Category: Resources & Information


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Sorry for the late ABW, health stuff popped up because I kept burning the candle at both ends. Let’s get into it!

My  name is Casandra R. and I’m a New witch and I am wondering where to start?

– Casandra R.

My immediate suggestion was my go to suggestion – start off with Where to Park your Broomstick by Lauren Manoy. ‘Tis a classic!

I’m familiar with the author first book. I read was the Salem witch trials and Marie Laveau and. Shakespeare Macbeth, the Crucible and Wizard of Oz.

It’s great she’s working on her history. Salem Witch trials was a favorite history chapter for me. It’s also nice she is reviewing classic works such as Macbeth (which is less about Witchcraft and more about “what would you stop at to succeed?” The Tempest has more witch stuff in it but strictly for entertainment, like watching Charmed.), the Crucible (based on the actual Witch trials, one of Arthur Miller better works) and the Wizard of Oz (has nothing to do with actual Witchcraft, is just a nice fantasy story, I prefer The Wiz more).

However, this is better suited for understanding the cultural ideas, perspectives and beliefs related to the concept of magic, sorcery and witchcraft in general Western mainstream society (and mainly from a very White gaze, given only Laveau is the only person/historical event that isn’t White). There are a lot of pretty okay academic research books on this subject so it isn’t a bad research topic.

I had also mentioned to just avoid Raven Silverwolf by any means necessary.

Name rings a bell. Is she or he bad ?

Ah, the younger generation do not know the phenomenon that is Raven Silverwolf. She is the person that took Witchcraft, Paganism and Wicca, turned it into watered down, sellable product and proceeded to do exactly that. She shelled out everything to do with magic, despite being new agey as all get out. And I bought two of her books when I was a teenager. She knew how to pitch her stuff, that’s fact.

It isn’t that I doubt she was an actual Witch, she just was the Billy Graham of American mainstream magick and witchcraft in writer form. She was certainly the darling of her printing press, Llewellyn. Honestly, it’s better to read Ellen Dugan instead. She’s much more down to earth and less shilling, more informing.

(For some odd reason, her site pitches a series of books called “The G[*]psy Chronicles”, this is where you sigh and facepalm as you scroll past the banner)

Hello, I need help I been a witch for 17 years. My girlfriend cheated on me. I don’t who he is and I want to break them up and get her back, what do I do?

– Phillip K.

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

Frankly, my suggestion is to pick up and move on. Read a couple columns from Dr. Nerdlove, who has written aplenty about cheating and bouncing back from that. There’s no point in even trying to magick her back because it’s not like you’re going to have a happy, healthy, joyful relationship. It’s going to be a lot of unresolved zombie issues lurking all over the relationship and one thing I always notice about these “I want her/him back letters” – no one really talks about the love lost like it was a dear friend they miss but more in the vein of “That guy took my stuff, I wanna get it back”. That’s a bit concerning. There is feeling hurt, yes, but getting someone back blindly won’t fix anything.

If anything, this dude could better benefit from a therapist to get past the bad feelings and if he really is a witch of 17 years, then he should get some rose quartz and work of building his own self-esteem and self-care.

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I have gotten into composting! The occurrence came from the fact I now have more space to garden and I had a lot of food waste. Thus composting! I have propagated African violets from space (no, really), succulents, lavender, moonflowers, green onions, viburnum and morning glories. I’m eventually getting black dahlias, strawberries, cherry tomatoes and climbing roses. Given these plants are from different parts of the world (and galaxy), they have different needs. But when propagating them, nutrient rich soils are pretty useful. That and it’s nice to have healthy soil laying about for future use.

My composting system is pretty small because I did not want to deal with a huge compost pile, I don’t have a farm. I wanted to keep everything super simple…because it should be super simple. All compost is, is organic rot. It can be manure, spent food, dirt, whatever. If it’s biodegradable, it can be compost. Couldn’t be more simpler than that. Also, composting should not break the bank. I was not interested in buying a bunch of things for something that happens naturally in nature. All you need is a container that can be opened and closed (and seal scent in because it will smell a little bad). I use a small cat food bag I had recently emptied. I noticed that the bag had a seal to keep the food fresh and scent contained so that was good for me. I also got a kitchen trash bag to line it with so I can put in new refuse and not have to touch the pile. That and it double seals in the bad smell. It concerned me that when summer would come about, the stench would be at the worst because of the heat. The bag is in a shady spot but rot is odoriferous, nonetheless.

Once I got the kitchen bag – which is bigger than the kitty food bag so there’s a long neck outside the bag when in use – inside the cat food bag, I lined the bottom of the bag with planting soil a couple inches. Afterwards, I just cleaned out my fridge of any overdue food waste (soups, sandwich, etc) and dumped them in the bag. And that was it. I closed up the neck of the kitchen bag, squeezed out some of the air, piled it into the cat food bag and closed it up. That was the start of the compost bag.

As time went on, I would add general food waste, like egg shells, tea leaves and green onion waste. I usually would gather everything in a paper towel napkin, gather the napkin corners and put it in the bag like a secondary trashcan. When I would have spare soil from working with my propagated plants, I would throw the dirt into the compost bag. This makes the compost soil really rich. That and it helps make things not smell so bad when you first open the bag. After one particular rainy day, I noticed there were a ton of worms flooded out from the ground onto the concrete. I picked several up and put them in the bag. This is a good idea because worms help break down rot and enrich soil, especially when they have plenty to eat. I don’t plan on turning the compost so I think worms suit for a satisfactory alternative. Plus, they live in soil and in darkness they won’t be harmed being in the bag. Not to mention, if a couple worms are in the bit of compost used for my plants, it’s harmless to the plant. It’s not like having slugs or ants, which can harm the foliage. Like I said, I want to keep things as easy as possible.

