Archive for October, 2010

The Establishment (AfroPunk) Version

Nota Bene: Black Witch Ustream chat time and place has changed. It will be at 4:30 PM EST now and on the AfroPunk Ustream. It will still be on Sunday, Halloween but at 4:30 PM and on the AP Ustream. Please take note and I’ll see everyone Sunday!

I was wondering what you think about numerology? How does it, if at all, relate to Paganism? Witchcraft?

– Djay

Numerology is actually a form of divination so it relates heavily to Paganism and witchcraft as divination tends to be pretty important. I don’t practice it myself but I know those who do and it definitely does relate. It’s also another form of divination that gets misused often and due to that it reaps a pretty bad rap, just like astrology. Perfectly acceptable form of divination that can definitely work your brain if you have a thing for numbers though.

Over the past couple of months or so I have been studying paganism, I was curious what lured you towards it. Also at the time did you have anyone else to share your beliefs?

– Rashawnda

What lured me to Paganism? Hm, kinda a good question and one I haven’t been asked in a while. I’ve always kind of had a hidden lure to Paganism ever since I was a kid. Heck, I remember when I was young and playing with long fake nails and funky nail polish I would always say to myself, “I wanna have these nails when I become a witch!” Ah, funny how things manifest (except for the fake nails, I dropped those after preteens because they simply destroyed my real nails and I lost interest) but I wasn’t always “Yea yea, Paganism!” I still had my reservations about the religion because I was raised hearing the same thing about Witches and Pagans but I read Where to Park Your Broomstick by Lauren Manoy, it looked like a harmless book and I’m glad I did for it opened my mind and, well, shown me a path I would soon take as my own.

Did I have anyone to share my beliefs with? Well that all depends on the age group. For the older crowd, I did have people to share my newfound faith with and even receive guidance at a local metaphysical shop. They’re not there anymore but good news, I’m currently looking for them and hopefully I’ll find them, especially the one I consider practically my mentor and second mom, Ms. Donna. As for the younger crowd, ehhhhhhh…not so much. I had one or two close Pagan friends that were my age but any others that were my age and Pagan, I seem to always fall out of touch with them. Though I had a couple close Pagan friends, I couldn’t always be around them so I kept to myself often and hung out at the metaphysical shop. When I did talk about my faith to others my age, I wasn’t always given the warmest receptions around. One of them I still keep in touch with thankfully but otherwise, since I wasn’t (and still am not kinda) the social type, I just stayed to myself and with my books when around my own peers. When I couldn’t be at the metaphysical shops, I hung out on online communities such as Mystic Wicks and Witch Vox and made friends through that. (Be careful when making friends online if you’re a teen in the Pagan circles, there are some pretty creepy people out there.)

What do you think about this article about the Air Force being more open to pagans in the battlefield?

– Mat

Well, I must firstly say that my personal political feelings aside, I am very proud to hear of someone serving in the military and doing their duty. From the title of the piece “Air Force Academy Now Welcomes Spell-Casters,” I can kinda tell it’s gonna be a piece that’s going to be a bit misleading and carry a tinge of sensationalism since they are putting a Harry Potter/”aren’t these people crazy?” twist to their words. Instead of calling us “spell-casters” and giving the image that we fight wars on Firebolt 3000’s broomsticks and can make the Taliban disappear with the flick of a wand, they could have simply called us by our proper names: Pagans and Wiccans  or better yet, Witches – especially since no one obviously dropped the writer a memo that not all Pagans and Wiccans participate in spell casting.

Although I feel that the article could have been held to a higher standard of journalism, I do like this part: “…keep in mind that magic doesn’t necessarily mean miracles…. Say you have cancer, and someone does a healing spell for you. It doesn’t mean the cancer disappears overnight. It could mean your doctor thinks up a different treatment.”’ Sound like someone knows what they’re talking about, which is a step in the right direction for the military to understand religious tolerance. I am happy that the military is growing more open to Pagans but I am cautious all the same. As I see the military (and a lot of American homestead policy), if you’re not Christian or living by a Christian standard, you’re tipping on a nasty tightrope. I don’t think that Christian/Pagan relations of the military will automatically be smooth – something clearly shown by the wooden cross planted in the middle of dedicated sacred space and by the journalistic piece itself – but it is nice to see the military is trying to do something rather than brushing the problem under the rug. I feel that if the American military is supposed to defend the American people, they should do so without discrimination of race, religion, orientation and/or gender because we the American people are not of one sole race, religion, orientation or gender and our military ought to reflect that.

That’s all the Ask Black Witch for this month! If you wanna send me a question, you can email (on the About Me/Contact me page), tweet me on Twitter, comment below or best of all, use the Ask Black Witch form on the right side of the site! Remember, should you email me, please put “Ask Black Witch” or something along those lines in the subject line so I won’t regard it as spam and delete.

All the winners of Samhain Pickers have been picked and read for! I hope you like your readings and there are any errors, lemme know and we’ll get ‘em fix tout suite!  Thank you everyone for making this giveaway such a success! I hope to do more giveaway and contests in the future! Samhain Pickers will be yearly so if you didn’t enter or didn’t win, there’s next year!

And remember readers! Halloween/Samhain is on Sunday and that’s the Black Witch Ustream chat! It will be here on Oct. 31 at 4:30 PM EST. How this is gonna work: I video cast and you guys talk to me via chat and we hold a convo in real time! Bring good questions! I’m really excited as this will be my first vcast! Don’t want to use Ustream to talk to me? If you have a Twitter account, you can speak to me via tweeting me @thisblackwitch and I’ll get your comments and questions all the same. See you Sunday!

Alright, everything has been ironed out between AfroPunk and I. The Black Witch Ustream chat will be at the AfroPunk Ustream, not the BW Ustream. It will be 4:30-5:30 PM EST and of course on Halloween (Sunday). You can talk to me via Ustream but also via Twitter as well, just tweet me @thisblackwitch and I’ll get the messages all the same. I will be broadcasting at Mystickal Voyage metaphysical shop in Nottingham, MD. Hopefully you’ll attend the chat and we will all have fun!

