Category: Pagan Life


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Before I start with this post, there’s gonna be a teeny-weeny change here! Black Witch will be using Venmo for instead of Ko-Fi, now. For a few weeks, I have began posts with “Support Black Witch with Digital Coffee” as a way for readers to donate via Ko-Fi but it’s getting switched to Venmo. This will be it’s own post but for now, let’s continue with below.

Alters
This is a trailer for a short film about having Dissociative Identity Disorder. Constant readers will know that I talk about DID pretty extensively, especially if there is any good media about it. While this is simply a trailer, the video looks great, just like the website.

Does not center Whiteness
Just about every storied retelling of DID I have come across has a White person at the center. Sybil: White. Split: White. Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde: White. United States of Tara: White. Even when I look at documentaries about DID, they feature White people, always. Besides K-Dramas Heal Me/Kill Me and Hyde Jekyll, Me, everything stays very blanche neige. Even only super recently did I find a Black youtuber who talked about having DID, axolotls-in-a-trenchcoat.

In Alters, the lead is not White, but Latina. The alters don’t appear White. This is really great because not every person with DID is a White person. For example: I’m not White and I have DID. Severe and extensive long-term childhood trauma happens to way more than just to White people. Way, way more.

Well Researched/Well Done
The trailer doesn’t appear that they will rely on DID tropes but be more honest in its retelling. Basically, the creators did their homework, it seems. Usually, stories about DID sound very absurd and always forget that every person with DID all started out the same: with extensive childhood trauma. It appears the lead will be moreso humanized than anything – a person with DID who is simply just trying to get through life just like everyone else.

The website even has a fact sheet about DID. Also the writer for the script has DID herself so it really showed for great accuracy from a primary person’s perspective.

Why this trailer appears promising
Reminds me of another, creatively accurate telling of DID, short film called “Inside”, which I have also featured here. DID is not a hard disorder to display if you have enough actors on one hand (and a smart researcher in the other). Those with DID constantly say that their alters (short for “alternate identities” – not to be confused with “alter ego”, which is generally used by entertainers, not those with DID) are like separate people, complete with their own ideas, looks, thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes. While this short film plays on the mental asylum trope (dark and spooky), the depiction of what it is like to have DID is pretty dead-on.

I really look forward to seeing the full film, which also will be featured here.

Abdullah X
To say that this is a constantly changing world is putting it lightly. In America, there are constant mass shootings, a numbnut in the White House (that’s working on getting himself impeached because a) he’s a numbnut and b) don’t take help from Russia to become an American president, we’ve got a long history together and it isn’t a fun one, so much going on. And super hard to keep the faith. Or at least keep the faith from getting twisted. America has a very, very long history in both Christian extremism (Timothy McVeigh, Ku Klux Klan) and the more displayed in media, Islamic extremism (Daesh/ISIS).

Religion extremism happens from a bevy of reasons – xenophobia, nationalism – but it basically is a power grab thinly veiled as “God told me to do this”. In pretty much every case of religious extremism, it’s usually a group of guys – or one guy – who thinks God wants them to murder everyone but deep down, that’s more of a phony front than anything. The Klan believes the bible doesn’t want Black people to exist (really, they just want to murder Black folks wantonly because they’re incurable terrorists fueled by racism). Daesh/ISIS wants the West to back off and spread Islam everywhere (really, they just want to do a power grab in an unstable political environment because they’ve murdered other Muslims by the payload, too). Sticking with both Christianity and Islam, there is nothing in either of these religious texts that say “murder everyone who disagrees with you”. Tons of stuff about accepting others, especially those who help others like doctors and teachers, but nothing about mass murder being a great PR move.

Zeroing in on young Muslims trying to navigate the world around them, it can be very tough. Everyone thinks you’re a terrorist. You start to become paranoid that FBI will eventually wiretap or even swarm your mosque. All this negative exposure, it leaves open the chance to be radicalized because fear makes people act in very surprising ways. This is literally how street gangs work and recruit: join us and get protection from them – or, better yet, make them pay.

This is bad news bears for so many reasons but Abdullah X breaks down radicalization for young Muslims and even tries to prevent it.

The video is really well animated and greatly done. I like how he takes the subject, it is definitely directed for young Muslim viewers. He doesn’t make his points boring, he gets to the point and is engaging. The videos serve as very good counterweight against radicalization. There also is a comic that you can download in the Apple store.

Not a Genie

I’m starting to adopt a new phrase:

“I’m a Witch, not a genie”

What this means:

I don’t cast spells for others. Ever.

Y’see, every time I have gotten a spell request from a new dimwit that doesn’t even do cursory research, it pretty much sounds like what they would ask a genie, in the sense that:

a) They want it done, no legwork or intense thinking on their part, no different than going to a fast food place instead of cooking their own meals

b) Usually for free (which is a super never-going-to-do. Spells can easily cost hundreds or thousands, no trial offers.)

c) About anything they personally want changed in their life, no different than what someone would ask a genie

It’s pretty obvious for me that they’re not dedicated practitioners of metaphysics, Paganism, witchcraft or anything remotely occult. Just whiny morons that seriously need to stop passing the legwork of their life lessons to another person in hope of avoiding any of them. Or fetish-y weirdos that would benefit more from attending like-minded groups instead of bothering me. Either way, there’s a reason I restate this callous remark…because frankly, I’ve never been a fan of people like these.

