For Part 1 of our 2 part series we sit in circle with Christena Cleveland - author of God Is A Black Woman; Dr Beverly - conjure doctor, rootworker and resistance magician, and Marcelitte Failla - scholar and teacher of religious studies focusing on African and African diaspora religions.
Together we discuss ideas of community, divinity, accountability, homemade justice, sanctuary, magic, abundance, and the connection between capitalism, white supremacy and the myth of scarcity.
“i found god in myself. and i loved her. i loved her fiercely”
Christena Cleveland Ph.D. is a social psychologist, public theologian, author, and activist. She is the founder and director of the Center for Justice + Renewal as well as its sister organization, Sacred Folk, which creates resources to stimulate people’s spiritual imaginations and support their journeys toward liberation.
A weaver of Black liberation and the sacred feminine, Dr. Cleveland integrates psychology, theology, storytelling, and art to stimulate our spiritual imaginations. She recently completed her third full-length book, God is a Black Woman (HarperOne), which details her 400-mile walking pilgrimage across central France in search of ancient Black Madonna statues, and examines the relationship among race, gender, and cultural perceptions of the Divine.
Dr. Cleveland holds a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara as well as an honorary doctorate from the Virginia Theological Seminary. An award-winning researcher and author, Christena is a Ford Foundation Fellow who has held faculty positions at several institutions of higher education — most recently at Duke University’s Divinity School, where she led a research team investigating self-compassion as a buffer to racial stress. Though Dr. Cleveland loves scholarly inquiry, she is also a student of embodied wisdom. She recently completed the Art & Social Change intensive body wisdom training for millennial leaders, and is currently deepening her mind-body-spirit integration in a year-long life practice program for BIPOC.
A bona fide tea snob, lover of Black art, and Ólafur Arnalds superfan — Christena makes her home in Boston.
Check out Shameless Liberation.
Doctor Beverley at your service. While I am not a medical doctor and cannot provide medical services, I am a conjure doctor and rootworker and I'm happy to assist you in all your spiritual, magical, and practical endeavors.
Having a lifelong background in both Christian and Druid traditions, I'm a firm believer in the power of prayer. In the Druid tradition, prayer is interpreted as "intention" - a mindful declaration of your goals. The human mind is immensely powerful with untold, untapped resources. Most of us have yet to unlock our full potential. I believe that our "intent" is the first key in achieving our goals. When our goals are clearly identified and carefully prioritized and the power of our intention is applied, the magic of the herbs can more easily assist the efforts. With our clear goals identified and our intentions applied, the rootwork (the plant energies) can more easily manifest the desired results.
As a practicing yogi of over 20 years, I continue to marvel at the intricacies of the Mind-Body connection. Yoga practice emphasizes the importance of living in the present, of listening to your heart, of honoring your strengths and being aware of your weaknesses. Yoga honors our bodies - exactly where we are on any given day - and encourages self-love amid quiet mental and body awareness. Yoga emphasizes the universal truth that we must bring our physical, mental, and spiritual beings into balance.
In the moving meditation of yoga, I listen to my body, and I listen to that still, small voice within me that tells me everything I need to know. If I listen closely enough, my body (through the power of my mind) will tell me what I need. I believe rootwork is a natural self-care companion to my yoga practice. The Mind-Body-Spirit connection is essential for good health and rootwork is a perfect tool towards that accomplishing that goal.
I have a passion for equality and justice. I lament the nature of our criminal justice system and have a strong calling to reach out to those who have been abused, neglected, and/or thrown away by the System. The need in our prisons must be addressed and I'm currently researching yoga teacher credentials so that I can share the blessings of yoga, meditation, and rootwork with incarcerated women.
I'm an ordained minister and am certified to perform weddings in the state of California. I will work with you to design the wedding service of your dreams. I specialize in African American-themed celebrations. I'm available to preside over same-gender weddings and partnerships. I also facilitate baby blessings and Naming rituals.
I look forward to being of service. Email address: info at docbev dot com
Paganicon 2023: March 17-19
Marcelitte Failla is a Black and biracial scholar of Black religion, focusing on African and African diaspora religions. Through a Black feminist lens, her work explores how religions such as Yoruba Ifá, Haitian Vodou, and Hoodoo of the American South are used for collective healing and social justice. Marcelitte is a Ph.D. candidate at Emory University whose dissertation investigates how Black witches employ spiritual technology for manifestation, healing, and protection from anti-Blackness.
As a practitioner of Ifá and Hoodoo and a self-identified Black witch, Marcelitte often holds ceremonial space in academic and community settings. Marcelitte has articles in the Black Scholar, The Journal of Religion and Culture at Concordia University, and Liturgy. She is also the recipient of the Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. Marcelitte currently lives with her partner and three cats in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: Marcelitte dot F at Gmail dot com
Shout out to the Ile Ori African Cultural Center in Atlanta Georgia!!
Sorcerers of Knowledge
Free Download Here
THE WITCH STUDIES READER
Coming Soon with Duke University Press
There is no scarcity of liberation. Scarcity is a colonial lie. A tool used to divide us. But it takes time to connect with abundance.
Black Witch Council 2023 Part 1
Last note: Michaela Harrison aka The Whale Whisperer was scheduled to join us but wasn't feeling well. Please check out her phenomenal work on her website.
Full Episode Transcript
Amy: [00:00:00] The Missing Witches Podcast is entirely listener funded. If you want to support the Missing Witches Project, become a subscriber. Check out the all new missingwitches.com.
Intro: You aren't being a proper woman. Therefore, you must be a witch. Be a witch. Be a witch. Be a witch. Be a witch. Be a witch. Be a witch. Be a witch. Be a witch. You must be a witch.
Amy: Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Missing Witches podcast. Welcome to Black History Month, and welcome relatedly to what we call Imbolc for short, which is the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring Equinox. And Imbolc gives us an opportunity to, the way I see it, to literally and figuratively take stock. What do we have? What do we have too much of? What do we have too little of? How did we get through this winter? What can we leave in the past? What can we leave in our winter that we don't [00:01:00] want to bring into the spring? And people often joke that, well, February is Black History Month because it's the shortest month of the year and, you know, racism.
Amy: But, I like this notion of, of coupling Black History Month. With this halfway point between our past and our future, between the the death and the growth. So we are doing two panels this year. I'm so happy and so excited to be surrounded by this brilliance. I'm going to allow our guests to introduce themselves because they will do a much better job than I possibly could of describing themselves and their work.
Amy: But today we are joined by Marcelitte and Christena and Dr. Beverly. And I do want to mention Mikayla Harrison, the Whale Whisperer, who was supposed to be here, but she fell ill today. So I really want you all to keep her in your consciousness, wish her well, and definitely please go and check out her work.
Amy: I will [00:02:00] put her website in the show notes for this episode, even though she's not here, because her work is really stupendous and phenomenal. Now onto more phenomenal, phenomenal people. Let's start with our good friend, Christena Cleveland. Hi, how are you?
Christena: Hi. I'm a little salty this week. Good. It's been super snowy here.
Christena: I didn't have electricity or water for two days, and then right when my water came back on, I had to do a meeting with this super sheisty white supremacist organization and they did something super sheisty and white supremacist, so I cursed them out in the name of the Black Madonna. And also black baby female Jesus, who's also trans.
Christena: So that was good and felt holy. But that energy's still moving through me, so I'm just gonna give everybody a warning.
Amy: We love a little salt with our sugar. Yeah. I feel [00:03:00] compelled to ask, did you know you were entering a meeting with white supremacist fuckery, or was this a surprise? When you got there?
Christena: I, agreed to collaborate with them on a project knowing that there would probably be some issues. And then there were issues, so, yeah.
Amy: You remind me of one of my issues, one of my favorite things that I took from our last conversation, is the Holy No. I hope you dropped the Holiest No on to them.
Christena: I did. Yeah. And, so it was. I feel like, I was reflecting on it this morning with a friend, and so for people who, are new to my work, I'm just a passionate devote of the Black Madonna. And I was reflecting on this whole experience with a dear friend this morning and they said, well, if there's anybody who knows how to deal with bullshit organizations, it's the Black Madonna, you know?
Christena: So I really kind [00:04:00] of invoked her this morning in my, walk in the woods and just felt a lot more comfort around that. But it's just exhausting. I don't, I'm too sacred for this. It's just simply put,
Amy: Yes, you are much too sacred.
