Friday, December 21, 2018

Planning the cozy ritual and oracle room

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Welcome to the Yule Tarot Blog Hop--gee where has the year gone?

The theme for this TBH is "cozy." Or as I like to call it, "Another chance for Morgan to talk about how he wants to remodel the house." In this particular case, how I would like to set up my upstairs ritual/oracle room.

Is this your card?
When me and my wife first brought the house, the second bedroom was to become my office with the half-basement being a ritual room. Having lived in the house for sixteen years, and having more ritual and fortune telling under my belt, along with the lingering effects of my wife's motorcycle accident, using the downstairs for ritual is not as practical as it used to be. So it is time for changes.

[The reason that my wife got into a motorcycle accident was that her biological father, an evil old man with a room temperature IQ and the stubbornness of a mule, decided that the daughter he did not know, needed a professional grade motorcycle (which she did not want) and insisted that she was going to ride it (despite the fact that a moped was more her speed and skill level). This resulted in her having an accident the very first day on it--she slammed it into the side of a car--her hip was slammed between the big-ass bike and the car. To this day, she has problems with that leg. Over time, it has gotten harder for her to make it up and down the basement stairs.]

We have decided that the basement is going to be my office and private workspace for my Golden Dawn related work...

[I no longer need as much room and "bareness" for my GD work, having left my role as a GD group leader and being completely happy to let someone else deal with the Neophytes--my future GD work is going to be done with just a keyboard and a bad attitude. The odds of me ever doing another GD group ritual--initiation or otherwise is relatively low--more so with the fact that I am far more interested in applying Golden Dawn techniques to a different symbolic framework than I am in fighting to become one of the Big Name Occultists.]

...and the upstairs room is going to become a shared ritual and mediation room instead.

Like my yard (which has been the subject for several of this year's Tarot Blog Hop entries), the vision for the ritual room is based on my vast amount of social witchcraft and magical experience. As some of my friends can guess, some of my ideas come from working with Cassandra and my time taking classes over at Herbs and Arts (when it was still owned by Morning Glory) as well as vast amounts of personal practical experience.

One of the things I have learned is that my magic and Tarot/oracle reading is affected by the atmosphere of the location that I am working in. I have done the public reading route, both in occult shops (up front, in the back room, have yet to do a reading on the roof of one, but it is only a matter of time...) and in coffee houses (that is why many of my Tarot decks have spilled tea on them) and at parties (let's call it being "entertainment"). And I have learned that public reading is just one step away from working in a cubicle, or a boiler room (hey, I seriously explored working for someone with a 1-800 number).

No, the best environment for me to do reading is lit with candles, private and smells of vast amounts of incense. Think "gypsy tent." Laugh if you will, but I think that they were onto something.

(Okay, internet police--I know that the term "gypsy" is either an insult and/or a stolen term that I should not apply to my own work--never mind the fact that me and my sisters used to joke about "being gypsies" when we were kids; only political correctness counts in today's world.)

 Basically, a "cozy" atmosphere helps me in my magical and divination work. And my wife would like us to have a ritual room upstairs...

(We also have a couple of friends who would like to see me focus more on Wicca and such.), why not make my wife happy? Besides, I need to get back into the swing of my magical work. 

As such, my wife and I have talked about what we would like to do with the room. My vision tends to be a little more grand (as in "What would I do if I had a boatload of ill-gotten gains from a wildly successful book?") while my wife is more realistic. For instance, I would like to have a fireplace in the room, but that would require a bunch of cash and the hiring of people who actually know how to do the work. There are those fake fireplace heaters, but it is not the same.

Something that my wife mentioned when I told her about the subject of this Blog Hop is that she would like a corner full of comfy pillows. So, the room is going to have a big pile of soft (and probably tasteful) pillows. And many, many gods and goddesses; it is an artist's house after all. And cats! Many, many cats. The cats will probably vote that the pile of pillows belong to them.

(The real challenge will be figuring out how to keep Anubis, our big twenty pound black cat, from deciding that everything on the altar and/or reading table is not important, and knocking all such nonsense onto the floor, so that he can take a well-deserved nap.)