Life is hard. This is why therapists exist. This is how liquor and drug companies as well as drug dealers sucker people out of their money and lives in exchange for escapism and self-feigned avoidance from problems that are always going to be waiting for them as soon as they sober up. Always. However, people who don’t actually practice any part of witchcraft or occultism should stick with normal, mundane methods to solving problems like everyone else.

Looking for anyone to play genie is pointless. Especially because these types of people never go away if you actually help them via magick. They pretty much start to dump allllll of their life problems on your lap like you are their personal druid. All of their problems. I’ve seen it happen a good number of times in my life from others. These beggars go one of two ways: 1) They keep coming back again and again because they don’t learn (especially if the spell casting is fairly inexpensive or free) 2) They start to complain about the spell caster because life isn’t turning out exactly the way the beggar wants to, frame for frame (especially if the spell casting is fairly expensive or the caster already said no but went with it anyway because the beggar wouldn’t go away (the “not going away” part is super common)). Either way, your life gets caught up with theirs and they want to be no.1 in your life – always fixing the situation, always monitoring the situation, basically being their lookout and shield.

There’s also doozies where people go to other witches and psychics/intutives because they got scammed by some fake witch online as if there is a Witches & Wizards Better Business Bureau. (The link is nifty, read it!) Even I got one, someone complaining about being schemed by another faceless “witch” online. I think I simply deleted it.

This, by the way, opens this person up to being scammed some more because there are a lot of really not-nice people floating about on the internet willing to pretend to be anything as long as it parts you from your money faster. Then again, beggar types are very much not too bright. Folks have honestly gotten upset I don’t do paid spellwork and then accused me of attempting to scam them because the fact I’m refusing money is a telltale sign that I am very much a nefarious scammer that pretends to be a witch…hence why I refuse possibly paid requests? These folks don’t make any sense. Because they don’t think.

I saw how annoying it was for others, regardless of the pay (if there was any at all) that, frankly, it seemed better for me to just not engage with any of that at all. I do spellwork for me and me alone, because that’s how my practice is. Never for others and especially never for strangers, particularly demanding and irritating ones who act as if I should drop everything I do to help them.

Getting continual requests are very irritating for me. This is why I’m always frank and quite cutting when I get them because of how constant they are. It would be nice if more research would be done before engaging with asking me questions.

It’s Not Occult

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I seem to be running into more people who have a tendency in confusing regular life for the occult or as an act of witchcraft.

It’s should come as a surprise to literally no one that life is stressful, tricky and irritating. It is complicated, makes very little sense and all around baffling. When you have things like war, the drastic and more overt resurgence of White Supremacy as well as the general terribleness that people seem to be, it can certainly feel easier to say something nefarious is afoot and it is through magick. “Bad/Negative energy”,  accusing someone putting a fix on them or some other flexed about excuse that pretty much conveniently avoids the concept that some people are awful people, no magick needed.

The more recent claims I have heard is witchcraft. Like, “Oh, I’ve studied witchcraft. This is why [person] is being so difficult, they’re doing witchcraft.” Basically, it boils down to no matter what, it is witchcraft somehow. Their terrible attitude towards you? Witchcraft. The fact that you seem to be in their cross hairs for every little thing? Witchcraft. It’s not general malice, or prejudice, it’s supernatural.

This is a Pagan site so I’m not going to sit here and say that magick isn’t real, jinxes don’t happen and folks don’t engage in witchcraft. However, the average person is not engaged in the occult, particularly not to the point of actively putting curses on others. Maybe cursing at others but not cursing on others. When being told things like this and especially by those who never have really worked with anything in occultic studies, it honestly irritates me because it feels like it is hitting a straw poppet instead of looking at the matter at hand.

By focusing on saying “oh, it’s magick/witchcraft/the occult”, it almost works as a some protective shield from the actual reality of the situation. It starts to feel that it is a battle of energies and just a bigger Goliath than expected so if things don’t work out, don’t feel bad because it’s almost like battling an evil greater than life itself. If one faced their situation with a realistic and honest, “This person doesn’t like me and their actions are starting to drastically effect my career/life/relationship,” that can leave a whittling feeling because it’s going to be a battle of wits and a taxing one at that.

It also expresses itself by claiming everything unsavory is “negative energy”. Such as “they’re trying to pass their negative energy onto you”, “this person constantly infects the air with their negative energy”, “I think you’re giving off negative energy when you talk about why gentrification is a bad thing” and other choice quotes. While energy is transferable, it really isn’t this. Sometimes, describing things as giving “negative energy” are just things that just bothering the person who is claiming there is “negative energy” and it’s an easy way to put the issue to bed without dealing with it. It isn’t a case of some weird version of feng shui, it appears to be more of a desire to avoid a problem because it is hard to deal with.

Usually, it is said in situations that the speaker doesn’t want to engage in simply because it is too arduous, generally for them. And the speaker usually, again, does not practice any metaphysics, it’s just a orientalist borrowed phrase. I use the term “orientalist” because it is indeed borrowed from various energy work, spiritual and meditation practices from several different parts of Asia but watered way down into hyper-simplistic ideas such as the binary of “good vibes/bad vibes – positive energy/negative energy” that is easy for Westerns to understand, but only with a bunch of Yellowscare prejudice slathered on. Hence why it only really gets used when the speaker gets very uncomfortable about a situation. It would simply be better to say, “I don’t want to talk about [this situation] anymore” or “I really don’t like you because [reasons]” instead of dodging because of some mysterious force that seems to simply overpower a situation…especially when it goes awry.