Christena: Yeah. And I have better things to do with my time than like process, difficult experience that like from white people, you know,
Christena: But I'm like, I wanna be a healthy person. So I've done the due diligence, but then it's like, okay, I like, I should send them a bill. For my time.
Amy: You should. Yes.
Christena: I'm here now.
Amy: You're here now. And we love you and
Christena: Thank you.
Amy: You said, you know, I've got better things to do with my time and I agree with that. Can you tell us about your project that launched yesterday?
Christena: Oh, yeah. Oh, like Shameless Liberation stuff?
Christena: Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, so, me and my team of fabulous black women are [00:05:00] developing a whole year of Shameless Liberation. And it's really about looking at the shame that goes along with white supremacy and how that impeeds our, our racial liberation journeys.
Christena: And so, yeah, it's like pretty much a whole year, of mostly free program. We're, actually not gonna like start charging for anything till September. So, now is a good time to get going on it, and enjoying the good things that we're offering. But yeah, we're doing 28 days of Shameless Liberation for Black History Month.
Christena: People can start whenever they want, but it's like just 28 days of processing your race story and trying to gently excavate the shame in it and heal and move to self-compassion. And that's you know, it's interesting cause that's some of what we all deal with, you know, like when, when we have a, at least I, I can speak for myself when I have a moment like I did yesterday with this organization where I like cursed them out.
Christena: I still as a black woman afterwards have this thought like, oh, I shouldn't have done that. Or I'm taking [00:06:00] up too much space, or, you know, I should have, practiced Kingian and non-violence, something, you know? And so then it's like, okay, I get to actually bring self-compassion to my story and, and move the shame out cuz there's no, there's never a need for it.
Christena: There's just never a need for it.
Risa: Can I ask like, who is your dream? Community that's coming forward to participate in shameless liberation with you? Like when you imagine those people coming outta the woodwork and finding you, like, can we imagine with you who that, what that looks like, what that feels like?
Christena: Sure. Do you have any ideas?
Risa: I mean, I think there's, there's a lot of overlap, like in our community and yours, but I don't know.
Christena: Well, I think it's like, it's definitely designed for people who are pretty earnest. Like we said 28 days of Shameless Liberation, cuz we know a lot of people are not gonna be attracted to 28 days of anything.
Christena: You know, much less Shameless [00:07:00] Liberation. So it's definitely designed for, like, I'm a super intense person. I don't do anything lower than like, in white patriarchal terms as master's level. Like whether it's vintage clothing or art, you know, like I always get really into things so, yeah, I mean it's definitely people who are earnest and people who are really, really interested in being well as they do racial justice work.
Christena: And leading communities that are healthy and well. So I imagine that will be people who have some sort of influence already, whether it's like in a spiritual community or a classroom or a nonprofit or something like that. I think it's, it's mostly gonna be people who have some level of influence in leadership position, probably?
Christena: But also people who feel tender in around their spirituality, whatever that looks like.
Risa: [00:08:00] Yeah. Thanks. I wanted to ask, cuz I want, when people are listening where they're wondering like, is that for me?
Risa: To see, like, do they hear themselves being called in the description? You know,
Christena: Yeah. Yeah. I mean first, first we center black women in everything we do.
Christena: But I think that's good for everybody. .
Risa: Yeah. Me too. It's fucking a little bit healing for all of us to have that at the center. Yeah.
Christena: Yeah. I kind of wanna hear from Marcelitte and Dr. Beverly not to move it along. Isn't that ?
Christena: Take the reins. We love that. Marcelitte
Dr. Beverly: Christena, I do love your idea, this whole thing about the Shameless Liberation.
Dr. Beverly: I absolutely adore that because I am a past sex worker and I believe that shame is a useless [00:09:00] emotion and gets us nowhere. And basically it piles on our self-loathing. Which we as people of color and black women in particular, have been encouraged to have that sense of self-loathing, that sense of we're not good enough.
Dr. Beverly: Always trying to small ourselves up or, like you say, not take up too much space. So I love that whole concept of shamelessness involved in our liberation because it's almost like when it comes to liberation work, which I do a lot of liberation conjure, I'm two-headed conjure woman, a root doctor, and in the HooDoo tradition, in the Black HooDoo tradition, and there's a lot of almost [00:10:00] baggage that goes with liberation.
Dr. Beverly: It's almost like. Some of us feel like we have to ask permission or we have to, explain why we wanna be free, why we wanna be liberated from the tropes and the, norms and the, the stereotypes. It's almost like we have to say, I I'm sorry that I wanna slough all of this off. So what you have said really struck a note with me and I appreciate that.
Christena: Well, thank you.
Dr. Beverly: I think I could really build on that.
Christena: Oh yeah. And shame destroys community, right? It just eviscerates our sense of belonging. And usually it's precisely the point when we need to belong the most. Cuz we need help, or, yeah. Usually cuz we need help and we're ashamed that we need help
Christena: Yeah. Well thank you for that
Amy: Dr. Beverly, while you, we have you, can you introduce [00:11:00] yourself to our audience who may have missed the past couple times when?
Dr. Beverly: Sure, sure.
Amy: We connected here.
Dr. Beverly: My name is Beverly Smith. Thank you for having me in some circles. I'm called Dr. Beverly. I am a root worker in the old Southern tradition.
Dr. Beverly: I am myself, I am not a Southern Black American. I am a first generation Jamaican, a first generation American born to Jamaican parents. And so that gives me an interesting, perspective also because I also am tapping into my ancestral magic as well. So it's very, I hate to keep using the word liberating, but it's very liberating for me to approach magic from a cultural, from my cultural, perspective.
Dr. Beverly: And I've really been enjoying it. I've really been enjoying it. [00:12:00] I discovered root work about 15 years ago, so I'm not one of those that that will tell you that, you know, my grandmother taught me everything I need to know. No, I'm not one of those. My grandmother actually was very strict, Christian, Anglican Christian, and, dissuaded us from Obia.
Dr. Beverly: Which is the name of the Jamaican Magical Practices Obia. She discouraged us from the Obia Woman, from from listening to the Obia Man. So it's interesting to come back to my roots and tie everything in. And right now for me, my biggest focus is Liberation Magic, because the pandemic has really affected my community.
Dr. Beverly: And when I say my community, the vast majority of my [00:13:00] clients are black femme sex workers. And the pandemic took a huge, huge toll on that community. And so in trying to be supportive and in trying to help, make a cohesive, make to help the community feel cohesive again. That's been my focus and it's very difficult, especially with the pandemic physically separating us.
Dr. Beverly: That's been very, very tough. So my focus is on women and fems, overwhelmingly black and Latina. And I have been trying to, for years, get into the prison system, not, not as an [00:14:00] inmate, but as, someone who's there to assist and oh my goodness, the layers, the layers of red tape, the layers and the the obstacles and the pushback.
Dr. Beverly: And so I'm still. Still two years later trying to get into that system where I can bring some yoga, some, basically companionship. I'm not trying to, to extol magical principles in the prison system. I really want to sort of, see if we can build a sense of community with women and femes behind bars, right?
Dr. Beverly: Because they are desperately lacking in community with their outside sisters. And that has been a focus for me for years now. Three, going on three years and for two years. [00:15:00] Actively working through the red tape. And no matter what I fill out, no matter what I do, I'm still grasping at trying to make those connections work out.
Dr. Beverly: I'm still trying to get permission from the prison system to actually interact with these, people on a ongoing basis. So that has been my current focus. And this pandemic has really put a strain on, on actual, when I say community, I mean community. And so by having to face those challenges now I am, happily discovering community that we can do in this sort of sense. Yeah, I'm getting back to the [00:16:00] in-person stuff, but still to build community with people that you can't touch, that you can't see, right? You can only see through the camera right now. People that you can't sit down and hug or, or spend time with.
Dr. Beverly: That's been a, that's been a huge challenge for me because I'm definitely a touchy feely witch. I'm definitely a sensory witch. I am a Taurus. So for me, it's, it's important to have that sense of, of home. And connection with the people that I, that I'm involved with. So this has all been a challenge for me, but my main focus in community are women and, female, identified people who are trying to also deal with their blackness, also deal with, being ostracized, [00:17:00] also trying to deal with being thrown away because the people that I tend to deal with are sex workers and, so-called criminals and inmates.
