Category Archives: writing

A Week of Challenges

Lori Kula

Funnel cloud with rotation over the prison in Anamosa. This is less than two miles from our log cabin in the woods. (Photo courtesy of Lori Kula)

I should have known when the tornado hit Anamosa, that this week would not be the best.   It didn’t matter that there was a three day weekend coming up at the end of it. When your Monday consists of 80 mph winds and flooding throughout your immediate area, chances are the rest of the week is going to rather suck.
I had just returned from Cedar Rapids getting food and running errands when the skies started turning that lovely green colour you can only get in tornado weather.  Ducking into the safety of home, I dropped the groceries on the floor of the kitchen and turned on the news to see maps of our area on doppler radar splashed with huge swaths of yellow and red across the screen and the robotic voice of the NOAA computer indicating what warnings and watches were in effect.  Straight line winds of 80 miles per hour and more, thunderstorms, golf ball-sized hail, flash floods. Batten down the hatches and take cover.

Merissa, our Labrador Retriever / Pointer mix,  was pacing about me nervously as I pulled in the wind chimes, the deck furniture and my life-sized mosaic peacock sculpture into the safety of the living room.  She and I then went downstairs to the basement, into the safety of the herb / craft room because it is in the ground, has wooden shutters  on  all of the windows, it is the safest place in the house. There among the jars of herbs, the craft and painting supplies  and near the  heavy floor loom, I could see by cautiously peering out one of the shutters,  that all hell was breaking loose outside.  We lost power just as I heard the high pitched squeal and roar of tornadic winds rushing through, the logs groaned  and creaked against the high winds.   It was all loud enough that I didn’t even hear the cracking limbs of the elm tree by our driveway when it crashed to the ground.  I remember praying to Shu and to any gods that would listen that we could weather the storm.

The winds finally subsided after about 15 minutes or so, but we were still without power, internet and cellphone service.    The phone service came back in a couple of hours. However, internet and  power would remain off until 2:30 a.m. the next day.  In town, I am told that there are still homes that are completely without power.  The damage was widespread enough that I am told we got a mention on the nationwide broadcast of the Weather Channel and I happened to catch a mention on CBS This Morning from Charlie Rose.   Workers from Servicepro across the country have been dispatched to help deal with the damage.     Thankfully, no one was seriously injured or killed this time around.    By the time the 4th of July rolled around, the town’s fireworks had been postponed until August 31st and everyone was too damned exhausted from clearing away downed limbs and uprooted trees and debris that no one felt much like celebrating much of anything.

On Tuesday, the hard drive of Hemingway, my inherited desktop, decided to start handing out errors.  It had not yet failed but its death knell was being sounded.   I grabbed one of my 1 TB external drives and began the long process of backing up everything while I set up a brand new alienware machine.  Don’t get me wrong. I love new computer toys.   I dread setting up a new machine however because the OS is new and quirky and I have to spend time familiarizing myself with it.  I also have to find all of the disks for all of the programs that I use in order to get the new machine set up to where it is workable.  Those programs have to be loaded and licenses entered (Thank goodness I have a master file for this!)   Not to do this means straddling two or more machines in order to be able to function in my home office.  Every time I go through this, I vow I will have all of the disks in the same place so that all I have to do is open a drawer and the process will be streamlined.  I confess, I am still working on that one.

Last night my trusty  HP DV9000 laptop decided that the wireless network card needed to stop working.  I just happened to have another USB network card on hand and loaded it.  It is working now, but it has the nasty habit of making me retype my network password every time it loses its connection.

Hopefully, I will finish my client work by the time I have to toddle back down to the store and deal with being around people  again tonight.   So far the sky is clear and the birds are singing.   Being out here, in spite of the storms and the occasional challenges is worth it all.  To borrow a line from the Concrete Blonde song, “Take Me Home”,  off of their ‘Group Therapy‘ album,

“Life is beautiful, & terrible & strange….”

