Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why Bast for Temple patron?

One of the comments that I recieved on an earlier blog post asked,"Why did Bast Temple chose Bast as our Temple patron goddess?"
To be honest, it started out as an insider joke. Three of the original members of Bast Temple had been part of another group. It was a loosely formed study group, which had two levels (the beginners and the more advanced).
(If you are curious, the group was called the Evolving Order of Eclectic Ways. BIORC almost ended up being called the Evolving Order of the Golden Dawn as a result of this. One of the reasons that BIORC did not end up under the Evolving label was that the initials would have been the same as those used by the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn [EOGD]. There are other reasons for BIORC to have been chosen as the rest of this entry will show...though many will argue they were not good reasons at all.)
One of the jokes that came out of the advanced circle was that the cats were really the Secret Chiefs. This joke slipped into the beginner circle which was led by two of the members of the advanced circle. This joke then slipped into the lodge as it was being formed.
Now I know a lot of people are going to be up in arms about this. And it does not matter...those who will be upset don't consider Bast Temple a real Golden Dawn lodge in the first place, therefore we do not have to maintain appearances just to please them. We can tell the truth; selecting our Temple Patron was the result of a joke.
But here is the kicker----despite the choice starting out as a joke, it worked just as well as if we were assigned this Patron from on-high.
For instance, each member of the original membership had at least one cat. May not seem important until you realize that we still have a Temple Kitty, who comes and checks out the new members (hence the question "Are you allergic to cats?"). The behavior of the cats are tracked by the voting members...the cats' opinions of applicants is often better than the humans.
This has lead to some interesting imagery used during lectures. For instance, the lecture where it is stated that the behavior of the Secret Chiefs in Golden Dawn history is much like the actions and behaviors of a cat. If you want to understand the Secret Chiefs, learn to understand the behavior of cats.
This choice of Bast and reason for it has some side-effects. For instance, we have learned that if you get upset by this set of jokes, then you are really not a good fit for membership in Bast Temple. Cat jokes are the least of the strange humor that one has to put up with as a member of Bast Temple.
The house that the meetings ended up being moved to during the second year of Bast Temple's existence came complete with its own feral cat colony. (For those who are curious: yes, the members of the feral colony were trapped, fixed and released [two males had to be put to sleep because of disease]. Today, they get a twice daily offering of food.)
As for the name BIORC, or more properly Ba Iset Order of the Rosy Cross, the reason for that is one of our members encountered a theory that Bast (Bastet) was really short for Ba Iset, the heart of Isis. Not a theory that one would place much weight on, but it has a nice ring to it, hence it being used as the Order name (just in case, we ever need it).
So there you have it, the reason for Bast to be selected as Temple Patron was that the goddess appealed to every cat owner in the group, and made for some really good humor. The fact that it serves as a signpost warning for those who would not be a good fit for entry in this particular Golden Dawn lodge is a nice side-effect.
(And in case, you are curious: a lot of magical work has been done with this godform. It may have started out as a joke, but it has become a rather interesting magical tool. It is probably safe to say that the Egyptian goddess Bast is pleased with our choice of Patron.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Testing and Exams in Golden Dawn

Last night, I was reading the blog of Frater AIT; he was talking about how he feels about the strict tests that the Order that he belongs to does.

(I believe that he is a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Outer Order of the Alpha and Omega.)

Anyway, I wanted to post a comment on his blog that I have never been completely sure what the purpose of the strict testing was. I couldn't; even using the shift suggestion that someone mentioned, the "prove that you are a human being" submit button is inaccessible to me.

Of course, by the time I woke up this morning, my mind had dragged out the fact that perhaps the testing and exams that I have undergone are not any less strict than the exams he is undergoing. The difference is that I did not have to submit a written exam until I hit Portal.

But in the terms of strictness, now that I stop to think about it, I am not sure that I escaped with anything easier.

Now I am about to make an assumption about the HOGD/A&O here (or whatever branch that Frater AIT is a member of). If I am wrong...well, then I am wrong.

The assumption that I am going to make is that they are doing the strict paper examinations because they can not test everyone in actual lodge. Therefore, everyone gets tested though a strict written examination instead.

