Skin Like Soil.

7:50:00 PM

A Sugar Box.  In Southern Hoodoo, honey jars and sugar boxes sweeten the bonds between the box maker and their intended whose picture is placed in the box.  This time, I put a mirror... I need to be sweeter to myself.
For Devan, Kendra, Kenya, Carmen, Archie, Chanti, Chowchi and every brown woman out there who deserved to know they are beautiful because, not in spite, of their skin...

Self love is one of the first kinds of magic we should have been taught.  The problem with a lot of younger people is that they are not taught to value themselves and draw their power from within first.  I know I sure the hell wasn't given that advice, and it took years for me to see how different my practice would be when I started to look for myself in the skrying mirror rather than for others.

I wish someone had taught me earlier that I don't have to try so hard to please people.  I wish my parents had worked to make me like myself more.  I wish I had come from the kind of upbringing where children feel loved and safe.  I wish I had been told that I am enough. Wishes aside, the reality is I had to be my own teacher, and damn if this isn't the hardest subject I've ever encountered.  Worse than the quadratic formula, worse than calculus.  Learning to see yourself clearly, through the mud and mire of your own dysmorphia is a difficult task, and it can be so draining that it even impacts your spirituality.

Relearning about myself is helping to better shape my relationship with nature.  At the heart of green magic is love; a love of nature and earth, seasons and cycles, weather and all manner of natural phenomena.  Part of learning to truly love these things, and to love all aspects of life is taking the time to learn and love yourself.  To see in yourself the things you love most out there in nature.

In learning to value the soil where I plant my seeds, I've learned to love the own brown hue of my skin.  In learning to value the rainfall as it soaks into my hair and slides down my skin and wets every corner of me.  I've learned how to love the look of my own blood as it flows from my body in its sacred flow and function, tied to moons and rivers and oceans.

I'm trying to learn how to love the way sunlight is captured by my skin, and reflects the light from every pore.  I'm trying to glean the many aspects of my color that are reflected in the earth; in sandy desert soil, in the pale sand of the beach, in the coppery tint of sediment and clay.  Somewhere in my skin is sunshine and cinnamon and treebark.  The earth is in here with me.

I'm trying to learn how to love the way my thighs brush gently when I walk, the way my narrow ankles cross.  I'm learning how to appreciate my round nose and my small lips.  I'm learning to appreciate my crooked teeth and too-wide smile.  I'm trying to see the what's so beautiful about my saucer-shaped brown eyes and high cheek bones.  I'm trying to learn how to conjure demons with the undulations of my hips and set a room alight with the curve of my lips.  I'm trying to love the way water beads in my hair and curls, kinks, transforms it, and the way heat dries it to ripples and waves that explode all around me like a dark honey halo.

When I push my hand through the bags of seeds and bulbs that will one day become my Viridarium, I feel every soft, rough, smooth, sharp, round, squared, itchy, velvety, gritty little piece and it thrills me.  How different they are! How varied!  And in these forms you would never know that one smooth small brown oval becomes a sacred Yew, how a flat little bead of green can grow into a creeping wisteria that arches over eaves and fences, how the tiniest yellow speck can, with water and two weeks time, become the invasive Woody Nightshade.  You'd never guess the magnitude or beauty of something from its smallest form, but when something blooms into being, it shines and radiates renewal.

My skin is peeling, my bones are showing, and I am renewing.  I can finally see the depth of my sexuality as I pull back the folds and slide my way in.  This depth comes from an intense joining of mind, body and soul.  Every movement I make is a spell, conjuring and stirring the air around me.  My eyes are the first steps to fascination and my body is a map of the divine.  Between my legs is the cosmos incarnate, a sea of life and a little death, a place of worship for lucky saints and sinners.

I'm trying to learn how to laugh freely without worry and restraint.  I'm trying to love my dominant streak, my tight control, my appraising eye.  I don't worry about being seen as angry or bossy; that's just bullshit from the bigots who see opinionated people as threatening and the sexists who view women as sheep.  I'm trying to learn how to shut out those voices that tell me to be anything but a brown, earthy woman.  I'm a quick learner too.

It's been years in the making and it took finding a community among women and men of color to help me feel comfortable expressing my blackness spiritually.  Not just expressing... Reveling.  Celebrating something that used to be a source of shame for me- a lot of shame.  Any sister reading this right now knows what I mean; growing up trying to hide anything that marks you as "typically black", hating our defining features because we live in a world that can teach humans to see dark skin as inferior, ugly.  Let's be real here; our society does not place value on darker-skinned women.  Black women were perceived as substandard beauty until more recently and that's not simply because of understandable personal physical preferences.

