Category: BW Public Service Announcement


So, I usually don’t like to mix my real life with the Black Witch life but I think now would be the time.

Here it goes:

I currently am in a dire financial strait that could cost me my current apartment. Money has been reaaaaaally tight and it turns out, I can’t pay this month’s rent of $715. If I can’t get all this by May 31st, I’m out on the street, literally. I can barely cover the electricity for this month so the notice I got from the landlord is a real hit in the gut. I need your help.

I really could use donations right about now. Here is a donation link (now via Paypal), please share this everywhere because this is really important. I don’t know what I can do and if there are any organizations that can help me out, I would really appreciate it.

I’ll be posting this on the regular until all the money is collected or it is May 31st. Whichever comes first (I hope it’ll be the funds.) Please, please help. If I’m out on the street, Black Witch will cease to exist.

– Olivia H./Black W.

Good friend of mine, Crystal B., has been calling for submissions of the minority Pagan experience to create a follow up anthology to Shades of Faith called Shades of Ritual! Here are the details!

Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press (Stafford, U.K./Portland, OR, U.S.A) is seeking submissions for a follow up anthology to Shades of Faith, released in August of 2011.  This anthology will focus on people of color working in magical communities and their spiritual practices.  This anthology will provide another opportunity to get the voices and experiences of minorities within the Pagan community out to the world and address some of the challenges, stereotyping, frustrations and the beauty of being different within the racial construct of typical Pagan or Wiccan groups. These communities include (but are not limited to) groups and individuals working in Wicca, Voodoo, Umbanda, Shaman, and other Pagan paths.

As many of the roots of Paganism come from the lands of people of color, much of the color of Paganism is often forgotten in the cultural mainstreaming that often happens to ethnic cultures. Many people of color within Paganism walk between the worlds of their birth ancestry and culture, and that of their spiritual culture.  This anthology is meant to show how that might look within the spiritual practice of one’s home.

Here are some suggested topics to give you an idea of the focus of this anthology.

  • Rituals
  • Poetry
  • Your experience of integration into the Pagan community and how that might correlate with your practice
  • Magical work
  • Ancestor work
  • Deity specific practices and relationships
  • Integrating your birth culture with your spiritual workings
  • What magical work are you doing now? How do you describe it? Do you work alone, in a group, or in several settings?
  • Your birth culture and spiritual workings
  • Stereotypes and prejudice and the impact on spiritual or magic workings.
  • Being the only person of color in a coven, group or community
  • Sharing your culture and history with other Pagans
  • Cultural history and how that plays a role in your spiritual practice today
  • Family culture and how that plays a role in your spiritual practice
  • Cultural appropriations and how that works in your practice.

Rough drafts are due August 15, 2013. These drafts will be edited in a back-and-forth process with the editor. Essays should be 1500-4000 words, although if your work falls outside those limits, do submit it – we can discuss this during the editing process. Drop us an email if you are unsure whether your idea fits into the content. The sooner you start the communication process the better, as after the deadline we won’t be considering additional ideas.

Essay requirements:
• Citations for all quoted, paraphrased, or otherwise unoriginal material
• Bibliography of works cited
• Prefer APA format

Do write in your voice! If you’re academically inclined or trained, feel free to be as intelligent and technical as you like. If your work entirely talks in the first person about your own experience, please include this also. There is a wide range of voices, and we are interested in being as inclusive of style as possible.

Accepted contributors will receive a free copy of the anthology when it is published and additional copies sold at 40% off the cover price to contributors. All contributors will be provided with a contract upon final acceptance of their essays, not when they are accepted for editing. If your essay is not accepted for the anthology, we will tell you after the first round of edits.

The anthology will be edited by Crystal Blanton. She is the author of two books with Immanion press; Bridging the Gap; Working Within the Dynamics of Pagan Groups and Society, and Pain and Faith in a Wiccan World.  She is also the editor of the first anthology, Shades of Faith; Minority Voices in Paganism. She may be found online at http://www.crystalblanton.org and her email address for this anthology is crystal@crystalblanton.com .

Immanion Press is a small independent press based in the United Kingdom. Founded by author Storm Constantine, it expanded into occult nonfiction in 2004 with the publication of Taylor Ellwood’s Pop Culture Magick. Today, Immanion’s nonfiction line, under the Megalithica Books imprint, has a growing reputation for edgy, experimental texts on primarily intermediate and advanced pagan and occult topics. Find out more at http://www.immanion-press.com.

