Thursday, January 31, 2013

Do not shame your spiritual leaders!

Only God deserves to be paid for his time and energy.
I presume that you have heard about the pastor who decided that she did not need to tip an Applebee's waitress...because God deserves his ten percent and waitresses do not deserve any money at all (zero percent). And I presume that you have heard about the waitress being fired from her job because the waitress had the guts to post a picture of the receipt on the internet.

Now, as a former restaurant worker and manager, I have strong feelings about the whole issue.

One, waitresses and waiters are often working for minimum wage. And they get a special type of minimum wage--the kitchen stuff washing dishes are actually making more money an hour than the wait staff because the law presumes that the wait staff is going to be getting tips. If they don't get tips, they are merely getting a couple dollars an hour in wages.

(I once saw a restaurant owner make everyone "wait staff" just so they could pay everyone this super-low rate of pay. So the kitchen staff would wait on tables for a couple of hours a month, just because the owner was super-cheap. Needless to say, none of the employees were happy about the did not end well for the restaurant--one wonders why no one cared about the condition of the food being served.)

Two, this whole incident just proves that one is not allowed to shame our so-called spiritual leaders in this country. Oh, we shamed a pastor--her followers might not do business with us any more, therefore we better fire the person who shamed her to appease the angry Christian horde.

Forget about the fact that spiritual leaders should be held to a higher standard. It is now wrong to shame them. Or at least, it is wrong to shame them if they are Christian and cry about being shamed. It is probably still all right to shame all the pagans because after all, their followers do not represent a significant number of potential customers. Yes, it is all about the money, and not about spiritality or ethics.

And yes, I have seen this same type of nonsense in the occult communities. As long as you have an angry horde of people willing to defend your bad behavior by not spending their money on certain products, you can force the entire community to accept your unethical behavior. Shameful, ain't it?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Everything is going forward!!!

Turtle Monkey attacks with roly-polies! No Mercury retrograde involved.
Welcome to the "Everything is going forward" 2013 edition. Or at least, all the planets are going forward (no retrogrades) from January 30th to February 17th, 2013. Enjoy the next two weeks because the next time we have an all-direct period is late December 2015 (and it will be a short week).

[That is if you account for all the modern planets, including Pluto...which is still a planet in my book. If you just use the seven classical planets, you get a few more all-direct periods.]

And what does this mean?

Absolutely nothing, other than anyone blaming some crap on some planet or another being retrograde is dumb-ass wrong. Of course, most of the time that you hear someone blame something on a retrograde planet, they are being an ass-hat. (If I had a dollar for every time I heard something being blamed on a planet driving the wrong way down the zodiac highway...especially Mercury...well, I wouldn't have to write erotica to make money.)

Oh, I imagine that there are some magicians who are going to be practicing some specialized work over the next two weeks. But if you do not already know what type of work you would do in all-direct period, odds are that you can't learn enourgh astrological magic fast enourgh to take advantage of this period. And no, I am not telling you what my special experiment is for this cycle--it is a secret method, after all.

But other than that, everything will be normal--as in "generally messed up" because mankind probably should have stayed in the trees. Of course, that last opinion might be simply because I have been drawing a lot of monkeys lately. And I like monkeys more than some humans I know, especially those humans I consider ass-hats. For that matter, I like spiders and roly-polies better than some humans. (Centipedes and milipedes still must be nuked from space--there is no excuse for them.)

Anyways, enjoy your all-direct period. It is the perfect time to learn that not everything that goes wrong is the fault of a retrograde planet. Especially when there are human beings involved.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Enourgh fibre in diet?

My cat would like to know if I am getting enourgh fibre in my diet. I think that I am getting enourgh fibre. But if I am not getting enourgh fibre, I refuse to take his suggestion that cardboard boxes are delicious source of fibre. Yes, I am one of those picky humans who believe that fibre should not taste like cardboard.

A week later, this is what the box looked like.
If I am ever attacked by cardboard, I will let my cat deal with the monster.

Remind me not to look like food.

Celtic Soul Valentine Day sale

(And I just realized that there is a cat in this video--Studio Kitty strikes again.)

