Archive for December, 2010

Ask Black Witch

Can you recommend a tarot deck for a black pagan newbie? I cannot relate to the ones I see in the metaphysical bookstores where I live, as they are full of white images.

– Lynn

I personally use the Revelations Tarot made by Zack Wong and it’s perfect for me because it reflects the reversals, has amazing art and it’s fairly diverse (kinda) but it isn’t a Black deck. The best deck I can recommend to you is the African-American Tarot but it seems more of an African deck than African-American to me because the symbolism is greatly African. I’ve never used the deck but it’s worth a shot, the imagery seems very strong and well done. If this doesn’t suit you well, I would have to suggest you might have to learn cartomancy (playing card divination) which is a wonderful alternative to tarot cards. If you choose to try cartomancy, get Playing Card Divination for Beginners by Richard Webster. You may have to look high and low for that book at a reasonable price because I think it may be out of print, judging by the price hike for even a used book. As of this moment, I have not found another deck that reflects our race but if someone knows one, shout it out.

Okay, on the Black Witch Fan Page, I have received alternative tarot card suggestions from Renee D.: “I have the African American deck , and thought the art is nice , it doesn’t do anything for me as far as reading it. I agree with you BW, the images are more African , but then the images of famous AA’s in the background of some of the card…s don’t have any relation that I could figure out to the meaning of the card or the main image on it. I read with the New Orleans Voodoo tarot, but I’d like to recommend the “Tarot of the Ages ” as a nicely done deck that has a people of many different races in it. Aztec Indians are on the suit of cups, Northern Europeans are swords, Africans are wands, and East Indians are coins, while the major arcana has a mixture of ethnicities.” Good mention.

1. How do Black Pagans who aren’t doing vodun/candomble/ife, etc… dealing with the fact that lots of modern Paganism comes out of European beliefs and cosmologies, i.e. Norse/Greek/etc… or dallies with ideas constructed by Euro-Americans (Summerland?). Apologies in advance if this question has a lot of ignorance in it.
2. Do you ever feel that modern events and phenomenon (massive, i.e. 1M+ massacres, electromagnetic radiation, destruction of entire forests, poisoning/extermination of living areas, sheer population density, etc…) changes or mediates the way humans can engage the forces and bodies in the natural world? Thank you.

– Wesley

Well, I’m not vodun (Voodoo), Candomble or Ife but because I never really felt I clicked with the European pantheons for kinda obvious reasons (I’m Black) so instead I don’t believe in the Summerland (the Wiccan version of Heaven with a reincarnation twist) and even take a step back from the pantheons that honor Yule, Beltane or any Pagan/Wiccan holiday that’s actually Euro-Pagan rather than all-inclusive. Being Black and in Paganism, you don’t see much of yourself and your culture so you have to take a step back often and wonder what is in it for you. I like Yule not for the pantheon but because of what it represents, the winter solstice. I don’t really get into European deities much because they’re not my deities personally. Instead I would be more nature-focused rather than theist-focused with my beliefs because Paganism is way more than about Gods and Goddesses. Yeah I cringe (and rage a little) every time I see a White Isis with a ski-slope nose but Paganism is pretty Euro-centric without saying and because people perceive that to be “normal” Black Pagans often have to sit back and think a little more about their faiths and what is that really than their White counterparts. There’s no ignorance in the question, trust me. All you can do is make what you can from Paganism, it’s a very diverse belief system.

Do I ever feel that modern events & phenomenon change or mediates how humans can engage the forces and bodies of the natural world? Yeeeeeeees. We’re part of nature, very hard to say we play a separate and detached role when we humans are right in the thick of it. However, I think part of the issue is people (including Pagans) believing that our interaction with nature should stay on the surface, with happy feelings and “Green is the new black” bumper stickers, stuff that makes humans feel we’re affecting nature but to be honest, saying “Ohm” over and over doesn’t magically remove the oil from the BP spill and bring back the wildlife it has (and still is and will for a very long time) destroyed.

There’s this awesome word I learned back in an  Environmental Science class in college – Anthropocentric, bringing the human element into the environmental discussion because we are indeed part of the world, may as well act like it. It now is mentioned more and more with every natural disaster, natural benefit and little in-betweens that happen because just like nature moves with its own force, we’re also part of nature and affect or are affected by that force. I think people were originally pretty in tuned with nature (that’s kinda how Paganism came about, the personification of nature by man as he tried to understand this big ol’ scary world (in a very small nutshell)) but as technology got better and industry became stronger, that connection was kinda lost. Work with the earth? Hippie talk – let’s strip mine this globe till there’s nothing left behind! People do want what they want, after all. Even now you can’t really talk about environmentalism without people thinking you’re some barefoot airhead still thinking it’s Woodstock or some stuck up yuppie with an iphone and an app on it that measures their (and somehow your and the city behind you) global footprint. Personally, I believe that there needs to be some serious changes in governments around the world and global perception towards environmental problems and to be active in that is going to affect nature a lot more than doing a yoga pose on a 100% organic mat. Since nature has a way of balancing itself out (humans included), we should be fine but not by sitting about and waiting for the world to shake itself back in place (for us humans, of course, because what might be right for man may not be right for nature and vice versa). We can’t sit, wait and be fairly passive when nature can’t change itself or won’t be able to change itself well if we people simply resort to tactics that make us feel like we’re doing something but in reality, doing nothing.

