Category: Pagan Life


The Lull of the Trickster

I have noticed something recently. Perhaps it’s my curated online experience, but I noticed that trickster entities have gotten a bit of a boost in pop culture popularity over the last few years. For example, Loki (due to Marvel), Anansi (due to American Gods*), and in general culture (I guess in pop witchy culture) there is a charm to having “trickster vibes”.

This is all really sweet and cute. It’s nice that different entities are having their fun in the sun. Including ones to literally invented the concept of giving others the shaft – or, if they’re bored, make you give it to yourself.

Trickster entities can be useful. In some ways, they are startlingly honest and to the letter. The problem tends to be that you don’t always know where the honesty lives and which letter they are sticking to until the very end – usually after the trick is over. Trickster deities are clever, that’s their thing, but they are not for newbies. The biggest fumble I seem to be informed is that people summon and get surprised they don’t get what they expect.

What I mean is they summon Anansi, expect to see Orlando Jones. Who is an actor. A great actor. But still, not a trickster deity. Also, the allure of a trickster entity is fun looking, because who doesn’t love a good prank? Watching one play out, I mean. Most don’t like to be on the receiving end of one.

It’s too easy to rattle my cane and go “stay away from those tricksters, you whippersnapper!” Sounds haughty and such. There are people who work, pray and practice with trickster entities – “entities” because not all of them are deities, they could be spirits, sprites or other beings as well. Because these entities are part of life, not something to throw away or ignore. However, working with them is not easy. They will teach you lessons, important ones, but it can really sting. And if my inbox shows me one thing, the average person hates when the cosmos goes “lolz” at their expense.

If anything, it would probably be better to say to have some experience under your belt before working with these types of entities. At least enough so you know when it’s time to say “enough”. And to know that you can’t just outwit a trickster. I get those in my inbox as well. Letters along the lines of “Wanted something, asked a trickster to do a thing for me, tried to cheat the trickster because I never intended to pay/think this would work/assume there would be backfire, trickster cheated me instead – how could they?!”. Usually sent by newbies.

Trickster entities are important, they teach you lessons – usually hard lessons and with very little padding. It doesn’t matter how thick skinned you are, how unruffled you believe you can be – they can find a slip in the armor and make it seem like a planet could fit through. However, they’re also remarkably tricky. It really is astonishing how many people forget this exact fact. “I made them promise to keep their word” never works, but I have heard this one. At least twice.

So, I think its nice that more entities and deities besides the usual roster are being picked and worked with but a good tip: If you learned about them from comics or fiction, maybe do some research first. Because what you see is not going to be what you get.

 

 

 

*Yes, I’m aware of the recent issue about American Gods and how they unfairly booted Orlando Jones. I loved him on MadTv and Everybody Hates Chris

I got sucky questions so I am doing a Free Space.

I don’t have a lot for free space, to be honest. I have been up for a while so my brain is still running on half-speed.

I also have been playing a lot of video games since I got the new computer. What I have been playing so far:

  • Let it Die
  • Felix the Reaper
  • The Sims 4 (with a major bevy of mods)
  • Dead By Daylight

I plan to get Tekken 7, especially because they have the character, Leroy Smith. What I find charming/funny about this character is:

a) they are a Wing Chun fighter, I have been doing Wing Chun for over a decade now (thirteen years, I think?) and it is rare to find Wing Chun fighters in video games. I only know two games with Wing Chun, Tekken and an indie game called Shaolin vs WuTang vs The WorldShaolin is a really good game, I recommend it. Insanely technical and true to each style featured.

b ) Leroy Smith is Black, I think the only people I have ever known personally who practiced Wing Chun were Black. All my teachers (who are also on the Wing Chun family tree under Grandmaster William Cheung), the vast majority of my classmates, just about everyone. If they weren’t Black, they were Asian. I remember only meeting three to four people who didn’t fit this profile in the ten plus years.

c) I am totally tickled that Leroy Smith is practically one of my teachers (sifu). My original sifu is a Black man with dreads (not white – though, the years are indeed passing so there are teeny slips of gray) who has a pitbull. I will never not find this uncanny accuracy hilarious.

d) The Wing Chun is accurate. Tekken 7 level accurate (meaning, they have to throw in some flair) but accurate all the same in performance and function.

I always like playing fighting games that reflect styles I have practiced but the added representation is a brilliant bonus.

On the subject, I’ve been training others (honestly, one or two people) in super basic Wing Chun for free – it’s so I can have some exercise and I have a lot of LGBTQIA friends so it’s a win-win. They learn how to unhinge some harassing transphobe or homophobe’s jaw in the most painful way possible, I get to shed some calories while keeping pizza in my diet. Plus, I will never miss an opportunity to trash-talk women self defense courses. Because they are total trash. Teaches you nooooooooothing except how to be a better victim. Almost wholly inapplicable in actual altercations and if the woman paid for it, a complete and total rip off.

