Why People Are Racist & How Witchcraft Can Help

Want to support our work? Follow the link at the end of the essay. And thanks!

From Sable Aradia.


Beyond Mere Witchcraft

“Oh, I used to study Wicca,” says the 22-year-old woman with a patronizing smile, “but I’ve gone beyond that now.”

“Have you?” I ask, arching my eyebrow while I sit at the fair table where I’m selling the witchcraft books I wrote.

Realizing she has made an error, she backtracks.  “Oh, well, you know, I think it’s perfectly fine for some.”  She is unaware of her derision, her dismissal.  “But I find I get so much more in the path I’m following now.  And I don’t need all those tools.”  Her tone is smug.  Her implication is clearly that I must be less enlightened than she is, because she thinks I do.

Of course she does.  She’s left witchcraft for the New Age community.  She’s 22 years old and offering classes on the sacred feminine, communicated with special miracle health food, yoni crystals, and retreats at her home temple space.  All for a monthly subscription price.  Naturally the stuff costs extra.  I don’t know who, if anyone, is paying for it.

I offered a free class on the sacred feminine two years ago, built from material that was handed down to me from a woman who was my teacher.  No one came.

The Law of Attraction and Social Class

I get it.  Sure I do.

We must look archaic to a lot of people.  Perhaps we even look a little bit ridiculous.  Look at how much farther they’ve gotten than we have!  We always seem to be grappling with some major moral issue.  We’re always railing at the injustice of the world.  Meanwhile, they just think happy thoughts all the time, and never indulge in negativity, and the Universe provides all they need through the Law of Attraction.

No one mentions that most of the women I know who are involved in the New Age movement have married rich husbands because they came from upper middle class backgrounds.  And I find it interesting that the ones who didn’t — like the lovely 22 year old I have mentioned — have all the same struggles I do.  They have bad relationships and personal struggles and, above all, financial problems.

What’s wrong, then?  Perhaps their ability to think happy thoughts and believe in the Law of Attraction to protect them isn’t good enough?

I think they tell themselves that.  I think they convince themselves every day that if they just believe a little harder, things will get better.

So they follow the latest “conscious living” fad (and believe me, they come in fads — in the time I owned my metaphysical store I saw the rise and fall of orgone generators, the healing power of water, Stones of the New Consciousness, the Flower of Life, colloidal silver, and zen wands, to name but a few).  In many cases, they spend thousands of dollars, when I know for a fact that what it cost to make the item could be expressed in hundreds of pennies.

But every time they embrace the new trend, everyone around them reinforces their choice.  They tell them how wonderful and enlightened they are, that they can open their consciousness to these new methods, which science is too self-absorbed to understand.  They compliment one another’s cleverness in that they are able to see through the bullshit of the rest of humanity.  They talk about how the coming New Age of consciousness (which will happen any day now! Like Y2K/the great planetary alignment/the end of the Mayan calendar/etc.) will change the world so that only the peaceful, conscious-living people will survive while everybody else goes to hell in a handbasket.  And rather than ever acknowledging that the fad they spent so much money on didn’t seem to be as effective as they’d hoped, they just move on to the next one, maintaining their positivity.

In this world, there’s no place for discernment, or doubt, or even calling out abuse.  It’s all about plastic smiles and appearances over reality.

You’re Special, Just Like Everyone Else

It’s only natural for people to want to feel special.  People want to hear that if their lives are good, it’s because they deserve it.  Our ego loves to hear how wonderful it is.

We need our egos to survive.  These are the constructs that give us our sense of self, and without them, we become hiveminds and doormats.  Many psychological disorders — I would say possibly even PTSD, as someone who suffers from it — is all about crippling damage to our egos.

So the ego is the most greedy, self-centered creature on earth.  It doesn’t ever want to hear anything that takes away from its central position in the Universe, and it never, ever wants to be questioned.

In the New Age movement, and indeed, in some poisoned halls of Paganism, it never has to be.  People are told that they’re weird because they’re indigo children, or they are crazy because the gods are speaking specifically to them as Their Chosen Ones.  There’s no room for discernment because there’s no place for judgment.  After all, to have judgment is to be judgmental, and everyone has their own special truth to share with the world.

And I believe that, I do!  But sometimes, people are weird because they’re suffering from undiagnosed PTSD or bipolar disorder or autism, and sometimes people are crazy because they’re having a psychotic break due to mood disorders, malnutrition, heavy metal poisoning or schizophrenia, and they need treatment and maybe medication.