I have had a complete run of late posts for the past few weeks and this one is going to be no different, with a post on the latest day ever, Monday. I really feel like I’ve gotta say something now because this is getting ridiculous.

So, I’ve posted on the BW Twitter that my laptop is finally dead. It passed sometime during this week. Can’t blame it, I was pretty hard on it so it was a long time coming, either way, it’s dead.

When it wasn’t dead, it was on its last legs. The screen had stopped working so I had to hook my laptop to the tv which you could imagine reduced the portability of the laptop. Then there’s the fact the laptop had grown so slow and sluggish that it would freeze for minutes at a time if I wanted to just open a document. The longest freeze time was nearly ten minutes. The laptop was bought new in 2009, it’s almost 2013 and it has dealt with being treated pretty hard. So I kinda was waiting for it to go before getting a new one, which will be coming on Tues.

So now the lappytop is le dead. I did have a friend come over so I could borrow his hard drive reader so I could at least yank some of the latest posts for Black Witch and I did but they’re still in an unfinished state since there’s nothing to clean them up to the point I would like it and put them up. Yes, I do have mobile apps on my tablet and cell phone, Documents to Go, which is awesome, and Google Drive to share my files on between my devices but they’re not as good as finishing my works on an actual full sized computer. Linking is practically impossible, pictures are a headache and the spell checker is not as good on these mobile devices as it is on a computer. These mobile devices are good for me to write out ideas and columns in their rough shape, absolutely fantastic, but not to present writings to the world. This is the only exception because I gotta say something since I know readers are prolly wondering why BW keeps updating so late as of recent.

Thus, this does mean that I am writing. I’m working on this week’s write up, Afro-Punk’s extra piece and so on and so forth on my tablet and cell phone. I plan to go to the library if my cold isn’t that bad (well, it’s just a sore throat but I still don’t want to pass it to others and it’s been coooooooooooold in Baltimore) and update there or just wait for the new laptop and go from there. So I am writing, I just can’t update when I like. This means I’ll have to push the Etsy store reopening to Halloween (I’ve been keeping it under wraps because I wasn’t sure what would happen but it was going to be on the 16th) and no trips to NYC for Halloween.

So that’s what’s been going on. Expect the new piece on Monday (Tuesday at the latest).

I’m sure that some of you guys have heard of this bill called SOPA and PIPA and how it’s going to censor the internet. That by itself should perk some ears but let me go a little deeper.

Y’see, SOPA stands for: Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill (H.R. 3261) that was introduced by Congressman Lamar S. Smith (R-TX) back in October. The bill, at face value, is supposed to prevent piracy and theft via blacklisting. Now, fighting knock-offs and pirates sound really good right? I mean, no more downloading movies and music. Recording lab- I mean artists can be sure to make every proper dime on their music. Hollywood is safe from people ripping them off and everyone gets a free halo in the mail. Otherwise, prepare to get slammed. Anyone who pirates or participates in any other form of copyright infringement could have the whole site shut down. Yep. A court order could be made to make sure online advertising people don’t do business with the infringing website, search engines such as Google to pretend the site never existed and barring it from showing up in search returns ever, even have internet service providers to block access to such sites. Now if you, dear reader, get caught, you could get hit with up to five years in prison for ten infringements (Ten songs, ten movies, etc.) within six months. The only sites that are immune are those who voluntarily scope through their site and alienate any links, poster or comments on there. If you want to know how such internet censorship works out, ask China.

Then you have PIPA (S. 968), which stands for: PROTECT IP Act, which stands for: Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011, which stands for “someone is trying to break the internets through teh butthurts with sheer wtf and lack of lolz.” In seriousness, it is a bill that is kind of the sister of SOPA and a reincarnation of another bill smacked down in congress back in 2010 called COICA (Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act). This bill was introduced by Patrick Leahy (D-VT) back in May and it is supposed to fight distribution of illegal (read: bootleg or downloaded) copies, counterfeit goods and anti-digital rights management. This bill is supposed to “enhance enforcement against rogue websites operated and registered overseas” and gives servers right to block it. The site could still be reached by its IP address (think of it like a social security card for websites and computers) but not its domain name. Search engines would have to disable access or remove it altogether to the site associated with the domain name in the court order. Or just no hypertext link to the site. Poof, it’s gone.

