It’s Ask Black Witch, time to answer some questions! However, before we do, let’s see who are the winners of Samhain Pickers! Well, winner.

– Reshena J

Also, don’t forget! Black Witch Ustream chat tonight at 9 PM EST!

Alright, let’s move on to the questions!

Hi there! I have a question for you. I have been on and off the Pagan path for years and am finally trying to take the time to really dedicate myself to it and finally find my place. I have been in the process of researching and connecting with a Patron Goddess. Just purely reading books and internet sources to find which ones I’m attracted to in general. But I’m having trouble connecting with ones of Celtic or Welsh backgrounds. I think because I am black, my mind is trying to guilt me and tell me I don’t have the historical right or heritage to try to connect with these deities….Any thoughts?

 – Danielle T.

There are thousands and thousands of deities that exist in the world. I would recommend going on MythologyDictionary so since that has the best resources on deities that I have found so far.

Now, you’re not alone when thinking “I’m Black, shouldn’t I just stick with African gods?” because some are worried they are somehow rejecting their heritage (they’re not) or that they have to stay in their own corner…or worry that White Pagans will force them to.

Speaking of White people and participating in things one has absolutely no historical right or heritage to whatsoever, look up yoga, rock music, jazz, American slang, mohawks, urban activism, graffiti, Bed-Stuy, street dancing/pop-locking, art toys, The Harlem shake, Macklemore, Miley Cyrus, The Black Keys, kale, quintoa, United States, war bonnets, life-hacking, baby hair, shamanism, dream catchers, Buddhism and Christianity. This is the very, very short list, we’re talking .243 picometer short. As long as you’re not going as far as pretty much stealing from other cultures and disenfranchising/othering the people that has created those cultures, you’re fine.

If you, say, want to pray to a Shinto deity but you always consider Japan as that weird country over there because you don’t want to learn how crass imperialism from the West made it “weird” and you’re not interested in learning the history behind Shinto, the people or anything, then yeah, you’re doing it wrong. Your connections to the gods are going to change over time because you as a person will change over time. If you want to connect to the Celtic or Welsh deities, that’s fine but don’t forget to study their histories and backgrounds (this will be well outside the scope of a new age book, you’re going to have to go to a regular library if you haven’t already). However, because there’s such an overbearing amount of European deities in Paganism, I still recommend you learn about all the deities all around the world, including Africa because it’s best to have as wide a net as possible to pull from and so to feel comfortable when practicing with whatever deities you wind up with. You shouldn’t let the fact you’re Black barricade you from pursuing whatever means something to you. I usually work with spirits and entities but I really take a shining to Apollo. However, that doesn’t negate my heritage nor let me think lesser of African and African Diasporic deities. It will take a while because there’s a lot to hack through (and idiotic people, mainly White Pagans, to deal with).

As long as you don’t become the Black version of a White person wanting to learn Voodoo but only Black person she’s seen is Obama and she thinks calling random things “ghetto” and cracking ebola jokes are funny but gets really upset when called out on her racism, you’re fine.

I live in a Bible belt. There is a church on every corner! Most people around here do not understand Pagan religion. How would I go about making my beliefs public?

– Robyn H.

I live in a southern state (Maryland) so I know the feeling. The best you can do is gauge your audience and engage your audience, if that’s what you want to do.

Some people are a little more open-minded than others, try to stick around those people if you can. You may be the first out Pagan they have ever met, however, that doesn’t mean you should have to teach people about your faith when they most likely have access to internet to do research on their own. When I deal with folks who I can sort of tell are not going to be that open minded to my faith, I give them the nutshell version of Paganism, “It’s a nature based belief system.” That’s it.

Granted, since you’ll be dealing with Christians and many of them feel the active rejection of the Christian god is the passive acceptance of the Christian devil, expect idiotic questions that pretty much boil down to “But why aren’t you Christian, tho? Can’t you force yourself to like this religion for my comfort? Doesn’t matter if you believe or not (but I’ll guilt you all the same if you don’t) but can’t you fake it like everyone else I know does?” Make sure they get it through their thick head that not everyone believes the same things and that Paganism is not Christianity so you believe in different things they do but it doesn’t make you amoral. If Christians do think that being non-Christian will steer you to do bad things, bring up the Ku Klux Klan, Westboro Baptist Church, the Unabomber, most serial killers annnnnd the majority of American government and how we like wars but don’t like to help the poor. It won’t make them like you but it will get them away from you pretty fast. Knowledge, it’s very useful stupid-repellant.

