Restoring Ma’at

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.

Life Belongs to Sekhmet

sekhmetdarkness2016,  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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Writer’s Muses: Prompt Set # 1

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

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Filed under dreamwidth, fanfiction, fiction, livejournal, panhistoria, Writer's Muses, writing

Introduction to Writer’s Muses

writing_smAbout 7 years ago, some writer friends and I started a writing prompt community on Livejournal. We did this because one was desperately needed. We wanted it to be an answer to other writing / character-centric communities various blogging venues. Those of us who were there were looking for new and interesting ways to stretch our characters and to dig down deep into who they were and are wanted to create a compelling reason to show up at the page – and so Writer’s Muses was born. It was well received and copied many times over.

Time and the social media landscape being what they are, however, Writer’s Muses along with the scores of other sites fell to the wayside. Following the incredible amount of encouragement from past members of the sites  over at Livejournal, Dreamwidth, PanHistoria elsewhere , we decided to repeat that past success if possible and do it here on my blog, as well as on past venues – and with social media links on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Bloglovin’.

How it works
Each week will feature a series of writing prompts.  In the past on the Livejournal and Dreamwidth communities we had a minium word count of 150 words.  It wasn’t a hard and fast rule because we know that sometimes certain characters that we write tend to be very short and sweet with their responses, and so those are acceptable, too. The key to  Writer’s Muses prompts was for members to simply enjoy the process and want to show up at the page.

After picking a prompt, write it out in your blog or even your physical journal.

A good format to follow is the one that we set up for our members, but you can do it any way you like of course!

Prompt Set #, Prompt Number and Letter( if applicable), and the Title.

An example would be:
1.1 – What Mother Told Me Never to Do

Some of us add the name of the character, the fandom and the word count. such as shown here.  It can be listed at the top of the entry or most prefer it to be beneath the entry like this.

Muse (Character):Fanny Fae / Faelyn
Fandom: Original Character / Folklore / Mythology
Word Count: 454

You can add your own tags for muse names, subject and the like .   The key is to have fun!

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Introducing the #MarriageMilitia Project

sphinx1After last night’s dim election outcome, I spoke to many people who were fully in the grips of being terrified for their future.  I won’t lie.  I had a bit of a sleepless night as I watched the abysmal election returns realizing that things didn’t go our way.  This morning, I shed a few tears as well.  What would become of me and my spouse?  What about our family? Our home? What would the future hold.

I made up my mind that I would listen to my spiritual Mother, Sekhmet, and do what I had been hearing in the back of my  head for months.  ‘Prepare.’  ‘Be as self-sufficient and self-reliant as possible,’  and ‘Treat people with kindness and respect and be supportive’.

The #MarriageMilitia Project was begun by Rev. Tamara Siuda of the House of Netjer Kemetic Orthodox Temple.  It is an organization where I was also legally ordained as a Priestess of Sekhmet-Mut.  In light of last night’s developments, I am going to be taking up my role as clergy once again. I am legal, so no worries there.  For those who wish to be married, I am offering my services.   Here is a post that will explain what it’s all about and why.   If you clergy or know someone who is, I urge you to pass the word along.  Share it far and wide.  Let us exercise our freedom and our rights to love whom we love.

Introducing the #MarriageMilitia Project

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Filed under Hathor, kemetic, Ma'at, pagan, reblogged, Religion, Sekhmet, Uncategorized

Seriously, Pagan Community…WTF!?

wtf by jason borreroI am seeing some very disturbing trends in pagan writings, communities and the like that seems to be spreading like an epidemic.  Some of it isn’t new. However, there are some really disturbing trends I want to address.

Lately, there has been loads of butthurt, overly sensitive, politically correct, anti-Christian, anti-intellectual hubbaloo of the most absurd pagan ghetto thinking and laziness that I have ever seen.  Whenever a debate on any subject happens, inevitably, someone decides that disagreeing with their viewpoint, even if there is nothing even remotely resembling an ad hominem attack, it somehow equals “bullying” or “hate speech”.

