Category: Resources & Information


I decided to pass on posting The Arts! today for this teeny saga. Let’s start from the top:

A person on Tumblr, Child-Priestess (now changed to “Boy-Priest” since our convo) asked me to look at a site called “Blacks for Satan” – despite the fact that:

A) I’m not a Satanist

B ) The vast majority of Satanists I have ever met, I never liked. I have only met one (1) that was agreeable. That dude is the walking definition of “outlier” and “anomaly”.

C) Again, I’m not Satanist, I’m Pagan. They’re not the same. One is related to Christianity and the other existed way before Christianity (that would be Paganism who existed before Christianity, for the stupid ones who can’t follow.)

The site looked pretty terrible and full of hatred. Like, for a site that is “supposed” to be for Black people, it sounds penned by a White person from all the vitrol spat at Jewish folks. This isn’t to say that Black and Jewish communities don’t have rifts but it’s not “Holocaust denying” levels. Black people tend to not side with Nazis since they murdered us as well in the Holocaust. All a Nazi is to the eyes of a Black American is just a German-flavored Klanner. Same M.O., different place and language.

Originally, I wrote in the first draft, “Here are some screenshots, because I’m not linking this site. If anything, it needs to be taken down because it feeds into hateful beliefs which, in turn, inspire people like Dylan Roof or Rodger Elliot to commit mass murder.”

I got the sites taken down, three of them. More on that later. But here are the screenshots taken because I need to really go into why this site is super abhorrent. (And why site server, Lycos, shouldn’t have dragged their feet to take action.)

Wait, before I do, let’s look at this site called the “Dangerous Speech Project“. It explains how vitriolic words eventually become vitriolic actions.

Be sure to watch the vid, references to it will show up later and throughout.

But let’s begin with the hate sites and why they are perceived as such.

Let’s Start!

The website seems to not really talk about “What is Satanism” or anything, just “These are the people we hate.” Though Anton LaVey is a total joke to me, the site should have mentioned him at some point since he kicked off Satanism.

“Foundation”, eh?

This is a diamond point if you ever have to wonder if you’re running a hate site: if you have to pen “is [site] racist?” to defend yourself from the start, you probably are. By the way, the “Joy” site they are mentioning is pretty much the same as you see here, eye-bleeding layout and all.

There is a lot of misinformation on this site, especially in this blurb

The stupid, it burns

I think just about every Satanist I have ever met always had a nasty bone to pick with Christianity but couldn’t think outside of the rigors of it. This site is no different, but it can’t tell the difference between Satanism and Paganism because, if you go by (very incorrect) Christian rhetoric, there is no difference. This is due to the Christian gaze, where every religion that is not Christianity is demonic, therefore Satanic. This erroneous belief tends to come from the same people who think that Catholicism is a separate religion from Christianity when really it is an incredibly obvious denomination of Christianity.

Satan was never a deity, not even in Christian rhetoric. Angel, yes, deity, no. Angels tend to blindly obey God, angels that didn’t were considered “fallen”. Lucifer happened to be one of them. Still not a god, though.

Pagan deities were never demons, every one of them. Yes, there were deities for good and bad but that’s because nature has both good and bad and neither side is absolute. Then you have the fact there are thousands of these varied deities from countless cultures, it is both erroneous and insulting to just call them daemons/demons. Which is a really Christian thing to do. For one, it puts the Pagan deities at a lower status because godhood is not recognized. For two, the gods are there to do their own thing, not guide humankind – there are countless mythologies out there where the story basically boils down to “a deity got bored/annoyed/whatever and decided to play kickball with mortal lives for the lolz.” Entities are more inclined to work with humans but even then, it’s not in a servitude way. You gotta do something to get the help and the second you rip them off, things get pretty crappy. And somehow the backblown attempted scammer finds their way into my inbox, demanding spellwork like I’m a candy machine.

