Category: Pagan Life


I always forget to write these kind of things down. Spellwork is something I definitely need to get better at writing down more because I sometimes have quite forgetful day and can’t remember what spell I casted or if the thing that happened to me had something to do with the spellwork or not. I’ve got a lot on my plate always (I mean, even my posting has reduced) so I can’t always have “what magick did I do” at the forefront of my mind.

I’m sure there are apps that can help keep track of spellwork, just like there are apps that keeps track of periods – because periods are also annoying to keep at the forefront of your mind. Yes, I don’t want to bleed through several layers of clothing but I also don’t feel like doing that much brain work – thanks technology (when not insanely sexist, which is a major problem). Back to spells, I have not looked through any spellwork apps so I have none to recommend but I definitely think that people who engage in spellwork should use something that can help remind them of their practices.

I’m relatively old school when it comes to keeping track of things (outside of periods, I rather reliable new tech – like an app – do the tracking for me) so I use calendars and only recently started using emoji as visual short hand of when I do something. I only started using emojis as visual short hand for when I would be visited during the start of the pandemic so that if I or someone else became infected, I had a handy-dandy reference guide in my phone to pinpoint exactly when I saw them so I could do as accurate a threat assessment as possible. Also, everyone should be getting vaccinated (if possible) and still wearing masks. Thanks to unvaxxed and half vaxxed people who like to play poker with their lives (and others), the Delta variant is really doing some damage. Then there’s the double mutation (when two variants (mutation) kame hame ha together to become one really bad variant – may possibly become variant Epsilon). Back to calendars and emojis, they’re useful. I need to do the same for my spellwork.

Since I don’t do much spellwork regularly (I’m very much the set-and-forget type), it probably wouldn’t be too hard to keep track of what work I have done and for what reason. Spellwork varies by culture, tradition and practitioner, so it is hard to say “Oh by an X amount of days, you will see Z result.” The universe doesn’t work like television shows, sadly. Some changes could be very hard to spot, others are bleedingly obvious. I prefer the bleedingly obvious but the universe prefers trolling. Plus signs can very much differ by culture, tradition and practitioner – oh, and what was casted. For example, I tend to do a lot of candle spells (like I said, I’m very Set-and-Forget) and prefer candles that already have spellwork/intentions casted upon them just so I can light them whenever needed, assuming they are a multi-day candle. That is because they are designed to continually apply themselves until it runs bare, which I then renew by lighting the candle again. It would be helpful to me and my practices if I just wrote down “lit XYZ candle” for whatever day I lit it on, the first day holding the general details of what it was for.

Writing down rituals and spellwork so that you can keep track of it, phenominal idea, I should probably do that more. At least maybe even at all, bare minimum.

Ah, yes, we are all still going through the Great Panini of Death. 17 months in and still no end in sight. There is some end in sight, but y’know, anti-vaxxers and misinformation and all that jazz. Despite there being a free vaccine here in the US (the worst affected nation in the world – as in, no one has more cases or deaths than we do), there are still many who do not wish to be fully vaccinated – or plain vaccinated at all. Due to this, that means that now there are stronger variants floating about. Wear a mask, even if you are vaccinated. Primarily wear masks indoor if you are vaccinated but there is more and more research coming out that you can still be a carrier for the virus, and thus get someone else sick. Covid is still pretty asymptomatic (even more so with each passing variant/mutation), Covid is still deadly (even more so with each passing variant/mutation), Covid is still around (even more so now that people are acting as if the Plague is over).

States in the US are stupidly opening up – mainly for money reasons – and some are dropping sensible measures, such as mask requirements, social distancing requirements and vaccine mandates for events & gatherings. Then you have unvaccinated people taking advantage of the current Honor System we have going on about self reporting if one is vaccinated or not. Since there is no visual difference between a vaccinated person or not, it is hard to make a proper distinction between the two. This makes everyone almost of Schrodinger Vaccination status. Are they lying? Are they not? Either way, it’s better to wear masks and not frolic so much together until the Pandemic is finally done for good.

All this to bring up those who are not solitary practitioners of Paganism and/or witchcraft. There are many temples closed, many practicing places closed, etc. And there are some that are open, way open. And then you have the Special Flavor of Anti-Vaxxer: “Nature will heal us all, we do not need vaccines”.

The stupid, it burns.

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this post, I would like to remind everyone, Pagan, Witch, and none-of-the-above, that nature, though wonderous and awe-inspiring, is insanely deadly and has zero problems with killing us all. (Given all the polluting and habitat killing we do ourselves, it really wouldn’t be that bad an idea, if you think about it from nature’s perspective.) The same nature that gives us daisies and cinnamon is the exact same nature that gives us viruses and hurricanes. Same entity. The exact same. And we pray to that exact same entity for luck, mercy and hope. So yeah, the acknowledgement of “Nature can be kind but wowsers, can nature destroy you faster than you were made” is kinda built into Pagan faith and witchcraft practices. Getting a vaccine is not rebuking any part of Paganism, magick, nothing. Science can work hand-in hand with nature (except when Science is trying to kill nature or force nature to fit an artificial lens that is incredibly short sighted). Now, most Pagan I come across has this understood through and through, but then there are the fluffy bunnies, the New Age folks and others who pretty much float around us mainly out of effort to boost their own egos and feel big and powerful. And, of course, very dumb and short sighted Pagan and magick practitioners (note earlier I said “most”, not “all”).

Now, into the meat and potatoes of this post.

Good thing we are all still under the same sky and our practices are nature based. It is entirely possible to just simply coordinate a time and do the rituals apart but together. Yes there are those who prefer to feel the close-by energies of your fellow practitioners but try to focus via the sky, not via tech or anything else. Spirit and energy can work like wind and wind is quite global. This can be very useful, regardless the size of groups. I have even seen things done through virtual reality (there is something called The Illuminati Simulator, where there is the purported claim that [quote site] but it’s totally trash, don’t use) but a ) most people do not have a VR headset b ) I would not really rely on tech to not break mid-rituals. I am used to lights flickering and things of the sort during my spellwork, I am not going to run my risks with an expensive headset. Now, the only traditions I see this possibly running into problems are for ceremonial magick practitioners, because every little thing is poignant and important, even the directions and places that people are standing. That leads to the next part.

If you absolutely have to do the ritual together – and I mean, there is literally no other way, even including the abilities of magick – then try to practice safely. Again, some traditions, it is important to be together. But do it safely. Have one person handle one thing. Nix all communal stuff such as drinking from the same goblet, try pouring into individual cups. Yes, drinking from the same source carries deep meaning, different from it being poured into individual cups, but surely the entities shall understand. This isn’t an expression of a lack of faith that the deities and entities around you cannot keep you safe from a virus, but don’t forget, there are deities of plagues and viruses. Do you think they would not like to pass up a royal opportunity to show out? Not all deities are the Respect-The-Invite-List-Please type. Heck, and this is excluding trickster deities, who also like to mess of things, especially when there is a golden opportunity. Respect those deities and play it smart & safe.

Given how covens are usually small and so are practicing groups – I have yet to see a megachurch equivalent of a Pagan worshipping place – please do try to establish social distancing. For some groups, this will be quite easy because they have to stand at several distant points (usually in a square/equal cross, at five points to represent the pentagram, etc) so hooray, social distancing is built in. I have been in relatively big groups (30+ people in a circle) but they would also practice outside since doing ritual indoors would have been terribly cramped. It is important to space out so not to spread viruses but also in general so people can be comfy, everyone can express themselves, so on and so forth.

Masks are important. I understand deeply that for some, the idea of wearing a surgical mask (not a ritual/traditional mask) or a cloth mask can feel restrictive to the ritual/spellwork or as if speaking through a filter. Again, if you have to wear a ritual mask or traditional mask, you can easily slide a regular mask on underneath. If you absolutely must – as in, there is no alternative, not even magickal – then be at least 12 feet away from everyone on all sides and only outdoors. Rituals like these can get shouty and sometimes blustering when in the passion of the moment. Be smart and be safe and most importantly, be respectful to all entities, including the uninvited ones. Tradition is important and the more ceremonial the ritual, the more restrictive it is. Every little thing is important but there is still at least miniscule room for change. Yes, there is also the idea of “won’t this deity/entity we are performing the ritual for be Not Happy that we’re trying to make room for the pandemic and the related plague deities?” Some deities and entities are very Me Only but if that’s the case, throw in an extra “this is why we’re doing all these precautions” part of the ritual. And make sure to include a “if you don’t like it, please don’t blame us – take it up with the other deity/entity that is totally stealing some of your spotlight” snippet. But still, wear a mask if you can.

Things should already be washed thoroughly for ritual, pre-pandemic. Washing and cleansing are important parts of ritual and practice because of the real and symbolic preparations of getting ready to perform ritual. Please do not be yukkers, wash thoroughly everything that will be interacted with. Wash it with soap, sanitize it with rubbing alcohol, do not just use plain water and call it a day. For commonly touched surfaces, such as staves, shawls and wands, make sanitation part of the ritual. If you’re going to create a cleaning solution meant for rituals, make sure that the cleaning content, usually rubbing alcohol, is 60% or greater. Shoot for 70% as the minimum. Even if it is as dopey looking as dressing up a bottle of hand sanitizer and deeming one person as the Sanitizer Person – I feel like chaos magicians are going to have a field day with that – still, have something in place. Rituals and groups already should have a clean up crew but it is important for everyone to do their part.

The pandemic is probably going to be going on until 2022/2023 at the sheer latest. 2024 for things to look pretty regular again. That means planning for adjustments. Vaccine rollout is slowing down, misinformation is rampant and the virus is steadily making its way through the entire Greek alphabet at record pace. Remember, the UK variant was Variant Alpha, we’re now officially at Delta and most likely going to see Epsilon quite soon – all within the span of roughly a year and some change. (I think if things go to Omega, the last of the Greek Alphabet, that’s going to be quite a kicker. In all the bad ways.) It is important to acknowledge this, even in the midst of practicing magick and/or Paganism with others. I am a solitary practitioner so it’s business as usual for me but for others who are used to practicing with each other, I’m quite sure it has put a dent in their practices.

Last but not least, if there is a Social Gathering Prevention mandate going on, respect it. Do not try to hold a ritual of 70 people when you’re only suppose to have a max of 5. The deities and entities around us are long-lived, they have seen adjustments due to war, oppression and previous plagues. A few changes will be fine.

I received a comment on my post ABW Free Space: Every Day is Exactly the Same – Or “Last Year’s Protest is About the Same as Any” from Marymtf:

These long, boring, single idea posts make me itch for a red pen. Who gives a hoot what you think about white people. Certainly not Alexander Fleming, Shakespeare, or Alexander Graham Bell. Or me. I prefer to judge individuals by their actions not their colour. I don’t care for mobs. Last year’s rioters, thieves and vandals decided me that it was less about black lives mattering and more about the uncivilised trashing of cities, secure in the knowledge there would be no repercussions. Because of course there’s a push to defund the police. And who would go against a feral mob?