The Establishment (AfroPunk) Version

Alright, this The Arts is the Samhain Edition, where I list out great books, sites and resources for Paganism, Witchcraft and finding like-minded individuals! Expect this to be yearly, there’s always new content! Have something to suggest? Lemme know! But first lemme kick things off with the winners of my first divination giveaway, Samhain Pickers! The winners (and their divy requests) are:

– C. Wright (Cartomancy)

– P. Scales (Tarot)

– S. Francis (Natal Chart)

All winners have been notified and will be read for this week. If you do not see your reading in your email by Halloween/Samhain, please do notify me. Thank you for making this contest so successful, it’s gonna be yearly so people who didn’t take part or didn’t win this year, there’s always next year! Alright, let’s head on with The Arts!

Books are where I first learned about Paganism and Witchcraft and the source I trust the most. I’m a total bibliophile and books I trust to be a very noteworthy source of information. Now this isn’t to say there aren’t any bad books, oh there are and plenty of them. I’m just recommending some of the best ones to you. In this year’s list I actually own these books (and more but that’s next year).

Where to Park Your Broomstick (Lauren Manoy)
This book is the first book I ever read on Paganism and Witchcraft and it totally was a great and revolutionizing read for me when I was a teen. I always refer back to this book, even now, and it still provides itself to be a wonderful source, no matter what. Ms. Manoy is fantastic and perfect for everyone, although it is originally pitched at teens. Gotta start somewhere.

Watkins Dictionary of Magic (Nevill Drury)
This book was suggested to me by my friend Brandon and wow is it amazing! It’s an encyclopedia of valuable information ranging across different backgrounds and mythos as well as history, facts and symbols. Over 3,000 entries on the magickal world from formulas to secret symbols to the sheer occult! Anything you need to know, no matter how obscure or well-known, it’s in this book.

Witch’s Halloween (Gernina Dunwich)
This book I referenced a lot in my last column “Witch’s Halloween.” Great book about the history of Halloween, how it is celebrated all around the world. Included are also backgrounds of the symbols of Halloween such as the black cat and Jack O’ Lantern, Samhain divination, spells and recipes to ring in the Witch’s New Year right! Very amazing read, Dunwich is a marvelous author!

Elements of Witchcraft (Ellen Dugan)
This book I had read after Where to Park Your Broomstick and I highly recommend it to any age. I love Ms. Dugan’s storytelling entries of her own experiences in the craft and the information that she gives is simply priceless, especially if you decide to go into green (nature-oriented) magick. Great book overall

Books are valuable but you can’t always connect with others through them and some things are easier with the help of the internet. Take note, there are a lot of terrible sites on Paganism and Witchcraft, my god it’s like some of them were written up while trippin on acid. I’ve seen a good few that I have stored away on my favorites tab in my computer or been recommended to by my readers and I’m giving them to you!

Black Pagans (AfroPunk)
I’m a firm believer in Booker T. Washington’s quote, “Put your buckets down where they are, there’s diamonds in your own backyard.” There’s a Black Pagans group here on AfroPunk. go and join it! Ask questions, look around, socialize, do whatever but know that there is a place for Black Pagans here on AfroPunk.

African-American Wiccans
Despite the name, it’s not entirely for Wiccans but really a Yahoo group for Black Pagans all over. I was recommended by a reader of mine on AfroPunk and went to see for myself. It really is a wonderful way to connect with other Black Pagans across the US, I even managed to make a good friend myself who I visited on my last trip to Philly! Really nice spot and I very much recommend it!

Avalon Moon
One of the first sites with Pagan goods online I have ever come across. I remember being in high school consistently leafing through their staple-joined catalog at the end of class, looking at all the lovely stuff they had. I believe I bought a ring from them with the little bit of money I had and I still have it, the lovely ring. I also remembered when they didn’t have a store but now they do in Delhi, NY! Their selection is amazing! Amazing books, products and simply a one-stop shop for all your Pagan needs! And best of all? Free shipping on orders over $19. Can’t beat that!

The Celtic Connection
Ah, good old Very good site detailing Paganism  and a decent jump off point for anyone new to the path or pretty curious about it.

Gryphon Moon
I loooooove this site ever since I stumbled upon it years ago! It’s entertaining (I love the freebies and the buttons section), has beautiful products such as the jewelry, everything is simply lovely. The site is very well done, I highly recommend going there and checking it out!

Witch Vox
This is pretty much the Witches’ Yellowbook, you can find just about anyone there. It’s a useful directory to find other Pagans and Witches in your area, functions and read essays from fellow Wiccans, Witches and Pagans all around the world!

Mystic Wicks
This is the first message board I ever was on for Paganism. I honestly have forgotten how I found it but I’m glad I did. Connect with other Pagans, participate in free online classes, be happy and merry! It’s a great place to hone your knowledge, make friends and learn from others.

These are resources that I use when I need something. Divination, charts, dreams whatever I need.

I trust this site for the current astrological conditions and to draft natal charts with. I have always used alabe to draft and interpret natal charts with. I think I have recommended them before in a previous Black Witch post, “Baby, the Stars Shine Bright”. The natal chart casting is free but take a gander at their software if you choose to get serious, they have some amazing stuff!

The Element Encyclopedia of 20,000 Dreams (Theresa Chang)
As a dream interpreter, I need a book with as far of a stretch as possible. I have a few dream books but this one I would really recommend because of the diverse and detailed entries.

The Crystal Bible (Judy Hall)
See a stone but don’t know what it is? This book is for you! Flip through thousands of countless crystals, their backgrounds, densities, various properties (including metaphysical) and how to’s, simply amazing. Wanna know the difference between a lodestone and a hematite and ever wondered what a Herkimer diamond looks like and how it got its name? This books is a wonderful resource, especially if you work with stones often. Even if you don’t, stones represent Earth so it’s best to have a book like this tucked away for just in case.

