Archive for September, 2012

Ask Black Witch

It’s this month’s Ask Black Witch! Where readers ask me questions and I answer them! Huzzah! And, remember, it’s real easy to submit questions but beware: Good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated. Let’s hop to it!

I want to become a pagan, but I don’t know how to tell my family. They are serious Christians. But even worse, my mother used to be catholic. How do I go about this? Not only this, but I would like to know more before I completely consider becoming pagan.

What if I want to become a pagan, but I’m naturally violent, hurt, and angry? Like, I’m literally unable to let go. What happens then? Am I suddenly a “Dark Witch”? Will everything I do turn against me or go horribly wrong?

– SweetFire

Folks, this is what a really good question look like. Send more like these.

Sweetfire, I would say pick your battles wisely. Even I haven’t told every member in my family that I’m Pagan and I’m pretty open about my faith to the average person and been practicing for the past ten years. Some folks are really stuck in their ways and it’s up to you to decide to disturb that or not. I’ve learned that some people, even serious Christians, still have room to be open minded but you have to prod carefully around that.

This part depends solely on whether or not you live with them or not: If you do then just learn to be very cautious, you don’t want to risk food and home because someone couldn’t see past their own bigotry. If you don’t, it’s up to you on when and how you want to tell them. If you’re outed, you may have to put your foot down and give them the choice that either they can have their religious bigotry or have you but they can’t have both. As much as I would like to promise all will be happy, it wouldn’t be realistic. So get ready for tense moments, having to stand up for your beliefs (whatever they may be) and deal with a lot of broken record preaching as well as Olympic grade guilt tripping and some strained family ties. The only way you can be ready for that is to be studied up on your faith and explore various faiths as well to know truth from falsehood.

To be read up on this stuff, check out the Resources and Information tag here on Black Witch, especially the The Arts!: Samhain Editions because they list books and sites for you to read and visit and that should really help because right now you sound like you’re on the fence so just keep everything under your hat for now until things have solidified a little more.

If you’ve got a poor temper that you’ve a hard time to let go, I would recommend meditation and counseling. Doing meditation and more religious practice will help you through your personal problems and keep you from flying off the handle and counseling (I recommend doing a google search or going to Psychology Today to look for affordable therapists) to deal with your problems. I understand how a bad temper can rip through practice but your faith, regardless of whatever faith, is supposed to help reel that in. This is given that you are consistent in practice of whatever faith you choose to practice. Some of the books recommended – and I’ll always recommend Where To Park Your Broomstick by Lauren Manoy because that’s where I got my start and is a fantastic book – will have meditation techniques in there for you to use readily. You could even google search basic meditation techniques and use those. You won’t become some dark witch or anything, especially when you have your first dealings with karmic repercussions. It’s one thing if you’re evil by nature but it another to just have a temper like any other human being. As you keep practicing, you’ll probably find yourself calming down more as time goes on and your opinions/perspectives change so again, I recommend meditation and counseling. If you don’t truly want to be the ever-hexing witch (and you won’t, it’ll be too much trouble and energy) you fear, then you won’t be.

Me and my friends want to swap bodies, and I also want to swap bodies with this girl. However I know she won’t agree but I like her and want to learn about her so I can impress her. So do you have a voluntarily body swap spell for my friends and a non-voluntarily spell for the girl
– Mike

Oh geez, when I first saw this I first thought “Another body swap spell?” and then I saw the girl part. Dude, no. If you want to learn about someone, you get to know them the normal way: talking to them, chatting with them online, things like that, just like how you got to know your friend. Don’t worry about impressing her – besides, if she saw this, she probably would be super creeped out. If she doesn’t want you to get to know her, deal with it. Maybe you should learn communication skills instead of asking for spells – something I don’t give out on Black Witch. Besides, body swap or possession anything takes a great deal of learning in witchcraft as well as skill, something I can probably bet you don’t have at all. Magick is too advanced for you, especially what you’re asking for, stick with learning communication and stuff that doesn’t involve coercing people, no one wants to get to know or be impressed by potential creepers/psychos.