The joke that the HOGD/A&O makes is that they are the Harvard (or is it Oxford?) of the Golden Dawn tradition. I believe them. Sounds too high class for my tastes.

I have came from the Community College/Technical School branch of the Golden Dawn system. Our exams were not written; they were conducted in lodge at the drop of a hat.

Let me stress that point: testing was done in lodge and at random times. There was no cramming for your Grade advancement exams because you had no clue when they were actually going to be conducted.

You had to prove that you had a sufficient level of knowledge about the Grade's knowledge lecture, the Grade ritual itself and the practical working assigned to that Grade. (Those in Bast Temple will recognize the system; it is the same one we are still using.)

You did not have to be perfect, but you had to roll up your sleeves to pass.

(I think that the reason that it did not have to be perfect was simply that you were going to be tested in the form of a pop quiz involving actual power tools. You did not have time to make it perfect; you had to do the work using only what was actually inside your head. Sounds like real life almost, doesn't it?)

Given what I went though, I think that I might have optioned for the strict written examinations if I had the choice. But don't get me wrong, in hindsight I do not neglect being able to pass my exams the way they were conducted. After all, I am more of a magical mechanic than magical scientist/scholar. That is by my very nature, and has nothing to do with the loddges I have ended up in. There are reasons why people like me are barred from Harvard and Oxford; quite simply, I am not a good fit for that type of system (think of me as being just one step away from white trailer park trash).

Frater AIT, on the other hand, seems to be a good fit for the Order that he is in. I am willing to bet that a decade from now (if he is still involved in Golden Dawn) that he will be proud of the way that he was tested; and even if he can not put it in words, he will see the value in the way he was tested.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Quote of the day: Combating Fear

Here is a quote from Douglas Todd that he used in a reward winning commentary. You can read the whole commentary over at the Vancouver Sun website.

It is beneficial to name our fears, individually and societally -- especially if we've been trying to keep them secret. That way we can recognize which are real and which are imagined.

But facing fears requires not freaking out. It calls for recognizing that life is risky -- and no leader can offer us absolute protection.

Dealing effectively with dread requires remaining grounded even when things are difficult. In today's culture of fear, in other words, staying calm amounts to a political act.

Watching train wrecks and cleaning them up

Now I must admit that I have nasty habits. For instance, occasionally I like watching the train wrecks of the blogosphere, internet forums, websites and newsletters. You know what I am referring to: those posts and pages where it does not take a cracked crystal ball to know that things are going to come back to haunt someone or another.

I am not proud of the fact that this stuff occasionally amuses me; I am just stating that I am aware of this personality problem.

I have seen several flare-ups lately. Yesterday, I was reading a post where someone cited a recent blog post talking bad about the Order that they are in. Now I will not go into details, other than note that the post was a couple of weeks old already, and most of us have moved onto something else.

But it illustrates a problem with the entire system. What you say, especially if you write it down, lives on forever. The hottest blog post today (as in the most read) could have been written months or years ago; the same hold true of webpages and articles.

There are also the matter of lectures, newsletters and books written before the age of the internet. If a single copy is still in existence, silly things that were said can rear their head at any time.

The biggest problem with all this stuff is that your ideas and opinions are set in stone.

There are some papers in Golden Dawn that I cringe when I read them. The worldview that was in play were warped, or they were written with incomplete knowledge, but the papers are still there. Some of them are not flattering.

The internet has made this problem worse. Not only do you have to worry about things officially published, you also have to worry about every single member of your Order and circle. All it takes is one nutjob to get the whole lot of you labeled the same way.

It is why I laugh when I see people get on the "let's clean up the internet" bandwagon.

I am not saying it is a bad idea...I am just not sure if people understand how big the project really is.

For instance, let's say I changed my mind about something. Now I am a small petty man with a big loud voice. I have a couple of blogs, several forum memberships, email, a couple of bad websites, and something resembling a printing press; and I am not afraid to use them.

Just to clean up my blogs, I would have to go though over six hundred postings. Six hundred posts going back three years. Add to that the bad websites, the forum posts, and the random email...the task rapidly becomes overwhelming.

Even if I did sit down to clean up my own end of things, it would take forever.

