Category: Pagan Life


Negligence in Potion Making

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hi there,

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

Thanks for any insight you can offer,

Thista

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

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

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

– Black W.

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

Hi Black W.

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

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

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

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

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

Thista

My retort:

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

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

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

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

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

– Black W.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Yesenia M.

My original response:

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

Their response:

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

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

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

Here are some additional information that looks into the motivation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks in advance.
– Rose B.

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

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

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

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

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

Menstruation and Misinformation

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I have noticed recently a wave of “guys telling women how to menstruate”. Basically, it’s a bunch of Hoteps (Black folks – usually guys – who are fake woke and real self-hateful) trying to tell Black women that, somehow, having a period is A) an eurocentric construct B) not natural and C) can be dispersed with removing “eurocentric” foods from diet. All three are incredibly wrong and actually quite harmful. That and I always wear this face when reading:

This is the closest capture to “accurate” I can provide

For example, one hotep vlogger named Yada pointed out how their daughter just got her first period and how it made him upset. Yes, periods are a bummer. They hurt, they make you sleepy, they make you irritable, nothing fun about it. But that’s part of having a uterus. However, they can be managed with Midol, Always pads, rest and access to competent women health laws.

Unfortunately, this is not how the Hotep responded to their daughter starting a period. He suggested cramps bark, which at first I balked but does relieve cramps. However, it is not declared safe for pregnant women to use. My rule of thumb about meds, especially natural meds: if it can not be used for pregnant women, it shouldn’t be used for children, which includes his daughter, who is around early middle school age. The reason why pregnant women shouldn’t use it: it could affect the child. Reason why breastfeeding women shouldn’t use it: it could affect the child. The dude was basically half right: yes, cramps bark can help alleviate cramps but for a young age, it could have adverse affects, especially if dosage is not monitored (and he’s probably not a whiz with that, given his lack o’ any medical knowledge). If anything, rose hip tea could be better. Not to mention, the initial reason why I thought cramp bark was inaccurate: black haw (Vibernum prunifolium) is also called “cramp bark”, but does not do the thing. This confusion could lead to complications. Rose hip tea is relatively safer, especially for young girls.

All in all, it would have been fine and dandy if the dude just looked up some teas and pads for his daughter to have but newp, he had to go waaaaaaaaay beyond that. And into the stream of thought that is pretty harmful to women. And, of course, it’s part of a pretty worldwide idea that treats periods like mysterious sicknesses…usually thought up by guys who seriously could use a briefing in basic anatomy and physiology that isn’t bathroom jokes or smut. The general, usually male-created, consensus about periods is that they’re unclean, unnatural and burdensome. I mean there’s the old internet joke of “I don’t trust anything that bleeds for 3 days and doesn’t die”. It derives from serious misunderstanding and actively pursued ignorance about a pretty normal function in women bodies. And I say “Actively pursued ignorance” because you can google “how do periods work” and the first thing that will pop up is this really thorough article from womenshealth.gov (still accurate despite having a moron in the White House). There’s even a menstrual cycle video on youtube from the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom as the second link. The third comes from pad brand, Always, who answer 10 common period questions. (I greatly suggest their Infinity Overnights line, so nice). Usually I’m skeevy about companies giving out medical info – because it basically becomes “Have problem? Solution: Our product, no matter what” – but Always’ page is very informative and geared to young girls.

This is simply googling “How do periods work”, no medical jargon or academic phrasing. Any dude looking up period info would have stumbled upon these sites. This includes Hoteps, members of Congress and any dude with a Reddit account.

If case anyone is still trying to understand or, worse, consistently going “menstruation is a curse from the White man and these sites primarily cater to White people so, of course, it’s still doesn’t apply to Black women”, let me break it down for you further. Let’s use the point I originally pointed out above:

A) periods are an eurocentric construct (False)
Yada, who seems to be leading the pack on “things I don’t get about women bodies: Black culture edition”, talks about “european doctrine” which primarily affects White women. Now, before I continue, I would like to say that he is talking in a video. And in this video, he’s wearing what I believe is a Gucci signature belt, which is a European brand (and a pricey one at that, at least $300 for a belt). For someone who is very anti-Eurocentrism, it doesn’t bleed over into how he spends. He could have gone with a regular belt buckle but I guess he wanted to jazz it up with name brand, particularly Italian. The least the dude could have done was go with Oscar de la Renta, who is Dominican. The very least. At most, look up Black-made fashion apparel and buy stuff there.

