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We welcome Black History Month on our born day, and we set our intentions for this month.

After what seemed to be an interminable first month of the year, January is finally over and we welcome February after a full moon filled with purpose, set intentions and energy. Wear Your Voice turns four today(!) and our birthday is not only a celebration for us, but for our dearest readers too. While times are difficult and fraught, we have consistently been in awe of what our fellow creatives, activists and witches have been building and nurturing. There is no better time than the present to actualize projects which intend to help our Black and brown communities. Over here at WYV, we have been creating resources, developing ideas and opening up discussions which prioritize OUR voices — the voices of the marginalized, the voices of queer and trans BIPOC who have been systematically tokenized or ignored in favor of white cishet voices. This is truly a space for us, by us. We welcome Black History Month on our born day, and we set our intentions for this month. As managing editor, I am thrilled to say that this “Letter from the Editor” will be the first of many monthlies to come and it is only natural and fortuitous that the first edition of these letters should be today. This Black History Month we celebrate the Black queer women, femmes, trans and non binary people who are often left out of the discussions of Black History Month in favor of cishet male voices and historical figures. WYV is also celebrating Black women through our marketplace, with our Black activists and creatives shirts featuring some of history’s most groundbreaking women: Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Angela Davis, Octavia Butler, Lucy Parsons, Assata Shakur and many more. The intentions I am setting for Black History Month include making Wear Your Voice an even safer space for our readers as well as our writers. WYV would be nothing without the hundreds of voices we have been lucky to make space for on our site, and part of the integrity of our magazine means making sure our writers’ voices are not only nurtured, but safe. This being said, our editorial team has decided that we will no longer have a comment section on our site. Readers are welcome to engage with us on our social media platforms insteadAs an intersectional feminist publication, we are targeted by misogynists, racists, queerphobic people who simply show up to derail conversations and threaten our writers with bile. Nothing good can come from making space for that kind of energy and there is no such thing as a good debate with people who don’t consider us as equals or even deserving of humanity.
Related: REMEMBERING SOJOURNER TRUTH, THE MOTHER OF INTERSECTIONAL FEMINISM

Let’s make sure we stay body positive and aren’t feeding into the toxic diet culture when talking about our journey.

By Dr. Jonathan P. Higgins A few months ago I was reminded of how much I missed working out. As someone who viewed the gym as one of the best stress relievers, I began to realize that my addiction to food and “rest” was now compromising my health. After gaining almost 75 pounds, dealing with issues related to my blood pressure and constantly being made to feel as if I should buy an additional seat on a plane (I fly often), I finally decided that I needed to get back to doing the one thing that made me feel my best: exercising. Over the years, I have always struggled with my weight. After losing almost 150 pounds in college, I realized how beneficial exercising was to my physical and emotional health. As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, going to the gym was always the one thing that helped me feel better about my outlook on life. Running gave me a moment to let my mind breath. Aerobic classes gave me a moment to just center myself with the music and the connections I made with others in the classes. The gym had always been my escape. After contending with hating how I felt and hating how I looked, I re-committed myself to going to a local gym. A few weeks after being told by several of my friends that I was beginning to lose weight, I thought about posting a photo on social media to talk about how much weight I was losing and how important fitness was. But in that moment, it truly hit me: what I was about to post was not only problematic in the sense that the undertone of said post was fat-shamey, but the post was in turn telling other BIPOC that the only way they could be seen as worthy and beautiful was if they too decided to pick up a weight loss regime. In this, I began thinking deeper about how BIPOC people can talk about their weight loss without it coming across as fat phobic and how we can hold others accountable when equating weight loss with beauty.
Related: BODY POSITIVE PHOTOGRAPHER ROCHELLE BROCK WANTS A BIGGER, ROUNDER, BLACKER MOVEMENT

Feel free to treat yourself with this witch-y gift guide during this hectic and stressful time of the year.

