Category: Pagan Life


There seems to be a mini movement in pop magick – called such because it is very surface and fluffy bunny – where brujeria is getting the same treatment that voodoo, hoodoo and smoke cleansing/smudging gets: everyone wants to do it, no one gets actually what it is.

Let’s start with the facts: Brujeria is “witchcraft” in Spanish. That’s it. There are so many different forms of actual brujeria such as Dominican Hoodoo, Santeria, etc etc etc. There is more than one kind. And involves a wholly hell of a lot more than sage sticks and very threadbare, culturally appropriated flavors of feminism.

I want to call it “orientalism” because that’s what it sounds like but I’m certain there is probably a version of the word for Latin culture getting the same treatment.

Orientalism, for those that don’t know, is the “well-meaning” racist practice of treating a culture (usually the far east) as if it is window dressing to Western existence. It’s Buddha heads, “mystical” practices of feng shui or tai chi, saying one believes in the yin-yang but a) pronounce it wrong and b) doesn’t really get that it’s far more than “there’s good and bad to everything”…things like that.

Now, it’s Latin America’s turn and with people who honestly have no idea what they are doing.

I first was asked about it by Everyday Feminism. I was genuinely confused as I never mention brujeria at all on my blog (because I don’t generally practice it – I’m Afro-Caribbean American, not Afro-Latin American) but I’m being asked pretty in-depth questions about it as if I have. The article never got posted as far as I know. I think the person asking was hoping I’d be more “grrrrrrrrrrrrrl powwa! Sage away Nazis! Rawr!” than I have ever portrayed myself in the history of my blog but I gave the usual “here’s some info” that I portray more. It weirded me out because I saw inklings around Tumblr but I just thought people were…y’know, not taking it seriously. Or letting Latinx folks having their space. Newp.

Here’s the thing: I don’t mind cultural practice, it’s bullsh*t that concerns me more. If it smells pop, it probably is. I’ve now seen more people (non-Latin, not-Hispanic, nada espanol anything) toting it about, even other minorities/PoC who never touched anything remotely Latin outside of a midnight run for Taco Bell. It’s odd to go from one end to, now, all of a sudden wanting to work with Spanish magick…or just magick with a Spanish name because it sounds different – even if the practices they use are about as White or non-Latin as all get out. That’s a problem because Latin magick and witchcraft is an authentic and varied practice with a lot of backgrounds (*cough*and deities*cough*) but it’s getting condensed into stuff that is more fitting on American Horror Story when they had the witchy season (I have never seen the show but I always see it floating about, or at least its aesthetics when stuff like this gets mentioned). That’s not good.

I am not a fan of snatching someone else’s culture and parading it as your own because it sounds different. Brujeria is very general, and it sounds supportive of minorities but not really. It’s just a thin sheet of “we don’t know what you are because we don’t and we still want to take from you so here”. This is what happens all the time when folks lump indigenous practices together (“These stem from the native americans” – which one? Lumbee? Blackfoot? Sioux? There’s a lot of various tribes. We haven’t even gotten to Latin indigenous tribes like the Aztecs and Mayans) and act as if that is being inclusive when really it’s not. Spanish culture is already super different and diverse, so would be the magickal practices. Someone who is Chicano will have a different history from someone who is Puerto Rican, who will have a different history from someone who is Dominican, who is…you get the point.

Long story short, it sounds magnificent on the surface but you don’t have to get that far past the surface to see that it is something that it very much isn’t. It’s better to do your research than plow head first into being a foolish person that just wants to dabble and feel cool.

Race-Blinders

Ah, a group I was in had kittens over a complaint I had about lack of diversity. They simply booted me out without known warning. I didn’t think the response would be that bad but then, again, this is what happens pretty common in White dominated spaces, especially the ones that try to present themselves as “forward-thinking”.

They go “we don’t tolerate prejudice. We don’t like racism, sexism, etc etc” It’s usually a hint to what they will accept if it can be subtle. And not even super subtle, just simply omit the usual words that make it brash and they’re fine. In White dominated spaces, this is super true about racism. Saying the “n-word” is (sorta) not okay (I say “sorta” because it doesn’t stop them from trying) but using AAVE/ebonics and doing verbal Blackface is consider fine despite them being forms of racism. White dominated groups think they’re fine if they just avoid the usual slurs and that the Black person noting that it is not is a “troublemaker”.

When I brought up the whole “hey, this place has a diversity problem”, one person brought up that the subject of racism is a trigger for them (it’s a space for people with trauma disorders so the term “trigger” is appropriately used here) but here’s the thing, well, two things: a) the talk of racism is a trigger but acting it out is not? b) I’m usually okay with people having odd triggers because the traumatized brain works very, very odd (I explained this in a previous post) but a White person saying racism is their trigger is like Warren Buffett saying investing and money is his trigger. In a way, it is a bit odd because how could a White person be more troubled about racism than a Black person to the point it’s a psychological trauma trigger? They’re not killed as a result of it, they have far better opportunities in life from the existence of it, it really helps them out immensely. Not to mention, if anyone should have a trigger about racism, it should probably be the Black person. They’re the one that has to worry if the police officer on their street will turn into a cold-blooded murderer. They have to worry if a White person won’t try to mow a group of their peers down in a car or air out their business, place of worship or school because they feel entitled to do so. They have to watch videos and pictures of ice-cold murders or acts of prejudice of people who look exactly like them be circulated on the internet like trading cards. That is traumatizing. That could easily create a trigger for a Black person because it is a repeated enough trauma to very much count. To say that simply the subject of it is triggering but to engage in it all the same? That sounds less like an actual trigger and more like a “this makes me uncomfy as a White person”, especially since I hear this from other White people who also engage in racism and don’t have trauma disorders. They just don’t call it “triggers”, they just say something equally stupid like, “this causes bad vibes” or “ we don’t tolerate racism, you’re just blowing it out of proportion”. I know this because this is what I commonly run in to in White-dominated groups.

