Category: Pagan Life


I was featured earlier this week on a podcast called Alt-Black Podcast! I talked how music got me into my faith, why I think dabbling is annoying, my experience with Afro-Punk and more! Give it a listen! I like that they gave me Baltimore Club bumper music!

 

I was contacted by Hachette Books/Ilex about a new book they had coming out titled The Witchcraft Handbook by Midia Star.

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Upon first impression of getting it, it looks well made and not very kitschy. I could sort of see this book in a metaphysical shop, which is good. I could definitely see it being sold in The Discovery Store more, though.

First thing I looked for was a bibliography because usually good books on magick have those (otherwise a person could say almost anything). There isn’t one here but noticed this book is more of a spellbook for beginners than an intro to Paganism with some spells in it. That’s sort of okay but I prefer info. The first proper book I read on magick, Where to Park your Broomstick by Lauren Manoy, was crammed full of this so it is pretty much my baseline for any magick book.

The book is very colorful and artistry is well done. It doesn’t look like it was dropped out of Tumblr and sold. That’s always a good thing. At least this book isn’t trying to copy Sephora’s bad ideas. (That witch kit is atrocious for so many reasons).

As for content, the book is extremely European based and strongly Wicca based.  Granted,  so was Broomstick. I’m not Wiccan, though, so there is that. But as for the Eurocentric info, I think books on magick nowadays should be way more diverse. Otherwise, it looks like magick just started in Europe and the world followed. So note that the book is very Eurocentric in its practices and perspective, which could make PoC readers easily feel like a fish out of water. Actually, any reference to anything non-Euro is super cursory at best. Like, very bland and even less in-depth than what’s mentioned of the Greco-Roman deities, which already isn’t much. That’s not good.

The book is also fairly cis women-centric. I mean, so is practically every Western book on witchcraft out there every but it creates a ripple effect that somehow ends up in my inbox. Questions of “why can’t [insert gender here] practice? What should I call myself, I’m a [insert gender here]? Is ‘witch’ still accurate?” pop up. If you practice witchcraft, you’re a witch, plain and simple. It would be nice if books reflected this a little better. It is good to focus on women but witchcraft didn’t appear as a result of feminism, witchcraft was a moreso natural occurrence of working with and influencing the world around them. Wicca is goddess-centric, true, but it should be noted that Wicca does not hold the copyright to all of witchcraft. Wicca is just one faith out of literal thousands, even when whittled to just faiths that use magick.

I do like that this book doesn’t give a shopping list that could make a newbie go broke quick. I definitely like how this book tries to be sensible with its targeted audience. However, I don’t agree entirely with the idea of “you have to believe it for it to work”. My personal practices – and my inbox, primarily my inbox – hold a different story. I always explain it like this: I personally know Black folks who legit don’t believe that racism exists, annnnnnnd they still get harassed and/or beaten by officers and racists, if not called slurs. The fact they don’t believe in something so extremely real as the ground they stand on didn’t keep the reality of that concept from still impacting them. You don’t have to believe in something to make it happen, if the right cogs are there, it will happen. If the “you gotta believe” bit were the case, I would get far less, “I dicked around and tried to summon a demon because I thought nothing would happen and now my apartment is haunted. Gimme a spell to fix my problem” letters. Much less.

Actually, I still remember the time I accidentally summoned a Throne angel by simply singing a ye olde gospel over and over with gusto. Never gonna do that again. Angels are not fun and you definitely don’t want to summon one, especially on accident. They do not look like “people with wings”, try “Wow, the makers of Bayonetta really did their homework. And all of the extra credit.” 0/10, would not accidentally summon again. I did not intend to summon a Throne. The thought of believing that such a thing would happen was the furthest from my mind – I seriously thought the song was about wheels and the sun, that’s it!

Long story short, you don’t need to believe in something for it to happen. Just the cogs to make it happen. Belief gives it boost, that’s for sure, but it is not the core.

Again, about the gods and goddesses referenced in this book: they are Greek/Roman deities. And a passing reference to Egyptian deities. And a teeny tiny touch on East Asian dragons. And none of Africa (outside of Egypt, which is usually whitewashed to the moon and back). I really don’t like this part  because I rather see more diversity in description. However, since this book is primarily constructed in the Eurocentric gaze, this is pretty much garden-variety practice. Though, the section about them is a very underwhelming for me. There’s a lot more that can be talked about in regards to deities and magick work. Ditto in regards to who the different deities are, some of the descriptions in the book gloss over them with too little depth. And that’s just the Eurocentric ones, the rest of the world hardly gets noted.

And here’s one bit I saw that I think is a bad idea: mixing deities during spellwork. Don’t do that. Stick to one pantheon per ritual. They will not work well with each other and they’ll be much less eager to work with you. It shows a lack of care and faith, which deities are not big fans of.