Moving away from fashion and back to what he’s saying, Yada is a very apt name person because frankly, all he does is “yadda yadda yadda”. He talks a lot but doesn’t really say anything. He states that our ancestors were “not running around, bleeding all over the place”. He’s partially right: the first anything resembling menstrual care was in Africa by using cloth and fibers and used similar to a tampon, if my memory serves me right. So our ancestors weren’t running around, bleeding on everything. Even though, guys then also thought the menstruating was full of teh evilllllllz (a part of that is thanks to Western imperialism). Because guys are pretty willfully ignorant about women’s health. Same reason why in the US, people have to march and petition to have contraception covered by healthcare but viagra, which is a cosmetic drug (not meant to cure any actual, life threatening or altering ailment), is covered just fine.

Yada’s belief for why Black women ancestors did not bleed is because they “ate natural foods”. I really want to see the science on this. Yes, food and diet can alter your period. Certain foods, like tofu, can make it come sooner. Some can make it come later. Drinking lots of water can alleviate cramps. Drinking lots of soda can make them worse. A very poor and hyper restricted diet can make periods not come at all (because the body is having a hard time sustaining itself well). Ditto with intense athleticism, because the body is getting so lean – under 18% body fat – it can’t sustain a period. You can be the most Vegan vegan person to ever vegan and still have a period. Because it’s natural. It’s natural for the female body to get periods, regardless of race. Regardless, whether the uterus belongs to a Black woman, a Native woman or an Asian woman, it’s gonna work the same, more or less. Natural foods can’t rid of periods, at all. Having a period is not a result of “not clean eating” because periods are not dirty or a result of being a dirty, unkempt person. And trust, this Yada person is trying to make the connection “natural eating = clean eating”. It’s good to have a healthy diet, filled with lots of natural foods like fruits, nuts and vegetables but you’re going to have a period, no matter what.

Ok, this dingbat also brings up that he’s a vegetarian (not Vegan, still eats eggs and cheese, just not animals themselves). Good for him. I almost expected him to say “I’m a vegetarian and I don’t have periods!” Which would have been chuckle worthy…up to the point I would remind myself that there are other guys who are still this level of stupid, and several of them are elected to office. Then it’s frightening. Long story short, periods exist because of biology, not because White men want to oppress others. Menstruation is not a human-created construct, like race, money and gender. It’s a nature-created construct for procreation, meaning it’s going to exist, regardless what one believes, like sunshine, gravitational pull and electricity.

B) Periods are not natural (False)
They suck to have but periods are natural to have. They’re the basics of procreation, especially for mammals. Did you know that animals like elephant shrews and some bats menstruate the same way human women do? Other mammal species perform “covert menstruation”, meaning that menstruation is still occuring it but it’s not visible or as clear. The BBC has a long, science laden article about this. It’s a good read. However, the kit and kaboodle of the article is that menstruating is happening because pregnancy isn’t. If you’re pregnant, you’re not menstruating and vice versa.

C) periods can be dispersed with removing “eurocentric” foods from diet (false)
As mentioned prior, diet can effect periods but it’s healthy for the body to have a period, not the absence of one and there’s no baby nor birth control. You could have an all Zimbabwe diet, an all Korean diet, an all Australian diet, and you’re still gonna have a period. Because that’s how the female body works. A balanced diet would help regulate your flow and lessen cramps, which is always nice but still means you’re going to have a period.

This subject of how Hoteps are pretty much affecting people has been discussed on Oxygen and even BET. It’s really agitating because in these modern times where there is access to information and knowledge, still, it is being ignored. Men simply aren’t good at talking about women health for the simple fact that they tend to center themselves somehow and still manage to ignore the perspective of women. Women are already minimized so this is more of that. Of all the Hotep nonsense I have seen, I am harder pressed to find women who believe the same. Now, they do exist, but they definitely don’t exist in the numbers that these guys do. Most, if not all, of these guys can’t even name women’s genitalia properly. (Hint: not everything is ‘vagina’.)  If anything, these dudes probably would probably sound like the “journalist’s guide to guns” macro from years ago.

This, but with the word “vagina”

There’s enough hounding the literal lives and experiences of folks who get periods. It would be nice to hear less nonsense. Because none of this is necessary and all it does is breed more self-animosity and internalized misogyny that any young girl would have about their body.

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My e[x] husband has a girl friend.. But i still love him… Will me and him get back together… If so when…

– Ronnie A.

My initial response:

“Why don’t you do these very simple things:

– *Read* my site and why I don’t like questions like these (because it’s asking for free divination and is a pretty stupid question)

– Get over your ex. He obviously did.“

Times like these make me wish I really did get better questions than this baseline drivel.