You can express your faith however way you wish. I have my tourmilated quartz and my pentacle/trinity ring that I wear everyday. I take off for Pagan holidays. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get people who talk badly about a faith they don’t understand, my faith (and if they do, now would be a great time to bring up the numerous scriptures in the Bible about being accepting and how they’re angering their god with their dedication to ignorance, self-awareness freaks them out) but I also tend to stand my ground because after a decade plus of trying to walk on eggshells, eventually you get tired of trying to spare others’ feelings while yours still get wrecked. That’s not fair.

Feel free to make notecard sized sheets of “What is Paganism?”, which is in the Links of Interest on this site, to give to family and friends who ask about your faith but also know it isn’t your job to be someone’s walking life lesson. And if the Christian people keep forcing the issue that you’re not Christian, feel free to stand your ground and mention if the roles were reversed, they would be upset. As long as you’re not proselytizing or treating people badly and hiding behind religious script for it, you’re fine.

Also, if they drag race into it (“Ain’t only White people Pagan?”, “Jesus was there for us when we were slaves”), bring up that indigenous faiths existed loooooooooooooooong before Christianity came around, Africa learned about Christianity through imperialist brainwashing to make obedient but psychologically tattered slaves. This does not mean they are mindless slaves because they are Black and Christian but how Black folks met Christianity? This is actual history.

I am not really new to witchcraft, I use to study about 10 years ago but I am finding some commonalities between quantum physics and the law of attraction.
I am thinking very seriously about doing a binding spell on my 17yr daughter who recently  tried to kill herself. I am afraid for her.
I have been working with the material world for a year, and it doesn’t seem to be working.
I am thinking about doing a binding spell and then try to do some crystal healing.
I am trying to find a friend in the witchcraft community.
Your help/advice would be gratefully appreciated.

Thank you

– Danette

So suicide is a pretty big deal for me. Parents tend to screw up dealing with their children having crises. My response:

Okay, here is a novel idea: ACTUALLY TALK TO YOUR KID.

She’s feeling trapped and NEEDS someone to talk to. Not to be bound, listened to. NOT yelled at, listened to.

Did you try listening to your daughter? Or better yet, making it so, so that she knows she can tell you honestly what is bothering her? You don’t need magick, you need ears.

I’ll go more in depth on Ask Black Witch at the end of the month.

Thing is, I understand the point of wanting to do a binding spell as she tries to figure out what is with her daughter but it sounded like at this point, she was missing the basics. A lot of parents tend to go for the “lecture till done talking” route, which doesn’t fix anything.

I have done everything under the sun. I have talk to her .. Her dad talk to her… This has been going for two years now.. Psychiatrist .. Therapist .. Consolers… Family therapy has not helped.. She said in she doesn’t know why she feels lost… Honesty I am at the end of my rope.. I just don’t know what to do any more… She and I are close but she still can’t figure out why she feels this way… She starting cutting 2 years ago…   I would not have sent this if i did not try trying every thing possible.. I am not an authoring kind of person. She is lost and I have tried to lead her home… But she doesn’t want to come… So I am looking for something spiritual to help her because drugs and doctors and we as parents are running out of options… I love my baby girl and would give her the world if she just would open her heart and eyes to see it sitting right in front of her… 

– Danette

Now, it’s nice that the parent has tried to be proactive in trying to fix her daughter’s problems, even if it seems that nothing is working. Here, I can somewhat see the use in a binding spell but also I wonder how comfortable the daughter feels with talking out her problems to her parents and psychologist, which can be a hard match (we still have an outdated mental health system here in the United States. Look at all the mass shootings we have (and treat like normal)). However, the daughter needs waaaaaay more than a binding spell. It is entirely possible she is not opening up because either she herself is still confused by her feelings or worse, she feel like her parents and psychologist (all authority figures and one of them has to report to other by law if they, the doc, feels there are major issues) are not going to understand or simply make her feel worse. For example, I have seen people with highly homophobic parents say the same “My child can talk to me about anything” line when the reality is, here’s what better not be brought up: the child’s homosexuality. Ever. But even they claim to love their kids, even though they’re usually the source of why many queer kids are homeless or living in abusive households. You have to make sure your daughter can actually trust you, the psychologist, whoever she is talking to, and that trust is not really that common, judging from the letters I get both here and on Tumblr. Not very common at all.

