Category: Pagan Life


Money and Magick

Something super common about Paganism, Wicca and Witchcraft is how it sometimes seem so costly. Seeing practitioners with cauldrons, extravagant robes, visually rapturing wands, goblets and more, it can appear the price of entry and participation can appear way up there, somewhere past “college textbooks”. This meme submitted to Wiccan Cat Meme basically says it all:

Just as a reminder, I'm not Wiccan, just Pagan

Just as a reminder, I’m not Wiccan, just Pagan

I think such a paradox is ridiculous. I understand how someone can get sucked into it – I certainly did when I started and having a catalog of Avalon Moon as a teenager didn’t help – but for such a nature-based belief system, we can charge like Wall St. investors when it comes to our natural products.

It is very important for everyone to remember that you don’t have to pay out the wazoo to practice magick. It’s really cool to have that fancy candle holder and obsidian mirror with a robe that is as intricate as it is incredibly flammable but as nifty as it would be to be the prettiest fireball running down the block if you’re not careful, it’s not necessary. To do a money spell, for example, shouldn’t make you broker than you were when you came up with the idea. Yes, there’s the Western capitalist idea of “gotta spend money to make money” but when dealing with the universe and asking it for a solid, it’s probably better to think outside the box. Intent is there, physical substances are merely supplemental to the practice. Think of being a runner or simply an active person. You don’t have to be plastered from head to toe with Nike to simply jog, which only requires comfortable shoes and clothes as well as a water bottle. The extra stuff is certainly nice and can totally make running a lot more comfortable but not necessary.

Working magick can be done with birthday candles and some dirt from outside, it can be done just using only the salt and pepper shakers, it can be as simple as writing down a name and stuffing it into a short water bottle to freeze. Magick can be cheap, if not free. Magick can also be heavy meditation on a particular outcome. All these things require practice but they’re there. A smart witch is one that can work with little materials but still make it work. It’s not necessary to have the $300 crystal ball when a shiny glass or small orb of quartz is fine enough because the intuition comes from within, they’re just helper materials. Using table salt in circle casting (but not outdoor spellworking because that kills plants, try soil or protective herbs) is fine. Using the same chalk made for sidewalk art is fine in spellwork, too. Using a branch or incense stick instead of a wand or staff is ok as well. This is using nature to do natural magick.

Basically, while it can be great to use fancy materials in spellwork but what makes spellwork, well, work is the practitioner, mainly. To be informed of practices and spells via reading countless, substantial resources and to simply continue practice the basics such as energy manipulation and meditation, that’s what makes a great practitioner with successful spellwork that doesn’t break the bank. Because what’s the point of making a money spell that makes you more broke? That’s practically an accidental hex.

Next week is “The Arts!”:
– The Trendy Geek

– Z-Type

– Quinni

Firstly, join me and Tamara Winfrey Harris on Sunday at Exittheapple on 2334 Guilford Ave between 11AM-3PM in Baltimore City, MD for a discussion of the recent book The Sisters are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America. I believe there will be light refreshments. Alright, onward with the column.

Posted recently on the African American Wiccans Society FB group page was an article titled “Beware of Fake Crystals on Ebay (How to Know the Difference)” penned by aLoverOfLife. This article is actually really good about how to spot fakes when buying crystals online.

I usually buy my rocks from physical places but I definitely have bought gems online. Sometimes stores will over-price on something that you will eventually think, “This is a rock. I am about to spend $25 on a semi-common rock smaller than a phalange on my finger” in regards to so you want to have a more acceptable price. However, the thing about buying online is that you can wind up with fakes. Surprisingly, it never truly dawned on me that folks would sell fake stones because I thought it would stand out but I’ve been staring at rocks speculatively since I was a kid (and had a rock growing kit using chemicals) so there’s probably that. However, give folks an inch, they’ll take up half the coastline of California: I’m good at identifying a fake but the average person isn’t and especially not the noob who really just want to get any stone to start their witchy practice. And while there are those who would say, “Why don’t the person just go outside and dig in the dirt? There you go, rocks galore,” you’re not likely to find a Herkimer diamond or phantom quartz or sodalite in your backyard in the middle of Detroit. Hence why folks like me buy stones in physical and digital places.

The information the writer got was from an Ebay seller that recently closed shop that finally decided to share the tricks of the trade of how to spot a fake versus a real rock.

The starting information is about Azeztulite/Satyaloka (I’m not going to quote the whole article since clearly it has been written but merely give my own experiences), which is simply not real. It’s just a milky quartz with the price hiked up way high up. Also, here’s a rule of thumb since this is probably going to come up a lot: if the seller mentions that the rock (or any item of question) comes from a “secret” or “old” pocket or space of any US state or country (the more otherized, the better), it’s probably a fake. It’s very rare this is actually the case. If the orgin story sounds too glamourous to be true, it probably is. For example, I could find really good stones under the Middle River Bridge in Baltimore City, my hometown, buuuut that orgin story wouldn’t sell as well as “found from a secret pocket among the Appalachian mountains region”, which is basically the same thing, jazzed up.

Also, the piece says that rough white quartz is pretty much worthless in price. That’s actually quite true. Remember, not everything that comes from the earth warrants a high price and also remember that high prices are man-made, no rock comes out the ground with a price tag. Usually prices (fair ones) are based on established value delved from location (is it somewhere remote or easy to get to?), ease of acquiring (can you just pick it up off the ground or have to scale a mountain?) usage (can it power something or just be a pretty paperweight?) and rarity (are there a bunch of these scattered around like gravel or is this the only rock you’ve seen like this?). This is why some metaphysical shops will gouge the price of a gem you could purchase from a science-y rock store for less.

Next mentioned are glass crystal points from China. I don’t like the hyper focus on China because geez, it’s becoming yellow scare shorthand for “cheap, worthless, comes a hundred a penny”. Yes, a lot comes from China (it’s a big country, in case no one has noticed) but still, it bugs me. Moving on, buying glass when you thought you were getting crystal certainly sucks. The tell-tale sign, as noted on the piece, is that they’re perfectly clear and quite big but quite cheap. A crystal like that would sell for hundreds, possibly thousands, not ten dollars. If they have fractures, they look odd because they were made with a cloth and a ball peen hammer.

There’s also a common man-made fracture made, as illustrated by the article, by heating the glass and dipping it in room temp water (or cold water), which makes these odd fractures. I think I gotten one myself because it was thrown in when a purchase was made at the Maryland State Fair. It was a clear fake because there was glue on top to keep the “stone” fastened to the holder. Remember, I got it for free, mainly because it wouldn’t sell and the seller wanted to make their payload lighter when it was time to pack up shop.

Here is another “[fake crystal] from China” entry. Y’know, I know China is seen as the king of fakes, partially because of Western orientalism but ummmm, China produces authentic stones as well. Like jade. Not everything in China is fake and other folks in different nations can make dupes as well. It’s not like China (and to a further extent, Nigeria) holds the world population of scammers and frauds. Cons exist everywhere. As for stones, I’ve seen fakies coming straight from New York and LA. Yes, China can make passing fakes but the hyperfocus on them is a bit irksome.

This entry was about colored crystal points. This reminds me of being told once that sapphire is not actually a brilliant blue unless scientifically doctored. Given the picture on the article, it can show how the “quartz” actually is colored glass. If the quartz can remind you of a kitschy glass kitchen bowl, it’s probably fake. That and if you take a close look at the surface, the surface is probably perfect. Crystals, given their creation, are not perfect, especially at a close look. There are teeny ridges and if you look super close, indentures and fragments. And no bubbles.

Finally a fake gem not from China. Here we have fake smoky quartz from the United States, namely Arkansas (and noticed for the US, a state or location gets made. It doesn’t care what region the fakie came from in China, just the fact that it did, which creates the illusion that all of China pumps out fake stuff when really it’s just certain parts). As pictured on the article, it’s a clear quartz that went through a radiation treatment to give the stark black smoky color. If the color is claimed to come from a heat treatment, it’s a lie. On the article, there is a side-by-side analysis of a man made smoky quartz and a real one as well as a short list of how to tell the difference, which is pretty on point.

Afterwards, you have polished quartz being sold as natural. Goodness, here’s the thing about natural, raw quartz: it doesn’t look “perfect”. Natural quartz have sharp, clean lines instead of dull edges and polished crystals are often cut flat on the base. There is also a short list of how to tell the difference between the two, also very good.

There are certainly more features of false stones and how to tell on the article, I would recommend reading, this is pretty much a very cohesive article for when you buy online but also when you purchase in person. Crystals are bought for their qualities as created by their formation, it is not the same to use false stones or materials such as glass. Metaphysics is a lot more than simply the “power of thought”, authentic materials are important.

Yep, that’s right, I’m on a three week vacation, commence the hen dance of glory!

chickns1

chickns2

What does this mean for y’all? Well this is going to be an actual vacation-vacation so that means no tablet, no internet, no nothing. Gooooootta unplug. I have never taken a full vacation that also included a vacation from Black Witch, ha! So, it’s an actual “not gonna do anything” vacation. That means:

– No new posts for the month of July

– No responses to emails or messages until Aug 1 or the very, very end of July

I may just recycle old posts from Early BW days…or just leave this post here so everyone knows what’s going on. Ehhhhh, I’m probably going to do that.

Until then…here’s some Static Shock fan made short films! Huzzah.