(Occasionally, I will admit that I wonder if that is not the idea in the first place. If someone is busy cleaning up, then they can't annoy you until they are finished.)

I would also have to worry about the fact that someone else might have saved my bad statements, either in pixels, PDFs or hard copies. There is also the fact that some of my articles can not be removed from the internet by me...basically, I would have to file out forms and beg administers to remove the stuff...if I do not have time to do this, why would anyone else have time to do so?

(This completely ignores the fact that many of these articles I am still making money from...another reason why some stuff will never disappear from the internet.)

If it looks impossible just to clean up my own house, then I am not sure that I would hold out much hope for any section of the internet to be cleaned up.

And that ignores the print world which would even be harder to clean up. For instance, a lot of old opinions about the Jews and the Haitians have recently cropped back up from books printed under the seal of certain Orders. And awhile back, it was opinions about homosexuals.

The bad part is not that these Orders published the material, and may continue to do so because of the occasional gem hidden among the filth; it is the fact that people actually believe these really bad opinions.

I do not care how much you think a certain segment of the population richly deserves the disasters that occur to them; I think that you are wrong. Especially when large number of other people are also caught up in the disasters.

Back to trying to make the point...given the size of the task of cleaning up the internet, and the libraries of the world, the only way I foresee being able to remove all the questionable material is to start completely over.

Gone the internet.
Gone the forums.
Gone all emails and letters.
Gone all the journals.
Gone all the newspapers and books of the world.

If we want to clean it up, we must destory everything written and start completely over.

Then again, I am a happy little cynic, ain't I?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Picture Paths and their Sephirah source

The other day, I gave a list of the paths and the sephiroth that they originated from.

Leafing though one of my notebooks, I found a diagram of this pattern that I did sometime between October 2000 (when Bast Temple started) and June 2003 (I cannot be more exact than that...bad record keeping on my end).

I am posting it here for those people who think more in visual terms.

An interesting thing about this diagram is that it illustrates why some Kabbalists insist that Tiphareth existed before Chesed.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pope tells the Priesthood to blog for God

Yesterday, I read a couple of articles about Pope Benedict XVI telling priests to use the new media of blogs and video podcasting to spread the word of God.

And I laughed. I know that it was wrong to laugh, but I am still not sure that the Pope understands the internet and how it works.

For instance, Pope Benedict XVI said that "Priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart."

I can make a prediction here. Any Priest that succeeds at following that advice is only going to spread the word to those who already believe. I am sorry if I offend, but those in spiritual traditions need to be as media-saavy as the hucksters on the internet.

I understand what the Pope was trying to say. He wants the Priesthood to focus on being spiritual healers first and foremost; but if they want to make any headway against those they feel are in error, they need to be as media-saavy as the hucksters are, if not better.

Recently, I have spent some time on trying to figure out the tricks of successful bloggers. It is something that I think all leaders of the younger esoteric groups are doing. Wicca and the newer Golden Dawn groups embraced the internet wholeheartedly years ago. We do not need to be told that this is were we need to reach people if we want our traditions to grow.

What the Pope said is an ideal, one that I wish would actually result in those groups that were working in the Light could use. But I know too much about history and how the new media works to believe that it is useful advice if a group wants to spread its message and increase its membership.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Source Sephirah sets of Tarot cards

The other day, I mentioned the fact that the background for Empress, Emperor and the Hierophant card was one big continous picture in the Initatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn. What I did not mention (because it did not occur to me until a couple of hours later) is that these three cards are considered a set by Golden Dawn if you consider their source sephirah. I have not seen any work done along these lines (or at least none published), so I thought I would list the source sephiroth and the cards that arise from them.

Kether: Fool, Magician and High Priestess

Chokmah: Empress, Emperor and Hierophant (High Priest)

Binah: Lovers and the Chariot

Chesed: Strength, Hermit and the Wheel of Fortune

Geburah: Justice and the Hanged Man

Tiphareth: Death, Temperance and the Devil

Netzach: the Lightning-blasted Tower, the Star and the Moon

Hod: the Sun and Last Judgment

Yesod: the Universe (the World)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tip for lighting candles

There are some problems once you see the solution, you find yourself wondering why it was ever a problem in the first place. For me, one of those problems were lighting pillar candles (you know the ones contained in the tall glass holders).