I know this because:

a) I’m a woman, I have been in several of these classes for this very reason alone. Even after I tell people “I can break someone’s arm in three places, I’m good.” At this point, I just collect the free whistle and try to not play on my phone. There was the one time I did drift into a karate self defense class taught by a karate teacher at an anime convention but that was because I saw a couple cute guys go in so my goal was “Procure phone numbers” – mission unsuccessful because all the karate kids boppled around me the second they figured out I knew Wing Chun.

b ) I always ask folks I teach if they took a self defense class and if so, follow up with a request to see if they can break out of a basic wrist grab. They are always astonished I grip tight (just like what would happen in real life) because the classes don’t teach that and only a small fraction actually know what to do.

c) Most of the classes are taught by men so it’s just over complicated movements coupled with victim-blaming flavored “don’t get raped” tips. The one class I ever saw taught by a woman, I got chucked out because she said I was “showing off”. I saw a girl literally spin herself into a chokehold with her own arm in effort to get out of a wrist grab, it was a feat to behold. I had to help so I showed a super simple movement. That’s declared as “showing off”. What I remembered, the teacher had a watery voice the entire class that sounded like she was on the verge of crying and whenever there were men in the room, she was really subservient. Ineffective teachers, basically.

I could go on forever but that is a smidge of my soapbox.

Back to video games, I really like how things are different. Games have a very, very long way to go when it comes to gender and race. And at least a solid 60% of the time, it looks like they don’t try, which leads to weak or repeated storylines as well as super predictable outcomes.  I stick with a game when I can make characters that look like me, which is what I really like about Let it Die. They have Black men and women as characters. With realistic hairstyles.

The games I have been playing recently are all games that are centered around death engaging and fun. I love the concept behind Felix the Reaper, his dances are wonderful and the soundtrack is great. Let It Die has a great soundtrack as well. Dead By Daylight is fun when I’m not sitting in the lobby forever. At least when I see racist names, I know who I’m murdering first and several times. Plus hook camping them, because I deserve to see the character suffer as they squirm to their eventual sacrificial death. As for The Sims, mods help Maxis be what they struggle to become themselves: great. How a Black child from two Black parents can come out with a slender nose and straight, blonde hair is beyond me but, hey, Maxis will make it happen.

 

Black Witch: Year in Review

I hardly do a lot of these but I have been doing a million things so yay, easy content.

This year was pretty standard to my other years. Next year will be 10 years of Black Witch. Goodness.

I did a keynote speech at a convention for Black witches, Dawtas of the Moon. I still need to remind myself to get the footage of my speech.

The interview for Nerdist was really nifty, it’s nice to have a good interview experience when you are answering good questions and not fluff.

As always, I really would like to get better questions for my blog. It may look like I cherry pick the bad ones but to be honest, it is about all I get. Either that or creepy, fetish-y people who I usually point out to their jobs and families because, bro, being gross to random strangers is not cool.

I took a remarkably cute picture of my cat, Madison.

She’s only cute when sleeping because she screaming and crying for food and snackies all the other times.

I got a new computer so, yay, I can write a single post without my computer going haywire. And play Let it Die. And Dead by Daylight.

My online store has been doing remarkably well, 3D prints have been selling like hot cakes, especially for bookbinding. I also still need to teach StopBot on my BW discord to not think “paperback” is a dirty word. StopBot is a touch overaggressive but hey, it’s great.

I got a hate site kicked off the internet. Never thought I would ever contact Lycos (who used to be Google-level big when I (and the internet) was younger, now they’re smaller than a struggling start-up) but hey, it happened. And at least since the site keeps popping back up, it gives me something to do from time to time. It was cute how Lycos tried to defend the site, despite it baldly going against their Terms of Service (ToS), then a mass shooting happened – because someone was radicalized by the crap they read online. All of a sudden, Lycos went “this isn’t harmful” to “ohhhh, we ‘forgot’ this is how mass calamities happen.” Yeah, the story of Lycos is probably what Spotify and Google reads when they want a scary Halloween story of cautionary tales.

I pointed out the bullsh*ttery that is Tennesee shop, The Holy Rose. Turns out I was right about their fake kindness and dismissive “this is your opinion” when pointed out about racism. They blocked me from their page between our last exchange and when the post went live. I hope nobody who reads this blog still shops there, it’s beyond obvious they don’t care about minorities/PoC, just their money. Spend it on these Black women stores instead: I did a feature on the vendors of Dawtas of the Moon. At least the money stays in the community and out the pockets of “well-meaning” racists.

I’m certain there’s more that happened this year but I have been so swamped with my other work, MultiMind, that I honestly can’t think of it right now.

Instead, here’s a cute gif.

Taking away protection from another.

This is an ethical gray area – okay, not that gray, we’re slipping a little into the dark here.

There are (rare, very rare) times when this is okay – such as dealing with a very pesky and nagging issue/person who seems to be impervious to it all. So, it’s time to chip away or take away whatever makes them teflon or turn their teflon into kryptonite because they need to fall and preferably fall away from you.