I know when I had (don’t know why I’m talking in the past tense, I still got them) problems, my parents are the last people I would have talked to because of the worry of being fussed at for my problems and when it comes to mental issues, they are hard to fix. The daughter could be hesitant for a number of reasons. And, remember, she’s a teenager, her emotions are going to be on the fritz. The best you can do is just let her know that she truly can talk to her parents without judgment or worry that you guys will ship her off to a mental hospital or race police (“Black people don’t have depression.”) Ask her what would make her feel better. It could be a myriad of reasons from not wanting to be bullied to her just saying she feels depressed all the time but don’t know why. And make sure her therapist can really connect to her. Otherwise, anything else is pointless. It’s going to take time (I’m sure you know) but the best you can do is to show that you’re honestly there for her.

Hey Black Witch! I’ve been looking into your blog lately and I’m really enjoying it. My question is, I’m thinking about coming out of the broom closet to further my path as I’m going on my second year of being Wiccan and I want to start actively practicing magick and no longer hiding in the closet. I still live at home and am in my final year of high school in an African American household that isn’t too Christian, but they do claim that faith. When would be a good time and how?

 – Angelique

The best thing I would recommend is know your audience and gauge that audience. If it seems they’re not really that open to being tolerant of other faiths, you have the option of continuing to hold off until you move out or to have a long talk with them about how this is your faith and that you’re serious about it. Granted, remember that if the risk of being thrown out or anything dangerous like that is likely to occur (oddly enough, despite all the nice-sounding talk Christian parents say about themselves, teen homeless shelters and statics tend to prove opposite. Very opposite.) then try to get a job (refer to the Black Witch The Arts!: Employment guide) so you can plan to leave. Remember, this is if the home is likely to get hostile because a non-Christian faith appeared.

If they seem okay with other faiths (not as common but these unicorn parents do exist), not treat it as if you’re going through a phase or that you’re going to be some evil person that is now in cahoots with Satan (make sure you remind them that Wicca has nothing to do with Satan or other Christian concepts of good vs. evil. You’ll be doing this multiple times) then you’re just going to have to work with them a lot to make sure they fully understand that there’s nothing wrong with you and that this is a regular faith like any other.

How to break it to them is to just be very mature and state that you’re Wiccan. Don’t phrase it like you’ve gotten a disease and only have two weeks to live, just pick a time when tensions are not running high (this means “avoid holidays”) and tell your parents that you’re Wiccan and that you don’t have anything against the Christian faith but you needed to find a faith you better gelled with and believe in. If they’re good parents, they’ll be apprehensive because they’re parents but not take it as a diss on their faith. It’s going to take a while for them to warm up to Wicca because they most likely have never heard of it. And it started in 1957. Just work with them if they choose to work with you.

As Black parents living in America, if the worse thing to happen to them is their kid join a nature based religion, they need to high five each other, high five President Obama, do the swerve and the cabbage patch because here’s a short list of what they ducked:

– kid is not a gang member
– kid is not on any drugs (ya better not be)
– kid is not on the pipeline from the schoolhouse to the jailhouse
– kid is not slingin’ drugs (ya better not be)
– kid is not pregnant
– kid is not bringing home abusive and terrible guys (bonus points: is not showing desire to marry or have kids with terrible guy)
– kid is not murdered by police or performed a “houdini suicide” while detained by police
– kid is not murdered by gang member or have a “suspicious” death by gang violence

Basically, they have performed Achievement Unlocked: Black Parenting: You Didn’t F*ck Up/Kid Isn’t Dead