Author: Soli

W'abet Wepwawet, hedge rider, hounsi senp, librarian.

Stop stealing from your fellow pagans! (repost)

(May 2021: I originally posted this on Pagan Activist in September 2013 and I think it remains one of the best things I’ve written. Since piracy continues to happen with pagan books I wanted to have an easily accessible copy of the post to share around. This may be in need of a sprucing up, but in the meantime, you’re welcome to share a link to this post.)

One of the recent dust-ups which have come up the greater pagan community the last few weeks has been the issue of copyright. In this round the trouble has included people posting content which is not their own as if it were as well as Facebook groups with unauthorized pdf copies of books freely available for download. In case any of you may not be sure, these acts are not only unethical but illegal.

There are already plenty of posts online explaining the basics of copyright. My friend Jennett (a fellow librarian) has a post about copyright and pagans here and Fire Lyte has an excellent post here. Go read both of them after you finish here.

In my professional life, both copyright and ethics are interests. I’m a supporter of Creative Commons and other alternatives to current copyright because I think the laws have become draconian thanks to corporate influence. But it is still the law. For ethics, yes I do believe that information should be easily available, even freely available. And I also believe strongly that the people who CREATE the information, whether it be spell, book, poem, hymn, artwork, music, deserve fair compensation and credit for their work.

The purpose of copyright was originally meant to benefit the creator. To give them a period of time in which they had exclusive control of when/where/how the material was utilized. Yes this includes the choice to work with a publisher or agent to help disseminate their work. And after a certain period of time (current law: with written works copright extends to the life of the creator plus 70 years*) the work would fall into public domain and become freely accessible.

The other point is to give creators reason to continue creating. Contrary to some possible opinions, writing a book is not a spell which makes a boatload of money open up and shower upon them. Creation is work and they deserve compensation. Not some overly entitled, short-sighted people scanning in their works and just throwing it around like so much used tissue. I know a lot of authors who are Pagan, polytheist, or neither. They WORK. They write every day in order to be able to pay their bills, keep a roof and some food around, and perhaps maybe eke out more than a poverty level existence. You may not agree with what they make but you can make sure to give them the respect to earn a living.

Also, do you really think it’s wise to put up works illegally by people who have written material about how to properly curse and hex?

If you can’t afford books, fine. Go to the library. Borrow from your friends. Use a free ebook app and get legal material to read? (Hint: not only are there a lot of free books available regularly for the Kindle, but there are also those great public domain titles as well as academic institutions who have material freely available. Don’t believe me? Go look up the Oriental Institute and their publications.) And I will note this, if you can afford a smartphone and the monthly plan, I am sure you can find some room in your budget for a $15 text.

In short, stop stealing. Give credit where it is due. Ask permission. You are reading this on the internet right now. Most every author has some sort of Web presence. They might have material available or know where to get it below cost if it is really a matter of finances for you. Or search online for used copies. Which is, incidentally, acceptable under copyright. And if you messed up and did something stupid, admit to it. If you are hosting a web site or Facebook group filled with illegal pdfs, DELETE THEM. And don’t go whining when you get called out, or ban people right and left for pointing out the fact that you are breaking the law. Support your community.

We’re still a minority. We still have to fight for rights because of our religious and spiritual practices. Breaking the law does not do a thing to help us.

Now go back up to the top and read Jennet’s and Fire Lyte’s posts about copyright.

The plagiarism explosion on the internet: how to protect your work
Free plagiarism content scanning tools
A tutorial for citing resources which is something you should recall from schooling
Copyright basics (the foundational resource librarians use when they have questions

*See what I mean about draconian?

Bibliography
Hoffman, Gregory McCord. The ethics of copyright: an informal chat. Texas Library Journal, Fall 2004. Accessed September 6 2013, from JSTOR.

Where Things Stand: Early 2021 Edition

I’m a little embarrassed at how long it has taken me to do this post. It’s something I have been considering doing for… well quite a while. With the last few years being what they have been, and falling in and out of contact with people, I have no idea who knows what. And as I assume most of my audience is people who know me in some form, this is going to be something like the Yuletide letter.

First, the two big spiritual events:
In June 2017, I went into the djevo and came out a hounsi senp of Haitian Vodou. Easily one of the hardest and one of the best things I ever have or ever will do in my life. It’s not something I will talk about much at this point except for being glad that I did it. I gained family and Powers I never would have otherwise. Plus, during tough times I have had since, I’ve been able to say I went through the djevo, I can do this thing now!