At one time, lighting pillar candles were not a problem. They used to make long wooden matches (a foot long) for lighting fireplaces. Now, it is a major hunt to locate these matches.

So how to do it without these special matches?

I have tried lighters set on high; needle-nose pliers and wooden matches; using taper candles. A lot of burnt fingers and wax drops have occurred.

Ironically, the best solution was so simple that I was amazed that I didn't think of it myself. During one ritual, I saw someone using a furnace lighter (gas grill lighter or fireplace lighter). I have been using the same trick ever since.

Lighting candles with this type of lighter (a lighter with a six-inch metal tube to extend your reach, useful for lighting pilot lights in hot water heaters, furnaces, etc.) brings a whole new meaning to the term "fire wand."

If you want to cut down on burnt fingers, wax drops and frustration, consider adding this type of lighter to your working tools.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Neat Tarot artwork

I went over to the Llewellyn's blog this morning (I think it was to avoid doing my homework), and was reading a few of the recent posts.

In one post, Donald Michael Kraig talked about how much printer ink cost (something I complained about on Facebook recently), and how speakers at the conventions made their money doing back room sales (something that I suspected for a long while).

But it was another post by Barbara Moore that I found the most interesting. She was talking about a neat discovery concerning the artwork in the Initatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn deck. Turns out that the Empress, Emperor and the Hierophant are all parts of a single piece of artwork.

(Ok, I must admit that I did not notice this before she called my attention to it. Otherwise I would have mentioned it in the book review I did on the Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn.)

Now, the question is: How does this affect the meaning of these three cards?

For those who have not listened to Pat Zalewski lecturing on this, the picture of a Tarot card is the most important part of the card. It is the ruling pivot that reconciles all the associations assigned to a card. If it wasn't important, we could get by with the symbols of the planets, signs, and Hebrew letters written on index cards.

Now in the back of my mind, these three cards have always been related since the first time I stepped in lodge.

The Emperor is the Imperator; the Empress is the Praemonstrator; and the Hierophant is the Hierophant (of course). The connection is that they are all dais officers.

(Attending lodge members will notice that we are missing the Cancellarius; this is not a big problem considering that in many ways that officer is a mixture of the other three officers. Therefore the entire unit here is Thoth, while the individual parts are more focused in their operations.)

Now, from a pure Golden Dawn training position, this idea is slightly wrong (the dais officers are represented by other cards); but on another level, this is a really neat bit about the artwork of the Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Games for wizards 1

Today I ran errands with my wife. Among the things she needed was a new purse. Therefore, I decided to take something with me to occupy myself.

Often when shoppping with my wife, I will take homework or some reading I need to do. Today it was one of Greer's books (the semester has not started yet). I also took a notebook with me.

I ended up playing what I refer to as a wizard game.

Today's game ended up involving geomancy. I was adding up the geomantic figures to see what various combinations produced.

Sometimes exercises like this produce just sheer nonsense. Other times you end up with things that might be important.

Today, what caught my attention is that adding up Fortuna Major and Fortuna Minor (the two solar geomantic figures) yields Via. So does adding up Via and Populus (the two lunar geomantic figures). {I added up the other planetary couples, but did not get any more Vias.} A Via also results if you add up the points of Puer, Populus, Puer and Carcer (the four figures assigned to the cardinal signs).

I am not sure if it means anything. I would like it to mean something, but it may just be a coincedence that these three combinations produce a Via. Besides it is just a wizard served its purpose: I did not die of boredom while waiting for my wife to make up her mind.

Book Review Link: Tarot for Writers

You can read my latest book review, Tarot for Writers, on Associated Content.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Aid to Haiti (Red Cross)

Given the number of requests to get aid to Haiti, both healing energy and monetary, I would like to mention that I feel that the best way to get money and supplies to victims is to do it though the Red Cross.

I have personally dealt with the Red Cross during one of my own emergencies.

