, and it doesn’t seem to be working.
I am thinking about doing a binding spell and then try to do some crystal healing.
I am trying to find a friend in the witchcraft community.
Your help/advice would be gratefully appreciated.

Thank you

- Danette

So suicide is a pretty big deal for me. Parents tend to screw up dealing with their children having crises. My response:

Okay, here is a novel idea: ACTUALLY TALK TO YOUR KID.

She’s feeling trapped and NEEDS someone to talk to. Not to be bound, listened to. NOT yelled at, listened to.

Did you try listening to your daughter? Or better yet, making it so, so that she knows she can tell you honestly what is bothering her? You don’t need magick, you need ears.

I’ll go more in depth on Ask Black Witch at the end of the month.

Thing is, I understand the point of wanting to do a binding spell as she tries to figure out what is with her daughter but it sounded like at this point, she was missing the basics. A lot of parents tend to go for the “lecture till done talking” route, which doesn’t fix anything.

I have done everything under the sun. I have talk to her .. Her dad talk to her… This has been going for two years now.. Psychiatrist .. Therapist .. Consolers… Family therapy has not helped.. She said in she doesn’t know why she feels lost… Honesty I am at the end of my rope.. I just don’t know what to do any more… She and I are close but she still can’t figure out why she feels this way… She starting cutting 2 years ago…   I would not have sent this if i did not try trying every thing possible.. I am not an authoring kind of person. She is lost and I have tried to lead her home… But she doesn’t want to come… So I am looking for something spiritual to help her because drugs and doctors and we as parents are running out of options… I love my baby girl and would give her the world if she just would open her heart and eyes to see it sitting right in front of her… 

- Danette

Now, it’s nice that the parent has tried to be proactive in trying to fix her daughter’s problems, even if it seems that nothing is working. Here, I can somewhat see the use in a binding spell but also I wonder how comfortable the daughter feels with talking out her problems to her parents and psychologist, which can be a hard match (we still have an outdated mental health system here in the United States. Look at all the mass shootings we have (and treat like normal)). However, the daughter needs waaaaaay more than a binding spell. It is entirely possible she is not opening up because either she herself is still confused by her feelings or worse, she feel like her parents and psychologist (all authority figures and one of them has to report to other by law if they, the doc, feels there are major issues) are not going to understand or simply make her feel worse. For example, I have seen people with highly homophobic parents say the same “My child can talk to me about anything” line when the reality is, here’s what better not be brought up: the child’s homosexuality. Ever. But even they claim to love their kids, even though they’re usually the source of why many queer kids are homeless or living in abusive households. You have to make sure your daughter can actually trust you, the psychologist, whoever she is talking to, and that trust is not really that common, judging from the letters I get both here and on Tumblr. Not very common at all.

I know when I had (don’t know why I’m talking in the past tense, I still got them) problems, my parents are the last people I would have talked to because of the worry of being fussed at for my problems and when it comes to mental issues, they are hard to fix. The daughter could be hesitant for a number of reasons. And, remember, she’s a teenager, her emotions are going to be on the fritz. The best you can do is just let her know that she truly can talk to her parents without judgment or worry that you guys will ship her off to a mental hospital or race police (“Black people don’t have depression.”) Ask her what would make her feel better. It could be a myriad of reasons from not wanting to be bullied to her just saying she feels depressed all the time but don’t know why. And make sure her therapist can really connect to her. Otherwise, anything else is pointless. It’s going to take time (I’m sure you know) but the best you can do is to show that you’re honestly there for her.

Hey Black Witch! I’ve been looking into your blog lately and I’m really enjoying it. My question is, I’m thinking about coming out of the broom closet to further my path as I’m going on my second year of being Wiccan and I want to start actively practicing magick and no longer hiding in the closet. I still live at home and am in my final year of high school in an African American household that isn’t too Christian, but they do claim that faith. When would be a good time and how?

