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.


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PBP: D Is for Death (My Best Friend)

Artwork by Emily N3ver.  You can find her work at : https://www.facebook.com/EmilyN3ver

Artwork by Emily N3ver. You can find her work here as well as tumblr.

I know I sound full of angst to describe my best friend as Death, but I promise you it isn’t some angst (these days). While complicated at times for me to understand I’ve made peace with my understanding of it. I’d even call it a friendship with Death. It goes beyond an understanding of what it represents in my culture. For me it goes into my understanding of Death and how close it is to me at all times.

 

While Death is usually portrayed as a masculine character in the culture I was raised I found it didn’t work for me. For me Death is sexless, though loving, though I see why people characterize it as male. The motif of Death and the maiden is one that has been around since Medieval times. It morphed into a role of essentially the death of a woman’s virginity, as if Death were the one to deflower her. It was never my relationship with Death. I had my virginity taken against my will, and while Death was there for it I’ve since learned to look at my rape as an initiation. It was one of many throughout my life.

 

Death was around when my mother taught me about what happens when we die and the afterlife. It sat there and coached my mother on what to explain to a small child while still honest and frank. It is because of that coaching I didn’t fear it, but the spirits of those Death took. Death was there when my psychic abilities emerged, even when I didn’t fully understand why I could sense these things better than family members with similar abilities. It frightened me at times because while I knew of Death and didn’t understand its nature completely. Knowing about Death and my experiences with it flew in the face of my religious beliefs and that was hard to reconcile for a long time. My knowledge of Death and the dead was one of my first initiations.

 

I had another initiation with Death growing up, though I didn’t understand it as such until much later in life. My psychic abilities aside I was always considered “different”. I’m bizarre, and with a misdiagnosis of autism stigmatized by everyone at my school. My social skills were inert. Since I wasn’t included and didn’t understand human nature at the time I was left with myself to observe often. To this day I learn the most by watching others. It’s also why the arts came so easy for me: it requires observation on some level. In much of Medieval art Death was not only an artist but often an observer. During these years growing up I was initiated into the coven of observation, as a watcher and a dancer in life. I grew into my abilities more, but I didn’t grow in my understanding of them. I knew when someone close to me would die, and while my family believed in such abilities they didn’t understand my relationship with Death. As a result my understanding of it didn’t develop, and I became distraught. Due to other circumstances in my life I was suicidal from that distress as well as my checkered relationship with Death. Obviously I failed in my suicide attemtps, but Death was there to pick me up even after I felt like a failure. While Death didn’t comfort me it did initiate me into the knowledge of human suffering. It held me while my soul cried. I didn’t understand any of this at the time, but it took time to understand it today.

 

I didn’t begin to fully understand Death until I became more serious about my spiritual, and eventually my religious path. It was through my path that I became acquainted with Het-Hert and Her associations. While I don’t always associate Her with solely music, dancing, joy, love, and death these days She did help me understand why Death was around. In the early days of my path I found others who encouraged me and provided a safe environment to explore my abilities with those who died. In speaking with those spirits and helping spirits cross over thanks to what I learned helped me understand Death so much more. I learned those spirits were probably always around and had little to do with me. If they came to me, and it wasn’t a chance encountering, I tried to help them. This had led to some interesting adventures (literally!) and friendships. The spirits showed me things that were hidden. I uncovered things and comforted people. I even uncovered a few family secrets thanks to becoming more open to Death. I learned Death was always there and whispering not to frighten us, but to remind us of life. Death was there for me because it was there for everyone, but it meant no harm. It wanted us to know of the world around us, both seen and unseen. I wasn’t bad or even misunderstood for getting initiated by Death. It didn’t even make me special. It meant I was ready for what Death could offer anyone.

 

During this time I had another initiation with Death. I took on a hobby as a music critic and honed my observational skills and my own knowledge and experiences with art. As cheesy as it’s been I took my understanding of Death and use its name as my own. I decided since it was so cheesy to combine a bit of humor with it to lighten some of the tension for people. I don’t think it ever came off that way, though I was happy to have inspired and helped a couple of people with my endeavors. I even learned how to improve my artistry by observing what is and isn’t effective and why. When I abandoned that hobby I was initiated again, but this time with the idea of loss. Luckily I groped my way around and found some spiritual strength. There I struggled in many areas in spite of my preparations.

 

One place where I struggled to let Death come in had to do with my own ancestors. Knowing my family history I didn’t know how open they would be to my path and new ways of honoring them. I also remembered my relationship with spirits in the past, and I worried if my ancestors would act in ways I wouldn’t understand nor welcome. When I went through some stuff where I turned to them for help did I understand why I needed to allow Death in this part of my life. I learned honoring our ancestors was just as much for me as it is for them. The ones that will listen and care about me won’t really care how I go about it. My relationship with Death deepened when I learned honoring the dead isn’t a scary thing, and was initiated into ancestor veneration. It certainly hasn’t been my only initiation.

