I recently got married (yes it finally happened!) and our honeymoon was in Charleston, South Carolina. Everyone that knew where we were going for our honeymoon kept telling me how much I was going to love Charleston. One person even said, “It has that NOLA vibe.” I couldn’t wait.
When I began looking for places to visit while in Charleston, old plantations and plantation houses kept popping up. I knew slavery roots were dug deep there—in fact, as the African American Heritage Site of Charleston says:
“South Carolina's Lowcountry holds a major place of importance in African-American history for many reasons, but perhaps most importantly as a port of entry for people of African descent. According to several historians, anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of the Africans who were brought to America during the slave trade entered through ports in the Lowcountry.” (http://www.africanamericancharleston.com/lowcountry.html)
Yeah. I am Northerner. I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and most of my ancestors lived in New England and most, were against slavery. So, visiting—let alone vacationing—in a place that was the entry port for human beings to become property--- didn’t quite sit well with me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the South. We are hoping to eventually buy a house and permanently stay there in the future; but I know its longstanding history with African Americans, and while many of my kinsfolk in the North fought against it--- you can’t just ignore that part of the immorality that occurred in the South during the 1700’s to the 1800’s. It happened. You can’t erase it.
I felt extremely compelled to visit slavery sites and cemeteries when I was there. For two reasons. One, being raised in the North, we were taught about slavery. We were taught the history of it and the abolishment of it--- but I don’t think any of us really understood what it was to be a slave. A great quote that comes from a “Woman of North Carolina”:
“Northerners know nothing at all about Slavery. They think it is perpetual bondage only. They have no concept of the depth of degradation involved in that word, SLAVERY; if they had, they would never cease in their efforts until so horrible a system was overthrown.”
Yes. She is correct. We didn’t know and still perhaps, do not. After visiting Charleston, I learned how naïve even I was. We were never taught the WHOLE depravity of slavery. Reading and watching about slavery—it’s not the same until you stand in a place where people were sold as household items.
The second, and the most personal reason that I had to visit slavery sites, is because I am a white woman who practices Vodou; a religion that was brought over from Benin in Africa to the Americas via the slave trade. Now before I go on, let me just say this. I understand cultural appropriation and why there are many who find it hard when a non-person of color is practicing a religion that has its roots in Africa--- I did to. I was called multiple times by the Lwa to serve, and I always ignored Their call. I repeatedly told myself I could not practice Vodou because I was white. But for six years the Lwa kept calling—and I eventually decided that they were not going to stop until I listened. So, I did. I became a part of a Vodou House (my Mambo is also white and was born into a family who practiced Vodou. She has also undergone initiation in Haiti). I traveled to New Orleans to learn more about Vodou and to meet Sallie Ann Glassman, a highly respected Mambo who has done amazing work for both the community and Vodou itself. I will always and forever be a servant of the Lwa and I will always be a student—there is so much to learn!
Yes, I am a white woman who practices Vodou--- and let me say this: I NEVER FORGET HOW THAT SPIRITUALITY ENTERED AMERICA. I always acknowledge those who came from Africa—lived through hell—and are still fighting for their equality and freedom. I light a special candle for them on one of my altars- “I light the light that they have made. I light the path they have set; may I follow it in their wisdom.”
When our plane finally began its decent into Charleston, my first thought was “a land built by the hands of slaves.” Its all I could think about. And as a medium and empath, I could feel a lot of unsettled and sometimes angry spirit energy. I told my husband that I was not sure how I was going to like it there and was having thoughts that maybe we picked the wrong place for our honeymoon. But alas, we always heard good things about it and had family there—so I just kept my thoughts to myself.
Now, most people who know me know that I am a huge history fanatic. And while ancient history and anthropology are my favorites--- I love Civil War history. I spent one-year absorbing everything I could about the Civil War. Funny thing was…. most books…most documentaries—gloss over slavery. They’ll mention it in passing, but then it always reverts to the white history and the battles— “There were Africans forced into bondage and servitude—but what about that major battle!” Additionally, I have visited a lot of Civil War sites and most of them—they never really acknowledge the history of the black people who were bought and sold and traded like cattle. It’s almost like, they don’t want to really look at the dirty and degrading part of history which, ironically, was a major part of the Civil War and all those famous battles.
On our second day there, I was surprised to learn, Charleston doesn’t sweep it away --- it’s there—front and center. They make no attempts to hide it. I began to learn about the Gullah—Sierra Leoneans who were brought specifically to work in rice fields. About those who escaped to Florida. And…… about that slave market.