Moving on, there is an informative page on moon-work and candles to prep the reader on the spells in the book. This means the book will be using a lot of candle magick. That’s good for beginners. Also, because this is candle magick, I would like to remind folks to be careful and always have soil or baking soda around to throw on the flame if it turns into a conflagration. Or do what I did when I was younger and do all your magick work on the lip of a filled-up sink (unless you’re working with oils also, then throw in the baking soda, too).

The spells are broken up into sections, starting with love and sex spells. Each spell section has little “Did You Know” boxes in some of the spells. I like those because it embeds useful information right where the reader can see it and for that particular spell. Things like “how long do spells actually take” or “what are the best days for casting and why”. Helps keep things realistic and practical.

For the love and sex spell section, I like that there is the “don’t be dense about this” warning at the start that is very simple: Don’t play around, don’t control others and know what you want (as well as what you don’t).

The spells constructed seem very simple and straight-forward. Like I said prior, there isn’t a huge shopping list and the vast majority of the materials asked for are already in your home or can be purchased at the dollar store. However, they use British English (“sweets” instead of “candy”, “leather thong” instead of “strip of leather”) so be mindful if you’re not accustomed to it.

The section on love and sex seems very decent, I haven’t spotted anything that I have qualms with so far.

The next section is the friends & enemies section. The intro to section is very simple, especially about how you shouldn’t do magick when until emotional turbulence and that impinging on free will is wrong. The spells are nice, such as how to get better at making friends (note: not “get popular”, simply “make friends”), making gossip cease and getting rid of a bully.

In the “Friends and Enemies” section, they have a page on gemstone magick. It is quite cursory and simple. Too simple for my tastes because there’s so much that can be covered. For a beginner, it is important to keep things simple but not too simple.

The third section are spells for work and employment. It’s a bit of a first for me to see but useful all the same. Employment is a part of life and, thus, should be included. The intro keeps things simple: this is to help you, not do the leg work for you. Also, it will not make you rich in a week.

The spells are for interview success, procuring a job, dealing with unemployment, things like that. There are also spells for exams here, it seems to cover a lot of bases. Again, the spells seem useful. Also, for any spell that involves drawing money, I always look to see how much the spell makes you do, in terms of getting materials to do the spell. I dislike ones that assume you have a payload to work with. I noticed these spells ask for things you already have (like black pepper) or are very cheap and easy to get. One thing I also noticed is that the book neglects to mention that white candles can be all-purpose in case you can’t get your hands on a particular color.

The next section has “Home and Family” spells. This section shows that this book is not directed simply at teenagers but young adults and regular adults as well. There are spells for how to get an apartment, clearing out the energy from the last person, etc. And what I like most: NO SAGE. Sweet buttery Jesus, there’s no sage use in any of these spells, that is fantastic. I am thrilled to see that. Because there is more than sage out there.

For that reason alone, I think this is a great section.

The final section is “Destiny and Fortune Spells”. Though it sounds immense, they’re spells that generally help with luck and to maintain overall happiness. The spells are simple in this section, nothing too grandiose or difficult.

All in all, the book isn’t too bad, it fairly regular and plain jane. I really would like to see a magick book that wasn’t so Eurocentric, though. The Witchcraft Handbook is moreso a simple spellbook for beginners but that’s it. For a handbook, there wasn’t a whole lot of information that could make it a suitable reference guide. There’s little tidbits here and there so you have an idea of what you’re doing but nothing more than that. It’s just a plain book o’ spells and that’s that. No real background, no really vast information, nothing super deep.

As far as bookstore spellbooks go, it’s not too bad. It isn’t 5000 Spells but it can be useful. The spells are simple and easy, not intended to break the bank nor make you feel like you’re doing Ceremonial Magick 301. What stands out to me are how simple the spells are. They are reasonable and that is a venerable trait.

The Witchcraft Handbook is less of an actual handbook and more of a regular spellbook for newbies who are interested in the craft but just want to get to the “fun” parts. I wouldn’t generally recommend introduction books that are not information dense so while this book is good, I don’t think I would have featured it on The Arts! because of the lack of crucial information. The thing is, if you don’t have deep, crucial info, that’s how you get more dabblers and less actual practitioners. Dabblers don’t care about the background info, they want fast-food magick: just do something and it is done. To thwart that, having background and in-depth information helps.

Would I recommend this book to someone new to magick and Paganism? Nope. Not enough in-depth info. I’d point them to Broomstick instead. Would I recommend this book to someone who’s spent time in magick? It’s a strong maybe. The title is misleading so I would warn the person it really isn’t a handbook but a plain spellbook that has basic spells. Good for if you’re low on ideas or want something very simple but that’s about it.

 

Halloweenie and Randomness

Halloween is tomorrow and I am hecka behind thanks coming back from my cold (and been distracted by my Korean variety shows*). I am busy and feel like talking about randomness and Halloween so there we go.

First things first! My blog’s store, BWshoppe, is having a saaaaale. Ends Nov. 1. Browse my wares, buy my stuff (my 3D printed bookbinding stuff simply flies off the shelf).

