Category: Pagan Life


As I peruse the net for clothing and creative things, one thing I seem to run into most is “fake witchery”: clothing and other items that feature an overabundance of moons/moonphases, pentacles (preferably upside down), crosses (also preferably upside down) and always on black fabric.

I call this “fake witchery” because, while it carries the look of “oooh, spookeh. She’s very much a witch!”, the person wearing most likely is not one in actual practice – just because someone likes to burn sage and call it brujería doesn’t make them a witch, it makes them a tryhard that is attempting to be edgy. And doesn’t get that they are just saying “witchcraft” in Spanish, because what would magick be without the “dark otherness” appeal?

Here’s the thing for me: it is aggravating because it is very much a fad. As an actual practicing witch, it just bolsters stereotype: witches are broody women that wear black and are quite possibly nefarious. Basically, whatever American Horror Story was pitching in its PR run. Then you have the pseudo-feminism atop it, similar to when the movie Suckerpunch came out.

Pseudo-feminism is a mimic of feminism that looks like actual feminism on the surface but actually does not support most of the core beliefs of feminism once you so much as smear the surface. Usually, pseudo-feminism is structured to make various forms of misogyny appear “okay” or even “empowering” and make toxic masculinity pretty much untouched or bolstered because “that’s just how men are”. Many of the tropes that degrade or minimize women are modified to look appealing, especially to girls and women who don’t know much about what actual feminism is. Pseudo-feminism is the belief that bras were burned in the sixties (that never happened, male journalists thought that one up to paint feminists as crazy and wild. Yellow journalism at its finest) and that to be a “fierce” or “empowered” woman, you still have to look sexy and appealing to the male gaze – or else you’re letting misogyny win (somehow). Pseudo-feminism says that everything is feminism, including engaging in internalized misogyny, as long as a woman is doing it because “empowerment”. It ignores deep thought and history, frankly. It ignores various beliefs (and schools of thought) because that is not as cute or easy as listening to a single Beyonce album and buying a bunch of Killstar clothing.

Pseudo-feminism also has a somewhat close relative: pop feminism. This is the place of “I listened to a single Beyonce album and bought a bunch of showy Killstar clothing.” Pop feminism is condensed to very, very bite sized ideas (“hitting women is bad – but women hitting others (including women) is empowerment!”, “women should be seen and heard – preferably making sexy noises”, “women + guns/power = very empowering”). These bite-sized ideas makes feminism appear sexy and appealing – and does not disturb the male gaze very much. Nor does it really deconstruct toxic masculinity or misogyny. Pop feminism is whenever there is a modern depiction of Frida Kahlo, she has on make up, her unibrow is gone and there’s no lip fuzz – but will be raved about for “being herself” and a “woman painter” (instead of just a “painter”). Does not disrupt misogyny, just makes room for it while telling the world that “this is what feminism looks like” when really it isn’t. Pop feminism is based in Whiteness – it is pretty much White Feminism on a glitzy stage and injected all over media. It is BuffyCharmed (both reboot and original), American Horror StoryScream Queens, Suckerpunch, the list could go on and on. The White woman/girl is still centered in everything and if she isn’t, her beliefs certainly are. If the story centers anyone not White, she is pretty light and you can tell the writers are White because the character conducts herself like a White person: tone deaf to prejudice (unless to make White viewers feel some emotion), engages in culture vulture ideas like misusing AAVE to appear kitsch and “woke”(an AAVE term historically used to describe hoteps and their outlandishness), and cares about issues that are mainly marketed to White viewers.

The witch in Western pop culture tends to be female and somehow a cultural outcast. She’s usually White and “not human”. She is supposed to be fearsome, wearing expensive dark clothing that looks ripped from the runway and a face full of pricey makeup. She blandly and completely Hates All Men but in a “what if the SCUM manifesto was insultingly hyper-sexualized for male consumption” kind of way. If anything, the pop culture depicted witch is just another sexualized idea that looks feminist and empowering but isn’t. And that problematic idea is catching.