I’m a womanist, so I support gender equality, including in relationships. This means I’m not a fan of abusive behavior, like controlling someone. It’s not right or fair. Yes, relationships go sour but guess what? Everyone goes through that. It doesn’t make the experience easy but it doesn’t justify being harmful either.

Here’s the thing: this dude is an ex-husband. As in “gone”, “vamoosed”, “signed the divorce papers”, “disappeared”. He is free to do what he likes since the relationship is over. Including date other people. It’s one thing if he was dating before divorce, which would make him a “cheating piece of sh*t” but he’s divorced. If he’s got a girlfriend, it means, unless there is something wowing that the letter writer does, it’s pretty clear they’re never, ever getting back together. And even if the letter writer does something wowing, it still doesn’t mean they’re ever, ever going to get back together. Love is a two way street. Yes, it sucks. There is a reason why lovesick songs are constantly on the radio. And why Taylor Swift has any albums.

The reason why the question is stupid is because I have a pretty clear history of reaming anyone who shows abusive behavior like this. Missing love lost is fine, wanting to force it to come back is not. Kleenex makes money off of one, Smith & Wesson makes money off the other. If anything, it’s better to just sob a lot, listen to K-oS’ “Rain” and Whitney Houston’s “Heartbreak Hotel” on steady repeat and veg out for a couple weeks. That would be a lot more healthy and productive than bothering a random person on the internet.

Instead of worrying about the ex moving on with his life, move on with yours. Don’t get caught up on oneism (thinking that you have only one true love in the world and you must get that particular person, coined by Dr. Nerdlove). Talk out your feelings with someone you trust or a therapist. Once ready, refresh your dating skills and find husband #2.

If u are a really witch I need your help…. I have been experiencing something’s that I don’t know why they just showed up out of no were
Seeing and hearing things, my ears have been hurting any time something medium loud happens, waking up at 3:00 and 1:00 exactly every morning,something inside me says my fate is to be bad, feel like someone’s following me 24/7 and they sleep with me but there’s always no one there and I am not going crazy.. please help me, thank you. Ps this is just the sum of things..

– Jazmyn

Here is a glowing example of what not to send. Let’s point out the ways:

  • I can usually tell I’m about to hear nonsense when messages start with “If you’re really a witch”. Why, exactly, would I be LARPing as someone who practices witchcraft for nearly ten years? Anyone who does that is more depressing and pathetic than even the best psychologist could measure.
  • Through the whole thing, while it is a lot of description, it really tells me absolutely nothing. She could be describing strong stress (for example, ears having sound sensitivity could be an onset of tinnitus, a stress-related illness). Waking up at 3 or 1 in the morning is noteworthy but it isn’t enough for me to pinpoint what. A sense of dread and the sensation of someone else in your bed could point to something, or be another expression of the paranoia. Even if it was an entity, this is still very, very vague to determine what. I can’t just say “Sleep with a ring of rock salt around your bed” because that wouldn’t really do anything because, again, I wouldn’t know what the problem is.

The thing is also, I asked to expand more via email but didn’t see anything. I seriously am not going to be playing spirit detective, especially if I don’t have base info. I have to know background, usual interaction with the occult (usually slim experiences), so on and so forth. Can’t help anyone if I don’t know much. Besides, in my experience, about a good 96% of people coming to me with these questions are not besieged by spirits but have much more mundane problems…which are fixed with mundane solutions.

If you’re going to email me with your dilemmas, please be less like this.

Cherry Picked Politics

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Recently went to a Pagan space in Baltimore for solstice and they had a new sign on the door: “Leave your politics in the car”. Also known as “how you know you’re surrounded by White people”. This is mainly why I don’t really engage with the rituals there. I just chill inside with the air conditioner and work on Black Witch stuff and listen through the window. That and because they sometimes film their rituals and I’m not showing up so some moron can point to me on film and say “see, we’re diverse!” They’re not. Not interested in being the token, I just have one favorite person there and that’s pretty much why I show up. And free food. Basically, come for the favorite person, stay for the free food.

Choosing politics is moreso a sign of privilege than not. Usually it’s not really all politics, because then people would be stuck with talking strictly about the weather – wait, no, global warming is considered political as well. Ok, so basically nothing – Either way! There are some politics that are very, very okay, just not the ones that tend to make those with privilege emo.

The thing about saying “leave your politics at the door” is that this is pretty coded. Since it is at a Pagan spot and it is a extraordinarily White place, it’s pretty obvious which politics are gonna fly and which aren’t. And what started this “politics-free zone” thinking was because they made some major missteps with their last rituals in regards to race and general politics. Stuff like summoning Sacagawea and Harriet Tubman to share the same space with slaver Thomas Jefferson at recent rituals, among other things.