Last weekend, I hung out at the Black Witch convention, Dawtas of the Moon. I even bought a teeny spell bottle because it glowed in the dark (because I am a sucker for things that glow in the dark). I thought I would stay for a moment but I stayed the whole day. I really liked the pendulum class!

This past weekend, I 3D printed geta shoes because I always wanted a pair of getas. The images live on my Instagram (@thisblackwitch). I created the files and everything myself. They fit perfectly, I’m blown away.

This weekend coming up, I’ll be a guest on a podcast and most likely going to a Samhain rite. Tomorrow, I’m going roller skating. I still have no costume (but I have fake blood and an imagination, I shall come up with something). I will be having a Halloween Live Chat at midnight EST, tonight on the Black Witch FB fan page. I may stream again as I go skating. Be there!

* Dude, Safety First, Gag Concert and Running Man are good shows. So is Return of Superman.

Sick Black Witch

I’m sick!


This means being stuck in bed with honey citron and green tea, watching Psy music videos back to back (they’re not bad!) and a tower of warm mango juice.

 

Here’s Psy – I Luv It

Hello,
My question has to do with control and irresistible candle spells. What is the amount of time that one must wait to see results and how long will the spell or spells work??
It was also suggested that I use a particular soap and cologne, what are the reasons for this?
I appreciate your attention and assistance in this matter.
Thank you very much.

Lamont M.

 

This question has so many reasons why it is stupid. So many. Let me count the ways:

A) I don’t help dabblers and fluffy bunnies – because it’s an absolute waste of my time … any practitioner’s time, to be honest

B) The subject of the email sent to me was “Voodoo Candle Spells”, that pretty much means either I’m going to be heckling you or it’s weird spam.

C) I don’t help with spells that talk about controlling others. I talk about this at length time and time again. Get a therapist, instead.

This is just a terrible question all around.

Do you believe in negative energy that stays in a home after someone moves out or passes? My hubby and I moved into an apartment (hospital housing) 6 years ago and have felt nothing but a rollercoaster of emotions (mostly out of nowhere). Any recommendations on cleansing homes? I’ve read about sage, but not sure how reliable some of these websites are.

-Rea M.
  

If you found the spell online, it is probably bs. You can say anything and it won’t be contested, just posted. Plus, regular spells aren’t always needed. Cleaning the home with lemon (juice or extract) tends to help, just add it to your usual floor cleaner. Lemon is noted to banish negative energy so it works just fine. 

However, before the rest of the world runs out for lemons, it always is best to look at how life is going (honestly) and see if there is a regular, mundane source. Usually, there is. This question is partially cut because they’re an old school friend so there’s a bit more to the story that I did not post but lemon is their best bet. 

Burning Cross of Thorns

I got a comment earlier this week, in response to my post Blackthorn Teas: Whose Culture Is it Anyways?, and it was a long litany from a All Lives Matter type. I spent so much time writing a response to it, I figured it warranted a post of its own for all to see very visibly. And so I can include the Racist Bingo board. That board is my buddy. Oh! And a new board: The White Privlege Board because this comment is soaked in it.

 

” Hoodoo is neither a religion, nor a denomination of a religion—it is a form of folk magic that originated in West Africa and is mainly practiced today in the Southern United States.

The Whole Bushel-
Hoodoo, known as “Ggbo” in West Africa, is African-American folk magic. It consists mainly of African folkloric practices and beliefs with a significant blend of American Indian botanical knowledge and European folklore. It is in no way linked to any particular form of theology, and it can be adapted into numerous forms of outward religious worship. Although it is not a religion, there are elements of African and European religions at the core of hoodoo beliefs. Teachings and rituals are passed down from one practitioner to another—there are no designated priests or priestesses and there are no divisions between initiates and laity. Rituals vary depending on the individual performing them; there is no strict approach that one must adhere to. Today, hoodoo is mainly practiced in the Southern United States, and most people who practice hoodoo are Protestant Christians.

Hoodoo tradition emphasizes personal magical power invoked by the use of certain tools, spells, formulas, methods, and techniques. It ascribes magical properties to herbs, roots, minerals, animal parts, and personal possessions. Some spells even make use of bodily effluvia and detritus (menstrual blood, semen, urine, spit, tears, nail clippings, hair…you get the picture). Hoodoo spells are typically carried out with accompanying Biblical text, usually from The Book of Psalms, but they are generally not performed in Jesus’s name. The intention behind hoodoo practice is to allow people to harness supernatural forces in order to improve their daily lives.”

Isn’t what you’re doing as far as saying Blackthorn can’t/shouldn’t be using the word Hoodoo very similar to the days of “Whites Only” restrooms and drinking fountains? Should anyone be able to practice Christianity, or call ourselves Christian, seeing as how Christ was an Isrealite? Take anything that uses a name or technique that originated from a different race or culture. Should someone not of the originating culture be allowed to use that name or technique?
Go back and re-read the first half of the second paragraph of the pasted section about herbs, roots and minerals. I think, by definition, Blackthorn’s teas are exactly what that paragraph says.
I cannot speak to the way she handled your criticism. But, I can say that what you are saying about her using the word Hoodoo is every bit as racist as you claim she is being by using the name.
We are all human and we all bleed red. Don’t be part of the wedge that divides us. Be part of the glue that holds us together.

