Thursday, December 21, 2017

New Year Wishes (Tarot Blog Hop)

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Welcome to the Yule 2017 edition of the Tarot Blog Hop. Our wrangler, Ania, asked us to consider what card best represented our past year, and what card best represented our wishes for next year.

Death--sitting on a pile of past decisions and events while looking for a way to move forward. 
2017 was a year of Death for me. Literal death.

Early in the year, the president of the board of Hearthstone Community Church, Alia Denny died. That shook me up. Well, it shook the whole board up--not just me. The most basic of questions, such as "Would Hearthstone continue without Alia?" had already been answered. (Yes, it would--that is why we had a full board for the administration of the church.) Other questions, such as "With Alia gone, does Morgan still get to walk around and act weird?" are still being answered. (Honestly, I used Alia as a safety net--I got to be odd while she held down the respectable community member role--along with the other board members.) I have been considering my role in the local Wiccan/pagan community ever since she has died--"Do I want to take a bigger role in the community? Do I need to? Would the community be better off without me?"

Then my mother-in-law committed suicide, due to health issues, during the summer. Donna was my wife's best friend--her and my wife loved one another very much--shopping together, they went on vacation once together to Yellowstone. My wife and my brother-in-law took her death hard. And I was surprised how much it stirred up my own issues (my ongoing mental illness--depression, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, occasional roller coaster mood swings). I was more deeply affected by these two deaths than the death of my own mother a couple of years ago. As for my wife, some days are better than others--the best I can do is try to be supportive.

It is that "try to be supportive" part that has been the hardest for me. I don't come from a family that taught one to be supportive. Or maybe it was just my place in the family. Basically, my role was to sacrifice everything, including my own desires, for the good of my mother and my siblings. As such, I never feel that I am doing enough for others--and I will sacrifice my own damn good for other people without thinking about it. And it drives my wife insane that I do so. I swear I am trying to help as I run around destroying my own chances for success--and all the while I resent what I think that I am required to do. At some point, I realized that the best I could do to be supportive was to try to act like a normal person--it has not been easy--I have never done so much medical marijuana in my life to keep myself emotionally stable.

Remaining stable has been complicated by the fact that my wife's job hunt was interrupted by her mother's death...which leads to the card that I have chosen for next year.

[Designing the Death card for the Monkey Tarot, I decided to depict the card with a monkey sitting on a pile of skulls wearing a Day of the Dead mask, holding in one hand a bunch of flowers and in the other, a pomegranate. Essentially, we sit on a throne of the bones of our ancestors, making jokes to make sense of the harshness of the universe, watching death be quick and sudden one day, slow and lingering the next, while watching out for those moments that are not the end, but rather a beginning of a new stage of existence.]

Eight of disks--pounding out projects in a systematic approach to build up a body of work.
The card that I think sums up what I hope to happen next year is the Eight of Pentacles. Earlier this year, before all the death and sorrow, I made a plan for my business after much studying of how successful writers were making money as writers.

What I have observed is that successful writers stick to projects until they finish them. Everything else is just a support mechanism for that goal--finishing projects--including selling books to afford to be able to write other books.

I have not been good at finishing projects. The voices in my head, which sound remarkably like my mother's voice, tell me that I need to be successful right out of the gate, and that I am not allowed any resources to accomplish this goal. I have spent a lot of time trying to find that perfect project that will generate a lot of money while costing nothing in resources. So in space of a week, I will have started and abandoned seven projects. This was especially true before I started taking bipolar meds.

Just in case, you do not realize how bad the voices in my head are, consider the following idea: "You are supposed to be making a hundred thousand a year without spending a single dime, or wasting large amounts of time creating product."

Unfortunately, being a writer involves dumping a lot of time and resources into projects that one does not know if they are going to succeed or not. For instance, every successful writer making a living as a writing, if they write series of novels, has at least three books in their series (that's three whole novels!). And they did the three books set routine again and again until they discovered their successful series.

Now, I used to be able to make some money doing short stand-alone stories, but the dubious erotica market has dried up over the last few years as people have screamed, "Children can find erotica when they search for books" and blamed the writers for ebook retailers not having a proper adult filter for their searches. My estimate of how much potential income this has cost me runs thousands of dollars a year. At one point, there were erotica writers making hundreds of thousands per quarter (yes, I said "quarter"). But no, that would make things far too simple. With Barnes and Noble bringing their policies in line with everyone else's, those days were over (please note, I made my plan six months before B&N closed their system to dubious erotica).