The Palmistry Bible (Jane Struthers)
This little, thick book is an amazing source for palmistry as it goes over every line in the hand, rings, fingers, fingerprint and very in-depth!

The Art of Hand Reading (Lori Reid)
Wonderful suppliment for The Palmistry Bible but great on its own as well, this book is taller and skinner but discusses the history of palmisty, how it is used and perceived around the world throughout time and the hand gestures that are made in different societies such as the peace sign and the handshake.

What is Paganism page
This I found after some long and hard searching for a good webpage or website to explain Paganism without the author sounding crazy or crazy high and this page is it. It’s now a staple on my Black Witch external site under “Links of Interest” on the right hand side, it’s so on point.

That’s all for The Arts: Samhain Edition this year! I couldn’t put everything down or this would be nothing but a long list! But never fear, The Arts: Samhain Edition will come every year with new books, sites and resources for you to use. Have something to suggest? Speak up! I found African American Wiccans through the recommendation of a reader, certainly there must be more out there I haven’t found. You know how to send ‘em to me, just comment, email or tweet.

Next week is Ask Black Witch so if you have any questions about me and my faith or just something in general you want to ask, send them! And on Halloween I will be at Mystickal Voyage metaphysical shop in Nottingham, MD doing my vcast on Ustream! AfroPunk and I are still talkin about which Ustream account to use, mine or theirs but you will know for sure by next week’s column! Regardless of whichever gets used (hopefully the BW Ustream The AfroPunk Ustream will be used), the streaming starts at 4:30 EST (the time changed) so be there! Now, I’m also kinda new to Ustream and from my understanding you can participate either with a Ustream account, twitter login, Open ID or even AIM. It seems a Ustream account is your safest bet but feel free to try whatever method works for you. And I’ll be on my twitter (@thisblackwitch) as well so if you can’t get into the chat via Ustream somehow, just tweet me and I’ll get it.

The Establishment (AfroPunk) Version

“Once upon a midnight dreary, I sat in my chamber oh so weary.” Sounds like me when I make a new column sometimes.

Halloween is just around the corner, my favorite holiday! Aw, I just love Halloween/Samhain! I love the magickal spark in the air, the festivities and spookiness, everything filled with mystery and joy – not to mention the free candy, dressing up in ridiculous costumes and being silly, I love those too.

Halloween is often referred to as Samhain (pronounced Sow-en) in Paganism. Derived from a Celtic background, Samhain was the mark of the new year, falling on Oct 31 and ending Nov. 1 as it was the last harvest before the coming winter and celebrated as a festival of the year coming to an end. Samhain means “summer’s end” for it marked the “death” of the old year and the “birth” of the new year, much like the modern depictions of the old man resembling the old year and a newborn representing the new year. Samhain was also considered the day of the dead because it was (and still is) believed that the veil between the living and the dead was at the thinnest at sundown on the last day of the year. In modern times, Samhain/Halloween is considered the Witches’ New Year. The word “Halloween” stems from “All Hallow’s Eve” as it was to be the day before Hallowmas (Hallow means “holy”), otherwise known as All Saints’ Day.

Halloween/Samhain, has different backgrounds all over the world as well as different names. Of course I can’t talk about all of them here but you can definitely read up in Witch’s Halloween by Gerina Dunwich, which is where I gleaned some of the Samhain history from. The book will be featured in The Arts: Samhain Edition next week. One representation of Halloween is in Mexico, the Day of the Dead celebrated on Oct 31 (or Nov1-2) where feasts are made for those who have passed on and gifts are left at graves for it celebrates death as a natural part of life. Since many Pagans (including myself) believe in reincarnation, death is not seen as the end but another phase of life in a never-ending cycle.

What do I do for Halloween? Nothing too out the ordinary. I watch Michael Jackson’s Thriller, eat candy corn (my favorite Halloween treat), and go to a metaphysical shop where they’re playing Rocky Horror Picture Show and mill about, chatting and looking at the Tarot cards or wands and pendulums. As you can see, I’m pretty low key about it all, I’m not a party person, I don’t seek out any spirits to talk to (not like they’re silent for the rest of the year), no spells or rituals, nothing spooky or definably “witchy.” I’m not Elvira for goodness sake and I’m a Witch 365 days a year, spells don’t really stand out from my personal norms. Now, some Witches and Wiccans actually do something special but nothing like what you’d see on tv, no kitty-killin or baby eating or anything else that’s staunchly against a Witch’s ethics such as murder or causing harm. Those who do those crazy things are honestly psychotic and most certainly need to be locked away in a cell.

Actually, I think the only special thing I do besides watch Thriller or go to a metaphysical shop shindig is use my spiffy Halloween Tarot deck that I love so very very much! It’s cute!

Ain't it cute?

I do wish to be in New Orleans at the Voodoo Festival because it sounds amazing and I also wanna see Janelle Monae’s show (while being able to scout for nice smoky quartz maybe or a good mortar and pestle, perfect way to spend a Halloween Night: with Wondaland and magick.) but I also wished to be in Chicago on Halloween as well! Ha, falling back on tradition…and a K-OS concert in Baltimore on Oct 26.

Oh, and that devil thing I’m gonna hafta address. Halloween has nothing to do with Satan or Satanism, the Devil is the Christian bad guy and as far as any Pagan is concerned, he can stay there. Samhain has many different backgrounds worldwide but nothing to do with summoning Satan (why anyone would want to do that is completely beyond me). We don’t sacrifice animals either, that may have been what the druids did in Ireland about a couple thousand years ago because cats were considered to be the souls of the wicked or a result of evil deeds buuuuuuut just like Christians eat shellfish, wear clothes with mixed fabrics and don’t stone adulterers, we don’t sacrifice animals. I, as well as other modern Pagans, really prefer that. I like my kitty.

Ain't she cute?