I wrote my reply, it’s a bit long but, hey, it’s my space so why not?

Ah, in the decade I have written Black Witch, I’ve always wondered when I would get a comment like this. Almost year eleven come June, better late than never, I suppose. First, a quick note: given my core targeted audience is Black & Pagan, I’m really not super inclined to make any modifications (outside of major errors) if those issues are not raised by my core target audience. And even then, I still am usually the one who decides. Keeps things simple. That way if a White person, a Christian person, a straight person, whatever have you, complains … I may listen because, hey, I have a comment section, but I can always shrug off what they say because “not core audience”. Unless it is major, that’s how I treat things. The internet is loaded with writers, go find them if this blog isn’t your cup of tea. I do it all the time. Besides, judging from your avatar, you are not in my core audience. There are plenty White Pagan blogs to read. Assuming you’re even Pagan.

Yes, I don’t write my online posts the same as I do my published essays … because it is the internet. However, given that you could understand what it says enough to write this comment, it is legible enough for you, however. Not to mention, this is my corner on the internet, I can post what I care to discuss. I take it you don’t just red-pen the internet, do you? That sounds like a forever job, but in quite a bad way. Especially because it would be a volunteer one.

I think I don’t give a hoot about three men who are currently quite dead so it is rather mutual. Actually, I believe it could also be that because they are dead that they may not care. You are very free to visit their graves to give us all the inside scoop, however. Granted, I think you will have to introduce yourself to them because they probably wouldn’t give much a toss about you, either. Especially if you are a woman, all three never had the greatest respect for them. And why stay stuck in the boys’ locker room? No White women of history to note? I am going to assume from your avatar and screen name you are indeed a White woman. Not even the Grimke sisters or Marie Curie. Plus, as for Shakespeare – I always preferred Ben Jonson. He simply was better, even the people during the time agreed. Surely you have read “The Alchemist”, yes? Far better than that “Exit Bear” drivel Shakespeare pumped out – and at least Jonson doesn’t have to contend with plagiarism claims, even well into the afterlife. Then again, that is what happens when you like skilled works over the Middle Ages version of “The Simpsons”.

Now, who cares about what I write or think about White privilege and such? Quite a lot, according to my numbers. Over a thousand, at minimum. Which is a lot of people. I have over three times that on the Facebook fan page, almost twice that on the Tumblr – oh! And over 5,600 on this site alone. Gee, that’s at least 10,000 people. Huh, that’s more people than I can fit in a bathroom – or even in your house. So, as for “who cares”, maybe not anyone currently decomposing, but an awful lot of breathing individuals. And an awful lot more than you and yourself. When you check someone’s writing, at least check on their numbers, too. That way you can give a more accurate snip than blithely run about with “who cares” when the numbers are very clear who does. Just say “this post hurts my feelings” instead. Sounds much more accurate.

You say “I don’t see color” – thanks for proving a point I wrote above about people who say that, by the by, it makes it super easy when people wind up proving me right when they are trying to prove me wrong – but here you go bringing up BLM and the riots that happened. At least try to prove your point better by bringing up the Nov 6th Insurrection, the Vancouver hockey riots and other countless times where it was another race causing destruction. Or the Revolutionary War. Or the Bastille. Or the other countless times in history where “protests should have be quiet and gentle”. Otherwise, it could look like your racism is showing. Also, you can get upset over Black issues and the destruction of architecture at the same time, if you believe it is an either/or issue, that is more a “you” problem than you think – even if you personally owned one of those buildings.

Uncivilised? Wait, is that an “s” I see? As in, you aren’t American? Oh my gods, I would say “I hope that isn’t a typo” but apparently you have never made a literary mistake in your life apparently. Well, as long as no one considers region or localization. Otherwise, that “s” would be marked with a red pen to a “z”. Given this fact, I ask you: why do *you* care? You aren’t American, as far as I am concerned. Go worry about *your* nation’s problems. I was about to say “you must not know how to research either because defunding police isn’t the same as removing the police – you don’t check numbers or facts, that’s two for two” but you aren’t even American! (You still don’t seem to check facts or numbers, though. Still two for two). Since you are so bothered by what I write, chalk it up to “oh, those Americans and their problems” and keep living your life. That is British spelling. America hasn’t had to concern themselves with the British since the 1700s. You don’t like violence, given how uncivilized you think it is, so I will assume you never heard about the Revolutionary War. It happened. Lots of violence and blood spilling and death and killing. Gory but hey, now we have our own nation. I do apologize, given this is usually White American-grade stupidity – the lack of research and ignorance of numbers on your part didn’t help either – I sincerely could not tell the difference until you made that error of putting an “s” down where there should have been a “z”.

I think you might be worrying over problems that do not concern you. And that can be quite a fatal error, even unnecessary stress is deadly. Maybe read some Women’s History instead. I really think Jane Elliot is interesting – oh, hey I just named another living White woman of history! It’s like there were bunches of them, living and dead!

Thank you for your input!

Let’s break down my response. First starting with an info bit about Marymtf.

I had noticed she wrote “uncivilized” with British spelling (an “s” instead of a “z”) and thus decided to look up where she was in the world via her ip address, which WordPress likes to hand me whenever people post comments. Victoria, Australia. As in, ding ding, I was right, she was not an American. Here’s the thing – if you are whinging over American race issues, especially when your nation has a boatload of its own, it is time to maybe go get some tea and mumble “not my problem” unless you’re going to bring something fruitful to the conversation. If you’re going to bring fluff concerns and say things like “who cares about what you think about White people”, just look into a mirror until something clicks. Aren’t there some bush fires to put out? Or race issues in Australia to better worry over? Also, it is a little odd a White Australian would think Black people are uncivilized when the history of modern Australia is basically “Britain’s Trash Can”. Sincerely interesting words for someone from If-Alcatraz-Was-A-Country. Miss Mary Oh Contrary, indeed.

By the by, she has her own site. A Wondering Minstrel, which is quite a name choice to have when coming to a Black blog and opine – especially since she could do that on her own blog. I don’t scour the internet for how people respond to my works so it would have been super safe there. On her “About Me” – where there is a typo: she has an open parenthesis on the first line – she pens about how she wants to be a writer. She goes on about how she wants to write stories and articles and how difficult it is to write books for toddlers – I understand that it can be difficult to make a tiny tot sit through a rewrite of The Canterbury Tales, I’m sure. She muses that it is difficult to get published and no one wants to read the collections of short stories from nobodies, which I do not disagree. I guess she just doesn’t stan Shakespeare and Fleming hard enough for such an overwhelmingly White industry as publishing to pay attention to her. Maybe she should grow a penis, apparently that really helps when you’re a nobody in literature with little to offer, especially if you are White. I mean, I usually get asked to write articles or assist with research so I sort of feel her plight. Sort of … not really. I tend to turn down such engagements though, the most recent was from the BBC. I have a personal standard: NPR, Al Jazeera, Pro Publica or better. Unless it is a book, I believe I am in at least three. And still, I turn down the crappier book offers. The only downside to my publications is that I always wanted to be published for my creative writings, not my usual articles. But! I’m also published on that end as well – one of my works was even turned into an audiobook (audiostory? It was a short story turned into audio form). And there’s even more to come from the creative writing end but that’s a little beyond the scope of this post. Amazing what work one can get done when not wasting time spouting White Opinions on the internet. However, she did say she is trying to fill her time due dealing with “post Empty Nest Syndrome”. I guess she has to find something else to do that isn’t creative writing since “being a mom” is checked off and apparently there’s literally nothing else for women to do in the world after pumping out kids, their only goal and reason for existence, amirite? Hey hey, WASP-out to your heart’s content – just keep it to yourself or at least to your web space. At least the publishing world lets her be to her lonesome.

The posts on the site aren’t my cup of tea so I won’t bother talking about them. I have already received my English literature degree so I don’t have to suffer through dry, contrite, self-conceited, myopic works of Whiteness (and stifling White femininity) if I personally do not want to. Even at the Library of Congress, where I formally worked, we would chuck them out because there’s so many and if you have seen one, you have pretty much seen them all.

And for everyone, if you want to read works from a much more important White female author and does not have her head shoved way up her derriere, please try Kristine Kathryn Rusch. She says quite interesting things, especially about the writing field. Her “Business Musings” posts are a must-read, especially for anyone who would like actually decent information about publishing, not simply the trials and tribulations of crafting Hemmingway for tots.

To sum up, this was basically Marymtf’s comment:

You never know, this could be one of her toddler books

 

Now, enough about Marymtf. Let’s go into why I replied the way I did. Paragraph breakdown, ahoy!

I feel like this is needed

Paragraph 1: It will be year 11 for Black Witch come June 9th. I will try to do a FB livestream but no promises. It is true, I rarely get fussy people like this on my blog. Also, she isn’t Pagan, either. Just a plain ol’ WASP type that simply decided to inject her opinions where it really isn’t needed. Again, she sincerely could have kept her opinions on her own blog. 

Paragraph 2: Just looking at her “About Me”, I found a typo in the first line. For a grammar nazi, she trips up in her goose-stepping when it is her own works, huh? Perhaps she should concern herself with her own writings first instead of try to edit the internet because some rando on the information highway said something she disagreed with. 

Paragraph 3: Ben Jonson is indeed better than Shakespeare. Also, I can tell she really holds on to the “went to school for writing” bit about her with a death grip because she couldn’t name any women writers. Not even White women. Internalized misogyny, I think the publishing market is already full of that, no wonder it can be tough for her to get a bite. She mentions Gloria Steinem on her blog, probably doesn’t even understand a single thing Steinem says that applies outside of super basic White Feminism.

Paragraph 4: I decided to check my numbers! They are, as of print:

  • WordPress/this blog: 5,607
  • Facebook Fan Page: 3,410
  • Tumblr: 1,539
  • Twitter: 774
  • Instagram: 164

That comes to a total of 11,494 people who seems to “give a hoot” about what I have to say about anything. And they’re just followers/subscribers, this excludes page visits. This also technically makes me what one would call a “micro influencer“. Which is explained by ImpactPlus as “individuals that have between 1,000 to 1,000,000 followers/audience members and are considered experts in their respective niche.”

Not bad for someone who “no one gives a hoot” about. I don’t generally get into pissing contests over numbers but it is nice to have the stats on hand when needed. And I’m not even super active on my social medias! Otherwise the numbers would be bigger. Twitter is least used, still almost has a thousand followers. Instagram is new and hardly talks about Paganism, still has over a hundred. Also, Marymtf seemed to care enough to post a comment so that is already at least one person who cares about what I say, otherwise, it would all be ignored as silly gibberish.

Paragraph 5: She basically provided a prime example of my statement in the original post:

And another thing that I’m super sick of hearing over this past year:

“I love all people of all races and backgrounds.”

