Racial & Cultural Boundaries

On the surface, I appear to be a late teens to mid twenties, black female. In reality, I am a multi-cultural female knocking on the door of 30.

The fact remains, though, that I was raised black. What that means, in my particular experience, is that I wore black girl hair styles. My family was stereotypically black (hair, mannerisms, music preferences, slang and vocabulary use, etc.).

But from a young age, I didn’t identify with the “typical” traits of “blackness”. I didn’t reject anyone that did. But I didn’t.

Beginning with my extended family, I heard from a young age that I was “the least black” of all of them. Or that I was “white-washed”. All I knew at that time was that it meant I didn’t fit in; I was out of place in my family. I spoke clearly and didn’t use much slang. When I did it was words like “dude” and “cool”. I enjoyed reading and had a large vocabulary for my age. I was quiet and polite. Gentle, considerate, and compassionate. I was emotionally sensitive and didn’t take well to ribbing, teasing, or bullying.

I heard it again and consistently when I got to school. White friends would tell me how much more black they were than me because I didn’t know of this or that rapper. Or because I didn’t know anything about gang signs or colors. I came to take pride in being the token black friend in the group. I made jokes before anyone else about the lack of people of color at social gatherings. I wore jeans and screen tees. I read comics. I enjoyed pop music. I excelled in school and had no rhythm when it came to dancing. The only notches I could punch on my “black card” were my inescapable hair texture and my inability to swim.

Somehow these things could quantify how much I belonged – or didn’t belong – to my race.

Only just this year with the current climate of American society and what our present “leadership” represents, I’ve begun to really look at how that’s shaped me. I realized that I had allowed myself to be isolated from my own racial heritage.

I had a moment of crying out. This overwhelming grief overtook me and I felt the need to grieve for everything I had denied myself. I made a conscious decision to embrace those parts of me. I shaved my head to remove the processed and heat treated hair that I had clung to. I listened to music that I realized I had been refusing to listen to in fear of seeming “too black”.

And that’s where it stopped. What else could I do to “be more black”? 

I began looking at my beliefs. The magic I do, the Gods I worship – all of them are, pointedly, not black. While people of Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean are arguably people of color, it wasn’t what I was striving for. I was searching for my blackness and coming up a bit too pale.

I began researching African Deities, Haitian Voodoo and Folk Magick. Nothing pulled me. Nothing drew me in or made to embrace me.

The Greek Gods had called to me from childhood. Years before I ever heard the word Pagan I knew they were real and True. I simply assumed them long gone or otherwise inaccessible.

So why not the Gods of my ancestors?

Fast forward to a few months later when I discover that my maternal grandmother is half white. German from her mother’s blood. Something we don’t currently know from her father’s blood. She’s a quarter Cherokee. Again from her mother’s blood. And from her father, she gets blackness.  My maternal grandfather and my father’s blood seem to carry the rest of my blackness (my father’s blood may hold more secrets).

If magic is genetic, I get it from my mother’s blood. She told me stories of my grandma’s Voodoo when she was growing up. My aunt worked her craft in her own way. And here I am.

So, after all this, I find myself wondering. To what roots is my magic tied? Which of my ancestors calls me to Work?

I’ve accepted, at long last, that I’m black no matter how I speak, think, dance, dress, or wear my hair (though I’m determined to discover how the hell my natural hair actually works).

But I find myself frustrated. I look to the Pagan community for a reflection of myself somewhere and I dont see it. I find the same judgements from the Hoodoo sisters saying I’m disgracing my black blood by worshipping blue eyed Gods. The white women I know shout at me to embrace Osha in place of Persephone and Poseidon, to get to know Her. But does she want to know me? Is the power of my Gods lessened by O/our lack of physical similarity?

And now, I’m being drawn to answer the shamanic call that I keep putting off and I find yet again that it’s not born of African roots. Not even Native American roots like so very many others. It’s those far removed, Northern roots calling to me to pick up and finish the stang I made 3 years ago.

