Category: Pagan Life


Good afternoon. I am meeting with my spiritual family tomorrow to discuss racism among the pagan community and how we can make Wicca more inclusive for POC. Therefore, if I wanted to start making Wicca more inclusive for POC today, what could I do? The only ideas I can come up with seem like they would veer dangerously close to cultural appropriation, such as incorporating deities of other ethnic groups into worship in order to avoid the over emphasis on Greek and Celtic deities. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Blessed be.

-Jamie

This is literally no different than the guy from last month who asked “Is this racist? I’m making a character for my personal project”. It’s bad enough this person thinks I’m Wiccan when really I’m non-denominational Pagan/general Pagan.

As much as White culture likes to assume Black people are illiterate and lazy and like to rip on us about it – even if we have degrees in literature and we work endlessly (we’ve built nations, including the United States of America, while suffering terror and torture) – they sure dislike doing actual reading when it pertains to being less racist. Doesn’t matter how easy or accessible the info. They must be personally slow-walked by a random Black person, because that’s what they think Black folks exist for, as their assistants. I have 10 years of writings and a freaking Race category. How can a group of people be so stupid it’s almost groundbreaking? You’re on the internet, none of this is hard to figure out on your own, especially on my site.

White Pagans already are iron-dedicated to keeping Paganism, which is remarkably diverse, as White as possible. If they want to make things better for people that don’t look like them, they need to stop being lazy layabouts and do the leg work themselves.

Advice? Stop being so lazy and do the f*cking work – yourselves. If you can figure out occultism, which involves dead languages, missing documents and wide chasms of historical and cultural gaps due to time and war, anti-racism should be levels easier.

 

Is there such thing as body swap spell?

– Richard Lowe

Wow, that there is living proof the coronavirus is not killing the right people. I have said countless times how much I dislike body-swap spell askers. (inb4 “he was just asking!” – it usually starts there and then they show their trash selves afterwards) They’re just disgusting fetishists, usually. I already tracked one down and reported him to police because he mentioned a real person he wanted to “swap” with. This person is no different.

Hi there!

This is Melika and I am a qualified photographer.

I was puzzled, frankly speaking, when I came across my images at your website. If you use a copyrighted image without my permission, you must be aware that you could be sued by the copyright holder.

It’s against law to use stolen images and it’s so filthy!

Take a look at this document with the links to my images you used at thisblackwitch.com and my earlier publications to obtain evidence of my legal copyrights.

Download it right now and check this out for yourself:

[redacted link]

If you don’t remove the images mentioned in the document above within the next several days, I’ll write a complaint against you to your hosting provider stating that my copyrights have been infringed and I am trying to protect my intellectual property.

And if it doesn’t work, you may be pretty damn sure I am going to report and sue you! And I will not bother myself to let you know of it in advance.

– Mel

This is spam meant to spread a computer virus. Let’s go into this.

I do not regularly post photos on the blog, and usually they are reaction type pictures I found scattered across the world wide web or related to The Arts! features. I tend to veer from personal-looking photos because they’re not what I like to use. I never have gotten a “take this down” request before so of course, this caught my eye. If I get a request, I take them seriously. But it’s a fake one, in the end.

This person doesn’t know copyright law well

Here’s the thing: you can only be successfully sued by copyright holder for a picture if a) the person used the image without credit and for financial/personal gain – aka, passed the photo off for their own and used it to make money/obtain something and b) you can prove the photo is yours, preferably with a legit copyright certificate from the Copyright Office, and there was no standing contract or anything else a person could use as an excuse to slip out of responsibility.

Otherwise, it’s an empty threat. And note I said “successfully”. Copyright lawsuits happen all the time. Not all are successful. Visual artists contend with their works being stolen all the time, it is a frustrating experience.

I’m a little lucky that I formerly worked in the Library of Congress (which houses the Copyright Office) and that one of my friends works in the Copyright Office. That and, as a creative, I have read up on copyright law the best I can.

You can do letters to a hosting provider but they do not make it super easy and again, it cannot be done blindly. WordPress runs over 20-30% of the internet. If you have no proof, you have no case.

The emo in this writing

Here’s the thing: This is a very emotion-rife letter. It’s mean to cause alarm and “this is how upset I am!!11!!!!!!1!!1”. Folks like these lean on emotion because they don’t want you to use logic. They want me to click the link, not actively debate – which is what I did anyways, because if you don’t show me the image, I will ask about it. A lot.