 

Before I begin my breakdown, let’s bring out the Racist Bingo Board!

So close to Bingo!

And because there was absolutely monumental fail, let’s crack out the White Privilege bingo, just for this!

First ever debut on Black Witch! W00t!

Now, my response. Anything I add that wasn’t in the original comment block will be in a different color:

Oh, look! A racist appeared!

That’s a nifty quote but I’m an actual Black person who works in libraries and research! And knows about Hoodoo and Voodoo from both a research and cultural perspective.

Let’s breakdown the bull because there is so much fail here in this comment.

“Hoodoo is neither a religion, nor a denomination of a religion—it is a form of folk magic that originated in West Africa and is mainly practiced today in the Southern United States”

It’s is a cultural practice. Some practicioners actually see Hoodoo as a form of spirituality and religion given that there are deities and spirits they do work with. Hoodoo was born from the extremely restrictive terror that slavery produced as a resistance to the psychological mind-breaking tactics commonly applied, such as ripping culture and history from someone. It has some Christian components to fly under the radar of slavers and overseers but held on to many different West African components (that varied because there were different tribes in West Africa) so they could retain their history while dealing with torture conditions. Either way, it doesn’t reduce the importance it has to a culture. Dia de los Muertos is not religion based but it is definitely Mexican culture and nothing else – and should be respected as such. Ditto with Hoodoo.

Addition: Speaking of Dia de los Muertos! Disney thought the exact. same. thing. The Latin community considered it quite loco and were loud about it. Academic expert in Latin representation in media William Nericcio said it best: “[Hollywood’s] attitude towards culture is like a pelt hunter from the 19th century. They need the skin that people recognize and value in order to sell a project that will yield predictable profits.” Blackthorn is doing the exact same thing. And it isn’t “value” in a good way, it’s just something to snatch up and profit off of while still holding damaging beliefs of the group you took from. Like Black slang and dances. 

Now, Disney withdrew the trademark and rightfully should, given their long, long, loooooooooooooong history of portraying racism throughout their many films. Even the “diverse” shows on the Disney channel have racist and colorist underpinnings (Name me three Disney shows with dark-skinned lead characters in the last ten years. Extra points if they’re girls). Blackthorn should do the same. And the film that Disney was making? It was Coco. They would have done super okay without the legal colonizing, the film did well by itself. Dia de los Muertos isn’t just a fancy backdrop for an animation film, there is history and culture there and those need to be respected. 

“Isn’t what you’re doing as far as saying Blackthorn can’t/shouldn’t be using the word Hoodoo very similar to the days of “Whites Only” restrooms and drinking fountains?”

NOPE! It isn’t. Blackthorn is hijacking a word that is not from her direct culture and history. She’s White, she comes from a group of people that made it so that Hoodoo hadto exist. It’s just another form of colonization, she’s taking something that isn’t hers and was created specifically because of prejudiced people like her. She would have been fine-ish if she was engaged with any part of the Black community, (I know her and met her, she’s definitely not) but instead, she’s hijacking. She doesn’t even practice hoodoo.

It’s not the same as “Whites Only”. Jim Crow rules like that primarily existed to benefit White people and uphold supremacist thinking through de jure laws. I’m not trying to uphold supremacy of any sort, I’m telling White supremacy to get it’s hands off of snatching other things. She isn’t part of the group, she’s just using the name baldly for money making purposes. It’s racist to do so.

“Should anyone be able to practice Christianity, or call ourselves Christian, seeing as how Christ was an Isrealite?”

“Ourselves”? What is with the “Our?” I’m not Christian and neither is the core audience of this blog. Christianity – especially Western Christianity – has a looooooooooong history of imperialism and forcing others to practice Christianity for hundreds of years. It’s actually part of why Islam and Judiasm has a bad rap in Western nations, because Christian influenced media depicts them poorly. This means the point you just raised is super moot. You can’t say “should people practice Christianity” when it’s been forced down so many throats – it’s even how Hoodoo, Voodoo and even good chunks of Santeria came about. Because Christians don’t know how to leave other people alone.

“Take anything that uses a name or technique that originated from a different race or culture. Should someone not of the originating culture be allowed to use that name or technique?”

Not if they absolutely plan to hijack it as if it’s just a nonsense word like “Pepsi” or “Swiffer”. Or use it to evoke stereotypical beliefs already established (Hoodoo has a lot of stereotypes due to White culture and beliefs creating those stereotypes.) Then no, they need to keep their hands off of it. She could have named it Blackthorn Celtic Teas (which is more of what she actually practices) and the name could have been just fine. If you can’t be respectful as an outsider, then don’t bother at all. Especially when all they’re using it for is to make money. Which is what Blackthorn is doing.

