Black Lives Matter and the Duty of Witchcraft

Every spell you’ve studied, herb you’ve grown, and spirit you’ve called has been preparing you for this moment.

Photo by Racheal Lomas on Unsplash

“Witchcraft is the recourse of the dispossessed,
the powerless, the hungry and the abused.
It gives heart and tongue to stones and trees. 
It wears the rough skin of beasts. 
It turns on a civilization that knows the 
price of everything and the value of nothing.” 
― Peter Grey, Apocalyptic Witchcraft

OnOctober 12, 2019, Atatiana Jefferson was murdered by police who shot in through her bedroom window while performing a wellness check on her home. On March 13th, 2020, Breonna Taylor was asleep in her bed when police burst into her home and murdered her. On May 25th, 2020, George Floyd was murdered by a police officer with a record of eighteen previous complaints. Black people make up only 13% of the U.S. population, and yet in 2019 they accounted for 24% of police murders. 2020 isn’t over yet, but already the murders are mounting.

Protests have raged across the United States, its people crying out against the murders and brutality committed by those who should be protecting us. In response, protestors have been shot with rubber bullets, gassed, struck by cop cars, and placed under mandatory curfews. Some of those standing up for justice have lost eyes, others may never have children, and always there is the fear that shared images may reveal identities and lead to mysterious deaths and disappearances, just as it has since the Ferguson protests.

Our politicians have promised reformed, begged us to stop protesting. Today Cuomo addressed people, saying “You don’t need to protest. You won. You won. You accomplished your goal. Society says, you’re right, the police need systemic reform.” But how can we say we’ve accomplished our goal when the men who murdered Breonna Taylor are still free? What have we “won” when just last night, a black man was shot and killed in an Atlanta parking lot by police?

It would be easy to lay the blame solely at the feet of police, but they are merely the enforcers of a system that has repeatedly placed low value on black lives since the days they were brought over by the boatload to endure lives of slavery. Our politicians and businessmen continue the oppression today. A Nixon aid admitted that the “war on drugs” was a political tool to target black people. Hillary Clinton referred to black children as “super predators” and supported her husbands 1994 crime bill that saw a disproportionate amount of black men thrown behind bars. Trump has praised gun-toting bands of white supremacists as “fine young men”, urging politicians to sit down and discuss things with them, while calling protestors “thugs” and threatening military force upon them.

Our world is broken. Our systems have failed us. Our lives snap from one tragedy to another with no pause for breath. What use is our witchcraft if it is silent now? What use are our herbs if they do not heal our wounded? Why do we call upon spirits if not for justice? Every spell you’ve studied, herb you’ve grown, and spirit you’ve called has been preparing you for this moment. We were afraid of gallows and pyres when what we should have feared was complicity and division among the people. Witches, now is the time to act.

Light your candles. Summon your spirits. Tend your gardens. Take the sum of your witchcraft and turn it now to your communities, to your neighbors and friends and those far-flung souls in our world who need you most right now.

Witches, you are needed.

[Ashley Nicole Hunter sits on the board of directors for Bibliotheca Alexandrina and has been published in a few reputable (and otherwise) publications.]