It’s important to note that I’m only doing food waste and soil. I’m not putting manure or anything else in the bag because it’s not needed. There are plenty of nutrients in food and soil and I wanted to keep everything as clean and neat as possible. I know that some folks go as far as have compost toilets buuuuut that’s a bit much for me. I just didn’t want to throw away perfectly good soil and chuck out food when I can combine the two and save money on buying more planting soil. So far, I am not throwing away anything with bones in them and definitely nothing plastic or aluminum. Bones take a while to break down and my bag is pretty small so it’s going to be a while before I think about chucking out the leftover turkey carcass after Thanksgiving. Aluminum can break down because it does contain a natural element. However, it isn’t anything that really benefits plants like paper and food does. Think about it like a human: while it is useful to use aluminum, it wouldn’t be very useful or good to eat it. Ditto with plants. Plastic is a no-brainer, remove all plastic from the food item before putting it in the compost bag.

There really isn’t much to composting like this, the bag should stay in a spot it won’t be disturbed for a long period of time because once you’re done putting things in the bag, you just leave it alone. Check on it six months later. If you want to mix it around then, use a shovel to shift things about. If the bag feels like it is procuring heat, then definitely turn the pile. The decomposition is just causing a lot of heat from breaking down so much. To prevent melting the bag, turn the pile to make it cooler.

And that’s the basics of composting for newbs! It’s pretty simple and easy to do. Doesn’t take a lot of space (my bag hardly takes up a corner), nor does it take a lot of effort.

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There’s a lot of concepts and ideas floating about that, frankly, don’t add up. Thanks to the New Age movement, which started in the ’60s of pretty much acts of hyper Orientalism and Whitewashing by White yuppies who confused being active and incessant drug addicts for “transcendentalism” – basically the average concert goer at Coachella or White liberal kid living in gentrified areas now. Frankly, there’s a lot of bunk out there. And it usually floats its way to my shores because, hey, I’m Pagan, people must think that, therefore, I’m pro-bullsh*t.

Not really.

There are so many things out there that are either problematic, dead wrong or just plain Whitewashing and cultural jacking. For example:

Not too long ago, I got a comment on my BW Fan Page on Facebook and it was from someone talking about angels and masters, which confused me. For several reasons: I’m not a Christian Witch (used to buuuuut switched over to Paganism a long time ago) and it sounded a bit “hokey” for my tastes (humans controlling Angels? Especially archangels ones? Doesn’t sound right). It was a collision course of archangels and mermaids, which was interesting but outrageous all the same given these two entities have separate backgrounds and histories. I was then suggested to look up Doreen Virtue, which lead me to a site that just seemed like a Sylvia Browne mimic, but with more dodgy ideas for sale!

Throughout the site, it was absolutely absurd. It pretty much was a general mashup of all sorts of metaphysical concepts washed through the American Christian gaze, very little facts and all tied up neatly with a hefty price tag. For a small sum, you too, dear random person, can learn what angel or mermaid you are.

The problem here is not angelology or treating the existence of metaphysical entities as real. This is a Pagan blog, after all, it’s pretty well within the scope. The problem is not helping people finding balance and purpose in their life, even for a small fee. The issue pops up when someone takes cultural concepts and ideas that have centuries of history behind them, ignore all of it, slap it together and pitch it to susceptible others. This isn’t the only site like this, there are several.

There are so many ways this is dodgy – and a good way to understand when something is a bit off:

Very Westernized, even when East meets West
Skimming through the site, I could not imagine how someone on the other side of the planet could relate to any of this. Everything is very US Midwestern White and heavily Christian leaning. Obviously being Christian leaning and talking about angels is fine and goes hand in hand but mermaids? And White angels from a religion that started in the Middle East? That’s just plain ahistorical. Unicorns? This eventually sounds like Christianity through the lens of Lisa Frank. Everything is very White washed and hyper simplified because the point of the site is not actually helping people learn who helps them out when the going gets tough but to lull susceptible people into doling out tons of money just for some guidance. I would guess that the average person buying the products of this site is White, female, middle class, between the ages of 34-55 and believes all lives matter (except Black ones).

This site co-opts anything not Christian (such as mermaids, unicorns, leprechauns and deities from other religions). This site even brings up the concept of “Ascended Masters” – enlightened people in history. Thing is, this title paints with a brush broader than a paint roller. It is almost like people such as Aristotle and Buddha were of the same train of thought. Which was very much not true. It’s kind of no different when a yuppie would swear up and down they’re worldly and totally open minded …but have a severed Buddha head statue in their bathroom and butchers Dr. King quotes to support their racial micro-aggression to anyone that corrects them.

One site, Light Ascension, has an extensive list called “The Spiritual Hierarchy” that really sounds like it was thrown together to sound otherworldly. Notice that no matter who is mentioned, it all comes back to Christian line of thought, even when entities and people such as Qwan Yin and His Holiness the Dali Lama is mentioned. Honestly, in a way, it kind of affirms the “One True Way” concept that Christians commonly tout. Like the whole universe works toward helping Jesus, even if they’re deities in their own religions, predate Christianity, or doesn’t care about the existence of Christian belief. Which makes no sense.

When the going gets tough, make sh*t up
This is a good saying when folks are trying to sell you the moon and have nothing to offer. This is that moment. The sites are not about learning facts and deep info (even if they pay for it), it mainly plays on the average layperson’s knowledge of angels (hence why no talks about the different choirs of angels, the fact they blindly serve the Abrahamic god* and only that god, never humans, annnnnnnd they’re only depicted as “people with wings”) and pretty much how they, the average layperson, can somehow benefit from this. You could replace the angels on the site with pretty, knitted octopus and it would probably still stick. Just get a concept, make it seem more magical than magical, pitch that you can make that magic happen for others for a price and wait for the money to roll in.