To best work with the forces and bodies in the natural world in these changing times, work with the natural world. Learn about how the natural world works (that means staying awake in biology, chemistry, physics and environmental science classes or taking some of these classes) and the problems that impact it (ocean acidification, global warming, changes in biomes, etc etc) as well the political issues that are wrapped up in it (Monsanto, BP, Live Earth, Genetically Modified Organisms and Food (GMO & GMF) and how it affects nations). Actual awareness and knowledge is a lot more worth than just lighting incense and thinking happy thoughts – though incense and happy thoughts are nice for the stressful times, as well as the yoga and the “ohms”. Modern events and phenomenon are going to happen one way or another and how people will interact with nature is going to consistently change no matter what but there’s an option to either attempt to still maintain some sort of relationship with nature or treat it continually like a force to fight against. I would opt for the former, personally.

That’s all the Ask Black Witch for this month. Please do submit questions either through twitter, the Facebook fan page, Ask Black Witch submission form, email or even just in the comments.

This is the very last day of 2010 and I would like to say that I am very astonished at the success of this column (although I would like more Ask Black Witch submissions). This column has been seen over 2,000 times within nearly 8 months (on the WordPress side alone, more on AfroPunk), the Facebook fan page for Black Witch has grown incredibly in its very short existence and I have met a lot of different people and perspectives I would have not otherwise seen. I honestly didn’t expect this much success on the WordPress or AfroPunk side, I’m very pleased. I am very happy that I have Black teen readers most of all because I remember when I was roughly 15 or 16 (It wasn’t that long ago, I’m only 23) and figuring out what I believed with very limited but potentially bountiful resources. It’s already not easy being Black and a kid, being Pagan simply complicates things; I aim for Black Witch to simplify some of those complicated things and to give a hub of resources that they (and everyone else) can use to not feel so alone and to be more informed. So far it has worked, my site has added new links to the “Links of Interest” such as Greater Than AIDS, African-American Wiccan Society and God Checker but also there is the The Arts!: Samhain Edition post that is chock full of valuable information. I want for Black Witch to be a staple in the Black Pagan community and useful for any and everyone, even if they aren’t Black or Pagan.

What I would like to see for Black Witch in 2011, besides more Ask Black Witch submissions, is to expand it just a liiiiiittle more. BW is still in its first year so I still have a little more time to move and modify things about. I’ve been meaning to get to it sooner but I will be introducing occasional month-long series that may or may not be involved with the Black Pagan experience but relevant nonetheless. The will have guest writers, features and interviews. The first series will regard music culture, titled “Fandom and the Fan”, and showcase in March. Besides series, I will be having more contests and giveaways and Ustream chats throughout 2011. Not every month will be contests, giveaways and Ustream chats though, don’t confuse the two (you’d be surprised how often that confusion has happened) but I’m making sure these will be set as tradition. There’s already Samhain Pickers, the Halloween divination giveaway, but I would like to add a few more, just enough to give Black Witch a set motion for the years to come. Black Witch is currently in very good shape so the most that I hope for is Black Witch remaining useful as it goes through its first anniversary and beyond.

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas Eve to everyone! The very last day to hustle and bustle for that perfect or popular present and travellin. If you’re gonna be dealing with TSA and their T&A procedures, you may like this line of clothing called Fourth Amendment Shirts. For my international readers (and victims of the American education system), the Fourth Amendment is one entry of the 10-part Bill of Rights in the American constitution that solidifies an American citizen’s right to privacy and warrants against unlawful and unreasonable search and seizure. Thanks Emily for the recommendation.

Because this is so ridiculously cute and adorable, a Lupe Fiasco and KRS-One Christmas battle as Santa (KRS) and Blitzen (Lupe) battle it out.

I saw this short documentary on AfroPunk and thought it was stunning, titled “Bring Your A Game”. It focuses on the problems of Black boys and how it will influence them as they become Black men. It asks an all star group of Black men from Lupe Fiasco to Cornel West to Ice Cube to Spike Lee and more. Not only does it investigates the problems that could befall Black boys but also the solutions they could take, regardless where they are in life.