“Static Shock: Blackout” by Stefani Dezil

“Static Shock: Phenomenon” by yvzproductions

“Electrogenesis” by HsingHProductions (Static Shock when he’s older and not exactly Static)

Huzzah!

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For some really weird/stupid reason, people keep asking me to cast spells for them, despite the fact I don’t do pay-for-pray/paid spellcasting for other people and have made that clear a number of times. I don’t personally do it because ethics, but the same people, already showing a major lack in cognitive skills, they think my hard fast ethics will magically disappear if they say, “I’ll pay you”, because listening skills are not prominent in the intellectually redundant. I know I’m American but I lean Socialist, not Capitalist, with my opinions on money. If I say I don’t do paid spellworking, I think you should listen. Besides, paid spellwork costs somewhere around college tuition and most aren’t forking that out, I’m American enough to know that.

This goes double for love spells. Least favorite request (next to body-switching spells, which, as a result, I mercilessly mock), especially spells that try to control another person. It’s stuff like this why A) I don’t do paid spellwork B) Why I never deal with love spells, I’d rather counsel rather than help someone Evel Knievel their love life because love lives are already sticky enough without magick.

And this is where the story/example starts. A dude contacted me because they wanted their wife back. Already, this will be a doozy. At the start, I roll out the basics (click through if too small):

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Usually when people say “I need your help”, especially if they write pretty poorly, it’s usually an eventual request for me to do paid spellwork, which I don’t do. I say that all the time. Alllllllll. The. Tiiiiiiiime.

Continuing on:

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Just to be super basic, I don’t call folks. Yes, there is a Black Witch number but that’s mainly for business, not simply to talk to readers unless it’s super duper necessary, like the person is suicidal or going through a mental breakdown or something. This does not count as super duper necessary. That and I was on a phone call via Kakao to a friend in Korea. I’m not breaking that enjoyable phone call for some person who managed to probably nuke their own relationship.

For starters, the wife left this dude and took the kids with her. And as this convo goes on, I’m gonna put a little tic where this dude basically lacks all listening skills eh, you can probably count for yourself, it’s pretty obvious. And since I don’t do love spells, that means I shift into counselor mode, hence why I asked what did they argue about. The simple fact the dude quickly goes, “We were perfect but then her mom got in the way” pretty fast is definitely an issue. Yeah, there is such thing as meddlesome families but there’s more than one side to every story.

Here comes the issue: “Is there something [you] could do to help fix it so my wife will talk to me again”

I smell a spell request about to happen. And a manipulative one at that.

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As this dude tries to explain (describing endometriosis as merely “a female sickness” is already problematic and distancing, if he said it like that in front of her, that’s one reason why she’d split), it seems that the estranged spouse had a lot going on and simply wanted to cut whatever she felt was possibly adding to her stress. It’s usually never a good sign if someone tells you they fell out of love with you. That’s not something people do lightly.

And here comes the first mention where I say “I can’t do stuff that directly mess with free will” because messing with free will is bad, especially in magick. Now, everyone, why I especially don’t do it in love spells is because controlling others is abusive, regardless of how it happens. Forcing people to come back to you is never good, even if you miss them a lot. Because, if you want them back simply because you lost them and not because you figured out how you screwed up and want to make things right, then you don’t really want them back for them but for you and your bruised ego, heart and pride.

Alright, moving on:

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This dude starts to get a wee bit confusing. First time he mentioned that they weren’t spending a whole lot of time together, it sounded like the (ex)wife was making the claim. Now it seems dude is trying to back-peddle a little. That’s suspicious. And if it is the case of me simply derping out, if it is him who wants them to more time with each other, and she’s parted ways, maybe he’s starting to show an obsessive side…y’know, more than he already is.

This dude is super hardheaded, to be honest. This is a first of a buuuuuunch of times that I say “you can’t force her”. Because you can’t. If she wants to be gone, she wants to be gone, plain and simple. Yes, it hurts but life isn’t easy. And I get really confused also about how this dude somehow never knows what his soon-to-be ex is doing but somehow still knows updates about her life despite being somehow cut off from everyone who talks to her. That and how he bounced between “no one speaks to her, she’s basically alone” and “oh, they talk to her but not to me.”

Also, holmes shows a stunning lack of listening skills (which, mind you, are vital in a relationship) because despite the fact I said that I’m not doing any spellwork, he keeps asking. If you’re going to hardline like that, no wonder she left. It’s a really self-centered move to basically sidestep something someone says just because you don’t agree with what you hear. You can’t just ask the same question over and over in hopes a “no” will turn into a “yes”. It’s badgering.

And here comes the mother being somehow evil and masterminding the breakup. Somehow, I’m not buying this. Yes, meddlesome relatives are very much a thing but I don’t think that is what murdered this relationship.

Screenshot_2015-05-30-08-14-56-1Or the (ex)wife’s sister. The plot thickens!

This dude’s telling me that he never got along with her family (who she is close with so of course their opinion of him matters because she cares) and they never talked about it? That is a super dunce move because you basically have a live mine laying around buried in your relationship, quietly laying in wait. Everyone, if you have something like this TALK ABOUT IT. Because it will bubble up somehow, some way. Ignoring a problem won’t fix it. What this dude is calling “negativity” and “they just don’t like me” could very well simply be the mom and sis telling the (ex)wife that maaaaaaybe this dude ain’t so charming. I doubt they meddle in every relationship this chick has ever had because they’re from Cinderella’s step family.

Brah, what the flying fu- “She got a good man”?! Brah think he’s Will Smith or Barack Obama or something. Here’s the main difference between him and them: they still got their wives and don’t have to beg anyone to make them come back. Painting himself as the victimized, hard-working husband is super annoying because it usually never works out that way. In disintegrating relationships, it’s a two way street, usually. And, everyone, remember that the most common denominator of all your failed relationships are you. If everyone has divorced themselves from this dude and basically alienated him but not her, that’s saying something. And notice how the narrative changes from “she don’t talk to nobody/nobody talks to her” to “everyone sides with her, I get blocked out”?

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I know one other person who was in a relationship with someone who had. My guy friend was a lot more understanding than this dude. Also didn’t frame it so poorly. Plus, it sounds like the relationship was dying out for this dude.

Also…Math time!!

They’re both 28, known each other for 8 years (since they were both 20), married for 6 months and got separated for two months after that in those 8 years…

It would be rude to laugh but this is a looooooooong time to accuse a relationship going sour because of meddling. Even Othello wasn’t that long. If your relationship is crashing after a near decade, maaaaaaaaaybe it isn’t outside meddling alone because it should be strong enough to overcome that at the near ten-year point. That and both of you should have gotten used to (with air quotes) her family treating the dude like he’s Scott Pilgrim. And it should have been a point of discussion sometime within those eight years.

But wait…the kiddo is 7. This don’t sound like a “friendship” because while friends share many things, kids right after they initially meet aren’t one of them. Taking the usual 9 month pregnancy into account, it seems like they met, screwed about, wound up with a kid. Since Mississippi sucks on the whole “abortion is an ok option/god won’t hate you/here’s useful birth control methods” thing, this couple decided to wing it with this near-new stranger they just had a kid with. Stuff like this is part of why I sometimes rather counsel queer relationships because, like Dan Savage said, “gay people can’t get drunk one night and adopt.” I feel like if a kid was not involved, none of this would be happening.

This is not exactly a perfect situation. Chances are, the chick saw things were just not working out and ducked. At least she’s stable enough to get her an apartment for her and her kids while this dude is chillin with an aunt.

Since this guy is annoying, I mainly suggested bay leaves because bay leaves are good for luck and fortune. This is simply to boost his luck, not be a magic bullet that forces his (ex)wife to come back to him because, remember, I’m big on free will in relationships. Since this guy is pretty crap at following directions, thus it was a lot of “Yes, do [thing I just said]”, we’ll skip that screenshot.

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Notice that despite the fact I said that the bay leaves are just supposed to boost his luck, he still is asking time and time again if this will immediately fix his relationship. And time and time again, I keep saying, “if it is meant to be, sure” because that’s basically it. I am not going to suggest anything manipulative. Because that’s wrong. I don’t want this dude doing any magick on his wife because he doesn’t have her consent, for one. And for two, he’s not going to cast anything that actually benefits her, just him alone. Thaaaaat’s not love.

Also, here’s a protip: magick is usually subtle. What did this guy expect? That he would burn the bay leaves and immediately his (ex)wife would call him, swearing up and down that she made a mistake and will never leave him again? Naaaaaah, that ain’t how it’s going to work. I intended that. Plus, controlling will is not exactly newbie work and he’s beyond n00b. Still, it’s wrong tho.

Skipping another round of “Yes, do [thing I just said]”, let’s go to the screenshot after that.

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Here comes the dude going on the defensive about how things get bad and basically say “She needs to change, I’m fine as is”. Now, it’s not everyday people are going to be meta and objective about themselves but this is just ridiculous. If you think you’re perfectly fine and the partner needs to change, just let them go. If I have to pry a “But what will you do to help keep up the relationship should it ever come back together” answer, maaaaaybe you should just leave this person be.

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And here comes the really derpy thinking that a “good man” is basically “one that doesn’t cheat or physically abuse”. That doesn’t make you a good husband, you’re supposed to not hit or cheat on your significant other. That’s pretty basic. That doesn’t constitute “good significant other”, that’s the baseline you’re supposed to build upon, end of story.

Considering all of this, even though he likes to blame the mom a lot, I don’t think she is the main reason why she is gone. If anything, I think I’m talkin to ’em.