Of course, all this requires me to clean out the room (it ended up being used for storage, due to the lack of enough bookcases in the house--a DIY project that has been delayed while I work on the novel--thirty thousand words and counting...) and then getting out of my wife's way.

It is totally do-able. After all, I am now on bipolar meds, and can cope with the project.

Tarot Blog Hop--all about the Tarot.
Thanks for reading my TBH entry. As always, you are encouraged to follow the links and read the other entries for this theme--there is always something new to learn.

Have a happy Yule and a great 2019. 

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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Initiation as an Operating System

Egregors--easy to build all by yourself, right? No.
The line to burn me at the stake for violating modern ideas about initiated traditions (Golden Dawn, many forms of Wicca, Thelema) will soon be forming. Why? Because I am willing to say things like this:

You need both--individual and group work--to fully understand and use the [initiated Golden Dawn] system as it was designed to work. This is how it was designed--it is not a bug; it is a feature. Initiation (in a group) is like installing the operating system of a computer. The members of the group itself is like the circuits in a computer. The individual work, rituals, and study, are the programs and the owner's manual...which work best if you have the proper operating system installed, along with the suggested hardware (aka you are not working alone), and the right settings (godforms). And lineage is the official "I did not pirate this software" seal and code which (in my "healed lineage" experience) can be paid for after the fact, and allows for software patches. You would not expect a single unplugged circuit board to be able to run computer programs, so why does everyone expect the rituals of Golden Dawn to work without the set-up that was designed into the system in the first place?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A message from the Honored Dead

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I will admit that the theme of this Tarot Blog Hop, Walking Into Life With The Dead, left me at a loss of what to do with it, so I am just going to use the prompt as the basis of a quick Tarot reading.

My message from the Honored Dead.
1. What is the most important thing the spirits of your beloved dead have been attempting to show or teach you this year?

For this question, I pulled the King of Swords, which because the figure is not on a horse, I am going to read more like the Prince of Swords instead. [In Golden Dawn, the Kings are mounted on horses while the Princes are seating down--basically, the Kings on horseback are considered to be more active than their seated counterparts.] One of the things I have been struggling with lately is "pre-judgement"--judging my current bit of writing in the light of "You can't write it that way--you will offend all your readers and ensure that you will never sell another book ever again." I have always had this problem which is why I have a metric ton of started, yet never finished projects. This ties into the fact that my mother-in-law (who died last summer) wanted to see me actually complete an entire science fiction novel. 

2. What is your personal connection to Spirit, as you define it, whether that be Gods and Goddesses, the Powers of the Land, the Souls of the Dead (or the Living), or in any other way you define this word. How does Spirit connect with you and at the end of this year, what is the primary energy of Spirit that is showing itself to you?

For the second question, I pulled Death. Over the last two months, I have actually managed top remain (mostly) focused on a single project--I have managed to rack up 25K words on a single story (that's half of a small novel). This is real first for me; I have never gotten that far on any fiction project before. Interestingly, this is all being done under a brand new pen-name because I decided that I wanted a fresh start as a writer. I guess that is a form of death and change, right?

3. What will be your personal Gift to Spirit, whether this is an offering made to Deity, something you will do because of what Spirit has taught you, or some other way of acknowledging the influence of the Living Dead on your own life.

For the third question, I pulled the Four of Swords. Several of the characters that I have created are based on dead relatives, and some of the action involves me exploring my feelings about my childhood and how my mom so did not want me to become a witch, or a writer for that matter. There is my (dead) dad and my (dead) aunt who live again as other characters. I am still debating whether it is polite to use the name of one of my ancestors as my new pen-name.

One of the themes in the book is PTSD (which I have been told online that I don't understand...despite the fact that I suffer from it personally). It is kinda love offering, the pouring out of my soul.  This is almost like going to therapy--which I associate with the Four of Swords--in fact, the book starts off with my main character, Homer Milton Dante, telling his therapist what he thinks of her latest suggestion to foster his recovery. 