That’s all for now, have a safe and happy Halloween! Have lots of fun, eat lots of candy and have a good time! I’m sorry to my Chicago readers I couldn’t spend this day with you but I am planning to get up to the Windy city, just plotting the when and how’s. If my New Orleans readers are going to the Voodoo Festival, have a fantastic time! (And wear black and white!) As for everyone else, this Black Witch and AfroPunk has been working together to bring you a live vcast for Halloween. I will be having a live video stream and you guys can chat to me in real time either on AfroPunk or at the Black Witch Ustream. I’ll answer questions, show off stuff since I’ll be in the metaphysical shop at the time and we’ll have fun! The chat starts at 4:30 PM EST* on Oct. 31. Be there or be square!

Next week will be the announcement of the Samhain Pickers winners on the Black Witch twitter and here next week. All winners will be contacted and announced on Oct 22. There’s still one more week left to get in this! This is what the giveaway is all about:

I usually don’t give readings to my readers because I’m strictly a columnist but it’s Halloween, let’s get three lucky people a reading. Here’s what you can choose from:

  • Tarot
  • Cartomancy
  • Natal Chart
  • Dream Interpretation

Want in? Still got one more week left, all you have to do is send me an email (can be found on my About Me/Contact Me page) with “Samhain Pickers” in the subject line and this info:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Selection (if you choose natal chart, please have birthtime ready)

Good luck! Get your entries in!

Next week is The Arts!: Samhain Edition where I highlight books and other resources useful for those who want to get into Paganism and magick or at least understand it more. These are books I have read myself and they’ve done me well and I figured Halloween would be the best time to talk about them. The week after is Ask Black Witch so send in your submissions in the comments, tweet them (@thisblackwitch), email them to me with “Ask Black Witch” in the subject line, or fill out the Ask Black Witch submission form which is on the right hand side of this site.

* The timing has changed from 7:30 PM to 4:30 PM, please take note.

The Establishment (Afro-Punk) Version

When I was at the Baltimore Book Festival a couple weekends ago, I had a lovely discussion with the people at the Muslims for Peace table (I hope I have gotten their name right!) explaining Paganism and discussing how it differs or can relate to Islam. I was down with a very bad cold that weekend so I couldn’t talk very much but somewhat in that I had figured out a way to talk about my religion beyond the “nature-based belief system” tagline that I’m so used to saying (and abhor because it sounds way too PC for me). It can be difficult talking about Paganism to others because it’s such a unique religion and spirituality… with a very bad rep. Everyone is so convinced that we’re evil people or that we’re completely against Christianity it can be hard to express anything otherwise. It’s good to get out and start talking again because it has been a while for me to simply do religious talk with non-Pagans, I’ve gotten quite comfy in my social circle where everyone knows what a Sabbat is or is at least aware that Pagans and Witches aren’t wicked souls. Even though I have developed a more mature idea to express Paganism with, it still isn’t a two minute explanation, nor does it spark a two-minute only discussion (Ha, I wish. I would be grateful for both.) but instead at least it’s more informative than simply “nature-based belief system”. Nota bene: I’ll be making plenty of comparisons to Christianity because it is the norm of the Western society thus what I have to compare to.

A good way to talk about Paganism? Start from the top. A lot of what I think is good information stems from Lauren Manoy’s Where to Park your Broomstick, an amazing book with a fantastic history section. More details about the book in The Arts: Samhain Edition. Let’s begin:

Paganism holds a very animalistic view of the world, meaning everything from the trees to the streams to the bugs and the rocks we believe and see as living beings or at least beings with spirit. Starting in the Upper Paleolithic period (30,000 – 10,000 B.C.), man saw nature and the world around him as a living, breathing thing just like himself. The universe was always at work around him, bringing good, bad and the disastrous. As Ms. Manoy had said in Broomstick, “it’s only a short walk from awe to worship” and man started to develop ideas and mythos to describe the world around him – gods and goddesses, sprites, elementals and fairies – ideas molded and modified by the cultures from whence they came. This is mainly the reason why not all Pagans believe in one strict pantheon like only the Greek pantheon or the Shinto pantheon, true divinity does not have a face but different facets which man creates their own perceptions of it. Pagans generally believe in gods (plural, we’re very polytheistic) but only because they are the best expression of the universe and nature that we Pagans click with. Because of our “loose”, so to speak, associations with any particular deity (or any at all), Paganism can easily be seen as a spirituality and thus why there are some hybrid groupings such as Christian Pagans. Not as oxymoronic as you would think, a Christian Pagan is simply a Pagan that uses the Christian pantheon strictly and a Pagan Christian is a Christian with a more nature-based approach to the world and the religion.

Paganism is very basic in its ideals but that’s what I like about it. Very simplistic, not incredibly self-infused with dogma and quite easy going for me. Is my religion perfect for everyone? No. It’s not a religion that evangelizes but does that promise there’s no such thing as Pagan fundamentalists? Of course not, religious fervor can strike in any religion but I haven’t met a Pagan fundie yet…and should we cross paths, the whole experience will be documented here on this column. Paganism can be perceived as a spirituality because there’s no particular godhead and one isn’t exactly needed to practice, a Pagan can work strictly with elementals (spirits of the elements earth, fire, water and air) and be considered Pagan. I believe a fair comparison is that Buddhism can be regarded in the same fashion, there isn’t a god head at all and Buddhism is really a spirituality but it is regarded as a religion. Wicca, however, is most definitely a religion but under the wide umbrella of Paganism.