I could get why this could scare a newbie blogger or someone who is not so secure, lawyer-wise. I get it very easily, no one wants their site taken down because of a simple skirmish. Unfortunately, I have three different lawyers (story of my life: prejudiced people never clean up their act until feds and lawyers get involved – and even then, they are remarkably slow learners. But quick criers). So a “I’ll sue you!” is not too scary to me.

The point is to click the link

It was a google Drive link, which is also reportable for nefarious use, such as trying to spread a virus. If it is a legit take-down request, I should not have to download anything. They should have had the time, date, etc of the photo (which, at this point, is safe to say doesn’t exist) in question in the text of their email. It is not in the text, it looks sketchy.

 

Oh! And I never got a reply ever when I asked for clarification. If this person was serious, I would have gotten a quick reply.

I have gotten a lot of stupid White folks writing in because White guilt always creates lack of intelligence. You can probably guess how:

“Can you eeeeeeeeeeducate me? I can most likely recite Shakespeare and Asimov but Dr. King is too commmplicaaaaaated.”

White folks regularly like to paint themselves at super smart, better than anyone even remotely darker (and if they do think another group is smarter – they gotta be weird, odd robots (Hi, Asian America)). They have the books, the colleges, all the smarties – White folks love cementing the idea “White = Smart. No exceptions. We will literally mod and edit history books to uphold this and viciously dismiss/murder all who disagree, no exceptions.” The picture of a genius is a White person, according to them.

Except when it comes to race. All of a sudden, it is next to impossible to understand and they need someone affected to literally slow-walk them through what they need to do and the very concept that a human is still a human, even if that human does not look like them. Because they’re too dumb to get it. Countless books, blogs, movies, documentaries, etc etc, on the subject but still Does Not Compute.

It’s not “Listening to Black people”, it’s the usual, stereotypical “I’m White and I don’t want to do any work, I’ll make someone else do it and benefit/take all the credit” bs that is at an all fever pitch right around now, but with a heavy sprinkle of White Guilt, chased with a gulp of White Saviorism.

For example, there is a 14 hour docuseries called “Eyes on the Prize”. Free to stream in all its entirety. I grew up with this series, it’s really well made. I remember it would play regularly on PBS – but, oh wow, technology! You can now see it whenever you want, as many times you want and for free, been that way for years. It follows the Civil Rights movement during the 1950s to the 1980s. It came out in 1987, the year I was born, so doesn’t cover the Rodney King Beating/LA riots back in 1992 (There is a Sublime song about that, “April 29 1992”), or the Texan hate crime murder of James Byrd Jr in 1998, who was snatched and dragged three miles behind a pick up truck by three White guys (all Klans members). It was considered “Lynching by Dragging”. Or the discovery of Black people hanging from trees in the past month (Robert Fuller. Malcolm Harsch), and the fact that’s been on a visible uptick in the past three years or so.

There is also this forum talk (wear headphones, it’s pretty quiet) where the makers talk about things that has happened between 1987 to 2016, when this forum happened.

 

All these facts, all this very accessible data. Not hard to find.

Before I go into this post proper, I would like to remind everyone (read: Americans) that we are still in a viral plague. Especially America. Here is a funny and lighthearted joke video about it called “Gas Gas Gas”:

Wear masks and maintain social distancing. Not that hard. Unless you are an essential worker, do not be out and about. If you are an essential worker (grocery store, food runner, warehouse worker), please try to stay safe – and learn your worker rights. Doctors and nurses are paid a lot but not the person stuck doing warehouse work at FedEx with zero hazard pay.

Alrightie then, on to the current fare.

There is a lot of attemptive co-opting and gentrifying of Black Lives Matter by, you guessed it, White folks. Basically, it’s the current go-to to hopefully look less like a horrible person because the mere fact it took the graphic and brutal death of some random guy they most likely did not know played in 4k by a racist officer to go “Wait, Black people … are, like, people? Like, human?” doesn’t make anyone look like a literal ice cold, sociopath already. Especially since I’m pretty sure they have ran into Black people in their personal lives, worked beside them, lived next/near them, so on and so forth and none of those lived experiences most likely shared by said Black people moved the needle in their brain. I’m not a psychologist, but I’m sure that if anyone needs a metric load of graphic deaths of particular groups of people to just to feel baseline human empathy towards them, that is a big problem. Especially when people like that want to “help”. And here, it is with the usual “White Man’s Burden/White Saviorism” zest. Because it is never actual help. Ever.

