Category: Coming out of the Broom Closet

I would like to start this column with a story. Why? ‘Cause I wanna and the story is an awesome lead-in.

When I was the president of the Pagan Student Union at my university, we had divination workshops. I and a couple other diviners in the club were teaching tarot and cartomancy* for beginners. We had a few people, none of them truly memorable except for one guy scared of touching a tarot card right after handling a cartomancy equivalent, a playing card.

But there was this one girl that a friend of mine brought. I’ma call her Patty, the friend that was brought. Oh geez, I could tell Patty was going to be a problem from her stern body language. She sat at the cartomancy table where I was teaching and she felt the sincere need to interject at every instance that she believed divination is a fraud. I remember trying to quell her and talk to the rest of the people but she was simply foaming at the mouth with a steady boil as she tried to quiz me about the history, background and validity of cartomancy. Good lord was she rampant in tuning out reason. I’m fairly used to dealing with skeptics of the moron kind (over-skeptics as I usually refer to them) so I explain she can borrow my cartomancy book as I instruct so she can read the history section and the bibliography. Newp, she wanted to know how, without aid of beakers and lab coats, can one see into the future because science said it can’t happen and gargle gargle foam foam.

To be honest, I was worried she was either going to give herself an aneurysm or her heart would give out. There’s less anger in the Middle East than what was on Patty’s face. Plenty of derp, to put it youthfully. She was not at all here to learn anything but clearly to disrupt, debate one-sidedly and foam. I probably could have told her her whole life story and everything she’s going to do for the next three months but she’d probably still call shenanigans and continue raging disproportionally for the situation at hand. Those people are awful annoying. Discussion is fine but going bonkers isn’t helpful because that doesn’t equal disagreement, it just equals going bonkers. I don’t mind helping out filling in the blanks for better discussion; I did offer Patty my book for her to read and fact-check. She can still be against it but at least she could understand the other side of the argument. Patty decided to bypass all that and just go nuts simply because it bothered her that much. Now, she didn’t have to come and she could have simply walked out, I wouldn’t have been at all bothered. I understand Patty was with one of my friends but even when I’m going to a place or an event I don’t like, I bail. Should I come with a friend, I just let them know that I’m not going home but I’ll be waiting somewhere else and they should call me when they are ready to go. I know this is my tactic because I employ it often when I go to an event that I won’t dig but my friend does. Even if that event is Bible Study – though I can usually get out of those.

To finish the story, Patty, after having a meltdown over people aren’t seeing it her way, she knocked it off long enough for the Student Events Board to have a chat with her over at the side. And I believe she left or kept quiet. Has Patty changed? Not sure but I still see her as uptight and mental. Her body language certainly haven’t changed.

Yes, skepticism is healthy. A good BS meter is nice, if not essential, when involving in metaphysics. Or anything else that require critical thought. To take anything at face value is asking to be hoodwinked. However, it’s not smart to act like Patty, when met with something they don’t agree with, all walls are up. Instead, pick your battles if you’re that passionate about it. Like I mentioned earlier, I will bail out on Bible Studies super fast. I don’t make up excuses often because there’s not always a need (the only exception is when offered by elderly women) but I don’t go because I know I’ll get into a debate quick.  I don’t debate at Bible Studies simply because that’s rude. The people studying aren’t hurting anyone and I don’t like debate, actually. Me and confrontation don’t go well. They’re minding their business, I’ll mind mine. It’s a different story if they bother me a la the lady from Mental Mentality but Bible Study? I rather walk around the church looking at the pretty architecture and art. Have I been trapped in Bible Studies? Yes. Dear God is it bothersome because there are just some things in the Bible I honestly don’t agree with. I try not to act like Patty because, while I  may understand the frustrating emotion of “Why don’t they get it?”, it can come off as how I described: metaphorically foaming at the mouth. It helps no one and is really embarrassing. To avoid foaming at the mouth for me, I try not to get roped into Bible Studies because they won’t change my mind and I won’t change theirs. And there’s no reason to.

So, in dealing with an over-skeptic, here are some rules of engagement that I notice works:

Pick your battles wisely: Sometimes stern skeptics are just closed-minded people who reject change. Not all, but some. They’re quite close to being an over skeptic but not nearly as rude when introduced to something they disagree with. Also, sometimes people have to learn and live a little before modifying or creating better critical reasoning for their skepticism. (Remember this if you argue against a teen or someone who is super sheltered.) Also some battles don’t need to be fought because there isn’t a battle there. Some people simply don’t need the argument.

Be fair: Don’t go off the deep end. No insults and if they are insulting, then let them know. If they’re going to that level unprovoked, they’re obviously not going to respect you any time soon. Call them out on their wackness and leave it at that.

Keep to facts: Don’t incite unfairly. For example, I’ve used picking apart the Bible as a useful tactic but I won’t sit there and come right off the bat with a (if Christian) “You believe in a zombie carpenter that even science say doesn’t exist!” or (if Atheist) “Science is your Jesus!” Knowledge by itself can be kryptonite for stupidity and it also garners respect from onlookers.

They’re Yelling? Don’t Match It: Over-Skeptics who are obstinate and tend to yell so you don’t. Let the screamer look outrageous and stupid. Coupled with what they’re probably going to say, it won’t be hard to depict them as the fool.

Dealing with those who are super skeptical is annoying, that’s fact. You feel like you have to prove all and everything just to shut them up. It’s not easy especially since major skeptics of the metaphysics are just so hard on to coin you’re a fraud and even crazy. A healthy skeptic is willing to keep an open mind, willing to learn something new – even if they don’t agree with it, they’ve learned a new perspective. A poor skeptic has a mind like the Iron Curtain: solid in their opinions, beliefs and are hard to help understand different points of view. A terrible skeptic is possibly a solid moron, simply refuses to see it any other way and any proof, no matter how good, is simply a trick. If the person is a terrible skeptic, then just don’t bother. They just want to flail and scream and foam at the mouth even at the slightest provocation.

Trust me, I know.

Next Week: The Arts!

Who’s featured:
– Occupy The Hood
– Bea Gaddy Thanksgiving Drive
– Anxiety Cat

* Cartomancy = playing card divination

The Establishment (Afro-Punk) Version

It’s the first Ask Black Witch of the second year of Black Witch. How delightful! I’m also happy because no more grinding for votes and donations to send me to L.A. for the Black Weblog Awards. No, sadly I didn’t make the goal of $500, close but not good enough. I’m currently in talks with BWA and Afro-Punk about all this to see what still can be done. Yes, I really would like to go but circumstances are circumstances.

