Penny Magic

My whole life I has always believed in picking pennies up for luck. As I’ve grown older and become more aware of myself spiritually I find that copper in the form of pennies holds a lot of significance to me.

My dad (the guy who actually raised me not my bio parent) always brought pennies to funerals when I was a kid. He told me it was a visage of both his Sicilian and Scottish heritage, a way to pay the Ferryman or Gatekeeper. People who are especially significant also get a gold dollar.

These days my alter is predominately nature and Buddha focused. While I consider myself a pantheist I follow Zen Buddhism as my personal philosophy and guidance. I place pennies I find on that alter to be cleansed and blessed.

Recently I have been using pennies as a focus for my spells and such. Whisper my desire be it blessing or curse and flicking it in the direction I need it to go. Like for example my new house. I told the penny I wanted this place and threw it from my car window into the yard. I got the call the next day. I think this goes to show that we cannot ignore the mundane and extraordinary folk traditions and superstitions. I waited for no moon, gathered no ingredients, burned no herbs. I just flicked a penny. You don’t have to have a fancy aesthetic to cast the way you want.

The Least Worst Translation

The idea of  “The Least Worst Translation,” {LWT} was introduced to me by a philosophy professor my junior year if college. Prof V, was teaching an aesthetics class and choice to focus on the aesthetic traditions of China and the concept of  “dan,” which for the purpose of the book we were reading was translated to “Blandness.” The discussion that followed was mostly about how some words, are so conceptually and contextually integral to a culture that unless you are a part of, or have lived in for an extended period of time you just don’t get it. Translation is the art of doing your damnedest to translate, most reasonably words like this.

Later during my own meditations and reflections of the English language, it’s dialects and the intersections of my cultures. This concept applies to the larger discussion on systematic racism, appropriation, and our particular distaste for dialects spoken by POC (i.e. Spanglish, AAVE, and etc). However, another issue is that the culture of marginalized people is expected to comply with the language and tolerance of whatever colonizing entity restricts them. Often times when a marginalized community takes a concept from their culture and does their best to translate it, in this case to English, settlers, as they often do, settle and take the word or phrase back and bastardize it’s actual meaning.

For Example:

Words/concepts like: big chop, natural hair, smudging, two spirit, &spirit animal. These belong to Black and Indigenous because even in English they are our culture.

Words for these concepts. However due to permanent displacement & mass genocide, we lost some stuff& weren’t allowed to use our own culture. Therefore, in order to explain these things we use our colonially forced languages to best describe& stream line these practices/concepts it doesn’t often even describe things well, just in a way so that an idea can be generally “gotten”. As best as possible. Also some concepts and cultures are closed so these are brief filler words to get ya’ll to mind your own damn business. They are also laden with historical context, political background and so forth. Big Chop & natural hair are less about going product free & more about a public display of Blackness the white folk literally kill us for. Two Spirit is a cultural role held by some First Nations people they fall so far out of European binary and conceptualization/ceremony/responsibility that we all had to find one phrase to conform to. Same with Spirit Animal, could be family, could be clan, could be awarded, could be a rite of passage, could be a deity. W/ nearly 600 nations. You bet your ass you are missing some specific and important context.If you don’t belong to that Nation, it ain’t ya business; so we use these LWTs cause we gotta communicate, cause we are forced to plead our humanity& conform to languages not our own.

Basically if you are handed the crap hand that is to exist as a marginalized culture in a colonized world. We work with what we got and still manage to have our innovations taken and bastardized. Don’t be that guy.

 

Whose Gods Do I Go To?

Recently I have seen a large movement particularly among Queer folk and women/femmes, returning to witchcraft practices. Which as almost a life time practitioner of witchcraft in some form or another is pretty exciting for me. Once not so long ago I simply referred to myself as “hokey” because I was worried about the stigmatization of being labelled “witch.” Now at the ripe old age of 23 I am becoming some what of a source among my friends and tumblr blog followers.

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The Thing About Cultural Appropriation

Now listen I get that some many of you are tired of hearing about this, but let me be honest. It is still happening and being falsely justified so I will keep talking about it. Now that, that is out is out of the way here it is:

CULTURE HAS CONTEXT, the reason that is bolded is because it is important to understand for the following. When you take a practice from another culture and mold it to your own use you remove it of it’s context and therefore its actual sacredness. Corrupting the reason the tradition/object/practice exists. Making the theft not only immoral but also illogical.

Now a common rebuttal is that “WELL I APPRECIATE YOUR CULTURE!” again it is cool to have interests and read up and understand cultures outside of your own. However, if your are told that what you are doing is appropriative and racist, and your answer is the above you clearly don’t actually appreciate anything. It is nothing about your appreciation, it is about your ego. Someone who really appreciates knows when to stay in their lane. I appreciate oil paintings, I don’t go to Art Museums and mishandle and possible damaged the pieces within, there are docents, curators, and art restorers, they know what they are doing, can answer my questions, and also preserve art. Much like practitioners of closed cultures. This doubly offensive because many of us spend years, relearning cultures stolen from us, traditions that have be forcibly removed, ancestral traditions of people who suffered terrible things. The context of that history really matter. Also, please to be as self righteous as to think that people of color really need your help to preserve our culture, that a whole other issue really, but stop with the savior nonsense. For those of you who continue to appropriate after being confronted it’s about your ego, about wanting something for the title the person gratification. And that is fucking disgusting it honestly is. Actually appreciating something means that if you misuse or appropriate something you apologize, step back, and learn. So as to not damage the culture you appreciate, take a place that you haven’t earned and don’t deserve.

Another common rebuttal is “BUT IT’S BEEN USED AS FASHION/ ISSA TRADITION,” that means literally nothing guys. Just because something has happened in the past and been considered okay doesn’t mean anything, mostly because POC have only recently had the right to even speak up about offensive things. Being forced into silence for hundreds of years in order to survive does not make previous appropriation okay. I am sorry but your crappy war bonnets for fashion and sports ball aren’t traditions they are bastardizations of actual thousand year old traditions. Make up your own stuff stop stealing ours. This clever tactic of taking from other cultures and then stripping them of their sacredness is a literal symptom of oppression. You reduce, barbarism, and mock a culture long enough, and you stop taking the people who are a part of it seriously. Their humanity is reduced and after being constantly dehumanized, that is when violence against minorities populations  becomes acceptable. Let People of Color be PEOPLE.

Stop making bullshit excuses for your harmful shitty behavior, none of the excuses you make for appropriation make any logical sense. Removing the context makes no spiritual sense, as without the context the sacredness is gone. Get over your ego, stop stealing things that don’t belong to you. Grow up.