Usually in White Pagan circles, they kind of work almost in the same vein of White feminism: it’s a problem when it directly affects them, and when it doesn’t, it’s a “distraction” and an act of “being divisive”. Doesn’t help that most of mainstream White Paganism is pretty much ran by and loaded to the gills with White women so it’s no surprise that it would have the same gaze as White feminism. This creates cherry picking politics.

It’s “cherry picking” because, frankly, everything can be seen as political. A trans person trying to go to the bathroom is seen as political because transphobia and gender politics. A Black person wearing their hair in its natural state is seen as political because of anti-blackness and race politics. These are really simple acts, using the bathroom and picking a hair style. However, enough people get up in arms about it, it gets framed as “political” because all politics is, is debating human-involved issues. From whether we should chop down all the forests in the world to if it’s wrong to have a fur coat, these are issues that involve humans somehow and thus can fall under the banner of “politics”. Doesn’t make it a bad thing, just simply what it is.

This means that talking about merely being Pagan is also political because religious freedom – something that isn’t considered taboo in the Pagan group…because it’s a Pagan group. They’re also okay with basic feminism because this is a group ran by primarily women, which is also politics – gender politics. They also don’t try to separate the trans people from the rest of the group because according to their politics, that’s not cool. So, they don’t mind politics, as long as it blends with their politics. This is not an act of “leaving politics at the door”, it’s simply agreeing to abide by an already established set of politics, regardless how lopsided or prejudiced they are. This is cherry picking the politics. Some are okay (“support basic feminism, don’t be a jerk to trans people”), some are not (“don’t bring up racism in a way White folks feel bad and non-saviorist, don’t acknowledge that the “feminism” they subscribe to is blanche neige White feminism”). All of this is bullsh*t.

Usually I hear the, “I don’t like politics” chant mainly from White folks who simply don’t like the fact that their privilege may not be seen in a good light and for really strong, deeply historically grounded reasons. They don’t mind whinging about Trump (despite voting for him), fussing about how they can’t believe prejudice still exists (despite constantly enforcing it in both de jure and de facto ways), and how they love different cultures (as long as the people attached to them are preferably silent and invisible). However, start bringing up where their thinking is wayward and, all of a sudden, they have declared this area a “politics free zone”. Because your politics may not match up with theirs and that might cause thinking, which will induce bad feelz. Won’t someone plz think of the White feelz?!

Thing is, if someone is bringing up why what another person or group did is prejudiced out of it affecting them personally, it’s not “politics” to that someone. That’s their life. If a Black person is saying “Hey, these police murders aren’t cool. Summoning abolitionists and indigenous explorers with exploitative slave traders is also not cool,” that’s because race and historical identity is not an armchair topic for them. It’s not a fun topic to chat about with others until their coffee is done, it’s their life. It’s a cop out to respond with “Well, I think you’re getting political about this, I don’t wanna talk about it. [Despite the fact I knew that race was political and did it anyway]” And expecting that person to abide by those lopsided rules is also an act of prejudice in and of itself because the person with the privilege in the situation is trying to determine the rules of engagement to spare their feelings over another person’s experience.

If things only got “political” when the topic stopped being “oppressor/privilege friendly”, then what the person doesn’t want is for things to stop being “political” suddenly – they just want a free pass to be as much of an ignorant jerk as much they want and with no one to argue with them. Which isn’t how the real world works, not even in modern Paganism. By trying to subtly cherry pick what is ok and what is not, it just shows a cranberry bog of problems.

Oils and Magick

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I’m getting into more oil-based spellwork and candle work recently. I don’t really know why, I just am gravitating more to using oils in my practice extensively. Mainly in the form of using oil burners, which I’m currently in the market to look for. And I rather buy them from Pagan business since this is for Pagan work. I don’t want to use incense much anymore because while incense makes for wonderful makeshift wands that are hyper-specialized for spell work, regardless of what the spell is for, I just am sizzled out with them. That and there’s the smoke and ash issue, where I just am simply not a fan of it. Especially if I get incense that are a less purer quality than I thought I purchased. I still don’t mind having small sticks around if I need to quickly awash something in smoke but that’s pretty much it. And I rarely do that, at that.

I’ve been looking for proper oil burners, primarily from Pagan stores before going to more general purpose locations. I generally look in places such as Gryphon Moon, and search for other shops like Eclectic Artisans before going for general shops because I want to buy from Pagan business for the simple fact that I’m Pagan and the purpose of the item I’m getting is for a Pagan practice. It’s not that I think the burner will be more infused with more magickal energies than if I got it from some faceless entity on Amazon, it’s simply an economic choice. It’s no different from the reason why I buy only Black-owned hair products.

