Category: AfroPunk/The Establishment


The Establishment (Afro-Punk) Version

NB: I will be short on time to do the Ask Black Witch for this month due to the Afro-Punk Festival so if you have a question to submit, please send it now! Check the About Me/Contact Me page to learn how.

What’s a fairly common question I get when doing divination? Death. “Am I gonna die?”, “When am I gonna die?”, “Can you see when my death is?” Seriously wanna make you speed up the process while doing Darwinism a favor.

First and foremost: Yes, you’re going to die. Everyone is. It’s a terrible fact of life that is not easy to come to grips with but everyone you know and love, including yourself, is going to kick the bucket hardcore one day. It’s not a fun fact but a true fact. Unless someone’s got some immortality secret, everyone is bound to meet their Maker one day. The main question is whether it will be sooner or later.

I don’t do death divinations in that, no I don’t care to predict when or how you are going to die and frankly, I couldn’t care less. I know it’s a common thing in movies and television for some normal individual get a palm reading and the fortune teller says with a knitted brow that their end is very near, possibly at the hands of some very misfortunate events or a psycho-killer. Or maybe the normal person will get their tarot cards read and dun dun duuuuun – the Death card shows up.  Then the victim dies or escapes death or helps someone mistakenly die or escape death somewhere down the line in the script. Cut and scene.

What’s up with all this dying nonsense? Diviners aren’t death clocks. Unless reeeeaaaaaallllly close and possibly related to something very imminent such as health taking a turn for the worse or something like that, death isn’t that easy to spot and certainly something diviners shouldn’t be looking for. Besides, divination isn’t even that scary, not even the Death card.

Revelations Tarot

Let’s talk about the Death card, one of the most popular divination depictions in entertainment, especially when a plot twist or foreshadowing is needed to keep the story (and viewer’s attention) going. It’s card number 13 (XIII) in the major arcana in your average, run-of-the-mill tarot deck. Usually defined with a symbol of death almost regardless the deck so it could be a scythe, the grim reaper, a skeleton, etc. It’s always refers to death somehow. In the deck I use, The Revelations Tarot, the death card is symbolized by the Hindu death goddess Kali dancing while balanced on a scythe and a skull lingering in the background. Now, I’ve had this card show up in my readings for myself tons of times and haven’t freaked out once over it. It’s just the death card symbolizes more often than not a symbolic death instead of a physical death. It’s the end of something, a job, a relationship, education, etc etc. It could be downsizing at work, a break up or a graduation, something that’s going to bring the current or future situation to a stop. Nothing vicious there, everything has to end someday, especially for something new to come along. The Death card is more about transformation than someone simply croaking. The only way I would ever concern myself with the Death card and actual death is if the Three of Swords were right beside it because that’s usually symbolized with a heart that has three swords in it and that’s a little piece of lore that I was taught. Even then I wouldn’t say, “Zomgz! You’re gonna die! …Can I have your watch and tv?” but more along the lines of, “I think there might be a health warning in this spread, have you seen your doctor lately?”

If it’s not tarot, it’s palmistry I get the “Am I gonna die?” questions. I seriously don’t know why but I’m a-guessin’ it’s got something to do with stuff that’s either on the big screen or small screen. That and lore which floats around and tells you that you can be told of your death on the palm of your hand. Either that or people who probably have no lives that are desperately trying to come off as funny or cool but succeed only as coming off annoying and stupid sounding.

It is possible to find out when you’re going to croak through palmistry because unlike tarot, it’s a more expansive form of divination that looks at more the forest than the trees. If you can work the timing on your hands very well (a pretty tricky talent to hone), it is possible to learn of your death but I doubt those who are suicidal or have abrupt deaths all have short life lines on their palms, there’s more that goes into situations like that which would spell it out. Things such as proneness to bouts of depression and a complex that makes a person refuse help or deny acknowledgement of the notion that they need help in the first place (can lend itself to suicide), to have a run of bad luck or terrible coincidences, etc etc etc (could lend itself to accident).  Palmistry uses timing using either two things, the mercury mound under the pinkie finger, the venus mound resting as the padding of the thumb which measures the life line. However, I just about never do death timings because as I have stated before, I have no interest in them. Besides, you’re going to find out one day.

Even with the availability of being able to discover timing of death, it’s not all a sure thing. Just about nothing in divination is written in stone and hence has the potential to be avoided. Keep a healthy diet, exercise, stop smoking, etc etc, things of that nature which naturally extends life. Granted, there are some things that just can’t be stopped in life for some reason or another. Sometimes, something is bound to happen one way or another but hey, that’s life. Either way, yes, you’re going to die. Everyone you know is going to die. People come and go on this earth always, you and those that you know are no different.

It’s just a matter of when, where and why and that, you’re going to have to find out on your own.

Next Week on The Arts!: Short Films!!!!!!!!!!!

– Sijia Luo
– Vancouver Film School
– Wong Fu Productions

The Establishment (Afro-Punk) Version

Lord, I saw this on my twitterfeed a few weeks back, someone had a dream about Janelle Monae and they thought it was yet another one of their “layered, complex, and seemingly random” dreams (I seriously quoted that, copy and paste, no edit). Monae was a Marvel comic-styled superhero. Not something mega far-fetched, mate.

Y’see, I don’t mean to single this one person out but he resembles a people that I all too commonly come across as a dream interpreter, the my-dreams-are-soooooooooooo-deep-Freud-would-have-to-name-a-new-theory-after-me-just-to-only-partly-understand-it type. Or in other words, the “speshul snowflaek” type.

Ah, special snowflakes, they think they’re so unique. The term stems from the childhood chatter from adults that everyone is as unique and special as a snowflake because no two flakes are alike (although I am pretty determined to prove that wrong, I have been known to staaaare at snowflakes for hours on my black gloves, mentally cataloguing whatever I see until I get a match. No luck yet.) and hence are comparable to people, who have “unique” experiences and lives. Now, I’m all for making people feel special and happy. The problem is, is that this creates a sense of over-inflated self-esteem for those doing absolutely nothing but existing, hence the term “speshul snowflaek”, which is written in such a fashion that reflects the moronic qualities these people generally hold about themselves. Nothing is wrong with being unique but not when it’s for something not very unique. For example, this blog is unique in subject matter (albeit that is starting to dwindle in itself expectedly because other Black Pagan blogs are coming about) but not in the fact that it is a blog. There are millions of blogs on the ‘net. A special snowflake is a person who makes something so common or trivial seems grandiose, kinda like wanting applause for getting open a difficult jar of pickles. They are an annoyance to dream interpreters everywhere.

The mind is a very intricate place, granted. It is woven together from genes, experiences and personal revelations or lack thereof. If the mind were a simple box to tinker in, psychology would not be the expansive and perplexing field that it is today and mental problems would very rarely, if ever, reach to the point of debilitating without the aid of any pill or expensive session with a therapist. Mental institutions would be unheard of and most movies that talk about insanity would look like the very pieces of utter nonsense that most of them actually are. Dreams are the free (if you don’t count lucid dreaming) expressions of that mind and has its many symbols and deeper web of meanings so yes it’s going to be pretty baffling at first, uneducated glance. The reality is though, thanks to many centuries dedicated to understanding the mind inside and out, the mind is still a perplexing state but not nearly as much as it was 200+ years ago. Dreams are indeed layered and complex and seemingly random but seriously, you just described practically everyone, excluding those who may have a strong case of alexithymia, a disorder which gives those affected logical, rational dreams (as in a dream about a bowl of cereal is just a dream about a bowl of cereal) due to lack of imagination. I can tell you with honesty and experience from doing dream interpretations for others: no one has the weirdest or quirkiest dreams to rule them all. All dreams can be off the wall in their own respects, there is nary a dream that stands out to me with any “whoa” factor and I’ve handled hundreds. Not. One.

But still that does not stop a horde of people who claim so hard that they are indeed that speshul snowflaek, that one person with a mind so deep and amazing that they are indeed an enigma. An enigma like none other. That all who experience the intricate labyrinth that is their mind, they will marvel in response at the amazement of what their expansive brain can drum up during their mortal slumber…even if it is Janelle Monae in a cape drawn Marvel comics style – which I think can be spotted online somewhere, check fyeahjanellemonae tumblrs first.