Just because the holiday season is adorned with silver bells, plastic images of Christ in the manger and Christmas trees doesn’t mean that you have to be. It’s perfectly acceptable and possible to insert some witch-y goodness into the season and whether you’re a rootworker or Wiccan, there are many online shops out there to make your season magickal. In this roundup I’ll be sharing some great places to purchase spiritual gifts and supplies. Many of the retailers are Black/POC and cater to that market which is to say they offer products that are feature POC or are used for practices of the diaspora such as hoodoo, Ifa, Santeria, etc. This isn’t the case for all sellers on this list.

Basic Supplies

Big Liz Conjure Corner

This shop specializes in the goods you need for conjure and rootwork. Everything from candles, to herbs and curios. She also offers readings and spell work. For those just starting, there are books and kits available as well as classes.  The Beginner Witch Box is a fully stocked starter kit for workers in training and is a great gift for the person who is just starting out.

Original Products Botancia

This is one of the most well-known online shops for supplies and charms. Although they have a tilt towards Santeria and hoodoo work, their tarot, candle selection, which includes a variety of figure candles, and herbs can be used by many paths. This shop also sells many icons for altars as well as offering help for using their products. The charms and talismans section is a great place to look for thoughtful gifts.

Soul Goddess Creations

If you need dressed (this means to be anointed with oils and herbs for specific magickal purposes) candles, this is the spot for them. They’re handmade and infused with herbs and oils to help you manifest a wide variety of goodness into your own life. The colors are bright and fun and they come in different styles. Even if someone isn’t spiritual, you can bless them with a special candle. Everyone likes candles.  

Everyday Magic

Speaking of candles, these prayer/7 day candles have a lot of attitude. If healing vibes aren’t really your thing, why banish some people with the Fuck Outta Here prayer candle or remind yourself to Hustle Harder? These aren’t dressed or sealed but there’s a good chance that anyone who you gift these two will get a kick out of them. And you can use white candles for just about anything. The overall store is filled with a ton of witch-y goods from home to things to do the work but these candles are top-notch.

Star Seed A and R

If you’re not sure what you want to do, this shop sells full spell kits to help you get started. They make good gifts because they’re something that people can engage in and help them find their own power, even if they haven’t spent a good deal of time working with it. They’re inexpensive and can really help to awaken someone to their own gifts.

Self-Care Rituals and Everyday Love

Kimmiecomb’s Special Creations

Spiritual baths are one of the first things you learn about when working with hoodoo. Although the practice of taking one isn’t about cleaning the body, in a pinch, using soaps like this can help to clear cluttered and negative energy. They also carry body creams, bath bombs, and hair care products. The seller puts together specialty baskets as well.

Belladonna’s Garden

Burning a full candle isn’t something that everyone has the space to do safely. Using wax melts is sometimes suggested as an alternative for those who want to practice candle magic without a full candle. This shop has great ones infused with many combinations of herbs for manifesting peace and goodness. They also carry products for making spiritual baths including oils, pre-mixed herbs, bath bombs and scrubs. All natural and a great selection.

Fat Witch Yoga

Self-care is inside and out. This virtual yoga studio combines narrative with yoga to create a unique, spiritual experience. Classes are taught online through streaming and recordings, breaking down some barriers and providing accessibility. A diet culture free practice and full disclosure, I am the instructor. Classes are grouped into sessions ranging from four to seven weeks, treat yourself or a friend to one.

AfroMystic

Feeling adrift in your life? This reader does astrology readings as well as tarot and oracle cards to help people understand the energy that surrounds their lives. Much better than a generic, computer created one, the AfroMystic takes time to personally review the querents chart or cards to give them an in-depth reading.  This experience makes a great gift for yourself or others.

All Things Shiny

Mystic Merchant

Although this store is small, it has something I haven’t seen. It sells really beautiful and unique loc jewelry. Each piece is a combination of copper wire, crystals to draw different energy, and curios which include keys and cowrie shells. These are very unique statement pieces.

Nirvana Wild

I think we all feel a bit more magickal when we’re adorned with crystals and rings. This site sells beautiful rings and necklaces that feature different crystals and stones set in brass. There’s a tilt to Afrocentric imagery, especially those associated with Egypt but the designs are very unique.

