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.

Accountability????? Culture.

This comes as a reflection of my past year of experiences, culminating into one facebook comment…..

“I think the recent influx of “accountability culture” especially when it comes to rapists and physical abusers, has simply become a way to prioritize the abuser, our own selfish need to think everyone we associate with is good and by proxy ourselves. Thus still reinforcing misogyny and rape culture, but painting it with pastel colors”

I meant what I said too. I think and have witnessed, that accountability does not actually lead to anything, someone apologizes in public, is briefly embarrassed and then gets to carry on with their lives. Often times just to repeat offenses. They are rarely obligated to leave the scene, never have to negotiate terms with their victims, and basically get to feel “healed.”

As someone who is a survivor of various abuses one of which is rape, I know that this falsified sense of forgiveness is of no comfort. Those of us in the DIY scene who have survived being sexually assaulted never ever feel safe again in spaces where rapists are forgiven and thus prioritized.

Now, I strongly believe in transformative justice over the prison, however we need to prioritize the needs of those who, having already fled to the DIY scene are again pushed into the margins and left unsafe. So if a rapist apologizes good, but don’t be so happy to self soothe yourself and allow them right back into home and hearth until you have addressed the needs of the survivor. The whole truth is, sometimes people we like are rapists, and sometimes people we don’t like are raped. And it is still never the survivors fault. Creating a magically loop-hole so that your problematic friends can escape the consequences of their actions isn’t “alternative,” “transformative,” or “punk”. It’s bullshit.



Black Magic & Poorly coded language

It’s been a long hard road as a woman of color in witch craft. Lemme tell ya. It is actually the reason I decided to open up to how I feel about this this topic.

You see “Black Magic,” is often portrayed with some fairly, and poorly coded racist tones. Many things like use or bones, zombies, blood sacrifices, speaking in tongues and etc… You know stuff you see on tv before and “evil” witch appears, is a really obvious way to demonize African based practices, such as Brujera, Santeria, Vodou, Rootwork, and Hoodoo. Even the word “Black,” should have been a tip for those newbies who haven’t quite caught up on thinly veiled racism in all communities, but also sadly ours as witches. Your personal practice is your business of coarse, but there is no denying that the continued demonetization of Afro-witchcraft is just racism. Plenty of other pagan religions use blood, bone, curses, and all the things deemed ‘icky,’ by some people. Seriously the Celts, Vikings, pre-Islamic Persians, everybody has practices in their origin craft that many consider unsavory.

Do not fall into the trap of moral relativism when it comes to your opinions on how people “should” practice anything. If you think animal sacrifice is cruel, well I have bad news for you, animal sacrifices are often eaten by the community. Many places where such things are practices don’t have our privileges of food access, so these ceremonies not only build and bind together communities but provided communal sustenance. Most importantly, if you come from the group of people who benefit off of what is hundred of years of oppression, transatlantic slave trade, and labor, you should really mind you own when in comes to judging the “morality” of other practices. Read up on the history and origin of these practices rather than passing judgement of face value, because while some people’s ancestors are not for you to call on, understanding and education is for everyone.

Don’t fall prey to basic ignorance and when people say things like “THAT’S BLACK MAGIC!” check and see if that is thinly veiled language for “Black people practice it and are savages.” Nine times out of ten if the imagery provided is also African coded, that’s racist and you have fallen into the trap of ignorance. Do not connotate my people with evil and ignorance. It is a false assumption, and if you gain any brief knowledge or desire to do research, than I have done my job to try and dispel ignorance.

The only time I want to hear about black magic, is when it is literal Black Girl Magic.