The second big change, and maybe more life changing than the initiation, was being consecrated as a w’abet (priest) of Wepwawet in August of 2019. That is something I had been working toward for a solid decade. And I did it. I did it! In Kemetic Orthodoxy, the main role of the priest is to do rites which were done in the big temples in antiquity. I still have some ways to go in setting up my shrine (which will come up as you continue reading) but in the meantime, I serve.

Things which aren’t directly spiritual but impact my life:
Back again to 2017, after too many years of struggle, I finally got a prescription for thyroid medication. As much as either event above, this has been a life changer. It took over a year before I got adjusted to the correct specific medication and dosage, and I’m still not “cured” of my hypothyroidism. I just function a little better now that I have been on it for so long.
Then last spring I got the other medication I probably should have gotten (back) on long before, and that would be for ADHD. I took ritalin when I was in my early 20s, but quit cold turkey along with the antidepressant I was on at the time. This time around I am taking a different type of medicine, and again it’s been such a huge help and dramatic change. I started on it a few weeks in to pandemic lockdown, when it was still something kinda new, and working from home also meant having a better sleep schedule.

Speaking of pandemic and hard times, my beloved cat Stark hasn’t had the best of years during this past one. He’s had health problems which have taken a lot of time and money to figure out, and finally got some resolution through surgery in early November. In the meantime, he had too many vet visits, including a two night stay at the local vet hospital. And that was before the four night stay he got to have with the surgery. I’ve been raising funds to get that surgery paid off as soon as possible because oh my did a lot of things happen in my house during lockdown…

So while I had the good things of ADHD medication getting back into my life, and getting into therapy for the first time ever, mine was an eventful months long lockdown. In addition to wrangling a sick kitty, I did two major appliance replacements. First was the washer and dryer, which took a month to arrive. Not because everyone was buying them up (I got in ahead of that trend!) but because of multiple snafus in delivery attempts. The second was my hot water heater dying. Which I discovered one Saturday morning in August by seeing these odd streams of water in my garage. Because lucky me, when that heater was put in, the leak sensor was never put in place. And even if it had been the plastic protector around the battery never got removed. Which meant yours truly also got to call a professional cleaning service to come out to do deep cleaning and mold prevention in the room next to the heater.

The room which is also meant to be the future Shrine Room. Do you know how not easy it is to redo a room in a pandemic when you can’t easily go out to find new flooring and furniture? Or want to have people in your house who don’t normally live there? Do not recommend.

The shrine roomwas already on a delay anyway because of the last big event in recent memory. In the summer of 2018 one of my friends moved in to my house. Said friend lived here for a little over a year. Until I discovered at the start of November 2019 that they had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. This would be the big reason why I entered into therapy, to cope with that trauma. And you know what? It has helped, so very much. But that had just happened, and then we had January. And a lot of people overall seem to be hitting a wall at this point. I know I did. I’m not alone, and neither are you.

While this isn’t everything, this is a good 80% of the things. And now it is late on a day I have spent fully indoors thanks to a snowstorm, which will keep me working at home for a second day. Stark is still in his onesie and cone of shame, sitting in my lap, purring up his usual storm and giving me adoring kitty eyes. Danerys is asleep on the couch nearby and somehow not meowing at me that it is now bedtime, and can I please go to bed so she can snuggle next to me there.

I have missed blogging, though I continue with my devotions quietly as my friend Silence puts it. There are things I want to say and conversations I want to contribute to. And I am tired of feeling like I mostly live under a rock.

So, hi. I’m back.

I am still alive! And did an interview!

I can’t begin to tell how many times I have tried to start posts here, only to leave them abandoned until months later when I think about doing a blog update now. There are things I want to say, and an internal debate whether the blog name is still relevant. In the meantime it stays and I keep kicking myself to do the life update post I’ve wanted to do. There are a lot of things I want to say but years of chronic health issues have made it hard for me to consider doing so in any kind of timely manner.

In the meantime, yes I did an interview! Yvonne Aburrow put out a call late last year for queer pagans and polytheists and I decided, hey why not. I haven’t watched it back because I have issues around seeing/hearing myself talk. But friends have said they enjoyed it.