I love this artwork...despite the fact that I shouldn't use it.
As an illustration of all this energy, consider the artwork that I really, really want to use for the book cover, despite the fact that "no writer should make their own cover artwork" and "everyone that you are going to be competing with, they are using a different style of artwork--and abstract covers did not help sales from the Big Six--so you really should not use it!" On the other hand, my mother-in-law encouraged my occasional foray into art, and I know my father would have done the same. And I want to do some interior illustrations too--which is something else that goes against what is currently selling on the market. My research says "not to do something different than what customers currently expect"...and I violating the rules nine ways to Sunday, so this project (based on the current market wisdom) is probably going to be dead on arrival (if the experts are right). Still sooner or later, I have to actually complete a project, and I am halfway there (with enough ideas to get to the 50K mark). I might as well finish it up--complete with the inclusion of artwork that reminds me of the science fiction magazines I grew up reading.

[In many ways, I feel like a grave robber here. This book grew out of a comment that I said out loud at one point while working on another story set in the same fictional universe. At one point, I realized that international space meant "more than just Americans in space" and that meant research. I might be able to fake the British, but most other countries will require lots of research. Then I said, "Why can't I give the Ancient Egyptians rockets and be done with it?" Suddenly I had New Egyptians everywhere in the universe--opps! I am not sure how the Honored Dead of Egypt feel about this, but they were a little star-crazy--so maybe they will not mind.] 

Happy Samhain! Thanks for reading.

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Friday, September 21, 2018

My cunning plan to restore my work life balance

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Welcome to the mid-September installment of the Tarot Blog Hop. The topic for this one is maintaining and restoring balance--ironic considering that I am just starting to warm-up to break out of my summer schedule (which is not balanced at all).

A few years ago, while I was in college, I started to goof off during the summer months. At the time, it made sense--if only because I did not want to take classes during the summer semester (same amount of work--less time to do it in). After graduating (two bachelor degrees--literature and history), I continued taking the summer easy--mainly because of my wife's work habits and schedule.

Being a schoolteacher, my wife takes the summers off and works on her pottery business.

Now, this would not be so bad if she was not gifted with an annoying handicap--basically, she can't see when I am actually writing. I can be typing away, and she will walk into the room and proceed to talk as if my fingers flying over the keyboard are non-existent.

One of the bad things about writing (and art, for that matter) is that it is a "flow" activity. Basically, it is easier to do (and often better quality) if you can enter a mindset where the words and images just flow though you. Interruptions leads one to having to hack the words out at a painful rate of one word at a time.

Yes, writing is always done one word at a time.

But when the space between two words become filled with other concerns (such as the fact that one is supposed to pay attention when your wife is talking to you), it becomes a war to convince the next word to show up in a timely manner. Allow enough interruptions to happen, and the next thing you know you haven't wrote anything since like--forever, and one's muse goes on strike.

In my case, that is really not a good idea. I suffer from Heinlein Monkey--my health (both physical and mental) start to suffer when I haven't been doing enough writing. For instance, instead of sleeping, I will toss and turn for the entire night. And over the years, the problem has gotten worse.

Under normal conditions, the most that I have to put up with the summer schedule is three months, plus weekends, school holidays, and any day that my wife decides to take off, and...well, my bad childhood programming kicks in whenever someone decides that their schedule, even if it is only goofing-off, matters more than whatever I am trying to do. And I will feel great guilt for the little voice in my head that says that I should be writing instead.

Why do I have such bad programming? Simple, my mother thought that it was perfectly okay to make the oldest kid still at home, drop everything, including homework, to take care of the younger siblings and the house. That is why I ended up failing high school. Of course, it was not my mom's fault--according to her, I flunked high school because I was stupid--not because I was not allowed to do any homework. And any money I somehow made went 100% towards supporting my siblings.

So basically, I am programmed to put everyone else in front of my needs and wants--and suffer crippling guilt when I do not have the time or resources to support someone else fully and absolutely. Hence my wife decides to take the day off, and I feel obligated to keep her company--which is followed by frustration that I am getting no work done, and guilt over the fact that I feel frustrated, topped with the feeling that I am supposed to be making money hand over foot without burning up any resources (time or money).

In theory, my summer schedule is supposed to be three months...