Anyways, earlier this year, I broke down and told my wife, in painful detail, what I actually needed to do, if I wanted to start making money as a writer again. One, I had to switch fields; two, literally had to write at least three novels with only a best guess what would get readers to shell out money; three, I had to give up the idea that I could pull this miracle off without burning up resources or sufficient amounts of time; four, never think about returning to minimum wage restaurant work ever again.

And five, I had to continue taking bipolar meds; and for those really bad blind panic days, accept the fact that it was best for everyone concerned that I eat a "magical cookie."

Now, my wife has been amazed at the change in my thought process, thanks to the meds. I am also surprised--it is like I am a different person than I was for the first fifty years of my life.

So when everything went sideways, with death, and more death, and let's call the B&N policy even more death, I have somehow managed to stay on the side of functional. I have also managed to stick to the plan to reinvent myself as a writer. It has been slow going...because I have been placing comforting my wife above hacking out words...but hey, I have managed to keep my eyes on the prize of actually finishing a series (or at least, the first three installments).

The idea for 2018 is to keep on writing and focusing on a single large project (three novels same world!)--to stick to my business plan.

[Designing the Eight of Pentacles for the Monkey Tarot, I decided to use the image of Shakespeare Monkey, combined with a symbol of a factory approach to production. Shakespeare Monkey refers to the idea that if you have an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite amount of time, monkeys randomly typing can produce the exact text of Shakespeare. It is an idea that I encountered as a teenager which periodically crops up in my work. Red typewriter is a symbol of self-promotion--something I need to get better at. Dice are obviously a symbol of randomness--and sometimes success looks exactly like randomness--why do some people succeed and other people fail? And behind the monkey is a logo for the most famous company in the universe--ACME--because building a successful series involves work. Trivia--with the five and three visible on this side of the dice, the opposite side has to be a four and a two...42...yes, I am that nerd.]

The idea of a blog hop is to link to each other's blogs in a giant circle.
Thanks for reading this installment of the Tarot Blog Hop. Feel free to hop backwards to Joanne Sprott's Cosmic Whispers Tarot blog, or forward to Jay Cassel's Metaphysical Musings blog. And if there are any link problems, check out the Master List of all the entries in this edition.

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Why not add more information to the Tarot cards? (Tarot design)

Question: In the Minor Arcana of the Golden Dawn Tarot, we indicate the planet that sub-rules the decan on the card. Why do we not add the ruling planet of the sign on the card also? And why not the planet's dignity?

Answer: There is a concept in astrology called the "black chart" which is the result of adding more and more data points to the horoscope. For instance, you can add all the named asteroids, and all the Arabic points, and all the hypothetical planets, and all the fixed stars...and your chart will be completely black and overflowing with information--making it completely unusable. Sometimes, less is more. And for your average astrology student, the house markers and planets are about all they can cope with--it is the bare amount of information you need to read the chart.

Likewise, you could add all this other information to the cards...but each piece of information brings it closer to the black chart stage where there is simply just too much information. And in the case of exalted and fallen planets, that is specialty information--it is only useful if you worked with it a lot, or you have a handy chart. And honestly, the chart is far more useful than cluttering up the card itself.

Please note that both Adepts and astrologers are supposed to know the ruling planets of the signs. If you know the ruling planets, you know the falls; if you know the dignities, you know the detriments. (Basically, the negative weakened position is opposite of the strengthened position.)

Eight of Wands is assigned to the first decan of Sagittarius sub-ruled by Mercury. 
The information we put on the card is the bare minimum. So why the decan ruler? One, it is part of the base meaning of the card. Two, it saves you time figuring out what the decan sub-ruler is (I tend to have to count on my fingers to figure it out).

Whenever designing a Tarot card, you need to ask "Could I use this card in candlelight conditions?" If the answer is no, then you probably need to remove some clutter.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Danger Will Robinson GMOs Danger Danger

We live in a dangerous world. In the wild, monkeys are in danger of eating poisonous berries, of drowning, of falling on their heads, and of being eaten by feral hedgehogs.