Usually people who say this are usually caught with their hand in the Cookie Jar of Racism. I have rarely met individuals who have said this phrase and actually lived up to it.  What they usually mean is this:

“I have not personally murdered a non White person (Black, really) via lynching and I know how to not say slurs when the irritable affected are not around – only around people who look like me or the sycophants of that group that I keep around for anti-racism rep but I tell them it’s ‘friendship’/’relationship’. And I know one Whitewashed MLK phrase. Maybe two if I think really, really hard. I salt my learned hatred of you in heaps of sugar.”

Still racist all the same.

Gotta love when people prove you right when trying to prove you wrong. Here are also one bit that can even better truncate what I feel:

Won’t someone please think of the buildings?

 

There is also the fact that not everyone who was part of the violence from the BLM protests was Black. Like this guy, for example:

Maybe that’s one of her kids visiting America. She calls herself a “minstrel” and this is generally what they have looked like for the past 200 years or so and she did say she had sons.

Then there’s the fact that police and other instigators (White supremacists) wanted to paint BLM as bad so they would put out brick piles. Very neat brick piles. Ready for the chuckin’. 

Surely she’s hip to this, right? Being from a Land of Convicts, there’s got to be some innate knowledge of how to be violent and such? Most likely a descendant of British law breakers, causing undue mayhem has got to make natural sense to her, right?

There was a feral mob there but it wasn’t primarily the Black people. They looked a lot more like her. Surprise, surprise.

Paragraph 6: She talks about Black people being uncivilized … while a White Australian. As in, her family tree most likely started in the Land Down Under because one of her recent ancestors got pinched by Scotland Yard and it was egregious enough to get deported to the arid land of “What the hell are those animals and why are they like this?”  

 

Will never not be funny. At least a good chunk of the animals are cute. Unlike the people similar to Marymtf

Again, if you have a family tree that has a strong statistical probability of literally starting with murderers, thieves and rapists, maybe you shouldn’t be declaring who is civilized or not. That’s more of a British thing. And again, don’t worry about American issues. At least we’re not still under the Monarchy. She should worry about race issues in her own land, or worry about those books for toddlers since they’re posing such a hardy task. Can’t be that hard to mimic Dr. Seuss but, hey, everyone has their difficulties, especially in a country commonly slammed on by the British as “devoid of culture, etiquette, and decency”. When I saw the s/z difference, this was basically my reaction:

Paragraph 7 & 8: She sincerely should just go work on her books for tiny tots and not worry about problems she seriously does not get. I’m sure getting Mein Kampf and the works of Lovecraft written down to a Pre School level must be a real brain teaser so maybe she shouldn’t worry about problems that happen on the other side of the world, especially since she is at a pretty lofty age and still doesn’t understand. Again, thank you for your input but no one wanted it.

 

I know, I know, I usually don’t get comments on my posts. I usually appreciate comments but only if they’re not soaked in snooty prejudice. If she wants to whine, she has her own blog to do it at. Plus, my writing can’t be that long and boring if she was willing to sit through it and even comment. I mean, hers are none too whiz-bang either or she would have a couple decent publishing credits to her name by now. Perhaps it would have been best if she simply never left her echo chamber.

Oh, and Happy Nothing-Happened-Today Day

Third time on Burn Out Brighter podcast! I was invited back to discuss relationships and gaming. And there is an additional guest, my boyfriend, CTL. He runs a Twitch where he plays violin and DDR at the same time.

My mic wasn’t the bestest – I grabbed a derp one (one day, I shall part with it), so I have minor cut outs but I’m still pretty understandable. Tune in and listen!

I mention my orchid and 3D printed planters on the podcast. Here’s the sharry baby orchid! On my Instagram are pictures of my roses and more of my orchids.

Not Pictured: My cat, who wants to eat the blossoms of this orchid

 

Also, check out my previous visits on Burn Out Brighter! 

 

It’s been roughly a year since there were massive protests supporting Black Lives Matter due to the several hate murders of Black individuals by White people, being from behind a badge or out of simple plain, garden variety homicidal anti-Blackness. It also, unfortunately, was one of the biggest showings of White Guilt and White Fragility and White Saviorism I have seen in a while, mainly to pretend to care while keeping things roughly the same. Or pretend to care, get called out on it and then whine about “Cancel Culture”. (Hot tip: Yes, accountability sucks (which is usually what “Cancel Culture” is, pointing out your prejudiced f*ck-ups.) Get used to it or stop doing it. Can’t get any simpler than that.) These acts pretty much co-opted the struggle for respecting the inherent civil rights of Black people, which is what any thing to do with White Reaction tends to aim for. Maintaining White supremacy is odd like that. Otherwise the Proud Boys, a White supremacist group, wouldn’t be led by a White passing Latin man – who they only martyr the fall of when it is really, really convenient.

Before we begin, let’s review the various forms of White Reaction:

Let’s review the difference between “actual allyship”, which takes work but has positive lasting effects, and “harmful allyship”, which is easy to do – hence why it is an often sought after choice – but does literally nothing positive or genuinely effective. It’s a bunch of pointless kumbayah’ing meant to keep the same system in place. Pathetic lip service, in other words.

Changes did indeed happen, that is fact, but the changes aren’t that staggering and will probably peter out in a few years. I’m from Baltimore, we had the riots back in 2015. Things changed for a little – and then went back to how it was or got worse because of performative allyship. Oh, and then there was the glaring fact that White people tried so endlessly to call it an “uprising” or a “revolution”. It wasn’t. It was a protest that eventually turned into a riot because all transportation was shut down thanks to the Baltimore police not being that great at crowd herding – among a lot of other things. (City Hall is even more corrupt than the police, brief reminder. And City Hall painted themselves as the Defenders of the People during this time. The same City Hall that is so corrupt I don’t even bother learning the Mayor’s name because they get booted out that frequently). Oh, and those same White people also tried to loot a lot during that “uprising/revolution” that it very much wasn’t – because they knew Black Baltimoreans would get doused with the blame. By them, the White people. And those very same ones that wanted to cast the Baltimore riots like there should be a Muse soundtrack playing in the background also wanted to duck any and every claim that, actually, they are part of the problem, not the solution. From trying to provoke police into shooting at the protesting crowd by screaming “gun! Gun! There’s a gun!” when there certainly wasn’t, to trying to rename and sanitize the opinions of the protests to suit a more “We’re not like those White people, we’re saviors! Also, please focus on us!” gaze. And now, some time later, we’re still in a suffering state. Actually, we have gotten worse in some ways.

Or to put it in a favorite image I have seen:

Yep, sums it up

If anything, it just has been a bunch of White Whinging and Concern-Harassment, which is “oh, I want to unlearn prejudice (not really), can we go deep sea diving through your cultural trauma so I can feel better about myself, even when I royally screw up?”  First of all, I’m not a Diversity Consultant. That is a bona fide job and with a very bona fide rate of $500-700 an hour. Want to frolic wistfully in the pains of others? Those are the go-to guys and it is less “let you frolic” and more “give you a paltry talking to in exchange for buckets of money”. Go pay them. Requests like these are usually about 3 to 15 hours worth, roughly. They break the bank with the greatest of ease but hey, people like me get to have a regular, unharassed day so it works. And Concern-Harassment, though similar, isn’t Concern-Trolling because they act like they want to be taught, not that the individual they are targeting should change. 

Two images that come to mind when I think of last summer:

Wow, did this occur a lot. It is wholly why I haven’t slow-walked anyone about unlearning any biases for years. It’s much easier for me to just rip on the person until they learn or leave.
They usually leave.
Another reason why I just rip on the person until they learn or leave – because they’re usually not interested in learning. They just want to cause hassle for personal entertainment or gain.
Moral of the Story: Nice doesn’t Work. Ever. You’re just one bad day (theirs or yours) away from being “just like the rest”. And it doesn’t have to be a bad day, either. Any regular day will do.

If there were any sign of something genuinely fruitful coming out of slow-walking privileged groups through unlearning their biases, I would go through with it. But I don’t do things like that anymore because what I have noticed for myself and others like myself is that it’s just an utter waste of time and simply a very easy way to ruin your day while theirs is very amplified from their “learning experience”. You aren’t a person to them, you’re a walking life lesson. And if you don’t Life Lesson exactly right, expect to deal with a nasty storm you 100% did not ask for. And you don’t get to know what “exactly right” is but you’re definitely sure it sits somewhere in the realm of “coddling and defending bad behavior” so they don’t really have to unlearn a thing, you’ll do all the suffering for them. Yeaaaaaaah, no.

Plus, there are countless resources for a regular person to avail themselves to. Loads and buckets. I’m not perfect by a long shot, I have had (and still have) my own biases to check. But I learned by myself how to do that. I didn’t ask a total stranger of any affected group to personally slow-walk me through my own biases and to basically be my punching bag “for experience” until I learn through and through how to treat them like a human being. I would perhaps follow their blog and watch a bunch of documentaries and read books and follow a few other people as well in the affected group but that’s it. No interacting at all. They get to be themselves and not harassed, I get to learn via not harassing. Besides, some other idiot would usually ask whatever I was thinking and I would learn that way as well. Granted, I’m the type that never wants to bother others in general so that’s probably why the “lurk and learn” method works wonders for me. I may not have had full understanding about the affected group I’m learning about but I know enough as a human being that being annoyed by annoying people is, well, aggravating. “Lurk and Learn” works better than “Harass and pester” when it comes to unlearning biases. Way better.

Not to mention, when bothering affected people to learn about how they are affected by prejudice, they’re not the happiest bunch to grace the planet. Because you are bothering them. It’s remarkably easy to take this agitation of being pestered over something very stressful as confirmation bias. (“See! [Affected group] really is loaded with terrible people. I asked one to personally walk me through my prejudice and they had the nerve to tell me where I could stick my questions. How dare they not be nice and notice I am trying to improve their lives?”) Here is a cute picture to help you remember how not to harangue others:

Very adorbs

 

I also must say, I personally have certainly encountered an unusual additional annoyance: Chinese Nationalists. This is probably borne from the fact that I do indeed know Chinese (as well as at least four other languages – to be honest, I stopped counting at five) and thus interact on an international language exchange app that started in China, Hello Talk. By the way, Hello Talk used to be sort of decent, now, it’s part of standard Chinese government level censorship. This means you can’t really say a whole lot on a language exchange app. And if Chinese is one of your languages, it is even worse since you can hardly post in Chinese – because it will be censored for one reason for another. Never really been much of a fan of non-obscene censorship. Back to the original topic, I have been dealing with an insane slew of Chinese nationalists because apparently Black Lives Matter also was used for propaganda bs there as well.