But my skin is dark. My hair is kinky and coarse. By all obvious judgements, I’m black. What place do I have in Northern Tradition Shamanism? And if there is a place for me, am I afforded the right to adapt the tradition to my own path? Or is my place so privileged that to make changes would be disrespectful?

I find myself in a position where I can’t accept the call without more clarification. But not accepting the call has it’s own consequences.

If this is the first dilemma I face in this, I might come to dread the ones that follow.

Beltane

Beltane is one of those Sabbats that I’ve never really connected with. 

In my earlier days as a Pagan, and as an 18 to 22 year old, I scorned all things relating to fertility for cursing me with a week or more of excruciating pain every month and aside from that and the Sacred Union, I never really understood much about it.

Now as I set out on a journey of solidifying my religion and spiritual practice, I find myself looking toward identifying my own sacred days. It just so happens that the first Sabbat to occur after making this decision is, of course, Beltane.

So I sat down while my daughter napped and did some research on the symbolism, significance, and modern celebration.

What I found is that, for me, Beltane is somewhat of a mid-way observance. I’ve lived in Southern California my entire life and still can’t handle the heat of summer.

Beltane seems to have influence from the contrasting energies of fire and water. Combined, these two make steam, which is exactly what I run out of when the heat picks up.

Beltane symbolizes the increase in the sun’s power leading up to the next equinox. By harnessing this energy, I can use it to fuel my forward momentum to overcome my summer slump and maintain energy to make it through to the cooler weather. During this time, I’ll also be embracing the watery aspects to cleanse and purify myself, my home and my goals.

Recovering from a Spiritual Fall

Since about September I’ve been on a journey that I always seem to find myself on. Like I’ve taken the fork in the road back around to where I just was.

The best way I can describe a Spiritual Fall is when you let Ego, in one way or another, blind you from the direction you had set your intention to go. A lot of times you hear or read about people whose egos became inflated; they get full of themselves or ahead of themselves and find that life has put a pin right where they couldn’t see they needed it.

In my case, my ego has a tendency to deflate before it ever reaches its ideal capacity. Unfortunately for me, this latest deflation happened somewhere along my path to Priestesshood. The fall has been something like falling down a dark, sound proof shaft and every once in a while gurgled voices and static come through.

Recently I visited an old blog that I desperately wish I could somehow merge with this one. I was reminded of my first experiences on my Priestess walk and my invitation into Persephone’s chamber. I reached a level of awareness and appreciation that I didn’t know could be reached.

Recovering from my spiritual fall is proving to be difficult and awakening, as you might expect. Persephone is encouraging me with Her patience but still keeping me on my toes with Her silence.

Poseidon still appears to be contemplating where He would like to fit in in this particular scenario, as He was when it first began. I get the impression that the formality of Priestesshood isn’t something He had considered before Persephone entered O/our life. Though I imagine W/we will find unity in the end.

Currently I feel like I’m making my way back through the paces of my early studies in Paganism. I’m back to Tarot basics and reconnecting with my sacred tools and symbols. I’m thinking heavily on my beliefs and my views of the Gods.

The true challenge of this recovery isn’t so much getting back on track, but learning to stay there and continue moving forward.

Paganbloggers.com

I’ve been fortunate enough to be listed as an author on the new Pagan blog site Paganbloggers.com under the name Millennialwitch. I’ll be working towards posting 3 articles a month of new content.

Sue to the nature of the author agreement, these new materials will be posted there first with a holding time before I can cross post. If I find the time and have the material, I will still post original material here. If not I will cross post when I can.

Paganbloggers.com is a WordPress hosted site, so I hope any of my readers here will migrate there to find more of my articles/entries and those of other pagan writers.

Dreamless Nights

It’s been a couple of months since the last time I remembered a dream. Before that, it was even longer. I wish it had been a profound and revealing dream that I could have woken from to say “aha!” or “that’s the answer!”.

Instead it was an off dream about reuniting with the last person I was in a relationship with. There was a recollection of days gone by and, I think, a mutual understanding that it was the best thing for us both at the time. 

