This is the latest from one of my other blogs, RealWorldHomesteading.com. It’s kind of an intro piece of what the blog focus is about and how we ended up being “into all this stuff”. By that, I mean all of the hands-on skills that in our modern era we have all but forgotten – unless we are under duress of some kind. I am a firm believer in not waiting until you have to fend for yourself and or need to be buckled into survival mode. So many of us take for granted the things we can do every day – or we become complacent through all of the conveniences that living in a modern world provides for us. No matter where you are, no matter what your situation, you can do something to empower yourself.
Over the years, I have heard about every argument about what race the Ancient Egyptians were. In spite of where you might stand on the subject, this article is well worth the time to sit down and read. whether for a purely historical point of view, or if you are like me and Ancient Egyptian or Kemetic thought and culture is central to who you are about personally, spiritually or magically, then it will definitely be of interst.
Josephine McCarthy is someone whose work I greatly admire. She has written a very well-researched article on this oft times heated topic. My advice when reading it is to tackle it in bits then mull it over for a bit and let it sink in.
More than a decade ago, I started out blogging on Livejournal.In that time, I met tons of friends, many fabulous writers, talented artists. Many of these people are still my friends today. I even purchased a permanent account when they were being sold for very little money. Back then, Livejournal was the place to be – more than Twitter and MySpace – Facebook was barely a backwater bulletin board at that point. Or maybe it hadn’t even been invented yet. At any rate, Livejournal was an important beginning as to what social media was to later become.
Livejournal changed hands a couple of times and was later bought by SUP, a Russian company that has very strong ties to the Kremlin. Almost immediately that the site came under Russian ownership the spam bots were let loose. Having a permanent account, I was mostly protected, but from time to time I would get spam commentary, some of it with malware links attached. I set my comments on screened and the problem went away for a time. Now, everything has changed. The servers for Livejournal are now residing in Russia.
Now there have been even more changes. The servers for Livejournal now reside in Russia. What’s more is that Livejournal has just recently changed their user agreement so that in order to continue to use the site, you must agree to Russian law. Part of that law is most adamantly against the rights and even tolerance of LGBT folks.
This morning, I got up and deleted all of my communities on the LJ site. The only exception was Writers_Muses, a prompt community that had prompts and responses every week. A little over a year ago I ported Writer’s Muses over to Dreamwidth, mirrored it over on Pan Historia, and just a few hours ago, Writers Muses is its own dot com, hosted here on WordPress. Soon the community that remains on Livejournal will be deleted.
I know that it’s going to be hard, but I also intend to delete my permanent account on Livejournal as well. SUP isn’t making any money off of me anyway. I will probably just need a few more days in order to gather up the rest of my “things” before closing that door and walking away forever. I am quite excited about Writers Muses moving on to possibly better things. I have a client quite interested in my prompts, and there is a Writer’s Muses writing prompt book in the works. I also suspect I will be doing some video work and setting up a video channel for it as well on YouTube. So many things that can rise up from the ashes that are now smoldering somewhere in Russia.
If anyone needs any assistance in porting their content from Livejournal over to Dreamwidth, or if they are curious about PanHistoria, or want to follow the Writer’s Muses blog, please feel free to drop me a line at fannyfae at gee mail dot com. I will be happy to help. It’s hard to leave those memories and those friends behind, but the future could be even brighter, I think.
The election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the U.S. was a disheartening wake-up call for many of us. It signified that we who count ourselves to be liberal or progressives had not done enough to ensure that the freedoms we enjoy were not wrested away from us. This situation, however, did not just begin with the election results of November 8, 2016. The fundamentalist, radical right has had this moment in its sights for as long as I can remember. While Pagans have been busy living it up over the years at various pagan festivals like Circle Gathering and Pantheacon, contemplating Goddess and congratulating themselves on creating a new world, the Dominionists were constantly pushing to limit as much of the rights and freedoms that we take for granted. I have said it numerous times; there is absolutely no difference between the Taliban and the Christoban except the religious texts and the specific names they refer to God.
We should not be at all surprised by anything that Vice President, Mike Pence, says either. His brand of Christianity is nothing if not consistent. Pence hails from the kind of Christianity that has done and continues to do all that they can in order to convince, coerce or even frightening their own people into compliance. Dominionist sects, on the whole, have been setting up for this type of takeover that we are seeing unfold before our eyes for decades. Ask any of them and they will tell you that in order for America to be truly “free”, we must “become a Christian nation again”. If you ask them what that means, sooner or later they will get around to informing you that they absolutely advocate ruling by “biblical law”. These same individuals will make no secret about how abhorrent that they find the idea of ruling by Islamic or Sharia law. If you gently remind them how there is little to no difference, expect to get an earful.
