Honoring Who I Have Become

Interestingly, I am a Black Wiccan. I have heard of others talk of being asked why they are Wiccan instead of a path “from their ancestry”. I have a lot I could say about this but that would side track this particular conversation. I have not had people ask me this directly but I know that I am not the stereotype of a Pagan. I am ok with that, really, but there is some pressure associated with being a bit different than the norm. Often times this pressure comes from all sides; the Pagan community, the Black community and society itself.

I have mentioned before that I was raised in California, away from my southern roots and family. There were many advantages to this, being in the West, but it also meant that I lost a lot of cultural context in the distance from my family and from the culture. Again, I am ok with this, but I know that I played a lot of catch up inorder to relate to who I was and the culture of my family. Being raised in the Bay Area, in a racially integrated area (well mostly white when I was younger), and with a attitude of diversity; my experience in relating to who I was has been very different than others and I have been spoiled by the freedoms I have had.


Knowing my limitations, I have been able to recognize many chances to expand myself when it comes to embracing my own culture and learning about my ancestors. I had one of those chances the other day and it was very humbling.

I had the chance to have lunch with Luisah Teish, Ifa/Orisha elder, priestess and author, this week to celebrate the release of the Shades of Faith; Minority Voices in Paganism anthology.. To say we had lunch is misleading, it turned into a 4 hour discussion among three priestesses (Teish, Lelani and I) that was funny, enlightening, bonding and special. I remember moments of feeling my ancestors so strongly in her presence and knowing that I have so much to learn as I continue to grow in my path.


It made me really wonder, how did I find my way to the Wiccan path and not in the practice of the African Diaspora? I don’t know the definitive answer but I think a large part of this was in my upbringing and environment. It was not strange for me to be Wiccan and circle with mostly non-Black people. It was a reflection of how I was raised and yet I sometimes wonder what I have missed out on. I have never felt a desire to connect with my African culture, and identified more with being from California. To some smaller extent this has changed and I attribute that a lot to the work I have done with Yemaya.


My experience of my race has been in knowing the history of us here in the United States, my families experiences, my experiences and seeing the disparity among my race in society at large. I have no correlations of race in Africa that I feel relates to me as a Black person. I know that there are many, don’t get me wrong, I am more saying that in my soul I do not always connect to Africa as my homeland.

In listening and feeling the voice of Luisah Teish, face to face, I wondered if this would change and if there was some unknown information that would one day change my spirits connection with Wiccan beliefs and transform them to that of the African spiritual practice. If you asked me right now I would say, “I don’t think so” but I know that growth is about evolution and in some ways this is intimidating and scary. The one thing that many of us want to have control over is the one thing we don’t have control over…. growth and the process of evolving.

As Samhain approaches, I know that I will be honoring ancestors that I have yet to connect with. I don’t just want to honor those ancestors that I have known but also those whom I don’t know. I want to honor those ancestors that I connected to while staring into Teish’s eyes and seeing my own reflection looking back. I may not know who they were, but I know who they are because I see them inside of myself.

And today I will continue to allow myself the chance to continue to learn, identify my lineage and culture, ponder over my history, hold onto the acceptance that I am Wiccan and always remember that my practice does not categorize me as a non-Black. Instead, my practice connects me to all practices throughout the world and allows me to practice the Gods in many different ways.

While I know that labels do not define me, I still continue to wonder how I became the Black Wiccan.

  • http://johnfranc.blogspot.com/ John Beckett

    At Samhain (and the rest of the year, but especially at Samhain) I will honor my ancestors of blood and my ancestors of spirit.  I carry them both within me, and they both have made me who I am.

    Why have my spiritual ancestors spoken more loudly than my blood ancestors?  Why have my pagan ancestors, gone from this world for 1600 years, spoken more loudly than my Christian ancestors of the more recent centuries?  Why am I a Druid and not a mystical Christian?

    I don’t know.  The gods and ancestors call who they call and they aren’t always clear about why.  All I know is that this path is right for me, at least for now.

    I trust yours will remain right for you, where ever it may lead.

  • http://johnfranc.blogspot.com/ John Beckett

    At Samhain (and the rest of the year, but especially at Samhain) I will honor my ancestors of blood and my ancestors of spirit.  I carry them both within me, and they both have made me who I am.

    Why have my spiritual ancestors spoken more loudly than my blood ancestors?  Why have my pagan ancestors, gone from this world for 1600 years, spoken more loudly than my Christian ancestors of the more recent centuries?  Why am I a Druid and not a mystical Christian?

    I don’t know.  The gods and ancestors call who they call and they aren’t always clear about why.  All I know is that this path is right for me, at least for now.

    I trust yours will remain right for you, where ever it may lead.

  • Gypsywoman35

    Oh Sister I know of the struggles you speak having had them cross my path as well. I enjoyed reading your article and I am enlightened by what you have shared. Blessings and thank you.

