i’m black and i’m a witch: my guide to magick

June 9, 2010
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Y’see, I’m a Witch. A Black Witch but not in the way of practicing black but I’m an African American who also happens to be a Witch. I guess it would be better calling myself an African-American Witch to keep heart attacks at a low but it’s such a lengthy name! Ah well. I’m Pagan as well, meaning that I follow a nature-based belief system. I’m not Wiccan tho. I’ll explain the differences (and why ‘magick’ is spelled with a ‘k’) a little farther down but I gotta chat about myself for a little bit.

I’m Black and I’m a Witch: My guide to Magick
Words Olivia Haynes

Yeppers, I’m a Witch. Yes, I do cast spells. No, I don’t jinx or hex. Yes, I do practice various forms of divination such as palm reading, tarot cards and natal charts. No, I’m not Ms. Cleo (I am half Jamaican at least. All she has is that phony accent.) and I never charge because I don’t believe in that.* I have been practicing Witchcraft actively since I was about 15/16, so nearly ten years of magick – doing divination since I was 17. I’ve been Pagan for the same length of time, since I was 15/16. There’s a reason why I differentiate Pagan from Witch because one is a belief system and the other is a livelihood. You don’t have to be Pagan to be a Witch. You can be a Christian Witch, which is what I started out as while feeling out my path.*

However, since I’m both and I get the same reaction for being Pagan as I do being a Witch and an awful lot of Witches are Pagans (but not all), I may use them interchangeably. If you’re confused, just comment and let me know, it can be baffling.

Now, to talk about the spelling of the word “magick”. Though magick has many different spellings that all lead to the same phonetic pronunciation, ‘magick’ is the spelling often used in reference to spellwork. Magic spelled without a ‘k’ usually is a reference to stage magic such as what David Blaine does.

The difference between Pagans, Witches and Wiccans. Paganism is a nature-based belief system. Wicca is a religion within Paganism. Witchcraft is mainly a craft, not a religion so you can be a Witch in any religion. By that note, not every Wiccan is a Witch, not every Witch is Pagan, not every Pagan is Wiccan, understood?
Regardless of race, every time I tell people that I’m a Witch or that I’m Pagan, I get a variety of reactions. They may be numerous but rather typical at this point. I categorize them like this: Shocked, Over-Quizzical, Over-Skeptical, Scared, Confuse for a Genie and Handbag Friend. This is how I they’re filed:

~ Shocked: These people are stunned that a) I’m not Christian despite being raised in a Christian family and b) for a Pagan, I’m awfully level-minded. Apparently Pagans are supposed to be wacked out space cadets kissing trees and thinking you can cure cancer with happy thoughts and pixie dust. Uh huuuuuh. I can be a bit loopy myself but mainly when I’m sleep deprived or with the flu. Otherwise, I like to have my religion and magick with a side of logic. I was raised in a family chock full of doctors and analytical thinkers, it wouldn’t make sense to chuck out science completely. Besides, to be a good Witch you need science, especially if you’re messing about with potions.

~ Over-Quizzical:
I know that most people mean well and are so full of wonder meeting their first (out of the broom closet) Witch but they ask too many stupid questions! Meeting someone who is different from you and you’ve heard so much about them means a silly question or two may get asked. I don’t mind them and they’re very fun to answer but a waterfall of stupid pouring out your mouth is not amusing. Stupid like “Does Hogwarts exist?” (No.) “Can you really turn me into a frog?” (If I could, you’d already be croaking) “Do you have a cat? Is she black? Does she talk?” (Yes, I have a cat. No, she’s white and dark grey. The most talking she does is meowing loudly to demand food and attention.)”Is The Craft/Harry Potter/Charmed real?” (Nope. Entertaining with a big bowl of ice cream on a Friday night tho.) I like questions; I just don’t like an onslaught of idiocy.

