Category Archives: writing

Why Can’t Hollywood Seem to Get Ancient Egypt Right?

"Tut (miniseries)" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tut_(miniseries).jpg#/media/File:Tut_(miniseries).jpgEarlier this week I splurged and bought the DVD set of the mini-series, Tut, starring Ben Kingsley that aired on Spike TV.   I confess, I was really excited when I saw it and got it a day before my paycheck was in the bank.   Hey, it’s ancient Egypt.  Some things get prioritized!

I excitedly loaded the DVD into my PC, I had a few hours before I really had to settle into watching the series.  I suffered through the previews and finally got the feature film.  I had my double espresso and I was ready to enjoy watching from the comfort of my home office.

Within the first fifteen minutes, I knew that I hated it.  There is no real mention of Nefertiti, or Kiya, Tut’s supposed mother. before we learn that Akhenaten has allegedly been poisoned and just before being sent to his deathbed, he manages to exact revenge on the plotters – or so he thinks. It wouldn’t have taken much for the show’s writers or producers to even bother to read history and center their script around it. Instead, they took the term ‘creative non-fiction’ to a whole new level.

Kingsley being cast as the elderly Ay is actually an excellent choice.  Kingsley plays at being ‘bad’ really well. The rest of the cast, not so much.   To be completely honest – I absolutely hated the show.  I hated it for the fact that the pruduction values were low enough that I could determine when the producers used repeated clips of film over and over again.  No one, not even someone who has a film background, should be able to spot something like this.    How is it in cheesy 80’s movies such as The Awakening with Charlton Heston, Stephanie Zimbalist and Susanah York can they get the film props to look like real antiquities – and in modern miniseries such as this one we have props and costuming that looks so incredibly bad and historically inaccurate? Did the costume designers even study the period? Nevermind that in The Awakening, Susanah York, who was allegedly playing an accomplished Egyptologist, just so happens to forget the first lesson of translating hieroglyphs and is seen on screen reading them backwards.

The one good thing about some of the Egyptian-themed movies of the past is that producers actually availed themselves of the expertise of egyptologists.  For Stargate and the subsequent Mummy movies, Dr. Stuart Smith was consulted to reconstruct spoken Kemetic.

The high priest in the movie, (of what Temple? Of What God?) is a man with an unshaven head?  Historically, that didn’t seem too likely.   And if he is praying to Amun-Ra – then they definitely  got a statue of the wrong god in the picture.  It was a statue of Horus – or Sokar, but it was absolutely not Amun.

At least the lead character playing Tutankhamun, Avan Jogia, said his name and made it at least sound right.  When Jogia even used the title, “Nisut Bity”,  I nearly fell out of my chair in shock. How can a three part miniseries where everything else is so abysmally wrong, actually get that one teeny detail of Ancient Egyptian titulary right?

The “tragic” queen, Ankhesenamun, played by Australian actress, Sibylla Deen, flounces around the set like a very bad Bollywood actress.  She doesn’t act like a woman of royal blood by any sense.  But then again, neither did Leonor Varela when she played Cleopatra VII in that particular mini-series either. Both of them sounded like shrill fish wives in their roles and the suspension of disbelief was too much even for those of us who truly wanted to believe.  I half expected a song and dance number to break out among the courtly plots that were going on unbeknownst to the King.

This show is so much like every other show that Hollywood attempts about Ancient Egypt in the last two decades. They cast the wrong people – usually Americans or Brits – to play ancient Egyptian people. In other words, they need to stop casting white people for these roles – I don’t care how good an actor or actress they are. Let’s stop with the historically inaccurate portrayal of historical figures. This is just as bad as when they cast white actors to play Indians back in the 50’s and 60’s. Egypt was a very cosmopolitan country, and the people in it were pretty much varying degrees of brown, etc. That’s what happens in places that are trade centers and there is food. People tend to go where the food is and where they can be assured of relative safety.

Coming at the end of February is the long-awaited trainwreck…erm, film “Egyptian Gods”. The buildup toward final release is beginning. Needless to say, the buzz is beginning, and not all of it is positive.

My opinion on the film is that it’s meant to be a money maker. Hollywood producers and financiers especially have no imagination and are obsessed with profit margins over quality by putting out things with lots of special effects and flash but very little else. Investors in major motion picture projects like this one want a sure thing so that they can not only get a return on investment (ROI) but also make a profit – whether at the box office or in DVD sales and streaming or a combination of all of the above, that is what their chief motivator was and is. Right now, Egypt sells. In fact interest in Egypt is at an all time high with the latest discoveries of a possible additional tomb attached to that of Tutankhamun, and by the Gods, the studios want to cash in.

I have heard lots of screaming in various forums, and not just on Facebook, about what color the actors playing the Gods are. As I mentioned earlier, I do agree it is both sad and frustrating that actors of color for the most part were passed over and the major roles went to mostly white, A-Listers such as Gerard Butler.  Let’s set that issue aside for just a moment.

Brian_Prince-Vultan

Brian Blessed as Vultan, Prince of the Hawkmen in ‘Flash Gordon’ (1980)

Going beyond that argument and taking it a step further, in my not-so-humble opinion, the most objectionable part of this film is the absolute bastardization of our mythologies to the point where they no longer resemble the original at all. I’m sorry, Kemetic culture was more poised and gracious than that gaudy mess! The costumes with capes for the men and plunging metalic-clad cleavage ever seen since Flash Gordon in the 80’s! Maybe that’s what they were going for with the color palette and the “Hawkmen” getup.