But note: Soon I’ll probably be grinding for votes for the Black Web Awards (different from the Black Weblogs Awards). Geez, I feel like I’m running for president.

Why is divination so bad?
– Unknown

Now, I’ve never used something in the Top Searches of my website as an Ask Black Witch question but I felt this was appropriate because a lot of people still think this, that divination is evil and a contract with the devil or something crazy like that.

To break down the word “Divination”, the root word is “Divine” which, if you don’t have a dictionary around, is in reference to deity or of heavenly nature. Basically, it’s a positive word. Divination is just working with the deities or tapping into the collective unconscious of the universe, as some like to describe it, to draw the best case scenario of the upcoming future based on the present and past, including all things that are seen and unseen, known and unknown (to the inquirer). No use of devils or demons needed or wanted, even prayers aren’t necessary. If it were of demonic nature, it would not be called divination and the root word would definitely be something that refers to “bad; not good; why are you doing this?” There’s no summoning of the spirits or anything like that, just plain old you and the universe and whatever it knows.

Now, if divination isn’t that scary, why does it get such a bad rap? Rumor mills during the Christian expansion throughout Europe and the world. Christianity (and Islam and I’m not so sure about Judaism but I’m going to err on them agreeing too) doesn’t really like divination because technically, you’re not supposed to know your future (since all your faith is supposed to be in God so there’s no need to figure out what’s gonna happen next so long He is there beside you) and that diviners and anyone else who can predict the future and do mystical and interesting stuff simply had to make a deal with the Devil to be able to do the exact same thing a prophet can – I always found that a bit uncanny – and was not a true lover/fearer of God and His might. Spread that around for a few centuries and boom, you’ve got yourself a pariah within a community. Granted divination comes from the divine, it is considered a very Pagan and “backwater” tactic to communicate with the Gods and Goddesses of old, not something the Church wanted to see or hear.

Is divination bad? No. I think it’s good to be able to see a couple steps ahead but I do recommend that if your religion doesn’t feel the same way that I do, for the love of all that is cute and sparkly, don’t ask for a reading! Nothing irks me more than some faithful person prattling out a soliloquy that’s “supposed” to be directed at me because they’re uncomfortable breaking the obvious rules in their religion. It’s super annoying.  

Now this question is fairly paraphrased for conciseness, posed by Afro-Punk and Black Pagans group member Nandi. Her question is this basically:

How do you deal with parental units who do not agree with your path in Paganism/Wicca? My dad says I will regret it.

Ah, the parental units not agreeing with your faith. A very stressful task indeed. You can’t really make people see things the way you do, no matter how much you want to try to convince them. Especially when it comes to faith, it’s a tougher climb uphill because religion is what people solidify their lives, beliefs and foundations on, especially when you’re part of one of the Abrahamic religion (Christianity, Judaism, Islam). Nandi is from a Muslim family but the issues that she brings up I have heard pretty often, especially from Monolithic religions which often tout the “Only one true path” ideal and the one truth path they believe is the right one is usually theirs.

My suggestion depends on whether you live at home or not. Since the kitty’s already out of the bag, the only thing you can keep doing is keep doing you and showing your parent you’re not at all interested in killin’ rabbits and hamsters for Satan and you’re not going to become some crazy cutter or an evil child. If they have questions, answer them honestly and make sure they respect you for you and your faith. So long you aren’t doing anything reprehensible or wicked, you can make your point for the most part and hope for the best. Remember, don’t throw anything in the parent’s face, just be moderate about it all.

That’s Ask Black Witch for this month! Thank you everyone for dealing with the hectic-ness of the BWA voting and donating, it was very much an experience. Live ceremony on July 9th!

The Establishment (Afro-Punk) Version

So, I’m doing some research for an English paper about the African American Wiccan experience. However, the deeper I dive the less I find about the subject (thank Goddess for the African American Wiccan Society). What gives? There must be more information and I know we exist!
1. How would you describe your experience as a black Witch?
2. What do you think about the almost nonexistent information describing our experiences and giving us advice?

– S.

Oooh, an English paper. I know how you feel about wanting to find extensive information about the Black Pagan experience, there seemed to be a complete drought when I was looking myself when I was starting out. I remember before Black Witch or even the Black Pagan group on Afro Punk, I found myself ultimately frustrated that there seemed to be nothing there for Black Pagans. Plenty for White Pagans but if you wanna talk about Africana stuff and Black culture, it seemed to be an empty place. I have looked endlessly on the web, in books, in stores, wherever you could for Black Pagan groups and it seems they’ve only just started to pop up recently. I believe African American Wiccans has been around for ten years but as a list proc on Yahoo since 2001 but I never happened upon them once until Black Witch came to be and a reader suggested me to them. I would search endlessly for “Black Pagan” on Google with just about nothing worth reading coming out of it. I think the issue is 50/50 in regards to the internet as a whole and the Black cyber culture.

1. My experience as a Black Witch? Well, it’s a pretty fulfilling experience for me. Despite my problems and issues that life likes chucking to any and everyone, I am definitely happier here than I was when I was Christian. I feel a better connection to what it is that I am doing, everything doesn’t seem so pointless and I feel more spiritual, in that I am practicing something I truly feel, not something I was told to do so religion doesn’t feel like a chore. That’s a lot more I’m getting out of it than I would have when I was Christian. When I was Christian, I was totally miserable no matter what I did to solve it. I went to church, got saved (three times), read the Bible, etc etc etc. Wasn’t cutting it for me. I wanted the same kind of faith that I saw my favorite band P.O.D. had: honest, sincere and fulfilling and I wasn’t getting that at all from Christianity. I’m happier as a Witch because Chrisitianity didn’t work out for me but Paganism sure did. Christianity is a nice religion (when not bogged down with stupidity as it commonly is) but not a religion for every soul on this earth.