 – Angelique

The best thing I would recommend is know your audience and gauge that audience. If it seems they’re not really that open to being tolerant of other faiths, you have the option of continuing to hold off until you move out or to have a long talk with them about how this is your faith and that you’re serious about it. Granted, remember that if the risk of being thrown out or anything dangerous like that is likely to occur (oddly enough, despite all the nice-sounding talk Christian parents say about themselves, teen homeless shelters and statics tend to prove opposite. Very opposite.) then try to get a job (refer to the Black Witch The Arts!: Employment guide) so you can plan to leave. Remember, this is if the home is likely to get hostile because a non-Christian faith appeared.

If they seem okay with other faiths (not as common but these unicorn parents do exist), not treat it as if you’re going through a phase or that you’re going to be some evil person that is now in cahoots with Satan (make sure you remind them that Wicca has nothing to do with Satan or other Christian concepts of good vs. evil. You’ll be doing this multiple times) then you’re just going to have to work with them a lot to make sure they fully understand that there’s nothing wrong with you and that this is a regular faith like any other.

How to break it to them is to just be very mature and state that you’re Wiccan. Don’t phrase it like you’ve gotten a disease and only have two weeks to live, just pick a time when tensions are not running high (this means “avoid holidays”) and tell your parents that you’re Wiccan and that you don’t have anything against the Christian faith but you needed to find a faith you better gelled with and believe in. If they’re good parents, they’ll be apprehensive because they’re parents but not take it as a diss on their faith. It’s going to take a while for them to warm up to Wicca because they most likely have never heard of it. And it started in 1957. Just work with them if they choose to work with you.

As Black parents living in America, if the worse thing to happen to them is their kid join a nature based religion, they need to high five each other, high five President Obama, do the swerve and the cabbage patch because here’s a short list of what they ducked:

- kid is not a gang member
– kid is not on any drugs (ya better not be)
– kid is not on the pipeline from the schoolhouse to the jailhouse
– kid is not slingin’ drugs (ya better not be)
– kid is not pregnant
– kid is not bringing home abusive and terrible guys (bonus points: is not showing desire to marry or have kids with terrible guy)
– kid is not murdered by police or performed a “houdini suicide” while detained by police
– kid is not murdered by gang member or have a “suspicious” death by gang violence

Basically, they have performed Achievement Unlocked: Black Parenting: You Didn’t F*ck Up/Kid Isn’t Dead

Good For You

Alright, before we get started, may I remind you that there is the Samhain Pickers that is currently going on. If you would like to win free divination from me, please send an email with “Samhain Pickers” in the subject line to thisblackwitch[at]hotmail.com and make sure you put this in the body of your email:

- Name

- Email

- Type of divination (tarot, cartomancy, dream interpretation, natal chart)

Three winners will be chosen on Halloween/Samhain.

Also there is the Black Witch Ustream chat that is also on Halloween at 9 PM EST. Be there! Also, don’t forget to keep your black cats indoors around this time of year.

And remember, to stay updated with the Black Witch Fan Page, you must click “Get notifications” because Facebook sucks.

keep up with BW on FB

Onwards and forwards!

Oh, what I like most about this time of year? Aside from the fact it is no longer blazing hot – there are Halloween specials! I love Halloween specials! I always have. Hey, right now I’m playing a Halloween special from Bob’s Burgers. I just love how creative show makers get for this time of year. I grew up watching The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror every year because it was so entertaining. That and regular, live action shows would have great Halloween episodes. Even if I didn’t like the show, if they had a Halloween episode, I would watch it.

Usually it’s hard for a show to go wrong with Halloween episodes.  Unless they actually say the word “Pagan” or “Wiccan”, it’s not that easy to make me just want to turn off the tv. Now, granted, some folks are just champions at being awful but no shows come to mind when I try to think of them. This is a good thing.