So far, I just been doing the rudimentary method of simply drawing the oil on the side of the pillar candle, two lines going towards the center for invoking, two lines going away from the center for evoking. Very basic, simple to do. I simply would like to combine whatever oils I have, or purchase oil combinations from trusted Pagan sellers, such as dragon’s blood oil and rose oil, throw it in the oil bowl, stick a candle underneath and call it a day. I always like to keep my rituals super, super simple and quick to do. This also means I can create whatever combinations I want and store them for whatever future use. Not to mention, I also like to easily put them out of the way when I’m done the ritual (unless I am doing one with a meditative bit in it, where I meditate until the oil/candle/incense runs out – which I need to get back into doing). I don’t mind drawing over the candle with oil but I also have to clean the candle holder out when the oil runs or worry the sigil/design is going to bleed together. I don’t mind making a special oil concoction, take some flash paper, write whatever I need to on it, infuse with a dip in the oil and put it on the candle with tweezers. This is very simplistic for me and I like simplistic.

Also, since we’re on the subject of oils, here are some must-knows:

Tweezers are awesome, not fingers: Please use tweezers, flash paper (especially oil soaked flash paper) will go up quickly. Do not use your fingers! It may break the “ooh, oh so magickal” feel of the ritual but it’s a lot better than getting 1st/2nd degree burns or trying to drop the flash paper accurately into the flame. The deities will not protect you from your own stupidity.

Burn only pure essential oil, nothing with carrier oils: You will quickly regret this if you burn oils that have carrier oils in them (jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, etc). The point of a carrier oil is that they are supposed to dilute the oil to make it safer to wear on the body. They smell absolutely awful if you burn them. If the oil is not pure essential oil, you’re going to be able to see it, smell it and it won’t smell very good. A great book to have is The Idiot’s Guide to Spells and Potions and, of course, Lauren Manoy’s Where to Park Your Broomstick, she has a fantastic section on burning oils.

Fire safety is good: Working with heating oil is great for spell work but oil has a flash point where it goes from liquid oil to raging inferno (ditto with candles that have too much stuff in its wax pool). Please have sand or baking soda – NOT Water – to extinguish the flame safely. Water and oil does not mix, water will make the oil (and the flame that exists on the oil) spread. Same thing if you blow on the conflagration. It will become a bigger mess because of basic fire chemistry. If you are the freak-out type, have a bag of sand or box of baking soda beside you so you can quickly dumpy the mass on the flame while you’re having a “Fire! Fire!” flailing session. If you’re the cool, calm, collected type (also known as the “firebug with experience” type), still have the sand or baking soda with you. Pour on flame and you’re done. You can also smother the flame using big enough cookware but sand/baking soda is very small and compact to carry with you.

Do not apply pure essential oil to body, always dilute: Essential oils can irritate the skin if applied by themselves. Some essential oils can’t ever be applied to skin. Always check if it is ok. Do not believe the extremely harmful myth of “everything in nature is good for you” because that’s not true – Hurricanes exist, hemlock exist, volcano exists. Nature is chaotic, some parts are good, some parts are not. Some oils are dangerous to wear, don’t do it and risk poisoning yourself. Wear an oil diffuser locket instead.

Do not drink essential oils: If essential oils can cause problems on the external parts of your body, they definitely will wreak havoc on your innards. Learn to get better with teas if you want to drink your concoctions.

Don’t have animals around or have them secured: Yes, there are familiars but this is not Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, your cat/dog/ferret/hamster/gecko/chinchilla will not calmly and idly sit by your side as you do spellwork. They will run around, knock things over, get into stuff and create a great fire risk. If you do not want to flambe your pet accidentally, keep them out of the room. You can hold them but keep a good hand on them and extinguish the flame if you’re about to let them go so, again, you don’t accidentally flambe your pet.

Store oils in dark bottles and at room temperature: Amber bottles, cobalt bottles, these are great for storing oils and preventing them from going rancid. Keep oils at room temperature, do not keep them in very hot or cold places.

If you burn yourself: Get an actual burn ointment, do not put butter on burns. That soothes nothing and can cause infection. You are a person, not a biscuit. At least have vaseline or pure aloe handy (if you have both, make a mixture!) but get a small packet of burn ointment.

Ok, moving on.

