bITS 'N CHUNKS
This is something I haven't researched a lot beyond my own relationships with people, but I would like more representation of people of color interacting with the occult. The thought was originally triggered by movies like Sugar Hill, but I remember around Halloween time a couple years ago seeing a horror anthology focused on black women (think it was on Centric). Sadly I can't think of the name for the life of me and my searches are proving futile. The final story in the anthology was about this woman who was an actual goddamned Satanist that sold her soul for petty revenge and I was just like "yoooo!"
Thanks to all the punk and metal (and goth) music I listened to as a youth, I had a strong distaste for authority figures and doubly so for religions. I was exposed to all manners of esoteric thought and grew to hate religion. All religions. I don't participate in anything organized or non-organized, but I have friends that are varying levels of "pagan". I learn from them and I like hearing about their beliefs and practices.
A few years ago, though, I mellowed out on my own anti-religious stances and I got pretty bored with paganism. Most of my pagan friends are not white, but of course the reigning face of paganism is the white Crystal Kween with good bone structure. Over time I began wondering whether people were turning to occultism as simply a shock tactic. That disgusted me but more importantly really, really bored me.
I started wondering due in part to my own interest in the broad range of occult topics, were there any other black or brown folks interacting with this material? I wouldn't throw, for example, witchcraft under that label because there's a lot of implications there…plus, witchcraft as we know it often involves indigenous religions. Like, technically vodou is an occult practice but I think slapping that label on it creates a stigma that leads to all vodou practitioners raising zombies. Seriously, words mean things. I don't claim to know everything about it, I just think it's good when marginalized groups reclaim from their cultural heritage even if the mainstream society deems it inappropriate.
No, for my purposes I'm thinking more the tradition of European arcane knowledge. Something you'd probably read about and think, "oh that's neat". But are there people who put it into practice? Are there other black and brown folks that use sigils to summon or retain demons for their purposes or talk to angels? At one point, I thought offhandedly to myself are there any black members of the Church of Satan (there totally are)?
It turns out that's a very loaded question because often what we think of as occult is just really bad pseudoscience or basically non-European systems like yoga. Or things we've ganked from H.P. Lovecraft. More on that later. But I've read at least one book with an African character doing accurate medieval alchemy and no matter the circumstance I just thought it was so cool. I wanted to write black characters interacting with the occult and living their dark, hidden lives but I thought I was aiming for accuracy. Then I thought I was aiming for representation, now I'm just kind of wondering what I'm aiming for. My own enjoyment? Exposure? It's possible it stems from the sense of feeling lonely in my chosen subcultures and I just want to let others you're totally not alone with your Baphomet sigils. I do that too! All writing is just a way of saying, hey yo, I'm here too.
Or maybe I want to treat it like listening to Black Sabbath: just gonna drop this reference here and you gotta Google it and corrupt your own mind on your own time.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...