I call all that I see now, the posting of black squares on social media, the manicured “we stand with BLM” statements from companies and individuals alike, attending the marches, signing up to Black Witch *cough, cough, I definitely see this*: “Pulling a Weinstein”.

Named after big-name movie giant and serial rapist Harvey Weinstein, because this is one of his many go-to tactics: Show ’em that you care! He has donated to countless charities and causes focused on gender issues such as Planned Parenthood, supported feminist notables such as Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton. He even tried to donate a scholarship fund to University of Southern California for female filmmakers but that was rejected because USC didn’t want to be in the headlines for that – otherwise they would have taken the money easily, academia isn’t that big on progress, just image.

This method is to serve as a counter-argument to every time someone called Weinstein a rapist. Which happened – a lot. It was no hidden secret that this was how Weinstein was and everyone around him pretty much okay’d it because the choice was either moral standards or paycheck and, well, electric companies and landlords don’t accept “moral standards” as a method of payment. Just make the actress he attacked feel confused and more like the perp than the victim, tell everyone she’s “difficult to work with”, donate to some big organization for women and call it a day. Remember, no guy ever had to wonder if Weinstein was going to ask him for a blow job in exchange for a role. Every time someone called Weinstein a rapist, out came the “He’s donated to xyz, he vociferously supports women, and all those girls are liars. Would a rapist donate to things that uplift women?”

If it kept him out of the legal hotseat – which it did for decades – then, yup. He would.

It’s a smart move, in a way: Look like a wonderful guy in the public eye, everyone gives you a pass to be a monster in private. Lawyers love this move, especially because donating to such venerable causes shows “character”. Even if it is about as phony as a styrofoam boat pretending to be a cruise liner. Everybody loves virtue signaling.

Annnnnnnd here we see it again. I expect years from now, I’m going to hear, “I marched with Black Lives Matters” when White people will be called out on their racism and prejudice. Their parents and grandparents already have worn out their version: “I marched with Dr. King”. Being there doesn’t give anyone non-Black a pass for being a horrible person. But, wow, will it be used that way.

Because all these acts now, they’re just “Weinstein Acts” – these acts look really nice and heart warming and sweet (they painted streets yellow! Awwwwww!) But it means literally nothing in all honesty (Instead of yellow lettered streets, how about work on red lining, liquor lining, block busting and gerrymandering?). The donations, the yellow letter streets, the black squares, the mass joining of Black influencers and creators on the internet, it’s all cute – but empty, pointless and absurd in the long run. Just White people in general, from individuals to corporations, pulling a Weinstein. Hey, it worked for Harvey Weinstein for literal decades, why not? Yeah, he fell and fell far but even the take-down was near herculean. And look at how many women who’s careers he affected and even killed during that very, very long time. It’s not like they’re all going to immediately bounce back like a spring. Some damage is simply irreversible. Time lost, opportunities lost, livelihoods lost. Weinstein donated loads of money and time to feminist causes. He didn’t do it because it was the right thing to do, he did it because he needed someone to tote out as a human credibility shield should people pick up on his heinous deeds. No different than what is happening now.

Here are four blocks of allyship, I found them floating about on social media. Made by Seerutkchawla:

Right now, I see a hefty amount of “Performative Allyship”. A loooooooooooot of it. This is why I say, “They don’t care, this is all for show.” Following Black influencers and creators (I got a payload of new subscribers for this blog, a staggering amount of them White – despite the glaring fact that this is a Black blog, for a Black Pagan readership), painting streets, so on and so forth, it’s for show. It’s to show off to other White people (“I’m better than you, nyah nyah”) and to be a credibility shield when called out by literally everyone else (“I’m not racist, I marched with BLM/read a single Black blog/follow Black people on social media.”). Even right now, on the personal level, Black folks are getting inundated by random White friends and acquaintances “checking in.” Because no other time mattered, whatsoever, including “Out of total friendship/genuine caring”. I know I can suck at keeping up with my friends but at least I don’t have to be prompted by a random brutal murder driven by prejudice to do it.