Us humans have none of that—we are perfectly safe—provided that we don’t get shot. We have nothing to worry about. We are perfectly safe. Unless you get online…

 …and then you have to worry about all types of things that monkeys can’t spell:

GMOs, chemtrails, vaccines, fluoride in the water supply, politicians, rich people, poor people…

And I have been exposed to all of these.

Given how bad they are…[air quotes] according to the internet [end air quotes]…I should be a dimwitted hunchback [hunches over] with an overbite [makes a face] holding political office [mimes ringing a bell, tweeting on Twitter, and hand over heart to the pledge of alliance].

You do realize that genetically modifying organisms have been going on since the birth of agricultural and human civilization.

Take for instance, the humble corn plant, maize for the political correct crowd, it started out as a simple grass that seeded on the top. At best, it could only hope to someday evolve into wheat. But humans came along, and selected the best seeds, planting them, harvesting them, planting them, harvesting them, over and over again until we get the mutant plant that the American Indians shared with the Pilgrims.

[Pauses. Then gestures wildly.]

Corn—the mutant revenge of the American Indians, plaguing mankind, causing cancer, making tasty sodas, and the reason our President is as big as a house.

Without GMOs, we would still be cavemen without the ability to text, photo cats, and share false news stories.

I am not completely sure that is a bad thing. After all, I do love taking cat photos.

Completely unnecessary cat photo.
{From the upcoming Following the Brightest Butt (the comedy show you will never see about evolution and human behavior).}

Friday, December 15, 2017

Exactly when did Hillary lose the election (why did Trump beat her)

Something that surprises me is that we are still debating why Hillary Clinton lost the election. Was it Russian interference? Was it sexist men? Was it Nazis? Was it fake news? Did Trump cheat? Was she simply unlikeable?

Yes, the Russians interfered. Yes, men are sexist. Yes, Nazis voted for Trump. Yes, people believed the fake news. Yes, Trump cheated (basically, he played by the new social media rulebook, not the old tradition politics version). And yes, she was unlikable.

Yet given all that we have learned about the DNC and the mess that was, I think that we can say that both sides was doing everything in their power to ensure that they were the only possible choice. Let's declare it a level playing field and move on. Both sides tried to cheat--it is what politicians do.

[Please note that I still want to see Trump's tax returns, and want to know exactly what happened between his campaign and the Russians---I want to know exactly who he is working for because it is sure not the poor people who voted for him.]

[[If you are a poor person and still think that the Trump administration cares about you beyond Trump's re-election, you need to get your eyes checked. As long as you promise to vote for him again, he will entertain you with midnight rage tweets and stories about witch-hunts while continuing to make sure that the rich get richer at your expense.]]

[[[And yes, I know--she was just as bad.]]]

[[[[That is not going to prevent me from continuing to work to draw attention to the fact that he only cares about big business and billionaires, and that his policies are really not going to help the poor.]]]]

So when did she actually lose?

In my opinion, it was during one of the debates when she followed Trump's promise to bring coal jobs back with a declaration that coal jobs were not coming back, and that she believed in green energy. Ok, she got points for telling the truth, but lost mega-points for not understanding voters in coal country. You don't tell someone that they are never going to work ever again--no, you are supposed to convince them that your plan will provide jobs to replace the ones that had been lost. I felt the ground open up beneath her at that point, and knew that my prediction of President Trump was going to come true.

What she should have said was "Green energy is going to require billions of batteries to meet our energy needs. And the people in coal country get to build these billions of batteries. Yes, that is right--green energy is going to give you good paying jobs. You get a job, and you get a job--jobs for everybody!"

But no, she did not say it this way. She was so busy calling Trump a liar that she lost sight of the fact that people vote according to their hopes and fears. And that is when she lost the election in my opinion. We can debate all the nitty-gritty bits until the cows come home, and it still will not matter as much as the fact that she shot herself in her own foot.

And if the Democrats don't figure this out...well, let's just say that 2020 will be another Trump victory, even if the Russians decide to help the Democrats instead.

Were you a bad citizen? Did you vote for the wrong person?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

And the Creeper Award goes to (oh noes, people I don't like have abused their power to get laid)

Welcome to the 2017 Creeper Award where we award the creepiest person in the world with a virtual award in honor of how creepy they really are.

And this year, we are focusing on those who have abused their position of power for sexual gain.

Let's see we have...

...a billion f***ing nominees. And a new one everyday. Politicians, CEOs, priests, actors, directors, film company executives, news reporters...seriously, the list goes on and on.