It’s usually in the tone of garden variety anti-Blackness but whiplashing to playing victim. (“See, this is why Black people get murdered – but Asian people also are treated poorly! Look at how China is treated!”) If I never interacted with White people or White society before, this would sound super brand new to me. It’s a different brand of super stupid, to be honest. For the record, whinging to a Black person about the imperialist acts of America is pretty much preaching to the choir. Also, China recently has been going through a lot of Yikes when it comes to oppressiveness, including but not limited to, anti-Blackness. From state-sponsored plays that feature blackface, to acting exactly like West with the Belt and Road Initiative (which hijacks African nations of their materials & people via economic and/or oppressive force and oppresses Black individuals of their freedoms), to deporting Black immigrants in China as a scapegoat for the coronavirus to duck responsibility, to straight up concentration camps (complete with boxcars!) of the Uyghur people. About that, the Uyghur people are not Black, no, but when the world went “Wow, China, you’re looking very … 1940s Germany but with a side of 1800s America and some Hannibal Lecter thrown in for flavor” because of the Uyghur forced labor, which ranges from building technology to picking cotton, as well as harvesting organs of the Uyghurs – which they, the Chinese government, have also done to other Chinese civilians, such as those in the persecuted religious group, Falun Gong, the Chinese government’s response was to bring up American chattel slavery, basically cherry picking Black history to present themselves as “not the bad guy/not the only bad guy” to justify (or deny) their textbook genocide. Cherry picking the collective lives of Black folks to suit your own biased and prejudiced agendas while refusing to interact with said group in genuine earnest – yep, sounds about White. For a nation really mad at the West, they certainly like to pull countless methods out of the West’s rule book. 

What sucks more is that people in China will repeat this nonsense but the second they are asked remotely in-depth questions, out comes the “I respect all people. The Chinese respects all people. We love Black people and are grateful for them!” If this phony act does not work for White people, it is not going to work for other groups. Especially if they have the same narcissistic hyper defensiveness that I usually find way more common with White people in general or non Black people of color (NBPoC) who are middle class or above. Happens every time. For example, when I talked about how the use of Black history to justify genocide with folks in China who would interact with me – just like with White people, these conversations are never started by me, I’m always approached – it would be met with tone-deafness and many red herring attempts. Such as “Racism is so big and difficult a problem, I’m just one person. [So I don’t have to fix any of my bad behavior!]” Uh, ridding racism can be as easy as telling someone, “Wow, that is a really bad joke. Lol, were you trying to be funny? Please keep your day job, ha!” Simple. Or “Wait, when the Japanese treated us like this, we all thought it was wrong. I don’t know, I don’t think I want to be that kind of monster. Unless you thought all that was okaaaay ….” Throwing the ball back at the prejudiced person by evoking shared historical pain is an oldie but a goodie and very effective. Also simple. No, it won’t get you a Nobel Peace prize like Dr. King but it also won’t get you a bullet to the throat (like Dr. King), either. Very easy peasy. Or just examine your own thoughts and root out your own biases. Here is a handy-dandy wheel to get you started – anyone on the planet can use this easy learning tool! 

Look at all the pretty colors! Easy to use for everyone, anywhere at any time! Live in Boston or in Beijing or in Bristol or in Berlin? Still applies!

For me, it’s just like interacting with White people who would bug me about the same, except in a different language. One thing I can expertly say now for fact is that racist, anti-Black bullsh*t sounds roughly the same in various parts of the world and in various languages. China isn’t the only Asian country to pull this behavior (looking at you, Japan and South Korea (oh boy, all that can be said about K-pop alone is warrant enough for its own discussion)) but I do seem to hear the most from China. Yes, there is the whole geo-political rivalry thing between the US and China but if either nation are going to barrel through Black history and people with indecency, it should be noted and brought up. If China is flipping through The West’s playbook of How To Succeed, they should have just simply bypassed the “Engage in Anti-Blackness, There’s Literally No Way This Can Possibly Go Wrong” chapter and kept it moving. 

Also, bringing up anti-Asian sentiment does not justify anti-Blackness. Yes, there have been rifts between the Black community and Asian community but they usually only appear when White supremacy has poked about. Otherwise, there tend to be more unions than not. Like I said, maintaining White supremacy is odd like that. Heck, a lot of Asian Americans are figuring that one out now, that “borrowed White privilege” isn’t real privilege at all – because White people will still set your grandparents on fire should the whimsy strike them. And “borrowed White privilege” doesn’t afford any real protections, you’re just a human shield to conduct White supremacist anti-Black behavior behind, not an actual human being to them. That realization came at them super duper fast when the massage parlor mass shooting occurred and the gunman was referred to as “church-going” and “dealing with a sex addiction” by NBC news and “simply had a bad day” by the police. Anglicizing and minimizing the true awfulness of a White gunman’s racist behavior, check and check. Speaking as a Black person who is extremely familiar with history: stock up on your cat videos and gas masks, Asian America, things are going to get pretty bad. At least there might not be any lynchings, White people aren’t that read up on their history. Maybe.

And for Black folks: try not to buy into White supremacist anti-Asian behavior. Here’s a handy reminder image:

 

But definitely, hold them accountable for when they screw up, be it in the name of White Supremacy/”borrowed White privilege”, colorism (which has been in Asia long before White people showed up), or in the form of straight up murder. Always inspect your mind and check your biases but some things are simply as plain as day. They may call it, “Oh noes, Cancel Culture!” (they like to borrow White Whinging, it appears) We call it, “Accountability – so you don’t coddle a culture that convinces someone else to shoot us in the back of the head at point blank over orange juice. Get used to it or stop doing it.” Remember, check your bias but check the anti-Blackness of others.

And if there are any Asian American folks who think they can successfully fight for better respect but still think anti-Blackness (and colorism) is the truth, the light, and the way – you might as well go home and stick your head back in the sand. Can’t dismantle the same White supremacy that thinks turning your elders into bonfires and your sisters into bullet cabinets & walking fleshlights is “self-expression of frustration” if you plan on still holding on to it with a death grip. Historically, it really does not work out well. Well, not for you. White folks will be fine, if not somehow benefited – which the main point of White supremacy, by the way. Angry Asian Man explains this far better than I do, hence why his blog has lived in the Links of Interest at the top of this blog since the literal creation of this very blog. He even added a podcast.

Dealing with Chinese nationalists is certainly annoying and a brand new annoyance for me. Also note I say “Chinese nationalists” not “Chinese people”. Not all of them spit nonsense, but the nationalists? Oh, they certainly do for sure. And I am aware sometimes it is probably people of the “50 Cent Army”, paid pro-nationalists trolls, but still these folks need to be reined in and they tend to burst into fireworks when you simply bring up general, accurate Chinese history. So much is censored over there that it takes very little to find something that will easily flip the tables and upset them. Heck, just bring up the concentration camps that are happening now or the Tiananmen Square massacre and eventually they’ll be the super angry one. Oh, and bring up the BBC. Apparently the channel that pumps out nothing but Dr. Who and dry television really gets them going. I’m not a fan of the BBC myself (though, I do love Red Dwarf and Chef!), it’s not enough to practically bust a vein over. Except when the BBC is being racist, which is practically all the time. Over-censorship makes for easy counter trolling, thankfully. Troll or not, they usually block me because I get them angry enough. Huh, just like White folks who also pester me for racist reasons.

Oh! And another thing that I’m super sick of hearing over this past year:

“I love all people of all races and backgrounds.”

Usually people who say this are usually caught with their hand in the Cookie Jar of Racism. I have rarely met individuals who have said this phrase and actually lived up to it.  What they usually mean is this:

“I have not personally murdered a non White person (Black, really) via lynching and I know how to not say slurs when the irritable affected are not around – only around people who look like me or the sycophants of that group that I keep around for anti-racism rep but I tell them it’s ‘friendship’/’relationship’. And I know one Whitewashed MLK phrase. Maybe two if I think really, really hard. I salt my learned hatred of you in heaps of sugar.”

Still racist all the same. Even without a personal body count, even without a pointed hood, even without a membership card to a known hate group. I posted this in the last post but it bears saying twice:

There is no “racist boogyman”, I have met a lot of super nice racist people. They’re still racist and I would steer clear of them whenever possible. Nice or not nice, you don’t want to find out which side of the coin you’re on because it flips in the blink of an eye. The people who have attended lynchings would all be considered “nice people”, not monsters. The people who have expressed hateful statements or very problematic statements would usually also be considered “nice”, with “well-meaning” tacked on. They are all very nice – up until they are not. Some are good at using this like a weapon (White Feminism is a diamond example). Some just like to act baffled but still lovable – it’s that pesky, unhappy darkie that just wants to make a mountain out of a mole hill, ugh, always want to find the problem in everything. Can’t they just cheer up

Do people who are all accepting exist? Totally! They’re just a very small minority. And it usually shows up in their actions, they don’t need to boast over and over how awesome a person they are to people who don’t look like them and how caring they are and that they don’t see race or anything. They don’t have to because it’s not even a focus to begin with. Remember, they are all-accepting. And one thing I have learned about all-accepting people: they are certainly not accepted by all, and especially not the majority. Because they genuinely disrupt the status quo, and that is seen as a very big problem. They basically get the “if you like them so much, we’ll treat you like one of them” treatment, which can get pretty fatal at times. (Fun fact: White abolitionists and Civil Rights supporters were commonly lynched because of that sentiment. The good ol’ “if you love them so much, you can die like them”. Remember, White supremacy is about maintaining itself, even if it means killing White people who “don’t get with the program”. White supremacy is odd like that.) I have seen White friends get booted from jobs, advancement and other life joys because of this exact sentiment – and always from “I accept all people of all races” types. I’ve seen Asian friends pretty much get ostracized because they wanted to be anti-Black and learned that their communities are not as collective as they thought. Those are just two broad examples of plenty others. Basically, as long as you don’t disturb the status quo, you’re accepted. So much as poke at it and you’re officially a problem. Remember, authentic allyship is quite hard. 

To be honest, I didn’t expect much to happen in a year, because it usually never does. Or in two, or in ten. There are some glacial changes but usually the status quo resets itself and goes back to being what it was. There’s a reason why a lot of the same sentiments from the 1860s and the 1960s are still around today. Almost right down to the words and tone of irritation. And so are all the pandering answers and the lip service that are more self-serving than anything. Not much has changed, only the technology has gotten better. Without severe disruptions, that’s pretty much the pattern of how things are going to be. And that, everyone, is a problem. 

Accidental vacation, huzzah. The second one in so few months.

I simply had a lot to do. But now, I’m back (I think).

At least I was half active on my Instagram, where I mainly showed my cat, my 3d printed masks, and my orchids recently. Oh, and my roses. I like scented flowers, what can I say? Especially flowers that smell like candy and/or chocolate – though I don’t really like eating candy and chocolate. I’m complex, it is what it is. I’ll eventually post them to my Tumblr.

I think taking breaks are not that bad, especially when juggling a bunch of things. In the past, I would try to schedule posts so breaks weren’t that obvious but then there are times where you simply just go “Nope” and that’s it.

As of two weeks ago, I’ve gotten both vaccine shots against Covid-19. I am now considered “fully vaccinated”. Still wearing masks. Still socially distancing. Still cleaning things. Now, I have experienced (and seen, and heard from others) that getting the Coronavirus vaccine is immensely difficult – oh, and before we touch on that, let’s touch on bunk for a second.