Dr. Beverly: And I'm trying to bring them past. It's not me. I'm not the one doing the, doing the work. I'm encouraging that inner, that inner work that everyone has to do, I'm not going to magically appear, and it's my blessing presence that changes everything. No, I just wanna be a step in that ladder. I just wanna help out.
Dr. Beverly: And it's very dear to me. But the pandemic has really, really put big roadblocks up. And now trying to get back, trying to get that sense back and trying to, [00:18:00] to almost start from, from ground zero has been difficult. But this is why we work. We keep working towards self-expression and self liberation and self-acceptance.
Dr. Beverly: Because when we as a people, as women have finally accepted ourselves, have finally accepted and loved ourself, what does, I hope I pronounce her name right. She's one of my favorite authors. Ntozake Shange, I think is how you say it. It's her.
Christena: Oh, yeah, Ntozake Shange. Yeah.
Dr. Beverly: See, I told you I couldn't spell that name. I couldn't say that name.
Christena: It's soup.
Dr. Beverly: Yeah. I love her.
Christena: No, I had to like memorize it. Yeah,
Dr. Beverly: I love, I love her.
Dr. Beverly: I love her writings. And one of the things that I love, one of her quotes that I love is "I found God in myself and I loved her fiercely". I love that quote. [00:19:00] And that is the crux of my work, is to help people recognize God in themselves and to love her fiercely.
Dr. Beverly: Because, you know, HooDoo is definitely understand the magical power of the Bible. They definitely understand the magical power of the Bible. I am not a Christian, but I use the Bible as spell for spell work. The book of the, the whole entire book of Psalms is one, is one spell after the other, just as an example.
Dr. Beverly: And, and we know that in the Bible it says, to love God as you love yourself and thy neighbor as you love yourself. So that's our first rule is to love God. And the [00:20:00] spin that I put on it is to love the God you see reflected in the mirror. That's my whole dogma in a nutshell, is to know thyself and come to love thyself.
Dr. Beverly: So that's, that's where I am. And that's a lifelong pursuit. You know, I'm still working towards that pursuit. So it's like I, that's why I call it a ladder. I'm one step in the ladder. It's, we're constantly moving toward perfection, and the only way we can do it is one step at a time.
Amy: I spoke to a sex worker, a former sex worker a couple of years ago who told me that when she was working in this field, she conceived of herself as a healer. And I really see that, that relationship between the, the sex worker and the witch as being these demonized healers. [00:21:00] And I know Marcelitte, you wrote, I, I'll misquote it a little bit, but, "I do magic because she heals me".
Amy: Can you, I expect? Yeah. Can you expand on that notion as you introduce yourself?
Marcelitte: Yeah, okay, can I expand on that notion as I introduce myself? So, hello everyone. My name is Marcelitte Failla. I am a scholar of African and African diasporic religions I am also a practitioner of HooDoo and Yfa, and a member of an Ile here in Atlanta, Georgia.
Marcelitte: And I am of African and Italian descent. African on my mama's side and Italian on my dada's side. Yeah, so I'm a scholar, I'm a practitioner. I approach my work equally [00:22:00] from those two places. Healing. Healing. How does healing? Well, another thing I'll share with you all, what's been on my mind as in, in the past two days, I saw the documentary on Zora Neal Hurston that just came out on PBS I highly recommended.
Marcelitte: It was so beautiful. And watching it, I was such a nice reminder to, to really to do what calls no matter the systems at hand. Right? She was studying the traditions of our people, even within the constraints and as a direct opposition to the constraints of the academy directly in opposition [00:23:00] to anthropology and their kind of, you know, textbook ways of studying people.
Marcelitte: Right? And I personally am reminded that, that this is, that because of her, in this legacy, there are so many other black scholars now, black women scholars especially, that are able to, you know, study and understand ourselves and our people, and document our practices in ways that feel authentic to us, you know, and I think more and more realizing that, the line between, scholar and practitioner is so thin, it's just, part of it is, you know, the process of divination div dividing on our, you know asking the ancestors about things.
Marcelitte: And then a part of it [00:24:00] is, is reading books too, and they're just so intricately, inter embedded in each other. So yeah, so I think I'm just, right now in terms of healing, I'm thinking about honoring myself more in terms of remembering the whys of, of academic scholarship and, and rerooting myself and rooting myself back in a community of lifelong, learners.
Marcelitte: You know, at the end of the day, that's how I feel. I feel a, a part in bringing it back to community. I feel like a part of a community, of just people who are endlessly searching and learning about our African diasporic traditions, in any, in any way possible. Through the books, through the divination, through the practice, [00:25:00] through every, all of it, you know?
Marcelitte: And just remaining humble and present.
Amy: Can you talk a little bit about Sorcerers of Knowledge? This is, was is such an exciting project to me and again, I I'm, I'm gonna read one more little thing that you wrote in your, the sort of ending where you, you do your, about section that you say that "you learned through magic how to scream away the racism that's stuck in our bodies and how to Heal my sisters". I think everyone wants to, to hear more about that.
Marcelitte: I love that. I love that you bring that up. I wrote that a long time ago. So and I've been doing a lot of writing since, so it's nice to be reminded, of some of my past work.
Marcelitte: So Sorcerers of Knowledge was a, is a, spell book that I compiled. Based on [00:26:00] rituals collected from right behind me. Harry Middleton Hyatt's, volume of collection of root work, from the 1930s and the forties. He went down to the south and, and met with, hmm, I think 1600 black folks.
Marcelitte: And collected all of collective stories about root work. And so it's based on, on those, those texts and they're kind of, some of them are reinterpreted and reworked, based on available, herbs. Some things are not available anymore. So yeah, so it has, so there's some spells for healing and for manifestation and clarity.
Marcelitte: You asked me about screaming away the racism. I think that, for me personally comes from my [00:27:00] own experience growing up in a very rural KKK kinda town. I grew up outside of, Gresham, Oregon, which is, if anyone knows anything about Oregon, they didn't allow black people in there for a very long time.
Marcelitte: And I grew up in my mixed race family, where it was very common to see people with militia and stuff. So, HooDoo or HooDoo or just kind of a eclectic spiritual practice was very much a part of how my family, how me, me and my mom especially, navigated, navigated that kind of racism. And did spells for all kinds of things and, you know, divined and read our tarot cards when we needed to, and offered oranges to Oshun at the [00:28:00] river.
Marcelitte: And, yeah, it was just kind of a way of, maintaining wellbeing in the midst of it. And also getting justice when we found . When, when it was right, when it was, you know, when it was appropriate. But, yeah, I think that's what that.
Amy: When you were right and when it was appropriate. That's a tough one. And I know Dr. Beverly, you have thoughts on this in terms of ethical divination, in terms of, you know, a asking the question before you go out and take the action. Can you talk a little bit about the, the, your ethics of divination?
Dr. Beverly: I am a practicer of HooDoo as I mentioned earlier, and I'm definitely, what they would call, I work with both the right hand and the left hand, and, anyone who practices [00:29:00] HooDoo understands what I'm talking about.
Dr. Beverly: I feel like sometimes in the larger or the more white magical practices, there is this, there is this emphasis on love and light. All right. But I have to remind people a quote by Terry Pinchet, and I can't say it word for word, but basically "it's wherever the light reaches, it finds a darkness waiting for it."
Dr. Beverly: So we have light and we have dark. We have day and we of night. And the work that I do, I will not hesitate to do what is called negative work or painful work [00:30:00] if the circumstances call for it. And I discover whether it's justified or not, because when I walk into my house, I wanna walk into my house justified.
Dr. Beverly: I wanna walk into my house knowing that if I have done something painful, it's because it was warranted. And I discover that through divination. And so before I do anything that would be interpreted as something other than love and light, I check with divination. I give a check in with divination. I have used tarot cards for many, many years, but in the last five or so years, I've really gravitated to throwing the bones.
Dr. Beverly: For me, learning tarot was a struggle. It was a struggle. It was literally a [00:31:00] lifetime struggle. I started probably when I was in middle school, and it was a struggle. The first time I saw the bones thrown and understood the, when I was taught the basics behind it, and understood the first time they were thrown.