My wife is having a Valentine's Day Sale over on her Etsy shop, Celtic Soul Jewelry and Pottery. You can get fourteen percent off your purchase (including already discounted items) by entering VALENTINE14 at the check out. This discount code is good until February 28th.

For those who are curious, she currently has three different mortar and pestles available, three different dog bowls, as well as her jewelry.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Reminder of 2013 Hearthstone Open Full Moon dates

Here are the dates for Community Church's Open Full Moon rituals. Hearthstone Community Church is a non-profit organization that helps provide support and space for Wiccans who want to do public full moon rituals. Hearthstone is still looking for voluteers to lead most of next year's rituals--March and June are already reserved. (Yes, June 21st OFM will be done by Bast Temple--BIORC; it will probably be an example of a solo GD ritual.)

2013 Open Full Moons

January 25
February 22
March 22
April 19
May 24
June 21
July 19
August 16
September 13
October 18
November 15
December 13

Hearthstone OFMs are held at the First Unitarian Church, 1400 Lafayette, Denver, Colorado. Doors open at 7 pm, and ritual starts at 7:30 pm. The rituals are held upstairs, and the Church is handicapped accessible (there is an elevator that goes up to the second floor).

This coming year, I will continue writing a monthly column for the newsletter (fourth year in a row).

(My newsletter articles from 2010 are collected in Pizza Boxes on the Floor; the 2011 articles are collected in the ebook Bad Monkey. The 2012 article collection is awaiting the creation of a cover--unfortunately, the photo I want is a two person it might not be released any time soon [it is just the cover that needs to be done].)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

And the prize for ugliest magical tool goes to...

Probably the world's ugliest Fire Wand.
I presume that I own the world's ugliest Fire Wand. If not, I am curious to see the Fire Wand that beats mine as the world's sorriest attempt to create a Fire Wand.

This Fire Wand was created when I was living in an apartment, and only had access to handsaw and a ruler...and a box of crayons. I needed a Fire Wand for a working, and didn't have one--therefore, I very rapidly created one out of a wooden dowel.

Now, by Golden Dawn tradition with its emphasis on exactness...and beauty, this Fire Wand should not all, or very, very badly. But it did work, and still works.

If after viewing this Fire Wand, you suspect that all of my Elemental Weapons might be a little non-regulation--well, you would be right. I imagine that Westcott, Mathers, and Moina would be appalled by my lack of caring about my ugly magical tools. Or maybe not--after all, they were using pasteboard for the construction of their Rose Crosses.

Given the teachings of the particular Golden Dawn group (provided that you still believe that we are GD), one might ask: How can such in-exact tools work? If the power lies in the symbolism, how can faulty symbolism still get results? My short answer (inspired by Plato) is that in the World of Ideas, there exists a Perfect Fire Wand; it is from this Perfect Fire Wand that all Fire Wands draw their power from. My Fire Wand does not have to perfect...because the Perfect Fire Wand already exists in the mind of the Divine.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

White text on black background

Yes, my personal altar has a few dents in it.
One of the comments that I often recieve about this blog is that the white text on the black background makes it hard to read. I never recieve this comment on any of my other blogs...because this is the only blog I maintain that I use black background with white text.

When I set up this blog, I decided to go for the Golden Dawn symbolism. Anyone who has gone though a GD Neophyte (0=0) initiation ritual should be aware of the importance of the symbolism of the colors: red, white and black. They may or may not be aware of the yellow and blue...depends upon which officers could attend the ritual.

"Light dawning in darkness" is the keyphrase for a lot of what is happening in Golden Dawn ritual.

And I am not the only Golden Dawn blogger who has choosen to use a black background with white text, plus the occasional splash of yellow, green and red.

Given what I have learned over the last six years, would I start a new GD blog using this color scheme? Symbolically, it is still good.

But as a blogger, I probably wouldn't. My readers are right; it is hard to read. Plus there is research to back that up--no professional blogger uses white text on black background (I remember seeing a study on reader's reactions to various text and background colors, but I can't remember where I saw it). Furthermore, occasionally this color scheme combined with a glitch in the Blogger post editor causes me to post a post with black text...on black background (sometimes I catch it; sometimes my readers see it first). The only way to cope with a "glitch day" is to write the post, then highlight the whole post and change the whole post manually to white text, and hope that you never need to edit the post (because it is white text on white background in the post editor).