A dear friend in the New Age community, one who does not fall for the fads, one who believes in authenticity and is generally authentic in her own life, believed that her newly acquired inability to digest meat was a result of a newly raised vibration; when it turned out to be, in fact, a parasite acquired from tainted water that did lasting damage to her digestive tract, since she ignored it for quite some time.

Questioning and discernment are important.

Witchcraft: A Path for the Underclass

It is said that on the gates of Eleusis was the inscription Know Thyself.  Witchcraft, if you follow it long enough, and seek to find its deeper mysteries rather than attend Sabbats once in a while and do a spell whenever you want a new job, is all about that.  It’s about Shadow Work.  It’s about confronting your ego face to face, kicking it in the crotch a few times, breaking it down, and rebuilding it — with, hopefully, healthier boundaries.

We recognize this.  We know it so well, that we even recognize the symptoms of an ego fighting to save itself. in the wake of this aggression.  We call it High Priestess’ Disease, and far too many places in our community are run by the people doing this Work.  Eventually many of them have breakdowns.  Others, I think, make it through the treacherous forest, at least in part, and then disappear.

I’m not saying we’re immune to the constructs of ego.  We most certainly are not!  But the willingness to question ego, to challenge its authority, can be a good path to take.  We’re by no means the only ones who do this.  We didn’t even invent it; we can probably credit the ancient mystery cults for that, or maybe even certain Vedic traditions which are older, or perhaps even the ancient mysteries of the hunter-gatherer civilizations of our prehistory.

But it’s hard.  It’s so damn hard!  We’re constantly facing this exhausting challenge if we continue on this path.  Our self-esteem is often in ruins.  And it’s not like it brings us money, or prestige, or even any personal spiritual satisfaction aside from a plague of doubt and questioning and a deep belief that we will never, ever complete this exhausting Work.

What it does give us is greater anger directed at the hallowed halls of power, and greater empathy for the suffering of others.

No wonder most of us give up.  No wonder people would rather believe they can achieve enlightenment simply by thinking positively enough.  And isn’t it convenient that wealth, health and happiness are also brought to them through that path? Or at least, so they believe.

Which may be why witches are notoriously cheap.  Maybe it’s because rich witches join the New Age movement, where everyone will tell them that they’re wealthy, healthy and happy because they deserve it.

Never mind that Dr. Wayne Dyer, who once bragged that the Law of Attraction was the reason why he hadn’t had a cold in twenty years, died of cancer.

It’s no wonder no one ever wants to hear about anything negative in the New Age (and part of the Pagan) community!  Everyone wants to believe they’re special.  Everyone wants to be believe they’re immortal, and their happiness and healthiness will last forever because they’re nicer than everyone else, or because they’re better at manifesting, or that they’re a better Christian or the gods have otherwise chosen them.

No one wants to talk about how affluent, and how white, these people are.  Or how better nutrition and less stress leads to better health.

Why People Are Racist

And this applies as much to the overculture as it does to the subculture of the New Age and Pagan movements.

People don’t want to face the fact that their happy, privileged life is the result of good luck or selling out.  They don’t want to face the fact that they might someday go bankrupt or get cancer.  They are terrified that the only thing that keeps them from starving in the street is the presence of an entirely arbitrary number that represents their portion of an entirely fictional system of wealth, founded on nothing but belief.

They don’t want to admit that the only reason they have the things they do is because others do not have those things, and the criteria of what determines that is unfairly weighed in favour of one gender and one race.

So they make up stories.  They tell themselves that Native Peoples and Hispanics are lazy.  They tell themselves that black people are labouring under a “victim mentality,” and that if they just tried to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, surely they would succeed!  They tell themselves that women just aren’t as good at business as men are.

They tell themselves that God has chosen them to succeed because they’re better people, or better Christians, or smarter, or sexier.  They tell themselves that Haiti is beaten by hurricanes because they practice devil-worship, and they ignore or deny that tropical climates just have more hurricanes and that their white ancestors were the ones that brought the ancestors of the Haitians there.

And if they aren’t doing as well as they think they should be, they convince themselves that all they need to do is try harder.  Work harder, save more, budget better, come up with a cleverer idea.  And they ignore the fact that they’ve been doing the same things for twenty or forty years and falling behind, not getting ahead.

Because otherwise, they would have to confront their egos.  They would have to admit that oppression of others and good luck for them are all that save them from the difficulties that so many others struggle with.  And the ego doesn’t want to hear it.