“Go back and re-read the first half of the second paragraph of the pasted section about herbs, roots and minerals. I think, by definition, Blackthorn’s teas are exactly what that paragraph says.
I cannot speak to the way she handled your criticism.”

A) We’re not in a college class
B) You are not a professor
C) You really want to be mindful of your words here, this is my spot, not yours. Don’t sit here and be abrupt with “Go back and read…” as if I’m too stupid to comprehend what I read in the first place.

I know aplenty about roots, herbs and minerals. I also know that different roots, differnt herbs and different minerals have different and respected meanings that varies throughout many different cultures because of their varied histories. Anyone practicing magick for longer than a few months would know that. Blackthorn showed no care or concern for that and a vast majority of the teas she had were not exclusive to Hoodoo roots and herbs. I’ve seen green teas (That’s Asia), for example. “Hoodoo” in her brand name is strictly that, a name. No connection to the actual product in a way that makes sense.

It doesn’t matter what you think about how she handled her criticism. She did that to herself, that was her own choice. She wants to be racist and defend it, that’s on her 100%. I have no sympathy for that.

“But, I can say that what you are saying about her using the word Hoodoo is every bit as racist as you claim she is being by using the name.”

How is it racist to say, “You’re hijacking a word from a marginalized community you’re not apart of and it is not right. Especially since you are from the community that does the marginalization”? Racism doesn’t occur in a vacuum. You’re just being stupid by saying that. It’s not racism to defend your culture from racism. It’s plain and simple defending from further colonization and prejudice. She wanted to make that simple-minded choice for herself, that’s what she did. She should have known it was going to cause a problem – unless she thought her buyers were going to stay White. White folks tend to be actively blind to prejudice that thoroughly benefits them, just like what you are doing now.

“We are all human and we all bleed red. Don’t be part of the wedge that divides us. Be part of the glue that holds us together.”

This is such utter crock. I’m a Black human being. I have a history and a culture and an idenity that is unique from other histories and cultures and identities. I’m also female, do you think women shouldn’t have access to menstrual items because guys can’t use them? Here’s the thing, you may want to ignore it but we’re all different humans. Painting with a broad brush is a nonsense argument. We’re not judging people by blood type (though I feel like you don’t research how racism even impacts medicine – including how people give blood) people are being judged by their skin tones and the darker you are, the worse it gets – to the point that blood does get spilled and at a lot greater rate than their far lighter counterparts.

” Don’t be part of the wedge that divides us. Be part of the glue that holds us together.”

You should tell Blackthorn that, she needs to stop being divisive by being so racist. You, too. You’re not preaching to the Klan here, you’re on a Black person’s website.

Black Voices and Copycats

Recently, it was discovered that Huffington Post’s Black Voices section doesn’t have any actual Black voices in them. Revealed by Lara Witt, here is the line-up:

Not a single Black person in sight. Apparently, there is just one Black editor but Huffington Post need to do a lot better than provide a token and call it such. Even Slate uses Black writers for The Root, a Black-centered publication. Read more about it on The King of Reads.

This is intensely problematic and a good representation of when I bring up that just a White person can be liberal, that doesn’t mean that they are not racist or prejudice. Their more conservative counterpart may stab you in the front but White liberal thinking is intended to stab you in the back and call it a back rub.

If it looks like a major jump of logic, let me break it down:

Huffington Post likes to present itself as forward thinking, and progressive liberal – they are the ally to the White ally. They are the New Republic’s less intense sibling, and Slate’s half-relative. Here’s the thing: they tend to spout  such rhetoric (and personally, I find anything “progressive liberal” hella suspect but that’s also because I lean Independent and find progressive liberals as wayward) but it all boils down the same: White is right, no matter what. Everyone else is just the extras and rail grease for the plot wheels of their personal life story, not people or individuals. They pass around and trade imagery of Black people being murdered, harmed, violated or just treated negatively like baseball cards and with a dehumanizing interest, like they’re watching a really long play of The Wire and Treme. They want to feel involved in such action – without getting seriously hurt and somehow maintaining the place of “narrative-setter”, of course – that it makes sense they would want to write the perspective and narratives of others that they don’t understand in a more human way. As far as they are concerned, it’s pretty easy: take a Black person – one that preferably can’t speak well and resembles as close to a possible Black caracture as possible (options are coon, zip coon (the educated coon), etc, etc) – add violence (preferably police violence or Trump/Nazi-related violence), add a clickbait title with a picture and there you have it, racism-induced yellow journalism at its finest. It’s the Huffington Post way. And the way of plenty other publications but Huffington Post is the one that got caught here.

Another problem is the fact that this white-washing of writers and writing means that worthwhile Black writers aren’t getting hired to write content. Not even about their own lived experiences, which means the info is always going to be secondary. Always. It doesn’t matter how many Africana Studies classes you take or even how many times you see Black Panther, that doesn’t make you any less racist or any more knowledgable of a Black person’s lived experience. And this is the thing that Huffington Post themselves would whinge on when others do it.

