Friday, 22 February 2013

Trying to Find the Positives

I looked over this blog yesterday, just after I’d posted the Bitchcraft rant.  I realised that I’m ranting a lot.  There is a lot about our community at the moment that saddens me, that disappoints me, that irritates me and rubs me up the wrong way.

So I looked around to try and find something useful and positive to write about.  NOT the copy and paste or shared nauseating memes and “inspirational” quotes that flood social media.  Something that I could call genuinely positive in our ‘community’.

It was hard to find anything. 

In one group about a Festival coming up, there was an offer of a Gnostic Mass by the OTO.  That had potential as a positive, but freakouts and assumptions followed - based on “she might have her tits out and we’re a family-friendly thing”.  I find that sad for a group that claims to be so open to anything.  Not to mention the foot-stomping by someone who claims to have stepped back from that festival and has only attended one in several years.

I saw a flounce and denunciations of negativity from another group after someone thought they were doing a public service, but didn’t read the group rules of how to go about it.  They were informed politely that this was how it was supposed to be done, but apparently, a link to something Maxine Sanders has done overrides all group rules.

I saw a tantrum (followed by wildly inaccurate justifications) from a supposed elder after being caught out doing something silly.

I saw plagiarism and associated threats (drama optional).

I saw another inaccurate representation of a community service I was involved with years ago - from the person who decided her own unrealistic and bigoted standards were more important than community.

I saw intelligent discussion of a community issue descend into pointless name-calling and abuse.

I heard about adventures at Pantheacon - a large American Pagan Convention (as far as I can tell) that was mostly stories about they dealt with or avoided some of the challenging twits who come along.

The useful and positive things I have heard about this week have come from phone calls with friends.  One is doing a wonderful service to another in a magical setting, but being the person he is, it’s all kept quiet.  In doing this service to her, he is also getting wonderful service from her as I know he feels isolated magically as well as geographically.

I saw a man I respect handle a difficult situation with more grace and honour than the situation deserved.  Although, again this was kept private.

Why is it that the truly useful and positive things are so hidden?  Humility from those who genuinely do these things may be some of it, but others who know also keep their mouths shut.

Could it be that too many others would step in and taint it with their accusations of ulterior motives?  That they would twist and warp a positive thing until it seems sinister.  I know such things happen, I’ve been on the receiving end of it often enough.

Is ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ so bad that we have to hide our lights out of fear that we’d be knocked down next?

Is the fault with me?  Is it that I don’t see the small positives that are going on all around?  Do I only see the negative, the nasty and the disheartening because that’s what I’m expecting to see?

Right now, this whole thing makes me feel old and tired and sad.


Thursday, 21 February 2013


In the past week, I've seen two separate instances of a well-known personality within our community being discussed, usually in a derisive manner.

The first was that New Zealand's own special little snowflake crazy man has been doing some name dropping or something like that - not sure on the details.  Anyway, when Raymond Buckland has a facebook status denying any connection with him and that he doesn't in fact know either of these people (one a real name, one a pseudonym - both the same person) well, news like this does the rounds.

At first the comments were sniggers and giggles.  Then a few newer people to the community asked a few questions about the person in question and the stories started to come out.

It was suggested by a couple of people that really, perhaps his doings were none of our business and we should leave him alone.  But when his behaviour includes pushing drugs on others attending workshops, targeted email abuse and threats of physical violence (he was going to come and cut my head off at one stage) - then it *is* our business.  That's not counting the consistent clueless attacks all over the internet on everyone who doesn't follow his own created path.

Then today, I see that someone has unfriended someone else.  She then felt a need to tell us all about the fact that she'd unfriended him, that she doesn't like what he posts to his blog and provide a link to one of his blogposts. There was a long line of people commenting on how much of an arse he is and a bully and mentally deranged and on it went.

Now, I agree, at times, he can be an arse, he can be extremely intense and most people find that hard to deal with and when he gets passionate about something, the words begin to fly.  There are times when reading his blog that I do get a mental picture of him frothing at the mouth as he's typing.


There is usually a point and a valid one at that.  I've learned that to get through to people you often have to upset them first - just to get their attention.  As one of my friends says in Tarot readings:

The Truth might set you free, but it will piss you off first!

The polite people may have something of value to say, but they get drowned out, overlooked and ignored.

I called it as I saw it.  Great that she'd made the grown up choice to unfriend him, but to start a discussion where everyone was bagging him where he was unable to see and respond was childish in the extreme.  She believes that she is providing a public service -  

"I feel ethically bound to warn people about him because of many reasons, which I will not list because then it becomes a legal issue."  

Or in other words, I'm going to tell you all to keep away from this chap, but not the real reasons why.  She goes on to describe him as a cyberbully and suggests all sorts of ulterior motives for those times when he is nice or helpful.

I've said it before, I'll say it again.  I really must have a different definition of cyberbully to damn near everyone else.  I've seen cyberbullying in action, a friend of my daughters who was getting constant text messages that say things like:

Ur a stupid ugly bitch, u don't deserve anything u have nd especially not ur boyfriend. Ur a cheating slut that shouldn't even be alive, go slit ur damn wrists nd bleed to death we don't need or want u around. Just fucking die stupid whore. People only pay for u cause the good prostitute's r taken.