 

In the past few months my relationship with Death was further realized. In my despair of losing my partner I attempted suicide. I felt I lost everything at that point, and the past few years made the gradual erosion of my dreams and visions of my future worse. Death was ready for me, and I was ready for it. Once again I failed, but Death was there to hold me during my initiation. I have experienced the loss and death of so many things I felt I had nothing left, even though before I thought I lost everything. What I didn’t remember was how death is treated in alchemy. In order to acquire great things one must “die”. Death delivered as promised. My music critic hobby that I had revisited a while ago took precedence. I’ve been swamped with many tasks and opportunities. Everything I worked for was bearing fruit, but in a different garden than I originally cultivated. I have been initiated into something new and had to cultivate this new garden.

 

While cultivating and weeding my new field I further evaluated the people I want in my life. I looked at what it would take to be my best friend. I wanted someone who is there for me when I need them, encourages me to grow and will grow with me, who is honest, strong, and helps me be the best person who lives to my fullest potential. In that evaluation I found Death fit this. While I’m not willing to take Death as a lover, I’ve valued it as a close friend. Death has always been around and is consistent. Death helped me become a better person once I let it. Death is my best friend.


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A New Perspective: My Channeler Checklist

I read a blog post recently that reminded me of this post I made some time ago. To make a short of a long I’ve had a few bad experiences with people “channeling” and “speaking on behalf of a Higher Power” when really they were spouting their opinion using a Higher Power as a shield. I have a bit of skepticism about people who channel or claim to speak on behalf of a god as it is, so it didn’t help matters when I went through that time. I decided to do some research to prevent it from happening to me again. I compiled this from a few websites as well as my life experience. There are some major ones that if occur I disregard the channeling and channel altogether, but otherwise if three or more show up I disregard the channeling. Depending on if one of the major ones for me occur I may disassociate with the person.

 

What are my feelings about the channel or reading? This is one of those where if I get an off vibe I ignore the session completely. Even though I have some skepticism towards channeling in the first place, if something doesn’t feel right it’s probably shady.

 

Are the channelings about “doom and gloom”? While not every channeling is probably a nice message, not every message should be about the latest apocalypse scenario. One former friend had almost a weekly doom and gloom channeling to share. In retrospect I feel she was either tricked by a spirit or used this as a plea for attention.

 

Is the message empowering? How? The same friend who channeled the doom and gloom scenarios also channeled people who had nothing nice to say to me. There was also another person who claimed to “have messages” from the Universe only to give her opinion and have an excuse to say it to try to humiliate people. When I researched channeling I found this was a key point: higher beings in New Age beliefs, beliefs on which many channeling practices are based, emphasize a message that brings love and uplifting feelings. While I’m sure not every message is going to be loving, I’m keen on the idea a Higher Being would have an empowering message. It’s hard to believe Higher Beings have nothing better to do than berate me. I found with the latter channeler very often only had these alleged messages of love when I vented. I learned later she had a difficult time being around “negative” people. After some time it became apparent she wanted to control others in her life via these channelings. If it isn’t presented in a way to show you how to better yourself or overcome something it’s probably a person’s attempt to be controlling.

 

Is the message an exclusive one? All too often these alleged channelings were messages meant for specifically me. While that doesn’t rule out the possibility of something it doesn’t work in favor of my believing it.

 

Does the channeler make grandiose claims? I received channelings that not only made incredible claims about the channeler (the channelers were pretty much painted as the next messiah) but also grandiose claims about me. Anyone that’s willing to feed anyone’s ego should be avoided, hence why this is a deal breaker for me.

 

Does the channeler handle criticism well? This is pretty self-explanatory and another deal breaker for me. If the channeler doesn’t seem to understand why you can’t trust a message it’s probably not a message worth paying any mind. I put in any response to any criticism with, “but it’s a message from the Universe / deity / Ascended Master / etc” in this category as well.

 

How do the channeled beings respond to questions or comments? I’ve found gods don’t really argue with you; They drop you on your keister until you get it. Other Higher Beings don’t waste the time and effort in arguing with you in my experience as well. It takes too much ego for some of those beings. If you encounter a Higher Being who can’t take the heat, it’s time to get out of their kitchen. Someone is cooking something you shouldn’t eat.

 

Is there a possible agenda? This is another red flag to get away for me. If it seems there’s an ulterior motive behind a message there may be one. This is especially true if they’re asking you to do something which compromises your morals or is outside your comfort zone. Make sure, however, you’re not projecting something that isn’t there. It’s why it’s important to ask questions.

 

Is the message consistent with other, similar channelings? The former friend who channeled the borderline abusive Higher Beings channeled some Ascended Masters. One she loved to channel in particular was one that was the most persistent. When I finally researched the Ascended Master I found he was reputed for his messages of unconditional love and never spoke harshly or hurtful. The messages, tone, and language were so inconsistent with other channelings of this Ascended Master I had to call it into question. If it’s inconsistent with whatever or whoever is channeled leave immediately.

