Sunday, 2 February 2020

Wards and Shields

I often see discussions around empaths, psychic attacks and curses and the usage of shields and wards.  Commonly the person complaining about being attacked, cursed or overwhelmed asserts that they have shields up, they have their wards in place but whoever their assailant is can get around them.

The obvious answer is to change your system, it's clearly not working for you.  But this seems to be met with a wall of "Wait, what? What do you mean change my system? It's a ward."

There isn't a single method.  There isn't a single way of doing this that will always work every time.  Attacks can take many forms and no single shield or ward will be infallible.  If you give out information on how you've set your wards, you're effectively inviting someone to come and break them or get past them.  I know people who would do it just for the practice.

So, in designing or reworking your wards, first you need to decide how you want them to work and what you're warding.

Do you want you or your property to be invisible? This can work, but you need to be specific about who it is invisible to and how that is determined.  Does it require an invitation to find it? Does ordering pizza qualify as an invitation?  I know that may sound silly, but I know of one person who went with this as an option and couldn't get anything at all delivered until they changed it. Is it invisible only to those with harmful intent towards you and yours?  Many curses can be worked as blessings, will they sneak through?

Do you want your property to have the energetic equivalent of high fences with razor wire? This can also work, but again, you need to think of the specifics.  Can anyone see through? How will the positive, wanted energies get through? The other thing to consider is that much like physical high fences and barbed wire, this kind of thing is like putting a big sign up saying "there's something worth protecting here".  Have you ever paid attention to which houses get burgled most often? It's usually the ones with obvious security, these are the people who have stuff worth taking.  Doing your energetic security in a similar way may attract all kinds of curious things. How strong is it really?

Do you want a solid impenetrable wall or bubble? I like this as a temporary measure now and then, but remember, if nothing can get in, then nothing can get out.  And if nothing can get in, that means nothing at all, the positive will be excluded as well as the negative.  Nothing moving in or out will make the environment inside stale after a while.

Do you want to set a guardian? A guardian can act as a warden or gatekeeper to monitor what comes in and allow access or block as needed.  The type of guardian you choose and how you instruct them in their role will make a difference to the value they add.  Will your guardian be an ancestor or spirit guide?  Will it be a construct? How will you provide them with the energy required to fulfill their role? How will you maintain a good relationship with them? Are you wanting a single guardian or a team or the equivalent of a pack of guard dogs?

Will your wards be a single piece or different layers? Different layers will be more work and will take more thought in to what each layer will be comprised of. This isn't a bad thing.  If your outside layer is something like "nothing to see here", it will deflect most of the frivolous types saving the serious juice for more determined attacks.

Will your wards be tied to an object or several objects? For personal shields, this can be a piece of jewellery. For a property, this could be charged items placed in the corners. Will your wards be affected if the item is moved or taken away altogether?

Do you have some sort of alarm or notification system built into your wards? Will you know if they're being tried?  Will you know if they need more energy or a repair in a weak spot? Do you want to be advised as it's happening or would you rather do a check now and then?

I believe it's best to answer these questions for yourself, figure out what you want and work out a way to make it work from there.  There are no right or wrong answers, there is only what works best for you in your particular situation.  If you get it wrong for you, learn from it and fix it or change it to something else.

Experiment, make mistakes, learn from them.  Rinse and repeat.



Friday, 22 March 2019

Autumn Equinox 2019

Yesterday was the Autumn Equinox.  I haven't really done much to celebrate it over the last few years as it's quite a busy time for me.  As it is a harvest festival, I'm usually flat out preserving my crop to keep it over the next year.  This year hasn't really been too different, although my garden has been mostly neglected during our horrendously hot and oppressive summer.  I'm well known amongst friends and family for this, so I am also often the recipient of their overflows and have been given a lot of fruit to work my magic on.

This year however, the Equinox fell almost a week after the shootings in Christchurch.  A far right, fascist, anti-immigration lunatic shot up two mosques killing 50 Muslims at prayer and wounding 50 more.

