Category Archives: business

Who is Fit to Teach?

On the Potter's Wheel Let me state at the outset that this particular blog entry is not really going to discuss the legitimacy of folks who teach in our elementary, secondary or university and college level schools. I count many professional teachers and professors as my friends and I truly admire all of the hard work that they do and the patience they must have in order to do it. I am grateful in ways I cannot even begin to recount those teachers to whom I am indebted for my son’s education and my own. For that I say a heartfelt ‘Thank You’. This article, however, is to discuss those who set themselves up as instructors of those who are seeking a sort of spiritual education, both in formal churches, temples, circles, covens and even those who write how-to books for readers who are seeking.

A couple of months ago, Sarah Lawless discussed the topic of Evaluating Our Teachers. While her subject was aimed at Witches and Pagans, the topic is equally relevant to Kemetics as well.

Whenever there is any sort of scandal about religious leaders falling from grace, especially in those faiths that are not Christian, Jewish or Islamic, the scandal seems just that much larger. Rather than simply being a cautionary tale, they serve the mainstream faiths as to why non-traditional faiths are so dangerous.

Certainly, given the more lax standards that most of those who are not of the Big Three (J, C or I) Paganism and it’s cousins can tend to attract a certain level of persons that are just best not allowed such power or influence under any circumstance. Everyone wants to be special. Everyone wants to feel that what they say and do is worthy of attention or the words that they say deserve to be listened to.

Everyone, however, is not suited to priesthood or to teach others in any sort of spiritual sense. Through the lens of being a functional adult able to be both in the realm of the spiritual and the realm of the everyday, ordinary or mundane, they cannot even be entrusted for the well-being and adequate management of their own lives. How then, could they even imagine that they are in any way trustworthy enough to be entrusted enough to handle the spiritual and emotional well-being of others? The momentary highs of arm-wavey goodness in front of a small captive audience is an enticing draw of being some sort of spiritual rock star for some. These folks are mainly attracted to the idea of being such a center of attention or the ego stroking buzz and everyone else around them are merely bit players while they star in their play. These folks don’t realize that the ritual or an organization’s very existence is not even about them at all. It’s about service to one’s community and to the gods above all else.

I have often railed about the sloppy scholarship among Pagans and Heathens that passes for being adequate enough to suit the masses. It seems anyone with an internet connection on their computer or phone can read a Wiki article and become and instant expert. Too few among us have time time, the money, or the tenacity to want to seek out rare and hard to find texts in order to find out as much as possible about their gods. We have precious few scholars and degreed professionals within Kemeticism who actually do practice the faith and who have not either been intimidated into denying that ‘they believe in any of this stuff’, or are patient enough or well suited to the task of helping laypersons sort through the vast amounts of extant texts, books and other materials in order to get to the real spiritual foundations that make up our practices.

The unfortunate thing that sometimes arises is that too many of us have witnessed those who take on a veneer of haughtiness and arrogance that only seems to come with advanced degrees. Looking down your nose at those who are truly interested in doing whatever it takes is not something that good teachers do. Good teachers don’t need to, and usually do not badmouth other teachers that a student may have had previously, even if the previous teacher held views that were contrary to their own. A good teacher does not attempt to be all things to all people. If the area of expertise is something outside the scope of their own, a good teacher will send a student to another teacher who is better suited for the task. A recent kerfuffle over on the blog of a very visible Canaanite polytheist is a clear example of this.

This particular blogger, because historically, the people of ancient Canaan and the people of ancient Kemet were in the same region and had interactions, they have a nasty habit of including Kemetics in their posts as to how Kemetic practioners – priests in particular – should be doing their practices. According to the Canaanite polytheist blogger, to consume offerings after they are offered is essentially stealing from God’s table. Completely ignored is practice of the Revision of Offerings that was standard practice in Kemetic Temples; a custom that is continued to this day in most African Traditional Religions (ATR’s). Other countries throughout Africa were influenced by Ancient Kemet over the course of history.