The other (read: most) times, it’s generally frowned upon and for good reason: everyone thinks they are the hero in their own story, even the villain. Sometimes, you don’t know that it’s you who are the villain in the story, not them. And given the kind of emails I generally get from people who want to dabble simply for revenge – a good chunk seems not to care if they are good or bad, someone slighted them and that someone has to pay. Again, this is why it is frowned upon in general. A lot of people, in my experience, don’t have the proper emotional management that it takes to decide if this is a viable route to go down. All they know is that they are mad and someone made them like that.

No matter what, it is always important to note that life is not always straight forward, good guys lose, bad guys die; good guys become villains, bad guys turn new pages. The roles shift in everyone back and forth. In magick, things are even less straightforward, “occult” means “hidden” for a reason. People want to protect themselves but some think “protection” means “everyone is diminished but me”. Others can believe that someone is harmful to them and really, it’s all in their head but now someone innocent is an unwitting target a la “Tell Tale Heart”. Simply because of underlying ego/self-righteousness and the fact everyone has a personal blindspot of themselves, stuff like this can go south pretty fast.

It is difficult to determine when it is time to do such spellwork. It certainly should not be considered overnight and if you’re new to magick (under two to three years at minimum), it should not even be done at all. Not even considered. I think for practiced witches, it should be in the “Last Ditch Effort” category because, again, there could be a good reason why someone is so difficult to take down. However, then there is sometimes the idea that the person simply is an actual, difficult foe that has way too much armor for the awful that they cause. Improbable but not impossible.

Though difficult to tell, it is not impossible to differentiate whether it is time to act. For one, if the wrong doing is objectively wrong and for good reasons. Not simply, “I don’t like this because it makes me personally feel bad.” Yes, you have some who prefer to play devil’s advocate but there are some clear-cut ideas of wrong doing. Such as murdering someone simply because the skin they were born in, no other reason. Even if you can back that rationale with “well, they might have done something” or “everyone tells me that these people do actually commit wrong”, “One person in this group has indeed committed wrong at one point in history. Everyone else in the world is perfect, me included” or “I have never seen a grand, positive display of this group in anything ever, therefore, I can not believe that this particular one in front of me won’t cause wrong doing”, it still is a biased perspective, not an objective perspective. To know the difference takes time and experience. And even with those two, many still make bad calls.

Either way, it’s a choice never to be taken lightly. If you want to do it, please have at least half a decade of magick under your belt and have some streak of looking at issues in a rational, not emotional, way. Make sure it is the last option of all things, mundane and magickal. Especially mundane. If you want to ask someone else to do it because you don’t have the skill – don’t. Find a different solution and don’t drag others into your problems.

 

I had gone to Dawtas of the Moon last month, it was a good experience. These are the vendors I saw. They are all Black Women-owned brands.

Kaleidadope

Created for Black diviners, these are tarot decks that have a very new and fresh feel for them. I have written in the long past that there are little to no decks made for Black practitioners and the one that stands out to me is Lo Scarabeo’s African-American Tarot deck, which sucks beyond comprehension. It’s full name should be “African American Tarot … as envisioned through the White gaze”. What garbage. It’s nice that now, there are decks for Black diviners made by Black diviners. This means decks that are culturally comprehensive and lovely to look at.

Their site shows all their wares, I really like the cd deck the most, it is extremely imaginative. They also sell candles and oils

 

PeaceCrownD

PeaceCrownD sells satin caps designed for big, natural hair and pretty pillows. Check out this Africa-shaped one!

The caps are designed with banded, rugged elastic not to slip off during sleep. The creator also does customs for those with bigger/longer hair, like dreads. They also do custom pillows!

 

 

Elementals/ Oceans and Rivers

Elementals are flower essence infusions meant for personal practice. It is similar to oil practice but also, some can be taken internally so read carefully and check with professionals on what you can and can’t do if you go the internal route.

There is more on the Oceans and Rivers site than there was at Dawtas, including programs to promote proper emotional and mental wellness in Black girls and women.

 

BrujaTarot

BrujaTarot is a diviner that does paid divination (before you go, read the ethics page: it is very fair and justified) and sells bath pours. They come in the variety of Cleansing, Prosperity, Protection and “Road Opener”. Check them out!

Also, her kitty graces the bottle.

I am a sucker for cats, what can I say?

 

Simplymade x Sope

SimplymadexSope sells infused waters for practice, such as rose water, Florida water, lavender water, etc. I really like her Florida water, it is wonderful and smells magnificent! They also carry oil blends, Simply Loved Oil and Simply Happy Oil.

Check out their line, I really recommend it.

 

9Energy Power

I got the resin I talked about in my previous post from her. She carries quite the selection in her store.

Not only but she also sells wooden wall art, which I find very awe-striking and ornate. I like the Oshun one most, the honeycomb effect is stunning.

In addition to resins and wall art, she sells bath pours and specialty candles that function well for spellwork.