There’s nothing wrong with taking fascination into dreams and the mind, I wouldn’t be doing any of this stuff otherwise, but please don’t think that you’re the uniquest of them all to walk the earth. If you have been raised in a culture that is acknowledged by someone in the psych field or psych-savvy over the course of history, I can probably explain away your dream with the help of a good dream dictionary and some background in both psychology and sociology. The mind is a puzzle but every puzzle, no matter how unsolvable, has pieces to them. Even if they don’t fit together perfectly or something is missing, they have something to put it all together with. That’s minds and dreams for you.

Got crazy dreams? So do I. So does Janelle Monae.  So does your best friend. Obama too. We all sleep. We all dream. We all have dreams that make us sit up and go, “Wait, what?” They’re going to vary among us because of who we are and our backgrounds and some of the symbols are going to be personal to us because they affect us differently. Think about it: if Obama, Monae and I dream about the White House, a concert stage or a forest we’re gonna say something different each because of our separate statures in life – but they can be explained somehow or related to something. It just depends on how far one’s mind can reach to understand the links.

Don’t be a speshul snowflaek. Just be you. You dream. They’re weird. It happens. You’re a person with a functional mind so definitely feel free to mention your dreams and write them down and stuff because it’s very helpful in you getting a better understanding of yourself. But please, know that you’re not the only one who dreams of their favorite vocalist as a superhero. It happens all the time, trust me.

The Establishment (Afro-Punk) Version

Bus preachers. I don’t know if they exist anywhere else but they’re a staple in the Black community. They’re Christians who either are pastors doing unnecessary overtime or wannabe pastors preaching what is not entirely their flock. They believe everyone should hear the word of God – regardless whether everyone wants or needs to or not.

They bleat to their captive audience the glory of the Lord and His Father and how good They are to the preacher and how all should rejoice and be gladeth in it for this is the day that the Lord has made. All who refuse the notion is an outright sinner that will verily soon feel the dark persecution of the Lord for unknowingly siding with the Devil and his wicked ways. Everyone else should get right with their life too because Judgment Day is comin’. It’s comin’ and there won’t be no foolin’ God so be faithful to the Lord, be gladeth in His creations – or suffer.

God, how annoying.

I’ve got nothing against the Christian God, really, but some members of his fan club ought to go on mute when it comes to preaching in public places. It’s rude, myopic and frankly, very annoying. They’re not blind to the idea that not everybody is Christian but totally deaf to the notion that Christianity is not for everyone so all that preaching could be going down a sink. It is not fair to me, the Pagan, that I have to hear you preach simply because the Lord compels you but if the tables were turned, it would be problematic and praising the Devil somehow.

I don’t mind discussion of religion, I think that’s fantastic or I wouldn’t go through the trouble of having a comment section, a fan page, twitter, email or P.O. Box otherwise. But discussion is very, very different from preaching. Preaching is not discussion, it is very one-sided and the only time the preacher allows talking is for the call and response and the response isn’t a free response, but something you’re supposed to say. Preaching is great in church (given the subject stays on God, Christ or the Bible) because all the listeners are supposed to be there and attentive, just not on a bus filled with diverse beliefs where the people who don’t believe the same don’t need to hear all that preaching.

Some may think it isn’t right but I usually challenge bus preachers (street preachers don’t bother me as the audience isn’t captive, just walk away). Hey, they felt like spoiling my ride and my quiet, surely they should expect some repercussion somehow, some way, some day. It’s fun to debate sometimes and since just about all arguments I have heard before, it makes for nice entertainment. See, I was raised Christian, these Christians can’t go super far being challenged before they trip up somewhere and start backpedaling – and that’s usually where the fun begins. I’ve learned that bus preachers are pretty ignorant about any religion (and even other denominations) that aren’t theirs and actual political religious history, hence mad easy to trip up.

I am very aware that it is a must for Christians to spread the word of God but there are ways to go about it that doesn’t have to come straight out of the “Unbelievably Annoying” category. Paganism doesn’t have (nor I think condones) proselytizing but in my experience of dealing with Christian friends, readers and people, what works best is to not blast it out and force it down people’s throats. Express it through living, that goes a lot farther because that person is just doing them, nothing to get mad or annoyed at and everything to admire. Not only that but it doesn’t kill them that they’re willing to understand beliefs that aren’t their own. See, then you, the Christian, may feel free to talk about your faith because I don’t feel harped at about mine.

As said before, Pagans don’t preach or proselytize – it’s part of the religion not to yammer broadly in the ears of those who don’t want to hear it – but I have heard of Pagans who have participated in doing this, just to the lower degree of waiting to be provoked instead of standing up and ruining everyone’s commute. Pagan fundamentalists, they’re called. They’re fewer in number than the Christian variety but look and act the same, just with 14% more crazy and 32% more self-embarrassment. I’ve never met one (or it would be up here on Black Witch toute suite) but from what I heard, “wack” isn’t word enough for these people. It’s something beyond “trifling” and somewhere in the neighborhood of, “Lol, wut?” Granted if I did meet one, I’m afraid I would – excuse my momentary vulgarity – have to dick with them just because. They spew outright nonsense as super pseudo-environmentalists, probably couldn’t tell you a single country the equator passes through and their minds got way too hyped from Live Earth. They don’t understand the nature part of Paganism (which is 99% of the foundation of the religion) and honestly, they could afford a piping hot cup of Shut The Hell Up.

My main thing? Don’t shove your religion down other people’s throats. Just live, leave me alone and followers will come if they feel it in their hearts. Have a nice trip.

On a lighter note, tommorow is two things: The Black Weblog Awards live ceremony (which, sadly I won’t be physically there for) which will be broadcasted at the Black Weblog Awards site and the pre-orders for this blog’s very first book Black Witch: Life from the Black Pagan Perspective, vol. 1 starts. The book will drop on Sept. 9th through Lulu publishing so if you want to pre-order, go to the Black Witch Shoppe page for info.

The Establishment (Afro-Punk) Version

I made these when I was the president of my university’s Pagan Student Union. This mini guide is basically for those who want to seek out a psychic parlor to get a reading and not want to be jipped. Now while I do personally suggest people simply learning divination on their own since it’s a lot cheaper and not that difficult, some folks would like to still go to a diviner for guidance. Here are the tips:

Faker faker #1: Conduct of diviner
Does the diviner act like a normal person or a car salesman desperate to make a deal? Some cons will bear down on you like a hawk or even try to give you some info about yourself that you probably already knew or that you gave away. For example, she may note that you’re a traveler or a big spender. You may think that’s novel but you could be using a very fancy and expensive phone or letting off that you like to be adventurous.  A diviner is a normal person, just like you, and should act so. If they act the least bit odd, walk out.

Faker faker #2: You seem to have to keep paying for more information
You originally walked in for a mini tarot reading for $5 and now you got yourself a full tarot reading with a special palm love reading, astrology job reading, a special good luck kit and what the weather is going to look like in the next month before you head to Sri Lanka, though you have no travel plans whatsoever. Total: $350 and counting. A diviner shouldn’t be pressuring you to pay for more than what you want. Sometimes you just have to be assertive and tell them that you just want the reading you asked for and that’s it but they will try to lure you with cliffhangers (“Oh! But I see this mysterious someone that could be coming into your life. S/he may be the one maybe, I could look further with a palm reading—but that’s aside the point…”) but don’t take them. It’s just more sensationalism to get you out your money. A good diviner usually does a reading without side commentary. All divination is, honestly, is to give sound advice. Nothing outrageous, just normal advice.

Faker faker #3: Gotta give up something “Cursed”
Somebody you love or you are gonna die! Quick! Fork over that heirloom diamond ring your mother passed down to you — It’s cursed! Seems like the more pricier it is, the more cursed it is. Capitalism sure can be a downer sometimes. However, be rest assured that most likely the stuff you own doesn’t have a hateful spirit or something bound to it. If the diviner is trying to give you a serious scare story for something in particular, chances are it’s expensive and can be pawned for a lot of money. I think you should call the cops on this one, this is racketeering.