I have seen very, very little of “Authentic Allyship”. Because it is hard, there are no laurels to get and the only pedestal you’re probably going to be hoisted on is so people can throw rocks at you. You don’t get on the cover of any news brief or magazine, there’s zero limelight – if any at all (how many people know about John Brown or Jane Elliot?), it is a lot of private work and longstanding private work at that. It’s difficult and hard, but at least its the right thing. And its for anything in regards to working with groups that have suffered historical oppression. For example, how many times have I touted “LOVE GAY AND TRANS PEOPLE AND LGBT IS FOR ME. HATE DOESN’T LIVE HERE!!! I LOVE GAY AND TRANS PPL!!1!1!!11111!!!!!!” on this blog or any of my social media? I’m not gay or trans (I’m actually ace/demi but still, cis and not gay all the same). I definitely have gay and trans friends, as well as friends all across the LGBTQIA spectrum, but when Pulse happened, I didn’t flap them around for credibility, I didn’t become hyper-focused on LGBT issues during the time as if I was trying to replace OutLoud, and I certainly did not pester my LGBTQIA friends who were nowhere near Pulse when the mass shooting happened. I read their social media vent posts and listened when I could … but that’s what I generally do, literally to the point of annoyance, mass murder or no mass murder. Black Witch regularly features LGBT content to the point it’s regularly littered about on the blog, especially in The Arts! features. It’s not glitzy but Authentic Allyship is not supposed to be.

It is remarkably important for real change to occur because it is quite necessary. Weinstein donated a lot of money to good causes, but only because he was also the cause of the problems they’re fighting against. It was completely performative, he never cared to start with. He just wanted a cover so he could keep up his bad behavior, virtually unchecked. And it worked, for a very long time. It’s no different here. Performative is nice but only for the person doing the performance. For everyone else, it usually causes trouble down the line. But the performative ally generally does not care at all, because they hardly ever do. It’s all about them and, to them, that’s all that matters.

Black Witch is 10 years old today.

This blog has lasted a lot longer than I thought. I managed to keep up with this blog at some regular-ish interval.

Astonishingly, I don’t have a whole lot to say, really.  I’m sure I will before the month is out, I think part of it is that it doesn’t feel like it hit 10 years, it just feels like yet another year at BW.

Either way, I rescheduled my FB Live on my fan page to today at 6PM EST

 

 

Due to recent events, I have been getting people – usually White folks – coming out the rafters with all these questions about race, prejudice and other things that exists in reading, audio-visual form on the internet for free and easy to find. PBS exists, documentaries exists (free ones), online museums exists (especially now, in the middle of a pandemic), Spike Lee exists, Ava DuVernay exists, countless pieces of media and creators.

Here’s a letter I got:

Hi, I hope you’re well with all the horrible stuff going on. I have a question as a white author trying to write a ‘black’ character. The character starts out as white, gets blessed by the fire goddess, and her skin turns black with orange crackles like lava, her hair like ash, her eyes orange. Shes the main character, conquers the world and kills dragons, has a happy love story, and her arc is all about coming to terms with your inner strength. She is a bit shunned after her transformation, but as a whole she becomes very positively seen. My question is, is it offensive to have her change skin color? Is it reminiscent of people who die their skin to try and pretend to be black? I’ve tried speaking to fellow authors, but I’d really appreciate your input as well. Thank you very much.

 

I replied with a pretty scathing response but let’s go into detail about why I went the caustic route instead of the “Hey, I am sooooooooooooooo glad you literally want to make sure you’re not being racist in your works, Random White Person” that this person probably was expecting.

Read the Air

I’m a creative writer myself and some of my works require a bit of digging. For example, I have a VR game about the Berlin Blitz (1943 Berlin Blitz), a regular video game about WWII Czechoslovakia that uses first hand accounts from the actual survivors (Attentat 1942), links to the US Holocaust museum and regular Jewish history that does not circulate around them being very, very dead or under severe threat of being very, very dead. And this is not the bulk of my research work, just a narrow pie slice because I have a very broad spread of research – another example, Japanese-Korean history. Which stretches centuries, from when they started as nations to now. And it is not a pretty history. But I know it! And I didn’t bother a single Japanese or Korean person about it.

Notice I never said, “I badger my Jewish and Korean friends about how they feel about the Holocaust and Japanese-Korean relations” or “I bother random Jewish people or Czech people about the Holocaust or random Japanese and Korean people about Japanese-Korean relations because I am interested in this, I ran out of silly shows on Netflix and my Instagram feed is dull – oh, I mean, because I lack deeeeeeeepth.” Because those are pretty painful points of history. I would imagine the random people would not be too nice because, dude, wtf? And the friends of mine would probably correct me to say “No, no, she means ‘former friends’ because, dude, wtf?” No one has that at the forefront of their mind, either. Not even scholars. Because it is depressing.