This vid raises great points on PIPA

To further illustrate:

Black Witch is a site that I made to make sure that Black Pagans would get awesome content to read, listen to and enjoy. Why The Arts! alone would get this site shut down because oh noes! I can’t always get direct blessings from the artists I feature (this is legal under the copyright act of fair use – or should be but SOPA and PIPA don’t feel the same way I do) but even the fact that I do credit – the feature is about them – would make SOPA and PIPA tell WordPress to tell me, “Hey, Black Witch. Cut that out!” or face penalties, even taken off the net. Now this is me but what about my readers? What if one of you guys caught me on a mistake and linked me to a correcting piece, which happened to be copyrighted? Dude, then I’m responsible for you because WordPress is responsible for me and no one wants to be erased from the internets. Then again, WordPress could become hyper vigilant and just take my blog down should they see me post a music video from youtube or feel a twinge of anxiety from the fact I said that Playing Card Divination for Beginners is gouging the price for a book that was originally $10 so, regardless of whether or not I have the okays from the publisher or author, I may digitize it for my readers to use. (That’s piracy, folks). With these laws, you know that instead of fixing the problem with fine-tuned precision, it’s going to be the story of Henny Penny magnified. Even if I play by the rules, not every blogger will and still WordPress could be taken off the internet as if it never existed, taking my site (and Mike Shinoda’s site and Nastassia Davis’ site and the Wondaland wordpress site and countless other sites) with it. Ouch. And this also goes for your email because now that I, Mike Shinoda, Wondaland and others are all apparently digital evil doers out to harm through copyright violations some other guy did – judged by the company you keep, folks – if you so much as link to our content, your provider has to fish it out and rip it out or suffer the same fate as WordPress did.

If it seems a lil’ pointless to the average person still, here’s a really good demonstration using our favorite android, Janelle Monae.

Alrightie, if my twitter and my site and search terms to my site are any indication, I got a lot of fandroids for readers. I even featured one, AngelBopByeYa, since I thought her tumblr was spiffy – but wait! Did AngelBopByeYa ask Janelle Monae if she could have all those JM pictures decorated on her Tumblr? And what about The Audition, Janelle Monae’s EP from waaaaaay back in the early 2000’s? Y’know, the one that can’t be found in stores so either you download (and become a pirate, matey) or just happily go without or wait to spring on Janelle Monae herself and ask for her blessing to have her music in your Mp3 player. And what about those pictures from the last three (four?) times she posed in Vogue? Aw, man, I’m sure no fandroid was asking Vogue to use copies. If AngelBopByeYa so much as even performs “BopByeYa” through singing it or playing it and posting it to youtube, she could get hit with up to five years in non-Cybertronic Purgatory if anyone from Janelle Monae’s crew think that’s not cool and AngelBopByeYa is stealing content. Now, we’re sure Janelle Monae would find this lovely, she loves when her fandroids are doing their thing – Atlantic Records, however, feels otherwise and as her distributor, would be ultra pissed at AngelBopByeYa. Either she better stop posting that Janelle Monae content now (and lose Monae potential new fans and supporters who haven’t heard her music while at the same time locking out fans who may not always have the money to support) or get that tumblr – or Tumblr itself – taken off the air. Now, technically all this would be considered okay under the Fair Use act given that AngelBopByeYa is commenting, criticizing, and reviewing on her tumblr and giving credit. But, SOPA and PIPA is written so loosely that you might as well chuck that out of the window because if Atlantic Records think she’s stealing nonetheless, it’s gone.

Oh, geez. This sucks rocks. It would be totally crappy if a site like FYeahJanelleMonae would get linked here or if I post, like, a picture of Janelle Monae being awesome…like this pic right here where she’s running from a sixteenth note:

image

Or show a youtube with her song in it, like Salvador Dali’s Disney short film Destino.

Because according to SOPA and PIPA, I just committed a crime on several counts. Sorry, WordPress. My bad it wasn’t a more looked-over crime such as what student loan lenders are doing, and what former president Bush did to Iraq. I guess that’s the pirate’s life for me.

And to make people feel better, here’s a funky PSA on net neutrality: The Internet You Need

Now go out there and tell your Congressman about the internet you need.

Ethics are very important in divination and witchery. Every new Pagan is going to have their run ins with ethics but they are necessary. Every Pagan is different and all Pagans are going to think differently as well as could perceive the same situation differently. As for ethics and divination, I have a strict set of rules to go by. Always have ever since I started at 17. These rules are to keep everyone involved safe and are only broken under the most severe situations.