This version of “Satan is god” thing sounds very LaVey on the surface, but really, it’s a blurb that preys on the weak and vulnerable-minded, those who feel pushed around and want power but don’t know how to obtain it. That’s a problem. Fear is a very strong motivator because fear creates want from insecurity. Insecure want creates a hole that craves to be filled and if the person doesn’t care how it’s done, that can walk them down a pretty destructive path. That seems to be what this whole site is pitching.

The parts that are really troublesome are the links. Here’s a snapshot:

Yikes – Exhibit A

Yikes – Exhibit B

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So much Yikes. All the Yikes

And there’s more I didn’t screen grab: “The Lie of Christianity and Islam”, “The One True Enemy” and most alarmingly “Blacks and the Jews” (wait a minute – anti-Black content on a site supposedly for Black people to brew anti-semitism? How unsurprising). Anything that “exposes lies” about some random religion – especially religions that commonly are misconstrued, such as Islam and Judaism – it’s a dog-whistle approach to scapegoat.

Now, I mentioned Dangerous Speech a bit, as a snippet/reminder, here is “what is Dangerous Speech”, pulled from the site:

Any form of expression (e.g. speech, text, or images) that can increase the risk that its audience will condone or commit violence against members of another group.

Importantly, the definition refers to increasing the risk of violence, not causing it.

In the Dangerous Speech Project guide, it outlines how dangerous ideas such as hatred towards historically marginalized people can go from web space to actual spaces.

They outline the five ways this works, all cited in brief from Dangerous Speech Project:

Dehumanization: By describing other groups of people as something other than human, or less than human, speakers can persuade their audiences to deny other people some of the moral consideration they give to those who are “fully” human (Leader Maynard and Benesch, 2016, pp. 80-81). Dehumanizing targets prepares audiences to condone or commit violence, by making their targets’ death and suffering seem less significant, or even by making it seem useful or necessary

Accusation in a Mirror: The term comes from an anonymous manual for propaganda and recruitment found in Butare, Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. The document advises attributing to one’s enemies the very acts of violence the speaker hopes to commit against them. “In this way,” the author writes, “the party which is using terror will accuse the enemy of using terror” …. To believe that you, your family, your group, or even your culture faces an existential threat from another group makes violence to fend off that threat seem not only acceptable (as dehumanization does), but necessary. …. In Nazi Germany, for example, anti-Semitic propaganda repeatedly and relentlessly accused Jewish people of hatching a Mordplot (murderous plan) to eliminate all non-Jews (Streicher, 1934, p. 1). This assertion was especially preposterous since the Jews had no military or guerrilla force at all, yet it was apparently convincing.

Threat to Group Integrity or Purity: By portraying members of the target group as a threat to the audience group, this type of message reinforces fear. Moreover, these messages indirectly (and sometimes directly) instruct people to rid their group of the supposed contaminant, to preserve the health of their own group.

Assertion of Attack Against Women and Girls: Related to the previous hallmark is the suggestion that women or girls of the in-group have been or will be threatened, harassed, or defiled by members of an out-group. In many cases, the purity of women symbolizes the purity, identity, or way of life of the group itself…[I]t is difficult to ignore a warning of violence against members of a group who are traditionally viewed as vulnerable and needing protection. For most societies, this includes children (especially girls) and women; almost universally, men are instructed to protect women and children at all costs, up to and including killing an attacker.

(BW Note: Good ol’ racist strawman “feminism”, about as authentic as the concerns bigots actually have about women and girls – not at all)

Questioning In-Group Loyalty: Though Dangerous Speech usually describes members of the out-group or target group, some of it never mentions them, instead characterizing members of the in-group as insufficiently loyal, or even traitorous, for being sympathetic to the out-group.

Under all the links I mentioned, they all put sole blame on Jewish people. If it isn’t Jewish people, it’s Muslim people. Also, a thought struck me – a lot of Black folks are Muslim and Islam has benefited Black culture and identity several times in our history from politics to music. It’s deep-rooted, why did the webmaster think the average Black person is going to just super willingly walk that away? But they’re not looking for the average, they want the unhappy and downtrodden.