If you think that no one would totally fall for this, I’d agree with you …then look at my email inbox continually filled with random people constantly asking me for spells, even offering money, despite the fact that I say pretty regularly on this site that A) I don’t do paid spellwork for others and B ) I don’t do paid spellwork for others (it’s a pretty important point so I thought it was worth mentioning twice).

Too complex? Just add water
The study of angels in culture and history is really cool and interesting. It also gets pretty scary at some points because angels are a lot more than sweet cherubs out to keep people from bring crappy to each other. However, that doesn’t really help people feel like they’re getting a grip on life. This means everything gets watered down to the point that nothing is really related but everything is centered on somehow improving the reader’s lot. That’s why you can find things about mermaids (which does not show up exclusively in any of the Abrahamic texts (Bible, Torah, Qu’ran)) and random stone associations with Archangels that can some how be roped into being your spiritual bff.

There’s a lot of product but no substance. The archangel profiles have absolutely no mental heavy lifting. No theory, no actual history, nothing. However, the joining thread between all the information is that it’s all here to help you…for a fee, of course.

One prime example of the mish-mash nature of this site and concept is best shown through the post “How a Protective Mother Goddess Helped Me to Overcome Anxiety“. It’s not troublesome to use spirituality to quell anxiety. It’s even healthy, as a matter of fact. Faith can really pull people through hard times. It’s the fact that in the tags on this heavily Christian site is “Xochiquetzal, Sweat Lodge, Native-American Ceremonies, Anxiety, Past-Life Regression”.

Xochiquetzal is, according to Mythology Dictionary, an Aztec fertility goddess that stems from Central America. She resembles childbirth, crafting and flowers. She also has her own origin stories that are no way related to Christian belief. She is an Aztec goddess, thus holds her own. But on Virtue’s site, here she is knocked down to “Goddess Angel”, which is nearly an oxymoron because deity control angels, not are part of the ranks of angels. And as an Aztec goddess, she’s going to be lumped in with the general label of “Native American”, which generally covers Indigenous people who lived in America en masse, folks like Blackfoot, Lumbee, Lakota and Sioux. This does not cover Indigenous folks who lived in other areas such as Central America. Which means Xochiquetzal is getting misappropriated because in the White gaze, all native indians are the same.

This experience that is being recounted is at a sweat lodge, which is explained as a “Native American-based ceremonies held within the confines of a small building or tent”. Talk about hyper generalization. It’s almost like all Indigenous tribes are exactly the same. The group (I’m going to bet this group probably had the diversity of a Klan meeting) started chanting “So-she-ket-zel” as additional water is poured on the rocks, which makes no sense because I doubt Aztecs sat in sweat houses in effort to reach their goddess. There’s just no relation for this particular deity.

The kicker was when Virtue described the Aztec goddess who was the queen of paradise for warriors killed in battle: “She was clearly Native American, with long silky black hair, a youthful 30-something-looking face, and a white animal-skin dress with fringe and red beads. She was beautiful, loving and compassionate….[I]t was her angelic energy that calmed me with its enveloping love.” Eventually, Virtue finds how who it was she “saw” and wrote “‘She is like an angel,’ I said. ‘Who is she?’ I learned that Xochiquetzal is an Aztec and Toltec goddess also known as “flower feather.” She’s an earth- and fire-element fertility goddess who inspires love and passion. She’s also a protective Mother goddess, which she certainly had been for me during the sweat-lodge ceremony.”

The reason this is the kicker for me is because it’s such a blatant disregard for the history of the Aztecs and their beliefs. I did some research and happened upon Mexicolore, an informative site about Central American Indigenous tribes such as Aztecs, Mayans and Tocuaro. Here, Xochiquetzal has her own info page, which described her much better than Virtue did:

Xochiquetzal, the goddess who seduced a priest and then turned him into a scorpion as a mark of her power, was no soft touch She incarnated youth, love and beauty and was amorously pursued by several Aztec gods. Emblemised [characterised] by flowers and colourful feathers, Xochiquetzal was patroness of lovers and prostitutes. Unlike other fertility goddesses, she encouraged love-making as a means of pleasure, not reproduction, yet she had the power to absolve humans of sins that weren’t necessarily of a sexual nature. Wife of the water god, Tlaloc, and consort to the creator deity, Tezcatlipoca, Xochiquetzal lived in the Aztec paradise of Tamoanchan. She was widely worshipped and many great rituals were made in her honour; from incredible acts of sacrifice to sombre confessions.

Hey, waitaminute. Xochiquetzal encouraged sex as a way to have fun? And she was the matron of lovers and sex workers. Ohhhhh, that doesn’t sound very Christian. Christian rhetoric believes that one is only to have sex just to procreate, that sex for fun is disgusting and sin-laden act. And that sex workers are lowly people because, ugh, women capitalizing off of sex, what is the world coming to? They’re untouchables, amirite? And she’s used to be widely worshipped, too. Like a god. Because she is one.

Funny Virtue left alllllllll this out. And got the image of the goddess way off. Such as how the goddess has a noseplug ornament in the shape of a half moon, usually dons many gold ornaments and wears a quechquémitl (a short woven poncho-like garment) and cuéiti of various colors. That she has a headdress that either is a Quetzal bird or a crown of flowers.

All this just sounds so radically different from what what described originally, the white animal-skin dress with fringe and red beads. If anything, it just sounds like what the White gaze would imagine a friendly, non-specific indian. Then again,Virtue thinks Jesus looks like a White guy with gently wavy brunette hair so there’s that. Mexicolore, on the other hand, has this interesting picture describing how Xochiquetzal looks, according to cultural depictions:

It’s also noteworthy that in the story, no one bothered to tell Virtue that the Xochiquetzal is not an angel but a goddess from her own religion. And a widely revered one, at that.