Heaven and Earth

For just straight crystals and stones, Heaven and Earth is the place to go. This online shop has the motherload of crystals, both raw and shaped for all your needs. Whether you’re hoping to put together mojo bags or if you need some pretty jewelry, this spot is one stop shopping. It is a very large website and lacks the personal touch of the indie brands but it’s the place to go stones.
Related: FOR US BY US: A GIFT GUIDE FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR

This holiday season, whether you're spending time with your chosen family, yourself, or with your blood relatives, know that you are seen. Know that you are loved. Know that you matter.

The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year. Along with the stress of travel, trying not to overpack, scheduling self-care when you're in old environments, and reflecting on the successes and failures of the past year, it can be taxing to even think about anything else. Personally, I love this time of year because I enjoy reflecting and celebrating what has been accomplished, and gearing up to start the next year anew. But in doing so, I feel like the holiday season emphasizes the privilege of family and cheer. The holiday season (besides the whitewashing and colonization behind many of the holidays that we celebrate this time of year in the U.S.) can emphasize marginalization even more than usual. In its efforts to celebrate love and traditional values, the holiday season as we recognize it today continues to push out traditionally marginalized people because it often leaves very little space for us to include our experiences. Anything that is outside of that model is heavily erased, leaving so many of us without recognition or support. I've begun to ask this question in regards to the notion of "going home for the holidays". What do the holidays mean when we are spending it outside of our blood families? How do the meanings differ when we shift from forcing ourselves to spend time with people who may be abusive, toxic, and downright dangerous to our safety and well-being; instead, replacing them with our chosen family of friends and loved ones that affirm and fill us with warmth? These questions weigh heavily on my mind, especially as so many of my queer and BIPOC siblings find themselves left out of the narrative of holiday cheer. Are we any less valid because we do not separate our need for survival with choosing ourselves over the weight of expectations that are rooted in our own oppression? As I look around at those who are becoming vocal about their interpretations of the holidays they are celebrating, I'm in awe of the bravery it takes to choose oneself and to choose those who are in our chosen families over the traditional models that leave us aside. But I have to wonder: those of us who carry trauma with us, who are unlearning toxic coping mechanisms and are reliant on survival over comfort — where is there space for us within narratives of holiday cheer? Where are the narratives that include those of us who cannot and do not have traditional families to "go home" to?
Related: 5 ALTERNATIVE WAYS TO SPEND YOUR THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY

In a world that expects us to pour from an empty cup, your team only seeks to fill your cup and often a simple gesture of gratitude is all that is required.

We pay homage to our ancestors. We recognize and give thanks to the ancestors whose names we know and those we don’t. We pay gratitude to the land upon which we live. We make the commitment to honor and care for our bodies as we honor and care for the land. We know that we are sacred and give thanks for all the ways our spirit team reminds us of this fact. Give thanks for our remembering. Ase.
Finding the space to create, nurture and define as ‘sacred’ can often be the hardest part in creating sacred space. The world is in a state of massive shift, turmoil and unrest; it often feels like there is nowhere for respite and nothing is treated as sacred anymore — sometimes can only access our sacred space inside of ourselves. Because of our trauma(s) and lived experiences, sometimes going inside is scary and we can only access the sacred outside of ourselves, first. Sometimes we question if we deserve it. And even more so, we question what we will invite in through the creation of that space. We hold the right to make every space we step onto sacred, and I seek to remind you, that though it don’t feel like it — everywhere you step is sacred. This land has been made sacred from creation. We are continually reminded that it is still upheld and fought for as sacred by the many Indigenous nations who still take seriously this responsibility, despite colonialism working in opposition to this. The foremost part of developing sacred space is knowing that this land is inherently sacred, and it is our responsibility, as settlers and stolen bodies, to treat this land as such and regard our many communities that inhabit it, as such.
Related: 5 MEDICINES THAT HELP WITH HEALING THE HEART

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