His hateful reaping however, harvested something truly amazing.  The outpouring of love from Christchurch people, from New Zealanders and from the rest of the world has been awe-inspiring and overwhelming.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a contrary person.  I am naive and always wanting to believe the best of people while also being a cynical old bitch.  So while I hoped for a positive response, I expected the opposite.  So the response from people everywhere has left me hiding away from people while I cry often.  Those tears aren't fear or an inability to cope with my city being changed again and while there's still sadness for the tragedy, mostly my tears are about people being better than I'd given them credit for.

I'm in awe at the messages of love and support. I'm in awe of the strength of our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her grace in handling this.  I'm in awe of the opposition parties in our Government pulling their heads in and supporting our PM.  I'm in awe of the actions ordinary people are taking the world over because of this event.  I have never seen the goodness in people shine through on such a massive scale and I don't know how to adjust to it.  I am in awe of the constant vigils, the markers of respect and support (I think our florists nationwide have run out of flowers repeatedly) and the turnout of people attending these events.  I am in awe of our gangs, previously violent rivals, coming together, putting their differences aside to stand in support of the Muslim community. I am in awe of our Police force and emergency services for their hard work and incredible strength.

So this year, my Autumn Equinox celebration is one of genuine thanksgiving and gratitude.

I am grateful that I was wrong about people in general and give thanks that I was wrong.
I am grateful that I live in a place where this is how we react to things like this.
I am guiltily thankful that my family were safe although I can't say that anyone is unaffected by it.
I am grateful that for the most part, this has caused a huge shift in what ordinary people will and won't tolerate with regards to casual racism and hate speech.
I am grateful that our Government has used common sense in tightening up gun laws and gun licensing and done it quickly.
I am grateful that as a nation, we're being held up as a beacon of sense and respect by the rest of the world.

I am grateful.



Thursday, 7 March 2019

Self-examination and Doubt

Every so often, I get to wondering about the magic I have performed.

I wonder if the results I have gotten are real.  Rather, I wonder if my actions and spells worked have had any effect at all to achieve the results that have occurred.  I wonder if the ending would have been the same whether I did anything or not.  Do I do these things as a way to fool myself that I'm actually doing anything useful?  Am I using confirmation bias to justify the things I do?

Then I wonder if the results happen the way I wanted them, does it matter?

I am a firm believer in brutal self-honesty.  I believe most magical journeys will include some aspect of this if the practitioner is to grow as a person, to be fair, most life journeys need this if anyone is to grow as a person.

The times when we look back over past events and ask ourselves how we could have done things differently, take responsibility for the times when we cast ourselves in the role of victim instead of perpetrator and the times when we realise that perhaps our own poor choices led us up that sorry path to an unpleasant event in our lives.  Equally, it is important to recognise when things weren't your fault, when there was nothing useful you could have done and to forgive yourself for what you think you should have done but didn't.

There seems to be a popular idea that you should just let everything go, forget about it and move on.  I dislike this concept intensely.  It gives no closure, it gives no opportunity to learn from your mistakes or even to recognise that you made them and it gives no chance for you to grow into a better you.

The down side to doing this kind of work on yourself is that it can lead to doubts.  Doubt in your abilities, doubt in your sense of self-worth and doubt in everything about yourself.  As I started this talking about magic, let's also add doubt in your ability to create change in the world and perform successful magic.

Doubt is the magic killer.

Like the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear from the Dune series by Frank Herbert, doubt is destruction.  For those unfamiliar with this classic work of science fiction:

I must not fear.  Fear is the mind-killer.  Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.  I will face my fear.  I will permit it to pass over me and through me.  And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.  Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.  Only I will remain.
As an affirmation or mantra, this is not particularly useful.  Fear is the main concept focused on and emphasised and this will build fear.  So I'm not suggesting that this be reworded to use doubt instead of fear.  But the way fear is talked about in this quote is useful for discussion purposes.

Doubt is the magic killer.  Doubt eats at your confidence to achieve results, doubt eats away at your purpose until the suggestions doubt makes replace your purpose.  This isn't usually a conscious thing, this is the "what ifs" taking over.  Doubt is failure.  Facing your doubts and freeing yourself from doubts isn't necessarily as easy as allowing them to pass over and through you.

When I have a bout of self-examination and exploring past events I usually focus on the things that went wrong.  The catastrophic and painful.  I often forget about or gloss over my successes.  This is where doubt is able to creep in.