Since WordPress is being its occasional wack self with media (i.e.~ not playing), here it is!

African-American Wiccan Society
Different from the Yahoo group African-American Wiccans, AAWS is a new website meant strictly for Black Pagans, Wiccans and Witches alike. A great resource site for Black Pagans to gather information and meet other Black Pagans such as themselves. It’s still rather new (created in August this very summer) so some parts are still undone and kinda rough around the edges but all in all, this is a wonderful site to look at. I’ve found a slew of sites that caters to Black Paganism just by idly perusing the site, it really is wonderful!

Wanna meet up with other like-minded Black Pagans in your area? AAWS has set up a Meetup page for all Black Pagans. You can make a Meetup account or sign in with your Facebook account. This is new so get it moving and start meeting other Black Pagans just like you!

African-American Wiccans Society Meetup page
AAWS Twitter

The PunkWitch255
I stumbled upon this vidcaster when looking at Shazzypbear’s videos. I thought she was brilliant and had to put her on here. She, just like Shazzypbear, is fairly new to the craft but I love her insight.

Here is her Introduction and altar (you might want to turn your speakers up a bit, the video is a bit soft)

She goes very in-depth with her beliefs and it’s wonderful to see her showcase what a normal Witch looks and acts like. She made a trip to mind, body and spirit fair and shows off her wares for her representations of the God and Goddess as well as some Witchy tools.

In her latest video, she discusses Yule, showcases her Yule altar and being a thrifty Pagan as well as updates on her Book of Shadows (BOS)

I just found this while looking at a Janelle Monae tour video and thought it was very lovely. Apparently surreal artist Salvador Dali worked with Walt Disney to create this magnificent piece. Goldappleberry had set it to music in Monae’s recent album The ArchAndroid, performing “Sir Greendown”, “Cold War” and “Tightrope” in their relative succession since Janelle Monae was struck with inspiration from the short film for “Sir Greendown”. I thought it was lovely and fitting, see for yourself:

Hey, notice Links of Interest is a little longer? I added three more links to the list: Godchecker, African American Wiccan Society and Greater Than AIDS. I felt these sites would provide invaluable information for all readers so I threw them up there. Use them!

Next week is Ask Black Witch! Very last Black Witch post of the year, send in questions! Merry Christmas!

The Establishment (AfroPunk) Version

As the holidays are quickly approaching, there are halls to be decked, presents to be bought (or made), carols to be sung and family to be dealt with. For many of us, it is that yearly trek that updates us on family and for some of us, reminds us why we don’t often stay in touch for the rest of the year. It could be the teen niece wants to dress like Nicki Minaj and throws a tantrum if you tell her to turn down her Usher. The deadbeat cousin that can always think of some get-rich-quick scam – I mean, “idea” – but seems to always need a dollar from someone. The old uncle that says he’s got Black pride but has nothing but seething hatred for President Obama, thinks Lupe Fiasco is a God-hating terrorist out to destroy hip hop and poison minds and Wocka Flocka is some new candy from Willy Wonka. The aunt that believes no one in the world but her is saved and the little impressionable nephew that you’re doing everything you can to keep from becoming another T.I. in the making, misogyny, jail time and all.

Not all families are the same, that extends to Black families as well but the various personas within families such as the drunk sibling, the sport-babbling aunt, the overly religious grandmother often exist despite the family tree. Is every family like this? No. Every family is like a nation with its own rules and taboos, what is okay to talk about and what prevents World War III, packed up within a long and extensive history. Like nations, some cooperate very well with each other, some tear each other apart. Some are friendly to outsiders, some make the Iron Curtain look like aluminum foil. Families are more than genomes and biology, they’re the people that either makes us proud of our bloodline or wonder, “When are they going to tell me that I’m adopted?  Please let me be adopted.”

The holidays can be a time of relaxing or exercises of diplomacy, negotiation and avoiding emotional punji pits (for those who don’t know what a punji pit is, here is explanation #1 and explanation #2). Religion is an all-time emotional punji pit (as well as race and politics (can we add sexuality too?)) but the holidays is that extra layer of agitation that can make the truth fall out. Whether you want to come out of the broom closet or remain firmly in it, the holidays are a tricky dance.

