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Cherry Picked Politics

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Recently went to a Pagan space in Baltimore for solstice and they had a new sign on the door: “Leave your politics in the car”. Also known as “how you know you’re surrounded by White people”. This is mainly why I don’t really engage with the rituals there. I just chill inside with the air conditioner and work on Black Witch stuff and listen through the window. That and because they sometimes film their rituals and I’m not showing up so some moron can point to me on film and say “see, we’re diverse!” They’re not. Not interested in being the token, I just have one favorite person there and that’s pretty much why I show up. And free food. Basically, come for the favorite person, stay for the free food.

Choosing politics is moreso a sign of privilege than not. Usually it’s not really all politics, because then people would be stuck with talking strictly about the weather – wait, no, global warming is considered political as well. Ok, so basically nothing – Either way! There are some politics that are very, very okay, just not the ones that tend to make those with privilege emo.

The thing about saying “leave your politics at the door” is that this is pretty coded. Since it is at a Pagan spot and it is a extraordinarily White place, it’s pretty obvious which politics are gonna fly and which aren’t. And what started this “politics-free zone” thinking was because they made some major missteps with their last rituals in regards to race and general politics. Stuff like summoning Sacagawea and Harriet Tubman to share the same space with slaver Thomas Jefferson at recent rituals, among other things.

Usually in White Pagan circles, they kind of work almost in the same vein of White feminism: it’s a problem when it directly affects them, and when it doesn’t, it’s a “distraction” and an act of “being divisive”. Doesn’t help that most of mainstream White Paganism is pretty much ran by and loaded to the gills with White women so it’s no surprise that it would have the same gaze as White feminism. This creates cherry picking politics.

It’s “cherry picking” because, frankly, everything can be seen as political. A trans person trying to go to the bathroom is seen as political because transphobia and gender politics. A Black person wearing their hair in its natural state is seen as political because of anti-blackness and race politics. These are really simple acts, using the bathroom and picking a hair style. However, enough people get up in arms about it, it gets framed as “political” because all politics is, is debating human-involved issues. From whether we should chop down all the forests in the world to if it’s wrong to have a fur coat, these are issues that involve humans somehow and thus can fall under the banner of “politics”. Doesn’t make it a bad thing, just simply what it is.

This means that talking about merely being Pagan is also political because religious freedom – something that isn’t considered taboo in the Pagan group…because it’s a Pagan group. They’re also okay with basic feminism because this is a group ran by primarily women, which is also politics – gender politics. They also don’t try to separate the trans people from the rest of the group because according to their politics, that’s not cool. So, they don’t mind politics, as long as it blends with their politics. This is not an act of “leaving politics at the door”, it’s simply agreeing to abide by an already established set of politics, regardless how lopsided or prejudiced they are. This is cherry picking the politics. Some are okay (“support basic feminism, don’t be a jerk to trans people”), some are not (“don’t bring up racism in a way White folks feel bad and non-saviorist, don’t acknowledge that the “feminism” they subscribe to is blanche neige White feminism”). All of this is bullsh*t.

Usually I hear the, “I don’t like politics” chant mainly from White folks who simply don’t like the fact that their privilege may not be seen in a good light and for really strong, deeply historically grounded reasons. They don’t mind whinging about Trump (despite voting for him), fussing about how they can’t believe prejudice still exists (despite constantly enforcing it in both de jure and de facto ways), and how they love different cultures (as long as the people attached to them are preferably silent and invisible). However, start bringing up where their thinking is wayward and, all of a sudden, they have declared this area a “politics free zone”. Because your politics may not match up with theirs and that might cause thinking, which will induce bad feelz. Won’t someone plz think of the White feelz?!

Thing is, if someone is bringing up why what another person or group did is prejudiced out of it affecting them personally, it’s not “politics” to that someone. That’s their life. If a Black person is saying “Hey, these police murders aren’t cool. Summoning abolitionists and indigenous explorers with exploitative slave traders is also not cool,” that’s because race and historical identity is not an armchair topic for them. It’s not a fun topic to chat about with others until their coffee is done, it’s their life. It’s a cop out to respond with “Well, I think you’re getting political about this, I don’t wanna talk about it. [Despite the fact I knew that race was political and did it anyway]” And expecting that person to abide by those lopsided rules is also an act of prejudice in and of itself because the person with the privilege in the situation is trying to determine the rules of engagement to spare their feelings over another person’s experience.