I will admit that I have considered changing the color scheme on this blog. But the lack of time, and it is a real low priority to do (because hacking out more erotica short stories creates more income), has put the task to the back burner. After all, I will have to go though my entire post history, post by post, to find all the places that the new color scheme makes something unreadable (such as the occasional yellow text which I find impossible to read on white backgrounds). And that is a thousand posts or so to eyeball.

My advice to anyone starting up a new blog--do not use white text on black background; it is just not worth the grief.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Why I do not reveal my pennames

The cause of more problems than you can imagine.
The other day in the comment section, someone asked me if I am writing under a pen-name...because they could not find anything under "Morgan Eckstein."

(Of course, the following post assumes that they were not on Amazon--the reason I have nothing on Amazon is a whole another post.)

The short answer is Yes, I write under a pen-name. Actually, I write under several pen-names.

In fact, Morgan Eckstein/Morgan Drake Eckstein is a pen-name.

(Let the trolls of flame war cry havoc and fraud as they proclaim that only people using their real names are allowed to comment, write and blog about all matters esoteric.)

Now, for the long answer--feel free to wander off if you already know this information or simply do not care.

There are several reasons why I use several pen-names, and generally keep knowledge about the specifics out of general circulation.

The original reason that I started using a pen-name was that one of my relatives was concerned that people might learn that I was a writer--writing was considered to be generally a sin, especially if you chose to write anything other than Christian literature. (And given the fact that I have been Wiccan all my life--well, one can see the problem with that one.) Especially wrong was any writing focused on Wicca, paganism, and other esoteric matters.

At a certain point, I did start writing about such matters. Plus opening asking questions of people in order to write such material. Given the fact that this behavior was unacceptable, I needed a pen-name. I chose to use the "Dion Fortune" option--my choosen pen-name for such matters is a variation of my Golden Dawn motto. (Well, actually my second motto, but that is another story for another time.)

The second reason that I decided to dodge behind a pen-name, or a dozen, was the fact that the first genre that I realized that writer had to be getting paid for was erotica. And not one of those clean vanilla types either; no, this was one of the types that Paypal tried to eliminate in 2012. I will be coming back to this one in a few moments.

Third, my writing models (mentors) in general, all used pen-names. One of my writing friends uses four pen-names because she writes in four different genres. The more varied your writing is, or the more rapid that you write, the more pen-names one tends to have...or at least, that seem true of the writers that I have used as my models for how to be a writer.

Now, up to this point, these reasons have been in play for years. I started writing erotica in 1984. I first used Morgan Drake Eckstein as an alias (pen-name) in 1992. In fact, given the fact that I have used Morgan to introduce myself for twenty years, some people do not know the name that I was born with. Nor do they actually care.

But there are some people who do--failing to notice that I only use my birth name to fill out government paperwork.

And this brings me to my fourth reason for concealing most of my pen-names.

Witch wars, trolls and the Golden Dawn.

Last year, I ended up reviewing a book that some of the players in Golden Dawn took a major dislike too. It does not matter if they were right or wrong, nor does the correctness of the other side matter either. What matters is the tactics used in what I refer to as "The Great Book Burning of 2012."

Basically, instead of just giving one-star reviews to the offending book or two, the one side decided to give one star reviews to the offending author's entire body of work. Yes, the entire career of this writer was dragged though the mud.

And if you thought there was any merit in this book(s), then your reputation was also dragged though the mud. At one point, I was called a Neo-Nazi...I imagine that my long-dead Jewish ancestors were not particularly happy at that point.

As I have said, it does not matter if one side was right or not--what matters is that the entire product line, the entire life work of an author was downgraded during this argument...

...because if they used the tactic once, they are sure to use the same nuclear option again.

And in my case, it is only a matter of time before I do something that they do not like. Such as write erotica--this particular group has dragged out the sexual misdeeds and rumors about several of the people they do not like. In fact, I am surprised that they have not gotten up on their soap box to yell that I should not be writing erotica already. By the way, this is a group that only calls me a Golden Dawn leader when I have done something they do not like.