Granted, these sayings get used in the positive, particularly to affirm appeal – “This place has good vibes, I like it” (actually, just “vibes/energy” gets used in the positive but not references to magick or witchcraft) – but when used in the positive, it’s not served as a justification to avoid a bad situation or explain a wayward person’s bad behavior. Not only is it foolish-sounding, it’s also incredibly evasive of actual problem solving. Both excuses – because they are indeed excuses, not genuine practices of magick – seem to be more so diversions than actual examinations of the problem at hand. And from people who don’t practice, just did cursory reading and not even from decent material. Just new-agey, cobbled up nonsense used to deflect situations and unsavory topics.

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Ah,  dealing with Christians. When they learn that someone around them is not Christian, it almost becomes professional victim time instantly. And all the while, being really harassing and disrespectful simply because they finally met someone who openly said in the same room as them, “I’m not Christian. At all.”

Y’see, I don’t cover up the fact that I’m Pagan. If the solstices come up, I say such since it is a holiday for me. If they bring up some obscure part of the Bible, I joke that I wouldn’t know because I’m not Christian and haven’t been one since Bush Jr. was in office, first term. I remember when I was in university, I bombed a pop quiz in my Middle English literature course because it was “Name five books in the Bible.” I think all I put down was three at most and my thinking went like this:

“Ok, Genesis is one. And…oh! Revelations because that’s the one Christian cite all the time. And Leviticus gotta be one because they somehow hate gay people but love football – which one has the commandments again? And Paul? Is that a book?”

I told the teacher my thought process because he lamented how easy the quiz should have been. I retorted, “Can’t you do five books in the Koran or something next? I would have probably done better. I’m not Christian, I don’t keep this info in my brain on hand.” I simply don’t twist myself into knots to learn strictly one holy text, especially if the followers seem know about it (or care) less than I do. If it were the Bhagavad Gita  or Torah, that would have been interesting. That and I was expecting a quiz on Middle English literature texts like Chaucer*. I’m already hyper surrounded by Christian belief and rhetoric, that is far more than enough for me.

My issue with Christian folk isn’t the fact they exist. It’s the fact a very sizable chunk of them think they and they alone should be the only ones who exist and anyone not them should be harassed otherwise. Because if that person states they are not Christian and have no qualms with it, it somehow is a existential threat to the Christian – despite the fact that American society is intensely Christo-friendly…to the point of literally bombing other nations for not being Christian (*koff*thefertilecresent*koff*) and normalizing the ostracization  of not being Christian. For example,  Mosques somehow are suspicious but churches aren’t – nor do they get surveyed by the FBI en masse simply based on faith despite a big amount of terrorists in America are usually Christian or Christian-leaning (and White. And Male. But that’s another column). Like Timothy McVeigh for one and then there’s pretty much everyone in the Tea Party, Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, the list goes on and on. Even Donald Trump ascribes to Christianity and the religion itself still doesn’t get a bad rap. No one else really gets afforded this luxury. A Pagan person does something not too smart, every Pagan gets hit with whatever they’re labeling that particular person. A Muslim person does something awry, the same thing happens. A Christian can be a serial gambler that eventually rents out a suite to shoot a bunch of people below with enough high-powered guns to fuel a militia annnnnnnnnd it’s just them that is hit with whatever bad rep they get – if they get any at all. (Mass shooters, unfortunately, get glorified. A lot.) This isn’t to say that Christianity should be seen as a terrorist religion (though I’m super sure Islam, and all its practitioners, would love to take a very extended break from that label everyone puts on them) but simply the fact that they have a lot of privilege for a faith that believes it is persecuted all of the time. And some of those times simply come from the fact they’re breathing the same air as someone who is not Christian, which is hardly oppression.

There is also the fact Christians tend to have a super strict “Either you’re Christian or you’re atheist – no middle, no other” binary thinking. Heck, most Christians who get the vapors about me being Pagan can’t even figure out the difference between an atheist and a polytheist. Despite being stupidly simple:

A- (“lack of”) Theist (“belief in deity”), so “atheist” = “lack of belief in deity”

Poly- (“many”) Theist (“belief in deity”), so “polytheist” = “belief in many deities”

An omake:

Mono (“one”) Theist (“belief in deity), so “monotheist” = “belief in one god”

There ya go. And all are valid because they simply are. To confuse me for an Atheist simply because they don’t want to acknowledge that, O Hark! a Pagan exists! in their midst is really insulting. Extremely insulting. That and getting moody that Christ is considered no different than any other deity – actually, Jesus Christ would be ranked as a demigod, (like Hercules) because only dad was a god, mom wasn’t – in the general Pagan ranks of marking divinity. And Christians have got to understand that”demigod” means “halfgod status”, not “demon god”. Dictionaries, moreso than Bibles in this instance, are important books, too. Just like being not a douche over religion is also important.

Being dismissive about the fact other people believe in something different is also disrespectful. Saying things like “When God finally reveals Himself to you and shows you the right way in your life -” I already have a deity, several of them. Because I’m Pagan. Which is already a religion. That predates Christianity by 50,000 years. If I was this level dismissive of the Christian god, they would act as if I personally killed Christ. Treating people from different religions as deluded, hoodwinked and stupid because they’re not Christian is super rude. Yes, the Bible said proselytize but I don’t think it said “harass, murder and start wars over this book.”