Dr. Beverly: I read them with ease. And I feel that's my ancestors coming back to me because in Obia, chicken bones are thrown. So I feel like if I am going to do something that may be considered less than good or less than positive, or less than helpful or less than loving, I wanna make sure that through divination, my ancestors and the deities that I acknowledge are on board, [00:32:00] I have to make sure if they tell me, no, don't do it, I won't do it, because then I can't call myself justified.
Dr. Beverly: All I can call myself is angry or reactive or, anything but justified. It's important for me to be able to justify my actions, but once justified, I will not hesitate to do what needs to be done. And so that's where I draw the line.
Dr. Beverly: And this, I know that may not, that may not sit well with some of your viewers, but, that, that's what it is,
Amy: Seems very clear to me, that you know, that you, you have told me in the past that you consider yourself a bringer of balance. And sometimes that means the weight is on one side and that means the weight is on the other side. And, and to me that that makes perfect sense.
Dr. Beverly: Evening out the scales, evening out the scales of justice. I'm not, [00:33:00] I'm not gonna do anything. Like if somebody comes up to me and say, bitch, look at those shoes. I'm not gonna, you know, go after them. But if there is a serial rapist, Or if there is someone who is just banging onto his, you know, just beating up his wife and children, if there is someone who is, you know, destroying her, her not just her life because people are gonna do what they wanna do, but if someone is bringing destruction and anguish onto someone else, they have to be stopped.
Dr. Beverly: They have to be, I'm not talking about putting anybody in the ground. I'm talking about binding people's actions. I'm talking about, stopping them from doing more destruction, stopping them from doing more harm. [00:34:00] So if you put out harm, you're gonna get back harm. That's, that's, that's the karmic rule.
Dr. Beverly: What goes around comes around as above, so below, as within, so without. So it's just a matter of bringing balance back. If there's a serial rapist or a serial killer, running around HooDoo is one of the best ways of binding them. Of binding them and stopping them, even if you don't know their name. It's one of the best ways.
Dr. Beverly: So that's just one example of what I am talking about. I am not talking about going after people because they pissed you off. I'm not talking about going after people because they don't like you. I'm not talking about going after people because you feel like it cuz you woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning.
Dr. Beverly: This is what I'm talking about. Justified you take it to, I take it to my ancestors, I take it to my [00:35:00] deities and I say this is what is going on. Is it right for me? Is it allowed for me? Is it proper for me to stop this? If the answer is no, I won't touch it. If the answer is yes, then I'll deal with it from my end.
Dr. Beverly: That's all I can do. So I don't want your listeners to think, oh my God, there she is cursing a bitch every time they turn around. . No, no, no. I don't want them to think that because that's not, that's not, I take it very, very seriously. And I only proceed with the utmost of caution. And I say once again, only with the permission of my deities and my ancestors.
Christena: Can I add something to that too? Just a yes and I [00:36:00] think there's just something, there's something about white supremacy and colonialism that insists that sacredness and goodness go together, and that everything outside of that is bad or not sacred or evil. And it's just, it's black oversimplify or black, right?
Christena: And so, and then also who gets to decide what's good? It's whiteness, right? And so of course it's all of these, white witchy people who are talking about the love and light. You know, you hardly ever see that from black people. And it's just, it's so, it's so white and colonial. I mean, even like if, even if you just look at like Hinduism, Kali Is like so fierce.
Christena: It usually has like a sickle or several, you know, at any given time. And, I just got back from another trip to France to visit. The Black Madonna is there and the Black Madonna of Paris is, is widely known, not officially known, but on an underground [00:37:00] level, widely known to kill, partners who have been abusive.
Christena: That's like the word on the street. I've heard the story dozens of times that a woman, and this is historically, you know, a woman would come, have an abusive partner. It's not legal to get divorced, it's not a possibility. Pray to the black Madonna, she's called Our Lady of Good Deliverance. And then the person would just, the husband, the abusive husband would just end up missing.
Christena: Like nobody, nobody has just not seen again, no body, no nothing, right? Like just gone. And I think there's, a holiness to that. I mean, especially someone who grew up in communities where the abusers were always elevated and heard and seen. But then also, like there are all these banana stories that I've been reading about the Black Madonna of Spa, the Black Madonnas of Spain.
Christena: And similar to you, Dr. Beverly, like people would come to her and want [00:38:00] to do something. So there was this one lady whose husband was cheating on her with another woman. So she goes to the Black Madonna and prays and says, please kill her. Like this is what needs to be done. And the black Madonna's like, I hear you, but we're not gonna do that.
Christena: Like, that's not what we're gonna do. But then what the Black Madonna does is she goes and intervenes with the other woman, and that woman comes to the, the first woman, the wife, I guess, and says, I'm sorry I was wrong. And they have a reconciliation, you know. But then there's another story, in which this other guy who was like an abuser and a philanderer gets tricked by so-called the devil.
Christena: I'm saying that in square scare quotes, to cut off his penis. And then kill himself. And so then, all of these like devotees of the Black Madonna call on her and say, you know, bring our friend back, or, you know, this person in our community. And she gets involved and says, I'm happy to bring him back to life.
Christena: And she does, but she says, but he doesn't get his penis back. [00:39:00] And that's the story, right? So like, there are these, it's like that karma, right? What goes around comes around and it's, it's morally ambiguous according to like North American standards, right? At best it's morally ambiguous, but I feel like it's like a white colonial figment of the imagination to think that anything's morally unambiguous.
Christena: Cuz who gets to decide, right? And it's like even the question of like, well, should someone go to prison for stealing fruit if they're hungry? Well, how come the question is it? Should someone go to prison for hoarding food and like, not creating enough food for everyone, right. It's al So it's always this, this kind of gross way that white colonialism feels like it has clarity, or that it can determine what is love and light.
Christena: And then to me that just seems like a way to cause [00:40:00] harm without, while thinking that you're not causing harm, rather than just being honest and saying, everything I do is, is a mixed bag and sometimes I have to make amends.
Risa: Yeah. It's a, it's the abuser logic for me. You know, I was just talking to my father-in-law about his relationship with religion. You know, and thinking about all the, you know, why I left, what, what broke me from it? He was asking, you know, cuz he goes for the rhythm of it or whatever, and I was like, well, it's the kids. And he's like, yeah, of course. It's the kids. like, of course you can't go back.
Risa: Once you know the stories of the kids, you know, and you hear the stories over and over again of children being told, you know, only God can judge. So let's pray for your abusers. Like to have the church tell you that you don't get justice and we'll just pray for him. It's that, that's this hundreds of years of abuse, of women and especially black women, that it's like, I can't, I can't play in, in those waters, those spiritual waters anymore.
Risa: It's too, it's too painful. [00:41:00] I love this idea too, of an idea of community since we said that for our theme today. Where there's power for us to right the scales. Like there's power to, to really directly deal with the violence in our communities. Can we, can we unpack that more, what that looks like for you?
Risa: Either, either magically or, or in terms of academic or in terms of your research or your writing or the work that you're doing. Like, how do we imagine getting to a, a community that is, that is healed? How do we do that? Anybody, or, well,
Marcelitte: I was gonna say something about justice and I can kind of go along those lines, but I was gonna also say that, just to echo what y'all have been saying, but how it's been, how HooDoo has been such a tool of resistance for so long, right?
Marcelitte: Like, I [00:42:00] think about, I think about, Albert Raboteau and he says that, he was famous scholar of religion. He says that, you know, it wasn't that the energies weren't, themselves, weren't just seen as, as good or bad. They were seen as security and danger. And how they brought in security for the people that were practicing them, right?
Marcelitte: Also how these traditions were systems. I guess in this way I can think about community, but systems that, provided alternative forms of justice for black people when there wasn't, when there was. Form of justice. I mean, not that there is now, right? Not that you can necessarily go to the cops when you have a problem.
Marcelitte: Can't usually. But yeah, you know, someone causes some harm. Someone rapes somebody on another plantation during slavery, and what do you do? You go to [00:43:00] the, the conjure, the root worker, right? So as, a system of accountability amongst enslaved African people, African American people, and then thinking about cases of resistance.
Marcelitte: I know, Dr. Yvonne Schiro writes about this a lot, but Nat Turner Rebellion, the Denmark Bessie conspiracy, so many cases where, we see conjure being very much a part of this, of resistance. I recently thinking about stories, I was recently, read, I think it was in those books also, I referenced them quite a bit.
