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Books for the Pagan of Color

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Hello there lovelies!

I know I said I would get around to creating this list, but I’ve been busy with (insert excuse here)

So tonight I thought that I would at least start a list of my favorite non-Eurocentric pagan books. I feel as if this is highly important, because so so so so sooo many books on the modern Pagan market a) do not address-nor where they made with the consideration of-PoC and b) do not mention non-European spiritualites or deities, or if they do, they are often in some sort of appropriating way. So tonight I’m going to be compiling a list of non-Eurocentric books for the PoC interested in practices, beliefs, cultures, and deities of other non-European cultures.

For the record, I am only posting those books in which I am able to say are good and worth reading. All of these books I own in a digital format.  I am also in the process of reading them.

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The Lunar Tao: Meditations in Harmony with the Seasons by Deng Ming-Dao

This is one of my favorite books. I have not finished reading it, however it is so good and insightful, I recommend to anyone who is looking for a natural, earth based path.  This book is rich with Chinese culture, and is the perfect example of how other cultures revere the natural cycle- and the moon. This is Taoism at it’s finest- if you are interested in Taoism, please look no further than this book. 

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The Living I Ching: Using Ancient Chinese Wisdom to Shape Your Life by: Deng Ming Dao

Too many times have I seen the I Ching approprtiated by Pagans who want to learn a new form of divination without understanding Chinese culture. If you want to learn about this beautiful, poetic, and complex form of Chinese wisdom, I highly recommend this book.

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A Healing Grove: African Tree Remedies and Rituals for Body and Spirit by Stephanie Rose Bird

This is one of my favorite pagan books. As an African American pagan, this book has been such a learning experience. Not only does the author explain and differentiate between the different tribes and countries in Africa (Unlike most Pagan books), she also provides amazing information on the wide variety of trees and healing plants, as well as how you can live as an African-inspired herbalist.  A wonderful book for anyone who loves trees and tree-lore (herbalism as well) but cannot find pagan-oriented books that deviate away from European lore.

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Sticks, Stones, Roots & Bones: Hoodoo, Mojo & Conjuring with Herbs by: Stephanie Rose Bird

If you are looking for insight into African American herbalism, please, I implore you, choose this book over Denis Alvarado’s “Hoodoo Voodoo Spellbook”. While I will be giving a review on that book later, I will tell you here that it is a prime example of cultural appropriation and white washing of Hoodoo in the current Pagan community. Stephanie Rose Bird’s book, however, presents Hoodoo as not as some mass of formulas and recipes for Mojo hands, but instead, she presents it as it really is-a diverse system of African American spiritual herbalism that can be used to enrich your life, connect with the Earth, honor the ancestors, and empower yourself. Highly recommended.

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Almond Eyes, Lotus Feet: Indian Traditions in Beauty and Health by  Sharada Dwivedi and  Shalini Devi Holkar

While not necessarily a “pagan” book, I found this book to be a wonderful source of Indian lore in regards to beauty rituals. A good read for anyone looking for homemade and traditional beauty recipes.

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An Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica by: Jing-Nuan Wu

This is a fantastic resource for anyone looking to study Chinese medicine and herbalism. A very accurate source, it’s intricately detailed and meticulously drawn.

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Understanding Problematic Beliefs: What About the Gaps?

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This blog post was inspired by something that came up on my dashboard on Tumblr. It reads like this:

“The Universe sends us exactly what we are ready for at the exact time we need it in our lives.”

Why is that problematic, you say? Well, the problem with beliefs like this is that people take them for absolute facts instead of personal beliefs. Many people who believe in various forms of Karma, the Threefold Law, the Law of Return, ect,  have them backed up by personal experiences, thus re-affriming said belief.

The problem is that there are many gaps in thinking this way, because there remains a lot of  unanswered questions. Here are some questions I propose to counter the Three Fold Law:

  • Does harm against anything result in the Threefold law? Does eating a chicken which has been killed- either through more human methods or through factory farming- mean that a person will recieve punishment?
  • Is the Threefold Law in referrence to just magical practices, or in everyday life?
  • How long does it take for justice to be distributed to the person after an act-either good or bad- has been committed?
  • Does the Law apply to those who don’t believe in it?
  • Isn’t saying that the Law exists and applies to even those who don’t believe in it the same as Christians who assure us that hell is real, even though we don’t believe in that?

Some of you may have even answered those questions as you go along. As you may have learned- through pagan books, blogs, and other sources- different people have different answers, different interpretations of the same laws.