If things only got “political” when the topic stopped being “oppressor/privilege friendly”, then what the person doesn’t want is for things to stop being “political” suddenly – they just want a free pass to be as much of an ignorant jerk as much they want and with no one to argue with them. Which isn’t how the real world works, not even in modern Paganism. By trying to subtly cherry pick what is ok and what is not, it just shows a cranberry bog of problems.

Oils and Magick

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I’m getting into more oil-based spellwork and candle work recently. I don’t really know why, I just am gravitating more to using oils in my practice extensively. Mainly in the form of using oil burners, which I’m currently in the market to look for. And I rather buy them from Pagan business since this is for Pagan work. I don’t want to use incense much anymore because while incense makes for wonderful makeshift wands that are hyper-specialized for spell work, regardless of what the spell is for, I just am sizzled out with them. That and there’s the smoke and ash issue, where I just am simply not a fan of it. Especially if I get incense that are a less purer quality than I thought I purchased. I still don’t mind having small sticks around if I need to quickly awash something in smoke but that’s pretty much it. And I rarely do that, at that.

I’ve been looking for proper oil burners, primarily from Pagan stores before going to more general purpose locations. I generally look in places such as Gryphon Moon, and search for other shops like Eclectic Artisans before going for general shops because I want to buy from Pagan business for the simple fact that I’m Pagan and the purpose of the item I’m getting is for a Pagan practice. It’s not that I think the burner will be more infused with more magickal energies than if I got it from some faceless entity on Amazon, it’s simply an economic choice. It’s no different from the reason why I buy only Black-owned hair products.

So far, I just been doing the rudimentary method of simply drawing the oil on the side of the pillar candle, two lines going towards the center for invoking, two lines going away from the center for evoking. Very basic, simple to do. I simply would like to combine whatever oils I have, or purchase oil combinations from trusted Pagan sellers, such as dragon’s blood oil and rose oil, throw it in the oil bowl, stick a candle underneath and call it a day. I always like to keep my rituals super, super simple and quick to do. This also means I can create whatever combinations I want and store them for whatever future use. Not to mention, I also like to easily put them out of the way when I’m done the ritual (unless I am doing one with a meditative bit in it, where I meditate until the oil/candle/incense runs out – which I need to get back into doing). I don’t mind drawing over the candle with oil but I also have to clean the candle holder out when the oil runs or worry the sigil/design is going to bleed together. I don’t mind making a special oil concoction, take some flash paper, write whatever I need to on it, infuse with a dip in the oil and put it on the candle with tweezers. This is very simplistic for me and I like simplistic.

Also, since we’re on the subject of oils, here are some must-knows:

Tweezers are awesome, not fingers: Please use tweezers, flash paper (especially oil soaked flash paper) will go up quickly. Do not use your fingers! It may break the “ooh, oh so magickal” feel of the ritual but it’s a lot better than getting 1st/2nd degree burns or trying to drop the flash paper accurately into the flame. The deities will not protect you from your own stupidity.

Burn only pure essential oil, nothing with carrier oils: You will quickly regret this if you burn oils that have carrier oils in them (jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, etc). The point of a carrier oil is that they are supposed to dilute the oil to make it safer to wear on the body. They smell absolutely awful if you burn them. If the oil is not pure essential oil, you’re going to be able to see it, smell it and it won’t smell very good. A great book to have is The Idiot’s Guide to Spells and Potions and, of course, Lauren Manoy’s Where to Park Your Broomstick, she has a fantastic section on burning oils.

Fire safety is good: Working with heating oil is great for spell work but oil has a flash point where it goes from liquid oil to raging inferno (ditto with candles that have too much stuff in its wax pool). Please have sand or baking soda – NOT Water – to extinguish the flame safely. Water and oil does not mix, water will make the oil (and the flame that exists on the oil) spread. Same thing if you blow on the conflagration. It will become a bigger mess because of basic fire chemistry. If you are the freak-out type, have a bag of sand or box of baking soda beside you so you can quickly dumpy the mass on the flame while you’re having a “Fire! Fire!” flailing session. If you’re the cool, calm, collected type (also known as the “firebug with experience” type), still have the sand or baking soda with you. Pour on flame and you’re done. You can also smother the flame using big enough cookware but sand/baking soda is very small and compact to carry with you.