I feel like talking about fire/candle magick. I had just gotten some resin from Dawtas of the Moon (I will be posting the various vendors I saw there in The Arts! next week) and it’s quite nifty. Generally, I don’t do magick with charcoal because I just never tried. I always kept my practice pretty simple so it’s never veered into view for me.

When it comes to magick, I like to use fire. It feels very absolute for me. That, and it is useful. Want to do quick magick? Birthday candles. Talk to someone who has passed on? Jot it down and chuck in flame, done. Make something come into being? Fire of creation. Make something leave being? Fire of destruction. Very versatile.

Also, before I continue, I always like to point out fire safety. For the love of all things, practice fire safety.

  • Have baking soda, soil or sand nearby, especially if you are working with oils
  • Give your flame a 3’x3′ box of room, even if it is a teeny candle. (Some deities and entities like to be flamboyant, they will flambe your home if you give them a chance. Heck, they’ll attempt to flambe your home even if you don’t)
  • Keep animals (especially fuzzy ones) away from flames. This is not television, they will not keep a respectful distance from the flame. Do not fry your pet in effort to imitate what you saw on tv
  • Use fire-safe materials and use them in the way they are supposed to be used. For example, want to put your candle on water? Get a floating candle. Do not stick random candle in water and hope for the best – fire can start on water
  • Using oil? Got a fire? DON’T use water to put it out! Review below gif on what that looks like.

You don’t want this

  • Got an oil fire? Slide (not clap down) a lid over the fire if in a container to cut off oxygen. On a flat surface, place lid over flame. On water? Get baking soda or sand to throw on conflagration

Alright, now we got that out the way.

Fire magick is very one-and-done for me. To use resin seems to be a good fit to expand that. Especially since there are so many kinds of resins. I personally like dragon’s blood (for both its smell and purpose) but never worked with the resin form. It is originally a resin but I always used the oil form. I guess I used to think that resins were difficult to work with because they didn’t look like anything I had ever seen before back when I was first introduced to them years ago.

Now that I have resin, this makes me want to get a hanging censer or something. I definitely see how putting together different resins could really be impacting and simple in spellwork. I always prefer simple. If I wanted complex, I could have became a ceremonial magician.

In short, I think resin my personal practice is a nifty little addition.

What is it about pointing out racist tea brand names that makes people get emotional?

It’s, of course, about Amy Blackthorn’s tea line “Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends”. Made by a lady who is not:

A) Black

B ) Practices Hoodoo

C ) Participate with Black culture or identity

I have written about this twice in the past, including Blackthorn blocking me because she doesn’t like when people point out problems. Also, full disclosure: I know Blackthorn. Met her before, have mutual friends and associates.

Sometimes, my writing bodes well. Read this letter I received a long while back from Dear Darkling Magazine’s editor-in-chief:

Hello,
My name is Alex MoeHagen, and I’m the editor-in-chief of Dear Darkling magazine. We were recently contacted by Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends, and asked whether we’d like to sample their tea for review purposes. Knowing only that this brand was popular among the pagan community, we agreed.

However, as our writer was doing research for the piece, she grew increasingly uncomfortable with their usage of the term “Hoodoo.” She reached out to me, and I did my own research, which was when I found your blog post about the company.

Dear Darkling does not support or condone any sort of bigoted or racist behavior, including cultural appropriation. The more we learned about Blackthorn, the more we knew we would not feature their brand in our magazine. Not now, not ever.

I just want to thank you for being public about your experience with Blackthorn. Beyond their clear appropriation, their behavior during your interaction was inexcusable. I’m so sorry you had that experience, but I’m glad you wrote your post about it. It proved to us that Blackthorn was not a company we wanted anything to do with.

Also, I want to thank you for the list of POC tea companies. We aim to support and amplify POC voices whenever possible, and with it being tea season, we’re happy to have some new companies to drool over.

All the best,
Alex MoeHagen

Editor-In-Chief

Hooray, I was listened to! Notice how easy it was to simply pull up a rudimentary google search and go “Ehhhh, no”? Wow, it’s almost like there’s no excuse to be bigoted or pretend you’re not bigoted when you can literally fact check for free now!

Then you have people who knuckle down or get super defensive about this very fact. Enter metaphysical shop from Raleigh, North Carolina, The Holy Rose. I learned about this from an unwitting mutual. The Maryland Pagan circle is big in some ways, unbelievably small in others, what can I say?

I informed the shop of the problematic brand and the response was less than awesome. Granted, I literally did enter the convo with “I would not be too surprised to find disagreement” but still, they got defensive down the line. Which I will show later.

I will be honest, whenever I hear “Thank you for your opinion” in this framework, I always think of it as dismissive, as lip service. And we’re dealing with a fairly White Pagan ran store on the subject of racism. Boilerplate replies scratch me a little odd here.

And here come the excuses. Time to crack out …. The Derailment Bingo Board!

Here is a blank copy so you can play at home!