I have been reassured by others that it isn’t just within pagan communities, but throughout the world in general.

1) Expecting that all knowledge, books, artistic expression since it is on the Internet should be FREE. for the taking.  Whenever an author releases a new book or musical album, there are those that will want to get it for nothing. Getting this knowledge, according to these folks, is a right. Initiations, Degrees, and the milestones that indicate to the Community as a whole that you have achieved a certain level of knowledge and mastery is all just superfluous nonsense.  I blame Raymond Bucklnand’s Complete Book of Witchcraft that was put out over 30 years ago that is lovingly or not so lovingly referred to as Uncle Bucky’s Big Blue Book O’ Wicca. This book claims that after reading it, you will know just as much as  any Third Degree Initiate into Wicca.

Bullshit.

Gaining knowledge is not just perusing it in a book or online or in a Facebook group or on Usenet or something you can get like an online gamer racks up points.  Most of this kind of ‘knowledge’ is only gotten through hands on, heart in, mind on and DIRECT experience.  There are no shortcuts. No herbs to smoke, drink or ingest in order to get you there quicker.   It doesn’t come easier if you are living in a legal cannabis state or drop peyote with your friends on a weekend and yowl unintelligibly at the full moon out in the desert on a “vision quest”.  The skies will not open up with extraterrestrials, nor will the Star in the East rise, complete with wise men, foretelling the rest of us of your imminent arrival.  You get to lump your own luggage and do the actual work.  I am truly sorry if that bursts a few bubbles out there.

2) Professing to love Mother Earth so very much and then engaging in very bad, consumerist behaviors.   Seriously.  I am sick to death of hearing and reading everyone recommend “saging” or “smudging” away negative energies.  I used to work for one of the world’s largest natural foods co-operatives that supplies bulk herbs to just about every health food store and natural food store in the US and Canada.  There were years when because of drought and/or wildfires there was just no white sage to be had.   For a period of time, sales of this herb were suspended in the interests of being good stewards and ensuring the survival of the plants in the wild and as cultivars. It got so bad that some Indigenous Nations were begging us to sell to them so that they could do ceremonies with what they needed.  We had a bit on hand that had been set aside, and we were able to help them.  The situation involving sage has corrected itself over time, but the opposite reaction is also going through the Pagan community and we have people claiming the plant is currently endangered. Trust me. It isn’t.

Similar circumstances arose with Frankincense (Bosewelia carteri) because of overharvestation and crops of these precious trees have been damaged in regional conflicts.  The same was true of yellow sandalwood when the government of India, which technically owns all of the sandalwood forests in the country, suspended the sale of everything except sandalwood essential oil. Poaching during that time was rife.  We found similar sandalwood in Australia that helped in other formulas calling for the yellow species and it worked out well.  The ban has since been at least partially lifted, but we still have to be mindful of the resource.  Right now, however, the price of yellow sandalwood, regardless of form, has skyrocketed.

The point of this is that Pagans / Wiccans et al need to stop thinking so much about their own selfish, self-involved bullshit and think about the Earth that they claim to care about. There seems to be a real dichotomy with regard to what is good for the planet with increasing environmental challenges and the people who act out selfishly.   There are substitutions for any herb you care to name.  It’s time to pay attention and walk the talk or get out.

3.  Racism –  I have become aware of more racism within both the Pagan and Kemetic communities. For whatever reason, there are those that insist that it is ok to discriminate against someone on the basis of skin color, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual preference etc.  One Big Name Pagan or BNP who shall remain nameless because they have a large, if not sychophantic following, recently posted some of the  most racist vitriol I have ever seen within Paganism.  It was nauseating enough that I suspect that they lost at least a fair number of followers  because of it.  At least they lost a good number of people who  actually take them seriously.  I can only say that I was never impressed with this particular individual’s  arrogance in the past.  Their latest and decidedly bigoted posting just underscored that what my gut had been telling me all along.