It’s not surprising that Huffington Post hires a crap ton of White-writers. They’re the exact same people thought this picture from Executive Editor Liz Heron and said “Notice anything about this HuffingtonPost editors meeting?” was an example of “diversity”:

I notice it looks like a Women of the Klan meeting, plus a couple tokens because “model minority”.

Granted someone will say “Hey! There are some Asian people in that room. You have to look a bit to find them but they are there.” That’s because White liberal thinking loves the “model minority” myth of Asianess (quiet, demure, won’t cause a fuss) so it really makes sense that there would be some in there, especially as human deflectors of “This room is not diverse! This place is not diverse!” It’s a popular go-to.

Actually, some people in HuffPo have noted this:

“[The Huffington Post] has taken a strong editorial stance in favor of diversity, but this diversity is not reflected among the staff.”

The Movement has a good article about this. It’s good that someone noticed but it doesn’t change the fact that no one further up the food chain listened. The quote and article are from 2016, it’s 2018 and nothing has changed. That and for some place so progressive, they have to fuss and gather just to get a union.* Huffington Post just can’t walk their talk and appear to have zero desire to do so. How can a place have a strong editorial stance in favor of diversity but not where it counts, in the hiring? That’s not a very strong editorial stance if the editor can’t look around their room and go, “Something is amiss…why does everyone here look just like me?” That is a willful blindness. And one that is getting them into problems more than once and over the same thing – Huffington Post’s non-commitment to diversity.

Omake!

This post posted early while still in WIP mode (sorry! I didn’t know). However, a comment by Ashlesha J was made:

Yea I noticed that about two years ago and spec following them. They were posting a lot of content about white women and bm ww interracial relationships, then attacking the commenters. It was obviously not a black person behind the account.

The poster alleged to be biracial but if that was their political stance, then idk…Seems like they were just white

Nothing surprising here, frankly. Actually, this version of “virtual Blackface” is pretty common more and more because everyone is more anon online buuuuuuuuuut there are usually dead giveaways that someone is not part of a particular social/racial group. The dead giveaway: they don’t actually know how real Black people think and talk, just whatever idea they picked up from media (which rarely, if ever, caters to anything outside the White gaze).  I’m not surprised that it happened. It’s almost like they want to shoehorn in their ideas while looking like they are presenting something else. 

*I had to get that dig in there, it’s just progressives are not that progressive. They’re just foolish and forget that the world is not Woodstock and Cochella combined.(I’m not a fan of progressive types, I am going to super self-disclose that. They just are not a reasonable lot.)

There seems to be a mini movement in pop magick – called such because it is very surface and fluffy bunny – where brujeria is getting the same treatment that voodoo, hoodoo and smoke cleansing/smudging gets: everyone wants to do it, no one gets actually what it is.

Let’s start with the facts: Brujeria is “witchcraft” in Spanish. That’s it. There are so many different forms of actual brujeria such as Dominican Hoodoo, Santeria, etc etc etc. There is more than one kind. And involves a wholly hell of a lot more than sage sticks and very threadbare, culturally appropriated flavors of feminism.

I want to call it “orientalism” because that’s what it sounds like but I’m certain there is probably a version of the word for Latin culture getting the same treatment.

Orientalism, for those that don’t know, is the “well-meaning” racist practice of treating a culture (usually the far east) as if it is window dressing to Western existence. It’s Buddha heads, “mystical” practices of feng shui or tai chi, saying one believes in the yin-yang but a) pronounce it wrong and b) doesn’t really get that it’s far more than “there’s good and bad to everything”…things like that.

Now, it’s Latin America’s turn and with people who honestly have no idea what they are doing.

I first was asked about it by Everyday Feminism. I was genuinely confused as I never mention brujeria at all on my blog (because I don’t generally practice it – I’m Afro-Caribbean American, not Afro-Latin American) but I’m being asked pretty in-depth questions about it as if I have. The article never got posted as far as I know. I think the person asking was hoping I’d be more “grrrrrrrrrrrrrl powwa! Sage away Nazis! Rawr!” than I have ever portrayed myself in the history of my blog but I gave the usual “here’s some info” that I portray more. It weirded me out because I saw inklings around Tumblr but I just thought people were…y’know, not taking it seriously. Or letting Latinx folks having their space. Newp.

Here’s the thing: I don’t mind cultural practice, it’s bullsh*t that concerns me more. If it smells pop, it probably is. I’ve now seen more people (non-Latin, not-Hispanic, nada espanol anything) toting it about, even other minorities/PoC who never touched anything remotely Latin outside of a midnight run for Taco Bell. It’s odd to go from one end to, now, all of a sudden wanting to work with Spanish magick…or just magick with a Spanish name because it sounds different – even if the practices they use are about as White or non-Latin as all get out. That’s a problem because Latin magick and witchcraft is an authentic and varied practice with a lot of backgrounds (*cough*and deities*cough*) but it’s getting condensed into stuff that is more fitting on American Horror Story when they had the witchy season (I have never seen the show but I always see it floating about, or at least its aesthetics when stuff like this gets mentioned). That’s not good.