Marcelitte: But this, this woman who's a practitioner, her husband call themselves practitioners of witchcraft. And she shares a story about her, I think her [00:44:00] uncle who was in a car was a taxi driver or some kind of car driver. And, some guys are like running away, they were robbing a store.
Marcelitte: And so they're running away and they get into her uncle's car. And her uncle similarly black, gets charged with, the robbery. And they had killed the person in the store also. So she goes to, this Dr. Buzzard and a HooDoo and a person, and she asked for a, a spell to help free, for her uncle, and it works.
Marcelitte: But thinking about, you know, again, just kind of conjure as this, practice of justice and in dealing with the law when it is, just as it is often very unjust, right? [00:45:00] Um, yeah,
Dr. Beverly: Absolutely, i, I mean, when you ask about what is my concept of community, it really goes, I mean, one of the root words is commune. You know, it's a, it's a group of people who share values, a group of people who share a narrative. And to me that's the ideal community would be a community where the people are in charge of their own narrative or narratives, plural, and people who can count on accountability.
Dr. Beverly: We have to control our own stories, our own destinies, but we also want [00:46:00] accountability, not just for ourselves, because we do need to strive to be accountable personally, because karma is a grown ass bitch. Okay? We need to be accountable, but at the same time, we want the larger, the larger, the society that we live in to be accountable.
Dr. Beverly: And in so many ways, justice has alluded our communities in so many ways. Justice has alluded our, our black people, and from the earliest days of when our kidnapped ancestors were brought to the Americas and the Caribbean, the only way that we could reach for [00:47:00] accountability, the only way that we could move towards accountability was through our ancient practices.
Dr. Beverly: Our ancient magical practices. You know, you're on a, you're on a, plantation being raped every night. Who are you gonna complain to? The overseer? Or the, master who's raping you, you've got no justice. So you go to that root doctor and get justice. That's already been said here today, but I have to, I have to highlight that because for so many people of color, particularly black people, our only justice is homemade.
Dr. Beverly: Our only justice is the justice that we create because the system does [00:48:00] not do right by us. The system is skewed against us. I mean, everyone knows this. We don't need to have a long lecture about that, justice alludes black people in many, many ways. And so for me, that is the biggest thing. That's the biggest thing that attracts me.
Dr. Beverly: To, to conjure, to magic, to manifesting. My reality is that I am in control of my narrative, and if I harm someone else, they have the ability to get justice from me. And if I am harmed, I have that magical ability to extract justice. And really for, I can only speak for myself, but for myself. And looking at my [00:49:00] mother and my grandmother, that's the only way we could really extract justice.
Dr. Beverly: Even my mother and my grandmother, who are not HooDooist, who would sit here beside me and condemn it as a thing of the devil. They were doing the same stunt, they were doing the same things in the name of the Holy Trinity. They just don't see it as magic. They, they see it as praying. They see it as praying upon the blood of Je praying, using the blood of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Beverly: So in, in many ways, I don't fight that because they are creating their own narrative. They are living their authentic lives. They are being authentic to what they believe. And so I don't fight against that type [00:50:00] because I'm all about black people have been robbed of our agency, especially black women, have been robbed of our agency on this, on this, you know, on Turtle Island, on this land mass for so long.
Dr. Beverly: For four, for over 400 years, they've been robbed of their own agency, and I can't speak to what was going on in pro-slavery, African continent. I lead that to the scholars and the academics, and I appreciate that. But as I speak for today, who do for me has been my biggest liberation and has been my biggest agency.
Dr. Beverly: It has given me agency that no other magical system has given. I've been a druid in many ways. I still consider myself a druid. I've been, I've, I've dabbled [00:51:00] in, in various Wiccan type traditions, and for me, the greatest agency comes from me from HooDoo, which is not a religion. It's not, it's not a religion per se, it does have religious aspects, but you don't have to practice a particular religion to be involved in HooDoo or conjure.
Dr. Beverly: And for me, that's been the most liberating, is that I can take this system and I can work with it. Because what you put into it is what you're going to get out of it. And, I've found that for myself, very uplifting. And I, find it for myself a way of self-expression that I've never had before. And so for me, that is very healing for me.
Dr. Beverly: That has healed a lot of the pain. And you have to understand, I'm old enough that I remember busing. I was part of the, I was, I [00:52:00] was one of the last. So if you, if you go and Google it, you'll be able to guess my age because I was among the last. Students, public school students, black students who were bused to white schools.
Dr. Beverly: And I remember that and I remember how debilitating that was and how you almost felt like a non-entity, at least I did. And I was six years old, a six-year-old child in first grade being bussed. And that put a huge cloud over my life, a huge cloud dealing with that abject hatefulness in your face, hatefulness, you know, for a tiny child to deal with it with in a school, I mean a school bus of, all age groups of all grade school, of all grade school age groups.
Dr. Beverly: That was very, very tough. [00:53:00] But I believe that, that, that, that laid out the path of my life. I believe that as a six year old, I was looking for justice. I was looking for, something to tell me, to validate my experience. And it took a lifetime. It took a lifetime for me to get to where I am now. And so that's why I want to share what I know, what I have, what has healed me.
Dr. Beverly: I wanna share that with younger people because I don't want them to wait till they get to the age that I am now before they feel that liberation, before they get that sense of I am living in a white sup, a white supremacist society where I'm not valued, I'm not loved. I'm not even seen [00:54:00] unless I'm seen with a jaish eye.
Dr. Beverly: I want to make them understand they do not need to be seen by the society. They need to walk in their own path and write their own narratives and PR and, and, and press towards their own self-determination. And for me, that's, that's, that's the whole thing about magic is self-determination. What do you wanna manifest today?
Dr. Beverly: What do you wanna heal today? What do you want to highlight today? What do you wanna fix today? Who do is very practical. It's about having enough to eat. It's about feeling protected and secure. It's about, you. Sex, love, and romance. It's about mundane things like money, all very necessary. [00:55:00] It's not as concerned about the state of your soul or the state of, you know, your afterlife.
Dr. Beverly: But how do we deal with today? How do we get through this day? How do we lay the foundation for tomorrow? How do we give our children what they need? How do we give our neighbors what they need? How do we give ourselves what we need? And not to belabor the point, but that is what I really love about Conjure is that it takes a very practical look at dealing with white supremacy and dealing.
Dr. Beverly: This society that we are a part of, we cannot separate ourselves. Like the old communes of the old days, even they weren't separated and even they were a temporary thing. The communes of the fifties and sixties and seventies, very temporary. [00:56:00] But because we have to live in this society, because we have to deal with these factors because we have to deal with these obstacles that are constantly thrown, these micro, you know, these, these micro, aggressive aggressions and these cuts, these death by a thousand cut.
Dr. Beverly: Because we have to deal with that and it affects our health and it affects our mental health also, and it affects our spiritual health also, because we have to live in this world and be a part of this white supremacist society. We have to find ways to cloak ourselves and to heal ourselves and to walk where we want to walk with our heads up, but also in safety and with self-confidence.[00:57:00]
Dr. Beverly: And HooDoo really does address a lot of those issues. And so when I think of creating community, I want to create community with people who have the. To help themselves, to have the tools to manifest something in their lives. And that's why I feel a magical tradition, whatever it may be, whatever is right for you is going to be the best way to do that because you are going to manifest for yourself.
Dr. Beverly: You're going to manifest change for yourself. And by lifting ourselves up, the tide lifts all boats. A rising tide lifts all boats. And so that is how I view creating community is giving people the tools. To have self-agency.
Amy: I'm glad you brought up like the [00:58:00] sort of mythical, they were real, but nowadays we sort of think of them as like a mythical place, these communes of the, of the sixties and i, I did a little reading about this because again, like I, I feel like in, in our modern western society, you know, in order to get by, in order to survive, not get by, in order to survive you have to have wealth. Or community. And we have just entirely focused on that first one of, of hoarding, you know, amassing wealth and why is that not illegal to, to amass wealth in this way.
Amy: And so I, I was doing some reading with these communes, like, what happened? Did the, did the, the hippies just grow up and become yuppies and everyone just moved, you know, but that, that's not really what happened. Often what happened was that the government would, what's the word that I'm looking for, where you decide what, what a piece of land is for, had it in my head.
Risa: Re rezone the land.