I have been reading for the past 10+ years on and off books like the power of the psalms, candle magick. I live in southern California and I have always looked for other black witches in the area with no luck in finding any. And my questions I have two, 1. I had a reading about 8 years ago and I was told I was a white witch under Christ rule is this possible? 2. I have lost, I will say power when I moved back to Callie. How can I get that back again? I come from a family that believes but won’t tell you anything and now days I am over 3000 miles away and I am the baby of the family and I do not won’t to lose the art is there any kind of way you can help me and point me in the direction of someone who want a student?
Blessed Be
– Gwenaveir

Eh, it sounds like you’re a Christian Witch – or at least a Christianity-influenced Witch – judging from the fact that you read and reference books like Power of the Psalms so I don’t see how it could really concern you on being a “white witch under Christ rule” since it sounds like you already are (this is ignoring the fact that there’s no real thing as a white or black magick – outside of colloquial description I would suppose – since magick is colored by intent and nothing is really pure on either side). I mean, it is completely possible to be a Christian Witch and if the Christian path/theology is right for you, go for it. Otherwise, you may want to spread your net to something less Abrahamic influenced if it bothers you that much.

I don’t think you lost power, just settling down after a move and hence still getting back into the swing of things. Just calm down, do what you did in the past to gather energy and it should come back, you and yourself is still settling from being one place to another, it’s going to take time.

The last part confused me somewhat, does your family practice magick but keeps it secret or something? What your family does, short of putting a fix on you or traumatizing you somehow, shouldn’t really have much bearing on your metaphysical practice. But you also mentioned that you’re the baby of the family so I guess you’re homesick and when amongst familiarity you thrive (which makes total sense because the mind is at ease) but all in all, it seems that you don’t really need to be a student of anyone because these are kinda issues you can still solve yourself through time and practice. I recommend you do that for a little bit, at least a few weeks, before throwing up an ad for student practice on WitchVox – but you can socialize with people on Mystic Wicks, which is just as good, if not better.

I am having very serious difficult times right now, as many are. Serious financial difficulties, a house in foreclosure, and a neighbour who has coveted my property for years, harassed me, and may now finally succeed in getting his hands on it. I have tried to meditate and perform an out of body experience, as I have always felt that might awaken the powers I believe that lie dormant within me, and give me some insight into what I can do to help myself, but I can’t seem to concentrate like I should be able to.

Can you give me some insight into how I can help myself?

Y’know, it sounds like you should stay in your body for a second and do some actual doing. Walking outside your body isn’t going to do much in helping you A)Keep your home and B) Making sure your neighbor doesn’t get it (granted, if they are) unless you plan on haunting said neighbor. I would work with some people who specialize in foreclosure to make sure that you’re losing your home fair and square, not as a result of banks being their usual evil selves. Then, if it’s true that you can’t keep your house, then prep for that because you’re going to have bigger problems in the near future than your neighbor trying to nab your home. And just because they wanted your property does not necessarily mean they will get it.

TL;DR: The powers you need to awaken are that of a lawyer. Do that.

That usually would be it for this month (I only answer up to three questions per ABW) but I looked at my Formstack account and noticed I missed a couple due to either my email filtering them out or something like that so let me get to a couple.

I want to know if werewolves are real
– Jaszmin

Usually I joke and such but upon thought, I think it can be considered a good question. I looked up the definition of a werewolf in my trusty book o’ knowledge The Watkins Dictionary of Magic and here’s what it said about werewolves:

Werewolf: In occult and folk belief, a person who can transform into the form of a wolf and eat human flesh. In other cultures, individuals are similarly believed to become other fierce animals, such as a jaguar or a tiger. Compare Vampire and see also Lycanthropy.

Alrighty, Lycanthropy it is!