 

Hold on to this because we’re going to compare boards later! But first, before we continue, I want to bring up this fun fact: A thing doesn’t stop being racist simply because you surround yourself with tokens. Being “multi-racial” is not the same as being “Black”. It just can be code for “I’m all White with a teeny dash of native/latin/whatever”. Heck, I know Black folks who sincerely believe racism does not exist – didn’t protect them from being harassed unfairly by cops or passed over for deserved promotions. Racism is racism, whether you want to believe it or not.

Plus, how much you wanna bet they’re not going to read the post I linked? Given their dismissiveness, you could probably bet the bank. Especially if they read it only after being informed of this post.

Alright, moving on!

Apparently, The Holy Rose does not know the difference between “opinion” and “fact”. Opinions are derived by emotions, facts are proven displays of information. However, you can have an opinion based on fact.

As explained by website Key Differences:

Facts and opinions are often uttered in the same breath; the terms have a huge difference in their meanings. Whether a statement is a fact or an opinion depends on the validity of the statement. While a fact refers to the something true or real, which is backed by evidence, documentation, etc. On the other hand, opinion is what a person believes or thinks about something.

The site even provides a handy-dandy chart.

Saying “Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends is racist” can appear like an opinion but the difference is the fact that I provide proof and description in my past posts of why I reached that conclusion. I am not blindly assuming the brand is racist, I explain the issue of the racism. Over and over. It’s not an opinion when there are two whole posts (now, three, if you include this one) about this singular issue.

Also, The Holy Rose thinks I am trying to debate. I’m not. That’s being defensive. Saying I’m putting words in their mouth and “you don’t know me” is super childish at best – and defensive. Acting as if I am simply going to others because I personally don’t get along with Blackthorn instead of reading what is provided, is being dismissive. Based on the facts displayed from The Holy Rose, it gives me the opinion that they are as thin-skinned as Blackthorn herself.

They don’t draw conclusions based on someone’s opinion … because reading fact-displaying posts is hard? It’s not going off the opinion of others when they point you to a post you refuse to read. And it seems from jump they already drew a conclusion from their own opinion from the instant dismissiveness of first reply. And then followed up with their second when faced with a link. Like they tried to shut down the conversation before one could even start.

 

They constantly wish me well. I wish they’d listen.

 

Open minded doesn’t mean putting up a blank, dismissive attitude when someone brings a problem to your doorstep nor jumping to conclusions because the word “racism” was uttered and now you have to protect your feelings and your ego. That’s being close-minded.

Now, time for the Derailment Bingo board! This is what I marked out:

Holy cannoli, that’s a lot of picks! I half wanted to pick “I’m not being defensive!” as free space

Time to break down what I picked and why I picked it, starting from top left

You’re arguing with opinions, not facts

How many times did The Holy Rose say that I was spouting “opinion”? A lot for someone who goes by their own. Reminder: there is such thing as fact-based opinions, firstly, and, secondly, if you choose not to read something literally provided to you out of ego, that does not mean the person who provided it is spouting baseless claims – it means you wistfully ignore information avenues. It’s one thing if you call someone’s bluff and they reply with no receipts. It’s another when they provide receipts before a bluff can even be called.

Being dismissive of facts without reviewing them, to call them “opinions” means that you think the facts are “fake/baseless”, no matter what.

Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if the store saw this post and then said “She twisted our words to make us look bad!” – despite posting the whole conversation from start to finish.

Your experience is not representative of everyone/I know another person from your group who disagrees/ But you’re not like others in your group

Remember, this person is “multi-racial” and “70% of my clientele are people of color”. This sounds like they’re trying to debunk the seriousness of my claim that Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends has a racist name. Because I feel like they don’t stand in the shop with a census in hand collecting ethnographic data day in and day out.

Also, “People of color” is not “Black”. Includes Blackness but is not synonymous with “Black”. And Anti-Blackness is very, very rife around Non-Black People of Color (NBPoC) so not exactly the statement I would run to as a blind defense.

Actually, if the shop is any strong percent of not-White, then shouldn’t the fact a racist brand getting in be a concern? I mean, don’t you want to keep your 70% of whoever is strolling into your store?

Besides, it doesn’t matter if their home customers do or don’t complain, it is still a problem. Let me share a teeny story from my life. I used to work in a martial arts weapon store. There were flags you could buy, including the Japanese imperialism flag (the version of the Japanese flag with the rays coming off it). We had Civil War stuff, both Union and Confederate. We had WWII stuff – wait, no … we had German WWII stuff so little chains that had a teeny tiny SS helmet on there and such. The person who owned the store is from Egypt so not tooooo versed with Western issues and flags. If it sold, it sold. They are goods. He was a soldier, not a scholar, before he became a shop-owner. I pointed out all the issues with the items. He, at first, went “No one complained” and I replied, “Do you really want to wait for a pissed off a Krav Maga teacher to express why this is a bad idea? We sell to fighters. This is bad!” And when I talked in depth about the terrible histories of what each item symbolized and how affected people (especially those with abilities to break bone) react, he quickly decided that something should be done. So I did some re-arranging and established a policy or two so there wouldn’t be too much discord. At minimum, divided the Japan/Korea flags so the imperialism Japanese flag wouldn’t sit all over the Korean flags. At maximum, kept the more troublesome stuff out of plain view and did a 50 Questions with anyone who selected it anyways.