Unfortunately, my mother-in-law died last year (suicide), so I never left summer schedule last year. My "summer" has now gone on for a year and a quarter. And it probably made sense to extend it to provide emotional support for my wife, but at some point you have to get back to work. Especially if not working has allowed an impressive imbalance to build up.

How bad is this imbalance? Peeking at my Tarot deck, the top card is the Two of Swords and the bottom card is the Lovers. I will admit that I am not brave enough to actually draw any other cards. Besides, it is not like I am going to change my plan for restoring balance.

Mercury Forty-Two--this might be the final cover.
Before my mother-in-law died, I was considering rebranding and relaunching my writing career. What I had planned originally was updating some books covers, writing and releasing some new stories, writing less political posts, stuff like that. The extended summer basically left me unable to do anything other than research how other writers were making money in the current market, and thinking about what my ideal work schedule would look like as a writer.

I did take a swing at rebooting and returning to my regular schedule in December, but it all went sideways when the remodeling started. (Not that the Esoteric Comedy Show project was ever going to be profitable, especially after YouTube changed the rules about who got to run ads on their videos.) From late February to...well, the first of this month, I got no writing done beyond the odd blog post (far and inbetween) and spent my writing energies just outlining novels that someday I might write once my wife started to work a regular schedule.

When my wife works a regular schedule, I get to work in peace while she is at work.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you choose to think about it), my wife had just quit her previous job when her mom died. After several years of dealing with bad charter school administration (that basically decided cheap was better than experienced), my wife was overdue to change jobs. And she was supposed to find a new job over the summer. That got tossed aside by family tragedy--she spent a lot of time dealing with her mom's estate. So she does not have a regular job yet (and I am guessing that it is going to be another whole year before she finds one); therefore, she is subbing again this year.

The thought of this was making me go a little crazy.

A little crazy...

So crazy that I have been forced to create a set of new rules. It is just too bad that I keep breaking them. For instance, I was supposed to have a new Tarot card done for this post (and to illustrate a story that I am working on), and it did not get done--because I allowed myself to step away from the keyboard and drawing board this week to provide emotional support for my wife's first full week back at subbing.

(I did do a card, but it looks exactly like I was interrupted numerous times as I tried to finish it. So we are just going to skip that one. If you are curious what my "flow-state" art looks like, see the book cover design illustrating this post.)

What are the new rules that I should be living by? (Rules that actually help keep me stable when I follow them...)

First, I have to write five hundred words a day. This number will go up later, but my writing engine is still cold as hell with the words coming at a painfully slow pace (three hours for five hundred words--not my best pace). And I need to write at the same time every day to increase the likelihood that my muse will get the memo and start showing up regularly. Most importantly, I am not allowed to step outside until my mandatory word count is done for the day.

Second, after a project hits a certain word count, I am not allowed to switch projects in that category until the current one is done. I am splitting my writing between Occult and Science Fiction/Fantasy, so that means that I have two projects going at any one time. Any ideas for other stories are written down on index cards and put in the proper file.

Third, I am aiming to complete a book a quarter (four books a year) using new pen-names for marketing purposes. (Besides the occult under my own name, there is going to be science fiction [Michael Ramalia] and urban fantasy [Charles Bloodmoon]--and possibly a pen-name that I am not going to admit to.)

Fourth, I need to make sure that I am actually eating lunch. After twenty years in food service (most as the responsible employee) and my childhood, I have bad tendency to realize I am hungry, and then proceed to continue what I am doing without actually taking time out to eat. I have started to make my lunch for the next day at the same time that I am making my wife's lunch for the next day. It is a lot easier if I only have to walk to the fridge and back when the writing is flowing.

Fifth, I am learning to write while wearing headphones. In theory, this is supposed to cut down on distractions and provide a visual clue that I am trying to work.

Sixth, and most important, I am not allowed to chase the hottest money making scheme, nor am I allowed to hand over funds and resources that were earmarked for my own business. That includes my time and energy.

Will these rules help? Yes, provided that I stick to them religiously.