Skipping a few posts because it’s the same go around because, wow, this guy is hardheaded, I even suggested the dude read Dr. Nerdlove, who has written threegreat pieces, including one recently(oh wait, a newer one! That makes four!), about dead/dying relationships. Dude wouldn’t listen because there’s no “How to make someone who doesn’t love you anymore love you again” article.

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And here comes the granddaddy derp of them all: the “cuz she’s my woman” defense! Dude thinks it’s ok to control people if you’re married to them. I think he took that “love, honor and obey” part way too seriously (do people still say the last bit?). Um, no. The (ex)wife is still an individual, her own person. It doesn’t matter if she is his wife, if she wants to make her own choices, she should be able to. To be with someone who thinks otherwise, they may as well not even get married since that person clearly haven’t moved on from the “property” concept of marriage. Kind of sh*tty concept for the 1500s, really sh*tty concept when you hit the 2000s. She don’t wanna love him for anything, and definitely not for him. She proved that when she walked out the door and blocked him everywhere. And everyone is working in concert with her to make sure he doesn’t know where she is.

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As much as I would have liked to have said this convo ended here, it continued on for a way while longer. This dude needs to simply move on and have a hard think on what makes a relationship “good”. In all honesty, it sounds like an accident with a super long lasting effect. (Remember, safe and consensual sex is great!) And the fact he wanted a controlling love spell to get her back is part of why I don’t do paid spellwork and why I’m vehemently against inflicting on free will. Usually, spells like these aren’t with the estranged’s best interests in mind, it’s usually for a selfish reason. People have to decide for themselves, not have someone wrench that away from them. I’m going to take it that if she doesn’t want to talk to him after 8 years of knowing him, she probably has a very good reason.

Actually, after talking to this dude, I have a strong feeling she had a really good reason. I doubt if she could ask me anything, it would be him coming back to her. She moved on, he should, too.

Too Many Minds to Mind

It’s been a reoccurring theme for me so let me talk about my Dissociative Disorder. Might as well since it’s been ticked up more than a notch since the riots (“Baltimore Uprising”? Yeaaaaah, way to Whitewash and disrespectfully glorify what is going on, you can nearly hear Muse “Victorious” playing in the background. I guess White saviorists got tired of Ferguson and want to live out their Rage Against the Machine dreams here. In my city. Where they are not welcomed. At all. They’re riots, stop trying to romanticize the problem you helped make) because, as I have said several times in the recent past, I’m originally from the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood. So, like the vast majority of the people from Sandtown (and Baltimore), I have C-PTSD, which means “Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”. The basic difference between PTSD and C-PTSD can be best put this way: If a soldier has PTSD, the kids and people living in the invaded country has C-PTSD. The soldier eventually gets shipped back home but the kids and people left behind have to stay in the rocket-pocked area because it’s home.

Same thing for kids in the inner city, it’s a place where you can easily get PTSD/C-PTSD because of the environment alone, not even including the institutionalized barriers that keeps the people there (and not getting help). Add that and the situation turns from being like crabs in a bucket to trying not to get sucked back into a malevolent vortex. It’s nearly impossible to say someone could come from such an area and still wind up neurotypical or sane. I certainly didn’t and many don’t. And we didn’t even add the usual day-to-day circumstances of just being an individual, which can compound the ever present stresses that no one – except for the people actually from the areas – want to talk about.

My PTSD came from a lot of different things I grew up with, from really crappy people to really crappy systems and circumstances as well as people and circumstances that were very well meaning but did more harm than anything. Then you had folks and circumstances that you seriously couldn’t tell which type they were: one second they’re helping you, next, they basically made you mastermind your own demise without knowing.

Now, from that PTSD basically came a garden plot for other issues such as OCD (not fun and riddled with tv-made myths), trichotillomania (that showed up first when I was around 10), and the most destructive one, Dissociative disorder, where I’m officially considered DD-NOS.

Because I’m lazy and saw a really good picture explanation from a tumblr titled “Trauma and Dissociation”, here’s the basic overview of what I am talking about and how the Dissociative spectrum works:

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If anyone is going “Wow, this sounds totally crazy. Like, psychokiller crazy,” yeaaaaah, you try dealing with really violent and unstable environments for a vast majority of your life and let’s see how you turn out. Most people get scared of Baltimore because they saw The Wire or read The Corner (which is the source material for the HBO show and was also a HBO special itself), and they’re just reading about it or watching a cable drama, not actually living there so it should be no surprise I or anyone else could wind up with such a severe disorder. Also, not everyone is an amoral, violent nutjob out to murder any and every one…that’s moreso White guys from the middle class on up. Kids in the hood at least have valid reasons for being angry, but with less high-numbered mass killing sprees. My disorder can easily turn quite vicious when triggered (hence why I tell people to not trigger me) because it turns out bottling emotions like anger and frustration and more anger in the name of social upward mobility is unhealthy – eventually it tries to becomes another person.

Also, if you learned most of your psych knowledge from tv or movies, this means you have very little knowledge on disorders in all. Going off of that one (inaccurate) episode of Empire won’t teach you anything about mental illness, just that people who have it are somehow scary and should be both actively and passively shunned, preferably into silence and out of sight. Random youtube vids and vines would show that mental illness should be made fun of for kicks and giggles because picking on mentally fractured people is funny, kind of like cracking on a dying cancer patient. Media does not try to depict mental illness in its honesty. Instead it is used to be a short cut to making a tv show or movie look more “riveting” or like there is supposed to be a stunning plot present because the show creators were lazy and good writers are expensive. There is the Korean drama “Kill Me, Heal Me” which was based around the main character having Dissociative Identity Disorder (a bit different from Dissociative Disorder, I’ll touch on that in a minute) but still, the show didn’t showcase the illness correctly, it basically tried to hit on as many mental illness tropes as it could. I watch the show with my friend, who lives in Korea, and from everything I saw, it was pretty decent tv (from a K-drama perspective) but no way would a Korean resident feel empowered to say, “Maybe I should get help” or “hey, mentally ill people aren’t wacked out freaks but actual human beings inflicted with a condition because of their experiences.” Newp. Not at all. I still suggest the K-Drama “It’s Ok, That’s Love” however because, even though it is framed around schizophrenia, they did an amazing job depicting Tourette’s and schizophrenia in very humanizing ways, which is necessary. Especially since most media doesn’t do that. Or if they do, the casting looks like it was done by a Klansman.

Alright, I said that Dissociative Disorder is different from Dissociative Identity disorder, let’s touch on that. They’re both part of the same disorder but the different points on the same spectrum. The Dissociative spectrum, basically. It starts out at Dissociative but in the middle of the spectrum is Dissociative Identity Disorder (old name is Multiple Personality Disorder) and the end of the spectrum, a very rare formation of the illness, is Dissociative Fugue, where you basically forget who you are and build a brand new life, personality and identity. The basic part of Dissociative is that it’s not Dissociative if there’s no amnesia. All Dissociative is, in all forms, is the mind trying to disconnect from the realities of the trauma(s) taking place and thus puts the memories somewhere else, which causes the amnesia and gaps in the memory beyond reasonable stretches. This isn’t forgetting where you put your keys but forgetting whole chunks of your life. Dissociative Identity is where the mind is still trying to shelter itself but still forced to engage with the situation and/or environment, it creates a new person to deal with it. So now that person has one set of memories and personality traits (someone with DID can have many personalities, someone with DID-NOS can have many different personas (non-fully formed personalities, more like masks), we’re just going with one here) and the other personality has a different set and sometimes personalities don’t know about each other. Dissociative Fugue is basically the mind going “I’m just going to restart fresh” and do exactly that. The person will have no memory of the life they previously lived, they’ll possibly have a different name, they may even relocate to a different state or country, have a different personality, everything. Also, because DID is so “popular” in the public consciousness, many people will assume that DID is the end all and be all of the whole spectrum instead of simply being a notch, not the measure, of a bigger spectrum. So if someone says they have Dissociative, don’t call it DID. It’s like calling clinical depression “manic depression” simply because they share a word.

If this all seems really confusing, think of the mind like a desktop computer. On a normal computer, there’s only one account because it belongs to one person. But in the case of Dissociative, memory files, including vital ones, tend to get moved to distant and rarely used folders without the user knowing. And the user may never know what is missing until they need to pull up one of those files but keep getting 404 Errors and “File Not Found”. For Dissociative Identity Disorder, imagine the computer now having various user accounts. Now the computer will look different, have a different layout, so on and so forth based on user but it is still the same computer. Each user has fairly immediate access to their files and their files only and won’t see the files from other users, as if the computer is just for them. Now, it’s not that those files on the other accounts disappeared, they’re still there, but you have to dig deeper into the system tree to find them. Everyone still pulls their information from the same hard drive, it’s just all compartmentalized for personalized use. Sometimes different users know about each other, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes files cross, sometimes they don’t. For Dissociative Fugue, it’s like the computer going through a reformat, a hard restart, without knowing unless someone uses a data retrieving program on the harddrive to see what was originally on it before it got cleared.

Here is a video also about someone talking about Dissociative (actually, Disssociative Amnesia, to be exact), notice how the woman affected in the video responds to a memory about a traumatic incident in her life.

This is basically what happens to me. Memories locked away by Disassociation are usually not recalled, that’s the amnesia part at work. With therapy, the elderly woman could rediscover her memories but it’s not going to be easy because they were buried away for a reason. If it was DID, she would have another personality that would be able to remember the incident perfectly. Notice that she does not. It’s just plain Dissociative disorder, the bottom part of the spectrum.

