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You’re Toxic.

This particular issue has come up quite a bit in recent months. Aubs writes a particularly good perspective on what the Kemetic and other pagan / magical communities are currently going through.

Mystical Bewilderment

Alternate Title: The toxic a-holes of the Kemetic community won.

On the first day of the leadership conference, the second panel was a Q&A panel. They do these to break up the 30 – 50 minute talks along with the breaks. The Q&A panels are usually pretty good, but my team and I were especially looking forward to this one because the topic was toxic work environments. After a year of having to deal with just that very thing, we were very interested in what Bozoma Saint John had to say on the topic.

After the session, we could all agree that the panel would have been better if she had been able to speak freely. She would begin to go down a specific rabbit hole related to the topic and the host would gently nudge her back to the primary topic, or force her to go off into other…

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Nine Measures of Magic

“….. of the ten shares of magic that the Earth received, nine fell in Egypt, while the rest of the world shares the tenth.”  –  Geraldine Pinch, “Magic in Ancient Egypt”

The High Priestess tarot card from Clive Barrett’s Ancient Egyptian Tarot

It’s been a really long while since I have written and updated this blog. Life has a way of happening, and I sometimes find myself caught up in it.

This year, for Wep Ronpet, or Kemetic New Year, on this day  that we celebrate the birthday of Aset (aka Isis), Mistress of Magic, I thought it was only fitting that I include that favorite quote.  It is at least partially true that for this legend alone, that Egypt holds nine of the ten measures of magic in the world, that it holds so much of a draw for so many of us.  We know how true that idea is because of how deeply it is lodged within our human DNA.

If you look at almost every single “magical” tradition in the world, particularly those of Western magic, there is a direct link to the Two Lands. If there wasn’t a direct link, certainly it was one that was fervently desired.  Even before Francoise Champollion translated the Rosetta Stone, the ancient mysteries of Egypt would lend an air of legitimacy to any magical or metaphysical tradition or act.  This idea has continued to the present day with various Kemetic temples, traditions and practitioners all jostling to see which group or individual has the a “more authentic than thou” connection to the ancient past.

The fact of the matter is this: Egypt did influence the world. Hermeticism, gnosticism, alchemy, tarot and astrology, all claim to have originated along the banks of the Nile. There are, in my experience, groups and individuals that like to claim fantastical histories and accomplishments that were never a part of ancient Egyptian culture. The other side of that coin are the reconstructionist / revivalist groups who dare not speculate on anything that falls outside of the hallowed halls of that which is “egyptologically approved.”   Both sides have their approaches, and there are times when both are so equally damned annoying that anyone with an interest in Egyptian religion is likely to chuck the whole lot over their shoulder and walk away in confusion and/or disgust.

I personally believe that somewhere in the middle lies the truth of the matter.

I have seen, experienced and been a part of things with relation to my several decade long relationship to Ancient Egypt or Kemet that I simply cannot explain. I can also say with certainty that those experiences were 100% real and they happened.  There is something to all of this “stuff” and if you get a small taste of it for only an instant, you will never forget it for the rest of your life. That I can promise you.  There is no need to make up the mystic woo-woo. No need to embellish the stories or Hollywood them up in order to make them more whatever; the reality is astounding enough.

During this time of the year, the last week of July through the first weeks of August, we Kemetics celebrate the Epagomenal Days leading up to Wep Ronpet. During those five days, or “non-days”, we celebrate the birth of the five children of the Goddess Nut.  They are in order of appearance:

1) Wasir (Osiris)

2) Heru-Wer (Horus the Elder)

3) Set

4) Aset (Isis)

5) Nebt-Het (Nephthys)

After these Primordial Five are born, the Rite of the Turning Back the Enemies of Ra is performed.  During this rite, we destroy an effigy of the Apophis or Apep Serpent. We throw a net over it, throw sand on it, smash it, burn it and we eat cake that is to represent the ultimate destruction of the Uncreated and all of the senseless, wicked things in the world in order to overcome them.   Once that rite is finished, it is safe to bring out the various icons from their naos shrines and to show them the light of Ra, and offer them purification in the form of blessed water and natron and the feather of Ma’at.

During these rites, and with various groups devoted to this, amazing things happen.  People interact with their Spiritual Parents, receive dreams, messages and experience things that can be a bit outside of what is considered the norm than at any other time of year.  Some say it is because it is at this time that the veil between us and the akhu  (ancestors) and the gods is thinner, and access between those realms is easier.  I can honestly say I don’t know if it’s true or not – I can only go by my own experiences, and everyone is going to have an experience that is truly their own.

Though there is something to be said about having a natural ability in realms spiritual / magical, none of us springs from the womb knowing this stuff. (And by the way, anyone who tells you that they did is lying to you.)  No matter how you approach it, no matter what organization that you belong to – or not, we are all going to have a different approach.  What we do with the measures of magic we are able to integrate into our lives and act upon is up to us. It’s not without pitfalls, and none of it comes without hard work and more than a few hard lessons along the way. As hard as those lessons and work may be, most of us can say we come out of the other side all the better for it.

 

 

 

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Di Wep Ronpet Nofret! – Happy (Kemetic) New Year!

Barque of Amun as painted by Dr. Barbara A. Richter

Barque of Amun being carried by priests in procession. Original artwork by Barbara Richter, gifted to the author

The New Year is now upon us! We made it through the year belongning to Sekhmet and Ma’at! Nekhtet! (Victory!)

Go us!!

A lot has happened, to be sure. This New Year ahead of us belongs to Ra. I think it is safe to say that we are all hoping that this year brings about more positive change than the last one did. I realize that neither Sekhmet, nor Ma’at are “gentle” when changes are made and when the truth needs to be exposed. Certainly we have seen it in Washington D.C., around the country and indeed around the world. People who hold ideals that we thought were dead decades ago are now oozing out of the shadows and daring to show themselves.

Ra is about exposing such things to the light. Every year, as Kemetics, we perform a ritual called The Turning Back the Enemies of Ra in which Sekhmet, Set and all of the deities who are aboard Ra’s Solar Barque fight off and destroy the Apep serpent. This being is not a god, but rather an entity which represents chaos and is the embodiment of isfet – the antithesis of Ma’at. All of this must be done before sunrise and then each of the icons that we have in the Temple are shown the Face of Ra so that They may embrace each other as we embrace the hope of the coming year.

It is my hope for everyone that indeed Ra’s beneficence shines upon us all and that the Eyes of Ra who guard Him, may also guard and guide every one of us in the our daily lives.

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A Log Cabin in the Enchanted Forest

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.

via Real World Homesteading

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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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Magic needs a curious mind – the learning dilemma for magical students

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.

Josephine McCarthy

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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