I’ve also heard from others that people will sometimes go out and about and try to sell to people, usually in poorer neighborhoods that have obscene lack of access to vaccinations – due to terrible hospitals, deeply prejudiced/rude healthcare workers, simply no properly enforced vaccination system, and a long, horrific Western medical history of White medical practitioners using Black and Brown (well, anyone that wasn’t White, really) people as lab rats over and over again – these people will try to hock oils that will “get rid of the coronavirus”. I have zero idea what the oils are made of but I can tell you, it’s a load of bullsh*t. These folks tend to target those standing at bus stops and hock their wares. It has also floated to me that this is also a thing on the internet, including fluffy bunnies and dabblers, who are folks who basically like to play pretend when it comes to magick and occultism. (Having a Killstar bag or a cottage dress doesn’t make someone a witch. Hopefully fashionable but not a witch). This is remarkably dangerous for so, so many reasons.

Here’s the thing: while quite a few forms of science has witchcraft DNA (from potions to modern medicine, from alchemy to chemistry, for example), there is absolutely nothing, and I mean not a single thing that can be purchased from Instagram or Facebook that can vaccinate against Covid-19 or remove it from your body. No phony online witch doctor can cure you via DMs. Even in cultures that do have genuine witch doctors and shamans, they will say just about the same thing a person in a lab coat will (in certain places & cultures, they’re also the same people. And they’re still legit). Which is, “It’s the coronavirus. You need to get medicine and/or treatment for Covid. Or best, vaccinated.” If it is being sold (emphasis on the sold part), it is most likely dubious. If it is being sold on the internet, it is definitely dubious. If it is being sold on the internet via social media, it is a 100%, solid gold scam. Social media can provide a lot of things, dependable medicine is not one of them. Especially not ones gears towards a pandemic. If it is being sold on the internet via social media through an influencer – it is not only a super scam but, congrats, you officially seen someone who is willing to kill you for a couple bucks and with a super edited, but glitzy, smile. They should be behind bars and deplatformed quickly.

If you see anyone posting, selling or spreading such information (from oils to spells about Covid, they’re all phony), report them to the social media platform and even to local governments if possible because they are just trying to make money off of scared people, even harm or kill a few. Doesn’t matter if they are famous or fairly unknown, these folks do not need to harm people just to collect a few coins. They don’t care about the population and especially not their communities, just themselves. You’ll be pushing daisies and they’ll dump out a phony apology just to hock the next thing offered to them for a couple more bucks.

Back to the difficulties of getting a vaccine in the community. I have tried to get a vaccine in the community and, wow, is it difficult. There is the option of going to a mass vaccination center, like a football stadium. However, according to those I know who have gone, it can be long, lengthy and nerve wracking – and this is assuming they have appointments. One friend tried to show up a few minutes early for their appointment but wound up soaking two hours away because of how long the lines were. There are pharmacies, like Walgreens and CVS, but they are so inundated that calling on the phone is pointless (it will just direct you to their website, and their website will direct you to their phone, it is an ouroboros of bullsh*t) and should you get a human, they will be a very frazzled and snippy one.

There is also the difficulties of even getting an appointment itself. It should not be easier to buy concert tickets than it is to get an appointment for a Covid-19 vaccine (by the way, in-person concerts should not be happening, they’re just super spreader events just waiting to happen). Just like concert ticket sites will hold your ticket for five minutes or so, it should be the same for an appointment setting. Granted, there can always be logistical problems with that – everyone chunking up the system because of all the five minutes (or so) timers are active on available appointments, good ol’ scalpers (that should be sort of easy to fix with checking ip addresses, names and such, to prevent one person scooping up a bunch of appointments and trying to sell them off) – but these are problems that can be handled. Hopefully. I mean, we’re almost a year and a half in of handling a virus that can be easily defeated with regular dish soap and a mask and look at how badly that is being handled, from the start to now. Totally predictable but definitely still disappointing.

My vaccination came because I work at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where they are making a mad dash to vaccinate as many employees as possible. Makes sense, given they are the place that has the core of the vaccine research, that they would have better and easier access to vaccines than the average health clinic in America. No greedy and/or incompetent middle men like what regular health clinics have to deal with, no round-arounds or snippy people, either. There was a line but it moved pretty fast. However, NIH is only vaccinating its employees not the entire country, so a way smaller number of people means a smoother run, I would imagine. Either way, if I didn’t get vaccinated at my job that is literally responsible for the creation of information about covid and the vaccines and treatments, I still would most likely be unvaccinated because of how hard it is to be vaccinated in the communities.

And speaking of government organizations interacting with pandemics – what the CDC said is quite sus. For those not in the know, the CDC said: “… [F]ully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance”. This sounds really simple on paper, and I would sort of agree, except for several caveats:

  • A lot of people are unvaccinated and it is quite easy to lie since there is zero obvious difference between a vaccinated and a non-vaccinated person at face value.
  • Related to above, there is even a black market for buying fake vaccination cards (just like there was and is a black market for buying fake negative covid results), which means a lot of people are willing to risk their lives and the lives of others just to not wear a mask. Oh, and help Covid become new, stronger variants
  • There still isn’t full documentation on whether a vaxxed person can catch and spread Covid to others in asymptomatic fashion. That is still being worked on
  • A lot of places did away with their “laws, rules, and regulations”, they’re pretty open now so the unvaccinated and vaccinated don’t really have any pandemic mandates to go by. One place I know of in Virginia is holding a four day rock festival event that is supposed to have 180+ bands and they have indeed claimed to have no restrictions and aim to be filled to full capacity. Please cue Bad Religion’s “Infected”

At NIH, they’re still operating as if the CDC never changed the rules (meaning full masking and social distancing and all the other pandemic protocols are still in effect) because of a lot of the reasons I mentioned above – especially the “can’t tell if you are vaxxed/unvaxxed by looking at you” part. Also, at NIH, they always include the phrase “against current variants”, because it is the truth – the current vaccinations only protect you against the current variants, and to variable degrees per variant. The USA is *miles* from achieving any sort of herd immunity.

The part highlighted is the most important part: the fully vaccinated. There needs to be a population of at least 70% fully vaccinated to count as “herd immunity” against Covid. Herd Immunity is, as explained by Oxford dictionary, “resistance to the spread of an infectious disease within a population that is based on pre-existing immunity of a high proportion of individuals as a result of previous infection or vaccination.” As you can see on the graph above, we are at 38.6% Fully Vaccinated. And less than half of the nation has at least one shot of vaccinations. Some are indeed refusing their second dose because of how bad the effects the first one was for them, others are very “one and done” and thus do not want their second shot. Being half vaccinated in the nation that has the most Covid cases and deaths in the world and wanting to live, frolic and free, is not a great idea. Partial vaccinations can make it easy for the coronavirus to become vaccine resistant as it interacts more and more with half-vaxxed bodies. Plus the immunity wanes a little bit in the body since it is not at full capacity. This is why people who are considered half vaxxed are still told to wear a mask and adhere to pandemic protocols. Yes, it is not common for viruses to out-pace their vaccines but also Covid has proven to be rather uncommon. Also, there’s the people factor that still gets forgotten in super science pieces: the people who still catch and spread Covid are still real and their lives are still impacted. There still research underway about long haul Covid, which affects a lot of people who have caught Covid. Heck, for example, there is zero clue to as how a child that has caught Covid will do in school or in life due to long haul symptoms such as brain fog, weaker vital organs and upped chances for things like stroke before adulthood because of how Covid affects the brain. In other words, if you brought covid home to your kid, congrats, you may have done a superb neuter to their future and quality of life. At least they might not live long enough to really be that upset, perhaps. Wear a mask, social distance and get fully vaccinated. If you are an essential worker, please be careful for yourself and others. If you are not an essential worker (you don’t work in transport/delivery, food or public healthcare), stop being stupid and stay home. The important part is to try to wipe out Covid, not help it get stronger and mutate better.

Also, here is the graph again, not blocked by the info tidbit:

The US Population is about 330 Million, by the way

There is still the concern of vaccinations in historically marginalized communities. Already racism has shown it’s ugly head time and time again during the pandemic (and before the pandemic, and will again after the pandemic). It is zero surprise that when it comes to scarce supplies and unstable lines like how vaccine rollout has been, prejudice will very obviously show its head. From White people flocking to the historically marginalized communities to suck up available appointments to trying to route vaccines towards richer, historically privileged communities. Then there’s turning hospitals and health centers in the historically marginalized communities with atrocious community histories into vaccination centers. I have already heard of several, such as King hospital up in New York. John Hopkins is in its own class of “holy sh*t, what the f*ck”, stretching from inception to now. This alone can make people turn down the vaccine. If you terrify people from even wanting to walk through your doors or looking in your general direction, you’re probably not going to have a densely vaccinated population. Most people, when it comes to needles and bed-side manners, generally do not want to have Jigsaw from the Saw series come to mind. This is a systemic issue that is heavily danced around by, well, the system that keeps it in place. Even when it was brought up on Global Citizen’s VAX Live online concert event, the distrust, it was never really talked about, just painted as “Oh, those silly Black and Brown people. How dare they not believe in science! They have no reason to fear. Because everything that has ever happened in science was always ethical and above board. Always. What paranoid kooks. Don’tevertalkaboutwhathappened,we’resaviorsandyou’reliars.” People in historically marginalized communities definitely want to be vaccinated, we’re the ones who have been really seeing the decimation, but it is difficult to want a vaccine when there are systemic, physical and psychological barriers put in place. Needles are already scary by themselves, there sincerely is no need to try to make that experience even more terrifying, especially not to the point of driving someone to say, “Ehhhhh, I rather take my chances with Covid. Both these doctors and this virus are trying to kill me but at least the virus is honest about it.” This is something the medical community is extremely aware of and their current methods of handling such issues is, well, things like VAX Live. (I love the Foo Fighters with all my heart but the entire event is still a load of crock when you think about it. The Foo Fighters are amazing though). Yeah, the smart answer would be “to work and diligently root out all systemic issues via hiring better, firing system enablers (as well as the bystanders and inducers, etc), actively listening to the community (which must include ‘hearing the not-fun and the really not-fun parts – and without pulling the classic “speed them up to shut them up” method’), working diligently to improve systems and not in a way that is strictly self serving and out of pandering” but remember, that all requires work and a lot of introspection that will bear very few happy self-realizations. And I mean very few.

Very, very few.

These vaccinations are very important and the mad dash to get them shows the problems that were already here and spoken about at length by the affected. It is very important to get vaccinated, it is very important to get accurate information about the vaccine and the virus, it is extremely important to have trusted individuals in health – especially public health – fields to express this information and not be confusing about it nor allow for wide gaps to be abused out of blatant selfishness. There is still a lot of research and information that needs to be done about how Covid is going to affect all our lives, for the rest of our lives. I lived through a lot of things, such as the Oklahoma City Bombing, the HIV/AIDS pandemic (which is still happening, by the way), 9/11 and more – this is definitely not going to be one of those “things we will eventually forget, maybe even the week after its over”. There are a lot of untold issues, sicknesses and definitely fatalities. At least a vaccine is a good first step but not if it is tagged with countless problems. Otherwise, we’re all going to be right back at square one.