Here’s the kit and kaboodle, the trauma disorder group I was in usually has people in the chat all day long just going “I’m so gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay/traaaaaaaaaaaaans/queeeeeeeeeeeeer/etc.” Being happy in who you are in the face of adversary is fine but then there is this overdoing it to the point it practically seems like they’re not and they’re joking like cis straight people. That and given their uncomfiness with racism, I think if someone came in there and said “I have so much melanin! My skin is loooooovely. I’m so Blaaaaaaaaaaack,” it would probably make people act shifty. Like, the White folks in the group can chat about their family history heritage but it’s not as accepted to joke about how family history for a Black person is way more murky (I think I only know who’s who in my family up to my great grandparents and relatives on my mom’s side. Up to my grandparents on my dad’s side). It makes White people “uncomfortable” the realities of historical racism and institutionalized racism. Here’s the thing: it happened and it’s not that lava hot a subject unless it’s made to be. Not every time a Black person talks about their lived experience is a construct to induce White Guilt (which is a pathetic and selfish concept in and of itself). We don’t exist as walking life lessons to a White person. We are people also.

It’s really annoying that I can’t participate in the groups I want because if I bring up that there are any issues, it gets iced out as “she’s causing problems for our happy group!” but they also want to say “we don’t have problems and prejudice here and if we do, we root them out”. They don’t, they just root out the person that says, “hey, here is a problem.”

And this is usually a big problem in White dominated spaces. Even official ones. I remember being in a hospital for my disorders and was told that the idea of being afraid of police is an act of paranoia because police officers are here to help and be trusted. If you’re White, this is absolutely true, you get Officer Friendly, here to protect and serve. If you’re Black, you get Officer Jigsaw, here to maim and sever. It’s not irrational for a Black person to see a cop come near them and think, “Great, I’m about to die.” Then there’s the fact that you can’t talk about racism as a trauma because the doctors (who are usually White) get really, really defensive about that, especially if you note that they don’t have diverse doctors at all. Like, if you try, they say you’re getting aggressive, even if you’re calm about it. And if they think you’re aggressive, congrats, you risk getting snowed with pills (unless you’re good at knowing your patient rights) all because you brought up that prejudice does indeed exist and can indeed cause psychological damage to a person.

Having blinders on is acutely annoying, to say the least. Especially since a White person in the group made an all call saying, “Hey, we should have more diverse youtubers about trauma disorders” and it’s accepted politely but I mention, “Hey, we need more diverse voices because hearing White people use AAVE is annoying”, I am booted. Granted a person could say, “your version was harsh” but I don’t think there really is a nice way to say it. And the way said is already “nice” enough. It’s a problem, not a compliment, the basis of the statement isn’t “nice” in and of itself.

Frankly, what is it with White people and they wanting to appear forward-thinking and good but really don’t want to put in any effort to do so? Especially when it comes on the ground of racism? They want a trophy and ceremony for being non-prejudiced buuuuuuut when it is brought to their attention, they have a conniption about it at the person who said it is an issue, especially if they themselves are not White. If this is how groups keep their spaces “drama-free” or “problem-free”, it just builds an echo chamber that deludes itself in thinking that it is forward-thinking because they got rid of all dissenters instead of tackling the problem.

It’s no surprise that I get a lot of dabbling questions. We should revisit this and why it’s not a good thing.

Dabbling is the act of having a cursory interest in magick, witchcraft and the occult. And it staying cursory: you just want to cast a spell or raise a spirit just to see if it will work.

Now, while nothing is wrong with curiosity, dabbling is more “let’s see if this parlour trick works” versus “I have questions and I wonder…”. That and people seemed to want to work with dangerous magick, difficult magick or entities that even I would not work with. I have no idea why people want to raise Beelzebub for kicks but they do. Then they wind up in my inbox expecting a one-step solution to making such an entity go away. (There isn’t one.) This gets annoying. Fast.

Dabblers are a little different from fluffy bunnies but with omega overlap. The overlap is both are fairly gullible and know nothing. Dabblers don’t care they know nothing. Fluffy bunnies think they know plenty while knowing nothing. A lot of Pagans and Witches started as fluffy bunnies. Some fluffy bunnies slide back into Dabbler territory. Some fluffy bunnies actually go on to becoming real practitioners. Then you got your select few that are always in the middle: The know enough to not count as a fluffy bunny but they don’t care enough or have the patience or brains enough to be a real practitioner.

Here’s the thing: I’m not of the “if you don’t believe it, it won’t happen” crowd. I’m more of the “you mess about enough, something bad will happen out of your aimlessness”. Whether you believe or not I don’t think needs to be too much of a factor but what you put together does. However, I have gotten letters from people who just bought a Baphomet shirt to be edgy and after something inane happens, they write to me thinking they mistakenly summoned the devil. It’s a mix. Either way, I tend to get letters from people who are very much the “let’s see if this works” and find out that, oh wow, it does.

It’s better for people to do one of several things:

a) don’t dabble (seriously, don’t)
b) do at least some research before dabbling. Outside of watching The Craft and Harry Potter
c) if you summon something, get rid of it yourself. Don’t bug other people. Can’t get rid of them? Congrats, you have a roommate until you can figure it out.
d) if you’re going to dabble, don’t call yourself a witch – you’re a dabbler

Pretty simple, no?

