Black magic originated as a term to describe magic by Black folks. Over time “black magic” has been equated to darkness, demons, and evil. This was intentional propaganda by white supremacy to separate Black folks from our ancestral magic. MADAMENOIRE spoke with five modern-day Black witches to separate the truth from myths surrounding black magic and witchcraft. For the purpose of this article witchcraft is a catch-all term to describe nature-based spiritual practices and a witch is someone who participates in these practices.
Black Witch is a non denominational Pagan who grew up in a Christian household. At 15, after listening to the band of Christians P.O.D—short for Payable on Death—she started questioning Chrisitanity and realized that she didn’t believe most of what she was taught. She happened across Paganism after reading a book called Where to Park Your Broomstick by Lauren Manoy and felt more at home with a nature and metaphysics based belief.
Dianté is a Black queer witch. Although he was raised in an open-minded Christian household, he found some of the teachings of the Church demeaning. He sought a spirituality that didn’t view him as an abomination. With his Rags to Witches podcast co-host Fiona, he was introduced to crystals and tarot reading in college and learned he was a witch.
Frankie is a Puerto Rican and Black Pagan witch. After watching The Craft with his aunt at five years old, he realized he was a witch because he could do the same thing the characters did. From there, he learned more about being a witch. Although he grew up in a Catholic household, as he got older, he realized that there was santeria and rootwork present in his family’s faith.
Juju, the host of A Little Juju podcast, is a Hoodoo and Orisha devotee. She was baptized Catholic and switched to many different Christian denominations. In 2016, through online circles and community conversation, she learned that Hoodoo has always been a part of her life as a Black American even if she didn’t have the language for it. It was after watching Beyonce’s Lemonade visuals, that she sought out more information about Orishas and found a house and a godparent.
Keon, known online as Millennial Soul Food, is a Hoodoo who’s initiated into Ifa Isese. They were introduced to Hoodoo through their grandma who was a Seer, and in 2014, they joined a Hoodoo coven in Chicago. After a series of random synchronicities while living in New Orleans, they received a reading from a woman who later became their godmother when they were initiated into Ifa Isese.
MN: Thank y’all for agreeing to speak with Madame Noire. What do you think the media gets wrong about witchcraft and Black magic?
Dianté: In the media, you never really see the races mixed together. It’s not showing that witches are inclusive. It’s still showing that we’re kind of segregated.
Black Witch: It’s more than some random White girl chanting bad rhymes over a candle and it isn’t some stereotypical voodoo queen with wild hair. Men can be witches. A witch is a person, not a species. Folk magick is built into culture, not some weird outlier in opposition to science and medicine. And there certainly is a rhyme and reason in magic but new age and pop culture heavily erodes and ignores that, which is both aggravating and insulting.
Frankie: It’s like, “Let’s get this money. Let’s be beautiful.” They make it more about the outer when it’s about the inner. I noticed on social media, especially with younger people, everybody wants to do a hex. Everybody wants to do a love spell. Everybody wants to get somebody back. That’s not what it really is about.
Juju: It can do all of those bad things that y’all show, but that’s not the full story. The scale is uneven when showing the negative impacts of witchcraft and not the healing aspects of what it is.
Keon: In a lot of occult arts there’s left hand and right hand paths. Left hand is cursing and the right hand is uplifting. The media misconstrues a lot of primary focuses of witches and occultists. Most of the time it’s about figuring out your own limitations and using your spiritual practices or magic to fill in the gaps or find out more about yourself.
So, witchcraft is not demonic. It’s not a consumable good and it’s not all about curses. Why do you think the media focuses so heavily on these things?
Juju: Why would you want someone to know who they are if you’re trying to enslave them and you are enslaving them? Why would you want them to have faith? Why would you want them to feel that they have power? Why would you want them to conjure a new reality? You wouldn’t. I think that’s a partial reason as to why [the media says] “We’re gonna show the evilness and demonic nature of these traditions because we don’t want you to know that we actually are very afraid of them because we know what they can do, and we don’t want y’all to do that.”
And what can witchcraft do?
Juju: It is a healing tradition. It’s accountability. It helps you ground yourself in identity. Black folks are always striving to understand more about ourselves, who we are, and who we come from—whether that is a continent or whether that is South Carolina. Knowing those roots and being able to pinpoint some family history or personality traits or even the generational traumas and generational joys.