Faker faker #4: Tricked into casting a spell/you’re “cursed”
Your ancestors somehow slapped Abe Lincoln and stomped on a dodo, now you’re paying the price as their kin. To correct the past, you have to buy $400 leather shoes from Nordstrom (can’t be from anywhere else), spit in them at 4 AM for a week and bathe in lye for a month. If what they ask you to do sounds against your religious beliefs, downright insane, illegal or something you would laugh at someone else for doing, you shouldn’t do it either. They’re pumping money out of you somehow and screwing you over in the process. The truth: Most people aren’t cursed, just a run of bad luck. People don’t really jinx each other that much. If the diviner says you’re cursed and want you to do unethical and pricy stuff to nix it, you’re probably not. Proceed with running and calling cops.

I’m not sure if many, if any, saw the old website or even read that part (it was all super glitchy) so I figured why not put it up here where it can be seen more? I wrote this after teaching Divination 101 classes for PSU after talking about it as a whole and noticing a lot of people have no exact clue how not to get hoodwinked.

In addition, I had on the “Truths and Myths about Pagans” page a small FAQ about diviners:

Firstly, I personally can see how divination can be turned into a cash cow. All you need is something people can’t entirely explain but believe works, desperate folks in need of guidance and those same people to have nice amounts of money (gullibility works fine too) and then you have religion—I mean a cash cow. 

There are cons in pretty much any field. Quack doctors, lawyers, priests, scientists—you name it, someone did it. Divination is no different and there’s plenty about. Cons, like Ms. Cleo, usually prey on people who they believe are in so much distraught they don’t think sensibly about the advice they’re given or money they’re about to fork over. Often a con uses what they see, what you say and fear tactics (“oh, so and so is going to die if you don’t…”) to get your cash.

So there you have it, a mini-guide on how to get your divination done and not to have your pockets done in. I still recommend my readers to learn divination themselves but if you don’t want to at least now there is a guide that can tell you what to look for and what not to go for. I’ve never gotten a reading in a psychic parlour before – I’ve been in them but mainly to mess with the pseudo-diviners for kicks. But many I know have and it’s unbelievable – and downright funny for some of them – how they got the wool put over their eyes and so soundly at that. Still got questions? Just throw them in the comments or email me or fill out an Ask Black Witch form or any other way to talk to me. As always, I answer them all.

The Establishment (Afro-Punk) Version

It’s the first Ask Black Witch of the second year of Black Witch. How delightful! I’m also happy because no more grinding for votes and donations to send me to L.A. for the Black Weblog Awards. No, sadly I didn’t make the goal of $500, close but not good enough. I’m currently in talks with BWA and Afro-Punk about all this to see what still can be done. Yes, I really would like to go but circumstances are circumstances.

But note: Soon I’ll probably be grinding for votes for the Black Web Awards (different from the Black Weblogs Awards). Geez, I feel like I’m running for president.

Why is divination so bad?
– Unknown

Now, I’ve never used something in the Top Searches of my website as an Ask Black Witch question but I felt this was appropriate because a lot of people still think this, that divination is evil and a contract with the devil or something crazy like that.

To break down the word “Divination”, the root word is “Divine” which, if you don’t have a dictionary around, is in reference to deity or of heavenly nature. Basically, it’s a positive word. Divination is just working with the deities or tapping into the collective unconscious of the universe, as some like to describe it, to draw the best case scenario of the upcoming future based on the present and past, including all things that are seen and unseen, known and unknown (to the inquirer). No use of devils or demons needed or wanted, even prayers aren’t necessary. If it were of demonic nature, it would not be called divination and the root word would definitely be something that refers to “bad; not good; why are you doing this?” There’s no summoning of the spirits or anything like that, just plain old you and the universe and whatever it knows.

Now, if divination isn’t that scary, why does it get such a bad rap? Rumor mills during the Christian expansion throughout Europe and the world. Christianity (and Islam and I’m not so sure about Judaism but I’m going to err on them agreeing too) doesn’t really like divination because technically, you’re not supposed to know your future (since all your faith is supposed to be in God so there’s no need to figure out what’s gonna happen next so long He is there beside you) and that diviners and anyone else who can predict the future and do mystical and interesting stuff simply had to make a deal with the Devil to be able to do the exact same thing a prophet can – I always found that a bit uncanny – and was not a true lover/fearer of God and His might. Spread that around for a few centuries and boom, you’ve got yourself a pariah within a community. Granted divination comes from the divine, it is considered a very Pagan and “backwater” tactic to communicate with the Gods and Goddesses of old, not something the Church wanted to see or hear.

Is divination bad? No. I think it’s good to be able to see a couple steps ahead but I do recommend that if your religion doesn’t feel the same way that I do, for the love of all that is cute and sparkly, don’t ask for a reading! Nothing irks me more than some faithful person prattling out a soliloquy that’s “supposed” to be directed at me because they’re uncomfortable breaking the obvious rules in their religion. It’s super annoying.  

Now this question is fairly paraphrased for conciseness, posed by Afro-Punk and Black Pagans group member Nandi. Her question is this basically:

How do you deal with parental units who do not agree with your path in Paganism/Wicca? My dad says I will regret it.

Ah, the parental units not agreeing with your faith. A very stressful task indeed. You can’t really make people see things the way you do, no matter how much you want to try to convince them. Especially when it comes to faith, it’s a tougher climb uphill because religion is what people solidify their lives, beliefs and foundations on, especially when you’re part of one of the Abrahamic religion (Christianity, Judaism, Islam). Nandi is from a Muslim family but the issues that she brings up I have heard pretty often, especially from Monolithic religions which often tout the “Only one true path” ideal and the one truth path they believe is the right one is usually theirs.

My suggestion depends on whether you live at home or not. Since the kitty’s already out of the bag, the only thing you can keep doing is keep doing you and showing your parent you’re not at all interested in killin’ rabbits and hamsters for Satan and you’re not going to become some crazy cutter or an evil child. If they have questions, answer them honestly and make sure they respect you for you and your faith. So long you aren’t doing anything reprehensible or wicked, you can make your point for the most part and hope for the best. Remember, don’t throw anything in the parent’s face, just be moderate about it all.

That’s Ask Black Witch for this month! Thank you everyone for dealing with the hectic-ness of the BWA voting and donating, it was very much an experience. Live ceremony on July 9th!

The Establishment (Afro-Punk) Version

Don’t Forget! There is only one week left to donate and vote Black Witch for the Black Weblog Awards! More information at the bottom. Also, take a look at the comment section, you can use your twitter or facebook account to comment and all the share buttons are visible at the bottom of each and every post!

Yep, yesterday was June 9th, the very first day that Black Witch had gotten started. So that means this blog/column has only just turned a year old. Oh, how exciting!

I know some readers are expecting the pre-orders for the conglomeration book Black Witch: Life from the Black Pagan Perspective today but there isn’t even a mock-up of the cover so that wouldn’t have fared well. The reason for the delay, to put lightly, is that I’ve had a bumpy May and April so there wasn’t any time to really work on the project. However, I’m only pushing it a month down onto July 9th because I feel that would hopefully give me time to get myself and the project together into a satisfactory state. Otherwise I shall be emo beyond compare.

Now, this is a very wonderful thing I do suppose. I didn’t even think I would have kept up with this blog and especially not as well as I did. I am very much the procrastinating and lazy type, if it seems like Black Witch ran nearly like clockwork, it’s because I am awesome at scheduling and remembering stuff and having a schedule worth caring about. Out of 60+ posts, I have only been late perhaps only 3 or 4 times. And this is with me temporarily losing a laptop cord, traveling overnight from cities, being terribly lazy or even swept up in a game – I have recently been playing American McGee’s Alice and can’t wait to get Alice: Madness Returns – that I have basically been on time, nearly every time for a whole year. That’s a feat for me, generally I get burnt out or go “Meh, who cares?” and find something new to bother with.

I like stats. Stats tell me how I’m doing. Well, on the WordPress side, I don’t know what my stats on Afro-Punk are and I haven’t pestered enough to learn. So here are some numbers:

Since the start of this column/blog:

WordPress views:5,120
Black Witch Fan Page likes:120
Twitter: 69 followers
Posts: 61 (I’m biweekly on Afro-Punk so it’s lower there)
Subscribers: 13

Pretty nifty for a first year, yeah? I’ve had my first interview regarding the column/blog and did fun stuff. Some of the cool things that happened:

Going to NYC lots – Since the last Afro-Punk Festival, I think I’ve been to NYC about a dozen or more times from basically one meager (and blistering cold) time back in 2008. I have been in Webster Hall watching DJ cut and scratch with vinyl while ducking an Afro-Punk Christmas Party for three hours (I should mention that I get into particular moods when around crowds and have penchant to disappear for hours at a time. If you have a crowd, chances are good I found a way to hide from it), gone to Tokyo Rebel to stare at pretty Lolita clothes, visited Chinatown tons (I’m glad I can speak Mandarin, albeit rusty) and found fun stuff without really setting foot in Times Square. Oh, the people from Haru Hana, the Korean restaurant I love so very very much with their okonomiyaki (it’s a J-Pub) now recognize me, my order and my weird manner of dress. I have also seen headphones decked out with gold chains. I should have followed that person till I got something out of it.