Now, this isn’t the only place on the world wide web that uses the allurement of new age ideas for personal betterment to make money.

In my inbox, I received an email asking about paid advertisement on Black Witch. I tend to keep Black Witch ad-free because I hate ads, especially since most aren’t worth watching or looking at. Plus, with the subject of my website, you’re going to see more “have your fortune told” and “spells to make you powerful” ads everywhere. That’s awful. However, I don’t mind promoting what I think is nifty or something that helps Black Witch (such as Ko-Fi!) Actually, those promotions are done for free, as in, I took it upon myself to post it and make reference to it. No fiscal plying required.

The paid advertisement request I got was for the Transmutation Club, which wanted to pay me to promote their business. Their business was, judging by their site, suckering people out of money in hopes they’ll learn how to use their sexual powers to do better in life and business. The huge red flag of the whole site? This:

Doesn’t it sound incredibly infomerical-y? “We have this great big secret that we’re dying to tell you but we can’t! Not for free, anyways.” And it’s a bit odd that women are reaching out to me but men are writing all the content. Which is concerning, especially since it’s the same exact method that sex traffickers use to get more girls because of the idea that seeing a woman will set off less alarm bells. I’d rather continue promoting Bedsider instead. Way less skeevy, much more informative.

Also, the Transmutation Club site has articles titled “Happiness Hack”…because the human brain is a computer that can be tricked and modified like a rooted android phone. Anything with “hack” in the name and is not talking about computer is automatically iffy at worst, lame at best.

I brought all of this up to the woman writing to me and she responded that one of the faculty members is the founder of WITCH magazine and her readership loves the course. She also tried to sweeten the load by saying that I would get a 30% commissions on any sales made from the their live webinar. Unfortunately, I don’t like commission jobs and I’d rather be an affiliate with those who aren’t shifty in what they’re pitching. If it were a Black-owned metaphysical shop having interesting and sensible workshops that offered me an affiliate commission, I would seriously think of taking that up because it really resonates with what I want to have on Black Witch and to show my readers. The key point is how useful it is for the participant, not how lucrative it is for the business.

As for WITCH magazine, I looked it up. I don’t read any Pagan magazines but I am familiar with a couple. Such as Witches & Pagans and Modern Witch. Truthfully, I think the only magazines I read consistently are Black Belt Magazine and GosuRori because I’m also a martial artist and part of lolita fashion.

WITCH magazine seems to be mainly about hype, not information. I mean, the web address is “badwitch.es”, kinda makes me think the site is loaded with snowblindingly White feminism. And it sort of is: there is some diversity but it appears tokenized, and the same guy who wrote nearly all the posts on Transmutation Club is also writing here. The columns read more like they borrow from Cosmopolitan and Seventeen and less like something with substance. I nearly half expected a column to say, “What wine goes best with moon in Gemini – Getting your groove back for the full moon.”

It’s super American centralist, too. One post about the new moon in Cancer says “The New Moon in Cancer will be born Monday morning on the 4th of July. As an expression of the sign of Cancer, this day will be sensitive, emotional and revelatory. To heighten the sense of significance, take note that this is the day that America’s Independence from Great Britain is celebrated, a moment in history for the whole world to reflect on.”

The whole world. As if America becoming a country was such a cataclysmic event that just took the world by storm. Like we’re the center of the world, center of the Universe, even.

Look, 4th of July is only important to Americans. Literally no one else cares. They have their own national holidays to pay attention to.

Both WITCH and Transmutation Club share a lot of the same trends that I don’t really care for but certainly find pretty problematic, especially if they’re going to ask me to promote their works and products. It’s not very diverse, it’s incredibly cis-het, it does not decentralize gender stereotypes and it glosses over actual information. This, I don’t see being useful for womanists, sex trauma survivors, or trans people trying to be comfortable in their bodies. It doesn’t even have the basics, such as safe sex methods (something Bedsider does). It’s just pretty images and baseless words, with a non-minuscule price tag.

The thing about these sites is that they clog up actual information streams. Y’see, the average person seeing these sites is not going to think “Hey, these sites are probably false and just out to get my money”. They’re going to see the scant, repeated info and think that this is accurate. Especially since these sites play on common held beliefs, insecurities and illusion of access. If you target the emotions, you generally don’t have to provide a bevy of facts, just keep poking at the person’s emotions. That’s where the problems begin, not to mention, reduces the legitimacy of those who actually practice metaphysics and occult and doesn’t shell out cheap gimmicks.

*Christianity, Judaism and Islam are all Abrahamic faiths that basically share the same god.

Good afternoon . My name is Jasmine. I’ve read your blog a few times and I love your self expression and openness . I have been interested in paganism for sometime ..I just don’t know where to start..I would like to become a witch but not a wiccan. I really like like idea of hoodoo but im not looking to conjure up anything. I really just want to feel connected to nature and in tune with myself. I also want to master meditation,  enhance my intiuation and maybe get a glimpse of the spirit world. I was raised in am extremely Christian household but those beliefs were never something that I could truly embrace. I basically felt nothing but fear to be honest.  Now that all of my fears are behind me I am so ready to learn and research but I really don’t know where to start. I’ve done tons of Googling . I am sorry if this sounds silly or offensive ..it is hard for me to explain myself through the internet. I appreciate your time.

-Jasmine

Hoodoo is nice, and you don’t have to summon anything. It can simply be ancestor work and still using the spirits and entities for basic and advanced magick work. Hoodoo, in short, is like any other traditional form of folk magick, use as appropriate.

