if i’m a witch, do i celebrate during the holidays?!?

November 26, 2010

I try not to see the holidays as a stressful time, they should be cheerful and bright. If the holidays are too stressful, you’ve missed the meaning entirely. Since I’m Pagan and my family isn’t very aware of it, I have to work double time. Act Christian enough around my family and do Pagan stuff with my friends. I’m used to playing the part: remembering the Christian story of Christmas, Christmas songs, refresh my scripture knowledge and try to leave as little Pagan trace as possible. Thank goodness Christmas is an offshoot of the Pagan Germanic/Nordic holiday Yule.

If I’m a Witch, do I celebrate during the holidays?!?
Words Black Witch

I don’t celebrate Saturnalia since I don’t really connect to the Greco-Roman pantheon but I do prefer Yule, which is just Christmas without the Christian overlay so I don’t have to do too much double work, just remember when to say “Happy Yule” or “Merry Christmas” at the right times. This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy Christmas, I love it – except for the omni-American spend-yourself-into-debt thinking and over-commercialization of Christmas. I appreciate Christmas/Yule for a cheery time where I hear Boyz II Men “Let it Snow” and The Temptations “Silent Night” on the radio, I get to watch old timey shows such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and whatever Christmas cartoon that’s being played on PBS. I love singing Christmas favorites such as “Carol of the Bells”, “Winter Wonderland”, “Need a Little Christmas” and Stevie Wonder’s “This Christmas”. There’s the food and the presents and friends and decorations! I don’t often buy presents because I hate gift wars and American gift politics but I do like spending time with those I care about most. I also have lovely Christmas cards that I honestly need to send out to friends and figure out how to wrap presents while my cat tries consistently to shred the ribbons and play in wrapping paper. I do love my Christmas.

As for Thanksgiving, I have once been asked, “So, since you’re a Witch ‘n Pagan ‘n all, do you celebrate Thanksgiving?” To much of the dismay of many narrow-minded and over-patriotic Christian Americans, my religious convictions do not grant nor nullify my American citizenship. In layman’s terms, no matter what religion I am, I am still an American and thus will stuff my face on Thanksgiving, an American holiday. Thank goodness for that, I love Thanksgiving and I love food.

I generally stay home for the holidays although when I was younger I would be sent sometimes to my grandmother’s house on my dad’s side. Since my dad side of the family is from Jamaica, we would have what I saw as a split Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner – American foods on one side (Turkey, mashed potatoes, etc) and Jamaican foods on the other side (goat curry, oxtail, chicken and dumplings, etc). The American food tasted a bit off and everyone had rather the Jamaican food, the American food was merely an act of assimilating into American celebrations of the holidays. I remember the smell of jasmine incense that would just permeate the air, oh, it was such a nauseating smell when I was younger. I remember my grandmother’s accent and everyone nestled in the living room watching television and opening their gifts. When it came to Christmas on my mom side of the family, it was a usual big dinner at my grandmother house. All the fixings of an African-American Thanksgiving/Christmas like greens, turkey, ham, nuts, everything. Since I’m such a homebody and I’m not as close to my family as I was in the past, I simply stay home.

What I also like about Thanksgiving is the Bea Gaddy Thanksgiving dinners for the poor and homeless. Bea Gaddy is considered a hometown hero here in Baltimore for she was very generous and helped those who were much like herself, poor and homeless. She’s most known for winning the lottery and using the money to feed the poor and homeless in her neighborhood. Bea Gaddy is very important to me because there’s not a lot of people like her in the world and to help their own city or others in their situation in such a humble manner. Often people take the lives they have for granted and when given the opportunity to help others, especially in a financial way, it never matter how well it all starts, soon those golden hearts being to tarnish and bronze. I was raised poor myself so I knew how to appreciate what I have and to appreciate those who help the downtrodden. Not everyone has the luxury to have an expensive phone or a home that can spark envy and it seems those people who cannot afford or even dream of having such luxuries are often cast to the side and deemed parasites of American society, too lazy or too stupid to get a job. Hard times are hard times and when living in hard times, there is no time to think of keeping up with the Jones’ when it’s more important to keep up with the continually stacking bills. It is good to see someone like Gaddy who truly wanted to help out, not take advantage of, the poor and the homeless. She didn’t do it for good PR, she wasn’t a plucky suburbanite trying to “save the world”, she simply saw that people needed help, the very same help she needed when she was going through rough times, and did just that, helped the people who needed it most.

If you will be in the Baltimore area and you would like to volunteer for the annual Bea Gaddy Thanksgiving dinners, here is the information.

Not in Baltimore but want to help anyways? Last year the fund for the dinners fell short due to the suffering American economy, please donate this year to make someone’s season bright. Here is the information to support the Bea Gaddy Family Center.