Yes, I was originally raised Christian (I’m Black and live in the South**, thus making Christianity most likely religion to be raised in) but it’s stuff like this, in addition to the rudimentary fact that upon taking a closer look to the religion, I learned I didn’t click with anything I read in the Bible or the various studies of it.  It took three years but it seemed Paganism was a way better fit for me. But what definitely wasn’t keeping me tethered to Christianity was the continual and prejudiced “our way or no way” manner of thinking that seriously pervades them. It’s like they think America is supposed to be an all-Christian nation (we’re not, sayeth the Constitution) and the planet is supposed to be an all-Christian planet (we’re not, sayeth the many billions of non-Christians). Being hateful, including to people who are simply different (such as being trans or queer) is not something I find endearing and if it seems to be a consistent trend in a faith, even down to the texts, I am not going to stick around.

For the Christians going “Not all Christians”, don’t tell me – tell other Christians so they know this behavior in very not cool. I couldn’t care less with the No True Scotsman rhetoric either because it still lowkey condones and covers for the problematic behaviors that the other Christians do that they refuse to correct. Which doesn’t fix the problem, it’s just asking everyone to play pretend that it isn’t there.

* Yes, he is French and hated the English. English literature professors still twist themselves into pretzels to include him. In the very same way they try to keep PoC/minority literature out, especially for that time period.

** Maryland is part of the South. Most northern Southern state but still the South. Part of why we are called the Old Line State (Mason-Dixon Line) and why we have a Robert E. Lee Park (which is probably about to be renamed soon, which I support) as well as a Ulysses S. Grant Park, confederate statues (some currently removed) as well as Union statues and other stuff that a quick stroll through a history book will tell you.

A while ago, I tried a particular tea brand that was part of a Pagan subscription box I reviewed, Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends. I remember saying the tea was pretty okay but the name – particular the “Hoodoo” part. To recap:

  • Amy Blackthorn, creator of Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends, is not from the pan-African diaspora – meaning she’s not a Black person. At all.
  • Blackthorn does not practice Hoodoo, she is more Celtic/Druidry, if I’m not mistaken. Even if she did practice Hoodoo, it wouldn’t instantly fix anything.

Hoodoo, like Voodoo, is an African diaspora-based spirituality borne from coping with slavery and being forced to abandon their original faiths and identities by vindictive and malicious captors, the slave owners and slave traffickers. Also, like Voodoo, it gets a bad rap, usually borne from racism.

I brought this up to Blackthorn. My interaction with Blackthorn was been none too charming. When mentioning this up with her, she had a very sour, “mind your business and let me make my money” response, which I wrote about. It was titled: Blackthorn Teas: Whose Culture is it Anyways?

Turns out, it caught traction with an online magazine, Dear Darkling magazine. I got an email not too long ago from the editor-in-chief and this is what it said:

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.

Here are the Black-owned tea stores I referenced:
1. Wystone’s World Teas
2. SoRen Tea

I am very glad to see this kind of response. Blackthorn should be more mindful of her business actions, especially during times like these. If she named her teas pretty much anything, avoiding appropriation, all would be fine and good. No discovery of awful and racist attitude, no poison pen post, none of that. It was Blackthorn’s choice to use such an appropriating name, to react the way she did, everything. Hopefully, more will drop her brand in the future as well. She earned this by herself, no one else.

In other News! I will be teaching a Cartomancy workshop at the Dawtas of the Moon convention in Baltimore, MD on Oct 20. That’s tomorrow! Also, this is technically the first post for October (The Arts! and Ask Black Witch are for Sept). I’ve just been super busy with Dawtas and dentistry (getting extractions suck).

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All the questions for Ask Black Witch for September were all crappy so free space! And it’s a couple weeks late, boo. I will spend this time to talk about stuff I’ve been doing, up to Oct 1.

I was in a podcast recently, Feminist Killjoys, PhD. I talked about Paganism, mental health and more!

Update on my cat feeder project: Still working on the code so it won’t rapid-slap my cat and then go full on rebellion. The tech stuff is mainly done, I just have to code and then assemble the whole thing. The goal: Feed my cat a cup of food once a day…and my cat doesn’t destroy the machine. And the machine doesn’t rapid-slap me or my cat. This machine isn’t evil, just very rebellious. It wants to live with vigor. I need it to tone down the vigor.

For Oct 20-22, there will be the Dawtas of the Moon convention, in its second year. It’s hosted in Baltimore and I will be teaching a Cartomancy Workshop, teaching the ins and outs of cartomancy, playing card divination. Get your tickets!

Negligence in Potion Making

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Potions seem super spooky in media. They’re bubbling, odd colors and always made in a cauldron. Except that doesn’t really happen. Most are just some version of a tea. And not usually radioactive neon colors. Or fogging over the container holding it.

There also goes the practice of learning herbalism, biology and biochemistry. These things are pretty important, especially if you want to drink the potion. This also is the part most people who learn about magick on the internet seem to neglect. A lot.