Therefore, I am refusing to issue a list of my pen-names to the general public. In fact, not even the members of my lodge actually know my pen-names. And all simply because some people feel that it is ok to destory other people's reputations.

The cherry on top was the fact that one of the parties involved in the issuing of one-star reviews actually came out and told me that it was ok to destory my reputation because I did not belong to their Order--so much of the GD oaths applying to the entire tradition and its membership.

Does the decision to keep my pen-names private cost me money? Probably. But given the fact that I am still seeing fallout from the Great Book Burning, and knowing a couple of future GD writers also making the same decision, it seems to be the right decision to make at this time. In the future, we are going to see a lot of GD writers refuse to reveal their real names, Order afflications, and the other pen-names they use, to protect their income and reputations.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Why I moderate comments

For awhile, this was the main commentor on my blog.
One of the conversations that have been brought up on the Ultimate Blog Challenge Facebook page deals with the subject of moderating comments. So given the fact that I am running behind today, and I just marked another comment as spam on another blog that I maintain, I thought that I would state (probably again as far as my regular readers are concerned) why I moderate comments on all of my blogs.

[For those who are curious about what other blog is getting spam comments, it is the Celtic Soul Jewelry and Pottery blog. And my wife would like my regular readers to know that you can always special order a mortar and pestle in the Cobalt Blue color--it is one of the glazes that turns out perfect 99% of the time.]

The reasons that I moderate all blog comments is two-fold.

The first reason is that I have been involved in certain amount of flamewars and troll baiting. As in I write something, and then trolls come out of the woodwork with pitchforks and torches to tell me that I am someone's sockpuppet. Odds are that before the end of the month, I will upset another another such soul who feels the need to put me in my place. While I do allow a certain amount of those comments to go live...because they generally amuse me...I do have my limit. For instance, implying that me and my entire readership would have blended into Germany 1939 just fine crosses the line as far as I am concerned. Double standards concerning scholarship and what is fair to say also disturbs me. Therefore, half of the comment moderation is about keeping the sockpuppets and trolls inside what I consider to be their proper limits.

The second reason is that I get a certain amount of spam comments. Like the person (or robot) that keeps trying to comment on the video post about the Cobalt Blue mortar and pestle on the other blog--their comments are all about fake sexual organs, famous people, and where you can buy items that will give you the experience of bedding said famous people. And that is the PG-13 version of their comments. (And for some reason, they believe that a large part of my audience reads German--too bad for them that I do read some German and Yiddish...and their mouths [or keyboards] should be washed out with soap.)

So anyways, those are my reasons for moderating all the comments on the various blogs that I maintain. It is not a power trip, or that I like doing that much work, or even the fact that I am a classy is the mere fact that I feel that there are people out there who probably would have been looked down upon by me even when my parents were living in the trailer park.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sometimes the cover alone tells me what my goddaughter is going to do

Destiny Rewritten--Kathryn Fitzmaurice--my goddaughter is so going to steal this book from me. 
There are some books that I just need to see the front cover and read a couple of pages to know that they are so going to be "liberated" the instant that I turn my back. Like this book, Destiny Rewritten (by Kathryn Fitzmaurice), which I recieved a proof copy of in today's mail. Given this cover, I can so picture my god-daughter walking out the front door with it held up high as spoils of war while saying, "It is mine now, old man."

Of course, this is why I am not terribly concerned by the pile of review books on my coffee table. After I get done reading them, they are not going to be there long. I am not sure how the HarperCollins PR people feel about my god-daughter promptly grabbing the book from me the instant that I am done reading it for the review, but I am sure that they have no say in the matter as far as my god-daughter is concerned.

And hats off to the HarperCollins people for putting an illustrated mailing label on this one. It is nice to know that this book needed to be opened immediately, so that my god-daughter could liberate it from me. Obviously, the HarperCollins PR department is used to dealing with reviewers who recieve lots of books in the mail.