I stood in a spot where public auctions were held outside for the purchase of slaves. They were held outside until some people started to complain that it made the city look bad--- not because you know, they were selling kidnaped Africans like material items--- but because having half dressed men and women up for sale made the city look bad. The auctions needed to be inside now—so auction houses were created. That was when we visit the Old Slave Market on Chalmers Street. One of the major auction houses for slaves to be purchased.
At one point, there were 40 auctions houses on a 4-6 block stretch of city street. Ok, let me remind you—we are talking about auctioning off PEOPLE--- not antique furniture. I can not tell you the swell of emotions that emanated from me being inside a building where human beings sold other human beings as property. Where human beings were locked up in the same stocks as the cows and horses until they were ready to go up for sale. Where human beings would be chained and locked up until they were auctioned off. Where mothers would be purchased, and their children bought by different masters or traders and never to be held in the arms of their mother again. Families torn apart—and maybe, if they were lucky—they could buy their children back if they were good servants. Buy your own children back??? What the actual fuck?!
To see with your own eyes the chains and whips that were used to hurt human beings just because they disobeyed or because the master tied one on at ye old pub and had some aggression he needed to take out; where these HUMAN BEINGS were forced to work 16-18-hour days with maybe one or two days off a year. I felt so much standing there. I felt anger, sadness and a whirlwind of other emotions swirling around that I can not put into words.
Yes, Northerners and white folk will never understand what was involved in SLAVERY. My experience being in Charleston left me numb. My heart broke for all those souls who were treated so disgustingly; who were taken from their homeland, separated from their families and then sold off like cattle.
And I believe, beyond a reasonable doubt, that this is the reason racism still exists--- because so many whites want to erase- sweep under the rug and mostly IGNORE what happened to African Americans. I often wonder what the worlds reaction would have been if Germany did the same after the holocaust?? We get angry and roll our eyes at holocaust deniers-- we know and acknowledge what happened there. It’s easy to acknowledge that horrible part of history- and yet it’s so easy to discount the 12.5 million slaves that were stolen (10 million survived the Middle Passage) and forced into a life of slavery. Why is that?
Thankfully, I did learn that Gullah were able to maintain their African heritage and thrive in a small community in the low country of South Carolina. And that there is a small Yoruba village in Sheldon, South Carolina—Oyotunjii (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dbb4SeX6f-g) which works to maintain African culture and history.
And while most people by little chachkies on vacation- I bought books. Books written by former slaves and books about being a slave; and books about trying to attain some freedom and dignity in the face of pure evil.
I study African Dance, serve the Lwa, practice African American Folk Magic—and have many black friends—but I will never know nor experience what they go through daily in a world still full of racism--- nor what their ancestors had to do to fight for a very simple and yet powerful cause---Freedom and Equality. Two words that seem so obvious as a human right—and yet are so easily taken away.
This link has the names of some of the slaves that were sold into slavery in Charleston.
I will admit, when I heard that Netflix was going to have Sabrina the Teenage Witch as a series---I was a wee bit excited. I remember watching the old series with Melissa Joan Hart and loving it. I was 15 years old when the original TV show came out and was 3 years into my Wiccan journey. Of course I adored it!
And I knew.....when I saw the previews for the Netflix reboot- it wasnt going to be the cute fluffy joy that it was when I first watched it in '96. I was actually excited about that! I have grown into the occult- I moved away from Wicca -Since my early teens- I have since studied Ceremonial Magick, Necromancy, Daemonolgy, Hermeticsm, Thelema. My spirituality grew and changed until I found the right path for me which was Vodou. So when I saw the previews for the Netflix show--I was like "fuck yeah! Sabrina's grown to!"
And its easy to see the stereotypes of what a "witch" is just pop up all over the place. The Satan worship, the pseudo orgies, the dark magick--I get why modern witches were upset. At first it was hard to swallow myself. The imagery that witches, pagans and occultists have had to deal with for centuries was tossed all over the show. But then, the more I watched it-- the more I loved it. Why?? Every single non-traditional religion had a stereotype represented in the show! Not just Wicca (although the after school girls group W.I.C.C.A?? REALLY?).
For example: SATAN. Yes, I understand why witches want to be free of the horned demon. But......There really is no such thing as actual Satan worship. Anton Levay, the founder of Levayan Satanism, created the "religion" which is more a philosphy than anything else and is a practice of individalism. Satanists reject the idea of suerpnatural beings and follow the philosphical dualities of body and soul and life after death. Satanists do not even believe that Satan exists and they do not even worship him! They see him as an archtype that represents pride, enlightmentment, carnality. Satanists dont do black magick because they dont believe in magick at all!