Look equally at what went well.  What do you think you did that made this event a success?  How can you build that into more successes?  Can you reasonably expect that to work again or will it need some tweaking to continue the momentum?

They don't have to be big successes.  Some will seem like small ones until you weigh up what the opposite effect would have been.  Any success is as valuable and equally a learning opportunity just as much as a mistake would have been.

So when I'm in my "what if all my magic is me using superstition to fool myself that I make a difference" headspace, I remember the time that every car in my street was broken into and siphoned for petrol except mine, which I'd foolishly left unlocked in my driveway overnight.  I remember when a stalker suddenly seemed to forget about me altogether.  I remember when a friend's father who was not expected to last the week surprised the medical staff in the hospital by getting well and is still going strong months later.

It genuinely might be purely coincidence, I accept that.  But I got the results I wanted so does it matter?



Saturday, 16 February 2019

I am Grumpy.

Very grumpy.

I had noticed that a couple of my facebook groups were missing from my feed.  I wasn't overly active in either group so it wasn't a big deal, but I was bored so I went looking for them.  I couldn't find them at all.  I hadn't just been booted from the groups, I had also been blocked.

That's not something you could say was a facebook glitch, that requires someone to go out of their way to tick a few boxes.

As I had been more of a lurker than someone who comments anything controversial in both of these groups, I was more confused.  I couldn't have said anything that upset anyone, since I hadn't said anything at all in either group for weeks.

I reached out to one of the admins from one of the groups to find out why.  I wasn't certain if I cared enough to rejoin the group, but I was curious about my removal.

That admin did some digging and came back to tell me I had some haters that claimed I was trying to shut down groups.  I was banned and blocked because of that, without anyone coming to ask me what the story was.  She went on to ask if I'd heard of a certain person, let's call her Ms W, who was the second in command in a very large group.  I had never heard of Ms W and I have had nothing whatsoever to do with that group since the previous (late) owner went on a massive power trip and spent a lot of time and energy hunting down people by their associations and trying to have them banned from everywhere.

She told me that Ms W had posted all about me in a group specifically for admins and mods of pagan groups.  I admin several pagan groups, I applied to join.

I was accepted and fairly quickly found the post.  Up to that point, I had assumed that I was only one of the accused and that it was really about a plagiarism and copyright theft watchdog group I'm a member of.  Apparently it wasn't.  The post started with my profile picture, a link to my profile page, claims that I got a group or two shut down by reporting copyright violations and warnings to be careful of me.

Now if I'd done it, I wouldn't have an issue.  Shit yeah, boot me for standing up for the authors who you are stealing from, you miserable pieces of filth.  I'd be owning it and damned proud.

But I didn't.

I only heard of these groups after they'd been shut down.

The first came to my attention when someone in one of my groups asked if anyone knew what had happened to it.  I went looking and found a new incarnation (the third as it turns out).  I went back and shared the link with the person who'd been looking.

Another friend was already in this new incarnation of the group and they sent me screenshots of their files section.  Eight pages of screenshots.  The files section contained lots and lots of pdf copies of books that were still under copyright. 

So I passed this on to the watchdog group.  There are plenty of authors and people from publishers in there.  If they saw their work, they could request its removal and report it if that didn't happen.  My part was done.

A lot of people don't seem to understand that only the copyright owner can take action of any kind.  They are the only person who has the right and ability to say "this is mine and you do not have permission to be distributing it".  They are the only person who can file a report for copyright violations, on facebook and anywhere else on the internet.  They are the only person who can file a DMCA and have a website taken down.

For me to report copyright violations, it would have to be all my own work.  I have written only one book and had one piece included in an anthology. 

It takes more than one report for facebook to take action like this.  It takes multiple reports before they'll look closer and decide you're clearly a problem and repeat offender.

Through circumstances in which I was merely a spectator, the files in the new group were removed.  Great.  Issue resolved. 

The other group only came to my attention when someone posted about them in the watchdog group.  The owner of the second group was a member of the watchdog group and was called out about his so called Library.  He made his group secret and blocked the admins of the watchdog group.  This got him booted from the group.  But not before he'd gone through the entire membership of that group and individually blocked all the members. 