Do not apply pure essential oil to body, always dilute: Essential oils can irritate the skin if applied by themselves. Some essential oils can’t ever be applied to skin. Always check if it is ok. Do not believe the extremely harmful myth of “everything in nature is good for you” because that’s not true – Hurricanes exist, hemlock exist, volcano exists. Nature is chaotic, some parts are good, some parts are not. Some oils are dangerous to wear, don’t do it and risk poisoning yourself. Wear an oil diffuser locket instead.

Do not drink essential oils: If essential oils can cause problems on the external parts of your body, they definitely will wreak havoc on your innards. Learn to get better with teas if you want to drink your concoctions.

Don’t have animals around or have them secured: Yes, there are familiars but this is not Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, your cat/dog/ferret/hamster/gecko/chinchilla will not calmly and idly sit by your side as you do spellwork. They will run around, knock things over, get into stuff and create a great fire risk. If you do not want to flambe your pet accidentally, keep them out of the room. You can hold them but keep a good hand on them and extinguish the flame if you’re about to let them go so, again, you don’t accidentally flambe your pet.

Store oils in dark bottles and at room temperature: Amber bottles, cobalt bottles, these are great for storing oils and preventing them from going rancid. Keep oils at room temperature, do not keep them in very hot or cold places.

If you burn yourself: Get an actual burn ointment, do not put butter on burns. That soothes nothing and can cause infection. You are a person, not a biscuit. At least have vaseline or pure aloe handy (if you have both, make a mixture!) but get a small packet of burn ointment.

Ok, moving on.

Oil work in magick is really great for me, I never really done it a lot because oil upkeep can suck when you have a crowded apartment or worse, you still live with your family that didn’t know you were Pagan and, thus, have to be stealth about it. If a bottle breaks or leaks, that’s most likely all your amount for whatever scent oil it was. Also, pure oil can be pricey because of the process that exist to make such oils. There’s so many reasons why having oils about can be annoying and a bit high maintenance. However, if there’s a spot to hold the oils and keep them contained properly, without risk of breaking or being in sunlight, it’s really a nice thing to have.

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It’s officially time for Ask Black Witch! Readers send me questions and I answer them. Good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated. Let’s start.

Can you turn me into a werewolf like a shape shifter
– Shannancope

Any regular reader knows that this is what I consider a bad question and why:

A ) I don’t do pay for pray (paid spellwork)
B ) I’m a witch, not a genie
C ) I’m not a spellwork vending machine and find anyone who treats me like that, despite the fact I constantly express the two previous points, very annoying and idiotic.

Is it possible to do a spell to turn back time, and redo your decisions?
– Loma

Short answer: not really.

Long answer: In spellwork, magick and the occult, all things are very possible. Thing is, they require a metric f*ckton of skill, usually in high magick, not easy dealings for noobs and especially not for dabblers. Also, the Fates get begged alllllllll the time, this is definitely not for noobs.

Here’s the kit and kaboodle about going back and making decisions: they ripple into other decisions in ways the human mind (and definitely not the human heart, which is what drives the “Gotta go back, I totally f*cked that one up” feeling) can definitely not comprehend. The decision the person made could have been a bad choice on its face but who knows what the effect could branch out to be? Yes, divination can tell you quite a bit but no diviner on this planet is going to go over every minute detail. Also, what if the other choice would have created a bigger mess? And this is the choice that you know of, not of the smaller choices that you may not be aware of that could also affect this choice. Then there are situations where you’re simply going to be screwed one way or another, you’re just going to get the rusty, jagged dildo instead of the spiky one coated in salt instead because there is literally no “good option”. Decisions are tough, that’s fact. Even with magick, they don’t get easier.

I am also tempted to post the “If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time” song but that was made by R. Kelly so I’ll be sparing.

am I pregnant
– Elizabeth S.

My response to this obscenely short question was “Have you tried taking a pregnancy test?” Because, pregnancy tests do exist and are even available in dollar stores. You can even buy a slew of them and test yourself weekly, twice a day.

Her response:

I have talked to a south Africa psychic and she told me I was pregnant [but] I have black magic on me that’s why I am asking

Breh.

This literally tells me nothing. I think the part that blows me away is that usually I get people who do not interact with anyone from the occult always mentioning that they are cursed somehow by someone else. The chances of being actually cursed by an actual witch is very slim nowadays. If you’re visiting a psychic, you’re in this group. Besides, I have no idea what the “black magick” is or anything, not so much as an example. Also, while it’s nice she’s talking to a diviner, a doctor is better. I’m a witch and a womanist and I say: go to a doctor. Doctors definitely can tell you if you’re pregnant or not.