 

When did the channel occur? Were you physically present for the channeling? This is another deal breaker for me, mostly because unless I’m there to witness the channel I have no way of determining if the person didn’t look something up and author their opinion with the being as a mouthpiece.

 

How often does the person channel? This seems pretty esoteric, but from what I’ve read for the average person channeling takes quite a bit of energy. My former friend channeled almost daily to a point where we couldn’t have a conversation without channeling. I imagine channeling that regularly wouldn’t work out so well if she was regularly channeling Ascended Masters given the amount of energy that would take.

 

I’ll probably add on to these and take others away over time. I do feel it adds some groundwork for me to assess in alternative faith circles who’s more likely to be channeling and who’s trying to mask their opinion as the “word of a Higher Power”.


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A New Perspective: Teachers (and Leaders)

When I first wrote this blog post years ago I was trying to untangle all of my issues and experiences with teachers. It’s still an ongoing process. Teachers are very valuable and provide the structure and approach to learning we need. There are many teachers out there who strive to meet this ideal. One big problem of being a teacher is the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and many people (myself included) allow their negative experiences to color their overall experience based on the squeaky wheels. We tend to place leaders in the same role of teachers as well, and this gets problematic.

Part of the reason I’ve refused leadership and teaching roles in the past is due to questioning my own ability to rise to the occasion. Teaching and leading requires a lot of skill, experience, and patience. Someone may have skills but little patience for someone who believes an individual exists to hand over certifications or positions without the work. Most people don’t like the approach to gaining such qualifications. It includes lesson plans, and if one tries to act like a smart aleck with a teacher or leader the person can and will be called to task. It makes them see their tom foolery to the end.

Teaching isn’t a role one should take lightly since it provides a significant contribution to both the individual and the community. When I first wrote this post I mentioned an individual in my local Pagan community who professed to be a teacher. He, like many others in alternative faiths, assumed the role without any verifiable qualifications. His inconsistent teachings and unethical behavior got him ousted from the community when people took notice and compared stories. In a perfect world all dubious individuals would suffer a similar fate, but we don’t live in a perfect world. I will say that in more recent years more Pagans have called out dubious teachings and practices.

Another reason teaching should be carefully considered is due to the Kemetic and general Neo-Pagan communities’ expectations of teachers, let alone leaders. Teachers are human and they are fallible. There’s this expectation of how teachers should be like Mary Poppins: practically perfect in every way. They must lead the perfect life with the perfect skills and with utmost eloquence. We forget sometimes we don’t even come close to measuring up to the standard we place teachers or leaders. Many leaders and teachers have a “regular” job and have to teach, lead ritual, et cetera on the side. They get tired, financially strapped and can’t run certain things, run down, ill, and that’s the tip of the iceberg. I’ve seen too many consider this a moral failing on the part of the leader or teacher, when in reality it’s their humanity showing.

Even though those who shouldn’t teach, yet try, exist there are plenty who should and do teach. It’s a matter of finding a teacher best suited for one’s needs. This is not an easy task. Finding the right teacher is difficult. It depends on the individual, the pracitce, how experienced of a teacher one desires, costs, the purpose for learning, and that’s not even an exhaustive list. There are a myriad of considerations. Sometimes we find the right teacher in the most unexpected places. I found my Isis Seichem teacher when we were members of a religious organization. It involves a balance of openness to possible teachers tempered by a willingness to question to see if one is right for the individual.

I think the understanding of how to find a teacher is also tied to why so many people are ill qualified, yet willing, to take leadership and teaching roles: self-importance. The demand for an often unattainable standard comes from this notion the person is of some moral superiority. I’ve seen all too often where the person thinks he or she is some reincarnation of someone historical figure and that excuses them from work, or the way people tie unfortunate circumstances to moral failings. Self-importance excuses away honest examination of oneself and one’s intentions of either accepting a leadership or teaching role as well as becoming a student. If someone sees a subject or tool as opposed to a partnership, no experience or qualification will suffice.

Taking on a role of leadership or teaching is neither easy nor lightly taken. Both are often thankless and never pay in proportion to the work involved. Some will find their own rewards and reasons for pursuing it beyond pay or prestige. Sometimes it’s with good intentions and understanding of one’s skills and abilities, other times without. This is what determines if someone is of moral integrity in such a position as opposed to life circumstances. Through the containment or elimination of self-importance in both a teacher or leader and a student or follower the stronger an opportunity for growth occurs.