Wicca and Paganism is not the same thing but they are related. Wicca is a Pagan religion created in 1957 by Gerald Gardener. As mentioned in Broomstick, “’Wicca’ was coined by Gerald Gardener…he might have conjured it up from the Anglo-Saxon word wician, which apparently meant ‘to practice Witchcraft,’ or he might have gotten it from the Scots-English word (wica), which meant ‘wise.’” (pg. 25) There is debate of the root word of Wicca but it is certain that not all Wiccans are Witches and not all Witches are Wiccans. Some people (such as myself) practice Witchcraft but do not like to be called Wiccans because Witchcraft isn’t a religion and while many Wiccans do call themselves Witches, not every Wiccan does simply because they don’t practice magick or spell casting.  For clarity, to call every Witch and Pagan a Wiccan, it’s like calling every Christian you meet a Catholic because Catholicism is a denomination of Christianity but not every Christian is Catholic but every Catholic is Christian. Same way with Wicca, not every Wiccan is a Witch (and not every Witch is Wiccan) but every Wiccan is Pagan because it is a denomination of Paganism. So I, Black Witch, am a Pagan Witch but I’m not at all a Wiccan. If you’re still confused, email me or submit to Ask Black Witch (actually, I think I answered that question).

Yes, Wicca is fairly young but I always wondered what other religions looked like at their starting points, such as Christianity. Wicca, because it is nature-based and does not have a solid pantheon to adhere to, does fall under Paganism. There are different sects of Wicca as well such as Dianic, Gardenerian, Alexandrian, Faerie (Fairy), eclectic, etc etc etc. Since nature is what we consider sacred, we do not have a religious book like the Bible, the Talmud or the Qur’an. However, it is wise for Pagans to read or have an understanding of holy texts enable to gather a more universal understanding. We Pagans can learn from holy texts just as equally. Despite what a Pagan’s disposition may be on holy texts such as the Bible, generally we do respect it for what it is, meaning we do not desecrate them, burn them, vandalize them or destroy them simply because we do not agree with their beliefs. It is very anti-theoretical to Paganism and our ethics to harm none. 

The only thing Satanism has to do with Paganism is be a thorn in our sides when we’re confused for them. Satanism is not under Paganism, it is under Christianity moreso for it is the perversion of the Christian rules and ideals. Again, Satanism has nothing to do with Paganism or Wicca and Witches do not summon the Devil. Pagans don’t have a focused character for evil and Satan is the bad guy in the Christian religion, not in every religion. Pagans do believe evil exist but it’s not caused by a central figure as depicted in Christianity (or in Islam or Judaism but Satanists generally are going against the Christian ideals rather than the Abrahamic.) Instead it is within balance with good. Just like everything else perceived in Paganism, it works as a duality. Satanism isn’t even as bad as it’s perceived. I’m being fairly biased here from my own experiences but Satanism seems to be the bitterness of atheists combined with a hatred of Christianity and megalomania all stirred into one pot.

If Paganism is such a harmless religion, how did it get such a bad rep? Look at Islam and ask Christianity. Islam is a very peaceful religion but if you live in the Western world, it sounds like the religion of close-minded fundamentalists, terrorists, misogynists and evil-doers all around. In Christian dominated nations like America and the UK, this is often how Islam is pictured. Paganism got the shaft the same exact way, with really nasty mudslinging and a rumor mill that can churn for a millennium or more. Christianity has always been at odds with Islam since the 14th century and at odds with Paganism basically when the holy cross became connected to the royal crown. As history has shown time and time again, when politics get involved, someone always gets hurt. Thanks to the crusades and the Dark ages, Christianity really grew but in a pretty non-Christian way. Long story short, slander and violence is nasty but a good weapon for political gain and bad news travels fast. Indeed, there was a point in time where Christians were being persecuted by bloodthirsty Pagans but again this is when politics had gotten involved with religion because when you can control the religion, you can control the thinking and if you can control the thinking, you can control the people and establish the norms and values that society will (or should) go by. Christianity has quite the PR department and are pretty good at running someone’s name into the ground – even including their own. But again, this is generally due to politics in one way or another.

Witchcraft is just that, a craft. Not dedicated to any particular religion or belief, a Witch can partake in any religion that she or he (there’s no particular word for guy witches and “wizard” certainly isn’t it.) chooses, including Christianity  (Sorry for picking on Christianity so much, it is the mainstream religion and thus the norm I usually have to compare to. It is using the influences already present in nature to create change but not every Witch has to be Pagan.  If a person claims they are a Witch, it does not mean they are Satanists or evil-doers. They simply work with the forces of nature to bring about change and to create, nothing demonic about that. It does take practice and study to do Witchcraft, especially depending on what style or tradition is followed such as high magick or ceremonial magick versus green magick (also called hedge magick, working strictly with botanicals) or simple candle magick. Some witches use wands and/or mini-cauldrons, some are hand witches, meaning they don’t use anything as the extension of the hand such as a wand. I would be considered a hand witch because I don’t use any tools like wands and chalices because they are just that, tools. They do not have power in themselves, they’re only the extension of my own power. Witches buy their supplies from metaphysical shops, online or get crafty by growing and/or making their own. Metaphysical shops sell everything from books to holy water to wands, a good shop cover all its bases. I have a few I go to and I may make it tradition to check out a metaphysical shop in the cities that I visit. It’ll give me something to do.

And about this Politian Christy O’Donnell I have been hearing recently about in the news. I’ll admit, I don’t really know much about her except that she’s running for a senate seat in Delaware, sex-negative, a tea partier, endorsed by Palin and that she mentioned she practiced Witchcraft back in 1999. Good God/dess. Okay, I finally got to see the whole Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect clip (thank you MSNBC for chopping off parts of useful sound bytes, top notch journalism) and to be very honest, she wasn’t very bright with her answers. She sounded like the usual, ditzy, know-nothing responses I generally hear from the fairly closed minded. “Midnight picnic on a Satanic altar”? That did not make any sense to me because, well, that sounds like some dreamt up stuff a desperate tv producer would put in a teen’s show. O’Donnell claimed she was a Witch (back then, now she recants it) but didn’t join a coven. Hm, obviously she had no clue that you could be a solitary as well – I should know because I am one. All in all, it sounded like a Charmed episode mixed with a bit of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer falling out of her mouth. It’s very nice of her to say in a recent commercial that she’s not a Witch (and kind of further solidifying the fact that a Pagan couldn’t easily run for public office) but I wish she never said she was a Witch at all. Folks, if you’re going to dabble and be stupid about it, please please do not mention that you did on national television and then run for public office. It ruins your image and definitely makes my job harder.