If you want to come out the broom closet around the holidays time, be careful of what you say and how you say it. How does your family usually react to metaphysics and psychism? That tells you what route to take. Doesn’t mind it: good. Think it’s the devil’s work: might want to sugarcoat your words for a bit, don’t go straight on and say, “’Sup, everybody! I’m a Witch! Deal with it, nyah.” Either way, take it easy, ask different relatives how they feel about God being a woman (if you’re very Goddess inclined) or how they feel of belief systems, religions or ideologies that are strictly nature based and not incredibly organized like Christianity or Judaism. If they are open to other paths in life, this is a great sign! If they are open with a little bit of prodding, that’s better than flat-out opposition but tread carefully. Basically, if they seem fairly positive or neutral, you could open up and hope for the best. Family gatherings are great because even if your immediate family may have their misgivings (and maybe they won’t, who knows) you may find a cousin or relative that is accepting or also practices. If you find that said relative, get to know them and click with them if you can, support is always important.

Maybe you didn’t mean to come out the broom closet but got ousted somehow. A relative discovered your books, something fairly Pagan stumbled out of your mouth, you got caught reading my site (sup, confiscators! Check out my Ask Black Witch submission form and direct your hate mail there) or you forgot that not everyone thinks palmistry and tarot cards are harmless. Now you have to figure out how to enjoy Christmas and survive to see New Year’s. The best damage control at this point is to be honest. You could lie and stuff yourself back in your broom closet the best you can but the cat is out of the bag now. Whether you wanna pass it off and deny it, it’s going to be in everyone’s heads that you’re doing something suspicious so either deal with lingering questions and accusations or deal with upfront questions and accusations. Explain yourself the best you can but don’t scream and shout and don’t pretend you have all the answers, especially if you’re new to Paganism. Instead be honest, that’s about all you got. Assure them the best you can you’re not going to slay cats in the name of the devil, Paganism is not Satanism, you don’t hate Christ and your parents did not go wrong somehow. Paganism doesn’t make you White (please do not use the “Christianity was forced on Black slaves by their White masters” argument, now simply is not the time), you’re not atheist and you’re still you, just on a unique path. Hopefully they will listen, maybe they will not, you don’t know for sure but freaking out along with them is not going to help anything. Shouting contests rarely fix anything and calling names just dig wounds deeper. Out of safety for your stuff and preventing impromptu funerals via heart attack or stroke, please don’t show them your Pagan books or things, it may freak them out more. Just be honest, don’t shout (even if they are) and try to make the best of your holidays.

The holidays are something to enjoy, I know I love them. Be yourself, just be careful and have fun. Don’t focus so much on religion if you can and do something fun. Go ice skating, feed squirrels and birds, listen to some Jackson 5, Boys II Men and Earth, Wind and Fire Christmas music. If you want to celebrate Yule (December 21), do so by going outside if the weather isn’t icky or lighting festive candles to celebrate the return of the sun on this longest and darkest night. You could even say a prayer and get a wreath and decorate it! The wreath is an archaic symbol of the wheel of the year, totally appropriate! Whatever you do, this is a time of year where you spend it with those that you love and appreciate most, do so and be merry.

If you happen to be a non-Pagan reader of mine and you find out that someone in your family is Pagan or Pagan leaning, you know not to fret and basically ruin someone’s Christmas. Instead you’ll be of open ears, not asking stupid Harry Potter questions (except about the latest Harry Potter movie perhaps, I heard it was pretty good) and streamlining them to this site. Quietly wish them a happy Yule and chat with them, they’ll appreciate the support. If you want to give them gift, you can be totally normal about it all or give them something thoughtful like a Yule poem or a small tealight candle pack. Don’t treat them like glass or as if they have a vicious allergy to Christianity, just be a good relative to them, that’s it.

This is the last article/post of 2010, the installments are next. It was really nice being a heavy-duty columnist for seven months, going on eight. I am honestly shocked I managed to keep it up so far. Thank you everyone for being so supportive!

The Arts!:

– ThePunkWitch255
– African American Wiccan Society
– Lupe Fiasco & KRS-One Christmas Battle

The Establishment (AfroPunk) Version

For any Witch, diviner or psychic that decides to do some social good, the ethics of confidentiality is always a big subject. Who do you tell, how much do you tell and how big of a mouth do you have are all important questions when it come to reading or performing spells for others. I can’t really talk about other Pagans because we can have such varying views but the general consensus is usually keep it personal and private unless in an emergency. I couldn’t agree more.

I have been doing divination for others since 2004, basically since I was 16. I’ve had countless requests, questions and reactions to my readings. Many were positive, some were bad, very few were wrong (I’ll talk about getting a reading wrong in future columns). I’ve helped out countless people with their lives and try to make sure they only will need me once. One reading to set them on the right track and not need coming back, I feel this should be the aim of all diviners. Often people would worry, especially when I inform them that I keep all natal chart data stored in my laptop and card spread interpretations in a handmade booklet (that Saul Williams signed, omigosh!), that their lives will be spread to unknown ears out and about. I have to consistently console many a person I’ve read for (I hate using the term “client” because I don’t treat my divination like a business…somewhat) that I don’t use their lives as my mini joke book and whatever comes up in a reading remains between us, emergencies being the only exception.