Notable readers – Now, I’m glad that Kellindo and Nastassia reads my column whenever they can (aren’t they nice?) and it great knowing I have readers in Wondaland Arts Society, Janelle Monae’s people but to have Lupe Fiasco tell me himself he was a reader, I was stunned. That was an interesting – and mildly disgusting – night. It was disgusting because right before I met (*koff*randown*koff*) Lupe Fiasco, I, within an hour, stepped on a dead rat and nearly walked into a bed bug laden mattress that was just laying on the freaking sidewalk. I’m surprised my OCD did not make me go into catatonic shock and I was still mildly coherent when I finally got to Lupe. Alors, ask me about it should you see me at the Afro-Punk Festival and I’ll retell it griot-style. For Lupe to know who I am via my column and even read my feature on his rock side project, Japanese Cartoon, on Afro-Punk, I was ever shocked – and still conducting myself pretty well for someone with rat guts on their pants and shoes and hoping Fiasco don’t notice. Because this is a super entertaining story in person and not in text, I’ll cut it short – I totally fan-girled after I had given Lupe my business card (he asked for it!) and he was wisked away by his management. I still get fan-girly about it and it happened back in February. Also who knows who else been reading? (I’ll be finding out at the Afro-Punk Festival, I’m sure).

Backstage! – One awesome thing about writing for Afro-Punk is the backstage ability. Because I’m around music, concerts and the industry a lot, I am used to getting backstage somehow but being there because you’re part of the contributing staff and such is awesome. Admittedly, I didn’t like being backstage at the Afro-Punk Christmas festival because some things I simply do not tolerate and I’ll disappear over but I do hope that the Afro-Punk Festival will be different. Especially with Janelle Monae and Cee-lo Green being there. I’ll be fan-girling, you bet. Either that or follow Kellindo around like a lost puppy because he’ll be one of the few who I already know personally and that’s the alternative to my disappearing act; I either follow someone familiar and talk their ear off or I stay to myself for hours at a time.

Reputability – My words carry validity! And perhaps a gentle breeze of sway but fear not, I have no minions (yet) and I don’t have enough power to single-handedly create change (yet – maybe). Either it’s luck, my writing is very good or people are scared I’ll jinx them but I’ve not gotten a single nasty letter yet. I’ve probably only gotten one “diss” about my column and I barely even consider it that considering how flat it fell in attempt to be offensive. The person who said it was fairly mental so I’m not too sure what they were going for but now I joke with my friends about how I was called an “illiterate nerd”. I’m sorry but that was just too funny in how oxymoronic that phrase is. Besides that, I’ve had pretty glowing reviews about my blog/column. I like that people ask me questions for Ask Black Witch, use the links on my site and basically listen to what I have to say. I don’t want to be a writer that talks out their butt all the time because that’s not helping anyone, especially when I am very aware that I have a lot of teen readers. Plus, I could say all sorts of crazy things and go completely off the wall but how would that separate me from other Pagan and Black bloggers that do the exact same thing. Shock value only goes but so far and with very short millage at that. It would be better to be honest and as factual as possible and have respect than to talk crazy and everyone treat me like a laughing stock.

And then there’s stuff I’ve learned:

If you aren’t punctual, fake it – Ah, the wonders of scheduling posts and writing up a bank of columns to use when you’re too tired/lazy/low on time/emo/don’t really care/out of ideas. That’s where scheduling comes in. Get it done on your own time and slap it up there to been seen two weeks later or one week later or whatever and be done with it. That way I don’t sit there and worry about not having a good column out and to not care about it the next time as well.

E-fame is e-fame, no big deal – It’s nice to have a noteworthy column and such but it’s not all my world. I have a life outside of Black Witch that doesn’t involve sitting in front of my computer (or Android) all day or else I wouldn’t have any life experiences to draw on. There’s a whole ‘nother world, even online that doesn’t involve Black Witch and I’m happy for that. I like people to like my work but offline? I’m just another oddly dressed person probably going down the street either with my headphones on or talking to myself (yep I do that, couldn’t care less). It’s only on the computer am I know as Black Witch on three, maybe four sites (Afro-Punk, BW wordpress, Twitter and part of FB) and I’m Kodachi or Kodachi148 everywhere else. It’s a pretty small sphere to trap myself in so I don’t.

Pedestals are high – I hate pedestals. Granted I like keeping a quasi-professional face when running as Black Witch but for real, I ain’t no different from no one else. I’m just another person with a computer and access to the internet and a blog. Herpa derp derp. It’s odd being looked at like, “Omg, you’re Black Witch and you’re talking to me.” It’s not that much of a social medal, believe me. I like honey mustard on my French fries, I’m the laziest thing you’ll meet, I talk way too much (no, seriously, I do. Ask anyone in Wondaland or any of my other friends, I’m a total motormouth) and I’m quite weird socially. That’s why I like conducting myself under my normal screennames or with my real name because I’m treated not like some super interesting thing or whatever. I’m not a person without problems or flaws, I just don’t flag ‘em much on the column. I talk to readers so not to get put on a pedestal, it’s not that amazing for me to acknowledge someone’s existence.

Talk to readers – I know when I comment on people’s works, part of it is to voice my opinion but also in hope I’ll get a response of some sort back. It would make me wonder if the writer even read my comment or it’s just there to be there. I know how it feels so I try to respond to as many readers as I can because no one likes feeling dejected.

Blogging is more work than I thought – It’s nearly a full time gig. Gotta write posts, make sure they make sense (for the most part) and the spelling isn’t jacked up, have to promote the blog, read readers’ responses, respond to readers’ responses, figure out good topics, what the posting schedule is and more. There’s a lot that goes into blogging that isn’t actually writing the content. I’ve fallen asleep at the laptop several times drilling out columns at 3 or 4 in the morning. I have an app on my phone that allows me to write and edit on the go called Documents To Go which is useful because I don’t always have my idea book with me to scribble in. There’s a lot of work that goes into this stuff to make sure Black Witch runs very well.

It’s hard dealing with people sometimes – When it comes to contacting people for The Arts, it’s a total crapshoot. Oftentimes I don’t get a response back from the features unless they’re fairly small and hence grateful. I feature anyway but it gets annoying sometimes because it feels like if I said I was Rolling Stones Magazine, these people would probably be my best friend right now but because I’m fairly no name, it’s a very different story. A very vexing story. Or maybe the person won’t have easy to find contact information which is like, “Dude, I like your work and I want you to know about it. How can I talk to you?” Ugh. Makes me wanna kick people in the shins sometimes. I also wanna kick people in the shins for calling me Black Wiccan and not Black Witch and saying I’m a Black Wiccan when I’m a Black Pagan. Literacy is not a bad thing, man. Read and then respond otherwise I’ll just sit there and go, “What are you talking about?” I barely say Wiccan in any of my columns, I say Pagan more because I’m Pagan, not Wiccan. I have drawn up a venn-diagram that can perhaps help. (Click for bigger picture)

I have got to make a proper column about this

Now print that out and take a pen or a dry erase marker if you seriously want to write on your screen (why?) and put an X in the “Witch” bubble. That’s where Black Witch is situated. Not in “Wiccan”, not in the join, definitely not in “Fluffy Bunnies” but “Witch”. It’s that simple.  

