Category: Pagan Life


Unhappy Answers

It appears I am running into a lot of people who don’t seem to get that there is a difference between getting “no answer” and getting “answer they don’t like”. Recently, it’s been about race (who would be surprised, White folks use the “huh? This is rocket science” – sometimes by actual STEM people – defense a lot) but it reminds me of when I would do palmistry and other forms of divination (which is part of why I tend not to do it as much) because it’s really astounding how people turn their brains off when they’re emotionally rapt within a situation.

Before we go further, let’s look at the difference. “No answer” means exactly that. In divination, this is a near impossible to me because you always get output but “no answer” is exactly that: there is zero answer. When discussing issues of race, it’s someone not replying and Google coming up with zero results. “Answer you don’t like” means you got an answer but it isn’t one that gives you fuzzy feelings. In divination, this was pretty common. I seriously don’t know how many times I’ve made folk go from “this is faaaaaaaaaaake, I’mma get my hand read and she’ll be wrong” to shouting at me because I zeroed in on a major issue or secret with disturbing accuracy or straight up crying. Then they want their reading done again because they didn’t like the answer they got, there must be another way. It’s why I adopted the adage, “if you didn’t want to know, don’t ask.” I still remember one person actually disturbed my class while I was taking a final because they wanted their palm read again. My college professor was none too happy. In race discussion, it’s basically the form of a White person going, “why does this situation make me the bad guy? I do not want to understand, please make this not make me sound bad. I am White, I am not supposed to be the bad guy.” They don’t like that reality isn’t not so pretty and want to ignore it. It’s not that they didn’t get an answer, they just got one they didn’t like.

Here’s the thing, if you get an answer, even one you don’t like, you got an answer. No need to badger the person or pretend to play “devil’s advocate” or “what if” scenarios. If you gotta do the two latters, do it by yourself. You asked, they answered, end of story.

I find it both annoying and stupid when I have to do merry-go-round discussions. I get why they happen, folks don’t like the fact that life is not a fun festival of joy and abundance. However, it is agitating when you have to be on the informing end of this. It’s actually to the point that when I get asked the same question again, I tell them I already answered it. If they go “wait, this thing you said? I don’t like that answer,” I just say that it’s an answer.

Everyone, doing the same thing over and over and expecting something different is not the definition of insanity, far from it. It’s the definition of stupidity.

Late as heck but ABW is here, yay!

Hi my name is Jonte and I am reaching out to you on a very serious situation I have been dealing with for the last 3 years straight.  I am getting harassed by spirits 24/7 and I can actually feel them attaching to me.  They enter my ear and through my feet and I can actually feel something on my lower back by the tailbone area.  I also get pin pricks all over my body and if feels like they are watching me all the time.  When they latch onto me (which is often) they make noises wherever I am at and cause all types of disturbances.  I now have company staying with me and they make the noises around him also.  I really want to put a end to this and I have been searching for help so long I am getting harassed by physical people and by spirits..  It’s a phenomenon going on that some people call gang-stalking but I call it demonic harassment.  I know that witch craft is involved and I was wondering if you could maybe help me understand what might be going on?  Thanks.

– Jonte

With little info, I can’t tell if this is a simple medical/body problem or not. Given my experience, though, I have noticed things are usually less mystical than they originally appear. I always hear from people who say “I know witchcraft was involved” but usually it boils into nothing serious. Does it mean that folks don’t wind up haunted? No. Is it common, though? Absolutely not. And this is the second or so person I have heard use the term “gang-stalking”. “Gang Stalking” is considered a concerted effort from a group of people to ruin the target individual completely and totally – and sometimes considered an offshoot paranoia delusion by the psychological field. I could always say “this is a poltergeist just being annoying” but poltergeists don’t tend to bring real, physical people into the mix.

Another thing that tells me this is not a psychic/psionic thing because of the specifics – which make not a lot of sense: “they enter my ear and through my feet and I can actually feel something on my lower back by the tailbone area”. Reminds me of people who say they can hear the CIA through the microwaves and fillings in their teeth. Possessions and things of that nature are usually not so pointed, from what I know.

All in all, I don’t think this is a “magick” thing, and will little info, I can’t call it much else.

 

Hi there,
I’m the Community Manager with Anagram Interactive, where we specialize in connecting established brands with prominent bloggers. We’re currently working with Paperless Post, a company that designs customizable online stationery, to show that communication can be personal and well-designed regardless of the medium.

Paperless Post has partnered with several world-famous designers and lifestyle brands, including kate spade new york, Oscar de la Renta, Jonathan Adler, and Rifle Paper Co., and has delivered over 85 million cards to date. Since you have such an engaging and beautifully-designed blog, we’d like to offer you a number of Paperless Post digital Coins for free to try out our online service and write about your experience.

