It’s the August edition of “Ask a Witch”, one of my favorite parts of the column where you ask me questions and I answer them! Wanna ask me something for a future Ask a Witch? Here are your options: Comment here on this entry with your question, use the Ask a Witch form on the right side, or email it to me at email@example.com. It all goes to the same place, my inbox, so feel free to choose. Hey, use a Twitter? Ask me there too @thisblackwitch…or just click on the link in the site’s header to get to my Twitter faster.
This month’s questions:
“Just like it is hard to find acceptance within the black community or punk community in general…Do you find it hard to find acceptance within the pagan community as well which is largely white? Maybe you haven’t had a hard time finding acceptance…just wondering.”
– Taryn M. (AfroPunk)
I actually found this to be a good question and very poignant to me because if I did feel fully accepted in Pagan culture (Black culture, Alt-Culture), this column would not exist because I would have just about nothing to talk about and perfectly sedated by life’s blisses. I write this column because there is a complete and total lack of voices for Pagans who aren’t White and I firmly believe that no one can talk for us but ourselves. A Black Pagan, a White Pagan or even an Asian Pagan will not have the same exact experiences. Just like Christianity, the religion is modified by our own cultures and background. We have the same aims but very different means of how to get there.
Now that I’m done with my little soapbox…I would like to say that though I do have difficulty now with finding acceptance in Pagan culture, I was very lucky in the beginning because the metaphysical shop I went to was very Black. Black owners, Black sellers, everything was steeped in Black culture, and there was even a terrific Voudon and Santeria section. I could go there and talk about Cornel West, divination tips, Chris Rock and amethysts shards without having to explain myself or deal with stupid closet-racist jokes. I felt completely normal because I had wonderful mentors there keeping an eye on me and teaching me some of the very life lessons that has structured me in part of who I am today. The one mentor I appreciate overall is Ms. Donna. She was Black, raised in the city like I was and ran the metaphysical shop. I always would come to her constantly with my teen issues such as being jobless, guys, the world both near and far and simply life. She would always have something to school me about and I appreciate those moments. She was like a mom to me and it is because of her that I became so good at helping others through divination and magick if not simply by being a good person. She was willing to challenge my ideas and introduce me to new concepts. All around her were other wise women as well who I took on as aunts rather. Ms. Vita knew astral work, psychism and chakras; Ms. Annie was the best at numerology; Ms. Latonya was a self-made business woman. They all helped me identify nonsense when I saw it, how to keep focused, be happy with life and how to be a proper Witch. They were my group of few whom I trusted and turned to, especially when I started to chalk up strong religious dissenters.
When that little metaphysical shop changed and everyone dispersed, I can say that I do currently feel like a loner because I don’t have them around me anymore. I originally grew up in a Black Pagan world so being introduced to the bigger, far Whiter Pagan world at large did make me pretty jaded because I felt misunderstood and I didn’t understand the world around me anymore. Our backgrounds very different to the point it has been tough for anyone to feel comfortable sometimes and I never feel like dealing with people who think they are oh-so-funny cracking jokes about my culture and background. Calling a glitzy wand “bling” all the time or saying “oh snap” way too much isn’t funny and certainly doesn’t impress me for it doesn’t scream, “I’m culturally aware” but more of a “I’m a racist bigot and I don’t know it”. That’s actually kinda why I don’t go to a lot of Pagan outings unless I know for fact there will be at least one other Black Pagan there or someone who doesn’t act like their brain is marinated with stupidity. I can’t really relate to the White, middle-class Pagan story so that’s why I write this column – because I know I’m not the only one.
“I understand you are a pagan witch but why have you chosen not to be wiccan?”
– Pauline via Ask a Witch Formstack
Ah another good question. For the record people, I am not Wiccan but I am Pagan and a Witch. What’s the difference? Paganism is more like a spirituality as it is far looser in its forms (there are no particular godheads and it simply means “nature-based belief-system”) and Wicca is more of a dedicated religion, with consistent rituals, holidays and ideals. Here, read this awesome piece on “What is Paganism” that I found. Now, Wicca does falls under Paganism because it is a Neo-Pagan (nature-based) religion. Remember folks, not every Wiccan is a Witch, not every Witch is a Wiccan and not every Pagan is Wiccan. When I get a little venn-diagram or something made for this, I am totally gonna post it.
I tried Wicca but it simply wasn’t for me. I could not keep up with the Esbats (Full Moon rituals) and I didn’t feel entirely connected to the Sabbats (the eight holidays that make up the wheel of the year) because the backgrounds of the holidays were very Eurocentric and thus I couldn’t really relate beyond the basics. Wicca – if you can believe it or not – was a bit too structured for me and simply didn’t suit me and I haven’t even gotten into the different denominations of Wicca like Gardenerian or Eclectic. This is not to say Wicca isn’t a good religion, it just didn’t fit well with me. I like the freedom in simply being Pagan and live life as I see fit for me because I don’t want to cookie cutter my beliefs too much into a particular mold. All it would do is make me frustrated with that religion and leave it, just like I did with Christianity. Christianity wasn’t my bag, I tried to make it so and in the end I was very jaded until I finally left the religion for good. I didn’t want the same with Wicca so I decided to be simply Pagan. It was structured enough that I would still have spiritual guidance in my life but not so structured that I would be very frustrated by the politics within it.
And that would be your Ask a Witch for this month! Remember, it is you who keeps it running so send in questions big or small. So far I have gotten very good questions and that makes me happy, I like good questions. I also like silly questions too but good questions make me mega happy.