Never make people pay ~ I don’t charge at all for divination. As a diviner, my job is to give you advice on what to do next, that’s it. I’m not drawing up haunting ghouls and ghosts to do my bidding, it’s purely me and what I can gather from the universe. I often tell people I don’t charge because they’re going to find out in about three months what their future is going to be anyways. I know some of my divination friends differ in opinion because they believe a service is given but for me personally, I never would pay for a reading and never have, why would I enforce something different? Plus, not everyone has the money to dole out but could use the help all the same. Besides, what would I do with the money? Nothing noble most likely, just squander it on food and lolita, not donate it somewhere or be useful with it. I am a very fortunate person and I am extremely aware of this. I feel that what I have is a gift to share and help people with, not take money from. I also feel that money can corrupt even the best of diviners because it’s very easy to get greedy and to take advantage of people in need. I will take snacks (I love me some red bean mochi and if you can spot me some good okonomiyaki joints in Maryland/DC, you can have any reading you want, as many as you like!) in exchange for readings if the person offered but no money whatsoever. Besides, I already have a job. I work at my university’s library so it’s not like I’m suffering. I feel best when I’m being selfless and helping someone because they need it, not because I want something in exchange. The only time I ever broke that was for the Divination Days held by my school’s Pagan Student Union and it was to raise money for our group, not a dime went into my pocket. We didn’t charge more than $3 (I controlled the prices) and I made sure all the diviners knew that their primary goal besides raising money is to help people. While I am perfectly fine with fleecing the rich kids, I don’t want anyone undeserving getting mixed up in it. Besides, I’ve gotten so much back in good fortune from helping people and I rather have that than money any day. In addition, nothing reeks “Potential phony” like a $15 price tag for a quick palm reading.

Keep it confidential ~ That’s right, I don’t say a word about another person’s reading because it’s no one’s business but their own. To be loose lipped can bite me in the derriere in ways I don’t think I need to explain. Often time I am sought out in confidante by people who are embarrassed or frustrated by their problems, concerned that they are breaking from their religious beliefs or worried that someone else may find out what’s going on. I understand keeping a secret if a secret has to be kept. I don’t break that unless the person exudes suicidal tendencies or may harm themselves in another way. Then I gotta start talking, usually to someone who cares deeply for them or refer them to a trusted professional. I know when people are feeling suicidal or want to indulge in self-injury, they don’t want to tell someone who they think is going to snitch but guess what, I have to. There’s no special oath a diviner takes before dealing with other people’s problems but we do have a conscience to contend with. I would much rather keep Jiminy Cricket quiet rather than grieving me all day about how I should have said something when there was a chance. I too have wanted to kill myself (and I’m not afraid to say that I still gripe with that a little now, I have issues just like everyone else*) and I know about self-injury from personal experience* so it’s not like the person is talking to some apathetic psychologist who knows only what the textbook tells them. However, I have to bring it to light that the person I’m reading for is in dire need of attention.

I’ve had the awesome luck to read for one of my favorite bands evar! My goodness gracious, I was doing natal charts (astrology) for two of the members. They happened to be the most popular members so of course people wanted to know what I found on them. I never said anything once that would discuss their personal lives or cause them harm from a crazy fan. Granted, I found out stuff about my favorites that, to be honest, I could have gone my whole life and about three more others not knowing about. *shudders* Talk about the saying about meeting your heroes. I wrote nearly twenty pages for each member (something else I’m not doing again unless I am working super close with the person, the fact checking and the checking-fact-checking was tedious!) so there was some pretty sensitive information but they were for those band members eyes only. I still feel wacktacular that I gave them such a rushed copy and never had the chance to share the refreshed and worked-through copy of their natal charts. I never got their responses back (it was a quick meet) and it still gives me chills sometimes wondering what they are.

Don’t read everyone ~ Every diviner, whether they make you pay or not, has the right to refuse a reading. I know I’ve done it before. It’s an added perk in not making people pay because it’s easier to refuse readings, yay for me! Just like I have the right to refuse readings, people have the automatic right in not being read. I can read hands/palms, faces, handwriting and auras but just because I can doesn’t mean that I should. It’s simply wrong. I wouldn’t want someone doing that to me, I’m not going to do it to someone else. While I can easily sneak a glance at someone’s hand to figure out some of their more basic life story, I don’t with everyone. I don’t do it to my parents, I don’t do it to those I look up to or appreciate. I see it like this, if my parents wanted me to know about a part of their life so much, they would tell me. I’m not going to pry about and wind up getting my feelings hurt because I decided to be snoopy. It may not be time for me to know or some things are simply better not knowing.