We really think you’ll enjoy Paperless Post and can’t wait to hear what you think. Please let me know if this is something you’d be interested in and I’ll show you how to get started!

Best,
Helen

I feel like being a douche because I abhor these emails. Money-grubbers were never my favorite kind of people. Ever. Never heard of them or Paperless Post but since both websites are not diverse enough (I’m not into tokenization, guys. Be diverse or be honest, pick one) I officially think they suck, greatly. The letter is so bland, they name people I don’t care about and it’s so pathetic, right down to the tepid compliment.

So what I think? These folks should peddle their annoying bullsh*t elsewhere. Come back when you’re Black owned or something remotely interesting.

 

Is it possible to become a immortal vempire? I will do whatever it takes.

– Unknown 2.0

Why do I get annoying questions like these? Stop reading Twilight.

 

I have a friend, I am trying to help him. his parents are very controlling and manipulative towards him. He has a disability and his parents try to control his life because his disability. he cant have friends come over to his house and he cant leave the house to see anyone unless his parents approve of it. I recently found out he went to a lawyer with parents to supposedly help him get a disability check from the government. when he showed me the website for the lawyer, it said they dont give disability rights but they give arrangements for people to get money after the person dies and went on to say they help prove incompetency. I am really scared for my friend and really worried about him. please help me find a spell on can on his parents that will help break the control and manipulation and stop the madness that goes on inside his house hold, HELP please i need a spell to help him stop his parents

-Trista N

As always, I DON’T do spell help/paid spellwork or ANYTHING of that matter. This sounds like disability abuse, they should contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline under their Disability Abuse section.

 

Hello,

My name is Corie. I’ve been interested in wicca and paganism for awhile now. I feel overwhelmed with the conflicting information and practices. Can you suggest a good book for a general foundation?

– Corie

Where to Park your Broomstick by Lauren Manoy annnnnnnd all the other books I have ever mentioned on my site. And the Resources & Information tag.

 

My name is Abigail Rabi and I work for the content team in a legal firm in California, HoganInjury. We came across your article about mental health at https://thisblackwitch.com/category/pagan-life/mental-healthmental-illness/

I wanted to ask if you might be interested in sharing with your audience an article of ours that is related with the topic mentioned above.

[Link redacted]

We hope that our article can provide value and a unique perspective for your readers. You can syndicate this article or use it as an additional resource for your content. In return, my team and I will be happy to promote your content on Twitter.

Let me know if you are able to share our article and if there’s anything we can do for you on our end.

Thanks for your time and I hope to hear back from you soon.

Kind regards,
Abigail Rabi

Another pandering email. Again, I abhor these. And I doubt the ambulance chasers didn’t even read anything in the Mental Health category, just blindly copied and pasted it because fake bonding. They linked the category not a particular article/post. Proof of not reading anything to me.

The article is not valuable or unique, if you have read fear-mongering articles penned by old people scared of the internet for your local news station to regurgitate, then you already read what these folks have supplied, but sans anything mean about Millennials. It’s actually an ad for the firm that looks like an article because fake Lionel Hutz up there probably is running out of poor people to rinse and fleece in California – by the way, I live in Maryland. (Also known as “On the other side of the United States of America”.)  So they bother folks like me to hopefully and blindly peddle their bullsh*t.

My own lawyer, who I would be much more inclined to recommend, thankfully isn’t this much of an attention whore.

Here’s the thing, you’re a lawyer who wants to do stuff with mentally ill folks? Here’s some tips if you don’t want a nasty email from me:

  • MUST be pro-bono work only – not interested in folks who just wanna fleece the feeble and defenseless because they want the newest Zonda or Bugatti. You actually do have to help the people. I know, the horror.
  • Doesn’t talk to me like a corporate shill -I can’t stand people like that because they don’t care about the people they serve, they just want money
  • Actually builds rapport – See prev. point
  • Don’t be White – I’m a Black blog, guess which types of lawyers I’d rather hear from? The fact you wanted old dumb coot Bernie Sanders in office isn’t good enough (if you wanted that guy, seriously never talk to me)
  • Again, MUST be pro-bono or go rinse someone else.

I wouldn’t want to be tied to these people at all. They seem terrible trash to me. Why do folks think I’m Buzzfeed or something?

What they can do for me is to screw off and stop pestering anyone else.

 

I am from india…i am in love with a boy..but my parents are forcing me to marry some one else…can u help to stop this marriage??