I don’t give a damn who you are, or what your tradition is.  Engaging in bigotry is flat out bullshit.  Racism, sexism, elitism, or any other ism you care to name is not how it’s done.  Rule number one where I come from is. “Don’t be a dick.” If you’re a racist or a bigot….well, draw your own conclusions on that.  I won’t tolerate it in my groups and I sure as hell won’t sit quietly by when it’s said or posted in my presence. We have one planet, one chance, one shot to get it right.  It’s time to celebrate the beauty of our diversity and appreciate and respect it without devolving into something that none of us wants.

 

 

 

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Filed under herbs, indigenous, mystic woo-woo, pagan, politics, rants

Ongoing Copyright Hypocrisy in Our Pagan Communities

Photo courtesy of Harrogate Museums and Arts, via Wikimedia CommonsIt boggles my mind that those in the neopagan and Wiccan community that believe in the law of return also believe that it is perfectly ok to download books and music of authors in the form of PDF’s online.  There are those who honestly and sincerely believe that “all knowledge should be free and made available to everyone”, or they spout some twaddle about being “poor pagans.”  Yet these same people think absolutely nothing of quoting the “Law of Three” or “Law of Return” when it’s situationally expedient for them to do so.

A bit ago, I reposted a piece from another blogger.‘Stop stealing from your fellow pagans!’

With all the latest news about plagiarism in the news after Melania Trump copped major parts of First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNC speech, I am always amazed at how often the plea for folks in the so-called pagan “community” falls on deaf ears  Maybe the hearers or readers of the message simply don’t care.  Maybe they simply cannot relate, and tell themselves there is absolutely nothing wrong with stealing the hard work of others and reposting it.   For years, I have seen many even dare to take entire passages from websites or books and even pieces of art and pass them off as their own.   They think nothing of using plagiarism as a way to show off to the community that they are somehow “someone in the know.”

 

Most of the books that I am seeing posted in places such as Facebook and Tumblr as in this post.Master PDF list  are also publishing scores of books that are not in the public domain but raather are under copyright (the life of the author plus 70 years).  Many of these authors are friends of mine,  and they  have given of themselves.  In this particular example, I have let a few of them know. Of course, given the nearly 2,000 times that Tumblr post was reblogged,  combatting the problem is whole lot like spitting in the wind.  When you call someone out about it, they accuse you of being a hater, a bully, or a shill for the greedy publishers who want to deny them knowledge.

That isn’t it.

What it is about are the men and women, the elders and mentors, authors and artists whose work we admire who more than deserve to be fairly and justly compensated for their work. What so many people assume is that these people are somehow rich because they are a BNP (Big Name Pagan).  Too many of them struggle with expenses just as much as their audiences do and those works are what keeps a roof overhead, the doctor paid and gas in the tank while they make it to the next gathering, book signing, appearance and so on. How many who do this sort of thing would justify someone breaking into their own home, taking stuff out of their fridge, siphoning the gas out of their gas tank or just helping themselves to whatever else and not object to that?  Why then,  should it be any different in the digital world?

In the Facebook and Google+ communities I have a policy:  If anyone posts or even so much as asks for a list of free, plagiarized material, that person will be removed, they will be reported to both the website, the author or artist and the publisher.  Much of this is based in not only self righteous indignance but just ignorance about copyright and how our creative people are compensated.  They just see the cover price and make the assumption that most of the money goes to the author. Many only see pennies on the dollar if they are with a large publishing house, and now with what Amazon is offering via their Kindle Unlimited program it can be barely anything at all.
Of course, that can be frustrating when a book is out of print, the author has passed to the West and the estate has no plan to reissue the works – or copies that can be found are in the realm of price gouging, getting one’s hands on a book that one really wants or needs for research can be maddening.  There are things such as Interlibrary Loan where a request for a book can go out to all libraries in the program who may have a copy of that work for low cost or no cost to the library patron.  Many works are in the public domain and can be gotten for free.