Well, witches, maybe it’s time to help others to confront their egos too, don’t you think?

Sable Aradia

I’m a Pagan and speculative fiction author, a professional blogger, and a musician. I’m proudly Canadian and proudly LGBTQ. My politics are decidedly left and if you ask for my opinion, expect an honest answer. I own a dog and am owned by a cat. I used to work part time at a bookstore and I love to read, especially about faith, philosophy, science, and sci-fi and fantasy.

You can support our work here.

10 thoughts on “Why People Are Racist & How Witchcraft Can Help

  1. Reblogged this on Sable Aradia, Priestess & Witch and commented:

    A caveat: I have mentioned some friends in this article. They have not necessarily been portrayed at their most positive, and this is why I have not named them. We all have faults and we all make mistakes. This does not make us bad people, it makes us human. I have cited these examples because these are the examples I have to cite, and to me, they illustrate my point; how the environment of toxic positivity about which I speak can cause even the nicest, smartest people to be unintentionally mean or foolish. I mean no harm. You are still my friends. I still love you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t you think though, that there isn’t enough wealth in the world for everyone to be wealthy (while agreeing that what wealth there is is unequally distributed), so we have to identify different way of measuring self-worth? I value you, even though we have yet to meet – it has nothing to do with skin color or economic status – it has to do with me admiring your courage and sharing your belief in some concepts (like quantum woo – I thought I was the only one that thought that way until I discovered you!).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m not sure I understand your question, Woods. Are you asking me if I believe that economic status is indicative of worth or self-worth? Of course I don’t. But good feelings don’t pay for a roof over your head, or food in your belly, and these are things I have genuinely had to worry about in my life. And when these things are a worry, it is impossible to seek enlightenment in any form. Unless, of course, you have previously lived a life of privilege, and then hopefully, an experience of genuine poverty would teach you to have more respect, love and patience for other humans.

      Also, whether or not I believe that wealth is any kind of indicator of worth as a human or not, clearly other people do. And my point is that these people either have been fortunate enough in their lives to never have had to question that, or they have deluded themselves into believing in the American Dream.

      As for me – I believe that magick alters probabilities in your favour. However, if you are born into poor circumstances, the odds you’re trying to manipulate in regards to acquiring wealth are considerably less. Let’s say maybe 1 in 100,000; while people who won the genetic lottery and are born to wealthy parents are maybe looking at odds of 50,000 in 100,000. Saying, in the first circumstance, that my magick were effective enough to double my odds — an amazing feat! — they would still only be 2 in 100,000, while my luckier friend would now have a 100% success rate for the same amount of effort.

      All this is complicated by the fact that wealth is entirely a magickal concept anyway. The economy is based on nothing but a perceived sense of value. In other words, it is entirely based on the power of belief. But that’s a different topic.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not sure if I understand my question either Sable. I might be rambling – if so, I apologize. I always have mixed emotions on this issue. On one hand, I am white and male and some people would call that “privileged.” On the other hand, I remember being so poor that macaroni and milk was a common dinner when I was young. So one could argue that my chances, having been born into poor circumstances, were considerably less. The difference for me was motivation and magick, though not all that have those two qualities will succeed.

        I worked two jobs to put myself through college, actually quitting for a time to earn enough money to continue – so I can also claim to have been more motivated than some of those around me – and I think that is a bigger part of reaching for that “American Dream.” Many of the people I worked with – of several ethnic groups – had other priorities that might be lumped together under the category of living for today. That doesn’t mean I think other ethnicities are lazy – the Mexican people I work with are also motivated. One girl working for me right now in Mexico works for me in the morning, goes to university in the afternoon (studying engineering) and then works as a bartender at night. She comes from a relatively well-off family, but her parents insist she works to make her own money. And of course, not everyone who is motivated achieves a higher economic status – but there are a lot more factors than starting point and race – character, ethics, motivation and magick all play a role in improving the odds (though I sometime think my odds would be better if I were less ethical – sad but true!).

        I have always used intuitive magick, even when I didn’t know that was what I was doing – so that gave me an edge maybe others didn’t have. Magick and motivation. Acting in accord. Being of good character. Having a likeable personality. Overcoming your own shadows. Being good at what you do. Lots of factors in achieving a stable life.

        And you are also right about how economic insecurity makes it difficult to live in the upper parts of Maslow’s pyramid – but not impossible. It is a complex world.