Another issue with Dabblers is that they spread their misinformation everywhere. They don’t know what they’re doing but they talk about it as if they do and it becomes a case of the blind leading the blind. They cite spell recipes that make honestly no sense, they slap at least three different cultures together, no care or concern to as what happens. And some make their way to my inbox because somehow, the search bar on my website magically doesn’t work or appear to them (I’m being snarky here, dabblers, use the search bar). Watching a television show and burning a stick of sage (dabblers don’t even know the history behind that! Or the different variations!) doesn’t make you an expert on anything. Not even close. It’s just absolute nonsense.

Frankly, I would suggest to not dabble. Do your homework. Know that burning sage over everything is pointless and borderline cultural appropriation (*koff*hint: indigenous people*koff*). Be smart and don’t bother others pointlessly. And most of all, do some off-line research.

Before getting started, please note! There is going to be an FB livestream chat for the 8th Black Witch anniversary on June 9 at 2 PM EST. In the Black Witch Shoppe, there is free shipping from today to June 10. Huzzah, get 3D printed things, Black superhero icons and hand stitched journals.

Moving on to our regularly scheduled program:

Ahh, I know a problem is a big problem in music when it is from a genre I don’t really listen to and it still floats to me. I am couched firmly in the world of Rock, living my life. When something from a different music world floats its way to me, it’s notable.

Earlier this week, rapper Pusha T had shown a photo of rapper Drake in Blackface during a beef. It caused discord. I wanna talk about it because it seems this is pretty superficial and ridiculous, even when discussing Blackface.

Where to begin, where to begin.

Well, here is the picture in question:

It is Drake here in his younger years wearing classic Blackface while wearing a Jim Crow shirt from Too Black Guys. It’s from a line called “Jim Crow Couture”.

It’s actually a dual picture:

We will unpack this later. But first, let’s consider the source, Pusha T – a rapper that honestly could easily hit on all pins of stereotype without the burnt cork. But we’ll unpack that as we go along as well also.

Actually, we shouldn’t first consider the source (though it is very, very important), we should first talk about what and who Jim Crow is and the same about Blackface. And how you don’t have to smear grease paint on your face to emulate what it is trying to portray, unfortunately.

Alrightie, before beginning, I gotta say this post is going to be depressing so expect kitties.

Let’s get this started, with the assistance of the digital Jim Crow Museum of Ferris State University A great go-to for understanding anti-Blackness in all it’s depressing, humanity-crushing, non-glory!

The Start of Jim Crow, From Character to De Facto & De Jure Laws

Jim Crow was a character created by Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice. At the start, he was a struggling sort-of actor – he only did solo skits between play scenes at Park Theatre in New York, nothing big. He happened upon a Black person singing a song:

“Come listen all you galls and boys,
I’m going to sing a little song,
My name is Jim Crow.
Weel about and turn about and do jis so,
Eb’ry time I weel about I jump Jim Crow.”

“Inspired” by this, Rice decided to darken his skin with burnt cork and hop on stage in 1828 as “Jim Crow”. His act was a hit with crowds that he started traveling all over the United States and even in the United Kingdom and Ireland. By 1832, Jim Crow was a stock character in minstrel shows, as well as the counterparts Jim Dandy and Zip Coon. He would act like a simple fool, spoke with a very exaggerated and distorted crude imitation of African American Vernacular English (look at SNL or youtubers like Shane Dawson, Jeffree Star or Lily Singh if you want to hear the modern version of it). Rice sang “Negro ditties” such as “Jump Jim Crow” and the character became a very popular one to mimic among White comedians.

The reason the show was such a smash was because White audiences were really receptive to the portrayal of Black people as singing, dancing, grinning fools, regardless what they’re doing. Just like now. This is part of why psychological horror movie Get Out was considered a comedy (and nominated as such!) by White audiences. Which was extremely horrifying to Black people.

By 1838, the shows helped “Jim Crow” became more of a household word as a slur but that was only roughly half a century. By the end of the 19th century, it was less used as a term to describe Black people and more of a term to describe laws and customs specifically designed to oppress and harm Black people.

This section on the museum website puts this part well:

“Rice and his imitators, by their stereotypical depictions of blacks, helped to popularize the belief that blacks were lazy, stupid, inherently less human, and unworthy of integration. During the years that blacks were being victimized by lynch mobs, they were also victimized by the racist caricatures propagated through novels, sheet music, theatrical plays, and minstrel shows. Ironically, years later when blacks replaced white minstrels, the blacks also “blackened” their faces, thereby pretending to be whites pretending to be blacks. They, too, performed the Coon Shows which dehumanized blacks and helped establish the desirability of racial segregation.”

History website, Black-Face, expresses a similar sentiment:

“White America’s conceptions of Black entertainers were shaped by minstrelsy’s mocking caricatures and for over one hundred years the belief that Blacks were racially and socially inferior was fostered by legions of both white and black performers in blackface.”

Now, I’m sure someone read the fact that Black folks did Blackface, think about Drake and want to screech “Pusha was riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!” I’mma need you to pump your brakes. And put on the Emergency Brake because it is not that simple. We got a lot more to go through. Note that we are still on the first kitty picture.

It didn’t turn out all shiny for Rice. He did become rich and famous because of his minstrelsy but because of his avarice, he died a poor man in New York, 1860.