Another solution is that many scholarly works, for example,  are offered for free as a download from the University Press that offered them in the first place.  I have gotten some near-to-impossible books in the realm of Egyptology that way and all obtained legitimately. Companies often will release a report for free about a topic or notes from seminars for free.  There are tons of works through the Creative Commons. It really does not need to come down to copyright theft,  but too often it does.

Many of those authors who are now being blatantly stolen from on a regular basis, as well as their agents and publishers if they have them, are on a Facebook group called Pagans Against Plagiarism.  It isn’t a perfect system, but suffice it to say that those of us who write, have small businesses and care about this issue have each other’s backs.  There is regular reporting of these links among the membership – so if you have a database of “free” PDF’s of stolen works, it is likely you will be served with a DMCA notice sometime in the future.   We may not be able to fully stamp out the practice of theft amongst the hypocrites who like to quote the Law of Three or the Law of Return that is akin to the fire and brimstone many were served up in their parents’ religion, copyright laws are put in place for a reason.

In an ongoing situation such as this one, all I can say is that I wish them Ma’at in every sense of the word.

 

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Excavating Our Souls…

writing_smThe way to mend the bad world is to create the right world.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s been far too long since I have updated this blog.  No doubt there have been some that have lost patience with me for my neglect. That’s ok. I realize that’s my own fault.  Sometimes, life gets in the way and making the time for blogging is something that I have intended to do but just didn’t.   In excavating my soul, in my efforts to create the right world, I made a decision that I supposedly made last year.

This past Saturday night, I worked my final shift at a C-store that I spent five years at working part time. Those last two days for me were far from a walk in the park and they were grueling in the sense that I was on my feet nearly the entire day on a knee that has a torn meniscus. Needless to say, I was a hurting puppy at the end of it all.

But in among the aches and exhaustion, there is an overall sense of relief. I no longer have to be on someone else’s schedule. I no longer have to be on my feet for 8 and 9 hours at a time, to the detriment of my own health. I am grateful, to say the least, that now the freelance writing jobs that come and the herbal products etc. That I am marketing locally have allowed me the luxury to work from my own home. I have my own office,  the herb room  and workspace I have carved out in the basement is now organized and I am starting to put together product.  It all will allow me to make a living on my own terms.  I can say that taking that step is absolutely terrifying and yet at the same time exhilarating.

I have clients that give me regular work. I have other clients that give me periodical, as needed work that pays a little extra. All told, my expenses are met and I have managed to save a little, but I wouldn’t mind making more.

This morning I relinquished my key and it really started to feel official. I can now officially focus on things and career moves that matter to me and not do terrible things to my body. The truth of the matter is that things have really started to open up since I got the hell out of that C-store. It was something that I promised myself and my gods just a little over a year ago when I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. I got talked out of it or talked myself out of leaving. Now, it feels as if the possibilities are endless.

To prove that point, an exciting opportunity to attend a possible event that is due to be held in the UK next fall presented itself.  When I heard about it, I was so excited, that I called my attorney to see if there was a way to get a copy of my divorce decree from the County so that I could renew my passport with my proper name. Because it was finalized in 1996 and Cedar Rapids, Iowa had a major flood in 2008, there was a more than good chance that the record had been completely lost or destroyed in that flood.

Apparently, mine was among the lucky few that had been saved and the clerk of court was able to find it! So tomorrow, I journey back into the city and plunk down the dosh in order to get a certified copy. I can then put together my application for a new passport with my maiden, rather than my former married name on it.That is the last vestige of anything that I had that connected me to that part of my life.  So again, the excavation has turned out to my advantage.

I sometimes find it amusing just how much things fall into place when you finally listen to what your gut tells you to do and you actually follow through on it.

Now, to just hunker down and get that Sekhmet book finished – FINALLY!!

 

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