I do understand that some Pagan groups don’t like Halloween episodes because they are worried (kind of rightfully so) about how these shows depict Pagans and other metaphysics practitioners. While I can watch these specials and know for fact that it’s just make believe and the creators are just trying to get into the spirit of Halloween, there are people who think these shows are showing the real deal of life working with magick and metaphysics. It’s part of why I have to write up there for people to keep their black cats indoors. However, I don’t think I’ve come across stuff that could offend me as a Pagan. As a Black person and as female, oh sure, there’s plenty of wtf on tv to choose from. They could have a green-faced witch and I probably won’t flinch nearly as much as I would with a person in Blackface (don’t do it). I wouldn’t recommend a show to go with depicting a green faced witch unless they’re shooting a segment involving the Wizard of Oz but it doesn’t bug me much since I’ve caught way more unnecessary heat for being Black and for being female (as well as for being both). Then there’s the glaring fact that even in Pagan media, they’re worse in actual depictions of Pagans who aren’t White, which is even more insulting.

Yay, representation and boo, the blatant dismissiveness of it and ugh, hypocritical Pagan media creators! Let’s move on, I’m bored already. [I’m allowed to have an off-day]

So, I feel random because I’ve been working on all sorts of writing. Creative writing (I originally started as a story writer and poet since I was 10. Frankly, I have almost no idea how anything remotely resembling journalism came into play), new articles for a new magazine I’ve been picked up for (details as they are officially released) annnnnnnd of course, Black Witch. Also, I gotta prepare an interview which could be a bump up in the Library of Congress* (yay, I might be working in Preservations as a book repairer (wait…”Library Technician”) to use my bookbinding skills to repair and restore LoC book collections so I pretty much can get an official, official start of my Library Science/Archivist track career (I plan to get my masters in the future, eventually, but I just wanna work now.)) This means I have been omega busy but I’m doing the best to not get this blog neglected. I just have a lot to do.

To make up for the busy-ness, here’s a picture of my cat and an original smorkin labbit.

Cat and the labbit

However, I still get distracted by social media a bit. I thought these tweets from former My Chemical Romance front man, Gerard Way, were funny. (He’s the epitome of Halloween in my mind, all I need is a vid going “Let’s get spooooOOoooOOOopy!” and I’ll be set for life.)

Way1

Way2

Way3

Way4

 

 

The man doesn’t have odd dreams (ok, he most likely does, going off of basic probability and the human condition, but simply doesn’t tweet about them.) but I somehow found this interesting because usually people come to me with these kinds of dreams, the very ones he described and usually it’s regular folks who simply have famous cameos in their dreams. For Way, this is a little different because even though he may not have ever met Dre (or if so, briefly enough to not really stick) or even not know him personally, it’s a different construct. I’m not going to dissect or interpret this dude’s dream because that’s not important and I’m limiting all divination and metaphysics services to Samhain Pickers because, y’know, time. That and I don’t know Way. Got mutual friends with him, I’m sure, but I don’t know him himself. I’m just musing.

Basically, when I do dream interpretations – or when anyone does dream interpretations – who the dreamer is totally matters. For a random kid dreaming the exact same thing, it could all mean something totally different, depending on the celeb cameo, which is Dre here. A kid in their teens is also going to see Dre differently than someone in their 30s and 40s because one grew up with knowing about the guy and the other probably associates the veteran rapper with sound leaky headphones. For Way, since he’s been around the industry for a while, he’s probably going to see Dre a little differently. I just think the fact that Way had a dream about someone in a different part of the music industry being in his home during a contest of basically “Which way did Way go?” is chuckle worthy to me but also made me wonder how he saw Dre (remember, imagery meaning is partly hinged on the dreamer), which also creates the angle of idea for the other person in the Dr. Dre mask, since a mask can also mean a myriad of things.

Since people dream usually because the mind is unwinding from the day, filing away memories or just letting your subconscious do the talking, and Way isn’t here to talk about his dream (which he felt was noteworthy enough to tweet because of its funny nature.), I guess we can sum it up to having too many nacho burritos before bedtime. Maybe he saw a Dr. Dre poster in passing while at a venue and his mind just took it to bed with him. I dunno. But I surely did find the dream description entertaining.