Now I’m considered DD-NOS, as you read above in the picture, this means that I’m considered “Not Otherwise Specified”. It basically boils down to “I’m between place points on the spectrum.” I do more than simply forget/block out bad memories, I nearly become someone different while really disassociating so I’m not merely tagged “Dissociative”. The persona is not a full-fledged personality, complete with practically an identity of its own, so I’m not considered DID. I’m too close to the “DID” label for my comfort but I’m still not DID. Instead I’m just a potentially prime candidate to go DID if my disorder is consistently disturbed and I’m still in a volatile environment. This is why I stress to people that I don’t like being triggered, that I usually go out my way to reduce chances of triggers, go to a therapist, etc etc.

A mini, crappily made guide to best illustrate what I’m saying:

2015-05-13 17.59.59Yeap.

Since there are folks who are probably going, “Then this means that we don’t have to listen to you because since you’re mental, thus a terrible source of information about Paganism and metaphysics.” Nah, wrong. I learned metaphysics despite having PTSD and all the disorders that it basically brewed. I’m still sensible enough to explain and understand complex philosophical theories. It’s not like my PTSD rendered me unable to read and think. When not triggered, I’m pretty regular. As I explained in a past piece “My Peanut Allergy”, my disorders don’t start raising havoc if nothing pokes at them. However, I’ve been hyper-focusing on my disorders so I can get better faster instead of just saying, “‘Eh, I’ll worry about it later” since I’ve basically been saying that for nearly 10 years. Procrastinating on your health for a decade is never a good idea, let’s be frank. It just gets in the way of everything else and gets worse, not better. Not being fully invested in metaphysics, energy manipulation and psionics does suck but I gotta focus on getting better, which is remarkably difficult since the United States is still crappy when it comes to healthcare and affordability of said healthcare. Last I checked, America came 34th in Healthcare but no.1 in how expensive it is. And that’s with the major focus being on physical healthcare. Mental healthcare is worse, that’s certain.

Ah, wellz.

Over-Exposed

I have basically spent this whole past week just forever in my feelings. Nothing but irritated and pissed. It’s one thing to have you city make national news, it’s definitely different when the neighborhood you were brought up in is the reason the city is basically on lockdown. And why morons would stop talking like they know how it is in Sandtown when they’re going off info they learned from HBO and reports written by people who are also not from Baltimore. Yes, reading relatively objective reports about the plight here is nice but your 20 minute read is not going to trump my personal experience, no matter how much you want it to. I was born and raised there. You could got to an Ivy, take a bunch of classes, get a degree and you’ll still have no idea compared to my actual, lived experience. That is just how it is. Baltimore is a whole lot more than Old Bay and Hon bullsh*t. That’s not even really Baltimore, that’s a White-washed, gentrified view of Baltimore because they don’t like that Baltimore is 64% Black and only 12% White. With effort from the Mayor(s, plural because Dixon was bad, O’Malley was awful, we haven’t had many good Mayors that actually care about Baltimoreans more than yuppie outsiders), there has been a healthy move to Whiten up Baltimore as much as possible.

I think the only White person that has been interacting with Baltimore and actually was not a douche about all that has been happening is the Manager for the O’s and why he closed the game to the public:

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He gets it. He wasn’t being a douche, he was comfortably understanding by saying that this is beyond baseball and that he’s not going to say more than that because he has no way to relate to the experience of the people rioting and protesting. See? He made a comment that wasn’t disrespectful, agitating, exploiting, or White-Saviorist. It is ok to say, “Look, I’ve no bones in the game, all I know is that this is a big problem and that’s for sure. Baseball is just a game, this is a burst of a bunch of problems.”

Basically, this Baltimore club song is basically how I’ve been feeling all this week

This is more accurate to Baltimorean culture. We’re not really into outsiders telling our tales and speaking for us. At all. We don’t like exploiters, people who don’t genuinely care and just are talking about Baltimore because they’re tired of talking about Ferguson or to look like they’re up on current events. Everyone who is not from Baltimore wants to do a think piece about Baltimore, a city they have zip idea about. If all you knew about Baltimore was basically stuff that starred White people (or, if it was negative, Black people) such as The Wire, Hairspray and Old Bay, then maaaaaaaaybe you should just go back to watching Game of Thrones or something.

Everyone has been getting on my nerves, especially non-local media. I haven’t bothered to look at CNN, FOX News (how did you manage to come to Sandtown and not get your media truck firebombed? Not even catch a rock to the temple. Or a cracked camera?), even Wild Hunt – who asked me for my take – I’ll touch on that in a minute – tried to get in on the calamity as if they’re New York Times or they actually care. Even us Baltimoreans know we’re just activist groups heat of the week, flavor of the day. I haven’t even looked at The Root, which is a Black publication that usually is pretty on the level about things but again, I’m sensitive because as I said before, I’m from that neighborhood so I take it very straight to heart. Like, Mondawmin Mall? I grew up near that mall, my paternal grandfather’s house would have only been maybe 5 or 6 doors away from where the rioters started to break apart and scatter. That mall also started to gentrify a little, which served in part to getting its windows dropped. Remember, we don’t like exploiters. I’m pretty sure they’re clear with that now and if not, Baltimoreans are very good at strong reminders.

The only media people that contacted me was just Wild Hunt. Merely because I am in Baltimore, I’m close enough to the destruction. The person contacting didn’t even know (how, I don’t know because I made it very clear that I am more than just a Baltimorean but also from that neighborhood in the last post), that I am a native Baltimore and from the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood and gave me among the smaller snippets whereas some random person in bum-f*ck Maryland gets a whole paragraph cited and another person in New Jersey. I am probably the only Black person (aside from a quip from Ray Lewis) that was even mentioned in the article. Dude, the writer even wanted to include my MLK quote with snarky part to White liberals, the only reason why I’d post the quote interestingly edited out (I wonder why…oh wait, MLK quotes attract White folks like metal to magnets!) and I had to get a bit snippy to get it out. I told her to mention that I wrote about Whitewashing and gentrification. That didn’t make it to the final cut. It was just labeled “impassionate” (nice word/code for “angry”). I’m actually from here but I get among the least mention. And Wild Hunt doesn’t really try to be that “Oh, here are non-Pagan current events”. Maybe they should try to stick with more Pagan life stuff. The only reason why I agreed was because it isn’t like the writer was going to try hard to find someone else who was Black and from Baltimore…or from Baltimore…or possibly even Black. Now, it isn’t that any Black person can automatically talk about what happened in Baltimore (I mean, Don Lemon should have proved that), but at least there would be a higher likelihood of the person saying “Institutionalize racism” in opposed to saying the super soft “Ohhhh, those pooooooor Black people being murdered. Gives me a sad”.

And speaking of media inaccurately depicting Baltimore, how about that low key Whitewashing between “peaceful protester” and “rioter”. This is what the City Paper posted:

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This is one of many, maaaaaaaaaany times where when you would see people talk about “peaceful protesters” they usually would pan to crowds mixed with White folks…or just pan to the White person in the crowd just standing there amongst the Black folks. But if they’re trashing cop cars and wrecking stuff, it’s All Black Everything. Quick tip: Stop centering White people to make any movement “relevant” or worth caring about. Minorities get edged out of their own movements all the time, it really isn’t fair. This movement isn’t about them. At all. If you have to see a White person somewhere in there to justify a movement, then that’s pretty bigoted. They’re not affected at all by racially charged murders. It’s nice they care but no one needs to put them at the forefront to validate a movement and to depict a “peaceful protester”, that is certain. That is sneakily dehumanizing the Black protesters as barbaric unless there is a White person to symbolize order when really there were definitely White looters. They can be just as bad if not worse because they’re not acting out from being oppressed for decades, just taking an opportunity because they figured even if they hit a ton of stores, media will just show a news reel of a Black folks doing it instead.

This article in the City Paper, which is a surprise for me because CP doesn’t tend to reflect the city it represent but even a broken clock is right twice a day, written by Helena Hicks, titled “Helena Hicks Talks about Institutional Neglect in Freddie’s Gray Neighborhood” accurately depicts the problems in Sandtown-Winchester. I strongly agree with this elder, who also participated in the 1955 sit-in at Read’s drug store in Baltimore as a college student, I recommend reading because as I have said this whole time, to best understand how things are, ask someone who actually is from the area. And the most striking part is that, despite Hicks and I come from two different generations, we have many of the same complaints.

“Sandtown-Winchester has just been left to its own devices all these years, and the devices unfortunately have been destructive ones.”

Anyone from there would tell you this. It’s nicknamed “Crazytown” for a reason. It practically the wild west there. A prison without bars, a concentration camp without electric fences.

“[Since the 40s] You had the gangs starting, you had the murders, you had a drug cartel. There’s never been any justice for people who have committed murders there. As for the Western District police station, it was well known you buy those cops off for $5. It’s had a history of violence, and violence over drugs, since the 1940s.”

Heeeeey, didn’t I say in my last piece I remember drugs being sold on the steps of the Western District police station? Thought I was exaggerating, huh? This, everyone, is the reason why I absolutely abhor the drug trade in all forms, all who participate in it and why I have a therapist. And PTSD. And why the current drug laws gives me the shakes, they’re growing so soft. It was pretty bad there. Still is. What everyone saw on Monday is only an iota of what I saw growing up.