Getting responses can be tough sometimes – I know Ask Black Witch isn’t a constant on the Afro-Punk side of BW but even when it was sometimes, it would be hard to get questions. I would see that people click on the links I offer (such as the Ask Black Witch submission form) buuuuuuut very few questions. It’s a leeeettle aggravating, especially when people can’t even get my name right (I’m Black Witch, not Black Wiccan) or my religion correct (I’m Pagan, not Wiccan) so I much rather get a question than people thinking they’re probably alright. I understand people don’t want to ask stupid questions but a stupid question is “Do y’all fly on broomsticks and turn into cats?” not, “What’s the difference between a Pagan and a Wiccan and is Voodoo bad?” The question may be a little dimwitted but that’s primarily to me, the person who knows this stuff and will still try to answer because it’s still legit. There’s been a couple months I’ve had without a single question and I would wing them thankfully with something else just as important or a general question. Those are few but they do happen or nearly happen. I sometimes think people are scared to ask me questions because they think I’ll hex ‘em or something if I don’t like it. Nah, I’m just gonna show it to my friends and laugh about it instead. God knows I’ve sent poor Kellindo silly Top search results that people use to find my blog that has his name in them. I’m surprised with some of them he hasn’t developed a phobia of the internet or his fans yet. Long story short, send me questions.

Have a plan – Can’t wait for the world to happen, just gotta go out and do it yourself. It is weird because it means having changes you’re not accustomed to (I actually don’t like introducing myself as Black Witch because that’s not my name but ‘ey, gotta do it anyways. It’s just a weird moment each and every time ‘till I get used to it I guess) and to be a go-getter I suppose. I have to think about stuff such as what’s my stance on features for The Arts, do I acknowledge global tragedies and what will I, won’t I or should I say on my column? It’s not my personal blog so I just can’t go out there and say anything because there’s a theme to stick to. Besides, I have a personal blog already so mental barf is sustained, I just need intellectual mental barf here. That means learning how to multi-manage and multi-task with websites, fan pages, twitters and other stuff to definitely look into. It’s really not easy but possible.

So that’s the anniversary post, I’m very happy Black Witch has gotten this far and been so constant, I hope the next year will be even better.

Next week are the installments The Arts and Ask Black Witch. Here’s who’s being featured for The Arts:

– Flipsyde
– Positive Black Stories
– Jayne Steiger

After that is Ask Black Witch. Send questions! This blog is full of ways to contact me!

Voting and Donating to send Black Witch to L.A. for the Black Weblog Awards
Don’t forget to vote and donate to send Black Witch to the Black Weblog Awards in L.A. on July 9th! Only one week left to vote and donate!

It’s on the donate site but here’s the math broken down with donations:

The goal is now $500 and already $220 has been donated so if:

56 people give $5 -or-
28 people give $10 -or-
14 people give $20

That would be enough to pay off the remainder $280 each and every way with very little effort. The donations cover airfare and stay in L.A. for the first ever live Black Weblog Awards Ceremony! Please give!

And if you have not voted, click on this little nifty badge and it’ll take you straight to the ballot! One vote per computer and smartphone (QR Code underneath).

Use the QR Code to vote for Black Witch in the Faith Category

Thanks for your Support!

The Establishment (Afro-Punk) Version

So, I’m doing some research for an English paper about the African American Wiccan experience. However, the deeper I dive the less I find about the subject (thank Goddess for the African American Wiccan Society). What gives? There must be more information and I know we exist!
 
1. How would you describe your experience as a black Witch?
 
2. What do you think about the almost nonexistent information describing our experiences and giving us advice?

– S.

Oooh, an English paper. I know how you feel about wanting to find extensive information about the Black Pagan experience, there seemed to be a complete drought when I was looking myself when I was starting out. I remember before Black Witch or even the Black Pagan group on Afro Punk, I found myself ultimately frustrated that there seemed to be nothing there for Black Pagans. Plenty for White Pagans but if you wanna talk about Africana stuff and Black culture, it seemed to be an empty place. I have looked endlessly on the web, in books, in stores, wherever you could for Black Pagan groups and it seems they’ve only just started to pop up recently. I believe African American Wiccans has been around for ten years but as a list proc on Yahoo since 2001 but I never happened upon them once until Black Witch came to be and a reader suggested me to them. I would search endlessly for “Black Pagan” on Google with just about nothing worth reading coming out of it. I think the issue is 50/50 in regards to the internet as a whole and the Black cyber culture.

1. My experience as a Black Witch? Well, it’s a pretty fulfilling experience for me. Despite my problems and issues that life likes chucking to any and everyone, I am definitely happier here than I was when I was Christian. I feel a better connection to what it is that I am doing, everything doesn’t seem so pointless and I feel more spiritual, in that I am practicing something I truly feel, not something I was told to do so religion doesn’t feel like a chore. That’s a lot more I’m getting out of it than I would have when I was Christian. When I was Christian, I was totally miserable no matter what I did to solve it. I went to church, got saved (three times), read the Bible, etc etc etc. Wasn’t cutting it for me. I wanted the same kind of faith that I saw my favorite band P.O.D. had: honest, sincere and fulfilling and I wasn’t getting that at all from Christianity. I’m happier as a Witch because Chrisitianity didn’t work out for me but Paganism sure did. Christianity is a nice religion (when not bogged down with stupidity as it commonly is) but not a religion for every soul on this earth.

2. I think there is a well of information but it’s like oil, gotta hit it first and it has to have worth or else it’s just another thing. Since Black Witch, like I said, I’ve been introduced to more Black Pagan groups than anything but that’s in part because readers will tell me “Hey, I’ve been interested in this stuff too, here’s the website I go to/book I read/metaphysical store I visit” but that’s mainly because they know I exist. I attribute the success of my column/blog to the fact there’s no easily accessible trove of information about Black Pagans (I use present tense and not past tense because it’s still hard and we have more of a force now than then) and the fact that this is one of the few very kinda easily accessable sites there are about the Black Pagan Experience on the net. I can promise you that there are more sites about this, spend some time on African American Wiccan society but they’re not really given a voice. There’s a multitude of reasons why:

Too small and exclusive:
When you look around the Important Links on Afr. Am. Wiccan Society, you’ll see lots of little pockets of Black Pagans getting together. That’s great we have so many but it can be a problem too because we have so many. Without the help of sites like AAWS, there would be just about nothing to reel them in (I certainly can’t always do it) and showcase them. Also another issue I noticed is that they don’t provide true glimpses into those communities, either register or leave. I understand wanting to keep the trolls out but everyone else should at least be able to see something that will give anyone that happens upon those sites something to chew on. I think they should have a way for people to lurk without being members, it would probably help.

Poorly advertised:
Black and Pagan with a site? It seems people are just waiting for BET or Black America Web to stroll by and pick them up – which is just about never going to happen without some forceful nudging or a terrible gimmick. Most people who run sites like these aren’t advertising them very well for the average Black Pagan to find them. The term Black Witch still does not return positive results for Black Pagans – actually, before the Afro-Punk group Black Pagans (which I started, yayz!), it was just as bad, no responses or hits for actual Black (as in African-Diaspora) Pagan…just tons for black magick, gimmicky hexes and other stuff that I really didn’t need to see, especially at a young age. Yes, there was the one page on Witchvox a Black Pagan wrote about her experience but no groups and no way to socialize. If someone has a site, they should advertise and well. Submit to Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. Plus sites like Black Witch and African American Wiccan Society, the fairly recognizable sites of the Black Pagan experience it seems, have started within a year ago basically. Thanks to sites like WordPress, Blogger, Twitter, Facebook and other sites, a more vibrant voice of the Black Pagan experience can come through and interconnect us to each other and to the rest of the world. I know the blog Black Pagan has just started up (I’ll feature it but first I need that site to exist for about two months with consistent posting before I slap it up here) and I’m sure there are more that are going on. These developments are pretty recent tho so there are projects and works, time just has to pass first.