Oil work in magick is really great for me, I never really done it a lot because oil upkeep can suck when you have a crowded apartment or worse, you still live with your family that didn’t know you were Pagan and, thus, have to be stealth about it. If a bottle breaks or leaks, that’s most likely all your amount for whatever scent oil it was. Also, pure oil can be pricey because of the process that exist to make such oils. There’s so many reasons why having oils about can be annoying and a bit high maintenance. However, if there’s a spot to hold the oils and keep them contained properly, without risk of breaking or being in sunlight, it’s really a nice thing to have.

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Last Ask Black Witch had a question from a person who said he was a witch of 17 years…and wanted a spell to bring back his cheating girlfriend. Part of my response was:

Regardless of whether you practice witchcraft or not, heartbreak is still possible. If someone’s going, “If you’re a witch, why can’t you make the person love you and never leave you?” Because that’s abuse and would you like someone to do that to you? Free will is still a thing. Practicing witchcraft doesn’t make you impervious to life’s problems.

Apparently, that wasn’t all! I got more from the dude after the post went up:

Breh.

Really?

Two things:

A) I seriously think this person has not spent even 17 months in Paganism, Witchcraft, nothing. Ethics gets covered in the first year, so there’s no excuses.

B) Even if the dude decided to forgo ethics over a broken heart this time, he still wouldn’t be begging someone else to handle his problem. He’d already know what to do.

Let’s talk love and ethics in magick because, holy crap, it’s a reoccurring topic. It’s amazing how folks think that because they’re not using guns and threats, it officially not abuse anymore so let’s start there.

What is Abuse?

There are various types of abuse (emotional, physical, sexual, verbal, etc) but abuse is basically the act of impinging on someone else’s free will for destructive means. Mundane examples of abuse:

– Restricting contact with others

– Treating person as if property, not as an individual

Gaslighting

This guy here is hurt that his ex-girlfriend (let’s face it, she’s gone), cheated and left…and given his “she’s mine” approach, it makes me wonder if it was actually a cheating. She could have simply have broken up with him and found someone new. It’s not uncommon for abusive significant others to see a clear-cut break up and moving on as “cheating” because, in their head, the person never left or broke up, they’re just playing about – but now they’re being “unfaithful” since there’s a new person involved.

There’s also the thing that this type of behavior doesn’t magically pop up during immense stress, such as a big break up. Oh, certainly, emotions can drive someone to act in ways that are odd to their regular personality but there are such things as red flags. There’s a difference between sobbing “don’t leave me!” on the floor (and via text…and on social media), and declaring “leave me and I’ll kill you and the dog!” The latter behavior shows a more abusive streak that was most likely present throughout the entire relationship (and probably the reason why the person left). This dude is showing the latter.

What points this out is, first, the dude is initially asking about how to get his “cheating” girlfriend back, as if I have a history of just giving out spells and for any request – which I don’t. Then there’s the fact I already suggested moving on and therapy to get over the break up, the dude still asks about spellwork. Being dismissive of the initial answer is not a good look if you don’t want to look like a controlling ex-boyfriend. Listening is a crucial skill in relationships – and when interacting with other humans.

Finally, there’s the phrase of “I’ve been trying to do this without hurting the other guy”.

Usually, I would say, “it’s possible to blame the significant other for straying because they knew they were in a relationship, a fact they could have consciously withheld from the person they were cheating with”, but here? Why put care into not hurting the other guy, which means the ex-girlfriend is 100% fair game? I mean, it takes two to cheat, the significant other and the person they’re cheating with. It sounds like the dude just wants the girlfriend back to simply punish her. Not work things out, just mete out punishment. Which is shifty.

There’s feeling hurt and angry, those are legit feelings, but this is not the route to go down. At all. This is no different if the dude walked into a gun shop and was trying out glocks, saying to the shop owner, “I don’t want to hurt the other guy, I just want my cheating girlfriend back.”

If she’s a cheating piece of sh*t, then just ditch her. Be angry but let her go. Take time to heal and work on yourself.

In general, this is part of why I don’t do pay for pray (paid spellwork), bother with love spells or anything of that nature. Add in human ego and things can go south ridiculously fast.

Ethics is a very boring topic in magick, certainly. It can take the fun out of the whole “Ooooh, I’m a witch!” thing. But it’s important, because it’s better to set the lines clearly before you mistakenly cross them. Ethics is important especially in topics such as love and war because, that’s where they’re most needed.

People make rash decisions. There are pages and pages of history that proves this. People, regardless of gender, are emotive. Incredibly emotive. “Long wars have been fought over small differences” emotive. This can be really, really bad for so many reasons if left unchecked, thus why ethics exist. Ethics are the defined rules a person should follow, regardless what their emotions dictate. No matter how it feels at the time, emotions are not always right. Emotions may feel right, during that moment, but ethics help give a fairly defined “what is right/what is wrong, what is good/what is bad” line to decide with.

