Category Archives: pagan

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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Filed under pagan, rants, Uncategorized, writing

Heart of Red Jasper Is Your Name

Ptahmassu has written some wonderful words and painted breathtaking art representing Sekhmet.

Kemetically Speaking

Heart of Red Jasper is Your Name

The Goddess Nuit brings you with her lips when she comes;
west’s mouth opens at twilight where your flashing star rises.
Your luminescence foretells the rising flank of the naked moon;
‘lips of lapis lazuli’ is your name at the moment of his ascension.

Djehuty declares you by the enchantment of his tongue;
you glide from his divine speech as a silver crescent’s boon.
What graces my mouth is the fullness of heaven’s eye;
‘tongue of silver’ is your name when his gleam strikes my lips.

The Goddess Auset binds you to me with her girdle;
she brings at her breast the sanguine knot of sky’s magic.
Seven knots surround your center on her seat of constant ardor;
‘heart of red jasper’ is your name where my breast keeps you.

Ausir the green raises you from his pasture when he comes;
sprouting seed weaves your field as the earth my…

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Filed under akhu / ancestors, kemetic, pagan, reblogged, Religion, Sekhmet

Stop stealing from your fellow pagans!

Ma'atI am absolutely not interested in hearing any excuses about this.   Theft within the Pagan community is so rife that people are all but desensitized against it.  As a writer and publisher and someone married to an artist, I know quite well the costs of intellectual property theft.  Stealing from fellow Pagan and Polytheist authors, artists and craftspersons needs to end, and it needs to end NOW!

I don’t give a damn if you personally believe that “all knowledge should be free” and shared freely. Creativity, whether writing a book, making a piece of artwork or anything else is hard work and deserves to be valued.  Everyone has bills to pay.   It is nothing less than hypocritical of folks who spew the so-called 3-fold law at every turn, and yet are such cheap @$$ b@$t@rd$ that they think nothing of stealing from others.  I am betting, however, that if thieves were wearing the show themselves and were the author or artist etc. they’d be screaming like holy hell about it and wanting just compensation!

Stop stealing from your fellow pagans!

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Filed under business, Ma'at, pagan, politics, rants, reblogged, writing

Finding Our Way Back to Kemet

Mash_signThis post started with the intention to give those who call ourselves Kemetic a place to look to find resources. I know that I am not the first to talk about this. Certainly Devo Kraemer with the Kemetic Round Table and her blog, as well as Helmsman of Yinepu, Henadology and countless others have stated the same goal.  This post is to essentially open up the dialogue and throw out ideas to the greater Kemetic Community as a very small piece of a much grander puzzle.  If we can just figure out where we are going, we might end up getting something that has a bit less in fighting and is a bit more cohesive.

All of we Kemetic folk are different. We come from different places, have had different sebau  (teachers) It feels a little  bit like that road sign on the set of M*A*S*H* that showed where everyone at the 4077th where home was.   The road sign served as a starting place,  rather a map of  how to get there. More than simply telling someone that there is just one temple, one group or one single right way to get to where to go, it will, I hope that something like this might serve more people without any accusations of an agenda.

The truth of the matter is that civilization was born in Kemet.  The pharaohs were black, and varying degrees of brown and every other skin colour that was known in the ancient world at the time. This is inevitably what happens in an integrated and cosmopolitan society.  By my saying this, it does not make me a revisionist or a racist. Speaking only for myself, my goal is to welcome any and all evidence and discussion, except that which promotes racial hatred and modern cultural divisions that seem to have escalated to all time highs over the last few years.

Like most within the pagan and polytheist sphere, we Kemetics have our share of issues to deal with. We have our dramas and disagreements but overall, I don’t believe it’s anything that cannot be overcome.   So…..we can choose to continue to arguments over religious doctrine or other points of contention, or point fingers about who “stole” what from whomever else, or we can acknowledge the fact that for each or us Kemet is a constant call in our lives.  Just as in Kemet’s  antiquity, I believe that  cultural exchanges and sharing were and are the norm.  Someone who was well-traveled or could appreciate the customs of the people and places that they visited was welcome as a guest and greeted as a hero or heroine when they returned home to share the knowledge that their travels had afforded them.  Being a good, respectful guest was the most important thing of all.  I think the akhu (ancestors) have plenty to teach us on many levels and it is something that the world desperately needs.