And now is roughly the end of the month so The Arts! will be The Arts!: Samhain Edition. After that is Ask Black Witch.

* I usually don’t talk about my real life stuff much here on BW but job at the Library of Congress is a good enough feat for me to mention here. ‘Ayyyyyyyyyy. And BW isn’t blocked on LoC networks meaning someone filled out a form for my site to be accessible. ‘Ayyyyyyyyyyyy (Bring me food. Adams building. 5th flo’. Passion fruit macarons or azuki mochi, taro bubble tea. Or leave it in Madison building, Green/Yellow core, CIP/Gov Docs. area, B flo’)

First and foremost, I want to remind everyone of Samhain Pickers. It’s happening! Everyone who wants to take part and get a free divination reading from me has to send an email with “Samhain Pickers” in the subject line and this information in the body:

- Name

- Email

- Types of Divination: (Tarot, cartomancy, natal chart, dream interpretation)

Got it all filled out? Send to thisblackwitch[at]Hotmail.com and I’ll pick three winners, chosen at random on Halloween/Samhain.

Next, are you aware that you won’t get great updates from the Black Witch Fan Page on Facebook if you don’t click “Get Notifications” on the Like button?

keep up with BW on FB

And finally, keep in mind that on Halloween/Samhain, I will be having my annual Ustream vcast. It will be at 9PM EST and broadcasted here. You can also interact with me either using the Ustream chat function or send me questions via twitter (@thisblackwitch).

Also, keep your black cats inside since Halloween is coming around, some people erroneously think witchcraft involves horrific animal sacrifice and Halloween is when these stupid people are at their most active. Don’t murder innocent animals because you’re an easily-duped idiot. Just go trick or treating or watch Charlie Brown’s The Great Pumpkin or The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror.

Ok, so announcements are out of the way, let’s get started.

Since Samhain is coming ‘round, here comes that special time of year where I do the tricky dance that is getting off on Samhain due to religious observance. It is most trickiest when the job is new. I dread it a little. (Woo, update at bottom!)

I kid you not, usually whenever I initially ask, “Hey, can I have off for Oct 31? Religion thing, I’m Pagan,” the boss looks at me like this:

Are you serious

And I totally get it. Paganism isn’t that well known so if someone says “I want off for Halloween because religious reasons.” They’re thinking, “Eh-henh. Religious reasons being you’re looking for the Great Pumpkin? Riiiiiiiiiiiight. Next you’ll want Arbor Day off.”

Even though I can easily retort, “We take a day of for Christopher Columbus, the rapey, disease-carrying, imperialist pillager that couldn’t read a map. One dude. Didn’t even find America first, I think that was some dude in China. Besides, people already lived here before Mr. Follow-the-what-star stumbled onto them,” and want to follow with, “Can’t I switch? At least one of the days mean something to me,” instead, it’s a delicate parrying of words. Which suck.

Usually, I have to first explain to people what Paganism is. Since most folks are from Abrahamic faiths (usually Christianity), this means I also have to inform them that I am not somehow evil. And since I work in the Library of Congress, it never ceases to amaze me that folks overlook that we already work for morally wayward people – the most obvious ones being housed in the third word – but being Pagan can still spook folks. The worst I do is be the snack bandit and make fun of the overly White-washed exhibits, not destroy communities and greenlight wars for profit.

However, when it comes to asking for Halloween off, I usually like to work at a job for at least six months and also have poked the higher up for a day off for a different Pagan holiday like Mabon or Solstice. At least I can ease people into the fact that I’m Pagan and no, I am not going to perform acts of evil because I am Pagan. I don’t have enough lobbyists to do so.