Pagans, Polytheists, & Allies
Please, I understand these Pagan and Polytheist gatherings I mentioned above are important. However, our activism and rallying behind various causes and issues have often been diffused because of infighting and lack of a common goal or purpose. The so-called Moral Majority which had its heydey in the 1980’s and early 90’s, did everything it could, from Satanic Panic to the constant barrage of personalities (Bob Larson) who would keep listeners in abject terror of everything in the world being not only a conspiracy theory, but an all-out orchestrated Satanic plot. During that same time period, we were seeing an incredible awareness raising regarding Pagan faiths. Surely Margot Adler’s book, “Drawing Down the Moon”, the boom of Pagan, Wiccan and other types of ‘new age’ books and periodicals was at its height. Many of the forefathers and foremothers of that movement, such as Selena Fox, for example, spent a great deal of time getting in front of the cameras of mainstream media outlets in order to reassure the general public that modern witches and Wiccans were benign and nothing to fear. While that may be true for some, inadvertently they had managed to all but completely defang the entire movement. The whole “harm none” idea morphed into a sort of apologetic pacifism and the so-called Three Fold Law became an admonishment against anyone who would do anything as radical as even defending themselves against those who meant harm.
I am not proclaiming that we are somehow returning to the mostly-mythical ‘Burning Times’, that series of events when some of the most rabid baby Pagans like to claim outlandish and historically inaccurate figures of the number of people who were put to death for “Witchcraft”. What I am saying is that in the past 500 years, we have moved forward into a more inclusive, progressive society. Because of the manipulations of a few, our country, indeed our whole world appears to be more divided. We have, since then had several shining rays of hope in the form of the Women’s March, the removal of Michael Flynn and most recently the well-deserved and utter defeat of the Draconian ACHA and the attempt by the Republicans to repeal Obamacare. The Women’s march was the largest in U.S. history and if #45 has done one thing, he has awakened many of the once complacent electorate to know that their participation is essential and they called their representatives relentlessly and showed up at town halls around the country to protest. It is this kind of activism we are going to need if we are to succeed against the people who would strip women, minorities, the elderly, children and the poor of their rights.
The reason for the incredible success of the radical right and Christian Dominionists in particular, is that they have always seen total control as their end goal. They mobilized their membership and through referring to their extant religious texts and their communities were able to keep the membership towing the party line. They created their own television and radio stations, bookstores, business networks and other ways to extend their reach far beyond Sunday services. They created the concept of homeschooling so that they could absolutely control what went into the minds of their own children. While some parents do this because the well-being of their children requires their continued support, finding homeschooling materials that are completely secular and devoid of Christian-centric rhetoric is extremely difficult.
Who’s Really In Charge?
The truth is, that many racists, bigots, white supremacists, and white nationalists have been emboldened by Donald Trump. Those who are threatened by the fact that the world is getting more inclusive, are terrified that in today’s job market, getting hired, or even your place in society is not assured because you are a part of the (for now) dominant culture. Being the best person for the job is no longer based on factors such as your sex, your gender, your religion or more to the point, the color of your skin. Indeed, the terror attack carried out in Quebec during a prayer service was done by a white Trump supporter who was also opposed to immigration. The desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the threatening of schools and Jewish centers around the country has drawn a sharp line in the political sand: Those who adamantly reject such hatred and those who are apathetic to it. There are those that are even happy that since Donald Trump is president, they can now outwardly display their bigotry and prejudice against any people that don’t fit into the narrow world view of what they feel is the Dominant Culture.
At the root of it all, indeed who and what is behind this rise of such is, I believe, Steve Bannon. In an article by Terrell Jermaine Starr that appeared in the Washington Post, is unlimited control. So what is the end game? It is my firm belief that by recently removing all white supremacist groups from the terror watch and instituting the Religious Freedom Executive Order that Bannon and Trump want the people to start dividing into groups of us and them. He wants people, in their own self-interests to have infighting so that they are then able to declare martial law. In the meantime, sources inside the White House conclude that this is what is driving the agenda. The current administration believes that they don’t need to give facts, just information; and if you control the information, you control the message and perception of the people. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like to be ‘managed’ in such a fashion. This past week underscores the fact that the majority of the American electorate don’t like to be ‘managed’ in such a fashion, either.