To work with mediation, it can seem super easy but, in our fast-paced world, it can seem drastically difficult. I recommend learning breathing exercises to get a start on meditation. It’s great to learn to do and improve energy manipulation, which is great for magick work. Thankfully, there are now apps to help you learn meditation, as well as books. Starting with books, I always recommend Where to Park Your Broomstick by Lauren Manoy. As for apps, I recommend Intellicare’s free app called “Purple Chill”. It has a very effective bit for deep breathing, which is fantastic to learn to get a great start for meditation.

The main layout looks like this:

2015-12-23-12-27-21.png

The deep breathing has a small, lavender orb that expands slowly and retracts slowly, helping you maintain breathing at a steady pace. The rest is just as useful.

As for boosting intuition, that’s definitely work but I recommend Intuition Magick by Linda Keen and Everyday Magic by Vivianne Crowley. They’re great for helping learn how to better your intuitive sense and safely.

If you want to get a good look into the spirit world, you want to know what you’re doing so I would hold off on more advanced practices until you’re better at knowing yourself and your practice. Start off with doing ancestry work and build on that. Working with spirits means you never know what you’re going to get, even if you’re well practiced. I mistakenly summoned a Throne angel when I was 17. That was an experience I don’t want to experience twice, ha!

Once you do get a little further into spirit work, when you get a better hand in it, it’s best to get an encyclopedia on spirits and entities. I’ve suggested a number of books here, in The Arts: Samhain Edition, that can totally help you.

 

Alright, that’s really all I’m getting into today. However, I noticed I’m getting a lot of “body switching” spell requests. I’ll be writing on this at length but for now, I don’t do spell requests. I definitely don’t do body switches, I don’t even know why people bother me about it because I never ever talk about doing spells for others (or there would be a price list). Instead, anyone who asks is pretty much opening themselves up for absolute ridicule.

See y’all next year!

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It’s been a while! What we’re gonna focus on is a site that help you learn how to solder and code! That would be Adafruit. I was going to do SparkFun but then I had found AdaFruit, which is woman-owned and positioned in NYC (which is closer to me, who is on the Eastern coast).

What I like from Adafruit was the use of wearable technology that can be made, such as gloves that reacts to taps or whatever you want. They even have thin conductive thread that you can sew into clothes to make reactive. Same for rubber cords and LED sequins. There’s even an LED sewing kit for beginners. This is great for cosplayers, of course, but also, I just like the greater selection of items on their site than on SparkFun.

Interacting with Adafruit circuitboards, I really like how easy it is to program and code. Now, I already have a coding background (that is rusty but is still there), but the site has a fantastic “Learn”  section which includes cool projects such as wearable NFC, like unlocking your phone with a manicure via an NFC tag ring and a door detector where you get an email, tweet and/or text every time the door is opened! There’s so much to do and work with, it’s a lot of fun! And most importantly, once you get coding and circuit building, the ideas are endless. You can even make an audio player that is super teeny[link].

What I also like about Adafruit is how it has a wide range of projects, including projects that could easily be gendered “feminine” such as a UV manicure lamp. This is really great because it doesn’t make robotics and coding feel like it is only a “guy thing”, which is annoying and can easily kill interest because when you only have ideas for one end of a spectrum and neglect the rest, there’s not really a lot of ideas. Girls, just like guys, have lives and that means there are eventually going to be gadgets that reflect that. Why, I just featured an app not too long ago called Period Tracker, which basically uses technology to help women keep track of their periods. Works fantastically, is a great display of technology merging with life, makes life easier – which is why technology exists. This appeals very well to girls and women alike without ever having to use a revolting shade of pink: actually being inclusive with products, projects and tech that helps the inner lives of women, from super important (Period Tracker) to the frivolous (UV manicure lamp). This is really nice about Adafruit, it’s a comfortable site to have.

If you’re new to coding and soldering, I recommend finding cheaper soldering kits on Amazon or Ebay (like, $10 cheap) because you don’t want to be dismayed by the pricing on Adafruit (and SparkFun) over the basics. Thanks to the internet, you can do pretty much anything so go for it! Tech work is really cool to do.

Next week is Ask Black Witch. Usually I say “send in questions” but I’ve gotten quite a bit since I was gone so I’ll answer those instead. You can still send questions (remember: good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated) but it’s no promise I’ll get to it.

Firstly, sorry the blog was stagnant for two weeks, had to deal with real life stuff that also involves preparing to move. Annnnd the ads should be gone by now, usually I have a “no-ads” feature. Moving on with the rest of the column.

Recently, I was contacted by a person for a death spell. Basically, they wanted me to kill someone out the blue for literally no apparent reason. First of all: I don’t do spells for others. Second of all: I’m not a hitman, get a gun and do it yourself like practically everyone else does. Third of all: Please remember I have friends in the police, up to lieutenant rank. Fourth of all: Please just do your research so I don’t have to make fun of you and initially dismiss the severity of your situation.

After several emails of half information, basically what had happened was I got contacted by a teenager who decided to send nudes to a random person over Kik because person B said “here are poses/games to prove that you are bi” (which is a bs request, just saying) and now the teen is regretting this very decision a bit too late now that person B, also possibly a teen, is extorting for more explicit acts and so on and so forth. The thing here as well is that the teen is over around the Middle East/Fertile Crescent and Person B is in Illinois. This teen was really hard to help because, wow, they really wanted to be spoon-fed info (look, there’s “What’s the number to 911?” panicking and, “What will/does [FBI/Interpol/etc] do?” after being linked to info pages) so, here it is for everyone because I’m a firm believer in “Don’t put yourself in a situation you aren’t capable of getting out of” and “information is everything” (or I wouldn’t have a career in libraries and a high IQ).