And here is this doozy:

My reaction:

Not gonna lie, I legit blue-screened when I saw that

That’s a problem. A major problem. Like, “Nazi Detected” problem. There is so much falsehood here I almost don’t know where to begin. Let’s try from the top and work our way down.

Christianity and Islam are not “evil” and “horrific” and they certainly are not “programs”. Yes, bad things happen in the name of these religions but it’s usually because some guy wants power and will twist the words of a holy text a la Man-behind-the-Curtain/Wizard of Oz style to get it. The same religion that gave the world Hitler also gave us Dr. Martin Luther King. The same religion that gave the world Osama bin Ladin also gave us Malcolm X. It’s not the religion that is the problem, it’s how it is used by people with power. To destroy or to help. And they’re religions, not “programs”. To call them “programs” implies that these religions are not real, it’s all a clever ruse. Here’s the thing: if they are “programs”, so is this site’s Satanism. Satanism is connected to Christianity so if Christianity is a fabricated program, then Satanism is a fabricated program, too. Otherwise, the logic would fall apart. I may have negative feelings about Satanism but I’m not going to start calling it fake. However, this site low-key did in a roundabout way. Religions aren’t programs, everyone.

Jewish people are the enemies of no one. They don’t hurt others. As a lot, they’re relatively decent. This whole, “Jewish people are eeeeeevil” is really getting old, it’s wrong to paint with a really wide brush like that. Are there bad Jewish people? Yes, because being a bad person is a pretty general trait. There are good ones as well – because it is a general human trait. You’re going to find bad and good people in every religion, that’s a fact of life, whether you like it or not. And how it is obvious this is Christian-based anti-semitism? They use the same tired lines of “they wanna take the world’s money, they wanna take over the world, etc etc”. Jewish people are not trying to become God, heck, they censor the name of God for the same reason Muslims do not portray the face of Allah: because they consider themselves under the purview of God, not on the same level. It is an act of showing respect to their divine creator and to not upset said divine creator. Duh.

The rest of that site is complete bull – and gone – so let’s jump to the next part.

Remember when I said in the beginning that I was pitched this site by Child-Priestess/Boy-Priest on Tumblr?

I tried to talk with the person and that went over pretty poorly. I’m not going to showcase the whole convo but there are some very glaring parts that I would like to talk about.

Blurred out the link, but I also notified the website’s abuse team about it. That’s ongoing.

Yeaaaaaaaah, this is considered minimizing, as if A) What they preach does not induce deadly real world actions and B ) as if it is just … venting? Here’s the thing: content like this is how you get mass murderers like Dylan Roof (hated Black people thanks to bunk he read on the internet) and Elliot Rodgers (hated women and minorities (including himself, who is biracial) thanks to bunk he read on the internet). Then there is the synagogue mass shooting in Pittsburgh, PA that happened in October 2018, six months ago. That left eleven dead and many more wounded. This guy was posting Anti-Jewish dribble on the internet and then went, “Gonna do the thing.” And if he was posting it, you bet he was definitely reading it. Oh, and let’s add the recent New Zealand mosque mass shooting. How did he get radicalized? Reading bunk like this on the internet. The dude even referenced American hate politics in his manifesto, he’s Australian.

How this type of speech works is that they just about never explicitly say “kill/murder this group of people” but they heavily imply it from saying things that carry the emphasis of “wouldn’t be nicer if [this group] wasn’t around?” That’s a problem.

There is an article online titled “The Online Radicalization We’re Not Talking About” where it discusses the ongoing instances of extremist radicalization in the Western world of White supremacist beliefs. The article hits on some very good points but my disagreement:

It’s been talked about for decades. White Supremacist extremism has long been a topic … in PoC/non-White spaces. From Nazis to the Klan to beyond and prior, it’s been a discussion topic. Just because you willingly had your head in the sand, doesn’t mean everyone else did. If anything, it’s like purchasing a bomb because it had pretty colors and everyone said “it’s a bomb!” but you waved it off with “Oh, everyone is so sensitive. It’s called decor,” and became awestruck when it exploded. Because you bought a bomb.