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A New Perspective: My Love-Hate Relationship with the Law of Attraction (and How It Affects My Kemetic Path)

When I first wrote about my experience with the Law of Attraction I was very mixed about it. I saw its potential as a psychological motivator, but found it disdainful for spiritual growth by itself. I agreed with the criticisms where the belief promotes spiritual lethargy and an undeserved sense of self-entitlement based on my experience with those who practiced it. I also saw a problem with moral and cognitive dissonance, especially when one is confronted with issues like human trafficking and genocide. I questioned from where the Universe pulled to provide whatever one wished to manifest. If I manifested money did my manifestation make a person or group of people poorer? What if someone who wished to harm used the Law of Attraction? If the philosophy behind it is a person wills a bad experience on themselves, does it mean someone must be willing to cause harm that is in alignment with the Universe? All of these questions (in addition to my criticism of the just world fallacy) aside I still felt in the mind of someone with a strong sense of self and realism the Law of Attraction is beneficial.

A couple of years later I dealt with quite a few people who strongly adhered to this belief. The more I dealt with them as people who happened to believe in the Law of Attraction the more I saw a disturbing trend. Apparently someone, somewhere decided the best way to attract positive vibrations was to “root out” every minute negative aspect of one’s life. The nebulous idea of to what extent and how negative was never addressed because even something as innocuous as a lolcat could trigger “negative vibrations”, or so these people informed me (I’ve yet to determine what constitutes negative energy as opposed to offending one’s sensibilities). I’ve since rooted or distanced myself from those people. I’m sure their vibrational energies are better for it. I know mine are.

I was thinking about this old blog post a few days ago when I saw a trend in the Kemetic community quite similar to seeking out negativity as I observed with the Law of Attraction. Instead of calling it negativity it’s been labeled “isfet”. For those who don’t know isfet is the Ancient Egyptian word for “disorder”. It is considered the opposite of Ma’at. One conversation which finally led to this post’s revival was a discussion about familial issues with one person’s faith. This caused a bit of controversy in the group as some believed that the person shouldn’t rock the boat too much since the person was dependent on the family on a very small level and such a disagreement in expressing beliefs could bring disorder into the home. I and a few others found this problematic thinking for a couple of reasons, the main one being how much any disagreement causes disorder. Disagreements and even squabbles are bound to happen; that’s life. Should one be held responsible for isfet for any and all disagreements?

I found, and still believe, the issue of rooting out any and all isfet almost as extreme as rooting out all negative vibrations. I saw from looking at those who wanted to root out negative vibrations how obsessed they became with negativity. They surrendered self control to a formless entity they believed could potentially ruin their lives. Even the most innocuous slight earned someone the title of “negative person” and “psychic vampire”. Adherents to that extreme quest of a positive life may as well label the general population with such names. In a way of self-fulfilling prophecy and irony these people manifested a dark attitude about living a positive life. They became passive aggressive, hard to deal with in everyday conversation, abrasive, and outright unsupportive. I guess some people forget the Law of Attraction teaches that if one focuses their energy on a certain idea it’s what manifests.

Focusing on certain behaviors and the resulting behaviors isn’t something Kemetics should ignore. In The Book of the Heavenly Cow Sekhmet’s original focus was to eradicate those who plotted to kill Ra but ultimately targeted mankind in Her rampage. When She sought to eradicate mankind this became isfet. It created disorder and had potential to kill everyone. What started off as eliminating all of one form of isfet became isfet itself. Just as one seeks to remove all isfet from one’s life, this bears potential as its own form of isfet. It turns into an obsession, anxiety over minute issues and missteps, misanthropy, disdain towards a growing number of things, all of which the person internalizes. It gets toxic quickly from my observations.

I do believe, though, one should try to live in accordance with Ma’at and part of that is culpability for our response to isfet. It doesn’t have to manifest in a form as never offending nor abrasive reaction. Sometimes the best way to slay isfet is through changing a behavior or response. In an ideal world when a family member disapproves of a faith the family member can live and let live and even learn about the beliefs. More often than not it’s ideal to not bring it up in conversation. Have a plan of action for when it’s necessary. As an example, I have a father whom I consider a rageaholic. My plan of action when he seeks conflict is to note the circumstances and politely ask him to not engage until he can calmly discuss an issue with me. Sometimes I remove myself from the situation completely. I politely acknowledge his point and say nothing else at times. It doesn’t change his behavior, but I’m not feeding the situation. I’ve fought isfet in this situation because I didn’t let the situation degenerate. At times, though, his desire to seek conflict requires an offensive response. I’m not perfect at it as there are times where I let my emotions take over or I go overboard with my response. I’ve had to learn from it and try not to do it again. Yes, there will be a gamut of emotions in that process. Growing isn’t easy and is usually a painful process. It goes back to my belief of upholding Ma’at is to sometimes learn from it, tackle those processes, and grow into something stronger.

There are times where I find the best way to handle isfet in my life is to dismiss it. I may feel the person who cut me off in traffic contributed to isfet, but responding with road rage is also isfet in my opinion. I can let it go and continue with my drive. I can breathe and be thankful I didn’t hit the offending person. I can ignore someone’s habit of putting their elbows on the table while others are eating. It’s a faux pas, one I could argue is isfet as manners are meant to uphold social order, but it would cause more isfet to embarrass the person depending on the circumstances (yes, there are exceptions. If for some reason the faux pas causes major problems, I will speak up). I don’t need to slay every isfet in my life because it doesn’t necessarily need slaying or addressing.