Keon: A big part of witchcraft is working with your shadow, and to become a more powerful witch you have to understand your own shadow and vulnerabilities. Understanding my own intergenerational trauma has really helped inform my magic and also mentorship with people. Witchcraft is also about returning to nature and getting in alignment with practices that are hundreds of years old.
Frankie: Setting intentions, being consistent with your prayers, doing the work, and then watching it manifest. That’s the real magic. Because if you don’t do the work, you can sit on the couch all day and nothing’s gonna change.
It seems like being a witch is about discipline, consistency, and healing. How has being a witch changed your day to day life?
Frankie: I’m blessed. As a child, you think you know what spirituality is. You think you know what prayer is. You think you know what faith is, but now that I’m an adult, I realize I know what it is now.
Juju: I know I’m able to wake up and ground myself in a practice, and I have ritual to rely on. I truly believe that ritual can change your life. Whatever you decide to practice regularly and internalize can completely shift your day and shift your experiences and your outlook on life. These traditions, particularly ancestral veneration and talking to my dead people shift my outlook all the time. I’m able to have a level of accountability that I didn’t have before because I can consult spirits. I can talk to people who see so much farther than I see. I think that in itself just impacts everything else.
Black Witch: I’m happier in it far, far more than I would have been in Christianity. I have hardships like everyone else but at least I feel like I can handle them better. Plus I like polytheism, it works for me since I feel like it helps me understand the world around me better.
Dianté: Witchcraft has helped me dive deeper into myself. Ever since I discovered I was a witch, I’ve been focusing on healing myself. That’s helped because for a long time I was such a people pleaser. Discovering that I’m a witch means I don’t have to go through this. I can manifest my own destiny.
Keon: With Ifa, it helped give me a blueprint for my spirituality. It helped me learn more about my spiritual gifts. It’s really helped me ground myself. With Ifa, specifically, there’s a set of character principles and then if you’re initiated you get taboos to help with structuring your life. It’s helped me understand more about my spiritual boundaries, my approach to relationships, and different mantras I need to focus on for my own spiritual path.
Do y’all have any advice for Black people who are interested in magic?
Frankie: Black people, know your roots. Before the slave trade, what were our ancestors practicing? Who were they praying to? What were they worshiping?
Juju: It’s important to know that there are things that exist that want us free because we see so many lies and tales about the things that don’t want us free, but imagine if we ground ourselves in the things that people have used that even got them free.
Black Witch: It isn’t a magic cure but it does help to become more comfortable in the self. Black culture already has things like ancestor worship built into it, folk remedies like ginger for a bad stomach, and ideas such as “speaking something into existence.” In a way, it is kind of already woven into the culture already.
So a lot of Black people already practice witchcraft?
Frankie: When people pray to God, you’re setting an intention, and you’re praying for something to happen. When you light up that candle and you look at it, and you blow that candle out for your birthday, you did a spell. When you sit there and you go to the cathedral and get that holy water, you bought a potion. When you take a shower after a hard day at work, you’re washing off old energy.
Since it’s Halloween, I’m curious as to why it’s such a big event for witches?
Keon: In the Northern hemisphere, specifically, we see the weather go from warm to cold as a time where a lot of spiritualists, pagans, and witches see the veil as becoming thinner because we see death occur more in nature. That’s why we see people celebrating Halloween because that’s the harvest of the seeds the ancestors have helped us sow.
The concept of liminality is also important because in nature, we see the trees change colors, the leaves change colors as they go through the liminal phase between living and death. That is a central concept to Halloween and the Day of the Dead as to why you see people giving more offerings to ancestors like Brujería in Mexico, Fèt Gede with the Haitian Vodou people, and Halloween with witches. It’s more about remembering and honoring the harvest and honoring the cyclical transitions in nature.
Thank you. I’ve never made that connection before. Final thoughts?
Frankie: Just better yourself. Try to do as best as you can because the world is going crazy. We have a pandemic. We have a lot of deaths going on which is weird. We have a lot of people saying their opinions on the Internet that don’t pay no one else’s bills, but everybody’s got to be heard. It’s too much going on. Just focus on yourself, focus on your spirits, focus on being your best self, because I’d rather go out smiling than being angry in my heart. I’d rather go out smiling.
The practice of witchcraft is self-love, self-respect, and honoring yourself. It is a lot of magic to it and it is weird, but it’s very real.
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