“In the years since, virtually no resources have ever been put into the neighborhood, and it became a drug neighborhood. My sister, Lillian Jones, fought to have something different for the kids in those projects, and the Lillian S. Jones Recreation Center there is named for her. But she died, and the center just fell apart.”

I wasn’t raised in the projects, but I was raised across the street from them on the 1500 block of N. Mount St. I can attest to how bad it got. It was swarmed in drugs and, in turn, cyclical problems such as violence. And anything that has any strain of good in it doesn’t last long. Ever. I remember when the rec. centers got closed. I remember Central Rosemont, which got replaced by PAL, a recreation program that the police thought up (and failed), and then got shut down completely. My mom helped create the protests against City Hall about the shutting down of rec centers, which helped extended the life for a while until the City just stopped caring and did what it wanted.

“The city has consistently done nothing to help this area.”

Didn’t I just say that?

“There is no active drug rehabilitation program. You have nothing in terms of education, nothing to build self pride or desire to rise above the situation there.”

My mom did the smart thing and moved my sister and I out there when we were in our pre-teen. For me, I have a burning hatred of the people who made Sandtown such a terrible place with the strength of a million suns, so that has convinced me to never put myself back there. I just didn’t (and still don’t) want to go back there. I built self-pride in how smart I am, and that was tough in and of itself. That’s why I’m so cocky about my intelligence. And with a very, very, very obscenely low bullsh*t threshhold, as my steady readers have probably noticed. Especially from people who were raised from a higher social station than I was.

“You don’t have any job training programs. People don’t finish school, they don’t make any money, they have nothing to do with their time. Torn-down houses. No food stores. Vacant houses. Open drug markets. 24 hours a day.”

Even the old Stop, Shop, and Save that I grew up with, the only actual market in the area, just closed recently, if Google Maps showed me correctly. Actually, Google Maps has not even been behind my house on the teeny street since 2008. Lolz. Even Google doesn’t want to know.

“We set up child day care in Sandtown. It ran well for a while, and then we lost funding and got kicked out. Nothing has worked because the city won’t invest permanently in that neighborhood. It once had responsible citizens, and it still does, but you don’t have enough of them and they have no direction and no City Hall support.”

Yeap, that sounds about right. If it’s a good thing for Sandtown, the plug will get pulled on it faster than fast.

“There was the Empowerment Zone in the 1990s, and then it dissipated. The developers got a hold of that. It was all about how they could use the neighborhood and the money that was coming in on federal grants to supposedly help that area. The federal grant money dried up; it never did a whole lot of good anyway.”

I was raised in the 90s. Basically, people got greedy. Tried to gentrify Sandtown a little (basically go, “Let’s move in White people, that’s the only way we think a neighborhood is worth saving!”), and something on the calculator must have said, “You’re going to have a lot of dead White people, just leave it alone.” That and greedy people are greedy. The money was seen to help the area but the people in charge most likely saw the money as a free payday.

“The police have been a part of the problem and not the solution in that area since I was a child. Former Mayor Martin O’Malley didn’t help. He started the ‘zero tolerance’ policy, so half of the people who were hanging around got locked up….Plus, they put the bottom of the barrel down [in Sandtown]. Not good teachers, not good police – and if they get anybody good down there, they don’t last.

Bolding is mine. I have been telling people this time and time again: There’s no room for good guys down there. The reason why the cops are so ruthless down there is because the people they have to get are more ruthless than them. Even though in the different neighborhood, Oliver, the police didn’t murder the Dawson family. Here in Sandtown, things are downright atrocious, there’s no room to play by the rules. Absolutely none. If there were, they would quickly be called “loopholes”. It’s not fair to the people caught in between but that’s simply just how it is. And how it will be, none of this media circus will affect a thing, sadly. Trust me on that. It’s just a heinous cat and mouse game.

“It’s possibly to do something constructive in Sandtown-Winchester, but you’ve got to get City Hall to understand the mess they’ve made, take responsibility for it, and start planning to go in another direction….Nobody is looking at how we got here and what do we need to do to turn it in a different direction. They just concentrate knee-jerk reactions to whatever’s happening in the present.”

Like a riot. A loud one at that. Classic move of City Hall. Media is already giving them a heaping of help by milking this “Black Lives Matter” stuff in hopes for a Pulitzer or to look progressive. Just focus on the now, not the future and definitely not the past.

“Marches won’t do it.”

Are you me? Ye gods, it sounds like something I would say.

“I don’t have any faith in these ministers leading things. They’ve been there all this time and haven’t done anything. They just want a platform. You need to understand the history.”

Sounds nearly like me.

“There are people who know what’s going on and could be asked for help. But City Hall is not going to ask for that. [Mayor] Stephanie Rawlings-Blake doesn’t think anybody over 50 knows anything that she can use.”

The mayor also has a tendency to think the same of folks who can’t pass a paper bag test. A White person tell her that she’s on fire, she’d run for the fire extinguisher. A Black person tell her she’s on fire, she’d just remark, “The weatherman said we’d have summer temperatures today. You just are confused.”

“They think nobody knows anything but them, and they have the answers and they’re going to resolve it.”

Their solution: A neighborhood is only worth saving if there are White people living in it. Time to gentrify! Then we’ll pump in much and desperately needed resources.

“And they’re not. It’s just going to get worse and worse.”

Basically what I’ve been saying.

“History repeats itself, and we’re about to repeat something very bad if we don’t get in there and do something fast.”

Yes, it can get worse than this. Way worse.

“I’ve tried to pass the baton, but many young people don’t see any future. And I understand why they don’t see it: They don’t get many examples of good things that are happening, so they don’t believe that it’s possible….I think there is some hope. But it’s getting harder and harder to find people who believe that and it’s been harder and harder to point out where there is some reason to hope.”

Sounds about right. The future of Sandtown is pretty bleak. And I’ve seen little to convince me that it will get better for the residents of Sandtown ever. That’s the super sad part. It would only be possible if people actually cared and tried to break the cyclical damage and hurt there. Buuuuuut that’s not happening for a while. Once the cameras are off of Penn-North, and the rest of Sandtown, it’s back to business as usual.

I got crappy questions so I figured I wouldn’t bother answering them. Especially since apparently there’s been protests in my city, Baltimore, all this week and Saturday was a big mess where the protests started out peaceful for hours and then ended up raucous.

I was downtown on Saturday because I’m helping out at a store in Federal Hill but got dismissed early because of the protests since I knew they would attempt to disrupt traffic. They did succeed in that but I was already home watching stuff from a live stream on a local news site. I did notice the 3 helicopters, two police, one news, hovering over my area (I live relatively close to downtown, mainly a 20-30 minute walk) and at least two police jeeps driving towards downtown all at the exact same time as I was getting to my home. That and I saw an unhitched storage trailer with Montgomery County Police’s logo and signage on it while passing through the Inner Harbor by Circulator bus, that’s a pretty far away county.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and whinge the usual “Reminder: Please don’t kill Black people” or say “Oh, look [random Black person] has died! How many more will happen?!” because I’m not Tumblr and I’m not a White activist – two groups who have a reaaaaaally strong tendency to be very vocal about dead Black people to the point of passing around ToD (Time of Death) pictures like they’re trading cards. Emphasis on the dead because they certainly don’t do much about living ones besides thieve and pillage their cultures for fun and try to eject them out of their neighborhoods via aggressive and passive gentrification.

For example, LED Baltimore and I tend to bump heads because they like to portray Whiteness as baseline of art on their massive, electric billboard but Baltimore is a 64% Black city (with a 12% White population) and a creative one as well. This person would reason that somehow, despite the 64% Black population, they have the ever hardest time finding a Black photographer or visual artist that makes art. And an even harder time finding people who would paint or picture Black subjects because apparently Black people are hard to find in a 64% Black city. Like, apparently we don’t exist. Except when we litter the streets to be chalk-out lines.

This especially because it seemed LED Baltimore had no problem whatsoever broadcasting the ToD picture of Freddie Gray on this super big jumbotron of a billboard. Or crying Black people – preferably light skinned ones because when White folks say “Black Lives Matter”, they mainly mean “Ones who are light enough to not visually perturb us. Black lives might matter but Whiteness has diamond value. However, Black suffering definitely matters, though. Great cash cow.” This really annoyed me. Can’t put up a picture of a Black kid enjoying a frozen cup but a dead Black kid? Let’s slap that up there, certainly it’s dramatic photography because it’s what everyone, including the 64% Black population, wants to see.

Yeaaaaah, this is why White folks in activist circles (and outside of them) are constantly the poster kid of “What not to do.” That White Saviorism complex eventually comes popping out and ruining things. Great at causing problems for minorities but never really been that stellar in fixing said problems.

This is why I was not too happy seeing any White anyone in the protest crowd because that’s basically a glowing sign problems are about to occur. Baltimoreans just want the officers in the case, at the very least, indicted for some kind of wrong doing that most definitely did occur. White folks just want to live out what they saw on V for Vendetta last night and because they listened to too much Green Day and Rage Against the Machine (the one they’re pretty happy to be a part of). To feel like rebels because there’s nothing better else to do than sit on Facebook and pretend to be armchair political philosophers and strategists. Didn’t help that you had the Orioles game going so there’s more yuppies flowing into the mix, especially since they like yelling out, “Gun! He’s got a gun! Shoot! Officer, he’s got a gun!” because they think SNL-level humor is cute. Funny, these people weren’t saying the same during Sandy Hook. For the lolz, right? I mean, I could honestly create an endless barrage of jokes off of Sandy Hook alone, talk about an easy target, it would be such child’s play, almost as simple as picking on kids. I wonder why no one took that incident so light heartedly.