2. I think there is a well of information but it’s like oil, gotta hit it first and it has to have worth or else it’s just another thing. Since Black Witch, like I said, I’ve been introduced to more Black Pagan groups than anything but that’s in part because readers will tell me “Hey, I’ve been interested in this stuff too, here’s the website I go to/book I read/metaphysical store I visit” but that’s mainly because they know I exist. I attribute the success of my column/blog to the fact there’s no easily accessible trove of information about Black Pagans (I use present tense and not past tense because it’s still hard and we have more of a force now than then) and the fact that this is one of the few very kinda easily accessable sites there are about the Black Pagan Experience on the net. I can promise you that there are more sites about this, spend some time on African American Wiccan society but they’re not really given a voice. There’s a multitude of reasons why:

Too small and exclusive:
When you look around the Important Links on Afr. Am. Wiccan Society, you’ll see lots of little pockets of Black Pagans getting together. That’s great we have so many but it can be a problem too because we have so many. Without the help of sites like AAWS, there would be just about nothing to reel them in (I certainly can’t always do it) and showcase them. Also another issue I noticed is that they don’t provide true glimpses into those communities, either register or leave. I understand wanting to keep the trolls out but everyone else should at least be able to see something that will give anyone that happens upon those sites something to chew on. I think they should have a way for people to lurk without being members, it would probably help.

Poorly advertised:
Black and Pagan with a site? It seems people are just waiting for BET or Black America Web to stroll by and pick them up – which is just about never going to happen without some forceful nudging or a terrible gimmick. Most people who run sites like these aren’t advertising them very well for the average Black Pagan to find them. The term Black Witch still does not return positive results for Black Pagans – actually, before the Afro-Punk group Black Pagans (which I started, yayz!), it was just as bad, no responses or hits for actual Black (as in African-Diaspora) Pagan…just tons for black magick, gimmicky hexes and other stuff that I really didn’t need to see, especially at a young age. Yes, there was the one page on Witchvox a Black Pagan wrote about her experience but no groups and no way to socialize. If someone has a site, they should advertise and well. Submit to Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. Plus sites like Black Witch and African American Wiccan Society, the fairly recognizable sites of the Black Pagan experience it seems, have started within a year ago basically. Thanks to sites like WordPress, Blogger, Twitter, Facebook and other sites, a more vibrant voice of the Black Pagan experience can come through and interconnect us to each other and to the rest of the world. I know the blog Black Pagan has just started up (I’ll feature it but first I need that site to exist for about two months with consistent posting before I slap it up here) and I’m sure there are more that are going on. These developments are pretty recent tho so there are projects and works, time just has to pass first.

Black America Online:
If I say “Black Faith blogs”, the average person is going to think either about Christianity or even Islam. (Wanna change the face of Black belief? Vote for me at Black Weblog Awards in the Faith Category) Black Pagans just get tossed off to the side as the “Voodoo lady” of faith systems. Through the lens of the Black faith, Black Pagans are supposed to not exist (because we’re all Christian![/sarcasm]) and if we do, we’re supposed to be weird, extremely Afro-Centric to the point of being extremist, backwards with our African backwater rituals and killin’ goats in our backyards where we make voodoo dolls to get back our neighbors for having a nice car and rattling a jar of bones just to talk to a tree for the answers to our problems. Basically, a Black Pagan is supposed to be Calypso from Pirates of the Carribbean and most likely really crazy. I have had hard times getting into writing guilds for Black writers and getting new readers sometimes because *gasp*, I’m not Christian and I practice Witchcraft. Zomgz, how am I not catching fire when I set foot in a church? We as Blacks have a looooooooooooooooooong way to go in showcasing all of the African Diaspora and to be truly Black publications instead of being sometimes only secondhand to mainstream (and pretty White) media. Not everyone who has money is a rapper and not every person who has African descent naturally knows how to greet people with a, “Sup son? Gotta be runnin’ papers fa’ real fa’ real, nahmean bwoy? Ya’know howz’be, mahn.” When Black America figures out that hood culture does not mean Black culture (but Black culture is within hood culture and that’s it, not the other way around) and showcases it online and offline, we’ll do better. Till then, Black Pagans just keep putting their names out there till someone picks up. Already having Black Witch on Afro-Punk is a big help (that’s actually where BW got started).

Trapped in the broom closet:
If you’re a Black Pagan, chances are stupidly good you probably know at least two to three scriptures (even if you don’t know where they are in the Bible), a few hymns and a Negro Spiritual passionate enough to pass for a Christian. Black Christianity is pretty strong, don’t doubt that. While it has its benefits such as being the cornerstone and starting place of Black leadership and a lynchpin to the Black community, it can also be a daunting force for anyone who isn’t Christian. Daunting enough to make actual Black Pagans learn a few hymns and fake it so not to get disowned, to keep the peace and not become an insta-pariah in their community. With very few resources and places to feel at ease to express true religious affiliation, most Black Pagans’ faiths are put through a limbo. Because a lot of Black Pagans are scared to talk about their faith openly (I have gotten plenty letters from people who used screenames, pseudonyms and other ways to cover up their identities to talk to me and this is actually why I allow physical mail too), it makes the pool of Black Pagans look smaller. That’s not fair and pretty bigoted if anyone thinks it is. If Black Pagans aren’t talking, nothing is happening. I can see why though, from my own experience pushing Black Witch I’ve been met with some pretty disheartening responses from Blacks who would much rather Black Witch just be another Black Christian blog. I got a backbone and thick skin for that but what about Black Pagans who aren’t so steeled against disdain? Nothing is wrong with being in the broom closet but not always and definitely not forever.

The online Pagan world:
The online Pagan world is mostly White. All, if not most mainstream Pagan magazines are White. Paganism as a whole still carries a White face. Since this is what is depicted as the face of Paganism and the authority of the how’s and what’s of the religion, they get mail from Black Pagans as well and are fairly stumped in answering beyond blanket answers (“go look around on the internet, you’ll find someone”). Since I don’t think those sites necessarily know that Black Pagan sites exist, they can’t really direct their Black Pagan readers around very well. Without well-known thresholds to connect us, we have a harder time finding each other and an easier time feeling like we’re the only one of our kind.

There’s a lot of empty spaces when it comes to info about the Black Pagan experience but with the advent of the internet and all that it comes with, it’s getting easier to make content and to find content. Also – shameless plug – to build a better vantage point for Pagan blogs, vote for mine in the Black Weblog Awards in the Faith category (#6)! More Black Pagan resources are popping up or simply being more visible which is a great thing for future Black Pagans and those curious.

This is April’s Ask Black Witch. Remember, if you want to submit to future ABW’s submit to the ABW submission form or email. Even tweeting or asking on the fan page qualifies.