In other Black Witch news: I made a small Black Witch PSA last week about the Lupe Fiasco protest, Fiasco Friday. It is next week and sadly I won’t be able to attend but I want to spread the word to others who may be able to. It’s going to be in NYC on October 15th, starting at 11:30 AM at Grand Army Plaza on the corner of 59th and 5th. If you would like more information about the protest and why it’s happening, read the BW PSA and visit If you can’t go, sign the petition! Already over 30,000 signatures and going strong! Even Lupe Fiasco himself will be there!

As always, if you have a question of what I am talking about or a question in general, feel free to comment, fill out the Ask Black Witch submission form on the right, email me (you’ll find the address on the About Me/Contact Me page), or even send me a tweet on Twitter to @thisblackwitch. All questions will be answered on the last Friday of the month for the Ask Black Witch installment. If you simply think that my column this week jumped around too much, feel free to check out “What is Paganism” link in “Links of Interest” on the right hand side. It’s a far better description than I ever could give. And stay tuned for The Arts!: Samhain Edition.

Don’t forget that Samhain Pickers is still going on either! If you want a divnation reading from me in the form of tarot, cartomancy (playing card divination), dream interpretation or natal chart astrology, send me an email with “Samhain Pickers” in the subject line with these details:

  • Your name
  • Divination selection (if you choose natal chart, please have your birthtime ready)
  • Email

Easy, right? I will pick three winners using on Oct 22 at the start of The Arts!: Samhain Edition and they will be announced also on the BW Twitter. Get in your entries, time is ticking!

Okay, this is the first Black Witch Public Service Announcement. Don’t expect many of these but they’ll come up when something important happens and can’t fit within the usual Black Witch posting schedule. The regular Black Witch post “Mental Mentality” is beneath this BW PSA post.

I’m not very sure how many of my readers are aware of the issue regarding Lupe Fiasco’s newest album being put on the shelf by Atlantic records but you can read about it on the site Fiasco Friday, as well as get information about the protest against Atlantic Records on Oct 15 in NYC. Now, while some of you may think it is ridiculous to have petition and protest for an album, I can understand why and even support it. Lupe Fiasco is one of the best emcees we have of this generation and he is the embodiment of what true hip hop is: the voice of the Black conscious and political enlightenment to and from the most marginalized voices in the world. Hip hop is not at heart what it is depicted in the mainstream today, as rubbish and all the worst Black stereotypes combined. Hip hop is art, it is a culture and it is a political movement. Lupe Fiasco embodies all of this, the art, the culture and the politics. Listening to him is being aware of the world around you. You’re not listening to another track dehumanizing women or blatant nihilism, Lupe is a very positive artist and inside a genre so deluded with machine-made negativity at that. I can’t think of many artists out there to match and the ones that I can are mainly stifled on the radio in favor for more base and minstrel-like entertainment.

Lupe Fiasco is one of the few artists who actually cares about the music more than the money. There’s nothing wrong with showing heart about something you care for but I do have issue when the responses are heartless. On the Black Witch twitter, I got to read some very discouraging comments from people discussing Lupe’s responses about the whole matter – and the fact that he’s Muslim (I’ll touch on that later) on his twitter. Needless to say, I am a bit incensed by the whole situation. I was going to discuss Fiasco Friday next week (and I shall) but I felt this needed to be said now.

The music industry is a very complicated industry and to an outsider, it looks oh so simplistic. You take an artist (who looks like they can sell), sign ‘em, record ‘em, shell out an album, have expensive tours, go on BET and VH1, and do it all over again like magic. Not that easy. There are talks, investors, contract obligations, considerations of commercial appeal and most important of all (for the music execs) – how to reel in as many dollars as possible and consistently, especially in a time and era where the music industry biggest threat and competitor is the internet. Quality sells but quantity sells more, just shell out some chart-toppers with a catchy beat and collect money. The music sucks but hey, that’s not what these execs are in the business for. It’s a lot more to putting out an album than just spitting into a microphone. Once an album is cut and finished, it’s put in the record label hands to decide what to do with it next. Sometimes it gets pushed out quick but sometimes it gets shelved – not because the powers that be don’t believe that it’s a poor record, no no, they just believe it won’t dredge them enough money because there’s not enough commercial appeal or too risky. They’re not concerned with causing a revolution or delivering good music, they’re concerned with you staying firmly attached at the wallet. So an album like Lasers will get shelved (despite Lupe’s accomplishments) but an album that talks about nothing but murder, women and sex rolls out ever so easily because it has a wider commercial appeal. In short, Lupe can’t just up and release a new album just because he wants to, he has a record company to deal with and they’re the ones holding things up.

This protest is to put some pressure on that record company to speak up because so far, they have not given any reasons whatsoever to as why they have shelved the album and to let the album actually drop. I know I wanna hear it, Lupe is amazing and I recommend everyone else to listen to him a little bit as well – especially the song “Dumb it Down”.

I featured his side project Japanese Cartoon in August The Arts but here’s his official site as well. If you support his music – and I recommend that you do – please do sign the petition to show your support but also if you are in the NYC area or can get there on Oct 15th, attend the demonstration. I may not be there but I know Lupe Fiasco will be. All details for the protest is on Please comment or tweet me @thisblackwitch if you have signed the petition or will go.

As for the fact that he’s Muslim – does it really matter that much to you? Instead of bristling, listen to what Lupe has to say about his religion. He really presents it well, just like Busta Rhymes, Mos Def and Talib Kweli.

