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Black Witches Talk Back : An Open Letter To Atlantic
11-11-2018, 08:21 PM
Post: #1
Black Witches Talk Back : An Open Letter To Atlantic
This week Atlantic published an article about Black Witches titled The Witches of Baltimore – Young black women are leaving Christianity and embracing African witchcraft in digital covens. The author Sigal Samuel, makes a lot of assumptions in this piece, and most of them are, I have to say, wrong.

This article is problematic on many levels. Towards the beginning of the piece author Samuel writes ” African American witchcraft originated in West Africa, the birthplace of Yoruba, a set of religious traditions focused on reverence for ancestors and worship of a vast pantheon of deities known as orishas. ” I disagree with this assertion both as an Anthropologist and a practitioner. While the Yoruba practices and religion ( note Yoruba is not a set of traditions but rather a people) goes back historically to at least the 4th century BCE, the conclusion that it is, or was, the beginning of African -American Witchcraft is a reductionist giant leap on the author’s part. The Yoruba faith may be the basis for Ifa, as it is widely referred to today, she seems to gloss of Haitian Vodou and New Orleans Voodoo which are more directly related to the practices of the Dahomey region, the Igbo people and other sources. Now the elephant in the room here is that she was discussing Black Witches, and the Third Annual Black Witch convention. While many Black Witches, myself included, practice African Traditional Religions (such as Voodoo and La Regla Lucumi) this is not the same as Witchcraft. In fact many of these traditions have strict prohibitions against practicing Witchcraft, a reality which seems to be lost on Samuel.
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