  • Gypsywoman35

    Oh Sister I know of the struggles you speak having had them cross my path as well. I enjoyed reading your article and I am enlightened by what you have shared. Blessings and thank you.

  • Wildchild

    You are a spiritually evolved being and answer to what best serves you. Spirit doesn’t have skin color. Many of us have very mixed ancestry but are drawn to one or to a path we have no physical ties too.  I think there have been many “white” people drawn to “black” spirituality (check out the story of the Rose Hall in Jamaica). Look at how many people of European, African and Asian decent have committed to one of three Middle Eastern belief systems, even to the point of killing for these beliefs and yet they have no ancestral ties to the origin point of those very specific cultural practices. 

    Perhaps you are here to break ground, to help us move past the limits of birth ancestry and open the way for exploration that is based on growth and where Spirit leads rather than on the appearance of the body that houses our be-ings? For the most part, I think, Pagans like to think of themselves as open and more evolved, that you have encountered some questioning about your path, opens a door for another look at just how open we are. We are all growing and evolving in our understanding.

    Something to keep in mind, Egypt (which many Pagans are drawn to) is in Africa, what we call the Middle East is not a separate continent, it is connected to Africa and Asia. Much of our regional definitions are very Eurocentric. Jesus is described as having hair like a woolly lamb, that is not what you see in the vast majority of religious art. So you could say that most of the “white” world has been following the supposed teachings of a mixed race Jewish man? They have had no problem owning and changing the man to meet their desires. Humans throughout history have borrowed from those they conquered or were conquered by, you are seeking and following where Spirit leads for positive reasons. That is a much higher calling. Others questioning that say more about themselves than about you. 

  • Wildchild

    You are a spiritually evolved being and answer to what best serves you. Spirit doesn’t have skin color. Many of us have very mixed ancestry but are drawn to one or to a path we have no physical ties too.  I think there have been many “white” people drawn to “black” spirituality (check out the story of the Rose Hall in Jamaica). Look at how many people of European, African and Asian decent have committed to one of three Middle Eastern belief systems, even to the point of killing for these beliefs and yet they have no ancestral ties to the origin point of those very specific cultural practices. 

    Perhaps you are here to break ground, to help us move past the limits of birth ancestry and open the way for exploration that is based on growth and where Spirit leads rather than on the appearance of the body that houses our be-ings? For the most part, I think, Pagans like to think of themselves as open and more evolved, that you have encountered some questioning about your path, opens a door for another look at just how open we are. We are all growing and evolving in our understanding.

    Something to keep in mind, Egypt (which many Pagans are drawn to) is in Africa, what we call the Middle East is not a separate continent, it is connected to Africa and Asia. Much of our regional definitions are very Eurocentric. Jesus is described as having hair like a woolly lamb, that is not what you see in the vast majority of religious art. So you could say that most of the “white” world has been following the supposed teachings of a mixed race Jewish man? They have had no problem owning and changing the man to meet their desires. Humans throughout history have borrowed from those they conquered or were conquered by, you are seeking and following where Spirit leads for positive reasons. That is a much higher calling. Others questioning that say more about themselves than about you. 

  • Meia

    I do love this article Crystal and I’ve read both your books and you truly are trail blazing!!!  I believe that when you honor yourself, you are honoring all of us.  Continue to move forward, and write, cause girl…you can write.   All of us are connected spiritually, and spirit has no race.  Every time someone from a different race shows up at a spiritual function that they are a minority….lessons are learned.  And that could be a white person showing up for a Yoruban ceremony…because they are called to that practice.  Sometimes when I look at a person I truly see them…not their body, but their soul and I am so humbled.  I wish we could all move past this physical body and experience to begin to see who we all truly are. 

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/members/crystalblanton/ Crystal Blanton

      Thank you. I am honored… and humbled.

  • Meia

    I do love this article Crystal and I’ve read both your books and you truly are trail blazing!!!  I believe that when you honor yourself, you are honoring all of us.  Continue to move forward, and write, cause girl…you can write.   All of us are connected spiritually, and spirit has no race.  Every time someone from a different race shows up at a spiritual function that they are a minority….lessons are learned.  And that could be a white person showing up for a Yoruban ceremony…because they are called to that practice.  Sometimes when I look at a person I truly see them…not their body, but their soul and I am so humbled.  I wish we could all move past this physical body and experience to begin to see who we all truly are. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1571004174 Dejonnee Roder

    Wow! I am a native from the Bay area as well. I am also a Pagan, and I totally understand where you’re coming from. I do not worship any African deities, but I do honor my ancestors. I chose that path, not because I’m black by default, but because it was something I felt was right for me. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1571004174 Dejonnee Roder

    Wow! I am a native from the Bay area as well. I am also a Pagan, and I totally understand where you’re coming from. I do not worship any African deities, but I do honor my ancestors. I chose that path, not because I’m black by default, but because it was something I felt was right for me. 


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