~ Over-Skeptical:
I’ll be the first to say it, doubt is healthy. I had a good amount of it when I started magick and so did some of my witchy idols like Lauren Manoy (I looooove her!) Doubt is secure to have when practicing magick so you know you’re not fooling yourself when it comes to if something works vs. if something doesn’t. Over-skeptical people who have their head’s a little too far up science’s derriere to see any sense are like the Over-Quizzical if the OQ spent their whole life following scientists like rock stars and had opinions copied and pasted from science journals. Always they give me a barrage of questions, usually along the lines of “Prove it! Prove it NOW!” Sheesh, so demanding. I like science myself and it’s a good way to keep a person in metaphysics rooted but only if you understand that science know a lot of things but it doesn’t know everything. I can’t snap my fingers and make a plane appear, no, and I’m not going to predict what going to happen to you tomorrow because I’m not a walking party trick. I have learned over the years that you could levitate a whole car in front of them and they still won’t be convinced. You just can’t reason with these people and it’s a headache to start. I just let them go because they don’t wanna be proven wrong, I don’t think, they just want to feel superior because they know science or whatever. I’ll chat with people willingly about magick, telekinesis and all that good stuff but not if their mind is clamped shut with a hermetic seal. They kinda remind me of Riley from the Boondocks: “I keep my mind sealed shut so nothing can get in.” Right about that.

~ Scared:
This would be Shocked with a touch of religious mania. They shout, they jump, they hide and my my my, do they call on God like a group of angels will swoop down SWAT team style and whisk them away from evil clutches, bwha ha ha ha!…If only I had a white Persian cat and a high back swivel chair…anywhoodle! These people were very much taught that Pagans and Witches are godless devil worshippers that eat babies and have no other purpose in the world than to ruin your precious, God-fearing life – and your little dog too! Ok, before I have way too much fun with the jokes, why on earth would I waste my time on people I don’t know nor give two craps about? I have my own life to worry over and what’s the point of hexing? So I can waste my time, money and energy on you? It would just be easier photoshopping someone’s face onto some scandalous pictures and posting them throughout Facebook and to their boss. In addition, Satanism and Paganism is not the same thing.* We’re opposites practically! Pagans and Witches aren’t bad people. We’re just people.

~ Confused for a genie:
Now that you have a psychic Witch for a friend, the world is yours! – Not quite. I haven’t gotten many of these as of late but usually they are the late night calls for a spell because they think someone hexed them…for the billionth time. Or maybe could I make it rain money? Can I foresee the dream guy/girl in their future? I don’t mind doing card readings and such for those ask and for friends but I’m not existing merely to be someone’s personal wizard. I have a life, y’know. When people do ask for spell stuff, I pretty much play 40 questions with them to see if it’s a legit problem or (more often than not) a normal dilemma that just needed attention like any other problem.* Most issues don’t need spells, just some thought. And time.

~ Handbag Friend!:
I’m not introduced by name, I’m “the Witch” or that fact comes riiiiiight after my name. They make a big deal to everyone that I practice witchcraft and they’re more interested by it than I am and I’m the Witch. It must be exciting to have such an unusual friend that’s capable of cool stuff like parkour or martial arts but chill with showing me around! There’s more to me than a spellbook. Way more than that. I like people knowing that I am who I am but that kind of attention isn’t needed. Think of it like a friend who only touted you around an all-White place because you’re the only Black person there and they always talk about how you’re Black all the time, maybe even get some facts wrong like, “Oh s/he like fried chicken and s/he even know Obama! Isn’t he, like, your fifth cousin on your dad side?” Annoying ain’t it?

What convinced me to be a Pagan Witch? Goodness, that’s a story fit for a B-rate movie. There was drama, horror, no romance, and suspense.* It’s a whole post by itself and possibly will be the next post here – as well as discussing coming out of the broom closet – but the short version is…well. It’s no noble story and definitely not the stuff that fantasy movies are made of I guess.

*= another post for another time