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Adafruit
I know I have featured Adafruit in the past but it’s always good to feature again, especially since I buy from her store regularly for tech needs. Especially since Radio Shack has closed down…right when I needed to buy more diodes and resistors for my personal projects – such as an automatic cat feeder and an automated snowglobe to help me sleep better.

While I usually prefer to go to an actual store for supplies, Adafruit has pretty much everything a techie person needs. In addition, this woman-owned online store also has how-to guides and easy-to-follow projects to teach coding, soldering and general electronics creating.

There are some pretty pricy bits and bobs on the site but if you’re learning arduino, there is the budget pack for $34.95. It’s bare bones but you can learn basic programming and circuitry.

If you want to solder things together, they’re available on the site, too. The cheapest soldering iron is this pen-like soldering iron for $22. The cheapest solder on the site is $5.95. You won’t need to use much for each project, especially beginner projects. Also, as a tip – get a solder sucker, the cheapest being $5 on adafruit. It’s okay to not get the soldering stuff first, especially if you’re learning programming and circuitry. If you’re at the point of soldering, you’re pretty much at the final stages of your project. Don’t spend money, solder or time on your first LED blink. It’s better to save for a project.

NationStates
Definitely have featured this pretty recently but I just got back into the game so I want to bring it up again.

NationStates is an online text-driven role playing game (rpg) where you run a fictional nation and make all the decisions for it. You can run a democratic nation, a socialist nation, an oppressive nation, whatever you want. And the decisions you make can create a ripple effect for your nation, even have its government reclassified.

You get four issues a day and they appear with two to five options, all acted out by an affected person of the issue. The options are very light-heartedly written, which is part of the fun of the game. If you ignore the game for too long, you’ll just have five total issues to answer before the “new issues” timer restarts.

The issues may play well with fantasy but they can definitely stem from real world events, such as the Flint water crisis, should police wear body cameras, and sustainable energy. Of course, there are light hearted issues such as your nationfolk fussing about being able to walk around nude, should the government invite ufos to visit and if there should be a national holiday dedicated to the act of whistling. You can bypass any issue and whatever you pick will either drop the tax rate of your nation or hike it. And the interesting part? It’s not clear cut of what will actually benefit the nation, tax wise. Or even for your nation’s civil rights or economy or political rights. Good ideas can quickly become disasters for your nation and bad ideas can become popular and well loved. I’ve selected solutions that I thought would help everyone and it just threw my nation into disarray. Just like in real life, it’s a difficult balance.

It’s been a fun experience to get back on NationStates proper, especially since I’m older now and also previously worked for the US government. I think I make more competent choices for the country I have, Dursto, which I run as a socialist nation because I’m a socialist, myself. My nation isn’t perfect (yay for making sleepy choices), but it’s something. Each choice you make changes how the country runs.

Try it for yourself! You can interact with other nations as well, forming alliances or starting wars. I just have my nation basically mind its business, I don’t visit other nations nor am I part of any alliances. I don’t bother other nations so I pretty much stay out of the way. Hooray!

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Last Ask Black Witch had a question from a person who said he was a witch of 17 years…and wanted a spell to bring back his cheating girlfriend. Part of my response was:

Regardless of whether you practice witchcraft or not, heartbreak is still possible. If someone’s going, “If you’re a witch, why can’t you make the person love you and never leave you?” Because that’s abuse and would you like someone to do that to you? Free will is still a thing. Practicing witchcraft doesn’t make you impervious to life’s problems.

Apparently, that wasn’t all! I got more from the dude after the post went up:

Breh.

Really?

Two things:

A) I seriously think this person has not spent even 17 months in Paganism, Witchcraft, nothing. Ethics gets covered in the first year, so there’s no excuses.

B) Even if the dude decided to forgo ethics over a broken heart this time, he still wouldn’t be begging someone else to handle his problem. He’d already know what to do.

Let’s talk love and ethics in magick because, holy crap, it’s a reoccurring topic. It’s amazing how folks think that because they’re not using guns and threats, it officially not abuse anymore so let’s start there.

What is Abuse?

There are various types of abuse (emotional, physical, sexual, verbal, etc) but abuse is basically the act of impinging on someone else’s free will for destructive means. Mundane examples of abuse:

– Restricting contact with others

– Treating person as if property, not as an individual

Gaslighting

This guy here is hurt that his ex-girlfriend (let’s face it, she’s gone), cheated and left…and given his “she’s mine” approach, it makes me wonder if it was actually a cheating. She could have simply have broken up with him and found someone new. It’s not uncommon for abusive significant others to see a clear-cut break up and moving on as “cheating” because, in their head, the person never left or broke up, they’re just playing about – but now they’re being “unfaithful” since there’s a new person involved.

There’s also the thing that this type of behavior doesn’t magically pop up during immense stress, such as a big break up. Oh, certainly, emotions can drive someone to act in ways that are odd to their regular personality but there are such things as red flags. There’s a difference between sobbing “don’t leave me!” on the floor (and via text…and on social media), and declaring “leave me and I’ll kill you and the dog!” The latter behavior shows a more abusive streak that was most likely present throughout the entire relationship (and probably the reason why the person left). This dude is showing the latter.