So can time. Thing is, pregnancy is a binary state – either you are or you aren’t. And that state will be defined certainly by at least the third month. So there’s waiting, or taking a bunch of pregnancy tests while you wait.

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Adafruit
I know I have featured Adafruit in the past but it’s always good to feature again, especially since I buy from her store regularly for tech needs. Especially since Radio Shack has closed down…right when I needed to buy more diodes and resistors for my personal projects – such as an automatic cat feeder and an automated snowglobe to help me sleep better.

While I usually prefer to go to an actual store for supplies, Adafruit has pretty much everything a techie person needs. In addition, this woman-owned online store also has how-to guides and easy-to-follow projects to teach coding, soldering and general electronics creating.

There are some pretty pricy bits and bobs on the site but if you’re learning arduino, there is the budget pack for $34.95. It’s bare bones but you can learn basic programming and circuitry.

If you want to solder things together, they’re available on the site, too. The cheapest soldering iron is this pen-like soldering iron for $22. The cheapest solder on the site is $5.95. You won’t need to use much for each project, especially beginner projects. Also, as a tip – get a solder sucker, the cheapest being $5 on adafruit. It’s okay to not get the soldering stuff first, especially if you’re learning programming and circuitry. If you’re at the point of soldering, you’re pretty much at the final stages of your project. Don’t spend money, solder or time on your first LED blink. It’s better to save for a project.

NationStates
Definitely have featured this pretty recently but I just got back into the game so I want to bring it up again.

NationStates is an online text-driven role playing game (rpg) where you run a fictional nation and make all the decisions for it. You can run a democratic nation, a socialist nation, an oppressive nation, whatever you want. And the decisions you make can create a ripple effect for your nation, even have its government reclassified.

You get four issues a day and they appear with two to five options, all acted out by an affected person of the issue. The options are very light-heartedly written, which is part of the fun of the game. If you ignore the game for too long, you’ll just have five total issues to answer before the “new issues” timer restarts.

The issues may play well with fantasy but they can definitely stem from real world events, such as the Flint water crisis, should police wear body cameras, and sustainable energy. Of course, there are light hearted issues such as your nationfolk fussing about being able to walk around nude, should the government invite ufos to visit and if there should be a national holiday dedicated to the act of whistling. You can bypass any issue and whatever you pick will either drop the tax rate of your nation or hike it. And the interesting part? It’s not clear cut of what will actually benefit the nation, tax wise. Or even for your nation’s civil rights or economy or political rights. Good ideas can quickly become disasters for your nation and bad ideas can become popular and well loved. I’ve selected solutions that I thought would help everyone and it just threw my nation into disarray. Just like in real life, it’s a difficult balance.

It’s been a fun experience to get back on NationStates proper, especially since I’m older now and also previously worked for the US government. I think I make more competent choices for the country I have, Dursto, which I run as a socialist nation because I’m a socialist, myself. My nation isn’t perfect (yay for making sleepy choices), but it’s something. Each choice you make changes how the country runs.

Try it for yourself! You can interact with other nations as well, forming alliances or starting wars. I just have my nation basically mind its business, I don’t visit other nations nor am I part of any alliances. I don’t bother other nations so I pretty much stay out of the way. Hooray!

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Last Ask Black Witch had a question from a person who said he was a witch of 17 years…and wanted a spell to bring back his cheating girlfriend. Part of my response was:

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.

Apparently, that wasn’t all! I got more from the dude after the post went up:

Breh.

Really?

Two things:

A) I seriously think this person has not spent even 17 months in Paganism, Witchcraft, nothing. Ethics gets covered in the first year, so there’s no excuses.

B) Even if the dude decided to forgo ethics over a broken heart this time, he still wouldn’t be begging someone else to handle his problem. He’d already know what to do.

Let’s talk love and ethics in magick because, holy crap, it’s a reoccurring topic. It’s amazing how folks think that because they’re not using guns and threats, it officially not abuse anymore so let’s start there.

What is Abuse?