The way I look for the isfet to slay in my life is the same way I look for negativity: I don’t. It will find me and I will have to decide how to deal with it when it shows, if I deal with it at all. Instead of killing it I may sedate it and reorganize my behaviors and thoughts. Ra reorganized the world after He sedated Sekhmet through drunkenness. In that regard I still give the Law of Attraction some leeway because at its core the focus is about reorganizing one’s behavior and thinking. The approach to it is something I find toxic as it encourages dysfunctional behavior and thinking. Sometimes isfet, negativity, etc., ends up more trouble than its worth to address it. Sometimes it’s not even something attracted. Forgive my vulgarity, but shit happens. There are days you will step in it, and there are days when you find the asshole responsible for leaving it. Not every asshole needs you to wipe it, but you will have to clean yourself off. I feel that dealing with negativity and isfet isn’t so distinct in that respect.


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A New Perspective: Why Sometimes I Don’t Want to Be Associated with Pagans

“There are moments where I throw my hands up in the air because I’m so disgusted with the Neo-Pagan Movement. Much of what I’ve observed in this past year are things I observed (and subsequently felt disgusted by) occurred in Christianity.”

This quote is what I used for what I now call my “rant heard around cyberspace” (in reality a few forums and a site or two posted a link, but given I had more spambots reading my blog than readers it was impressive). When I first wrote this post I dealt with my umpteenth Pagan political crud on the internet. When faced between online behavior and real life Pagan behavior I had enough and ranted. A bit of time passed, a few links to my rant were posted, and I’ve had a few more life experiences to go with those rants. I think there are a few I want to add to them based on some of the recent events in the Kemetic community.

It’s becoming a clique. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

“I’m seeing this trend where unless you’re one of “them” you don’t get to make the same remarks, dissent, nor practice with ‘them’. It’s natural to form groups, but there’s a point where the “group” starts to hurt the religious dynamic.”

I’ve come to realize with cliquish behavior in the Pagan community I was naïve. There is no disagreement, even amongst the clique, because that goes against all group-think. If one does anything to rock the boat within the clique backstabbing ensues. This is the key difference between an organization and a clique. Organizations settle their differences and problems in a way which is respectful, healthy, and promotes growth. Cliques gang up on people, plot revenge against dissenters, use dirty methods to get their ways, and eventually ostracize anyone not like them. It’s usually the cliques who are…

Ruining communities with stupid witch wars. Witch wars divide communities like nothing else. From my experience it’s usually a dispute between metaphysical stores, but that doesn’t make the chaos and ensuing damage to the local community less. I’ve seen an entire community divided with parts gone underground because of witch wars. It’s not only damaging to communities within, but from observers as well. It makes it look as if Pagans are incapable of handling squabbles or personal disputes without resorting to ofttimes sophomoric behavior. When we spread gossip intending to hurt other parties, “spy” on “enemies”, pressure people to involve themselves with this dispute, boycott for no reason other than you’re having a dispute with the person, shun for no reason, it ends up looking as if we aren’t mature enough to sit all the parties down and solve it like adults. Maybe we aren’t mature enough for this type of dispute. One of the reasons I say this is because the biggest causes of witch wars stems from…

Too many jealous or resentful people in the community. One of the biggest issues that started the screams for the pettiness to stop in the Kemetic community right now stems from the success of Tamara Siuda’s kickstarter for a book. There was a bunch of spiteful backlash about the issue that eclipsed what should have been a positive moment overall. I’m not saying that Tamara Siuda should be free of criticism, I’m just saying that nastiness is best left for one’s journal and not in the comments of celebrating a big moment for many in the Kemetic community.

The sad reality is the resentments and jealousy of this nature isn’t just an isolated community issue. As I said in the other point this behavior is one of the main causes of witch wars. If we wish to have a thriving community we need to have a healthier way of managing resentments and jealousy.

Too many rabid fundies. What I originally wrote:

I know this seems odd to write about with a movement reputed to be so open, but I can’t believe how many times I’ve had the Rede shoved down my throat. Many pagans cannot accept the fact not every pagan is Wiccan. This is a troubling trend, especially for Neo-Pagan religions that don’t adhere to such things. That isn’t to leave out the ones who, despite any scholarship, want to deny other groups. If this trend isn’t abated in any way I may see a Pagan Religious Right in my lifetime.

I have a lot of people who honestly rolled their eyes at my thoughts on the fundamental Pagans. The thing is when one insists on everyone practicing exactly the same way regardless if one is an adherent of that religion it actually damages the community. It’s one thing to expect a Tameran Wiccan who is a member of a coven who believes in the Rede to expect other members of the coven to believe it. It’s another thing to expect a Kemetic Reconstructionist to follow the Rede, and vice versa about historical accuracy (yes, it’s a different issue if something wholly inaccurate is claimed to be accurate). I have a difficult time believing this, with other behaviors, occurring in the Pagan community this isn’t the foundation for groups going around promoting hate “in the name of (insert deity)”.

