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.
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It 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.
The 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!!
Josephine McCarthy puts into word what is wrong not only in our magical communities and those who come to us for instruction, but also for students in general. How often have I heard my professors bemoan the same things that Josephine so eloquently expressed.
As someone who has had students in the past and because of these very reasons she cites, I gave up instruction for a very long time. I honestly have deep misgivings about ever taking it back up again.
One thing is for certain: Something has to change.
As my work is becoming more known in general, I now tend to get a lot more correspondence than I used to, and the incoming tides of emails highlights to me a major issue that is developing on the horizon of magic. And that issue is minds, curiosity and how they work. I am sure the issue how been out in the world for longer than I realize, and I am only just seeing it as I connect more and more with people. But it is an issue that worries me for the future of magic: many in the younger generation do not seem to know how to learn. And I am sure by the length of this blog entry, many will glaze over as ‘it has a lot of words’ in it.
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For as long as I could remember, I knew that there was a something that I was looking for. The whispered, possibly imagined and definitely real experiences from childhood into adolescence and throughout adulthood drove me to think about what it was I was searching for. That Still Small Voice, the recurring dream, and the inner knowing is something that you let the world beat out of you, or you hang on to it for dear life because you now that it is part and parcel of who and what you are. You know in the deepest part of your Self that if you lose that, your Soul is truly lost.
All of that seeming psychobabble in the preceding paragraph is such an inadequate attempt of what it has meant to me to find my current Spiritual “Path”. I don’t know that I even like that term. I know what a “Pathworking” is, I was Wiccan at one time. I had teachers and mentors along that “Path” and then just prior to Initiation – I left. I was pulled off that beaten path toward the acknowledgement of my own personal prayer since I was in my early teens. I wanted to be led to the Truth about Ancient Egypt’s, otherwise known as Ancient Kemet’s religion. I was sick to death of the made up b.s. that came out of Crowley, out of so many in authors in Western Occultism. I wanted absolutely no part of it.
I ran like Hell.
She caught me, then literally dragged me by the heels, kicking and screaming.
I stayed for a bit.
I got my ass kicked by Her.
I came back.
I’m still here.
I realized that no matter where I went, my name Kemetic name of, NiankhSekhmet, which means that’ The One Whose Life Belongs to Sekhmet’ or “The One Whom Sekhmet Causes/Allows to Live’, pretty much sums up what my life has been for nearly three decades. There is not one place that I can turn my eyes or my awareness and I don’t see Hers, or some other Name of Netjer’s hand.
What I did not realize over that period of time while I was doing the proscribed rituals, etc. is that a lot of that training I got vis a vis from Western Occultism, honed with the structure and awareness from antiquity is what prepared me in terms of discipline, ethics, common sense and general safety when dealing with Inner Realms. Dealing with certain aspects of life really does require you to be able to get out of the tunnel vision that one singular religious culture can slap over your eyes, ears, heart and every other awareness that we seem to take for granted. Ancient Kemet did not exist entirely in a vacuum during it’s several thousand year history. In spite of all of the best efforts to stick to Zep Tepi, foreign influences and interpretations slipped in. Some of these foreign cultures and visitors adapted fairly well and knowledge and goods were traded. This is what so many of us who live in Western society are faced with when being called to a polytheistic religion that we are having to piece back together. We try very hard to be as authentic as possible, but sometimes, Netjer kicks our ass off the trail and sends us in other directions.
One personal example of this is something that I came up on with Sekhmet early-on and that was that much of what Her ancient priesthood, physicians, healers and others in Her service was absorbed into Vedic culture, particularly into Ayurveda. When I first heard those words in meditation, it made absolute sense to me, though there was absolutely no proof of this – certainly no ‘map’ at all. I was only going on the few clues that I did have – and I was tracing plant substances found through flotation archaeology in Egypt and matching them to the same botanical substances used in Ayurveda.
If anyone really looks at the ancient medical systems of both Ancient Kemet and the ancient Indian science of Ayurveda and even in some aspects of traditional Chinese medicine, you cannot help but see it. If I could turn back the clock 15 years, I would have gone after being an Ayurvedic physician. In my herbal work, which is across Western, Native American, and Eastern disciplines, you can see the common threads of uses of various plants, treatments. I would talk to Egyptologists on Usenet and at ARCE and some would nod and smile, others would scoff at my ideas. and would tell me that the cultural exchange between India and Egypt was probably limited to the Ptolemaic or Greek and Roman period, or he New Kingdom at the earliest. It didn’t matter to me, but the macrobotanical analysis that I was seeing in the book, “Codex of Ancient Egyptian Plant Remains” by de Vartavan and Amoros (Triade Exploration, London 1997) over and over again was something had turned my Unverified Pesonal Gnosis (UPG) into Verified Personal Gnosis (VPG).
There is nothing like getting solid confirmation on what some would think you crazy for thinking.
Even after my years of being Kemetic, even today I have with determination gone back and started at the basics that I got when I was so much younger. Every experience, so far, has aided me in some way to either figure out what worked and why or reflect on why they didn’t. Being Kemeticly focused is at the core of my being. I think it will always be that way. However, on this path, for which there is no map, you meet others who can at least give other perspectives and things for you to consider.
Spiritual belief and practice are not fixed, even though there are good guidelines and areas that can entrap you and steer you off in wrong directions or even get you to give up altogether. The key is knowing what you are looking at and navigate around these challenges successfully. I have, at this period of time in my life, been very fortunate to have the right people show up at exactly the right time. It is refreshing to know that when you are working on your own path and you want to steer clear the bullshit, it is indeed possible. I am at that place now, and walking my path alongside other friends who are on their own as well. It is refreshing to have that. The friends that I have made here at the Kemetic Round Table as well as the work and friendship of Josephine McCarthy and others has been pivotal in that.
If you are working your own path and want at least a little structure, but not too much, and you don’t want someone yanking your chain and emptying the contents of your wallet in the process, then the Quareia School that she and Frater Archer have created may end up being a good fit. It is always a good thing to have people who will bother to tell you the truth and treat you like a peer and still let you do the work on your own rather than hand you dogma.
None of us individually knows nearly as much as all of us collectively. Sometimes we may also be able to give each other a clue and help each other find a better route to where it is that we’re going.
Copyright © 2015, Christina Paul (Fanny Fae), Ma’at Publishing.
I have been systematically going through and ridding my life and environment of all of the poisonous people and situations and replacing them with positive, encouraging ones. If you are a writer, I cannot recommend her blog enough. It is positive but most often that needed and warranted kick in the pants to get you going.
We’re a few weeks out from the New Year and many of us are struggling. I don’t think I am saying anything crazy when I assert that most of us would LIKE to improve. We want to learn and grow and be better over time. No one dreams about being broke, stressed, overweight and unhappy. That’s a given and you might even laugh at that notion.
Yet, nature abhors a vacuum.
I dream of a floor I can’t find because I’m SO behind on laundry it’s more of an archaeological project than housework.
But I need to ask the hard question: If we aren’t dreaming of all that bad stuff? What are we dreaming about?
I’ve consulted countless business people and writers. Conversations are VERY telling. Some people are so afraid of failing that they never make a decision. Yet…
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