Lycanthropy: From the Greek lukos, “wolf”, and anthropos, “man”, the belief among practitioners of witchcraft and sorcery that a human being may transform into a wolf. In Europe the wolf was traditionally regarded as the most ferocious animal, and in this regard the sorcerer capable of such transformation personified bestial power and terror – hence the many legends of the werewolf. The term is also used generally to describe the magical act of changing into any wild animal, for example a hyena or tiger, and there are examples of “leopard men” in Africa and “jackal men” in the Congo. Some legends relating to lycanthropy may have their origin in the psychedelicexperience, since it is now considered that hallucinatory witchcraft potions are responsible for the legend of witches travelling through the air to the witches’ Sabbath, riding on their broomsticks. Many shamans – some of whom use psychedelic sacraments – similarly believe themselves capable of self-transformation, and assume the form of a power animal.

Oh wait, there’s more. I looked up the history of lycanthropy on the internet and came across a couple good finds.

In “Lycanthropy – A History of the Werewolf”, written by Geffyb, explains that the werewolf was especially feared during the Middle Ages when wolves commonly attacked men unprovoked and thus thought of as evil men doing the work of the devil. There were various takes on the story of the werewolf and how one becomes such a thing. There’s mental illness, a punishment of God, or through satanic rituals. The method we all know and hear of so commonly comes from Italy, Germany and France and expresses that a man could become a werewolf if he slept outside on a particular Wednesday or Friday on a summer night with the full moon shining directly on his face.

In “Lycanthropy: Myth and Medical”, written by Jennifer Cruver-Plaza, she brings up the earliest mention of lycanthropy being in Metamorphoses, written by Ovid (43 BCE – 17 CE). Then there’s the medical condition Werewolf syndrome, congenital hypertrichosis, which has several various strains. Though the condition is rare, it has been documented in the sixth and seventh centuries through four generations within the Gonzales family where, Petrus Gonzales, his kids and their grandchild were called the Family of Ambras. The condition makes them dog faced. Then there’s a psychological disorder where patients act or believe that they are indeed animals and does not exactly remember what they did but believe they were possessed by something. And there’s being poisoned by a fungus called ergot of rye, called ergotism, which was particularly nasty.

And there you have it. So technically, they can be real but not exactly as media such as Twilight would like to picture it.

I’d answer the other missed ones but they’re lol-worthy so I’ll save them for a future Ask Black Witch: Off Day. Don’t let the fact I missed a couple discourage everyone else from using the Ask Black Witch Submission Form. Remember there are other ways to contact me, go to the Contact Me page to learn how!

I’ll be at the Baltimore Book Festival all this weekend so try and spot me! Plus, I will be at Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor 2 signing today at around 7 PM. Signing is from 6-8PM at Soundgarden in Baltimore, MD.

Le w00t! Here in America, the presidential election is around the corner and things are mighty fierce. There’s drama, passion, fire and a whole lotta talky talkin’. But who to vote for? Well, here at Black Witch, all the info about all candidates, Democrat, Republican and Independent as well as voting info for your area. It is very important that regardless of who you’re voting for, you’re very well informed so you may make the right choice. No one should simply vote for their party, they should vote for what’s right for the country, whatever that may be. And Black Witch is not officially endorsing anyone, I’m an Independent!

Now, let’s look at the history of voting first and the pro/cons of each method, this vid is quite funky…eh you have to watch on the site, sorry about that folks. It’s called the “Brief History of Voting”. I’ll have a version posted to the BW Tumblr.

Now that’s out of the way, I posted that because as a Black blog, it would be really incredibly stupid for me to make the assumption that things in this election are being played fair and square. There’s a whole vibrant history this country has about voter suppression and we’ve got to counter-act that as much as possible so everyone who wants to vote and can vote may do so on November 6. That’s why the next two The Arts will be about voting and making sure you’re aware of all your options and no matter what, make sure you have your voter card in hand. Let me tell you a story:

When I was a wee young lass back in high school, they passed out voter registration forms in my African-American Studies class. Everyone in school was supposed to have one passed out to them by then end of the day, regardless if they choose to fill it out or not. I filled mine out annnnnnnd, nothin happened. For months. I filled out another voter’s registration form at the local NAACP. Nuffin. I filled out another one at a local college. Nada. It wasn’t until I went down to the main voter registration center of Baltimore City a couple days after my birthday to straighten it out and all of a sudden the woman working the desk said that I was registered since ’06 but it was awful odd how I never got my official card until that day. See, I was ready to go over the desk and give my “I’m Black, I’m Educated and I’m Gonna VOTE. I will channel my inner Rosa Parks, man” monologue, maybe knock over a cup of pencils, but the lady completely understood. She was Black herself and gave me a look that said, “I wonder how many folks are like her and still don’t know?” She wished me a happy belated birthday, gave me my card and I have had it in my wallet since.