This is why I mentioned “what about ethics?” because that should be a go-to. It’s why ethics exist. If you wind up dismissing the ethics, that can be a super downhill slide.

This is going to be about suicide because I feel like talking about it and both the Black and Pagan community suck at discussing it. Simple as that.

Firstly, I’m not going to suggest National Suicide Prevention Hotline because they absolutely suck. I think I have called it only twice in my life and both times were pretty useless. The most recent time, a counselor started to be slightly combative saying “Oh, you can’t disturb the peace in myself. I am at peace with myself.” That’s nice, you’re a happy camper no matter who calls. If only I cared, the person who is not at a whole lot of peace with themselves. Unfortunately, Google and Facebook plasters them everywhere if you have “suicide” in your search term. (Unless you search for specific methods and avoid the word “suicide”, then you don’t see it at all). Thus I want to get this declaration out of the way. National Suicide Prevention Hotline does nothing to help those actually suffering from suicide. If anything, it’s just a fairly fleshed out dummy number for people who have never experienced suicidal ideation, feelings or attempts to rattle off to feel better about themselves. It’s also usually coupled with a “If you don’t want to talk to them, you can always talk to me” (which is usually a load of bs by itself, unfortunately).

Before we go further, also want to get out of the way the fact pro-suicide sites exist.

About pro-suicide sites: I’m not going to link them because while pro-suicide sites don’t bother me and, in my opinion, are better at being frank about suicide than anti-suicide sites (so frank that they have convinced people away from killing themselves), they are pro-suicide. They refer to folks who are anti-suicide as “happy shinies” (because they’re delusional in their thinking that “everything will be okie dokie if you just smile, do yoga and be happy!”) and I certainly can’t disagree with that because, hey, most people are scared of knowing someone who is suicidal so they think a pointless pep talk can make someone put the razor down. However, I am not going to just link to them because this is gonna be “do as I say, not as I do” moment. I dislike these moments and try to keep them as rare as possible but it’s happening today.

Alright then, moving along.

There’s no one reason why people attempt to kill themselves or successfully accomplish it. There’s heartbreak, bullying, general depression, financial strain, social isolation or combination. It’s really unfortunate but happens all the time. And some problems can simply not be fixed, no matter how empty or rehearsed the pep talk to a suicidal person gets.

Everyone has heard “try to pull through, it’ll get better” but that’s intensely hollow because it doesn’t provide even the slightest glimmer of a solution right now. The future looks far away and full of hurting so what’s the point of dragging yourself through all that…especially when there’s the chance that this feeling may be around for months or even years? And may never go away? Most people don’t know what to say to someone in emotional pain or crisis so they go for surface things like, “be happy” or “go pray” because getting into the murkier waters can be scary and are very, very not easy to fix at all. Someone wanting to kill themselves because they feel like an incessant failure is not going to magically perk up because you reminded them that a god existed. Actually, while we’re on the point of religion…

Never bring up religion to a suicidal person. If the suicidal person is very stressed and convinced of their method, they’re very much in a headspace where religion can’t reach them. No idea of an eye in the sky or an invisible friend is going to turn them around at that instance. You may hear the common, snarky rebuttal to “Oh, go talk to god”, which is: “I’ll be able to talk to god in person soon, if you’ll just go away.” In all the times that I’ve talked to someone who was genuinely depressed and considering suicide, I never would bring up religion, even if we were in the same religion. It’s because I know how it feels and if anything, it could stoke some latent anger (“If god/the gods is/are so all knowing, why do I have to go through what I’m going through? Why are they putting me through this? I’m not perfect but I try to be a good person”). That anger is not what the person in need needs. They’re just going to feel more abandoned and it’ll just plummet themselves down further. That and what if the thing weighing on them is a bad break up or, worse, money issues such as an eviction notice with only 5 days to remedy? Reference to religion just starts to sound deflecting from going at the real problem, as if the person talking to the troubled person reaaaaaally don’t want to acknowledge that some problems in the world are incredibly complex and need practical, real world solutions.