That aside, again, the article hits on some salient points, even though it is a bit clonky at times – the article referenced “NEET”, which is a Japanese concept. Japan doesn’t have mass shootings from NEETs, these mass shootings are a Western issue. Either way, it does point out how this stuff is pervasive:

These disillusioned men are perfect targets for radicalization, and it’s a surprisingly short leap from rejecting political correctness to blaming women, immigrants, or Muslims for their problems.

It appears here that Boy-Priest is under radicalization and thus spreading stuff that they think is true. They feel disenfranchised so this is what they think is apt.

They’re not White, they say they are biracial and that somehow, Nazis were/are cool with that. That history is way off kilter, but guess what? It is all learned from these sites and displayed as truth. Despite the fact that it’s not true or incredibly slanted, this kid (and many others) ate it up anyways. If anyone thinks Nazis were okay with people of different backgrounds if it was under the same cause, here’s some real history: Japanese soldiers were also sent to the camps if caught behind German war lines, tattooed with numbers and all – by the way, Japan was one of the nations tag-teaming with Germany during World War II. It’s really saying something when you yink your own allies because you’re that dedicated to nationalism. I’m no military strategist but you probably shouldn’t kill off your allies, at the bare minimum.

So, when I took down the first site “Blacks for Satan”, that took a phone call to the server host. I still remember telling the dude the web site name and how he remarked, “Welp, sounds like we’re off to a bad start.” He looked it over while I was on the phone and said, “Let’s get this trash off the internet.” And lo, it was done.

*cackles*

And I told Boy-Priest so:

Boy-Priest was not too happy about this and even told me that the webmaster was a Black woman – which I don’t care about. If you’re preaching the same hateful stuff I hear from White folks, we’re not on the same team. Not all my skinfolk is my kinfolk and that definitely applies in this situation. Besides, I piss off bigots pretty regularly, what’s one more to add to the pile?

Boy-Priest then started giving me all these links as a show of “ha, we’re still around.” Everyone, that was a bad idea, because it saved me so much time for curating. Like, I didn’t even know about the “Blacks for Satan” site until they showed me and then I got it shut down because of what I saw. Thanks for the assist?

Like, I said, I’m not posting the whole convo (the kid didn’t piss me off that bad, they’re just brainwashed) but here is how it ended before they blocked me and changed their name from “Child-Priestess” to “Boy-Priest”

Yah, not surprised

Exit Boy-Priest, Enter Lycos, because they actually tried to defend this drivel.

A little backstory about Lycos: they are a former internet giant, older than Google, I think. I remember when they first started and they were where you went to for lyrics, web searching, and music. Their logo is a black dog, a reference to the RCA dog, I believe. Their downfall is probably what Google and Facebook listens to when they want to hear a scary story. Now, Lycos is down to a teeny staff and owned by Korean company Daum/Kakao (which surprised me – I use Kakao, they have great games.) Though small again, this still is no excuse for their behavior.

It took me three weeks just about to shut down all three sites, the Lycos/Angelfire sites being hardest. I sent an email to Lycos Support and Lycos Abuse on Feb 24. I think they never check the Abuse inbox because no one got back to me, despite the fact the auto email said I would hear from someone in “24 to 48 hours”. Never happened. I sent another email to Support stating that I’m being ignored on March 5. In less than a day, I got this response from Lycos:

O rly?

My reply:

 

And I proceeded doing exactly that, including citing their ToS, which says:

Plainly says so on their site. Also, nothing in the ToS states the rules don’t apply if you’re a paid member. Their lawyers should probably check that.

It was about several pages of quotes and links I pulled from the sites, as well as remarks of my own. I ended it with:

This is just a smattering. If I get another “Eh, this doesn’t break the rules”, I’m just going to send even more of this to you guys…. Also, if this doesn’t count as “hate content”, what does? I’d like to know (heck, you can have one of the lawyers explain it to me) so I can point it out on these sites exactly.