Yes, I love the cover illustration. It reminds me of one of the used book stores that I used to spend a lot of money in (and probably will again as soon as my income starts to recover). And I am just waiting to hear what the mother of my god-daughter has to say about the cover...I have a private bet going on this one.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Decided to do Ultimate Blog Challenge

So in the interests of a new year, I decided yesterday to do the Ultimate Blog Challenge. In other words, I committed myself to writing 31 blog posts on this blog during the month of January. Of course, this means that I am already three posts what else is new in my universe?

I am hoping that it breaks up the massive block that I have allowed to perma-jel over my writing. I know when the block started--there were two incidents last year that helped trigger it, and then my schedule made it into a nice block of cement.

Why this blog and not one of my other blogs? Because this has been the blog I have written the most in. And that even ignoring the 31 Days of Halloween Kitties and other cute cats I post on a regular basis.

And I really need to hack my way through the writer's block--after all, I find myself in the place where I have only my writing income coming in. It is either hack throught he writer's block, or cease to exist. And while I know some people who would love to see that last one happen, I just do not feel like making those people happy any time in the near future.

So here is to the insanity of 31 posts in January. Hopefully, they make some type of sense at the end of the month. :P

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

All materialistic magic is black magic

A spell involving a Jupiter Lightning Glyph and two monkeys.
Happy New Year!

And given that it is the first day of the New Year (2013), it is now time to make certain of my critics happy and issue yet another bloody annual disclosure statement.

This year's complaint--I do materialistic mundane magic.

Now why does this need a disclosure statement?! Well, according to some extreme opinions of some experts, you cannot do magic to affect the physical mundane world while also working on spiritual development. In fact, some of these experts believe that all mundane related magic is black other words, only spiritual development is white magic.

It won't be so bad, except that some of these so-called experts state that once you do mundane magic, you can never complete the Great Work. Ever. No matter how much time, energy, or lifetimes you spend doing the Work.

Therefore, because I do materialistic magic, and I started off doing material magic, I can never complete the Great Work...therefore, why are you reading this blog?

Now, personally, I believe that not only is this idea extreme, it is also wrong. Yes, I said--wrong. It is based on the idea that the material world is evil, and that the spiritual (heaven) is good. It is an idea that affects our entire culture, thanks to the ideas of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (all of whom inherited it from Zoroastrianism). Therefore, it is understandable hearing this from occultists who come from esoteric groups that require or emphasize one of these religions, such as most Golden Dawn groups.

The really sad part is that I hear this from pagans and Wiccans who are drawing inspiration from other religions that do not have this fatal duality.

And the really annoying part is that Golden Dawn enshrined this idea right into its Outer and Inner Order Oaths. Yes, you can be expelled from GD just for doing a simple money spell. It is better to live under a bridge homeless than do a spell to gather a little rent money in an emergency.

(Please note that in two of the Inner Order courses that I suffered though, I was required to do mundane magic--I am guessing that by the strict classic version, they would not be considered really Golden Dawn.)

Here is a hint for the Wiccans who believe in this duality--read the Charge of the Goddess which states off with: "Whenever you have need of anything, once in the month and better it be when the moon is full, then shall you assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of me, who am Queen of all witches." How can you start an invocation like that, have no concept of heaven, and still end up with a severe duality that says the material world can never be spiritual?!

And for those of you who are curious, the BIORC does not view all materialistic magic as black magic (it is complicated determining what black magic is...but just because it is aimed at the material world does not automatically make it black magic), and spiritual development is tied to developing the mundane side of one's life at the same time. It is little things like that which will ensure that the BIORC is not considered Golden Dawn by everyone within ten years (if we are not already beyond the point of no return).

Of course, if you are really concerned about my behavior, you better tell Jason Miller that I am misusing one of his Jupiter lightning glyphs to try to promote evil monkeys. (I am quite sure that he has something to say about this subject.) And for the so-called experts, well, they are always right and I am always wrong as far as they are concerned, which is why you are supposed to be reading their blog and forum posts and not mine. Listen to their superior wisdom because I am busy making things up as I go along, and they have the experience of excellent teachers that I didn't have.

Happy New Year!

[Update: July 2013: Due to differences in sales expectations and business philosophy, in early July 2013, I ceased to be involved in the Turtle Monkey project.]