We know for a fact that Kemetic priests absolutely did consume the offerings. The offerings were made three times a day and as such they were considered to be one of those perks of the job. The priests or Hm(t) Netjer fed themselves and their families and households from these offerings. Sharing the bounty of the gods throughout the community was and still is considered an acceptable practice for Kemetics. Absolutely in no way is it considered “stealing” – especially with the Revision of the Offerings that were pronounced over the offerings so that the gods “may be satisfied with the repast on the right and on the left”. It isn’t stealing. Letting food to rot on the altar or in the shrine of the God was considered a far worse sin than to share them with the community. The idea of uncleanliness, dirt, rot and the pests that these things inevitably bring were considered far worse and an anathema to the ancient Kemetic people.

To be fair, however, that I will admit that offerings which are given to the dead or the akhu are things that the living do not consume. These are often left at gravesites or on outdoor altars for the spirits of the deceased to partake of. Typically, because these were left in the desert on the opposite bank and away from the part of the communities where the living would mostly dwell, they tended to be consumed by the animals that congregated around burial areas. If the offering was consumed in this way, then it was and is considered “accepted.”

Because Kemetics are many time polytheists or monolatrists just as Canaanites are sometimes polytheists or monolatrists, there is a huge temptation to assume that we are of the same opinion based on some of those similarities. Any scholar with even the smallest amount of credibility or integrity realizes that similarity and proximity do not connote sameness necessarily.

For those of us who have been Initiated into formal priesthood, and those individuals that practice privately and to the best of their ability have the very texts on the walls and many aspects of ritual and practice are quite literally written in stone. Because of this profusely available extant evidence, for Kemetics, these things are not really up for debate. Those who erroneously insist that placing Kemetics under the Neo-Pagan Big Top and painting us with such a broad (and dare I say it?) a ridiculously inaccurate brush do nothing to support the arguments and assertions of those espousing them. If anything, it should underscore the fact that such individuals are doing little more than possibly making it up as they go via UPG, if not simply just expressing their own opinions.

While elements such as UPG etc. may seem to be quite a legitimate means to some within Heathenry or Neo-Pagansism as far as religious practices are concerned; such practices are not adequately vetted to be satisfactory. UPG experiences really do not equal scholarship as far as Kemetic priests and laypersons are concerned and a balance of Verified Personal Gnosis (VPG) is equally if not more important than the UPG. It’s how we get discernment. It’s how cults of personality and wrong-headed practices are avoided.

If someone is truly interested or ever in want of real information about actual Kemetic practices have been and are etc. then going to the source(s) might be the wisest course of action. There are lots of good books and growning numbers of Kemetic practitioners. We tend to not be the least bit shy in saying who is a good teacher and why and who is not a good teacher and why.

A good teacher will gently correct you without making you feel stupid.
A good teacher will not mollycoddle you.
A good teacher will point you toward good resources so you can look up the answer yourself.
A good teacher has the expectation that you will make the effort to find out on your own and would prefer to do this rather than to be led by the hand or by the nose.
A good teacher may let you fall flat on your ass without feeling the need to gloat or mock you for your mistakes.
A good teacher knows their self worth and yet are quite able to acknowledge that they also learn from their students is not beneath them to say so.
A good teacher has every right to expect excellence from their students and won’t compromise their integrity in order for students to “pass”.
A good teacher can say, “I don’t know the answer,” and has no problem in giving a referral to someone who very well might know.

It might be a community-wide project for folks to think very seriously about what makes a good teacher and what makes one not-so-good. It could be helpful to consider what makes someone a viable asset to the community, and what types of behaviours tend to paint one as pompous and opinionated and without spiritual authority to dictate to others. Certainly everyone has had both good and bad teachers in both our academic and spiritual lives. Maybe it’s time to ask ourselves what those characteristics are and what we will settle for and what we won’t.

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Filed under business, kemetic, pagan, Uncategorized, writing

For those of us who are lifelong learning junkies….

For my final paper last semester for my college writing course, I chose the topic of online learing. I think that this growing trend is going to be more and more a part of our world’s educational future. A friend sent this link to me and I thought that because I am what I call a Lifelong Learning Junkie (LLJ), there was a fairly good chance there were more out there that might be reading my blog.

Marc and Angel’s Hack Life: Practical Tips for Productive Living blog recently put out 12 Dozen Places to Self-Educate Yourself Online.