For something to be considered a Universal law, it must apply to everyone and everything. Laws usually have set rules and meanings, and aren’t fluid and up for interpritation. Gravity, for example, is a rule, although the way that it applies outside of Earth is different. Gravity, as it applies on Earth, is not up for personal interpretation.

The thing that pissed me off so much in regards to this Tumblr post is the fact that some people treat every bad thing in life as if it was a lesson to be learned. This is not to say that there are no lessons, it’s just that you cannot say that everything negative thing that has happened is some sort of learning experience that we should take note of . Honestly, if you think about it, you can understand why this is problematic. You mean to tell me that slavery was a lesson to be learned? That the Universe waited until juuuussst the right time to free all those slaves?  That their lives were just a lesson to us all to treat  other better?

Riiigghht.

The point of this post is not to attack people who believe in particular beliefs, but to reinforce the fact that they are beliefs, and are not set in stone. We have to understand-as a community- that anyone who does not believe in the Threefold Law is some sort of negative Pagan bandit whose giving the community a bad rep. We have to understand that to foist our beliefs onto others is just as bad as a Christian foisting their beliefs on us. We have to understand the gaps in thinking and theology, and admit to ourselves that sometimes we just don’t have all the answers.

 

 

White Out: If You Can’t See it, it’s Not a Success!

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A prime example of whitewashing and how Euro-centric beliefs prevail within the Pagan community.

Black Witch

Storytime! So one day I was at my local metaphysical shop and I saw a goddess statue for sale among many on the wall behind the register and mentioned, “Hey, that’s a nice Brigid you have.” It had a white dress on, pale skin, flowing hair, I figured it was a Celtic goddess. Then the shop assistant, who I have known for years, snorted a laughter and said, “That’s Yemaya.”

What?

I immediately responded, “You lyin’, she’s White,” and as solid proof, she took down the figurine and there it was beneath the pale feet was “Yemaya” stamped on the name plate.

Lemme throw up a picture here so y’all can see what I saw, sans the nameplate:

The shop assistant was just as baffled as me, “I don’t know why we have it, Yemaya is not White, she looks like she was dropped in bleach.” I told her, “Yemaya…

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Why Katy Perry’s AMA “Performance” is Racist

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Well, no doubt many of you are scratching your heads or shaking them with disbelief over Perry’s AMA performance. Most likely, however, you’re confused as to  why so many people are getting their panties into a knot over it. What’s wrong with it? Wasn’t she just dressing up? Why are people so sensitive about race? It’s just a costume.

Exactly.

She’s dressing up- using someone else’s culture as the costume and a bunch of random Asian props as her background.

For those of you who don’t seem to understand, the East has long been plagued by exotification and appropriation of it’s many diverse cultures. Many Asian women-especially Asian American women- are turned into sex objects, as stereotypes of the sexy, submissive, stereotypical Asian girlfriend/lover plagues the mind of many men.

Also is the tendency to ignore the fact that Asia is not limited to just China and Korea and Japan- it is also made up India, Vietnam, and Thailand, just to name a few. These are all different countries, each with their own individual cultures, food, and ways of life.

So the very fact that one privileged white pop singer feels as if she has the right to get up on stage and ignore the cultural diversity of an entire continent is extremely disrespectful. Picking a bunch of “Asian Inspired” clothing and props is disrespectful to those people who you are stealing from especially since homogenization of Asian cultures is extremely prevalent in the United States.

Taking a “kimono” and sexing it up for your viewers also plays into the “sexy Geisha” stereotype that America can’t seem to get enough of. Geisha led very complicated lives, and yet people still believe that Geisha’s were prostitutes or some type of  sex workers (not that there is anything wrong with being a sex worker). By dressing up and pretending to be one, what you are doing is playing into harmful assumptions and stereotypes that many people still believe, reinforcing the image of sexy, exotic Asian women.

Also important to note is that when members of a particular race practice cultural activities, they are met with scorn, distrust, disgust, and racism. Because of white privilege, it is always okay for a white person to practice a cultural activity belonging to a certain culture, but when a person of said race does it, it is no longer okay.