One reason I don’t talk about spreads and readings I have done in the past is, frankly, I simply don’t care enough to remember. I’ve done well over a hundred readings – I don’t even know who was the hundredth read or when it was – there’s no way that little snippet of your life story is going to intrigue me enough to tell others after my day or my job is done, they’re rather few and far in between. Have problems in your love life? You’re not the only one. Family issues? Plenty others out there just like you. Social issues? There’s a reason Facebook and Twitter are big hits. I have rarely came across readings that stood out to me so much they stick with me, there’s a reason why I keep a book full of spreads about. I won’t go, “Oh! You’re so-and-so with the boyfriend issue! How’s he doing?” if I run into that person again. If it was a short period ago I did a reading then yes, I’ll remember without much help but go a little longer than two weeks and you will have to jog my memory. The more diviners will do readings, the more they will forget them, hence why I tell plenty new diviners to carry around a booklet to write their readings in or they will forget. While it may be a blow to my querent’s ego to inform them this, it probably gives them some assurance that their business won’t be front page news somehow. If I do remember anything from readings, it’s how people have acted and reacted. I can tell you plenty of readings I’ve done for people who were eerily quiet, incredibly egotistical, unnecessarily religious (if you’re that, please let me get a taco, okonomiyaki, mochi or something first before you begin your diatribe  so I’ll be well fed while you convince yourself that you’re not betraying your God’s trust and forcing me to listen to it) but I can’t for the life of me remember what their readings were. I once read for some guy that had an ego that could probably best Kanye West, I forgot what I said but he was pretty quiet and humble at the end of the reading. Otherwise, just about everyone has the same reaction, sit and listen attentively.

I’ve never casted a spell for someone. I feel that if it is your life you want change in, it has to be your energy to be put in motion, not mine. The part I rather play is fairly instrumental, I rather be the informant telling what you’ll need, what you need to do and why. (The why is always important, gives the action more meaning than just “you’re lighting a candle and talking over it, the end.”) In addition, I usually make the querent perform the spell because I have learned the hard way that if you do the dirty work for others, they’ll always keep coming back mumbling out a new request. The average person is pretty spooked out to do any form of witchcraft so refusing to do the legwork for them means that person won’t do it much.

I will advise and oversee spell construction (the what you’re supposed to do and how) but only if the querent needs a spell. Mundane options have to be sought first, spells are last resorts so when approached with a spell request, I sit the querent down and pick their brain. I’m just making sure the person has a legit reason for spell casting (i.e. really terrible run of bad luck) and not using magick as an excuse for leg work or a “get out of jail” free card. I don’t make people fall in love, I won’t kill or hex anybody and the inquirer simply can’t keep coming back to me just because I let them try one spell. I’ve only had one jinx removal request and that was an adventure and a half…and one I rather not have again. Many times people won’t get the spellwork because they simply don’t need it. Upset you lost a job and wanna get back at the boss? America is going through a sucky economy, you’re not the only one. Wanna get that cute boy’s/girl’s attention and maybe a date? Have you tried talking to them? Works fairly okay. Poor health? What did the doctor say? (And did you go to the doctor at all?) Most spell requests can be solved with mundane measures, I don’t even often cast spells myself and I’m a practicing witch.

Even when someone does manage to get their hands on some magick, it’s never much, usually. I rather suggest simple things that are easy to do like prayer or affirmations. If anything beyond that is needed, then I craft a simple, cheap, one-time use ritual designed strictly for the inquirer that takes less than an hour to do and fairly discreet. The reason is often times the person doesn’t know a single thing about magick so it wouldn’t make a bit of sense to throw complicated works into the mix where there is a higher margin of error. Everyone knows basic first aid such as putting on a bandaid but not everyone knows how to stitch shut an open wound. Same thing with magick. I don’t want to weird the person out either so I keep it simple. It’s only if I’m getting spell requests from other Witches do I make the constructions more complex because I’m aware they know what they’re doing and they’ve taken all the steps they could prior to solve the problem. Witches and normal people combined, however, I barely get five spell requests a year, even lesser become actual spell constructions – if any at all.