 As for those I appreciate [caution: fangirling ahead], it goes back to the “meeting your heroes” saying, you never know what you’re going to get and you really don’t know if you’re going to like what you find. In the entertainment industry, often there is a stage persona that is shown to the crowd and the presses, keeping the real person a secret. They go by other names, gimmicks and/or amiable personalities. We think we know everything about our idols and their lives but there are still some things that they (rightfully) keep under wraps for the sake of privacy. Everyone needs their privacy. For example, I love Janelle Monae. I could talk about her for hours on end; she’s such an awesome person in my eyes. I appreciate her style and she really means a lot to me as a Black girl growing up very different from the crowds. I would be devastated completely if anything were to happen to her. Though I find her to be an adorable little ball of energy, cute and with vibrant imagination, I love The ArchAndroid and bought The Chase Suite twice (a digital and physical copy), I’m not going to scan her hand in her photo ops. Firstly, that’s creepy. Secondly, I rather let her tell me her story rather than me find out for myself. How can I say that I care (in the way that a fan cares about a performer) about her well-being by being sneaky? I am confident she’ll speak for herself on whatever topic she has to. She’s a performer and I’m just a fan, nothing more. Plus, what if I find something I may not like that could bust my perception of her wide open? Ignorance can be bliss and I’m stickin to it.

Simply put, I don’t read others unless they would like me to, regardless of person. Unless it’s dream interpretation. That’s so fun and usually people want to understand the dreams they have so rarely does anyone mind me giving some input. It’s so fun to me! I used to have a dream thread back at Fortminor.com but that’s gone now (and I’m still grieving over it, 50+ pages gone, dang).

Can’t save everyone ~ This is the one that gets diviners with big hearts such as myself. Some people simply can’t be saved. No matter how many reading you give or how much advice you offer, some folks are too far gone. Not everyone takes advice when given and some people have terrible misfortune. All a diviner can do is to do the best that they can do and not guilt themselves when things still go wrong. I know I have moments where I still wonder if I did the right thing or made the right choice in helping someone but I can’t dwell in the past and I can’t save everyone. Not everyone wants to be saved and there are times where you have to save yourself. They’re very scary times but they do happen. All a diviner can do really is just guide best they can. At the end of the day, the person I’m reading for has to figure out what to do with their life, not me.

Don’t rope a person into doing witchcraft ~ You won’t believe how often I hear people who have met shady diviners and had to do some form of magick to make the bad thing go away. If it is against your beliefs to do magick, it’s against your beliefs to do magick. Be firm in your ideals. If the person says that you have to do it, know that you don’t. More often than not, a person is not jinxed* but with a case of bad luck (or a negative perception on life). Often these people are roped into doing dangerous things that doesn’t make sense like laying in a bath of lye for a month or foolish things like buying a $400 pair of leather shoes from Nordstrom (why Nordstrom, I dunno but that’s usually what I hear) to spit at or whatever have you. I never would tell a person to do witchcraft to solve their problems, often times that’s not what’s needed. If they needed magickal assistance, I would explain everything piece by piece so they fully understand everything and it’s usually small. Like smudging (cleansing) a house with sage if they think they really need it or anointing a dollar with bayberry oil for money (and a copy of the employment section with a red sharpie. Where d’you think the money’s coming from?). If a person is happening on bad times, I usually tell that person to solve the problem the way their religion sees fit. If that means they are to pray to their god for an answer, that’s what they’re supposed to do. I’m not going to drag someone waaaaaay out of their comfort zone and possibly get them hurt or mistakenly kill them. 

It’s up to the Pagan to decide what their ethics are, just know that it is important to have them and they’ll carve themselves out sooner or later. Books and teachings can only go so far, it’s up to the Pagan to live, learn and make mistakes. What’s the point of being Pagan if you’re living inside the velvet ropes of life anyway? Make mistakes but don’t be reckless, though. And don’t be afraid to learn from the mistakes of others.

That’s the BW column for this week! Next week is The Arts! Who’s being featured:

– Racist Political Ads
– Disoccupy
– Sh*t Girls Say (for Black girls)

And the week after that is Ask Black Witch! Get it goin’ and send in your questions!