At least this still gives me a proper chuckle:

Back but in Mourning

I legit was planning to be back today, had a long post and everything but a really, really close friend and mentor passed from Covid & metastatic cancer complications on the day I got my first shot (April 13) and their funeral was yesterday so I don’t really have much chutzpah to say anything. Here is their obituary and here is the experience of what their job put them through as a librarian at Temple as she fought cancer.

Here’s a cute video to fill the space:

Woo, late but still here! I have been recently getting a bit of an uptick of people writing me for my personal input into their papers. It’s a little unusual for me since usually the kind of people in academia that contact me for my input are usually writing books. Granted, I don’t usually mind either except … I basically kind of get the same kind of rabbit food questions for the papers and sometimes it can appear really, well, lazy.

Here’s a disclaimer before I go into this:

A) I’m hard on students because, oh look, I work in research as a librarian as a trade so I tend to expect a certain degree of academic consistency. I’m old, I know, but *cracks out cane* back in my day, there were way less resources – especially free ones – available to people and still you could get decent research out of them. I’m a research librarian that has worked at the Library of Congress, not Twitter personified so, for future folks, please be warned that I’m going to act and react like a research librarian that has worked in the Library of Congress. I know I derp around quite a lot on these here internets but I do expect any informative inquiries to be that – well thought out and informative.

B ) Read A until you understand. In other words: I’m the person your teachers warn you about :3

I’m just going to smatter these inquiries together (including my responses) because they’re basically all the same. Then I’m going to do my usual breakdown because if I get more of these, I’m might as well slow-walk future academic askers how to actually ask in one post. By the way, these are all college students, I’m a little easier on high schoolers and a lot easier on middle schoolers (because they’re still learning the skill. It should be near iron by the time you hit college).

The names of the askers are redacted because this is such a common issue. It’s not “boooooo, this person in particular sucks!” It’s “boooooo, this method in particular sucks!” So let’s get to it:

Hi Black Witch, 
I found your page through the article you did for Afropunk back in 2012 and have since been going over your blog and reading lots of your posts. It’s so fascinating! I’m a senior at UCLA and am taking a Gender Studies class about race and space. For my thesis paper I want to investigate how the online Wicca community is racially coded and, perhaps, inequitable. As a White woman, I definitely fit into the Etsy-mom-selflove image we often see of witches, but I think it’s so much more important in and outside of this paper to prioritize the voices of black and brown folx in the community. I would love to interview if you have the time or would appreciate any insight you can give me.
Thank you,
[redacted]

Thank you for reaching out. Firstly, I’m Pagan, not Wiccan. I appreciate that you read my posts but it appears you didn’t pay attention to that obvious detail. Wicca falls under Paganism the same way Catholics, Baptists, etc. falls under Christianity but not the other way around.
I’m going to decline interview but you are free to cite my writing since I have talked about this topic at length throughout my blog. Please cite well and thank you :3

– Black Witch

I get a lot of people confusing me for Wiccan – despite the fact I literally never pass up an opportunity to bring up that I’m not Wiccan. I’m Pagan, there is a difference. Whenever I am approached by anyone who says “Wiccan” instead of Pagan it shows me they didn’t read. This is why I had the reply I did. Remember, I prefer academics who research to ask me questions. Figuring out whether I’m Wiccan or Pagan is not a very difficult discovery at all, it’s laziness otherwise. And again, it’s rabbit food questions, hence why I told her to use what I already wrote as a primary source – because I have already talked about this exact topic ad nauseam. Shouldn’t have to be said but here it goes: please do your homework before requesting an interview from anyone, especially for cultural pieces. They may have already answered the question 8098754657877655768908765 times already.

Hi there!

My name is [redacted] and I’m a student at New York University.  I’m an anthropology major and I was wondering if you would be interested in helping me with my final paper? I wanted to write about the witchcraft community and the types of people who practice.  I would appreciate your thoughts on the subject as you seem like someone who is very knowledgeable.  As well as I think it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the community as a POC.  I would just need you to answer some of my questions over email.  Nothing would be published everything would simply be between my professor and I and I can also keep you anonymous if you prefer.  Thank you so much for your consideration and I hope you can help me out.  I totally understand if you are not comfortable or able to and I appreciate it regardless.  Thank you again!

Best,

[Redacted]

Sure, what are your questions?

– Black Witch

Hi!

Thank you so much for your response! If you are uncomfortable with any of the questions please let me know and don’t feel obligated to answer them.  Traditionally this is done in an interview so forgive me if my train of thought seems to jump all over the place or if I am rude.  You may feel that some of these questions are subjective but please answer them according to your views.

First and foremost I would like to know how you got into witchcraft in the first place and what type of witchcraft you practice or what deities you follow? How many types of witchcraft are there? Are there any that are better than others? Which types are most common and why? Could you explain to me how your practices have changed, if at all, since you’ve started practicing and how long you’ve been practicing? Could you give me an example of what some types of, excuse me I hope this is the right terminology, spells or rituals you perform and why and or what their purpose is? Do you believe that anyone can be a witch or is there some type of pre-requisite that you need to fulfill? Are there things that can prevent you from being a witch? What are the characteristics of a real witch/ what makes a real witch? Can you tell when people are actually practicing witches or if they are simply pretending? Are there any stereotypes that bother you about witches or witchcraft? Are there any that are true? What are your thoughts on the types of people who practice? Is there a hierarchy within the community whether it be by how long you’ve been practicing or how devoted you are to the lifestyle or anything else?  What are your thoughts on the community as a whole? Do you find them to be gatekeepers? Do you think that being a POC has changed how others within the community treat you or how you are perceived within the community? Do you think the community has changed with the presence of social media? Please feel free to add any anecdotes you think might be interesting, as well as anything else you think it might be important for me to know so I can write about the community in the most respectful and comprehensive way possible including the proper terminology and things of that nature. And please correct me if I’ve said or asked anything incorrect, inappropriate, or rude.

Thank you again for answering all of my questions, I know there is a lot.  Would you prefer to be kept anonymous or is okay if I quote you directly? (Again I want to remind you that no one except for my professor and myself will be seeing this paper but you are under no obligation to let me use your real name.)   And what are your preferred pronouns? If I have more is it alright to reach out to you again? If not I completely understand and regardless I am grateful for your help with this assignment.

Best,

[Redacted]

I reviewed the questions. Given the sheer amount, I would best suggest to use my posts to answer as many of the questions down there (pretty much any question on race and bias I have answered several times over since I am asked everywhere) and whatever questions are not answered or sufficiently answered, I can answer personally. 

– Black Witch

I don’t mind being asked to help on a paper or be asked for input. However, the sheer multitude of questions is towering, usually they’re about 3-5 questions, definitely less than ten. Plus some of the questions are really easy to research, no need to ask anyone anything. I think about at least 60% of the questions asked could be answered with some general research and reading. By the time you get to wanting to interview a person for any academic purpose, the questions should be very sharp and thought provoking. It isn’t the student’s intention, I know, but it all just eventually started to smack of “can you do the work for me?” given how simplistic and many the questions are. And while I appreciate the person going “please let me know if I am being rude or inappropriate”, thorough research should make it so such a statement doesn’t even have to be said since they should theoretically know by the time they are asking a person the general right and wrong things to ask based off of their research. There are always going to be flubs, even in the best of times, but be more confident in your research and the concern that they’ll pop up will reduce dramatically.

Good-evening! My name is [Redacted] and I am a journalism student in the Communication department at Southeastern Louisiana University.I was emailing you regarding Hoodoo and voodoo. I’m writing a feature article on those topics for my Comm class.I had some questions & a quote (s)you would love to use as well if you would like to answer.I would love to do an interview. It would be a Interview over email or message(whatever you prefer). Please let me know if it would be possible to set this up by March 25,2021. I will send you the questions. If you know anybody else who knows information that’s willing to give me info.  Please let me know!

Thank you so much! I look forward to hearing from you.

Questions:
Why is hoodoo/voodoo not black magic?
What does voodoo and hoodoo mean?
What do people consider to be more practice, hoodoo or voodoo?
Why do people consider hoodoo and voodoo “the religions no one talks about”?
Are they consider witchcraft or spirituality?
Why should more African Americans know more about Hoodoo?
Who is Madame Marie Laveau?
Why use Tarot cards?
Tell me anything I should know that’s interesting

Before I post my reply, everyone, I just want to bring up that the date I received this inquiry was actually March 25, 2021. In the late afternoon of March 25, 2021, at that. So I didn’t even get a day or two to mull over whether or not I want to participate or figure out if I can squeeze this in my schedule, I get simply mere hours. Even the Huffington Post, a site that I strongly dislike because they have pulled egregious things with me in the past – including super short turn arounds without even asking if I wanted to participate while asking super fluffy, filler questions about race and Paganism – has given me at most 24-48 hours. Given my experience of knowing that students are given days, usually at least a week, for papers and articles (I have taken a journalism course, too. Quite a few of them – I was an English major), this shows very poor planning and an indirect insult to the person requested. Yes, news can have a short turn-around time, I know this deeply, but back then, good news places still expressed respect for the time of the person that they were asking. Nothing is wrong with a bit of pre-planning for time and asking “I’m [such and such] from [so and so] university writing a news article about [hopefully worthwhile topic], may I ask you a few questions?” Note I didn’t throw in a deadline. In the words of my Journalism teacher: “Your timeline doesn’t matter to them. If it is important to them, they will reply. If it isn’t, they won’t and you write ‘No Comment’.” (paraphrasing here, by the way, I had a few Journalism teachers.) Moral of the story: give people enough lead time and don’t assume they’re going to be as up and thrilled as you are for your story to just be shot a bunch of questions from a random person (That’s you. You are the random person). Ok, back to the thread at hand!

Thank you for writing but I feel a good chunk of the questions can be answered with regular book research (such as “Who is Marie Laveau?” and “what does voodoo and hoodoo means?”). I am not a Voudoun or hoodoo practitioner, just a general denomination Pagan with an in depth background on both subjects.
Basically, if you send me better questions, sure. Otherwise, I would recommend just searching my blog for my writings on the subjects. 

– Black Witch

Thank you! 
Okay 
How is hoodoo  cultural appropriation in witchcraft and keeping the African American slave folk magic alive?

In the era of slavery, questions of security  in African American experience were very large, so they turned to Hoodoo for help. How did Hoodoo help  the African American experience?

Most African Americans are not as open to talk bout Hoodoo facts or culture due to information that is greatly twisted. Why are African Americans not open to sharing certain information?
Why did you get into Hoodoo? What made you get involved with it?
Do you think  Hoodoo would help African Americans know their roots and their past ancestors?

I don’t practice hoodoo actually. I’m afraid these are not good enough questions. I recommend using my site to answer these questions as well as other books and critical resources to best help your papers.