So that is my current plan to restore some balance in my life. I will let you know later if I actually stuck to the plan, or if I allowed myself to give into the guilt and voices that say that I am supposed to put everyone else first.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Coming soon to my yard (Dark Arts and Crafts BBQ and Drumming Parties)

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Hi everyone--welcome to another exciting edition of the Tarot Blog Hop. The theme for this hop is "The Sun Harvest -- What end of summer harvest do you want to bring in before fall?"

*falls on floor laughing*

Hey kids, do you know what time it is?

"Howdy Doody Time?"

"Tool Time?"

"Dinner time?"

"Time for ice cream?"

"Oh, no--he is going to talk about his yard again, isn't he?"

"Again and again and again..."

Yes, that is right. I am going to talk about my yard again.

But first, a slight sidetrack.

Let me tell you about my July. And my original summer harvest goal...

So my wife was out of town for an entire month. She went to Costa Rica for language immersion--she teaches ESL. And I would be left in peace and quiet.

I figured that I would work on my summer goal of having a novel (an entire novel--50,000 words) done by September 1st.

I failed to realize that I was not actually going to get peace and quiet while she was gone. What I got was a bunch of garden remodeling contractors interrupting my schedule--both sleep and work. In the end, I got just a few good writing days out of the month.

Hence, I am not going to have either "Axe Murderer of Titan" or "Heartbreaker" done in time to meet my original goal. Or at least, I am not holding my breath at this point.

And in all honesty, it may have been too optimistic for me to aim for that goal in the first place.

Why did I chose September 1st as a goal for my next release date?

Well, it was the garden remodeling.

"See, I told you that he was going to talk about his garden remodel again. And again. And again."

When my wife decided that she was going to spend her inheritance on remodeling the garden, she thought that it was all going to be done by the first of June.

I laughed.

My father used to do remodeling and construction. I spent many summers and Christmas vacations on various job sites as my father tried to get me interested in the exciting and profitable world of construction and remodeling. I was not interested in that type of construction (don't get me started on the task of Fictional World Building--we will be here all day). [I was also not interested in farming and auto mechanics, just in case you are curious.]

Therefore, I had experience. I knew better. I did not need to pull out my Tarot cards to know that she was wrong. I saw her June first, and raised her a bet of September first.

And given that I am in the midst of a rebranding and relaunch of my career as a writer, what better way to celebrate than to release a book in one of the two new series I was working on?

(Axe Murderer of Titan--science fiction--pilot book of Icarus Above a Dark Earth.)

(Heartbreaker--urban fantasy--book one of Queen's Huntsman.)

But as I said, I don't think that I am going to make it.

I am still going to try.

After all, I still would like to have a book releasing near the date of my first Dark Arts and Crafts BBQ Party With Optional Drumming.

We will just have to see what happens.

The Sun--from the unfinished Monkey Tarot.
So what am I actually going to harvest this summer?

A sidewalk that does not kill people.

I kid you not--the sidewalk that they just dug out was that bad.

And a fence.

Because I like to pretend that I am not that neighbor.

You know--the neighbor that might be an evil Tarot reading witch who meets clients at his house.

Plus my storage sheds and the house trim got repaired and painted.

Basically, it is the yard and garden that I always wanted. The type of yard that one expects to find strange musicians, pot smoking artists, writers of the odd and wonderful, evil witches, and wise Tarot readers in. You know--my type of party.

And yes. it will be a monthly thing with BBQ and drumming. (Well, after my wife finishes her second Master degree work.)

Here is a video showing the current state of the yard...sort devolved into a game of How Many Complaining Cats Can You Count?

[Mad Uncle Morgan shows off his yard.]

{For some reason, Blogger is not letting me embed the video.}

Oh about that September first estimate on mine? Well, we were informed just yesterday that the back gate we want will take a month to get the custom order done.

Damn good fortune telling considering that I never pulled out my Tarot deck for this one.

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Monday, July 2, 2018

Tenth annual Smashwords July ebook sale

It is once again time for Smashwords annual July ebook sale (July 1st to 31st).

(Some of these books are scheduled to be expanded and updated--if it has an asterisk [*], it is scheduled to be expanded and revised--in other words, if you want to get it cheap before the expansion, do it now because the price will be going up on these ebooks when I update them later.)