Do you believe in gods and goddesses? Are they part of your craft and if so, what are your favorites?
– Spookycreep

Yep. Kinda hard to be Pagan without it – it’s possible, just not that easy considering most Pagan materials make a reference to a god and goddess. Of course they’re part of my craft but I don’t really use any particulars, I try to be rather general (just God and Goddess instead of maybe Isis and Osiris or Juno and Zeus, for instance) when it comes to spellwork, especially since a big rule is to not summon different deities of different cultures in one ritual. Keeps the headaches to a low.

First of all, thank you so much for giving me your card at the end of Otakon last year (I asked about Rocking Horse shoes). It helped outside of Lolita, cause magick and such has interested me since forever.
A while ago I picked up a book at my school library called Spellcraft for Teens. It listed a couple different things such as candle magick, poppet magick, and such. It also mentioned casting circles and such, and ended up leaving me with a lot of questions.
1) Do I need a circle to use the other types of magick?
2) If there are no specialty shops in my area, can I just get them from the grocery store?
3) Was picking up a book ‘for teens’ even a good idea?
4) I’m living in a Jehovah’s Witnesses household and therefore practicing is completely out of the question. I’m currently learning about tarot cards and other things on my own, but is there something else I can do that won’t end up with my parents raging at me? It’s not a secret to my mother that I’m not Christian in general, but I don’t want to do anything that will set off alarm bell; she’s had a bad experience about black magick in the past and I don’t want her jumping to conclusions.
Thanks again!

 – Bertina

For those who aren’t aware, Otakon is an anime convention that is hosted in Baltimore every summer. I’ve been going to them for a while (with the exception being last year and I’m not so sure about this year). As for rocking horse shoes, just look at my About Me/Contact Me page, I wear them all the time.

Spellcraft for Teens, penned by Gwinevere Rain, is actually a good book and one I would definitely recommend because it’s written by a trusty author and very easy to follow. I’m also glad that your school library supplies it, not many do. Now for your questions:

1) Casting circles is pretty important for any spellwork because it creates a defined space to work in and keeps the inside energy pure as well as any outside influences out. Some Witches may disagree but I don’t think it’s a must to have a circle for the minutest spells but the bigger ones definitely. However, I also believe in following things by the book when a beginner so if Rain recommends a circle, cast one.

2) Yep. For candle magick I use birthday candles actually. They come in various colors (even black!), small, discreet, burn for the better part of an hour (which is good because that’s how long spell casting lasts for me) and extraordinarily easy to get. Most things for spells can be bought in your average grocery stores such as olive oil for anointing, black pepper for binding/isolation spells, salt for purifying a sacred space (note: don’t use outdoors, you’ll kill the grass), etc etc etc. Even the tea bags can be used as an aid to make potions. I very rarely go to a metaphysical shop for witchy products. I’m fine as is with the local supermarket.

3) I actually recommend teen books more than adult books on Witchcraft because they’re more comprehensive, easier to read – and on the eyes -, breaks it down even further than adult books on Witchcraft because it’s for a younger audience and it’s a wonderful springboard. Most of my witch books are teen books and I much prefer them over some arduous reading of a tome that could probably put me to sleep.

4) Ah, it’s always a tricky situation when living in a household that may not be so conducive to learning metaphysics or anything related. I’m afraid I would have to suggest that until you move out, try to keep your practices to yourself until you move out, especially since your mother had a run in with black magick and that it probably solidified her beliefs and hence more adamant to your practices. There’s probably tension in the home because she knows you’re not Christian so best not to potentially ruffle more feathers. The best you can do besides practice in secret and bide your time ‘till you can leave is to perhaps have some conversations with mom about different religions if at all possible during the meanwhile. It isn’t easy but it’s better that way than risking getting kicked out or harmed over terrible misconceptions.

That’s it for this month’s Ask Black Witch. Also, Black Witch is now competing for several Black Weblog Awards (I always call them the Black Bloggers Awards because it sounds better to me). Nominations are currently open so if you run a Black blog, submit. And for everyone else, voting starts on May 16! I am very excited and look incredibly forward to this engagement!

One of my readers Crystal B. has been calling for submissions of the minority Pagan experience to create an anthology! Here are the details!

Call for Writers – Shades of Faith; minority voices within Paganism. Email for inquiries and submissions:

Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press (Stafford, U.K./Portland, OR, U.S.A) is seeking submissions for an anthology on people of color working in magical communities.  This anthology will be an opportunity to get the voices and experiences of minorities within the Pagan community out to the world and address some of the challenges, stereotyping, frustrations and the beauty of being different within the racial construct of typical Pagan or Wiccan groups. These communities include (but are not limited to) groups and individuals working in Wicca, Voodoo, Umbanda, Shaman, and other Pagan paths.

Many of the roots of Paganism have come from the lands of people of color yet the mainstreaming of Wicca has elevated images of worship and deity that connect with Celtic, Greek or Roman cultures.  This can have an exclusive effect on those who’s culture or ancestry fall outside of those categories.  Interestingly enough people of color within Paganism are often walking between the worlds of their birth ancestry and culture and that of their spiritual culture.  This anthology is an opportunity to share your stories and experiences with others around being a minority in our spiritual community.

Here are some suggested topics to give you an idea of the focus of this anthology.

  • Your experience of integration into the Pagan community
  • Magical work
  • Ancestor work
  • Integrating your birth culture with your spiritual workings
  • Personal experiences and thoughts around how being of color within the Pagan community was significant.
    What magical work are you doing now? How do you describe it? Do you work alone, in a group, or in several settings?
  • Your birth culture and spiritual workings
  • Stereotypes and prejudice
    Being the only person of color in a coven, group or community
  • Sharing your culture and history with other Pagans
  • Cultural history
  • Sub-culture of African Americans, Hispanics or other minority groups within Wicca or Paganism.
  • Is there a sense of acceptance within the magical community you work in? Do you encounter resistance in your magical community or acceptance?
  • What do you feel is needed to be more inclusive of racial diversity in Pagan communities

These drafts will be edited in a back-and-forth process with the editor. Essays should be 1500-4000 words, although if your work falls outside those limits, do submit it – we can discuss this during the editing process. Drop us an email if you are unsure whether your idea fits into the content. The sooner you start the communication process the better, as after the deadline we won’t be considering additional ideas.