Amy: They rezone the land. They [00:59:00] would bulldoze the structures that people had made. So that brings me to this question for all of you, which is like, we have this notion, I, I love that our only justice is homemade of homemade justice, but we are up against a force that wants us to fail, that wants us to fail at building community because when we build community together, that's really bad for the economy and really bad for the billionaires who are counting on us to feel like we can buy our way out of fear.
Amy: So I, I guess my question is very broad. Like how when we are up against a force that really wants us to keep on this individualistic capitalist thinking, how do we, how do we build communities that last,
Christena: Something that really just roasts the surface for me when Marcelitte and Dr. Beverly were talking was just about how, those of us who have ancestors [01:00:00] who are enslaved, really, you know, our ancestors did a phenomenal job of maintaining community in the midst of enslavement. And we don't often talk about that. We usually talk about the trauma that we've inherited, but not necessarily the, like quite magical ways that they, devote.
Christena: Like despite the demands on their time and the physical demands on their bodies and all these other things, they were doing all these practices together to, to be one, whether it's dancing or hush harbors or conjure work. And what to me feels resonant is that like in order for someone to, you know, as Marcelitte said, you know, go to the conjure, to the conjure and say, Hey, I have been wronged.
Christena: We need to do something about that. There's a level, there's a level of, mindfulness. Like, there's a level of like, I've checked in with [01:01:00] myself, this doesn't feel good. I need something different that, slavery and capitalism want to kill that impulse to, they want, they want to numb us, right? Because you go your whole day being mistreated, and then the easiest thing to do is just completely numb out.
Christena: But then somehow they were able to, connect with their, their true emotions, their true humanity, and, and be able to even say, this is how I, I feel away . Like something happened and I feel away about it. And I think for me, how I bring that to the present is I really, for that reason, can't disconnect.
Christena: Thank, sanctuary and community because we're always on the run and always trying to reconnect with ourselves. Or even the way that Dr. Beverly talks about where she was just like, you know, it's about my physical needs. It's about how am I gonna gonna get through today? How am I gonna [01:02:00] hold my head high?
Christena: That right there, those three questions, that could be three hours a day of journaling just to connect with, or talking to ancestors or talking to any Dieties I mean, that's a lot. And capitalism doesn't want that. And so I think, community is the one. Community slash sanctuary is the one place where we get to just be, and this is not my idea, this is, Reverend Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, who's probably my favorite like Black Buddhist teacher, which is hard to say cuz there's so many good ones.
Christena: But, she's pretty dope. And she just talks about how sanctuary is the one place where you get to be a person. Like you get to say, I feel I hurt, I need, like I exist. And I think a lot of what I'm interested in doing. And I think what a lot of, a lot of us are interested in doing is creating those spaces where people can connect with their [01:03:00] need so that then we can be honest about, how to help each other and how to resist.
Christena: But I think it's the whole system that doesn't want us to ever take that time to just stop. But for me, the most attractive communities are the ones that compel me to drop in.
Marcelitte: I would, I would like to add, on community. I like that idea of dropping in and being a whole person.
Marcelitte: Okay. I have two thoughts. One, Community, a space that's been really important for me has been, Ila, has been, terms, sanctuary has been my Ifa community. And it's, it's been difficult cuz since Covid, we haven't met in person as much. And so [01:04:00] it's meant, yeah, it's just been, we've been a little bit more disconnected.
Marcelitte: We've been online. But when we were in person it made such an impact on me because, I was able to be in an intergenerational space and, just be in a community of, like I said, lifelong learners of these traditions, and, and do so in a way that was honoring Orisha reflectively, honoring the Orisha. Yeah, and I think that can last and it does last. The Ila I've been a part of has been around for 25 years. So as this physical space, it has been around and it's led, by entirely by a black woman, Ile Ori African Cultural Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Shout out. And the other way I was thinking about building long-term sustainable [01:05:00] communities is also in terms of legacy.
Marcelitte: So I've been thinking a lot about, how, again, I'm thinking about Zora, I'm thinking about Zora Neil Hurston. I'm thinking about the legacy of black women that have, that are and here and here are coming after her. Right. And then, and then in the academy particularly, cause that's where I am. Just making sure that.
Marcelitte: As black women scholars especially who are studying African heritage religions that we're bringing each other along with us, right. That we're, my advisor, Dr. Diane Stewart, is very committed to mentoring, black, I'm gonna say it, mentoring black students, interested in studying these traditions and making sure that, and through programs like the Mellon program, making sure that black and brown students are [01:06:00] entering higher education, entering the academy, and changing how we even think about knowledge production.
Marcelitte: And creating spaces where people can be fully whole and fully free and fully themselves, without having to pretend in terms of this like white man rationale, kind of, you know. For people who are listening, I was acting like I was butting up my shirt, oh gosh. As a, white man. But yeah, so making sure that we're, and that we're collaborating with each other.
Marcelitte: I think this is, oh, this is what I won't say, and the, in academia there can be, and I think in any space there can be a sense of scarcity, right? That there isn't enough for, there aren't enough jobs, there aren't enough, my ideas or my ideas, you know, or we kind of feel like we need to protect [01:07:00] what is ours.
Marcelitte: And that, that's just such a characteristic of these. White supremacists, often white supremacist spaces. But the beauty, that's the beauty of being a witch. The beauty of magic is that there isn't, we don't believe in a lack. We believe in our power. We believe in our ability to create, what we need as the beauty of conjure.
Marcelitte: The beauty of HooDoo. We believe that we can create what we need in this world. And so when we don't think about, when we are not thinking about scarcity, we're not thinking about lack. We're not in competition. We're not envious of other people. And so we can freely bring in and build community with each other, and we can, we can support each other.
Marcelitte: I always make sure I try to, any undergrads that come to me and they just wanna talk, they want some book recommendations or whatever, you know, [01:08:00] call me, I'm here. But, you know, just, just simple ways that we can make sure we're bringing each other in and bringing each other on, making sure that we're mentoring, taking on grad students, we're faculty taking on grad students, especially black and brown grad students, right.
Marcelitte: That we're, teaching books and we're Yeah. That we're teaching books that are not just, academic books that are written by other faculty members, but also by practitioners and making sure that money is going to practitioners. Right. How do we, how do we bring everybody, everybody. How's everybody benefit? From the work?
Risa: I love so much that you highlighted. Witchcraft and HooDoo in specifics ability to defy the delusion of scarcity. I think that that, that fuckery that is so at the core of colonialism [01:09:00] and of capitalism, is so much something that I'm passionate about our magic doing in our work and in our writing work.
Risa: And I, I know Christina, this anti-capitalist work is so core to what you're doing as well. And just thank you for talking about that. I did wanna say like, or, or open it up if you have, now that you've sort of met each other and you've started, I can see you beaming and like nodding, full body, nodding at each other.
Risa: If you had questions about each other's work or questions for each other. They're probably more interesting than the questions we have .
Dr. Beverly: Well, I, I don't have a question, but I wanted to speak to what Marcelitte said about, scarcity. Oh my goodness. Scarcity is the prime directive of white supremacy. And I'll tell you why.
Dr. Beverly: If they can convince you, and when I say you, I mean society at [01:10:00] large, that there is a scarcity of resources, then they build that whole competitive thing that I want mine and you can't have yours. And that leads to hierarchy and it leads to othering and it leads to racism because it's like, oh, wow, there's a scarcity of this, that, or the other.
Dr. Beverly: Well, who gets it? Well, not those people.
Dr. Beverly: That's basically that whole crux of white supremacy is that unless you are white, you cannot have what we have. It is a building up of false scarcity, and it's a lie, and it is the major building stone of colonialism [01:11:00] and, sexism and racism. It is one of the biggest building stones because all of a sudden I've got to have mine and I don't care about what these people, who don't look like me, what they get.
Dr. Beverly: I don't want them to have anything. I want it from me and my clan only, and that's, that's all of that is a lie. Because we all have that divine power that, that God-given gift to manifest what we need. There is no such thing as scarcity. It is used to divide us. It is used to make us attack and otherize each other to separate ourselves.
Dr. Beverly: It is basically used to [01:12:00] separate community. And, and so, that really, that really rang true for me, that whole concept of scarcity and how it is used against the poor, against women, and against, the indigenous and, various people of color. It is used against us and it's all. A lie. What it does is have us acting like, and when I say us, I mean us collectively acting like, behaving like crabs in a barrel.