I am not a fan of snatching someone else’s culture and parading it as your own because it sounds different. Brujeria is very general, and it sounds supportive of minorities but not really. It’s just a thin sheet of “we don’t know what you are because we don’t and we still want to take from you so here”. This is what happens all the time when folks lump indigenous practices together (“These stem from the native americans” – which one? Lumbee? Blackfoot? Sioux? There’s a lot of various tribes. We haven’t even gotten to Latin indigenous tribes like the Aztecs and Mayans) and act as if that is being inclusive when really it’s not. Spanish culture is already super different and diverse, so would be the magickal practices. Someone who is Chicano will have a different history from someone who is Puerto Rican, who will have a different history from someone who is Dominican, who is…you get the point.

Long story short, it sounds magnificent on the surface but you don’t have to get that far past the surface to see that it is something that it very much isn’t. It’s better to do your research than plow head first into being a foolish person that just wants to dabble and feel cool.

Race-Blinders

Ah, a group I was in had kittens over a complaint I had about lack of diversity. They simply booted me out without known warning. I didn’t think the response would be that bad but then, again, this is what happens pretty common in White dominated spaces, especially the ones that try to present themselves as “forward-thinking”.

They go “we don’t tolerate prejudice. We don’t like racism, sexism, etc etc” It’s usually a hint to what they will accept if it can be subtle. And not even super subtle, just simply omit the usual words that make it brash and they’re fine. In White dominated spaces, this is super true about racism. Saying the “n-word” is (sorta) not okay (I say “sorta” because it doesn’t stop them from trying) but using AAVE/ebonics and doing verbal Blackface is consider fine despite them being forms of racism. White dominated groups think they’re fine if they just avoid the usual slurs and that the Black person noting that it is not is a “troublemaker”.

When I brought up the whole “hey, this place has a diversity problem”, one person brought up that the subject of racism is a trigger for them (it’s a space for people with trauma disorders so the term “trigger” is appropriately used here) but here’s the thing, well, two things: a) the talk of racism is a trigger but acting it out is not? b) I’m usually okay with people having odd triggers because the traumatized brain works very, very odd (I explained this in a previous post) but a White person saying racism is their trigger is like Warren Buffett saying investing and money is his trigger. In a way, it is a bit odd because how could a White person be more troubled about racism than a Black person to the point it’s a psychological trauma trigger? They’re not killed as a result of it, they have far better opportunities in life from the existence of it, it really helps them out immensely. Not to mention, if anyone should have a trigger about racism, it should probably be the Black person. They’re the one that has to worry if the police officer on their street will turn into a cold-blooded murderer. They have to worry if a White person won’t try to mow a group of their peers down in a car or air out their business, place of worship or school because they feel entitled to do so. They have to watch videos and pictures of ice-cold murders or acts of prejudice of people who look exactly like them be circulated on the internet like trading cards. That is traumatizing. That could easily create a trigger for a Black person because it is a repeated enough trauma to very much count. To say that simply the subject of it is triggering but to engage in it all the same? That sounds less like an actual trigger and more like a “this makes me uncomfy as a White person”, especially since I hear this from other White people who also engage in racism and don’t have trauma disorders. They just don’t call it “triggers”, they just say something equally stupid like, “this causes bad vibes” or “ we don’t tolerate racism, you’re just blowing it out of proportion”. I know this because this is what I commonly run in to in White-dominated groups.

Here’s the kit and kaboodle, the trauma disorder group I was in usually has people in the chat all day long just going “I’m so gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay/traaaaaaaaaaaaans/queeeeeeeeeeeeer/etc.” Being happy in who you are in the face of adversary is fine but then there is this overdoing it to the point it practically seems like they’re not and they’re joking like cis straight people. That and given their uncomfiness with racism, I think if someone came in there and said “I have so much melanin! My skin is loooooovely. I’m so Blaaaaaaaaaaack,” it would probably make people act shifty. Like, the White folks in the group can chat about their family history heritage but it’s not as accepted to joke about how family history for a Black person is way more murky (I think I only know who’s who in my family up to my great grandparents and relatives on my mom’s side. Up to my grandparents on my dad’s side). It makes White people “uncomfortable” the realities of historical racism and institutionalized racism. Here’s the thing: it happened and it’s not that lava hot a subject unless it’s made to be. Not every time a Black person talks about their lived experience is a construct to induce White Guilt (which is a pathetic and selfish concept in and of itself). We don’t exist as walking life lessons to a White person. We are people also.