In the list are included the online resources that many of us have already heard of and are using such as Khan Academy and Yale’s Open Courses, there are quite a few more that I haven’t even heard about.

If you or anyone you love is currently in school, or learning as much a you can is a passion for you, the list can be found at the above link.

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Every Large Thing is Accomplished by Many ‘Little’ People and ‘That One Large Thing’ That Can Unite Us

What suggestions do you have regarding bridging divides between different Kemetic factions and encouraging cooperation toward common goals?

There is something that I think every single Kemetic wants. It is something that is a bit of a pipe dream. Some of us have been told that maybe we shouldn’t set our sights so high or the unrealistic nature of actually attaining this thing. It would mean that maybe, just maybe, that Kemetics are serious about becoming their own culture once again. Certainly there are those within more Afrocentrically leaning Kemetic community who have suggested this thing long before I have. For that I applaud them, and perhaps since Kemetic belief is an African Traditional Religion or ATR, we can look to them for inspiration and guidance.

We want our own language. If we had this, if we truly want true reconstructionism, using the various texts, whether we used Faulkner, Hoch or even Budge we could all collectively create or recreate that. All of us already know how much we love the aesthetic of ancient Kemet – the art, the music, the architecture, and on and on. Part of those that aestheitc is language. We are already using just a smattering of the language now.

Many of us know how we felt hearing it spoken in bits and pieces in movies like ‘The Mummy’, ‘The Mummy Returns’, ‘Stargate’, brought to us courtesy of the work of anthropologist, Dr. Stuart Tyson Smith, and even that horrible Charlton Heston film, ‘The Awakening. I will confess, a few years ago, I was actually trying to write a script for a film about the transition period between AMunhotep III and Akhenaten and how much a manipulative and megalomaniac bitch Nefertiti was. I was writing it in English and then wanted to translate the whole thing into ancient Kemetic. Of course, the cost of providing materials and language coaches for the actors alone, would have been astronomical. And of course it would have to have incredible sets, costumes, driving the cost of making the film into the tens of millions, but it would have been made in what I would like to think of as our language. What better way to spend a very large film budget? The intensive use of a (albeit, popular) dead language alone would have all but insured that it got into the Toronto Film Festival and Cannes. Hell, I still might try to do a campaign on Indiegogo or Kickstarter for it. The script is pretty well written as it is.

In my temple, the House of Netjer, those of us in the priesthood would regularly get asked by beginners and established members alike for the Daily Rites in Kemetic. The request was always refused on the basis that it was felt that to recite a religious rite to your deity in a language that you were just parroting it by rote and probably had no comprehension of what was being said. Further, such an exercise would be just an elaborate going through the motions. To speak from your heart, it was further rationalized, you needed a language that you were born into.

That is a pretty good argument against it. However, I would offer up the prime example of the traditional Latin mas and how passionately some Catholics feel about hearing and participating in a mass that is in Latin – which, btw is a mostly dead language. I am still old enough to remember when it was taken away from some congregations. There was much upset about this and those for whom the Latin Mass was substituted for one in English, it was traumatic. Some drove long distances just to get to a church that still recited the Catholic mass in Latin. The reason for this, I think is that there was and is something comforting about that source language for worshipers. Certainly much of the Jewish rites are done in Hebrew.

ALthough I can see the point of knowing what the hell it is that you are saying and not just reciting by rote, I do agree there is something to saying rites in their original language. Language, it’s sound, tone and vibration does affect the brain, and in religious rites it can help the adorer or worshiper to make that shift from the mundane world into a more reverent and contemplative one. It was always a dream of mine to have that long before I was Kemetic Orthodox to be able to pray in Kemetic if I want. I still have that dream. I believe that if we had a developed language that went beyond, “Em hotep,” as a greeting, “Dewa nefer“, for “Good morning,” or even “Dua Netjer en ekh / etj”, which means “Thank you,” or more specifically, “Thank God for you.” We already have copies of the short form of “grace” that is said before a meal that is in Kemetic. Wny not more than just these very small snippets? If we, as a community, worked to create this, it would no longer be incoherent gibberish. For those within the community who were determined to use it, it would be invaluable, it would be special and it would be all of ours once again. We would know what we were saying, and if children were raised speaking it, just think of what change we could effect in bringing about true reconstruction of Kemetic religion and culture! Why is this idea any different from anyone trying to learn the fictional languages of Elvish or Klingon?