Dr. Beverly: You know, climbing over each other, hurting each other to get to, to get to the top. And it's, it's all an illusion. It's an illusion. And that's one of the things that I try to bring forth when I am sharing what I know with the, the younger generations is don't be fooled [01:13:00] by the rhetoric. Don't buy into this societal concept of I've gotta get mine.
Dr. Beverly: And if that means you can't get yours for. Don't be fooled by that because that is strictly used to pit us against each other. And right now we need to shore each other up. Right now we need to encourage each other and band together. You know, bringing it back around to liberation conjure. We can't do it alone.
Dr. Beverly: We can't, you know, I working on my liberation conjure cannot free all of my people, but if we all work on it, we are going to see the tides turn. And there is no scarcity of liberation either. They are telling us that for some to be [01:14:00] free, the rest of us have to be held back. And that's all a lie. And for me, that's the most important thing is to realize that scarcity is a lie.
Dr. Beverly: I've never really heard it's put the way Marcelitte putting. It has to be, we have to understand that it's a fabrication and that is a tool used to divide us. And when we, when we understand that, then we can start looking at things in a different life and approaching this life, this society, our, our, our issues and our needs from a totally different direction.
Dr. Beverly: Instead of grasping and, and, and fighting each other and crabs in a barrel and, and, and, and trying to get ahead. We can work together to bring up, to bring all of us up together. And I really feel like liberation conjure that, that the [01:15:00] whole concept of working magic for liberation, that when liberation comes, it will also liberate those who are.
Dr. Beverly: Chained to that lie of white supremacy, even those who are white will be liberated by liberation. If that makes any sense.
Dr. Beverly: So I add to the scarcity, oh, sorry I didn't cut you off.
Christena: Oh, okay. Can I go? Oh, I also wanted to just add on, because what Marcelitte said about, you know, scarcity in academia really resonates with me too. My first career was in academia and, I don't think I felt, I un, I felt so viscerally the, like, colonial live at, hedge, like the sort of like divided conquer of [01:16:00] hegemony.
Christena: I never felt it more viscerally than when I was faculty at Duke. Because I feel like that was the most prestigious school that I was faculty at. And I have never been more, undercut by black people than I was in that space, because there was so much resource scarcity. But I actually, I don't really blame my colleagues, my black colleagues, because it, this whole school's the plantation and what plantations teach you is how to be the most powerful negro on the plantation.
Christena: It doesn't, they don't teach you how to get off the plantation. And so they were all, we were all fighting to be the most powerful one who could be, you know, cuz that there could only be one of us, even though there were, I was at Duke Divinity School and I think there were 11 black faculty. And so, you know, it's, I get why [01:17:00] we do this to each other because fear is so loud all the time.
Christena: Resource scarcity is so loud all the time, and I've sort of made it my practice in, in the mornings. I, I say I'm not gonna get up for my practice or move on for my practice until the cheer of abundance is louder than the cling of fear, because I have to connect with that abundance or else I'm just gonna go and model what's been modeled for me, which is go to the Ivy League schools, make as much money as you can, be as bougie as you can.
Christena: You know, like that's totally the family that I come from. And that's what, honestly, most of the people, my, most of my elders in my field have modeled. You know, there are a bunch of terribly unhealthy people with tenure , and it's, that's just the reality, right? So Marcelitte, when you're talking about like, I'm trying to model something different and I found a, an advisor who's modeling something different, I feel like that's conjure work right there.
Christena: Right? It's literally [01:18:00] generational healing because these are generations, We we're like, our students are, that are the legacy, you know? And, but I think what's challenging in those spaces, in those capitalistic spaces is finding the time, because I have found that it takes time for me to connect with abundance.
Christena: I was walking in the woods for about an hour and a half this morning. It, you don't just do a quick, oh great, 1, 2, 3, go. And now all of a sudden I'm not feeling resource scarcity. Right. It takes time. And I think, there's a sense of rushing is a sense of resource scarcity, right? So like feeling, and I honestly did not even begin to connect with this truth until my body broke down on me in 2016 or 2017.
Christena: I just was bedridden for a whole summer, and after all the doctors did all the tests and everything, they were like, oh, it's just trauma. Like you, literally, your digestive system has just completely shut down. I talked to a friend about it. She's like, yeah, your life is indigestible and your body's telling you that.[01:19:00]
Christena: And so in that three months of just being bedridden, I had like a kind of like, okay, an awakening. And that's what I learned about the Achomawi Way, which is, the Achomawi people. They're like a tribe from California, actually. The tribal land that I grew up on. Cause I'm a California girl.
Christena: So I'd heard of them, but I just didn't know much about them because colonialism. But I read a book about them and that a friend recommended, and apparently on average they did 19 hours of industrial work a day a week. I'm sorry, 19 hours of industrial work a week. And then the rest of their so-called work time was spiritual and community practices.
Christena: So basket weaving, hunting, fishing, gathering, that was 19 hours a week on average. And everything else, sweat lodge, prayer time building, community eating together. That was considered the workday. And so in that, that summer when I was bedridden, I was just like, okay, like [01:20:00] I'm just gonna commit to this. I don't know how it's gonna work because I, I work at Duke and it's a plantation, and I have like demands, but I'm only gonna do 19 hours of industrial work, answering emails, writing papers, teaching courses, and I'm just gonna trust.
Christena: But I, oh, I was only at that place cause I was so desperate. It was like rock bottom, you know what I mean? Like, I can see why someone who, I mean, I wasn't ready to, if you'd asked me that five years before, I'd be like, I can do it. I'm, I burn. I crash and burn every three, three weeks. But I can do it. You know what I mean?
Christena: Like, cause that's what capitalism teaches you and everyone teaches you that. You know, that's what you're. You are rewarded for that, especially as a black woman, right. Being the strong black woman, the mule. And so I think like that awakening changed my whole life and I'm grateful for it. But now that's what I do.
Christena: I do, less than 20 hours a week no matter what the deadlines are, no matter who's asking me to do things. But I just don't know. I honestly don't know how I would do that if I were [01:21:00] still in academia. Cause I work for myself now. So that's a, that's a big question for people like Marcelitte. I'm just, yeah.
Christena: So I, I guess I, I say all that today. I would love to hear you respond and just share about that.
Marcelitte: What do you, Christena, what do you do now?
Christena: I'm just sort of like an independent, dreamer. Mm. Writer. Mm-hmm. creator, rabble rouser. Pilgrim.
Marcelitte: I love that.
Christena: Yeah. It worked out. I mean, I quit in 2019. Yeah. I quit Duke in 2019 and it's, it's been awesome.
Christena: And definitely like abundance has provided. Mm, I never know how at the beginning of the year, mm-hmm. every year I'm like, Hmm, how am I gonna like live this year? But yeah. So, yeah. But I was a professor for 11 years.
Marcelitte: Oh wow. I read my [01:22:00] cards. So I've been thinking about abundance and scarcity for a bit because I've been looking for a job.
Marcelitte: I've been looking for that faculty job. And, so I read my cards and the last card was about destiny. And this belief, one of the first one of the cards was like abundance, and then the next card was destiny. It felt like such a reminder. I mean, I think, I feel like that's where the faith comes in, right?
Marcelitte: That's where like, I have to remember that. Okay. I don't know. I don't know. I mean, yes, like the 20 hours a week become possible because of the faith, because of the trust or because of that. Maybe that there's something that is, um, [01:23:00] I don't know. I I'm still trying to figure out the, what, the relationship between destiny and,
Christena: Well, can I, can I chime in practices what you're saying? Yeah. Because I feel like there's a magic there, like literally a magic, because sometimes I have like actual deadlines, like a book deadline or like I've agreed to do something or I'm just stressed because the income this month isn't as high as it has been. And I have people on my team that I pay who depend on me, and so there's that sense of I should just cheat and do a little more work because I need to, right? Mm-hmm. But I've, I've never done that. I've always just stuck to it. And what's always interesting is magically the words appear mm-hmm.
Christena: Mm-hmm. , it's like, oh, I need to, this week, I need to get 6,000 words written. Not sure how I'm gonna do that in eight hours that I have allotted, you know, because, but they get written and they're like, you know, the editor will come back and be like, that was your best work. And I'm like, that's hilarious, because [01:24:00] I was kind of just high on abundance, you know, like, so I think there's, but I think what's, challenging is leaning into that when there's the pressure, right?
