The Black Witch Debunks Witchcraft’s Greatest Myth

A common old misconception about witches is that they are all white. Another thing is that she has something to do with the devil. African and black cultures have long contained non-traditional spiritualities that have been misunderstood not only by our own but also by the white community.

“The devil is of Christianity. You guys [Christians] came up with it. As I know it doesn’t really affect witchcraft,” said the black witch, Enchantments: A Modern Witches Guide to Self-Possessionto essence“It’s something else entirely.” Practicing witchcraft is often portrayed as the opposite of Christianity, but she points out that this is not true.

Although her book received generally positive reviews, Sparter says it’s still up for debate whether her book really impacts the conversation about the Black Witch. In the years since her book was published, I believe there has been an explosion of books for young adults covering a wide variety of stories.

“I find it incredibly exciting to have the ‘Queer Brown Witch’ book all over my local bookstore section. I love being a part of that cultural shift.” says Spalter.

The shift in black witches and witches of color to be respected and included in history has been delayed.

To read ESSENCE’s 2022 story on Religiousness and Respect for the Spiritual Practices of Others, click here.

Popular lore surrounding the infamous Salem witch trials conjures images of white women and girls being burned at the stake, and this is true.However, of her hundred who were persecuted and killed during the trials that lasted from the spring of 1692 to May of 1693, most they were blackThis has directly impacted how black witches have been perceived in America and has contributed to misconceptions about non-white spiritual practices.

Black Witch Debunks Witchcraft's Greatest Myth
The accused witch faces a sentencing trial to be submerged in water to prove her guilt of practicing witchcraft.

“One of the earliest stories of the ordeal faced by non-white witches in America is that of Tituba, an enslaved indigenous woman, commonly referred to as the ‘Black Witch of Salem.'”

a report The scholarly journal Polaris reveals that in the 1620s and earlier, black witches were portrayed throughout the Americas and Europe as dark, sinister beings with strong ties to the devil.

“In early modern Europe there was already a long-standing discourse linking Africans to the devil. Many Spanish traditions, both elite and popular, associated dark skin with the devil,” says Heather R. White. I am writing. “Witches tried in Logroño, Spain, testified that the devil looked like a ‘dark-skinned man with big, glaring and fearful eyes. The tradition of representing evil in black has evolved by frequently portraying demons as demons. [B]A missing person in Spanish medieval art. “

Black women were often convicted of crimes such as arson and murder and faced far harsher punishments than their white counterparts accused of the same crimes. Nearly 87% of the women executed in Espy files on US executions.

One of the earliest stories of the ordeal faced by non-white witches in America is that of Tituba, an enslaved indigenous woman commonly referred to as the “Black Witch of Salem.” Her early paintings portray her as a dark and frightening creature. She was later accused of causing a group of young girls, including Betty, the daughter of slave owner Samuel Parris, and his niece, Abigail, to bark like dogs and contort her body. rice field.

Read more about Tituba’s story here.

Whether or not these claims are true is not made clear, but if a woman, especially a woman of color, chooses to live a Christian framework, she is labeled as an agent of the devil. Hollywood knows it must be destroyed. It only exacerbated these tropes by showing no barrage. Wizard of Oz.

Throughout the film, she was juxtaposed with Glenda the Good Witch, an attractive, blonde-haired, blue-eyed white woman who was revered for her kindness and wisdom.

Glenda’s treatment seems to be the current state of white women on shows like enchanted, sabrina teenage witch, Charmed Other media centered on white women. They were allowed a degree of humanity and vulnerability that black women couldn’t access in the real world. Unsurprisingly, not only was the show wildly popular, but it lacked representation of decidedly black characters, even when explicitly referring to the Salem witch trials.

One of the expectations is the 1996 craftWhen Rochelle played by Rachel Truebut True later admits she faced discrimination both on-screen and off-screen.

Black Witch Debunks Witchcraft's Greatest Myth
Rachel True in a scene from the movie The Craft, 1996. (Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)

Still, Sparter points out that while Hollywood got a lot of things wrong, it also got a few things right. In recent years, various characters have appeared in popular TV programs. American Horror Story: Coven When Sabrina’s Chilling Adventures And the conversation begins to change.

“I think this has a lot to do with people doing better research when writing fictional witches,” says Spalter.

Your media usually portrays this dark force as often used to exact revenge on those who hurt you, but in fact most techniques are not witchcraft, but self-improvement, money-making Used in magic, finding direction in life, etc. To Paula Alexis, another Canada-based witch and wellness program coordinator.

Traditionally (and before the Salem Witch Trials), black witches served as healers, midwives, cooks, and more.

“If anything bad happened to these slaves, they would blame the black or native witches and send her to ‘judge’, but they were often killed,” says Alexis. White women who didn’t prevent themselves from being killed for being evil witch hunters found themselves next in line as white men expanded their crusades of misogyny. I believed I was safe from the virus, but it didn’t work out.”

“They were left out of the history books because servants and slaves only come into the history books when they matter to the victor.”

Fellow practitioner, author, and ancestral healer JuJu Bae agrees that while the media is slowly changing, there are many pervasive and pervasive false tropes. Just one of many derivatives of witchcraft. It has usually been done by white women.

“The media misunderstands many things about spirituality, especially black spiritual systems outside of Abrahamic traditions,” says Bae.

Bae also says that black witches, especially those studying traditional African practices like Hoodoo and Vodun, experience widespread anti-blackness, even within their respective communities. “I find it really funny when I see people practicing, especially black people practicing magic tricks and sleight of hand. It’s always diabolical and evil. But it’s not a new concept,” she says.

Black Witch Debunks Witchcraft's Greatest Myth
Portrait of a voodoo priestess. Benin, West Africa.

All three women emphasized that the history of Black Witches is often forgotten. Because many of the enslaved women who practiced witchcraft were, unfortunately, just stepping stones for many White Witches and Crusaders. “They were left out of the history books because servants and slaves only come into the history books when they are crucial to the victor,” says Alexis. For decades, anti-blackness and misogynoir were so rampant that it was almost impossible for black witches to receive not only accurate but sympathetic representation on screen.

Today, narratives are starting to change thanks to the empowerment of more black showrunners and creators to create more diverse stories, leading to the creation of TV shows like: juju (That’s nostalgic Charmed), which debuted via Amazon Prime in 2019. The web series thrives on writing real Black characters in an authentic way. It resonates more with black people than with the idea of ​​white acceptance.

“It’s so black, even in small roles like restaurant extras and best friends at work like Jama from Episode 2,” creator Moon Ferguson said. variety“She’s a best friend at work, but not a token black girl who’s a best friend to boost and uplift her white co-workers. It’s literally just a sisterhood within the workplace.”

While Hollywood is getting better, society as a whole still has a lot to do. Misconceptions about black witches stem directly from the religious indoctrination of white patriarchy slowly seeping into the cultural zeitgeist, manifesting itself in on-screen representations. For the narrative to truly change, the idea of ​​juxtaposing witchcraft, especially black women’s witchcraft, with evil and demons, must be completely eradicated. Black witches deserve to be portrayed as exactly what they are: humans.

https://www.essence.com/culture/black-witches-feature/ The Black Witch Debunks Witchcraft’s Greatest Myth

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