When it comes to painful parts of history, I can ensure you, dollars to donuts, that someone very well informed and eloquent has written about it, painted about it, made a movie about it, so on and so forth. No need to bother random strangers and go “Hey, you’re really bothered by the fact people who look like me still like killing people like you for sport, can you tell me if I’m being racist in a personal passion project of mine? It’s really important to me I get this right.” If you can’t somehow even remotely google “Blackface” (even on my site I have a search bar, I have talked about Blackface before. Try using it) and you’re not sure you’re “Doing it wrong”, then pick up another subject to write about. Everyone likes cats, go make literary art about that. Every time I came across a pretty rough portent of history, I researched it for myself. Watched documentaries, read articles, viewed interactive exhibits – y’know, work. I didn’t seek out the affected individuals and bother them because I neeeeeeed to know. If I need to know that badly, I will research it.

Learn to know when is the right time and wrong time to badger a random person on the internet about painful histories of their background. Don’t ask a queer person about if they agree or disagree with random people killing them after a horrendous death of a trans person hits the news. Don’t ask a Black person if something is racist or not when they’re busy dealing with strings of murders tied to racist people killing them simply for existing. If it is too hard to figure it out without a one-on-one 1st person account, just chalk up that you might be too stupid for the subject and pick something else to focus on. Like knitting.

Try Search Engines

When I was younger, back in the 90s and very late 80s, if you wanted to know something, you had to go to a physical encyclopedia. Hopefully it was up to date (you needed a new set yearly and they were expensive), a full collection (a set of encyclopedia could range the entire length of a classroom. Some sets, several times over), and written well (White academics really really suck at writing anything that had nothing to do with, well, White-focused history (Europe and the White part of America). And I mean, who-did-you-blow-to-get-your-degree awful. Fun fact: they still really, really suck at it). There were many ways information could slip through the cracks. Crappy libraries, racism-fueled poor research, closed down libraries, shoddy schools, bad and/or racist teachers and/or administrators – the possibilities of abysmal education are endless.

And then the internet happened. And then, of all the search engines to start out, Google climbed out on top.

I do have my snips about Google – oh, so many snips – but, for all intents and purposes, it works well for information procurement … assuming the person is not looking for biased info, because that’s confirmation bias and that’s exactly how you get people like Dylan Roof and the end result of nine innocent people very, very dead (Search it). All you need is the ability to have critical thinking skills. And the ability to take a wonderful, long and thoughtful sip from the Shut the F*ck cUp. That way, you can have all the feels you want to feel, good and bad, and you didn’t have to ruin someone else’s day about it. I have done this countless times, when learning about countless places and countless events in history. It is an arduous method but a very useful one.

No, Really Try Researching

There are blogs, twitter accounts, tumblrs, documentaries, encyclopedia entries, online museums, books. So many details and so many facts exist now. I bet if I dig hard enough, I will probably find a virtual reality game where I can sit and ask a hologram of Dr. King a bunch of questions in the middle of Alabama. They already have that for Holocaust survivors, where they sat in a seat, became digitized and answered literal hours of questions so to become a full, fleshed out hologram that can be asked the same questions again and again from scholars to regular curious people. Now, you don’t have to track down someone’s poor grandparent and badger them about why they have a weird arm tattoo and “was it as bad as they say? Because some random guy online that I follow said it didn’t even happen. I just want to be accurate.”

Again, all you need are critical thinking skills. And an ability to zip it.

If doing basic research is too hard, then maybe try a different hobby. Like paddleball. Simple and no intelligence required.

I have some free space for Ask Black Witch, I’ve gotten nothing but dumb questions recently. But as for current protests against the usual plague, anti-Blackness, some free tips:
No matter what, wear a mask.

A) Black Blocs are useful because the usual historical reasons

B ) There is still a viral plague outside, you don’t need the coronavirus on top of the usual plague. Not all racists wear badges, some wear scrubs and white coats.

C) Masks can be modified or specialized against tear gas, the internet is packed with tons of resources, as well as historical information

D) Don’t wear glaringly unique masks if possible. You’ll get targeted first.

Social distancing is still important

A) Again, you don’t want to catch a viral plague on top of dealing with the usual plague. Again, not all racists wear badges, some wear scrubs and white coats

B ) Bigger looking crowd, less dashing into each other when riot cops dart into the crowd, and harder to corral – you definitely want to stay out of holding cells and jails, especially during a viral plague

C) Easier to stay relatively safe when you have at minimum a 6 ft bubble to make quick decisions in, and see around you

Gloves are nice

A) You will be touching countless surfaces, not just your sign. Riot shields are probably not sanitized so in efforts of not getting binked by one, gloves are useful in case you have to grab or stop one

B) Better grip is always great

C) Easier to clean up and take off when need be. You can’t take off your skin but you can take off gloves

Alcohol in a med kit

I’m never going to suggest drinking – drinking is bad for you, especially in a plague (that one-two punch of suppressing your immune system and your sense of judgement is not a good idea). But it is useful for wounds and quick sanitation, among other historical protest uses.