Well, he must have missed some because I know of at least one who is still in his group.  I've seen more screenshots of the paranoia he's taken to the new group, individually interviewing each new member before they're allowed in.

So here are two groups that I apparently had shut down by reporting copyright theft to facebook.  Copyrights I had no right or ability to report.  Groups I had no knowledge of and had never heard of until after they'd been reported.

So I commented on the post naming me in this Admin group.  This post that had apparently been doing the rounds of admin groups for a couple of weeks.  I rather politely (given the circumstances) defended myself.  I pointed out that only the copyright holder could report these things.

My comments were liked by some of that group's Admins.  I read through the rest of the group.

It appeared that an accusation of some kind of wrong-doing was all that was required for many of these admins to remove you from their own individual groups.  I saw one case that included proof and that was pretty awful.  The rest were "This person did that in my group" with a link to their profile.  This was then followed by various claims of "Eww, I recommend empaths and sensitives don't go and look" or "Thanks, removed from my group".

Gossip and rumour were that was needed for these people to decide to remove someone from their groups.  No kind of proof was provided or needed most of the time.  Hearsay is enough for hanging.

I noticed a subthread going on in the thread about me, but I was having problems opening it to see what was being said.  I kept getting messages that said "Something has gone wrong.  Please try again later."

It took some time, (I think there was some kind of weird glitch on my phone that made it seem stranger,) but I discovered I'd been removed from this group and blocked.  My friends had been removed from the group and blocked.  One commented on the thread and managed to get a screenshot before she was removed and blocked.  My comments where I defended myself had been deleted.

Somewhat ironically, the friend that got screenshots, posted on her page to warn people about this group.  The first comment was from someone else saying the first group was absolutely shut down for illegal pdfs.  She'd emailed several authors and publishers herself and sent them links to that group.  It's a public post, anyone who chooses to stalk her profile can see all of it.  I'm really hoping that someone is going to go looking.

This is the type of person that is running many facebook groups.  They aren't interested in finding out the truth of an issue, they'll believe anything of anybody.  The more salacious, the better.  They're happy to believe the worst without proof.  I'll lay money that they're the ones who require "negative" people leave their bad vibes at the doors of their respective groups too.

What I find even worse is that I'm a problem for wanting copyright laws respected.  If these groups weren't breaking the law they would have nothing at all to worry about, even if I was the person doing the reporting.

This is a very sad state of affairs.  The so-called leaders in these groups are childish gossips, looking for an opportunity to see the worst in their membership, sharing hearsay and rumours and finding more fault in wanting to uphold the law than in breaking it.

This has left me with quite a sour taste in my mouth.  I am disappointed in the Pagan community for allowing this and most of all, I am grumpy.

I am very grumpy.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Bread magic

While doing some research for something else today, I came across a reference to Bread magic.  There was one small example, but nothing more.

That example was blessed bread broken into quarters and placed in the corners of a barn to protect the stored crops.

There was so much more that could have been suggested under this heading, so many ideas that I have and things others have spoken about.  Why was this not included?  So I have chosen to address that lack.

Bread in History and Culture

Bread (in various forms) has long been used in ritual and religious ceremony as well as having strong cultural meanings.  The word companion comes from Latin com - "with" and panis - "bread".  In Central and Eastern Europe, offering guests bread and salt is part of a welcoming ceremony and has been written about in plenty of medieval culture fiction books as a way of ensuring guest rights and responsibilities.

The phrase "to break bread" with someone is commonly used to describe not just a meal shared but also a sense of camaraderie, of meaningful connection, of friendships formed or maintained.

In Abrahamic religions, bread has significance.  From eating Matzo at Passover to the bread of the Eucharist, bread features strongly.  In Islam, bread is representative of all food in general.  In Ancient Egypt, bread was left as offerings to Gods and ancestors as well as being symbolic of all food.

In many Pagan Traditions, bread is a common offering for Gods, spirits and ancestors.  It's sometimes part of the cakes and ale commonly at the end of ritual.

Making Bread

The process of making bread has so many opportunities for magical work.  Getting the yeast started and frothy - a wish could be made or a purpose declared with the sugar and yeast and visualised as growing with the froth and bubbles.

I find kneading my dough to be quite a meditative process even when I'm not adding magic.  So using it for raising energy seems like an obvious step.

