I’m afraid to report that there isn’t a new Black Witch column for today. I’m going through a personal discrepancy which makes it not easy to simply drill out a new, decent column worth reading. I’m really sorry to everyone that there couldn’t be something new to read, there was a column indeed planned but considering my current situation, it couldn’t get completed. How am I going to remedy this? By taking a leaf out of Dan Savage’s book and posting up a previous column.

First, I’m gonna hock for whatever nomination votes I could possibly wrangle up in what’s left in the timing of the Black Weblog Awards: Check out this post (or you can scroll down) for the deets.

And the column from the past: “I Put A Spell On You – Nah”

Remember that episode on “Everyone Hates Chris” where the dad Julius thought the family had a jinx put on them because his wife Rochelle mentioned of an upset hair salon customer that didn’t like her hair color? I love that episode because of all the silly things that happened. Things like what Julius had his kids doing to avoid the “bad juju” when really they had a bad case of the flu and how overdone the Caribbean chick was. There were so many candles in the Rock’s home they could have replaced the heating and the lighting bill together! And what was up with that chicken? That was one funny episode but I think the humor for me is that I’m on the other side of the crystal ball. I have seen people flip out aplenty like that and my god is it funny but also a little concerning because these people actually believe the nonsense they do will work. I was just watching the episode going “Bull…bull…that’s bull too…just call a doctor, man!”

The voodoo shop…I don’t think I have ever been in a spot like that and I have been in many metaphysical shops since I was 16. I’ve only been in Maryland metaphysical shops but I have this hankering feeling Brooklyn doesn’t have it this overdone either. I know I wouldn’t have stayed there, too dark and ghastly. And guess what? At the end of the episode, you found out this Caribbean chick was a sham. But in real life, she still would have had someone fooled.

Oh, the memories that episode brought. People have ran to me or called me, swearing up and down someone put a bad fix on them when really it was just life being life. Yes, jinxes and curses are indeed real but the likelihood of getting one? Chances only get slimmer and slimmer the more industrialized the nation and the higher the socio-economic ladder you go. Oddly enough, that little piece of logic never really stops anyone from pestering me either online or offline because they’re worry someone jinxed them. What I find more amazing is that I’m an actual Witch who does know other witches and I’m fine but normal people who know just about no one besides myself who owns a spellbook are the ones claiming to be jinxed. Supernatural hypocondria, I guess?

When someone tells me they believe they’ve been jinxed, what follows up as a close second is they tell me whatever pseudo-voodoo they have been practicing. To sum this up the best I can, it’s like a firefighter having a friend tell them that they’ve figured the best remedy for an oil fire is to dump lots of  water on it. (In case you slept through science class, this is possibly one of the worst ways to fight an oil fire because water and oil doesn’t mix, it would just spread the fire since the oil – which is on fire, mind you – is sitting on top of the water. Either use a fire extinguisher or suffocate the flames somehow.) Generally I would laugh because the things people come up with are really funny – like jumping on one foot with a tube sock tied around your neck at noon for a week to remove bad luck – but when I find these people are dead serious…well that concerns me.

Dear readers, as I have said before, the more industrialized the nation and the higher the socio-economic ladder you go, the less likely you will find a folk curse. Instead, it could be a run of bad luck. It’s a cold world out there, misfortune does happen to even the best of us. It doesn’t take a curse to lose a job, have a bad relationship, a terrible day or a sucky life. Bad things happen on their own, whether we want them to or not. Spells are mostly used for counteracting life’s curveballs but not always the cause of them. Everyone has issues, remember that.

To cure life’s problems, even I don’t always turn to spells. Any good book on Witchcraft and Paganism will tell you that spells ought to be your last option, mundane options first. That’s right, I have to solve my problems the normal way just like everyone else before breaking out the herbs and stones. I wasn’t casting spells my whole life so that doesn’t bother me, often my problems don’t need an incantation to solve it. A witch is not judged by the number of spells she (or he) casts but by how they act. This isn’t Harry Potter or Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. I’ll talk more about spellcasting at another time but know that it is not necessary to solve all of life’s problems. It’s super useful but not a cure-all.

As hilarious as I do find the average person’s lack of real magickal knowledge enable to determine that what has been hounding them is not a nasty fix but life itself and the straight-from-tv methods that they use, it does make me wonder how much the average non-Pagan person believe the movie magic that they see so much. The supernatural is quite a tricky thing to pin down but even at the slight mention of being exposed to it, imaginations go off like nitro rockets – and into the wrong direction. Here’s some pointers:

Use your logic.
I love this strip so much, it’s from a Pagan comic called “Oh My Gods”.