Essay requirements:
• Citations for all quoted, paraphrased, or otherwise unoriginal material
• Bibliography of works cited
• Prefer APA format

Do write in your voice! If you’re academically inclined or trained, feel free to be as intelligent and technical as you like. If your work entirely talks in the first person about your own experience, please include this also. There is a wide range of voices, and we are interested in being as inclusive of style as possible.

Accepted contributors will receive a free copy of the anthology when it is published and additional copies sold at 40% off the cover price to contributors. All contributors will be provided with a contract upon final acceptance of their essays, not when they are accepted for editing. If your essay is not accepted for the anthology, we will tell you after the first round of edits.

The anthology will be edited by Crystal Blanton. She is the author of an upcoming pagan/occult nonfiction book called Bridging the Gap; Working Within the Dynamics of Pagan Groups and Society. She may be found online at and her email address for this anthology is .

Immanion Press is a small independent press based in the United Kingdom. Founded by author Storm Constantine, it expanded into occult nonfiction in 2004 with the publication of Taylor Ellwood’s Pop Culture Magick. Today, Immanion’s nonfiction line, under the Megalithica Books imprint, has a growing reputation for edgy, experimental texts on primarily intermediate and advanced pagan and occult topics. Find out more at

The Establishment (AfroPunk) Version

As the holidays are quickly approaching, there are halls to be decked, presents to be bought (or made), carols to be sung and family to be dealt with. For many of us, it is that yearly trek that updates us on family and for some of us, reminds us why we don’t often stay in touch for the rest of the year. It could be the teen niece wants to dress like Nicki Minaj and throws a tantrum if you tell her to turn down her Usher. The deadbeat cousin that can always think of some get-rich-quick scam – I mean, “idea” – but seems to always need a dollar from someone. The old uncle that says he’s got Black pride but has nothing but seething hatred for President Obama, thinks Lupe Fiasco is a God-hating terrorist out to destroy hip hop and poison minds and Wocka Flocka is some new candy from Willy Wonka. The aunt that believes no one in the world but her is saved and the little impressionable nephew that you’re doing everything you can to keep from becoming another T.I. in the making, misogyny, jail time and all.

Not all families are the same, that extends to Black families as well but the various personas within families such as the drunk sibling, the sport-babbling aunt, the overly religious grandmother often exist despite the family tree. Is every family like this? No. Every family is like a nation with its own rules and taboos, what is okay to talk about and what prevents World War III, packed up within a long and extensive history. Like nations, some cooperate very well with each other, some tear each other apart. Some are friendly to outsiders, some make the Iron Curtain look like aluminum foil. Families are more than genomes and biology, they’re the people that either makes us proud of our bloodline or wonder, “When are they going to tell me that I’m adopted?  Please let me be adopted.”

The holidays can be a time of relaxing or exercises of diplomacy, negotiation and avoiding emotional punji pits (for those who don’t know what a punji pit is, here is explanation #1 and explanation #2). Religion is an all-time emotional punji pit (as well as race and politics (can we add sexuality too?)) but the holidays is that extra layer of agitation that can make the truth fall out. Whether you want to come out of the broom closet or remain firmly in it, the holidays are a tricky dance.

If you want to come out the broom closet around the holidays time, be careful of what you say and how you say it. How does your family usually react to metaphysics and psychism? That tells you what route to take. Doesn’t mind it: good. Think it’s the devil’s work: might want to sugarcoat your words for a bit, don’t go straight on and say, “’Sup, everybody! I’m a Witch! Deal with it, nyah.” Either way, take it easy, ask different relatives how they feel about God being a woman (if you’re very Goddess inclined) or how they feel of belief systems, religions or ideologies that are strictly nature based and not incredibly organized like Christianity or Judaism. If they are open to other paths in life, this is a great sign! If they are open with a little bit of prodding, that’s better than flat-out opposition but tread carefully. Basically, if they seem fairly positive or neutral, you could open up and hope for the best. Family gatherings are great because even if your immediate family may have their misgivings (and maybe they won’t, who knows) you may find a cousin or relative that is accepting or also practices. If you find that said relative, get to know them and click with them if you can, support is always important.

Maybe you didn’t mean to come out the broom closet but got ousted somehow. A relative discovered your books, something fairly Pagan stumbled out of your mouth, you got caught reading my site (sup, confiscators! Check out my Ask Black Witch submission form and direct your hate mail there) or you forgot that not everyone thinks palmistry and tarot cards are harmless. Now you have to figure out how to enjoy Christmas and survive to see New Year’s. The best damage control at this point is to be honest. You could lie and stuff yourself back in your broom closet the best you can but the cat is out of the bag now. Whether you wanna pass it off and deny it, it’s going to be in everyone’s heads that you’re doing something suspicious so either deal with lingering questions and accusations or deal with upfront questions and accusations. Explain yourself the best you can but don’t scream and shout and don’t pretend you have all the answers, especially if you’re new to Paganism. Instead be honest, that’s about all you got. Assure them the best you can you’re not going to slay cats in the name of the devil, Paganism is not Satanism, you don’t hate Christ and your parents did not go wrong somehow. Paganism doesn’t make you White (please do not use the “Christianity was forced on Black slaves by their White masters” argument, now simply is not the time), you’re not atheist and you’re still you, just on a unique path. Hopefully they will listen, maybe they will not, you don’t know for sure but freaking out along with them is not going to help anything. Shouting contests rarely fix anything and calling names just dig wounds deeper. Out of safety for your stuff and preventing impromptu funerals via heart attack or stroke, please don’t show them your Pagan books or things, it may freak them out more. Just be honest, don’t shout (even if they are) and try to make the best of your holidays.

The holidays are something to enjoy, I know I love them. Be yourself, just be careful and have fun. Don’t focus so much on religion if you can and do something fun. Go ice skating, feed squirrels and birds, listen to some Jackson 5, Boys II Men and Earth, Wind and Fire Christmas music. If you want to celebrate Yule (December 21), do so by going outside if the weather isn’t icky or lighting festive candles to celebrate the return of the sun on this longest and darkest night. You could even say a prayer and get a wreath and decorate it! The wreath is an archaic symbol of the wheel of the year, totally appropriate! Whatever you do, this is a time of year where you spend it with those that you love and appreciate most, do so and be merry.