Shaping the dough is where, for me, the magic really comes to life.  Someone has hurt you?  A bread poppet, possibly stuffed with other things, then left out for the birds to peck to bits.  Want to draw something to you?  Shape the dough into a sigil or representation of what you want to bring into your life.  Consuming the bread is bringing it more literally into your life and yourself.  The possibilities for this are limited only by your imagination.  Make a protective sigil out of bread, varnish it and keep it stored forever.  Create a blessing for your crops and bury it in your garden.  Some healing magic? Add some beneficial (and culinary) herbs to your dough and eat your way to good health - or gift it to someone who needs it.


We can't forget Lammas, quite literally a Bread Festival as Lammas comes from Loaf Mass.  Although it was originally tied to the first grain harvest, for many who are not in an agricultural setting, Lammas is all about baking bread and breaking bread.  Many modern pagans have their own bread recipes and associated bread magic for Lammas.

There are often bread recipes offered for each Sabbat on many blogs, websites and in books.  Many seem to have little association with the Sabbat except perhaps in some subtle way known only to whoever is publishing it.  That said, I would still encourage trying the recipes and seeing if they work for you.

Have some fun with bread and use your imagination!



Thursday, 9 August 2018

How Piracy Has Nearly Stopped Me From Writing

Piracy of copyrighted works has been an issue for as long as the internet has been around.  When I was a teenager, if we wanted a "free copy" of a book, we either had to steal it outright (or pay the fine for not returning it to the library) or photocopy the entire book - which wasn't really free as we had to pay 20c per page at the library.  If you wanted music, you had to tape it off the radio and hope the announcer wouldn't talk over too much of the song, or have a friend who'd bought it on vinyl or tape and copy it onto a tape.  It wasn't as simple as an almost instant download.

Now there are pirate websites offering thousands of pdf copies of books for free.  Some have been closed down, but I believe for each one that is removed, three more spring up overnight.  Some have even started the practice of having reviews and ratings for the pirate works "So at least the author gets some benefit".  Author Michelle Harrison took on a pirate site recently and received some rather aggressive and angry emails in response.  You can see some of it in her Twitter and a write up about it in The Guardian.

I find myself in a very messed up headspace over the issue of piracy.

On the one hand, I self-published.  I never offered my work to a publishing house, I wanted to have total control over my work.  Perhaps this was naive of me, I don't know.  But I kept my words and my voice intact, I kept my meanings intact and clear, I chose the title, the cover design and the font.  All things that another author I know didn't get and it put her off writing forever.  The title her publisher gave her book changed the slant of the entire thing and set her up for a world of hurt.

The bio and book blurb that my publisher had someone write for my approval was awful.  It was immediately clear that they'd read none of my book past the category.  I felt vindicated in my choices.

By self-publishing, I have paid a lot of money to have my work out there.  It is more money than I would normally have freely available.  I borrowed to have some print copies of my own and while I paid a "discount", you can buy my book on Amazon for little more than I paid for my discounted copies.  I paid for marketing.  I paid to have copies sent for review - reviews that I don't know if they've ever happened, I've seen nothing of those reviews.

I knew that writing for a Pagan audience would never make me rich.  Janet Farrar commented in a group I'm in that even in their hey-day, she and Stewart lived below the poverty line and often had to resort to "dumpster diving" to be able to eat.  I went into this with no illusions or delusions about imminent wealth and fame.

However, I didn't think it unreasonable to hope to break even.  I expected that I would at least earn enough to pay back the money I had borrowed. 

I'm not even close.  After almost four years, I think I've had maybe 10% of what I spent back in royalties.

So, I went into a bit of a funk. 

My book is obviously crap.  My friends love it, but they're my friends, they're supposed to support me and things I do.  I'm sure many of them love it purely out of loyalty.  Then I started getting calls at home on my unlisted landline.  From publishing companies.  Asking for me by my married name and not my pen name.  Wanting to "invest" in my book.  They hadn't read it, didn't know it had been published, didn't know my pen name.  They already had my newish email address.  Their "investing" in my work would cost me twice what I've already paid.  I've clearly been put on a list by my publisher that's been sent to other self-publishing companies and hybrid publishing companies.  I'm not making them enough money so they're trying to pass me on to someone else.