And as for the lovely Goat Headed Baphoment---he was originally a deity of the Knights Templar-- and when Eliphas Levi got a hold of him, he became the symbol of Hermetiscm, mysticism and the occult. Baphomet needs some love to!
Evil spells? Black Magick? Ok. I know this is a touchy subject. Yes, Wiccans do not perform these--- so of course this was stereotyped in the show. But, there are many other practices that do perform darker aspects of magick. Hoodoo for example contains workings for crossing, cursing, jinxing and hexing enemies. Is Hoodoo evil? No. Its a form of folk magick.
Ahh yes....and the Vodou dolls. Sticking pins into dollies to hurt someone. Firstly, Vodou dolls have no place in either Hatian or New Orleans Vodou. In fact, the doll doesnt even come from Africa at all-- but rather Europe! The cunning folk in Britain were jabbing dolls way before there were Africans in Haiti! Vodou only got thrown in the picture when the white folks needed to demonize and demoralize the religious ideology of Afro-Carribeans.
Look, I could go on about all the stereotypes in the show. They are boundless. But, regardless of how many interviews modern day witches do, or how many Mambos need to go on the record about Vodou --- the stereotypes arent going away. Does it suck? Fuck yea! But its all apart from being part of a non-traditional religion. Even if you worship a rock-- traditional religion will find someway of making you out to be evil and wrong. Its just how it is. And I dont see any of the Abrahamic religions fading anytime soon.
The one thing we can all do, instead of moaning about "whythefuckdotheyalwaysdothis!"- just do your thing! Its a TV show. Its meant to be entertaining. If you cant laugh at yourself, then you are going to be pissy everytime a pentagram is shown. Just do you. Whenever I see a show where Vodou is supposed to be represented-- and its obviously not represented clearly- I laugh. Its because I realize the "normies" have no clue. And you can argue till your blue- aint gonna change a damn thing.
When it comes to us non traditional religious folk- you gotta stop getting upset over things people do that are out of your control. Unfortunately, dark - evil- sexy shit sells way better than wholesome. It is what is is. Educate people on your own. If you have a tat of a pentagram or a veve- and someone sees it-- or gives you a weird look-- explain to them what it is. You have to remember that most of the people in the world have zero idea what Wicca, Satanism, Hermetiscm, Vodou, Santeria etc. even is. Just dont get all upset when a new TV program comes on and you feel insulted. Just watch it, laugh at how badly and silly they represent your religion and keep doing you....
And just for fun...here is a cute baby Baphomet!
I watch A TON of horror movies...it’s just a known fact that when you get invited over for a movie night—a horror movie is on the menu! Of course, my favorites are the ones where people get possessed by demons- I always love how the characters over act to make themselves look like unnatural beings. And I always love how Satan is always the possessor- or of course one of minions.
Then I am most always asked--- "do you believe in demonic possession?"
Before I tell you my take on it, let me just say that demons and possession play differently in everyone's religious or spiritual beliefs. And in almost all religious practices, there is always some type of possession.
Now... for my answer.
No. I do not think you can be possessed by demons. Now don’t get me wrong, I 100% believe in possession; I do after all practice Vodou. I know that spirits can take over your body, but do I believe demonic energy can- no. To me a "demon" is something that can attach itself to you and drain your energy. But, this something can only attach itself to you if you are already possessed by something else that is not good for you: a bad relationship, drugs, alcohol. Those things that feed whatever it is that you cannot release yourself from. That is when negative energy can "possess" you.
I always think of negative energy possession as a virus. You are already sick with an illness (and yes drug abuse and alcohol abuse are an illness). Since you already sick, your susceptible to other viruses- negative energy. The negative energy already sees you like a wounded animal- and it goes at you like carrion. Then you start to feel more burnt out, more darkness and more out of control. This to me is a negative possession.
So, what is negative energy and what does it look like? As someone who works closely with the land of spirit, whenever I see negative energy around a person or even in a place, it forms itself into a dark dense floating mass. Its an energy being as I like to call them. It just floats around until it finds something or someone to feed off.
Sometimes people have these floating masses of energy around them and when they see another person to feed off, a part of it attaches it to that person. Have you ever been in a toxic relationship? A toxic friendship? When you couldn’t figure out why you were feeling so shitty even though these relationships made you feel “good” … It’s that dark mass of energy interlinking you to those people. It is often why you can’t break away. Why you stay in a relationship that you know is not good for you.
The next question is-how do you get rid of it? For starters you need to look at the root of the virus. What is making you feel physically ill? Once you break from that you can start to get rid of the possession.
