Category: Pagan Life


Small Magick

As we still are in a pandemic, that means some are still stuck at home (many more should have been or the pandemic would be over sooner) so that means there are those who can’t go out and about and fellowship with their covens or other Pagan spaces of worship. Also, there are those who are still in the broom closet (not out as Pagan or a witch to close ones) and still live with the people they are not out to. 

Then there’s the fact that there shouldn’t be any sharing of the utensils, which can be difficult – but not impossible! – to prevent the spread of Covid. Small magick can be helpful in both cases because it is, well, small. Now, for those who are out and out, they live and practice at home as a comfortable solitary, they don’t have to really change much. If at all. But not everyone has that luxury.

Some people have homes that are basically no bigger than a three dimensional postage stamp so doing a big, flourishing ritual or spell simply is out of the question. Shouldn’t limit the practitioner. Even deities who are used to big and fancy (*cough*sun deities*cough*) can be understanding that you won’t have a field of candles or a raging bonfire to celebrate them. 

The name of the game here is intent. That is what drives spellwork. Energy is the vehicle, intent is the driver. Keep up with learning energy movement and manipulation, also. You can get a lot further in a car than you can on a broken down trike. Intent means more than flashy spellwork or fancy movements. Those things mean something but intent is the crux of it all. Even with a little, you can get by as long as there is big intent.

One practice that comes to mind are “Altoid Tin Altars” which are basically small kits that fit inside a Altoid Tin container. This means everything is stripped down and shrunk down – the salt, the matches, the element representatives, etc. Easy to hide and great for keeping everything compact, and to the absolute necessities. Everything is so small and bitsy that magick could be done on the bed (don’t use candles if so – fire hazard), at the table or in the bathroom. I definitely like the bathroom because I can fill the sink full of water and do candle work on the ledge – or in the water since floating candles are real – and if the flames get massive, even on a teeny candle, because I decided to bug a fire deity, I can shove everything into the waiting water as I freak out over why the birthday candle or menorah candle (they’re colorful, handy and my Jewish friends horked them onto me when they had extras) has a flame that grew five times bigger than what should be capable of a candle. 

With magick so small on the physical plane, that means the mental plane is going to need a boost. I strongly recommend meditation for this, it is the best way to strengthen your mind and keep it decent for the long run. Yes, meditation can appear very hard on the first try but that’s Skill Procurement 101 – it is going to be tough at the start. Try not to buy into falsehoods such as “you should be able to get meditation down quick and if you can’t, you’re worthless” or “try drugs!” – those two are big headaches in the Pagan community whenever someone new or very unpracticed comes along. Witchcraft involves building skill. Just put in the work. There are no shortcuts, sorry. If anyone tells you there are, they’re probably selling something. Plus an unfocused mind makes for pretty crappy magick because an unfocused mind means unfocused energy. The mental should be some degree of stronger before going to anything physical so always keep the mental primary. 

Meditation doesn’t have to replicate a zen garden or the woo-woo bs kits that are probably found at Five Below or wherever New Agey bunk is sold. It can be a simple as just learning how to focus deeply on simply counting to five, first forwards (breathing in) and backwards (breathing out). There is also this handy gif below!

 

Stilling your mind can be tough, we don’t live in a world where it’s easy by any stretch of the imagination. There are smartphones, invasive ads, social media. Everything is all about being busy and worrying. One, because anxiety makes it easier for pointless people to sell pointless things to you. Two, being busy is an easy way to be stressed and have pointless people sell pointless things to you. Living in a capitalist society sucks, frankly. 

It is ok to spend 2 to 5 minutes a day. Sometimes that can be frustrating for someone to hear because “those two to five minutes can be used elsewhere!” But in reality, it is 2 to 5 minutes. Go for 60 seconds if 2 to 5 minutes can be tough. Surely you have 60 seconds? 30 seconds? No, you’re not going to quiet your mind in 30 seconds, unless you’re very practiced, but it is still a start for trying to still your mind and focus it. Eventually, you can upgrade to energy manipulation after you learn to keep your mind quiet for long enough. 

This is where the bread and butter of magick work is. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it isn’t super duper easy. That’s what “work” is. 

While getting better at doing mental plane work, there is still small magick that can be done. More like “passive magick” but that’s that. It isn’t as strong or punchy as active magick but it’s something. That could be doing sympathetic magick, which is a form of passive magick, and working with the basic phases of the moon. Doing kitchen magick can be a form of somewhat passive magick, as long as things are kept light and simple. It can be simple as writing notes of intention and throwing them into a candle or plain burning them – be safe with that, by the way. Write on flash paper, which is paper meant to burn away in a flash, so you don’t have to worry about ashes and embers floating about. Do not burn bundles at the same time. One at a time, small at a time. 

