Upholding Ma'at

Journeying through the modern world with ancient ways.


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The Transformation

I’ve spent a lot of time devoted to my business lately. I fear I devoted so much of myself to it that I’ve neglected my blog more than usual. It’s a shame since I enjoy writing it, regardless of the reason. Much of it has to do with the transformations in my life. Transformations, for me, are very similar to changes. The difference for me lies in how the changes impact a person. I believe transformations last longer than changes.

Funny enough, much of focusing on my business right now is personal. I’m at a point financially that I can afford to live on my own. I hope to resume things with my etsy store soon enough. That is another topic for another day, though. That transformation is almost a different topic. Nonetheless I realized that I will have to change some things with the store. That will take time, and lots of it.

The part few admit about change is true change takes a long time. It also takes a bit of effort to change, which is much harder when those resources for it are limited or inaccessible. I’ve had to bootstrap much of it in a way I find amusing. It’s not so much the reference to certain 80’s TV characters or a George Harrison song as much as reminiscing about my college days. My first go round as a music critic required much work and balance. Between school, work, persuing spiritual work, and then that hobby required me to grapple with a bit. Moreover it required some recognition by the community, online and off. That had its own share of obstacles. Another thing few admit about changes and transformations is their tumultuous nature.

I think what really stuck out was how I left. It was spurred by a breakup combined with a sense of betrayal from the entire music scene. Around that time I received my acceptance letter for courses at the House of Netjer. I felt it signaled a time to do something I should have done a long time ago: tread my spiritual path with a bit more dedication and with less to juggle. I declared that four years ago, and I had a very bumpy path to follow.

Despite the struggles, losses, and tribulations there have been some incredible gains. The certifications I’ve gathered, the diplomas, and the life experiences all culminate into the person I am now. I know for certain there are many who think I’m worse off for it, but I know my thoughts and current bitterness aside it’s just another growth spurt. In many ways I’m still that college kid who wrote her English essays between bands. Instead of writing about bands, I scribble down my contemplations about my spirituality and religious beliefs between various writing projects and playing shopkeep. I’m not moshing, but I bear a few bruises from slamming against life. My faith serves as a poultice and guides me through the pain. It is looking at those bruises now with my religious path and some of the old wounds I’ve reopened with juggling everything do I see one common pattern. As I juggle a job, my hobbies, and my blogs have I realized my major flaw in my character. I try to be too many things at once for myself and other people. I felt betrayed in the same way I’m sure others felt upset with me, maybe even felt betrayed by me: in trying to be everything I was only letting myself down. Ultimately I can only answer for who I am and what I’ve done. I should know what I want and how to rise to the occasion. That is where my transformation always emerged.

I’ve learned a bit more about human nature from those final, painful moments as a music critic. I’ve learned how they apply to any setting that requires interaction and how to differentiate between a common vision and a projected vision onto me. It’s why the clarity of my vision of goals are integral. That vision includes occasionally peering into my past so I can spot things in my present cycle.

I will probably always be that wide-eyed college kid trying to be everything to myself. However that doesn’t mean I am currently living as a college kid; that part of my life has ended. Instead I’ll apply those attributes to my current life so I can grow and learn new skills and attributes.

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A New Perspective: Plagiarism Is Against Ma’at

Back when I first wrote this post I angered a few folks.  By now, this isn’t new to me as I can’t seem to be in a Kemetic or Pagan community without stepping on someone’s toes.  It’s not something I set out to do, mind you. Folks have a strong reaction to what I say sometimes. At the time I talked about yet another Kemetic group ripping off others’ practices and taking credit for it as original work.  People stamped their feet and used empty words like “negative” when called out.  Luckily people are speaking out more against such practices, mostly on the subject of lifting artwork and writing. The lack of positivity is ignored.

Despite what some people argue a piece out in the public doesn’t make something “up for grabs”.  I don’t know how this thinking got so prevalent in the Pagan community, but that’s where I see it the most.  Taking something without giving proper credit is plagiarism.  That’s not to say we haven’t misattributed a source or cited something incorrectly from time to time (which is technically plagiarism), or forgot to cite or give credit.   This is not directed at those instances. This is directed at the people who knowingly take from everywhere without feeling they need to attribute credit where it’s due.  I’ve seen some pieces outright claimed as an original.

What I can’t seem to comprehend through all of this is why there would be a need to plagiarize. There is no actual reason to steal someone’s work, as that is the nature of plagiarism. Even with internet memes few pretend it’s an original work.

When I first wrote this post I noticed a pattern between plagiarism’s prevalency and the lack of accountability. While there are rapid changes to both it is still difficult to hold leaders and Big Name Pagans accountable. Some of that will resolve itself with making those expectations clearer as well as deciding on a new generation of leaders.

This is where we are unique in regards to religious organizations. We get to set the new standards, provided we can agree upon something beyond what isn’t in a practice. It also means we may have to finally centralize and agree on certain practices, maybe even create discernable sects. In centralizing we have ways of holding leaders with improprieties like plagiarism accountable. Since we’re relatively decentralized at the moment that means the followers hold those leaders accountable.

Plagiarism, as far as I’m concerned, is against Ma’at. It not only displays a willingness to steal but also laziness. When it’s found inherent in any organization I grow concerned because it means it goes unchecked or even outright ignored. Without the accountability found in other organizations these actions undermine an entire practice. If we want a more from our leaders we should expect more, make those expectations clear, and hold the leaders to it. In addition to making those expecations clear there should be a clear reprimand for it and others. I feel in making leaders and Big Name Pagans accountable we at least set the framework for followers and solitary practitioners alike.

So how can we all curb plagiarism? Apart from calling it out we can credit artists and cite sources. I know the latter is difficult at times, but it’s getting easier. There are even reverse image search engines like tineye which help. Search engines in general are a great boon. It will also help others get the recognition they deserve.