Are there really great White anti-racist activists who genuinely do care that the looooooooooong, long history of police brutality and harm to Black individuals (not Black bodies, Black individuals. A body is what you get after murder happens, not before. That would be an individual, a person) is atrocious and needs to stop? Sure but those 3-5 people need to do some actual work reigning in and policing the other White folks around them. Selflessly. Not to be the next Tim Wise, to be selfless out of genuine concern. I didn’t really see many White activists saying to the O’s fans, “Dude, that’s not cool.” Nah, they were fairly stuck on silent.  Or busy posting to Tumblr or Twitter about how they’re “good” White folks on “the right side of history”, probably to use later so when they get older and called out for being racist, they can say “Hey! I marched in the Black Lives Matter protests!” or when their kids get called out for being racist because, hey, blatantly unchecked bigotry is the gift that keeps on giving, they can say “Hey! My parent walked in the Black Lives Matter protests!” because history likes to repeat itself. Regularly.

Also, usually when Black Lives Matter stuff start hitting the news, here comes the Blue Lives Matter/All Lives Matter folks. I’d include the fact they’re usually White but I figured I was saying “White” twice. Look, I have friends who are cops, both White and Black,  (I even have a friend who joined the FBI!) and two uncles who are retired State Troopers but even they know there’s no point to saying Blue Lives Matter because officers aren’t getting picked off like NPCs in a First Person Shooter. More of the opposite. They’re know they’re safe. It actually alarms them how safe they are, that they can basically murder people, even on camera, and they’re most likely getting nothing but a paid vacation from it because of the usual chicanery of how police are, especially Baltimore police.

I remember when I had to help a battered neighbor and I took her straight to my officer friends (which goes up to Lieutenant) because I knew the cops in general were probably not going to do anything, which is precisely what happened (one cop of the duo, both Black, even said, “I don’t see injuries” despite swollen eye and busted nose. Even asked for a “before” selfie) until one of my friends, who is a Sargent started to pull rank and fast. Only then did things get moving and a dude threatening to kill everybody, including the kids, managed to get locked away until we’re on our 46th president and they’re up for (most likely denied) AARP since this isn’t the only thing on his rap sheet, just the newest addition.  If I didn’t use my network, this neighbor and her kids would have still been under the same dude or become homeless because they wanted to get away really badly since the cops called didn’t want to locking up someone who actually committed a crime but rather wanted to irk and harangue the victim because laziness. Even my Sgt. friend, who is White and was very on the mark, remarked “This is why we have the reputation that we do! That was shoddy police work.” He continued that of all the times in history to pull this, now would definitely not be it because he knew people didn’t trust police and giving them just cause for their distrust is not helping. Only thing Blue Lives need protecting from is their own reputation and that’s not going to happen until they do something to change it. That’s strictly on them. Officers aren’t dying at unprecedented rates, even despite having a dangerous job. That’s what they’re doing to others. And aren’t the only ones, at that.

As for the All Lives Matter people…we already know that it’s code for “White Lives Matter” because we’re already implying that all lives matter by saying “Black Lives Matter” because Black lives are part of the All but are really being cut short at comparatively drastic rates, unlike the rest of the All. Seriously, does the very idea of mentioning that Black people should be safe like everyone else that freakin bothersome that you have to mentally and verbally distance yourself from it by saying “All Lives Matter”? It’s really rude. And disrespectful.

Miles Jai explains this all perfectly:

Seriously, just say “Black Lives Matter” instead of “All Lives Matter”, you’ll look way less racist than you actually are.

As for the low to mid level destruction in my city – and I call it “low to mid” because while some cop cars got trashed and a few trashcans were lit, it wasn’t the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904. Nor the MLK Riots of 1968 – I’m not surprised. Seriously. I lived in this city my whole entire life. I was raised in the hood, I’m not at all surprised that this turned out the way it did. As MLK* says, “Riots are the language of unheard” and talk about unheard people.

The news and the Mayor says the destruction was from out-of-towners. I don’t believe that for one second. Granted, the yuppies and White activists were definitely someone to beware given their track record** but a lot of the kids who were also being a problem came from my old neighborhood, Sandtown. I remember the Western Police District HQ, people would sell drugs on the steps (which, in turn, aided drastically to my PTSD because yeah, cops are pretty bad but drug dealers are practically evil the same way corporations are, they harm/kill anyone and everyone for business, they only “play” nice when convenient. Cops don’t haunt my nightmares, these folks do), the area is indeed a jacked up area. I think I have personally said the only way to fix that area was with a nuke and start again, it’s that bad. I lived there, I’m not crafting my ideas from watching The Wire and The Corner and youtube videos.

I’m not surprised they wanted to attack Orioles’ fans/Camden Yards. Those guys symbolize drastically the racial and class divide in Baltimore because mainly White folks, middle class and higher, go to O’s games. These O’s fans, they’re yuppies that are gentrifiers, they take up parts of the city without concern to others and treated like they’re royalty nearly. The folks who were trying to scream “Gun! Gun!” to the cops were O’s fans, they really don’t care about anyone and are really bigoted. The only time they like being around Black folks is if someone is there to clean out their trashcans and look after their kids. Then they go back to their pristine houses and pristine neighborhoods, wash, rinse, repeat. Baltimore has a long and extensive history of institutionalize racism and classism, we’re basically running on 1950’s era Jim Crow-lite. Even the Mayor and police head admitted to this recently. Because of all that, I’m not worried in the slightest about the safety of the O’s fans because why? They don’t care about us and actively show it, they shouldn’t expect an iota of concern back. The anger towards them is perfectly justified to me. Plus, it didn’t help that the police strongly defended the O’s fans and Camden Yards like it was a fort because basically it shows cops will protect White people with intense value but Black people? Not so much. And in a city that is 64% Black but 12% White, that’s going to piss off people more than just a little.

Not to mention, and O’s fans have a tendency to be destructive as well but none of them wind up dead at the end of it all despite being belligerent and drunkenly obnoxious.

Also, the news were talking to a lot of political leaders, NAACP folks and basically older heads who young people frankly do not care about. And when they’re not, when they say, “Look at peaceful protesters”, they pan to a White protester. When they refer to “violent protesters”, they pan to a Black protester, even if they’re trying to stop the mayhem. Which adds to the problem because uhhhh, upholding Whiteness is not a bright idea in trying to eradicate racism, because it’s the crux of racism.

Look, these kids know good and well that absolutely nothing is going to change. Even I know that. It’s just all political caterwauling to look in charge and/or to draft votes, preferably from White folks. These kids don’t see change, and I know from personal experience, these kids really don’t like being used as political chess pieces. They’re not that dumb. Police brutality has been a thing for decades, it’s cheap and insulting to pretend it’s just started.

The brutality component is kind of already woven into the concept of “what is an officer” when you’re young. Where I’m from, calling the police usually made a situation worse, not better. It’s simply part of How Things Are. If a cop gave you grief, it was like discovering a downpour on a day that was supposed to be sunny. Cops can be nice but you go out of your way to stay out of their way. Don’t like it? No one cares. Growing up, you know for fact that there’s no such thing as “unalienable rights” and “constitutional rights” are kind of super optional. Actually, I think there’s a running joke that if you told the cop you had rights and started to recite them, the likelihood of a cop beating would go from “probably” to “very certain” and it was just going to happen faster. I gleaned from growing up, you never tell a cop you have rights unless you’re either White or you want to find out how much they don’t apply if you’re not.

So, of course these kids are not going to care about destroying their own city. As far as they see, it’s just older people who don’t understand them or folks who look as if they’re pandering to White people, so it’s all just words. Simply hollow words. They know the Mayor doesn’t care. They know that nothing will change. It’s just a big political, media circus, a ruse. They know the cops are probably going to get off. They know that this isn’t going to stop future killings. They know that their area won’t get better until developers start pushing them out to move White people in. They know that this is the result so there’s no point but to take advantage of a situation where they can go wild and be destructive. They’re not concerned with the overall well-being of Baltimore residents, they just want to act out because that’s all they can do. Of the businesses and areas they attacked, some were obvious targets, such as the One Main Financial, Frank & Nics (the sports bar where O’s fans were taunting protesters), and Michael Kors store and knocked over a Smart Car, the mini electric car. They’re all signs of the “we don’t want you here” gentrification the kids used to getting. Even when I saw them pass the One Main Financial building, I knew that place was going to get some shattered glass, it’s too prime a target to pass up. You knew cop cars were going to get totaled, none of this had a low probability of happening.

Granted, when I saw the slew of people sitting in the bed of the dark pickup truck before the live feed cut out, I did say, “Man, please don’t start goonin’. This has been going good since 12 and it’s now 6, don’t start goonin.” Annnnnnnd what happened? Goonin’ occurred. Folks throwing grates and rocks at the police, attacking cop cars, etc. I shouldn’t be too surprised, I saw a couple Bloods gang members in the crowd, they’re not big on being peaceful, ever. Plus, a truck – a different dark truck – drove through a crowd of protesters and thankfully got chased down the street and hopefully got caught because that’s not cool. You don’t try to mow over protesters.