To those who don’t know better, the witch in pop culture looks completely appealing and empowering. Especially to those who feel helpless because of the current political climate. The act of spellcasting appears cathartic – a psychological placebo effect to make the person feel better – to them and thus they flock to the look and style of “witchiness”. That’s possibly why it seems I see so much “oh, I’m a bad witch”, “I’m a bruja”, or “we cast hexes on [awful men]”, “I only care for my coven”. Oh! Speaking of covens!

It appears the “coven” concept, which has been around authentically for a few centuries but is now watered down for pop culture, has almost completely replaced the “girl gang” concept. It seemed to have been born on Tumblr, honestly, but the “girl gang” concept is pretty much the “witch” concept but with false envisioning of intimidation and violence dreamed up by people who have never interacted with an actual gang in their life. Basically, the middle class on upward. I’m personally from the inner city so I find this concept completely ridiculous when carried out by women and girls who never even been in a fight before or are scared of even non-bladed weapons (or just as bad, simply don’t know how to use them, only have them for “cool” factor). As a rule of thumb, please don’t consider yourself a gang if you’re not actually one.

Back to what I was talking about: while caring for others is a valuable ability, calling your friend group a “coven” both cheapens the word and expresses the lack of understanding the woman or girl that uses it. You can have a group of female friends that you are close to and not call it a “coven” or a “girl gang” or whatever pop feminism phrase will be next. Adding such words can create a veneer of intimidation but it is a weak veneer that is unnecessary. It may be cathartic to the person who is saying it but phony all the same.

Again, what we are all seeing here is a fad. As soon as the political climates changes again, as soon as many of these women and girls get older, a lot of this “bruja” nonsense will most likely drop with many. There’s a reason why doing magick is seen as a fad and not an authentic practice. And that’s a problem for those who actually practice.

The Arts!: The Holidays!

It’s the holidays so that means it’s time for the good ol’ holiday post! And as a reminder for Yule/Solstice cheer, you can play with shelter kitties over a live feed with robotic toys, even snap a pic of the kitties you play with. Check it out here!

Now on to the Black Witch holiday classics!

This is pretty much going to be tradition here on Black Witch: The KRS-One x Lupe Fiasco Christmas Battle! It’s adorable seeing Lupe and KRS battling as Blitzen and Santa.

The next selection is from Wong Fu Productions: “The End of Wong-Fu: A Christmas Story” The old tale of being careful what you wish for, you may get it.

 

I nearly forgot! My Chemical Romance did an amazing cover of “All I Want For Christmas Is You”

 

Happy Yule!

 

And that’s The Arts! this month, yup yup.

Next week is Ask Black Witch, so if you haven’t sent in your questions, do so. Remember, good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated!

Around Halloween, I was sent a book by the author, Melanie Marquis to review. It is titled Carl Llewellyn Weschcke: The Magickal Life of the Man Behind Llewellyn Publications. I had just reviewed another book so I spaced this one out a bit.

My experiences with Llewellyn publications are so-so. They have books I used aplenty such as Richard Webster’s book on Cartomancy Playing Card Divination but they also have came out with a loooooooot of not-so-good, such as Silver Ravenwolf and Edain McCoy. (Silver is a post all on her own so I’ll save it for that. Ditto with Scott Cunningham) As far as Llewellyn goes in terms of “are they good to recommend?”, I usually try not to steer new people towards them because there’s a lot of fluff among the diamonds in the rough. They definitely cornered the metaphysical market and certainly gave it a major dose of capitalism, that is certain. Llewellyn is probably a strong part of the reason why I have to explain “I’m not Wiccan, I’m Pagan” to almost everyone I meet.

I’m not the only Pagan who feels this way, here’s a chatter thread from Non-Fluffy Pagans on Livejournal and an essay titled “Green Witchcraft: The Llewellyn Complaint“. Heck, the book I always recommend Where to Park Your Broomstick by Lauren Manoy isn’t published by them but by someone else entirely.

Now, back to the book.