How can I make up my mind when I have so many tasty options. I got so many tasty options...

It is like a Sexual Predator vending machine.
The same way I make up my mind on everything else. I randomly push some buttons on the machine and see what falls out.

Seriously, are we actually surprised about the fact that powerful men will use their positions to convince women that it is in their best interest to have sex with them?

Are we surprised that almost every woman has a story?

(Yes, I am little surprised about the extent of the problem. Sadly, my estimate of affected women has gone up over the last year and an half. At this point, I am starting to assume that every woman has interacted with a sexual predator.)

Is it hypocritical of me to say that sexual predators are bad when I am a former writer of dubious erotica?

(Former--as in I haven't published any more dubious erotica for the last four years. The reason for this is that the market has changed to the point where there are no retailers who sell the stuff. Barnes and Noble, the last holdout, in August changed their policy to the rest of the market. So I am not making money writing erotica anymore, so bite me! And when I did--I had rules: no underage, no rape, both parties had informed consent--it is sad that my stuff had a higher ethical standard than the real world.)

Is dubious erotica the cause of all sexual predators?

(No s**t--I saw someone actually argue this in the comment of a Smashwords blog post talking about the new certification program designed to let retailers know which erotic stories are dubious. Let's just ignore the fact that the Bible has amble evidence that this problem is thousands of years old.)

Are we surprised that some witches seek to cast binding spells on sexual offenders?

(Have you met a real witch? Do you really want to f*** with them and their loved ones?)

Are we surprised that other witches and magicians will rush to cast counterspells, so that the sexual offender's free will is not affected?

(Hell yes, I am f***ing surprised about the countercasters.)

Stop sexual predators in their tracks--join the Super-Duper Magical Defenders of Liberty today!
Are we surprised that some dubious occult leaders are using this wave of public outrage as a recruiting tool for their Orders and traditions?

(Not really, they use every hot trending topic as a recruitment tool.)

Is it hypocritical of dubious occult leaders to speak out against sexual offenders when they have expelled every member who ever complained that one of their favorite students is a sexual offender? Or themselves been accused of being a sexual offender?

(Uh...yes. All I have done is write dubious erotica, and cast bindings on rapists. But remember they are the heroes.)

So who do we give the Creeper Award to? We have so many tasty options in our vending machine of Questionable Leaders Abusing Their Power to have SEX! SEX! SEX! How do we chose?

By who makes me feel the sickest.

And the Creeper Award goes to every f***ing voter who has said, "Even if this politician is a sexual predator, they need to be voted for and protected because the work they do is more important than the lives that they have ruined and will ruin in the future."

Yes, all those voters who scream that we need the politician who will outlaw those they do not like, even if the politician is guilty as hell of being sexual predators, are the winners of this year's Creeper Award. 

And they get bonus awards of Willing Being Blind and Being a Complete B!!! when they say that sexual offenses are grounds for the other political party to lose its politicians, yet turn a blind eye to the members of their own f***ing party who are just as bad; or worse, claim that all accusations against their party are false while all the accusations against the opposing party are true.

I am not sure how they can look at themselves in the mirror in the morning, and how they think they get to go to the Nice Afterlife and not the So Cold It Burns Afterlife.

Oh, yeah, their Holy Book says that it is ok. You just have to pay off the victims. It is in their Holy Book. F***ing hell!

So here you go, Voters Who Think It Is OK For Their Political Party To Be Sexual Offenders As Long As They Hate And Love The Same People As I Do, here is your your shiny Creeper Award. Hold it up proudly, you selfish pricks!

By the way, it is not just the Republicans; all political parties have these pricks. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Trump officially recognizes Jerusalem as Israel capitol (what if he is right)

Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump fulfilled one of his campaign promises, and officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Furthermore, the US embassy to Israel will be moved to Jerusalem. He claims that this step will lead to peace between Israel and Palestine. And his hardcore Christian and Jewish supporters are applauding this decision.

Meanwhile, Palestine, the United Nations, our European allies, and most of the rest of the world is saying that Trump has made the problem in Israel-Palestine harder to solve. As evidence, one just has to look at the spike of violence in Israel today.