– Black Witch

Um okay Thank you for your time.

Okiee dokie do, time for a post mortem!

Remember everyone, I’m pretty old school when it comes to education (unless it comes to the structural prejudices and inherent prejudices of Western education, then I’m just plain anarchist to a defining degree) but remember, it is important to respect the time of the person asked for the article. That means no “umm” (that’s unprofessional and unacademic), that means using proper punctuation (Where are the commas and periods and proper capitalizations? This came from someone at an accredited university, right?), that means reading the already provided material the person you are asking has already provided, if any, to justify and hone your questions and make the most of your time to ask them whatever it is that you want to ask them. It appeared more and more that the student thought I practiced Hoodoo and/or Voudon, despite the fact that, just like Wicca, I always express that I am not a practitioner of Afro-centric religions. I am Pagan, yep. I am a Black person, yep. Does not mean that I automatically practice culturally indigenous faiths? Nope. No more than a White person would automatically be practicing Nordic or Roman faiths over, say a particular Middle Eastern faith (*cough*Christianity*cough*). This is why it is important to read and research. Otherwise, the student could be potentially wasting their time barking up the wrong tree. That’s never fun.

The questions had potential but still was in the “why didn’t you research this yourself?” category. It is way better to ask fruitful questions and also, if pursuing journalism, do not ask leading or loaded questions. “Why do people consider hoodoo and voodoo ‘the religions no one talks about’?” is both leading and loaded, for example. Who are the “people” and who considers hoodoo and voodoo “‘the religions no one talks about'”? That shows a journalist usually does not want an honest answer but one that is kind of on an angle. Usually a sign that yellow journalism is afoot when left unchecked. At least this person isn’t a student and hopefully is not already in the field working for an actual news outlet.

For those who don’t know what a leading question is or a loaded question, quote time!

Loaded Question, as explained by Effectiviology

loaded question is a trick question, which presupposes at least one unverified assumption that the person being questioned is likely to disagree with. For example, the question “have you stopped mistreating your pet?” is a loaded question, because it presupposes that you have been mistreating your pet.

Leading Question, as explained by FormPlus

A leading question is a type of question that prompts a respondent towards providing an already-determined answer. This type of question is suggestive as it is framed in such a way that it implies or points to its answer(s). 

A leading question typically leans towards established biases and assumptions and it is made up of specific information which the individual or organization (interrogator) wishes to confirm.

Yeah, not a great thing to use when learning journalism. But! Hopefully their teacher is doing something about that. There are already enough sucky journalists in the world.

And that was all that I have received in the past month or so! Time for super Saiyan post mortem!

Now if a middle schooler asked me all these questions, I would answer them pretty easy peasy. I am not going to expect someone who is roughly in the 10-13 age range to just do the research themselves, they’re just getting introduced to the skill. Plus, I would expect these kinds of questions from a middle schooler, they’re just starting to learn complex subjects such as social studies/current events. A high schooler, I would still answer as is but include tips and tricks that would be helpful such as “here is how to make the questions better to get an even meatier answer/better interview” and more because, again, they are still honing the skill. They shouldn’t be brand new (that’s middle school) to it all but they are still a work in progress. It takes years to build the skills and there are way more resources now than ever to better acquire it. Free resources at that. No expensive, heavy encyclopedias. No restrictive paywalls. Lots of info, all at the ready.

But college? As I tend to say to students “it’s college, not kindergarten”. Unless the issues you are facing are institutional/systemic (such as racism, sexism, etc, from micro-aggressions to overt, blatant displays of prejudice) and/or underlying (dealing with learning disabilities and/or mental illnesses, known or not) issues, then there should be few excuses and problems as it pertains to developing a half-way decent research and academic skill set. I get that these skills are super boring in procurement, as are the classes, and the teachers, and the books and all the other things these students signed up for. Though obscenely boring, these skills are quite useful. They may not get you millions of followers and subscribers but they will help you not look like a single dolt.

Some tips:

Reading is Fundamental

The main reason I’m not really staggered into an astonished quiet by these questions is because I always wonder Did they actually read my blog or just skim? I have never been that big a fan of skimming. Since in skimming, you miss things. Important things. Things that can help you not embarrass yourself or make the reader wonder if you ever knew the subject at all. I am a Black person, yep. Because that is a point many fixate on, I get a lot of questions about race – to the point that I can basically take a post I made five years ago, apply it and the answer will still appear seamless. This means I am going to treat the student like they already made the search and did all the appropriate reading. At this point, I kind of dislike questions on race because I already answered them before and I have a functional search bar on my site. I guarantee you basic, rudimentary, rabbit food-type questions will just get pointed to my search bar. Since that’s where the student should have gone to first. Direct questions to the creator should be saved for things the blog can’t answer, things that require genuine input.

Note that several of the questions above were not simply “rabbit food” level, they were outright lazy. Asking “What is [???]” should be answered by the student, not the person they are interviewing unless it is part of a ream of useful interview questions (“What is Blackness/Paganism/Womanism/etc to you?”, not plain “What is Blackness?”). Questions like those basically smack of “I want an easy A but I don’t want to work for it, can you basically write my paper for me?”

For example, if you ask me “How do you feel about Black Lives Matter?”, the student should be able to make a fairly educated guess based on the posts I already have penned about race in general and BLM itself. It literally would not be hard and would thus be declared “rabbit food questions” because it takes zero brain cells for me to dredge up an answer – therefore annoying. If the question was “How do you feel Black Lives Matter parallels or contrasts with other Black social movements in the past such as the Civil Rights Movement or even the Abolitionism movement?” I would be happy to answer that question since it actually requires me to use more than three brain cells to muse and mull on a good answer. It is not a question that can easily be searched or gleaned from my writings and is thus not a certified waste of my time. Better question? “How do you feel about Modern’s paganism changes over the years, if any? How about media’s depiction of Paganism in general?” (Note the lack of race questions. I appreciate these, because it means my opinion matters in general on the subject, not simply as “The Negro’s Perspective, Now Back To The White People – I Mean ‘The General Topic’s Automatic Experts’.”). Sometimes, it’s ok to not automatically go with bias. Sometimes, it’s ok to work with logic. Try logic. Leave bias home. Abandon it at a bus station, preferably. Or out in the desert to die an excruciating death and picked away by buzzards and vultures.

Questions about Afrocentric religious practices are ok … as long as the student is fully aware that they are not asking someone who participates in those Afrocentric religious practices. I don’t practice Santeria (gotta love that song, though), Hoodoo, Voodoo, Ifa, etc. I have a deep understanding of them as a Black American Pagan person who sat down and sought to learn about these practices but I am not an actual practitioner. I mean, hey, I have a very in-depth understanding about Christianity and I haven’t needed that knowledge personally for roughly twenty years. Knowing a thing or two about your subject helps both people in the long run. Otherwise, it’s like asking an automotive mechanic how they feel about the changes in airplane mechanics over time. Yes, the person asked is a mechanic and yes, they are familiar with the existence of airplanes but no, a person that works on cars can not talk about their non-existent experience with fixing airplanes. Opine their life away, sure, but that still would not make them a decent person to ask at all.

Good Questions Can Lead to Great Answers

Basically part of what I was mentioning above but a well thought out questions can lead to some really great answers. Avoid leading and loaded questions like how one should theoretically avoid the plague (by the way, still wear a mask, wash hands and maintain social distancing, even if you have a vaccine. We’re still in a pandemic). My favorite interview is Good Company’s interview with rock band P.O.D.’s vocalist, Sonny Sandoval. There’s is some audio-visual mismatch but is still a good listen.

The great questions! The respectfulness! It almost sounds more like a conversation than an interview. It is obvious the asker, Scott Bowling, did his homework and thus, asked really good questions. He basically presented a question and let Sonny reply as is. No leading questions. No questions that have been asked five billion times prior (if you are a P.O.D. fan, you already know quite a few). Questions back by great research leads to awesome answers and an interview that benefits both people. It is always important to do genuine research, not just skim and ask a bunch of questions that implies you probably didn’t do your due diligence.

And that has been my recent experience with academic inquiries! I really would like for them to get better, honestly.

Double Feature today since The Arts! was supposed to be last week. So next up is Ask Black Witch in a few hours.

Let’s get into it!

These two creators have very good channels about academic and cultural discussions of race, gender and culture, especially the problematic parts. They go in to various topics, such as Cancel Culture (the history, why it exists, etc), the history of blackface and the current culture of digital blackface, even a discussing the major difference between African American Vernacular (AAVE for short, a cultural dialect) and Imagined Black English (to see quick examples of IBE, look up anything Lily Singh and Awkafina says. For an international flair, add RM from Korean idol group, BTS. Don’t feel like searching? Just go anywhere on the internet where White people are and you’ll see IBE and digital blackface in full spectrum).

Khadija Mbowe

She talks about various topics, including their researched histories, how they proliferate in modern society, why they can be helpful/harmful and more with a humorous flair.

Watch more on her channel

Tee Noir

She gives a very informative outlook from queer identity as a pansexual Black woman to how media treats Blackness, Queerness, Queer Blackness, and how Black Cultural media treats and perceives the Black identity and how limited the perception can be (also can be aptly name: You’re Black … Unless You’re Not Straight, Not Normal, Not Neurotypical, Not…). Sometimes she can bleep out words that I would suppose be bad for the algorhythm or trigger-prevention purposes and sometime that can make it hard to understand, especially if they are crucial words. I wish she wrote them on the screen or something so the viewer can play less “Fill in the Blanks” but you can still understand the entire point of what she is saying.

Watch more on her channel

I am a fan of not telling people “you have to believe in magick for magick to work”. No, you don’t. Otherwise, it could be just you trying to trick yourself into thinking something magickal has happened. That and I wouldn’t get so many people in my inbox who summon something nefarious (why nefarious, I will never know) just to see what will happen – this is also why I don’t slow walk people through their idiocies and instead, I just say “welp, next time don’t dabble, have fun with your new problem.” Basically, there is a difference between doing actual occultic work and simply placebo-effecting your way into a better existence, or into a more annoying existence for the actual occultists and practitioners around you.

Magick doesn’t need believing to work. It requires tools and knowledge but not exactly the power of believing it will work. Otherwise, you’ll start reading signs into every little thing and, again, become an annoyance to everyone around you. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and a person walking by you wearing all blue is just a person walking by you wearing all blue. I kind of think of it the same way as a car. A car needs a starter of some sort to work – a key, a remote, a button, something. Otherwise, it’s just going to be a 2.5 ton sitting chunk of metal. Doesn’t mean the car doesn’t work (assuming it has all its components, no one or thing has stripped it of its tires, wires, etc). A car has a bunch of different moving parts to make it go, the average person does not know exactly how a car works (seriously, go to anyone of any gender and ask how an alternator works. Unless you’re around a bunch of half-decent mechanics, you will probably get a bevvy of flustered answers) but they still get in and use it. As long as the car is moving and not killing them, the car is functional. Now, a functional looking car can always be non-functional, anyone who has ever been in the market for a used car will know this forwards and backwards. Maybe the oil is bad, maybe the spark plugs don’t work, maybe the transmission was on its last mile before breaking. That means, no matter how much you want to believe the car will work, it won’t. Just because that one car won’t doesn’t mean that all cars don’t work and the automotive trade is fake and full of swishy liars out to separate you from your money and cars aren’t real. (Well, the selling/buying part is full of swishy liars out to separate you from your money – but cars are indeed real) Once it gets a new part or all the repairs it needs, the car will be up and running again. Magick is quite a lot like that, it just needs its tools and skills – and knowledge. Just like you also need to know how to drive a car, or it becomes a super death bullet. And know how to care for a car so it doesn’t become a super death bullet to life and/or finance. 