And nooow, the kitty picture

Drake, His Point, and the Problem of Blackface in Media

The picture was explained by Drake:

He actually has a point. Explained by Black-Face: “White audiences in the 19th Century wouldn’t accept real black entertainers on stage unless they performed in blackface makeup.” It’s like that, even today. They don’t have to have the makeup on, but they certainly have to play the stereotype. Ask Kenan Thompson of SNL. When he was younger and on All That, he had more, varied roles to play that weren’t captured in stereotype such as Pierre Escargot and SuperDude. There was even the show “Kenan and Kel”. Once he got on SNL, they weren’t exactly big on doing the same, which was strongly emphasized in practically all of their “Black Panther” skits. Why, SNL actually had used Blackface on Fred Armisen when they would lampoon Obama in the president’s early years. Their justification? They didn’t have enough or the “right” Black actors to do the job. By the way, this was 2008, not 1888. That was ten years ago.

Black-Face mentions that one of the first Black people to perform in Blackface for White audiences was the man who invented tap dancing, William Henry Lane, also known as Master Juba. He was born a free Black man and a talented and intelligent performer but he was deeply restricted to depicting Blackness the only way his audience wanted: a Jim Crow. A dumb Black person happy to be foolish, enslaved and inferior. Charles Dickens wrote about his experience of seeing one of Lane’s shows:

“…Marshalled by a lively young negro, who is the wit of the assembly, and the greatest dancer known. …In what walk of life, or dance of life, does man ever get such stimulating applause as thunders about him, when, having danced his partner off her feet, and himself too, he finishes by leaping gloriously on the bar-counter, and calling for something to drink, with the chuckle of a million of counterfeit Jim Crows, in one inimitable sound!”

Though a freed man, he had to take on a stage name that implied bondage. “Juba” was a popular name for Blacks in enslavement, a life Lane never knew. But it was a life he had to emulate if he wanted any popularity and stage time. While later in Lane’s career could he perform in his own skin, no blackface needed, it was short lived – Lane died at the age of 27 in 1852. He worked himself to death, literally. He worked night and day, his diet consisted mainly of fried eels and ale, hardly took breaks, it pretty much broke him. This was the norm for Black performers, just to depict themselves. But for White performers such as Rice, they could live in the lap of luxury. (Remember, it was living an over-extravagant life to the point he spent himself poor that killed Rice. And he lived far longer than Lane, who basically died from overexertion.) It still is quite a bit of the norm for Black actors. Spike Lee’s film Bamboozled explores that deeply. Oh, if you’re going to watch the film, just gear up Black Panther behind it. You’re goooooonna need to. Also, Kitten Break!

Things are a teensy bit better but not by much. And it can always slide back.

Let’s talk about the clothes Drake wore, created by Too Black Guys

The picture was not taken for Too Black Guys lookbook but it did feature one of their shirts. It was from the Jim Crow Couture line.

The line started in 2008 and there was a photo shoot featured in HypeBeast about it when it was first released. The current picture on TBG for the line is just Yasin Bey/Mos Def (he’s just wearing the Jim Crow hat, no blackface).

The line was created [reason of why line was created, prolly in HypeBeast] because Too Black Guys wanted to make a statement. Thing is, while these images are hurtful, they are part of the Black identity (more like “brutally attached” but you get my point). They’re Black, they can tackle the concept of minstrelsy and Blackness because it is something that affects them and the Black people around them deeply.

The shirt served a good purpose and focal point in Drake’s picture because that’s pretty much how Hollywood wants to exactly see Black performers. Over-saturated with Whiteness, Hollywood, and theatre in general, doesn’t want dynamic Black actors, they want more, modernized Master Jubas. You could study at Julliard and still, the casting director will try to fit you for a stereotypical, feeble-minded role.

The Problem of Pusha T or “You Are What You Eat”

Ahhhhh, Pusha T. A person who probably never heard of the phrase “he who lives in a glass house should never throw stones”. Because he loaded a ball machine, selected “a million fungoes” and blasted away.

Pusha T being a rapper is not the inherent problem here. Being a rapper doesn’t make you minstrel automatically. Not at all. To assume such would be – you guessed it – racist because of origins of Hip Hop and Rap.

The problem lives in how he depicts himself and his lyrics. Drake was in Blackface for one picture and for artistic commentary about how you have to be stereotypical to be considered if you’re Black in acting (hence the Blackface). Pusha T turned the concept into a career and his reputation. Black-Face puts it best:

“Blackface is more than just burnt cork applied as makeup. It is a style of entertainment based on racist Black stereotypes that began in minstrel shows and continues today.”

This is why I said at the start “consider the source”. Blackface is a whole lot more than having distasteful grease paint on your face. It’s a concept and an entertainment style based on a prejudiced belief about a group of people. Drake is getting static for a picture. But the person saying it, not the same but basically espouses the same thing, just in a more, long form way.

This isn’t to say that Drake is a mindful, rhyming Malcolm X. That dude has miles to go to be even remotely declared as such. But the picture he took shouldn’t be that shocking to Pusha’s general audience – it is a snapshot of the kind of exact media they are used to consuming from Pusha, but the literal Blackface created a knee-jerk response in them. I guess it should have been a tad bit more subvert.

Here’s the thing about Black media, especially media that wades super deep in profiting and continually displaying Black stereotypes: I’m sure if someone brought this up to Pusha T, that he also engages in modern minstrel, he would say, “Hey, I’m just talking about my life. This is real life in the streets.” Because we all know that the hood is where literally everyone is destined to be a dealer, gang banger, thug, or some other type criminal that lives a bleak and gritty life as they harm and/or poison the very community they claim they “care” about.

Believe it or not, it’s not 100% Pusha T’s fault to as why he thinks this way (more like 73%). Black-Face expresses:

“The American minstrel show was effectively dead by WW1, yet some old-timers continued to peddle the same blackface stereotypes later in vaudeville, films and television. It’s one of the interesting twists of history that in the first half of the twentieth century, the main purveyors of the old-fashioned blackface minstrel tradition were Black performers, who’d began in show business wearing the blackface mask — either literally or figuratively — and were reluctant to give it up.