I shared that story because I’m just one of many, many people who have registered to vote and didn’t hear back from anyone. My card said that I registered Oct ’06 but I never got a card in hand until July ’08, just months before the presidential election. That means I waited nearly two years to get my card and that itself didn’t happen until I went to the Registration & Records office in my city.

It is very important to have that card in hand when you vote because otherwise, they will try to discount your vote and trust me, every vote counts so let’s start with showing you how.

There are several sites to aid you in registering to vote. There’s:

Rock the Vote
Vote 411

So register and check! Don’t get caught up like me, okies?

Here is how the US Voting System (should) work, thanks to the BBC:

The United States holds elections every two years. Once every four years there is a presidential election, with congressional elections held at the same time.

Mid-term elections take place in-between presidential elections, in the middle of the presidential term.

Elections for the House of Representatives are held every two years. Senators have six-year terms, with one-third elected every two years.

State governors serve four-year terms with about half up for election every two years.

Voters also get to choose their party’s candidate in the main election. Voters register which party they support, and can then participate in primary elections.

Before he became the Republican candidate for president in 2000, George W Bush had to beat Republican Senator John McCain in primary elections.

Primaries are sometimes quite close to the general election, and once they are over, candidates must turn quickly to the general election.

Now we all know that it simply isn’t that easy here in America, nope. We’ve got quite a history when it comes to Voters Rights, the effect of the Electoral College and things like that so let’s get into it.

Voters’ Rights
This is our right to vote. Every American citizen over the age of 18 should have it in theory but it wasn’t always that way. When the country first started, only White men over the age of 21 and owned property were considered capable of voting. It took decades, centuries actually, to turn the tide and let women and minorities as well as those who did not own property to be let in. The Civil War made it so that the average White guy could vote but Blacks couldn’t vote until the 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870 (and we all know it didn’t really end there), women couldn’t vote until 1920 with ratification of the 19th Amendment, and the voting age was dropped to 18 due to the 27th Amendment, ratified in 1971. If only problems were this easy to solve, though. Again, this is a Black blog so I am going to include this: The country didn’t really get its act together on justifying whether Blacks such as myself ought to really vote until the Civil Rights Movement and they couldn’t bs us anymore (Jim Crow still had some sodium in his system about us getting the fair right to go to the polls). Not saying these folks don’t still make attempts to, they just have that pesky writing that basically translate to, “Okay, knock off the literary tests, property ownerships and poll taxes. And no one needs to guess how many jellybeans are in a jar to determine if they’re fit to decide who should run the nation next,” that stands in their way. And here is where we talk about Voter ID Laws and why you need to know about them.

Voter ID Laws
Y’know how the Voting Rights Act of 1965 made it so you wouldn’t have to jump through loops just to vote? Voter IDs are those loops, just redefined as “Happy Patriotic Circles of Exercise and Happiness” if you asked the folks who back them.

Voter ID Laws are to stave off voter fraud, something that has happened a very small number of times. According to a New York Times analysis from 2007 found through ProPublica, only 120 identified cases over the past five years, according to the Justice Department. Most of these cases came from erroneously filled registration forms or misunderstandings regarding voter eligibility. 86 convictions came from that but usually when election fraud happens, it’s not from the people but the election officials who want to swing the results or wonky absentee ballots, which voter ID laws can’t help anyways.