What points this out is, first, the dude is initially asking about how to get his “cheating” girlfriend back, as if I have a history of just giving out spells and for any request – which I don’t. Then there’s the fact I already suggested moving on and therapy to get over the break up, the dude still asks about spellwork. Being dismissive of the initial answer is not a good look if you don’t want to look like a controlling ex-boyfriend. Listening is a crucial skill in relationships – and when interacting with other humans.

Finally, there’s the phrase of “I’ve been trying to do this without hurting the other guy”.

Usually, I would say, “it’s possible to blame the significant other for straying because they knew they were in a relationship, a fact they could have consciously withheld from the person they were cheating with”, but here? Why put care into not hurting the other guy, which means the ex-girlfriend is 100% fair game? I mean, it takes two to cheat, the significant other and the person they’re cheating with. It sounds like the dude just wants the girlfriend back to simply punish her. Not work things out, just mete out punishment. Which is shifty.

There’s feeling hurt and angry, those are legit feelings, but this is not the route to go down. At all. This is no different if the dude walked into a gun shop and was trying out glocks, saying to the shop owner, “I don’t want to hurt the other guy, I just want my cheating girlfriend back.”

If she’s a cheating piece of sh*t, then just ditch her. Be angry but let her go. Take time to heal and work on yourself.

In general, this is part of why I don’t do pay for pray (paid spellwork), bother with love spells or anything of that nature. Add in human ego and things can go south ridiculously fast.

Ethics is a very boring topic in magick, certainly. It can take the fun out of the whole “Ooooh, I’m a witch!” thing. But it’s important, because it’s better to set the lines clearly before you mistakenly cross them. Ethics is important especially in topics such as love and war because, that’s where they’re most needed.

People make rash decisions. There are pages and pages of history that proves this. People, regardless of gender, are emotive. Incredibly emotive. “Long wars have been fought over small differences” emotive. This can be really, really bad for so many reasons if left unchecked, thus why ethics exist. Ethics are the defined rules a person should follow, regardless what their emotions dictate. No matter how it feels at the time, emotions are not always right. Emotions may feel right, during that moment, but ethics help give a fairly defined “what is right/what is wrong, what is good/what is bad” line to decide with.

This is why I mentioned “what about ethics?” because that should be a go-to. It’s why ethics exist. If you wind up dismissing the ethics, that can be a super downhill slide.

Black Witch turns 7 years old today. This is very nifty. Tiring and nifty. It’s been a long thing, frankly.

BW started because there was no content for Black Pagans at all back in 2010. The most anyone was going to find was White Pagans making columns and posts about race that were well meaning but super short-falling.

The column has changed obviously over time, I still talk about Black Pagan issues but I also added in gender and mental health because they’re just as important. That and they’re things that affect me, a Black Pagan person. That and there’s only but so many columns you can write about the meaning of stones and divination before it starts to sound rehashed and a total broken record.

Even if it has been seven years, I still feel like I’m learning how to blog and maintain digital content. For example, I used to do livestreaming via Ustream but that became too much of a headache, Ustream would delete videos after a set amount of time (unless you fork up cash) and I didn’t know. Then Facebook opened up the ability to livestream on fan pages, Facebook Live. Once that happened, I am able to live stream a little more than on BW anniversaries and Halloween. I mainly livestreamed bookbinding for journals being sold on the BW Shoppe. It’s not must-see-tv but I kind of didn’t want the ability to livestream sit around.

With the constant changing nature that is the internet and social media sites changing their ways of operations – from chronological posting to algorithms – it can be a bit tough to keep a readerbase. An example is how Facebook actively throttles organic reach in exchange for money. When you like a page, it generally means that you want to see the page’s content. Facebook doesn’t feel the same way. Facebook believes that unless the page you like has shelled out some money (I believe the smallest amount is $5/day), you really don’t need to see their content that badly. And if it isn’t clickbait or fake news, it’s not really going to be viral. And Facebook likes viral because viral = money for Facebook. Basically, if you like a page for kitten paws, unless “Kitten Jellybeans” has forked over any money to Facebook, you’re going to nearly never see them…but you’ll get plenty of clickbait and nonsense that you never wanted to see.

What I would like to see in the future for BW is to be more persistent with posting. While I feel like I haven’t missed nearly as many Fridays as I did in the past couple years, I can still do better. I want to be a lot more steady in posting.

I also would like to make for more reader interaction since there aren’t physical spaces where Black Pagans meet. I already have the Discord server so I’ll probably start there. Doing the livestreams seem to be not a bad option, either. I’ve tried to tweet more but it’s not the most fun of habits to learn. Unless I am going to write in other languages, I’m just too long winded for 140 characters.

I do sometimes wonder about creating a bigger pull but, frankly, I don’t want to start making crap content just for clicks and views. I mean, this is a Pagan site, I could easily start posting fake positivity, pop astrology, new age treatment and random spells that sound legit but only to idiots. This is a Black site, I could post only about police killings and echo whatever Shaun King and Cornel West says. These and more can boost my site’s visibility and notoriety (even start bringing in money), buuuuut I simply wouldn’t like anything. I don’t really read sites like these so I don’t want to mimic them.