Now, in previous jobs, I have gotten Halloween off, in addition to other Pagan religious holidays. They told me I would have to use my personal leave but eh, whatever. But I have learned in my experience that it’s easier getting Halloween off when I already asked for other holidays because it reaffirms that, yes, I actually am an observant Pagan and no, this is not an excuse to go party all day. I don’t even really party like that. I can’t even drink alcohol and all my musician friends are either touring, in the studio or too far away. The cat is my most constant source of entertainment, next to Tumblr. So taking off other holidays like Mabon and such (I like Mabon because of food and it’s the start of the holiday season for me), it helps reduces the chance that my higher up is going to look at me like I’ve gone temporarily stupid and remember, at my job, some of our patrons are actual members of Congress so we know stupid. Excruciatingly familiar with stupid (and childish). Therefore, I have to be on my p’s and q’s. And occasionally refresh my knowledge on worker rights in regards to religious beliefs.

It’s just, Christian holidays are already built into the work calendar and there’s even laws in some places about how you can’t work on a Sunday because that is supposed to be the Sabbath (in the Christian faith), and so on and so forth, it sucks around these times when you’re a different faith because you have to decenter all that. And it isn’t really fun when you have to work on your bigger holidays but know good and well if Christians were told to work on Easter and Christmas, they would start citing the first amendment quickly.

Granted, employers want to make sure their workers aren’t making up holidays or reverences to already established holidays just to have an excuse to not be at work but when there’s irrefutable proof of an actual practitioner that wants to take a day off for their holiday, the request shouldn’t be under that much great scrutiny. If I were running a workplace and someone asked me for off on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, it wouldn’t be wise of me to respond, “You eat fish, pork and you’ve made bets on the Super Bowl annnnnnd you take office paper clips home as if we’re a store, and I’ve never heard you refer to Jesus or God besides swearing in anger, how can I be sure you’re Christian?” because since the holidays are Christian based, people are going to wonder why I’m trying to dig deep since you don’t have to live like the Amish or Quakers to be Christian.

How frustrating. If I can’t take off for Samhain, there better be a good snack haul that day.

EDITOR’S NOTE/UPDATE: One of my direct supervisors is Pagan. W00t. Still gunna come in though. I’m new, remember? That and free fewd.

Nothing New

Now, it’s October, so that means it’s time for me to start thinking about what witchy books to suggest for The Arts!: Samhain Edition. However, there’s one problem: I haven’t been reading any magick books as of recent. It’s just that the books on metaphysics I have come across aren’t really good. They’re too new agey, not really well rounded, not super worth reading. I noticed that when I would come across new books on metaphysics and it would only take me less than thirty seconds to go from “Wow! What’s this?” to “…Meh.” All the books I have been looking at or referencing are books I already have.

So far, new books on metaphysics and magick are mainly following after trends. It isn’t that they never have followed trends (publishing is a business, after all) but now, it’s gotten really sappy. Like, there’s more focus on vampires and paranormal than anything. And really bad sex magick (I seriously saw a book based on 50 Shades of Gray, it was sad), that should never make it to print. Ever. This is a problem because quality books aren’t getting printed out. Or if they are, they’re hiding way too far underneath all the crap books.

Another problem is that, for me, there’s but so much new information I’m going to find on the shelves of book stores and metaphysics section of libraries. A lot of books that are in regular circulation are pretty much the basics to the intermediate of magick and metaphysics. I already know the basics and the intermediates. It doesn’t mean I know everything but it does mean that I need to move on to something a little more challenging.

Or, for now, I can move to online.

I have found better information online than I have in some of the books I have read. This is astonishing to me because usually I would rather go to books for ideas and learning but it seems as of recent, I have found Tumblrs that presented interesting and more dynamic information than the newer books I have come across. One that I can think of is TheLivingWiccan Tumblr. On this Tumblr, there is not only spell information, there is active discussion of Paganism (Yes, I know that the blog is titled with Wiccan but it is still good for Pagan stuff), and with the active imput, there’s much more to learn or at least to engage with. A couple more are kemetduasekhem and TrueRiptide. Those Tumblrs are more about Kemet Paganism, which isn’t my denomination* but is still really informative. Also there’s the Magick tag on my Tumblr.