And don’t forget to read my interview from Black Pagan

Also, please help this little kitty from the Charm City Animal Shelter named Little Mouserat. He was born with no eyelids and needs surgery. Without surgery, his fur will constantly rub against his corneas until his eyed are damaged to the point that they need removed (vet says 2-3 years). His eyes gets very dry from not being able to blink, too! Any donation will help, this poor kitty has already been through enough. Click here to donate and learn more. Thank you!

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…

Oh I love that poem. It stems back to Guy Fawkes, a British man that was part of a plot to blow up the Parliament in protest of King James I and to put a Catholic monarch back on the throne during a time when religion was very deeply intertwined with politics. Also, it is from a very favorite movie of mine which also harkens back to Guy Fawkes, V for Vendetta. I suggest you see it if you haven’t, it’s really wonderful.

Now, I try to keep it a bit on a low when parading as Black Witch but I’m a pretty political person. Always have been ever since I was a child because I believe in what is right and what is wrong (although my morals can be lax in some areas but that’s another discussion for another time). It is right to stand for what you believe in so long it benefits humanity. You’re also right to stand for what you believe in even if it harms humanity, just don’t be surprised when getting what comes to you or yours.

In case you haven’t heard, there have been a series of global protests which stem from the Occupy Wall St protest, its short name being “Occupy”. Today would be a lovely day for this event:

Bank Transfer Day

banktransferday.org

Don’t know where to switch or even how? That’s okay, I know the feeling too. Here’s the difference between a bank and a credit union from How Stuff Works and a very concise guide from Wisconsin’s Department of Finance. After educating yourself on the difference and choosing which one you want, here is an article listing 9 really good tips to keep in mind when switching and if you don’t know any credit unions in your area, here is the CUlookup. Wanna stick with a bank still? Go with a community bank. This site Move Your Money Project will give you all the facts and even a search for both credit unions and community banks! Remember, do your research! I’ve been with a credit union since 2008, I was with Wachovia prior and I’m super happy that I switched.

Besides, I’m sure many of you have heard of the new fees imposed by banks for you to merely access your money or is upset about the bailouts they have gotten, only for you to be sold out by your own Congress. We could blame Obama but that’s partly misdirected anger, go for Bush, Bernanke, Alan Greenspan, etc etc etc.

Or…you could contact the CEO’s directly. They live in homes, just like us. They use phones, just like us. They check emails, just like us. They’re people, just like us – and they should hear what we have to say.

And you can – I recommend you Occupy the Boardroom, tell them how you feel about the fees and the crappy job market and drowning in debt. But do you still feel useless? As if the act is only cathartic and it would never get to the CEOs at all? I feel you. And so does a particular group.

The Cab!n Cr3w, a group of anons, have been putting up d0x’s of corrupt CEOs. Listed are home numbers, home addresses, work addresses, alternate home addresses, legal documents, etc etc etc etc. You could write the CEO a letter, shoot him a personal email, call him up, show up even. Go for it, it’s not a crime to speak. Just remember not to threaten or thoroughly berate. Be honest, not have your letter be from start-to-finish cursing.

There are other forms of “armchair” protests if you don’t want to go to your local occupation (I can understand why, they have had a few cultural, racial and gender issues there and not every Black person is built to put up with it) or can’t. This video below shows you how!

Another is to support the bill H. Res. 365: This bill wants to cancel the student loan debt. It the blurb for it reads:

“Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that Congress should cut the United States’ true debt burden by reducing home mortgage balances, forgiving student loans, and bringing down overall personal debt.”

Now, you can read the whole bill here and even get links to contact your congressperson about it because right now, I think the bill is being forced to die in congressional committee. (Watch this old school Schoolhouse Rock vid if you would like to know the basic life cycle of a bill). Now, this is great for those who want to participate in the Occupy protests or think that the only way to solve a problem in America is to contact a Congressman about it. Either way, here you go! And if they ask how on earth are they going to eat the debt, tell them to make the rich foot the bill this time.

Track the bill and more:
Open Congress (Allows you to contact your representative, read the official text, and more)
GovTrack (Maintains a closer look in where the bill is now, cosponsors and the committees it has been suggested to)

Yes, there has been some response from the White House to modify (federal) student loans but it is not enough. Check out this debt clock for financial aid, we’re speeding towards another bubble and the economy is probably going to continue to drag if we keep along the track that we’re going. It is not easy today so say “Go out and get a job, problem solved”. Not really, most jobs out and about today do not pay enough – and that implies if there is a job to give in the first place. Plus, when paying back student loans, you’re paying waaaay more than what you’re borrowing thanks to interest. Check out Occupy Student Debt for some examples. Things are changing and they have to change for the better or continue to deal with the same old bull.