Black America Online:
If I say “Black Faith blogs”, the average person is going to think either about Christianity or even Islam. (Wanna change the face of Black belief? Vote for me at Black Weblog Awards in the Faith Category) Black Pagans just get tossed off to the side as the “Voodoo lady” of faith systems. Through the lens of the Black faith, Black Pagans are supposed to not exist (because we’re all Christian![/sarcasm]) and if we do, we’re supposed to be weird, extremely Afro-Centric to the point of being extremist, backwards with our African backwater rituals and killin’ goats in our backyards where we make voodoo dolls to get back our neighbors for having a nice car and rattling a jar of bones just to talk to a tree for the answers to our problems. Basically, a Black Pagan is supposed to be Calypso from Pirates of the Carribbean and most likely really crazy. I have had hard times getting into writing guilds for Black writers and getting new readers sometimes because *gasp*, I’m not Christian and I practice Witchcraft. Zomgz, how am I not catching fire when I set foot in a church? We as Blacks have a looooooooooooooooooong way to go in showcasing all of the African Diaspora and to be truly Black publications instead of being sometimes only secondhand to mainstream (and pretty White) media. Not everyone who has money is a rapper and not every person who has African descent naturally knows how to greet people with a, “Sup son? Gotta be runnin’ papers fa’ real fa’ real, nahmean bwoy? Ya’know howz’be, mahn.” When Black America figures out that hood culture does not mean Black culture (but Black culture is within hood culture and that’s it, not the other way around) and showcases it online and offline, we’ll do better. Till then, Black Pagans just keep putting their names out there till someone picks up. Already having Black Witch on Afro-Punk is a big help (that’s actually where BW got started).

Trapped in the broom closet:
If you’re a Black Pagan, chances are stupidly good you probably know at least two to three scriptures (even if you don’t know where they are in the Bible), a few hymns and a Negro Spiritual passionate enough to pass for a Christian. Black Christianity is pretty strong, don’t doubt that. While it has its benefits such as being the cornerstone and starting place of Black leadership and a lynchpin to the Black community, it can also be a daunting force for anyone who isn’t Christian. Daunting enough to make actual Black Pagans learn a few hymns and fake it so not to get disowned, to keep the peace and not become an insta-pariah in their community. With very few resources and places to feel at ease to express true religious affiliation, most Black Pagans’ faiths are put through a limbo. Because a lot of Black Pagans are scared to talk about their faith openly (I have gotten plenty letters from people who used screenames, pseudonyms and other ways to cover up their identities to talk to me and this is actually why I allow physical mail too), it makes the pool of Black Pagans look smaller. That’s not fair and pretty bigoted if anyone thinks it is. If Black Pagans aren’t talking, nothing is happening. I can see why though, from my own experience pushing Black Witch I’ve been met with some pretty disheartening responses from Blacks who would much rather Black Witch just be another Black Christian blog. I got a backbone and thick skin for that but what about Black Pagans who aren’t so steeled against disdain? Nothing is wrong with being in the broom closet but not always and definitely not forever.

The online Pagan world:
The online Pagan world is mostly White. All, if not most mainstream Pagan magazines are White. Paganism as a whole still carries a White face. Since this is what is depicted as the face of Paganism and the authority of the how’s and what’s of the religion, they get mail from Black Pagans as well and are fairly stumped in answering beyond blanket answers (“go look around on the internet, you’ll find someone”). Since I don’t think those sites necessarily know that Black Pagan sites exist, they can’t really direct their Black Pagan readers around very well. Without well-known thresholds to connect us, we have a harder time finding each other and an easier time feeling like we’re the only one of our kind.

There’s a lot of empty spaces when it comes to info about the Black Pagan experience but with the advent of the internet and all that it comes with, it’s getting easier to make content and to find content. Also – shameless plug – to build a better vantage point for Pagan blogs, vote for mine in the Black Weblog Awards in the Faith category (#6)! More Black Pagan resources are popping up or simply being more visible which is a great thing for future Black Pagans and those curious.

The Establishment (Afro-Punk) Version

Through a particular issue (okay, issues. They just have to come in clusters), I’ve had to do a lot of shuttling back and forth and doing spellwork in the midst of it all (so I can get rid of my issues on a metaphysical level as I handle them on a physical level. I’m Pagan. It’s how we solve our problems. Christians take it to the cross, we take it to the spellbook (generally)). In that and even when I wasn’t shuttling back and forth and causing columns like Absent Black Witch, I never had a dedicated altar for ‘crafting.

I don’t own a wand, a cauldron (though if I had a mini-cauldron, I would only have an urge to burn dried herbs in it and a stronger, insatiable urge to chuck it at somebody. It’s got some weight to it.)  I don’t own a Witch’s pantry, a shelf dedicated to spell work, or anything like that. To be honest, most witches that I know of don’t have the prescribed altar that are spoken of in so many witch books, beginner, intermediate and advanced. To save me a bunch of space explaining what an altar is or looks like, I’ll take a leaf out of vlogger Shazzypbear’s book and show her vid about it to you:

and here’s another vid about altars from another Pagan, TheMorganFire (The altar is about halfway in and based on Lammas, a Pagan holiday)

Yep, altars are diverse and they all may look a little different, depending on the Pagan. I don’t have one because I’m deftly accustomed to living in a household where I had to hide my beliefs from my pretty Christian family. That and not having a lot of money would put a dent in any altar to have so I’m use to DIY’ing it enable to adapt to my environment and situation. Plus it’s mad helpful when I travel because you can’t drag a whole altar around with you and there are just some restrictions (i.e. can’t carry a lot, gotta travel light) that you can’t help. Here’s some of what I use:

Birthday candles – Alright, I actually have candles you put on menorahs given to me as a gift from my Jewish friends (shalom, pplz!) but I mostly use birthday candles because they come in so many colors, even black! Birthday candles are very easy to find, cheap and very discreet for spellworking or any other religious function. They take roughly 30-40 minutes to burn so they’re about the length of a spellcasting session. Very cute too!

Aluminum foil – Spectacular for bundling everything together for traveling or storage. They can be meld into fire-safe creations such as candle snuffers, candle holders and placemat for them for easy clean up. Also easily accessible and not expensive

Incense – Useful for wand work because they are long and wand-like but you can specify them for whatever spell you’re doing or pick a general “wand” and throw it away after once it all burns out. Useful instead of using salt to cast a circle for the smoke can be an visual aid for the same effectiveness (a note: have an incense with some protective quality such as dragon’s blood if you’ll be casting with the same wand that you draw the circle with, otherwise, just let that incense sit somewhere else to burn out and use another for the spell. I usually use the same incense for circle drawing and spellcasting.)

Sticks, stones, plants – if you can’t burn anything or don’t want to draw attention, that’s what the readiness of nature is for. Use a stick or general stones to put down a circle (I haven’t said use salt yet because salt can be messy and I don’t use it for myself for that very reason) and use particular stones for the four quarters, such as fire agate for fire (south), aquamarine for water (west), topaz or clear quartz for air (east), and hematite for earth (north). Instead of a stick of incense, just use a stick roughly the length of your forearm for a wand (where do you think wands come from?) or a pointed stone. Since you’ll be using nature, best to learn nature and be creative!

Cloth – This is a method that I personally don’t use but author Lauren Manoy mentioned in her book Where to Park Your Broomstick. You design a cloth with six or nine foot circle marked out as well as any enchantment symbols you pull to. I don’t use this method because it is too much work for me to find a piece of acceptable cloth big enough, paint on it, let it dry (undetected) and pack it and use it. Frankly, some spaces may not be big or clear enough to accommodate the cloth. Then there’s walkin on it, laying it down, cleaning it and other arduous things that I rather not trade up my current methods for. However, if this is a spiffy method for you – and it does have its upshots such as an already defined sacred space so you just have to put it down, do your thing, clean up, pack up and continue on. Can’t argue with that.

Cups – another method that I don’t use but has been vouched for. These, of course, should be glass cups because they will be use to hold the symbols of the elementals/directionals: a white or red candle (fire/south), salt or dirt (earth/north), nothing or filled with sand to hold incense (air/east), water (west). These cups don’t have to be spectacular, just small and clear. This method could also be used for holding candles (gold and silver) or incense to represent the god and goddess if you so choose. They’re small for easy storage and easy for clean up and keeping everything all to the same place.

Tub o’ dirt – This method a friend of mine introduced to me recently and since using it, I find it to be incredibly awesome. She reused a plastic food container tub, washed it out (which should be done anyways), and poured sandy dirt in it to weigh it down and uses it to keep lit incense and able to put it anywhere. I believe that small candles can be used just as well, just skim out the remainder wax. For incense ashes, just sift and shake until the soil looks new again. There’s no need to skim that out because everything is of the earth so it all can stay – plus who want to dredge, skim and sift out fine ash from sandy dirt? Very much a waste of time.

Bookbags – This is a method I used for the longest time to store my witchy things while living at home. Get a bookbag, preferably with lots of pockets and compartments to better section stuff up. It doesn’t have to be pricy, a simple and cheap one from Wal-Mart worked fine for me. Store your books, herbs, stones and other things there and store that somewhere you believe the bookbag will remain safe. I would say put a lock on the zippers but nothing screams “Suspicious!” quite like that.