It kept the peace and I had little to no crisis to worry about. Little things like that can prevent a lot. Part of running a business is problem prevention – trying to foresee an issue and stop or stutter it wherever possible. Sometimes problems happen anyways but at least you will only have five issues, in opposed to fifteen.

You’re seeing problems where they don’t exist

The Holy Rose dissolved my concern from being a pithy opinion to acting as if I am operating on a personal vendetta against Blackthorn to scorn her. At this point, I think Blackthorn is dull-minded, selfish and a total racist douche but I don’t exist simply to lay her low. She’s not the only dull-minded, selfish, racist douche I have ever met. Nor do I have time for all the dull-minded, selfish, racist douches that I have met, I’ve a lot on my plate. That’s why there’s only three posts on Blackthorn in the near decade of my blog.

Oh, and as a reminder, The Holy Rose person said this without reading anything in my provided link. So they think it’s a personal tiff when it actually isn’t.

I don’t find this offensive

See above where I mention The Holy Rose person says they are “multi-racial”. It doesn’t matter if you don’t find it offensive. It is offensive, plain and simple, for objective reasons.

 

Man, Derailment Bingo has been so useful for years.

Look, I get that The Holy Rose wants to be emo because actual accountability is difficult. The smart thing they should have done would be to be more receptive instead of offer a bland “thank you for your opinion”. That’s where they screwed up. Blackthorn likes making money off of the idea of Black experiences as a White person in Paganism, that’s her thing. As a shop, you can easily tell a product line you carry “Hey, I got some unsavory news about you. We’re not sure if we can still carry you because the name could cause fall out and we’re not Amazon or Walmart, maybe we could work this out?” This is a Pagan marketplace, finding tea sellers and makers is not that hard.

As per usual, here are a couple Black-Owned Tea Makers:

WyStone Teas

Ivy’s Tea Company

Refused Rebuke

Of my teeny weeny list of hate mail*, I have another to add. Angry Christian decided to send me a passive-aggressive (?) prayer.

This is the Light of God.
I command you, unclean spirit, whoever you are, along with all your minions now attacking this servant of God, by the mysteries of the incarnation, passion, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the descent of the Holy Spirit, by the coming of our Lord for judgment, that you tell me by some sign your name, and the day and hour of your departure. I command you, moreover, to obey me to the letter, I who am a minister of God despite my unworthiness; nor shall you be emboldened to harm in any way this creature of God, or the bystanders, or any of their possessions.

 

Let’s break down the bullsh*t, folks!

Here’s the thing: I understand Christians are told to proselytize and spread the word of their religion, to convert people as if they are playing some very, very weird game of Pokemon Go: Religion Edition. However, they should sincerely stop. Christianity isn’t a dying relic by any stretch of the imagination (there would probably be a lot less wars, abused kids, and dead people all along the LGBT spectrum if so), there really is no need to act like it. It really would not kill anyone to just let others be in their own faith. Literally. Like, Christian history is loaded with going to random places and going “Bible or Massacre, you pick” – even to this very day. The smartest thing to do in this instance is to clean that up and STFU until their own house is in some semblance of order. Every religion has screwed up people and groups but Western Christianity need to learn to put the bullhorn down and focus on their problems – not cover it up. **

 

Alright, now the actual text:

I command you, unclean spirit, whoever you are, along with all your minions now attacking this servant of God

Man, am I glad I can decipher Christian prayers, otherwise I would just toss this in the “mumbo jumbo” mental (and digital) bin.

I searched my entire email history (very easy to do with a couple clicks!) and this person, Lotus Flower, does not come up at all. New person. Either this person lives in a detailed saga in their head or … they live in a detailed saga in their head. With exception to very few cases (as in, less than three), have I ever done any variation of doing a jinx/hex/curse/hot-foot on anyone. Everyone else, I rather get my lawyers and/or federal agents.

 

Lawyers: It’s like summoning demons but you sincerely can’t tell the difference

Here’s the thing about me – I don’t tend to attack others. Point out issues and fallacies, sure, but not seek others out for the sole point of bullying and/or derision. I don’t cruise Christian sites and go “You guys stole Yule!” or “Why does Trump exist? Why did you let Trump happen? And Hitler? And … man, we’re gonna be here all day.” Because that’s silly and juvenile. And I’m busy. Sincerely busy – I even miss posting times because of all the stuff I have to do! Why the heck would I go after a no-name nobody for some wild reason?

by the mysteries of the incarnation, passion, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ … that you tell me by some sign your name, and the day and hour of your departure.

Truncated for brevity, but basically, “You are bothering me, when shall you leave?” Given I’m not actively doing anything to this person, let’s go with “Nothing ever happened to leave from”? This rebuke would be heavy – if it was useful. Oh! and rebukes don’t really work if you email them to other people for roughly the same reason you can’t spend a twenty you just xeroxed – it isn’t legitimate, just a simple copy.