So, what is going to happen now? Not much, really. People are going to get their glass replaced, there are going to be more marches probably and nothing significant is going to happen. I’ve got nothing to be hopeful for, there’s no reason for me to believe that anything different is going to happen. Cops usually get off, people quiet down, White folks continue to pretend this is a brand new trend they have absolutely nothing to do with and is not rooted in racism, etc etc. Nothing really new.

* Nyuck nyuck, since White folks like to reference MLK like he was the only person in the Civil Rights Movement – but only in a hyper selective manner. And conveniently forgot that for someone so peaceful, he got shot by White folks as well. Through the throat. With a sniper bullet. As an enemy of the state.

** They only dislike police because cops are the higher level version of rebelling against their parents and don’t like getting busted for actually committing crimes such as using drugs or destroying property

My Peanut Allergy

Due to the fact that I have triggers thanks to C-PTSD mainly, I sometimes have to explain to others when those triggers get tripped. Problem is, it’s still 2015 America , mental illness is still widely stigmatized. Making the average person understand triggers is pretty tough because since it’s associated with mental illness, people’s brains start cramping up and giving out error codes, making them act super weird about those who have such conditions. Y’know, in a way that they don’t act when someone tells them they have a conditional physical aliment with a reactive element.

Like an allergy.

I have started to explain to people that having a trigger is like having a peanut allergy: It’s a reaction to something common and, based on exposure, it could be a small reaction or something worth hospitalization but it doesn’t define the person at all (even if it does get occasionally misunderstood by people). No one goes, “Dude, you have a peanut allergy? How do I know you won’t just up and die on me? What if you eat the wrong kind of M&M or have a piece of caramel, not knowing it was from a peanut brittle? I read that people who have it can’t even eat at restaurants because of possible cross contamination…. Can I see you eat a Reses Pieces? It’s mind over matter, man. I’m here for you.”

No one treats a person with a common allergy like a peanut allergy as if they are stricken with a horrible malady. It’s a simple peanut allergy, not rabies or Black Death. Yes, if the person has slight cross contamination (yes, I know it’s different for different people but stick with me) they may encounter symptoms of exposure but it’s not a promise to be life threatening, especially if they take something for the accidental exposure. If they mistakenly eat something related to peanut, like eat foods fried in peanut oil, have peanut butter-centered candies or anything like that, then yes, they’re probably going to need to check into a hospital before having to upgrade to a priest. Does this mean the person can’t be trusted doing simple things like going to the grocery store or dealing with work? No. Are they sick? Not really. They just have a condition that stays pretty invisible when not triggered. For a peanut allergy, the trigger is the peanut. Something so common that everyone knows that the peanut itself isn’t to blame nor is harmful in and of itself but understands that still, the allergic person can’t have it all the same.

What does this mean for the allergic person? Well, they can lead pretty normal lives with only real miniscule changes. For example, they have to check the back of snack wrappers to see if there’s a “Caution: May Contain Peanuts” or “Caution: Processed in the Same Facility As Peanut Products” warning on the back. That’s not odd at all, they can even do it while food shopping with friends, no one will shift uneasily about it. Probably not even give it a second thought, it’s just their friend checking the food for their own health, not a big deal. When they eat in restaurants, they may have to ask what oil the fried food was made in to ensure it’s not peanut oil. Granted, it will probably earn the person sneers as a health nut or some pretentious yuppie trying to throw their weight around but no one is going to consider the moment memorable or defining of the person’s whole entire life from that one moment.

Basically, like an allergy, a trigger can be no big deal, it just depends on how you handle it. A person could freak out about knowing that someone can’t have a Snickers because oh wow, it’s not everyday to learn someone can be easily felled when approached with a pack of airport peanuts. Same thing with a trigger. Just because someone has a psychological trigger, it doesn’t mean they’re broken people, it just means they have a condition that needs some care but besides that, they’re a perfectly normal person.

In using this, I’ve noticed how receptive people are to using the “think of it like a peanut allergy” allusion. They relax now that they understand how a trigger works with allergies as a frame of reference. When people see a psychological trigger in the same vein as an allergy, they become less fretful and act more normal. Even the questions about the triggers become more normal, more similar to what a person would ask if they discovered someone had an allergy. They wouldn’t act as if they need a whole briefing on the condition or anything, just that it’s there and something their friend has to be aware about. No one who mentions that they have a peanut allergy has to answer questions or explain when they first discovered that they were allergic to peanuts and how bad it was and have they ever had to be hospitalized for it and for how long. No real prying questions. And if they did get prying questions, it would be the asker and not the person asked that would get the odd looks for the questions, as if to say, “Why are you asking so many questions about the fact they can’t have a Babe Ruth? Are you their doctor? They can’t have peanuts, why is it such a big deal?”

It’s a lot better when people don’t freak out about mental illness, it makes it easier to treat and manage, even cure sometimes. It’s the removal of an unnecessary stress, meaning the source of the problem can be dealt with without the unnecessary nonsense that comes with people acting out their stigmas about mental health, regardless of whether they know it or not.

Know Your Facts

I did Huffington Post yesterday about Paganism in regards to sex and sexuality. To be frank, it was a pretty crappy experience given that despite the fact I explicitly asked for a diverse panel, I still wound up being the only minority there (hate that) and I barely got any airtime at that. Due to that, I’m not really sure I wanna post the link because I barely showed in it and it really wasn’t what I thought it would be, to be frank. I thought I would be talking in general about the concept of sex and sexuality in Paganism and probably give an opinion about 50 Shades of Gray and how Paganism have a take on BDSM, so on and so forth. Not some near hyperfocus on polyamory and the Great Rite.  And I have nooooooo idea how Valentine’s came from Lupercalia. I was told of St. Valentine and that was it. This is almost like when the Boondocks had that super mental depiction of the Pagan history of Christmas, y’know, the wildly inaccurate version. Valentine’s wasn’t even associated with romance until Chaucer in 14th century. With these thoughts in mind, I’m just not gonna post the link because I definitely didn’t like the experience so I don’t see much point in promoting it.

Without fail, people write to me asking for spellwork, usually asking specifically for “black magick” because the fact they couldn’t read my site for longer than the title shows the illiteracy and idiocy these people bear. Pro tip: When writing to me, research is your best friend. Otherwise, I’m just going to be snarky because, hey, not like I’ve got anything better to do when dealing with the seemingly intellectually incapacitated. Thanks to the internet and the invention of search engines (including the one on my website), the average person has little to no excuse for not being at least marginally informed before talking to me.

The thing is, I strongly dislike being asked to do stuff with the assumption that I’ll do them. For instance, I just had a person who wanted some “black magic” to help a friend with a physical ailment that rendered them to a child-like mental capacity after an episode. Already, I’m not too keen to help because as I’ll say a million times – I don’t practice black magick (well, what is considered “black magick” since magick, much like electricity is neutral). I ask about what the doctor says and the person completely sidesteps that pretty important question and gets into begging mode and said that she was recommended to my site by someone else. Too bad that recommending person forgot to explicitly tell her to read my site so she knew exactly what to ask for and why the site is called Black Witch. (Free hint: it has something to do with my race. Shocking, I know.) Since even her most rudimentary schooling failed her (they still do teach investigative skills, critical thinking and research skills in school, right? I know the American education system is horrendous but wow.), I explained that even if I was the spell-casting-for-others type (I’m not.), she wouldn’t be advanced enough handle any spellwork/witchy stuff that would be useful to her situation. At all. And she still didn’t explain why she thought I did black magick exclusively despite me never saying that I have.

Person gets upset and says the classic: I know more about magick than you think and maybe you’re not a real witch.

Yep, every emo kiddo who doesn’t get what they want says this without fail or pause. Firstly, if she knew anything about magick, she would have known that usually “Black magick” is in reference to causing harm. Which, if she’s being honest about her request, that she wants her friend to return back to normal, then asking specifically for “black magick” isn’t exactly what she wants, is it? More importantly, she had no clue to that witchcraft comes with various branches, it’s not all muttering stuff at a stick of incense and a candle. Like, herbology. Since friend has a physical ailment, not a mental or psychosomatic ailment, it needs a more physical branch of witchcraft. Balance is everything: Physical/tangible problems should be met with physical/tangible solutions, metaphysical (which means “beyond/transcends the physical”, mind you) problems should be met with metaphysical solutions. It would have been very different if the person just emailed and said something along the lines of “My friend went through [abc issue] and now she [has reduced mental capacity]. I don’t know but I think herbs or some potion would help. Do you have any suggestion?” That would have shown a) a cursory knowledge of witchcraft b) exactly what the potential solution could be but still foggy on the details thus why asking. Notice the lack of mention of whatever color magick, therefore the lack of me wanting to snark. Because, hey, here’s an honest question. I don’t expect Ph. D-level questions but I do expect people do their homework before parking their letters into my inbox. At least I could give say, “sounds like you need an herbologist, here are the cautions of doing it all by yourself and here’s how to find an herbologist and how to talk to the doctor and family about it.”

