Stop stealing from your fellow pagans!

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

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

Stop stealing from your fellow pagans!

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The Path That There Is No Map For

map-of-the-world-429784_640The only way to find the Path is to be on the Path.” – Maya Angelou

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.

Sekhmet called.
I ran like Hell.
She caught me,  then  literally dragged me by the heels, kicking and screaming.

I surrendered.

I stayed for a bit.
I wandered.
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.

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Life on Purpose—What to Do When Dreams & Goals Fizzle

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.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Original image via Lucy Downey from Flickr Creative Commons Original image via Lucy Downey from Flickr Creative Commons

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.

Yeah…NO.

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 10.33.50 AM

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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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.

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Dear WordPress….

studyPlease DO NOT upgrade my interface unless I want it to be.  I am tired of the interface being dumbed down and your developers “fixing” what isn’t even broken until it is.

It seems rather counterproductive for those of us who have been at it for a while.

 

 

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Finding Our Way Back to Kemet

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

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

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

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

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

But what about Kemet is it that calls us?

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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