You may now proceed to your originally scheduled post: Mental Mentality

The Establishment (AfroPunk) Version

Every religion has them and every religion would like to deny they got them. Psychos. Nutjobs. Need to be locked up in the wacko shack. Coo coo in the coconut. Nutters. Completely mental. Off their rocker. Basket cases. Extremists. Crazies.  

Usually these people are considered to be literalists of their faith and fairly misunderstanding of that faith at well. As a Pagan, I usually come in contact with the Christian version. They are the Jesus freaks, bible thumpers, whatever you want to call it, they are far too overly faithful and equally close-minded. Now, not all Christians are close-minded but these guys are. Generally, I don’t mind talking about my faith and even answering a few questions – hey, it’s why I have this column and what the Ask Black Witch installments are for – but in my years as a Pagan, I could usually tell if someone was ready to jump out their skin over my faith because it wasn’t theirs, I was a fiendish heathen or a poor, misguided youth that strayed from the Christian flock.  

Whenever I tell a mental Christian that I’m Pagan, they jump either at the shoulders or with their eyebrows. I can sense their impending defensiveness on the horizon and my day is about to get a lot more… interesting, to be kind. It’s one thing to be spooked that I’m Pagan yet still try to treat me like a human being perfectly capable of proper judgment and ask about my religion (which I prefer) but it’s another entirely to drop nothing but scripture after scripture on my head. I was raised Christian prior my switch to Paganism, I know the rules but that knowledge falls on deaf ears, regardless how many times I say it. They assume I never heard of this guy called Jesus (despite being Black, American, surrounded by at least five churches and not living under a rock) and tell me of all the wonders of Christianity as if I never heard of the religion a day in my life before. I try to tell them that Christianity simply wasn’t my cup of tea, thus why I left but usually I am told without fail and without pause that God will turn his back on me and curse my being because I decided to practice a different religion. Oh geez.  

Now, since I was raised originally as a Christian, I know for fact that Christians have to preach the word of God but there isn’t a single scripture in the entire book that says “Thou shalt act as if a total jerk and force thy word unto others through vexation, threat of mortal or divine harm or death”. I’m pret-ty sure I would have noticed that. In dealing with the crazy Christians, I have gotten a multitude of ignorance thrown my way. Everyone is ignorant of something – for example, I am entirely ignorant of nearly all Russian social customs and Russian grammar rules – but it is the will to want to learn or continually shun potentially new information is what sets people apart. While stupid questions about my religion makes me bristle, I know I have asked them myself and they are generally harmless so I don’t mind too much in answering them. When I’m asked those very same questions just to be attacked for my answers or have them crudely picked apart, needless to say, it does annoy me.  

Case in point:  

There was a show this past summer called the Summer Spirit Festival at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. The show bill consisted of Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, The Roots, Common, Chuck Brown and B.O.B.. Read this column (or just take a gander at The Arts), you’ll know I love Janelle Monae. If she’s in the area, I’m there. Also I’m friends with one of the members in her band, Kellindo, her guitarist, so I was planning to hang out with him after their set…first, I gotta find him.  

Because communication can be such a wack thing, it was hard to keep in touch and find each other so I was wandering about a bit to see if I could spot him. I wasn’t very hard to miss because of my red and white multi-media hairfalls and rocking horse shoes, he on the other hand could possibly blend.  

Kinda hard to miss

While looking about for Kellindo or anyone from Wondaland that could point me in his general direction, this lady walked up to me and said something along the lines of: “What would you say if I told you I could make you someone?”  

I was a little confused but in being raised in Black culture, I knew the talk. She was dressed normally but a slick talker. The type that would tell me they could sell me the moon but I would probably get shafted on empty promises in the end. I was a bit busy but meh, I could spare some talk. Besides, she might not be a slick talker after all, just someone with the intro like one. That was until she continued, “I can tell God has a plan for you.” Oh god/dess, my spidey senses were tingling and all of a sudden I really started to look around her. Where is he?  

The lady asked why I was so fidgety and I explained, “I’m here to see Janelle Monae, I’m friends with one of the members and trying to spot him. I’m sorry that I’m distracted. It’s very nice of you but I’m not Christian.”  

I know, bad move it seems but I figured, Hey, I could get a new reader for Black Witch. It’s not written for just Black Pagans. As almost expected, her face twisted into confusion and concern. She asked what religion was I and I answered while looking beyond her shoulders, “I’m Pagan.” It had shocked her, she started to ask the basic questions such as what is it, when did I become Pagan and a question I found quite memorable: “Who hurt you?”  

Wait, what?  

She asked who had hurt me so bad I decided to change religions since it’s a totally outlandish idea that I could possibly convert with sound mind. I had answered, “No one hurt me. I left Christianity because it didn’t work well with me. Paganism suited me far better,” but she wasn’t buying. I had to be abused, molested, raped, something to justify leaving Christianity. And I wasn’t.  

I tried to explain my religion as best and as simply as I could but she kept saying, “So you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is your savior and was God’s only begotten son” or something along those lines. I told her that as Pagans, we are very open to many different pantheons, including the Christian pantheon but aren’t necessarily apart of them. She responded, “Oh, but you haven’t said that you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is your savior and God’s only begotten son.” There I attempted to explain that Paganism is not a denomination of Christianity so I don’t have to repeat after her because I’m not Christian. Fairly simple concept, yes? Throughout our conversation she kept trying to get me to say that phrase, to feel normal in her own skin but that simply wasn’t happening. Instead, I tried to give her my Black Witch business card and referred her to my column, giving my spiel: “I work for AfroPunk and run a column named Black Witch. It’s about Black Pagans so you can learn more about us and there’s even a section called Ask a Witch* where you can ask your questions and I answer them at the end of the month.” As she took my business card, I could tell what I said caught her attention, my column’s name and the name of the installment. She asked, looking at my card, “Why do you call yourself ‘Black Witch’?”  

