Now, usually March is when I have guest writers and suches happening, because I like to break the monotony once in a while but ehhhhh, with what has happened recently, it simply can’t happen this year. Sorry!

Being Pagan, it is important to note that you don’t have to be a social know-it-all. Since starting Black Witch, I have noticed that I don’t really know the who’s-who of popular Western Pagan culture. Sometimes, it would surprise people that I didn’t know so-and-so and such-and-such. It didn’t really irk me, but surprised me instead. All I really knew were my books and my info on cultures, religions and other beliefs.

I think this was a good thing because I have avoided a lot of unnecessary drama that pops up in the Pagan community. Very much a good thing. It’s a good thing because I get annoyed very easily and when I’m annoyed I’m very irritated and I just want to bow out of the socializing. Just participating in the non-alternative Black community on Tumblr has already shown me this. From what I understand, the Pagan tag on Tumblr is full of people who want to culturally appropriate, people who don’t understand Paganism but just want attention, that the tag is just a playground for people to act as stupid as they want. Although I try not to be, I feel that I’m a very serious person, especially when it’s in regards to faith and religion so to have people abuse the tag, to have people run amok with racist nonsense tends to irritate me and make me not want to socialize with other Pagans. And if I interacted with this type of nonsense earlier when I was younger, I probably wouldn’t have learned at all or gotten as far as I did in knowing about Paganism because I would have been convinced that it was a “Whites Only” kind of religion, which is one of Paganism’s major problem in the PR department.

Now, I know some are going to think, “Well if they can’t get past that, then this is not for them. Anybody who truly wanted to learn and participate with the religion would do so, no matter the obstacle. We all have a hard time somewhere.” Thing is, that ignores most defiantly that some need a safe space to learn about themselves and the faith. And that the safe space has to be safe for them, not simply for White Pagans. Basically, the safe space has to actually be safe. To be barraged with Whiteness and the othering it can cause, that brings an additional and unique stress that a Black Pagan has to unfairly encounter because it brings about a sense of being constantly embattled. That you can’t, metaphorically, really get any sleep anywhere, not even where you’re searching for a peace of mind.

And for Black Pagans, it is particularly difficult because they also have to encounter anti-Blackness, which other minority Pagans will express. Never fun having to explain to people about how they’re lightening up African deities – or just making them White – just to be argued with about how they were somehow always White or light and how to challenge this is somehow offensive to the person doing the White-washing. And how pointing out that African deities shouldn’t be lighter than plywood is somehow a display of being racist, not the actual act of lightening itself.

This is just one example of a massive slew. Pervasive racism makes learning effectively very tricky. It can be a myriad of ways, from the “I can’t be racist – I’m voting for Bernie Sanders!” White liberal thinking to the “Trump is right! It’s not racist to tell the truth! It’s called ‘being honest’!” White conservative thinking. There’s a myriad of ways prejudice can seep up, like bedbugs.

Granted, I’m more the solitary type but I know other Black Pagans who really would like some camaraderie, to be able to fellowship with other Black Pagans the same way a good chunk of them probably did before when they were Christian. I can totally see why: it’s nice to belong, to be in a group that reflects you and have your best interests at heart, that can support you and build community with, so on and so forth.

Most, if not nearly all Pagan communities lack this type of support for Black Pagans, as well as other minority Pagans. They’re all so pervasively White-centered, even when not based on Euro-centric deities, that it’s near difficult to feel comfortable in those communities because of the multitudes of micro-aggressions that will eventually stack up on each other, driving whatever diversity that visits very far away.

Even without cemented cultural ideologies of prejudice, making and keeping a group going is very hard work. There’s amassing a space, amassing people, amassing time, etc etc etc. It’s herding cats…with a very loose fishnet bag. But it’s not necessary for practice. Strongly desired for very justifiable reasons but not just mandatory.

If anything, I would recommend a newbie to kind of stick to the books and readings first before super seeking out people. The reason being is because, while you do want to find people to connect with and that is indeed important, the most important thing is figuring out where you stand when it comes to Paganism, metaphysics and magick. If you’re not careful, you’re going to invite some very predatory people into your life. Or pick up some really wayward beliefs that will be pitched as Paganism but isn’t at all like the faith. It’s ok to chat and find some nifty Tumblr but Paganism as a religious and spiritual practice, can only be done alone. It’s best to build a foundation first and go from there.

And don’t worry if you don’t know any big names in Paganism, they’re not that important. They’re not deities, just people with a lot of visibility.