For fellow Black folks, my core readership:

For everybody else:

Because you guys forget the most

It’s been about three or so months since the US was hit with this plague virus. China has had its reactions (could have been a lot better; next time believe your doctors & scientists, not everything is a pr opportunity), Korea has had its reactions (This is what “handling the problem effectively” looks like). The US has had its reactions (This is what “Let’s try stupidity, it’s what we’re great at” looks like. And knock off the “blue is for heroes” bullsh*t, give out hazard pay and adequate, free healthcare). And countless other nations.

Many people lost jobs, have been affected or infected, died, the lot. The plague would probably not be such a major bother if there was actually a decent response to it. For example, Korea never had a lockdown. But many people in the US had “coronavirus parties”. One nation is slowly opening back up, holding concerts and sports practice, the other is whining far beyond reason about why they still have to stay inside their house … because they don’t stay inside their house and hold coronavirus parties.

I have been staying home (then again, I’m a homebody and I rather keep my distance from people even when there isn’t a rampant pestilence haunting the streets and boroughs) and spending my time 3D printing masks because I have a 3D printer and managed to find free cads online (3dprint.nih.gov). I have modded a couple cads because the designs had a good idea but kinda had a residual glimmer of suckage remaining (weren’t for wider noses, different faces, etc). I also invented a elastic strap for my usage because I like using thread and fiber feels better than unbreathing elastic.

 

A decent mask I didn’t have to mod (outside of sizing) and fairly easy to scale for custom sizes. The whitish strips are my design and the threads are hand braided. Both mask and clasps are on the 3D print site.

 

Another mask I did was printed in flexifilament, TPU material. It is a bit of a pain because I dislike printing in TPU, it has wisps while printing and after production is annoying. But it is useful due to its squishy nature.

Fits well, just need to mod where you put the filters because of how the slots are designed. The original maker made them for cotton rounds but there are a cavalcade of issues with that

Woo. These are two of the several versions I have made. I use activated charcoal wipes as filters because they work in virus containment.

Also, many states are starting to open back up again, for economic reasons. Bad reasons but economic reasons. Here is the thing: a lot of states are still on the ascending part of the graph as far as “flattening the curve” is concerned. What this means is that we are not doing a great job, at all. Open states means increased transmissions, which has happened countless times everywhere across the globe. Everywhere where there is opening up, there are increased infections. Even Korea had a brief spike but because they’re on it, they quickly managed to tie the spike of cases to a bunch of clubs in Seoul’s Itaewon District and shut all of the clubs down. Actually, clubs were forced to close all over the nation of South Korea because that was the smart thing to do. Daegu, the province where the first flare of cases occurred wasted no time shutting theirs down when they heard what happened in Itaewon. Are club attendees bummed? Yes. But the privilege of dancing poorly to a BTS song over watery speakers is not enough justification to let another major wave rip through Korea. And because they have testing so widely available, the South Korean government has been insisting that if you went to a club in Itaewon recently, get tested – no matter if you have symptoms or not. Here’s why: One person was an asymptomatic “super spreader” (meaning they shed off viruses a lot more than the average person) and in one night, visited five clubs. Dozens were infected. Actually, almost one hundred. All because of one person’s club hopping while they were blithely unaware they were carrying the plague. And this was after Korea spent very careful consideration about opening back up after having super low numbers (I am talking one or two new cases a day, if nothing at all). The USA is not doing this. No real, careful planning. No addressing spikes (the USA can’t even manage not having 1-2 new cases in an hour, let alone a day), no free, unfettered access to testing, nothing that is going to really help mitigate the virus. No state should be opening up until it is definitely established that Americans can maintain social distancing and other virus abatement measures. There have been coronavirus parties. It is beyond obvious that Americans can’t.

If you can stay home, even after your state opens up, stay home. If you can’t, wear a mask (at all times), wipe down everything and keep everyone at a distance. Someone sneezes in a room? Try to stand back even further. There is no vaccine but there are plenty of people who are very happy to sacrifice lives for selfish money reasons.

Remember, if you can’t purchase a mask, make one:

 

 

If you can, it is most important to stay home. Just stay home and wash your hands.

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.

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