These laws come in the form of presenting some sort of identification such as a birth certificate, bill of some sort (electric bill, gas bill, etc), a photo id or something that basically let officials know that the person before them is indeed who they are. This marginalizes the elderly, minorities and low-income groups because they are the ones that are usually lacking information such as this and this information is just like guessing how many jellybeans are in a jar: Absolutely no determination of whether or not the person is fit to vote, it’s just an additional and unnecessary obstacle to separate potential voters from the polls. There are variations of strict and non-strict voter id laws and this site will let you know how with a handy map and easy to read charts. Rock the Vote also has something on Overseas/Military voting, Felons Rights and Student Rights, something affected by these laws.

These laws are important to note, as well as our voter rights as a whole because it affects our electoral college, what really determines who wins the election.

Electoral College
America has a two tier election system, and it especially comes up in the media around the presidential election. What basically happens is the popular vote fuels the electoral college, which determines the outcome so a candidate can win the popular vote but still lose the election because they lost the electoral and vice versa. What happens is the popular vote is summed up by districts and representatives so a tiny district with a lot of people will probably have a lot less pull than a bigger district with not a lot of people in it. The Idiots Guide of voting explains it effortlessly:

Every state (and the District of Columbia) has a number of electoral college members equal to the number of representatives and senators in that state. There is a minimum of 3 members, in states such as Alaska and Montana, and a maximum of 54 members in California. Securing a majority of 270 electoral votes (out of a possible 538) ensures that the candidate will go on to the White House. Therefore, a candidate can actually become president by winning the electoral contest but losing the popular vote—which is what cost Grover Cleveland the 1888 election, and more recently resulted in George W. Bush becoming president in 2000.

The electoral college was originally created to keep the vote in the hands of the people and downplay partisan politics. Ironically, modern critics find the winner-take-all approach of the electoral college unfair because it takes the vote out of the hands of people and may fail to reflect the popular national will by unfairly skewing the importance of individual votes in certain states. The electoral votes are won wholly, county-by-county then state-by-state, regardless of whether a majority is decided by one vote or one million votes. This process has resulted in extremely close presidential races in the election years of 2000, 2004, and 2008.

And that’s how the Electoral College is le done!

Who’s Running?
Alright, now, we’ve got all this out of the way, you’re informed! Now on to the candidates vying for your vote! Just wanna let the world (well, the American readers) know that there are various sites to help you make that choice as well. I’m just going to list who is running and the sites to help inform you below to keep it all simple.

Now, here are the US Presidential Election Candidates, nabbin the info from Politics1!

Democratic Party: Barack Obama (Pres)/Joe Biden (Vice Pres)

Republican Party: Mitt Romney (Pres)/Paul Ryan (Vice Pres)

America’s Party/American Independent Party: Tom Hoefling (Pres)/J.D. Ellis (Vice Pres)

American Third Position Party: Merlin Miller (Pres)/ Harry Bertram (Vice Pres)

Constitution Party: Virgil Goode (Pres)/Jim Clymer (Vice Pres)

Green Party: Jill Stein (Pres)/Cheri Honkala (Vice Pres)

Justice Party: Rocky Anderson (Pres)/Luiz Rodriguez (Vice Pres)

Libertarian Party: Gary Johnson (Pres)/Jim Gray (Vice Pres)

Objectivist Party: Tom Stevens (Pres)/Alden Link (Vice Pres)

Party of Socialism and Liberation: Will not be listed on Black Witch due to not meeting constitutional qualifications to serve as president/vice president

Peace and Freedom Party: Rosanne Barr (Pres)/Cindy Sheehan (Vice Pres)

Prohibition Party: Lowell Fellure (Pres)/Toby Davis (Vice Pres)

Reform Party: Andre Barnett (Pres)/Ken Cross (Vice Pres)

Socialist Party/Liberty Union Party: Stewart Alexander (Pres)/Alejandro Mendoza (Vice Pres)

Socialist Equality Party: Jerome White (Pres)/Phyllis Scherrer (Vice Pres)

Socialist Workers Party: James Harris (Pres)/Maura DeLuca (Vice Pres)

Oi! That’s a lot of people! You can click on their names to go to their websites and check ’em out but here are some sites to help you decide as well:

Vote Smart: They have coverage and information for both presidential and congressional elections so it’s a one-stop shop with a great site that is informative and interactive! Read about the various candidates listed above, their stances on various subjects and most of all take the Vote Easy test! This test is pretty rad as it asks your opinion in 13 subjects from Abortion to Social Security and will determine which candidate best match you and your beliefs. It’s super cool! Try it out!

