Why do I share these goddess stories? What does this have to do with racism, my spiritual activist writing or my work as a priestess?
Everything. It has everything to do with them.
The energy and anger behind my writing is very much like Sekhmet ragefully devouring humans because they would not uphold justice, and Kali ferociously leaping from Durga's brow to defeat the demons that had brought evil and destruction to humankind. These goddesses are devouring in nature. And from the feedback that I often receive about my work, my writing can feel devouring too.
My writing unmasks.
It names what we are not supposed to name.
It forcefully strips back layers of lies and deception, so that things can be seen, acknowledged and accepted for what they are.
It demands nothing less than full truth and integrity.
It is a raging fire, burning down the white towers of injustice.
These goddesses had to fight fire with fire.
They could not ask nicely. They could not wish love & light onto the situation. They could not focus on manifesting positivity and hope that they would create what they focused on. They were fighting evil and injustice, for goddess sake! And what is white supremacy and racism, if not evil and injustice? They knew that in order to defeat these forces, they needed to work with their anger. To use it purposefully and unapologetically. To fully own it.
This is what I am doing when I write about racism.
As I quoted Audre Lorde saying above - my response to racism is anger.
Yes, I am angry.
I am angry with the spiritual white women who, instead of using their spirituality for justice, use it to silence and gaslight black women and women of colour.
I am angry with the spiritual white women who say they want to help heal the world, but instead do a lot of harm and damage by refusing to acknowledge their privilege or their role as oppressors in a system designed to advantage them, at the expense of others.
I am angry with the spiritual white women who invoke the goddess to manifest their best life, but refuse to work with her in her angry, grieving dark form to bring about justice.
I am angry with the spiritual white women who do deep work with their clients on the witch wound or patriarchal wounds, but do not even acknowledge the slave wound of the white supremacy wounds (which therefore makes their work extremely white-centered, and negates the very real experiences of their community members who are black or people of colour).
I am angry with the spiritual white women who are happy to culturally appropriate goddesses and spiritual guides from various cultures and traditions that are not theirs, but host online spiritual summits and transformational events with speaker lists that are 90% white.
I am angry at spiritual white women for a million reasons, and I use my anger to write to them in the hopes of activating awakening and change.
As Audre Lorde says in the talk on anger quoted at the start of this article:
"Every woman has a well-stocked arsenal of anger potentially useful against those oppressions, personal and institutional, which brought that anger into being. Focused with precision it can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change. And when I speak of change, I do not mean a simple switch of positions or a temporary lessening of tensions, nor the ability to smile or feel good. I am speaking of a basic and radical alteration in those assumptions underlining our lives."
So yes, I use my anger. And I will not apologise for it because it is useful, and it is mine.
And, at the same time, it is important to hold in mind the stories of Sekhmet and Kali letting their anger get out of control and destroying everything in sight without discernment or wisdom.
As Audre Lorde says in her talk on The Uses of Anger:
"Everything can be used / except what is wasteful / (you will need / to remember this when you are accused of destruction’)."
In other words, anger is a powerful tool however it loses its power when it becomes wasteful. When it becomes bloodlust. When it becomes bullying, shaming and unnecessary aggression.
When it begins to use you, instead of you using it.
This anger is not helpful and is not the type of anger I want to work with or encourage. This is why when we are using anger, we must be mindful in our use of it. So that in our trying to devour systems and ideologies of oppression, we do not end up devouring ourselves and the humanity of others in the process.
As someone who works so closely with anger and the goddess in her dark form, this is a lesson that I must continuously be learning.
As a black woman who has been conditioned to bite her tongue and stuff her anger back inside herself for survival in white-centered and male-centered spaces, allowing myself to feel and express my anger is one of the most liberating and empowering things that I can do. However I do not wish to allow my anger to turn into unconscious and self-destructive harm.
So this is a tightrope I am always walking and a paradigm that I am always exploring:
How can I rightfully and righteously express my anger as a black woman, a dark goddess priestess and a spiritual activist writer, without allowing my anger to devolve into attack, aggression and unconscious rage? Layer on top of this question the way that misogynoir tone-polices black women with the 'angry black woman' trope, and my own internalised oppression from patriarchy and white supremacy, and it gets even messier.
How do I know when I am consciously using my anger to create change, or when I am destructively using my anger to do harm?
How do I know when my anger is being used for intentional death & rebirth, or when it is being used for intentional death & destruction?
How do I know when my anger is coming from my power as a black woman, or when it is coming from my wounds as a black woman?
(And how do I know that one isn't as valid as the other?)
I don't have all the answers to these questions. And I certainly know that I'll never have it all perfectly figured out. But I know it's important to keep returning to this question:
Am I using my anger, or is my anger using me?
One serves, one destroys.
I pray that as often as possible, I can come from a place of service and not destruction. And I ask that when you interact in my online spaces, you try as often as possible to come from a place of service rather than destruction, too.
This does NOT mean black women and women of colour tone-policing themselves, tamping down on their righteous anger or conforming with white supremacist standards of being 'nice'. Messages like this are harmful and perpetuate the very oppression that we are trying to free ourselves from.
It also does NOT mean white women avoiding their responsibility of directly calling a thing a thing because they fear what it will do to their reputation or brand. Messages like this give white women an excuse to hide behind, when what we really need are white women willing to step up more and put their reputations and brands on the line in the name of justice.
What it does mean however is checking your intentions and asking yourself - am I writing to serve, or am I writing to destroy?
Ultimately, only YOU can know when your anger comes to serve or to destroy. And I will call you and myself in when I feel our anger is not being of service, or when it feels like the bloodlust of our anger is doing unnecessary harm.
But this is the thing about doing this work. There are no neat boxes or easy-to-follow instructions on how to get this right. And the dynamics of white supremacy, white privilege, the historical and modern-day silencing of black women and women of colour, and the use of the internet as a means of mass communication mean that the answer is rarely ever going to be that straight forward.
In practicing our uses of anger through this work, I pray that we will continue to grow and learn together - with truth, justice and love as our teachers.
What I do know for sure is that at this point in history, we need anger. The appropriate response to racism is anger. And like the dark goddesses Sekhmet and Kali, we must use our anger to dismantle the evil and injustices of racism.