Now, if you do want to participate in the protest, the best site to go to for all-around information is Occupy Together. If you wanna simply keep to helping out minorities (we seriously need a new word), look at Occupy The Hood.

Whoops!

Over the last few weeks, Black Witch hasn’t been running as swiftly as it usually does. Columns mistakenly get posted before they’re due and even the BW facebook fan page gets late postings. I can totally explain.

Welp, what happens is me rushing. Y’see, a blog may seem easy to maintain – you write and you post, the readers read and all is spiffy – but it really isn’t. Not when you’re the only person maintaining it. There’s making sure there’s no errors, working to port some columns over to Afro-Punk, keeping up with the stats, checking for new comments, responding to new comments, checking the email, planning the columns, schedule the columns and making sure WordPress doesn’t go crazy with re-formatting or Afro-Punk. Note I didn’t say, “Write the column” yet. This can seem like a full time job and the reality is Black Witch has a full time job (library assistant) and other full time commitments that fight for my time and there’s only so many hours, minutes and seconds in a day. That and I’m in the midst of moving to a new place and the internet being down where I am right now.

What this means is that I’ll work on a column waaaaaaay before it’s due and I might click “Update”, forgetting that I didn’t schedule the post, it goes up immediately. I note my error instantaneously, schedule it so it’s taken down till the proper time and I’m sure some readers get confused when they get an email saying Black Witch updated and are met with “I’m sorry, this post doesn’t exist”. Yeah, frustrating. So that’s why there’s been such amounts of derp over the past few weeks. It may be like this for a little while longer but I wanted to explain what been going on in case anyone has been wondering.

Derp.

Feel free to continue below to read the latest installment in Black Diamonds and Pearls: “That’s Cute, But…”, written by Kristen S.

I’m simply passing this along but there is an event I was informed of through the African American Wiccan Society yahoo list proc that is on both Blog Talk Radio and on Facebook called “Global Women’s Full Moon Fill’em Up Ritual (Summer Solstice)”. It’s an open ritual, meaning any and everyone (well, all who are women) can attend all around the world. The main details are within those links so check them out if interested. It’s going to be on July 15th and during the full moon. The ritual is for prosperity, wealth and good fortune so be sure to bring your biggest purse. Check it out!

One of my readers Crystal B. has been calling for submissions of the minority Pagan experience to create an anthology! Here are the details!

Call for Writers – Shades of Faith; minority voices within Paganism. Email for inquiries and submissions:

Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press (Stafford, U.K./Portland, OR, U.S.A) is seeking submissions for an anthology on people of color working in magical communities.  This anthology will be an opportunity to get the voices and experiences of minorities within the Pagan community out to the world and address some of the challenges, stereotyping, frustrations and the beauty of being different within the racial construct of typical Pagan or Wiccan groups. These communities include (but are not limited to) groups and individuals working in Wicca, Voodoo, Umbanda, Shaman, and other Pagan paths.

Many of the roots of Paganism have come from the lands of people of color yet the mainstreaming of Wicca has elevated images of worship and deity that connect with Celtic, Greek or Roman cultures.  This can have an exclusive effect on those who’s culture or ancestry fall outside of those categories.  Interestingly enough people of color within Paganism are often walking between the worlds of their birth ancestry and culture and that of their spiritual culture.  This anthology is an opportunity to share your stories and experiences with others around being a minority in our spiritual community.

Here are some suggested topics to give you an idea of the focus of this anthology.

  • Your experience of integration into the Pagan community
  • Magical work
  • Ancestor work
  • Integrating your birth culture with your spiritual workings
  • Personal experiences and thoughts around how being of color within the Pagan community was significant.
    What magical work are you doing now? How do you describe it? Do you work alone, in a group, or in several settings?
  • Your birth culture and spiritual workings
  • Stereotypes and prejudice
    Being the only person of color in a coven, group or community
  • Sharing your culture and history with other Pagans
  • Cultural history
  • Sub-culture of African Americans, Hispanics or other minority groups within Wicca or Paganism.
  • Is there a sense of acceptance within the magical community you work in? Do you encounter resistance in your magical community or acceptance?
  • What do you feel is needed to be more inclusive of racial diversity in Pagan communities

These drafts will be edited in a back-and-forth process with the editor. Essays should be 1500-4000 words, although if your work falls outside those limits, do submit it – we can discuss this during the editing process. Drop us an email if you are unsure whether your idea fits into the content. The sooner you start the communication process the better, as after the deadline we won’t be considering additional ideas.