Instead, I rather try to monetize the blog with Ko-Fi and the BW Shoppe. Speaking of the BW Shoppe, there will be a 50% discount with the coupon code: BWAnni17. Expires June 16, 2017.

So, BW is turning seven years old, huzzah. I’ll be doing a livestream about it on the FB page at 8 PM EST.

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Sorry for the late ABW, health stuff popped up because I kept burning the candle at both ends. Let’s get into it!

My  name is Casandra R. and I’m a New witch and I am wondering where to start?

– Casandra R.

My immediate suggestion was my go to suggestion – start off with Where to Park your Broomstick by Lauren Manoy. ‘Tis a classic!

I’m familiar with the author first book. I read was the Salem witch trials and Marie Laveau and. Shakespeare Macbeth, the Crucible and Wizard of Oz.

It’s great she’s working on her history. Salem Witch trials was a favorite history chapter for me. It’s also nice she is reviewing classic works such as Macbeth (which is less about Witchcraft and more about “what would you stop at to succeed?” The Tempest has more witch stuff in it but strictly for entertainment, like watching Charmed.), the Crucible (based on the actual Witch trials, one of Arthur Miller better works) and the Wizard of Oz (has nothing to do with actual Witchcraft, is just a nice fantasy story, I prefer The Wiz more).

However, this is better suited for understanding the cultural ideas, perspectives and beliefs related to the concept of magic, sorcery and witchcraft in general Western mainstream society (and mainly from a very White gaze, given only Laveau is the only person/historical event that isn’t White). There are a lot of pretty okay academic research books on this subject so it isn’t a bad research topic.

I had also mentioned to just avoid Raven Silverwolf by any means necessary.

Name rings a bell. Is she or he bad ?

Ah, the younger generation do not know the phenomenon that is Raven Silverwolf. She is the person that took Witchcraft, Paganism and Wicca, turned it into watered down, sellable product and proceeded to do exactly that. She shelled out everything to do with magic, despite being new agey as all get out. And I bought two of her books when I was a teenager. She knew how to pitch her stuff, that’s fact.

It isn’t that I doubt she was an actual Witch, she just was the Billy Graham of American mainstream magick and witchcraft in writer form. She was certainly the darling of her printing press, Llewellyn. Honestly, it’s better to read Ellen Dugan instead. She’s much more down to earth and less shilling, more informing.

(For some odd reason, her site pitches a series of books called “The G[*]psy Chronicles”, this is where you sigh and facepalm as you scroll past the banner)

Hello, I need help I been a witch for 17 years. My girlfriend cheated on me. I don’t who he is and I want to break them up and get her back, what do I do?

– Phillip K.

Regardless of whether you practice witchcraft or not, heartbreak is still possible. If someone’s going, “If you’re a witch, why can’t you make the person love you and never leave you?” Because that’s abuse and would you like someone to do that to you? Free will is still a thing. Practicing witchcraft doesn’t make you impervious to life’s problems.

Frankly, my suggestion is to pick up and move on. Read a couple columns from Dr. Nerdlove, who has written aplenty about cheating and bouncing back from that. There’s no point in even trying to magick her back because it’s not like you’re going to have a happy, healthy, joyful relationship. It’s going to be a lot of unresolved zombie issues lurking all over the relationship and one thing I always notice about these “I want her/him back letters” – no one really talks about the love lost like it was a dear friend they miss but more in the vein of “That guy took my stuff, I wanna get it back”. That’s a bit concerning. There is feeling hurt, yes, but getting someone back blindly won’t fix anything.

If anything, this dude could better benefit from a therapist to get past the bad feelings and if he really is a witch of 17 years, then he should get some rose quartz and work of building his own self-esteem and self-care.

Blank journals have been added to the Black Witch Shoppe. All hand stitched and made to be durable.

These journals range between 80-120 pgs and are all unlined. Lined journals and music journals will be coming next in the upcoming weeks!

The journals I’m very excited to sell are the open spine journals!

These hardcover journals have exposed stitching on the spine, thus will have different designs and varieties. In addition, I am able to take bookbinding commissions for anyone who wants a specialized book journal designed and created.

To celebrate this, a coupon: BWJournal20 (Coupon expires on May 31, 2017)

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I’m taking this space to talk about the new Discord server I just set up last week. And the bookbinding livestream I did recently, too. Huzzah!

Discord is a chat server originally started for gamers but you can create a server to chat on. I already am part of a couple.

The link is open to the first 50 users. This is to keep things manageable and because it’s a new server.

The rules, because there’s always some rules:

  • You have to join Discord and be on the server for 5 minutes. This is simply to make sure I don’t have the server overrun with trolls (it’s a chat forum primarily for gamers, let’s not kid ourselves here).
  • As you could guess from the previous rule, any hate speech is gonna be instabanned. Period. Discussion is okay, hate speech is not. Even if you go “but I’m [area of lacked privilege]”, still instabanned.
  • Keep chatter to PG-13. I want young people who use the server to not feel squicked out. This isn’t the Grand Theft Auto servers.