– Lovestruck and Silly

Forced marriage is still a major problem in India, hence why I used a fake name for the person. However, in our really long back-and-forth, it seems they seriously didn’t really want any of the sites I dug up to help them, just more “Genie, grant my wishes” nonsense. She even tried to say “Your website said you give free readings” and when I asked where did I state that, she clammed up. So for anyone who is in such a dire situation, here’s some info for you:

National Human Rights Commission, India

National Commission for Women, India

Love Commandos

All three websites are in both English and Hindi. Please use these sites. I do NOT offer magick anything so this is the best you got if there is nothing else.

Snow Trails

Recently, I have noticed an influx of White … readers? I have no idea if they are, but what I do know are the stats my FB fan page gives me and that’s one thing I have notice. And that’s a touch concerning for me.

I do have some longtime readers who aren’t Black. They’ve been pretty nice and supportive. They’re not problems and that is nifty. It’s the recent influx that has me more concerned. I’ve been on the internet long enough to know that good people trickle in, they don’t arrive in droves. However, problematic people come in swarms and when it comes to issues like race, it gets potentially agitating.

Here’s the thing: this blog’s primary audience is Black Pagans. I wouldn’t be surprised if it skewed more female than male but Black Pagans are who this blog is for. The thing about getting White attention is the problems that it brings. For one, there is stronger likelihood of content theft. It’s a pretty prominent problem where Black creatives make something and it gets whitewashed for profitability purposes. (See: Fortnite dances and HuffPost “Black Voices”, those are two glowing examples of something Black centered but Whitewashed as soon as there was money to be made). I’m not at all a fan of the idea that I post something, some White kid sees it, rips it and doesn’t really credit at all. It may sound absurd, especially since I don’t think I pen super ground-breaking material… but it does happen to others and I don’t think of myself so special that it wouldn’t happen to me.

Then there’s the annoying questions because reading is not as fundamental as I thought. I get questions from people thinking I do hexes and curses because they didn’t bother to read that this blog is called “Black Witch” because I’m a Black person. As in, from the African diaspora. And the fact I just about never mention jinxes or hexes doesn’t deter the stupidity that winds up in my inbox. At all. And I have a search bar on the top of the site, it is not a case of “how was I supposed to know?”

Thing is, I have learned from my experience with the White Pagan community is that, in many ways, it pretty much resembles Klannish ideals, just with a lot more sage and dream catchers involved. They still think Paganism should be as White as possible, even if the practices the use aren’t. They still think PoC/minorities in Paganism are better off as tokens and not equals – and tokens that can be put to use, either to deflect accusations of racism or to mine more spiritual practices to crudely hijack. And that’s White folks in Paganism. In general, same thing, just remove the sage and dream catchers.

Annoying race questions or comments, I don’t get them as much as other Black blogs (yay for that) but they still happen. Here’s the thing: this blog isn’t intended for really anyone outside the primary audience. That’s why I don’t waste a whole lot of time explaining slang/aave I use (I’m about to bring up the AAVE I get in a sec), cultural ideals or anything like that because I assume the person reading should already have enough knowledge to know what I am saying or referring to. If they can’t translate it, then it probably isn’t for them.

I don’t get a lot of mushmouth-pretend AAVE (also known as “How White people think Black people – even ones with degrees – talk…because they still go with 1880 vaudeville ideas”) but I have gotten enough to know that it is a pretty quick way to make me get pretty caustic in my responses because while the person saying it may not think so, a neon “Racist” sign is blinking over their head. If you’re not a Black kid from the hood, I expect you not to talk like a terrible mimic of one. I already get enough nonsense in my inbox, I would prefer to not have to deal with someone who sounds like they watched too much Family Guy or as if they were Donald Trump’s liberal nephew or niece, complete with a Bernie Sanders’ shirt.

So far, I haven’t gotten too many problems – outside of the dude who tried to give me a death threat (despite being half the US away from me, blue collar beyond belief and – if his HR took my complaint seriously – jobless). There’s also the smarmy lawyer in California who thought I would post a trash article they penned on their site. It’s supposed to look like it’s a concerning article about social media and mental health, it’s just an ad for the lawyer. But it always makes me cock an eyebrow anytime I get an influx. Because it means annoyances and issues are soon to come, normally in the form of some White “ally” commenting how they personally aren’t racist and should totes get a pat on the head for it. Or some person who confuses me for a genie or their personal druid simply because I have an email address and FB messenger.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Arts!: The Holidays!

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

Now on to the Black Witch holiday classics!

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

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

 

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

 

Happy Yule!

 

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

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

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

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

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

Now, back to the book.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

IMG_20181101_124640.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Halloweenie and Randomness

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sick Black Witch

I’m sick!


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

 

Here’s Psy – I Luv It

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