“While Pan-Germanic Heathenism has given me strength and courage to hold to my convictions, it’s the spiritual wisdom of the diaspora that has shown me how to live and be free.”
Since the dawn of civilization and perhaps before, our Ancestors have traveled far and wide across the wilderness of Mother Earth to gather in sacred locations, to celebrate the land, and commune with the spirits of the world. While the topic of magic is still a taboo for many, in fact, there are still some countries that severely penalize people accused of sorcery, it’s still found to thrive around the world beyond the confines of your local metaphysical bookstore.
As a sorceress and priestess, one of the foundations of my spiritual life is working with these spirits. When you start to commune more intimately and regularly with the spirits of the land you’re on, you begin to notice and appreciate the nuances and subtleties, as they weave a rich spiritual and ecological tapestry that charts across time and space. Besides having a genius loci – a protective spirit of place – major cities like Chicago (my current home) have their own independent spiritual essence and history. They embody a wildly different feel than that of the spirits that dwell in the legendary cemetery cities of New Orleans, or in the trees and waters of the holy grove of Osun in Osogbo, Nigeria. As sacred artist and folk herbalist, Sarah Anne Lawless has pointed out, working and communing with the spirits of the land can not only tell you about a place’s soul but help you to learn more about yourself in the process.
Although my first foray into non-monotheist, magic-adjacent Paganism, specifically Wicca, started in my pre-teens after getting hit in the head with a book at the library, I didn’t mature into spirituality until I became a young woman. Raised in South Florida by two adoptive white mothers, the idea of my Blackness was abused and downplayed in deeply hurtful, spiritually and psychologically crushing ways. It wasn’t until my first parent made her transition that I started to embrace who I was as a whole person, and as a Black woman. As I moved from place to place due to lack of family and community support, my skills as a Tarot reader and a medium sharpened considerably alongside my politics, and I found myself wading further and further into the healing waters of Spirit as my sense of identity expanded.
I started The Church of St. Felicia almost a decade and some change ago after I set off on my spiritual quest, but not necessarily as a place to explore the spiritual, despite the branding. In fact, it was a tongue-in-cheek joke about arguing about anti-racism politics with my (white) boyfriend who was being a tool at the time. Watching the landscape of magic evolve into the dominant culture as beautiful altars and gorgeous crystal displays, I’ve learned that doing magic doesn’t have to be complicated, even if its relationship to the politics and culture of the day can be.
While Pan-Germanic Heathenism has given me strength and courage to hold to my convictions, it’s the spiritual wisdom of the diaspora that has shown me how to live and be free. Through this magic and spiritual reflection, I now know there is space for my joy, enrichment, and community as a Black woman. Where there have been hostile and harmful spaces towards my spiritual and physical well-being – in white New Age and Pagan communities, in the complicated and diverse enclaves of the Black monotheist movements I have discovered a tapestry of power, support, and affirmation of not only my innate divinity but my humanity too.
Whether I’m traveling for work or home doing my usual business, my favorite magical act is also the least obvious: the giving and preparing of gifts. I leave offerings of flowers or food at important landmarks or geographic features to ask for continued blessing, protection, and good favor from the local community of spirits. I collect beautiful things and pour my love into letters, meals, and sweets for my Ancestors, guardians, gods, Lwas, and Orisha. I take time to sit in wonder and appreciation for the creativity and beauty of the world beyond the grasp of human hands and to remember that magic is alive. It’s these simple gestures that remind me that magic is all around me and that my Ancestors knew that, too. Giving back to the land is how we give to ourselves, as a witch and a priestess, I strive never to forget that.