There are various types of abuse (emotional, physical, sexual, verbal, etc) but abuse is basically the act of impinging on someone else’s free will for destructive means. Mundane examples of abuse:

– Restricting contact with others

– Treating person as if property, not as an individual

Gaslighting

This guy here is hurt that his ex-girlfriend (let’s face it, she’s gone), cheated and left…and given his “she’s mine” approach, it makes me wonder if it was actually a cheating. She could have simply have broken up with him and found someone new. It’s not uncommon for abusive significant others to see a clear-cut break up and moving on as “cheating” because, in their head, the person never left or broke up, they’re just playing about – but now they’re being “unfaithful” since there’s a new person involved.

There’s also the thing that this type of behavior doesn’t magically pop up during immense stress, such as a big break up. Oh, certainly, emotions can drive someone to act in ways that are odd to their regular personality but there are such things as red flags. There’s a difference between sobbing “don’t leave me!” on the floor (and via text…and on social media), and declaring “leave me and I’ll kill you and the dog!” The latter behavior shows a more abusive streak that was most likely present throughout the entire relationship (and probably the reason why the person left). This dude is showing the latter.

What points this out is, first, the dude is initially asking about how to get his “cheating” girlfriend back, as if I have a history of just giving out spells and for any request – which I don’t. Then there’s the fact I already suggested moving on and therapy to get over the break up, the dude still asks about spellwork. Being dismissive of the initial answer is not a good look if you don’t want to look like a controlling ex-boyfriend. Listening is a crucial skill in relationships – and when interacting with other humans.

Finally, there’s the phrase of “I’ve been trying to do this without hurting the other guy”.

Usually, I would say, “it’s possible to blame the significant other for straying because they knew they were in a relationship, a fact they could have consciously withheld from the person they were cheating with”, but here? Why put care into not hurting the other guy, which means the ex-girlfriend is 100% fair game? I mean, it takes two to cheat, the significant other and the person they’re cheating with. It sounds like the dude just wants the girlfriend back to simply punish her. Not work things out, just mete out punishment. Which is shifty.

There’s feeling hurt and angry, those are legit feelings, but this is not the route to go down. At all. This is no different if the dude walked into a gun shop and was trying out glocks, saying to the shop owner, “I don’t want to hurt the other guy, I just want my cheating girlfriend back.”

If she’s a cheating piece of sh*t, then just ditch her. Be angry but let her go. Take time to heal and work on yourself.

In general, this is part of why I don’t do pay for pray (paid spellwork), bother with love spells or anything of that nature. Add in human ego and things can go south ridiculously fast.

Ethics is a very boring topic in magick, certainly. It can take the fun out of the whole “Ooooh, I’m a witch!” thing. But it’s important, because it’s better to set the lines clearly before you mistakenly cross them. Ethics is important especially in topics such as love and war because, that’s where they’re most needed.

People make rash decisions. There are pages and pages of history that proves this. People, regardless of gender, are emotive. Incredibly emotive. “Long wars have been fought over small differences” emotive. This can be really, really bad for so many reasons if left unchecked, thus why ethics exist. Ethics are the defined rules a person should follow, regardless what their emotions dictate. No matter how it feels at the time, emotions are not always right. Emotions may feel right, during that moment, but ethics help give a fairly defined “what is right/what is wrong, what is good/what is bad” line to decide with.

This is why I mentioned “what about ethics?” because that should be a go-to. It’s why ethics exist. If you wind up dismissing the ethics, that can be a super downhill slide.

Black Witch turns 7 years old today. This is very nifty. Tiring and nifty. It’s been a long thing, frankly.

BW started because there was no content for Black Pagans at all back in 2010. The most anyone was going to find was White Pagans making columns and posts about race that were well meaning but super short-falling.

The column has changed obviously over time, I still talk about Black Pagan issues but I also added in gender and mental health because they’re just as important. That and they’re things that affect me, a Black Pagan person. That and there’s only but so many columns you can write about the meaning of stones and divination before it starts to sound rehashed and a total broken record.

Even if it has been seven years, I still feel like I’m learning how to blog and maintain digital content. For example, I used to do livestreaming via Ustream but that became too much of a headache, Ustream would delete videos after a set amount of time (unless you fork up cash) and I didn’t know. Then Facebook opened up the ability to livestream on fan pages, Facebook Live. Once that happened, I am able to live stream a little more than on BW anniversaries and Halloween. I mainly livestreamed bookbinding for journals being sold on the BW Shoppe. It’s not must-see-tv but I kind of didn’t want the ability to livestream sit around.