I answered, “Because that’s what I am. I practice… witchcraft. I’m… a Witch, thus the column’s name is ‘Black Witch’.” Oh hey! I think I spotted George 2. – oh wait, it’s some random concert goer. Crap. This lady was about to go on Bible overdrive and I could tell. She was talking to a witch. And so it began:  

“So do you cast spells and potions?”
“Do you do any…black magic or any –“
“No, I don’t jinx or put fixes on people, it’s against my ethical standards.” Where is Kellindo and what is he doing? When did my falls become a wacko magnet? “Spells are a lot like prayers but with bells and whistles.”  

After playing a round of twenty questions including another return of “who hurt you” and why was I at the Summer Spirit Festival, the lady gave me her business card and said, “Now, you know why I gave you my business card instead of just take myself and run? Because I’m protected by the blood of Jesus Christ. Whatever voodoo you do can’t harm me.”  

I was totally calm, if not my face a little twisted but in my head, this is what I felt like:  

Me:…*completely freaked out*… Kellindoooooo!
Some passerby: “Ah, yeah ‘Cold War’ was dope. That guitar solo was amazing.” *totally continues walking*
Me: Wut? I wasn’t singing – I can’t find – Somebody get me outta this situation! This lady’s nuts!  

I was checking my email and twitter on my consistently dying phone, hoping for any sign of life from the Wondaland side, anything. Nada. The lady asked me again why I was at the concert, as if my musical preference could somehow determine my religious background better or the performer’s religious background. No, my religion has nothing to do with me being here. No, Janelle Monae isn’t Pagan or a Witch, she’s clearly Christian, I am perfectly happy with that and if I could spot somebody from her crew, that would be totally peaches. At least Monae, unlike the lady standing before me, is Christian but hasn’t lost her marbles and thus I find her quite amiable and adorable. So long she and the rest (or at least vast majority) of Wondaland were fine with me being Pagan, we’re spiffy.  

The lady had received my card and I thought that would be the end of it but instead, she scratched out the ‘Witch’ in Black Witch. She said, “I don’t see you as a Witch. You’re not a Witch, you’re just misguided. I will pray for you and hope you’ll one day feel better.” I was a little agitated from that because it was code for: “I don’t accept your religion. It is not Christian and thus not valid. You are confused and must return. You’re making a big mistake.” Isn’t the first time I’ve heard it and definitely not the last but it doesn’t make me feel any better each time I hear it. All I wanted was to leave this lady, find Kellindo and forget this whole charade ever happened. When she had finally walked off, I began to ask about for where I could find the performer entrance and got some very helpful answers. From there I found the entrances to the tour buses and stayed put, praying that no one else would be “attracted” to my falls while trying to get in touch with him. I’ve gotten a few people, including drunkies and chain smokers but no one who topped that lady. When I finally found Kellindo walking out with George 2.0, I had ran up and wrapped my arms around him like I haven’t seen him in years. I was happy because we don’t get to meet up much but also because he and George 2.0 were the sanest people I’ve met that night.  

Later in the evening, I recanted a brief version of my day with the lady to George 2.0 while giving him my business contacts and getting his. Though I told the story anyways, I was a little worried that he would become just like that lady at the mention of my religion and make me feel like I was in a horror movie: out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a bunch of potentially raving Christians, nearly dead phone, not in parkour-friendly shoes. I’m completely fine if someone is Christian but only when levelheaded, not Twilight Zone psychotic. Instead, George 2.0 had laughed at the story, saying, “Oh, she was one of those people” as he took the Black Witch business card I had handed to him. I already knew Kellindo was fine with my religion but for a long while I was concerned that he was just the exception rather than the definition. A lot of the members of W.A.S. are very deep in their Christian faith so I often wondered, How do I know they won’t react the same? Usually when dealing with Christians – Black Christians primarily – I often find that the deeper the faith the more closed-off the Christian and the more closed-off the Christian, the more mental they appear to me and any other non-Christians. Wondaland means a lot to me and I’ve got faith in them but I do have to be careful, I’ve had terrible discoveries before. Taking a chance, I told George 2.0 my concerns about the rest of Wondaland. He looked at me and said with a dismissive wave of the hand, “Oh, we don’t mind.”  

Sweet, I knew I found the sanest people in the park.  

When dealing with others from different faiths, it’s usually a good rule of thumb to hear that person out, especially if you have not met anyone from that religion before. What you know about that religion may be incorrect so don’t entirely assume, get it from the horse’s mouth if you can. I as a Pagan and my Muslim friends can definitely vouch for this, it’s never fun being on the receiving end of misconception which turns into intolerance. Even if you don’t agree with that religion or their tenets, at least respect and understand that not every religion on this planet is a carbon copy of yours. I don’t 100% agree with Christianity but I won’t shove my religion down their throat because it isn’t right. I didn’t like it, neither would anyone else. It’s okay to be firm in the faith but don’t let it blind you from the world.  

That was a lovely story, wasn’t it? Good way to kick off October. Another good way to kick off October? A nice divination giveaway I’m naming “Samhain Pickers”. Alright peoples, the prize of “Samhain Pickers” is a divination reading from me in the form of dream interpretation, tarot, cartomancy (playing card divination), or natal chart astrology. What you have to do is send me an email (look at my About me/Contact me page) with your name, email, selection and “Samhain Pickers” in the subject line. Your entry is my number to pick you by; if you’re the first entry, you’re no. 1, if you’re the 13th entry, you’re no. 13, understood? I’m picking three winners at total random (via so if my number generator says 8, I pick no. 8, the eighth entry in my Black Witch inbox. Understood? I won’t take any tweets or comments, you must email for your entry to be valid and all winners will be announced in “The Arts!: Samhain Edition”. If you win, it’s your choice what form of divination you would like to have done but please note that if you choose the natal chart selection, you must have your birth time ready. Good luck, everyone!  

And one more thing! I’ll be back in Philly and NYC. Philly on Oct 9 and NYC sometime in Oct. If you wanna hang, say so!  And “Hi” to the Phandroid guy and his wife!  

*Now “Ask Black Witch”

%d bloggers like this: