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It’s been a while! So let’s get into it

NekojinDesigns
During Otakon, I saw the cutest pillow. It was blue with a little kitty sleeping on a crescent moon among the stars and curled up next to a pentacle. I usually don’t buy things with pentacles on them because generally, they look gaudy and/or awful. This demonstration of the pentacle was nice and very cute!

As you can see, it's well used

As you can see, it’s well used

Since I’ve gotten the pillow, I use it all the time. When traveling or staying home, this pillow is everywhere because it’s so soft and nice. The pillow is made of fleece, cotton and minky (a super soft, fur-like fabric that is the face of the design) and filled with polyfil.

Visiting the site, you can see the variety of items, not just pillows. There are earrings, bags, pins, stickers and more! There are even LGBT+ paw pins and even Ace/asexual stickers and pins.
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The pillows look like they’re on custom order, meaning you’ll have to contact the creator, but it seems the price hovers around $25, which is totally worth it.

Sites:
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Nicky Case
I’ve been on Newgrounds since 1998 when I was playing Crazy Shuttle. Sometimes, there are some serious gems among the mindlessness and Nicky Case is a creator of a few of them. I remember when I first saw “Coming Out Simulator

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“Coming Out Simulator: A Half-True Story About Half-Truths” is about coming out to very hyper-conservative parents. It’s a good game that makes you think.

The game that I really want to bring up is “We Become What We Behold

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This story is about media frenzy and how when vicious things go viral, a terrible cycle ensues. It’s a five minute game, a quick game but with a salient message.

There are other great games as well, such as “Neurotic Neurons”, which is about brain chemistry, therapy and anxiety.

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Gimme Gimme

First and foremost, check the web address! thisblackwitch.wordpress.com became thisblackwitch.com! Hooray!

I get a lot of messages from my Black Witch FB Fan Page. A close second would be my email. This isn’t bothersome. I appreciate reading from readers. However, when I first started Black Witch back in 2011, I thought I would get some derpy letters but most would be pretty substantial.

Wow, was I wrong.

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Whyyyyyyy? How did this happen?

I get some but most are usually from someone who wants paid spellwork, want to switch bodies, want spells done for them…basically, folks who are very “Gimme gimme”.

Firstly, whenever I’m asked these inquiries, I tend to snark “you should have read my site on paid spellwork instead of writing to me”. This is because I always mention that I do not do paid spell work, that I do not do pay-for-pray, that I am very clear about it and will ream anyone who asks. Regardless if you show up at a blog or fan page for said blog, please read about for a little bit. It isn’t going to hurt to do research.

Secondly, inquiries like these are usually from the most dense of people who can not see past their own wants, even when thoroughly explained to them. Even when going over the ethical ramifications (after explaining that I’m not doing spellwork for others, either), they still generally go, “but can you do this for me?” Which is annoying because it shows how dedicated these folks are to not listening…and possibly where their problems started.

I don’t mind giving life advice, it is nice to do. But I think the simple fact that folks are writing to a Witch, they think I’m all spells and potions and get disappointed that I’m not doing exactly that. Here’s the thing, not everything needs a spell. That and if the person does not practice anything in the metaphysics, I’m not going to talk to them about it anyways. Why? Because they’re not practicing, it’s pointless. Oh and I’m not the Wal-Mart of spells and magick.

When practitioners write to me, I try to be as helpful as possible. Mainly because, for once, a real question was asked. It’s not a “gimme gimme” question, it’s a “hey, I was working on something but I got stumped” question. Bouncing ideas off of someone is not a bad thing. They know what they’re talking about, they’ve done some research, great to help! It’s better than, “I don’t like that my ex is happy with his new girlfriend, how do I hex him?” or “I didn’t get into med school, I want to reverse time” or “I want to switch bodies, how do I do it?” Those are “gimme, gimme” questions.

Here’s what makes them “gimme, gimme” questions: even when some claim to be interested in magick, it’s pretty obvious they only want to get what they want and then off they go. No concern for anyone or anything. Frankly, no one – me included- wants to take time out their day to go through the time, effort and energy to handle someone else’s problem. It could blossom up worse, they keep coming back instead of learning life lessons (it always does with these sort of people, they never stop needing something “fixed”), etc etc. No practitioner would – with exception to those who actually do paid spellwork, of course. And even they themselves won’t do any spell simply because money gets mentioned. Speaking of which…

Folks who ask “gimme gimme” questions always act that money moves the world around them. That if they bring up money, that I’m magically going to do whatever they ask. Even if I explicitly say continually that I don’t do paid spellwork. It’s a pretty selfish perspective, actually. I don’t accept money for spellwork because of my personal ethics. However, it’s pretty hyper evident that these folks seriously don’t care about my ethics or anything, I’m just a candy machine that dispenses spells, the solutions to their problems. It doesn’t matter how much money they’re offering, it’s not happening.

I’m certain there’s probably a couple readers out there thinking, “Sheesh, if an idiot offers me a blank check to fix their dilemma, I’d tell them to brush their hair with a fish for ten nights and accept the money. Who cares if it does or doesn’t work? It’s money!” Yeah but it certainly isn’t worth it. For one, my reputation would sink like a rock. Two, regardless of whether the spells work or not, these folks will keep coming back. Three, these people are usually asking for spells because they’re myopic megalomaniacs that can’t think of anyone but themselves. I can’t stress that part enough.

Sometimes, a person writes to me about wanting a spell but because they’re feeling cornered about an actual problem. They’re in an abusive household, they’re trans and we live in a transphobic world, etc etc. I usually try to offer some real world solutions. Again, they’re not practitioners so I’m still not offering spells. Instead, they need resources to contact. If they were a practitioner in the same boat and they were asking for spells, I would still provide resources and perhaps a teeny small spell so they don’t put more focus on the spellwork than they should on the resources offered to them.

Frankly, I really rather get letters and messages from people who actually practice metaphysics or simply have good questions rather than “gimme gimme” questions. When I find a new blog, instead of bugging the writer, I just read through the blog end over end. Usually what questions I have are probably answered in some article written over three or four years ago. I wouldn’t mind the same for here. I wouldn’t mind if someone read a column and asked questions derived from the writing. I just mind when it’s pretty glaringly obvious that the person didn’t decide to read anything at all or did read a bit, they just thought that they could ask for the same thing.

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Look at what I found in my pile o’ mail (yay, depressive episodes!) It’s my Internal Affairs letter from the raid that was done on my apartment literally a whole year on this day.

I have gone through a lot this past year with my EEOC situation and the fact it turned into a police raid that really trashed my apartment. Long story short, the officer was found guilty (“sustained”) on committing violations in regards to the raid and pretty much everything around it.

I’m really tired of going through things like this. Seriously, it would be very nice if I or others didn’t have to worry about losing employment for suspicious reasons or being raided for even more fantastical and non-existent reasons. The EEOC process was really arduous and annoying, Internal Affairs surprisingly wasn’t that bad but still taxing. However, all in all, this whole ordeal cost me way more than it should.

Frankly, while some are going to be very supportive and say, “hooray, this is great”, most of this stuff doesn’t feel like an actual success. Like, yes, the EEOC got involved but talk about muted. Yes, Internal Affairs listened to me after all but I could have gone my whole life with out being raided, especially for faulty reasons because of a corrupt detective. I doubt anyone learned anything except for how to hide their bigotry better, no real lessons learned because if there’s one thing I’ve noticed, everyone is very good at evading responsibility and accountability.

What really also hurt was when I really could use help in pulling everything back together and cleaning up my apartment after a cop trashed it was how I felt pretty alone and not really cared about. I asked on my personal social media for help to clean up my place but honestly, I got mainly nothing. Only one person came. Another wanted to as well but were going through cancer treatment so it was understandable they couldn’t come. Now, when I posted the letter on my personal social media, I got an outpouring of support that, frankly, I felt was a year way too late. I didn’t think the post would get so much traction, honestly. The initial news didn’t so I figured this would be the same, next to no response. To be honest, I kind of wish it were. I didn’t expect folks to come from far and wide or if they were going through anything, just local folks I know who generally are able-bodied and are out and about over police violence in general. Newp.

If anything, I didn’t want people to go out in the streets and march, nor bug media on my behalf or anything potentially endangering like that. Just help me shift boxes and lift the ones that were dumped in my cat’s litter box. It isn’t storming the Baltimore City Police headquarter demanding accountability (which is rare to get) but even just an hour of pitching in (or, sitting down and listening while I shifted boxes, which is basically what I made my visiting friend do) would have done some good. I can’t help but to feel irritated and angry from the lack of response when I needed physical help but now everything is over, everyone wants to celebrate.

That raid and literally everything that happened after that was terrifying. Very terrifying. Especially when interacting with a detective that was less concerned with solving a case than just having a Black kid to burn. I actually thought I was gonna die in the back of a police station, the detective was pretty terrifying in how obvious he didn’t care about protocols, rules or rights. The fact that I was well-versed in civil rights law, previously worked in the Library of Congress, knew folks in law enforcement and knew police investigation protocol is what helped me most to walk out the police station breathing. All I wanted next was to help have my apartment cleaned up because hey, I have trauma disorders and there was absolutely no way I would have been able to live in the apartment with it looking like this:

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Yeah, I could wait for someone to be free maybe weeks later to perhaps swing by when the spirit moved them with everything like this. Totes. Didn’t kick my disorders, Dissociative Identity Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder into debilitation mode. Yeah, naaaaaaah.

So, it took about nine months (DOJ says Internal Affairs should solve these cases in 90 days) to get this letter. This letter is awfully rare to get, only 8% of complaints lodged against the police get “sustained”.

This was really difficult and I’m still pissed about it for a variety of reasons is, I guess, what I’m trying to say.

 

 

History: Stuck on Repeat

We’re about six weeks away from the inauguration, which is strongly concerning. Hate crimes are spiking, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and will only be expected to rise even with the inauguration and well into the new administration. The one thing I’m most concerned about is the possible likelihood of forced retention of mass groups of people based on religious, cultural, racial or disability status. Basically, camps…and not the fun, marshmallow-at-a-bonfire-with-sing-a-long kind of camps. More like the human-rights-violations-everywhere-everyone-is-gonna-look-back-on-this-and-puke-or-make-hella-excuses kind.

Granted, given I have a mostly American audience, meaning a good chunk of my readership probably slept their way well through Government & Civics and their political science courses…or simply got a crappy education. This spells out that some folks probably are gonna say, “Camps totally can’t happen here! We have checks and balances! Germany had a different system! We have the freedom of due process and our amendments.”

Firstly, if you said the last sentence, it’s an 85% chance you’re probably intensely delusional. Both recent and not-so-recent history has held these truths to be quite not evident.

Secondly, during World War II, America had Internment Camps, also known as American Concentration Camps (as recommended and expressed by the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) in their Power of Words Handbook). This was while America was at war with the Axis of Evil (Germany, Italy, Japan). Note, only Japanese Americans were detained only, no German Americans or Italian Americans.

If you never heard of the Internment Camps/American Concentration Camps, don’t feel too bad, let Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda bring you up to speed with his song Kenji on his solo album Fort Minor: The Rising Tied

Imaginative, no? Here is another that breaks everything down on the historical, government-y side, because you do need all sides (or as many as possible) of an argument enable to make an argument:

Here’s the thing: all in all, all of this was government sanctioned. Thought up by the president, passed by the Congress, defended by the Supreme Court a couple years later (Korematsu v. United States). Not only was this greenlit, it was even portrayed as if the Japanese Americans were totally cool with it (because they’re so obedient! Those loyal model minorities! If only all minorities could be so accommodating, like those nig– uh…no minority group in particular, just a general wish upon a star, heh heh.) And that the US Government were simply doing the right thing: it was wartime, everyone has got to understand. Better safe than sorry, that’s why there were camps for Japanese Americans, German Americans and Italian Americans…oh, wait. The two latter never happened, only Japanese Americans got cuffed.

Here is a war propaganda video read out by General Milton S. Eisenhower, the first director* of the War Relocation Authority (WRA, and “Relocation” can be reworded to “Incarceration”, according to the JACL handbook), and brother of later president Dwight E. Eisenhower (you’ve seen him, he’s on the dime). Played by Periscope Films, you can view this and more on Denshō’s Youtube channel.

How charming! It’s like a mini society! Watch them “J*ps” work so hard and diligently, building houses, having schools, letting their rights be taken away. It’s practically a Norman Rockwell painting of the American spirit of perseverance…and he did indeed cover WWII:

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Feel the Americana! Feel the togetherness!

How delightful. And heartwarming. Almost like Mike Shinoda just painted a dreary picture on a very picturesque situation simply because he wasn’t there, just his dad.

Oh, wait, George Takei was there, too. And it sounds like from his personal, lived experience, Shinoda’s take is a lot more accurate than Gen. Eisenhower. It didn’t sound like a fun trip to the desert, it sounded a lot like being suspected, rounded up and detained because of a crime never committed. Kinda like what the TSA does now to anyone dark enough to be “suspicious” in airports. Or what police does to civilians dark enough to be “suspicious”. Or what FBI agents does and did to countless Muslim Americans (and with a chance for a one-way ticket to Cuba for an indefinite stay at the Gitmo resort), because “suspicious”. Man, I wonder why White guys didn’t get rounded up by the payload when Timothy McVeigh did the Oklahoma City Bombings. You can check out more first-hand accounts here at Densho.org or on their Youtube. I strongly recommend it.  Actually, let’s see George Takei talk about his experience in the camps:

The reason why this happened is because of the rising anti-Japanese sentiment many Americans had before and during WWII: that the Japanese were evil, sneaky, rat faced and intensely vicious in their sleeper attacks. You couldn’t predict them so might as well bound all of them up to make sure. That without the Japanese, Americans could live safer…by detaining Americans with reckless abandon. Kinda like now with talks of a “Muslim registry”. There was plenty of media about that depicted Japanese people as inherently “other” and someone to vanquish, mock and despise.

“Commander Duck”

“Tokio Jokio”

Oh yeah, such open mindedness will breed from these films and many like them. Just like all the movies and first person shooter games that are set in the Middle East create such warm and happy feelings about those who practice Islamic faith. And in “Commando Duck”, a hidden Japanese stereotype militaryman said “Oh no, no wait please – Japanese custom say ‘always shooting a man in the back’, please.” Funny that, it’s what American soldiers did to Japanese Americans when they were in the camps because, well, Americans don’t gel well with being detained in mass prisons for bullsh*t reasons. Watch the retelling of the “Manzanar Riot”, witnessed by Richard Yamashiro.

This official propaganda, which was constantly everywhere, is similar to how Germany had films about “the evilness of the Jew”, by showing Jewish people in normal marketplace environment and playing it up as how they are just such a cancer to the German way of life.

Here is German propaganda pretending the camps and the ghettos** are totally nice places, that the Jews are totally being respected while despised.

And what actually happened, as shown by Youtuber Miles Jai. Press play to start at the marker:

Frankly, it’s concerning because all this shows how little protected people are in times of need. And how hatefulness can be super pervasive to the point it’s greenlit as “helping the country/world”. And the worst part? Most get away with doing these atrocities, hiding behind legalities, technicalities, multi-layered and scalpel-like wording – being very careful to mind the red tape so they can dance expertly around it as if this all just was one, big misunderstanding. To be legally perceived as no different than bumping into a stranger on the street and making them drop their baggage.

For example, only about 50 or less Nazi personnel were actually convicted with war crimes, but thousands got off the hook. Most are old and frail now, so the lot of them spent their lives free from any wrongdoing they did. And when they do land in court, all they have to say is “I never physically, personally killed anyone. I was just doing my job.” And off they go, to spend the rest of their golden years in the sunset:

Immense amounts of people suffer, perish and die, just to be pictures and tales of history – as if that’s all these people were born to do, just be cautionary tales – and those who commit such wrongdoings get to have fantastic cop-out arguments while everyone else “ooh” and “aah” about the whole occurrence, which will eventually become a boring and intensely neutered museum exhibit or textbook entry. Sometimes, it seems like very little is done to actually prevent such occurrences, just a bunch of “If only there was another way or we could have seen this coming. Our thoughts and prayers are with the fallen.”

Like now. Just like it happened right after 9/11 when the Muslim population was under intense scrutiny over the attacks, simply because they were Muslim. When FBI started busting down doors of innocent Muslim Americans of various stripes and backgrounds simply because they opted for a Koran and not a Bible to pray to. Apparently being Muslim was enough to justify “suspicion” of terrorism and trash their house.

Sounds familiar? It happened to the Japanese Americans during the 1940s as well:

Geez, this “suspicion” sounds a lot like “intense, racially-induced paranoia”. Because this is the same FBI that can’t seem to spot or stop people like Dylan Roof or prevent Sandy Hook or douse the long standing terrorist group, the Ku Klux Klan, who have performed bombings, attacks on Americans and more. Huh. Interesting.

And now, it’s about to happen again with Trump getting into office. Because all he basically said during his campaign was “noun-verb-geyser of bigotry”. And if anyone thinks that this dude won’t throw us into a war, that person poorly understands how an arrogant, myopic bigot thinks, especially when nuclear launch codes get added to the mix. And it’s usually around wartime and war-leaning times does things like camps get rolling. And do they roll, but gradually, you bet.

First, it always starts small and simple: registries and curfews. Nothing vicious, no one being harmed, just a set bedtime declared by the government. The only folks really hurting are those who love watching late night movies at the theatres. Just abide by the rules and you’re good. In 2002, we didn’t have curfews for Muslims, but we did have a Muslim registry, the “National Security Entry-Exit Registration System” list (NSEERS, also called “Special Registration”), which was stopped in 2011 because its unconstitutional nature. Oh, and the TSA as well since 9/11 was done using planes. No curfew but traveling is well hampered, all thanks to security theatre.

Second, it moves into sectioning groups of people into particular neighborhoods – “ghettos” or strongly zoned areas – so everyone knows where you are. The US already have tons of housing and zoning issues like these already, plenty of areas are greatly segregated.

Third, “relocation efforts” are introduced.

As referenced prior, mainstream media starts to push propaganda of “the enemy” and can back the government as well. They’re currently doing it now to make the Alt-Right/Neo-Nazis appear palatable. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be traditional media, even on Youtube there’s the “bomb prank” where someone dresses up in stereotypical “Arabic”  wear and plops a black bag around someone and runs off:

Yeah, not paid for by Fox News or CNN, this is some individual’s “clever” thinking. They didn’t have to do the super racist costume. Here is an example when someone does the prank without the Islamophobic stuff:

However, a quick search on Youtube shows more Islamophobic versions of the prank than not, with different people conducting the prank.This continually associates Islam with terrorism and very much stokes fears that the American people are under threat of the “evil Muslim”. These pranks are not much different from films like “Tokio Jokio” because they have the same effect, it’s just one was paid for as official propaganda and the other was merely a result of being extensively exposed to anti-Muslim propaganda for over a decade and using such ingrained rhetoric for personal creative works that delivers to a wide audience.

Does all this promise that Trump is totally, totally going to have camps of some sort? It’s a relatively likely possibility, given history itself, his demeanor, his actions and his personal take on everything. Oh, and the fact that one person in his crew already suggested that we bring back Internment Camps. Trump is not at all reasonable and he does not appoint anyone who is. He’s not even in the oval office yet and already making bad choices. This is alarming because it’s just history all over again.

What can people do about this? Well, safety pins are a cute non-solution but I think trying to understand and learn what is happening is best here. On the Black Witch Tumblr, I actually have the “Race and Racism” tag. Try starting there.  That and don’t be like Gen. Eisenhower, actually stand up for your beliefs, not just say, “Oh, I feel queasy about this, let me distance myself to feel better.” If acts of prejudice pop up, do something. Except for “sign up for the Muslim registry to cloud the numbers” because the US Govt used the Census to round up Japanese Americans and to know who gets put on the registry. Then revamped the registry system during Bush Jr. You can sign up but the system already knows it’s a false positive. There’s already a tried-and-tested system waiting. General resistance, like attending protests, openly talking about these issues and more would do better. This doesn’t mean that it will turn Trump’s presidency into a well muted one, but it’s better than just slipping out the back because all this causes bad feelz. I also recommend getting a copy of the ABA book of Human Rights. It’s nifty.

Before I hear, “Both the Jews and the Japanese got reparations! How is this bad?! Free money!” I can tell you from personal experience, going through an immensely prejudiced experience is not worth any amount of money received. If you asked anyone who got fiscal reparations “choose between getting all this money or not ever going through the experience at all”, all of them would say, “never go through it at all.” It doesn’t wipe away the terrible memories that will live forever. It doesn’t wake up the dead that suffered. It changes nothing, just adds a little extra cheddar in their pocket while the government revs up to do it again. This isn’t “free money”, this isn’t like scratching off a winning lotto ticket. The camps weren’t a game show and this isn’t a prize. This is an official “My bad, we’ll be more cunning about it next time.” Sure, the German government, very unlike the American government, actually did make strides to help future German generations understand that Nazism was a terrible thing they did: mandatory field trips to the camps, banning hate speech and symbolism, backing those bans up with severe laws, etc etc. Y’know, taking responsibility. The American government just gets into an emo tizzy and rather sweep things under the rugs. I mean, how many of you actually knew of the American concentration camps

Also, before I hear: “Trump isn’t that bad, he’s just using the ‘build a wall’ nonsense because it got him votes. His real plan is way more nuanced that than. Just too magnificent for the average American to understand.” The New York Times said the same about Hitler:

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The article reads:

But several reliable, well-informed sources confirmed the idea that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded, and that he was merely using anti-Semitic propaganda as a bait to catch messes of followers and keep them aroused, enthusiastic and in line for the time when his organization is perfected and sufficiently powerful to be employed effectively for political purposes.

A sophisticated politician credited Hitler  with peculiar political cleverness for laying emphasis and over-emphasis on anti-Semitism, saying: “You can’t expect the masses to understand or appreciate your finer real aims. You must feed the masses with cruder morsels and ideas like anti-Semitism. It would be politically all wrong to tell them the truth about where you really are leading them.”

The Hitler movement is not of mere local or picturesque interest. It is bound to bring Bavaria into a renewed clash with the Berlin Government as long as the German Republic goes even through the notions of trying to live up the Versailles Treaty. For it is certain the Allies will take umbrage at the Hitler organization as a violation of the military clauses of the treaty and demand disbandment, even as in the case of its predecessor, the Orgesch.

This would be a funny Hurrr Durrrr moment if it weren’t so terrifying, and verified by Snopes. It’s also such a glowing reason to get your passport straightened out, if possible. And see Takei’s play “Allegiance” if it is in your city, it’s going to be in select movie theatres!

*Granted, Gen. Eisenhower did leave three months later because the camps were bothering him but it doesn’t change what he did. Especially since all he did was dip, not try to close the camps. The least he could have done was boost Korematsu’s stance further. Neither happened. Just left to save his mind, literally no one else. That doesn’t make him a hero, just a coward with temporary moral depression and a cardboard spine.

** By the way, that’s where the American term “ghetto” comes from, because of the same conditions. So if a kid says they’re from the ghetto and live in America, it’s pretty similar when a Jewish kid said the same back in the 30s and 40s. Hooray for White kids who call everything “ghetto” for the lolz. Because why be anti-Black or anti-Semitic when you can be both?

Tech Witch

One day, I was on my way to Sally’s Beauty Supply store and discovered next door, the Radio Shack was closing, thus had a 60-90% off sale on everything in the store. So, instead of buying blue hair dye like I was going to, I beelined for the tech stuff I could get for uber cheap. Like, buying a pack of capacitors for .45 cents. Though I should have totally gone for the 555 Timers. I like to fiddle with electronics and build/construct things – I’m currently working on an automatic cat feeder because my cat is fat and I have mini-amnesias due to having trauma disorders. My cat will wharf down her food and pretend she’s hungry in hopes that I forgot I fed her ten minutes ago and give her another dish.

My cat, who is fat

My cat, who is fat

I also repair electrical problems in drones and mechanical problems in 3D printers. Basically, I’m very techy.

Given that we live in a world of tech and technology, I do wonder how it can be applied to magick. Granted, I don’t think it is very seamless (I doubt you can do a smoke cleansing with your phone and I still side-eye “rebloggable spells” a bit) but am definitely sure parts can be integrated.

Alright, I’m not much a tech witch, I don’t include tech much into my practice, if at all. I write down things and use natural stuff like sticks, stones and incense. If anything, I would probably be concerned of energy waves from the phone messing with the energy trying to be created in the circle so I just curve around all that and keep it analog. This doesn’t mean that folks who put protection sigils on their phones or cast an anti-theft spell on their computer is silly, I just don’t do the same. That and the idea of using magick on your stuff – including your tech stuff – is normal to me. Using your tech in magick, that feels a bit different to me, if not foreign.

I guess part of it is because technology is comprised of so many different parts and things, it would drive me into a finicky mode. There are so many things that make our tech that has various individual properties that makes up our tech. This is kind of why I’m not much of a tech witch. Simply isn’t my kit. That and I’m still trying to wrap my head around things like tumblr spells that are mostly emoticons/emojis and basically are suppose to work with every reblog. I understand the “gathering energy” part (the many people passing the post around), the “intention” part and how it’s kinda supposed to work but I would imagine the energy is a bit mottled through the tech. That’s just my perception, though.

However, this doesn’t mean that tech isn’t starting to really becoming useful for Pagans. For example: 3D printing, sky maps and moon phase apps

Many weather apps, like WeatherUnderground and AccuWeather will tell you the moon phases. I use WeatherUnderground, which shows me not only the moon phase and fullness of the moon, but also how much daylight I have.

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This is really great for determining fullness, when to perform rituals or whatever have you. I think most, if not all, weather apps show you the moon. Even on smart watches, such as the Apple Watch, you can track the moon phases and travels.

Then there are sky maps, which let you see constellations, planets and stars through your phone. You can even use it to help spot planets in the night sky, look for conjunctions and more. I use Google Sky Map but there are plenty about.

Then there’s 3D Printing. Granted, it still isn’t accessible to quite a lot of people – they’re mainly found in libraries and on college campuses, in regards to mass use – but can be very useful when it is. For example, the most common filament (“ink” for 3D printers) used is PLA, which stands for Polyactic acid (not actually acidic in nature) , which actually is completely biodegradable and comes from sugars and starch. Even smells a bit like caramel when printing. Yes, it is plastic, but it is nature-derived plastic, which can make it useful for personal practice or even group practice. PLA is one of the many materials a 3D printer can print in. There’s also wood, metal and ceramic.

This means that a Pagan person could print a chalice in the very color they need it in. Or create a specialized holder, tool or anything that is needed in whatever color, material or design. They could create beads or a stylus with their chosen sigils. They could create boxes, statues and more; if they can think it, they can print it. It really would be very nice for practice to implement hyper specialized materials and items into Pagan practices. A practitioner could either charge a whole spool of filament to print a variety of things or they could print something and charge that instead. Hyper customized holders, runes, candle plates, wands and more! Talk about endless bouts of ideas.

New forays into technology can be useful for old practices, which is really interesting as well as potentially ground breaking for Pagan practice. However, this has always been the case, if one would think about it. I mean, when glass, silver and steel could be used to create items, I wouldn’t be surprised if the question of “can this be implemented into ritualistic practice” came into play. With that thought in mind, it probably is redundant to ask, “hey, is this new tech good for Pagan practice?” because as long as the source of the practice is the same, why wouldn’t implementing new devices and tech be a problem?

Not My Flag, Not a Chance

There’s been so much chatter since the election, mainly about how terrible Trump is going to be (usually said by practically everyone who isn’t White, Straight, cis, etc) and how we should still give him and his folks a chance (usually said by anyone White and usually Liberal (conservatives just froth at the mouth over admiring swastikas now, imagining the next four years in glee, I’m guessing)).

Frankly, anyone who says we as a nation should give Trump a chance is quite historically challenged and a total ditz. Trump’s troupe blew whatever chance they could have potentially had when they were on the campaign trail talking about walls and mocking disabled reporters…oh and doing covert sieg heils* at the RNC gathering.

Yeah, this happened

Yeah, this happened

Those were big opportunities to show that they simply wanted to repair the country from it’s economic sluggishness, dismissive political attitudes to rural Americans, etc etc. I mean, Trump did offer several solutions…it’s just practically all of them came from a book probably titled How To: Second Coming of the Third Reich, Special 14th edition with a teeny cover sticker that says “Now with 88% more hate! Ruin your country beyond repair or your money back! See inside for details”. Meaning: none of these solutions actually work. The only thing the Final Solution did the last time was give Germany a huge luggage crate full of baggage to cart about, because the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind about Germanic history is mainly the terrible stuff they did in the ’30s and ’40s. More like a final solution for murdering a good reputation, if anything. Going Nazi wasn’t a great payoff to them, just like it won’t be for us.

I, nor anyone who have been historically affected by messages of hate and mass disparagement, should give anyone a chance if that’s pretty much all they’ve came out the gate with. I even tried to research Trump’s stances on actual issues during the election season, and about all I got that was pretty solid was “I don’t know…but we will just pour in a chunk of hate and see where that gets us.” That’s basically it: build a wall, get rid of non-Whites and more police. This is not a solution to anything. It’s just a recipe to make America not “Great” again but to make America White again. And Trump’s people have actually said that, word for word: That they believe America should be White only and White succeeding, that they hate anyone not Christian, not White and not Male. They’ve done openly displayed sieg heils at Alt-Right/Neo-Nazis gatherings.

Yeah, this happened, too

Yeah, this happened, too

Give this a chance? For what? It’s been shown countless times in even the past one hundred years that just giving hate a chance doesn’t magically transform into peace, it just becomes more virulent hatred that’s just been given a head start. Granted, no one not on the business end of that would definitely say, “Let’s give them a chance.” Since they have nothing to lose, the idea of fighting or being actively despondent or even cracking someone’s elbow in the middle of their Nazi salute seems “violent” and “not how peace works”. Because Americans always have politely asked for things like rights and country and politely discussed things over. Totes exactly what we did with the British and the Native Americans**. We’re such a peaceful nation, we don’t even have mass shootings.

Unfortunately, this is not reality. My family members don’t remember our ancestors being able to walk up to the Overseer or Master and say, “Hey, I’ve already put in my eight hours so I’m heading out. I’ve even kept track of it on this here scrap of paper – oh! and we’re running low on ink, I like the iron blue one from that guy down the street, it’s really nice and last for pages – See? That’s 40 hours, I took an hour off for lunch and everything. Also, it’s, like, super hot in the middle of the day and you made us work…that’s not cool, you always do that. Everyone around here thinks you better shape up or we’re leaving. Especially since you don’t pay us…which, I’m preeeeeeeeeeeetty sure is illegal. Like, super illegal. And I cut myself on a sickle, where’s my employee healthcare? One of my friends a few rows over heard over in Korea, they have a king named Sejong and he – a king, mind you – put in stuff like maternity leave. We should try some of that, or we’re leaving for good! You can find some new pickers and they’ll say the same. What say you?”

Yeaaaaaaaaaah, that’s not what would have happened. Would have been nice but very much didn’t happen. Instead, slave rebellions happened. Fighting happened. Dying happened (by the payload). Lynchings happened. Escapes happened. Suicides happened. Talking is great for some things but not when the person you’re talking to doesn’t even think you’re human. Even Schindler didn’t say to his fellow Nazis, “Hey, about this ‘kill all Jews’ thing. Ever wonder how this will help our country – like, actually help Germany? I mean, I’m just saying! Just saying. Y’know, for kicks and giggles, think about it. I mean, this is a lot of work to murder useful people like doctors and teachers. Just seems a bit dumb – I’m just saying, though! Just saying. I mean, we even killed a gay carpenter and we’ve had a crappy chair and tilting table for weeks. No carpenter, but we stick with the sh*tty table. Yes, Aust handles carpentry but, c’mon, everyone knows he’s bad at it, that’s how we got the table. We had a master carpenter and just killed him. Does that scream ‘smart’ to you? Think about it.” That would have been nice, imagining Schindler doing thoughtful roundtables with fellow Nazis at night, even with a rabbi present, because representation. But that’s not what happened. You can’t talk people out of hate so easily. That would be totally awesome but, as shown by history, totally not realistic.

Hoping that the current batch of fascist douchebags are going to be somehow different and totally open to conversation is intensely delusional. And increasingly so with each and every new pick Trump makes for cabinet. Even the minorities (the extreme, token few) he eyes are poster definitions of “internalized racism”. Everyone in Trump’s camp plans to roll back the clock like mad. And that makes Americans such as myself very, very concerned. Because I’m Pagan, I’m Black, I’m female, I was raised poor and in the inner city and, frankly, this is not my flag:

This would be better used as kindling, not as a method to run a nation.

This would be better used as kindling, not as a method to run a nation.

We are too diverse for this bullsh*t. But frankly, not everyone feels this way. Especially those who felt “othered” when mentions of diversity are said. Even those who swear up and down they’re allies but are actually in it for the saviorism. Even those who say they don’t see color but get offended when a Person of Color gets ahead in real life or even introduced in a comic book, sputtering, “We’re all one race, the human race. Why is Spiderman Black? Like, isn’t that racist? Why can’t he be White? He has to be White!” Even those who reblogs the #noDAPL Water Protectors on Tumblr and goes to the tribal land – not because clean water means anything to them but because they want to have a winter Coachella, complete with disruptive drum circles and asking Natives insanely dumb questions like “What’s my indian name?” instead of “Where do I put the crate of Milk of Magnesia and portable heaters?” Apparently, to those folks, we’re just too diverse a country that doesn’t benefit them, period. And now they want everyone to give Trump a chance since Hillary Clinton didn’t get in. (Is Clinton perfect? Heck no. Just isn’t that level of hateful) That maybe everything will be all right with the Alt Right, if given the opportunity. Just like it was all right during the ’40s when Japanese Americans had to go to Manzanar, USA. Or when anyone Jewish, Black, disabled, whatever, had to go to the death camps (the holocaust killed more than Jews, remember that. The first to go were political opponents, actually. Germany was a diverse nation, too. Just like now). What absolute insanity.

Even media that tilts intensely liberal like Mother Jones, CNN and MSNBC now falls over itself in trying to romanticize the Alt Right and distance them from the Neo-Nazi rhetoric they constantly spew, even the triple parentheses that they use to signify anyone who is Jewish or “Anti-White”. Simply because hatred got a makeover, it’s time to play nice with them. That’s ridiculous. And these are some of the same folks who won’t shy from saying “Feminazi” or “Grammar Nazi” (even joke about the Soup Nazi from Seinfield!) but have a hard time calling an actual Nazi a “Nazi”. Or “White Nationalist”. Even if the bigot does the salute and all! What is needed? The Hugo Boss uniform, heel clicking and goose stepping?

I don’t think anyone needs a chance to get to that point. That’s much too far.

 

* Sieg Heils: The hand/arm motion that Hitler is commonly associated with. The Nazi salute

** We told the British where to shove their tea and massacred Natives (even now, American police are trying to literally freeze out (water cannons and everything) the Sioux over the tribe wanting to defend clean water. By the way, Flint, MI is still happening)

Yep, first post back and I’m down with a headcold. Been fighting a head cold all this week. However, even without a headcold, this week still sucked for a lot of folks. Trump won the election. The part that sucked the most for me is that I called it.

When folks would ask me who I thought would win, I would respond, “Unfortunately, I think it might be Trump. The country has gone too left so we’re due for a conservative snap – which this gump-faced, fake-haired cheeto is part of. In addition, he’s a great salesperson, he could sell water to a fish, it just would unfortunately be clear blue gel. In terms of dupin’ the stupid, he’s good at that. And Americans aren’t known to be the smartest people in the world. Far from it.”

I’m an Independent (meaning I am not part of any party, they all suck) and I identify as a socialist (meaning I strongly believe that institutions like healthcare, education and social/fiscal safety nets should not be for just the rich and wealthy but for everyone). But also as a Black, female, Pagan person, I was kinda looking forward to basking in all the folks who were going to say how wrong I was.

 

faceq1478879794217.png

So wrong, so nice

 

Instead, this was me when I checked Google for the Electoral vote count:

 

faceq1478880231321.png

You can’t be serious

The US has really elected a moron that is very much planning to be a grade-A fascist. Of course, only White folks (also known as, “the voter bloc that mainly voted Trump in”), don’t see how Trump could bring a lot of bad news to a lot of people. Granted, this is the same group that said tried to say racism was over when Obama was elected…then voted in Trump based on his super racist platform.

There are already protests against Trump winning because, frankly, folks who aren’t White, straight, etc. are pretty concerned. It isn’t that Hillary would have been the daughter of God superceding Obama in everything he’s ever done, but at least folks who generally are targeted by the Ku Klux Klan would have not been as worried. She would have screwed up the nation as well but without the potential reality of political camps and a major spike in hate crimes. Instead, a sexist, racist rapist got elected and will be taking all those disparaging beliefs (and near 100 of lawsuits, let’s hope one of them will get him impeached) to the oval office with him. If it were some other Republican besides Trump, I’d probably be ok. Buuuuuut it’s not.

In addition to protests, there are also folks online who want to assemble for future protests and disruptions using encrypted networks and short range communications, such as Tor and Signal. I wouldn’t recommend this because Tor, for example, was made by the government (no, really, it was) and Signal can be intercepted. It’s really difficult to find a good network to assemble and help folks organize but, trust, they exist.

This is a very unfortunate election. It was a long time coming but that doesn’t change how terrible things are about to be. I expect a lot of civil right laws getting rolled back extensively. We’re a nation that has put whole groups of people into camps and prisons out of fear, disdain and/or hate (why people think these things can’t happen is beyond me). There’s actually no telling what will happen with this upcoming presidency. I definitely know Trump has a vendetta list and media folks (just the ones that depicted him honestly, or as he considers it, “badly”) are very close to the top. And given how Bush was during 9/11, it’s not hard to imagine limitations to freedoms of the press because that’s exactly what happened.

If you’re going to protest, that’s fine and dandy. The more important thing you can do is inform yourself about government, how it works, how it doesn’t work and what you actually want to solve because simply getting Trump out won’t solve all the emotions and feelings that got him elected in the first place. Nor the problems that people thought the current administration ignored or were too slow to fix. He didn’t get elected in a vaccuum.

Trigger Analysis

It’s seems that the term “trigger” is more and more in the public lexicon. Moreso as a joke (Ex: *sees something remotely disagreeable*, “Oh, I’ve been triggered!”. Ex2: “Trigger warning: happy people”) and collective irritation. Back in 2015, the Atlantic had an article called “How Trigger Warnings are Hurting Mental Health on Campus” and that set off a spark that basically let people show their best ableism.

For those that care not to read or are already familiar with the concept of “butthurt babyboomers*“, it basically is a writer whinging about how having trigger warnings, such as “Ahead: Rape, Violence” in classes makes young, millennial college students emotionally feeble and ill-equipped to handle the real world…despite the fact anyone could argue that anyone who needs a “rape” trigger warning before being old enough to go to college already got a crash course in how the real world is cold and evil. It probably would have been a better article if it were about the fact that there’s a lot of really bad things in society that traumatizes people at an early age and how it can cause a ripple effect in their life, like rape. I guess the writers would have thought “Ehhhh, let Ta-Nehisi Cotes handle it, he always writes about dumb and weepy sh*t.”

I’m not going to break down the article because that’s not prompted this column. It’s the fact that a lot of people still seem to not get that mental health is pretty important…unless a mass shooting happens, then everyone wants to talk about how they want to keep crazy people away from teh gunz. This is inaccurate because the average mass shooter is White, male, 15-28, Christian or culturally Christian-leaning, dealing with humiliation/anger (not mental illness) and very, very lucid about the world and themselves – basically, not crazy, just very hateful and inspired to be violent.

I’ve written a number of columns/posts here about mental illness, triggers and stuff like that. Probably to the point that folks are wondering “Does she even talk spells and magick anymore? It’s all about being Black and mentally ill.” A) Now you know why this blog is from a Black Pagan Perspective. B) Of course I do! It’s just dealing with systemic ills can really take a lot of my time C) I’m not Silver Ravenwolf, geez.

Triggers, as they’re commonly known, are not for all disorders. Some disorders do not need triggers to go into action, like depression and schizophrenia. Rather, it’s anxiety disorders (Ex: OCD) and trauma disorders (Ex: PTSD) that tend to get use out of trigger warnings because they tell people “Eh, you probably don’t wanna see this if you’re not interested in having an impromptu episode” and the person affected can move on about their day. Technically, society already has a lot of trigger warnings: Video games have ratings, movies have ratings (remember how not-smart parents took their kids to see Deadpool, and discovered within the first half hour how it earned the R-rating?), even television shows have ratings – I remember when those weren’t a thing until the 90s because parents started complaining – everything has ratings that serve as warnings of “if this bothers you or your kids, don’t watch”. Music has “Explicit” warnings on them. Even news programs and documentaries have “May contain graphic/disturbing images, viewer discretion is advised” before they start with the disturbing stuff.

Funny those didn’t prompt articles from The Atlantic about how we live in a bubble-wrap society.

Let’s be quick about this, how about we take a proverbial person who is likely traumatized and benefits from trigger warnings everyone else thinks they need to stop being a pansy about: A US soldier that got back from two tours in the sandbox, now gets tetchy when someone plays Call of Duty or Modern Warfare because, unlike the gamer ragging about triggers, they actually served a call of duty in modern warfare. Twice.

Nah, too easy. And it’s September!

Our proverbial person will be a 9/11 survivor. For the lolz, everyone, because this is just an example. (If you lived through 9/11 as a NYC’er, get an ice cream and speed scroll until the text color changes back to normal. Or click here to the rest of the column. I’m not interested in triggering people to explain to the stupid why their “triggered” jokes suck.)

Our person, “Suv” is their name, is a regular person, a joe-on-the-go type that enjoys Broadways and boxing matches on tv. A regular American, works a job, goes home, eats and goes to sleep. Suv is just a regular New Yorker living in the boroughs. Working as a package carrier, he tries to stay afloat as he nearly gets mowed down by at least five taxis a day trying to race a package from one end of Manhattan to another. It’s a crap job but it is what it is, puts food on the table and keeps the roommate from planning his death for insurance money when the rent is due.

Everyday basically is the same but instead this time is different. Late to work, stuck in traffic on his beat-up Cannondale, already can hear the sussing he’s going to get from his manager. Casually looking up, he sees the NYC skyline is always what it is – with exception to now the North Tower of the twin towers now has a plane parked firmly in it from a booming second ago. Suv thinks it’s a mistake and gets to the sidewalk to avoid drivers now confused and panicked. The twin towers aren’t far, basically a few blocks up and near the deli joint he likes to pit stop at for free snacks from the owner, an old high school buddy.

Keeping watch of the skyline as time passes, there’s chatter abound from the radios and screens around. Frankly, while there are stories getting tossed about here and there, no one really knows what is going on. But by a little after 9 AM, it was pretty certain the “it was an accident” theory was not it: second tower was hit and Suv totally saw it. Looked like a B-rated movie, the wall buckling like phony cardboard when the plane hit it. Couldn’t be fake but Suv couldn’t help feeling it was. Officers were already trying to corral the crowd, saying help is on the way, firefighters have already been called, gawking isn’t solving anything, so on and so forth.

Now, the day was pretty chaotic, Suv got scared, didn’t know what to do but go forward because all he figured was he needed to get some place safe and his buddy was up the way a little. Nobody really stopped him pedaling towards the towers until a cop nearly ripped him off his bike, barking at him to go turn back and go home. Not really sure what to do because the streets were glutted with onlookers, cars and commotion, he just stayed and watched. The officer that was fussing at him was more busy fussing at others and listening to his radio transmitter so Suv didn’t have to worry.

After watching people jumping, towers burning and more noises up and down the street in an absolute daze, eventually he saw the South Tower fall. Feeling like it was just a bad disaster movie, Suv kept watching until a random tourist yanked the back of his shirt and told him to start moving, “Drop your bike and run.” Suv glanced at his bike and thought that the person was crazy because bikes are faster than people and this splotchy blue Cannondale may be part rust bucket but it’s his bread and butter. Instead, he tries to bike away but wobbles as he couldn’t get in a stride among the panicked crowd rushing into him and past him. There were shoes and briefcases on the ground, he eventually had to get off and run aside his bike. Everything was loud but the growing thunder was louder and looking over his shoulder as he hurried along, he saw why.

Never was Suv in a dust storm before, he didn’t know they were so fast. They always looked so slow and far away on tv. While he thought he was making some headway escaping the growing plume behind him, another enveloped from the side in a rush of grey. Quickly pulling up his collar to hide his nose and seeing nothing while feeling everything, Suv felt for a wall, any wall with a corner. Finding one, he sat behind the corner with his eyes closed and half his face tucked well under his shirt. He tightly crouched against the wall behind his bike, covered face tucked into his legs, dust getting everywhere.

Eventually dust subsides, Suv is found by a gray-covered officer who saw him huddled behind a newspaper stand and wondered if he was one of the dead. Trying to regain sight, Suv makes his way back home.

—–

Throughout the years, Suv basically lives a normal life. 9/11 was a bad day but it didn’t happen to just him, he figured. If anything, besides a national memory, he thinks it doesn’t affect him much. He doesn’t really dwell on the day much and still lives the average NYC life of trying to deliver packages around the city. Granted, as he tells it, planes and tall buildings make him a bit “weird” – but it’s nothing serious. He’s not like those people who survived the Titanic and became spooked by seeing ice in their drinks. He just don’t like hearing or seeing planes and he’s always had a fear of heights, it’s just a tad worse now. Blue skies make him a bit antsy, always glancing at them but no one’s ever really picked up on that.

When he went to see his sister in Oklahoma City, he took a train, thinking it would be nice to trip through America even though it took hours longer than a plane, which is what his sister suggested. Besides, Suv never took a train before, so what if his sister didn’t like waiting a bit longer? It’s his money and a new experience. 

Oklahoma City was a fun experience. He laughed, he hanged with his sister, made fun of her boyfriend’s Midwest accent at every opportunity, ate food, bought an “I’m OK” shirt and went home.

During the train ride, some teenager beside him was asleep with his iPod going and the earbuds were awful. They might as well be re-classed as “muffled speakers” because Suv could hear everything. Including the new B.O.B. song, “Airplanes”. That didn’t sit too well with Suv. In a flash, he started to feel panicked and worried. He couldn’t really get much of a grip on himself but the song kept bringing him back to nine years ago, where he stood on the sidewalk and faced the dust, the jumpers and the tragedy. He simply couldn’t breathe. Hearing the lyric of “if airplanes were shooting stars” simply got to him and he was curling up, waiting for the dust to come.

Nobody really paid attention to him except for an attendant, wondering why a passenger was having a panic attack. Figuring that perhaps he’s just not good with trains and hoping that’s all he was, the attendant came over with a bottle of water and reaches over the sleeping teen to get Suv’s attention. She did, but his petrified look made her jump a little. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost, can I offer a water? Do you need to go to the restroom? It’s in the next car.”

Suv thought it was the officer that tapped his shoulder but instead it was an attendant, which made him feel embarrassed. He probably looked so wild a second ago. Trying to figure out his breathing pattern, he takes the water and tries to make light conversation to beat back the awkwardness as there was a different song playing now, “Is there an air marshal on board?”

This confuses the train attendant. She corrects, “This is a train, that’s for airplanes. However, you’re safe on a train, nothing ever happens here. If you need to go to the restroom, it’s in the next car.” Suv is a bit embarrassed but somewhat relieved.

Despite this one moment, Suv thought he was mostly unaffected by 9/11. If anything, he just chalked up what happened on the train as a “weird” moment and tried to focus on getting back home. Thing is, Suv has these “moments” pretty frequently, according to his roommate.

The roomie always played the buffer by noting when Suv was getting into his “weird” state and just would whisper to people, “He was at the Twin Towers.” People would be more accommodating without Suv knowing why and all was hunky dory. When Suv would come home and complain about people being douches because he didn’t like delivering to airports or tall buildings, the roomie knew it was because he wasn’t around to brief anyone. He was okay with doing it but, just like one kid pointed out to the roomie as Suv was pacing a Duane Reade once: “9/11 was nearly a decade ago, why isn’t he over it?” The roomie wasn’t interested in playing The Therapist forever, just like the last roommate didn’t. Nor the one Suv originally came home to, coughing and choking from the debris. Suv’s a cool dude but he lives in NYC, planes and skyscrapers are pretty much New York City. As time goes on, less and less people are getting accommodating about Suv’s “weirdness”, especially younger people, even in New York. Seems like everyone is moving on but Suv.

Eventually, Suv moves to Chicago. NYC is getting pricy and Chicago seems like a slower city, his roomie mentioned and he agreed. It annoys the roomie that Suv has to go by train or bus or driving but no planes. At all. The roomie even suggests that he takes a plane and Suv gets there however he wants to but Suv wasn’t hearing any of it. Every time the roomie asked, “What are you afraid of? Nobody’s gonna hijack the plane!”, that pretty much derailed every conversation into a big argument that then derailed into the roomie dealing with Suv’s freakout sessions. Once, Suv even had a meltdown about the fact they were living on the seventh floor in the middle of an argument. A week or two of conversation and arguments, it was agreed they would drive to Chicago, all their stuff in tow.   

Chicago was nice. Cold but nice. The new place was a second floor apartment. Both roomie and Suv could land jobs so no one had to survive on peanut butter cookies like they did for the first two weeks after all the gas money, on top of rest of their moving expenses, drained their pockets. Suv was adjusting way better, he wasn’t checking the sky as much, there weren’t as many planes and not so much skyscrapers.

Once it wasn’t so cold, Suv and roomie walked around Chicago and headed to the downtown area. Suv was feeling a bit alert because of the masses of people milling about him as his roomie walked aside him, attempting to throw bits of hot dog buns at the pigeons, but for the most part, Suv was fine. He always felt a bit alert when outside and not on his bike so this was his normal. They walked past the building originally named the Sears Tower and saw a tour ad stating “Visit the Observation Deck of the Willis Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the world at 108 stories! Come inside for details!” Suv went into full blown panic, even the roomie was surprised. All Suv could feel was terror and he couldn’t breathe again.      

It wasn’t smart and Suv knew it but he looked up. And in his head, he just saw a plane plow into the building. The roomie, knowing the drill, tried to tell the security guard by the door, “He saw 9/11 up close and personal, he ain’t gonna hurt anybody, just freaking out. Can we go inside?” This made Suv respond worse because there was no way he was going into a building that’s going to eventually collapse and kill everybody. “We have to get NYPD,” is all Suv said, attracting a crowd and their camera phones. The roomie, not at all an extrovert, was about to have a meltdown himself from all the attention. Suv spotted a hot dog cart, expecting the impending dust cloud, and hides behind it, covering his nose. He wasn’t in Chicago, it was New York City again.


Alright – that was longer than even I anticipated and I’m the writer. I tried to make it as brief as possible so I could make my point.

So, Suv here, has a trauma disorder, he has PTSD. His triggers, if you couldn’t tell, were airplanes and tall buildings. They were beyond phobias like Suv was playing them up to be. Here’s what makes what he has PTSD:

He dissociated: His brain dissociated from the tragedy that was around him and made him think he was watching (not “in”, “watching“) a bad disaster movie. Meaning, his brain pretty much attempted to block out the fright of the situation and make it seem unreal. Technically, this is a derealization episode Suv had. Despite that, it’s like his brain plays the bad movie over and over again years later and, this time, he’s part of it.

He’s hyper-vigilant: Watches the skies a lot, especially if they’re blue skies (because the sky was practically crystal clear on 9/11). He may not know it but this is pretty much a “trauma-time” because he’s actually looking for planes, fearful of seeing another attack, despite the fact that it’s been years. Says he has a phobia of heights, thus why planes and skyscrapers bother him but frankly, it’s because he had seen a plane plow into a tower with his own eyes. Twice. He also saw people jump to their death from the towers.

He’s anxious: Sees a plane or skyscraper? Reminded of planes and skyscrapers? He doesn’t handle it well. It makes him “anxious”, as he likes to call it. His roommate would describe it better as “terrified”. So would the onlookers in Chicago seeing his breakdown by the Sears Towers, if not “tetchy”.

Has flashbacks: Gets triggered, he’ll think it’s 9/11 all over again. (This is why it’s important to be mindful of triggers) He doesn’t have to see a plane plow into a building, his brain will play it out for him instead, which is hyper-realization as his mind superimposes the attacks on tall buildings. Basically, he’s reliving the event. Why, he even started to relive the event from a song that had nothing to do with terrorism, 9/11 or anything, it was a reference to planes as a simile.

Became event-evasive: Suv had a sudden preference for ground transportation (cars, buses, trains) instead of air flight, even if flying was the easier/cheaper option.

When faced with his triggers (planes, tall buildings), Suv couldn’t separate modern day from 9/11, even a decade later. Granted, I could have gone deeper and brought up terrible sleeping troubles, being hyper-associated with the number 9/11 to the point Suv wouldn’t want to call 911 for help or things like that but all those experiences are from trauma. Just like any person with trauma, it’s difficult to manage with triggers, even worse when you don’t really know what’s going on because you didn’t know it was PTSD.

Granted, here comes the question: “What? Are we supposed to magically know that this guy is a 9/11 Survivor and never talk about planes or buildings ever? Wouldn’t it be easier for this dude to move to some meadow and deal with it that way?”

No. It would be up to Suv on whether or not he should disclose that he saw 9/11 and that those are his triggers. However, it would be easier if people didn’t openly and continually discount the simple fact that folks have them. (Remember, he didn’t want to see himself as just like those who survived the Titanic and couldn’t have ice cubes in their drinks as a result because it reminded them of the iceberg). In a way, he was trying to tell people he had triggers but didn’t call them that, he just said planes and tall buildings made him a bit “weird” because he didn’t want to come off as hyper-sensitive or crazy. If anything, he was downplaying his reaction, which is what people with trauma tend to do because of the stigma.

It’s not easy to tell who has what trauma. Suv could even mistakenly set off another survivor with a loud ringtone if that other survivor had a trigger about sirens and loud noises. People with trauma don’t like to wear what their buttons are on their sleeve.

Also, running away isn’t always an option for the traumatized. And sometimes the traumatized don’t want to run away because it’s almost like saying “I’m affected”, which people don’t like to think of themselves after a trauma.

If anything, it’s pretty obvious that Suv is going to have to get help for his trauma because it does indeed affect him a lot but it’s not uncommon for people to go years without getting help. Sometimes, intense reactions are delayed, it can take years for something to blip up as intensely like what Suv experienced on the train, several years later after the attacks. Either way, it’s better to be mindful and not be a terrible person about the fact that someone has triggers.

Out of all this, note that the roomie does not have a trauma. Yes, he was eventually distressed from the crowd gathering due to Suv’s episode but “being the center of attention” is not a trigger or trauma. It’s normal to be anxious when the center of attention, especially if you’re not accustomed to it. Suv had a trigger to his traumatic episodes, something that reminded him of his traumatic experience. That’s why they’re called “triggers”. Just like how peanuts can trigger an allergic episode, certain things can trigger a trauma episode. However, no one jokes about the fact that people can be allergic to things like shellfish or wheat, nor do people joke about how epipens are very expensive and how they’re so unnecessary because it’s just getting in the way of evolution sorting itself out. Or if someone does joke about that, they’re seen as a terrible person because folks can’t help the fact they have allergies others should be mindful about.

As always, I explain to people the best way to deal with the fact that some people have triggers is to think of it like allergies. You can’t look at someone and say, “Yep, I know they’re definitely allergic to cotton. Totes.” Or feed someone fish and automatically know that their throat is about to close up in a few minutes. Or that they have asthma. Or anything, really. It’s why people, including myself, wear medical bracelets. It’s why people check the labels at the back of products. Folks who are impacted with their issues try to sort out their lives to make it easier on themselves (note Suv had rather take ground transportation and avoid tall buildings instead of simply just not leaving his home). That’s people taking care of themselves and their disabilities, not wallowing about totally helpless.

However, imagine folks did make fun of having food allergies and trolled about over the epipen. That means there wouldn’t be really any open discussion about the jack-up in price, how people can have cheaper alternatives, so on and so forth. No one is really shamed for talking about Claritin because they have seasonal allergies. No one mimics people having hives or sneezing attacks because it’s funny. If anything, it would be seen as odd, like the person simply didn’t understand the human experience or concept of allergies. Granted people do try to offer snake oil methods for allergies but for the most part, no one would tell people, “don’t take your Benadryl, that’s what’s making you sick” or “you need to grow up and overcome your allergy. I had the same allergy as a kid and now I don’t!” and those who do sound downright mental or overwhelmingly stupid. Just apply that to triggers.

If someone has a trigger, don’t shun them or make fun of the fact that people have triggers. It makes people talk less about their traumas, and even incredibly less in how to handle them. Imagine people never getting help for their allergies because someone thought the fact they had any was idiotic. That would be a lot of miserable and/or dead people. Instead of trying to have a sonic ear for those who have traumatic experiences, try not to rag on the fact that there are people who do actually have them. Yeah, anyone can make fun of Suv for the fact that planes and skyscrapers bother him because it seems so ridiculous on its face. Or the fact that a simple pop song can send him into a tizzy. However, it’s not so funny how he got his trauma yet the same person who would probably make fun of Suv would possibly be reading this post right now and say “OMGZ, Black Witch is sooooooo disrespectful to people who went thru 9/11! Never forget!”

To sum it up, triggers are not light, non-happy reactions that only weak people have because they’re weak. They’re a psychological response and earmark to a greater trauma previously experienced. It’s best to treat them as such.

*If babyboomer and butthurt about this phrase, take a bit of your own medicine: stop being sensitive. And croak already.

On Oct 29 will be a Black Witch convention called Dawtas of the Moon in Baltimore City, Maryland. I’ll be taking part in teaching a workshop called “Witchcraft and Research”.

Here are the details:

Where: Wisdom Books Reception Hall, Gwynn Oak area in Baltimore, MD
When: Oct 29, 2016
Costs:
Tickets are purchased through Eventbrite
Adult: $75 (+$2.87 fee)
Young Woman (8-18 years, must have adult accompaniment): $15 (+$1.37 fee)
Young Children (7 and under): Free!

I’ll be doing a workshop there called “Witchcraft and Research”. It’s about how to best do research for your metaphysical practices, learn how to identify shoddy information and how to decipher the two.

I did a Facebook Live chat a little earlier this week and got some great question in regards to people visiting the Baltimore area. This is my hometown so thankfully I can answer this basic FAQ for those traveling from out of state. This also gives me a chance to correct info said on the FB Live chat.

Where is the Location? Is there parking?
5116 Liberty Heights Ave., Baltimore, MD 21217.

At first in the Live vid I said there was ample parking. However I forgot that this parking will be mainly in nearby lot at Family Dollar that is down the street. There is curbside parking however.

What is the best route to get to the Wisdom Book Center from BWI?
Driving:
Via I-695 N
Via I-195 W

Public Transportation:
An all-day pass is $3.80. Baltimore’s public transport is crappy, especially the bus. Light rail is great, however but it has terrible stenches.