You’re all welcome to leave multiple comments to get me to post by the weekend.

Happenings in the Kemetic internet

I’ve been going through the usual cycle of many low energy days and the occasional good ones. Add to that being slammed at work for almost two months and my time to devote even to thinking about blogging has been small. But I have reasons to plan writing again.

First item, my KO sibling Tawa’u has started a Kemetic bloghop! Every month a topic relevant to Kemetic religion will be posted and people can share as they are moved by the topic. The first topic will be gratitude.

What are you thankful for in this religion? How are you blessed?

You can find the bloghop link right here.

Second, as I am starting to recover I am doing one of my favorite things: learning. When I first became a member of the House of Netjer (a decade ago!) something I wanted to do was the Sau course. Sau is protective magic/heka. At that point I believe the course was closed to new students. It remained cosed, then on hold, until earlier this year. The Sau course is again available, for anyone who wants it, through Hemet’s Patreon. While I am still on lesson 0 I already feel like I am learning a great deal. Nothing in the world can beat having a good, involved, and experienced teacher when taking on magical work. I have seen so many people begginglooking for a teacher on the internet to no avail. And yes, you can buy into various online schools but too many of them aren’t worth any of the funds being put into them. I’ve known Hemet for over a decade now and I’ve seen more than enough evidence that she is experienced, skilled, competent, supportive, and takes no crap nor overinflated egos/boasting. Also having a teacher means I am going to take on areas I have usually avoided in my own self-study for whatever reason. Give her Patreon a look, even if you’re not interested in magical study. She is also offering classes in Middle Egyptian (bundled with other class offerings) and Kemetic Wisdom, divinations, and book discounts.

Gods willing I am going to do a full update sometime this week. Keep on me about this.

In lieu of a real update

Let me tell you of an odd little something which happened yesterday. I had friends and fellow members of the House of Netjer here to celebrate Wag Festival with fellowship, heka, and a tour of a local crypt. After finishing our lunch we all came back to my house for more talk, and I was showing some of my assorted Kemetic-themed acquisitions from the last ten years. The last item I picked up was a drinking horn with a Jackal on one side and scarab on the other made by a fellow shemsu-ankh I purchased from him in 2012. I’ve never had a drink from the horn or done much of anything with it since then. It just rests on my shrine. But when I held up the horn to show it, I could hear a sound like something was inside.

A little shake and this comes out.


(Eihwaz, for those of you unfamiliar with the futhark.)

I’ve never owned a set of runes which look like this. I contacted the horn’s maker, showed him the photo, and he’s never seen (much less owned) runes which look like that.

With some of the happenings this year I’ve been again wondering what to do with and about my witchcraft and connections to the Gods of where my family hails. Then I get this and remember someone talking about this rune years ago, and how its shape could be the hooks which connect the worlds together.

My brain is also trying to convince me I have somehow had a set of runes like this when I know damn well I have not. I do have a set of runes on yew, as well as on deer antler, and on clear quartz, but that’s it. There is no way this rune could have found its way into the horn by some of my own influence.

Point made. Point taken.

I have but one resolution

Since this week started with Plough Monday and I am still saying happy new year to people I figure I am still well within the amount of time that I can talk about customs around the turning of the secular year.

2016 is over and done, and I was so glad to see it go, and that’s with knowing what 2017 would bring to the world when it’s only 20 days old. (See? I am trying not too be too political.) On the personal front, my year was a big mixed bag. Some highs, like less acute illness and seeing Pearl Jam while in the pit and only about 20 feet between me and the stage, and some lows, like sleep being elusive for months and still feeling like I was scrambling just to keep from falling into a metaphorical pit. Just like at Wep Ronpet in August, I wanted to leave the previous year behind and get a good dose of zep tepi happening. It’s much too soon to know if this is happening but I set some things in motion which might help turn my struggles into some success.

Which leads me to the one resolution, which is also my word(s) for the year.

Heal/th

It’s now five and a half years since I was hit with the “Yay I finished grad school now collapse!” exhaustion which has yet to abate. And it’s been four years since the last time I set out to try to find a reason why I could not recover from doing a Master’s degree. After much stalling and outright blanking out on doing so, I cold called and made my first appointment with a new doctor, which happens at the end of the month. Let’s say I am more than a little nervous about this. And I may throw a fit if I have to deal with another round of blaming my weight for something which started BEFORE my weight creeped back on.