Y’know why I love that strip (besides the webcomic being hilarious overall)? Because that’s what I deal with most when it comes to people asking me about magick. I wonder the exact same thing: Is logic the first thing you throw out of the window in attempt to fix a problem? Use your head about your situation. Think a jinx made you lose your job? Ask yourself: How has the economy been doing? What’s your job and how is it valued in that economy (i.e. work with technology, plumbing or typewriter repair)? Do you work for a company? How has been your workplace behavior? If you’ve been on your best behavior but lost a job still and the economy sucks, it could be the economy. No jinx involved…unless you count former president George W. Bush as a jinx. Please use your head and understand that lighting a candle and saying a poorly crafted rhyme will not get your job/significant other/money/whatever back or even thoroughly combat your “curse”. Just understand that sometimes bad luck does occur, it’s how you deal with the bad luck that determines how bad it gets … and trying to choke a chicken in sacrifice doesn’t count as “dealing with it”. 

It could be all in your head.
You are now aware that a friend of yours is a Witch or a Pagan. You think all of a sudden because you dreamt of fishes and then choked on your soda that morning you might be cursed since you have a magickal friend and thus life has become more…uh, magickal. Ah ha – no. Before you knock down your friend’s door and vex them for months on end, question yourself why would dreaming of fishes and choking on your soda thereafter have any significant meaning? I believe in coincidences too but there is such thing as reading way too much into something. A dream of fishes could have various harmless connotations but choking on your soda just means you probably should drink it more slowly next time.

Voodoo is not a cure-all.
Thank you bad television, lame movies, brain-dead producers and hack writers that are fresh outta ideas. Wanna demonstrate magick at its most devious? Mention voodoo. I like the idea of throwin’ some voodoo on it when doing the Tightrope (with the funkiest horn section in Metropolis, of course) but please know that actual voodoo – also known as Voudon – isn’t wholly evil and shouldn’t be the first thing to seek out if you think you’ve been cursed, regardless of your religion. Voudon is an actual tradition passed down mostly orally and is the fusion of Christianity with African religious traditions. It really is a wonderful culture and amazing to study in my opinion. Yes, there are poppets and there is some needle sticking but that’s not all of Voodoo and definintely not always used for evil so unlearn that, will you? Voudon also differs depending on region so Haitian Voudon is different from New Orleans Voudon because of background. With the use of African deities and saints in a total fusion, it would be difficult to practice decent Voudon without guidance from a Maman Loa or a Papa Loa around because, remember, a lot of this is oral tradition. There’s an amazing history behind Voudon, it is not some poor deus ex machina. You shouldn’t believe everything you see on tv anyways.

If the person is creepy, that doesn’t mean they’re a Witch. Just creepy.
It is near astonishing how many, “I thought they were a witch!” I have heard because the person accused doesn’t follow societal norms or are very creepy. Makes me feel pretty bad about myself, really. I can be odd but I don’t think I’m very creepy. Meanies. I have met maaaaaany creepy people in my life, way more than I care to admit but I can assure creepy does not equal witchy. Creepy equals creepy. Witches and Pagans can be anyone from the mailman to the deli owner. In other words, we’re normal functioning people.

Have some faith.
“If you reach a dead end trail, pray to God, it never fails.” – K-OS

I always liked K-OS, he’s got a terrific point here. Not a Witch? Then why do magick? A lot of work and practice goes into doing magick correctly and it certainly isn’t good to dabble at all. Contrary to popular belief, Witches and Pagans do work with deities and chances are we can or have worked with yours. Witches are not atheist outliers of religion so you may as well cut to the chase and have more faith. If your religion suggests prayer for your problems then pray. Even Pagans and Witches pray, you ought to do the same. Besides, all spells are – in my opinion – are fancy prayers usually. The divine is supposed to be considered most powerful and thus most useful for any curdled situation, use them. And if you don’t believe in a god, rely on what you should have already – yourself. Spells are my way of communicating to the divine above just like someone saying a normal prayer but that doesn’t mean it is a suitable practice for everyone nor is it an insta-fixer for life little mishaps. Have some faith in yourself and your beliefs and go with that.

It really is uncommon for a person in a well-off nation to be the recipient of a curse, remember that. If life is being unbearable, know that will happen from time to time. It doesn’t mean you’re jinxed, it’s just life. And if someone walks around saying they’ve put a fix on you, chances are they probably didn’t, especially if they’re super overdramatic about it. It’s not normal to announce spells because some believe the effectivness would be reduced (i.e. you now know you have something to counter) and others believe that some things shouldn’t be shouted from rooftops. I’m more of the latter but either way, usually lips are kept zipped. This column is the start of the “Spells & Potions” Category! However, don’t think I’ll be posting spells here. This is a column and while I know what I’m doing, I can’t say the same for everyone else.