That’s pretty much it. There isn’t really a space for Black Pagans to interact with one another, Discord is easy to join and it’s both a computer app and a phone app so very versatile. Check it out!

Bookbinding streaming

Last week, I did some work streaming of doing bookbinding on the Black Witch Facebook fan page. Really, all I did was make the covers for open spine books. It took three hours but it was a relatively nice experience. I played two or three episodes of podcast Kurly in Kansai.

I don’t have a set schedule of when I’ll be doing bookbinding stuff but any stream done will be on the Black Witch FB fan page live stream. All books done on stream will be sold in the Black Witch Shoppe (which looks fairly bare right now, I’ll admit). Granted, sometimes I wind up with paper that is too tough for bookbinding and the covers have small breaks in the end. So I won’t have a pile of those books, I may still put them on the BW Shoppe but for a lesser price since the book is still functional. Or deco them.

Huzzah!

 

This is going to be about suicide because I feel like talking about it and both the Black and Pagan community suck at discussing it. Simple as that.

Firstly, I’m not going to suggest National Suicide Prevention Hotline because they absolutely suck. I think I have called it only twice in my life and both times were pretty useless. The most recent time, a counselor started to be slightly combative saying “Oh, you can’t disturb the peace in myself. I am at peace with myself.” That’s nice, you’re a happy camper no matter who calls. If only I cared, the person who is not at a whole lot of peace with themselves. Unfortunately, Google and Facebook plasters them everywhere if you have “suicide” in your search term. (Unless you search for specific methods and avoid the word “suicide”, then you don’t see it at all). Thus I want to get this declaration out of the way. National Suicide Prevention Hotline does nothing to help those actually suffering from suicide. If anything, it’s just a fairly fleshed out dummy number for people who have never experienced suicidal ideation, feelings or attempts to rattle off to feel better about themselves. It’s also usually coupled with a “If you don’t want to talk to them, you can always talk to me” (which is usually a load of bs by itself, unfortunately).

Before we go further, also want to get out of the way the fact pro-suicide sites exist.

About pro-suicide sites: I’m not going to link them because while pro-suicide sites don’t bother me and, in my opinion, are better at being frank about suicide than anti-suicide sites (so frank that they have convinced people away from killing themselves), they are pro-suicide. They refer to folks who are anti-suicide as “happy shinies” (because they’re delusional in their thinking that “everything will be okie dokie if you just smile, do yoga and be happy!”) and I certainly can’t disagree with that because, hey, most people are scared of knowing someone who is suicidal so they think a pointless pep talk can make someone put the razor down. However, I am not going to just link to them because this is gonna be “do as I say, not as I do” moment. I dislike these moments and try to keep them as rare as possible but it’s happening today.

Alright then, moving along.

There’s no one reason why people attempt to kill themselves or successfully accomplish it. There’s heartbreak, bullying, general depression, financial strain, social isolation or combination. It’s really unfortunate but happens all the time. And some problems can simply not be fixed, no matter how empty or rehearsed the pep talk to a suicidal person gets.

Everyone has heard “try to pull through, it’ll get better” but that’s intensely hollow because it doesn’t provide even the slightest glimmer of a solution right now. The future looks far away and full of hurting so what’s the point of dragging yourself through all that…especially when there’s the chance that this feeling may be around for months or even years? And may never go away? Most people don’t know what to say to someone in emotional pain or crisis so they go for surface things like, “be happy” or “go pray” because getting into the murkier waters can be scary and are very, very not easy to fix at all. Someone wanting to kill themselves because they feel like an incessant failure is not going to magically perk up because you reminded them that a god existed. Actually, while we’re on the point of religion…

Never bring up religion to a suicidal person. If the suicidal person is very stressed and convinced of their method, they’re very much in a headspace where religion can’t reach them. No idea of an eye in the sky or an invisible friend is going to turn them around at that instance. You may hear the common, snarky rebuttal to “Oh, go talk to god”, which is: “I’ll be able to talk to god in person soon, if you’ll just go away.” In all the times that I’ve talked to someone who was genuinely depressed and considering suicide, I never would bring up religion, even if we were in the same religion. It’s because I know how it feels and if anything, it could stoke some latent anger (“If god/the gods is/are so all knowing, why do I have to go through what I’m going through? Why are they putting me through this? I’m not perfect but I try to be a good person”). That anger is not what the person in need needs. They’re just going to feel more abandoned and it’ll just plummet themselves down further. That and what if the thing weighing on them is a bad break up or, worse, money issues such as an eviction notice with only 5 days to remedy? Reference to religion just starts to sound deflecting from going at the real problem, as if the person talking to the troubled person reaaaaaally don’t want to acknowledge that some problems in the world are incredibly complex and need practical, real world solutions.