I’m tired. Tired of being tired all the time, tired of struggling just to take care of the necessities in my life, tired of being so worn out all the time that reading more than a few pages at the time had me wanting to nap. This world has gotten more overtly scary for someone like me, a queer gender non-conforming woman who’s a polytheist and magic worker. This is no state for me to do my part in restoring ma’at and I am tired of being on the sidelines.

And I am damn tired of hearing myself talk about, and just think about, how limited I am in what I can do. There’s too much I want to do which involves building blocks of action on my part before they can be manifest. I pray this new doctor will be the first step in reclaiming my life. (Prayers and support from others also welcome.)

Ma’at must prevail. It will eventually, as it always does, but it is an active process. I want to carry it with me at all times. With the reports of hate crimes after the U.S. election I was hit with a strong knowing that now was the time to get my first tattoo. I’ve only wanted one since I was 10 but I could never decide what I wanted for the first design. Then it came to me, the hieroglyph for the ma’at feather on my chest. I asked around, got the name of someone who does great blackwork tattoos in my area, made the appointments, and last Thursday it happened. The tattoo is healing well and swiftly, for which I am thankful. And now ma’at is always with me.

I’m going to need it. We are all going to need it.

Ma'at feather

Hive mind, I need some help

I’m working on a project relating to my presentation at Paganicon in March and need some help filling in one area.

Here is the scenario: person new to modern paganism/polytheism/magical practice has next to no money for books and lives in an isolated area with a poorly stocked and underfunded library which has nothing relating to the religions or magical practices. Well, maybe except for some Satanic Panic era lies in print. This person has also learned that downloading pdfs of books from Facebook groups and Tumblr is piracy and stealing from authors, but still does not know where to look for sound introductory material on the basics of ritual and getting started in any sort of magical practice. What would you share with them? Thus far the one sure site I would recommend is Quareia.

Restoring Ma’at

Since the summer, I have had ma’at on the mind almost constantly and have been working to understand and act within it. Then the election happened, and I got mad, which morphed into getting motivated for action. If you want to start understanding ma’at, or just know an ethical system rooted in a polytheistic tradition, read my sister Niankh’s post.

2016,  through all of the abysmal things that have happened during that time, has me thinking a lot about Ma’at lately.  We’ve lost so many cultural, artistic and historical icons in th…

Source: Restoring Ma’at

Zep Tepi all over again

Yesterday evening I returned home from the House of Netjer’s annual Wep Ronpet/New Year retreat. Wednesday morning we praised Ra, slayed a snake cake (hacked into by a newer shemsu who’d never been to Retreat before who is a child of Sekhmet and Set, no one better to do so!), smashed a pot to destroy isfet, and celebrated our community. This coming year, Year 24, is given to Yinepu and Khonsu, the Two Princes, and already looks to be quite the change from the last three years. For those who do not follow at home, the last three years have been respectively given to Heru-sa-Aset (younger Horus, literally Horus son of Aset/Isis), Aset, and Heru-sa-Aset again. In Kemetic Orthodoxy we are also marking the second Heb Sed for Rev. Siuda/Hekatawy I (AUS). My hopes are high for a better year, and perhaps personally an easier year than the last few.

I am damn proud to be a member of the House, to be Shemsu Ankh, to again be considering priest/w’ab service in the not too distant future. Step one is to take up regular practice of senut, which is the core rite of the tradition. Step two is being more social, which includes having people visit me in a few weeks for fellowship and museum visits. (If you’re in the House and in the northeast US, check the boards!) Step three is blogging more. That thing I keep saying I need to do more then all my spoons are spent in a continued effort to keep from drowning. Operation FITYMI remains a thing but I’d rather it not be. It says a lot about my health that the very idea of calling to find a new doctor has been too much of a drain. That’s another step which will happen once I switch back to my evening work schedule.

There are also some things I need to say in the coming months. I’ve held my tongue due to knowing I did not have the ability to deal with any potential arguments those words could cause. But soon, soon…

Well, I did it! I’m now on Patreon

My friend Beth, who makes awesome jewelry and smellies and other things, has a Patreon. Consider supporting her work.

And yes, I have been scarce. It’s also the last day of the KO year, which means no sleep till new years! And hopefully enough zep tepi that I can start doing things again. Like writing.