I command you, moreover, to obey me to the letter

Nah.

I who am a minister of God despite my unworthiness

Is it just me or anyone else getting creepy The Preacher/Son of Sam/amoral Puritan pastor vibes? Like, every person I have heard this from usually are thirty seconds to launch in the “religious frenzy” way. It evokes the imagery from the preacher, Mr. Dimmesdale whipping themselves in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

This person probably shouldn’t be a minister if they’re holding this messed up a brain. Everyone has issues, including and especially community leaders, but when you’re reaching Hawthorne-level, that’s a problem.

nor shall you be emboldened to harm in any way this creature of God, or the bystanders, or any of their possessions.

Again, not doing anything to this person or anyone else in terms of magick. Because, again, why would I? Even somebodies I don’t maliciously bother so why would I go after a nobody? I feel like I’m on the weird end of every “I have a witch that is bothering me” letter that I get. Because witches have regular lives as well. Jinxing and fixing takes valuable time, effort and energy. Most people are not worth that.

The person who sent it went by the name Lotus Flower. That’s more Eastern, not Western, based faith. If you’re going to be a douche about people practicing different faiths, don’t hijack others.

This is hardly a concern for me, heck, even breaking it down, it’s not even standard hate mail (yay, something else for my friends and I to vote on). It’s just some person on the internet that emailed me a rebuke as if those work through digital transmission instead of performed. Yes, “they could have performed it” person – true but it’s like a random person getting a restraining order against Idris Elba, not really going to do anything because there was no problem to start with. Therefore, redundant and useless unless you parade it in his very baffled face.

If anything, the person may have been serious but this just comes off as ridiculous and random.

*Seriously, I’ve been running for almost ten years and only got maybe 3-4 pieces of actual hate mail. One was voted as “hate mail” because the English was so garbled and jank, I passed the letter around to my friends who studied everything from linguistics to psychology and even STEM. They majority voted “hate mail” but with a narrow margin. Democracy in action, everyone!

** The concept of “church hurt” exists and I’ve been asked if I’ve experienced it far more than I have ever heard of any concrete ideas to combat it. Dude, I am rarely in churches because I’m not Christian, no, I don’t have “Church Hurt”. But maybe instead of making excuses for it and giving it a name, do something about it for those who have. Not waste breath on me.

 

It has been a while since I have done any proper divination. No palms, no cards, no natal charts, no rods, nothing big. I still skim and such, out of habit, but nothing in depth.

I think part of this has something to do with how things are going. Since everything is up and down like a boat on choppy waters, I kind of don’t want to know the future because A) Something crappy lies there and/or B ) don’t want to incite the nasty habit of trying to avoid crappy thing and make it bigger or make it worse.

Divination is very helpful and the longer you have been at it, the better you are at quick reading omens and the hints around you. However, I don’t feel a need, outside of doing a birthday cartomancy spread or dream interpretation, to do more than that.  Unless I am seriously in a bad bind with absolutely zero solutions and sitting on a crowd of failed ideas, I don’t turn to divination as much. I don’t need to pull a card to decide if my month will be going smoothly or not.

Divination, to me, is like spell casting: I don’t have to do it every single day to be legit. It’s a skill, a practiced, long-wrought skill. I still know more than enough to jeer shows that present a Death card and go “Yer gunna die” because it’s the Death card, not the Death Note (which doesn’t exist (If you are a chaos practitioner – this is not a “for science!” challenge. Do not attempt)). I still know more than enough to note that if tornadoes pop up in my dreams, I should most likely take mental stock of what’s been going on lately.

It’s just, not everything in life, including some of the bad stuff,  does not need a “Warning Ahead” label. Divination is there for guidance, not to be used as a step-by-step “How to Exist” guide. Because, though literally no one likes it, even bad things can be useful (Note the “can”. “Can be” is not synonymous with “absolutely always”).  And even cards, mirrors, pennies and palms can sometimes just go “Yer F*cked. Big Time. That Is All.” Or go “Hey, found the problem: You. No viable solution available because, hey, you’ll royally blow that, too, so why bother?” It’s better to not develop an over-reliance on divination. It’s a great forecast but it’s no proper replacement for an umbrella or snow boots because you eventually will still get rained on or snowed in, despite your best efforts.

I’m pushing these two questions together because they pretty much on the same track

Hello! I would like to start getting into and educating myself on African religions, spirituality, and witchcraft but I don’t know where to start. Every book or article I come across is just giving me the whitewashed versions of what I’m looking for. Honestly, idk what I’m looking for. I live in New Orleans so I have the resources that I need I just don’t know what’s the real thing and where I could get it from. Can you help me out? Thanks in advance!

– Jessica R.

So I recently decided to make the jump and start practicing Paganism, but I have absolutely no idea about how or where to start. I feel as though this (Paganism) is the path I need to take to finally come into my own. I would honestly love it if I could find some kind of person with a first hand experience with the craft to give me a better understanding of what all of this entails. Any recommendations?