However, I still find books crucial to learning metaphysics and magick because, frankly, it’s all been done before. We’re mostly using symbology and ideas that have already been established, some for centuries. I think, when reaching to this level, it’s good to try to examine various parts of metaphysics as separate fields such as herbalism or specific sigils traditions. That means, the more advanced the knowledge, the more extra learning is needed. That means learning old languages, reading old source material, things of that nature. This means that knowing ample research skills are a must, especially since some texts are very dated and possibly will show incredible bias (much like some texts of today).

It’s important to know how to discern what is good information and what is not. These skills can be transferable to also researching online because it is important to not take on terrible information that was painted as useful.

The basics of research is that the main game is to be objective as possible, and so does the material. While it can be true that everything has a bias, you have to find the least biased one of them all or at least material that is most biased towards what is actually the truth or reality of a concept.

For example, if there is a site that talks about Chinese mythology but the site does not seem go beyond pop topics that are Westernized (such as Feng Shui, the Chinese horoscope wheel and I Ching) and their mention of China does not reflect the vast diversity of China but instead paints the Chinese as a strongly monolithic and nearly elf-like people, then the material is not worth reading. Also, if the sources are mainly filtered through the West (that the writer got info from a British university, an American research book, a German “expert/scholar” on China, etc), then it is possibly not good since they’re not letting creators speak for themselves. It’s one thing to read a translation (although, it would be good to learn some basic Mandarin Chinese to help determine whether or not the translation is accurate). It’s important to note when orientalism and yellow peril is occurring when researching Chinese mythology because those can kill the validity of any research quickly as it is not based at all on logic but on low-intelligence concepts. Also, here’s a big one: If the writer is trying to make it sound like the material is similar to Christianity, uses Christian concepts to describe beliefs or even so much as brings in another, different cultural idea (such as chakras, which is from India, not China), the book/site is absolutely worthless.

There’s a lot to doing research but it is most important to note that there will be a lot of supplemental reading for even the supplemental reading so try to start from the basics (not Wikipedia, an actual encyclopedia) and use the bibliographies or their reference material as a jump off point.

Also, if the text is even slightly:

  • Homophobic (the text seems strongly heteronormative, erases gay people, depicts them as bad)
  • Misogynist (women are not really present in the text except as example of male existence)
  • Too binary/sexist (uses strict gender stereotypes to discuss actions of the past, does not allow people to depict themselves, puts them in gender boxes that don’t fit.)
  • Racist (a group of people are seen as magical or lowly in comparison to Western ideas of Whiteness. Consistently dehumanized and seen through both popular and subtle stereotypes)

Then the text is problematic and not worth reading or if you still would like to read, be sure to be as hypercritical as possible so you don’t mistaken bigotry for distributed fact.

However, a text is not bigoted if it talks in earnest about what happens to oppressed groups. If the text talks about how women are abused and in what ways, it’s not inherently misogynistic since that is the reality for women throughout the ages (it’s why Feminism/Womanism exists, after all). It is only seen as problematic when the women are framed as mainly objects that are acted upon and that’s it, the text doesn’t talk about women as people, reference women scholars, spotlight important women activists/leaders at the time, or use texts and quotes said/written by women in addition to men or in greater amount than men. If women are absent except as cold research subjects, the material is possibly biased because mainly men are doing the talking and that’s problematic.

Same with other oppressed groups. Even in metaphysics, there are still people involved. And people are still people, even if they don’t have the privilege to be seen or depicted as such.

Also, if a person tries to make up a new word that just sounds new agey or is a clear attempt to replace an already established thought and ideas (such as energy manipulation, chakras, meditation, etc). It’s probably not accurate or worth looking at unless you want to conduct a popcorn gallery.