Here’s the thing about nature: not every plant out there is meant to make a human happy and content. Nature doesn’t exist for humankind, firstly. Secondly, there are a lot of plants out there that do not want to be eaten or bothered, hence why they may have poisons, thorns or a combination. The poison ivy interacts with a person, person discovers it’s not a fun experience, the ivy gets steered clear of (unless the person has access to protective gear to get rid of it or the genetics to not be affected). Eucalyptus actually seeps poisons into the ground to kill other plants around it so they can grow and flourish. Nature is not some happy Disneyland that humans can frolic and take from, this definitely goes into teas and potion making.

There is a science in potion making, several of them, actually. Otherwise, you could risk killing someone or making them super sick. Measurements, historical background, parts of plants, chemical reactions, biochemical reactions, all these things are important.

Metaphysical properties of various plants and herbs are very important in spellwork but when it comes to eating, drinking or placing herbs on your skin, there is more to consider. Some herbs may seem great but could prove harmful, or illegal. In my experience, I’ve noticed the average potionworker is not very well learned and sort of have a “if it is natural, it’s good for you” motto. And then wonder why they are even sicker than they started – or worse, misread the sickness as a sign of proof the potion is working – or still have the ailment they started with. Or are now nursing an addiction problem they’re in constant denial about and still stuck with their illness – a super common one, now.

If interested in potion work, I always suggest to learn as much about health and medicine as an actual practicing doctor and layer on top the botany and mesh it cleanly. Meaning reading tomes and tomes of medical books, biology books, etc, and with years and years of study. Take classes in health, health history and herbalism, don’t rely on the internet to tell you what to do, things like that. Taking a “everything in nature is good for you” stance is a dangerous and possibly deadly stance. For example, mugwort can help with depression but too much of that can actually kill you. There are some species of aloe vera that can harm pets if eaten. Cramps bark refer to two different species of plants. The stem of one plant could be effective but the roots of that same plant are very poisonous or there is a particular stage of germination to use the plant.

Now, not all potions consist of plants, some have additional ingredients. Simply, be ethical about it. No murdering animals (there are very effective alternatives). No murdering people (again, very effective alternatives). Don’t feed other potions that have hazardous substances such as excrement or blood. Don’t feed it to yourself, ether – there are very effective alternatives. You can still be a potion maker without acting like you’re mimicking the life stages of a serial killer.

Mainly, research a lot. Take a long time researching. Don’t just hop on some website that most likely made up some concoction with no rhyme or reason, actually learn what you’re doing. Take some classes if possible. And most importantly – don’t think everything in nature is automatically good for you.

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It’s that time of year again for the Black Witches convention, Dawtas of the Moon. It’s the second year for the convention, last year was pretty decent. So if you missed it, here is your second chance!

Let it be noted, this is an event for Women of Color (WoC) only. As best described on the event’s ticket site:

“This event is for WOMEN OF COLOR ONLY! If you are not a woman or a woman of color and you decide to purchase a ticket, understand that you will NOT GET A REFUND AND YOU WILL BE TURNED AWAY AT THE DOOR WITH A THANK YOU FOR THE DONATION.

If you’re not of this intersection, please be mindful. Last year was only WoC, no other.

There will be plenty of workshops available for participants, such as elemental magick, astrology, Voodun, and more! I will be teaching a workshop on the first day, October 20, on cartomancy called “Cartomancy, Playing Card Divination”. Last year, I did a workshop on how to research and being in metaphysics/witchcraft. This time, I will be teaching playing card divination, cartomancy.

On the ticket site, there is a rundown of events and times per session. My workshop time is 11:30 AM-12:30 PM and there are three workshops per session (to give con goers variety and choices).

The game plan is that I’ll work with a small group (I haven’t a clue what capacity will be so I’m expecting 15 people or so for my workshop) and showing how to do cartomancy and a super basic spread. Afterwards, I will be available to talk to and suches. I’ll most likely be floating around the venue, particularly around the food areas. I am not sure if I’ll be at the Black Witch Masquerade Ball, however, though.

Check out the tickets on the eventbrite, most ticket sales end on Oct 19.

White Guilt is not a Black Burden

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Recently, I got an email and this is what it said:

Hi there,

I would like to learn how to better support minority Pagans, both in my local communities and on a broader scale. Could you recommend any reading material, or other resources that might help me learn about the perspectives of minority Pagans? Would you be willing to chat with me about your own experiences, and perhaps share some things that were challenging or helpful for you, or things you wish you’d had or wish you hadn’t had to deal with? I’d like to be part of a solution, but that means listening to what minority Pagans want and need, and not imposing the solutions I think would work. I’m not quite sure how to find out what those wants and needs are, though.

Thanks for any insight you can offer,

Thista

Yeah, I wasn’t really feeling this message, hence my response:

You’re kidding, right? Like, why did you just basically ask me “Hey, teach me everything about treating other Pagans like people, especially if they’re not White. I never learned that one.” How did you figure out how not to murder or discriminate gay people on sight? How about people from religions that aren’t Paganism or Christianity? This is actually an insulting question because, frankly, the info is everywhere. Even on my own freaking site. That spans years. This isn’t some mysterious book floating about in space. You just don’t want to research and rather take the ultra lazy way out – bothering someone else as if there’s an utter lack of info everywhere else.