This is cyberbullying, I believe it was taken to the Police and rightly so.  Expressing an unpopular opinion that hurts your feelings is not the same, it's not even remotely the same. And this is coming from alleged adults!

Why have I used these two examples?  The first one is crazy, he is dangerous, he fits much of the Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame and I for one find that a real cause for concern.  The second one says mean things on his blog.

And yet they both got the same treatment.  You would think from reading about the second that he was just as crazy as the first.  

I got a notification to say I'd been mentioned in a comment, but had no access to see this comment.  At the same time, I get a notification of a private message from that person.  It's terribly polite explaining that she's felt the need to unfriend me because ethically she can't have anyone who is friends with him or defends him on her friends list.

Just a note, I didn't defend him or his actions.  I clarified a situation where people thought I was making assumptions about the material, where in fact I knew more than they did.  I did say that I was less than impressed that everyone was jumping on the bandwagon to stick a sneaky boot in where they couldn't be seen.

I queried that notification about a comment that I can't see and got a rushed explanation.  A mutual friend tells me the entire discussion then disappeared.  Seems it was my turn, although as I said to her, I hoped I was wrong as she'd raised ethics.

What followed was an incoherent bunch of stuff about how she'd gotten lots of private messages from people who actually are scared of him and that she was putting herself at great risk by saying things in public.  But these people clearly knew more than I did and knew what he was capable of, but she couldn't actually say anymore than that, other than she believed them.

What a load of shit.

If there is something potentially dangerous about a person, you contact the authorities.  You don't hint and backbite on facebook.  The comments on that thread were mostly along the line of "I'll only tell him to leave once, after that I'll make him." Now those are the words of people who are genuinely frightened of someone?

Worse still, these are all people who have been in the Pagan and Magical scene for "a whole lot longer than me".  So if he's such a problem, do something about it!  Are you witches and magicians or are you a bunch of poseurs talking yourselves up?  Is it that really, you know that your vague suggestions of danger are all hearsay and chinese whispers and that doing a little malefica would backfire?  If you're all that and a bag of chips, there would be no need to whisper and insinuate but "say no more than that because there'd be legal ramifications".  There would only be legal ramifications if it's untrue. 

One of the complaints was about the way he speaks to beginners.  He's full on and harsh.  Yep, I agree, but on reflection, maybe that's not a bad thing.  He's open to beginners who have a brain and are willing to do some work for themselves rather than expect everything that others have worked hard to understand to be handed to them on a silver platter.

Should we be sugarcoating everything for beginners?  I'm starting to think that this may be where many of the problems within our community have come from.  Beginners start out with everyone giving them the "love, light and unicorns that fart rainbows" information.  When they start to find out that it's work, that it's not just easy and positive thinking they then reject that as "not my thing" but feel that they've been doing this long enough to know what they're talking about.

Between the backbiting and the fluffies, it's no wonder that this community is so dysfunctional.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Unverifiable Personal Gnosis

Unverifiable Personal Gnosis -

"Unverified personal gnosis (often abbreviated UPG) is the phenomenological concept that an individual's spiritual insights (or gnosis) may be valid for them without being generalizable to the experience of others. It is primarily a neologism used in polytheistic reconstructionism, to differentiate it from ancient sources of spiritual practices."

Thanks Wikipedia. You summed it up better than I could.

Basically, stuff you know through spiritual experience is your truth and cannot be applied to anyone else.  Nor can you verify or validate this knowledge to/for others. It becomes an article of faith.

UPG is well known and somewhat accepted in Pagan circles, or rather, some Pagan circles.  But with some of what people are coming out with, there has been discussion regarding how much is UPG and how much is MUS (Made Up Shit) and how can we tell the difference.

For the most part, I have accepted UPG, although I have become fairly cynical about some of it.  A lot of whether I accept it or not has come from the rest of the behaviour of the person who is relating it.  One friend has chosen to not say anything negative at all.  She's stuck to that for over a year (that I've seen).  This doesn't mean that she's become one of those daft people who take everything at face value and spout so much "positive influence" crap all the time - that very quickly becomes nauseating - however, she expresses her positivity and rejection of negativity in a far healthier way.

But I do wonder, at what point do we call Bullshit?

I recently bought a book filled with prayers and incantations from an ancient culture.  That part is wonderful.  However, the book also contains a modern form of practise that has been changed to suit the author.  She says she knows that this is okay because she consulted the Gods concerned and received answers through divination and oracles.

I understand that this may have been the practise that created many of the traditions that we have today - oracles and divination I mean.  I understand that it is purely personal choice whether to follow this method of doing things too.  But this author is also the head of the modern form of this faith - her UPG is now the accepted method of doing things for thousands of followers.

Can you see my issue?

Can it still be called UPG when it has become something not so much personal as dogmatic?

What about when someone is teaching others things that are diametrically opposed to traditional knowledge?  Those things that have come from history, mythology and traditions.  Is this automatically bullshit or just a different view, could it be that this Divinity has chosen to show a completely different face or form of expression to that person?  Either way, should that person be teaching this to others?

This comes full circle back to the first example.  Can or should you teach your UPG to others?  Or rather, should you be presenting your UPG as fact?

I don't believe it's the right thing to do.  If it's what is happening, then a precursor of "This is my experience, it's not necessarily true for everyone else" is essential for complete honesty.  Mind you, that's at the start of many things I do anyway.