I believe that we can have that and be the richer even if all we do is try.  We are most us here because we love Netjer or the Netjeru and honoring the akhu.  The land of Kemet IS Zep Tepi, the First Time.  It is inevitable that it calls to our kas with such depth and intensity that we cannot turn away – not even if we wanted to.

But what about Kemet is it that calls us?

Is it the sophistication of design? Is it the fact that science and medicine, literature and the beginnings of writing were born on the banks of the Nile?  What do we as modern, 21st century people hope to gain by reviving the religion, the culture and the values of that bygone time?  I believe for everyone the answer is different.  Even as a child, I dreamed of a day when more people would realize how wonderful ancient Kemet was and there would be a push to restore temples and bring a language back from the Realm of the Dead.   With the advances in Egyptology and the push to reconstruct events, study DNA and analyze the overwhelming amount of data coming out of Egypt on an almost daily basis, we may very well see some of these ideas and pushes become a reality.

Hedwig Storch via Wikimedia Creative Commons LicenseWhat I want, what I am asking in this blog entry is for people to think long and hard about what it is in Kemet that draws them so deeply.  I sincerely want to hear from each and every one of you – not because I am starting a new group; but rather because it’s something I’ve felt called to ask and to do.  I am not doing this for any group, even though I am currently a member of a group.   I respect and care for enough people outside of my own respective group and have the luxury of conversing with them in a dialogue of mutual respect.  It is of paramount importance to me that this spirit of cooperation continues.    For some, such as myself,  Kemet was a call felt at a very young age that simply would not let go.  For others, it is a reconnection to their own proud history and culture.  For others, it might be something else entirely.   Whatever it is – it’s important.

It is my hope that the dialogue between all  of the different groups can somehow push us a little closer to having a clearing house of knowledge, lists of books to read, online courses being offered for free or at a nominal fee, groups that get together socially for no other reason than to share that interest. Later, we can discuss the potential of boards, or groups on Facebook or Google+ in order to discuss those resources that we find.   Whether any of us views it as a culture, a spirituality, a passing interest or even a fandom, it is my personal belief that  none of us individually knows nearly as much as all of us do collectively.  It is also my belief that if we try we may yet make even more of our dreams about Kemet come true.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under indigenous, Kemet is Cool Project, kemetic, Ma'at, pagan, politics, racism, rants, Religion, Sekhmet, Uncategorized, update

Losing Your Facebook Name & Getting It Back: It Isn’t Really About You

mynameisAfter losing my name on Facebook to a vindictive high-visibility  online troll, I penned a blog post, “The Importance of Names“.  In recent days, I have been able to reclaim my online name / DNA intellectual property. This has been made possible because of the diligent efforts of a very organized and tenacious community of drag queens and others within the LGBT sphere.   I am grateful more than I can say to Miss Roma and Lil’ Miss Hot Mess and all who fought so long and so hard for their patience and dedication and sense of fairness  in going after Facebook’s real name policy.

Recently, I have seen posts coming across my feed that somehow Pagans et al are being “targeted” by Facebook in some sort of modern day persecution.  I am never sure why these folks seem to think that everything is an inconvenience is somehow someone “targeting” them because of their beliefs or how they look, dress or how they think.  While it is true that the dominant culture, and especially corporations within the dominant culture do this, unfortunately, I think that the concept of persecution in this case is more than a little inaccurate.

Let me state at the outset to those in the Pagan and Polytheist communities that this is not about your religion.  My case was very probably a personal vendetta by someone else, and Facebook’s real  name policy played right into this.  For most people losing their chosen screen names, whether they be professional names, pseudonyms for those who want to avoid abusers, American Indian tribal names, or Initiatory names of those within the alternative faith communities, it is only about one thing.  It is about the money that your information, online and buying habits represent to advertisers, both current and potential, on Facebook. Having demographics be as accurate as possible to those potential advertisers who are more than a little interested in what you do,  what interests you and how you spend your money online .

In short this is not about “targeting” any group for who and what they are.  This is about Facebook selling YOUR demorgraphics and YOUR information to advertisers. They cannot effectively do that when you have a pseudonym of any sort. When I lost the name of Fanny Fae on August 29th and had to use my birth name up until last week. With the help of Lil Miss Hot Mess and her forwarding my information as per the instructions, I was able to get my name back in less than 12 hours.  YMMV.

