Yemanj?, Afro-Brazilian Candombl? Cult in Bahia
Getty Images

Reclaiming Black Girl Magic Through Ancestral Spiritual Traditions

As more African descendants seek out non-traditional spiritual systems, Lakeesha Harris builds on the Black Witch University. 

As more black folks, particularly black women, in the United States are becoming more interested in exploring non-Christian faith systems, the need for more spaces providing information are becoming more imperative. For those who are disenchanted with traditional Western religions, Lakeesha Harris is here to guide you.

Harris proudly proclaims the title of witch, a political decision on her part, with a careful consideration of how the word was used to cast stigma over marginalized women. "I was like, yeah, I'm going to call myself a Black witch. Calling myself a Black witch is to understand the political nature and the power that title holds for me—as a woman and as a witch and as someone taking ownership of her magic and her whole body," she tells Broadly.

She came to discovering her own magical power at an early age, particularly in the kitchen, with the usage of herbal roots. "The Black women in my family, we had a legacy of magic, but we never called it that," she recalls of her childhood in Kankakee, Illinois. A particularly poignant moment was watching her aunt endure abuse, yet still manage to take care of the family. "I would say to myself, how did Auntie Joyce do all of this?" she recalls with Broadly. "How did she work, take care of the family, take care of all of us, [and] provide space and home and love? How did she take care of herself and navigate through abuse?" It was the act of growing, maintaining herbs, and keeping ties to the earth that sustained her aunt's strength—a power that Harris inherited in her own uses of magic.

She is one-third of the Black Witch Chronicles, a collective that was initiated in New Orleans that, in the group's own words, "communicate from our collective wisdom as healers, artists, visionaries, and change makers connected to the ongoing story that sings to us from our ancestral roots and truths." The group regularly hosts webinars for young black witches-in-training about beginning their own spiritual paths, learning the ways of ancestral rituals and conjuring.

The program will also serve as a safe space for those who feel like they are alone in their journey of discovery and dealing with judgement from loved ones.

The knowledgeable witch first established a small coven in Chicago in 2015, in which young witches, healers, and diviners set out together to do powerful spiritual work, which included alter building, invoking black southern spiritual traditions, crystals and tarot readings. From that point on, public interest continued to grow. "A lot of young and older Black people were like, 'Look we're interested, where do we start? And we just kept getting all these emails, emails, emails. I was like OK, it's time to set up some system in which we can formalize the learning process."

Black Witch University began in September, aims to instruct those hungry for spiritual understanding of ancestral spiritual traditions. Harris desires to incorporate Àjé (dedicated to female divinity associated with Yorùbá tradition) and Lucumí practices into the university's courses. The conclusion of the program, states Broadly, is scheduled in March of 2o17, and will happen in time for the Spring Equinox.

Harris advocates people of African descent utilizing ancestral magic as a tool of healing, as well as a potent weapon against harrowing social injustices. The Chicago-based witch has conducted spells against relieving the city of police violence. "It would behoove us to use our own magic for the protection of ourselves and other people."

Read interview in full over at Broadly.

 

From the Web

More on Vibe

Nick Rice

25 Hip-Hop Singles By Bomb Womxn Of 2019

Nothing hits like a rapper talking their sh*t, especially if she happens to be a womxn. There's a confidence that oozes out from the speakers and into the spirits of a listener open to that addictive feminine energy. This year, we got to see this in a big way thanks to the crossover success of a batch of very different womxn in rap. There's the hot girl also known as Megan Thee Stallion who balances her college courses while grabbing up Billboard chart-topping hits; new mama Cardi B proves you can really have it all and make history at the same time (a la her solo rap Grammy win) and Lizzo, who constantly pushes what it means to be a "rapper" with her style of vibrant pop music.

In 2018, VIBE presented a year-end list dedicated to albums by womxn and this year continues that tradition of spotlighting some of our favorite womxn– who happen to rap. The term "female rapper" has become sour by the minute, with many artists in the game refusing to pair their gender to an artform seemingly jumpstarted by a black womxn. “I don’t want to even be a female rapper,” CHIKA told Teen Vogue recently. “I’m a rapper. So for someone to have a qualifier like that and throw it out there so publicly — it feels really backhanded. I don’t like [it].” She isn't the only one. As hip-hop continues to dominate pop culture, the womxn in the genre are demanding respect for the craft. Here's a list comprised of some of our favorite songs that hit the charts or slipped under the radar.

Enjoy.

Continue Reading
Nick Rice

The 25 Best Latinx Albums Of 2019

As we inch closer to the end of another memorable chapter in music, the Spanish-language gap gets bigger by the day. To anyone who believed reggaeton's second coming or Latin trap was a trend were gravely mistaken as artists across the diaspora found success on the charts and in the streaming world. Artists like Bad Bunny, Rosalía and J Balvin continued to thrive off last year's releases while dropping memorable singles (and joint projects). Others like Sech broke the mold for the marriage of hip-hop and reggaeton with Panamanian pride. Legends like Mark Anthony and Ivy Queen reminded us of their magic while rising artists like Rico Nasty, DaniLeigh and Melii provided major star power and creative visuals for their tunes. Latinx music has continued to push boundaries and the same goes for our list.