Firstly: If you are a teenager, DO NOT send explicit pictures of yourself. If you are considered a minor in the eyes of the law (usually hovering around 18-ish, depending on national laws), it counts as child pornography automatically. The law is like your parents, they don’t care if you think you are an adult, you’re still a kid, comparatively. This is for your protection. Here’s a site with a fantastic rundown of sexting laws and punishments (for both sender and receiver) by state in the United States. For example, the person in Illinois, if they’re honest about being a teenager and receiving this stuff, they’ll get hit with being arrested and tried in juvie court where, if convicted, they have to do counselling, community service and be supervised by the court. If they lied and turns out they’re an adult they’re pretty much screwed because they will be prosecuted under the state pornography laws and, if convicted, required to register as a sex offender, as well as whatever else the court can happily pile on, which is 2 to 15 years, depending on the severity and how the judge feels. If the teen that contacted me was also in Illinois, they would have been punished as well for producing child pornography with the penalty of counselling, supervision and community service. Take a look at the site yourself, if isn’t worth it. Already, you can’t control what someone does with your picture (or if their phone gets hacked), risking the very serious penalties of producing child pornography as well as other charges because the courts haven’t fully caught up to the digital age? That small .02 second pic is seriously going to cost you. As in, it’ll be on your record for colleges and jobs to see and if you think trying to get work and get into school is hard enough, try having that mark on your record. Find other ways to bond with people that isn’t so risky.

Secondly: If someone is pressuring you to do it, they actually don’t care about you or love you or else they wouldn’t risk your safety and well-being. Period. Sending a nude is not a testament of how in control you are or how much you love them, and they actually know that – even when they’re saying otherwise. Don’t do it. And if they’re a stranger on the internet, just assume they have nefarious reasons to ask a young person they practically just met to send pornographic material of themselves. Good people don’t do that, only pedo, ephebophiles (pedos but targeting teens), and other very destructive, abusive people do that. I would say “hey, here is how to report” buuuuut honestly, most – if not all – social media sites mainly do lip service but nothing constructive to thwart this from happening and to resolve occurrences that actually have happened. Actually, I researched all the ways to report to FBI, Interpol*, and Kik but then looked a little deeper and saw that, for the people perpetrated against, they really aren’t anything but painted plywood fronts of security theatre unless the victim screencaps everything, is quick to alert authorities and the social sites and basically speak up for themselves.

Thirdly: If this already happened, tell your parents and the feds. Yeah, they’re going to freak out on you because they care and they’re perfectly in their right to go Pompeii about it at the start. The teen that talked to me said her dad didn’t care, just to ignore it. This means either she didn’t actually tell him because, wow, talk about tone deaf, or he seriously doesn’t care about his daughter at all. Most parents would be hitting the roof if they found out that a) their child has been sending nude pictures of themselves to strangers on the internet and b) the stranger they sent it to is extorting them for more.

Basically, practice safe texting, the repercussions aren’t worth it.

*How are things on the West coast? – I had to do it, I’m sorry XD

Firstly, join me and Tamara Winfrey Harris on Sunday at Exittheapple on 2334 Guilford Ave between 11AM-3PM in Baltimore City, MD for a discussion of the recent book The Sisters are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America. I believe there will be light refreshments. Alright, onward with the column.

Posted recently on the African American Wiccans Society FB group page was an article titled “Beware of Fake Crystals on Ebay (How to Know the Difference)” penned by aLoverOfLife. This article is actually really good about how to spot fakes when buying crystals online.

I usually buy my rocks from physical places but I definitely have bought gems online. Sometimes stores will over-price on something that you will eventually think, “This is a rock. I am about to spend $25 on a semi-common rock smaller than a phalange on my finger” in regards to so you want to have a more acceptable price. However, the thing about buying online is that you can wind up with fakes. Surprisingly, it never truly dawned on me that folks would sell fake stones because I thought it would stand out but I’ve been staring at rocks speculatively since I was a kid (and had a rock growing kit using chemicals) so there’s probably that. However, give folks an inch, they’ll take up half the coastline of California: I’m good at identifying a fake but the average person isn’t and especially not the noob who really just want to get any stone to start their witchy practice. And while there are those who would say, “Why don’t the person just go outside and dig in the dirt? There you go, rocks galore,” you’re not likely to find a Herkimer diamond or phantom quartz or sodalite in your backyard in the middle of Detroit. Hence why folks like me buy stones in physical and digital places.

The information the writer got was from an Ebay seller that recently closed shop that finally decided to share the tricks of the trade of how to spot a fake versus a real rock.

The starting information is about Azeztulite/Satyaloka (I’m not going to quote the whole article since clearly it has been written but merely give my own experiences), which is simply not real. It’s just a milky quartz with the price hiked up way high up. Also, here’s a rule of thumb since this is probably going to come up a lot: if the seller mentions that the rock (or any item of question) comes from a “secret” or “old” pocket or space of any US state or country (the more otherized, the better), it’s probably a fake. It’s very rare this is actually the case. If the orgin story sounds too glamourous to be true, it probably is. For example, I could find really good stones under the Middle River Bridge in Baltimore City, my hometown, buuuut that orgin story wouldn’t sell as well as “found from a secret pocket among the Appalachian mountains region”, which is basically the same thing, jazzed up.

Also, the piece says that rough white quartz is pretty much worthless in price. That’s actually quite true. Remember, not everything that comes from the earth warrants a high price and also remember that high prices are man-made, no rock comes out the ground with a price tag. Usually prices (fair ones) are based on established value delved from location (is it somewhere remote or easy to get to?), ease of acquiring (can you just pick it up off the ground or have to scale a mountain?) usage (can it power something or just be a pretty paperweight?) and rarity (are there a bunch of these scattered around like gravel or is this the only rock you’ve seen like this?). This is why some metaphysical shops will gouge the price of a gem you could purchase from a science-y rock store for less.