With the constant changing nature that is the internet and social media sites changing their ways of operations – from chronological posting to algorithms – it can be a bit tough to keep a readerbase. An example is how Facebook actively throttles organic reach in exchange for money. When you like a page, it generally means that you want to see the page’s content. Facebook doesn’t feel the same way. Facebook believes that unless the page you like has shelled out some money (I believe the smallest amount is $5/day), you really don’t need to see their content that badly. And if it isn’t clickbait or fake news, it’s not really going to be viral. And Facebook likes viral because viral = money for Facebook. Basically, if you like a page for kitten paws, unless “Kitten Jellybeans” has forked over any money to Facebook, you’re going to nearly never see them…but you’ll get plenty of clickbait and nonsense that you never wanted to see.

What I would like to see in the future for BW is to be more persistent with posting. While I feel like I haven’t missed nearly as many Fridays as I did in the past couple years, I can still do better. I want to be a lot more steady in posting.

I also would like to make for more reader interaction since there aren’t physical spaces where Black Pagans meet. I already have the Discord server so I’ll probably start there. Doing the livestreams seem to be not a bad option, either. I’ve tried to tweet more but it’s not the most fun of habits to learn. Unless I am going to write in other languages, I’m just too long winded for 140 characters.

I do sometimes wonder about creating a bigger pull but, frankly, I don’t want to start making crap content just for clicks and views. I mean, this is a Pagan site, I could easily start posting fake positivity, pop astrology, new age treatment and random spells that sound legit but only to idiots. This is a Black site, I could post only about police killings and echo whatever Shaun King and Cornel West says. These and more can boost my site’s visibility and notoriety (even start bringing in money), buuuuut I simply wouldn’t like anything. I don’t really read sites like these so I don’t want to mimic them.

Instead, I rather try to monetize the blog with Ko-Fi and the BW Shoppe. Speaking of the BW Shoppe, there will be a 50% discount with the coupon code: BWAnni17. Expires June 16, 2017.

So, BW is turning seven years old, huzzah. I’ll be doing a livestream about it on the FB page at 8 PM EST.

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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.

Blank journals have been added to the Black Witch Shoppe. All hand stitched and made to be durable.

These journals range between 80-120 pgs and are all unlined. Lined journals and music journals will be coming next in the upcoming weeks!

The journals I’m very excited to sell are the open spine journals!

These hardcover journals have exposed stitching on the spine, thus will have different designs and varieties. In addition, I am able to take bookbinding commissions for anyone who wants a specialized book journal designed and created.

To celebrate this, a coupon: BWJournal20 (Coupon expires on May 31, 2017)

Support Black Witch with digital coffee

I’m taking this space to talk about the new Discord server I just set up last week. And the bookbinding livestream I did recently, too. Huzzah!

Discord is a chat server originally started for gamers but you can create a server to chat on. I already am part of a couple.

The link is open to the first 50 users. This is to keep things manageable and because it’s a new server.

The rules, because there’s always some rules:

  • You have to join Discord and be on the server for 5 minutes. This is simply to make sure I don’t have the server overrun with trolls (it’s a chat forum primarily for gamers, let’s not kid ourselves here).
  • As you could guess from the previous rule, any hate speech is gonna be instabanned. Period. Discussion is okay, hate speech is not. Even if you go “but I’m [area of lacked privilege]”, still instabanned.
  • Keep chatter to PG-13. I want young people who use the server to not feel squicked out. This isn’t the Grand Theft Auto servers.

That’s pretty much it. There isn’t really a space for Black Pagans to interact with one another, Discord is easy to join and it’s both a computer app and a phone app so very versatile. Check it out!

Bookbinding streaming

Last week, I did some work streaming of doing bookbinding on the Black Witch Facebook fan page. Really, all I did was make the covers for open spine books. It took three hours but it was a relatively nice experience. I played two or three episodes of podcast Kurly in Kansai.

I don’t have a set schedule of when I’ll be doing bookbinding stuff but any stream done will be on the Black Witch FB fan page live stream. All books done on stream will be sold in the Black Witch Shoppe (which looks fairly bare right now, I’ll admit). Granted, sometimes I wind up with paper that is too tough for bookbinding and the covers have small breaks in the end. So I won’t have a pile of those books, I may still put them on the BW Shoppe but for a lesser price since the book is still functional. Or deco them.

Huzzah!