There's another dimension to the rejection of black femininity and it's probably the bigger one: shame.  It's considered shameful for some people to associate romantically with brown and black women.  It's statistically evident that there is a negative perception of black women in dating scenes and so that can leave us struggling to love ourselves.  It leaves us trying to love each other openly and intensely because we know we aren't always getting it out there.

There is little representation for women of color even in the pagan community where pagan art and media is still widely-Eurocentric and what little of Afro spirituality we see is almost entirely Egyptian, and to be honest, even pagans are capable of colonizing Egyptian artwork.

Trying to find a way to love yourself is getting easier, thanks to social media.  #Blackgirlmagic, #BlackSelfies: being pro-you, being pro-mixed, being pro-black-is-also-beautiful is finally here in force and while sadly there is a backlash to this reclaiming of damaged self by people who see black self love as somehow an indictment against their own sense of physical self worth, we are winning out. While women of color fight against the stereotypes and under-representation in art, media, science, technology- nearly all social aspects, we are also being criticized for pointing out the fact that people of color are statistically less likely to be portrayed favorably by media. 

We are called out for simply loving ourselves; by a tiny, privileged minority; by the few people who are uncomfortable with the idea that black women don't always live up to beauty standards and want to change the standards to include us too.  They are threatened by the idea that we are asking for the same standards they already benefit from. They are threatened by the idea that the world's racial problems didn't magically disappear overnight and that there is in fact a difference in the way beauty standards cater to fairer-skinned, straight-haired, slim-figured women and the rest.

And to those few haters I say:

Hey friend, up until recently you get to see your ethnic features in art and media as a social standard of beauty, traceable throughout all of media history in one form or another. Open any non-racially affiliated magazine from before the last few years and tell me who was the standard of beauty you saw? Women of color are not so well represented in media or art or even in our own countries, which is why we are trying to bring each other up.  

So please, let us have our pride, just as you have pride.  Let us express our sense of self worth after centuries of social-conditioning to see ourselves as physically inferior to the fairer population.  You don't have to deal with this exact struggle, so do not pretend it is somehow identical to your feelings about your weight or shape or atheistic features.  These struggles are separate and rooted in some deeply different histories.   

We feel devalued for something rooted in a history of hate. Do not blindly criticize that which you have the privilege of ignoring.  If you have a hard time understanding why women of color are sensitive about our physical, emotional and social value, pick up a history book, talk to people who can enlighten you- do something to educate yourself about it, because it is real whether you chose to wake up to it or not.

Black and brown and mixed American women are showing the world that beauty and spirit lives within our skin too, and we are not to be ignored, passed-over or relegated to stereotypes.  This is true in the pagan community too, the rising tide of expressing black femininity, mixed-raced pride and Afro-spirituality is everywhere, and I feel like I am just getting woke to the movement.  Who knew I would finally see mystics who look like me, expressing themselves and their cultures and being unashamed to BE?  I see real witches, shamans, green witches and mystics in EVERY HUE, in every shape, and I fucking love it.

If we mixed witches of color want representation, we need to form some unity and get our artwork out there and appreciated.  There isn't enough love for artwork portraying black femininity in the occult, just as there isn't a lot of love for black femininity in mainstream society.  We've got to push for inclusion, and that starts with banning together to support and love one another first, as mixed witches, as reflections of the gods our ancestors worshiped.  Be inspired by people like Carolina Gonzales who regularly blesses us with artwork depicting the rainbow beauty of the spirits, saints and gods.  Go to the Black Femme Witches Brew and see how celebrated brown girls in magic can be. We are out there, multicultie mystics, and we have got to build our presence together, add to the diversity of pagandom.

Some people have the privilege of overlooking race discussions because they do not experience the perspective of other races, and that's what privilege is- being able to ignore everyone else's feelings and struggles because it isn't your feeling or your struggle.  We're moving in the right direction, so let's build the support and represent ourselves as mixed raced mystics, let us as pagans of every culture and color celebrate our differences and bring the pagan community the much needed flavor of our spice.  I am learning to love the whole me, and I want to love the whole you, too.

~Some Plural-Culture, Pro-Diversity Mystics You'll Love~

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