But they also had little choice in the roles they were offered. Until well into the 1950s, Black male actors were limited to stereotypical roles: Coons,… and Toms….Likewise, the only film roles for Black women were maids and mammys….”

It wasn’t because these performers internalized effectively that Black people were the identities they performed on stage, it was because they knew the crowd they were working with and to change and try to be dynamic may very well ice them out of jobs. All they had were the walking stereotype roles. It may not have been fun to do but it was better than doing nothing. Minstrelsy was dead but the racist ideas, audience, and desires that fueled them were definitely still around.

The problem with this is that it also inadvertently created a dunk chamber for future Black generations to come. Because this was the media they saw of themselves, it subconsciously steered them into thinking, “This is Blackness, this is a reflection of the Black identity”. Internalized racism is very much a thing. Think about how many things that are believed to be “Black”/”Not Black” are based in these media depictions. The idea that Black people don’t swim or surf is a good one.

This was depicted in media that Black people are water-adverse (because of our hair, we don’t know how to swim (pulls from the “stupid negro” trope), etc) However, the reality is that Black people were banned a lot from pools out of Jim Crow laws (ahhh, he shows up again). There were even instances of acid being poured on them for being in the pool. But it’s a lot neater to display in White media that Black people don’t swim or surf because they just don’t like water. Instead of “they don’t like water we constantly put acid in so they won’t swim.” The former sounds more “normal” to a White audience, the latter sounds like you’re trying to accuse them of racism, which would be dead accurate.

Kitten Break!

Applying this to Pusha T, he is a product of that dunk chamber. He raps about stereotypical subjects, doing stereotypical things, so on and so forth. Since the targeted listener of modern day hip hop is not Black people but White people, preferably suburbanites, Pusha has a ready audience. He’s not really deriving from what is expected of him, socially, so there’s money there. He can project an effective image of the “Other” in Arabian Nights fashion (To the White suburban listener, Pusha T depicts a tale of an oft-distant land of fast living, fast women and lawlessness with the right amount of griminess.) It honestly would not be a very hard argument at all to say he’s performing modern minstrelsy.

This is why I said earlier to “consider the source”. Yes, the visual display of Blackface is jarring. (I had to see a crap ton of it just to write this post) However, if only the visual display of Blackface is the problem but the performed depiction of it is fine then that’s a major problem in and of itself. It’s a knee-jerk response that thoroughly misses the point. Especially since the use of visual Blackface was an artistic expression of the severe limitations Black people have in entertainment. Blackface, whether presented or performed, is problematic no matter what. It shouldn’t take an application of black grease paint to be the dividing line because it’s far too past where that line should be if the media-displayed denigration of Black people is hurtful or a problem.

Ah, it goes without saying that learning metaphysics, occultism, psionics, witchcraft, etc is difficult and one long rabbit hole chase. And it doesn’t help that there’s a lot of what can easily be called “fuzz”: misinformation, half-information, bias and straight-up falsehoods. Sometimes they look real, sometimes, they look overwhelmingly bogus but enough people said “ok, sure”, it eventually became accepted as fact. Then you have dabblers, fakers, money-grubbing opportunists and charlatans thrown into the mix and it gets even more complicated.

A lot of good information on these subjects aren’t easy to find. At all. It will definitely take a lot more than a cursory search on Google to find anything useful. Looking for books (which I always suggest) take even longer because some have spent years out of print and, thus, practically do not exist. Even some of the books I own are gone out of print or ridiculously hard to find. The sites I used to be on that were pretty decent are gone or completely plump with dabblers, newbies and people who just want someone else to be their personal genie. Good sources are hard to find.

A good way to determine if something is a good source is how little “fuzz” or bunk it has. If it seems to appeal more to emotion, then it’s got fuzz. If they’re selling you something, it’s fuzz. It it seems waaaay too simple: fuzz. If it has a biased lean: fuzz. There is no simple three-step method to do any part of these practices. At all.

What I tend to see a lot is there is either some micro-particle of good or substantial information and the rest is just nonsense, or it is completely made up total nonsense. That or skeptics being over-biased in their “science knows all, everything else is fake” skepticism.

About skepticism for a second: some of it is good, it’s how you determine what is factual and what is not. How to determine the wheat from the chaff. However, just like it’s not good to have your mind so open, your brains fall out, it isn’t as beneficial to have your mind so shut, nothing gets in, either. Also, science, while beneficial for the natural world, has a long, long history of not always being right simply because of human fallibility such as prejudice (eugenics, anyone? How about the entire history of gynecology, even up to now?) That and the topics discussed here fall outside of regular science realm so some things won’t add up straight from jump. Just because it doesn’t add up doesn’t mean it’s automatically fabricated, just simply different.

Back to topic!

Substantial information is hard to find but it’s not too difficult to sort through the fuzz if you know what to look for. For example, if everyone seems to be America fixated, no matter what (the issue is usually circulated around American events such as elections or American-centric happenings), that’s usually a sign the information you get is not that good. While America is one of the super power nations, it’s not the only nation on this planet. How come there’s nothing fantastical coming out or of revolving around Zimbabwe or Uzbekistan?