A reduced mental capacity that resulted from a physical ailments would need the herbology branch of witchcraft…which is why I initially asked what the doctor said about the friend’s condition in the first response. There’s no way in hades I’m pointing this person to herbs or whatever for her to play doctor/herbologist by herself because she could potentially kill said friend. Nature is not a loving creature nor is inherently safe. Eat nightshade or hemlock if you don’t believe me. To be a great herbologist, you have to know biology, chemistry, biochem, modern medicine, botany. They have to know as much as a doctor does and herbal uses on top of that. That’s years of training because which is crucial for something like the person asked about because a reduced mental capacity refers to a cerebral condition. This is way beyond taking ginger or lavender to soothe an achy stomach or rose hips for cramps. A condition like this means that something is damaged inside the brain and thus needs to heal, which takes time and due diligence, regardless of whatever method taken because everything from the affected person’s diet to what med they’re taking, age, weight and more counts. Crucial information that the person decided to acutely sidestep because she didn’t know that medicine has roots in potions and herbology.

It’s remarkably annoying when dealing with random people who feel they have to put on an act. I really don’t care what Llewelyn books you read or if you bought the mini tarot kit from Barnes and Nobles, if you don’t talk like you have sense, I’m probably not going to be the most helpful or kindest person you’ve met this week by far. As I say a million times over: Do your research. With the internet, you have practically no excuse – there’s even a search engine on my website. Research why I refer to myself as “Black Witch” (that’s not really “research” as “gleaning from the glaringly obvious from the subtitle of ‘life from the Black Pagan perspective’ and the picture in the About Me section”), my general stances on whatever you’re about to ask me about to see if it’s even worth penning to me, make sure that your writing skills are somewhere beyond “drunkly made ransom note” and “pre-school grammar knowledge”.  So know your facts because I’m not going to care otherwise. But I will be snippy.

Next week is The Arts!:

– There She Is!
– Skip
– Power Rangers (Parody short film)

The week after that is Ask Black Witch. Send in your questions! Good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated!

Ah, love. Also known as “Why Cupid would never want to visit the physical realm even if he wanted to”

Actually, he would probably say, “Hey, I’m just responsible for people falling in love. Y’know there are other gods, right? Like, for lust. And greed. And indecision. And bad decision. And…do you really want me to run down my family tree?”

Dating is not easy. Quite taxing, actually. It’s hard to find someone who is a compliment to your personality and experience and a great friend and is romantically compatible. Odds vary by race but being Pagan shrinks the dating pool even further.

Eurgh.

Ye gods. This sucks.

Ye gods. This sucks.

When you study in the metaphysics and esoteric, you start to normalize your experience from all the time you spend. This can make it tough because of media representation of magick and metaphysics colors the opinion of many so you have to talk with a heavy filter or be very good at gauging personalities and potential reactions. And it sucks when you get questions that basically boil down to “Sooooo…you don’t actually believe this stuff, do you? Oh geez, I’m talking to a crazy person.” Yeah, folks are pretty judgmental. And this is talking to people in person.

It seems the common solution often given to folks with unusual backgrounds (and/or social tendencies such as being introverted) is to do online dating. Dr. Nerdlove writes plenty about online dating, however it can be reminded that isn’t a guaranteed cure-all. While with online dating sites like Plenty of Fish and OkCupid, you can pinpoint select race and religion so you can find another Black Pagan to hopefully gel well with…or at least a Black Buddhist or Agnostic, they’re still people. It’s just this time they are behind screens and with avatars. But, also screening out who you don’t want to talk to gets a bit easier, especially if you pay a small fee to help boost your filters – something women should definitely know to handle the harassing dudes that will inevitably roll into their inbox. More on that later.

There are group specific dating sites such Black dating sites and Pagan dating sites. Pagan dating site are the absolute crappiest if you’re not White because that’s pretty much all that shows on the site. If someone goes, “That’s not automatically a drag,” how these folks talk in terms of opinions and life experience show you would probably be the first Black person they would meet or at least the first they didn’t receive a service from. Pretty much, you’re risking going out on a date with some possible Darren Wilson supporter that claims they know voodoo because of some Llewelyn book and swear up and down they’re not racist but Ferguson is overrated and SNL is brilliant multicultural comedy. Not worth the potential risk. And that’s from the folks who are not super creepy/all screws way loose. Remember, really predatory and abusive people like alt-lifestyle dating sites because they think they can hide their problematic ways under “being eccentric” or behind the “live and let live” thinking with little blowback. And they’re not that wrong, sadly, because some Pagans still believe that any cultural policing is bad policing as if it automatically brings harsh vibes when really active policing to ensure little to no infiltration of bad folks is great policing. Not everyone needs to be welcomed.

Black dating sites aren’t really great for Black folks well outside the mainstream Black experience. If you’re not Christian – or at least Muslim – and most definitely if you’re part of any alternative culture such as goth or punk, you might as well pass. (As for goth dating sites: same problem as Pagan ones, just add bats and black clothes.)

For the most part, that leaves you with online dating sites like OkCupid and Plenty of Fish. However, still you’ll see guys like this:

Why? For his "Most secret thing I'm willing to admit", I'm sure it's "Where I buried my past girlfriends, dates and denied crushes. And you next."

Whhhhy? For his “Most secret thing I’m willing to admit”, I’m sure it’s “Where I buried my past girlfriends, dates and denied crushes. And you next.”

And speaking of nutters like these because feminism/womanism can’t move fast enough, let’s talk filters. This is specifically with OkCupid, bear in mind. Using the settings in the messages section, you can set filters up so that guys who use less than 20 characters (throwing a random number out there, you can choose various character counts) and/or rank less than 70% match go straight into the digital bin. Pay the site 5 smackers ($5) and you can up the filters to be more sensitive, even filter out messages that include specific wordings of your choice like “beautiful”, “sexy” and slurs, whatever you want. This will help you find folks you actually want to talk to. If dudes are going, “How do we talk to you?!” Like we’re human beings: read the profile and start genuine, respectful conversation on their interests and not how they look, genius.

On online profiles, make sure to be upfront about your religious practices so people can choose for themselves if they want to continue to talk to you. If they don’t, try not to take it so hard. Yes, not easy but a must. And try not to settle, if the person is squicked out by your religion or your practices, move on. Ditto to if you’re talking to folks outside your race if they seem to hyper focus on race issues…or just the fact that you’re Black and they still find you attractive. Remember, even if you think they’re great except for this ooooone thing, know that they really don’t like people like you – including you. Just because they’ll take you to a Janelle Monae concert and give you daily hugs, that don’t mean you won’t eventually wind up in their crosshairs. It’s not very hard to drop from “good Negro” to “worthless n***er” in a nanosecond. All you have to do is keep breathing and be a multifaceted human. That’s it. Might as well pass on folks like that but you really gotta develop an ear to really screen them out. That comes from experience by dealing with people.

Also, if they are Black just like you but still say internalized racist stuff like how you’re somehow not Black because you listen to Rock and like UFO pants or that how Black people would be murdered less if they just pulled up their pants – leave them behind. No need to hear from people to talk like they’re possessed by Strom Thurmond. Seriously, if they rag you with, “Maaaan, Black people don’t read,” or “how you Black and you don’t like RnB?” just give them directions back to whatever plantation they stumbled from. Don’t matter if they served in the house or on the field, they still wanna be trapped on the land. There is a whole world out there. Find someone better.

If you’re a guy, please read Dr. Nerdlove. Seriously. Too many dudes with really screwed up opinions about women (and some masculinity issues with homophobia that also stem from misogyny) are super common on dating sites. Too common. Can’t date a woman (especially longterm) if you pretty much learned about them through one sided songs, repetitive movies and near forever tropes in video games. Eventually, the dude spouting this stuff comes off as really rapey/creepy/dudebro/combo. Can’t express how much a bummer it is to see a guy that has diverse interests, a great personality…but is anti-choice, thinks less of women after they sleep with them (brah. Why be upset at the woman for sleeping with you? You slept around, too.), that any sex partner count the woman had above 1 is skanky and think women have an obligation to keep their legs shaved and wouldn’t date them even if they were a liiiittle pudgy…while the dude clearly isn’t virginal, quite hairy and could make Rick Ross look healthy weight. Thinking and sounding less like an MRA/”meninist” would vastly improve dating experience, even get approached. And remember, if a girl approaches with actual romantic interest, don’t freak out by saying she’s intimidating or by loudly humiliating her and most of all: don’t hit her. And not every girl that acknowledges your existence wants to get with you. If she asks for the time or makes small talk, she is simply being marginally social to another, locally placed human being (that’s you). If you wouldn’t want to imagine gay guys treating you like this (protip: they most likely never will), don’t treat women like this. Really simple. Not so simple? Read Dr. Nerdlove, he makes it simple. And entertaining.

Dating is super tough, that’s fact. Finding someone isn’t promised to anyone. There are, thankfully, spells to help attract potential suitors but here’s the part where I have to do the Pagan blogger thing about love spells:

 Don't cast spells on other people!

Don’t cast spells on other people!

Intangible things (relationships and dating (in general)) are good things to cast love spells on. Tangible entities … such as, y’know, people, not so good. It’s the metaphysical version of the chloroform cloth and tying them to your boiler in the basement. It wouldn’t be cool if they did it to you, it’s not cool to do it to anyone else, plain and simple. Don’t do it.

And if you don’t have anyone, try not to sweat it. While our society puts a lot of onus on finding someone  no matter what it takes, know that being single isn’t the worst thing to happen to you. Yeah, it’s cold comfort but true. Make sure that if you are trying to find someone, it’s not because you want someone to “complete you” or as a bandaid over your personal issues or to seek external validation of your existence and/or experience. Using other people as an emotional crutch and/or a therapist is never a good idea. It’s different from being emotionally supportive and present, two qualities to gun for instead.

Remember, all a relationship is, is simply a friendship with a romantic component.

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