The Red Cross actually had fifteen people in Haiti when the disaster happened (they were doing shot clinics), so they had eyes on the ground to help the incoming voluteers get oriented. The Red Cross is also used to dealing with government red tape, and corrupt political systems; they actually know ways to make sure the aid gets to the victims while avoiding lining the pockets of corrupt politicans.

You can learn more about the Red Cross though the Red Cross website.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Piracy Part 1

Last night, I was looking though the torrent requests over on The Occult Bz. It is a private (limited membership) torrent tracker devoted to occult material.

And I discovered a request for Golden Dawn Rituals Volume One: Neophyte Ritual Three Officer Version.

I experienced mixed feelings about finding this request.

For those who are unaware, this particular book is my creation. Hence the mixed feelings.

I would like to note that the harsh comments that I am about to make do NOT apply to everyone in the file sharing community. There are just a few bad apples that sour my cider.

On one hand, I am flattered that there is any demand for the book. On the other hand, I honestly wish that people would be willing to actually shell out money for the book.

Now, I was not surprised to discover the request. As a writer/artist working on the internet, I realize that the modern idea that no occult writer deserves to be paid for their work has became the rule.

Somewhere along the line, some people decided that being a cheapskate and a pirate is a spiritual virtue. To justify the unwillingness to pay artists for their hard work, we ended up with the theory that charging for spiritual and magical teachings is a vice.

(Actually, the theory says that all artists, writers and creative people should be happy with the virtue of creating and giving away their work, no matter how much time and energy they pour into their creations. None of us, according to the justification, should stoop down and accept payment.)

Now, I have some problems with this modern idea. The least of which is that I have few marketable job skills.

I think that my biggest problem with this theory is that the people who shout this theory the loudest became the people who shout the loudest once they have a creation of their own to profit from. I am sorry: if it is a virtue for others to give up income from their hard work, then it is a virtue for you to do likewise.

Yes, if people actually stuck to this theory when they created things, I would be more open to buying into it.

Now, I will admit that I am involved in the P2P, torrent scene. I got involved because I was looking for some rare, long out-of-print books. I have a tendency to be interested in books that are no longer being supported by a publisher. Often, you are faced with the choice of shelling out hundreds of dollars for a book, or hunting down a PDF of it.

I can see the benefits and uses of the P2P community while at the same time, being well aware that abusing it might result in some bad effects in the long run.

One of the effects is that we are seeing already is that some occult writers are leaving the field (aka will never write a book ever again): "Why write something if it is going to be pirated within a month of publication? It took me a year (or more) to write that book." This is especially true of specialized writing, such as Golden Dawn.

The other effect we are seeing already is writers going to smaller publishers. A result of this is that the prices of occult books are actually going up. (For those who do not know, the price to print a copy of a book actually goes down when you print a bigger number of copies. The smaller the print run, the higher the price tag on a book.)

Now, in my case, I suspect that there will never be a great demand for my work. After all, I am not a dead old guy, nor am I an officer in a Big Name Order.

Despite having some concerns about the effect of the torrent community, I have decided to make a PDF version of my book available to The Occult Bz torrent community. If nothing else, I want the bloody upload credit.

There are other reasons to give my work away; if you are curious, go over to my writing blog and check out why I decided to give some of my work away for free.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Legalese induced coma

{I advise my loyal readers to skip to the final paragraph; it is all you really need to read here.}

Today I spent an hour hacking my way though some legal documents that got posted to the world wide web. And honestly, they almost put me into a coma. They made my day at jury selection look like a cakewalk.

I found these documents though a post that David Griffin did. I read them because I felt obligated to read them; nobody else in my lodge is going to bother reading them.

None of us got involved in Golden Dawn, nor any Golden Dawn-based group just so that we can read legal documents. Or at least, I hope none of us did. Then again, there are the writings of Waite...Crowley and Mathers are not much better...and I do know a couple of people who have read the Talmud. Well, I still hold out hope that none of us joined up to read legal documents.

And what did I learn that I did not already know? Just one thing. I am not completely wrong when I refer to Robert Zink's Order as the Hermetic Order of the Morning Star International (a habit I developed during my first encounter with its membership which feels like a century ago).

{Disclosure: I have never been a member of the HOMSI, nor have I ever been a member of Griffin's A&O.}

Reading the documents, I found myself thinking once again that the trademark dispute had nothing to do with esoterics, and everything to do with business.