Enjoy our ranking of the 25 best Latinx albums of 2019.

Continue Reading
Christopher Furlong/Getty Image

Kidnapped UPS Driver's Family Blames Florida Police For His Death

As an investigation kicks off involving several police officers and armed robbers, the family of Frank Ordoñez is demanding more than just answers about the father of two's tragic death.

On Thursday (Dec. 5), Ordoñez was killed when officers and two armed men exchanged gunfire in Broward County, Florida after the suspects robbed a jewelry store. Police were notified of what transpired at Regent Jewelers through a silent holdup alarm at 4:17 pm, Police Chief Edward J. Hudak Jr. told CNN.

The men identified by the Miami FBI as Lamar Alexander, 41, and Ronnie Jerome Hill, 41, left the store and hijacked Ordoñez's truck and fled at least 25 miles on the interstate. Police followed the truck as the chase was aired live on television. After coming to an intersection around 5:35 pm, the UPS truck stopped. The 27-year-old tried to escape but was killed in the gunfire the officers had with Hill and Alexander.

The FBI identifies the two deceased individuals responsible for yesterday's jewelry store robbery, carjacking/kidnapping and shootings as Lamar Alexander, 41, and Ronnie Jerome Hill, 41, both of Miami-Dade County. If anyone has information about these crimes, call 1-855-352-7233

— FBI Miami (@FBIMiamiFL) December 6, 2019

Bystander footage revealed 11 officers were involved in the shooting with some of them using bystander vehicles to shield themselves for a better defense. An unidentified bystander was also killed in the shooting. It's currently unknown if Ordoñez and the other victim were hit with bullets from police or the armed suspects.

https://twitter.com/kevinreinosoo/status/1202742863785840645

Ordoñez's family has shared their grief and confusion over what happened and questioned how the police reacted to the incident."For this to happen, I think, is just unnecessary," Joe Merino, his stepfather told NBC's Today show. "Other tactics should have been applied, and they weren't, so when I say the word devastated, it's an understatement."

Ordoñez's brother Roy said he "was just going to work to provide for his two little girls," by taking over someone else's shift. It was also his first time as a driver in his five-year employment with the company. Roy launched a GoFundMe to cover funeral costs as well as an education fund his brother originally had with UPS. "Please don't let my brother's death be for nothing," he said. "Police need to be held accountable." So far, the GoFundMe has raised over $50,000–well ahead of the family's request of $20,000.

"It's a nightmare. It's a bad dream that I hope to wake up from and see him here." Joe Merino the stepfather of UPS driver Frank Ordonez pic.twitter.com/TXTbfK4Lx0

— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) December 6, 2019

His sister Genny Merino blamed the police for their brother's death."Today I lost my brother, because of the negligence and stupidity of the police," Merino posted on Twitter with a video memorial. "Instead of negotiating with a hostage situation they just shot everyone. (Including my brother) please retweet this so everyone can be aware of how stupid these cops are."

Today I lost my brother, because of the fucking negligence and stupidity of the police. Instead of negotiating with a hostage situation they just shot everyone. (Including my brother) please retweet this so everyone can be aware how stupid these cops are. pic.twitter.com/DyFN2ZUoAX

— genny♡ (@geneviemerino) December 6, 2019

The FBI, as well as The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, are both investigating the incident.

Ordoñez's family aren't the only ones questioning the actions of the police. Supporters of the GoFundMe called out the police as well. "Que descanses en paz Hermano.... Condolencias para ti y tus seres queridos. Que mal ejemplo estas chotas de la ley de Estados Unidos valen pa puro SORPETES!!," one supporter said which translates roughly to: "May your brother rest in peace. Condolences to you and your loved ones. The law enforcement in the United States sets a bad example, purely surprised!"

Ordoñez's employer UPS was also met with criticism for praising the efforts of the law enforcement for the incident. "We are deeply saddened to learn a UPS service provider was a victim of this senseless act of violence," they said in a statement on Twitter. "We extend our condolences to the family and friends of our employees and the other innocent victims involved in this incident. We appreciate law enforcement’s service and will cooperate with the authorities as they continue the investigation."

https://twitter.com/UPS/status/1202778926155751426

See the reactions below.

Not sure there's a better illustration for how little your boss cares about you than UPS thanking the cops for shooting their driver to death

— tinybaby (@tinybaby) December 6, 2019

https://twitter.com/freedaaron/status/1202986421339996160

This is a weird way to spell “We are deeply saddened to learn Frank Ordonez, a UPS employee, was a victim of negligent police officers who murdered him and another innocent bystander today. We will ensure his family, especially his two young daughters, are financially cared for.” https://t.co/2kkRJQuB1Y

— Grace (@graceporta) December 6, 2019

Continue Reading

Top Stories