Another example: if it seems to not be unilateral across the board or isolates a particular group of people, usually in a nefarious way, it’s probably not good information. If the information seems like it goes “oh, women can’t do this because [abc]” or “Jewish people [xyz]”, either subtly or overtly, it’s flawed information. The thing about these practices is that anyone can do them. The only difference to look out for is cultural background such as, “This particular form of smoke cleansing stems from the [blank] tribe, the history of this extends back to….” That description right there is how you know you’re about to get satisfactory information. It talks about history, the where, the when and the why. There are reasons and histories tied to these many practices, good information will reflect that. Bad information will sound like half-baked Buzzfeed articles.

And the all-time favorite: conspiracy theories or metaphysical or occult concepts that stem from conspiracy theories.

Now, not everything that sounds grand or unusual is a fabrication. Things like racially steered police brutality, lead poisoning and cointelpro are very much real. However, things like the Illuminati and how they control the entertainment industry, fluoride being bad for you, and vaccines causing autism are very much completely made up. These stories are emotion based and usually with an aim in mind: to provoke fear and feel like there’s something out there pulling the strings and not simply the fact that the world is a pretty random place. And each fear-mongering story usually has some subtle hegemonic-instilling prejudice in there. If the information sounds very “end of the world” or “new world order”, then it isn’t good information. If it “punches down” somehow (Concepts: Jews are evil (antisemitism), autism is worse than death (ableism), White people are under attack (xenophobia and white supremacist belief)), then it is usually not good information either.

Then you have things like “Indigo children” and other more paranormal ideas that lean towards more of the fantastical. These beliefs lean more towards Westernized ideas that give people the belief that they are a bigger effect on this world than they actually are. It’s not 100% bunk but it definitely has its wishy-washy moments. And a lot of them.

All in all, there’s a lot of fuzz but with due diligence, knowing what to keep an eye out for and how to know that what you’re seeing is fact versus fiction are pretty useful in these practices. Yes, I sound like a broken record again and again about this but, wow, do I get a lot of emails about this very issue. Many write to me because they surf the net, see all these ideas that are absolutely wild and come straight to me regurgitating what they see. This all may sound very much like a broken record but it’s going to be said again and again until it sticks.

Pop goes Witchcraft

Firstly, this reminds me of the book Pop Goes the Witch that was penned by Fiona Horne.

Recently, I’ve noticed that the idea of being a “witch” is kind of floating back into pop culture. Mostly in a The-Craft-Wannabe kind of way. Dressing in black, having more rocks on your nightstand than could be found in a cave, tons and tons more herbs than would be considered diligent for a spice rack. Wearing Baphomet or some version of the pentacle. Or the sigil of Solomon. Or a bunch of Theban scribe that looks “witchy” enough on a shirt pattern. You know, stuff that actually doesn’t make you a witch. A fluffy bunny dabbler with a penchant for fashion, sure, but not an actual bonafide witch. It’s very edgy looking but really not accurate.

It wouldn’t be such a bother if it didn’t somehow float my way or create more static when trying to dispel myths such as “all witches are evil, spell casting people dressed in black” or “all witches are creepy women out to do creepy things”. My inbox looks like a tragedy sometimes because of this. At the average Pagan event I go to, just about no one who actually practices looks like this. Or talks about trying to hex openly and widely because they’re miffed about something fairly mundane – as if seeking magickal revenge is all a witch does. Again, not accurate.

It’s not the clothes that makes the witch but the practice. Otherwise, it is more of an act than an actual action. That and witchcraft is not something to dabble with, especially when armed with internet-only knowledge that the reader does not know is actually accurate or not. Seriously, my inbox is proof of that.

Actual practice in witchcraft is not so glamorous. At all. It’s a bunch of reading super dense texts, then doing more reading, then there’s some more researching…and then there’s some more reading of stuff that is not light mental fare. Stuff that doesn’t get countless reblogs and reposts online. Yes, it sounds more like taking a college class than waving a wand and saying a poorly crafted limerick, you would be on the money about that. Because there is history, there is a reason for one thing and why it doesn’t apply for the other. You can’t slap together cinnamon and parsley on a candle and expect to ace all your finals without a drip of studying. It will make you feel like you’re doing something but, you’re just making a scented candle in a very unusual way.

Granted, some are flocking to this because it appear cool, a tad bit hedonistic (the thought of “I am this all-powerful witch”) and definitely to women and girls who took one class on Feminism, didn’t really listen and opted to learn via a Beyoncé performance instead. And, most importantly, it gives the self-illusion of agency in these more trying and turbulent times. It feels like you’re powerful. It feels like there’s something you can do to make things change. Feeling this way is great but it’s just that, a feeling.

It’s great that some people see witchcraft as a form of feminism and resistance to the hegemonic world we engage with, absolutely spiffy. Thing is, this is not the reason why witchcraft exists. Witchcraft is not inherently feminist (why, the Western notion of feminism is far younger than the existence of any practice of magick). Witchcraft is not inherently resistive in socio-political ways. It just is a lifestyle, just something part of living. No different than being a surfer or engineer. Can it be construed in such manners? Sure, but so can just about anything else in this regard.

Does this mean put away the dark clothing? Not really. But have some substance to it. There’s a lot more to magick than wearing black or waving around a stick of sage and making noises. That’s just being ridiculous for the sake of feeling like there’s some control.

Ah not long since I posted my Ask Black Witch, which featured a tidbit about love and magick, I got this doozy:

How to get the maximum results from use of female voodoo doll regarding nothing negative. The use of doll is on my wife. Her attitude and disposition toward me has been very negative!! I appreciate your assistance. Thank you very much

– Lamont M.

Breh. Why do people send messages like this to me? Why? Whhhhhhhhhhhy?

Why did this dude first say “regarding nothing negative” but turn right around and say “The use of the doll is on my wife. Her attitude and disposition toward me has been very negative[.]” That’s regarding something negative. If she has a terrible attitude, don’t do Voodoo – TALK TO HER.