Of course, let's be honest: My well of thinking is poisoned here. My father started a produce business under the name Farmland Produce. He had to change the name of the company because it was too close to the trademarked name of another company (does anyone really need me to give them a free plug?).

And my advice to anyone who choses to read these legal documents, Griffin's and Zink's postings, or anything else related to this dispute is to read it though the lenses of money making and business. Just presume that all statements are about increasing one's own ability to gain members while decreasing another person's ability to do the same. This statement is not completely true, but I feel that enourgh of the smoke and thunder is directed towards that purpose to justify the advice. {Disclosure: I am writer; part of my income comes from pageviews; do I need to say more?}

Correction notice: 13 January 2010: After reading a comment by VH Soror FSO, I decided to change "make money" to "gain members" in the previous paragraph. Reading her comment, I realized that the non-profit Orders are after members, and not money; hence the correction.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Activating the senses in ritual

This morning, I was reading a blog post by Donald Michael Kraig on visualization. In it, he mentions the fact that we get most of our sensory input through our eyes.

Later while shoveling the driveway, I found myself thinking about this fact. (A lot of my thinking happens when I am doing physical, no-mind needed tasks, which is why I go load the dishwasher when I hit the wall of writer's block.)

I used to do ritual with a Wiccan group for awhile that had a checklist for ritual design. One of the parts of it was a list of all the senses. The thinking was that ideally all the senses should be engaged during a ritual. The same checklist was applied to guided meditations and visualizations. It turned out to be helpful when we ended up with a blind (from birth) participant.

Coming back to Golden Dawn (I dropped out from official membership for a couple of years while I was between Hathor and Bast Temples), I had forgotten all about this checklist. Off the top of my head, the only ritual that I know of in Golden Dawn that would get a checkmark for each of the five senses is the Neophyte initiation ritual.

The Neophyte ritual is unique in the fact that the candidate being brought into the system is blindfolded during a large part of the ritual. This opens the door for the other physical senses to notice things that they would not normally notice. It also opens the door to the possibility that the astral senses will pick up on some of the energies of the ritual.

This is not to say that the rest of the Golden Dawn rituals do not engage the other senses. The other rituals do, but the Neophyte ritual is the best at filtering out the input from our primary sense (visual). There is some effort to tone down the reliance on the visual in the other rituals, but it depends upon your officers having memorized their lines, so that the lights can be turned down.

{*Answers the phone here---comes back and realizes that he has lost the thread of what he had been thinking. Hopes that someone can figure out where he was going originally.*}

Now, there is one ritual that is extremely visual, and that is the keystone ritual of the Inner Order (RR et AC), the Adeptus Minor ritual. The reason for that is the Vault itself, which functions as a diagram as well as a magical nuclear reactor.

Anyway, I thought I would throw this thought out there, so that others could think about how much emphasis their rituals are placing on the various senses. While it is simple lodgekit, it also has a place in practical magical work.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Quote of the day: Case on the potential of meditation

Randomly reading Paul Foster Case's Wisdom of the Tarot (The Golden Dawn Tarot Series 1), I ran across today's quote on mediation. Case writing about the Star says:

Aquarius is jointly ruled by Uranus and Saturn. These two are the first and last Keys of the Tarot Major Trumps, The Fool and The World. This is a sufficient hint that the practice of meditation will eventually bring about the answers to every question, from the most abstract to the most concrete. There are many other interesting ideas arising out of this co-rulership. See if you can follow some of them out by meditating upon them.

Friday, January 1, 2010

MDEs Full Disclosure Statement 2010

Happy New Year!

Welcome to Morgan Drake Eckstein's 2010 Full Disclosure Statement 2010.

If you are a regular reader of my blogs, forum postings, and articles, you know the insanity that the next few minutes are going to entail; you are probably well medicated already. You also probably know everything that I am about to tell you.

If you are a new reader, then these are the important things that you need to know. They will not make my writing any easier to read, but you will at least know what to expect.