Sekhmet is the upholder of Ma’at. She is also the absolute personification of Power. I say that not as some sort of feminist diatribe or anything else other than to say that Ma’at will be preserved. Astrologically, this is the time when those things that are illegal and unjust shall be exposed. With the recent revelations by the FBI before Congress and the heat being turned up on the distinct possibility of the Trump Team’s collusion with Russia and Vladimir Putin, it would seem that Ma’at will be coming down on their heads – in every sense of the word.
We are not victims. Each of us individually can do much on our own. Let us never forget that compassion and standing up and speaking out against wrongdoing is what we are charged with. That is also a part of what Ma’at is. It might not be easy. It might even get a little bit messy, but Sekhmet and Her strength is what we should look to. Collectively, I am convinced, we will change the world for the better.
May the Divine bless us and keep us all.
This list is from some years ago. Some of you may remember the heady days when Livejournal was the place to experiment in writing all kinds of fiction. They have since moved to other sites such as Dreamwidth, Insanejournal, and PanHistoria, to name just a few. For those of us who are writers who work with fictional characters and muses, this list of character traits helps gets OOC: I know that some of us who work with Muses and characters all of the time sort of struggle to get a handle on them.
For those of us who are writers who work with fictional characters and muses, this list of character traits helps get them down on paper. One thing that I and others who work with characters or muses have noticed is that keeping a journal at hand to get a handle on the flood of information we get about them. Sometimes those characters will just throw information at us in a flourish and it’s easy to miss or forget those important details.
The following is a questionnaire that I compiled from several sources, most of them come from writing courses I have taken in college, or from books. This list is more exhaustive than most you will find online. Most of the questions below will apply to your character or muse, while others may be questions for you, the writer to answer. Have fun and play with it!
Place of Birth:
Hair Colour and Style:
Distinguishing Features (choose at least four):
Physical imperfections they would like to change:
Country of Origin:
Married / Divorced /Widowed:
(First, Second Third, etc. and how long for each)
Family Background / Lineage:
Father’s Current Status (Living or Deceased):
Mother’s Current Status (Living or Deceased):
Years of Schooling:
Major and Minor Studies in College (if applicable):
Grades achieved in school:
Special Occupational Training:
Skills, Abilities, and Talents (Name at least four):
Areas of Expertise (Name at least three):
Current Job or Occupation:
Moonlighting or Past Occupations:
Short-Term Goals (3-4):
Long-Term Goals (3-4):
Short-Term Needs (3-4):
Long-Term Needs (3-4):
Introvert or Extrovert?
Method of Handling Anger or Rage:
Bad Habits / Vices:
Pet Peeves / Gripes:
Things that Make Uncomfortable or Embarrass:
Most Painful Things in One’s Life:
Ever Been Arrested (if so, for what?):
Arrests, and Convictions: (list types of convictions & time served for them):
Political or Social Issues Important to your Character:
Opinion on Abortion:
Opinion on Environmental Issues:
Opinion LGBT Equality:
Opinion on Military Intervention:
Opinion on Progress:
Opinion on Crime and Gun Control:
Opinions Particular to Character:
What kind of government does your character live under? Democracy? Monarchy? Dictatorship? Theocracy? Do they support their government? Apathetic toward it? Rebelling against it?
Liberal, Conservative, Centrist, or Radical?
Do they have a sense of humor? If so what kind?
Physical Illnesses or Chronic Disorders:
Favorite TV Show(s):
Favorite Music / Favorite Band /Singer:
Favorite Travel Destination:
Why / How did they acquire them?
How Important Are They?
How do they treat pets? Wild animals, etc?
Drinks Alcohol? If so, how often?
Favorite Alcoholic Drink:
Favorite Food or Meal:
Favorite Book(s) and Author(s):
Diet (Rich, low fat, cholesterol, restaurant, etc):
Favorite Restaurant/Ethnic Food:
Posture and Movement: Walk, etc.:
What is the most attractive feature about your character?
What turns them on?
What turns them off?
Traumas, Psychological Scars from the Past:
Clothing Styles, favorite kind of clothes:
Favorite Pet Sayings / Words:
Speaking Style – do they have an accent? Describe it:
Are they loud or soft-spoken?
Philosophy on Life:
Close Friends – who and how many?:
What experiences shaped your character the most into who they are today?
Home – do they live in a house, apartment, condo, other? Describe what it’s like:
How is it decorated?