My funk deepened. 

I'm 45,000 words into a second book.  I've spent years reading and researching so that this one can have some authority behind my assertions, it has citations and a big healthy bibliography so readers can learn more from smarter people than me.  It's been a huge labour of love, endless hours of reading, even if three weeks of reading and note-taking ends up making a single paragraph. 

Why would I bother?  It's obviously a waste of my time and no one will want to read it.

I find facebook groups that have hundreds and sometimes thousands of pirated pdfs, they never have my book.  What's wrong with my book?  There's other fluff in there that I wouldn't use to prop up a table leg, is mine worse than that?

Then I found a few of those pirate websites that have ratings and reviews.  There are thousands of reviews and ratings on my book there.  Thousands.  It's seems to be sitting at 3.8 to 4.6 stars.  If each person who left a review had even paid 50c towards my book, I would have broken even several times over.  I would have money to put towards the book I'm working on.  I would have been able to buy a few more of the books that I want to read, reference and cite in my current work.

My husband asked me what had been my purpose in writing my book.  Did I want to make money or did I want it to be read?  I wanted it to be read, I wanted the information out there.  Maybe those people wouldn't have read it if they'd had to pay for it?  I don't know. I also don't know if that makes up for the missed royalties.

But I'm still left with a publisher who clearly doesn't want me, unsure if I can finance this next book I've spent years working on.  I'm unsure if I want to continue.  I don't know if it's all worth it.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Donating to Charity

Most of us like to donate something to Charities where we can and when we can.  With Christmas fast approaching it's something that's very much talked about.

This week, a Maori Women's Refuge Charity - The Aunties - spoke out asking that people don't give them tinned tomatoes, chickpeas or lentils.

In an article on Stuff, they explained that they have pantries filled with tinned tomatoes and nothing else and that is not useful to a woman with young children who have just arrived, ripped out of their home, traumatised and grieving.

They point out how much better it is to find out what a charity actually needs and that most publish wish lists that are easily found.

This has led to a sadly predictable uproar.  Many people are offended at their pickiness, saying things like "beggars can't be choosers" and "I can make a decent meal out of tinned tomatoes along with x, y and z, why can't you?" and "If you can be picky you're not that needy".  Many commenters have sworn off ever donating to Women's Refuge ever again.

I believe this is missing the point.  Actually, it's missing several.

Yes, tinned tomatoes are useful and many people (myself included) would go through at least a tin a week.  But not on their own.  They need meat and onions and herbs to make a bolognese, they need other veges to make a curry, they need bread to go on toast.  The article said the pantries were filled with tinned tomatoes and nothing else.  The problem is that they have plenty and need the other stuff to make the meals with.  Giving them recipes and teaching them how to cook with tinned tomatoes isn't going to make the other necessary ingredients magically appear.

Donating to charities, giving to those in need is supposed to be about what they need not about what you think they should have.  It's also supposed to be about compassion for their circumstances not about judging them for not needing what you think they should have.

Donating to charities isn't about you.  Feeling good about having helped is supposed to be a side effect.  Having your feelings hurt because a charity has asked you not to give something says more about you than it does about that charity.  And it says nothing good.

Have a little empathy.  This is a Women's Refuge.  This is a place where women arrive in the middle of the night with usually small children in tow.  They've often just had the crap beaten out of them, they're emotionally drained, they're in shock with a side order of terror because they've finally done something to get them out of that position and they're afraid it won't last or things will get worse because of it and they're trying to keep themselves together for the equally traumatised children.  Try putting yourself into that place, try imagining the complete shock and trauma they are going through.  Now imagine trying to function well enough to whip up a delicious middle class healthy meal.  If you tell me you could do it, I'm going to call you a liar.

It's not as though it's a family at home who are having some rough times and need a food parcel to help them out this week because money's tight and they can't afford to feed their children.  This is a totally different situation and unless you've actually been there, you are in no position to judge what they need.

I think everyone's first reaction was to be a little offended.  "What do you mean my donation isn't good enough?"  In most of my friends, I'm glad to say, they took a step back and examined why they were offended and were good enough people to own it and accept that they were wrong.  It's a shame that more people aren't like them.