Actually, let’s talk about that for a bit: people who mean well but sincerely do not want anything to do with the existence of suicide, suicidal people and suicidal thought. Best explained in this article from Care For Your Mind and this article from Red Eye, even though people may spread numbers and links to suicide awareness hotlines (usually National Suicide, which, again, I would like to remind is not that good), it’s a very hollow act that serves the person spreading the link more than the person who should see it. A one sided feel-good act. If anything, this is a pretty detaching act to do, especially if the person feels alone or isolated. Because instead of the friend actually talking to the suicidal person about what is troubling them, all the suicidal person gets is a cold “here, call this number, I can’t be bothered with your issues” message. Even if the friend is just passing the number along because they honestly don’t know what to say but, truly, they know more of what to say than a random, poorly trained and burnt out volunteer on the phone. For starters, the friend actually knows the suicidal person, and therefore can pull from a bigger bank of information, which means better questions, avoiding emotional landmines, and getting trust and cooperation. A random from the Suicide Hotline can’t do that. What the friend could say would have more gravity to the suicidal person than a random person who may or may not really care. Basically, if you’re the type to say “talk to me if you’re suicidal”, back it up with some actual talk. No, it won’t be easy, glamorous or lovely. Hey, you may even have to spend the night with the person to make sure they won’t kill themselves. But it’s better than a cold shoulder after originally offering comfort and help.

It also does much better to help the suicidal person if they’re not called “selfish”. Actually, it’s usually others that drive people to that point, hardly narcissistic. Also, isn’t it even more selfish to want someone to live despite all their pain and suffering (that you’re not going through, especially not on their behalf). To just drag through what is senselessly hurting them and causing incredible pain because it might give you a sad. Oh, woe. Don’t just bother to help, just tell the person “Why don’t you think about me? Me and my feelings?” Look, once you pull yourself from the mirror, you should remember that there’s a person in need of help, not your selfish nonsense. Same with complaining, “Don’t take the coward’s way out.” Plenty people going through hardship killed themselves and they were pretty tough people, they just got tired of handling the weight of their issue by themselves. Anyone can carry a 3lb rock, but people eventually break if you saddle them with a 250lb boulder, regardless of their strength level. Even faster if you tell them, “It’s a three pound rock! Stop saying ‘it’s heavy!'”

For most people trying to kill themselves, just simply giving a sh*t is generally good enough. Most suicidal people think they’re a burden to others, that they’re not worth anyone’s time (part of why just haphazardly tossing a number to a suicide hotline that barely works can be a bad idea), that they’re a problem that needs to go away. They feel alone in their issues or like all they do is bother everyone, even when they try to do well and make all the right moves. Someone who actually knows them and actively tries to help them (not suggest religion, not suggest yoga, not suggest hobbies, actually sit on derriere and tries to help). It tends to do a lot more work than tossing a random phone number about.

However, some people who are suicidal are very invisible and isolated, they don’t have a network of people to talk to or even if they did, they feel that probably no one in that network would listen or even take their grave feelings seriously. Perhaps they’re getting tired of the “prayer” line. Maybe they’re part of a culture that internalizes prejudiced ideas about them and tries to pass it off as a positive. For example, if you’re Black and suicidal, you’re going to hear that Black folks are very strong and pretty much impervious to emotional pain…which stems from internalizing the centuries-old dehumanizing “animal/subhuman” stereotypes. That and you can go to church and pray away the pain and leave it all at the Cross. It all boils down to “Black people don’t commit suicide”. Which can be true, if you exclude Don Cornelius, Kayrn Washington, Lee Thompson Young, Phyllis Hyman, Jay Bowdy and countless, countless others. Actually, here’s a Think Progress article about the fact that suicide among Black youth is booming. Here’s another article from The Body is not an Apology. I guess Jesus and pretending nothing hurts aren’t really that effective. Feeling like it’s a must to suffer in silence or to just not even be noticed at all, it can be a terrible pressure that can lead to someone trying to kill themselves because no one who commits suicide really wants to die – they just really want to escape what’s hurting them and make things better somehow. For those who really just want to talk to someone that is actually going to chat with them and not judge them, there is the Crisis Text Line. It isn’t a physical person sitting there with you, but it is someone. It’s also free and quick to use. (It’s also faaaaaar better than National Suicide).

Now, some find comfort in their suicidal ideation, that they have a “way out” if everything really goes very south and with no avail. I think it’s a bit silly to think society can prevent suicide because the reasons of suicide is complex. If suicide were an easy subject, people wouldn’t wait for someone famous to kill themselves to talk about it for a few weeks before going back to ignoring its existence and shunning anyone who’s ever tried it. Some problems are simply too hard to fix or with very short time restrictions. Some people just have nagging thoughts that pester them that life isn’t worth living, regardless of achievements. It’s all very complex. Suicide is complex. And it’s never going away, but it can be alleviated in those who feel this way. But not always, which is just how life is.

Small Magick

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Magick is usually depicted as grand gestures and actions. Sitting in a circle, in front of a loaded spread of all sorts of magickal tools and accessories. Taking up space and having major clean up. Sometimes simple is best. Small and simple is better.