Next mentioned are glass crystal points from China. I don’t like the hyper focus on China because geez, it’s becoming yellow scare shorthand for “cheap, worthless, comes a hundred a penny”. Yes, a lot comes from China (it’s a big country, in case no one has noticed) but still, it bugs me. Moving on, buying glass when you thought you were getting crystal certainly sucks. The tell-tale sign, as noted on the piece, is that they’re perfectly clear and quite big but quite cheap. A crystal like that would sell for hundreds, possibly thousands, not ten dollars. If they have fractures, they look odd because they were made with a cloth and a ball peen hammer.

There’s also a common man-made fracture made, as illustrated by the article, by heating the glass and dipping it in room temp water (or cold water), which makes these odd fractures. I think I gotten one myself because it was thrown in when a purchase was made at the Maryland State Fair. It was a clear fake because there was glue on top to keep the “stone” fastened to the holder. Remember, I got it for free, mainly because it wouldn’t sell and the seller wanted to make their payload lighter when it was time to pack up shop.

Here is another “[fake crystal] from China” entry. Y’know, I know China is seen as the king of fakes, partially because of Western orientalism but ummmm, China produces authentic stones as well. Like jade. Not everything in China is fake and other folks in different nations can make dupes as well. It’s not like China (and to a further extent, Nigeria) holds the world population of scammers and frauds. Cons exist everywhere. As for stones, I’ve seen fakies coming straight from New York and LA. Yes, China can make passing fakes but the hyperfocus on them is a bit irksome.

This entry was about colored crystal points. This reminds me of being told once that sapphire is not actually a brilliant blue unless scientifically doctored. Given the picture on the article, it can show how the “quartz” actually is colored glass. If the quartz can remind you of a kitschy glass kitchen bowl, it’s probably fake. That and if you take a close look at the surface, the surface is probably perfect. Crystals, given their creation, are not perfect, especially at a close look. There are teeny ridges and if you look super close, indentures and fragments. And no bubbles.

Finally a fake gem not from China. Here we have fake smoky quartz from the United States, namely Arkansas (and noticed for the US, a state or location gets made. It doesn’t care what region the fakie came from in China, just the fact that it did, which creates the illusion that all of China pumps out fake stuff when really it’s just certain parts). As pictured on the article, it’s a clear quartz that went through a radiation treatment to give the stark black smoky color. If the color is claimed to come from a heat treatment, it’s a lie. On the article, there is a side-by-side analysis of a man made smoky quartz and a real one as well as a short list of how to tell the difference, which is pretty on point.

Afterwards, you have polished quartz being sold as natural. Goodness, here’s the thing about natural, raw quartz: it doesn’t look “perfect”. Natural quartz have sharp, clean lines instead of dull edges and polished crystals are often cut flat on the base. There is also a short list of how to tell the difference between the two, also very good.

There are certainly more features of false stones and how to tell on the article, I would recommend reading, this is pretty much a very cohesive article for when you buy online but also when you purchase in person. Crystals are bought for their qualities as created by their formation, it is not the same to use false stones or materials such as glass. Metaphysics is a lot more than simply the “power of thought”, authentic materials are important.

I’ve been ridiculously busy so no actual article for this prev week but I do have news. The book The Sisters are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative on Black Women is coming out. It is an academic book written by Tami Winfrey Harris about the intersections of experiences of Black women, stereotypes and society. I had a chance to participate with this book as one of the interviewed guests. Now that the book is nearly out (you can purchase it on Amazon here, and it will be released July 7th but it is in stores now), it’s promotion time!

On July 7th, Tuesday, at 9PM EST there will be a one hour discussion under the hashtag #TheSistersAreAlright on Twitter. I’ll be participating under my usual @thisblackwitch handle, make sure you check it out!

So, the month focusing on a special subject went down in flames. No writer submissions, I missed my publish dates as well, nothing really went well. That’s not cool. I’ll probably do it again next year, with better preparations.

Instead, I’m just going to direct your attention to a recent interview I just did from ACTION Mag. It was actually a good experience, I recommend reading it.

I’ll also post this call for diverse writers for an upcoming Pagan publication. I was one of the (incredibly) few asked and I said that I wasn’t going to write unless there were at least 6 minority Pagan writers, at least three of them Black. The anthology curator didn’t even bother to ask four in total. Meaning the anthology is geared to becoming nearly all White with some measly token thrown in as if it is just as good as actual diversity. Here are the submission guidelines.  You can also email tara.miller21[at]gmail.com.

Since normal content resumes in April, which is soon, just watch this short film, titled “Cupidon”. It’s about a day in the life of Cupid as he does his job, but makes a mistake with his arrows that turned one person in a potential couple into a total megalomaniac as he tried to make a match.

Nothing New

Now, it’s October, so that means it’s time for me to start thinking about what witchy books to suggest for The Arts!: Samhain Edition. However, there’s one problem: I haven’t been reading any magick books as of recent. It’s just that the books on metaphysics I have come across aren’t really good. They’re too new agey, not really well rounded, not super worth reading. I noticed that when I would come across new books on metaphysics and it would only take me less than thirty seconds to go from “Wow! What’s this?” to “…Meh.” All the books I have been looking at or referencing are books I already have.

So far, new books on metaphysics and magick are mainly following after trends. It isn’t that they never have followed trends (publishing is a business, after all) but now, it’s gotten really sappy. Like, there’s more focus on vampires and paranormal than anything. And really bad sex magick (I seriously saw a book based on 50 Shades of Gray, it was sad), that should never make it to print. Ever. This is a problem because quality books aren’t getting printed out. Or if they are, they’re hiding way too far underneath all the crap books.

Another problem is that, for me, there’s but so much new information I’m going to find on the shelves of book stores and metaphysics section of libraries. A lot of books that are in regular circulation are pretty much the basics to the intermediate of magick and metaphysics. I already know the basics and the intermediates. It doesn’t mean I know everything but it does mean that I need to move on to something a little more challenging.