If you still plan to use public transportation:
Get on at the BWI light rail stop and get off at Cultural Center (a 40 min ride) and get an Uber, Lyft or Zipcar. (Easiest option)

The longer way is going to be almost two hours. I actually thought this place would be close to Mondawmin but not really. Given the crime in the area, I would highly recommend getting a taxi service such as Uber or Lyft instead of walking about.

Where to eat?
There will be food options at the venue but outside is going to be scarce. It’s pretty much a food desert in this area, unfortunately. This is doubly so if you have food restrictions such as Veganism/Vegetarianism. Bring snacks unless you want to survive on chicken boxes.

The better selection food in Baltimore is moreso downtown than anything. If you are Vegan or Vegetarian, I recommend looking through Happy Cow (this was suggested by my vegan friends) and seeing the vast selection available.

For eateries, I recommend these places:
Broadway Diner (on Eastern Ave, open 24 hours, decent priced foods)
Italianos (On Washington Blvd, open 20 hours, decent priced foods)
Jong Kak (Korean eatery/Korean BBQ, on Maryland Ave, closes around 10 PM, moderately priced food)

What is the weather like in Baltimore?
Baltimore is a little brisk at this time of year but we’re not cold. Bring a light jacket. We’ve had warm falls before so a light long sleeve is probably all you’ll need. Ballpark temperatures to be around 60s-early 70s degrees.

Will there be a Meet and Greet?
I don’t know if there will be a M&G for presenters and attendees but I possibly will have a M&G early in the day or on Friday.

HOWEVEEYAH! I will have to haul butt at the end of the day because I’m driving to Chicago to be there on Oct 30th. (For Chicago readers who can’t attend the con, just find me at the Lupe Fiasco show. I’ll probably be milling around Fiasco like I always do.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firstly, sorry I was away for a while, I had EEOC and police/Internal Affairs stuff to attend to.

Now onward with the post!

Throughout Black culture, there is the idea of “Black Love”, which is very pure in concept: Two Black people in a gentle, calm and strong relationship that features a strong Black man that takes the helm of everything, is the protector and provider of the home, and a strong and intensely supportive Black woman who is always behind him, taking care of all home business: rearing the children, keeping the home non-chaotic and making sure that any drama is quickly vanquished.

This belief is very common in pro-Black circles as an aspiration of what to attain, it’s also common in general mainstream Black culture as an ideal relationship for Black men and women. The idea bores from the belief that “no one else likes us or cares about us so we may as well support each other”, a rejection of universal anti-Blackness. This is a great idea but it’s exactly that: not reality. It’s also warped and modified primarily as a purport for Black masculinity since it is rarely, if ever, non-hetero in its depictions and does not really allow women to have much agency. That and it’s basically the 1950’s American nuclear family ideal painted black and a little ankh hung somewhere for decoration.

On its face, the concept of “Black love” is a very beautiful one. It’s smiling Black couples on the cover of countless Black magazines, usually the woman holding a baby or the couple talking about children. They’re financially well off, they have a home, a car and a world of their own. They could make a White person on the street gag in absolute horror and switch from Sanders and Hillary to Trump in a heartbeat just by walking down the street, hand-in-hand and joyful. They’re an active and passive defiance of many dehumanizing anti-Black stereotypes and offensive to any and many who believe those stereotypes.

But in practice, it’s a very complicated and very hard to exemplify concept that is filled with more problems than beauty. And it’s no hidden secret, countless books have been penned on this subject, especially from the womanist and Black queer perspective.

“True” Black Love does not leave much room for Black women to be individualistic people. It shows stark similarities to 19th century Victorian beliefs of a woman’s place to be an “angel in the house”: The cultural idea to not pursue “masculine” things like heavy careers and individuality because it’s her job to make a “man feel like a man” – as if the man is absolutely incapable of normal human feelings and developing mental and emotional securities by themselves due to (entirely fictitious and scientifically bogus) biological beliefs. If the man left or cheated on the woman, the accusations usually hover around how she wasn’t emotionally supportive or simply caused too much trouble with her own life happenings and therefore, it made perfect sense the dude is going to run off to the next chick that can take care of him like a mother (that gives blowjobs).

The woman desiring a career can be seen as a threat to the “Black Love” relationship – unless it can directly or indirectly benefit the man somehow via paying his bills, giving him supplemental income, basically supporting him instead of a 50/50 relationship. This happens a lot in Black relationships – not in every, of course, but enough to be a well-known concept all on its own. The goal of the woman in “Black Love” is supposed to be that of “Support Black man, have kids, basically be a Black June Cleaver”. If the man cheats, she’s supposed to welcome him back as the angel in the house and get mad only at the woman (or “women”) he cheated on her with for pulling him from pious, Abrahamic monogamy down the deep road of lust. If the man is not there for her emotionally, she is supposed to be okay with that because he’s a man and thus has more important matters to attend to than how his partner feels because it will support the whole somehow – even if it doesn’t help or support her personally, emotionally or mentally. Because women issues never matter and Black women are supposed to be made of spun steel, not capable of vulnerabilities. A “Real” Black woman in a “True” Black Love relationship is supposed to hold her man down: keep his secrets, put up with his many, many, many flaws and be grateful that she has a Black man to have and to hold. She’s the evolved version of the “Ride or Die” chick. And she is depressed, unloved and insecure – but told to always be a giver and never a taker because the Black man already has enough strife due to systemic oppression.

“True” Black Love somehow holds no room for non-hetero relationships. Actually, the opposite. Lesbian “True” Black Love relationships seems mythical and gay “True” Black Love seems to be a mockery on the concept altogether because of the conjunct of homophobic and misogynist beliefs. Monogamy is seen as a must in “True” Black Love, there’s is no room for polyamory, (unless cheating and only if the guy does it because he’s “just being a man”). It appears to be also a must that the expression of “True” Black Love can only be between a man and a woman because it is a copy of the White American nuclear family of the 1950s…which actually makes sense given that the concept was newly crafted in the Pro-Black movements of the ’60s and 70s. There doesn’t even seem to be room for bi-people. Either you’re straight as a rod or you’re not Black.

Long story short, it seems the rigid idea of “Black Love” is more of a myth than an actual experience. Does it mean that Black Love doesn’t exist? No. Not at all. There are plenty of successful Black relationships all over the world that doesn’t dissolve into dysfunction and tragedy. Plenty of Black couples who never cheat on each other, plenty of Black couples who equally work together as a duo and not as a lopsided partnership, plenty of Black couples of various gender pairings that are making it work. Because they’re a couple. And that’s what couples do to make a relationship work. They’re not perfect – like the people in the relationships – but they’re making it work…because it’s worthwhile.

Relationships should be worthwhile and healthy. It is unhealthy to be a Black person in a relationship with another Black person and sticking it through because you don’t want to show society yet another failed Black family/relationship. While the effort is truly valiant, it’s ultimately worthless because instead it’s just the person with the ideal getting hurt. It’s basically like continually hitting your head against a brick wall in front of a passing crowd because you want to prove that bone is actually quite strong with sufficient calcium. Some will note, most won’t and you’re still going to have the random dink in the crowd going, “I dunno, I’m gonna believe that Facebook post about how I can get all my nutrients from the sun.” In the end, you’re just going to have a gnarly headache and not much to show for it. The ideal of “True” Black Love is no reason to be with someone who cheats, is emotionally vacant or otherwise disrespectful because, frankly, that’s not love at all. That’s being conditioned to accept abuse as normalcy hidden under the super thin veneer of “Pro-Blackness”. It’s not love at all if someone doesn’t respect you as a person or keeps coming up with excuses, temper tantrums or trying to control you as part of a relationship.

There’s a justifiable reason why there is pressure to want to have a Black Love relationship but it’s all pointless if you’re with someone that doesn’t suit you. I’ve seen this more with Black women than I have seen this with Black men. Countless times I’ve read and been told of cheatings, beatings and emotional abjectivity. And pretty much all of them stayed because “He’s just being a man” or “I have to support my king” or “I don’t want another Black relationship to fail”. Basically, they all were brought up in the ideals of “True” Black Love and pretty much suffered for it. When the dude would get called out, of course, here came the “I’m sorry”, “I need to be a better man” and other lukewarm fibs just to keep the woman around. That’s unacceptable and unjustifiable, completely.

It should take more than “they have the same skintone as me” as a reason to stay. Yes, actual Black love is very important because there’s enough anti-Blackness to drown a ship, but using a hyper-idealistic version suits no one better at all. Instead of aspiring for “true” Black love, just aspire for a very healthy relationship between two Black people. There is no reason to use a relationship to express a point or idea, just enjoy the other person’s presence the best you can. When two Black folks who love each other genuinely and are best friends with each other, that should be the “True” Black Love ideal.

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