Everyone, relationships are hard. This is for everyone. You have two very imperfect people trying to make companionship work. If you have a problem with the person you are dating (or, in this case, marriage) try talking to them. For real, regardless of whether you are:

– Dude dating a woman
– Dude dating a dude
– Woman dating a woman
– Cis dating trans
– Trans dating trans
– Cis dating cis
– Gendered person dating genderless person
– Genderless person dating genderless person

If you’re having problems, talk to the person! If talking can’t fix it, then consider giving it the chop. Seriously. To control the other is a bad sign. Like, it points to abuse. Always. If you need to control someone to get them off your case, then consider divorcing or breaking up with them. It may suck but it’s not abuse, which is always worse. Be more civil working it out or just leave the relationship if it is that irreparable.

Writing to me with an “I want to control my woman because I don’t like her attitude, will you help” message is never a bright idea. I’m very predictably going to say this is an act of abuse, to not do it and call the person a moron for trying – I very predictably don’t like abusiveness. When have I ever said or done anything otherwise in the near ten years that I have been penning this blog? (Holy Oya, it’s almost been ten years. Oh my gods.) This dude needs to put the voodoo dolls down and instead talk to his wife about why she’s giving him grief. Silencing her on a problem doesn’t make the problem go away.

Everyone, let’s start with a comic from “Heck if I Know”:

This comic pretty much illustrates the end game of practically every whiner, dabbler and dunce that waltzes into my inbox, even while I was on break.

Thing is, people are a lot more corrupt than the character in this comic. I don’t think I’ve had many, if any, that wanted the person in their crosshairs to have any will or choice in the matter. Just “change their mind so I don’t have to change myself”. Which is usually a red flag of “you’re abusive” because trying to control someone is not an expression of love, at all.

Or better yet, folks want to bring down actual gods and goddesses to do their handiwork…as if that has ever worked out well for the human involved. Even in various texts, the humans does work out for a) was usually a demigod (half human, half deity) themselves or b) it moreso works* – with a huge asterisk because it wasn’t all roses and candy. It’s Oshun, not Alexa. It’s Loki, not Tom Hiddleston (I have to explain that one a lot – or I get a bunch of “I think I’m haunted”/”I might be possessed”/ “Life is crappier than usual and in really weird ways” emails). Many deities like helping the universe they helped create because they are duty-bound or some particular living (or not living) creature really warms them. No deities appreciate being treated as the lowly grunt that has to scoop up whatever excrement you’ve made of life itself. And are extremely happy to express that by making a point of being a celestial-grade douchebag to whomever doesn’t get it. Which, as deities, they’re really, really good at.

The comic is comedic because some poor sprite has to help this hapless guy work out a very normal and very much singular (in the fact it only affects the guy alone, not the guy and the spirit) problem. It is understandable that love is complex but it’s not better solved with divine intervention because, just like the person in the comic, it fixes nothing. The person learned nothing. Or at least, what they learned was that they actually don’t have to do anything, just run to someone else and let them do the hard work. Which eventually becomes an eventual loop of nonsense, especially for the person on the receiving end of all of this.

What would have better suited the person in the comic, Joe, is to have learned from the previous big issue that got him the boot the first time, not bother with the sprites (or, if they were trying to clue him into what to do, actually listen) and just try to fix things so they won’t be broken the next time. Is it easy? Not at all. Relationships are never easy. Dealing with people in general is incredibly taxing, being in a committed, emotional partnership with just one is also hard. But doable, with some effort, some thinking and some effective communication. But going to lengths of wanting someone else to clean up the mess you made (or just make it all disappear because “free will” is a chore) is not smart. Which is why I’m usually pretty flippant when folks ask. Especially if it is the hundredth time asking and won’t take “no” for an answer and “Here are some reasons why your plan is bad…” as a follow up. I think I have rarely came across anyone who was asking for a person to be controlled or manipulated somehow who was really respectful, level headed or, well, respectful. Always beggars and, moreover, always beggars with attitudes that makes the reason why they’re now abruptly single very crystal clear the longer they talk.

Long story short, don’t be like Joe. Be sensible. Sometimes relationships don’t work out. Magick just sometimes delays the inevitable, especially if the person is stubborn. And by “delay”, I mean, “makes all things point straight to the inevitable”. No need to beg some random person on the internet or dabble in something that is probably not smart to dabble in.

Black Identity and Paganism

It seems pan-Africanism is getting a revival of sorts in Western Black culture. Not a full revival but a sort of revival. There’s the natural hair movement, the extended (but sometimes very lop-sided) discussion of history and faiths that fall outside of Abrahamic beliefs and more media that reflects Blackness a bit more than usual (movies such as Black Panther (The superhero, not the political party) come to mind.) This is great for a host of reasons but also could potentially be another as identity movements such as these come and go in hills and valleys.

Pan-Africanism refers to all things Black: the history, the people, the culture. When done well, it’s very self-confidence boosting and creates solid ground to build a stable identity upon, inclusive of all Black people, not just a thin slice of an intersection (which is usually male, usually straight, usually cis, usually Western and usually 1D in ideas and beliefs). It decenters Whiteness, which is both inaccurately used and determined as the yardstick of “what is a human? What is human?” and allows people, Black people, to simply be themselves. When done poorly, it just subtly supports White supremacist thinking, theories and ideologies, creates discord and only benefits one thin slice of an intersection (which, again, is usually male, usually straight, usually cis, usually Western and usually 1D in ideas and beliefs). Then there’s the middle where things just swing between the two because Blackness is understood and expressed differently by different Black people and people, in general, are pretty complex. What bothers someone from Zimbabwe is probably not going to bother someone from America, which may or may not irk someone from Germany. All Black but all different for a myriad of reasons.