It isn’t.

What is most ironic about this entire train of thought is that it was not a fellow Kemetic, a book or movie or anything connected to ancient Kemet that got me seriously thinking about pushing for it. It was this guy, Benny Lewis, creator of the Fluent in 3 Months language system, the man has been billed as “The Irish Polyglot”. Lewis’ work was introduced to me via one of my former history professors when he linked Benny’s site on his Facebook page. It was this that ultimately got me to really considering this as a possibility. Benny Lewis has gone around the world and learned tons of languages. His secret, as he says on his website, is to start speaking your language of choice from day one. He is also currently even trying to revive a dead language (Hungarian).

That REALLY got me to thinking about this!

It is my personal belief that this effort would serve to potentially unite Kemetics across the board. I believe we can do this collectively and it would help all to maybe at last get beyond the petty backbiting and social media headgames that seem to erupt. I myself am no expert, but I do know that many do study ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and the like. My point is that none of us individually know as much as all of us do collectively. This is the collective effort we need in order to bring together not just the temples, but the people who love the ancient Netjeru as we do. Things like skin colour, philosphy, location, etc. – none of that will even matter. Even if we did end up with different dialects via the different groups, we will have brought something back from extinction and by our attempts we are honouring our Gods, our akhu, the culture they gave us and we love so much, and ourselves.

I want to hear more from others about their ideas about this topic. Maybe it truly is an unrealistic hope. But who among us has not dreamed about hearing the beautiful lilt of spoken Kemetic? Who wouldn’t want to see it happen in our lifetime? It is my firm belief that though the Kemetic community is relatively small in comparison to other faiths, perhaps even smaller than those fluent in Klingon or Elvish, the fact is collectively, we want this. We want it because it’s time.

I say let’s collectively bring about the dream. I say, ‘Let’s do it’.


Resources:
The Pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian Notes

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Filed under akhu / ancestors, crowdfunding, kemetic, Kemetic Rount Table, pagan

Signal Boost: Azam Ali’s Lamentation of Swans

The world is filled with exceptional music and musicians. For me, rare is the musician or vocalist that can give me absolute gooseflesh with awe at their sheer artistry. Azam Ali possesses such a voice. During the mid-90’s, listening to a local jazz station, I heard Azam with Greg Ellis and their band, Vas. The song was Sunyata. Over the years, Azam Ali, with her bandmates in both Vas and Niyaz have made so many incredible albums. I have thrilled recognizing that voice when watching a movie in a theater, such as I did when I went to see 300. I have used this music both for meditation and in dance as offerings in my own personal rituals. When showing a Persian friend, whose parents also fled Iran during the Islamic Revolution Azam’s music, it helped her to reconnect to her own Persian heritage that her parents to this day have been reluctant to let show here in the West. That kind of power and beauty cannot be underestimated or overstated.

Azam Ali’s voice, musicianship, artistry and sheer love shines like a timeless beacon. In her ethereal sound, I hear the voices of our ancient akhu (ancestors) and I hear the future. The future is exciting and bright for artists, musician, filmmakers, and writers who want to be in charge of their own careers. Azam very astutely has embraced the future and done it with a real consciousness that art is not created in a vacuum. That even though the middle men, the agents, the record companies and publishers may not be as necessary now in the digital age, certainly those of us who love art and appreciate those who create that art have a new avenue to reach each other. Azam is 110% correct that creative people should have their hands in every aspect of the art that they produce. Ultimately, it leads to putting out a far better product and it builds rapport with the very people that you are trying to reach and inspire through your art.

I am therefore, boosting the signal that Azam has sent out in an incredible leap of faith that the joint project she has created with her husband,Ramin Loga Torkian (also an incredible musician), “The Lamentation of Swans” be created by the support of their fans. According to Azam, this album will be deeply personal. Of that there can be no doubt. Please join me in making a pledge to Azam’s newest album and showing your support. The link below will lead you to the site.