I like to keep things to one container. A tupperware full of sand for me to position stones and small, birthday candles. I can stick incense in the sand and the ash mixes with the sand when I’m done. The sand absorbs the wax, I have something I can reuse over and over.

Also, there are big jar candles that can store small stones, dried herb and other accessories like small seashells and dried honey combs. This is great for one-off spells and spells that need multiple days to perform, such as 7 day spells. These candles can be bought for cheap at any general store or market, in any color and with a variety of scents. Three wick candles are really nice.

It’s important to use small stones, the kind that would be stringed on a necklace (these can be bought by the string on Ebay, usually). The reason is because they would be hard to clean and reuse afterwards, especially with non-smooth stones. Also, small stones can be moved about and let space for other items in the candle jar.

Be mindful! Use flash paper, not regular paper, if you plan to burn anything written in these candles. Regular paper will absorb the wax and practically double as a second wick, which will eventually heat the wax and turn into a big conflagration. If not put out in time, it will break and shatter the glass, especially if you blow on it or put water on it. If the flame does start to be out of control, use baking soda. An alternative is a metal cooking lid or pan to cover and suffocate the flames. Do not use water.

Not a smart idea, use baking soda instead.

Do not overload the candle jar. The flame does need space and wax to burn. It’s fine to cover the wax thinly but not to stuff the mouth of the candle jar full. That means no stuffing in regular sized pine cones, big sticks, etc. This could also create a big fire. If you want to burn notebook paper, crumple it up first and tightly. Light it on the flame of the candle and hold it with a small pinch until it is burned away enough over the jar and place the rest of it in the jar and watch it intensely. If you don’t want to do that, transfer everything to flash paper. If you’re using a metal candle jar, you don’t have to worry about the jar breaking from heat but you should place it on a surface that can handle intense heat, like stone.

Once the candle goes out, what you do with the remaining container is up to you. You can throw it away, you can put soil in it and grow flowers, whatever works best for the spell. Do not throw it away in a natural place like in the woods or in a river. While it is quaint and idyllic, it is also pollution. The sun can shine through the glass onto dry grass and cause a wildfire. The glass could shatter somehow and an animal could cut their foot or body on it.

This method of magick is cheap, small and very useful. It doesn’t take up a lot of space, nor a lot of work. It may not be a full layout of a circle but it does what is needed.

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Hey. I’m black and new to Wicca and I am a bit scared. I read some stuff about it being good and just recognizing that everything we need is already provided for us. I’ve also read some not so good stuff that said it’s the devil trying to lure you away from Jesus and how they went back to Christ after bad experiences. I set up an altar but I don’t know what to do with it. Who am I praying to? You know? I was wondering if you can help me? …I guess I’m scared of like opening doors for things that aren’t good. Like I said… who am I praying to exactly in Wicca? I’m def not praying to a horned God… I get a bad feeling about that.

– Alie B.

Oi, you practically sound like me when I was a teenager getting started into Paganism. (It’s not Wicca but Wicca falls under Paganism the same way Catholicism and Baptist fall under Christianity). Growing up Christian, you get that thinking of if you step one toe outside of the Bible, God and Christ will both hate you and come down from the Heavens to strike you down.

“How dare you be nice to gay and trans people! Jesus didn’t die for you not to have guns and never vote Republican!”

Yay dealing with religious social doctrine and the fear it can induce. I remember when I would go through the “Am I saved? Does God hate me? Maybe I should be saved” go-about. I still remember reading a small Christian tract via the light under my door when I was a young teenager, fearful that I wasn’t somehow saved…despite doing it several times prior. I remember being scared to even touch books about witchcraft and divination because it was supposed to be demonic and so on and so forth.

I’ve heard the “Wicca/[other religion] is just the devil tempting you away from Jesus” shtick soooooo many times. So many times. That it will cause life issues, that your life will fall apart, you’ll never have material wealth, your credit will be bad, your pet hamster will set the house on fire with pipe bombs and attempt to assassinate the mayor, everything terrible will happen.

I know from experience how scary it sounds because you don’t want to make the wrong life choices and piss off a jealous god. Thing is, there’s really no right or wrong answer and there’s definitely no right or only religion. I mean, think about it like this: there are tons of religions that existed waaaaaaaay before Christianity and a good chunk of them said the same thing: “Hey, we’re the one true way, anyone else is wrong!” It’s a great way to keep believers but it’s a pretty crappy way to keep everyone else in the religion.

Even if you stayed Christian, you’re going to have crappy life experiences. Everyone, regardless if they practice any faith or not, is going to have life experiences that are horrid. Your life is not going to take a turn for the worse by itself because you switched faiths.

Granted, while the world does not care what religion you practice, the people around you might. I learned that when I became Pagan, the life issues I had were mainly people-related because, well, they didn’t like the fact I still converted away from Christianity despite their fear-mongering…so they decided to try to make my life very hard. Just so they could artificially prove their point that if I left Christianity, my life would get harder. The game plan was that I would go “geez, you’re right” and go back to Christianity. Instead I went, “wow, you’re doing all the terrible things. That’s not an act of God, it’s an act of discrimination. Glad I’m not part of that religion anymore.”