If you happen to be a non-Pagan reader of mine and you find out that someone in your family is Pagan or Pagan leaning, you know not to fret and basically ruin someone’s Christmas. Instead you’ll be of open ears, not asking stupid Harry Potter questions (except about the latest Harry Potter movie perhaps, I heard it was pretty good) and streamlining them to this site. Quietly wish them a happy Yule and chat with them, they’ll appreciate the support. If you want to give them gift, you can be totally normal about it all or give them something thoughtful like a Yule poem or a small tealight candle pack. Don’t treat them like glass or as if they have a vicious allergy to Christianity, just be a good relative to them, that’s it.

This is the last article/post of 2010, the installments are next. It was really nice being a heavy-duty columnist for seven months, going on eight. I am honestly shocked I managed to keep it up so far. Thank you everyone for being so supportive!

The Arts!:

– ThePunkWitch255
– African American Wiccan Society
– Lupe Fiasco & KRS-One Christmas Battle

The Establishment (AfroPunk) Version

Every religion has them and every religion would like to deny they got them. Psychos. Nutjobs. Need to be locked up in the wacko shack. Coo coo in the coconut. Nutters. Completely mental. Off their rocker. Basket cases. Extremists. Crazies.  

Usually these people are considered to be literalists of their faith and fairly misunderstanding of that faith at well. As a Pagan, I usually come in contact with the Christian version. They are the Jesus freaks, bible thumpers, whatever you want to call it, they are far too overly faithful and equally close-minded. Now, not all Christians are close-minded but these guys are. Generally, I don’t mind talking about my faith and even answering a few questions – hey, it’s why I have this column and what the Ask Black Witch installments are for – but in my years as a Pagan, I could usually tell if someone was ready to jump out their skin over my faith because it wasn’t theirs, I was a fiendish heathen or a poor, misguided youth that strayed from the Christian flock.  

Whenever I tell a mental Christian that I’m Pagan, they jump either at the shoulders or with their eyebrows. I can sense their impending defensiveness on the horizon and my day is about to get a lot more… interesting, to be kind. It’s one thing to be spooked that I’m Pagan yet still try to treat me like a human being perfectly capable of proper judgment and ask about my religion (which I prefer) but it’s another entirely to drop nothing but scripture after scripture on my head. I was raised Christian prior my switch to Paganism, I know the rules but that knowledge falls on deaf ears, regardless how many times I say it. They assume I never heard of this guy called Jesus (despite being Black, American, surrounded by at least five churches and not living under a rock) and tell me of all the wonders of Christianity as if I never heard of the religion a day in my life before. I try to tell them that Christianity simply wasn’t my cup of tea, thus why I left but usually I am told without fail and without pause that God will turn his back on me and curse my being because I decided to practice a different religion. Oh geez.  

Now, since I was raised originally as a Christian, I know for fact that Christians have to preach the word of God but there isn’t a single scripture in the entire book that says “Thou shalt act as if a total jerk and force thy word unto others through vexation, threat of mortal or divine harm or death”. I’m pret-ty sure I would have noticed that. In dealing with the crazy Christians, I have gotten a multitude of ignorance thrown my way. Everyone is ignorant of something – for example, I am entirely ignorant of nearly all Russian social customs and Russian grammar rules – but it is the will to want to learn or continually shun potentially new information is what sets people apart. While stupid questions about my religion makes me bristle, I know I have asked them myself and they are generally harmless so I don’t mind too much in answering them. When I’m asked those very same questions just to be attacked for my answers or have them crudely picked apart, needless to say, it does annoy me.  

Case in point:  

There was a show this past summer called the Summer Spirit Festival at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. The show bill consisted of Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, The Roots, Common, Chuck Brown and B.O.B.. Read this column (or just take a gander at The Arts), you’ll know I love Janelle Monae. If she’s in the area, I’m there. Also I’m friends with one of the members in her band, Kellindo, her guitarist, so I was planning to hang out with him after their set…first, I gotta find him.  

Because communication can be such a wack thing, it was hard to keep in touch and find each other so I was wandering about a bit to see if I could spot him. I wasn’t very hard to miss because of my red and white multi-media hairfalls and rocking horse shoes, he on the other hand could possibly blend.  

Kinda hard to miss

While looking about for Kellindo or anyone from Wondaland that could point me in his general direction, this lady walked up to me and said something along the lines of: “What would you say if I told you I could make you someone?”  

I was a little confused but in being raised in Black culture, I knew the talk. She was dressed normally but a slick talker. The type that would tell me they could sell me the moon but I would probably get shafted on empty promises in the end. I was a bit busy but meh, I could spare some talk. Besides, she might not be a slick talker after all, just someone with the intro like one. That was until she continued, “I can tell God has a plan for you.” Oh god/dess, my spidey senses were tingling and all of a sudden I really started to look around her. Where is he?  

The lady asked why I was so fidgety and I explained, “I’m here to see Janelle Monae, I’m friends with one of the members and trying to spot him. I’m sorry that I’m distracted. It’s very nice of you but I’m not Christian.”  

I know, bad move it seems but I figured, Hey, I could get a new reader for Black Witch. It’s not written for just Black Pagans. As almost expected, her face twisted into confusion and concern. She asked what religion was I and I answered while looking beyond her shoulders, “I’m Pagan.” It had shocked her, she started to ask the basic questions such as what is it, when did I become Pagan and a question I found quite memorable: “Who hurt you?”  

Wait, what?  

She asked who had hurt me so bad I decided to change religions since it’s a totally outlandish idea that I could possibly convert with sound mind. I had answered, “No one hurt me. I left Christianity because it didn’t work well with me. Paganism suited me far better,” but she wasn’t buying. I had to be abused, molested, raped, something to justify leaving Christianity. And I wasn’t.  

I tried to explain my religion as best and as simply as I could but she kept saying, “So you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is your savior and was God’s only begotten son” or something along those lines. I told her that as Pagans, we are very open to many different pantheons, including the Christian pantheon but aren’t necessarily apart of them. She responded, “Oh, but you haven’t said that you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is your savior and God’s only begotten son.” There I attempted to explain that Paganism is not a denomination of Christianity so I don’t have to repeat after her because I’m not Christian. Fairly simple concept, yes? Throughout our conversation she kept trying to get me to say that phrase, to feel normal in her own skin but that simply wasn’t happening. Instead, I tried to give her my Black Witch business card and referred her to my column, giving my spiel: “I work for AfroPunk and run a column named Black Witch. It’s about Black Pagans so you can learn more about us and there’s even a section called Ask a Witch* where you can ask your questions and I answer them at the end of the month.” As she took my business card, I could tell what I said caught her attention, my column’s name and the name of the installment. She asked, looking at my card, “Why do you call yourself ‘Black Witch’?”  