Christena: Like that's, that's what. I mean, thankfully I've had enough experiences that are, that are like, okay, I can trust this now. Kind of, you know what I mean? Now I'm like, oh, okay, like abundance has got my back. Like, but earlier on it was kind of just like really scary because it's still scary, trust me. But like early on it was like, like, oh my gosh, I don't know if I can do this because I have actual physical needs and need like a roof over my head and stuff like that.
Christena: You know? So, sorry. Yeah. I didn't mean to interrupt, but yeah, I was just, I'd love to hear.
Marcelitte: No, thank you. I, I needed to hear that. Thank you.
Amy: We've [01:25:00] already gone past what we said we would do time-wise, which is great, but I do really want to be as respectful of your grace and your time for being here as, as humanly possible. So I want to give each of you a moment to solicit abundance. How can our listeners support you or be in community with you?
Amy: How can they facilitate your abundance? Let, let's start with Marcelitte.
Marcelitte: Okay. All the plugs. You have a tenure track job, at the university. I could really, let's put it out into the universe. Like Marcelittte's looking for a j o b. That's number one. I think probably last time I talked to y'all I was also looking for, but things are different, a little different now.
Marcelitte: So that's one way to support me. But I also, I have an article coming out. And just in general, this is a plug. There's a [01:26:00] volume coming out called the Witch Studies Reader, and it is edited by Jane Ward and Soma Chaudhrui and I have a chapter in it on, it's coming out. Probably should come out.
Marcelitte: Where are we? Maybe in the summertime. But I have a chapter on manifestation and how, black witches are shifting discourse from capitalist individualism, prosperity gospel type, Rhetoric to programs of, to a black feminist analysis around like centering anti-capitalism and mutual aid. So I'll just be on the lookout for that.
Marcelitte: And, yeah, you can check out my website and there's some other, other, articles that are available and if the, if you have difficulty getting something or they ask you to pay [01:27:00] for it, feel free to email me and I'll happily send you anything that I've written.
Amy: I hope you'll come back this summer. Obviously that chapter is like everything that we're about, so come back this summer and talk to us about it when the book comes out.
Amy: I hope you will. Hope you will.
Marcelitte: I love to. Thank you so much.
Marcelitte: Thank you so much for being here. Dr. Beverly, how can we shower you with abundance?
Dr. Beverly: Well, I was thinking about that. That is not a question I've ever been asked, and I appreciate that question. I will be appearing at, not really appearing because I'm not speaking, but I'll be at Pagan Con in Minneapolis.
Dr. Beverly: I believe it's, it's mid-March. It's, it's four days in, in mid-March. It's around the 17th of March. I'm sorry you don't have the exact dates, but I'll be there. Also, I'm working on a book that is not ready yet, but I'll let you know. It's a book on HooDoo [01:28:00] through food. It's a, its a, it's HooDoo cookbook and, that's not ready, that's not gonna be ready for a while, but I'll let you know.
Dr. Beverly: And also if anybody wants to be in touch with me, they can reach me at docbev.com. That's like dr beverly.com. But doc bev do, dot, oh no, I'm sorry. My email is info at doc bev.com and my website is doc bev.com. And it is acting up right now. Somebody told me that it's not, they can't. They can't like, interact with the, with the website.
Dr. Beverly: So I have to look into, see what's, what's up with that. But the best way to reach me is email info at doc bev.com and I'd appreciate hearing from any of you if you wanna talk about, liberation Conjure, if you wanna talk about scarcity doctrine, abundance [01:29:00] doctrine, anything you wanna discuss. I, I would love to talk to you.
Dr. Beverly: I'm always interested in talking to new people, especially women, about, about our spirituality and I would love to do that. And I thank you for having me to this forum today. I loved it when I came two years ago and, this is a great time. Thank you so much.
Amy: I, I remember in our first conversation, you, you told me that the conversation we were having in that moment was a spell and could be thought of as a spell.
Amy: And I've absolutely, I've, I've taken that to every, or that, you know, frame of mind to every single episode of The Missing Witches podcast since that moment. I really just want to thank you for that and, and I'm, I'm so excited about your upcoming book. Oh my goodness. All you wonderful authors are just feeding our brains and souls.
Dr. Beverly: Yeah, we're really looking at 2024 because to make this book, I have to cook all the recipes and, it has been a challenge, [01:30:00] but I'm, I'm looking at wrapping it up this year, and the publisher is telling me they're talking about early 2024 if they can get it ready for the holiday sales they will, but I don't know if I can meet those deadlines.
Dr. Beverly: And right now, I'm really loving what Christina's talking about, that 19 hours week work. I'm loving that. I'm resonating with that. That feels right to me. So we might have to wait a little bit longer for that book.
Amy: We will be patient because we know it's gonna be worth the wait.
Dr. Beverly: Thank you so much for having me.
Amy: Christena Cleveland, first, everybody, if you haven't already, go in and buy, God is a Black Woman, the freaking fantastic book by Christena Cleveland and sign up for Shameless Liberation. You can even go to our website, missing witches.com and find a link to sign up for that. Wow.
Dr. Beverly: How do, how do we sign up for Shameless Liberation? Because I wanna sign up today. How do we do that?
Christena: Awesome. Yeah, just go to [01:31:00] Shameless Liberation dot com perfect. Totally great.
Amy: Of course all of these links will be in the show notes on our website as well. If you missed an email address, don't worry. There is no urgency. You, we will provide that information for you.
Amy: Christina, abundance.
Christena: Yeah, let me just add one quick thing about that 19 hours, cause I didn't really unpack it. I, I spend the other time, intentionally just doing practices that connect me with abundance. So whether that's like walking, whether that's connecting with life giving friendships, whether that's like therapy, like anything that spiritual practice, like anything.
Christena: So that's kind of like how my day, usually my day is like one to five. I do the industrial stuff and then in the mornings, which is when I'm my best self, I kinda wanna offer that to myself, to my liberation. So in the mornings I spend, doing the things that connect me with abundance. So, yeah, just cuz. Sometimes people don't know what that means, like 19 hours. [01:32:00] Like then what do you do with the rest of your time? Oh, there's so much to do. I, there's so many ways to get involved with my work. You can go to Shameless Liberation.com and get, and just join our 28 days of Shameless Liberation. Even if you learn about this after February has started, don't fret.
Christena: It's a rolling program, 28 days. And then also, you know, there's all the regular things on my personal website, like eBooks and e-courses and Patreon and just, there's so many. And yeah, you can, you can go to buy my book somewhere to, if you do, please go to a black-owned bookstore. I think it's in every single black-owned bookstore.
Christena: My publisher did a really good job of getting it out, so if you do support a black-owned bookstore, but yeah, I'm around.
Amy: Thank you again all so much for your time specifically, and also your wisdom and your grace. We love being in circle [01:33:00] with you. I want to conclude again with one last quote from, from Dr. Beverly. Because when I feel overwhelmed, which is a lot, in the face of the modern world, which seems increasingly baffling and complex, Dr. Beverly said, "Everything we do to help each other is resistance work". And so I keep that if I feel like I'm not doing enough. I can do something and it's never gonna be enough.
Amy: "But everything we do to help each other is resistance work", and this is the resistance work of building community. I hope this conversation has been a spell. I don't wanna say goodbye, but we've also already taken more of your time than we promise, so I will wrap it up again, listeners, all of these links and information and abundance will be on our website, so please connect with these amazing witches.
Amy: Thank you so much. Happy Imboc and a fucking blessed sacred [01:34:00] Black History Month to you, I, I just have to say that I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I promise this supposed to be the last thing, but when you talked about the separation of the, the sacred and the good, the necessary separation of our notions of the sacred and the good.
Amy: Christina, I remembered that you told me about the sacred mess, that the God of your conception is welcoming, of our sacred mess. And so I, I want to encourage everyone, you know, to go out and make a sacred mess and find your abundance. Thank you so very much all of you for being here.
Risa: Thank you so much.
Christena: Thank you for having me,
Marcelitte: Thank you for having us.
Risa: And blessed fucking be
Amy: Blessed fucking be
Dr. Beverly: Bless up. Bless up.
Outro: You must be a witch.
Amy: The Missing Witches Project is created and produced by Risa Dickens [01:35:00] and Amy Toroc if you want to support Missing Witches, check out the all new website at missingwitches.com.