And I got ignored by Lycos, again. I contacted on Twitter, nothing. Contacted on Facebook, nothing.

Then the New Zealand mass shooting happened. I saw the news and then I sent the same lengthy email again – this time emailing every single department Lycos had, from Abuse to Legal to Media to Permissions. I even included departments who have no part whatsoever in website content. If you worked at Lycos, you were getting this email.

On March 18, I got this email:

Sick Backpedal, Lycos!

Either way, the sites are down thanks to Lycos unbelievably shabby and obstinate team:

Isn’t there a saying about houses without foundations can’t stand?

Oh, and it didn’t take “A moment”, it took several days and several tries for Lycos to actually apply their Terms of Service as appropriate.

It blows my mind genuinely when companies, businesses, universities and jobs side with very problematic people. No one is perfect, sure, but there is a difference between someone who makes mistakes and someone who is just awful. Just like there is a difference between “We genuinely didn’t know” and “We genuinely didn’t care”. The latter of both cause more headaches, lawsuits and problems than fixes. Because enabling doesn’t make problematic people less harmful, it gives them a pass. Many websites wouldn’t have to go “Is the news gonna mention us?” every mass shooting if they handled the problem like a problem. These sites radicalize folks (usually White, usually male folk – which is partly why the problem is not effectively addressed) into committing grand atrocities. These sites infect minds with blatant hate as salves for their personal problems. It turns harmless individuals into living threats.

And that’s a problem.

I feel like revisiting an old topic I think is important: Safe sex.

In Paganism, we’re pretty flexible about our standards – we don’t have any “don’t be [orientation]” rules or really any “must be virginal before wedding day (esp. for the girl because misogyny)” type things. Granted, there are countless denominations and forms of Paganism so your mileage may vary but in terms of averages, we’re not as doom and gloom about it. You’re not a terrible person if you’ve had sex, you’re not a terrible person (or a malformed person) if you haven’t had sex or don’t want to. You’re just a regular person.

That said, modern Paganism is very heavy on consent. Unfortunately, a lot of deities have dozens and dozens of stories about them not doing that – that, however, doesn’t give anyone justification or reason to go around like Zeus did. Not at all. Because for every deity that did engage in non-consent, there was always another deity or entity to be vicious about correcting such behavior, even more so to mortals who engaged in the same behavior. Also, please keep in mind that a lot of mythos stories that were kept and passed around more often were created by guys. Just like how there is gender bias in the Bible (using for example), there’s gender bias in various deity stories around the world, especially if they don’t or didn’t have a balanced society. It’s unbalanced perspective that makes entities like Medusa look like an evil villain instead of a rape victim trying to protect herself and deal with the trauma.

For those who go, “what is consent?”, it is pretty simple in the scope of this post: You’re looking for a jubilant “yes”, not trying to bend a hesitant “no”.

Here’s the thing, if the person:

  • Says some version of “no” outright
  • Only says “yes” after much prodding and begging from you
  • Is simply hesitant, reluctant to say “yes” (even if they haven’t said “no”)
  • Not capable of even saying yes or no (i.e. fast asleep or unconscious)

Then it’s a plain “no”. Yes, getting a “no” sucks aplenty but if you wanted your “no” to be respected, ditto with them. Besides, I’m a big fan of folks standing their ground on this subject because a “no” is not a “convince/persuade me”. If you still go ahead without their consent, it’s automatically considered rape/sexual assault.

If someone wants to sleep with you consentually, they’re not going to be indirect about it. Very not.

While on the subject of consent and suches: if you’re an adult and the person who you want to consent/is consenting is not an adult – they’re too young, bro. Don’t pull an R. Kelly, find someone else. If you have difficulty abstaining, talk to a therapist. Or a cop (preferably, the FBI).

If you’re a young person (as in 19 and under), just know that you don’t have to be sexually active by the time you hit college, you don’t have to be gaga over sex (I certainly wasn’t at that age) and if you want to wait for when you are emotionally ready, do so. Also, don’t look at pornography for sex ed or what sex is supposed to be like. Just don’t. It isn’t accurate, at all. Try the webcomic Oh Joy Sex Toy, they have a great section on sex ed that is accurate.