Now, you don’t have to pray to anyone in particular. That includes the Horned God as well. (I had the same squicked out response you did when I started. I still don’t pray to the Horned God and I’ve been Pagan for practically half my life.) You don’t have to pray to any particular god or goddess, frankly. You can just be general about your prayers to nature or the universe itself, especially if you’re new. You can pray to a general God and Goddess/Lord and Lady, not to a specific deity. Or to a goddess in general, instead of a god. These methods are probably a good place to start until you learn more about various deities as time goes on, anyways. That way, you don’t scrunch yourself into a corner.

The altar you have can be decorated with whatever you want. There is no must for set up. Do you like the sea a lot and really relate to the water element? Seashells, sands and more seashells! Have a little enhydro agate (a rock that naturally has water inside) in the middle of the altar. There you go. Prefer air? Feathers and wind chimes are the direction you should go in. Don’t care for any of that stuff? Stay super general and put some nifty rocks and candles in that space. There’s no rule that says you have to have an alter, either. I actually don’t. I never did because I was hiding my faith when living with my parents but now, it stuck. One less surface to clean and tidy up.

In Wicca, there a lot you can do. Partially because it is a religion that was created in 1957 so it doesn’t have a lot of mileage like other faiths do. Doesn’t make it less valid, it just means you shouldn’t put yourself under a bunch of pressure.

As long as you’re not trying to summon spirits or leap straight into astral projection, you’re fine. You don’t want to get ahead of yourself. Just read a lot of books (stay away from Raven Silverwolf, good gods, she sucks) and take it easy.

(For everyone reading, if rape is a trigger for you, this is the end of the column. See you next week!)

Hi…. The  great witch i am aashu i am 26 i  always wants a succubus for me many of times i tried retuals and everything but  didn’t get one many of times i written letter to the great Lilith but didnt get responce i was trying  in last one year can you help me to summon succubus as my partner and my lover i love succubus can you help me 

-Aashu T

Firstly, my initial response to this email:

This is an incredibly stupid question for many reasons. Why do you think I do spellwork for others? Succubi are not fun romps nor do they love, they rape, which is not fun (ask any rape victim. Any. Guy, gal, doesn’t matter). Lilith isn’t a succubus, idiot, she’s supposed to be the first wife of Adam that is cast away because “she’s too independent” (which is stupid on it’s own). 
Maybe you should just buy a fleshlight and stay out of magick. I’d suggest dating but you probably shouldn’t interact with other humans since thinking of some sort  is a quality most look for. At least I’ll have a question to mince on ABW. This is definitely a stupid question.
Okay, let me break down why this is a really, really, really stupid question. 
Firstly, let’s break down rape itself because the Succubus part is going to be super simple after that. Then the gender part because, holy crap, that’s super evident.
Rape, in short, is non-consensual sexual acts. It does not matter if the non-consent takes form of fighting back, arguing, being frozen as a statue, looking terrified, attempting to leave, being asleep or unconscious, resisting (even super slightly), being drunk or simply any other act that does not scream “consent/yes”. If it isn’t consent, it’s rape. Plain and simple. It doesn’t matter if the person didn’t scream “no” and starting beating the rapist head in with a brick because that rapist happened to be someone the person knew (which is roughly around 75-80% of rapes in total). Here’s how the FBI defines rape:
Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim. Attempts or assaults to commit rape are also included.
I want to focus on the “without the consent of the victim” part, because that’s what instantly turns any sex act on earth into rape. Instantly. Consent is a big deal because of how many people bypass it due to bullsh*t social constructs that usually hinges on toxic masculinity worldwide. (Think of the alpha/beta and red pill/blue pill arguments that are frequent on Reddit and 4chan. And why the 14th/15th century term “cuckholding” is getting a resurgence centuries later.) While there are widely circulated ideas that a “real man” takes sex (rapes) instead of waiting for it to be offered (waiting for consent), it makes for a lot of terrible experiences for the person it happens to. Traumatic experiences. Much, much more traumatic than the childish worry of “I can’t get laid”. So traumatic that you have to warn people of the topic ahead of time so they can prepare themselves in case they get flashbacks from their own person experience with it.
Oh, and it’s illegal. FBI changed the definition back in 2013 because they wanted better accuracy because better accuracy means longer prison sentencing, which I strongly support.
Now, remember the “no consent = rape” bit, it’s going to be important now that we’re about to talk about the succubus part.
A succubus, as defined by Mythology Dictionary:
A demon in the form of a female which attacks sleeping men and has intercourse with them. [BW note: A male version is called an “incubus”]
Now, if a guy thinks that this sounds fantastic, a woman – well a demon – always down to have sex kinda forgets that the words “attack” and “sleeping” are used. It’s rape. If guys thought that rape was awesome, they wouldn’t use rape jokes and rape threats so much or get intensely emo when accused of it. It’s also part of why summoning a succubus is difficult because…if it’s consent, it’s not rape. They rape, which implies non-consent. If there’s consent, it’s a sex act. If there’s no consent, it’s rape. It’s like saying, “I want people to rob me so I just started giving my stuff away to random people on the street.” That’s not getting robbed (the act of having your things taken away from you without consent), that’s donation (willfully giving your stuff away).
In a nutshell, if you’re willing, they’re not showing up. And if they did, it would not be while you’re willing. And it would definitely not be the stuff of dreams but the fuel of nightmares. Example: if you’re a dude not into pegging or stressed limbs, the succubus would make the whole experience 100% pegging and stressed limbs. Because it would be rape due to the absence of consent and crossing of established boundary. Because succubus only rape.
Alright, now onto Lilith, who is not a succubus. Granted, I may have screwed up my Liliths. I was thinking of the first wife of Adam. There’s a different one, as defined by Mythology Dictionary:
A Babylonian goddess. She is envisaged as a winged demon woman attacking sleeping men. Also called Lilith.
Actually, reading what the God Checker link and Mythology Dictionary has, this goddess has most likely seen some historical retrofitting. Either way, this is probably more of what the guy thought he was summoning. Still not a succubus. That would be a regular demon. This is a goddess which is almost more facepalming. If demons are hard to control, deities are absolutely worse. And all to get laid? Oh geez, here’s Oh Joy, Sex Toy’s review on various fleshlights. They’re all in easy-to-read comic form and have discount codes.
This guy wanted Lilith, a goddess that has also been depicted being a vampire and eating babies and raping men, for a partner. As if she would be entertained in a worthless human guy when she already had options of otherworldly demons. It’s a little funny because if this dude thought he could control Lilith, which other deities were having issues doing, it really shows this guy has room temperature IQ, Celsius.
Alright, we got the Lilith bit out of the way. Let’s focus on the gender stuff.
I don’t think I have heard of women wanting an incubus. Wait, no. I remember literally one time a woman said that to me and what stood out to me was how other women stared at her. No high-fives. No jovial agreement, just plain “what the fu-” stares. Y’see, rape is already a horrible and very real threat held over women heads constantly all around the world so it doesn’t sound like a fun sex romp but like the terrible action it is.
Note, this is different from force-laden BDSM acts, which are discussed prior in a non-sexually charged and sober setting to iron out the details. This is a form of consent because all participants are comfortably planning in advance what is ok, what is not ok, where the boundaries are, how to do aftercare, safewords, etc. This is consent in action.
Frankly, this question is the kind of question I definitely want to see less of. There’s being lonely but read Dr. Nerdlove to sort that out.