These are some of the methods that I use and then some. Now, of course magick can still be done without materials but materials can help focus the mind. The ability of spellcrafting is from within, not in the products that you use, they only amplify the intent you’re trying to pass into the universe. To do magick without materials, meditation and visualization is all that is particularly needed since that garners energy that is going to be raised later on in the process of the spell.

Now, spells work best with personal connection, there’s nothing wrong with taking materials from the world around you (materials, not life. No killin’ (Just throwing that in there for the possible newb who somehow missed that modern (and even some back then) witchcraft does not tolerate killing for spellwork) and please, no using your cat somehow, they’re animals, not insta-altars) if they bear a natural connection to you already. That means if you see those little brightly multi-colored pebbles outside and they remind you of magick or whatever that may be important, go for it. That’s part of why I actually don’t use salt and dirt in my circles although it is greatly recommended. I don’t feel much connection to salt and it would upset my OCD to use dirt – yay for disorders – so I much rather use incense to draw my circles and use stones to resemble the earth because otherwise I would feel disconnected and out of focus. That’s not useful at all.

Magick is what you make of it. It isn’t 100% arbitrary and definitely you shouldn’t restrict yourself so steadfast to the book if you know something better. This doesn’t mean destroy and reinvent the whole system – unless you’re a chaos magician, which is an entirely different matter altogether – but to modify what you see to who you are. It wouldn’t be incredibly sincere if it were any other way, unless you were super scared of making a mistake. Being scared of messing up in Witchcraft is perfectly natural, just not tightly adhering to the rules and regulations for an extremely long time and way beyond the learning curve, gotta branch out someday. That means figuring out and finding out what that means for you.

That’s all the Black Witch for this week, next week are the installment posts, starting with The Arts. Who will be featured:

– The Shy Witch
– Lolita artist, Atramental
– Yak Ballz

After The Arts is Ask Black Witch! I haven’t gotten any submissions yet so send them in! Here are your methods:

  1. Tweet me on Twitter (@thisblackwitch)
  2. Ask on the Black Witch Fan Page
  3. Fill out the Ask Black Witch submission form
  4. Email me directly (look on About/Contact Me for the email)
  5. Write to me directly (also on the About/Contact Me page)

There are five different ways to contact me and send me questions! Some methods are quicker than others, some slower than others but they all reach the same place right on time. Ask whatever you like.

The Establishment (Afro-Punk) Version

Any decent book on witchcraft will tell you that despite popular media, there’s no such thing as black or white magick, just intent. But still even among witches the term “black magick” in reference to hexes and jinxes is used and even accepted partly. We as witches understand that magick itself is not evil – it’s just utilizing the natural energies of the universe to bring about change – but the colorizing of different types of magick (white magick, green magick, black magick) I admit does make it a little easier to discuss. Especially to those who do not understand witchcraft and think all of it is evil, the explainer just has to include the “magick is neutral” rider.

Here are the different forms of magick as understood by witches, pagans and/or normal people:

Black magick – Most referenced to and most thought of when magick is discussed at all. This identification encapsulates hexes, curses and jinxes. If it’s considered wicked, evil, dark and potentially insurmountable, it’s here.

White magick – Barely ever discussed (unless around a herd of fluffy bunnies*) but this is supposed to be the opposite of black magick. It’s considered to be nice and neat and clean (and weak against big bad black magick (ugh)). White magick witches are suppose to have Glenda DNA and they are so pure, they’re almost not human.

Green magick – Mainly discussed within witchy circles, this acceptable term and form of magick refers to using only plants, stones and other materials found in nature to do magick. Green magick witches are good at potions, herbal work and tend to have a green thumb. Read any book written by Ellen Dugan for a good idea of green magick, she’s really cool.

These different ideas of magick differ in general knowledge and popularity depending on who is talking and in what social circle but usually the average person doesn’t know about green magick (or probably think it’s the Harry Potter overload version of a eco-hipster using recyclable bags to cast spells) but of all three color identifications, it’s the most accepted and understood. The other two are just pretty mainstream ideas of magick. White and black magick refer to intent whereas green refer to style of magick. As a matter of fact, if people want to strictly identify with color to magick, grey magick should be noted too.

Grey magick is middle-of-the-road magick. They are karmic spells and other spells that blur the line between good (white) and bad (black) but rides on enough technicalities that those who do not practice jinxes or curses can cast them as a form of retribution. For example, I don’t do jinxes or other versions of harmful magick because I think that’s wrong. Now, some of my friends may disagree and jinx when severely wronged but however, I do believe in retribution and feel that instead of putting additional bad energy on someone and be accused of being no better than the person who wronged me, I rather amplify and dredge the bad karma they already created themselves from their own wickedness. A karmic spell can also be used for good in the same effect of amplifying and dredging the good karma too. Karma spells are neutral; they just take whatever is there, good or bad, and use it in consequence. It’s not jinxing, more like a karma/life audit.

The essence of magic is like electricity: neutral. The same jolt that lights your home could shock you dead, depending on how it’s used and handled. Same with magick, neutral until intent is applied. Magick itself isn’t evil or wrong but how it’s used could be, something that all boils down to human choice. Another way to express this can be a doctor could kill a patient but they don’t because they feel it isn’t right and not what they’re in the business for (I consider that choice because even with the threat of malpractice suits and murder charges, that doesn’t stop someone wanting to permanently halt a heart.) It all depends on the person how magick is used, not the magick itself.

Now, the average witch isn’t out there to cause trouble and jinxing like mad because they clearly asked for French and not Ranch dressing and there aren’t any more bacon bits at the salad bar. Most witches (if not all) I’ve come across aren’t that shallow and generally have better things to worry about than someone being a mild and unwitting pest. To assume that any magick is most likely black magick is not only foolish but tells me more about the person saying it than the person hearing it. Why would I care so much about you, another faceless person I’ll meet, to the point that I would utterly waste my time and resources, which could be better used not getting emo over the pointless, to teach you a lesson that you’ll most likely dredge up yourself? Erm, no.

I would always ask people something along those lines when they would make reference to black magick in the form of “Oh, don’t piss her off, she’ll jinx you” or “I’m glad she liked my work, narrowly missed that one,” (I get that one after featuring folks) because, well, that like saying, “I’m happy she liked my shoes but I’m happier she let me keep them” simply because I’m Black. I just would outright ask “Now why would you think I’d waste my time jinxing you, especially since I don’t even do any of that stuff?”  Based on the responses I would receive and my own experience, I believe it’s because people see magick get used in movies and TV as a form of revenge or to slight others. What people don’t see is the “main character gets jinx, gotta fix it” plot is a tired old plot that churns in a lot of money, hence why it’s used so much. It provides a story of formidable odds for the main character to compete against and rise above. Even in movies where both sides have magick, the bad side is always seen as the stronger side because again, if the main character was the stronger one, there wouldn’t be much of a story to tell and not so much of a cash cow for the makers of the film.

Now, I like movies like Harry Potter and The Craft (both favorite movies of mine) but they’re just that, movies. Just like Inception, The Matrix trilogy and Bewitched. Movies. Yeah they may have some inkling of truths (Nicholas Flamel was a real person and alchemist, for example (Harry Potter)) but that doesn’t mean they’re training tapes you’re watching in a theatre nor true depictions. So, yeah, assuming every witch is a walking vat of hate and wickedness when most aren’t is the same of assuming every Black person you meet is an uneducated mushmouth hoodrat that only knows how to make money through every illegal means you could think of (but usually as the gun-toting peons and pawns, never the mastermind) and even if they do have a job that doesn’t come with a federal sentence, it’s usually going to be in subservient roles. A Black man in the White House on the silver screen? Only if he’s cleaning the windows or screwing up worse than Bush. Now, it wouldn’t be right to assume that of Blacks but according to the TV and movies, that we’re still vaudeville characters to be secondhand men and women to a White lead. We’re not people, just a race of plots hinges, obstacles, helpers and villains. If that doesn’t make any sense then why does thinking I’m naturally evil (for practicing magick, not because I’m Black) does?

At the end of the day, magick is just magick. It’s the people who make it what it is.