If you’re not a young person, just know that, again, you don’t have to be sexually active if that’s not your thing. Also, for the love of the gods, porn is not accurate. Read Oh Joy Sex Toy.

And here’s another thing about consent: you can opt out of sex in the middle of sex. If there is an act you don’t want to do (i.e.: not your kink, just not up for it, gotta go to work soon, etc), you can say you don’t want to do it. If the partner complains that it will cause them strife for you to stop (guys may complain about “blue balls”, which is pretty over-exaggerated), tell them to walk it off. It’s uncomfortable, not fatal or disabling. You won’t return to find a dead body. If so, just chalk it up to Darwinism and say so at their funeral.

Sex should be an equal agreement, not a fight. If you have to struggle to get it, it’s better to back off and work on yourself. No one owes you sex, whatsoever. That’s not how it works. You could save their life, their grades, their pet, whatever, and they still don’t owe you that.

All that out of the way, let’s talk about safe sex and contraception.

I will always suggest Bedsider for all go-to info about contraception, they’re the most comprehensive and thorough site I have ever found on the subject. They can even filter each method under different needs (such as “party ready”, “hormone free”, “sti prevention” and “easy to hide”.) They also have useful articles about relationships, consent and sex. If you’re interested in any method that you find (they have things for all genders), the site can help find a health provider or inform you if it is over the counter/available in a regular store.

Some contraception methods, like condoms, are available in a store and online. Do not try to fashion your own, just get some. You can visit a local hospital, college health center, planned parenthood or local health clinic to get free condoms, no questions asked (some of these locations will also provide free STD/STI testing). I recommend CondomDepot because they are really, really discreet (Amazon is not and if you’re on a family account, you may be screwed – and not in a good way) and everything is user tested on the website so you’re getting actual feedback and reviews. They also have a “Learn”  section that includes a buying guide, a how-to sub section and informative articles. They sell all things condoms and other, related items.

If you used contraception and if failed, your best bet is to get an after-morning pill or consider abortion if longer than a week. Though the “after morning pill” is called such, it can be up to five days later. Bedsider has a great article on it, as well as how to get it.  Some, such as Plan B, are available in regular stores, no prescription needed.

As for abortions, those vary state to state in America. Bedsider has a plain, informative write up about abortion, the various methods of it, myths about it and where to get it. It’s okay to not be ready for parenthood – that’s why you were using contraception in the first place, right? It’s much better to have the kid when you’re actually ready. Otherwise, you could bring down the child’s quality of health and happiness vastly because of fiscal, emotional or life instability. A parent has to be dependable and that takes forethought. That and no one really relishes in being told they were an “accident” or a “mistake”. Yes, pro-lifers – especially Christian ones – will tell you you’re murdering the child and suches but let’s face facts: unless they will provide you all the things you lack so the child has as buoyant a life as possible, it’s better to ignore them. Especially if they support things like war or the military (what do you think is the primary job of a soldier?) because they don’t really support life, they just want to control women out of misogyny thinly veiled by religious belief. They stop caring once the baby is born, especially if the baby is not White. It’s amazing how fast the kiddo goes from “precious miracle” to “possible threat” when they’re Black and born. And let’s not even start on abuse statistics or things of that nature. You don’t have to be a parent immediately, be a parent when you’re ready.

And that’s all for this week, folks!

 

Late as heck but ABW is here, yay!

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

– Jonte

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Best,
Helen

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

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

 

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

– Unknown 2.0

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

 

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

-Trista N

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

 

Hello,

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

– Corie

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

 

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

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

[Link redacted]

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

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

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

Kind regards,
Abigail Rabi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

– Lovestruck and Silly

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

National Human Rights Commission, India

National Commission for Women, India

Love Commandos

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

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

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

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

Now, back to the book.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

IMG_20181101_124640.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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:

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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.

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