The Arts: Bedsider

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Light month this month! This is because of the catch all nature of this site, it’s pretty much one of the only features needed.

Bedsider is a site about safe sex and consent! These are two things that should always be taught, regardless of where you are on the gender spectrum and the romantic spectrum (this includes ace and demi as well (which is where I technically fall under)).

If you live in a nation or community that restricts proper safe sex learning (almost anywhere in the world where there’s a moderate-to-severe limit on women’s rights (nearly everywhere)), then there will be a lot of reduced information about things such as various birth control methods besides condoms, abstinence, the calendar and withdrawal/pulling out (the latter two are not very effective for a slew of reasons). For the safety of everyone involved, it’s important to the entirety of what is available.

For example:

Method Explorer
Method Explorer is great because it is an easy to use, visual guide that even has sensible filters such as “Most Effective”, “Party Ready”, “Hormone Free” and “Easy to Hide”.

This part helps so many people because it helps them decide what is best for themselves and the facts behind whatever they choose. If you click on any chosen method, there are small videos titled “Real Stories” of regular people talking about how the chosen birth control method affects their life.

Beyond those, on each one you pick, you can scroll down further and see all the details!

Here, you can find out how much it cost, how to use it, what is it, the side effects (if there are any) and more! It’s all-around helpful when you want to make the right choice.

Features

The Features section has very good articles that are well written and very informative. Such as “5 myths about the pill, busted” and “What you should know about birth control when you have a disability”. Every article is written by health professionals and advocates. This is great for those who just want to have the facts and without the sex-negativity or slut-shaming.

Questions

The Question section is all-encompassing! Which is fantastic because, wow, there are a lot of questions about sex. There are questions on there I didn’t even know were questions! These questions are written with simplicity and straight-forwardness from clinical professionals. I like how they keep it simple and not try to load up their answer with daunting medical jargon.

Have a question they haven’t answered? It’s probably there. Or living in the Feature section. Such as “5 myths about virginity, busted”. (There’s also an amazing book by Hanne Blank titled Virgin on the history of the concept of virginity.)

These guys do everything…but give you the materials. Information is great, but it only gets you so far. Now, for things like IUDs and NuvaRings, you have to go to a health provider but the basics like condoms and lubes (lube is a need for condom to prevent breakage) are very available. For example Condom Depot sells both items and with plenty of information, complete with buying guides and free delivery for orders over $25 (anything under is just $1.99 shipping). CondomDepot’s page on STDs/STIs and Body Health is extensive and wonderful.

Next week is Ask Black Witch. Good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated. Send ’em in.

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