If you have lost your chosen Facebook name for WHATEVER REASON, please click the bright “My Name Is” button below and FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS. There are no guarantees, but if people are losing their names, then they must be both methodical (and CALM!) about getting them back. All of the bleeping screaming about religious discrimination, ranting and online petition signing isn’t going to do a goddamned thing.   Beat a pillow, scream if you need to, but wait and come back to the keyboard when you are calm.   Sure it is frustrating and it hurts and it can leave you exposed and vulnerable and it can cut at the very essence of who you are. Those things can make it feel as if it is very personal.   I promise you, it most probably isn’t.  The key, however,  is to keep your wits about you and push back with singular determination.   Facebook sees you as just a packet of information to be packaged and sold. That’s the business they are in.  Changing an imbedded corporate policy is never easy, but if you are tenacious, it can pay off.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/17627761/mynameis-fbgraphic.png

It is more than past time for the pagan community etc. to quit their mooing and start doing!  It would also be a wonderful gesture if some who are able to benefit and get their names back after this Facebook fiasco to actually remember to take the time to thank Sister Roma and Lil’ Miss Hot Mess for what they have done to make this possible.   Because of them and their efforts Facebook has now implemented the following policy – which many still are unaware of.  Facebook just implemented the policy allowing people to select names other than real names so that they know – but that you can keep yourself safe.

What Other Names are Allowed on Facebook?

As I have said repeatedly, there are no promises for everyone being able to get their assumed names back. However, since I am writing this after having direct experience I have found that if you really are focused, it is possible to get what you want  in all of this.  Try it and see.

We just need to dispassionately lay out the facts to the powers on Facebook that be because each request to get a name back is being reviewed on a case by case basis. Speaking only for myself, I know that I am fortunate and probably got my name back very quickly because I have been branding with this name for more than a decade. I own the domain, I write on multiple sites under this name and it is pretty clear that I have been out there. Others may not be so lucky, but when you are armed with as much of your information as possible, chances are Facebook will take that into consideration. It is up to each user to make their case, because to Facebook’s marketing team, you and your habits online are $$$.  They are in the business to make money.

So why did this happen in the first place?

Let’s be honest; in spite of Mark Zuckerberg’s frequent and very public protestations to the contrary over the years, Facebook’s Real Name policy is NOT about safety or trust.  It is about money, and the bottom line is always about the bottom line in corporate culture.  While  Zuckerberg thinks that anyone who uses a pseudonym or alternative name has a personal integrity that is lacking, that argument is disingenuous. What is really being left  unsaid is that the users who use an alias only have “less integrity”  in terms of the data that those who use of Facebook provide to their real customers:  the corporations and advertising folks who mine that data in order to sell we the users of Facebook to those advertisers or those interested in all of the things we do and are interested in online.  The deal is that those advertisers want your eyeballs and what’s in your wallet on their merchandise.

In a word, WE and our buying choices as consumers are in fact the product.

This is why the Facebook website / service is “free”, and is almost certainly likely to remain so because your information is just that valuable to them.  We  need to now ask ourselves, just how much are we willing to give up to Facebook and other companies who sell our information to those who wish to buy the best  and most information according to that demographic data.

Another point of interest is that around the time all of this real  name push started was when Facebook announced the launch of its Atlas system, which was created as a direct competitor to Google’s in terms of demographic information that could be sold to advertisers and influence the buying public. Facebook acquiredd Atlas from Microsoft and recently announced the relaunch. Atlas essentially measures demographic information of users so that  marketers can use that online information to target advertising to the right place.  If you are using Gmail or using Google as a search engine of choice, you see this in action without even thinking about it. Facebook wants to compete with this for their own profits and consumers are being managed any way possible in order to insure this.

Thanks to one of my Facebook friends, I found in a USA Today news story that  Facebook’s  chief product officer, Chris Cox recently apologized for the outing off the Drag Queens and LGBT community at large for forcing them to use their real names.   I applaud the apology, but nowhere in the article was it outlined how these brave queens and others in the LGBT community, including myself, would be able to get back our assumed names.  That, thankfully, would come later.  I have my feelings about who the single user was who outed or doxxed so many, including myself. But of course, I know that we probably will never know for sure, but I am absolutely certain that Facebook never let any of those who were harmed know who was responsible.   However,  the chain of events were far too closely related in my humble opinion to be mere happenstance. I don’t trust either party in this case.