I answered, “Because that’s what I am. I practice… witchcraft. I’m… a Witch, thus the column’s name is ‘Black Witch’.” Oh hey! I think I spotted George 2. – oh wait, it’s some random concert goer. Crap. This lady was about to go on Bible overdrive and I could tell. She was talking to a witch. And so it began:  

“So do you cast spells and potions?”
“Do you do any…black magic or any –“
“No, I don’t jinx or put fixes on people, it’s against my ethical standards.” Where is Kellindo and what is he doing? When did my falls become a wacko magnet? “Spells are a lot like prayers but with bells and whistles.”  

After playing a round of twenty questions including another return of “who hurt you” and why was I at the Summer Spirit Festival, the lady gave me her business card and said, “Now, you know why I gave you my business card instead of just take myself and run? Because I’m protected by the blood of Jesus Christ. Whatever voodoo you do can’t harm me.”  

I was totally calm, if not my face a little twisted but in my head, this is what I felt like:  

Me:…*completely freaked out*… Kellindoooooo!
Some passerby: “Ah, yeah ‘Cold War’ was dope. That guitar solo was amazing.” *totally continues walking*
Me: Wut? I wasn’t singing – I can’t find – Somebody get me outta this situation! This lady’s nuts!  

I was checking my email and twitter on my consistently dying phone, hoping for any sign of life from the Wondaland side, anything. Nada. The lady asked me again why I was at the concert, as if my musical preference could somehow determine my religious background better or the performer’s religious background. No, my religion has nothing to do with me being here. No, Janelle Monae isn’t Pagan or a Witch, she’s clearly Christian, I am perfectly happy with that and if I could spot somebody from her crew, that would be totally peaches. At least Monae, unlike the lady standing before me, is Christian but hasn’t lost her marbles and thus I find her quite amiable and adorable. So long she and the rest (or at least vast majority) of Wondaland were fine with me being Pagan, we’re spiffy.  

The lady had received my card and I thought that would be the end of it but instead, she scratched out the ‘Witch’ in Black Witch. She said, “I don’t see you as a Witch. You’re not a Witch, you’re just misguided. I will pray for you and hope you’ll one day feel better.” I was a little agitated from that because it was code for: “I don’t accept your religion. It is not Christian and thus not valid. You are confused and must return. You’re making a big mistake.” Isn’t the first time I’ve heard it and definitely not the last but it doesn’t make me feel any better each time I hear it. All I wanted was to leave this lady, find Kellindo and forget this whole charade ever happened. When she had finally walked off, I began to ask about for where I could find the performer entrance and got some very helpful answers. From there I found the entrances to the tour buses and stayed put, praying that no one else would be “attracted” to my falls while trying to get in touch with him. I’ve gotten a few people, including drunkies and chain smokers but no one who topped that lady. When I finally found Kellindo walking out with George 2.0, I had ran up and wrapped my arms around him like I haven’t seen him in years. I was happy because we don’t get to meet up much but also because he and George 2.0 were the sanest people I’ve met that night.  

Later in the evening, I recanted a brief version of my day with the lady to George 2.0 while giving him my business contacts and getting his. Though I told the story anyways, I was a little worried that he would become just like that lady at the mention of my religion and make me feel like I was in a horror movie: out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a bunch of potentially raving Christians, nearly dead phone, not in parkour-friendly shoes. I’m completely fine if someone is Christian but only when levelheaded, not Twilight Zone psychotic. Instead, George 2.0 had laughed at the story, saying, “Oh, she was one of those people” as he took the Black Witch business card I had handed to him. I already knew Kellindo was fine with my religion but for a long while I was concerned that he was just the exception rather than the definition. A lot of the members of W.A.S. are very deep in their Christian faith so I often wondered, How do I know they won’t react the same? Usually when dealing with Christians – Black Christians primarily – I often find that the deeper the faith the more closed-off the Christian and the more closed-off the Christian, the more mental they appear to me and any other non-Christians. Wondaland means a lot to me and I’ve got faith in them but I do have to be careful, I’ve had terrible discoveries before. Taking a chance, I told George 2.0 my concerns about the rest of Wondaland. He looked at me and said with a dismissive wave of the hand, “Oh, we don’t mind.”  

Sweet, I knew I found the sanest people in the park.  

When dealing with others from different faiths, it’s usually a good rule of thumb to hear that person out, especially if you have not met anyone from that religion before. What you know about that religion may be incorrect so don’t entirely assume, get it from the horse’s mouth if you can. I as a Pagan and my Muslim friends can definitely vouch for this, it’s never fun being on the receiving end of misconception which turns into intolerance. Even if you don’t agree with that religion or their tenets, at least respect and understand that not every religion on this planet is a carbon copy of yours. I don’t 100% agree with Christianity but I won’t shove my religion down their throat because it isn’t right. I didn’t like it, neither would anyone else. It’s okay to be firm in the faith but don’t let it blind you from the world.  

That was a lovely story, wasn’t it? Good way to kick off October. Another good way to kick off October? A nice divination giveaway I’m naming “Samhain Pickers”. Alright peoples, the prize of “Samhain Pickers” is a divination reading from me in the form of dream interpretation, tarot, cartomancy (playing card divination), or natal chart astrology. What you have to do is send me an email (look at my About me/Contact me page) with your name, email, selection and “Samhain Pickers” in the subject line. Your entry is my number to pick you by; if you’re the first entry, you’re no. 1, if you’re the 13th entry, you’re no. 13, understood? I’m picking three winners at total random (via so if my number generator says 8, I pick no. 8, the eighth entry in my Black Witch inbox. Understood? I won’t take any tweets or comments, you must email for your entry to be valid and all winners will be announced in “The Arts!: Samhain Edition”. If you win, it’s your choice what form of divination you would like to have done but please note that if you choose the natal chart selection, you must have your birth time ready. Good luck, everyone!  

And one more thing! I’ll be back in Philly and NYC. Philly on Oct 9 and NYC sometime in Oct. If you wanna hang, say so!  And “Hi” to the Phandroid guy and his wife!  