Presidential Candidates: This site is okay, but informative. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of Vote Smart and sometimes a little confusing to navigate but what is really useful is their issues section on the side which list from Abortion to Trade Issues as they outline what the issue is and what various candidates feel about it. Also there’s a Profiles section that tells you the information of the candidates such as their age, their ancestry, military service, books, siblings, things like that. Definitely worth a look.

And that’s that! Remember to check out Vote411 to know where your polling place is and get informed! If I missed anything, lemme know in the comments and we’ll touch on it next month.

Next week is Ask Black Witch, submit your questions! Check out the Contact Me page or submit to the Ask Black Witch submission page, link is on the side. See you next week, or at the Baltimore Book Festival!

What a Dud

Doing spells for a while, you’re going to notice that occasionally you get a few duds. It’s not that they don’t work out in the grandeur that you hoped or that they backfired somehow, they just didn’t work. At all.

I guess before I get into the lamenting of how spells don’t work, I guess I should go into how you can tell a spell did work. Usually when I do spells, the most basic way I can tell it worked is through whether it actually did. In detail, usually I notice when things are tilted in my favor, even when I have a severely slim chance. Basically, things just fall into place, no matter the obstacle.

Then there’s spells where simply nothing happens. Everything appears to be business as usual and whatever happens happens. It doesn’t mean the spell makes life more awry or anything, it’s just simply a dud. You thought you did everything right and everything felt like it was going well but nothing of note occurs. There are several reasons why a spell simply does not work and sometimes it is due to the caster, sometimes things just fall apart.

The biggest reason I have noticed (and experienced) for spells simply going ka-put is actually experience itself. When you’re a noob at spell casting, it’s hard to get a feel of things because, frankly, you’re new. It’s hard to learn how to gather and manipulate energy because it’s not exactly like swimming or coding, there’s no visuals or anyone to really go, “No, no, you’re making a mistake,” when you’re in the middle of it all and on the brink to making a flub. It’s all intrinsic when you start out, just something you and only you can really feel…and you probably can’t feel a thing. The only thing that cures that problem is meditation and energy manipulation exercises. Enable to get good at this stuff, you have to practice at it to be better at it. Learn grounding and centering exercises, learn how to pull energy up from the ground or from the universe, so on and so forth. Just keep at it because the more you do it, the more successful spells become because actual energy is being used, directed and charged and a stronger stream of it at that.

Another reason is that if you use any sort of divinity, sprite, elemental, spirit, whatever, in your spellwork, you should have some sort of rapport. You don’t have to have to necessarily have a decadent shrine to each and every thing you ask to aid in your spellwork, just have some type of general rapport, at the very least be respectful. Yes, you could bypass all that and use your own energy but as you read above, it’s just a fast track to burning yourself out.

Then there’s distraction. If you’re not fully focused on the spell while casting it, practicing absolute mindfulness, it’s not going to work as well as it should. That’s different from not having enough energy because the caster could definitely be well skilled but if their mind is scattered or just unfocused due to a rough day or the concern of the situation weighing too heavy on their mind, the spell may never get off the ground. Spells run on intent but if your mind is scattered, there isn’t as much focus on intent as there should be.

Ah, and finally, not knowing what you want. I’ve had spells flat line on me this way. There has been spells where you want tons o’ stuff to happen and trying to cram all that into one spell thinking that it’ll work. For example, you cast a spell to do well in school, get into a good college or to get a good job and to be financially, emotionally and in other forms successful. That’s too much. Casting a spell for good fortune or to do well in school, things of that nature are far more on point rather than trying to do such a catch-all spell. Basic rule of thumb: If you can’t fit the point of the spell into a single, cohesive sentence, it’s too convoluted and needs to be trimmed down.