Azam Ali: The Lamentation of Swans

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Signal Boost: The Ancient Egyptian Daybook

One of the fastest phenomena in how to raise funds for various projects is crowdfunding. The latest edition of The Wild Hunt by Jason Pitzl-Waters discusses how within the pagan and alternative faith communities crowdfunding is now successfully being used to raise funds for the projects and causes we think are important. The democratization of media that has been brought about by the digital revolution and ot is the perfect opportunity for us to get our books, films, projects and causes off the ground. It’s nice not to have to grovel to the legacy publishers and production companies just to get them to even glance at our ideas. In my view, it is a natural fit for us.

One of these projects featured in The Wild Hunt blog is that of Tamara Siuda, egyptologist and founder of the Kemetic Orthodox Faith, author of the Ancient Egyptian Prayer book. Tamara has launched a very successful Kickstarter campaign to help her publish the Ancient Egyptian Daybook. The book will be in both print and eBook form with plans for a phone aps as well. The initial goal of $3,000 was reached within two hours of the project’s launch, and the amount with approximately ten days left in the campaign is nearing the $9,000.00 mark.

In spite of the fact that Tamara is a member of my family, the godmother of my son and the founder of my Temple, this is a worthy project and really is not Kemetic Orthodox specific. It would be of benefit for all Kemetics that are out there and can be tailored to the individual needs of the group or individual. Even if folks do not want to get involved in this specific project, it will have demonstrated quite clearly that crowdfunding can work and incredibly well. It also serves as a great example for others within Paganism how to go about gaining success for their own projects.

I can tell you, successful crowdfunding takes much more than just making a video, tweeting about your project on Twitter or plastering links to it all over your Facebook wall asking for money. It is a lot of very hard work. There are books that have been written about it and it takes tenacity and organization. That we have someone who is close by, accessible and so very generous in sharing with others in the community as how she was able to do it so that they can do something similar can be nothing but a good thing for the overall community. You can check out the video here and get involved, too, if you so desire.

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A Little Thing That Was 750words.com

A year ago, an incredible writer and dear friend, Ashtoreth Eldritch recommended a website called 750words.com to me. For nearly the past year, I have enjoyed the ability to write stream of consciousness in the same vein as Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way book recommends that one write three pages of long hand, stream of consciousness in order to reconnect to their creativity. Because I have a hand that tends to go numb because of an injury I sustained ten years ago, this was a perfect solution for me.

Buster, the owner of the site, has announced that since taking a job with Twitter, moving his wife and their two and a half year old across country to Silicon Valley, the best solution for him, outside of selling the site, is to make it a subscription site. The cost to be a member after the first free month will be $5 per month or $50 per year. Those who cannot afford such luxuries will have the option of having their membership sponsored. Of course, that will leave some out in the cold or frustrated to find anything else online.

For myself, I will be exporting all that I have written and keeping 750words.com onto a thumb drive. Scrivener allows me to keep count of my words each day, so that is not an issue. And really, I write more like 1750 – 3000 and more words per day. I get rather nervous about putting my creativity on someone else’s website, no matter how trust worthy they are or how good their personal integrity might be. For me, it isn’t so much about the site or the little badges one gets for having made your goal so many days in a row. It is the establishment of a habit of writing and making that your priority for the day that is what 750 words is good for.

You can read more about it here: http://750words.tumblr.com/

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Pantheacon and Creative Projects

Pantheacon starts tomorrow. I will, again, not get to go this year. That makes me extremely sad because there are many friends, and even family, who will be going. My reason for not attending is I have just started a new semester to finish out my degree. While I am excited about that, I feel a like a hungry waif with her face pressed up against her computer monitor, gazing at my scores of friends on Facebook, Twitter, Livejournal, Dreamwidth and other venues where I write get to meet each other and attend some pretty wonderful classes at P’Con.

I would like to give a shout out to my sister, godmother of my son, and spiritual Mother, founder of the Kemetic Orthodox Faith, Tamara Siuda a shout out for a very successful Kickstarter campaign for her Ancient Egyptian Book of Days book. She has more than made their goal, but going past the goal with support for a really cool project is always well received. Congratulations to her and I cannot wait!