Now, for the one person who just arrived on this planet, the problem with Israel-Palestine starts a couple of thousand years ago when Israel got conquered; and the Jews proved to be a violent menace when allowed to remain in sufficient numbers in the region, so they got kicked out. Since then, the Jews have been kicked out of many countries because it is easy to make a villain out of them (basically, their religious law is set up in a way where it is hard for them to go mainstream anywhere; therefore, they are always a separate group that can be scapegoated when someone wants to do something politically evil).

The problem got interesting during World War I (yes, the first one) where some politicians supported the establishment in Palestine of a homeland for the Jews. The idea lingered over the country during the period of the British Mandate. And came to a boil with the horrors of World War II which showed the Jewish people that they really need a homeland.

Looking at the historical record, I honestly think that the British politicians were playing both sides (some of them told the Palestinians that they had no worries), having apparently no actual intention of doing what they promised the Jews.

But the horrors of WWII convinced the United Nations, in 1947, to create a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. The British withdrawn and...

...all hell broke loose as the entire Arab world tried to prevent it from happening. Israel managed to win. And since then, Israel has suffered periodic violence as various Muslim warlords try to destroy them.

As someone who dabbles in alternate history stories, I do wonder what would have happened if the Arabic world would have not responded with violence. Would the Jews seen a need to expand using war? Or would they have remained peaceful, with the Middle East being slightly less violent today.

(Even with a peaceful Israel, I think that the Middle East would be a mess...just like every other historical period that mixes religious zeal with the government. And anyone who thinks the United States with a zealous national religion would be different is a loony.)

So we had a century of thought that says a Two State Solution is the way to go, and seventy years of violence as the Palestinians and their Arab/Muslim allies has tried to drive the Jews out of Israel because Palestinians and their neighbors really don't want a Two State Solution. In fact, there are a lot of radical Muslims who think that this whole mess should have been dealt with by a German victory in WWII. But no, the allies won...

There are few ways to read President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel.

Trump could just be doing what his most zealous followers want because he wants to be re-elected. And/or making a major donor and his son-in-law happy. And/or emphasizing how much his loyal followers believe Islam is an enemy and that all Muslims are bad. And/or he could honestly think that this move will help the peace process. And/or he could be trying to unleash the Four Horsemen.

Or he could be secretly admitting what no Western politician wants to admit--the Two State Solution is not working, and probably never will work.

Yes, yes, I know--feel free to call me names in the comment section.

Seriously, has history ever seen a successful Two State Solution?

Let's see...

Britain, Ireland, and Scotland...uh, no.

Austria-Hungary...uh, attempting to give everyone a fair voice, including allowing several national languages to be spoken, severely weaken their military might, so that would be a no.

East and West Germany...uh, that worked out so well economically, didn't it? (By the way, German Neo-Nazis all come from East Germany because they were not told in school that Germany had committed a crime against humanity during WWII.)

North and South United States before the Civil War--so much a Two State Solution--well we all know how that one worked out. (By the way, the reason there are proud Confederates is because they are taught that the Civil War was a just war, about state rights, and not about slavery. It is like the declarations of succession never mentioned slavery as the reason to go to war--oh, wait, the documents say exactly that.)

Current Republican-Democrat Two Party Please Burn All the Traitors Stand-Off...we will have to just wait and see. (And the reason, members of one political party think that the members of the other political party is just a bunch of traitors is--drum roll please--because they are taught by the leaders of their own party that the other party are nothing more than traitors.)

Given the historical evidence that a Two State Solution will not work, the only way I see a successful Israel-Palestine dual state working is if tentacled aliens from outer space atomic laserized all the other capital cities and economic centers off the face of the Earth.

So let me now say something nice about President Donald J. Trump.

He might be the only politician in the entire world that is willing to admit that the Two State Solution is not going to work. Or maybe not--I am still waiting for the midnight rage tweet to tell me why he really did this. But if he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capitol because he believes that it is time to consider an One State Solution, then I admire his courage to break ranks with the traditional thinking on this issue.

And yes, I know--I am evil bastard for looking at the historical examples and not being able to find one that actually work. As always, there is the glorious comment section where you can tell me that I am an evil bastard who has it completely wrong.

(Do I support a Two State Solution?...yes...for humanitarian reasons...but my knowledge of history tells me that it will probably never work without something major happening that makes both Israel and Palestine band together in the name of enlightened self-preservation--in other words, aliens from outer space. Again, there is the comment section to call me names in.)

The esoteric heart of the world according to many authorities.