 

This is going to be about suicide because I feel like talking about it and both the Black and Pagan community suck at discussing it. Simple as that.

Firstly, I’m not going to suggest National Suicide Prevention Hotline because they absolutely suck. I think I have called it only twice in my life and both times were pretty useless. The most recent time, a counselor started to be slightly combative saying “Oh, you can’t disturb the peace in myself. I am at peace with myself.” That’s nice, you’re a happy camper no matter who calls. If only I cared, the person who is not at a whole lot of peace with themselves. Unfortunately, Google and Facebook plasters them everywhere if you have “suicide” in your search term. (Unless you search for specific methods and avoid the word “suicide”, then you don’t see it at all). Thus I want to get this declaration out of the way. National Suicide Prevention Hotline does nothing to help those actually suffering from suicide. If anything, it’s just a fairly fleshed out dummy number for people who have never experienced suicidal ideation, feelings or attempts to rattle off to feel better about themselves. It’s also usually coupled with a “If you don’t want to talk to them, you can always talk to me” (which is usually a load of bs by itself, unfortunately).

Before we go further, also want to get out of the way the fact pro-suicide sites exist.

About pro-suicide sites: I’m not going to link them because while pro-suicide sites don’t bother me and, in my opinion, are better at being frank about suicide than anti-suicide sites (so frank that they have convinced people away from killing themselves), they are pro-suicide. They refer to folks who are anti-suicide as “happy shinies” (because they’re delusional in their thinking that “everything will be okie dokie if you just smile, do yoga and be happy!”) and I certainly can’t disagree with that because, hey, most people are scared of knowing someone who is suicidal so they think a pointless pep talk can make someone put the razor down. However, I am not going to just link to them because this is gonna be “do as I say, not as I do” moment. I dislike these moments and try to keep them as rare as possible but it’s happening today.

Alright then, moving along.

There’s no one reason why people attempt to kill themselves or successfully accomplish it. There’s heartbreak, bullying, general depression, financial strain, social isolation or combination. It’s really unfortunate but happens all the time. And some problems can simply not be fixed, no matter how empty or rehearsed the pep talk to a suicidal person gets.

Everyone has heard “try to pull through, it’ll get better” but that’s intensely hollow because it doesn’t provide even the slightest glimmer of a solution right now. The future looks far away and full of hurting so what’s the point of dragging yourself through all that…especially when there’s the chance that this feeling may be around for months or even years? And may never go away? Most people don’t know what to say to someone in emotional pain or crisis so they go for surface things like, “be happy” or “go pray” because getting into the murkier waters can be scary and are very, very not easy to fix at all. Someone wanting to kill themselves because they feel like an incessant failure is not going to magically perk up because you reminded them that a god existed. Actually, while we’re on the point of religion…

Never bring up religion to a suicidal person. If the suicidal person is very stressed and convinced of their method, they’re very much in a headspace where religion can’t reach them. No idea of an eye in the sky or an invisible friend is going to turn them around at that instance. You may hear the common, snarky rebuttal to “Oh, go talk to god”, which is: “I’ll be able to talk to god in person soon, if you’ll just go away.” In all the times that I’ve talked to someone who was genuinely depressed and considering suicide, I never would bring up religion, even if we were in the same religion. It’s because I know how it feels and if anything, it could stoke some latent anger (“If god/the gods is/are so all knowing, why do I have to go through what I’m going through? Why are they putting me through this? I’m not perfect but I try to be a good person”). That anger is not what the person in need needs. They’re just going to feel more abandoned and it’ll just plummet themselves down further. That and what if the thing weighing on them is a bad break up or, worse, money issues such as an eviction notice with only 5 days to remedy? Reference to religion just starts to sound deflecting from going at the real problem, as if the person talking to the troubled person reaaaaaally don’t want to acknowledge that some problems in the world are incredibly complex and need practical, real world solutions.