Okay peoples, next week starts the nomination process for the event I have been waiting for since this blog began – the Black Weblogs Awards. I am very excited and happy to finally compete. Nominations begin on the 18th so if you also are a Black blogger, take note now, it only lasts until May 7th. Voting begins on May 16th and lasts until June 17th and the winner for each category is picked on July 9th. Get yourself together if you have a blog or just vote for this one when the time comes around.

Also, please note that I will be at the Afro-Punk Festival in New York City on both Aug. 27&28. Right now we’re picking bands so if you have one or have some names in mind, submit here. Annnnnd I’ll also be at the Black Comic Book Convention on May 21 in Philly. Summer’s rolling around so of course, I’m getting a move on.

* Fluffy bunnies are the newbies of Wicca and witchcraft. Verrrrry new agey in thinking to the point it showcases the absence of a working mind. They believe just about anything fantastical and spout just about anything fantastical. Most of their knowledge consists of Silver Ravenwolf, Twilight, Harry Potter, Hot Topic and godknowswhat. They’re not all bad, just a pestilence to be around.

The Establishment (Afro-Punk) Version

Dreams are very weird things. Anything can happen in them and they’re not easy to interpret always because the human mind is really complex. As a dream interpreter, I find dreams absolutely amazing because the mental landscape is far vast and express more than the physical landscape a person could express themselves in. Dreams may be complicated but once with a grasp of how they (and the brain and the mind) works, they’re pretty interesting and helpful.

I have a set list of protocol that I’ve developed when I was doing dream interpretation on Fortminor.com that I generally follow. I usually ask to interpret dreams if someone throws one out there (haven’t done it often as of late because I have little time to dedicate) and first interpret it as is, not asking for additional info about the dream. If the dream procures something pretty sensitive, I tell the person maybe they should contact me or the other way around because I couldn’t care less if the recipient doesn’t believe in this stuff, no one likes havin’ their business put out there (then again, if you work my nerves and still don’t care about secrecy, I have no issue with pullin all the skeletons out of the closet and throwing them up like an exhibition). Now, there have been times I just jumped out there and interpreted a dream without permission just because I was excited enough about flaunting my skills and normally people don’t mind until I trip over a nerve and all of a sudden, reading over.

I remember the one time I did that, it actually was how I got started on FM as the dream interpreter. Some kid posted that he had a weird dream, didn’t know what it meant. Me and my over-zealous self just upped and interpreted the whole dream from top to bottom right there on the thread. Hey, others were throwing out guesses, I figured I’d be fine. Well, after a day or so the kid responded, pretty embarrassed. He remarked, “Dang, puttin all my business out there.” On one hand, I was pretty proud because it means I was accurate. On the other hand, I ain’t mean to do him like CNN, hence why I don’t just jump out there anymore. Instead I would try to ask or let people come to me (and oh they did, wasn’t long before I had to make rules about that). I don’t get as many requests as I did prior – a good thing because working too hard on too many requests  is what did me in as a dream interpreter. I would be so tired that the interpretations would start to become wrong or waaaaay left field. So that was the end (kinda) of that.

Dreams are on one hand fairly complicated but on the other hand pretty simplex if you know what to look for.

Not every dream is some deep, mystical, intricate fabrication of the mind that is incredibly metaphorical and completely perplex. Dreams actually do differ based on race, religion, age, culture, social impact from their environment, gender and even significant life alterations (i.e. being blind or restricted to a wheelchair) and it’s my job as the interpreter to see through all of that to find the real meaning of the dream as seamlessly as possible. Not an impossible task, just a arduous one sometimes because, well, sometimes I don’t feel like looking up what a light bulb flickering inside of a synagogue with Arabic scriptures being highlighted on dirty, crumbled walls while a ballet recital is going on that no one is noticing means when dreamt by some atheist who believes that all religion is a very intricate sham that takes advantage of the feeble-minded and hence hasn’t set foot in anything spiritual in eons and is repulsed by the fine arts. If only it were that easy to say, “’Eh, it is what you think it is. Laters,” but then I wouldn’t have any recipients to help out now would I? Some dreams have meaning, some dreams is just your brain filing away memories of the day or maybe your brain decided to take a sharp turn into Stupidtown for a night and rented a room. The best way to tell the difference is the symbolism being used and how likely a string of logic can be woven from what is discovered. There have been dreams where I said, “It’s nothing, honestly.”

Not every dream is worth looking at because some dreams are simply loony or will just tell you the same old crap you already know, it just tells me how much of it is on your mind. That could be noteworthy but people can be worrywarts too. I don’t interpret all my dreams because I’m quite lazy and I don’t feel that every dream is a message from the divine. It could be a joke script from your mind instead and what’s the point at looking at those? Dreams can help you better yourself but that’s not the point of dreams, to be an incredibly cryptic self-help kit.

Some dreams are worth looking at though because some dreams can be a cryptic self-help kit in the way that some dreams do have meaning. Dreams can be very useful in that they can provide insight or raise red flags that might have otherwise gone ignored on the conscious level. I know I personally have gone to the dentist because I had a dream about a particular tooth going gray and decaying to find out that I needed some important dental work done because something went unnoticed and could have been a real problem in the future. I could have interpreted the dream as an anxiety dream but there was something about the feel of the dream and how it played out that convinced me it was about a real matter and I followed up on it. To find all dreams as pointless I find to be very pointless in itself because it would be stupid to assume that people can note their own problems or that the conscious mind is thorough enough to handle everything that comes its way, suppressing and forgetting nothing.

Not all hard-to-interpret dreams are prophetic dreams or actual messages from God. Sheesh, if I had a nickel for every person who thought that God was speaking to them because they dreamt of walking a lamb in the desert and strolling right into a burning town filled with the most hysterical people you can find. Sometimes hard-to-interpret dreams are just that, hard to interpret. People aren’t easy little boxes that you can open up and tinker in so some dreams are very complicated because the general dream dictionary(ies) may not have a good enough interpretation for them. It doesn’t mean the dream is impossible to understand – for all we know, there isn’t anything in particular to understand – it just requires more work (or less).

It does bug me when someone tells me their dreams, it’s usually preceded with a “My dreams are weird.” No, they’re not. I have interpreted tons of dreams; yours most likely won’t take home the Weirdo Award. Dreams are just that, dreams, hence they don’t run the same as a linear movie always. Dreams are pretty abstract usually, which is why everything in a dream is called a symbol because most likely it’s gonna represent something else. There’s nothing weird about dreams, even if it includes some of the most taboo elements of someone’s culture, it’s still not weird. It can be weird if a person doesn’t dream but even that is rather explanatory in itself but it’s also something people want to take the Weirdo Award home for: not dreaming.

I dunno, maybe people think it’s so cool to not be of the norm (I’m kinda laughing because those who say they don’t want to be of the norm generally are the people who fight hard to keep it) that they can’t dream and omigosh they’re so different and unique and would probably make for an awesome villain for the next Inception film and stuff like that.

Ha, no.

There are different stages that the brain partakes in during sleep, some stages producing more memorable dreams than others but basically a complete and total rarity to not at all dream a single whit. We all dream at least 200-400 dreams a night as the brain goes through the different stages between alpha, beta and theta (I won’t bore you with what those are – until I start running out of content for this blog/column, then this place is gonna look like a textbook) and we basically remember about three or four dreams out of all of that, particularly the ones as we were going into deeper sleep, REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and the two hours right before we wake up naturally from sleep. Those patterns can be disturbed however if the dreamer is stressing out in real life or isn’t getting enough sleep, among other factors. It’s not terribly unique to not have dreams, it’s even happened to me, just generally a flag to something more important.

Dream interpretation is really fun to me. I’ve always been intrigued by psychology and metaphysics so it just makes perfect sense to me to get into that because the human mind is really interesting and I think that dreams are way more than just a mental slideshow of nonsense as we sleep. Not all dreams are poignant tales of caution or of the dreamer itself but they are remarkable in what they tell. Dream interpretation isn’t as hard as one would think, just keep an open mind and a good grasp of psychology and sociology for the harder stuff but just get a dream dictionary (here’s some recommended ones on Black Witch) and keep a dream journal. I still interpret dreams for others but I’ve mainly been keeping them to offers of divination giveaways and even if I did get dreams to interpret, they would have to situate themselves to a spot on Ask Black Witch.

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