Generally, the dream had that fuzzy feeling to it, like when you’ve slept just the tiniest but longer than you should have but you don’t exactly mind.

I’m hoping this will become a regular thing again (remembering dreams in general, not particularly about exes). I feel as though a piece is missing or that I’m not rested when I wake and haven’t gotten enough sleep.

It draws my mind back to Persephone and her dealings with the Lotus Eaters. And to Poseidon who has always helped sway me to sleep during times of continued sleeplessness.

Spring is around the corner and the great awakening of life will take place. As Persephone makes her return to light I hope she’ll bring with her a flower for me. One drenched mostly in red to bring me back my dreams.

Every Bit Counts

One of the major aspects of my Work over the years has been self improvement. A lot of the struggles I’ve faced in life have stemmed from a long time of self loathing. Part of repairing that is giving myself the opportunity to build confidence.

Once I got into journaling in travelers notebooks, a great opportunity presented itself by way of art journaling and I’m so pleased and proud to have kept it up for the last couple of months.

I constantly find myself thinking “well, I can’t journal today. I don’t have this or that item that would be perfect”.

Each time I impress myself by responding to those thoughts with “otherness would be perfect if you got your thoughts and feelings on paper. It would be divine if you attempted to be artistic in spite of what you fear you lack”.

I completed my first insert recently and I was so moved when I flipped through and saw 2 and half months of progress. My first attempts at adding watercolors to a page. The first collage I did (and the first one I actually thought looked good).

I treated myself to a leather travelers notebook at Christmas time and will be starting a brand new insert. I’m anxious and excited to dive into a new blank canvas and see what other new things I can try. In the meantime, here’s a flip of my first completed book.

15 Years

I’ve been doing some reflecting on where my path began lately and realized that this year marks 15 years since I began a journey of self discovery through Paganism. I’ve written before, I think, about how my path began when I read The Odyssey for the first time in my junior high school library. It was a crackly, blue, hardcover book that the librarian told me hadn’t been checked out since she had been working there.

I checked it out several more times that school year and sought it out the next year to find that it had been swept away with the other unpopular books. I moved on to reading everything I could find about the ancient Gods and was overjoyed whenever my Ancient History class touched on the subject.

I didn’t know then that I’d been on this path now. I didn’t even know the term Pagan or that it was an available path to follow.

All I knew was that the God of The Bible was not the only to receive love and honor. I had tried to give Him my love and I had tried to receive His, but I never felt Him. There was never a connection.

I searched endlessly for that connection until I was 18, spending my days and evenings wandering the shelves in the local Borders bookstore day after day reading (but not buying…) their books on Greek Mythology, when I discovered the metaphysical section and learned that people worshiped, loved, and honored these Gods and others like Them.

I took a chance and began talking to Them like I had tried to talk to the God of The Bible. I spoke, I wrote, I thought, and I began meditating for the first time. And I waited.

At the time I was an avid writer and was working tirelessly on a comic book script. My time spent searching for the presence of these new-old Gods was focused on finding Apollo. So when the first signs came to me I knew it must be Him. I grasped firmly to that idea for a year, wondering why I didn’t feel fulfilled in that aspect of my spirituality.

Then He came to me. Bold and strong. Dark and awe inspiring. My loosely Christian upbringing led me to interpret His signs as those of Hades. Dark, smoldering, with a “pitchfork” of sorts in His hand. His patience was endless as I tried convincing myself of who He was, but He wasn’t.

While Hades lent me His council on many things during this time as I gave Him praise Poseidon sat closely by my side, whispering truths. And when I finally welcomed Him in my heart, He left a place for Hades that would be filled by His Lady Persephone in the next couple of years.

Throughout that time I sought council and learned lessons from the Gods – some Greek, some Egyptian, some Norse. There are still whispers from some, God or otherwise I’m not sure, that I haven’t yet clarified. I’ve met guides and spirits in passing and welcomed my One, Sunrise, into my life.

My depression still sometimes interferes with my ability to connect to the Gods and to nature (and to myself and the people around me, for that matter), but along with my daughter, the Gods help me to work through it and continue on this path.