If the bar isn’t too high, it’s too low. I originally wrote:

If it isn’t strict “us vs. them” cliquishness there’s this seemingly low standard to allow anything because it’s pagan [sic]. This means allowing pewter items to be sold as amulets and crude artwork marketed en masse. The outrageous standards are going to kill the movement. Which leads me to my next point…

The point I was trying to make is we have far too nebulous standards, and I’m not sure how effective it is to have nebulous standards across the board. I’ll address the other aspects in the next point.

Consumerism is rampant. I originally wrote:

How long have we, as those belonging to alternative faiths, blasted Christianity for its exploitation of people’s dollars? I know it’s hypocritical for one who will open her own store soon to say such things, but there’s a difference between selling a ritual kit for a holiday and selling an ugly pendant as an alleged amulet. Have we forgotten some things, or just became hypocrites?

One thing which irritates me is how some items are marketed as occult or Pagan simply for its own sake. In the case of pewter amulets I’ve actually seen amulets meant to bring out elements of Mars made of pewter, a material which is considered mercurial. If there’s an occult practice which doesn’t have this mixture of planetary alignments as bad I’d love to learn more about it. I suppose if one is eclectic enough it doesn’t matter.

However, I’ve learned a few things about the nature of these products while running my etsy store. Simply put these pewter amulets are everywhere because they sell and people don’t want to shell out the money for the proper amulets. It’s not the amulets alone. If it’s labeled as Pagan, no mater how dubious the label there is someone who will buy it, someone usually less experienced with these things. I don’t know what it’s testament to more in our community, but it certainly needs to be addressed.

The inability to organize for most things. I originally wrote:

I know this issue has been addressed constantly, but if Neo-Pagans are to be taken seriously they’re going to have to treat certain things seriously. This means arriving to events in a timely manner, coming together to protest and inform the public, and respecting differences. I’m starting to question if people have come to this religion for the same reason I came to it.

I think “Pagan time” is still an issue even after countless people explaining why this is rude and distracting. There’s another issue that isn’t fully discussed, though. It’s the lack of commitment to a community. When a quadruple homicide happened in a town where I lived the police blamed it on occult sacrifice. When I not only spoke to the police force, books in hand, to explain why their reasoning wasn’t sound, I found a local church who was elated when I suggested the local Pagans have a question and answer discussion panel to help dispell some of the myths. The Pagans were on board, but no one wanted to tell me when they were available. Sadly, the panel never happened.

It’s the lack of commitment that is going to be the biggest killer of the Neo-Pagan movement. It’s why I was excited to see Tamara Siuda’s kickstarter have such success. To me it’s a sign of possible change from the herding cat mentality for which Pagans are famous. It’s a sign that we’re starting to understand on some level if there are things we want in the community we must support it in a meaningful way.

The god complexes. I originally wrote:

It seems like one isn’t a true pagan unless they lead all sorts of groups, despite being the only member. I understand with some paths one may ultimately practice solitary, but it’s starting to seem like everyone and their goldfish is a high priest/ess. When I question these people, these “clergymen” become indignant or try to negate me in some way. It’s part of the reason why many people don’t take the Neo-Pagan Movement seriously, and it needs to be more stringently addressed. Not everyone is meant to be a clergymember, and the few seminaries already started is a great way to address that.

I feel the god complex is another cause of the witch wars. Someone believes they are some incredible gift to the community with an overblown sense of self then foster resentments when no one else acknowledges their genius. It’s actually one of the reasons I love Ziltoid the Omnisicent as he embodies this very aspect.

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I sure do, Ziltoid. I sure do.

Don’t be Ziltoid. Just don’t.

The Party Pagans. I originally wrote:

Reader, I trust you know the type: they’re in it for the shock. While many of them will go their own way by the end of adolescence, there should be a better way to address this issue to repair the reputation. People think some become pagans for the image or to “get back”. It’s probably why a few still venture to say when one has a rough life they sink lower by pursuing paganism.

Apart from amusement at how I sounded like an 18th century author, I was trying to address how there are some who want to be considered Pagan without any discernible clue of being one. They don’t contribute to the community, they don’t practice, or if they do they show know real depth to their practice. They are Pagan in name only, and only bring it up to impress people. These folks are usually called “playgan”, I call them “party pagans”. Some do eventually grow more serious with their practice, but from my experience it’s not that many. I don’t know if there’s a solution to weeding these people out because we need to have some idea of how to settle what makes anyone a follower of a Pagan path other than a name and a personal affirmation.

I think the part that bothers me the most about these rants isn’t that they exist, but I’m not the only one, nor the first person, to have these complaints. These are the same issues constantly reemerging. I think we need to have some real solutions, but even I don’t have an idea of how to solve all my rants. I do feel maybe something like a truth commission would benefit for resolving witch wars before it destroys a community would be helpful. Resolving issues should be a community effort anyway.