First off, you need to realize that this is going to be unlike any full disclosure statement you have ever read. Disclosure statements bore me. I suspect that they bore other people too. Therefore, if it seems like I am treating this like a joke…well, I am. Besides, those people who want to see a full disclosure statement from me are going to be disappointed even if I did a legalese version; their goal is to prevent me from saying bad things about them, or failing that prove that I am so biased that my opinion should automatically be ignored. And yes, I am talking about you, Ann Coulter.

Morgan Drake Eckstein

Morgan Drake Eckstein is a pen name. It is not my real name. It is a name that I started to use when I still cared about my reputation…or more specifically my mother's opinion of my reputation.

Mom was horrified that her friends would find out that I was writing occult articles. I was also not to admit to actually being a pagan/wiccan. So I started to use a pen name that was a variation of my second Order motto (the first motto I had in Golden Dawn did not stick).

Sometime after I got disowned, I ceased to care about what she thought of my activities. There was also the little fact that having gone to High School in a small town, once my cover was blown, there was no point in pretending that everyone did not know what I was doing for a living.

Quite honestly, I prefer my pen name over the name that I was born with; that is why I go by it instead of my real name.

Morgan Drake Eckstein is who I really am---like it or not.

Political Party

I am a Republican by family tradition, though I am not sure how coming from a poor working class family qualifies one to be Republican. I tend to vote Democrat. The political party that I might be most interested in joining doesn't exist anymore; I might actually be a Whig (I really need to do some research on them). Not changing political parties amuses me.


Really?! You don't know my religion?!

Profession 1: Freelance Writer, Journalist, proud member of the new media

A lot of my behavior can be explained by the simple fact that I am a freelance writer by profession.

On my good days, I am a journalist. On my bad days, I am a proud member of the new media and Google whore.

The new media is the world of blogs, web pages, and podcasts. It is a world where citizens have been given access to their own newspaper and broadcast station. This includes the lunatics. I might be one of the lunatics.

I make a good hunk of my living by writing…this implies my income comes from people reading my writing.

Google Love

Because I get paid when people read my writing, and more and more of my writing ends up in the online (non-print) world, I love Google. I also love any other search engine that sends me readers.

I also love people who link to my writing. Especially if it is a piece that I am earning on by the page view.

Contrary to what some people will have you believe, my posting material in heavily spidered locations is because I want the page views.

Profession 2: Full-time college student

I am currently a full-time college student. This explains why occasionally I seem not to post anything new for weeks at a time.

My major is literature, which explains why I use occasionally use the MLA citation style. If I cite something using MLA, it will be "quote" (x). The (x) is actually the page number; if this was an actual citation, you would be looking for the x (the tenth) page of a book's introduction. Yes, I expect my readers to be able to figure out roman numerals, especially if my source actually uses roman numerals.

A lot of time, I just use signal phrases to indicate my sources: Person X said "Y" about Z. This is known as magazine style; it is the style I use when working for the newspaper.

My minor is history…I have yet to figure out exactly what this does to my writing. Except that it has given me practice in Chicago citation style, which I absolutely loathe using.

I have also done reasonable well in the required science, math, and language classes…again, I have no clue how that affects my writing.

I have a small love of semi-colons; they show up in a lot of my sentences. I hope that my sister sees them; she loathes semi-colons.

Profession 3: Research Monkey

Occasionally, I have done a turn (or two) doing research. Sometimes, I have even been paid to do this chore. What this means is that I have a habit of automatically saving, or printing as pdf, most of the pages that I come across that I think might be of future interest to me. I have learned the hard way that caching large sections of websites makes the research process a lot easier.

The side-effect of this is not only can I spot when someone edits a blog post or webpage, I can actually prove what the original version looked like.

Avocation 1: Golden Dawn member, perhaps an authority and leader

Over the years, I have belonged to several Golden Dawn groups. I know where some of the skeletons are buried.

Currently, I am an elected officer of Bast Temple, a small Golden Dawn-based lodge in Denver, Colorado.

The reason that we say that it is Golden Dawn-based is that there is an ongoing debate about what is and what is not Golden Dawn. I like to think that what I do is Golden Dawn; other people will disagree.

Bast Temple is under the banner of BIORC. In the future, BIORC may become a full-fledged multi-Temple Order. Or it might not.