Why are you even bothering anyone now? Trump? Charlotteville? Look, you probably have a Resist sticker, voted Sanders and think using AAVE is hilarious (because systemic racism via linguistics is funny somehow). Maybe you should read a book. Or read something on a website. What did you expect me to say: “Oh man, I really always wanted to unload on a White person to help them better themselves because my favorite racist tropes are the Mammy trope and the White Savior trope. Because, while this literally does not help me at all and even forces me to think up really terrible traumas I experienced as a Black person, some dumb White kid gets to benefit 1000% and that means everything.” Please be serious. You don’t care, you’re just looking for a token to help you feel better.

– Black W.

They still felt that they were owed a history lesson that somehow even Tumblr couldn’t give them and responded this:

Hi Black W.

I asked for suggested resources by which I can educate myself. It’s not your responsibility to educate me. I can do that work. However, our world is full of different opinions, articles, books, and more, many of which conflict with one another. I have been reading your blog and your posts on afropunk, and they inspired me. You seemed like someone who could point me towards better quality resources, which is why I asked. 

I also asked for your specific stories, *if* you’re willing to share them, because I don’t want to treat all people of any group like one homogeneous mob. Of course it’s perfectly fine for you to say no. It’s not really a question if there is only one acceptable answer. I apologize for prying where my interest was unwelcome.

I don’t have any stickers, bumper or otherwise. I voted Clinton. I think language is more complicated than right or wrong, and that colloquialisms and other dialectical features are important cultural elements that deserve respect. 

Why did I ask? Because I was terrified to ask. Because it would be easy for me to sit here with my books and my internet and do all my research in a vacuum and pretend that I have all the solutions, but can I really help people that I am afraid to talk to? I was afraid that I would do or say the wrong thing and make you angry, and I did. I want to understand how my inquiry was offensive so that I can change my behavior and not offend anyone else in the future… but how do I do that? If asking is the wrong thing to do, then where do I find the answer? Do I really just turn back to books and articles? Because that seems to ignore the real people having real experiences, which is theoretically what this is all about… but if I can’t accept that as the answer, then I’m as hypocritical as you suggest.

I apologize for insulting you. I was genuinely seeking information, and I can see that I did so in an insulting way. Even if I don’t understand it, I can accept that, take responsibility for it, and apologize. I am sorry to have bothered you.

Thista

My retort:

You asked and I answered: stop pretending to be dumb and go to Tumblr already. I write for Black Pagans primarily. If a White person of any religion seems still confused, that’s their problem, not mine. It’s like being an English speaker reading a Japanese newspaper to better boost their language skill… and then writing to the newspaper to explain and translate some of their words since they “don’t get it”.  That’s not the newspaper’s job – to teach Japanese – it’s to report the news to those who already have the language down pat. I haven’t had any Black Pagans complain that they would like to better understand race so I’m not budging on that front. Because they’re my main audience. I never said that Black Witch was for White people to unlearn their ingrained prejudices, it was to be a blog for Black Pagans since they didn’t have any medium for them circa 2010. Due to White people whitewashing as much as they can about Paganism and because the vast majority of them are super racist. Most vote blue but are just as prejudiced as their red-voting counterparts.

Here’s the thing, every bigot that thinks it’s their privilege to ask. Regardless of if they use “if”, “must” or “Hey, I’m gonna badger you a lot because society told me my ignorance means more than your comfort”. There’s pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenty of people who have written about their experiences of dealing with racism. Some even won literary awards. And, here’s the thing: You’re gonna ask questions, it’s not gonna be a “I tell you and you go away”. Nah, I’m most likely gonna hear “Wow, that’s interesting. I had no idea White people could be terrible. Are you sure it was prejudice since I somehow can’t read readily published books on this subject? Just so I can really understand since I don’t even know who to find, even on Tumblr.” That’s being racist and I really couldn’t care less if you wanted to change or not. It’s probably something for you to do until the next Orange is the New Black season comes out, whatever White liberals do to pass the time. Steal other cultures foods and homes, like what happened with Kale and Brooklyn? White Guilt is not a Black person’s burden.

No bumper stickers or anything but funny you didn’t say you didn’t use Black slang jokingly. Lolz, not surprised.

You’re terrified to ask? That’s a load of bull if I heard it. You’re White, what’s gonna happen to you? You’re gonna lose your job? You’re going to see a burning cross on your lawn? Are you gonna get lynched? Are you gonna get ran over? Is a cop going to beat you? Will an officer raid you? Are you going to be blacklisted from finding work? Is it going to cost you a promotion? Are folks gonna march with torches about it or something? “Oh nooooooooes, racism is so scary because I benefit from it so muuuuuuuch!” Get real.

You can do this without badgering people and expecting that they’re going to kowtow to you. That’s being bigoted and this is the nicest I get to a bigot.

– Black W.

Now, I’m sure some will wonder why I was being really harsh and not simply telling this person everything that exists about racism and how it works, how it feels to be on the business end of it and all sort of stuff that you can pretty much figure out through a copy of Hidden Figures and Selma. Here’s the thing: I’m 30. I have dealt with this for yeaaaaaaaars. I think around high school, I would have probably have tried to help this person out, thinking that somehow I can reach them because I’m really good at teaching and informing. I’m still good at those things, it’s just there’s lack of access, and then there’s laziness. Usually prejudiced folks don’t really want to learn, this is just to feel better about themselves. There’s even a bingo board about this, Derailment Bingo! Actually let me break out the board:

The Derailment Bingo Board! Fantastic for pointing out bullsh*ttery anywhere, regardless of form of bigotry. Can be applicable for racism, ageism, religious bigotry, sexism, transphobia, homophobia and more!