We certainly should be aware that corporations such as Facebook care little to nothing about the individuals behind the accounts or their reasons for choosing to use a pseudonym or assumed name.  They only know that when a user chooses not to use the name that is on a birth certificate or driver’s license, the information it can present to those wishing to know the most about you (eg. advertisers and marketers) have skewed information and is not worth as much as if you were to use your given name.

If you are a witch and you use your initiatory name online as a way to keep yourself safe and your boss and coworkers out of your private life, for example, that is not going to be the name on your credit card or your PayPal or bank account.   Advertisers want you to make buying decisions based on the information they serve up to you on a constant basis.  This is how if you click a story link, three other “related stories” will pop up under the link to the story that caught your eye in the first place.  Again, that adds up to clicks per view and companies pay handsomely for those ratings.  And they are not content to just be on your desktop at home or at work: They want to be on your mobile devices and be able to locate you and market to you based on where you are and what you are looking at or near on a real-time basis.  If Facebook can pull that off, that is big time money.  If you use an assumed identity, that again, changes the viability and the effectiveness of that information.  Facebook and the advertisers purchasing that information know that all too well.  And now, so do you.

Say it with me so that it really sinks in this time:  “We are the product.”

Being forewarned is being forearmed and representing yourself online as you see fit and insuring your own personal safety, Facebook’s marketing demographics be damned, is all about getting your own power back.

 

 

 

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Filed under business, Ma'at, pagan, politics, rants, Religion, update

The Importance of Names

"Cartouches for Sekhmet Meritamen", created by Marc Line for Pan HIstoria.comWhat’s in a name?   Plenty.  A name is the essence of who we are.  It can be the name that we are given at birth, or a nickname which signifies who we are within communities, or it can be an Initiatory name.  Sometimes a name is a persona we choose for ourselves in order to keep us safe from the prying eyes of employers,  or those who wish us harm such as ex-spouses, abusive family members or stalkers who want to impinge on our personal lives and our personal freedom.    Names that do not appear on our birth certificate, Social Security card or driver’s license are no less valid than the initiatory names and pseudonyms that we use.  Some may use a ‘fake name’ to bilk, defraud or deceive others online.  Facebook, Google and many other places have in place so-called real-name policies that are designed to help, but sometimes end up hurting.

This past week, this policy ended up happening to me.   My “real name” is not Fanny Fae. It is the nickname of an ancestor of mine, Frances or Françoise McKay and used the name of this blog, Fanny Fae. My reasons for doing this on Facebook and elsewhere, primarily were to 1) protect myself from my ammo-sucking, gun-toting, “Take ‘MERICA back for Jesus”,  and “Convert to Christ or DIE”,  and “Left Behind”  series-believin’ family members who object to my being a polytheist & lesbian woman legally married to her partner after 22 years, and 2) This name is a brand that I own and intend to keep on owning it.  She started as a fictional character on Livejournal and PanHistoria more than a decade ago and I have fiction and other things that are mine written under that name – and they will stay being MINE.  Those that know me knew of my motivations.  There were never any attempts by me to deceive, defraud anyone. Just a nice safe, almost-anonymous ID to be able to live and to work unencumbered by my religious extremist family and to protect what I perceive to be my intellectual and DNA property.  Most everyone in the writing, Pagan and polytheist communities knows me by that name and I have made quite a few friends with it.

From my understanding, Christian Day, an occult  shop owner with stores located both in Salem, MA and New Orleans, a radio host, author and “warlock” who rose up to take on the Evil Charlie Sheen a year or so ago, decided to out  or ‘dox’ me and anyone else that he knew who had a “fake name”.  He took it upon himself and enlisted the help of his friends, groupies and flying monkeys to follow him in this endeavor.  That is what I was told. I have no idea because I was not online at the time. It really isn’t important at this point how or why it happened or who did it.   I refuse to participate in feeding negative energy to a person who claims he “swiffs” it for his own purposes. The end result was Facebook logging me out of my account and telling me that I must use my real name, but could add Fanny Fae as a nickname in parenthesis.  I did so.

I admit, at first I was angry. This sensation lasted all of about five or ten minutes. Then I realized that with the Sekhmet book, hopefully in production to come out soon, it was probably a good thing to stave off potential objections by those who do not equate this ID with my real name.  When I explain to them the circumstances and my reaction to it, most have been very accepting and understanding.  Some, still safely behind their initiatory names or ones that they have contrived to also stave off inquiries from employers, abusive ex-spouses, etc. have been more than understanding.  I daresay that Mr. Day will not be able to swiff their energy from them either.