I keep spells and divination under wraps for several reasons. The most prominent (but seemingly least obvious for those who I have helped) reason is I simply don’t care. Everything always looks scarier when standing in the center of the storm but to me, an outsider and seasoned diviner, it’s really not that noteworthy. I recommend that perspective towards divination and spell casting as well for other diviners, psychics and Witches because it’s less burden on the heart. To overly worry and care as if you know every person personally is going to wear very quickly because people are people and people are different. Some do need saving, some have to save themselves, and some simply can’t be saved or don’t want to be saved, just flail in the water for attention. The last two are the biggest reasons to be easygoing about readings because it is not the diviner’s or witch’s job to save that person, only help them. If they wanna continue screwing up even though they know there’s a brick wall ahead, let them. If they wanna keep coming back because they know someone is paying them the slightest bit of attention to their self-made drama, don’t feed into it and remain professional. No diviner or witch has an S on their chest so they don’t have to save anyone, just guide. I have had to tell many that, I’m not here to solve their problems, just let them know what they are and the potential solutions. I only get involved further if the person is possibly suicidal or making any other terrible mistakes. There, I make sure the querent has open venues to receive help and inform loved ones if at all possible. It’s not my job to save anyone but it would be against my ethics to simply let them destroy themselves.

Another reason I keep readings under wraps is because of the stigma that divination and witchcraft still has. Tell someone you’ve seen a diviner or witch and prepare to get odd looks. Either people will think you have lost your mind, become very desperate or up to no good. Then there’s religious implications that I simply won’t go into because they’re quite complex depending on the religion and I don’t always quite understand myself. Either way, I don’t announce to a crowded room, “Hey, Mr. so-and-so! I finally did your natal chart! Did you know you have a lot of placements that spell out divorce and failed relationships? I think it might have stemmed from your dad.” Whether the person I’m reading for believes in what I’m doing or not (not like that makes the reading any more accurate or not), embarrassing information is embarrassing information. Often I am telling sensitive information and if I wouldn’t want my business out there, why would anyone else? This is why I never publicize readings I have done for others, no one needs to know but the person I am reading for.

Regardless of what method of help is being sought, it is important to keep everything confidential. How can the querent trust their reader or Witch if they’re loose at the lips? Plus it can cause very unsavory rumors anyone would like to avoid. No matter how interesting someone’s life or problem may be, it should never be the subject of idle gossip or terrible stories. Confidential mean the inquirer can have confidence in the reader or Witch involved but that means the Witch/reader has to be able to keep a secret, which won’t feel like secrets after a while.

Hey hey, everyone! Black Witch is doing a bit of traveling! AfroPunk is having a Christmas Party in NYC on Dec 16th and I’ll be there! Come see me! I’ll also be milling about in Koreatown for a bit before I have to head down to Webster’s Hall where the event is. As usual, you’ll be able to keep track of me on my twitter (@thisblackwitch) and if you’re in the area and wanna hang out, let me know! And don’t forget to submit questions for Ask Black Witch! It’s coming up!

The Establishment (AfroPunk) Version

Being Black and Pagan is already difficult but to be Black, Pagan and wanting to date? That’s a multiplex issue in itself.

The problems for Black Pagans that want to date stem from mostly religious and fairly racial grounds. Many people are still fairly ignorant about Paganism, witchcraft and Wicca and will believe that anyone who claims to be a Witch, Pagan or Wiccan is possibly crazy or going to cast a hex around breakup time. The racial issues that tie into the religious issues creates almost the perfect storm in that Blacks are assumed to be Christian (or possibly Muslim), no alternative. Christianity is such a linchpin in the Black mindset, whatever is considered outside of the religion is considered to be an act of sheer blasphemy. Contrary to popular belief, the Black race is a very conservative race, the acceptance of something such as Paganism would come along very slowly. In addition, many Black Pagans are involved in alternative culture, where there is already a profound lack of Black faces and hence a smaller chance of potential Black-Black relationships.

Black Pagans already have it hard enough finding their place in Black culture and the Black community. Often we are misunderstood, ridiculed, ostracized and even called “White” or “oreo” (Black on the outside, White on the inside for those not savvy with snack food slurs) because we don’t practice Christianity. Usually when I mention that I’m Pagan (or God/dess forbid, I tell them I’m a Witch), I can usually bet a good sum that I will be asked within ten minutes or less if I am a devil-worshiper and despite even my best explanations, word will spread like wildfire that a Satanist is in the midst. This is not to say that Black Christianity is not charming, there are definitely some very beautiful aspects to the interpretation of the religion but Black Christians tend to be pretty good at foaming at the mouth when met with something radically different from what they were raised and told. I’ll be told about Jesus (despite being a young adult, Black, living in America and not under a rock) and if I know what I’m doing is a sin. I’ll be asked a million and ten questions about the Bible and explain a million and ten times that Paganism is not a denomination of Christianity so stop asking me the same freaking question just worded differently a million and ten times, I’m not Christian. Not all Black Christians go into freak-out mode when they meet someone who doesn’t hail a cross but they’re not really the norm. For now, there really isn’t any room for Black Pagans and whatever room we do have to express our opinions and faith is incredibly limited within Black culture and we’re barely a blip in the Black mindset, we are the “other”. If this is the Black perception overall, imagine the chance of having a normal Black-Black relationship.