Using birthday candles and sand is a popular combo for me. Small, simple, easy clean up. Mark whatever you want on the candles, light them, stick them in the sand and you’re done! You can also pair them with half size incense sticks if you want, I would use the sticks as wands. This way, it keeps everything small and capable. Just keep your pets away from them. Fire hazard. 

No fire? No problem, There is drawing, writing, sigils (with some real research, not just “things found on Instagram”), the list goes on and on. If there is literally no time and no room? Read and research whenever you can, it still propels you forward on your magick practicing journey. Just don’t read and research bunk, try going for accurate historical sources. 

The point of small magick is to keep practicing, even when you don’t always have the space for it. Not everyone has big, lush backyards. Not everyone has a ton of space to make a complete circle, filled to the brim with knicknacks. Not everyone has the finances to have a circle filled to the brim with big knicknacks. But that should not dissolve the practice. Sometimes things have to get a little smaller. 

Reminder everyone! Black Witch livestream will be on Samhain/Halloween at 3 PM EST on the FB fan page, there may be another showing shortly after on Instagram (@thisblackwitch).

Blackhaven

Blackhaven is an indie game available for free on Steam about history and preservation and censorship. The story follows young museum intern Kendra Turner as she works at Blackhaven museum, a fictional colonial historical landmark in Virginia, to earn her archeology trip to Greece. What she learns is that the museum has been trying to hide the landmark’s plantation past – and silence anyone who was a descendant of those forced to work on the plantation. Especially when that descendant has a right to the estate’s money.

Here’s the trailer!

I really, really liked this game. I even nicknamed it Library Simulator because I literally work in this field. And live in Maryland (they mention several Maryland places and Virginia is not far). And am Black. And female. And – are they sure they didn’t watch me work at several museums and libraries? If Kendra Turner tested the water fountains for coolness I would have have demanded a line in the small credits. (Weird thing I do, I keep a mental “Best of Best” list of water fountains from libraries & museums I work at. Library of Congress currently tops the list but only for one (1) location, a staff only spot in the Adams building. Well, two (2) – any Blue Core water fountain in Jefferson on the bottom floors.) What also makes me really attach to the game is how accurate the micro-aggressions are, from the “I’m watching you” email to the annoying phone calls. I sincerely should just show a let’s play to everyone who ever asks me “why do you have several lawyers?” You would think people surrounded by information would be, y’know, smart but I have met many who are the living embodiment of “you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”

You, the player, discover how the museum is hiding the fact the fictional founding father, James Blackhaven, was actually a terrible slave owner (oh, wait, I said “slave owner” twice – they were all terrible). How he made his money wasn’t from being shrewd with his finances and forward thinking, it was by enslaving innocent people and putting them through tortuous, horrific conditions to turn a buck. And his wife was definitely an Angel in the House – but only to White people.  On top of that, the Blackhaven estate also hides and silences anyone who is a descendant of the Black people they enslaved, telling them “no one in Blackhaven history has ever engaged with slavery. You should check your facts, we won’t let you explore our private collections”. Double so if that descendant is also an heir to Blackhaven itself and thus, the Blackhaven money.

That was so on point I was flabbergasted. Remember, I’m in Maryland and I literally work in this field, it is bananas how much these institutions will fall over themselves to hide the extremely true and glaring facts of how they came to be. If you want a real kicker, you only have to wait around for maybe fifteen minutes before the same people who will say “We are Good White People – Get lost before we call the cops” will then slander China for “oh they have censorship like mad over there – hey, some Black person wants to interview us about the slaves the founder had. Tell them that never happened and threaten them with a lawsuit if they keep pressing. Lies, I tell you. They always like making things up, from ‘Karens’ to ‘police brutality’.” Hoo, the cognitive dissonance is neck-breaking.

I appreciate how accurate they made the documents (most likely pulled from real resources, most of it), the storytelling, the feel, everything. Even the rinky dinky scanning station, the sly enabling of problematic employees, the purposeful “It’s not because you’re Black, it’s because … uh … work” exclusion, and over surveillance.

The visuals are factually accurate but there’s nothing torture-porn gory. In other words, they don’t go super White-Dev-Explores-Painful-Black-History about it. I don’t even remember if I saw the n-word. They’re being that sensitive and accurate and I am 10000000000000000000% here for it. I should know about how accurate the texts are, I literally transcribe 17th-19th century documents for a living. Wow, I wish other devs could be the same.