For those of you wailing, here is a list of examples:

  • Black women who wear braids are seen as ghetto, white women who do it are seen as edgy or stylish.
  • Indian women who wear Indian clothing are seen as “too ethnic” and unwilling to except white American culture, white women who do it are seen as fashionable or exotic.
  • Black women who twerk are seen as ghetto and un-classy,white women who twerk are seen as just dancing or even as sexy.
  • Native Americans who dress in their respective traditional clothing are seen as being old fashioned, unwilling to “give it up” and just accept white American culture- white people who dress up as stereotypical, homogenized versions of Native Americans, complete with random ass paint markings and feathers are seen as (by a lot of people) edgy, boho, unique, alternative

The list goes on and on.

Not to mention the overt racism that also happened when Psy, an actual Asian- get’s up on stage, que the racist ass chanting.

So basically the lesson is that it’s okay for white people to take the pretty parts of other people’s culture, but it’s not okay for people of that culture to do them. Because everyone knows that white people just do everything better.

Why I Don’t Want to Hear Your White Opinions on Race

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Another thing that often sickens me whenever talk about race and racism is involved is when white people attempt to have any sort of dialogue on it. Why? Because most of the time they cannot see past their own prejudice, white privilege and white guilt to truly see the matter- these things distort their perception of events, and they often try to take race out of things because the topics of race and white privilege in general makes them uncomfortable.

Whether it’s Lily Allen or Miley, it seems as if white critiquers always manage to divert attention from the actual problem in facor on focusing away from racial conversations. The very fact that white people believe they have the right to tell PoC what is and is not cultural appropriation and theft is white privilege. The fact that Miley’s sexuality will be applauded while Beyonce’s will be demonized is because of white privilege and the constant demonization/fetishization of WoC by society.

This is why most PoC tell whites that their opinions are not needed or wanted- because their opinions often attempt to derail conversations away from race and thus away from any feelings of white guilt.

Your guilt is not my problem. I don’t care what you thought about Lily Allen’s video, because I know that you will just assume that I’m overaccting, “bringing race into it”, being a “race-baiter” ect. This is why your opinions on topics are not wanted in PoC spaces- like this blog.

Because while in most other places (minus a select few) you will be assured that race and cultural appropriation had nothing to do with it, thus soothing any anxiety you feel when the subject of race comes up. It will not happen here.

What I will say is that most comments on race by white people range from blatenly ignorent to downright disgusting, whether it’s about racial crime (it’s not about race!) racial discrimination (that’s just the race card) cultural appropriation (I’m just appreciating the culture!) or what the fuck ever.

THE LIES TOLD TO BLACK PEOPLE TO MAINTAIN WHITE DOMINANCE

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If you ever wondered why African Americans are portrayed so negatively in almost all media sources, please look no further than this.

African Press International (API)

By F. Jones

Many African Americans now holds the opinion that in the face of greater gained opportunities that many within their race became their own worst enemies. It is not uncommon to hear these negative sentiments about their own race now echoed by many African Americans themselvesthey that consider themselves as being exceptions to this norm. This perception often engenders profound feelings of immense humiliation, racial self contempt, and disunity among many African Americans in the 21st-century. But are these self contemptuous views among so many African Americans correct?

And if so how have African Americans, the racial group that demonstrated an unprecedented degree of Black racial pride and unity during the 1960’s civil rights movement now become living contradictions of their former selves? The common response, when presented with this daunting question is to take the position that the core problem lies with something to do with Black…

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Websites and Blogs for People of Color!

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Hello again my dears- here I will begin the stock piling of sources for those of you interested in sources that cater to the experiences of PoC.

On another note, let me define what I mean by PoC. In some cases, I use it for shorthand to mean Pagans of Color, to which I usually will put in brackets for understanding.

People of Color does not mean just Black people- it also extends to Asians- Laotian, Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean- Latin Americans, people of Middle Eastern decent-

You get the picture.

The idea is to have multiple resources for those who come from different cultural backgrounds, so I have compiled all of these links together for your enjoyment! This page will continue to be updated as time does on.

Racialicioushttp://www.racialicious.com/

This website details the intersection between race and popular culture, and is very inclusive. There is a focus on not just African American PoC, but also Asian Americans, Native Americans, and other PoC.

Angry Asian Manhttp://blog.angryasianman.com/

A blog that caters to a wide variety of issues facing Asians and Asian Americans, including not only racial issues, but media, music, and other blogs. Read it.

Gradient Lairhttp://www.gradientlair.com/

Here you will find articles written by and for African American women. Beautiful and inspiring artwork, essays, and thoughtful disscusions provide a safe place for African American WoC (Women of Color) to express themselves and discuss race.