Actually, let’s talk about that for a bit: people who mean well but sincerely do not want anything to do with the existence of suicide, suicidal people and suicidal thought. Best explained in this article from Care For Your Mind and this article from Red Eye, even though people may spread numbers and links to suicide awareness hotlines (usually National Suicide, which, again, I would like to remind is not that good), it’s a very hollow act that serves the person spreading the link more than the person who should see it. A one sided feel-good act. If anything, this is a pretty detaching act to do, especially if the person feels alone or isolated. Because instead of the friend actually talking to the suicidal person about what is troubling them, all the suicidal person gets is a cold “here, call this number, I can’t be bothered with your issues” message. Even if the friend is just passing the number along because they honestly don’t know what to say but, truly, they know more of what to say than a random, poorly trained and burnt out volunteer on the phone. For starters, the friend actually knows the suicidal person, and therefore can pull from a bigger bank of information, which means better questions, avoiding emotional landmines, and getting trust and cooperation. A random from the Suicide Hotline can’t do that. What the friend could say would have more gravity to the suicidal person than a random person who may or may not really care. Basically, if you’re the type to say “talk to me if you’re suicidal”, back it up with some actual talk. No, it won’t be easy, glamorous or lovely. Hey, you may even have to spend the night with the person to make sure they won’t kill themselves. But it’s better than a cold shoulder after originally offering comfort and help.

It also does much better to help the suicidal person if they’re not called “selfish”. Actually, it’s usually others that drive people to that point, hardly narcissistic. Also, isn’t it even more selfish to want someone to live despite all their pain and suffering (that you’re not going through, especially not on their behalf). To just drag through what is senselessly hurting them and causing incredible pain because it might give you a sad. Oh, woe. Don’t just bother to help, just tell the person “Why don’t you think about me? Me and my feelings?” Look, once you pull yourself from the mirror, you should remember that there’s a person in need of help, not your selfish nonsense. Same with complaining, “Don’t take the coward’s way out.” Plenty people going through hardship killed themselves and they were pretty tough people, they just got tired of handling the weight of their issue by themselves. Anyone can carry a 3lb rock, but people eventually break if you saddle them with a 250lb boulder, regardless of their strength level. Even faster if you tell them, “It’s a three pound rock! Stop saying ‘it’s heavy!'”

For most people trying to kill themselves, just simply giving a sh*t is generally good enough. Most suicidal people think they’re a burden to others, that they’re not worth anyone’s time (part of why just haphazardly tossing a number to a suicide hotline that barely works can be a bad idea), that they’re a problem that needs to go away. They feel alone in their issues or like all they do is bother everyone, even when they try to do well and make all the right moves. Someone who actually knows them and actively tries to help them (not suggest religion, not suggest yoga, not suggest hobbies, actually sit on derriere and tries to help). It tends to do a lot more work than tossing a random phone number about.

However, some people who are suicidal are very invisible and isolated, they don’t have a network of people to talk to or even if they did, they feel that probably no one in that network would listen or even take their grave feelings seriously. Perhaps they’re getting tired of the “prayer” line. Maybe they’re part of a culture that internalizes prejudiced ideas about them and tries to pass it off as a positive. For example, if you’re Black and suicidal, you’re going to hear that Black folks are very strong and pretty much impervious to emotional pain…which stems from internalizing the centuries-old dehumanizing “animal/subhuman” stereotypes. That and you can go to church and pray away the pain and leave it all at the Cross. It all boils down to “Black people don’t commit suicide”. Which can be true, if you exclude Don Cornelius, Kayrn Washington, Lee Thompson Young, Phyllis Hyman, Jay Bowdy and countless, countless others. Actually, here’s a Think Progress article about the fact that suicide among Black youth is booming. Here’s another article from The Body is not an Apology. I guess Jesus and pretending nothing hurts aren’t really that effective. Feeling like it’s a must to suffer in silence or to just not even be noticed at all, it can be a terrible pressure that can lead to someone trying to kill themselves because no one who commits suicide really wants to die – they just really want to escape what’s hurting them and make things better somehow. For those who really just want to talk to someone that is actually going to chat with them and not judge them, there is the Crisis Text Line. It isn’t a physical person sitting there with you, but it is someone. It’s also free and quick to use. (It’s also faaaaaar better than National Suicide).

Now, some find comfort in their suicidal ideation, that they have a “way out” if everything really goes very south and with no avail. I think it’s a bit silly to think society can prevent suicide because the reasons of suicide is complex. If suicide were an easy subject, people wouldn’t wait for someone famous to kill themselves to talk about it for a few weeks before going back to ignoring its existence and shunning anyone who’s ever tried it. Some problems are simply too hard to fix or with very short time restrictions. Some people just have nagging thoughts that pester them that life isn’t worth living, regardless of achievements. It’s all very complex. Suicide is complex. And it’s never going away, but it can be alleviated in those who feel this way. But not always, which is just how life is.

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