Egyptian ScribesI have a penchant for reading all things even remotely connected to Ancient Kemet and right now I am very much an enthusiast of putting titles that I already own on my Kindle. Recently, I purchased Jeremy Naydler’s Temple of the Cosmos on Kindle since I liked the hard copy so much. As I opened it up, I noticed that there was a distinct lack of quality in the book. By this I mean, as a reader, I got the short shrift because there were no illustrations as there were in the hard copy. Since the illustrations make up a large part of the book (25 -30 %) the book was rendered absolutely useless without them. Egypt is all about symbolism, especially with a hieroglyphic language and metaphor that is incorporated into the culture. Amazon’s policy is to refund any Kindle book that dissatisfies, no questions asked, within seven days of purchase. Would you believe I had the book on my Kindle Fire for under five minutes?

Most eBook consumers will just shrug and settle. My advice? Don’t. I will be contacting both Jeremy Naydler and Inner Traditions. I think Mr. Naydler is being entirely shafted by his publisher. With the advances in eBook formatting, there is absolutely no reason why a zero sum proposition, such as formatting his current manuscript for digital publishing should ever have been delayed or mishandled. Maybe if I point Mr. Naydler toward some self publishing blogs, such as those of Kathrun Kristine Rusch, Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler, he, too will walk away from his publisher. As a book consumer and an avid reader and researcher, I am furious. I am more than willing to purchase every Inner Traditions title that I own in digital format as well because I want the portability. I am not willing to do this if there is such a glaring difference between what is offered in print and what is offered digitally.

This touches on the very sensitive issue of the wide proliferation of PDF files of published books floating around out there, from which the author does not make a dime. As an author and small publisher, I know that this is unethical. Let me more direct: It’s stealing. Conversely, however, if a publisher does not give enough of a damn about either its authors or it’s paying customers to give them a true facsimile of what they have put in hard or soft cover, that publisher, in my view, has absolutely no business representing the author, or bringing their works to the marketplace. Inner Traditions, up until very recently, had some rather vociferous staff members who went as far as to blog their opinion that they hoped that Inner Traditions did not see fit to participate in this “eBook thing”, since it was ultimately killing publishing, books and bookstores as we know them.

This may be true. Technology has a way of making obsolete that which has gone before, or opening up other avenues that the public likes and eventually demands. However, publishers, agents and even writers themselves are ultimately complicit in the demise of their own industry because they have not reacted well enough to the industry wide changes. Books are not obsolete, there are just other ways to get content delivered. The cost of a book in digital format is often priced less than one that is in physical form, however, it should not mean that a consumer should be happy with an altogether inferior product. Because of the tools that are available to the consumer and prosumer markets, and the endless books, blogs, articles and news stories in broadcast media, it is now possible for anyone (and I do mean ANYONE) to put together their own book, movie music video, you name it. With social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr, people can promote their work. With the explosion of crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the creative projects of millions of authors, artists, filmmakers, and musicians has seen the light of day. The publishing industry and its gatekeepers can no longer justify not being able to do what individuals and small groups of people can accomplish. The creatives are ready to take back what was always theirs, eliminating the middle men who would cut into them actually profiting from their own works. The castle has been stormed. The revolution is well under way and there is no turning back now.

That is not to say that anyone can get away from needing the feedback of a good editor or the services of a good cover artist, if you are not too handy with Photoshop, or non-linear editing yourself, for instance. However, the days of absolutely needing an agent or even a publisher are over. With the incentives being offered by online venues such as Amazon.com, or even iBook, why would you put anyone who clearly does not care about their established writers enough to put out a decent digital copy of their extant work in charge of yours? Think about it: What is a better return on investment or return on the sweat equity you undoubtedly put into your creative projects Would you prefer to receive 25% of list price or 70% of list price. Would you like beer money in a check at the end of the year whenever your publisher gets round to sending it to you (less any advances or “costs” they tack on, of course) or would you prefer to get a direct royalty payment that pays your car or house payment or student loan payment or more every 60 days?

Think about that one very carefully and then get back to me. I think I know what most people will choose in the end. I know which one I chose, and it was the one where I get to be the control freak and tell people where to go when it comes to my creative work.