There are some people, online and offline, who have labeled me the Head of the BIORC. This is only true in the sense that I had a significant role in starting Bast Temple, and the membership keep re-electing me.

The fact that the membership keeps re-electing me scares me a little bit; it scares me more that some people consider me an authority on Golden Dawn.

Basis of my authority

I suspect that the basis of my authority rests upon the fact that I am loud and opinionated.

Locally, in my own lodge, I become an authority simply because I had more experience than others did. When you are the only one that knows anything about a subject, it is easy to get stuck with the label of being an authority.

Interestingly enough, due to the fact that I am considered an authority by some, I have gotten to see documents that have actually increased my knowledge base. I guess that is just the way the ball bounces sometimes.

I would mention my Golden Dawn Grade and Wiccan Degree, but none of my regular readers really care about those things. All that matters is that I am a student just like them, and I am willing to share my opinions and experiences.

Avocation 2: Conspiracy Member

Contrary to the beliefs of some people, I am not involved in a conspiracy.

It is true that I have friends in several different Orders. But it is also true that I dislike people in several different Orders also. I have yet to have a full-blown enemy in any of the Orders; but over the years, there have been several good attempts made by some to become my enemy.

The reason that I am not involved in the conspiracy (if there actually is one) is that I have a hard time following directions. Proof of this can be provided by a half dozen people who have strongly suggested that I cease to do certain things…suggestions that I have promptly ignored.

Avocation 3: Terrible Book Reviewer

I am opinionated. This fact is known by everyone who has ever read my writing, especially my book reviews.

I am notorious for giving bad book reviews. My book reviews are my honest opinion of these books, based on my own background and what I believe my audience is like.

I like doing book reviews. I am not doing them because I was ordered to, or because I was paid to do so. My reviews end up on heavily spidered sites because I want the page views and Google Love that goes along with those placements.

For the most part, I personally pay for the books that I review. There have been a few books in the past that I was given. To the horror of the writers and publishers, giving me a free book does not guarantee that I will review it in a timely fashion; it also does not guarantee that the review will be favorable.

I have also read some of the research conducted by publishing houses; I know how little influence I actually have; it is really sad.

Avocation 4 (or is it Profession 4): Astrology and Occult writer

My writing career has taken some weird bounces over the years. One of the weirdest is that I ended writing occult and astrology articles. I basically tried making my living as a writer, writing anything but occult and astrology. You name it; I have probably attempted to write it. To be quite honest, it never even occurred to me to attempt those two fields; occasionally the plainly obvious gets by me. There is also the little fact that most other types of writing pay much better.

My Audience

Honestly, I have only the barest clue of who is reading my material. I have some ideas based on comments and private emails, the profiles and known actions of some of my readers. But I am unsure about ninety percent (more or less) of my readership.

I do have a list of assumptions. I presume that my readers have an IQ in the upper half of the population. I presume that they are interested in paganism, wicca, magic, and Golden Dawn. I presume that they range from having no lodge/coven experience to being experts in the field (hence the occasional spilt rating on a book review). And I presume that they can decode a MLA citation when they see one.

Slow News Days

I will admit that I have slow news days. On those days, I will blog about the other bloggers, things I have seen on the web, the weird things that my cats do. Basically anything that I find that gets me fired up (amusement or anger, both work for me).

This coming year, many of my slow news days will be spent mocking Ann Coulter, who I decided would make a decent enemy. Hopefully, she notices and send some readers my way by bad-mouthing me. Hey, I can hope.

Following other blogs and websites

I do not openly follow all the blogs and newsletters that I subscribe to. I imagine that not all of my own subscribers openly follow me either.

Gaining and losing readers

I realize that my writing, including my forum and blog posts, costs me potential readers. On the other hand, my writing also gained me readers. Hence, the balance of the universe is maintained.

Am I bribable?

I don't know.

I imagine that given enough money I might resist the urge to be mean to people. But no one has considered giving me a bribe to find out. Hint for anyone who wants to try to bribe me: Make it a really big bribe.

I know that I have accepted money in the past to ghost write material. I like big bags of money. Oh wait, I guess that is why I am still a Republican.