Believing in magick and psionics is fine and good but it can still work without all the “I wish, I wish”. It is just that magick works using the one thing most people hate: work, long work at that. It takes time (a lot of it) to get decent at energy manipulation (as in, months) and all the various forms of metaphysics, psionics and occultism. It takes listening and reading and working and trying and failing and more working and headaches and … you get the point. Some of this information is easy to access, some of it is lost due to either time or rampant imperialism and colonization, none of it is going to be found on some 16 year old’s instagram couched among pictures of sage and beads. Unfortunately, people want things to work right now. Day one, open a magic book. Day two, be Harry Potter in Book Seven. I see this all the time, actually. Before Covid, I would go roller skating. Surprisingly, people would like to see me skate and sometimes try to mimic my movements (which can sometimes be a bit dangerous, I like to do tricks). They’re new skaters and some of my movements look easy so it becomes a one-way ticket to getting a super quick lesson in biophysics and gravity for them. Thing is, I have been skating since I was seven, so a lot of my movements that look easy do so because I have been doing them for over twenty years. For example, I can walk plainly and hopscotch in skates, I would not recommend a newbie to mimic either of that. But they see someone doing it and go “I can do that, too!” and things get really bad really fast. I have the muscle memory, the learned balance, the learned precision and gained skill to do all sorts of silly things on four wheels. I also have a lot of experience in falling, because I had to lick pavement a lot to learn how to do well. Also, it is insanely easy to pop on skates, cling to the wall for dear life, wonder why humans would strap loose, moving wheels to the bottom of their feet, fall every five minutes and say “People can’t do this! They’re wheels! I can’t control them, let alone even stand up on them! It can’t be done! Those who can are mythical somehow, I can’t do that!” Double so for ice skating, which I also know how to do. Just exchange complaints of having moving wheels on their feet for blades (“Why would people want to strap knives to their feet? Won’t they slice off a finger?”). A beginner can believe they’re going to be Surya Bonaly all they want on day one of attempting any kind of skating but it’s going to take major time before you can get even a little decent, let alone land a single foot jump on ice (by the by, I remember seeing Bonaly on tv all the time. Loved her – and how made she made the racist judges mad and flustered because “No one can do a flip and land on a single foot, it simply is too dangerous and can’t be done!”

 

By the way, that is what “Trolololo” looks like in Black Excellence. Also known as “Just because you can’t do it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It just means you might just suck at it. Lolz. Now sit down and let those who don’t suck do what they do best.”

Back to magick and skating. 

It takes time to build. Always. Magick is no different. You can believe you’ll get better at skating but that believing isn’t necessary, work is. You might not get to Bonaly’s level, most don’t. You might land on Kristi Yamaguchi‘s level if you simply put in the work. As long as you don’t wind up on Tonya Harding‘s level, you’ll be fine. Being on Harding’s level means you did next to no work at all. You tried your hand at it, found you might not be as top shop as you wanted to be and instead of putting in the work to get better, you’re just out here sabotaging and bothering other people just to make yourself feel better. Don’t be Tonya Harding. Either get better or get gone.

I grew up on skating and cars so I know my way around them, that’s why it doesn’t look so mysterious to me. Also, I put in work. I didn’t look at mechanics or skating, go “lol, regular people can’t do that” and call it a day. Improbable but not impossible. I didn’t sit there and go “I believe in me” either, I have too many self esteem issues for that. I tend to go by “if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.” And I didn’t look at the first failure I came across and went “Not for me!” It also probably derives from the fact I’m Black – apparently a lot of things are impossible for Black people, so sayeth a very racist society. We don’t like the woods (I go urban spelunking, Black people have been doing that for centuries), we aren’t smart (5+ languages, self-trained in robotics, triple digit IQ – and no tutors or resources, I’m not the only Smart Black Person Ever Existed, either. For example: Benjamin Banneker, who is from my state), we’re not good at anything besides brute sports and being murdered by racists (still touted today everywhere, we can do other things besides get banged up for entertainment and die for sport). So doing occultism, psionics and such doesn’t seem “impossible” or “out there” to me simply because I was told so by the same group of people who are baffled when they meet someone who isn’t a walking stereotype. (Plus, why would I put stock in the same group of people who have those who stormed the Capitol because a plain and fair election didn’t turn out they way they wanted to? That does not sound like a very sensible group.) I just put in work and it works if it does or it doesn’t work if it doesn’t. 

That’s all magick needs, just like anything else. It needs work and knowledge more than “I believe”. People can believe in very foolish things. Like I mentioned above, there are people who believe really stupid ideas. No matter how dedicated they are to those beliefs, it doesn’t make it true. Makes them blind to reality, oh sure, without a doubt, but not true. Hey, I even know people who believe through and through that racism doesn’t exist – makes them a headache to deal with but their personal belief doesn’t make it true, even when they are among thousands or millions who believe the same. 

To ensure I don’t waste my time, I do something called a “sh*t test”, if it cannot take any and everything thrown at it, that means it is not worth my time to pay attention to. I usually apply this to theories regarding race, gender, identity, etc. For example, the idea that “only guys are good at cars”. That is a common and erroneous assumption that many believe, to the point of irritating stereotype. The “sh*t test” involves decentering and tearing the idea apart. For example, why would there be an idea that guys are good at cars? Is it related to the Y chromosome that can be proven over and over? What if the cis-male eventually identifies as non-binary? Does their knowledge about cars instantly disappear? When? When they start considering that they don’t want to adhere to the gender binary or when they have made the solid decision? What about trans men? Do they instantly get a ream of car knowledge like how a phone gets over-the-air updates? Can I go to another part of the world where there is, say, more bikes than cars – or neither! – and if the people in the area were shown a car, the cis-men would automatically know how to fix it or even have a noticeable interest in it, and all the cis-women and girls would immediately not be interested, even though no one in the entire group has ever encountered a car before or have shown any interest of any vibrancy prior? If the idea doesn’t hold water through objective thinking (“an interest in cars is related strictly to gender” -> an interest in cars can be held by anyone of any gender and the physical existence of a car is not needed for such interest). Plus a person can like cars and still have zero idea on how to work on them. I’ve seen that one a lot, especially when I work on my car. Because they believe “I’m a guy, therefore I like cars – therefore I know how to repair a car! At least better than this random lady who has two toolboxes and weird thing she calls ‘an electric impact wrench’. I should go help her even though she told me not to! Because my dick certifies me as a top rated mechanic. Just point me to the carburetor in this electric hybrid and I can fix her car! Because I am a guy and guys like cars, women don’t! That means she needs my help because she is a she and I am a he. No other possible logical explanation.” Remember, just because you believe something you never really tried your hand at, it won’t start to work all of a sudden. An idiot that likes cars but can’t fix cars still can’t fix cars if they never learned how to work on cars. No matter how much they link interest with cars with any given level of testosterone.

If it can’t pass the “sh*t test”, that means it’s sh*t. Granted this takes a bit of skill in learning how to think in a genuinely objective way but completely doable. Just takes work. It is what I also apply to my metaphysics to ensure I don’t waste my time accidentally falling into conspiracies or really hateful views about whole groups of people dressed up as “integral/occultic knowledge”. If you’re on the road to learning psychokinesis or witchcraft, you shouldn’t be ending up hating Jewish people or Black people or Muslim people or any combo of the groups. Or any other groups. Just put in work and keep focus on the work. If you’re going “Well these things aren’t real”, ask why. It’s not to burnish any belief that supports the ideas of psychokinesis or witchcraft or other forms of energy manipulation but simply ask why do you believe the opposite? Because that is a belief as well. And if it is “I simply have never see it before in my life”, how do you know? I have met many who didn’t believe anti-Black racism existed any more simply because MLK Jr existed at one point in history (fun fact: MLK Jr was murdered by a racist. Whoops.) Others because Obama existed (Read: literally anything to do with Donald Trump.) Oh, or simply because they never personally harmed a Black person before (micro-aggressions exist. Whoops, again). And that’s with race and racism, something that is remarkably plain as day to see with the greatest of ease, zero effort. So if people believe things that happen right before their very eyes does not happen, what about things that do not necessarily happen right before their very eyes – or how do they know it does or doesn’t happen right before their very eyes? Nothing is wrong with questioning things, that’s how you get better at something. Just put in genuine work, and test it. Results won’t be immediate – did you know how to perfectly drive a car the very first day you plopped into the driver seat? (For all who say “yes!”, ask the person who taught you, you might get a different, more horrified answer. For those that taught themselves, be honest – perfect and no “I’mma die and kill everyone around me” anxiety?) – but at least you gave it some effort.

This is how I came into pretty much every form of metaphysics I practice, with skepticism and a willingness to try. Not a willingness to believe, a willingness to try. Those are two very different things. It’s how I approached divination, spellwork, everything. If it works, it works, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I read up on decent works, I put in countless hours of work, I looked at what failed and what didn’t, etc etc. Yes, harassing other practicing individuals for being “kooky” and “believing in things that aren’t real” is a lot easier but I tend to shut my trap instead of bothering others in their own practices simply because it doesn’t line up with mine. Hey, what can I say? I’m okay with the fact not everyone is a carbon copy of me and that occasionally or more than occasionally, I might meet someone who just maybe, possibly, be at least a little different from me. Doesn’t make them wrong, just different and different is fine. It’s like I live in a diverse society or community or something … wild, right? So my takes on metaphysics is going to sound a lot different from someone who never bother to give things an earnest look or consideration.

Also this does not mean you have to personally try everything you don’t understand. Just at minimum, don’t immediately dismiss it because your favorite talking heads said so. If it can pass the “sh*t test” (assuming you put in enough work to apply the “sh*t test” effectively instead of gunning for “confirmation bias, presented as the Sh*t Test” instead), then just leave it at that. Nothing is wrong with saying “This thing I don’t understand may or may not exist but I don’t know enough to say that it does or doesn’t so I won’t start foaming at the mouth when a person who practices such ideas says that it does.” Yeah, that person who practices the ideas could be wrong but hey, so can you. Unless you put in the genuine work, like the person who practices the ideas, you can’t say for sure. So either, put in the work or clam up.

Believing isn’t everything. Genuine work is. And if someone practices something different from you, mull on it before dismissing anything.

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