What is their neighborhood like?:
How do they travel? Is it by foot, car, horse or other?:
If they drive, do they drive fast or slow? Do they obey traffic and other laws?:
Major Problems that your character face. How do they intend to solve or overcome it?:
Minor Problems?: What and how to deal with them?:
Attitudes about Money:
Dancing? Do they know how? Do they enjoy it?
Do they like being outdoors or indoors most of the time?
If your character has a partner or spouse, how do they get along with each other?Children?
Do they have any children?
Do they get along with their neighbors?
How do they deal with those who are higher in society or more successful than they are?
How do they deal with those who are lower in society or less successful?
Sleep Patterns: Do they sleep well? Fitfully? Not at all? Who do they sleep with?
When do they get up in the morning?
What awakens them? Is it an alarm clock? Rooster? Dog, Wife or Parent? Kids?
What do they do normally eat for breakfast? Do they read the paper? Talk to spouse or children? Rush out the door?
Do they read the paper? Talk to spouse or children? Rush out the door?
What is your character’s normal routine around dressing? Is it difficult? Easy? Meticulous?
Does the morning fill your character with anticipation or dread?
Does your character like their job or hate it? Do they give their work honest attention or avoidance?
Would He or She rather be doing something else?
If so, What?
How long and hard is the work day
Do they stop for lunch?
Eating what typically?
Does He or She Enjoy the Meal?
What does it Consist of?
What Goes on During Dinner? (Conversation? Fighting? Reading?)
Who Cleans up?
What does your Character do on a typical Evening?
How Much Does He or She Enjoy it?
What Would they prefer to be doing?
Why Doesn’t He or She Do That?
What id the evening atmosphere like?
Bedtime: Does he or she go to bed consistently at the same time?
When does bedtime occur at a different time?
Do they fall asleep right away?
If No What is He doing in the meantime? Reading? Watching TV? Sex? Tossing and Turning?
How Much do they enjoy this activity
Does He or She dream a lot, little or never?
Are most of his or her dreams scary, pleasant, sexual, etc?
Is any dream that they have a recurring one? What is it about?
What is his or her earliest memory?
If they were to suddenly become much richer, what he or she do with the money?
What is his or her stated dream in life?
What does he or she really long for?
What event are they most afraid of possibly happening?
Who does he or she in their wildest deepest soul really love best in the whole world?
What would he or she be willing to die for if anything?
What does he or she believe about God or the Divine?
What do they believe is the purpose of life?
Do they believe in an afterlife?
What does he or she actively work to gain or keep or protect – or not?
Do they merely say is important, but actually invest time and emotion in – money, fame, family, love, country, revenge, etc.?
How would he or she describe himself or herself if totally honest?
In a single word, how would YOU the writer sum up this character/muse’s attitude toward the world, interested, optimistic, defeated, Exploitive, compassionate dissatisfied, power mad, controlling, happy, etc. ?
Would your character or muse agree with your assessment?
Why or Why not?
Do you like your character or muse as a person?
“Dynamic Character”: How to Create Personalities that Keep Readers Captivated” by Nancy Kress, 1998, Writer’s Digest Books
“Building Believable Characters” by Marc McCutcheon, 1996, Writer’s Digest Books
“Getting Into Character” Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors” by Brandilyn Collins, 2002, John Wiley & Sons
Posted over at my other blog, Life Belongs to Sekhmet. Over the coming weeks and months, the ideas presented here will be the focus of both blogs.
2016, through all of the abysmal things that have happened during that time, has me thinking a lot about Ma’at lately. We’ve lost so many cultural, artistic and historical icons in this year, any of us would be hard-pressed to name them all without referring to a list. This year has been a crippling blow on a lot of levels, but it is not the end by any stretch of the imagination. That is not to say that it’s been any less trying.
I won’t beat about the bush. We are all about to head into unknown territory in 2017. For some, that prospect is terrifying. Given some of the more recent events that have occurred in the world and the attitudes of those who were supposedly elected to help us face them, we probably should all be on alert. We are facing several global crises of epic proportions and…
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1. What did your mother tell you to never do? Write about the first time you broke that rule.
2. Write about an unanswered prayer or ungranted wish.
3. A year after his death…..
4. “Paranoia is just reality on a finer scale.” – Philo Gant, “Strange Days”
5. Who would you die for? Would you prove it?
6. Question to the Writer: What was the stickiest entanglement your character ever faced?
7. Photo Prompt