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A New Perspective: Knee-Jerk Reactions

A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92)

I thought I’d continue with my thoughts last week about overreacting and acting aggressively to revisit an old post.  Honestly I feel this post is a little moot on some levels, but I know the topic is timeless at the same time.  Knee-jerk reactions are important for everyone to examine when reading things, especially online.  It is especially important to watch our reaction to things during tough times in our life.   It also means we have to be more aware of what we put into our heads and improve media literacy.

What sparked the initial post was dealing for the umpteenth time with a circulated link  about a plea by an Islamic group to destroy the Great Pyramids. The reaction ranged from hand wringing to screams of persecution. It’s been revealed to be a hoax since then. Honestly, I had my criticisms of the original article since there were some dubious links and was too emotionally charged to fully convey that – even if the call is true – it’s a bad idea to follow. It also goes in the face of the Egyptians who tried to protect their heritage even during their revolution, the attempts to repatriate artifacts, and even an attempt to copyright Ancient Egyptian replicas.  Tourism focused on its ancient history is very important to their economy.  When I and others pointed to links confirming the hoax and pointing out the very points I cited we were met with extreme opposition.  I’m positive I threw “islamophobia” out there a few times.  The information we provided didn’t feed their emotional state; it was so contrary to their media source and agenda that cognitive dissonance ensued.

What pains me to see is that it could have taken a few minutes to think this through. Yes, there are extremists that will do these things, but they exist everywhere. I’m sure I can dig a bit and find some clergy who feel Ancient American sites should be destroyed (as if Manifest Destiny and other campaigns didn’t help that along). It actually demonstrates a point I made in an earlier article about the pitfalls about following one’s emotions without thinking. That’s not to say the Abrahamic faith-based groups that do these things are non-existent, but they’re not as prominent as one thinks. I can tell you from experience a good portion of the time the groups that act this way aren’t fully educated about Pagans and they’re acting on their own knee-jerk reactions. These knee-jerk reactions come from their own fears.

Knee-jerk reactions such as these are a side effect of fear-mongering.   It’s not shameful, but it is a human trait exploited so often it’s integral to keep it in check when faced with media sensationalism.  It’s supposed to shock you, it’s supposed to stir up your emotions, and it’s supposed to place us towards a certain agenda.  This is where fear-mongering becomes problematic.  People in an emotional state sometimes surrender reasoning for the sake of security (or the feeling at least).  This tends to stir up hatred towards a targeted group.  I’ve found in my experience fear-mongering and hate-mongering tend to go hand in hand.

However, there are still ways to mitigate our knee-jerk reactions.  One of the things to understand right off the bat is everyone has an agenda, myself included.  For example, this blog post has an agenda to explain everything you read has some agenda and will use a form of sensationalism to incite a desired outcome.  That’s the hardest part because it means every bit of media to which we expose ourselves–even those from our own groups–may have a questionable agenda exposed with some scrutiny.  The best defense against knee-jerk reactions from media sensationalism, though, is to improve media literacy.  Media Smarts has a website with incredible resources on how to hone media literacy.  Don’t let the target age for their learning tools deter you; the information is still invaluable to all ages.

As with most things I stress on my blog awareness and knowledge are key in combating some of these extremes.  It takes practice, but it’s worth not panicking over every misquoted article about the Pope allegedly targeting Pagans with pancakes (yes, I used alliteration on purpose).  It takes effort to stop, process the article read without emotion, and analyze the piece.  I assure it’s worth it.  It has saved me anxiety and isolation issues doing this.  It may also reveal some things about sources you may not like, such as an author purposefully inciting fear in order to rally people against a Catholic organization or externalize resentments about Catholicism the author harbors.  Ultimately, the way to combat knee-jerk reactions is to improve critical thinking skills.


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A New Perspective: The Importance of Words

“There is [no] taxing of the scribe. He does not have dues. So take note of this.” – Reminder of the Scribe’s Superior Status, translated by William Kelly Simpson

When I first wrote this blog post I had dropped the ball on posting regularly. I smirked when I found it again because I dropped the ball again. Back then I was dealing with discouragement and an illness, while this time it’s taking care of my etsy store, a chapbook (a small book of poetry about 50 pages or fewer), and feeling overwhelmed by it all. My inspiration isn’t lacking as much as lacking direction.

At the time of this blog I sat down to read Reminder of the Scribe’s Superior Status, which is a letter from one scribe to another who had left to work a “mundane” job. I can certainly relate to the feeling as can almost everyone right now. The passage quoted stuck with me. It’s a passage that reminds me of the value of my writing and my work, even though the passage is about tax-exemption of scribes (though I’m not sure how historically accurate that is). It showed me that even if my work was only important to me it was still important.