I don’t have a rolodex of relationships to speak of for I’m not really the dating sort. Relationships do interest me but not strongly enough to waste incredible amounts of time and energy on something that isn’t promised and doesn’t often work out. Instead, I have my own one guy who I have dated and sadly broken up with over the summer after a long term relationship. He wasn’t Black, he was Indonesian, Muslim and into the punk scene. Was he perfect in acceptance towards me being Pagan? He had some rough edges but that’s a lot better than believing I’d hex him if he forgot my birthday. He knew about my religion – I make it a point to get that out of the way first so any reactions, whether good or bad, can be had and I get a glimpse of what my future will be like. He was a lenient Muslim himself but our religious views didn’t really enter the relationship much, we were just another pair trying to figure out how to manage a relationship just like anyone else. What killed the relationship were communication issues but he was by far the most accepting guy (who was dateable) of my religion. It’s probably going to be a long time before I find someone like that again and a longer time if I want the guy to be Black.

Most Black men I come across are Christian. I have only come across a very small handful of Black Pagan men and they’re my friends, un-dateable or already in relationships. Even if I did meet a Black Pagan guy, it’s not a promise our individual faiths will mesh well enough for a relationship, not all Pagans are alike. To have a friendship despite our differences is one thing but relationship with so many disparities is another. A lot of Black guys already have very odd and perplexing views about Black women and vice versa which make it difficult to date inside the race but to layer “I’m a Witch!” on top of that, I can probably be assured even if I lowered my standards to a blade of grass I wouldn’t get much of a catch. (Well, I wouldn’t have much of a catch with low standards anyways.) The responses I often get towards my religion are rather disheartening, no matter when I spill the beans about my religion. They tell me they worry I’m cutting off goats’ heads or that I’m crazy because I believe in spells. (How odd, they believe in prayer, practically the same thing.) I get the “You’re a nice girl and all but….” even from the nicest guys. I already have very discerning taste in men (must be intellectual, eccentric (but not psychotic), interesting, respectful, generous, non-egotistical, open-minded etc etc) so my pool is small enough but to be Pagan, it’s like the pool turns into a drop.

Away from religion for a moment, there is quite a silent crisis in the Black perception of the opposite sex. Namely, we’re taught to hate each other. Black women are taught that all Black men are sex-driven dogs with a remarkable penchant for violence. Black men are taught that all Black women are money-sucking harpies and also with a remarkable penchant for violence. This is a very small nutshell of a very big problem but the symbolism runs rampant in Black culture consistently from movies to music to simply how we treat each other. Black culture still has a sense of inferiority instilled from systematic psychological destruction of the Black mind during slavery times so when we’re told that the Black wo/man is worthless, we’re taught by society that a White wo/man is a greater prize instead. Even if the notion does not appear to be incredibly prevalent amongst Black women, it is with Black men seemingly. That to have a White woman or even Asian woman is preferable than a Black woman because it is believed a White or Asian woman is more submissive and manageable, which harkens back to the idea of the Black harpy who swivels her head snakelike in consistent disapproval but also other very long ingrained racial gender stereotypes that pervade mainstream culture like a sickness. In Black culture, it seems to be more acceptable for Black men to date and mess about outside of race but if a Black woman does it, she’s a deemed a traitor because “she holds the future of the Black race.” This saying, I hear all too often and find to be complete and utter crap since Black women aren’t Virgin Marys. There is no such thing as “the future of the Black race” with only half the equation. To penalize one side means to penalize the other, not ignore it, regardless of who is the guilty party. Even with or without the Black wo/man end of the equation, there can’t be a Black relationship if one side is absent for whatever reason.

I have dated outside my race because I don’t entirely care too much about skin as I do about treatment. I’m putting myself out there but my top preference is Black or Asian/American (to note the difference between Asian and Asian-American in one term), I gel best with both cultures. If I meet a nice Asian/American guy who doesn’t mind me for my religion and is fairly decent himself, I will date him. If I meet a nice Black guy who doesn’t mind me for my religion and is fairly decent himself, I will date him. This probably won’t increase my boyfriend pool much either way because of religion and the social stigma of the Black woman as well as interracial dating complexities but I feel if a person wants to date outside of race, that’s perfectly fine, who am I to harp? However, the problems begin when the main reason dating interracially is because the person believes some ill-conceived notion that their own race is worthless.