And with Paganism, this is no different. It’s been said many times already, Paganism – particularly Western Paganism – has a severe and vastly ignored issue (there’s lip service but still usually ignored at the end of the day) of painting itself as overly White. Paganism encompasses all indigenous faiths throughout the world but is usually streamlined to Euro-centric practices, with some token practices that get commonly Whitewashed, such as yoga, chakras, feng shui, Voodun and, as a whole, Buddhism.

Black people in the West seem to want to get more back in their cultures but it’s difficult because there are many more things in play besides just race alone. For one, there’s the different Black cultures. What someone from Nairobi feels is important to them is going to be different from someone from Atlanta because the differences of where they come from, which sometimes is commonly forgotten when Black people, particularly Westerners, want to have a cultural revival and reconnection but may still adopt Western imperialist attitudes about those who are not similar to them, even if they look like them. Rave about being from the “motherland” but shame those who are still there simply because of difference of opinion or complete misunderstanding. I saw this a lot from those who were happy to see Black Panther because of its Black representation (which did indeed pain Marvel at the start, which not just a Marvel problem but a Whiteness-in-comics general problem) but would still make light or underhanded jabs about the state of various African places. Or still referred to Africa as a country and not a continent. Or about the manner of traditional African dress and style referenced or featured in Black Panther.

With other ideas and practices, such as natural hair and the modernized concept of being “woke” (aware of institutional injustices that is primarily driven by White supremacist & imperialism-focused racism but strongly targets with a vein of anti-Blackness (but can also get kicked into selfish and blind overdrive that ignores intersectionalism when not balanced)), it helps Black folks relate to their histories and look more into whatever scraps of their family tree and past they may find but it still is difficult. From the Black cultural side, there’s a lot of misinformation because most Western books on Black culture and identity were generally written or gatekept by White editors and writers and explorers so what facts and info is more widely available is pretty much poisoned with “those subhuman savages with bones in their noses” beliefs from National Geographic to a good sum of academic books. That can further poison more minds and reinforce Western imperialist ideas (“Life sucks as an American but at least I don’t live in a mud hut”) as well as confuse in Black minds.

From the Pagan cultural side, it works pretty hard to keep Paganism, and all its diverse practices, very White. Either on purpose or through subconscious accident. Many Black folks just looking at the Pagan side of their pan-cultural history already have problems of encountering expressions of identity that should be for them being Whitewashed and torn apart. Or they run into the same gatekeeping of Whiteness that is already common just about everywhere else.  What is discovered is that modern Pagan practice tends to choke out diverse perspectives in favor of tokenized ones that preferably has price tags attached to them.

It’s nice that there’s a new wave of Black identity where now we’re more in control than prior but still there are walls present. If it isn’t self-perception of pan-African cultural identity, it’s outer forces that could reinforce negative self-perception of pan-African cultural identity.

I have been late on postings but I haz a reason (I have been posting a lot of non-Pagan-y posts, mainly site updates (can they be called updates? Whatevers, it shall be.)) I have mostly finished the cat feeder! The automatic cat feeder that I have been working on for a little over a year. The reason why it took a little over a year is because I kept changing my mind and, thus, changing the design.

For those who are going “What does this have to do with being Black or Pagan?” I made a robot and it didn’t blow up, chuck my cat, murder me, prank call the CIA with terrorist threats, or set anything on fire so hush. (It did throw food at me once and tried to randomly tell the time from 2021). And I’m Black and I’m Pagan, there ya go.

Here is a crappy video of it working:

So crappy, such wow, very amaze. It was late at night, I got tired of setting up things again and again and testing things again and again that I just laid out some aluminum foil for easy clean up and called it a day. All I cared about was not having to solider things together again. I got annoyed that I figured I’d have to 3D print another container for the cat feeder and I’m impatient so I went to the craft store and bought a cardboard box, glue gun, some oven clay (clay that is hardened in an oven). In the video is what you get from all of that. And a hackneyed chute that basically is notebook paper. Eventually, it’s going to have a 3D printed form but I just want this to work now since my 3D printer is away. I’ll eventually have it under the same roof as me, just needs the space for it. Either way, I have a functional robot.

Yes, that is a Pringles can. I usually try to paint stuff and basically make it mine but I am just in the testing/prototype phase so I’m not slapping bolts and BW’s on everything. That and it’s a machine designed to feed my cat – she seriously does not care what it looks like.

Does not care at all

When I originally thought this up, I figured that the cat feeder should have a camera, bluetooth, wi-fi connectivity, two motors and an LCD screen.

A cat seriously does not need all of that. As long as it vomits food once a day, it does not matter to her what it looks like or what it does. So now I have a spare servo motor and teeny LCD screen that’s currently sitting in my project box.

I had coded everything from scratch, which actually didn’t take as much time as I thought it would, especially since I whittled everything down to a single motor and some teeny clock to tell the mini computer the time and when to feed the cat. It’s only 60 lines of code (because I love spaces and gaps). I already have a background in code from since I was in high school (I had one Intro to Tech class, that was it) but I pretty much put it all together with ze power of the internets.

Woo! This is why I took so long posting stuff and suches. The second post will come later. And, look! I 3D printed a water dish for my cat as well.

It’s a gravity watering dish. You use a random soda bottle, fill it with water, flip it upside down and there you go. The dish says filled with water, nothing overflows, I never have to worry about my cat being thirsty because of my forgetfulness.

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