All in all, sometimes spells don’t work. Don’t feel bad, it happens to everyone at one point or another. Look at it like this, though: at least it didn’t backfire, that’s worse. The only thing you can do is either try again or just fix the problem the mundane way.

Welp, that’s Black Witch for this week! Next week is The Arts!: Presidential Edition. Yeap! There’s going to be an all-around guide about the upcoming American presidential election (sorry, international readers but Black Witch is an American-based blog so it matters). That means there’s going to be:

– The History of the Method of Voting
– Voter ID laws and how to get around them
– The candidates: Democratic, Republican, Independents, the lot!

And after that is Ask Black Witch so send in your questions via the FB fan page, twitter, the comments section, Tumblr or the Ask Black Witch submission form! (Don’t know where those are? Have you tried the Contact Me page up top?)

Talky Talky

The past couple of weeks have been awful weird for me. I think within a three day span, I had about three to four people on separate occasions to hear of my religion and try to tell me to do something about it which is already embedded in the faith. Lemme illustrate:

Person 1: I told that I used divination to help me determine my issues and the solutions for them, such as tarot. Works pretty solidly for me since I actually know how to do it and done so for a while. They freak out and say it’s potentially demonic and that humans rely too much on themselves when they should rely on God and nature. Thing is, divination, given that the root word is “Divine”, as in “to divine”, as in “to communicate with the divine/divinity using a medium,” is relying on divinity and the collective unconscious of the universe, not the human self.

Person 2: Friend brings up Paganism and Animalism are two different things whereas Animalism is embedded in Paganism as one of the starting points of what we know as Paganism today. Paganism is pretty much the umbrella term for any nature-based belief and Animalism is firmly embedded in it given that Paganism started showing itself around the upper Paleolithic times, which is about 30,000 – 10,000 B.C.E*

Person 3: Some Christian that lives around the corner from me wouldn’t let up that other faiths actually exist and are just as legit as their own, asks me about the basis of my faith. I just say that Pagans believe in polytheism, duality and that divinity is expressed through nature, hence why we don’t have churches or other houses of worship since the earth is already holy unto itself. The lady then turns around and says that while she agree that nature is God-made, still thinks that I lack faith in a God – as in, she thinks I’m an Atheist – and that nature is a work of God, something that apparently I know nothing about, being the deluded, polytheistic Atheist that I supposedly am.

The thing isn’t that they happened necessarily, I’m quite used to witnessing brain farts about my religion. Hey, they occasionally make for interesting reads here on Black Witch! The issue is that they happened so closely together and mostly by folks who know me personally that it almost made me wonder how good of a job I do about explaining my faith without bopping people over the head with it. I mean, some of these questions are like asking a Christian, “Sooooooooo, do you believe in Jesus because Jesus said not to steal and to be nice to everybody. Are you sure you believe in a higher being?” They’re well embedded in the faith and kinda on the 101 level of things. While I’m glad that the people I know are knowledgeable enough to not try to stake me while taking a nap or attempt to bottle my tears because they heard they’ll live forever that way**, it does make me facepalm a little when they still see my faith through the lens of “something quirky she believes”. If anything, it makes me wonder what they think I actually do believe if they managed to bypass some of the more basic facts of my faith.

It should be noted that the average person is not a pro in comparative religious studies but still there are some basics that are well known (or at least should be) for various faiths. Such as Judaism, Islam and Christianity are all monotheistic religions, Buddhism doesn’t seem to have a violent streak in it, Atheists don’t believe in anything (except the wonders of science) and Hindus have various deities, thousands of them. Since Paganism isn’t very well known but kinda well stigmatized all the same, it is a little understanding that my friends and especially the random person on the street wouldn’t have all their facts in a row. So we’re not exactly working with a tabula rasa but kinda against the tide with some spots of tabula rasa resemblance.

Paganism, regardless whether the average Pagan would like to admit it or not, is still a little known religion. Regardless of how fast it is spreading, and it is spreading at quite a pace, Paganism is still little known and highly stigmatized and the stigma is what rests in common memory. Either that or the misinformation, such as assuming every Pagan to be Wiccan, regardless what kind of Pagan the person has identified themselves as. Or just thinking the person to be outright mad simply because they believe in spells and telling the future.