I highly recommend Cut and Clear oil and bath crystals (from a reputably root worker of course!). Make yourself a nice bath, add the crystals and soak. As you are soaking imagine whatever your holding on to is washing away. Pull the drain and visualize yourself breaking free of whatever was holding you down.
Get a figure candle and anoint with the cut and clear oil. As you do this, say: “all negative energies holding me down is now gone. As this candle burns, so you diminish,” and light the candle.
When the candle is finally burned down, take the wax and bury it in a place where most people do not walk. This is you burying the negative energy. Walk away and do not look back.
You may need to do this several times until you feel yourself free from the energy!
I always find it ironic that people who fear snakes come in contact with snake symbology daily. One of the most prominent of images are on ambulances, hospitals and lab coats.
One image is the cadceus; the traditional symbol of Hermes Trismegistus and features two snakes winding around an often winged staff. Hermes was not only considered a great healer, but also a great magician. The myths speak of Hermes breaking up a fight between two snakes, who then entwined themselves around his wand and stayed there- keeping balance of energies.
The second image is a rod with a single snake which is the rod of Asclepius- the Greek God of healing. In this myth, Asclepius adopted the power of the snake after watching a serpent bring another back to life.
In the Bible, Moses carried a golden rod with a snake entwined around it. If anyone was bitten by a snake, they only needed to look at the rod to be healed.
When most people think of snakes---the last thing they think of is healing. But there are many myths from ancient time in which snakes worked as healers. Today, snake venom is collected and used to create anti-venom to help those heal from snake bites!
Channeling snake energy for healing if also found in the yoga practice of Kundalini. Kindalini, which is essentially the essence and energy of life, is depicted as a white serpent coiled at the base of our tailbones. Our chakras awaken as the serpent slithers his way up our spine.
Here is a little spell I have created using SHED snake skin to assist in healing.
You will need a muslin bag with strings
Herbs: peppermint, rosemary, lavender and chamomile
1-2 pieces of shed snake skin
This should be done on the night of the full moon.
Place all the items into the muslin bag and draw yourself a nice warm (or hot) bath. Drop the bag into the bath water and let it sit there for a few minutes before you enter. Once you are in the bath-- relax and imagine all illness being removed from your body (or someone elses if you are doing this work on behalf of someone else).
After the bath, take the muslin bag and wipe your body downward saying:
"All illness is gone. All sickness will travel. I heal with the dawn. All evil unravels."
After this is done, take some of the bath water and the muslin bag and go outside. Throw the water over your left shoulder (do not look back!) and bury the muslin bag.
As someone who has worked with snakes for almost 20 years now, I can safely say that I have accumulated a lot of shed skin over the years. I never thrown away a shed. I have used in my art work and of course, my spell work.
In this blog series I will be covering all the magickal workings you can do with shed snake skin!!
This week, I am doing to discuss Binding magick using shed skin. A binding spell can be either positive or negative. Its a way of symbolically binding a target by restricting actions..
A positive binding brings things together. A negative bindingis something that takes something a way, typically someone power. You can also use binding spells on yourself to break a habit. You can use binding for love. You can use it to stop someone from harrassing/harming you.
As most of my readers and clients know, I am a K.I.S.S. person - Keep It Simple & Sweet-- I like spells that are powerful and strong but do not require days up on days of workings. Most of the magick I do is short and simple-- but very strong!
I typically use binding magick to stop people from gossip or to bind a negative situation (although I also do binding magick for clients on all things-especially love!).
As with all types of magick, remember like attracts like. For binding magick I use shed skin from non-venomous snakes; primarily boas and pythons. Boas and pythons kill their prey by suffocation. To me this represents a clear representation of a binding!
To bind a person or person from gossip and harm, I will take the snake skin and lightly coat it in binding oil. While I am waiting for it to dry, I will take a small peice of paper (shed skin can be fragile so you want to keep things small!) and write down the person(s) or situation that I want to bind. I will roll it up into a little tube shape and slowly slide it into the shed skin. For extra binding, I will tie the skin up with a small string making several knots will reciting who or what I am binding. Since the skin can be fragile, I usually place it in a small container in which I can take it outside.
After that is complete, I will take the shed skin and find a small stream flowing AWAY from me and toss the skin over my left shoulder. Since I live in the desert- sometimes finding a stream can be scarce. In that case, I will bury it outside (usually near a cactus-- I always think of the cactus as a sharp cage holding something in).
Again, binding can be used for love, to bind an enemy, to stop bad habits....its limitless!
Next Sunday I will blog about how to use shed skin in healing magick!
There is saying about Voodoo—it finds you. There is also another saying about Voodoo: you take what you know and make it grow.