Discounted to $1.50 USD

Five Reasons Why Magic Fails

Golden Dawn Rituals--Three Officer Neophyte Script*

Rite of the Magical Images of the Wiccan Sabbats*

Witchy Rants (the Collected MDE Heaarthstone Community Church Newsletter articles)*

Denver Witch Quarterly: To Curse, Or Not To Curse--The Big Cursing Issue (Samhain/Yule 2016)

Denver Witch Quarterly: Wealth and the Lucky Witch (Imbolc/Ostara 2017)

Denver Witch Quarterly: Evil Witches Bind President Trump and His Administration--also Occult Writers and Payment (Beltane and Lithna 2017)

Gaius Corbin: Light Out of Darkness--Lux E Tenebris (Thelema and the Necronomicon)

Free ebooks on Smashwords

Denver Witch Quarterly: A Modest Magazine Proposal

MDE Hearthstone: Pizza Boxes on the Floor (2010)

MDE Hearthstone: Bad Monkey (2011)

MDE Hearthstone: Lunatic With a Soapbox (2012)

MDE Hearthstone: Biggest Witch on the Block (2013)

MDE Hearthstone: Thirteen Signs That Your Occult Teacher is Rotten (2014-2015)

MDE Hearthstone: Hex the Vote--Mad Uncle Morgan Talks About American Politics (2016)

Shakespeare's Monkey (a fiction and poetry collection)*

Esoteric Comedy Show: Assault With a Deadly Taco (Mad Uncle Morgan, I am--Your Face is Going to Freeze Like That)

Esoteric Comedy Show: Free Guns For Everyone--Lap Cats Are Good Too (A Big Gun Control Show)

This is one of my favorite book covers.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Please fence me in (I want to drum with witches)

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When our Tarot Blog Hop wrangler, Joy Vernon, posted the topic for this hop, I had to laugh. “Don’t fence me in” was the exact opposite of what going on in my life.

This spring, my wife decided to use her inheritance from her mother’s death last summer to pay for house and garden repairs and upgrades. One of the things that my wife has wanted for years is a privacy fence. And after many, many years, she had talked me around to her position. If nothing else, I no longer wanted to look at the dead brown knee high grass that my southern neighbor insists on having.

Plus for many years, I have wanted to have “Dark Arts and Crafts” parties. You know—weird artists, indie writers, crazed magicians, and amusing witches, possibly armed with drums and wands—all making noise around a fire pit. One of my entry points into the local occult community was the monthly drummings that a friend of mine (Cassandra Ravenwolf) used to have over at her house. I met my wife at such a drumming. I was heart-broken when Cassandra left town with her husband (Brian) to be closer to her in-laws. And I have waited patiently for some other member of the community to create such an event…but after fifteen years (maybe a touch more), I am out of patience.

So my wife and I are getting a new sidewalk (goodbye Sidewalk of Death), traded our chain link fence for a nice wooden one, new front windows and doors, got the garden sheds painted. Plus I am doing a major purge of stuff I do not need (“Oh look, it is a stack of Rocky Mountain newspapers—didn’t they go out of business ten years ago?”); so far, three whole SUV loads of newspapers have been taken to the recycling center. Plus we are going to be painting some of the inside rooms of the house, building some custom book shelves, and generally organizing the mess.

(Please note that one of the reasons that this is all happening is that I am fairly stable—well, more stable than I was for the first fifty years of my life—on my current round of meds and a pot chaser. Don’t knock my pot chaser—it helps keeps the migraines and panic attacks at bay.)

The work on the outside should be done by the beginning of August. Then I get to switch my attention to Icarus--science fiction—“A thousand people live and work in outer space. They depend on Earth for a supply line. What do they do to survive when Earth goes dark?”—a rather long project that has much in common with eating an elephant “one bite at a time.”

So what the heck does this have to do with the Tarot? (An important question given that this is the Tarot Blog Hop.) Well, after all this is done, a certain amount of ritual and classes will be attempted at my house, and I might be doing some in-person Tarot readings (I hate reading Tarot over the phone and internet). So for the sake of my business (and my wife’s pottery business), we needed a new fence.

"Do you want to see naked witches dancing?"

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