It pretty much is a memorial book to the founder Carl Llewellyn Weschcke, published by Llewellyn (I almost want to say “obviously”.) It’s his life story, charming quotes from people who knew him or interacted with him, pictures from his life, things like that.

At least this book, unlike the last one I reviewed, has a bibliography in the back. That’s good.

The book starts with his early life, which I guess you could say was a semi-charmed kind of life. Private school kid from fairly well off and very atomic family in Minnesota that seems very Leave it to Beaver with a touch of occultism here and there. Very pampered and with no need to want, basically. Though framed as the “average American upbringing”, it really isn’t. Not every American kid goes to private school and their dad buys land for a new summer house – during the Great Depression and World War II, two instances in American history that weren’t exactly economic upticks. Maybe it is because I’m a Millennial – and a Black Millennial, at that – but it sounds like Weschcke came from wealth. His family wasn’t Warren Buffett but they definitely were pretty rich. Not average.

In Weschcke’s later life, he went to college, got a degree in business, joined his dad’s pharmaceutical company where he eventually became an executive, so on and so forth. Nothing inspiring, all bland. I’m not a White guy from a prosperous family that’s so wealthy, it could deftly deflect one of the worst economic downturns in American history. I’m a Black woman that was raised in the inner city from with a half immigrant family that constantly had fiscal turmoil (and still does). Hearing’s Weschcke’s life story really does not make me well up with “wows” and awe. It kind of irritates me.

There is a chapter on Weschcke’s involvement of the Civil Rights Movement. My prediction is: feels impassioned of the maltreatment of Negro folk and decides to go front and center, a bit Liberal White Savior/I’m-Totes-An-Ally style.

I had to laugh at the statement “It was a time when racism was common.” Uhhh, when wasn’t it? Like, there are lynchings going on now. I think the most recent one was a few weeks ago, if not this month. I actually have to check NAACP’s website for travel restrictions when I think of going to music shows out of state. I literally carry a hot shot and tool box, spare oil, an electric tire pumper and a funnel in my car in case I breakdown in sundown towns. Segregation still exist, it is more de facto and very much prominent. This was well before Trump got in, the hatred never left.

Annnnnnnnnnnnd I was right. Granddad started a St. Paul NAACP chapter in St. Paul in 1919, even was unanimously elected to board of directors. Weschcke hosted the 51st NAACP national convention. Hm, I wonder how many Black people worked at his companies – and of that number, how many of them were in lofty positions or was it the usual “Apply bleach the further you go up” thing companies regularly do, where it’s diverse at the bottom but not at the top? This chapter annoyed me. When it comes to Black history and the Civil Rights Movement, I enormously discount the actions of White people in it because the problem of prejudice in this instance is one that they created. You don’t get a cookie for “Mostly abstains from being awful”. That and it’s the NAACP, who has had missteps (backing Rachel Dolezal and the fact they tried to ice out Black Lives Matter, to name two). And how many Black authors has Llewellyn had? (Hint: Goose egg.) And the Llewellyn staff group picture seems pretty snowdrift to me. I think of all the pictures posted in the book, I only spotted exactly one (1) Black person. Uno. Ichi. Han-nah. Une. Yi. One. Classic White Savior, basically. Being a Black Pagan, I literally never saw any diverse representation from Llewellyn books. Ever.

The rest of the book is informative if you really want to learn about the person who created Llewellyn Books but it simply isn’t for me. If anything, learning about the man behind the books made me more annoyed than anything positive.

It is nice I was sent this book but, honestly, I would much rather appreciate more diverse books on much more diverse people. Y’know, books not centered on the White gaze. Especially in Paganism.

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Halloweenie and Randomness

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sick Black Witch

I’m sick!


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

 

Here’s Psy – I Luv It

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

Lamont M.

 

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

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

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

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

This is just a terrible question all around.

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

-Rea M.
  

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

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

Burning Cross of Thorns

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

So close to Bingo!

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

First ever debut on Black Witch! W00t!

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

Oh, look! A racist appeared!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Voices and Copycats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actually, some people in HuffPo have noted this:

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

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

Omake!

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

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

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

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

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

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