I’ve been immersing myself in ancestral religions—starting, obviously, by diligently trying to forge a genuine connection with my immediate ancestors. TW/CW: This essay mentions r/pe “Women leave in inches.” I don’t know who said this goddamn gem of a quote, but I’ve
It is clear that the cultures of Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples are incredibly significant because of how much white people fear them.Throughout history, cultural traditions have been used to mobilize groups of Black and Brown people together against a common threat—white supremacy. People of color have survived centuries of endless white violence and, at many turns, have used the power and reverence for our many cultures as a means to fight back. It is crucial that we preserve our cultural roots as much as we can, especially in these times when white supremacy and nationalism are so blatantly on display. White supremacists and nationalists have historically used the concept of “culture wars” to demonize people of color and paint themselves as victims, usually of some form of the white genocide mythos. Racists and xenophobes yelling at people of color for not speaking English, even threatening to call ICE, is one of the many hills they choose to die on. Their fear of other cultures—languages, traditions, religions, ethnicities, ideologies—is apparent in their actions, on both small and large scales. During the build-up to the 2016 presidential election, National Review’s Reihan Salam described culture wars as the “fight over the future of American national identity in the face of rapid and accelerating demographic change.” Culture wars are, more or less, a seemingly endless contention over who can and who cannot be considered a “True American,” with white, cis straight, conservative, Christians being the ones with the most ability to lay claim to this title and, therefore, also the ones with the ability to determine who else has access to rights in America. “In almost every case, these culture wars have been conservative projects, instigated and waged by people anxious about the loss of old orders and the emergence of new ones. Their anxiety finds expression first as a complaint about a particular policy, and second as a broader lament about how far the nation has fallen from its founding glory and how desperately we need to restore whatever is passing away.” —Stephen Prothero, Washington Post It is clear that the cultures of Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples are incredibly significant because of how much white people fear them. Therefore, we cannot forget how our ancestors have used their various cultures as weapons against white supremacy, as tools to work towards their own liberation, and as mechanisms to cope in their positions as marginalized peoples. We cannot forget how the many children of the African Diaspora have used cultural traditions to combat and subvert white supremacist violences as they waded in the devastation of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Bois Caïman is where the seed that would grow into the 18th century Haitian Revolution and slave insurrection was planted. At this site, the organized resistance began to take form when a traditional Vodou ceremony was performed. Vodou is a religion and philosophy with deep cultural roots and significant meaning that was birthed in Haiti (once called Saint-Domingue) when an amalgam of religious beliefs were carried to the island with the ships harboring people stolen from Africa. During this time, Haiti was under French colonial rule. The island was rich in sugar, coffee, and indigo, which the enslaved were forced to harvest and maintain. Their revolution was a fight against the harsh labor, as well as the dehumanization and incremental genocide at the hands of the French colonists.
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Our grandmothers have been using these earth medicines in this dual-task way since the earth first sprouted them. We pay homage to our ancestors. We recognize and give thanks to the ancestors whose names we know and those we don’t. We
Feel free to treat yourself with this witch-y gift guide during this hectic and stressful time of the year.Just because the holiday season is adorned with silver bells, plastic images of Christ in the manger and Christmas trees doesn’t mean that you have to be. It’s perfectly acceptable and possible to insert some witch-y goodness into the season and whether you’re a rootworker or Wiccan, there are many online shops out there to make your season magickal. In this roundup I’ll be sharing some great places to purchase spiritual gifts and supplies. Many of the retailers are Black/POC and cater to that market which is to say they offer products that are feature POC or are used for practices of the diaspora such as hoodoo, Ifa, Santeria, etc. This isn’t the case for all sellers on this list.
Basic SuppliesThis shop specializes in the goods you need for conjure and rootwork. Everything from candles, to herbs and curios. She also offers readings and spell work. For those just starting, there are books and kits available as well as classes. The Beginner Witch Box is a fully stocked starter kit for workers in training and is a great gift for the person who is just starting out. This is one of the most well-known online shops for supplies and charms. Although they have a tilt towards Santeria and hoodoo work, their tarot, candle selection, which includes a variety of figure candles, and herbs can be used by many paths. This shop also sells many icons for altars as well as offering help for using their products. The charms and talismans section is a great place to look for thoughtful gifts. If you need dressed (this means to be anointed with oils and herbs for specific magickal purposes) candles, this is the spot for them. They’re handmade and infused with herbs and oils to help you manifest a wide variety of goodness into your own life. The colors are bright and fun and they come in different styles. Even if someone isn’t spiritual, you can bless them with a special candle. Everyone likes candles. Speaking of candles, these prayer/7 day candles have a lot of attitude. If healing vibes aren’t really your thing, why banish some people with the Fuck Outta Here prayer candle or remind yourself to Hustle Harder? These aren’t dressed or sealed but there’s a good chance that anyone who you gift these two will get a kick out of them. And you can use white candles for just about anything. The overall store is filled with a ton of witch-y goods from home to things to do the work but these candles are top-notch. If you’re not sure what you want to do, this shop sells full spell kits to help you get started. They make good gifts because they’re something that people can engage in and help them find their own power, even if they haven’t spent a good deal of time working with it. They’re inexpensive and can really help to awaken someone to their own gifts.
Self-Care Rituals and Everyday LoveSpiritual baths are one of the first things you learn about when working with hoodoo. Although the practice of taking one isn’t about cleaning the body, in a pinch, using soaps like this can help to clear cluttered and negative energy. They also carry body creams, bath bombs, and hair care products. The seller puts together specialty baskets as well. Burning a full candle isn’t something that everyone has the space to do safely. Using wax melts is sometimes suggested as an alternative for those who want to practice candle magic without a full candle. This shop has great ones infused with many combinations of herbs for manifesting peace and goodness. They also carry products for making spiritual baths including oils, pre-mixed herbs, bath bombs and scrubs. All natural and a great selection. Self-care is inside and out. This virtual yoga studio combines narrative with yoga to create a unique, spiritual experience. Classes are taught online through streaming and recordings, breaking down some barriers and providing accessibility. A diet culture free practice and full disclosure, I am the instructor. Classes are grouped into sessions ranging from four to seven weeks, treat yourself or a friend to one. Feeling adrift in your life? This reader does astrology readings as well as tarot and oracle cards to help people understand the energy that surrounds their lives. Much better than a generic, computer created one, the AfroMystic takes time to personally review the querents chart or cards to give them an in-depth reading. This experience makes a great gift for yourself or others.
All Things ShinyAlthough this store is small, it has something I haven’t seen. It sells really beautiful and unique loc jewelry. Each piece is a combination of copper wire, crystals to draw different energy, and curios which include keys and cowrie shells. These are very unique statement pieces. I think we all feel a bit more magickal when we’re adorned with crystals and rings. This site sells beautiful rings and necklaces that feature different crystals and stones set in brass. There’s a tilt to Afrocentric imagery, especially those associated with Egypt but the designs are very unique. For just straight crystals and stones, Heaven and Earth is the place to go. This online shop has the motherload of crystals, both raw and shaped for all your needs. Whether you’re hoping to put together mojo bags or if you need some pretty jewelry, this spot is one stop shopping. It is a very large website and lacks the personal touch of the indie brands but it’s the place to go stones.