Words have power. Most of that power originates in what we put in them. It’s a part of the reason why people have the power to incite mobs or bind people in matrimony. It’s why trolling is so effective at times. I feel if more people understood the power behind words their conversations would reflect this more accordingly on websites like facebook. Absolutely everyone has some power when they can use language. A person who can use language responsibly is even more powerful.

I’ve slowly learned what this means for me and how it impacts my own writing. As a child I was diagnosed with a language disorder called cluttering. Basically it means my thoughts go faster than what I can express. It isn’t limited to mere speech disfluencies; it affects my writing (it’s illegible on an incredible scale, though with more access to computers I hear everyone’s writing quality declined), my ability to organize my thoughts (all suggestions to outline are, to me, a horrible punchline to an ill-conceived joke), if I don’t express a thought in a conversation at the moment I lose the thought altogether, and that’s assuming I use the correct words and speak clearly. Years of speech therapy made most of the speech problems and the way I vocalize things go away.

Writing, conversely, has proven a bigger, more frustrating challenge despite a BA in Creative Writing. I still don’t write concisely, grammatically correct, nor with clear semantics. It’s led to many misunderstandings and arguments because of what people read into my writings. I re-read, comb over every syllable, and clarify. It isn’t effective all the time and I learn from those experiences. Part of the examination of my words also comes with awareness of my ability and not just the ability of my words. I know if I’m not mindful and diligent my message fizzles. Faced with semantics, though, not everything with cluttering proves a stumbling block in my writing. It allows me more freedom for wordplay, more experimentation with puns and spoonerisms, proves advantageous to “stream of consciousness” style, and fun with meter. Combined with my degree cluttering adds another level and power to my writing.

Somehow with all of my abilities and disadvantages I manage to send a message to my audience.  Sometimes it’s not always the message I want, but that’s out of my hands most of the time.  Even if the message they receive isn’t the message I put forth I see how it inspires people.  That inspiration means more to me than anything dollar could.  If my writing inspires the reader to better themselves then I know my work is well done.  I see the power of my words in action and that is part of how I define success.

Words are powerful because of the intent they carry. Words can also be wasted if jumbled together. Even when the words are haphazardly strung together some people find meaning in it. I find the quoted passage is relevant in that regard. I find it difficult to place a price on my writing because value extends beyond money. There’s the work itself that conveys something, the meanings interwoven into a piece, and the extent a piece impacts someone’s life. In that sense I feel writers may pay taxes on the monetary gains from their work but can never fully calculate the cost of their writings not only for the author but for the audience.


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A New Perspective: How Will You Live Your Life?

When I first wrote this post I dealt with a major onslaught of “armchair Pagans”. In my mind these are the Pagans who never really practice, never explore what their beliefs mean, or anything that would fall under practicing a faith save reading about it. I had grown so tired of these Pagans because these seem to be the ones with the biggest persecution complexes. There are lots of instances where Pagans and anyone not of The Big Three face discrimination and persecution in this country (I’ll post again my chronicles with Farmville,Virgina and the occult murder accusations in the near future). Sometimes, however, the persecution isn’t from outside.

I’ve found that sometimes we create our own conflict, be it from our interpretations or some perceived need to be diametrical. It’s why it’s important to analyze where we can (though I’ve always emphasized there are exceptions). Even recently I got into a fight with my significant other, yet we managed to work things out and hear where we still need work as people and a couple. I have to remember, with all of my decisions, with all that I’ve faced, I will face more conflicts and personal challenges. It also means I remind myself to keep awareness.

This thought also led me to the idea of closure. I know I’d like to feel that in today’s world it’s simple to even get as much as an apology for wronging someone. It’s clearly not the case; for someone to apologize, let alone rectify a wrong, means someone has to admit to wrongdoing. In these moments I get angry. I feel like I’m afflicted undeservedly and as if there is no justice. It’s part of the conflict within myself.

Eventually I do pull through these moments of anger. I’ve found my own understandings, healthy coping mechanisms, and ways to press forward from the pain and anger. Sometimes it means becoming an activist so it doesn’t happen to someone else, and should it happen there’s recourse. Sometimes it means educating people. Sometimes it means finding ways to focus on the present so I realize I’m not in those moments again. Sometimes I am left honoring my feelings and leaving it at that.

I’ve also found my faith has been helpful, if nothing else it serves as a routine. In my original post my biggest criticism at the time with “armchair Pagans” was how much talk and not enough practicing occurred. I based it at the time on the amount of blog posts doling out information but not enough on exploring the faith or any active work on the part of the blogger. I’m aware faith is a private thing, but there are some experiences which are universal. We wouldn’t have wisdom literature otherwise. While faith is private it is part of a religious practice and shouldn’t be neglected.

Today I live my religious life walking and sharing my experiences. I strive to find order in my life in every way possible. I’m not perfect and I know I’ll never be perfect even by my standards. What it does mean for me is living in a way that provides the tools for personal improvement. I live my life striving to be the best person I can and forgiving when I can’t meet it. It also means understanding others may not always meet my expectations and how I learn to manage it in my own way.