And finally, if they want your money and say that they have the power of the universe, all here in a book or a downloadable file, that person is a phony, a fraud and a fake. Bar none. If it was that important to humankind, it wouldn’t be so restricted.

That’s all for this week! And since it is October, that means the start of Samhain Pickers! The rules are simple: Submit your entry to me via email (thisblackwitch[at]hotmail.com**). Make sure you have “Samhain Pickers” in the subject of the email. Winners will be picked on Samhain/Halloween to get a free divination reading from me! Make sure to include this information in the body of the email:

  • Name:
  • Email:
  • Type of Divination (dream interpretation, tarot, cartomancy, natal chart):

And the Samhain Ustream Chat is on, yep, Halloween/Samhain. It will be at 9 PM EST. Be there!

Also, did you remember to click “get notifications” on the Black Witch Fan Page? Do so enable to stay up to date with new Black Witch happenings on Facebook.

keep up with BW on FB

* Since White folks magically become illiterate and their comprehension skills drops straight to “severely mentally challenged” when it comes to these things, I’m going to say it again: I’m not part of any African Pagan tradition. I’m fairly general with my faith, I’m not strictly part of any African Pagan tradition.

**Written out in a fashion so bots don’t stuff my inbox. It’s aggravating.

So here is The Arts!, let’s get right to it.

Find an Event (Pagan Pride Project)
Want to find a Pagan event in your area? Discovered via the African American Wiccan Society group on Facebook, this site, the Pagan Pride Project, can help you. These seemed to be primarily focused on Pagan Pride events but it is just as useful to know about those events as well.

The site works easily, you just put in your zipcode and there you have it. Look at what is in my area when I put in my info.

Pagan Pride Project

What convenience!

Tropes vs. Women
This is one of my favorite online series. Anita Sarkeesian, who is the creator of Feminist Frequency, created this series which deconstructs video games through the lens of feminist theory. From this deconstruction comes the identification of tropes that are so strongly prevalent in so many games, especially popular titles such as Mario, God of War, Pac-Man/Ms.PacMan, Hitman and Grand Theft Auto.

Here is the first episode, which breaks down the concept of a trope and starts with deconstructing the idea of the Damsel in Distress.

The latest episode, which I will admit, gets a bit grisly so if you can’t bear seeing images of violence and brutality, skip to 23:30. This episode is Part 2 of using women as background decoration (Part 1). Remember, if you can’t stand bloody brutality, skip ahead to 23:30, where Sarkeesian sums it all up.

And, yes, the series does get a lot of hate and crap flung at it by wildly misogynist and anti-feminist gamers. Here is a write up on Dr. Nerdlove about the whole debacle here annnnnnd here.

Actually, she talks about it here at TEDxWomen about cyber harassment and online mobs, which she has to routinely – even to today – put up with. Since I’ve told guys I’ve worked with at the Library of Congress how bad gender harassment can get online – as well as how it can eventually trickle offline – just to write a well-formed opinion about games and they were completely floored in disbelief, lemme slap this video up here.

And of telling dudes at the LoC about gender and gaming, I really remember the one dude who was from the Performing Arts Division collecting Prima guides in my area and I saw he picked up one for Remember Me. I recommended it strongly since I’ve played it and it had a Black girl as the lead. That started a conversation of gender and video games and he mentioned he had a 9 year old son and wanted me to recommend women-starring games (that were age appropriate) because he literally said “I don’t want my son to grow up and he’s hitting women on an elevator”.* This dude actually cared that his son wouldn’t become some future harasser/rapist-in-training/douchebag and knew part of how was by playing games that would let the kiddo see that women are people, not simply things to be acted upon and in brutish fashion at that. So I recommended a series of games that were appropriate for his kid to play now at 9 and when he gets older as well as what to look for in games that star women so his kid can have tons of fun (because games should be fun) and continue to develop healthy ideas about women.

And remember, next week is Ask Black Witch. Send in your questions! Good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated!

*This is in reference to what Ray Rice did. It was awful.

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