Actually, let’s talk about that for a bit: people who mean well but sincerely do not want anything to do with the existence of suicide, suicidal people and suicidal thought. Best explained in this article from Care For Your Mind and this article from Red Eye, even though people may spread numbers and links to suicide awareness hotlines (usually National Suicide, which, again, I would like to remind is not that good), it’s a very hollow act that serves the person spreading the link more than the person who should see it. A one sided feel-good act. If anything, this is a pretty detaching act to do, especially if the person feels alone or isolated. Because instead of the friend actually talking to the suicidal person about what is troubling them, all the suicidal person gets is a cold “here, call this number, I can’t be bothered with your issues” message. Even if the friend is just passing the number along because they honestly don’t know what to say but, truly, they know more of what to say than a random, poorly trained and burnt out volunteer on the phone. For starters, the friend actually knows the suicidal person, and therefore can pull from a bigger bank of information, which means better questions, avoiding emotional landmines, and getting trust and cooperation. A random from the Suicide Hotline can’t do that. What the friend could say would have more gravity to the suicidal person than a random person who may or may not really care. Basically, if you’re the type to say “talk to me if you’re suicidal”, back it up with some actual talk. No, it won’t be easy, glamorous or lovely. Hey, you may even have to spend the night with the person to make sure they won’t kill themselves. But it’s better than a cold shoulder after originally offering comfort and help.

It also does much better to help the suicidal person if they’re not called “selfish”. Actually, it’s usually others that drive people to that point, hardly narcissistic. Also, isn’t it even more selfish to want someone to live despite all their pain and suffering (that you’re not going through, especially not on their behalf). To just drag through what is senselessly hurting them and causing incredible pain because it might give you a sad. Oh, woe. Don’t just bother to help, just tell the person “Why don’t you think about me? Me and my feelings?” Look, once you pull yourself from the mirror, you should remember that there’s a person in need of help, not your selfish nonsense. Same with complaining, “Don’t take the coward’s way out.” Plenty people going through hardship killed themselves and they were pretty tough people, they just got tired of handling the weight of their issue by themselves. Anyone can carry a 3lb rock, but people eventually break if you saddle them with a 250lb boulder, regardless of their strength level. Even faster if you tell them, “It’s a three pound rock! Stop saying ‘it’s heavy!'”

For most people trying to kill themselves, just simply giving a sh*t is generally good enough. Most suicidal people think they’re a burden to others, that they’re not worth anyone’s time (part of why just haphazardly tossing a number to a suicide hotline that barely works can be a bad idea), that they’re a problem that needs to go away. They feel alone in their issues or like all they do is bother everyone, even when they try to do well and make all the right moves. Someone who actually knows them and actively tries to help them (not suggest religion, not suggest yoga, not suggest hobbies, actually sit on derriere and tries to help). It tends to do a lot more work than tossing a random phone number about.

However, some people who are suicidal are very invisible and isolated, they don’t have a network of people to talk to or even if they did, they feel that probably no one in that network would listen or even take their grave feelings seriously. Perhaps they’re getting tired of the “prayer” line. Maybe they’re part of a culture that internalizes prejudiced ideas about them and tries to pass it off as a positive. For example, if you’re Black and suicidal, you’re going to hear that Black folks are very strong and pretty much impervious to emotional pain…which stems from internalizing the centuries-old dehumanizing “animal/subhuman” stereotypes. That and you can go to church and pray away the pain and leave it all at the Cross. It all boils down to “Black people don’t commit suicide”. Which can be true, if you exclude Don Cornelius, Kayrn Washington, Lee Thompson Young, Phyllis Hyman, Jay Bowdy and countless, countless others. Actually, here’s a Think Progress article about the fact that suicide among Black youth is booming. Here’s another article from The Body is not an Apology. I guess Jesus and pretending nothing hurts aren’t really that effective. Feeling like it’s a must to suffer in silence or to just not even be noticed at all, it can be a terrible pressure that can lead to someone trying to kill themselves because no one who commits suicide really wants to die – they just really want to escape what’s hurting them and make things better somehow. For those who really just want to talk to someone that is actually going to chat with them and not judge them, there is the Crisis Text Line. It isn’t a physical person sitting there with you, but it is someone. It’s also free and quick to use. (It’s also faaaaaar better than National Suicide).

Now, some find comfort in their suicidal ideation, that they have a “way out” if everything really goes very south and with no avail. I think it’s a bit silly to think society can prevent suicide because the reasons of suicide is complex. If suicide were an easy subject, people wouldn’t wait for someone famous to kill themselves to talk about it for a few weeks before going back to ignoring its existence and shunning anyone who’s ever tried it. Some problems are simply too hard to fix or with very short time restrictions. Some people just have nagging thoughts that pester them that life isn’t worth living, regardless of achievements. It’s all very complex. Suicide is complex. And it’s never going away, but it can be alleviated in those who feel this way. But not always, which is just how life is.

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