*Now “Ask Black Witch”

As many of you readers know from “How I Became a Pagan Witch“, the very vast majority of my family doesn’t know that I’m Pagan. As much as I would love to share this fact with them, I’m totally well aware they won’t be pleased. They’re fairly Christian and most likely won’t understand why I have left Christianity and gone to join what they may perceive as “Satan’s religion”. I just doubt I would be met with open ears, much like others I know. I’ve heard that “family is supposed to love you regardless” but that can turn to rubble when it comes to unintentionally challenging their core beliefs.

I have many Pagan friends and acquaintances who have been met with something less like understanding and more like despair by their own families. There are many stories of vicious fights, disownment, destruction of property regardless of whether or not it is related to their “unusual” part, having to hide or lie to family members – basically treated like pariah, regardless the age. Even if the discovery or admittance doesn’t go over like a bombshell, their religious identity may be used by their families as a scapegoat for even the slightest transgressions – they don’t have a good job because they’re Pagan, the little cousin is sick because they’re Pagan, the bill collector won’t stop calling because they’re Pagan, the whole world is on its last legs because they are Pagan. In my experience, a loving family isn’t what pops out the woodwork but usually an angered, confused, and disappointed family. (If that isn’t your family, then consider yourself very lucky.) The family, mainly the parents, always tries to think of where they went “wrong”, how to “reverse the illness”. I put those in quotes because not only are these the phrases I hear the most frequently, there is absolutely nothing wrong with anyone who chooses to believe in something outside of the Judeo-Christian Islamic faiths. There is nothing wrong or sick with seeing god as a woman and nature as a metaphysical being they are part of. The only sick person in the situation is the religious bigot (and total hypocrite) for they will turn even against their own blood for something that I believe is very pithy in comparison to familial bond. Blood is supposed to be thicker than water but apparently belief is stronger than blood. Yes, that’s a fairly strong accusation but there’s a difference between being taken by surprise and wanting to understand the person now that they have mentioned something new versus going on a complete and total rampage, no questions asked.

I find this to be very problematic indeed because in finding a new path, support is very important, especially if that new Pagan is a teenager or younger. It’s a big world out there and without proper guidance, who knows what troubles may lay ahead. Now with the invent of the internet, it is very easy to find others who believe the same that they do but still dangers arise even in cyberspace. There are still people who lurk out there, waiting to prey on someone unsuspecting. I can’t count how many times I have been contacted through WitchVox, an online connecting place for Pagans and Witches alike, when I was a teen by creepy older guys who thought I could be easily beguiled with their big claims of “holding otherworldly knowledge” that they didn’t have. Now, WitchVox isn’t a bad place but just like anywhere else, you can run into the wrong people and without the proper support or discipline, things can turn out very poorly. I’ll talk about the predators at another time but please keep in mind that they do exist. I will also post at another time the different sites where Pagans can socialize and connect with other Pagans, especially Black Pagans. (And if you know some yourself, shout them out!) Remember, just because there are some bad people out there, don’t let that spoil your fun, just be careful.

If you are Pagan and thinking of coming out of the broom closet, please think carefully of the reaction you may receive. The best way to gauge is how well does your family (or friends) generally consider subjects like metaphysics, witchcraft and Paganism? Do they think it’s all the devil’s work or are a couple of them fairly curious if not at least open to different faiths? Do you live with your parents or do you live alone? If they did find out, how do you think they would react? There are a lot of questions to ponder and they’re mainly for your safety. There is nothing more important in the world than your wellbeing, even if that means creating a façade for your family (and maybe friends but you shouldn’t have to do that. Family you can’t pick, friends you can). I usually do not condone lying to one’s family but sometimes a situation such as this does call for that. Paganism values family strongly but should that family turn your world upside down, that can become very dangerous quickly. And come out on your own time, do not let anyone push or prod you into it. They’re not going to give you a secure place to live and they’re not in your shoes so please think for yourself and decide for yourself. It is your life this will ultimately affect, not theirs.

If you are someone who just recently discovered that your loved one is Pagan or into Witchcraft, I’m so happy you’re reading my column – feel free to ask me questions! I’m also going to need you to keep your head if you can. Your loved one hasn’t gone crazy and this is not a gateway to sinister habits such as drugs and self-mutilation. Your loved one is merely following his or her heart and so long as they are not doing anything morally reprehensible such as harming animals or threatening others, they and their soul are doing perfectly fine. If they are committing terrible acts, I assure you that these are not the tenets of Paganism they are practicing for this is a religion that believes in harming none and that there is quite possibly a deeper issue at hand. Please try to get them help if possible should this be the case. If they are not doing anything morally reprehensible (and they shouldn’t, not even under the excuse of religion), then try not to fear about their soul or if they are never going to find salvation. Instead please, please, please listen to your loved one and to what they are saying. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions like why they’re going to a new religion and what was it about the old one that made them leave but don’t get defensive about it. Keep an open heart and an open mind and please be there for them, the road will not be easy and they will need any loving they can get.

Would I ever open up to my family? I don’t really know. It’s something I’ve been keeping on the hush for almost ten years now. A couple are aware but I just hope they won’t use that as leverage against me. As for everyone else, if I do plan to open up it is definitely when I am firmly independent and sure of myself. I don’t want to cause any heart attacks and early funerals and I don’t think I’m ready for the storm coming out the broom closet to the rest of my family would cause. For now, I just do what I have been doing for nearly a decade, just have two personas and play by ear. I don’t enjoy the balancing act but it either that or my life possibly becoming very topsy turvy.

Does this entry seem short to you? If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I do find my previous columns fairly lengthy. I would like to remedy that if at all possible so I am trying to keep my newer entries to between two to three pages at best, tipping four at the worst. This is mainly so you all, my readers, don’t have a mini-tome to scroll through. Some entries may break the new rule such as up-coming series like “Fandom and the Fan” and “Commin’ Straight Outta Your Monolith” or the installment posts (The Arts, Ask a Witch) but I will try to stick with this rule as much as possible for your reading pleasures. This does mean that I may keep some entries very hyper localized but I’ll try to keep as much confusion out as possible,  mostly with introducing new categories such as “Coming Out of the Broom Closet”.

As always, you can find me on Twitter under @thisblackwitch being completely foolish and ask me questions using the “Ask a Witch” form! Remember I will be doing six this month so send them in! Usually I do three but I want to make up for last month where I did only one so put ‘em in my inbox now!

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