– C’ara B.

Firstly, for the person who lives in New Orleans:

  1. Walk into any Black owned/Black staffed metaphysical shop.
  2. Skim the books available
  3. Bug anyone who looks like you with questions
  4. Wash, rinse, repeat

For the second one: I have quite a few books littered throughout this site, I recommend poking about.

Onwards with the rest of the answer:

Now, it comes as no surprise to pretty much anyone that Western Paganism bears a very, very White face. Even on cultures that are extremely non-White or exist as a result of the horrors of European-based colonialism (examples: Voodun and Hoodoo, Santeria and Buddhism). It’s a major problem and one that is deftly ignored or responded to with pandering, patronizing lip service – if not met with declarations that, for some stupid reason, acknowledging that division exists and is quite pervasive “is divisive”. White Pagans like to steal from other cultures for the “Otherness” and to Whitewash them as if it was always theirs. That’s going to create conflict, whether they like to note it or not , given that most people don’t like being robbed from.

Paganism encompasses “nature-based belief systems” because it is Latin for Paganus, which means “country-dweller” because of the strong connotation that the person who lives in the country participate in folk/indigenous beliefs. This includes all indigenous faiths, folk religions, etc. These faiths didn’t start out in Europe and then spread everywhere else. They are from all over the world and should reflect that. Especially since Whitewashed versions of these faiths are simply not as legitimate. For example, I would not practice with a White person claiming to be a Voodun priest/ess, a loa, unless they had sincere and extreme in-depth knowledge about Blackness as a culture and an identity, pan-African history, the fact that it was their ancestors who caused the grief and turmoil that created some of these faiths (and not regard it as a good thing), etc etc. Oh, and was deeply involved in the Black community, even to their own detriment (meaning, giving up or rejecting their White privilege at every twist and turn). White folks like that are so few and far between, it’s probably easier to say they probably don’t exist except for nanoseconds at a time. Because it is a mindset, and very self-aware one. While the faith can have room for all, you have to acknowledge invaders and colonizers*. I’ve yet to meet a White person that practices with Voodun deities who knew more than five Black people. The face of indigenous and nature-based faiths should reflect that. But it doesn’t.

I have written about the White-washed Yemaya statue, for example. And my experiences at Pagan events.

This incessant racism also dribbles down to the books, you’re hard pressed to find diversity among the diversity of subjects. Especially Llewellyn, which, I should remind, legit sent me their book about the creator of Llewellyn and somehow deliriously thought it would get any glimmer of a good review from me. Apparently the dude was supposed to be a Champion of Justice just because he had one (1) Black friend and held some Uncle Tom/White Man Burden sector of the NAACP (who has not had a glowing repertoire when it comes to dealing with “well meaning Whiteness” (read: Rachel Dolezal) nor always being for Black folks (read: dismissiveness of Black Lives Matter)). For all the wonders this Random White Guy did(n’t) do, somehow, that glory for racial equality never made it into his publishing house in how he hired or who he published. Making whatever nonsense acts he did maintaining one Negro associate and shelling out money to a Black advocacy group with a checkered scorecard pretty much phony – just like him.

The problem is also that means there are few, decent researched books about Paganism. I always recommended Lauren Manoy’s Where to Park your Broomstick because it’s a good beginner book in general and she acknowledges that prejudice exists. She a White writer but at least she’s not a stupid one, hence why I always recommend her. Can’t say the same for most of the others I come across. New Agey books are really a disservice to those who actually want to learn and gain info. Not feel like they’re doing something because they burnt a stick of sage, wear Killstar or procured a drug habit. Paganism is a lot more than acting out The Craft or American Horror Story.

But in terms of books of culture-centered practices, it’s even harder to come by. For example, because of the pop “bruja/witch” phase, it’s going to be very hard finding reputable sources in Santeria because so many are going to be whitewashed and probably by people who have only know three words of Spanish, if even that. Add in the fact a lot of these cultures are not always in English and tend to be oral traditions, that multiplies difficulties.

I’ve made do with simply researching from an academic stance and mainly, if not only, selecting non-White (and preferably female) researchers. That has probably been the best way I have learned. They have bibliographies, they are fact checked, etc. These books exist in academic libraries and even normal libraries. As far as websites go, I would very much strongly suggest to make sure you’re not getting online screed peddled as actual fact. That means knowing the difference between a fact and an opinion, when you’re getting biased information and more. This is a multi-disciplinary skill but a useful one so you don’t accidentally turn into a Hotep.

Though, have you seen the Hertep skit from The Black Lady Sketch Show? It is comedic and a buoyant display of what not to listen to:

 

* For the whiners who claim “then Black people who practice Euro-centric gods shouldn’t be there, either.” Uhhhh, Black people were forced to literally follow Euro-centric beliefs. Like, actual death held over their heads. That and it isn’t the same because of that glaring fact. No one is forcing White people to practice Hoodoo or else be brutally murdered in the worst way.

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