In my experience and in this place,  I have found it to be completely true.   And to be honest,  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Giving and Stealing: Finding a Balance for Occult Authors (REBLOGGED)

maatAll too often, the topic of copyright infringement and out and out stealing is a raging plague of pandemic proportions among Pagan groups on various social media.  Every day we are treated to links for ‘free”  downloads of books that are still under copyright.   I am no stranger to this. A book that is under my independent publishing company, Ma’at Publishing, was photocopied, converted to PDF, our copyright notice stripped out and uploaded to the web.  I recently found two incidents of it on Scribd and showing proof of copyright, the offending documents were removed within hours.

What is so galling is that far too many Witches, Pagans, or just people in general feel it is their “right” to have this information for free. That all knowledge should be shared in an internet Kumbayah sort of thing – yet they never think for one moment that the very people they are stealing from are the writers, artists and others who have spent much time, effort and money of their own and above all the love and devotion of a subject.   Sometimes a book is out of print and out of copyright – and sometimes is offered free either through a promotion such as through Amazon, or directly from the author themselves.   At any other time, however, if you want to read something, either cough up the necessary dosh to purchase it – or save up for it. ..or borrow it from a library if you are truly a “broke pagan and can’t buy books.” Anything else is theft.

Josephine McCarthy is one of those few authors in the genre whom I also value as a teacher, a colleague and someone I consider a friend.  As such, I would purchase any of her books upon their release. I will never dicker about the price, because I know what she puts out is worth the expenditure AND she has offered so many other supplemental resources online for free.    The article linked to in this post is about this issue. I encourage every Pagan; every person to read it.   Reblog  it or link to it on social media.  We need to support our authors, artists and others so that they can afford to focus on those things that we find so valuable in their work.

GIVING AND STEALING: FINDING A BALANCE FOR OCCULT AUTHORS

 

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Regarding Sekhmet’s Stolen Image

Chris M. Morris, via Creative CommonsSometime on Good Friday, the Goddess Temple in Cactus Springs, Nevada was invaded by thieves. The space that had always been open to anyone wanting to come visit the Goddess, to pray and to enjoy the peace of the sanctuary could do so unhindered. It was this that made it possible for those with a more heinous mission in mind to succeed in stealing the centrepiece of that place, a four  foot tall statue of Sekhmet that weighed just under 100 pounds.

The Priestess in Residence came into the Temple to find Sekhmet gone. The thieves had left behind only tire tracks, and in them was the necklace that the statue had been wearing, indicating that she had been tipped while being spirited away in the night from the place that had been her home for the last 21 years.

For the celebration of Earth Day that was scheduled to be held at the Temple, a picture of the statue was set in the place of where the image once stood.  The Earth Day Celebration went on as planned.

Right now, there is much speculation within the Pagan community as to why it happened or who might have done it.  The first thing that came to mind is that somehow, since it was done on Good Friday, it was religiously motivated, as if to remove an image sacred to those who are not a part of the Big Three monotheistic faiths.   Others have suggested someone just wanted to make Sekhmet their own.  Others have posited that because of the area of the country and because Sekhmet personifies power itself, that the culprits could be drug dealers who believe that stealing a bit of mojo is perfectly acceptable.  Whatever the motivations are, the Pagan community and all those who love Sekhmet are upset by the theft.

Initially $500 was being offered for information that led to the arrest and prosecution of the culprits. That has since been kicked up to a $2,000 reward.  I would not be surprised if that figure increased yet again.

The unfortunate byproduct of this tragic event are those Pagans who wring their hands and drape themselves over the furniture, wailing that this is about religious persecution – or that if this had happened in a Christian church or Jewish synagogue, the press coverage would somehow be more than it has been.  I understand the deeply personal feelings that people have toward Sekhmet and that someone would do something so terrible is frustrating and brings up anger, sadness and the overall feeling of somehow being violated. I also know what it feels like when the issues and events we hold near and dear are not adequately covered as we feel they ought to be.  I think anyone who is on the receiving end of being even in a small way touched by any sort of crime – be it a hate crime or something else must feel that irritation that no one could possibly understand.  Pagans in particular, seem to love to latch on to crises of this type because it makes them feel as some “persecuted other”.  I never saw much use in wallowing in that sort of self-pity, personally.