Here’s the thing: This person doesn’t have to ask about my experiences with racism. Outside of my Race category, and even my Race and Racism tag on Tumblr, there are a super amount of books and info on this alone. Again, you could watch Selma and get caught up pretty quickly. Or actually read actual accounts of people who also have dealt with racism and even post about it. Or write about it. Or make movies about it. Or youtube videos about it. Given my personal experience of being on the receiving end of this type of question for nearly my entire life, I can say with some safety that this person wasn’t actually interested in learning, they just wanted someone not White to say “you’re not racist, you’re a good White. You is smart. You is beautiful.” And thus they will move on about their lives, still being insanely prejudiced until they meet someone who isn’t big on the Mammy stereotype. And a bonus for those that seriously refuse to get it: Black stereotypes and their related histories, including the Mammy.

I found their emails insulting for a variety of reasons. One was because, while I was fielding these emails, I already was dealing with a pretty racist experience from a business in my hometown of Baltimore City called Fisher’s Pet Care. My landlord was out of town and they sent a cat sitter over, which is fine. Except one cat sitter barged into my apartment early in the morning while I was asleep, waking me up and when asked why the heck are they in my apartment, they blurted, “Oh, are you the live-in maid? I can’t get the back kitchen door open to take out the trash.” I had to respond, “I’m not a maid, I’m a librarian“, the person still didn’t seem to get it and I had to tell them to get out. When telling the owner of the business, Matt, they tried to defend such statements with the gem of “the cat sitter didn’t know what race you were.”

Yep. While they did try to say “This sucks that it happened and I don’t understand why they did it”, it really did not help their argument to backpedal with “she was not completely aware of the race you were.” It was dim but it wasn’t pitch black. As I replied in a later email, she could tell for fact I wasn’t White. I was thinking of using their services but since I don’t like racists feeding my cat and definitely not in my home, I’ll be continuing to ask friends to do it and finishing up the code for my automatic cat feeder.

Throughout the thread, I already tried explaining to Matt why what their worker said was prejudiced. Dude did a canned “I’m so upset…that I’m not even going to punish the person who did it” response. Guess what? That took time and diligence and the most that came from it was a “wow, I’m sorry you feel this way. That sucks”. I’m not too interested in doing that for everyone.

This is why I don’t try to be a guiding light for White folks who “want to be better” because that’s not my job – nor the purpose of this site, either. At all. The primary audience is Black Pagans. And that alone. Not Black Christians. Not White Pagans. Black Pagans. That’s my targeted core audience. Everyone else is fine to come along for the ride but this is primarily a site for Black Pagans. If my core audience has complaints, I listen. If folks who are not that exact intersection have complaints that aren’t legit issues (i.e, “Your facebook link is acting odd”) but instead boil down to “Why isn’t this all about me?”, I give them responses similar to the above and they can take it or leave it. I know Black Witch won’t make everyone happy, hence why I keep in mind a target audience. This chick is not in the core audience, especially demonstrated by her questioning and the fact she seemed to think that Black Witch exists for White Pagans to sorta-not-really unlearn racism. You know a token site to say “I’m not prejudiced, I watch/read/listen to [non-White]!”I don’t strive for that.

I get that some may go “well, you have the ‘Support Black Witch with Digital Coffee‘ thing at the start of nearly every post now. Should have simply directed her to that.” What she was asking wasn’t that and even if she were, clicking the link would have sufficed. I have that digital tip jar because Black Witch takes time and work that I do for free. And just telling someone “How to support minority Pagans: pay me” is super short sighted and doesn’t really make the person go away. It just sounds like a money grab and I’ll still hear the “Waiiiiiit, but if I give you money, that certifies me as ‘Not Racist Ever’ right?” that generally follows.

There are ways to unlearn prejudice and figure out how to support PoC/minority Pagans that doesn’t involve bothering one like they owe you a history lesson. This definitely isn’t it.

Support Black Witch with Digital Coffee
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Sorry for the late post but here is the Ask Black Witch for August! Good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated. Lets get started.

I got a couple question from people who don’t seem to really like reading or researching my pretty general stance on spell help, doing spells for others and love spells, especially unethical ones. Here’s a quick rundown:

Spell help: Unless you know what you’re doing, I’m not gonna help. I have a “No assisting dabblers” rule. And the two generally stand out: the practiced person generally knows what they’re doing, they just need someone to bounce ideas off of. The dabbler wants to be spoon-fed and babied and waste another person’s time. Or just have someone else do it for them. Preferably that.

Doing spells for others: I don’t do pay-for-pray (paid spellwork). Never have, never will. If I don’t do paid spellwork for others, I certainly don’t do free spellwork for others either. If a screw-up occurs, it’s because you did it. I tend to make people do their own legwork. It keeps my workload light and way, way less people bother me about fixing their – not mine – problems. Which I like. I may suggest simple stuff like “Maybe you should get bay leaves” but if you don’t know how to use them, that’s your issue, unfortunately. This is why I prefer to field questions from practiced practitioners and am harsh to dabblers. I prefer people to research for themselves, especially since occult and metaphysics is 93% reading, reading and more reading – actual info, not new-agey nonsense. Now if only I got questions from practiced practitioners and not dabblers.

