That Old Black Magic: Everything You Need To Know About Black Witches

That Old Black Magic: Everything You Need To Know About Black Witches

An abbreviated history of the original source of black girl magic.

Published October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween, kids! In celebration of this holiday, we wanted to visit one of the most popular fixtures of the supernatural—witches. But more specifically—Black witches.


Since most of the witches we have seen throughout history have been white, we wanted to shift the lens to a more technicolor view. Contrary to popular belief, people of color have always dabbled in sorcery, spells and the occult. And be clear: Our witchcraft doesn’t necessarily look like what we’ve seen on television with brooms and cauldrons—It’s much more diverse than that.

An Enslaved Woman Was Part of The Salem Witch Trials: Tituba, an enslaved Caribbean woman, was one of the first to be charged with witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Historians note that she was beat and manipulated into pointing the finger at other women and men in the village. Sadly her testimony was used to set off the deadly trials, which ended in accused witches of being burned at the stake.

But here’s the thing: It’s believed that she wasn’t really a witch. Guess we will never know.

And while not much is known about Tituba her story has come alive in fiction books through out the years including The Crucible the children’s book Tituba of Salem Village and I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem.

Witchcraft Like Hoodoo Came From Africa: Also known as rootwork or conjure, Hoodoo is form of practice that was brought to the Americas by enslaved Africans. Now it’s not sinister per se but was first created for protection, practicality, healing, addressing personal trauma and even creating some harm, Broadly points out. And for those living in the horrors of slavery this was practice about self-care and retaining their culture from the West and Central Africa.

Hoodoo (not to be mistaken with voodoo) was mostly practiced in areas such as the Southwest and the Mississippi Delta. During the 19th century historians noted that Hoodoo also became infused with more aspects of Christianity.

Now is it real magic? Some say yes others just call it a way of life.

Black Witches Are Part Of Pop Culture Too: This diversity isn’t reflect as much as we would like but there have been some sprinkles of Black witches in movies and on television. Including:

·      The Craft’s Rochelle (Rachel True)

·      Vampire Diaries’ Bonnie (Kat Graham)

·      American Horror Story: Coven’s Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) and Queenie        (Gabourey Sidibe)

·      Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest’s Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris)

·      The plethora of witches in musical The Wiz (Mary J Blige, Uzo Uduba, Amber Riley)

·      The Twitches series (Tia Mowry, Tamera Mowry)

Hopefully as more Black female storytellers continue to break into Hollywood and tell their own horror stories, we will see many more.

They Exist Even In 2016: Witches aren’t just part of the past—but part of our present and future. There are plenty of Black women (and men) who practice some form of witchcraft.

And no, it’s not about putting hexes on people or worshiping the devil—it’s more complicated than that. For some it’s a religion, a way of life or a practice. For some it’s about carrying on the traditions that were passed down to them from their ancestors and grandparents. Or about deepening their connections with nature and their surroundings.

Heck there is even an African American Wiccan Society whose goal is to support “Pan-African, Pagan, Wiccan, Kemet and Conscious Spirituality to the forefront of a New Age.”


Written by Kellee Terrell

(Photo from left: powerofforever/Getty Images, meshaphoto/Getty Images, FX, NBC, Disney, teve Allen/Getty Images, Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images)


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