To be honest, I never thought I would see the day Sekhmet’s children would resort to playing the victim card and yet I have in these past few days. Some have resorted to comparing and contrasting our religious site being desecrated and comparing our pain to the pain of others when thier faith was lashed out against. Somehow they conveniently have forgotten in another crime that is unrelated but took place just before Easter where  three innocent lives were lost last week during Passover.  Ironically, all three of the victims who were slain by a white supremicist were Christians.   It is my view and in the interests of ma’at that I believe that no one should be singled out, begrudged or feel persecuted for their beliefs, or have their sacred spaces violated. The ones who whine about how we of “Other” faiths that are not Jewish, Christian or Muslim are so very persecuted and discriminated against conveniently forget the burned churches, the desecrated mosques, the ravaged Sikh temples, that have all  have been the scenes of senseless violence and desecration, all  based on hate and intolerance. Our prayers go out to their families and our voices whisper hopes toward peace and understanding.  It is what we should do for each other as human beings. Skin colour, race, religious conviction, sex, sexual preference and any number of other things does not trump the fact that we are all human beings and have to share the space, so to speak.

While the stealing of the statue is a tragic, heinous thing, too many within Paganism’s ranks  love to use that common excuse that gets handed out is to blame the media – especially when screaming “religious persecution”.

This, in my personal opinion,  is not an act of persecution. We need to stop with the assumptions that somehow it was. There were no slurs painted over the space, the building was left intact- they took the statue, something that cannot be replaced. It’s a theft. Cameras may be necessary as a precaution to insure against future thefts, or worse, the safety of worshipers. That’s the way of things these days. It has to be, unfortunately. Slanting the story is not helpful.  We now live in a world where that kind of trust is not something that can be easily given to just anyone. We used to sleep with our doors unlocked and our kids could play in their own front yards. Both things are becoming increasingly rare now – but of course,  that has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with a society that is largely out of control.

We are not the dominant religion, that is true. We are not Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, but we can practice our religion for the most part unmolested. Do people lose their lives here over being pagan? Hardly. That is what the comparison with the Passover shootings was about – and it is relevant. Can people in India, Africa, and even Egypt itself say the same? Absolutely not. I know of native Egyptians who do worship Sekhmet – but they cannot do so openly or it is a death sentence.

There is no point to the practice of comparing and contrasting of pain and transgressions and tresspasses against “Us” versus the ones suffered by “Them” – whichever side we happen to be on.  Any religion being oppressed, any desecration of a holy site is an outrage and intolerable. As a Priestess of Sekhmet, I ask is our suffering any greater than the churches that get burned down, the mosques that are desecrated, the medicine wheels that are destroyed?  No. Absolutely not.

Whomever did this – be they someone who lusted for Sekhmet’s image itself, or someone in the drug cartels  or someone just doing something ignorant and hateful, I can say without reservation that they will have literal hell to pay.  In spite of Sekhmet’s loving, healing aspects – and She has many – there are very dark parts of this Goddess that are invoked when Ma’at has been transgressed.   To those who know Sekhmet and those “darker” aspects of Her, know without any shadow of a doubt that the move was a very stupid one indeed.

That statue will be returned – or not. But we are undamaged, and Sekhmet’s worship is undeterred. One thing is for certain, however, those who stole Her image will get what they have coming to them. I know for a fact, Sekhmet’s Arrows Do. Not. Miss.

In my years of experience, Sekhmet, as far as Deities go,  is most definitely NOT  a victim; and neither, I dare I say it, are Her children. We will not curl up into a ball and wail and bemoan the situation. We will not stop doing what we have been doing since the resurgence of Sekhmet’s worship in the world.  We know who our Mother is,  and She knows us.  We who know that we belong to Her carry Sekhmet within us.  Our minds hone in on Her with a singular focus.  We do this because She IS the very Personification of Power or Sekhem itself. To succumb to this blow is to give that Power away.

Rest assured, we have absolutely no intention of doing that.

(Mirrored at niankhsekhmet.com)

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Filed under kemetic, pagan, politics, rants, Religion, sekhmet, Sekhmet, update

Migration

totin1After a great deal of thought, I am going to be switching some things over with this blog.   I will be keeping the name, fannyfae.com, but I have another domain, NiankhSekhmet.com (Life Belongs to Sekhmet).  It is my Kemetic name and it would probably be much better if all of the Kemetic related posts went to live there and the fiction, herbal, writing businesss and other types of posts  will remain here. Of course, I am still working on a new banner for the site, even if the wallpaper is a bit familiar.