Blackhaven is also a bit of a taster game for the next game from Historiated: Cassius. Which explores more of Blackhaven’s history, during the thriving hey day of Blackhaven manor. Cassius is available in 2022.

Check them out:
Historiated Games

Q Planet/ Queer Archive/ Rainbow Foundation

I always love keeping up on history, even when it is in the making. Q Planet is a Korean youtube channel about LGBTQIA history, culture and identity in South Korea. I learned about it from following Eun Ha-Sun, a queer feminist who originally was on the Korean talk show “Candid Men and Women” (hard to find and translated versions don’t exist as far as I know but here is the series – have on at least two adblockers. The site is in English, the show is not). She’s now on Q-Planet (큐플래닛) with livestreams and such. From Q-Planet, I learned about the Rainbow Foundation and Queer Archive. Both are Korean sites but they have English versions.

Queer Archive is a treasure trove of Korean queer history, focused on the nation of South Korea. From books to cartoons to historical documents.

Let me gush about the font package, Gilbeot, developed by the Rainbow Foundation. It is provided free for anyone to spread queer cheer in the Latin and Korean alphabet.

Behold!

Look at all the pretty colors! Throw in the ace colors and it would be golden

As explained on the website:

Hangul wears the colours of pride.
The first complete full-colour Hangul typefaces
representing the pride of sexual minorities.

The Gilbeot Typeface project was born out of the idea
of creating a Korean Hangul version of the Gilbert Typeface
which was created to honour the memory of Gilbert Baker (1951-2017),
a gay human rights activist and creator of the LGBTQ Rainbow Flag.

The typeface name “Gilbeot” is a play on words with the name Gilbert,
but also signifies the word “journey” or “path” (gil) towards a society
that respects diversity that is shared with a “friend” or “companion” (beot).

By the way, installing fonts are not hard, just unzip, look for the font settings on your computer and drop them in the drop box. These are so colorful and wonderful. It is part of a visual arts project to promote queer visibility. Rainbow Foundation talks about it at length in English but there is also a video. It is currently untranslated so no English subtitles, sorry!

If you feel like giving them your money (and are in Korea), they have cute stuff. If you feel like giving them your money (and are not in Korea), they have a donate page.

TransLives.Net

TransLives is currently undergoing censorship (gotta love global queerphobia) so it is not currently active. The site reads (in Chinese): “Due to the Ministry of Public Security’s notification that the website contains illegal and harmful information, it has been temporarily closed and ordered to be rectified.” (“因公安部通报,网站存在违法有害信息,暂已关闭责令整改.”) It is a load of bull, obviously. Especially for a nation with a long and expansive queer history – there’s the ever astounding Emperor Ai (one of my favorite people in history, next to Jing Ke, Ida B. Wells, King Sejong, Benjamin Banneker – it’s a sort of long list but he’s there). Then there’s the fact that bisexuality was the norm in China (mainly before the White people showed up. Yay imperialism and their nonsense offshoots of queerphobia, severe racism/colorism, etc etc.) for a very, very very long time. Was it always Pride in China? More like “no one cared until sniffy people got sniffy” … orrrr “We don’t care who you sleep with – as long as it isn’t with the Emperor. And you’re not amassing power from it.” Things like “Queer Pride” wasn’t really needed because it wasn’t considered any shade of abnormal. And there were bigger fishes to fry – like war, famine, and trying to run a really, really, really big country.

There’s a lot of interesting history getting the king sharpie pen treatment, in other words. Before I continue, let’s point this one thing out – this mention of China censoring queer people & queer existence should not be taken as “Woo, America is better”. America is about as trash as China is when it comes to queer people being treated with any decency, and the decency super plummets when the queer person isn’t White. Is the US government currently censoring queer websites? Not currently to the level of China but whoo, is there a very not-great history of what it is to be Queer in America. For one, there’s the Pulse mass shooting. For two, literally pay attention to any PoC trans person ever for the quickest view. (Or watch Pose, which is a brilliant show filled with wonders – and painful accuracy) Or visit Texas. Or San Francisco, just don’t let the rainbow sidewalks fool you. In short, both countries are very trash when it comes to queer people being treated decent in general. China is getting fussed upon because TransLives.Net is a site for Chinese citizens in China to express and examine themselves and their identities. There are still some spots online, mainly in English, discussing queer existence in China. As well as pointing out the really not-awesome behavior of what is happening, which is striking mainly queer people and feminists in China.