The bottom line in business is really always the bottom line. Pagans and authors who have a good head for business are not necessarily selling out. We watch trends, we are as aware of the mundane as we are of the spiritual. That is what it means to walk between the worlds. You have to keep your head about you, or like doing spiritual battle, you are going to fall on your literal if not magical ass. You have to be smart and think about your resources; the greatest of which is YOU.

Below are some of the best links that I know of for folks who are thinking of going their own way. If you choose to go the traditional route, that is certainly a time honoured way of going about getting into print. If, however, are careful about weighing the pros and cons and want to have more control over the entire process, then some of the listed blogs, websites and books are a great way to get into the game.

The Passive Voice Blog – Passive Guy, an attorney, keeps on top of what the industry is doing both from a business standpoint and often a legal one. Readers of the Passive Voice tend to have some great discussions and are very aware of what is going on.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch – A very successful author across many different fiction and non-fiction genres, Rusch has an excellent insight to indie publishing vs. going within the industry. She and her husband, Dean Wesley Smith easily make their living by writing.

Joe Konrath – Other than Amanda Hocking, this man is the top folks doing it to follow. He and his friend, Barry Eisler debunk many of the myths about epublishing, including the legends surrounding their own successes.

There are many, many more and if I were to list them all, this blog post would be endless. I will hopefully have a page of these links and others to share with folks. In spite of things being scary economically, this is a time where innovation can offer opportunities we have never even imagined before. It’s largely unexplored territory. However, it is the possibility of discovering something that may possibly allow us to carve a life of our own out of that wild and unknown place that holds the most promise.

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Filed under business, update, writing

On being a woman and why politics matters

I don’t often talk about politics. I try not to wear my beliefs or anything else like that on my sleeve or publish it on my blog. This post will be the rare exception to the rule. I hope those of you who are regular readers, especially those who re more than a little sick of all the political din will at least hear me out. It’s important, no matter who you vote for, which I personally believe should be according to one’s conscience.

Recently, in this present election cycle, there have been certain politicians who have said things about women and women’s issues that have me more than a little concerned. First we had the candidate for the Senate, Todd Akin (R-MO) make some sort of claim that “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” What exactly is a “legitmate rape” vs. an “illegitimate” one? No one has been able to answer that one for me yet.

Then within the last couple of weeks, some other dim bulb by the name of Mourdock quips, “….I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.”

Seriously. What is wrong with these people? Have the last fifty years in women’s rights not taught us anything? Did our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and colleagues that bravely went before us fight for nothing? Is it really inevitable that women will never truly attain equality? Was all the progress we made in the sixties and seventies and even into the eighties with regard to civil rights for everyone in vain? Why are there still small pockets of people, mostly corporate plutocrats, who honestly believe that women, minorities and those of different sexual orientation are somehow inferior? Thank the Gods for a generation who mostly know that all the rhetoric and cited scripture or legal precedent used to discriminate against others is just flat out wrong.

I do not and cannot share the belief that any Creator of any credibility whatsoever would ever approve of the heinous crime of rape. You can couch it and rephrase it any way that you like in order to soften it, but it really boils down to an act of violence against a woman is committed. And according to these men’s’ personal religious beliefs, she should be required to give birth if she is unfortunate enough to become pregnant as a result. This of course goes to an even deeper issue that women are somehow not people, or they are of less value or violence against them can be ultimately excused or hushed up or even discounted. If a man raped another man and could potentially become pregnant, do you think the reaction to the situation would be any different?

Not on your life!

Many politicians within the GOP keep abdicating responsibility for acceptable social behaviour and passing it off onto their religious beliefs. There is a holier-than-thou false morality that seems to want to turn back the clock to the 1950’s. They acre continually trying to push for it as if somehow, if we can just manage to get the genie on women’s issues back into the bottle, then everything will be so much better socially and economically!

To that I say, “Bullshit!”

These people don’t (or won’t) ever say it out loud, but it is really quite clear that they would rather that women would mostly be back home, in front of the stove, taking care of the kids and accepting whatever hand that the men in various positions within her sphere want to deal her. Really when you look at the rhetoric that is being espoused on the campaign trail, some of it may as well have been a statement made by the Taliban. To my mind, there is really very little difference between the Talibn and what I not-so-lovingly refer to as the ‘Christoban’.