In short, the work for both blogs will be more specifically focused.   So pardon my dust and I do some rearranging.  I promise to keep everyone posted. It gives me the opportunity toward more specific types of branding in posts. I know that one will be for  the ebooks and business while the other will be more personal.

So look for this space to change a bit over the next few weeks. No doubt I will be doing the same over on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ & etc.   If anyone needs to reach me, they may do so here or can write me at fannyfae at gmail dot com.

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Making the transition

egyptianscribes1It is no secret that I tend to be a bit of a control freak. I do work well with others. I am just a little more reticent about working for them. I’ve been in the corporate sphere and could name-drop if I wanted to. I have also done my share of work with small businesses as well. It has been a mixture of good and bad. I have had wonderful bosses, and worked for executives who were the most unreasonable demons from the deepest pits of Hell. I have had great, co-workers and teammates that instill what that whole sort of culture should be about – and I have had the displeasure of having to work with the clueless and the incurably lazy who were more than happy to let me (or anyone else) do their jobs while they got paid just the same. In spite of all of this, I feel that each experience taught me a great deal.

I feel particularly blessed that right now, I am relying on a job outside of my own employment less and less. It was a hard road and a long time in coming. I believe my ability to do it now, rather than having been able to do it before is because of my having gone back to school. I learned some very good practical skills in media-related areas to be sure. However, more than that, I learned a great deal more and was exposed to some extraordinary teachers who are nothing less than a goldmine of knowledge, experience, and for some, the establishment of what I feel are real and lasting friendships. Through them I learned about good habits and not-so-great ones as well. This is especially true with my writing.

Between the blogs that I write and edit for commercial clients, the freelance camera work and the writing that I do via eBook publishing, it is looking like self sufficiency is not such a far off dream.

So, on my birthday I had to go to work at the job outside of the home. I don’t mind that so much. Today, however, the day after, I am spending time unfucking my habitat and unfucking the Sekhmet book. I think the former is going to be a little bit easier than the latter simply because right now, the book is a nearly 300 page long info-dump of everything I have compiled about Sekhmet and everything surrounding her for the last decade and a half. I confess, part of it makes me rather afraid, because I am putting myself out there to be shredded in the very same way that I shredded the late Dr. Robert Masters over my personal points of contention over his work. I am in his debt, of course, but he and I did not always see eye to eye and there are those who may find my work a complete departure. That sort of fills me with a bit of trepidation. Sekhmet, on the other hand, just keeps pushing that it needs to be put out there. So does my spouse and my son.

I just have to remember that the task in front of me is never as great as the Power (sekhem)_within myself. If I keep telling myself this, maybe I will actually not only start to believe it but live it, too.

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Women and Magic… a full moon in Leo post! (Reblogged)

Circe1891Of all the occult authors and teachers out there that I have read over the years, I consider Josephine McCarthy (Littlejohn) to be one of the best, no-nonsense, no bullshit people that are out there. I also consider her to be a Sekhmet sister, a seba (teacher) and a much-valued friend.

Josephine’s latest post, referenced below, is one of the best that I have read in a very long time. It is a must read for every woman who considers herself an occultist of any stripe – whether she consider herself to be a witch, a magician, a Priestess, a sorceress, a diviner or anything else. Men would also do very well to listen up to what she has to say. All too often in our communities, no matter how we think we have gotten past all that, there is a tendency to couch the sexism, racism, classism and various other ‘isms’ that have the vile tendency to rear their ugly heads in denial if not outright excuses of one kind or another. Josephine has a firm grip on the Zep Tepi Bat (aka Cosmic Clue By Four) and she hits this subject squarely between the eyes without flinching. Hers is the voice of experience and it has long needed to be said.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Something that has bothered me for a long time is something that has come up frequently in magical discussion and that is the issue of women and magic, or to be more precise, sexism in the magical community. Rather than launch into the usual ‘all men a bad and all women are victims’, which is not true by any means, there are some things that as an older woman in my fifties I can pass on to young women stepping out into magic.