Before the Beijing Ban Hammer dropped, this is what the site looked like, courtesy of the Wayback Machine. (Click to see full pic):

In Chinese

In English

It was a super informative site that, just like Queer Archive, was filled with info (that is thankfully still there due to the wayback machine) for people who are questioning their gender identity in China. The links can still be clicked on and the site traversed (with some lengthy maneuvering with the wayback machine) but it is currently censored, which is not great. However, I still think such a site should be noted! Hopefully it will be back up or the servers moved somewhere out of reach of political chicanery.

Busy Black Witch

Hoo, it’s been a minute since the last post, I know. Thankfully still have never caught The Plague – oh, by the way:

I’ve just been busy. The Black Witch Shoppe is still closed until the pandemic is over (I know – there is no “over”. Notice though how we aren’t still ravaged by the Spanish Flu from 1918. There is eventually an end, it’s just a long ways off) but that doesn’t mean I’ve haven’t made new things. I’m not reopening the store yet because there are a lot of supply interruptions – and still a deadly virus going about. I’m currently in a position where I can do this so do this I shall. Last I need is the additional stress of worrying about physical supplies for creation and the postal system. 

Instead what I have been working on is my other project/creation – MultiMind Publishing. That has been slurping up a lot of my time. I haven’t even had time for video games or exercise – well, video games that aren’t Tomodachi Life. I can squeeze that into my day and still feel social. MMP is simply my creative writing works. My novels, my novellas, my stories, you get the idea. Right now, only two works are really available – an audiostory (short audiobook?) that was published by Nightlight Podcast, a horror story podcast that features Black horror writers, and a small fantasy novelette that I had put out a year ago. The novelette has been reformatted (yay, me learning Affinity Publisher better) in both print & ebook and the audiobook version is pretty much done. I didn’t self-narrate because I frankly didn’t want to. Then there’s the next work that is coming out next year, a fantasy horror novella. I learned a lot (code for “I went through a lot of annoying bullsh*t”) from the novelette that I am definitely applying on the novella. I talk on the MMP blog why I am going indie (tl;dr – I didn’t have great experiences with traditional publishing as a Black speculative fiction author. Traditional publishing is still very, very White and I, as well as my stories, are very, very not. Also, bad contracts are still the norm there. Not interested.)  I post very scantly there  because that’s just for random thinks as they pertain to publishing. 

But I do want to show the covers here because the covers are pretty and designed by Edge, whose works I really love and admire. Check out more of Edge’s works here.

So pretteh.

Amika is available for purchase, Dreamer is coming out next year. 

So that is what I have been working on. I still will be doing my Samhain livestream on Samhain/Halloween itself. I still am not sure if I will be splitting my time between the BW fan page or instagram like I did for the anniversary livestream but I probably will. Either way, shenanigans begin at 3 PM EST on the BW fan page.

What I also have been working on, as mentioned by my twitter, is dealing with another library issue. (To learn about the first one, just slap this site into the Wayback Machine and pick any time in 2016). I’ll let this screenshot of the recently taken down petition sum things up – caution, suicide is mentioned and feel free to click the image if the text is too small (it’s pretty small):

The petition was taken down because the even the university union higher ups thought it was “too inflammatory” (and was notified by the university HR, who probably said “this does not make the university look good. Make something happen”). Apparently Paula’s behavior is “too inflammatory” to post & talk about in public but not inflammatory enough to warrant a pink slip. The university won’t even allow a vigil for Vivien. They never formally recognized Vivien’s passing (I was one of the last people to see Vivien alive and saw her suicide note when she posted it – and still have a copy of it). When the petition maker tried to make an on-campus vigil happen for the 12 of Oct, a few days ago, it gathered the attention and support of the clubs and groups on campus – and then the university lawyers threatened lawsuits on the clubs and group if the vigil were to happen. So not only will the university cape for Paula, they literally try to litigate even regular, non-disruptive things into quiet, like a vigil. And here’s a long comment left by a someone who still works there.

Click the image if the text is too small (it’s pretty small): 

Why are people like this in library science? I have zero idea. Very much the definition if the phrase “you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. Lawyers are working on it but it is still a very trash thing to happen. And this is just a droplet of Paula’s behavior. She regularly engages in ageism, queerphobia, ableism, etc.  And it looks like the university is super ok with that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The stupid, it burns.

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

Now, into the meat and potatoes of this post.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your input!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

I feel like this is needed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still racist all the same.

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

Won’t someone please think of the buildings?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Oh, and Happy Nothing-Happened-Today Day

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Yep, sums it up

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

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

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

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

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

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

Very adorbs

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The US Population is about 330 Million, by the way

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

Very, very few.

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

At least this still gives me a proper chuckle:

Back but in Mourning

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

Here’s a cute video to fill the space:

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