        As to the original topic, I find that the people on Bay Street, Toronto have no common basis for understanding with people who were not born with a financial advantage. Even when I was richer than I am now, I found it hard to understand them and their “serene” attitude toward those who live paycheck to paycheck. We might have to open a bottle of mead and discuss that someday.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I don’t believe it’s all about race, Woods, but race certainly is a significant factor. Being white and male, you might have more privilege than someone who is black and male or white and female. Being white and female, I certainly have more privilege than someone who is black and transgender, for example. But of course the economic bracket into which you’re born has a bearing too, and I’ve come to believe that more than anything, that’s what it’s about.

        But there are a disproportionate number of People of Colour born into bad economic situations, and in many cases that has become almost indicative of class in and of itself. Black people in the United States often have their own dialect, just like East End Londoners have a different dialect from Brits educated at Harvard. That should be a clue right there. That should horrify people who really want to believe in the idea that everyone in the US has a level playing field. And Canada isn’t much better, except that for us it’s First Nations people.

        Worse yet, society’s prejudices conspire to maintain that class division according to the rules of what the upper crust has decided should indicate the haves and have-nots; hence the stories we tell ourselves that I referred to in the article. I have faced frequent prejudice in that I am inclined to want to excel in areas that are often regarded as traditionally male; much more than people typically believe. You would be amazed at how difficult it is to be a smart woman, or how much more difficult it is to succeed as a woman who owns a business or who writes sci-fi.

        In my initial example of odds, let’s say that a transgender Person of Colour who is born into poverty in the United States has a 1 in 100,000 chance of success in any professional field. I might have a 5 in 100,000 chance because I was born into a blue collar family, not one on Welfare. Assuming your background is the same as mine, you probably have a 10. All of this is exponentially higher than an orphan in Syria, who probably has a fraction of 1 in 100,000 chance of success, if any.

        So doubling our trans PoC’s chances, ze has a 2 in 100,000 chance (1 in 50,000.) Double mine, I have 10 in 100,000 (1 in 10,000.) Double yours, and you have odds of 20 in 100,000 (1 in 5,000.)

        Of course there are other mitigating factors. For instance, I graduated in 1993, in the middle of one of the worst Recessions in history. That alone assured that I would drop in economic status from my starting point because my parents had nothing to give me and the best job I could get was under the table for less than minimum wage.

        Now, I’m pulling those figures entirely out of my ass, so let’s not quibble over their details or how it ought to be weighed. The point I am trying to illustrate is that the closer you start to 0, the less far the same amount of work will get you, and that applies in magick or otherwise. I still think the work is worth doing, but I think people need to be more aware that they’re likely succeeding where others aren’t in part because they’re just lucky.

        I’d love to chat about this in person sometime. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for writing this article. I am inclined to think about social justice issues, both large and small scale, and appreciate that you’ve addressed this crucial issue. I do find the bourgeois side of the magic world to be dominated by privilege and magical thinking. Thankfully, there are many resources for witches of all backgrounds, which I am slowly integrating myself into.

    One of the groups I am part of said that trying to address social justice issues with magic isn’t an effective angle. Obviously, I also make tangible efforts and even have the opportunity to do so in my professional role. Right now, I’m wondering how to enchant the known racists in my life so that they may either change their stripes or learn a lesson from their intolerance. I know your article discussed racism within the world, but do you think it’s worth casting a spell on racist relatives and acquaintances, for positive change?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Messing with free will is always a dangerous prospect. It often results in manipulated behaviour without real change in ways of thinking. That being said, I don’t think a spell to encourage empathy is out of place, if it’s phrased the right way. And I’m a big fan of mirror hexes. You tape a picture of the person in question (or their name if you don’t have one, preferably written in magical script) so that it faces a mirror (a small plastic compact like a shaving or makeup mirror will do). Wrap the mirror in black cloth or put it in a bag or a box. The effect is that what they do is instantly reflected back on them; like instant karma, if you will. Sometimes, when people are treated in the way they treat others, they learn empathy. Of course, it might also result in them wondering why the universe hates them without them ever figuring it out. The best part about this is that it also rewards them for positive behaviour in the same instant way, so it can provide positive feedback as well! And you’re not actually sending negative energy; you’re just giving them back whatever it is they choose to give out. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. loved your article…..has alot of truth to it…..I also lean to the left politically…..I;m not sure when if ever the other half of america will embrace anything mentioned…the united states has a caste system similar to india’s which it’s reluctant to let go of


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.