Like any aspect of modern life, magical communities are very much defined by the cultures they spring from, regardless of how hard a magical group tries to avoid that. What we can do as magicians is be aware of those cultural traps, particularly the subtle ones that tend to get missed, and avoid them as much as possible? In truth, behind the apparent smokescreen of sexism, is the real issue which is one of power: people seeking power or lacking in power, regardless of gender, are the most likely to exhibit sexism whether it is intentional or subconscious. (READ THE REST OF JOSEPHINE’S POST HERE)

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ENOUGH!

Africa191There is no shortage of people in the world, and especially online who want to worship or honour the Kemetic (Egyptian) gods or Netjeru. You would think after 20+ years of Kemetics being online they would have tried to build alliances and make bridges without the petty infighting and holier than thou bullshit that gets handed around like last year’s Christmas fruitcake.

Let me state at the outset before I say anything else, that I have no grand vision of being “in charge of” anything. I am not here to take anyone to task or to fight with anyone else. This is not some half-arsed attempt on my part in order to get students or for me to become a guru of some sort. I am flat-out not interested in such things at all. Been there, done that, and I donated the T-shirt because it wasn’t “me” anymore. I’m just like everyone else in that I am committed to the culture, the history and the religous ideals of Ancient Kemet. I am not an accredited Egyptologist. I fully acknowledge that I am here by the grace of Sekhmet and the generosity of many, many talented sebau (teachers) and to them I am eternally grateful and I refuse to dish or diss on any one of them.

Lately I have noticed increasing factionalisastion going on within the Kemetic landscape. In the years that I have been blissfully far removed from the jealous infighting, the petty backbiting, hubris and ‘witch wars’ that seem to be part and parcel of the so-called Pagan “community”, I have watched those traits migrate here. After 20+ years, I am exhausted.

So, that being said, I am going to do everything in my power to establish a list of various Temples, Shrines, blogs, organizations, information resources, etc. because it is absolutely needed. If anyone thinks I am doing this for any specific organization, guess again. I’m not. Sekhmet has given me marching orders 1) finish the book and 2) establish the network because honestly, the Pagan Community and the Kemetic Community in specifics deserve at least a modicum of respect, in spite of the differences between us and it’s time that this happened. It is long past time, to be honest. This should have been done some 20 years ago, but for whatever petty, ego-driven, any other set of reasons, it did not transpire. It’s going to happen NOW.

We are bigger than this. We should not (still) have to be listening to the petty, catty, bitchy, in-fighting that goes on for no good reason. There are no good reasons why we cannot do this. If I have to kick ass, or become some sort of pariah, ostracized or called out for being a Kumayah, Pollyanna Kemetic, so fucking be it! We are long past done playing at this. It’s time to do it.

Still have doubts? Let me spell it out:

It’s about, GOD, or the Gods (plural) and our relationship to them, people!! Get OVER it! We all have something to contribute and we NEED to be doing that in the interests of Ma’at. I am not interested in hearing the arguments against such a thing moving forward. I will not give credence to he said / she said, petty grudges from years ago that happened on Usenet, Ancient Worlds, or Tumblr. There are no more excuses, so don’t bother bringing them up to me. It’s time for all of us to ask ourselves, each and every one: “WHY the fuck are you here?!” We collectively need to take what I call the Janet Jackson Approach and ask ourselves, ‘What have YOU actually DONE for the God(s) lately?! What have you done for yourself lately?!” After answering those questions honestly, the next question to ask must be, “What’s stopping you? Who do you think is preventing you from doing it?” If we fall into the temptation to start to point fingers at anyone else than the man or woman that is in the mirror, then I encourage each of us to remember that with that pointing of fingers, there are still three other fingers and a thumb pointing right back at us.

I will write this up in more detail in a bit, however, if anyone imagines that I am doing this to step on toes or encroach on their “territory”, they need to take a step back. This is solely about trying to take a cursory census of who thinks the idea of a collective of those who are bound by the things that we believe and hold dear is more important than the ongoing factionalization that we have been suffering from for over 20 years.

Playtime is over. It’s time to STFU and get to work. If you want it, well then each of us needs to determine just how much and what we are willing to do in order to achieve it.

Excuses are boring. Let’s get to it.

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