Or, for now, I can move to online.

I have found better information online than I have in some of the books I have read. This is astonishing to me because usually I would rather go to books for ideas and learning but it seems as of recent, I have found Tumblrs that presented interesting and more dynamic information than the newer books I have come across. One that I can think of is TheLivingWiccan Tumblr. On this Tumblr, there is not only spell information, there is active discussion of Paganism (Yes, I know that the blog is titled with Wiccan but it is still good for Pagan stuff), and with the active imput, there’s much more to learn or at least to engage with. A couple more are kemetduasekhem and TrueRiptide. Those Tumblrs are more about Kemet Paganism, which isn’t my denomination* but is still really informative. Also there’s the Magick tag on my Tumblr.

However, I still find books crucial to learning metaphysics and magick because, frankly, it’s all been done before. We’re mostly using symbology and ideas that have already been established, some for centuries. I think, when reaching to this level, it’s good to try to examine various parts of metaphysics as separate fields such as herbalism or specific sigils traditions. That means, the more advanced the knowledge, the more extra learning is needed. That means learning old languages, reading old source material, things of that nature. This means that knowing ample research skills are a must, especially since some texts are very dated and possibly will show incredible bias (much like some texts of today).

It’s important to know how to discern what is good information and what is not. These skills can be transferable to also researching online because it is important to not take on terrible information that was painted as useful.

The basics of research is that the main game is to be objective as possible, and so does the material. While it can be true that everything has a bias, you have to find the least biased one of them all or at least material that is most biased towards what is actually the truth or reality of a concept.

For example, if there is a site that talks about Chinese mythology but the site does not seem go beyond pop topics that are Westernized (such as Feng Shui, the Chinese horoscope wheel and I Ching) and their mention of China does not reflect the vast diversity of China but instead paints the Chinese as a strongly monolithic and nearly elf-like people, then the material is not worth reading. Also, if the sources are mainly filtered through the West (that the writer got info from a British university, an American research book, a German “expert/scholar” on China, etc), then it is possibly not good since they’re not letting creators speak for themselves. It’s one thing to read a translation (although, it would be good to learn some basic Mandarin Chinese to help determine whether or not the translation is accurate). It’s important to note when orientalism and yellow peril is occurring when researching Chinese mythology because those can kill the validity of any research quickly as it is not based at all on logic but on low-intelligence concepts. Also, here’s a big one: If the writer is trying to make it sound like the material is similar to Christianity, uses Christian concepts to describe beliefs or even so much as brings in another, different cultural idea (such as chakras, which is from India, not China), the book/site is absolutely worthless.

There’s a lot to doing research but it is most important to note that there will be a lot of supplemental reading for even the supplemental reading so try to start from the basics (not Wikipedia, an actual encyclopedia) and use the bibliographies or their reference material as a jump off point.

Also, if the text is even slightly:

  • Homophobic (the text seems strongly heteronormative, erases gay people, depicts them as bad)
  • Misogynist (women are not really present in the text except as example of male existence)
  • Too binary/sexist (uses strict gender stereotypes to discuss actions of the past, does not allow people to depict themselves, puts them in gender boxes that don’t fit.)
  • Racist (a group of people are seen as magical or lowly in comparison to Western ideas of Whiteness. Consistently dehumanized and seen through both popular and subtle stereotypes)

Then the text is problematic and not worth reading or if you still would like to read, be sure to be as hypercritical as possible so you don’t mistaken bigotry for distributed fact.

However, a text is not bigoted if it talks in earnest about what happens to oppressed groups. If the text talks about how women are abused and in what ways, it’s not inherently misogynistic since that is the reality for women throughout the ages (it’s why Feminism/Womanism exists, after all). It is only seen as problematic when the women are framed as mainly objects that are acted upon and that’s it, the text doesn’t talk about women as people, reference women scholars, spotlight important women activists/leaders at the time, or use texts and quotes said/written by women in addition to men or in greater amount than men. If women are absent except as cold research subjects, the material is possibly biased because mainly men are doing the talking and that’s problematic.

Same with other oppressed groups. Even in metaphysics, there are still people involved. And people are still people, even if they don’t have the privilege to be seen or depicted as such.

Also, if a person tries to make up a new word that just sounds new agey or is a clear attempt to replace an already established thought and ideas (such as energy manipulation, chakras, meditation, etc). It’s probably not accurate or worth looking at unless you want to conduct a popcorn gallery.

And finally, if they want your money and say that they have the power of the universe, all here in a book or a downloadable file, that person is a phony, a fraud and a fake. Bar none. If it was that important to humankind, it wouldn’t be so restricted.

That’s all for this week! And since it is October, that means the start of Samhain Pickers! The rules are simple: Submit your entry to me via email (thisblackwitch[at]hotmail.com**). Make sure you have “Samhain Pickers” in the subject of the email. Winners will be picked on Samhain/Halloween to get a free divination reading from me! Make sure to include this information in the body of the email:

  • Name:
  • Email:
  • Type of Divination (dream interpretation, tarot, cartomancy, natal chart):

And the Samhain Ustream Chat is on, yep, Halloween/Samhain. It will be at 9 PM EST. Be there!

Also, did you remember to click “get notifications” on the Black Witch Fan Page? Do so enable to stay up to date with new Black Witch happenings on Facebook.

keep up with BW on FB

* Since White folks magically become illiterate and their comprehension skills drops straight to “severely mentally challenged” when it comes to these things, I’m going to say it again: I’m not part of any African Pagan tradition. I’m fairly general with my faith, I’m not strictly part of any African Pagan tradition.

**Written out in a fashion so bots don’t stuff my inbox. It’s aggravating.

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