Please note the trigger warnings: This piece includes discussion of trauma, abuse, mental illness, repeated use of the word 'crazy', and mentions of suicide and suicide ideation.
Auntie Rose was crazy.
Except it never even occurred to me to even think that till I was old enough to have gone through, almost died from, and learned to live with my own crazy.
I go, I go, I go, I go, cra-a-a-a-a-zy, crazy - Kehlani
Before I thought of her as crazy, all I knew was that she was sweet, spoke softly, and lived with my grandparents. She made a lovely babysitter- though no one left me completely alone with her now that I think about it- we would sit and talk, and more often we would sit and be quiet and that was perfectly alright with me, who hated the more active and inquisitive time spent with some of the other adult relatives.
None of those relatives, or even my parents, talked about Auntie Rose outside of grandma's house- they whispered, or sighed, or shook their heads and changed the subject. None of the adults really talked to her either- it was always directions, suggestions, pleading, and frustrated sentences that started with "why can't you just..." and then they'd have the nerve to be surprised when she wouldn't be so quiet. She'd spark, angry and loud and cutting, and storm out of the room leaving everyone to their self-righteous indignation and even then my little black girl brain would think, well what did you all expect?
At eighteen, I wanted to kill myself, for seemingly no good reason. I remember very little of that year, or the few that followed after and the madness of spending more time trying to figure out why I could be depressed than time caring for myself.
I was depressed for no good reason-
Except I was a young black woman in the United States, daughter of Black immigrants, had been taken advantage of by an older relative, had separated parents, a history of mental illness in my family on both sides, felt boxed into a major I didn't want, attended a majority white institution, gender and sexuality unresolved and in the closet about my queerness due to the religion I was raised in, had devastating womb health issues, and a great deal of shit I'm still coming to grip with, and I wanted to kill myself.
-For no good reason.
Well what the hell did I expect?
... walked over lately, walked all over lately, I'd rather be crazy - Beyonce
I was spiritually allergic to amethyst crystals during this time of growth- couldn’t stand them near me let alone hold one. I've come to recognize what that was now. Incidentally, or not so much so, the first amethyst I ever held was given to me by a toxic lover who tried to use the gift to keep me quiet about how abusive his idea of love was- the amethyst necklace immediately went in the trash and I stayed with him a while longer before I found the strength to choose myself. It took me a year before I could hold amethyst in my hand without wanting to scream.
Amethysts are widely acknowledged as stones of sight and deeper knowledge that help you see through the shadow and trust your intuition. My intuition and my crazy come from the same place so why wouldn't I want to scream out truth holding the stone that would force me to acknowledge those places I'd tried to drown out- what the hell did I expect?
I do it cause it's my duty , crazy and kinda spooky - Azealia Banks
I lived through those years not because I stopped being crazy but because of the femmes who recognized my crazy and chose not to throw me away. Femmes believed me and saved me and gave me bloodstone necklaces and coconut head rogations and rosemary tea and spat gin on the back of my neck and weaved amethyst crystals into my waist beads and weaved hawthorn rose wreathes around me and pulled me back from the brink and showed me how to work the shadow for my light. They showed me that I didn't have to pray the crazy away like I'd been taught all my life (it never did work for Auntie Rose) but instead I could spin into it and call up a wind like Oya or laugh into it and cry out a river like Oshun. I learned that my intuition and my crazy came from the same place inside me. I just needed to learn how to trust both.
Of course, nothing is so simple. Embracing the part of me that is seer, witch, medicine woman, healer, and earthworker doesn't automatically make my crazy an always good thing. Knowing the power of my intuition and my practice of it as a healing strategy for both me and my community won't always save me. What the recognition does is help me work through the fear that has been so carefully embedded into all parts of my life by a hegemonic world that breathes life into itself through my death.
I hold amethyst tightly and remind myself that my madness does not negate my truth- that what I see, do, feel, speak is true whether or not the world wants to believe it. I throw cards, cast herbs, set altars, light candles, sit by rivers and oceans, and know that my Black femme magic is crazy and that's okay and I am always enough. I have learned to believe myself, and I believe you.
Electric lady...you got a classic kind of crazy, but you know just who you are - Janelle Monae
This piece was originally submitted to Black Femme Witches Brew.