In past elections, I always made my voting decisions along the lines of the things that politicians did with regard to First Nations / Indigenous issues. It is something that I grew up with my whole life. I cut my teeth on the Mohawk Nation’s paper, Akwasasne Notes and also the Cherokee Advocate. I was reading those sorts of “radical rags” from age 9 onward. I watched what was happening then, and I remember the riots and the siege at Wounded Knee II. Seeing the perspective outside of mainstream media was deeply ingrained in me long ago. Civil rights for everyone is an issue that cuts deep within me. I am always shocked when people from my generation or in the rare instance, of those who are younger, act as if these things should somehow be up for debate. I was raised within a culture that is largely matrifocal and matrilineal. No man or woman can be Chief within the Nation without the approval of the Clan Mothers and the Grandmothers, and they can remove him or her if they feel that he or she has betrayed the People. To my mind, that is the way it should be. If we had that sort of checks and balances in place, we might not have half the issues that we do right now in the realm of politics. No doubt certain people would never hold public office!

As a woman, and a divorced, single mother, things are tough enough without some men in public office, many of whom make many times over what I have made in the last ten years, deciding whether or not I am “worthy” to be able to choose for myself what I can do with my own body, whether or not I can see to my healthcare through an organization like Planned Parenthood, who not only provide birth control, but also preventative care for women of all ages, including mammograms, pap smears, and other preventative care. As a woman I am also deeply concerned that my child, now an adult, will get to stay on my healthcare plan, and that he can finish his education and I can finish mine. I cannot fathom how in the 21st Century we are even entertaining the possibility that these same men could potentially take away many of the choices that we women have taken for granted for at least the last 30 years.

This year, when I cast my ballot. I will have made certain to take a look at the voting record on how every politician voted and introduced legislation not only for Indigenous First Nations issues, but also with regard to women’s, LGBT, student, the poor and all other forms of civil rights. I would encourage everyone, if they have a bit of time, to do at least a little research in that area and make sure the candidate of your choice really does have your best interests at heart, or if they are just conveying a message that they hope will be just enough to get them elected.

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Free eBook for Download (9/21/12) Knowledge from the Sacred Tree

Through today, Ma’at Publishing, my small publishing company, will be offering exclusively through Amazon, the new, revised edition of “Knowledge from the Sacred Tree: Runes Images and Shapes of Energy” by Tina Houk for FREE.

If you don’t have a Kindle device, that is not to worry. Amazon offers several “reader” programs for PC, Mac, and many different smart phones so that you can read your Amazon eBooks, also for free.

Knowledge from the Sacred Tree

Confession time: I sat on this book and putting it out there for well over six months because of the abject terror I felt about formatting issues. The first thing people trash small indie publishers about are the formatting issues. I still have a couple of little things I realize that I could have done better, however, putting an eBook out there was an unnecessarily gut-wrenching proposition To hear some within the cacophony of voices on the subject, you would think it was akin to giving birth and having a root canal simultaneously! Thankfully through the advice of those who have been through it before and the Kindle Direct Community boards, I got through it unscathed. Now that I know how, I will be releasing “Sekhmet: The Beauty and the Terror” within the next few weeks. Watch this space as I will also be offering that one via Amazon as well.

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What do you do with old LP’s?

Recently I started cleaning my herb room / meditation space which is in the basement here in the Log Cabin in the Enchanted Forest. A friend of mine, Marina Rose, left an entire crate of record albums for me to hang onto. She did this about 17 years ago. I have tried to find her, get in touch with her and to no avail. I want and need the space so that I can finish cleaning, reclaiming and making the space mine once and for all. I have several questions as to the dispensation of the albums, and then once I do that, do I just ship it out? Is it worth uploading them on eBay – there has to be over 100 of them! Some of these are Beatles albums, Led Zepplin, along with artists from the 80’s whom we would never admit to having bought the album in the first place. If I do this, how do I ship them to their new owners? The last time I was at the post office, I did not see mailers that were the size of LP’s.

Or should I just forge the hassle, take them to 1/2 price books, get what I can and be done with it?

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