It’s really annoying that I can’t participate in the groups I want because if I bring up that there are any issues, it gets iced out as “she’s causing problems for our happy group!” but they also want to say “we don’t have problems and prejudice here and if we do, we root them out”. They don’t, they just root out the person that says, “hey, here is a problem.”

And this is usually a big problem in White dominated spaces. Even official ones. I remember being in a hospital for my disorders and was told that the idea of being afraid of police is an act of paranoia because police officers are here to help and be trusted. If you’re White, this is absolutely true, you get Officer Friendly, here to protect and serve. If you’re Black, you get Officer Jigsaw, here to maim and sever. It’s not irrational for a Black person to see a cop come near them and think, “Great, I’m about to die.” Then there’s the fact that you can’t talk about racism as a trauma because the doctors (who are usually White) get really, really defensive about that, especially if you note that they don’t have diverse doctors at all. Like, if you try, they say you’re getting aggressive, even if you’re calm about it. And if they think you’re aggressive, congrats, you risk getting snowed with pills (unless you’re good at knowing your patient rights) all because you brought up that prejudice does indeed exist and can indeed cause psychological damage to a person.

Having blinders on is acutely annoying, to say the least. Especially since a White person in the group made an all call saying, “Hey, we should have more diverse youtubers about trauma disorders” and it’s accepted politely but I mention, “Hey, we need more diverse voices because hearing White people use AAVE is annoying”, I am booted. Granted a person could say, “your version was harsh” but I don’t think there really is a nice way to say it. And the way said is already “nice” enough. It’s a problem, not a compliment, the basis of the statement isn’t “nice” in and of itself.

Frankly, what is it with White people and they wanting to appear forward-thinking and good but really don’t want to put in any effort to do so? Especially when it comes on the ground of racism? They want a trophy and ceremony for being non-prejudiced buuuuuuut when it is brought to their attention, they have a conniption about it at the person who said it is an issue, especially if they themselves are not White. If this is how groups keep their spaces “drama-free” or “problem-free”, it just builds an echo chamber that deludes itself in thinking that it is forward-thinking because they got rid of all dissenters instead of tackling the problem.

It’s no surprise that I get a lot of dabbling questions. We should revisit this and why it’s not a good thing.

Dabbling is the act of having a cursory interest in magick, witchcraft and the occult. And it staying cursory: you just want to cast a spell or raise a spirit just to see if it will work.

Now, while nothing is wrong with curiosity, dabbling is more “let’s see if this parlour trick works” versus “I have questions and I wonder…”. That and people seemed to want to work with dangerous magick, difficult magick or entities that even I would not work with. I have no idea why people want to raise Beelzebub for kicks but they do. Then they wind up in my inbox expecting a one-step solution to making such an entity go away. (There isn’t one.) This gets annoying. Fast.

Dabblers are a little different from fluffy bunnies but with omega overlap. The overlap is both are fairly gullible and know nothing. Dabblers don’t care they know nothing. Fluffy bunnies think they know plenty while knowing nothing. A lot of Pagans and Witches started as fluffy bunnies. Some fluffy bunnies slide back into Dabbler territory. Some fluffy bunnies actually go on to becoming real practitioners. Then you got your select few that are always in the middle: The know enough to not count as a fluffy bunny but they don’t care enough or have the patience or brains enough to be a real practitioner.

Here’s the thing: I’m not of the “if you don’t believe it, it won’t happen” crowd. I’m more of the “you mess about enough, something bad will happen out of your aimlessness”. Whether you believe or not I don’t think needs to be too much of a factor but what you put together does. However, I have gotten letters from people who just bought a Baphomet shirt to be edgy and after something inane happens, they write to me thinking they mistakenly summoned the devil. It’s a mix. Either way, I tend to get letters from people who are very much the “let’s see if this works” and find out that, oh wow, it does.

It’s better for people to do one of several things:

a) don’t dabble (seriously, don’t)
b) do at least some research before dabbling. Outside of watching The Craft and Harry Potter
c) if you summon something, get rid of it yourself. Don’t bug other people. Can’t get rid of them? Congrats, you have a roommate until you can figure it out.
d) if you’re going to dabble, don’t call yourself a witch – you’re a dabbler

Pretty simple, no?

Another issue with Dabblers is that they spread their misinformation everywhere. They don’t know what they’re doing but they talk about it as if they do and it becomes a case of the blind leading the blind. They cite spell recipes that make honestly no sense, they slap at least three different cultures together, no care or concern to as what happens. And some make their way to my inbox because somehow, the search bar on my website magically doesn’t work or appear to them (I’m being snarky here, dabblers, use the search bar). Watching a television show and burning a stick of sage (dabblers don’t even know the history behind that! Or the different variations!) doesn’t make you an expert on anything. Not even close. It’s just absolute nonsense.

Frankly, I would suggest to not dabble. Do your homework. Know that burning sage over everything is pointless and borderline cultural appropriation (*koff*hint: indigenous people*koff*). Be smart and don’t bother others pointlessly. And most of all, do some off-line research.

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