The biggest inconvenience to me, so far, has not been my weirdo, religious wing-nut family pounding on my virtual door -( though I do expect this to happen eventually), but so many people in the groups that I either admin or those who I am friends with now asking, “WHO the F*** is Christina Paul?!”   I have to explain to them what happened in a Cliff’s Notes version and it always ends up being o.k..   Most did what I did and just shrugged and moved on.

What companies like Facebook, Google and all of the other social venues and corporate conglomerates don’t understand is that most of our lives are online these days. All it takes is someone with a bit of tenacity, some basic computer skills and a credit card and they can get whatever information on any of us that they want to. The entire backlash by consumers about issues of privacy, should also include the ability of persons such as myself and others to give good reasons why they want to hide behind another name.  Ninety-five per cent of the time, those who do, are not trying to do anything illegal.  They are just trying to live their lives quietly and unemcumbered .  Not everyone who chooses to use a pseudonym has gone through abuse, or has to put up with hands-in-the-crazy relatives,  or employers that want to know what their employees do on their off-time as much as they do for the time that they have those employees on the clock.  Being able to mask at least some part of our lives that we feel is private and not open for public scrutiny should be as natural as closing the shades at night when we get undressed.  We are all pretty much  at least virtually undressed when all of our lives are out there for everyone to see.

With all of the recent bouts of identity theft – whether financial, or someone such as a celebrity having someone impersonate them – of course, knowing who you are dealing with is a very good idea.  On the other hand, there needs to be dialogue about having a choice for those who have very good reasons for wanting to stay hidden.  Companies such as Facebook and Google should not assume that the only reason why people choose “fake names’ or are reluctant to not use real names on their services is for potentially illegal reasons. It isn’t.   Having a safe space to be able to interact with others is of paramount importance.  Facebook and Google, et al, have unfortunately become the village square du jour.    You can always opt not to use those services, but to do so leaves you potentially cut off from what most people use as a support network.   Someday we may  have other choices that offer more privacy -or we can hope that these companies get a clue and realize that they have become part of the problem that allows the rise of social ills such as online bullying and stalking. Companies such as Lifelock and other identity theft and credit monitoring services are doing a booming business these days.   I am left wondering if Facebook and Google don’t get some sort of kickback because they are by their own policies very probably helping to create the problem in the first place.

I know you….I know all of your names.

That is a bit of ancient Kemetic or Egyptian heka or authoritative utterance that is said when you gain knowledge of all of the names of someone and you are set to either magically protect or curse them.  We Kemetics take things like the words we use, and especially names very seriously.  There is the legend about how Aset (Isis is Her Greek Name)  wanted to get the secret name of Ra and by manipulation was able to obtain that secret Name or Ren.   Ra knew that with it, Aset could destroy Him.   But He also knew that without paying the ransom to Aset by giving it to Her, that He would die.  Like that story, our names and how we are identified and move through this world are double edged swords.  They can hold great power and they can be used to destroy us utterly.  As I always have said,  “My name is my integrity”.   Nothing is more potentially dangerous as when something does something in your name that you don’t approve of.   Like your word, your name serves as a bond.  Naming is branding. Some of us like to have absolute control over our names and our branding in order to set us apart from everyone else.  Celebrities, recording artists, authors, etc. know this reality all too well.    The more we are out there and participate in social media, the greater for the potential for companies such as Facebook and Google to be used by those who DO want to do illegal things and bilk others to gain more and more power.   It is a fine balance to walk, and having one-size-fits-all policies serves no one in the end.   These venues have already been used for such purposes.  The real name policy in most of these incidents did nothing to safeguard it from happening.

This is an issue that I think deserves more discussion.   My outing came from someone else wanting to be vindictive and to cause me and others harm.  They failed in that endeavor with me other than it has created a few minor inconveniences.  These have already been overcome, so the major explosion that he likely expected ended up being more like a dud firecracker.   Still, privacy is an issue that will not go away and it will take thoughtful consideration rather than wholesale policies in order to make things more safe for everyone. 

‘Sekhmet Meritamen, Physician of Qenbet’ – by Wbnrnpt, for the website, Ancient Sites, now known as Ancient Worlds

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