Essay requirements:
• Citations for all quoted, paraphrased, or otherwise unoriginal material
• Bibliography of works cited
• Prefer APA format

Do write in your voice! If you’re academically inclined or trained, feel free to be as intelligent and technical as you like. If your work entirely talks in the first person about your own experience, please include this also. There is a wide range of voices, and we are interested in being as inclusive of style as possible.

Accepted contributors will receive a free copy of the anthology when it is published and additional copies sold at 40% off the cover price to contributors. All contributors will be provided with a contract upon final acceptance of their essays, not when they are accepted for editing. If your essay is not accepted for the anthology, we will tell you after the first round of edits.

The anthology will be edited by Crystal Blanton. She is the author of an upcoming pagan/occult nonfiction book called Bridging the Gap; Working Within the Dynamics of Pagan Groups and Society. She may be found online at http://crystalblanton.com/ and her email address for this anthology is crystal@crystalblanton.com .

Immanion Press is a small independent press based in the United Kingdom. Founded by author Storm Constantine, it expanded into occult nonfiction in 2004 with the publication of Taylor Ellwood’s Pop Culture Magick. Today, Immanion’s nonfiction line, under the Megalithica Books imprint, has a growing reputation for edgy, experimental texts on primarily intermediate and advanced pagan and occult topics. Find out more at http://www.immanion-press.com.

I debated with myself about posting this piece for World AIDS Awareness day because I feel that having awareness about HIV and AIDS should not be rested in one day of kumbahyah and “We Will Survive” panels. For millions suffering with the virus, it is everyday and everyday there are brand new cases. More than 50% of new cases are African-Americans and caught far too late. Just like Black History (or any other cultural history for that matter), one day, one week, one month, none of that is enough. I feel acknowledging HIV and AIDS for simply a day diminishes the urgency to inform and mobilize the public with information enable to stunt the growth of this virus and work closer to a cure.

I’m no expert on HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome), hence why I will be providing links to those who are. I can only stress that you should be tested if you are sexually active (currently having sex or has had sex and currently celibate) or have taken drugs with needles (in addition, I highly advise you to get help for the addiction, drugs are not the joyride they appear to be). There are many testing centers throughout cities, all free. If you don’t know where there is a testing center for you, the CDC has a website to find a testing center nearest you with just your zip code. If you are infected with the virus and continually sexually active, please inform your bedmates that you are infected and use condoms. HIV/AIDS is tearing through the Black community around the world because of misinformation and silence about the virus. HIV can lay dormant for up to ten years before it becomes full-blown AIDS and the initial symptoms can appear flu-like so there is no sure-fire way to know whether you are infected or not unless you get tested. There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS, only medicine to improve living with the illness and allowing those affected to live longer.

HIV/AIDS Awareness is beyond a day because as I said, one day is not enough. Become very aware of the 30-year history of the virus to understand how it came about and was handled in the past up to now, learn about the debates of HIV/AIDS medicine and the politics involved, learn what causes the virus to become epidemics in certain groups such as Black women but also in groups not oft discussed, Black intravenous drug users, learn the difference between STDs and HIV/AIDS and most of all, learn about condoms and their use in the fight against the disease in the Black community.

Here are the sites for HIV/AIDS awareness and knowledge. To keep this post easy to find, I’ll will be introducing a new category titled “Resources & Information”:

Greater Than – Great resource on HIV and AIDS for the Black community. Learn about the virus, how it varies from other STDs, how it’s contracted, finding a testing center and more!

Condom Depot – To best protect yourself from the virus sexually, wear a condom, use lubrication and please read their “Learning Center” for more HIV/AIDS and STD information and world news. Product and information all in one place.

Former Surgeon General Koop’s warning – The more World AIDS days that pass, please do not forget that there is a lot of knowledge that is not going around. Just going, “Eh, not my problem” is a problem in itself.

HIV/AIDS ravages throughout the Black community worldwide, taking lives and new cases popping up each and everyday in men, women and children. Until we can find a cure, all that we can do to really fight the virus is with information and awareness and that’s going to take more than one day. It’s everyday.

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