Happy Holidays!

Oh wait! I have to talk about what I’m grateful for, that’s right! I kinda did a small bit for Mabon (which is somewhat of a Pagan Thanksgiving) on Twitter but here’s the rest for Thanksgiving:

Beyond the basics (health, shelter, clothes), here is what I’m grateful for, Black Witch edition:

Afro-Punk – They gave me the opportunity to create Black Witch and became the foundation spot for my column and with a ready audience to read my work. I never thought I would be in journalism of any sort but this is a very wonderful and interesting experience! I’m very happy that Black Witch has been very well received.

Wondaland – When I first met Wondaland back in May, I remembered mentioning Black Witch on a semi-whim because I didn’t want to come off as just a fan and that was back when BW was only still a pitch to AfroPunk, nothing physical. I wanted them to remember me for something and to foster friendships. Well, almost seven months and three Wondaland features later, I think something came through, haha! Because I told the very people I admired, I wanted Black Witch to be impressive now, Wondaland gave me a goal far enough I’d have to work to achieve it but close enough to know it’s possible. If I didn’t have, “Oh crap, Wondaland could be reading this! This thing’s gotta ace!” in the back of my mind, I don’t think Black Witch would look even half as good as it does right now, Wondaland pushes me to strive for the best and to be better than that.

My readers – Welp, despite all the support I’ve been given from AfroPunk and my own friends, it is important for a column to have readers. That is kinda what a column is for, I already have a personal blog for soapbox yammering. Plus if there is someone out there who is reading, hopefully it means my work is going to good use somehow. I want Black Witch to be for the Black teen still trying to figure out what they believe but know in Jesus Christ isn’t exactly it, for the closet Black Pagan to not feel like they’re alone and for the Black Christians who think that it’s either Christ or highway – some prefer the highways, byways, hills and mountains, to be anywhere but trapped inside an institution they don’t truly agree with or believe in. This is to let the world know we’re not crazy, devil-worshipping freaks and that our lives don’t look a thing like Harry Potter if it were completely colored in. Black Witch is for everyone but it’s mainly for my Black Pagan readers to have something to enjoy and for us because frankly, we need it.

Erica, Angelica & Kimmah – Erica gave me the idea to have an external site for Black Witch. AfroPunk was a little slow getting BW up and that was making me antsy, I don’t like feeling tugged about and out of control. Erica then told me to make an external site for the column to keep my head and my wits together. Best. Idea. Ever. I have gotten so many positive responses about the site and how it has led people to Afro-Punk, I felt this was great. Plus, I could make business cards and really put my best foot forward because I felt comfortable now, I had a control of something. Angelica and Kimmah gave me the idea to have a Black Witch Twitter and even a BW Fan Page to better keep in touch with my readers and respond to them. I can have control and the utmost liberty to connect with my readership, that’s all I needed to feel confident enough about my column to spread the word about it.

My friends who deal with my BW bantering – From Wondaland worries to wack responses to potential columns and paranoid freakouts, my close friends hear it all. They’re the ones telling me that I’m not screwing up and my fears are all in my head. They let me know when I’m being unreasonable, rambling or not making a lic of sense but they all give me good ideas and let me know when I’m on the right track. They’re the safety net to my tightrope so I can keep on tippin’ without (much) worry.

Kellindo & Nastassia – Yes, I already did my Wondaland bit but these two have been nothing but big helps to me when starting up Black Witch. See, I have never done column work or even official features before so to have their kindness and support really means a lot to me. Whether it’s Nastassia being super kind to me as my first feature to contact or Kellindo reading my columns and telling me I’m a good writer, they’re really nice mental boosts to counterbalance the “Am I even good enough? My pieces are wack.” If those two weren’t so nice to me and such good friends, I would probably be scared stiff when it comes to doing features and talking to professionals. Kellindo was who I told first about Black Witch on that semi-whim and I remember Isis jumping a little at the idea but he never broke stride and that stuck with me. Oh, I was so proud giving Kellindo my business card at Merriweather, I felt accomplished because I simply remembered his generosity and receptiveness. I felt even better when he complimented the card as colorful, ha ha! Nastassia is just darling and one of the nicest people I’ve ever met! She embodies true Christianity in that she’s kind, caring and very humble. I was very scared contacting her at first because I didn’t know what to expect. What if she’s mean? What if she doesn’t want her work up on a Pagan site? Instead she was very happy to work with me and have a successful feature that even became the most popular column on Afro-Punk and The Establishment as well as featured on another site Black Girl with Long Hair. I always love working with her! Kellindo and Nastassia are the closest friends I have in Wondaland and I appreciate them both equally, don’t know what I’d do without them. (Yes I do, it’s called “being a nervous wreck.”)

That’s my list, what are you thankful for?