Love Spells: I don’t do them, not even the general “hey, universe, I would like a date” because they’re not really my thing. Those spells are fine and dandy, still in the world of “good ethics”. They don’t control a particular person, they’re super open-ended. The universe might give you a guy, they might give you a bike (because the universe likes to troll people). But it’s open ended. However, I still don’t do them.

Unethical love spells: I don’t support abusive acts or tactics so, yeah, I’m going to make fun of you for trying to control someone else and you wind up dejected. Because I’m talking to an abusive person, which is in the top 5 of my list of “people who justify my belief and support of the Death Penalty”. Love hurts and love sucks. For everyone. If you have to control someone, you don’t love them. At all. It’s not about love, it’s about controlling someone who you believe is weaker than you or is easy to control for whatever reason. Regardless how you do it: magickally, financially, physically, emotionally – it’s wrong and you deserve whatever happens to you, simple as that.

Hello my name is Yesenia, I had someone I know cast a love spell for me but nothing work actually things just got worse for me. This person send me a picture of the candles she turn on for me and I would like to know the real meaning to the color candles she used.

– Yesenia M.

My original response:

Was it to influence someone else or general “find a date”? I mean love spells come with chance of risk. That’s why they’re suggested against so much.

Their response:

I found out that my boyfriend or should I say ex boyfriend is in prison and I found out he was writing and talking to some other female. 

Oh joy, internalized misogyny. So on top of being a control freak in relationships, they have serious internalized misogyny. If not a scientist talking strictly about biological lifeforms, avoid using “female”. It’s “woman”.

This is also why I don’t do paid spellwork. Note the “I had someone…cast a love spell for me but nothing work[ed].” Like, I’m basically being used as IT Support for another person’s handiwork. Which is not why this blog exists. And why I don’t work with dabblers. They put themselves in a bind and they want someone else to get them out of it. No way.

Here are some additional information that looks into the motivation:

I just want her to fix my relationship with him and keep away the other female he was talking to.

We have two kids together that’s not what I wanted but whatever I guess he found love even if it’s not with me

These are the motivations. The top one is not very good, the bottom one means she really, really needed to focus less on the dude she was losing and more on the kids she has.

Here’s the kit and kaboodle about the top one: if the person found out her dude is talking to another woman, instead of running to a spellworker to make it stop, she should have told the dude that a) he’s been found out and b) what are the options she will give him: be faithful or be gone. If this dude has a tendency to romp about, then he’s not worth keeping nor doing any spellwork for. This seems less of a relationship of love and mutual understanding and more of two folks who sort of earned each other. You have the philanderous guy stuck in the clink and the girlfriend who doesn’t seem to understand that forcing a relationship to work doesn’t make relationships work.

The second bit: This is why I’m so pro-choice and pro-“note all red flags, even the pink ones”. Kids are involved. They need two parents, not one. Two kids are a handful. And most importantly, they need a mom who has their head screwed on straight. Here it sounds like a lady who is desperately trying to keep a family together but in all the wrong ways. If a relationship has to go south, it’s better things like that happen before kids get thrown in the mix because then it’s not a tale of two possible fools, it’s kids that are going to get mixed up and possibly messed up. Yes, life is messy but it seems this dude might have been trouble from start (I have a feeling he’s not in jail for snatching a confederate flag or socking a neo-nazi).

The new game plan for this chick is to work on being a mom instead. Once she works out that “likes to control others” thing, maybe she’ll find someone new and can be a suitable boyfriend-to-husband and father to her kids. Until that happens, she needs to focus on the kids and stop trying to control everything.

Hi, I would like to ask something about a black candle. Because I’ve searched about it and it signifies negativities in life, is it right?

I wanna if, it is okay to use black candle for love spell? Cause I asked an old woman (who does witchcraft) to put a love spell to the one I love (my ex bf), after she does it by tuesday, he came back to me. We came back to being sweet and having a strong relationship. But the old woman uses black candle, is it okay?

And one last thing. I’m just afraid because, it’s not true love.. Or is it? 

Thanks in advance.
– Rose B.

Again, being the IT Support for someone else’s handiwork because a dabbler didn’t want to fix their problem themselves.

Anybody who has been in spellwork for at least three months would get down the very basics of candle magick and color magick. Black is a simple one, depending on how it is used. It can make things go away. It can make things happen, it depends on how it is used…and that can vary with practitioner.

About true love: not only is it oneism (a word yinked from Dr. Nerdlove), where you think that there is only one, singular person for you – it is definitely not here. True love stays on its own, you don’t need spellwork to tack your true love down and make them stay.

If the ex-boyfriend (I kind of am seeing why he left) is gone, he’s probably not true love. Yes, he could come back but it would be more of an expression of true love if he came back on his own. To force him back via spellwork is no different than if you went to his house with a gun and said “We’re gonna be together – forever. I promise you.” It’s not true love, it’s scary. And would you want someone to do either of those things to you?

I remember responding to this and saying the relationship is going to eventually crash and burn, like it did for the first asker. I still stand by that. It may be great and amazing now but that trip is going to end pretty soon, especially when the usual bumps and scrapes of relationships (having disagreements, tiffs) happen. Restrict free will and you’re going to get problems. They always happen. Especially if the guy finds out that you don’t really love him, you’re just putting a fix on him simply because you don’t like being lonely. Because that’s seems to be the actual motivation, – not because he’s a genuine, amazing person. It beats spending Friday nights by yourself, which is lame.

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