Returning to religion, Black Pagans are held back further in dating than their White Pagan counterparts because of the smaller pool and added racial stigma. To date within race is to dredge incredible amounts of questions about devil-worshiping and “voodoo doing” as well as assumptions of attempting to be White since it would be considered absurd to be Black and not Christian (or even Muslim). To date outside of race is to be greeted unknowingly with unwarranted racist questions that no sound-minded Black person would want to deal with. In addition, immediate assumptions (and possibly overly patronizing praise) of doing voodoo or Egyptian work may also be made. There are many issues regarding dating out of race but one pervasive issue stems in-race and it is the accusations of being a racial “traitor” by other Blacks, regardless of gender.

I would love to have a nice sizable pool of guys to choose from, eccentric, lovely, smart, respectful, creative men. I also would like to not be judged by the simple fact that, yes, I do cast spells, no, I don’t go to church and I sincerely doubt I’ll be coming back to Christianity, and yes, I truly do promise not to curse your whole family line if you forget to get me a present for Valentine’s, honest. I’m more of the “talk it out” sort and when I say “talk”, I mean “discuss what went wrong and listen to both sides equally” not “scream at you for three hours straight” since that doesn’t solve anything. I want to have a nice, normal relationship with a guy, no worries about whether he’s making Wizard of Oz or voodoo jokes behind my back and I don’t have to teach him practically from scratch about my religion…or he’s willing to do some of the leg work about it.

Relationships are a lot of work and plenty of give and take as it is the union between two very imperfect individuals who come with their own perks, quirks, dreams and misgivings. Regardless of religion or race, this is any relationship. No relationship is perfect because no one is perfect and Pagans are no different. I know for fact I wouldn’t want to be seen only as Witch because that’s not all that I am, just like any other Black Pagan. We wanna date, love and get married too, just like everyone else.

That’s all the Black Witch for this week! If you have a question to give, don’t forget that there’s a submission form, twitter, Facebook fan page and email, just look about this site and you’ll find them! I’m always taking submissions for Ask Black Witch so if you have a question, please ask!

I debated with myself about posting this piece for World AIDS Awareness day because I feel that having awareness about HIV and AIDS should not be rested in one day of kumbahyah and “We Will Survive” panels. For millions suffering with the virus, it is everyday and everyday there are brand new cases. More than 50% of new cases are African-Americans and caught far too late. Just like Black History (or any other cultural history for that matter), one day, one week, one month, none of that is enough. I feel acknowledging HIV and AIDS for simply a day diminishes the urgency to inform and mobilize the public with information enable to stunt the growth of this virus and work closer to a cure.

I’m no expert on HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome), hence why I will be providing links to those who are. I can only stress that you should be tested if you are sexually active (currently having sex or has had sex and currently celibate) or have taken drugs with needles (in addition, I highly advise you to get help for the addiction, drugs are not the joyride they appear to be). There are many testing centers throughout cities, all free. If you don’t know where there is a testing center for you, the CDC has a website to find a testing center nearest you with just your zip code. If you are infected with the virus and continually sexually active, please inform your bedmates that you are infected and use condoms. HIV/AIDS is tearing through the Black community around the world because of misinformation and silence about the virus. HIV can lay dormant for up to ten years before it becomes full-blown AIDS and the initial symptoms can appear flu-like so there is no sure-fire way to know whether you are infected or not unless you get tested. There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS, only medicine to improve living with the illness and allowing those affected to live longer.

HIV/AIDS Awareness is beyond a day because as I said, one day is not enough. Become very aware of the 30-year history of the virus to understand how it came about and was handled in the past up to now, learn about the debates of HIV/AIDS medicine and the politics involved, learn what causes the virus to become epidemics in certain groups such as Black women but also in groups not oft discussed, Black intravenous drug users, learn the difference between STDs and HIV/AIDS and most of all, learn about condoms and their use in the fight against the disease in the Black community.

Here are the sites for HIV/AIDS awareness and knowledge. To keep this post easy to find, I’ll will be introducing a new category titled “Resources & Information”:

Greater Than – Great resource on HIV and AIDS for the Black community. Learn about the virus, how it varies from other STDs, how it’s contracted, finding a testing center and more!

Condom Depot – To best protect yourself from the virus sexually, wear a condom, use lubrication and please read their “Learning Center” for more HIV/AIDS and STD information and world news. Product and information all in one place.

Former Surgeon General Koop’s warning – The more World AIDS days that pass, please do not forget that there is a lot of knowledge that is not going around. Just going, “Eh, not my problem” is a problem in itself.

HIV/AIDS ravages throughout the Black community worldwide, taking lives and new cases popping up each and everyday in men, women and children. Until we can find a cure, all that we can do to really fight the virus is with information and awareness and that’s going to take more than one day. It’s everyday.

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