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Which Traditions Should I Practice?

Here at The Spiral Bookcase, we do our best to stock excellent, thorough books on a wide range of traditions that fall under the umbrella of witchcraft, occult and folk magic. We want everyone to feel included, seen and validated when they walk into our store, and we hope everyone who comes through our doors (whether physical or virtual) can reclaim an ancient piece of themselves that was lost as the world changed. 

We choose books carefully and only carry titles by authors who actually practice the traditions they write about and hail from the communities these practices originated in. Due to the common appropriation found within the broader world of witchcraft, it's important to us to not uphold authors who are part of that appropriation.

The beauty of witchcraft and magic, of course, is that it's a way for anyone to claim their individual power and seek out ways to change their lives. However, that doesn't mean every aspect of everything "witchy" ever is available to anyone -- certain rituals, herbs and ceremonies are frequently appropriated by the witchcraft community, and this causes deep-seated harm. 

As much as most of us would enjoy knowing exactly what our ancestors practiced thousands of years ago in the land our bloodline sprang from, it's simply not realistic -- and there's even a chance it might not look like witchcraft to us, removed from the setting, context and belief system. So that leaves a lot of us poking around in different ideas, traditions and ways of practicing what we broadly call witchcraft, but what you may see as folk magic, healing, spirituality, neo-paganism, etc.

Living in the world that we do, particularly as Americans, it's important to recognize a lot of what we see now as "witchcraft" has been stolen from different cultures, primarily people of color who have been colonized by white people. Things like "smudge sticks" and "G*psy cards"and even specific ceremonial practices of other cultures have been taken from marginalized people, commodified and sold to mostly white consumers.

Cultural appropriation in witchcraft looks like white Americans practicing Native ceremonies when their ancestors made Native spiritual practices illegal. It looks like white Americans practicing traditions that were created by enslaved Africans in America. It looks like the descendants of colonizers practicing the Indigenous traditions that their ancestors tried to demonize and destroy. It looks like taking what's not yours, calling it yours, and then posting pretty pictures of it on Instagram devoid of its sanctity as if you invented it. It hurts people. It is wrong. And it's really very simple to avoid: just stay in your lane, stay educated and stay open, and understand the sanctity of other people's traditions. Taking on the mantle of the witch is taking on the mantle of anti-racism, for witches have always been the oppressed, the cast-out and the burned. 

Respect should always be at the forefront of your craft, and we ask you to consider which traditions are appropriate for you to practice. Though there's certainly no harm in reading a book -- and it's fair to say authors realize anyone can pick up and read their book once it's on shelves -- there is harm in taking what's not ours. 

Before practicing a tradition, please read some of the articles below and consider what is truest and most authentic to you:

https://aldianews.com/articles/culture/social/magic-witchcraft-and-curanderismo-lets-talk-about-cultural-appropriation

https://www.vice.com/en/article/qkg93m/black-magic-talking-with-hoodoo-witches

https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1303&context=honors