Hathor, of course, certainly looks expensive. The sets look more Greek or Roman than they do Kemetic. Why? Multi-million dollar budgets, that’s why.

I don’t believe for an instant that even an all black cast and crew could salvage any of what promises to be just more vapid, Hollywood dreck. If this film had been true to it’s real Kemetic roots and written decently, I doubt that the investors would have ever let it be made into a movie. That to me is the deepest crime of all; that Hollywood culture thinks nothing of insulting the intelligence of everyone with more bullshit and glittery crap that has nothing to do with historical or cultural accuracy. We Kemetics are going to have to explain the glaring inaccuracies to people who think of entertainment films as being just spicier documentaries.

Will I watch this film?

Probably. But I definitely won’t purchase it or stream it until it reaches the used book store.  I don’t want them to make a single penny of profit off of me.

Piye Victory Stele from the 25th Dynasty

Piye Victory Stele from the 25th Dynasty

My biggest dream for a film on Ancient Kemet is to see the entire film first of all follow accurate history, and be done entirely in spoken Kemetic – like Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, which was done entirely in Mayan and Yucatec with English subtitles. I know such a thing is possible in Kemetic because of the bits of the original Stargate and The Mummy films employed the language. Ancient Kemetic history is filled with good stories that could be used such as the Harem Conspiracy of Rameses III, or the re-unification of Egypt by 25th Dynasty Pharaoh, Piye, who swept in from Nubia in order to reunite the Two Lands. (He also launched the first amphibious attack in world history, but that’s another very cool story for later).

Would it be difficult?  Absolutely. Would such a film be a high budget expenditure? I don’t see how it could possibly be done any other way.

But then, that’s the point, isn’t it?.   The 1963 release of Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor was originally 8 hours long and it ultimately caused the studio that produced it to go bankrupt!   I actually own a shooting script for that film, and I have to say that for all its faults, they got much of the look and feel of Alexandria during the Ptolemaic period correct even if bits of history were wrong here and there.   Today, however, instead of Hollywood spending all the money that it does on inaccurate, digitized imagery that looks like it was pulled out of a graphic novel or a video game. Why is it so difficult to give audiences something that is real and respectful? If they did, perhaps such a worthy endeavor would last long past the box office or DVD receipts are calculated and banked by the suits in Hollywood who no longer care for or believe in anything else except return on investment and profit margins. It would, that is,  if they’re lucky.

Advertisements

15 Comments

Filed under Hathor, kemetic, movie, rants

10 Ways for ADD Writers to STAR WARS! …Be More Productive

Sometimes having ADD is a blessing and at other times it’s a curse. It’s nice to know that as a writer afflicted / blessed with this condition, that you aren’t alone. KristenLamb wrote a great piece about it.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 6.29.09 AM

Other writers frequently ask how I somehow manage to get a lot of stuff done, despite my having the attention span of a ferret…with a bad crack habit. Here are 10 ways to help you be productive even if OOH! SHINY!

…even if you tend to be a tad majorly ADD. The following tips are what help ME stay focused. I am NOT a doctor or psychologist or ADD expert. I’m a Jedi master, warp engine inspector, and WRITER so you get what you get.

We’ve been talking this week about how to be able to do all it takes to not only be a digital age author, but to freaking ROCK IT while we are here. Truthfully, the explosion of social media is just proof to me that ADD people will rule the world…which probably explains all those “End of the World” prophesies.

In the meantime? We have dreams…

View original post 1,363 more words

2 Comments

Filed under humour, reblogged, writing

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!

4 Comments

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

Writing & Authenticity

Stipula Fountain pen image courtesy of Wikimedia Creative CommonsThis week has been one of simplifying and paring down and getting to the foundations of what is important.  All this week I was reminded of the words of a very wise friend  who once told me:

“If you want to persuade someone to do something, anything at all, there are five key things you must do in order to insure this.  First, encourage their dreams.  Then you must justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and at the end of it all,  help them throw rocks at their enemies.”

As writers, in spite of how we feel about the world through our own personal filters, we must do these things. We know that some of the dreams of our readers will never manifest. We know that sometimes the failures are their own fault by means of apathy or lost opportunity. We are more than conscious that the fears they face are just phantoms, their suspicions are nothing more than social media fed fantasies and sometimes their enemies aren’t really enemies at all.

It is difficult to motivate or even entice people to read your work if you are regard them for the most part as being stupid, misinformed or deluded. Secretly,   sometimes we writers will often laugh behind our hands or our computer monitors when we realize that someone is actually paying us to state the obvious to the world in the articles that we write. Some days It really can seem like a sham and sometimes there may even be a sort of guilty pleasure in that thought.

The problem is, that what may be obvious for us, is often new information for those who encounter it for the first time.  It is our challenge, I believe to let those things that we reveal within our writing, the stories that we tell and the truths that we state all be something that the reader will never forget.  It is always a challenge to make what we put out to be wholly unlike so much of the information that we are bombarded by on a daily basis and that is just as soon forgotten. While there is no shortage of voices clamoring to be heard in the digital wilderness, there is a palpable void of authentic voices who are completely and undeniably themselves.

We writers and copywriters spend so much time manipulating words to fit the expectations of our clients, or helping them to maximize the SEO returns and any number of other considerations that are applied to our craft, that we can end up being completely disconnected to that deep inner voice that makes us and our writing uniquely our own.

2 Comments

Filed under business, update, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

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 acquired 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.

 

 

 

3 Comments

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

15 Comments

Filed under akhu / ancestors, business, dreamwidth, fiction, kemetic, livejournal, magickal alchemy, mystic woo-woo, pagan, politics, sekhmet, update, writing