When the average person hears the term “Pagan”, the idea of a fairly normal person doesn’t spring to mind, simply a person that is straight from the story books as demon-summoners, wicked people and blood drinkers. These folks aren’t very Pagan at all. Have they existed in Pagan religious/cultural history? Oh sure but there’s no religion on this planet that hasn’t gone straight into WTF territory somehow and with such the wide umbrella such as Paganism, we’re going to dredge a lot of folks who are a bit more eccentric than most in our past. However, it doesn’t mean that Pagans today aren’t civilized people, just like any other practitioner of some sort of faith. It just means that you could be a civilized, normal person that is Pagan and the average person may still think you might sacrifice their cat to the Devil, even if you were a card carrying member of the Humane Society.

There’s not much really one can do about it but keep correcting nuances and mistakes as they come along. Sure, it’ll be like straightening up the memory of an Alzheimer’s patient but repetition does make for learning. It is a bit frustrating but necessary, especially if the information can alarm others, such as divination or witchcraft. Now, I’m not going to say that the average person has absolutely zero reason to climb the walls upon hearing that someone reads tarot cards or cast spells given the usual spooky stigmas surrounding those two but it still isn’t a good excuse for them to do it. When it comes to things like divination and magick, prepare to just play a repeat session of 20 Questions over and over again until the person gets it through and through that you’re not going to summon Satan in their living room and you’re not a Satanist simply because you use tarot cards and palmistry to help determine what to do next. That’s pretty much all a Pagan person can do, as well as keep an eye out to identify any myths that they may mention obliviously or take as fact. I know in my personal experience, when I bring up divination to my older friends, they’re quick to assume that I’m summoning demons or other malevolent spirits until I remind them that if you’re doing divination right, no spirits should be conjured at all because they’re not needed. As for the witchcraftin’, I judge on how long the person has known me and how likely are they to freak out about spells and to what extent. So some folks know I do stuff like that and some don’t. Then others find out because they discover I write Black Witch.

Now, this is not for every Pagan as no Pagan has to serve as the cultural ambassador. Newp. You can mention what you plan to do this upcoming Samhain and if anyone foams at the mouth about it, you can just leave them there to froth while you find more rational people. It shouldn’t be a privilege to talk about what you do in your religious faith just as normally as anyone else.

And this goes for anyone who knows someone who is Pagan or Witch: albeit it is always great to get facts from the horse’s mouth, no one is obligated to be your Encyclopedia Pagananica. That means if they say something you don’t understand about their faith and you’ve already grilled them relentlessly before (if not sure, think about if the person was exasperated at the end of it all or had a “Plz stop talking” look on their face), juuuuuust make mental note of it, assume it’s most likely not evil and try to Google it later on if possible. That and remember, if you’re not a practitioner of the faith, you probably don’t know more about the faith than someone who has practiced it for years so it would not be wise “educate” the Pagan friend on things they probably already knew existed in their faith. Nothing is wrong with sharing what you learned, that’s fine – always makes me happy when my non-Pagan friends take it upon themselves to learn about my faith without drilling me endlessly with questions and make me more amiable to clear up mistakes in the nuances – but I will admit it’s a liiiiiittle aggravating when it feels like someone is trying to teach me something that was already well espoused in my faith. So, to be short and dry, your Pagan buddy is not your personal Well o’ Paganism and should you learn a thing or two on your own, please remember that your Pagan friend probably has known this as well. Oh, and don’t forget to listen the first go around, it usually make everyone happier in the end.

And that’s all the Black Witch for this week! Huzzah! Sorry I’ve been uber late with the postings. Either I get caught up in something else, stuck in bed, playing video games performing intellectually strenuous tasks, things like that. I just gotta get back on top of things, that’s all.

*Note: Wicca started in 1957 by Gerald Gardiner, it is not an ancient religion. It was created around the same time the television set was.
**It doesn’t work. Total myth. Do not attempt. Who seriously thought that one up?

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